n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
seven stars.  uh-huh.

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and another thing...

...when you go to the Museo Galleria Borghese (and you find yourself in front of Apollo & Daphne, by Bernini).  have this -- from Ovid's Metamorposes -- with you, to read:

Apollo loved her,
and longed
to obtain her;
and he who gives oracles
to all in the world was not wise enough
to look into his own fortunes.

He saw her hair flung loose over her shoulders,
and said,
"If so charming in disorder,
what would it be if arranged?”
He saw her eyes bright as stars;
he saw her lips,
and was not satisfied
with only seeing them.

He admired her hands and arms bared
to the shoulder,
and whatever was hidden from view he imagined more beautiful still.

He followed her;
she fled,
swifter than the wind,
and delayed not a moment at his entreaties.

said he,
"daughter of Peneus;
I am not a foe.

Do not fly me as a lamb flies the wolf,
or a dove the hawk.

It is
for love I pursue you.

You make me miserable,
for fear you should fall and hurt yourself on these stones,
and I should be the cause.

Pray run slower,
and I will follow slower.

I am no clown,
no rude peasant.

Jupiter is my father,
and I am lord of Delphos and Tenedos,
and know all things,
present and future.

I am the god of song and the lyre.

My arrows fly true
to the mark;
but alas! An arrow more fatal than mine has pierced my heart! I am the god of medicine,
and know the virtues of all healing plants.

Alas! I suffer a malady that no balm can cure!”
The nymph continued her flight,
and left his plea half uttered.

And even as she fled she charmed him.

The wind blew her garments,
and her unbound hair streamed loose behind her.

The god grew impatient
to find his wooings thrown away,
sped by Cupid,
gained upon her in the race.

It was like a hound pursuing a hare,
with open jaws ready
to seize,
while the feebler animal darts forward,
slipping from the very grasp.

So flew the god and the virgin he on the wings of love,
and she on those of fear.

The pursuer is the more rapid,
and gains upon her,
and his panting breath blows upon her hair.

Now her strength begins
to fail,
to sink,
she calls upon her father,
the river god:

"Help me,
Peneus! Open the earth
to enclose me,
or change my form,
which has brought me into this danger!”
Scarcely had she spoken,
when a stiffness seized all her limbs;
her bosom began
to be enclosed in a tender bark;
her hair became leaves;
her arms became branches;
her feet stuck fast in the ground,
as roots;
her face became a tree-top,
retaining nothing of its former self but its beauty.

Apollo stood amazed.

He touched the stem,
and felt the flesh tremble under the new bark.

He embraced the branches,
and lavished kisses on the wood.

The branches shrank from his lips.

"Since you cannot be my wife,”
said he,
"you shall assuredly be my tree.

I will wear you
for my crown.

With you I will decorate my harp and my quiver;
and when the great Roman conquerors lead up the triumphal pomp
to the Capitol,
you shall be woven into wreaths
for their brows.

as eternal youth is mine,
you also shall be always green,
and your leaf know no decay.”

The nymph,
now changed into a laurel tree,
bowed its head in grateful acknowledgment.

have a sweater too -- for when the goosebumps come.
thank you, Agnes.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Libreria Bibli, Roma]
[martedì 28 febbraio 2006 ore 17:49:54] []

on being gainfully unemployed.

for someone who doesn't have a nine-to-five job any more, i think i've been pretty busy.  to illustrate, a handy list of all doings since i abandoned my illustrious (cough) career at the United Nations:

- i made limoncello.  well alright, i've *started* to make limoncello, and am currently in the process of making it (and will be for at least another twenty-six days), and i will let you know at that point whether i let too much of the white underskin come off with the lemon peel, and whether the whole lot is amaro and fit for thinning paint.  we remain optimistic.

- i went and got all my national health insurance stuff squared up again (seeing as how i didn't have fancy FAO coverage any more and all).  it meant an early morning crawl to Monteverde, and a long wait at the ASL, but it sure beats worrying about whether you'll fall off your bed in your sleep and not be able to afford the operation to fix your head.  or something.  anyway, as usual, i forgot that this is the moment when they ask you to pick your primary care physician.  as usual, i had no idea who to pick (and had forgotten to ask around or research names and locations in advance).  so as usual, i ran my finger down the dog-eared list she gave me and picked a nice-sounding Alessandra Something-or-Other.  hm.  (note to same-boaters: in addition to doing this bit, don't forget to take your passport, your permesso (or the cedolino / receipt), a copy of said permesso or cedolino, and *absolutely* don't forget to take your codice fiscale.)

- i got to try out one of Rome's only (two) Thai restaurants (and by many accounts, the better one) while in Nomentana the other day.  even better, i got them to make me (because it wasn't on the menu) *my* favorite noodle dish -- Pad Kee Mow (if you order at Lemongrass Grill in New York), aka Thai Wide Noodles with Basil or Sweet and Spicy Noodles (if you order at Kelley & Ping in New York) aka Siam Noodles (if you order at Bangkok Garden in Hackensack New Jersey).  it was perfect (well alright, apart from the fact that he misunderstood the part about them being noodles and did it with rice, but still...).

- i got to try that fondue place in Campo that i'd been eyeing for weeks now.  it wasn't very good (somehow the slightly-hairy, more-than-slightly-protruding, very, *very* large belly of the man working inside, combined with the overpowering stench of unadulterated greasefat that hits you as you walk in -- let's just say we didn't feel like molten cheese by the time the menus arrived).  but at least i got to try it, no?

- i *finally* did the Galleria Borghese.  again, this meant an unfortunately early start (and mind you, i'm unemployed these days, so this *hurts*).  but it was very, very worth it.  not least because of the twenty minutes of quiet-walk time i got through Villa Borghese (what *is* it with Italian grass always being so blissfully teletubby green?).  and not least because our guide -- Agnes -- was rather good.  and not least because afterwards i got to take the famous and so-very-cute 116 bus part of the way home (trundling along through centro like a very small and very insistently-beeping golf-cart, so close to store windows that you keep holding your head back for fear your nose might get side-swiped by a mannequin's arm).  not least because i got to see some Caravaggio (granted, it was mostly stuff Ciro and i had already seen at the very excellent Special Exhibition in Naples last year, but i can never have too much Caravaggio).  but most, *most of all* because i got to see those works by Bernini.  and, well.  the next time you see me, go ahead and just *ask*.  i will tell you WHAT IT WAS LIKE, and you may have to run-and-hide, what with all that light in my eyes...

- i went back to Cortona for a day.  to Giorgio, to perfect ribollita and -- it always seems -- to everything that is good and uncomplicatedly beautiful (or, just very tasty).  and i took three new-and-already-good friends there; i think they fell in love too -- just a little.  for me, it was a day like the ones i used to have so many of, the ones i moved here for.

- i stayed up till four in the morning on a friday night, with a friend and some french onion soup.  and the spectres of our respective families, they were served up too.  it was all good.

- i made another freelance client happy -- twice over.  it felt nice, to be proud of my work again.

- i accepted that contract with the Canadian Embassy here in Rome.  i spent a day and a half sweating (just a little, it's been so long), to write them a Statement of Work, because they asked.  it is so nice, to encounter people who want things like SOWs, again.  who don't pass out project plans as pdfs (sigh).  it is so nice to feel professionally validated, again.

- i took the not-so-little sister of a best friend, flush from her study abroad in Seville, around my Rome.  and that magic, that magic you hear so much about from me, it was gracious enough to make its perfect presence felt.  she loved it.  i loved it.

- i splurged -- on Valentine's Day -- for some very, very good sushi.

- i rode a motorino through Rome (it has been almost three years) -- at midnight.  wow.  it has been almost three years.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[lunedì 27 febbraio 2006 ore 23:20:54] []

that feeling you only seem to get in European cities.

it's evening.  you have just put a friend on a bus, after a long conversation at a newly-discovered enoteca.  you turn away from the fermata and start to walk.  the evening stretches in several different directions, none of which is hurried.  you are in Campo.  you might meet a friend for dinner -- she's got visitors in town and they too, will be in Campo.  you have your laptop, and there's a winebar with wireless, in Campo.  there's the winebar that's your favorite, and the winebar that's your runner-up.  you have two restaurants you remember from last week, passing through, that you'd like to try.  you have yet another enoteca you'd like to try.  you could just go home.
you walk and you walk.
you have all evening, to decide.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[mercoledì 22 febbraio 2006 ore 23:29:46] []

because this can't wait until the next Random Shiraz Selection.

from The Guardian Unlimited, in a piece titled "Iran demands apology over German cartoon":
The official IRNA news agency announced that Danish pastries had been renamed Roses of the Prophet Muhammad.

wow.  there are *so* many things i could say.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[giovedì 16 febbraio 2006 ore 22:39:57] []

not a moment too soon.

so it's occurred to me that i haven't blogged very much about working at FAO.  or, about *not* working there any more.
there's been lots about *getting* that job (ah! -- the naiveté!) and lots about being in Rome, and lots -- recently -- about leaving Rome.
near-zilch on how i feel about this past year from a professional (cough) or workplace perspective.
and zilch on having walked away from it last week.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[mercoledì 15 febbraio 2006 ore 22:26:50] []


today is a rare and quiet sunday, to myself.  it's already one-thirty in the afternoon, but still the day feels lucky and lazy and luxuriously long.

today i will make limoncello (finally, and with much love-and-thanks to Alberto-the-painter, Francesco-at-FAO, and Pam for her recipe).

i will transfer the new pictures onto the laptop, from yesterday-all-over-the-city with Brigit.  sadly, i am missing the one of the bride we stopped to watch at the bottom of Campidoglio -- the one who put on her shiny black helmet, hitched up her full-skirt of creamy satin and -- wrapping her arms (bouquet not visible) around her shiny-new husband -- motorino-ed off into Piazza Venezia and a suddenly *very* romantic Rome.

i will think about this job offer from the Canadian Embassy here in Italy.
and about March in Montreal.

i will think about what i want from my life -- even if i've believed for so many months now (and with good reason), that what *i want* isn't relevant.

i will think about what i owe my parents and what i owe myself.

and i will think about what i need to do in the next few days to move toward a life that i can work with, and be happy about.  for a long time.

i doubt the limoncello will be ready by the time i finish all this thinking.
but hopefully i will find peace, and feel good anyway.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[domenica 12 febbraio 2006 ore 13:24:07] []

when you know what hamoor is...

tomorrow night, in a rare and exciting foray back into the world of thinking (or, at least, into the world of focused, academic thinking), i'll be at Christopher Davidson's AUR lecture  (thanks Jasmine!) on "The contrasting responses to globalisation in the Arabian Gulf, and the vulnerability of Dubai".  whoa!

of course, this scoops *my* as-yet-unfulfilled intentions to write about going back this year, about showing Ciro the city where i grew up, about what it's been and what it's becoming and what makes all of it -- whether you love it or hate it -- incredibly interesting, incredibly timely (or even -- clairvoyant), and incredibly um, relevant.

i'd like to think that much of tomorrow's talk will have me nodding my head to things i've already-and-often bored people to tears with (except -- hopefully -- Davidson won't be as boring).  to say that i am proud of being from Dubai is not true.  not least because i can never truly say i'm "from Dubai" (because Dubai doesn't give citizenship to anyone, even if you're born there, let's table *that* Indignant Tangent for the moment, shall we?) -- more because there is a lot about Dubai that is problematic, unfair and unnatural.  even so, i guess i *am* a little keen about how much there is to talk about, and about how much more than a one-dimensional, Vegas-like pleasure-kingdom it is, and how particular an experience it is to live there.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[mercoledì 08 febbraio 2006 ore 22:15:41] []

among the things that worry me.

from this year's Stevie Awards for Women Entrepreneurs (judged in part by yours truly), among the nominees for Employer of the Year (and under Comprehensive Benefits):
For a small business, Love offers her full-time employees an extensive benefits package that includes health insurance with an HSA plan, dental, short- and long-term disability, a generous vacation policy, relationship days, flex time and a simple IRA with a 3 percent employer contribution.  Additionally, the office is closed for the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

"relationship days"?
"the week between Christmas and New Year’s"?


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[lunedì 06 febbraio 2006 ore 00:10:16] []