n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
saturated: Venice in October.

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hooked: a racconto in real-time.

- 08:30 - wake up.  wonder if the Embassy has sent over my new Letter of Agreement today.
- 09:00 - check email while the kettle boils.  no LoA yet.
- 09:15 - ah.  tea, and the first semblance of humanity.
- 09:30 - check list of things to do for the day.  decide to call Romolo-in-Rome, to say thank you (thank you Romolo!) for my new "cantina" keytag.
- 09:40 - Romolo doesn't answer.
- 09:42 - check blog.  notice (again), that my "he cut his hair?!?" link to Totti is broken (again), because the silly folks at FIFA-Yahoo! keep moving new photos onto old URLs.  go off (again), to find the right URL.
- 09:50 - surf the World Cup stuff a bit, come upon the schedule of matches, and see that Italy is playing Australia in -- i calculate quickly -- all of an hour.
- 10:00 - hm.
- 10:05 - try Romolo again, and get him this time.  he is Australian-born, but of Italian parents, and living in Rome.  we talk about who to root for, and about how i have no choice but to root for Italy -- because if they're knocked out, it'll pfft away my already-rather-low interest in the World Cup, and in soccer in general.  the last time i sat and watched a full-length game with any concentration was when Baggio lost that penalty kick to Brazil in 1994.  picture me at seventeen, sitting alone in my college-bound brother's old bedroom, late into a summer night in Dubai, feeling inordinately bad for a long-haired Latin man in shorts, and drowning my sorrows in Pepsi.  i wonder if that was when Italy first bit me.
- 10:49 - decide that Romolo and i should finally stop yakking -- so he can get on his bike and go safely home through streets that are only this deserted every four FIFA years, and so that i can go downstairs and channel-surf my way to a stadium in Kaiserslautern.
- 10:52 - press the "up" button on the remote about two hundred times.
- 11:00 - confirm that i don't have any of the channels that are so titillatingly flagged to show the World Cup.
- 11:01 - hm.
- 11:02 - boot up the laptop, and start hunting online for wherever it is they're streaming the matches live.  because they must be, right?  this is the 21st century, right?
- 11:10 - deduce that they are not.  not unless you're a) living in the United Kingdom; or b) living in the US and subscribing to certain ISPs.
- 11:11 - think about the fact that i now *really* want to watch this game, that i am thirty minutes past kick-off, and that i am in my pyjamas.
- 11:12 - think about how it will be past-halftime by the time i get decent, on and off a bus, and in front of the nearest sports-bar's big-screen-tv.
- 11:15 - do some more hunting online.
- 11:20 - do some interesting reading.
- 11:30 - solve my problem.
- 11:35 - microwave a slice of last night's pizza.
- 11:40 - settle down to watch, eat pizza, say cazzo a lot, and (ultimately) gnaw off a couple of knuckles.
- 12:40 (-ish) - collapse in a heap on the livingroom couch; in love with soccer, Italy, and men in shorts.  all over again.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[tuesday 27 june 2006 at 13:36:09] []

sunday solitary.

today i spent my first day truly alone.  no two-year-old.  no best friend.
only Don Henley (the heart of the matter), Mina (aqua e sale) and Biagio Antonacci (convivendo).

all the things i thought i'd figured out.

it is sunday.  and the clock of habit inside me, it remembers -- what sundays used to be about -- in Rome, in Cortona.

it's good to be alone at last.  i can be sad slowly.  i don't have to hurry through hard parts.  i don't have to cry and get it out -- not quickly anyway.

i don't have to speed through thinking of you.  and of how you never did read my writing.

and my thoughts seem to scatter.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[sunday 25 june 2006 at 23:07:24] []

july 1st -- what i'm looking forward to.

- finally writing to everyone, to say: thank you, here i am.  address enclosed.  come and visit.
- buying my first bottle of sambal oelek, in years.
- not having a TV in the house.
- picking up the mail.
- candle-lit dinners with friends.
- pulling *my* limoncello out of *my* freezer.
- picking a wine rack.  or maybe just building one.
- chopping boards and stainless steel pots.
- a writing desk.
- music i can hear throughout the house.
- unpacking old friends from Carmine Street, New York: the books, the pictures, the music.  the books.
- (in the beginning) nothing but sunlight and hardwood floors.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[friday 23 june 2006 at 14:38:46] []

why i love The New Yorker.

in a piece by David Sedaris in this week's online issue -- "What I Learned - A Baccalaureate Address":

When school was finished, I went back home, an Ivy League graduate with four years’ worth of dirty laundry and his whole life ahead of him.  “What are you going to do now?” my parents asked.

And I said, “Well, I was thinking of washing some of these underpants.”

That took six months.  Then I moved on to the shirts.

“Now what?” my parents asked.

And, when I told them I didn’t know, they lost what little patience they had left.  “What kind of a community-college answer is that?” my mother said.  “You went to the best school there is — how can you not know something?”


i can hear a chorus of South-Asian parents in my head, shaking their heads: “You went to the best school there is — how can you not know something?”


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[tuesday 20 june 2006 at 22:21:22] []

lost in translation.

every once in a while the narcissist in me likes to do a search on "nightingaleshiraz", to see what comes up (besides uh, pages on this site).

last week Google coughed this out -- a Babelfish-translated version of a post on on Jeremy Wagstaff's loose wire blog -- complete with the comment i left on it a few days ago (you can see the original post and comment -- in English -- here).

apart from my initial bewilderment (i couldn't remember having commented on a blog in Italian recently, and i don't *normally* comment while under the influence...) -- what's interesting is:

1 - that once you're on this translated page, *anything* you click on from here will *also* be a translated page (well -- barring the SYSTRAN errors that keep coming up).  and anything you click on from *there* -- the same...  whoa.

2 - (and consequently), that there is this whole separate dimension of on-the-run, machine-translated cyberspace that we (or at least i) hardly ever think about, let alone encounter.  *lots* of separate cyber-dimensions -- in fact -- for all the languages in which Babelfish, Google, et al offer their "Translate a web page" feature.

3 - that machine-translating a normal blog on today's Internet -- complete with a reasonably simple post (with some not-overly-complex sentence structure and some not-atypical language style); a reasonably relevant comment; and all the ancillary content about signing in (in this case, via TypeKey), recent comments, and so on -- is still pretty messed up.  take, for example, the very *title* of the blog: they've been good about the placement of the noun "blog" (in moving it to the front of the phrase), but thanks to the rest of the translation, "the LOOSE wire blog" now seems -- to most Italians -- to be "the LOOSE blog about wiring"...  poor Jeremy.

4 - that the longer pieces of text seem to fare better then the shorter phrases.  Jeremy's post -- to most Italians -- should still manage to come across with its use of the conditional, its overall point and narrative, and even its sense of humor (hopelessly nerdy is suitably converted to disperatamente nerdy -- nice).  compare that with the request to firmi prego dentro (or "sign please inside") if you have a TypeKey client; and the list of books that's on his convoluted "little table of the night" (instead of comodino -- which is Italian for "night-table").  even the simple "posted by" under each comment is wrangled into inviato vicino -- which comes across as something about being "sent nearby"...

5 - that my new favorite phrase is going to come from the line about everything being dory hunky.  excellent.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[monday 19 june 2006 at 12:18:15] []

if you've come here from Liz Ryan's piece...

...you're likely looking for "my take on the issue" -- as she describes it in her latest post over at the All Business Blog Center.

my take on the issue (i.e. - about women who golf-to-get-ahead in business), aka discomfort level, is (now) a little further down the page.

thanks for coming!

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[wednesday 14 june 2006 at 11:55:22] []

this International Weblogger's Day...  thingy.

you've been wondering what it is -- the funky little tag box thingy (what *do* they call those things?  -- i feel like such a blogger-not-in-the-know) at the bottom of my blogroll (see? -- i know *that* technical term).

or maybe you haven't, because you don't actually ever *look* at my blogroll (it sounds like a dirty activity anyway -- "stop looking at my blogroll you peeping-tom," she says as she tugs her shirt down lower...).

but either way, i signed up for this thing; it says we should post an entry in honor of it being June 14th (apparently it was today in 1993 that the first instance of anyone "logging the web" -- the What's New, June 1993 edition by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications Mosaic --  was recorded); and so-help-me-Bacchus i *will* play my part in This Powerful Drama That Is The Internet Community.

there are definitely a lot of blogs on this year's list of participants that aren't quite up my cyber-street.  as my father would say about people he didn't want to socialize with -- "they're just not our cup of tea, dear..." (to which, at the age of ten, i'd retort "you mean they're not your mug of beer, right dad?") -- but there are definitely some potentials.  and we all need to spend more time reading good blogs, no?

i also just wanted another funky little tag box thingy at the bottom of my blogroll...

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[wednesday 14 june 2006 at 10:23:31] []

the big things.

ever since this particular kettle of fish exploded a few weeks ago, i've been skimming the articles -- and i've been constantly niggled by something i couldn't quite put my finger on.

a few days ago, when i saw a related headline at The New York Times that triggered that same "what's missing from this picture" sensation, i realized what it was.

that i still don't know the ethnicity of these suspects.

granted, i am coming from three years of Italian journalism, where every single crime story has the detail of race, origin, color or visa-status shoved-in-your-face, in bold or italics or both.  where a government official makes on-duty, to-the-press, *official* statements to the tune of "wherever these clandestini are, there is crime..." (clandestini being the mire-ridden term for illegal, or even pending-status immigrants).  when Ciro finally got a letter from the court informing him that they had found the two men who'd stolen his motorino license plate a year earlier, not only did that letter provide the names of the two men, it specified *where* they'd been born -- Romania.

and granted, i haven't "gone a-hunting" to find out the ethnicity of those seventeen men, not even so much as a Google-minute.  i've only read as much as has been pushed to me from the mainstream media's usual suspects (the non-Fox ones, of course).

in a couple of places, i've come across things like "All of the suspects are residents of Canada and most are Canadian citizens of various backgrounds," and "they appear to have become adherents of a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaeda," -- and of course now that the proceedings have started i see some names.  but that's it.  nowhere have i seen reference -- either in passing, or as a pointed and "relevant" fact (cough) -- to whether these men are from Afghanistan or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia; to whether they're even Muslim.

for me this is different.  i think i like it.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[tuesday 13 june 2006 at 13:02:54] []

oh, how quickly we lose touch.

so, as i surf through news of tonight's Azzurri victory over Ghana -- i find my jaw dropping:  he cut his hair?!?

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[monday 12 june 2006 at 18:11:58] []

discomfort level.

last weekend's "WORKING" section of The Gazette has an article about how and why women should take up golf to further their careers:
As women move increasingly into key positions in organizations, many are discovering they need to learn the game to fit in.
-----from "Getting into the swing" by Stephanie Whittaker.

so, um.  i don't know if i'm okay with that.

i'm a believer in networking -- or at least in my definition of networking, which is that every person you meet is an opportunity for you to learn or grow or share (or all three if you're lucky) -- and that it's a personal as well as a professional thing.

and i'm a believer in the kinds of networking that veer towards real activities in and of themselves (rather than those forty-dollar cocktail meet-n-greets that look like speed-dating for the business world).

but i *also* believe you should be doing those things because A, you honestly enjoy meeting new people to swap war-stories, compare notes and share tips; and B, because you enjoy whatever the underlying activity might be.  as in, if it's a wine-n-cheese tasting and you *love* wine-n-cheese tastings, well then fine.  and if it's golf and you love golf (or at the very least -- you haven't played enough to know you don't quite *dislike* it  yet), then fine.  i'm all for that.

there's a fine line between the kind of networking that enables you to get ahead (and hopefully enjoy yourself in the process), and the kind that feels forced or almost compulsory, and for which you might be penalized for skipping.

even the "self-proclaimed business golf guru" in the article says she "met a woman at a networking event who said she had to take up golf because it was part of her company's culture and it was expected."

i'm *definitely* not okay with that.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[monday 12 june 2006 at 14:34:14] []

my week.

on Saturday afternoon i meet up with Michel -- my Berliner friend from a pair of overlapping life-and-work circles at the Canadian Embassy in Rome.  i hug him hello at the top of Track 14 at  Gare Centrale, and we spend that first afternoon of his Montreal sojourn looking clumsily for a place with good coffee and -- for him -- a smoking section.

on Saturday evening Daniel makes another to-die-for dinner; it is the first time i try his Espresso Filet Mignon -- premium steaks pre-dipped in Segafredo's Philtre d'Or -- who knew coffee could love the cow this much.  we crack open my second bottle of home-made, Rome-made limoncello -- i am convinced it's even better than the first.  it's an evening of new and old, and of good stuff all round.

on Sunday i meet Michel and we work a bit, but mostly we just talk.  it is Italy-hot and the waitress suggests a sangria (or two).  i feel happy to be where i am, and -- moreover -- so very relieved about it.

on Monday Michel and i meet his new friend Ron.  we have dinner at a byob Greek place on Rue Prince Arthur.  we pick a Bordeaux from the depanneur across the street, and i end up liking it.

Tuesday afternoon i meet an eighty-six-year-old painter whose life reads like ravaged magic.  every surface in his apartment -- vertical or horizontal -- is given over to art; much (but not all) of which is of male nudes, with um, "formidable" attributes.  we listen to this man: like the apartment, every surface in the story of his life is given over to wonder -- of a kind that's far more formidable than the male nudes.  we talk about Marlene Dietrich and Sunset Boulevard, about the best gay bars in Montreal, and about what the Führer liked for dessert.  from an afternoon of this (and some very good martinis), we go to Segafredo's (and some equally good martinis).  from an evening of that, we end up at the very-fantastic Old Montreal penthouse apartment of another Michel -- we have steak and double-done fries, and we watch the Marché Bonsecours as the colors morph through cobbled-city twilight.

when i go out on Wednesday, it's to my first YULblog meet.  it's good.

when i get home on Thursday, i make farfalle pasta with mozzarella, spinach and pine nuts.  it's good.

on Friday i get to speak to my freelance client six-thousand miles away; we argue and then we agree, and in the end i feel like i have learned that much more about working for myself.  in the evening i write Michel a list of places he should see in New York, and then i hug him goodbye.

i talk on Skype to an old friend from New York; he is interviewing for a dream job as managing editor at Epicurious.  i talk on Skype to another friend in Malta; he tells me not to fear the time on my hands.

i feel like there's been progress.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[sunday 11 june 2006 at 11:11:02] []

figuring it out.

you watch the sun set.  you watch the sun rise.
it's summer and you look for fireflies.
you kiss a friend and you miss a boy.
it's all good, no?

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[thursday 08 june 2006 at 23:20:55] []


tonight i stayed up to finish watching something on TV.  i can't remember the last time i did that.

this morning i wrote a check (or "cheque" -- i should start getting used to that one) in English for the first time in four years.  i saw the pen hover in my hand, i had to stop myself from writing out ottanta-quattro, instead of eighty-four.  it felt funny to write the word "eighty".  whose idea was it anyway, to bunch up all those consonants at one end of the word? -- they don't even get along in your mouth...
i also used my Canadian atm card for the first time in 3 years (and found that i remembered my PIN right, in the first shot).  i'm still trying to get used to saying AYY-TEE-EMM -- instead of bancomat.

yesterday (because sitting at home and wondering when my freelance client will actually pay me was getting old), i went to the mall and played The Good Consumer.  i even ditched the line at the fitting room and bought everything in two sizes -- because i am once again in The Land of No-Sale-Is-Ever-Final.  it was heady stuff, i tell you.

earlier this week while i played the home-alone houseguest here at Zainab-and-Daniel's place, the doorbell rang.  this is a "real house" (as opposed to an apartment, which is the kind of thing *i've* lived in my whole life), and so i had to look through the window in the front-door at the strange man looking back at me (rather than demanding his identity be passed up my anonymous buzzer).  i thought about how i'm not in Italy any more (i feel like adding, "Dorothy"); about that serial rapist on CSI; and about how i'm in Westmount, Montreal -- where the evening news has been screaming "HOME INVASIONS" every night for weeks now.
so i did the chain-the-door-and-open-it-a-crack thing (feeling rude but also stupidly over-cautious and just generally weirded out about the level of distrust i have for this new world i'm living in); asked the man who he was and why he was here; and made him wait outside the chained-door while i called Daniel to confirm the appointment.
when i did (and after i'd let the man in to fix the air-conditioning), i smiled and apologized to him for making him wait while i checked his story.  i was about to mention how "these news stories have gotten me disproportionately jumpy about living in Canada" and how "i just need some time to realize things are as safe here as they were for me in Rome" -- when he wagged a stern finger at my face and said:
"next time don't leave the door on the chain.  a real intruder could have broken into the house in ten seconds flat."

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Avenue Claremont, Montréal]
[thursday 01 june 2006 at 23:32:43] []