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the weekend my father died.

i think of Joan Didion and The Year of Magical Thinking (i think also of Lena for finding it on my Amazon wishlist).  i think of talking through the book with Larc.  i think of how this year is over.

i think of the New Yorker piece on Malcolm Lowry, and the way the first paragraph left me reeling, left me cold, left me wondering "did my brother read this?"

i think of The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Doctor Zhivago and miles to go before i sleep.

i am so very lucky, to have literature.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Montebello, Roma]
[luned́ 28 luglio 2008 ore 21:27:32] []

music, food, love.

find U2 on the external drive.  click Play.

fill a pot with Roman water (think of aqueducts, of emperors, and the veins on Neptune's forearm).  fill a glass with Aglianico.  turn on the fire.  remember the salt.  always remember the salt.

Well, yes I'm still running.

chop an onion.  let the shards fall into the pan, and let them drown in just enough olive oil, enough that they are slightly worried.

turn up the volume.  wait for the water to boil.

And you give yourself away.

four cups of farro -- you can almost hear them whooping witch-like as they fall into the cauldron (somehow you can never make enough of this stuff).  think of legionnaires and Egyptian pharoahs, and of bad puns with a boy in Tuscany.

Through the walls you hear the city groan.

let the onions start to feel a little heat.  cue the pancetta.  cube the pancetta.

watch, or maybe not.  things will happen slowly, now.  like you keep telling yourself about so many things in your life (or at least one, anyway) -- let it be.

(every so often though, taste.)

refill your wineglass.


everything comes together, well, together.  drain the farro, put the now-crispy pancetta out of her delicious misery.

stop and notice the way your kitchen smells.  barely-burnt onions and just-translucent maiale, grain you never even knew existed five years ago -- this is *unpasta* and this is al dente.  this is everything, together.  take a sip.

The sun so bright it leaves no shadows.

unfurl a few ropes of olive oil over the farro so it doesn't stick.  introduce it to the inside of your fridge.

refill your wineglass.



when you are hungry (or rather, when you can bear it no longer), pull your farro out of her cool reverie.  regale her with pancetta, serenade her with parmeggiano (think of Beth Ann Fennelly, and watch your knuckles -- half-careful, half-hopeful).  flirt, just a little, with the peperoncino.  wonder to yourself, if everything good begins with the letter p.

Who's gonna taste your salt water kisses?


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Montebello, Roma]
[luned́ 21 luglio 2008 ore 20:23:16] []

any given sunday.

on Roman weekends in July and August, it is lovely not to be among the lemmings that leave.  the natives, you can almost forgive: it's more than an overprivilegedly-woossy intolerance for heat; it's several (maybe even seven) generations of the holiday house in Circeo that calls to them.  but for the expats (the ones who have lived here long enough -- and richly enough -- to feel that life is Just Not Liveable in the city heat), you are a little more amused: "...simply unbearable you know, it's just not humanly *possible* to stay in the city in this heat dear, i simply *have* to get away to the beach, there's just nothing else you can *do*..." and you grin at the fact that this is one non-Italian speaking to another non-Italian; that neither of you is quite from Finland, come to think of it; and that both of you are fully aware that at least one of you (and about six hundred thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine others) finds being in centro on a weekend a surviveable experience.

at the very least.

for me a summer weekend in an Italian centro is like the secret sandwich shop the rich kids haven't a clue about.  you wake-up and loll; sleep some more, wake-up and loll, and repeat to the sound of the fan by your bed, until there is just enough time left before lunch, for a capuccino, and a first shower of the day.

lunch is a about a long, long walk, the kind that is defined by which street seems to have more sun-and-quiet in it (and there seem to be so many), and where that smell of fresh basilico is coming from...  lunch is about a trattoria-table that doen't wobble too much.  the tourists have already eaten for the day: you can pick the pretty spot by the fountain; you can spread out with your New Yorker and your fettucine alla spigola con rucola e pachino, and your legs up on a chair across from you, bare and shamelessly sucking up sunlight.

there are days when i am tired of the empty Italian fan club that gushes about how great it is to be here, how self-congratulatory, how mutually and suspiciously self-affirming we all are.  maybe this weekend defiance comes from the same place.  i am finding that i need to look for more -- especially when it comes to why i chose to be here, in the first place.

there needs to be more to my having Gotten Here, than a glass of wine with friends every night and weekends at the beach.  heck.  whether it's this place, or New York, or even Montreal.  there has always needed to be more than that.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Urbana 47, Roma]
[domenica 20 luglio 2008 ore 16:22:06] []