n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
i'm sorry i didn't get there in time. again.

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A diary kept by a sea creature who lives on land and wishes he could fly.

At least once in this MA, I have had to write poetry.  Wait.  That doesn't sound right.

Abort.  Sigh.  Let’s start over.

These days I'm trying to write more.  Or at least, at first, if nothing else, to have a little less unfinished writing sitting around.  So many half-started posts about adjunct faculty and anti-vacciners.  About the yellow flowers that come before the poppies and reading Anna K on an iPhone.  About that thing I heard on NPR last week and rosemarino rampicante and where the Taliban need to go.  About a perfect spring poem by Hafiz.  About the way so many Italians don't bother with their usual "Lei" form when speaking to the small brown man at the bancarella.  About what Wendy Cope thinks of this man, and how awesome it is after all, that writing is about reading, how wonderful and cosmic and fair.  (I think about Prince: How he always said in his interviews, that he never listened to anyone else's music. How you knew that it wasn't true, and that he knew you knew it.)  About how to pronounce Wislawa Szymborska and how there need to be more people in the world doing things like this (as opposed to, say, for example, Dear Girls Above Me, I'm just sayin'.).  But at least and thank goodness, for Wislawa.

I guess that's what I wanted to say today.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[marted́ 18 marzo 2014 ore 15:59:18] []

Found.  Thought things from the week.

The theme for this summer's writing contest at the Baltimore Review.

Sitting in Jeannie's kitchen, talking about kids and the things they will and will not eat, and remembering that story about the peas — the one from True Tales of American Life.  And nursing a quasi-hangover the morning after, which is enough of an excuse to spend an hour or so channel-surfing on the Internet.  You find the story.  And you find this too.  So much for the rest of the day.

Looking up places that want flash non-fiction (which you should be writing right now, rather than already-envisioning-in-print you silly goose).  In the sidebar to a great list that Erika Dreifus put together a couple of years ago, you find this.  Yay for Erika.

And lastly.  Has anyone else noticed that webinar is an anagram of winebar? Hm.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[sabato 15 marzo 2014 ore 09:11:12] []

Thicker than blood.

So here's a story.  Andrew and I spent this past Christmas and New Year's house- and critter-sitting (three dogs [including Taco, who is pushing sixteen and completely deaf — bless him], two cats, another three of the neigbor's cats, plus our Simarik [who refused to get along with anyone — sigh]) for Paul and Charlie, who I've known since those early days of being bespoke-builder of content-management system stuff / all-round technology-chick for a slightly dodgy real-estate company in the three-sheep-town of Lisciano Niccone (to be said, preferably, the way Jack says “Heeeeeeere's Johnny” in The Shining...), Perugia.  I do not miss plugging Ethernet cords back into naughty ports, and I do not miss PHP.  But I do miss living in Cortona, or anywhere in Tuscany for that matter, pretty much every time I think of it (which I try not to do too often; it only makes Lazio look dirtier when I do).  So of course we jumped at the chance to play house in Valecchie, which is just down the strada statale from where I first set up house in Italy.  My first contratto d'affitto, my first wooden-beam ceiling, my first terra-cotta floor.  You get the picture.

While we were there (suffering through a grinding daily routine: up at seven to let the dogs out, back to bed, up at eleven to make tea, back to bed, reading and drinking-tea in bed, up at one to start on lunch [favorite new meal of the holidays: roasted ribs in a spicy, garlicky, ginger-soy sauce that gets under your nails, roasted potato wedges (Why have I been bothering, all these years, to peel the potatoes? Why?), Lindt and clementine for dessert], driving into town to catch a few minutes of cell signal and maybe some house sfuso from Cacio Brillo, home in time to feed the critters and then dinner, fireside reading, more reading, bed, more reading, more bed, etc.).

Where was I?  Oh right.  While we were there, we spent some time with Liesel.  Apart from being the neighbor (and owner of the three additional cats being sat, sitted, sought...), Liesel is also the lady from whom I got Simarik, all those years ago when she was a bundle of blue-grey snuffle-fluff that you could fit in the pocket of Ciro's cargo pants.  (That would be Simarik, not Liesel.)  This was very exciting for us.  Not so much for Simarik, unfortunately, but then it's been almost ten years and her memory's not what it was.

I know, I know.  What's the point of this story.  Relax already.  This is a blog after all, not a Facebook status update.  You're here because your attention span can last longer than a hundred and forty characters, and because you don't need a Like button to live a more examined life.  Or more likely, you're not here at all, because this blog is really only read by all of seventeen people.  (Three are related to me, two are ex-students looking to see if I say anything about them, five are people I've recently emailed who have clicked through to here from my sigfile [and won't be coming back], two are semi-friends who are kinda-sorta stalking me [and hoping to find some chatty conversation-starter in here that they can use to get in touch, instead of just saying, hey, I wanted to get in touch], four are full-on friends who are also kinda-sorta stalking me [but in a good way, in that they just want to make sure I'm alive and not yet married, pregnant, orphaned, etc.].)  Either way.  Tranquillo.  We're almost there.

When Liesel found out I teach creative writing, she asked if I could help her sixteen-year-old granddaughter Bea with her essay-writing skills.  Upcoming scholarship exam for a good boarding school in England.  Hadn't done too well in a previous exam.  Great at writing in Italian because that's been her schooling so far, but English is tougher for her.  Really important for them that she get into this school.  Really, terribly important.  Etc.  I know.  No pressure, right?  I'm supposed to coach a teenager in writing extended pieces of expository prose, via email, without any supporting system of grades, small bribes and/or threats of punishment?  How is that possibly going to work?

Of course I said yes.

But then here's the thing.  Bea turned out to be quick and smart and on the ball.  She emailed me, and when I replied, she emailed me again.  And again.  She did the things I suggested, she answered the practice questions I offered (and she actually liked them), she tried the planning and pre-writing strategies I recommended, and she thought of questions of her own.  Liesel asked her to read Great Expectations over the holidays and write about it, and she did.  I asked her to write about kids and parents and pocket money, and she did.  I suggested she try to write shorter sentences (I know, I know, look who's talking), and she did.  And then she went off to her scholarship examination day at Oxford and I got minor cramps in my fingers from keeping them crossed.

Until she emailed me to say she got the scholarship.

And then I thought of you Shaggy.  Because you would have been the person I'd most wanted to have told.

That the boarding school was St. Clare's.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giulio Cesare, Santa Marinella]
[marted́ 04 marzo 2014 ore 13:27:05] []