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the women of Via Urbana, and other stories.

the weekend has been semi-sweet:  seventeen-and-a-half bottles of wine, more friends than you can count (especially after having helped with some of the aforesaid seventeen-and-a-half bottles of wine), one angel-with-a-camera, not too much tsking-about-Taormina (suddenly, i can't help thinking about that Wendy Cope poem, about the flowers he never brought her, and about how they lasted all this while), a three-month anniversario di melancholia, and the kind of bad news that makes you see up close and on-the-kitchen-floor, how you -- really, truly -- have nothing left to give...

but.  i can still fit into a Joyce Leslie halterneck from nineteen-ninety-nine, people still make fun of the way i say the word "can't" (and i still think of my seventh-grade literature teacher, and all those jokes about the Queen's English), and Shakira can still make me smile (as long as she is singing in Spanish, and as long as she is not singing that line about humility and mountains).

and.  i have more work than i can handle (if only it were the same for the money), more books left to read, more letters left to write and more people left to love.  (and the people that matter, they still know enough to be reading me in all the right places, like this one.)  i'm in the right country.  i can see some light at the end of some of these tunnels.  and i can feel the change under my feet.

maybe things will get better, soon.  maybe i will be in control, soon.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Urbana, Roma]
[domenica 28 ottobre 2007 ore 18:32:27] []

thank you, Keith Instone, for pointing me this way...

from Challis Hodge and a talk i wish i'd been at, on Business Analysis and User Experience: "BA UX: A match made in heaven!" (PDF, 800K).

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Urbana, Roma]
[venerdý 19 ottobre 2007 ore 21:25:06] []

hanging in there.

everyone asks "how are you."
what do you say.  some days are normal.  some days are bad.  some days are even, actually, almost good -- because there are distractions.  both Lynda and Kate worry about these "distractions," and how much they are stressing me out.  and i keep having to explain how i would take this Any Day, over the other stuff.  this stuff -- handwringingly, nailbitingly, jawclenchingly screwed up as it is is -- this stuff i know will not leave me hollow.  this stuff won't finish me.

...di questo treno
che Ŕ mezzo vuoto e mezzo pieno
e va veloce verso il ritorno
tra due minuti Ŕ quasi giorno, Ŕ quasi casa,
Ŕ quasi amore.

i may not be home yet.
but i know i'm close.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Urbana, Roma]
[venerdý 19 ottobre 2007 ore 21:01:07] []

dating in Italy: equipment-related essay number fifty-one.

my first motorino ride in Rome was with a woman, and it was illegal.  a girl named Jackie spent half-an-hour flirting with the portiere in her office building to score the extra casco -- even though her motorino was still a one-woman machine, which meant that if a carabiniere stopped us, we'd either have to pay a fine, or let him buy us a drink.  whatever -- that part didn't bother me nearly as much (i'm Pakistani enough that even then -- i knew the difference between illegal and illegal).  i was more worried that -- for All-Time Motorino Ride Number Two of my life, i was in my best black interview skirt.  ("pencil," i think, is the word you would use, if you were writing the fashion section for Fodor's...)

anyway.  four years and more than a few dates later, it's not so much *whether* or not one can wear a skirt.  it's what kind of motorino, what kind of skirt, and what kind of boy.

what kind of motorino (and if it's a motorino at all, as opposed to a moto, or bike -- for *that* combination, see miss moscerina, and then pull on a pair of pants) -- because if your seat is even higher than the driver's, you'll have a harder time doing things gracefully.  (the Majesty line can be terrible with this, the Piaggio is perfect...)
also key, is whether the scooter has one of those little boxes perched on the end.  (they're great for dumping your handbag, but they make the all-important legswing *much* trickier.)

what kind of skirt -- because no matter how good you get (and how long your legs are), that legswing (when he's already on and waiting, and probably watching) is always a lesson in risk, and in understanding the outer limits of how much flare you have at your disposal.
even after you're on, it's about how much skirt there actually is between you and the rest of Rome, and what you can do with it.  too much and everything will fly backwards in the breeze -- you will need to tuck bits under your knees.  too little and, well.

what kind of boy -- because there are some that will love you for the stressed-out-straniera look that flashes across your face every time you get ready to let him take you home.  and there are some that will wonder how you cannot do this with your eyes closed.  and there are some that won't notice either way.  (there are not too many of those.)

in the hierarchy of Things To Contend With When You Live In Italy, motorini are right up there (in terms of charm, potential-for-embarassment and schizophrenic wonder-stress) with:
- walking across the sampietrini in Campo, or anywhere else in Rome, for that matter.  in anything besides sneakers.  no small thing, i tell you.
- having dinner at a boy's house.  when he's made spaghetti al rag¨.  (you get extra punti if you're wearing white.)
- fighting via sms.
- flirting via sms.
- the linguistic and emotional subtleties of mi piaci, ti voglio bene, ti amo and stai tranquilla.  (hrm.)

also.  they help with cultural images like this one.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Urbana, Roma]
[venerdý 19 ottobre 2007 ore 16:47:19] []

the October file.

not because i think you should go.  heck.  not even because i think *i* should go.  but because maybe, just maybe, this will help clear out my Inbox a bit...

1 - Pierluigi ON CINEMA - Il fotografo de La Dolce Vita.
- courtesy of THE SHENKER INSTITUTES OF ENGLISH, and in honor of CINEMA - Festa Internazionale di Roma / Rome Film Fest.
- from the 23rd of October 2007 (at 18.30) to the 28th of November.
- hours are from monday through friday 11.00 to 19.00, saturday from 11.00 to 15.00.
- at the Shenker Culture Club, Piazza di Spagna 66.

2 - a presto.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Urbana, Roma]
[martedý 16 ottobre 2007 ore 14:54:58] []

good advice.

who i'm listening to these days, about jobs, about men, and about Very Fantastic Red Winter Coats...

- to quote Mark Twain:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.

- to paraphrase Elmer Fudd:
Be vewy, vewy careful.

- and to butcher Henry David Thoreau:
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Buy the coat you've imagined.

oh dear.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Urbana, Roma]
[lunedý 15 ottobre 2007 ore 14:54:58] []

emptying out your pockets.

there is not much you find, from a month's worth of not-writing.

***on meeting new people.
even if you do have a moment, a flash of some kind of feeling in which you actually want to explain to someone who has no idea about it, what the last year-and-a-half has been like, for you.  all you find yourself being able to say is that, well, last May, you had to leave Italy for Canada, because your parents and your brother wanted and expected it of you.  you left everything, you moved to Montreal.  you hated it.  in February, your father was diagnosed with end-stage metastatic cancer.  you packed up life in Canada and spent the next six months with him in Pakistan, because the doctors said there wasn't much time.  he died in late July.  you came back to Italy in August, to try and start again.  you are a mess.
what else can you say.  you haven't explained anything.

***on missing my Pablo Neruda Book of Questions.
if you don't have time to answer the door, will grief stop knocking?
what is it about peach juice on the inside of your wrist, that makes it taste so much better?
and how come animals don't lose dignity when dying?

***on Via Madonna dei Monti.
i stop every time i pass by the little chapel per la Madonna dei Buon Consigli.  it opens right onto the street, except that it is never open.  you peer through the bars, into a room the size of a kitchen table.  there is a pair of tiny, tiny pews, and as you step back you notice that along the outside frame there are postage-stamp-sized burial plaques pressed into the grey stone -- even the names seem to have been shortened so the dead could fit.  there is never anyone around.  there are always fresh flowers tucked into the wrought iron rings.  there is always a candle teetering between the bars, Mary's face painted onto the holder and lit from within.
i stop every time.  i need all the buon consigli i can get.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Urbana, Roma]
[venerdý 12 ottobre 2007 ore 11:46:39] []