PeaceLily

Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Wine and Surveys

In Uncategorized, Words on Wine on December 10, 2009 at 12:18 am

Two very significant events of the day.

1) I was surveyed by an official of the government.  And it was the law.  I had a legal obligation to take a “community survey” or who knows, I could have gone to jail.  Questions like, what is your religious bservance, are you happy with the cleanliness of your neighborhood, do you think buses should run on the sabbath, are you happy in your career, do you rent, do you make enough money, who do you turn to in crisis, etc, etc, etc.  This lady stalked me for a couple of weeks.  Really.  I was 1 out of 10,000 chosen, and she told me to think of it as an honor — I represent at least 200 other people in my exact situation.  Why not be counted?

2) I had my first girls’ wine night.  Italians.  It was really really fun.  And as I’m writing now a bit sloshed, it was a good night indeed.  We opened a Valpolicella, a Nero D’Avola, and  super-Tuscan 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  North, South and Middle.  It was awesome.  Rather new friends of mine from the winery we all work for.  Amazing palates, good cheese and veg, fun conversation, and excellent wine.  The first was like a perfect midway between a Pinot Noir and a Chianti.  The second (Sicilian) was like a Syrah but more robust, if you can say that, with just a gorgeous complexity.  The third was a real true blue Cabernet Sauvignon.  Smelled like one, looked like one, tasted like one (but not as strong as it could have been).  For Italy, amazing.

Oh, boys and girls, tomorrow I’ve got yoga.  And my therapist.  And more work to do.  And dishes to wash.  And cats to feed.  It never ends.  Never.

I met a man very briefly at a tiny cafe-sandwich bar.  A sci-fi nut like myself, although I tend to be quite closeted, coupled with the fact that you can’t really see it on me.  I visited his profile on facebook after we friended each other.  He had a quotation attributed to Yoda from Star Wars:

Do, or do not.  There is no try.

So plain.  So simple.  It has helped me to think of this.  I am entirely responsible.

81 Days: Naples – City of Contrast and Kindness

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2009 at 12:11 am

Disclaimer: this is a really long post.  But it’s a good one.  If you get tired out, my finest, most exuberant paragraph is last one.  Surprise, surprise.  So, please read it before you click away. Pretty please.  I flat out loved Naples.

I have decided to devote one whole post to the city of Naples.  Or Napoli, as it’s actually called.  It’s a city older than Rome with lots of Greek heritage, and I think the name may be derived from Neo-polis, or new city.  Better google that to be sure.  In a sec.  Why am I devoting a whole blog entry to Naples?  Because it shocked the hell out of me, that’s what.  Kind of like the first time you walk through Rome (mine was late at night) and you just happen to stumble upon the Pantheon, just sitting there, just like any old building resting its bones at night, pigeons preening in its joints.  Jaw dropping, heart pounding, can’t believe this place can exist without people just screaming all the time, “can you believe we’re here, we’re actually here, that this amazingly beautiful ancient important place is here, and we’re here, just looking at it while eating ice cream and pizza and talking on our phones and stuff like it’s no big deal…?!?!?”  Ya, Napoli was kind of like that, too.  But different.

So let’s start.

Why Napoli.  My baby sister (Junior Indiana Jones I will call her) and I just had to see Pompeii.  Had to.  We had the most time in Italy out of all the family (this was a family vacation that brought us out from the four corners of the globe), so the two of us promptly took a train from Rome to Napoli, and then planted ourselves (via the Circumvesuviana train — and it’s pronounced “Chir-cum,” as in very-sexy-Italian-accented way to say “around Mount Vesuvius”) in the safe enclave of Sorrento.  Kind of like a southern suburb of Naples, really.  See, Sorrento is safe.  It’s lovely.  But also a tourist haven, lots of resorts, etc.  It’s a great place to be located to get to both the Amalfi coast and to Pompeii and other archaeological sites…without having to set foot in Naples.  Yup.  Naples makes people nervous.  We, too, were under the impression that we had to get in and get out fast and keep everything tucked in and zipped up tight and look straight ahead and pray that nobody dares even speak to you.  Naples means mafia.  Naples means tough kids.  Naples means dirt.  Naples means poverty.  Naples means congestion.  Basically, as far as Italian cities are concerned, Naples is just the wrong side of the tracks.  Period.

As I understand it, it kind of only half deserves this bad rap.  It’s a city like any other.  It’s got a huge port, so lots of industry.  People go to work and come home from work.  There’s a great university.  But, yes, there is some bad poverty, and the gang violence is kind of crazy.  Sometimes.  The police really did some good work in the 80s and 90s cleaning up, I think.  But it’s nothing a tourist would see.  You probably couldn’t find this stuff unless you asked and

Memorable Gomorra Scene

Gomorra

went looking for it.  As a deterrent against you doing this, though, feel free to watch the recently released film, Gomorra.   I nearly shat myself during this movie, based very closely on true stories, the author of which cannot return to Italy because the gangs have a price on his head.  I couldn’t believe I was going there.

So why the hell go?  Because the finest archaeology museum in all Italy happens to be in Naples.  The best mosaics from Pompeii were taken there.  Stuff from all over the region and beyond.  Junior Jones was dying to see it.  And another damned good reason to go to Naples?  The pizza.  It’s the birthplace of pizza.  You got that right.  And it is the best, and I mean the very, very, very, very best.  But we’ll get to that later.  We were planning a quick in and out.  Get to our hotel, sleep, wake, go to the museum, grab a pizza, then grab the bags and get the hell outta Dodge.  God, was I in for a shock.

See, Junior and I arrived kind of half drunk, half hungover, rushing into town from our wonderful sun-dappled day on the Amalfi coast.  Ya, it was kind of stupid.  But kind of really fun.  Ultimately, it might have been the alcohol that made us completely un-paranoid as we got into town.  See, we tried to get in during daylight, thinking, it’s a dangerous town, let’s get in before it gets dark.  Our drunken timing was questionable.  We got there as twilight was ebbing gracefully away and hence caught the first cab at the station, one that luckily had GPS as neither we nor the driver could find our hotel on a map.

The Portanova Hotel is an enchanted dream of B & B.  The most lovely B & B I have ever stayed in in my entire life.  So nice, in fact, that it rightfully deserves some four or five hotel stars.  And it’s on this dark, curved, tiny little street that you can barely find on the edge of the historic city center.  It’s on the second floor (with a steep climb, I might add), of an ordinary apartment building.  And Jones and I paid all of 60 Euro for a huge bedroom with a king size bed, luxurious sheets and duvets, sparkling bathroom, organic-esque shampoos and soaps and cotton wool and Q-tips and plush towels, a flat screen TV, and all of it elegantly designed.  Class.  Like cutting open one of those wrinkled, brown, awful testicle-looking fruits and discovering the many seeded, bright orange, glistening pulp of a passion fruit.  If you’re ever in Naples, it’s your duty to look up and stay in the Portanova.  Remember.  Portanova.  Because not only was it sinfully inexpensive, the owner was one of the kindest human beings I could have hoped to meet on this trip.  He waited for us patiently, gave us maps, invited us to eat anything we wanted in the kitchen, coffee at all hours, free umbrellas to use in case it rained.  Basically, the best concierge service, bar none, in the body of this kindly salt and peppered middle aged Italian guy with very little English to spare us.  And we were the only guests at the hotel.  It broke my heart to pay so little.  Portanova.  Remember it.

Back to Napoli.  Will you read this far?  Good Lord, do I know how to meander.  Maybe I’ll intersperse this long text with pretty pictures.  We all like pictures.

Junior Jones and I had to really force ourselves to go out that night.  The real reason ended up being hunger.  Kind of.  We were hungover and feeling sick.  But we couldn’t just check into a hotel at 8pm and stay in.  Couldn’t.  It’s not in our family ethos.  And what we saw was this:

  • Churches.  Everywhere.  More than any other city in Italy I’ve been to.  Every other building.  Elegant, imposing, grand, intricate, you name it, from many different centuries and decades and national styles.  These were some exceptionally designed important buildings.
  • Very narrow streets, so much so, some of them seem like pedestrian shortcuts, that you very dangerously discover are not only for pedestrians.
  • Historic churches lining these minute lanes, ever other building or so.  I’m not kidding.  You have to crane your neck to even kind of try to see the architectural detailing.  You can’t stand back at a nice, respectable distance, and just look at these monuments.  It cannot be done.
  • Renaissance mansion houses.  Think “Capulets and Montagues.” Think huge, vast, tall arched wooden gates with iron spikes and bolts and stuff as a doorways.  Think lush courtyards, fountains, stairways, balconeys.  Think mini-castles.  Now, picture these structures being the buildings between the churches.  You got it.  Tiny lanes.  Ridiculous amounts of churches and important buildings with gargoyles and statues and steeples and stuff everywhere.  And then, these gorgeous, monstrous, oddities of I don’t know, medieval rich-people houses, just everywhere.  And now, they’re kind of cut down into individual apartments, a lot of them, and the front doors are too massive to open, so they cut, and I mean cut out like with a jigsaw, people sized doors into these vast almost draw-bridge looking things.  And these are tiny, tiny narrow streets we’re talking about.  You can hardly see the sky!  You can hardly see to the top of the front doors!
  • Cobbled streets
  • Funky punk clothing shops
  • The laundry everywhere, ya, it’s true
  • Oh, a street that is basically still a “guild street” with every single shop being a nativity doll and diorama making facility.  I’m not kidding.  Seriously.  A long north-south street with hundreds of thousands of Marys, shepherds, wise men, baby Jesuses, mangers, and for some reason clowns dressed up for commedia dell’arte or mardi gras or something.  And they’re all great.  These little dolls are so frighteningly real looking.  And old men whitle them away in the shops in plain sight, all day long.  It’s like being in a strange fruit and veg market, lots of colors and choices, and it all looks so good, you want to buy something, you just have to, but who the hell needs a thousand wooden baby Jesuses or scary clowns?
  • Some really fine graffiti.  Most seemed to be by one artist in particular.  I’ve started noticing and documenting this kind of artwork in recent years, and I can tell you, I could have gone around with a camera, ignoring the churches and monuments and Mary dolls and pizzas, all day long.
  • Fab, tiny, hole in the wall, the Naples equivalent of a Vienna Beef hot dog stand, pizza restaurants.  And this is it.  The very best.
  • No tourists.  Nope.  Even in the height of day, the tourists we saw were led in groups.  On the bus, off the bus, on the bus, off the bus.  Mostly Germans.  Some Brits.  Middle aged.  Wearing fanny packs (aka bum bags).  Matching hats.  Beware the pickpockets…it’s Naples…oooh!

Wow, I’m getting tired.  I think you get the picture.  It’s amazing.  It’s dark, it’s light, it’s really old, and really young, it’s hip and fun, and it’s creepy.  It’s a really great time.  The pizza we had was at a tiny place with about 6-7 tables in it.  Pizzerias in Naples that want to have customers usually opt to be certified.  Yes, there is a pizza certification.  There’s a symbol they put outside the restaurant and everything.  It has to do with how the pizza is made, not just the ingredients.  And it boils down to this: the dough MUST be thrown, NOT rolled, into your standard circle; AND the oven must use real burning wood, not gas, charcoal, or anything else.  And they are wonderful pizzas.  Thin, woody, tiny burnt bubble-patches underneath.  The top is soft, even kind of watery-hot with all the toppings (not in a bad way at all).  Get the Pizza Margherita.  The simple standard.  It’s named after the first queen of Italy.  She came to visit Napoli, and the chefs wanted to make a special dish in her honor.  Well, she would have nothing fancy.  She wanted to taste local cuisine.  So, they made a pizza for her.  Red tomatoes, white buffalo Mozarella, and green fresh basil leaves.  Red, white, and green: the Italian flag.  Simple, tasty, and it will only set you back something like 3 Euro.  Again, not kidding.  Our water cost the same.  And it was the cheapest water we bought in all of Italy.  You usually can’t even buy a pre-made sandwich for 3 Euro.  This is a whole pizza.  The very best.

Another fun thing we did was take a tour of “Underground Napoli.” Essentially, it’s a great informative tour of the Roman aquaduct system.  Except it didn’t used to be.  These underground caverns were first dug out by the Greeks for stone to use in building buildings.  Romans did, too, and built one of the largest arenas in the land.  Nero, the crazy emperor who fancied himself a singing virtuoso, actually performed in this Napoli theatre…to the misfortune of the citizenship’s ears. We got to see some of the theatre, but only a tiny part — because after years of looking, they finally found it less than ten years ago!  See, old cities grow taller.  When a house falls down, they didn’t clear rubble.  They sort of used what they could, and them built over it.  So, over the centurues, European cities grow higher.  By meters and meters.  The streets might have the same layout and everything.  We’re at a totally different altitude.  And what happened to this vast Roman theatre?  Some parts of it, arches, doorways and stuff, just got incorporated into the basements of medieval houses.  Yup.  Here’s a perfectly good wall.  Let’s just leave it, use it, and put drywall over it.  This family that had owned this old townhouse for many, many generations, had no idea that their house was largely composed of Roman walls from the theatre! Back to these underground passages and cisterns — they were also used as air raid shelters for civilians during WWII.  Half the population of the city could fit inside.  The unfortunate slept outside.  Literally.  In the street.  It was safer than inside the buildings that could crash on top of you and crush you to death.  This tour at one point had us light candles and walk through a passage of rock so narrow that I had to turn sideways in order to make it.  And I’m not overweight.  There was an obese German woman on the tour who tried, and then had to back out.  Her slightly less obese boyfriend did make it, but I don’t know how.  At least he didn’t take the lead.  It would have taken forever.  I’m not trying to be cruel here.  It was exceptionally narrow.  At the end we saw what a full cistern of water looked like, as they had saved one.  Like an underground waterfall and pond.  So enchanting.  I do recommend this tour.

But say, why did we take this tour in the first place?  Why did we spend so much time walking around town?  What gives?  The perceptive reader of this blog would have noticed that the planned itinerary involved only one museum and a slice of pizza.  Shucks!  Shucks, I say!  I would have loved to have stuck to the plan, I would have!  Yes, indeedy.  But, see, we came on a Tuesday.  And on Tuesdays, museums are closed in Naples.  Had I read the fine print in my Lonely Planet, I would have figured this out beforehand.  But as I was petrified of Napoli and avoiding the thought of having to spend the night, AND I was pretty out of it doped up on prosecco and limoncello, I didn’t bother to read the fine print about opening hours.  So, the only reason we came to Napoli in the first place, the famed museum, was a no-go.  And lucky for us.  Because if we had seen only this museum, we wouldn’t have gotten to trot all over Napoli.  And we hardly scratched the surface.  I’m almost embarassed to have written this ridiculously long blog entry about my less than one-day experience in this fascinating city.

So – the verdict is – go, go, go to Napoli.  Spend more than a day.  And don’t go on a Tuesday.  Or, do, actually.  You’ll see more.  And to conclude so ungracefully here as my eyelids droop (3:05 am)…

I’m a writer.  I have been around art, artists, actors, musicians, writers for my entire life.  And let me tell you, I was inspired here.  There was something about the quality of the light.  Something very real here.  Some deep sadness.  It’s really grabs you.  I wanted to cry.  Why is it so empty?  Why are there breathtakingly beautiful buildings decaying away on a side street?  Why is the pizza so damned different here?  I can’t believe Hemingway didn’t find his way here.  I’d write an in-depth guidebook to this city.  I’d write a novel and set it in this city.  I’d come to this city for a 6-month stay, just to live here.  Just to breathe the air and meet the people and walk the streets and maybe finally get to see the inside of the museum.  There’s something eerily peaceful here.  Like the people are guardians to an ancient secret.  They know it.  But they go on with their lives with a hint of a smile, shopping for their groceries, riding their Vespas, studying for exams, going to work, breathing in and out.  It smells faintly of solitude.  Of being the unwanted underdog.  Of quiet pride.  Of steady survival.  Of dirt, of clouds, and rays of sunshine fighting their way through.

Go to Naples.  You won’t regret it.

102 Days: Pompeii Pleases

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I spent more than six hours exploring the archaeological ruins of Pompeii today, along with my kid sister.  Well, she’s 24 and a super duper archeology student in Israel and has already successfully managed an archaeological excavation.  So, it’s not really like I came in blind on this.  I have dreamed of coming to Pompeii since I was eight years old.

I remember that chapter in my social studies textbook like it was yesterday…

Visions of people simply frozen in time, covered in ash, a poor little dog cowers, food left in bowls, a lively, thriving civilization suffocated in an instant, to be forgotten for centuries.

Pompeii House, as it is today

Pompeii House, as it is today

And it was everything I could possibly have imagined.  It’s perfect.  Untouched.  A whole town.  Shops and food stalls and gorgeous mansions and apartments alike, temples and government buildings, theatres, palaces.  The works.  A town.  A really nice one.  The thing I loved the most was that I completely got the feeling of what it must have been like to live there.  The houses are beautiful, charming, comfortable places to live in.  The art is still there.  Frescoes with the timeless stories of Apollo, Venus, Jupiter, Juno.  The town brothel, yes, even a real true blue brothel, complete with what I now call the Roman Kama Sutra – Frescoes of men and women doin’ it in many different positions, above the doors of the sex rooms – yup, little tiny rooms with nothing more than a bed in them – still there – off of one corridor.  Five rooms down, five rooms up.  Must have had a lot of business. AND I just read on someone else’s outdated website that there have been 34 brothels found in Pompeii thus far.  I’m not sure how true that is, but having more than one or two is logical…I mean, healthy business requires competition, after all.  But then again, 34!  This person claims a lot of sailors and travelers would have been passing through, so it was only logical.  Right.  OK.  Brothels were called Lupinariums (Lupinaria?), our house of wolves.  Wolves?  Women as she wolves?  Here are some of the raunchy frescoes:

When I get to a place where I have more time (I’m at my small B&B in the outskirts of Sorrento) I may upload some of the pics we took today.  Charming stuff.  As it was raining more than half the day, we even have a series of avant’garde umbrella shots amongst the ruins.  And, oh yes, lest I forget, I am indeed publish a postcard series entitled: The Real Dogs of Pompeii.  I have adorable shots of many of the strays, all over the site.  Including this original mosaic – the first warning, ever, of its kind:

Cave Canem - Beware the dog

Tomorrow, you ask?  Well, tomorrow, dear friends, I’m headed to the Amalfi Coast.  That’s right, Positano and all your gorgeous neck breakingly high frighteningly thrilling colors and beach and Limoncello and fish and sun will be mine!  For a day, at least.  Then off to Napoli.  Yup.  Hanging with the gangsters tomorrow night.  You know it.  My sis has to, just has to see their museum.  And I?  I took the one less traveled by.  And that led me to Pizza.

Yes, I am exhausted.

Buona Notte!

103 Days: Things we should be reading

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2009 at 9:42 pm
Burning the midnight oil

Burning the midnight oil

It’s 12:18 am, and I’m nearing being done with the packing and cleaning and bill paying…but not quite enough to feel comfortable.  Why am I blogging, might you ask?  Well, I’ve decided not to sleep, what with a cab coming in 2.5 hours, and I’ve got much on my mind.

First off, some articles really worth taking a look at.  Important and interesting stuff that I’ve not noticed on the big radar:

  • 1,500 farmers commit mass suicide in India – OK, if this happened in Europe or North America, wouldn’t it be the top headline?
  • Keith Olbermann: “President Obama, You Are Wrong” – A very powerful video, well written, moving rebuke on the president’s decision not to prosecute CIA interrogators for torture.  Want a very compelling argument on learning from our mistakes lest we be doomed to repeat history?  Watch this!
  • Modern life’s pressures are hastening human evolution – That’s right, we’re not done evolving.  We’re actually speeding up.  So much so, that in 10,000 years or less, the then-humans may not even be “Homo Sapien” any longer and could not interbreed with current-day humans.  Read this article.  Very cool.  Very intriguing.

OK, now I really have to get back to doing things other than blogging, listening to Susan Boyle for the umpteenth time, and get on with the packing, bill paying, Italian train time table finding, airline ticket confirming business I really should be up to.  I fly in less than 6 hours!  But the thought of being away from a computer for three weeks…well, except for internet cafes, and the like, is kind of daunting…no, it’s also liberating.  The 100-day marker is coming very soon for me.  100 days until my 30th birthday.  The more I blog, the more I live, really, and spend time with good people, the more I understand how silly and pathetic this countdown is.  Right now, it’s a great device.  I would be lying if I said I was cool as a cucumber about this birthday, but I’m much better about it.  I’m working on me, and that’s all that counts.  I’m doing OK.  More than OK, really, depending on the day and how I look at it, really.  And enough with this pep talk!  Tomorrow night, with any luck, I will be sleeping in some gorgeous little B&B on the Amalfi Coast.  Aren’t I a lucky duck.  So what if my savings will be blown to high hell, soon.  How many people go to the places they want to go?  Not enough, that’s for certain.

G’night all.  And check out Susan’s performance, if you haven’t.  AND her newfound 1999 recording of Cry Me A River.  Soulful:

105 Days: Ashram Poetry

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2009 at 7:29 pm

So…I haven’t written for a while, and it wasn’t for lack of material.  It was because I without computer for too long, and I had too much material, and now so many f-ing errands…you get the picture.

An AUM Meditation Session

An AUM Meditation Session

I went to an Ashram, the “Desert Ashram” an hour north of Eilat (in the middle of nowhere and in view of Jordan), an Osho Ashram – participated in many, many, many bizarre meditations, some of which I enjoyed, some of which terrified me, and some of which we just plain funny.  Lots of screaming, breathing, vibrating, etc.  And I went to a lecture entitled, “Secrets of the Female Orgasm.”  I was really hoping to learn something.  Instead, I have a hysterical story racked up for a future post.  Go figure.   I slept in a tent for 5 days.  I slept when I wanted.  Ate veggie food.  Read a great sci fi book I brought with me (Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – read it, if you haven’t).  And basically, had an OK, pretty relaxing time with a bunch of bourgeois pseudo-hippies on an alternative spring break.

Venice

Venice

I’m going off to Italy in a day and a half.  Yup.  Italy.  With my family.  We’re converging from many places all over the world.  My two parents from Chicago, my doctor sister from NYC, and my sort of student sister who lives near me but went to Italy 2 weeks early to make a mega-vacation out of it.  The ‘rents bought a cruise for us all last year before the economy went crunch.  So, we’re going.  It’s paid for.  I’m going a week early in order to hike around Pompeii, a dream since I learned about in 3rd grade, eat the world’s best pizza in Naples, experience the majesty of the Amalfi coast, meet up with both sisters for three days of Roman extravagance, and then all three of us are meeting the parental units up in Venice.  For the cruise.  The worst idea for a vacation, I think, as I have terrible motion sickness and have been stockpiling Dramamine (and its Israeli equivalent) since I learned of this idea (thank you Mother).  And from there, Croatia (for 8 hours), a bunch of Greek islands (for 8 hours a pop), and one Turkish island (again, 8 hours).  It’s bad.  I mean, it’s barely a taster.  It’s not even one night.  It’s a stroll, a meal, a souvenir shop, and hey, it’s time to get back on the bus…except it’s a giant boat.  Nothing says Stupid American Tourist like a giant white cruise ship.  Ugh.  And I’ll be one of them.  There are formal nights, too.  I have to go to black tie events…I’m a backpacker for f’s sake! Oh well.  Can’t say no to a free vacation, right?  When we get back to Venice, Mom and I zip off to the other coast and do 4 days in Cinque Terra (dream come true for me, again, lots of hiking, quaint vineyards, artisanal cheeses, views, hiking, food, wine, ham, cheese, wine, and did I mention food…and hiking?).  We end the trip with 1.5 days in Milano before Mom joins me on a flight to Israel…where she’ll be extending her visit for 2 months!!!!!  Which is why, dear friends, readers, countrymen…I got myself a ticket home – Stateside – that be right!  My first trip home to the States in well over a year and a half!  Yeehaw!  And it means I avoid dear Mother for one out of her two months invading my space in Tel Aviv.

I promised poetry, though, right?  Well, if anyone cares for bad poetry-exercise-prompted written at an Osho ashram, there’s some below.  Knowing me though, it’s kind of funny and dirty and crude and cynical.  Everyone was writing about the sky, the sand, the emotions, the sounds of the birds…bla, bla, bla.  WordPress has taken out all my stanzas.  I don’t know why.  So I can’t tell you where one should begin and one should end.  Oh well.  I tried.  Like 5 times.  Go figure, wordpress.  Really.  Well, here we go.  Here’s my take on the Ashram, in verse, no less:

Prompt 1: write a poem of no more than 6 lines which has the title “Desert” or “Kiss”

Desert

There are no more to conquer

No sands too dry

No heat too harsh

No thirst too great

No.

There are no more deserts to conquer

Only from which to escape

(notice me cheating…always…there are 7 lines in that one…cheeky, cheeky…)

Prompt 2: Write a poem on the theme, “The Zorba the Buddha Festival” (the name of the festival I was at, if you can believe it or not)

(translated from the Hebrew…she made me…I don’t like to write in Hebrew…I’m bad at it)

Why do they say Pestival with a “P”?

And not Festival with an “F”?

Why do they wear such stupid clothing like these?

Do they think they’re in India?

Why do they search for answers here?

Do they think the hippies know the secret of life?

The bourgeoisie is coming to the desert

Caravans, caravans, caravans

Toyota, Hyundai, Daihatsu

iPod, Arak, North Face, Crocs

Searching for themselves.

There are no answers.  There are answers.

They go home.  Sand in the car.  Dust in the hair.

Hope remains.  Life goes on until the next pestival.

(it sounded better in Hebrew.  The nuances were lost.  Can you tell?  Too bad I can’t type in Hebrew…not that anyone could read it..)

Prompt 3: Write a poem based on specific physical observations.

Thick, crusty, yellow and warped

The monstrous ugly duckling

Amongst his fair brothers

Protruding above the others in their line

This was not a congenital condition, oh no

No genetic abnormality disturbed his birth

He grew, identical, from toe to tip

Like all his adorable kin

But this little piggy went to market

And that little piggy went home

And while this little piggy ate roast beef

Our little piggy got a mushroom pie

The shameful secret that cannot be hidden here

Under woolen warmth or stiletto style

And thus, and thus, this is the story of the seemingly normal

Seemingly sweet, kind, desert dusted

Feet of my rebirthing neighbor

(Do you guys have any idea how many people suffer from toenail fungus?  It’s nasty.  I mean gross.  I’ve got one borderline nail that I’ve been treating with lacquer-medicine for months now because there is no way I’m turning into Franken-toes.  This person grossed me out to the extreme.  Cmon folks, take care of your feet.  I don’t have the best ones, I know it, but I try.  I try.)

Finally,

Prompt 4: write a poem of no more than 5 lines that contains the words “sex” and “surfboard” and contains a variation on the word “pain”

(Joy of joys…)

Sex with him was to be

Better than chocolate!

Like the best rollercoaster,

A magical surfboard ride!

Hell, he was just another painful poke

And why have a I regaled you with horribly bad ashram poetry?

1) because I can

2) because the Israelis thought I was a bloody brilliant modern day Emily Dickinson (ha!)

3) to prove that I did not, nor do I ever intend to DRINK THE KOOLAID!  Booyah!

4) because I’m procrastinating right now on a massive to-do list…

Goodnight y’all, and good f-ing luck to me!

114 Days: Plain ole exhaustion

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2009 at 10:44 pm

I am plain tuckered out.  Was, maybe 8 hours ago, too.  I haven’t worked this hard in a long while.  Sucks that I’m barely making any money, and that in this holiday season, I’m spending more than I’m making, easily.  But it’s nice to have a full schedule.  There’s something refreshing about feeling my body totally exhausted.  From the soles of my feel to the scalp on my head.

Today, I got up at 7:30 am (after less than 5 hours of sleep) in order to get to my psychiatrist at 9:30 am.  For the first time in a long while, he was super attentive, focused, and really seemed to listen to me.  He agreed with me that we’d better switch up my meds, and we considered a few options.  For the second time, by a second psychiatrist, I was offered Lithium.  And for the second time, I refused.  There is such stigma attached to it.  And I don’t want to gain hundreds of pounds.  Lithium screams “bipolar and proud of it” to me, and I just don’t want to go there.  When it was first suggested, nearly a year ago, I did a lot of research…including all the art inspired by Lithium…the Sting song…the Nirvana song…plenty of other stuff.  I wonder if someone as talented and respectable as Sting is, is still on Lithium.  And whether it was the right choice.  Because Lithium seems like I’d have to admit to myself that I’ve somehow lost it.  So, I’m going to start on something called Cymbalta (sp?), and I won’t have time to research tonight, as I’m literally falling asleep as I type.  Good Lord…know what this means?  Time for major, and I mean major withdrawal this week.  Thank you Lexapro, thank you terror, thank you disillusionment…you see where I’m going?  I don’t.  I’m drunk with fatigue.  And starting to jones.

So, after the doc, went to my sisters to help her frantically pack for Italy (I’m meeting her there is just under two weeks), then had a strained lunch with my grandmother where I found myself having to apologize for everything and anything including my mere existence.  And then.  And then.  Wine!

It was so chaotic in the store I was placed in today that the manager asked that I not do any tastings (until perhaps the end), and just represent the winery in the aisles and help people with their choices.  My first thought was bloody hell…I got into this business for the tasting itself…wanting to teach…to converse about an actual product…not be a salesperson in the most direct and annoying fashion.  But you know what?  I did better business today than I did on any other day in the last two weeks.  Why?  When you’re leading a tasting, you’re kind of stuck to your station.  You can walk around, but then the wines aren’t being watched over.  And if you’re helping some people with a tasting, you miss customers walking in behind them and around the store.  Sure, people would have preferred a tasting, I think.  But you know what?  I learned that it’s me, the “expert,” the winery rep, the salesperson, who decides what to sell the customer.  If I sound assured, and I consciously choose what to present them, they will buy it.  More times than not.  Amazing.  Just the power of mere suggestion.  Nothing pushy.  Even helping with other products, other wines, beers, spirits…and they trust you.  It’s scary what an art sales really is.  And kind of disgusting.  Because when you think about it, we’re all prey.  If we’re not selling, we’re being sold to.  All the time.  But hey, today, I was really proud of myself.  I got people to change their minds after they went to the register with bottles they had been convinced to buy.  And I wasn’t the least bit pushy or rude.  How could I be?  I’m me.  Miss American Manners.  In Hellish Tel Aviv.

And then, and then, we’re talking 9 pm, I walked half a mile, got a bus home, went to the pharmacy to get my new meds, and the went to my uncle’s with a chicken and four premium bottles of wine, and I proceeded to cook…for the last three or more hours.  Chicken soup (with carrots, onions, garlic, celery, celeriac, parsley root, and leek…and of course the obligatory bay leaves and allspice) is done…as is the ridiculously complicated quinoa salad that I have become famous for this year.  It takes a ton of chopping and peeling and minute work.  It’s not difficult.  Just time consuming.  Tomorrow the matzah balls, tsimmes, and roast beef will have to find themselves being made somehow or other.  I hope.  Because at 9 am I need to be out the door to my last holiday tasting, all the freaking way on the other side of the city…until 3 pm, when I rush to my uncle’s to finish cooking.  Good Lord!

And now, I’m going to hop in the shower.  Oh how I’ve needed to shower.  For like three days.  Please don’t think me gross.  I’ve had other priorities, for the first time in months.  A “feels good to be dirty” kind of high?  Not really.  But it should be at least somewhat satisfying.  And Thursday!  Thursday!  I’m off to the Ashram in the Desert for 5 full days!

Happy Passover to All!  And Happy Easter (whenever it falls this year…sorry, it’s the first time I have no idea)!

208 Days: Damned Structures

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2009 at 7:55 am

Back to life. Back to reality.

I’ve had my grace period. It’s time to open mail, clean house, get a business plan, write, shower. Open the GD datebook. I think I may even have scheduled a doctor’s appt for today, like a month back, and goodness knows that I should friggin know about it.

So here is the challenge. Being productive and adult without having the external structure of a boss and a job and deadlines for other people. Now, I have to make deadlines for myself. I was reading my friend Julie’s blog today, and I was so homesick and envious of just warm and normal and organized lives.  There are some comforts I just don’t have, even the material ones.  I don’t have parents nearby.  I don’t have a TV.  Procrastinating at my house is just as pathetic as can be.  OK, I’m going to make a list.  I really really need one.  And I’m using this blog to do it, apologies to all, as I can’t even seem to be able to find paper and a pen to do this.  All I got’s a computer in front of me, and I need something to kick my ass into shape about all of this.  Go, go, go!  Ugh.

  1. Open mail – assess the damage, aka bills, bank statement, letter from former company showing what I’m owed, what I need to sign, etc.
  2. Eat breakfast.  There’s yogurt and brown bread and fruit in the fridge.  And if you’re needing it, some bleu cheese and nutella.  So go eat!
  3. Shower.  There may even be hot water all ready for you, so just do it.
  4. Finances.  Write the email to the CFO of former company in order to settle your severance.  Just do it.  Go to bank and see what the damage is.  Create a budget for the month and up to six months.  It will be OK.
  5. Bituach Leumi.  Yes, social security.  Go to them.  Wait in line.  Figure it all out.  See what you owe.  Tell them you’re unemployed.  Find out your break for that.  See if you’re eligible for unemployment, as there is actually a chance for it.  As it’s probably too late to go today already, as it’s 9:30 am, you write it in ink for Tuesday.
  6. Manuscript.  Get it printed.  Get to a cafe with your newish laptop.  Read it.  Start revising and writing up a storm.  You must do this. Today.
  7. Food career.  Send resume out for the vegetarian kosher personal chef advert you saw.  4 days a week making lunch and dinner for two is a fab part time job.  DO IT.  Get business cards made.  ASAP.  Need it this week.  Figure it out.  What am I now.  Chef and Writer?  Writer and Personal Chef?  And it means completely updating personal website for business purposes.  Ee Gad!  Just do it.
  8. Therapy.  After financial assessment, assess whether you can still afford a private therapist.  You need it, but it might be time to buck up and go to the kupat cholim for help.
  9. Friends.  Call regularly.  Catch up on email.  You can do this.  It isn’t even painful.
  10. Ireland.  Can I go for A’s bday in a month? Go to student travel agency and see if they can do better than $520 after tax, as that’s what expedia is saying.  If I can go for around $450, I’d do it.  And think of this idea…maybe you can even convince current brand new boyfriend (can I even call him that) to come with me and use it as a romantic weekend away…It will be expensive.  $520 is best price.  Wow.
  11. Italy.  Need to start budgeting.  Great that parents have purchased a cruise, but I have to get myself to Venice in order to board the ship.  Also tackle this hurdle at the student travel agency, god love ’em. Also so expensive I want to puke.  $620 is best price.  Ugh.
  12. Write mom a thank you note for the lovely fake Ugg boots which I will not be removing from my feet this winter, and the two science fiction novels she sent me…as well as the old hand me down computer she gave me…saved me a few hundred bucks.  This will take like 30 seconds so do it now!
  13. Clean the house and tidy after the cats.  If you do a little all the time, it’s easier in the long run.
  14. Deal with the clothes in the bedroom.  Hun, you’ve been home nearly a week.  Well, no, 4.5 days.  But still.  Gotta really unpack and deal with problem of the huge pile of clothes you left on a chair.  This house is not big enough.
  15. Spend quality time with your sister!  She’ll be back from Rome in 45 minutes.  Shower her with your love and ridiculous amounts of presents from India!
  16. India photos!  Assess and upload for goodness sake.  If anyone’s read to this point, would love some recommendations on free websites and/or software for dealing with thousands of photos that add up to about 7 gig.  I’m not kidding.
  17. Post office.  Send J her gift and R your Lonely Planet India.  Easy as pie.  Just need addresses.
  18. Read/watch some news for god’s sake.  See if any of your friends have gotten drafted yet. None yet, but probably…I’m keeping fingers crossed my sister doesn’t get called up.
  19. Buy an adapter for the new computer
  20. Buy a cat post for those sharp clawed beasties to scratch.  They lost interest after an hour…fuck!  Maybe I should smear it with food or something.

OK.  That’s not so bad.  Really.  Today, I think I’ll get a few of these done.  Maybe not the most important ones.  But several is great.  I think I’ll go eat and shower and get out of the house, with the laptop in tow, to find a printer and an internet cafe, maybe downtown, so that way I can go to my travel agent at the same time.  And going downtown makes me feel like I’ve done something with my day.  Gone somewhere.  Seen things.  It’s all good.  And of course, I’ll see my sister this afternoon or evening.  I will shower her with stuff.  It will be OK.  Yes it will.  I can do this.  Yes I can.  Now go.  Go!  Go do it already.  OK.  OK.  I will.  Now.