Happy Father's Day, o fatherly readers. Let me sit upon your knee! I sent nothing to my father except a postcard with an oil-pastel of lupines on it; in his youth, he was wont to wander Mt. St. Helen's & sketch them. I'm going to visit him next weekend, and figured I could transport whatever fatherly gift I could think of there; and since I'm entirely broke, due to unexpectedly huge phone bills, whatever fatherly gift I can think of is likely to be another postcard of lupines.
It's been a good weekend. I had a dinner party last night, and spent all day pureeing different things in my blender: kalamata olives, cilantro, pine nuts. In between pureeing I cleaned, talked on the phone, and read teen novels on the sofa in fits of languor, as the blood seeped out of my body and made me feel dizzy and vague. People were invited for 8:30, and by 8 I had my salad and sauce made, and flowers in the vases and the floors swept, and my lipstick and half of my eyeliner on, but the appetizers had not been assembled and my big pasta pot was missing and I was shoeless. But once the eyeliner & the shoes were on I was comforted, for you're allowed to be cooking when your guests arrived, but if they arrive before you've put your face on you're not allowed to ever put it on. Think how tacky you would look!
But when my first guests arrived, with mozzarella and heirloom or hopechest or whatever kind of tomatoes and basil, and white wine, and then another guest with red wine, I had the crostini ready and we were all drinking wine and chopping things in the kitchen and being convivial, and then we all repaired to the dining room and ate the crostini and the mozzarella and the salad, which had spinach with papaya and hearts-of-palm and a dressing that was just lime juice and cilantro and salt, and it was fun except that sometimes the ladies talked about shoes and did the dishes while the gentlemen practically smoked cigars. But I think everyone had a nice time, particularly when we played some drinking game that involved counting but saying "buzz" when you got to a multiple of seven or a number with the digit seven in it.
And today I went to see a Bergman film and I'm not sure I like it, but I am sure I liked the day, which was mild and bright and breezy, and was kind and coaxing towards my mild hangover. After the movie I went to the Park--not the one w/ the cougars but the other, grander one, rich in fountains and ponds and brass statues and also greenish statues of Columbus that prove me right: he wore a big tunic and leggings under his knee-length fur-trimmed coat, not Francis-Drakey slashed breeches, as my ancient neighbor Mr. McGowan insists he wore. And I gloried in the statues and fountains, and the glory of Great Works, meaning municipal endeavor. And when I had had my fill of walking I lay me down on a hill called Cedar Hill, but on the slope where there were no cedars, only thick clover and thicker grass, and among the babies and the sparrows I read the Iliad, which I have just begun to read for the first time. It seems odd that I have reached my age & state of life without reading the Iliad, and a little sad, but on the other hand I'm lucky because I get to read it now. I always thought it might be boring, that it would be all battles and all catalogues of names, and it certainly is full of battles and catalogues, but what I'm stunned by (besides the gorgeousness of the battles and the bronze tearing through the perfect circles of the shields and the dark mists rising over the eyes and the stones rupturing the sinews in a mortal spot where the collarbone is interposed between chest and neck) are the sudden, specific, surprising details--usually domestic details--like Hector's helmet scaring his baby and Andromache feeding the horses sweet-hearted wheat and wine when her heart inclined to it and Patroklos setting out the bread while Achilles serves the meat. And the gods all having their own separate houses in Olympus that Hephaistos made for them. And Zeus sleeping next to Hera in their bed. It strikes me that these aren't unusual elements to have in a book--all books talk about what people ate and where they lived and what they wore--but here they seem miraculous, and touching, and profound. Happy Father's Day, Hector! Kiss, kiss, kiss.
and June, and this past week: I had my birthday, was awarded a large bouquet of lilies by Stephen (he can take me to the prom, by the way, although--also by the way-- being able to take someone to the prom doesn't mean being able to love or marry them and vicey-versa) and had fifteen friends at my apartment eating Caprese salads and linguine and ice cream with fruit on it, and drinking too much tequila, and playing cards, and guitar, and the fool (that's a zeugma, ain't it?). Generally I don't approve of playing guitar at birthday parties but it was all right because it was late & we were drunk. Oisin, the baby, was there, which may not have been a good idea, but he slept through most of it, and looked like a fat little angel. And don't worry, the IR slept over & did not drive or walk home with her baby strapped to her wrong or something.
Then this weekend I went to a bunch of other parties--cranberry juice and vodka and soda and lime at some bar, and then talking about Troy, the movie, with maybe twelve separate people at my friend Katharine's house (everyone had an opinion; I, drunk, lay across the couch and talked warmly and nonsensically about how excluded ladies feel when all the men are homosexual, but I meant it about warrish hypermasculinized societies like ancient Greece where there's nothing else for the ladies to do but weave and have nothing said about themselves, not about the modern era. If ever, ever, ever, ever, ever you hear me say something along the lines of, "All the good ones are gay or taken," know at once that I'm making some very subtle joke, because for some reason I think that statement is offensive to everybody in the whole world, and it makes me sad when people say it. I'm not really sure why it upsets me but it does! and I figured out why once, over some bean soup, with my friend, but I don't remember now. But it may be related to what I was talking about w/ a friend-of-a-friend at party #3: how, Alanis Morrisette, is that the man of your dreams if he already has a beautiful wife?) Then I fell into bed, and then the next day I had an incredible hangover, and then I went to two barbecues and watched a horserace in a hat w/ netting on it and then went to another party and all the while the heels of my pink Prada shoes kept getting wedged into things. Tight spaces. At the final party I talked about sex in an inappropriate manner with some girls I went to college with, and at one point I was saying something inappropriate and the music stopped and it was embarrassing. "How can you be embarrassed, Nonnie?" inquire my readers. "You are a world-famous Ann-Landers-type celebrity sex columnist/phone-sex operator!" But you see, sometimes you are still embarrassed! In certain contexts!
o, comfort me. just kidding; I am very comfortable indeed.
5 april 2004
I'm on the airplane waiting to go to Zurich & this morning Momma saw me off to the airport shuttle-bus at 7:30 AM & we both cried & hugged because you do, sometimes, with your mother. And then there I am sobbing with some slight restraint on the bus, blackening a Kleenex with streams of mascara, and these Texan businessmen are sitting across from me, sideways in their seats so it feels like they're looking straight at me, and talking about their financial brokerage jobs, and then out of the blue one guy says to the other, "The thing about these Italian girls and women, is that they don't carry any body fat. I mean, there are girls and women in the United States that stay in shape, you know, but it doesn't look natural. But these Italian girls and women, if you could sell that you could make a lot of money worldwide." The other one agreed: "You could just name your price," he said. Then, they started talking about something else.
This used to say something else, but I realized that much intimacy would make me really vulnerable in a vulnerable time of my vulnerable life. Like when you go into battle against phalanxes of spearmen with only your cavalry to protect you.
2 april 2004
O Positano is very, very, very beautiful and full of lemons. I had a lot of revelations--cliffs, lights, turquoise water, the rollercoaster excitement of riding an enormous bus at full tilt along narrow, winding roads at a vertiginous height above the water, standing in the cold water in a hot sun, tiled terraces, yellow flowers, Moorish, sherbet-colored duomos, the idea of life forever in a resort town, gleaming with lotion and beaming up at my husband as I scoop up an accessory baby or something. Are people in warm weather happier than the rest of us? Getting an e-mail from my friend Luther while I was in this gorgeous red-tiled, white-chaired, terraced and unterraced cafe eating strawberry trifle and drinking tea, and his e-mail reveals that his book of little nonfiction sketches of Midwestern life (the soda jerk who listens to Korn, the kids growing pot among their mom's tomato plants) has been awarded this really prestigious prize, and I was just pleased & not at all jealous! even though I sometimes am pretty jealous of people. Because the sun, the terrace, the tea settle into your skin & blood and make you happy and hopeful and eager for the future to come rolling in honey-slow with the sun, and the future just seems like you'd be having beer after beer on porches or boats or in parks with everyone you can think of, dressed in resort wear, the benevolent sun beaming down.
More Italy journals (there will be 2 more after this, then that's it!) I'm glad that I'm posting these, BECAUSE I am wearily recovering from my extravagant, golden-lilies-and-tequila birthday yesterday, and also because I just ate a soft-baked cookie that seemed to be covered in some kind of stinging poisoned chicken grease. Gross! More on all of this over the weekend, I suppose, when I run out of Italian for you.
31 March 2004
The rest of Florence, almost the whole second week, was kind of a bust, after the haircuts (which seemed, at the time, incredible, but were revealed by showers to be all smoke & mirrors! the brassy Italian lady who did them was pronounced by all to have been a strega!) On the day of the haircuts we saw the lovely, lovely, lovely Brancacci Chapel, the life of St. Peter and that banished Adam & Eve, at S. Maria del Carmine, and we ate a good delicious lunch, but! I most certainly had a head-flu, or powerful cold, since the night before, and was hopped up on Sudafed or Aleve Cold or something all day, so that the cold water and the hot water on my scalp as the shampoo girl washed my hair sent me into mystic, synesthetic raptures, and language was sometimes confusing.
We spent most of our visit to Siena running around in our rented car, looking for the Europcar office or the city walls, but at last we gave up & took a cab to il centro & although shopping mania consumed most of the day without me even getting a 300-euro sailor hat, I got a useful purse & visited with the relic (a tiny slice of bone set in a plastic nun-shaped doll) of Saint Catherine of Siena (yes, that conjunction of sentences seems sacreligious, but if you understood some things, which I cannot explain here, you would understand that that useful red leather purse and that tiny plastic shrine with its tiny relic and its rows of electric button-operated candles are not so very different.) And also beautiful, beautiful was the duomo, which I visited alone, the thousand heads of popes, the dark blue madonna chapel, and the heaps of pink clouds in the blue-gray sky as I waited for Momma & Ana to meet me, & watched the pigeons (again pigeons! who am I, Rilke?) fly among the saints & prophets & philosophers.