Right, Like I’d Do That Twice

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Daily Prompt Out of Breath We all seem to insist on how busy, busy, busy we constantly are. Let’s put things in perspective: tell us about the craziest, busiest, most hectic day you’ve had in the past decade.

I’m not interested in reliving this, OK? Not any of the breathless moments. In fact, Daily Prompt, I think it might be over between us. It could be me it could be you (don’t know) but where once I looked forward to this moment and my coffee every day, for a while, I haven’t. Sometimes I’ve felt actively disappointed.

Yesterday I got  a comment on a post I did some time back. The comment was just a knee-jerk reaction to what the reader “thought” I said, not to what I had said. I felt that I had no “right’ to write, “Did you read this?” and that is a wall. It’s strange that a person can read something and NOT understand it and comment and that’s OK. Good manners says the comment should be “respected.” I felt inhibited from writing back, “Spare me your knee jerk reactions, OK? You don’t get it.”  OH well. Probably I’m too tired and frazzled and confused from all the changes in my life over the past few months. Maybe this will be entertaining again when I’m settled, my stuff is put away, I am no longer aching from carrying stuff and have had a real good nights sleep — my brain is hyper-active as well as my body is exhausted, from settling into a new life in which I do not really know who I am or what I will do and be.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/out-of-breath/

Dialogue, Dusty and Mindy

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Daily Prompt Ready, Set, Done Our ten-minute free-write is back! Have no mercy on your keyboard as you give us your most unfiltered self (feel free to edit later, or just publish as-is).

These floors are hard and COLD.
Yeah, how come Lily gets the rug?
We get the pads and you always take the sofa.
Not if she’s around I don’t get the sofa.
I think she needs to get us dog beds.
Are we dogs? I mean distinct from her? She’s NOT a dog? Or is that thing in there she was so fraught about NOT a dog bed, too?
She’s an ape.
What? No she isn’t.
Is. She is. She said so.
What about Lily?
Hard to say about her. I think she’s a poor blind, wandering wolf.
She’s not a wolf.
How come she gets the rug?
She got there first.
Dog, that was cool this morning when the ape got up and opened the back door and went back to bed. Just like old times.
I wonder where we’re going next.
I think we’re there. I think this is the end of the line.
Really? Well, it’s fine if we get some beds.
I think she’ll do something. She usually does do something.
Busy ape, isn’t she.
Shhhh. I’m trying to sleep and I have a feeling that any minute she’s going to get up and do something.
What’s that racket, anyway?
I don’t know, but it seems to keep things nice and toasty in here.
I noticed that, too. Well, if this is it, it’s OK by me if only that wolf would quit circling.
I think she’d settle down if you got off her rug.
I will as soon as the ape gets off the sofa.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-5/

Yay! Yay! Yay! and MINDY Approves!

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Martha Kennedy:

Moving day! :)

Originally posted on Colorado or Bust!:

Yesterday I drove down to Monte Vista with a car load of stuff and Mindy. My agent had worked it out that I would be able to occupy the house before the official closing. The plan was I’d meet my agent, we’d do a walk-through, come back up to South Fork and today we’d close the house deal. I spent the morning organizing movers (not all that easy when you don’t know anyone and the internet is a barrier to getting a phone number — long story and not interesting). At around 2:00, I headed down. Stopped at the bank, then the little discount store (reminds me of an old-school dime store and I like it) to buy a shower curtain and stuff then the PO. Got to the house and waited. When my agent got there she was in the middle of a discussion with the title company and…

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A Grand Slam is a Four Bagger With Three Men on Base

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Daily Prompt Grand Slam The World Series starts tonight! In your own life, what would be the equivalent of a walk-off home run? (For the baseball-averse, that’s a last-minute, back-against-the-wall play that guarantees a dramatic victory.)

NO. A Grand Slam is a home run (often outta’ the park) when the bases are loaded. It’s four home-runs. It does NOT guarantee anything except four home-runs. A team with a player who’s hit a grand-slam can still lose the game.

Some things matter. Baseball is one of them.

For those who might not know, this is a video of a great player hitting a home run, one of the greatest players of all time and one of my childhood heroes, Willie Mays.

 

Now, imagine Willie Mays has hit this when there is a man on each base. You can imagine the crowd would go ape-shit. Four home runs at once! A great thing, especially in the BOTTOM of the 9th inning when the score is tied. That would guarantee a victory. Otherwise… Can’t be sure.

Willie Mays hit 8 grand-slam home runs in his career. It’s not a back up against the wall desperate move. It’s a combination of things — skill is important but luck is involved, too. Will has little to do with it. Nor does desperation. A desperate batter cannot hit. He’ll swing and miss and freak out and be nervous and mis-identify pitches. It takes a cool head to hit a home run. A cool head and the right pitch. For anyone interested, here’s a nice chart listing players and grand-slams.

Otherwise, a Grand Slam is a popular breakfast you can order at Denny’s. It guarantees cardiac arrest. HOWEVER you’ll note there are FOUR items on that plate. You can consider them first, second, third and home; four bases, one plate. Got it? ;-)

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/grand-slam/

If I Only Had a Brain!

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Daily Prompt Finite Creatures At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery? (Thank you for suggesting this prompt, Swoosieque.)

I’ve spent my life (up until now) with post-adolescents. These are creatures of rare beauty and madness who do not know they will not live forever. Outsiders worry about them, see them as volatile, violent, self-destructive, rebellious, solipsistic, love-crazed, sex-crazed, over-emotional and a host of other things no sober-minded grownup thinks is good. They race rice-rockets down city streets; they think beer-bongs are a lot of fun; they worry about their mammary glands and posterior anomalies (unduly); they are beautiful, wanton and scared. They need to be taught the difference between a reaction and a response, but they won’t get it.

A LOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGG time ago I was out for dinner with a former student from Italy. We had a good time and after were talking about life. He was 25. He said, “Two years ago I was in a car accident. That’s when I realized I wasn’t the Highlander.” I told him had been the same for me, without the accident. I was working on the line at Head Ski, married two years, a few months out of university with a BA in English, and it hit me that I was wasting time.

There’s nothing amazing in this, I’ve since learned. Our brains are developing throughout our teen years and are not fully developed until our early-mid twenties, roughly ten years before they start degenerating. It really IS a switch in our brains that says, “OK, party’s over. There ARE consequences and NOW you’re going to be able to imagine them. This is called ‘thinking ahead’.”

To learn more about this, read, “The Teen Brain: It’s Just Not Grown Up Yet

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/finite-creatures/

8 1/2

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Daily Prompt Fourth Wall You get to spend a day inside your favorite movie. Tell us which one it is — and what happens to you while you’re there. (Thanks for the lovely prompt ideaMywitchkitchen!)

I am Guido. To see what happens to me, watch the film.

P.S. I’m sorry. I just don’t get this prompt. I don’t know how I could be “in” a film that’s already made — it would be a matter of taking an existing part in that film so what would happen to me while I’m there is completely revealed in the film itself. As for this film… There are probably books written about what it means; if not books, there are certainly articles (I even wrote one). As an artist (I don’t mean to sound precious or pretentious there; I’m neither of those things) I have to struggle constantly to remain true to what I want to do, that is, what pertains to me. I relate to Guido (the protagonist) very strongly and sometimes, when I feel like giving up, I watch 8 1/2.

A lot of people don’t “get” Fellini’s work. I personally think it’s pretty obvious stuff. It’s when a viewer doesn’t just sit back and enjoy it and tries to find something in it, some hidden meaning, that he/she is likely to get frustrated. That is also what this film is about. I’d like to share my article, but I don’t have it in any format that makes that possible.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/fourth-wall/

Walking Away?

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Daily Prompt Circuitous Paths A stranger knocks on your door, asking for directions from your home to the closest gas station (or café, or library. Your pick!). Instead of the fastest and shortest route, give him/her the one involving the most fun detours.

“Yes?”
“What’s the shortest way to your house?”
“I don’t have one.”
“There’s no shortest way or you have no house?”
“No house. Seriously.”
“Wow. So you’re homeless?”
“Actually, yes. Not without shelter but without a home.”
“How did that happen?”
“I retired and moved to another state where I’m trying to close a deal on a house but…”
“But? That’s normal enough?”
“I’ve reached a turning point. I realized yesterday after numerous frustrations with my agent, my lender, the seller, his agent, etc. that there’s really no reason in the world for me to do this. I only went this way because it’s what I’m used to, you know? House, car, dogs… But why?”
“Yeah, right? Why?”
“I shoulda’ just found homes for the dogs or put them to sleep. Gotten rid of my stuff. Paid my debts. Bought a plane ticket somewhere I want to go and GONE. I should be in Croatia or some place on the Mediterranean where I could live on my retirement and NOT BE HERE.”
“That’s kind of drastic.”
“What ISN’T drastic? It was just stupid to come back to Colorado where I’ve already lived. Sink my money into another property and all this bullshit. What am I going to do here, anyway? Be a famous writer? I got news for you, buddy. There are nine-billion wannabe writers out there in the world. There are writer’s workshops out the wazoo. I’m no better than anyone else and less likely to sell, really, since I’m codgerish, and I’ve never ever even found the public pulse. I just went in this direction because I KNOW it, but after a month in this wildly expensive dog crate, I realize, I should’ve thought about it MORE and DIFFERENTLY. I’m going to spend today trying to find out if it’s too late to back out of the deal and take what I have left. I think I can buy a motorhome and the dogs and I can just Jack Kerouac it into oblivion.”
“Wow. Seriously? You’re just going to back out?”
“Naw. I suspect the best solution to this is to let the seller blow it. If he doesn’t get things done by Monday, and the underwriters won’t fund the loan until the contingency of a roof repair is met, I’ll be able to choose whether to go forward or not. My best bet is to lie low and let things play out.”
“If it happens they can’t close when they are supposed to?”
“I have two days to think about this. I CAN leave. I can just put the dogs in boarding and take off on a jet plane somewhere. Even a new passport and I’m OUTTA’ here.”
“So any way I go to your house is going to be circuitous.”
“As far as I know, there’s no way to get there.”

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/circuitous-paths/

Loss and Ignorance in Milan

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Il Cenoculo

“Could there be a more appropriate or better conceived subject for a painting in a refectory than a farewell supper, which was destined to become eternally sacred to the whole world?” Goethe quoting “Giuseppe Bossi: On Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper at Milan”

My first breakfast in Milan was a solitary bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee. I washed the dishes. Taking my map, I left, securing doors and gates behind me with strange Italian keys, sideways skeletons, serious locks. At the bottom of three flights of worn marble tiles–the wearing down of which fascinated me–I stepped into the bright day through a doorway built to admit horses into the courtyard of this 18th century building. Sunday. Quiet streets. I had marked my map with a yellow highlighter, leading to my destination, La Ultima Cena, Il Cenoculo, the masterpiece which competes with the Mona Lisa as Leonardo’s most famous painting. “Dove Il Cenoculo?” asked Elena the day before.

“Sant’Ambrogio,” answered Elisabetta. That basilica was my destination.

“You can ride my bicycle, or you can take the tram, and the subway is just up that street, turn right, then left, then right and it’s there. Remember, the stop is Porto Romano so when you come back you know where to get off.” My first thought–which I rejected–was the bicycle, but it’s difficult to navigate on a bicycle unless you know where you are and where you’re going, and then there were the grooves of the tram tracks. Intimidated by the subway, and wanting to see the city, I walked. Self-consciously solitary, hesitant to publicly read my map, I was a black hopeful shadow on sun-drenched streets, seeking shade beneath the trees along Via Beatrice Este. I wandered past a Byzantine church, breathtaking, mysterious and–to me–irresistible. I walked around it but became confused when I was suddenly on a medieval street. Out of odd uncertainty, I retraced my steps. My goal was to see the one painting I would find at Sant’Ambrogio, nothing else. Seeing a subway stop, I went down to ask directions. I was kindly informed that the Basilica Sant’Ambrogio was directly across the street. I ran up the stairs and emerged in a driven frenzy to find the entrance to the church; still, I couldn’t find it. I walked around the block looking for a likely entrance, and finding none, and further and further from where I wanted to be, I turned back. Each moment increased my self-doubt. This was not, for me, the simple confusion of a stranger in a strange land; for me, all this was failure. I was proving something to someone, to Dario? To his sister, his parents? To myself? That I could do everything myself? That I could give myself a good time, a successful time, that I didn’t need Dario or the realization of his promises, and so I was determined to see La Ultima Cena.  I had to do this without asking any of the questions I really needed to ask, or noticing anything around me.

I should have understood then. I didn’t find the door until I gave up possibilities which (to me) seemed reasonable and went in the only open gate, a spiked iron-clad foot-thick wooden monster that could have confined Satan. This was how I discovered that the entrance to this historic church is through the gate of the tower dungeon which houses Milan’s Museum of Torturous Implements of the Holy Inquisition.

I entered a small square. A one-eyed beggar from Africa sat on one of the benches that lined the courtyard. A couple of punk-rock kids sat kissing on a stone animal (lion? lamb?) outside the church door. The age of the place and its silence struck me; I entered without speaking to anyone. I did not imagine that others would understand even my poor, very poor, Italian, though only the day before I had spoken Italian the entire day, and the day before that, and the day before that and the day before that; my four days in Italy had been–except for the abysmal interludes of broken English with Dario–lived in Italian. Entering this church, I felt excruciatingly, self-consciously, foreign. Church bells rang the half hour.

“A combination of Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, the Basilica Sant’Ambrogio marked an important transition in style,” I was told by a coin operated recording just inside the doors. The recording said nothing about La Ultima Cena. I walked around the sanctuary, looking at the chapels and the paintings, puzzled that I did not see what I came to see, or a line of people waiting to see it, or any indication that it was here at all. I was momentarily entranced by a statue and shrine to a saint called Satiros, and nearly bought him a candle based on the painfully appropriate prayer asking for his help in overcoming “egoismo e indeciso.” The long line of suppliants waiting for a chance to buy these candles and prayers indicated something fundamental in human nature.
I continued to walk around the church, looking, but absently looking; occluded as I was by egoism and indecisiveness, I was paralyzed. All I REALLY saw was that I didn’t see what I set out that morning to see. I did not want to ask, “Where is Leonardo’s painting?” when clearly what WAS all around me was amazing. Finally, I bought a guidebook to Milan from a woman running a kiosk inside the church and from the book I learned that what I wanted was the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Sant’Ambrogio was the simply the closest subway stop. I walked out of the church moments before mass began. I missed that, too.

A destination serves best as a reason to venture out. Until I learned this, I endured the pathology of frustration. Knowing where I “wanted” to be, it became impossible for me to stay where I was, to see the random beauty of a place like this one. A week later, after I had learned how to ask useful questions and how to be somewhere, I tried to return. Sant’Ambrogio was closed for mass, and all that remained for me was to wander through the three dismal floors of torture, perusing devices representing the nefarious side of human nature, diabolically vindicated by “Church” and “Justice. The irony is this. Hell is exactly that, not to be where you are at any given moment. I had damned myself.

Des Lebens labyrintisches irren Lauf,” wrote Goethe in one of his prologues to Faust. “. . .life’s labyrinthine chaos course.”

I continued, through small streets and down some larger ones, reaching, finally, the monastery in which Leonardo had painted to pay for food and shelter.

I could not get in. “We are sorry. There are no more reservations today. Call this number to make an appointment.”

Tourists who were in Milan for only one day crumpled in disappointment or paced in frenzied agitation. “What if someone cancels? Then can we get in?”

“No one cancels.”

I looked around. There are tours in English and Italian; a Korean tour group had all the tickets for the next English tour which was also the last of the day. Next to the door a table was set up selling souvenirs of the Cenoculo experience; posters, maps, postcards, banners, all kinds of junk.

Per favore. Di me il numero.”

Siamo ciusi domani, e martedi non ne piu prenotatti, mercoledi e il primo giorno.”

Va bene. Sono qui per una settimana.”

“Bene. Qui,” and he handed me a small card with the number printed on it. “Chiamare un giorno di anticipo. Abbiamo un tour in inglese cinque volte per giorno.

Grazie. Grazie tanti. Arrivederci.

Clearly, my Italian wasn’t very good, or were there things about the painting I would understand better if they were told to me in bad English? The fact was, I didn’t care if I saw this famous painting or not; I preferred a tour in Italian because, at least, I would improve my listening comprehension. I had seen this painting–as we have all seen it–in reproductions everywhere on everything. My grandmother, in her little house on its gravel street in Billings, Montana had, hanging above her sink, a china plate on which was printed The Last Supper. When I was a kid, I thought that was funny since no one ever actually ate supper off the plate. I inherited it, as it had been a gift from my mother, and when it broke in a move, I felt no loss, either of the artifact of my grandmother’s life or of this painting. The plate was kitsch; the painting, by default, was kitsch. Seeing The Last Supper was just the thing you did in Milan. From my frustrated visit to the Basilica Santa Maria di Grazia, I had a story to tell the girls at dinner, “There were so many people, I couldn’t get in.” I knew I would say that and they would ask me when I could go.

A nineteenth century tourist had raved about Milan, calling it the beautiful progeny of a marriage between Zürich and Rome. I loved Zürich; I had not been to Rome. Today Milan is a city that, apparently, does not attract tourists, only those who want to hear opera at La Scala–which, during my visit was playing West Side Story–or who are passing through to real destinations like Rome, Florence or Venice, but Milan ultimately gave me unhurried, uncrowded experiences in intriguing, beautiful places. I was heading in the direction of downtown, toward the Duomo. Relieved of Il Cenoculo as a destination, I looked in my small book on what I might find on the way. My feet were burning from blisters I’d gotten the day before walking barefoot in hot black shoes, around the Naviglia, and though I was now wearing socks, they were too heavy, and pressed on my blisters.

I continued walking, past a building whose street door was flanked by ancient statues. I entered only the courtyard. I glanced at hacked up dismembered marble arms and legs, thighs without knees or hips, half a face with an ear, scattered in the yard, covered with dust, or resting on fat-legged marble tables like fossilized cadavers of titans; the ancient, presented like this, didn’t interest me. I turned away.

I was on the Corso Magenta. I really wanted lightweight socks. It was Sunday. What would be open? I decided to find something to eat and continued toward the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II.
I got lunch in an autocafe, one of a chain throughout Milan–all of Italy, for all I know–the equivalent of Denny’s. I found no seat except in the smoking section, across from a junkie who had piled his plate high with ham, pasta, salad and fruit he didn’t touch. I had rigatoni bolognese, worse than American pasta which is notorious in Italy for being overcooked. The bread was stale and my soda was expensive. As I ate, silently looking past the junkie out the window, I decided not to eat there again, even though it had a bathroom. A tourist on foot becomes preoccupied with accessible public toilets, and in the course of that day I remembered reading a description of the convenient public toilet behind the Duomo, complete with showers, run by the Tourist Bureau.
I set out in search of socks. The streets were now packed with people, and I shuffled and jostled my way along, past refugees from everywhere selling everything; Senegalese selling purses, Chinese selling cheap electronic toys, Angolans offering braided bracelets, Filipinos selling truly lovely handmade jewelry made of fishing line and glass. I was ignored; I looked either too destitute or too Italian to approach, and was left to go my way while those more obviously tourists were plagued and pursued down the Corso Vittorio Emanuelle. I found a store open and entering, looked for socks. Milan IS fashion; and the clothes in this store were gorgeous, but in the self-consciousness of my solitude, I had difficulty looking. I found the socks and bought them. I crossed the Piazza delle Duomo, and went for the first time to a cafe that became from that day on my resting place.

Mi dispiace, ma, non posso cambiare,” the man behind the counter was saying to the young Korean woman ahead of me in line who had ordered ice cream and cappuccino and handed him a 300,000 lira note. “Aspetta un momento, per favore,” he continued, then looked at me, “Mi scusi, signora, si può cambiare questo?”

Si. Aspetta.” I gave him change (lira, back then), then I ordered an espresso and soda water. In solidarity with the Italian style, I put two cubes of sugar in my tiny cup of coffee, though normally I take it black, and stirred. It was better sweet. I felt triumphant that I could change that note; I felt that I was more than an imbecilic parasite lost with blistered feet, marching on the streets of Milan purposefully to erroneous destinations, who had come to Italy in pursuit of a man who had turned out to be a lying sociopath.

Sitting with my coffee, listening to an orchestra playing in the background and looking at the pigeon and tourist filled square of the Duomo, I understood all of it. I opened my book and looked at all the places I could go; I had no destination, I had only to enjoy myself. My one certainty was a plane ticket taking me back to California in three weeks. I did not want to stay so long, but I couldn’t change my ticket at that moment, that day; it was Sunday, and I was in Milan. That reality finally penetrated; I was in Milan, on my own, independent, in one of the world’s great, oldest cities. I leaned back in my chair, closed my eyes, and saw with excitement how little I knew of anything, especially of where I was. I was filled with the sense of magic possibility that is freedom. Adventure; (advent, the beginning or coming of something important).

After a change of socks I decided to see the paintings hanging in the Sforza Castle. I crossed the Galleria and found myself in a medieval market square with posts and rings for tying horses. Families of Italian and eastern European tourists ate picnic lunches on the raised platform of the market; it was a beautiful spot and I was able with my new wisdom to enjoy it, to marvel at it, to picture in my mind the horses tied and merchants bargaining beneath the watchful gaze of burghers and officials looking from the merchant exchange offices above. I bought a gelato, and crossed a traffic circle, entering the drawbridge gate over the dry moat that surrounded a castle from a fairy tale.

Castello Sforzesco vista dallalto

I wanted to see paintings, but the first entrance led me to carefully labeled marble body parts. Outside again, I saw a sign, “Pinocateca.” Painting gallery. The Castle Sforza IS medieval, but inside, the museum is ultra-modern and spare; it’s perfect. The European time machine–of which I had only seen scattered samples in museums–needs somehow to rest within a space so barren of context that each comprehensible jewel can be savored, relished, seen. The Sforza Castle was made — in many places —  into just such spaces. I passed through the first two in which tapestries hung above mammoth medieval chests and chairs, into another, with a vaulted green ceiling on which frescoes of zodiac signs were painted; it was splendid, set off by itself. From there I walked into the next perfectly Spartan room. Narrative and symbolic paintings of the Virgin, St. Sebsastian, St. Gregory, St. Benedict began their education of my eyes. I needed to be taught; I did not know how to see; I was tuned to subject, numb to form, blind to technique. At first I saw only that the paintings were virtually the same; the same subjects, the Last Supper, the crucifixion, insufficient representations of the Biblical reference I love most, the Garden of Gethsemene. There was the first Christmas, the infant Jesus on Mary’s Lap, the child Jesus, then sorrowing, brave Mary holding up the body of her dead son, and on and on and on over and over again from one room to the next. Goethe wrote that these artists, painting for patronage, limited by their patrons to these same subjects, were imprisoned, but there was none of the joylessness of imprisonment in these works; at least, I didn’t see it. All seemed to have been painted with patience, faith and love–and hope, of course, for a few dollars.

But I was learning. Learning of saints, and which ones cried out most for depiction–St. Sebastian with his arrow-pierced young body, his agony. Later, a strange image emerged; a levitating knife, poised to penetrate? or decapitate? There was no clue anywhere as to the significance of this airborne blade. Did it denote martyrdom? I posited this theory hoping to find the blade in a painting of the one man my Protestant background recognized as a martyr, St. John the Baptist. “That,” I thought, “will tell me.” I didn’t object to my ignorance; it was the force behind discovery. Looking for a flying blade seeking John the Baptist, I gasped to see his head on a plate, tongue hanging out, eyes rolled back, complete with blood, veins, nerve endings and a severed spinal chord.

Within these rooms of time I saw the discovery of fixed-point perspective and the effect it had on Christ’s formerly precarious balance on his mother’s lap. I saw men and women of Italy’s streets painted in the backgrounds of the familiar Bible scenes, replacing the anonymous paper-doll faces of the early middle ages. Intricate brocade on the gowns of painted archbishops was accomplished in the same way I use lace paper to create pattern and texture; through a stencil. It was all astonishing; I saw the palpable difference in the floating, light reflective surface of an oil or casein painting and the infused radiance of a fresco; plaster inoculated with color. I fell in love with its passionate immediacy, the vividness of a moment of life, the movement of existence. From that day, I sought them everywhere and yearned to try my own.

At the end, there stood Goethe’s passion, the plastic arts, a statue he could have seen in Rome, but didn’t. Starkly, simply exhibited in a replication of a sculptor’s workroom, without the fastidious self-consciousness of a set design, stood Michelangelo’s unfinished standing Pieta Rondanini. The great work was spot-lit from four directions with benches making a small amphitheater in front. I sat down. I had loved this piece since I saw photos of it in high school art history class.

Michelangelo

Pieta Rondanini

There in front of me it appeared to be the fruition of ALL the paintings; in a relative sense they were complex sketches, studies spanning centuries, practice for this exquisitely unfinished work.
I had spent three hours in this palace of delight; I was surfeited.

On my way back I bought a strawberry gelato (é soltanto una fragola) and, savoring its sweet temporality, I slowly returned to Via Atto Vanucci. I had not seen La Ultima Cena, but when I did, three days later, all of this had prepared me for what is much more than a painting; as a work of art, it is a force transcending its many mangled restorations, a force of beauty reaching beyond beauty, a destination. Il destino. Destiny.

“The presence of works of art, like those of Nature, makes us. . .wish to express our feelings and judgements in words, but . . . in the end we return to a wordless beholding.” Goethe Italian Journey

No Words, Literally…

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Daily Prompt Reverse Shot What’s your earliest memory involving another person? Recreate the scene — from the other person’s perspective.

My earliest memories involving another person are from a pre-verbal time in that person’s life, and almost in mine. He would have been far too young to comprehend anything around him. He was only two days old, wrapped tightly in cotton flannel receiving blankets and lying on my “lap,” a lap that was just my nearly two-year-old legs stretched out in front of me as I sat on the sofa. Did I push him away? I remember feeling confused. I heard, “That’s your brother, Martha Ann. Take care of him.” What did he hear? Did he see me? “That’s your baby,” they said. “You have to love him.” I had FELT my mom’s belly when he was in there but made no connection between the being on my lap and the strange lurch of my mother’s flesh. “That’s the baby,” she had said.

For Christmas that year (about six weeks later) I got a baby doll so when my mother cared for Kirk I cared for Tiny Tears.

P.S. This is a good prompt! Sorry I cannot actually do it.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/reverse-shot/

Night Out in Milan

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Sushi

“The pair introduced me to a young lady from Milan. . .the Milanesa had light-brown hair, a clear delicate skin, blue eyes and was more outgoing, not so much forward as eager to know about things.” Goethe, Italian Journey.

“She’s my best friend, but she’s kind of married, you know? What about you? What do you like, men or women?” Nicoletta snuggled against Tina, who looked dishy in a white gown. Elisabetta, in black silk parachute pants and a skin-tight yellow t-shirt, sat beside me. I don’t remember what Nicoletta wore; only that she arrived on a Vespa and when she took her helmet off, in a graceful, elegant gesture, honey-colored hair fell to her shoulders, then we all had entered the restaurant under a blue neon representation of a cuttlefish.

“Men. But I think this way. I don’t think we fall in love with a gender; we fall in love with a person. I think I could love a woman, and if I loved her, I would want her. It hasn’t happened, but it isn’t impossible.” It’s only a polite theory. Though I have had women friends I loved, I couldn’t, well, I couldn’t. Close contact with female bodies in crowded gyrating rock concerts has already told me how repelled I would be embracing that plowed field; its proper role is the germination of seeds. I know this in my own animal heart of biological morality.

“I am in love.”

“Ah.”

“It’s agony. You know about that, don’t you?” Nicoletta looked into my eyes. I wondered what she had heard of me, if anything.

“Yes.”

The little “train”, as Elisabetta had described it, passed by my right. Its “cars” were small plates carrying sushi. I was worried about dinner because it would be expensive and I had no idea–yet–what the money in my purse was worth. I said something about it, and Elisabetta quickly said, “You are our guest.” That didn’t make it better, but I would return the favor another night. I took a small plate of nigiri sushi–hamachi–from the train. Tina took some, too.

“Is this what you want to do? We can order, we can order the big boat. Tina, do you want to do that, or this way?”

The boat was ordered. So much for the train.

“Tell me your love story,” I said to Nicoletta who continued to look at me with a focused inquisitive earnestness. It was the easiest way out of telling mine.

“For a while we were friends. Then, he fell in love with me, but I was not in love with him. After a while, we were friends again, but then he fell in love with someone else, and I fell in love with him. Then he finished with her and fell in love with me, but I was not in love with him any more and was with someone else.”

“And now?” I asked.

“We have decided to try.”

“Where is he now?”

“He’s on Capri.”

I smiled, thinking of Tiberius. “When is he coming back?”

“In two days. You know what I feel, don’t you?”

“I do. I know exactly.”

“I see it in your eyes. You must have stories.”

I didn’t answer. I didn’t want to tell my stories. None of them were happy, anyway. That love is endlessly, consummately, interesting is not surprising. It is always the missing piece. It is the missing piece of contentment for the lonely; the missing piece of contentment for the miserably paired. “Soltanto una fragola” that easily smashed, quickly rotted, juicy, sweet, biting, heart-shaped, inimitable, longed-for fruit, inedible when picked too soon, regardless of its enticing red color; that strawberry, love.

“How old are you?”

“Forty-eight.”

“That’s impossible. I thought you were, thirty-three, thirty-five at most.”

“You’re my best friend forever.” I grin at her. She is 28 and beautiful; she shames the models in Vogue.

“No, Christine, listen. I’m not making a compliment to you. Elisabetta, Tina, doesn’t she look much younger? Did you know she was so old? I don’t believe it! You don’t have any wrinkles!”

I don’t mind that she is flattering me. I need to believe it, so I do.

“I lived in America,” she says, “in New York.”

“Doing what?”

“I’m a photographer.”

“Did you like it?”

“Very much. It’s an exciting city. I was going to stay there. But, I came back.”

“Why?”

“Oh, you know. I was in love with the man I was working for, but he didn’t feel the same. We shared an apartment, see? Because I had very little money and you know, New York is expensive. Anyway, I worked for him. One night he was out with a woman and he didn’t come back. I couldn’t stand it. I put everything in a bag, walked out of the apartment. I got in a taxi and went to the airport. My mother was shocked, you know? I was wearing pajamas!”

“How long, Nicoletta? How long did you live with that?”

“Two years. Are you in love now?”

Elisabetta looks at me, concerned. I’m disconcerted. I take a deep breath before I answer, “No, not now. I’m not in love with anyone.” Perhaps I lied or perhaps I was only trying out the sentence for the future, when it would be true.