Friday, February 02, 2018

Post-Italy trip journal ('bits' journals)

It's been a long time since I've published part of my journal and an equally long time since I put out a call for the "bits" journal. It's the diary where you jot down little observations, thoughts, bits of inspiration. Who has one they want to share? Here's a slice from mine, at the moment last year when I had just returned from my trip to Italy:

May 24, 2017
Arrived last night alle 6 from Torino/Milano/Fir trip…and even though I only went to bed at 9, I woke up a mere six hours later and couldn’t go back to sleep not because of jet lag or my internal body clock or anything like that but because I couldn’t turn off the Italian conversation and thought generator in my mind! It’s 3 a.m. and I’m thinking of one more thing I want to tell Giovanni and an idea to share with Irene, and thoughts about collaborations with Luca and bits of conversations held during my delightful trip to Torino, Firenze and Milano. I’m walking down streets in these three stupendous cities and commenting as I go….in Italian, of course, sempre in Italian, or some weird mix of Italian and English.

Oh Italy, damn it, you’ve effin’ done it again! Why would I ever want to be just thinking in English, quando invece posso permettermi what I call the bifurcated mind, forever divided between the two languages. But not an orderly division but rather a wonderfully Italian brand of caos where a thought begins in English e finisce invece in italiano.

One more thing, as I am writing in my journal: CROSS OFF 'ITALIAN TRIP' from the "to do" list….Bell’e fatto!

May 25, 2017
I find myself trying to extend the lease on this burst of Italian life that has taken over me – an esprit de corps that develops when Jeanne spends a week walking miles upon miles each day through Italian cities that return the favor with delights and curiosita’ around every corner.

I feel this energy draining from me as I go back to driving everywhere, as I go back to having to connive walks out of Leo, to a city where walking is simply not the Flaneur tradition I love so much…

Can we call this the American paradox? Oh what a wonderful country, what a country of innovation and industry and possibility…but I feel so much more alive in another country (!!!). Part of the blame goes squarely to Atlanta but it ain’t like it’s the only city in America where it’s not easy to live the walking life style.

I worry even about how to go back to a life that’s so sedentary…Yesterday all I wanted to do was walk and I struggled to come up with places to walk….

My tongue still wants to form Italian words…The Italian conversation generator in my mind is still running in the background. I need to take advantage of it, perhaps to write something!

Poesia? Ce la farei? L’unica cosa che mi appare ‘facile’ che poi non lo e’. 

It bears mention that I am super thin and full of energy! Why? Well, of course, I just came back from “my spa.”

June 2, 2017

I was there, I was really there, and waking up way too early this morning, I remember – I was there, and now I am so far away, and the trip to Italy is receding in the distance and last week – when I was still there – might as well be last month. I’m back to my car-centric life, back to a life spent with so few interfaces, that IS the way I like it but somehow in Italy, I’m okay with constantly “interlocuting” with this or that other person. It seems natural. Like being in motion – being in motion in Italy feels so normal. Here, there’s just so much space to traverse before you reach a point of interest. Is it simply the “other”?

June 13, 2017
I appear to be writing a travel story for CNN – seems impossible since it will fulfill one of my writing goals for the year – and here are some of the thoughts that may or may not make it into the final version:

I’d somehow forgotten how lovely it is that in Italy the baristas talk to the customers – I mean really talk to them. It’s actually worth learning Italian for.
When I saw a barista point to multiple sizes of paper coffee cups at a bar at the Milan airport, it set off a small death somewhere inside of me. I’d never, ever seen something like that before at an Italian bar. Coffee used to come in two sizes: espresso – a little baby shot of coffee, as we all know now – or cappuccino size. Which is the size of the standard coffee cup in Italy. Period.
But some things never change. Outdoor booksellers still meticulously set up their wares, in the case of Torino, underneath the porticos. That means no rain interferes while you browse the widest and most random selection of Italian books you’ve ever seen. Ancient art books, obscure foreign political treatises, well-preserved comics, everything … They’re permanent fixtures in Italian cities – this, in a country of non-readers. Who buys the books? I don’t know and I don’t care. I like to think that in Italy some things, for better or for worse, are still done despite an assurance that the profits will be small. Very small. As I perused the books, I liked to think the booksellers knew that for a literary type like me, nothing beats glancing at titles and flipping through books outdoors, while occasionally glancing up at a bike crossing the piazza or the Renaissance church across the way….


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