Ha! This is so me. Having decided to apply for a residency program outside of Seattle (two weeks, hidden away from the world, surrounded by other writers) I am now completely stressed about sending in the perfect application. A month and a half is more than enough time. And yet I am having dreams of missing trains and counting minutes on
Will you help me, my loyal readers? I need you. Part of the application requires a mixed writing sample and I would like to include a blog post. But which one? I have culled through my archives to locate three I think could work. At the bottom of this blog post today I have added a poll box. Can you take one moment to respond? And, if you have a separate favorite, one I have not included, please feel free to leave either the date of the post, or a description, in the comments section. It is truly appreciated.
Post 1 – Italy, July 26, 2011
Overheard at… a Trattoria in Tuscany
“It is made by my uncle.......”
Apparently there is something about Tuscany that forces you to write lyrically.... It may be the wine, or perhaps the moments of beauty, but whatever the reason, I apologize for my change in tone. It can't be helped.
Images of San Quirico d'Orcia
A garden, hidden by a stone tunnel. Voices and the clinking of silverware on plates. It is obviously a trattoria. I walk through the town; a dark church where a white ceramic statue of the Madonna floats in front of gauzy silver fabric. She glows like an apparition.
My parking ticket in Chianciano Terme put me off as I began my day, but now I have been put back together again. A store is open past 1:30; it is a miracle. Inside, linens fill shelves, frames and ceramics are everywhere, but my eye is caught by a small pillow, Le Mamme sono angeli incognito.
A wide grassy area in a park makes me wonder why? There are bleachers... perhaps sports? No, it is for music of course. Today, though, all is quiet, only ghosts crowd around me.
I am drawn back to the trattoria. “A table for one?” I ask in English. Of course signora, he says. The menu has English translations... Oh no! I have chosen wrong. How is it possible? The setting is perfect- A table under an awning, under a tree. A wisteria covered trellis. Everyone around me speaks Italian and smokes.
Wine? I am asked. Soft or hard? Old or new? Full bodied? Ah, this one, he says. I ask, “where is it from?” He tells me Montepulciano...It is made by his uncle. All is forgiven... I have chosen right after all.
So this is what panzanella looks like. It has more bread than I thought - and cucumber for crunch. I take a picture but its' essence is hidden in 'place'- this place.
Pici is a type of pasta from this area. It sounds like it should be small pieces of something but it is actually more like misshapen spaghetti. With pecorino e pepe, it is as close as Italians might get to mac-n-cheese. All creamy and white, the pepper stands out as the queen of the dish.
Now I am done. Should I linger or continue on my journey? The perfect contrast between the dark pink red of the watermelon and the green of its rind is compelling, but I think I will pass. A dark cloud is coming our way and I hope to find another place still today.
But no, not yet! First I meet Graciella and Guido as we wait to pay our bill. I take their picture and they take mine. Guido is very interested in my time here. “It is a good place for Americans to see,” he says. “Yes, they should come here.” They are from Torrino. It is too built up he thinks. This is what a holiday should be.
The cloud has passed.... probably I will now chase it to Montalcino.
Post 2 – Dog, February 12, 2013
Overheard… along the side of the road
“It’s good karma.”
It was kind of the firefighters to stand in the rain with me, waiting for a public service person (aka police officer) to arrive and take care of the dog I had found- wandering, lost, cold, and limping- along a neighborhood road. Given the fact that the dog was also blind and had what was obviously a tumor on her stomach and hind leg, it was no wonder she looked worn out and sad.
The firefighters hung out with me and my daughter for at least half an hour, until eventually the police officer came to claim the dog. After slowly walking her up and down the road and offering the dog reassurances while I had waited, I now found it difficult to watch the police officer shut her in his car, her confused face staring out from
“It will be okay,” I told her through the window, as if she could hear me; all the while knowing that, without a collar and looking so sick, chances were good they would not find an owner. Probably she would be euthanized. In fact, as my daughter and I prepared to get in our own car and leave, the officer asked if I would like to be notified before they euthanized. I shook my head, hesitantly, sadly, guiltily.
Of course it only took a moment for my daughter to ask what euthanize meant. Most Catholics do not believe that animals have souls. And without a soul they do not go to heaven. This is one doctrine, though, about which I am not sure. Of all God’s creatures animals often seem the most holy to me. Certainly this dog did, as she limped along, maintaining her dignity even as I think she sensed her own death. Perhaps she had faith, as I explained to my daughter, that she would soon be in a better place.
I am not sure what that place looks like- either for myself or for that dog. It may be as W. Bruce Cameron fictionalizes in his book, A DOG’S PURPOSE. She will come back again, to live another, new life, as a dog. Or perhaps, as with the animals in C.S. Lewis’ NARNIA series, she will pass over to a better place.
Wherever she lands, I hope that her body was at least able to sense what her eyes could not see, that for even a brief amount of time she was loved- by three firefighters, an eight year old, and me.
Post 3 – Menopause, December 11, 2012
Overheard at… The Newmark Theater, Portland
“We saw Menopause the Musical here. It’s the kind of show you have to see with girlfriends.”
Hormones are interesting, don’t you think? When we are young, they make us do crazy things. And then, when we get older, they make us do even crazier things. In between they drive us nuts twice a month (ovulation and PMS for those who aren’t as attuned to these times as I have become).
I don’t get it. Technically I’m not yet going through the big change (no, not the one from Ellen to Oprah – I’m talking
about menopause.) Already, though, I get night sweats. Last night they came on so strong I was actually sweating inside my ear, something I didn’t even know could happen.
What environmental factor, exactly, is all of this craziness supposed to be supporting? I mean, couldn’t we get our period without also wanting to shoot the person, lugging a full cart, who got into line at the grocery store just ahead of us? Wouldn’t you think God could have made it so that, in puberty, we could start to think guys are sort of worth our time, without also needing to wear water-proof mascara in case our hair clip slipped loose?
When my sister and I talked about menopause she assured me that until flip-flops were m shoe of choice I had nothing to worry about. This seemed like a reasonable, if somewhat terrifying, marker. What sort of extreme biological fluctuations must be happening inside women’s bodies for our temperature to rise so bizarrely high?
The closest I could compare it to would be the way my body began to sweat and shake when I injured myself and was in severe pain. Could it be that our bodies are responding to exactly that sort of crisis?
The only sure conclusion I have reached is that Mary, the mother of God, must have been on the younger side of 40 when Jesus died. Because, I am sure that, had she gone through the wonderful joys of menopause before he died, she would have made it a priority for him to get the system fixed.
Let me know what you think – post 1, 2 or 3. I appreciate your support. And I promise, if I do win the residency, I’ll still post my bog as usual during those two weeks. Cheers, Deanne.