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Some people are more reckless than others by nature. It does not matter what you are taught or the environment you grew up in. Take siblings. My sister and I had the same parents and the same teachings. But Marina is a different person than I am.
I was a tomboy and my mom’s nightmare since I was a toddler. As soon as I moved my first steps, I wanted to run. Walking wasn’t fast and exciting enough. And I started to throw myself in crazy endeavors just for the heck of it. I was craving adventure more than food. By the time I was 3, I was already an adrenaline junkie. Yes, I broke my bones more than once but I learned that failure is not such a terrible thing. You get yourself together and then try again. Doing so, I did some “impossible” things. Achieving them against all odds made me think that nothing is “impossible”. I would still trade a broken wrist for confidence. But that’s just me.
Then there are other millions of people who neither had my experiences nor my drive since childhood. Can they be reckless? You bet they can. And it is definitely worth to be. You can be a soccer mom living in the suburbs, and you can learn to add a little pinch of adventure in your daily life. It adds to the taste without altering the original recipe—if that’s what you like. It makes it spicier and juicier. It’s just like cooking. A hint of chili or black cracked pepper can improve the flavor.
Leonora Carrington, a famous surrealist painter, told me of the time when she got married and had children, in Mexico. All of a sudden, she found herself more absorbed in her busy daily life as a housewife. But she was also eager to learn lessons from that new world she was discovering, all that new life around her and inside her. She became acquainted with some women of the Chiapas Indians tribe living nearby. She noticed that they were always mixing an egg yolk to their color for tanning. They explained that there was life in the egg yolk, so mixing it with the die they were transferring the spirit of that new life to their own creation. Leonora started mixing an egg yolk to her own oil colors, bringing new life to her painting.
In my Reckless book, there is a whole final section of advices of “ how to do”, written in an alphabet format. A resource guide is also there to help readers deciding where to look to find their own inspiration.
We live in an “aspirational” society. Aspiration and ambition could be good things but often drive people crazy. Aspiration refers to material things you can possess. Inspiration refers to immaterial things you wish to be. When you choose “have” versus “be”, you set yourself up for disappointment and frustration. No matter how nicer car or bigger house you will buy, there will always be some better ones you could have and don’t. It’s the famous “greener lawn” stereotype and, as with many stereotypes, there is some truth to it.
But if you shift focus and perspective, and choose to look for inspiration instead, you’ll have a garden of discoveries at hand. You are what you are by essence, sure. But you also grow into a new person day by day, depending on what experiences you have. What you do counts. How you do it, even more. What you eat, what you read, what you listen to, but also how you look around. The way you listen and observe and learn. The way you interact with others.
It’s like nature. A plant will bloom earlier and more bountiful depending on what nourishments she will receive. You are the gardener responsible of you own blooming. Look for inspiration, and you will become an inspiring person as well. And the best part of gardening yourself is that it is the most creative task you can imagine. Instead of consuming, you will be producing. And your “work” will produce something—a new and better you—that will give you the same satisfaction an artist gets form his/her work. You’re your never to-be-finished masterpiece. You are a life-project that will never end. Not even death will interrupt this creative project because you will live in the legacy you’ll live behind. Isn’t that just GREAT?
One of the greatest satisfactions of living a reckless life is having no regrets.
At least not for things you wanted to do, could have done and didn’t. It’s never too late, really. Just go ahead and do it. Oh, now you’re thinking: “I should have done those things earlier on, when I was younger, had more energy and strength”. Right? Wrong. There is no age limit to start living a reckless life. It’s all about switching gear. Switch gear in how you envision time. “Time is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire”. I chose this quote of J. L. Borges as the opening statement for my book, Reckless, because it express my relationship with time.
That's how I feel every minute of my life. That’s how I felt when I was 20 as well. Maybe it’s because I’ve always tried to keep alive the feeling of being invincible that Karen Blixen depicts as what characterizes youth. Maybe is because, as Beatrice Woods suggested me on her 103rd birthday, the secret for longevity is “a healthy diet of young men and a bit of chocolate every day”. I don’t care if men are young or not in age, I care about their spirit. I am definitely attracted only to people—men or women—who have passion, the so-called fire within. That’s the real fountain of youth.
The other thing that keeps you young, in my experience, is… keep playing. Play with your kids. Play with your lovers. Play with your friends. Play with your dog. Play with yourself. Live life as a big fun game. And remember, it’s not so much about all the toys you can get. It’s more about the games you can invent to entertain yourself and others. Next on be-reckless.com, you will find games that you can play to become more reckless. Adventures to play that will make you more adventurous in real life. Inspiring characters that you can choose to experiment with, impersonating them on screen and later remembering the feeling in real life. I’m working on it. It will be here soon. How soon it’s just ….a matter of time.
In February 2005, I stepped into my first house. I mean, my first owned house. I mean, not even this is true since the bank owns it, so far, and I’m paying an only-interest mortgage. Plus, I bought it together with a friend so, technically, I own only 50% of it. But still… It was time to buy since I have been throwing out of the window lots of money in the Los Angeles prohibitive rents over the past 12 years.
The thing that prevented me from getting serious about it for a long time was: how did I buy a house without a “normal” job, not so much money in the bank or any other thing that usually brokers and real estate agents are looking for, before lending you their capital and services? The answer is in this article I wrote for Elle, the Italian edition, published on the March 2005 issue: roommating. yes, roommating as adults, why not? Look for it if you want to know the whole story. But if you cannot find that issue of Elle Italia and until I learn how to link the article, I can anticipate that what really convinced me to buy this house was the address on Future Street.
So now, I live in the Future. I-- the person whose motto is “be here now”-- have assured myself a future. It’s a pretty nice one, by the way, with canyon views and terrace gardens, and great neighbors. But the best thing of all is that I didn’t have to give up my free spirit and free life to get what I wanted. I took some risks. Like buying a house together with a woman I met only six months before. But I have pretty good instinct and I feel more comfortable taking risks than throwing away my awareness of what makes me feel good. I know how I like my life to be. And it’s the life I’m having here and now.
The smartest thing I’ve done in my life has been having a baby when I was 16. Please, don’t jump from the chair or delete this blog from your bookmarks. I am not an advocate of teenage pregnancy. I’m not an advocate of having children only when your life is already on tracks either. What’s important to me is that you have children if and when you really want to, and that you’re sure to want them not only to fill some kind of void in your life.
When I was 16, I had a great life and loved it. I loved children too, while I was very disappointed to see how parents acted with them. All parents, my own included, who were not that bad but didn’t make me feel like I was such a wonderful gift. All the parents I saw were tired, nervous, irritable or distracted. Busy with the worries of their adult lives. So when I was about 14. I decided that I wanted to have a baby as soon as I could. That way, I’d have had plenty of energy and appreciation. I would still enjoy playing with my child, and I would keep growing when he/she was growing up. Together. I wanted to feel “together” with my child every minute of my life.
But I was the daughter of parents separated since my birth, and didn’t like missing my father. My child would have a father , I decided, so I’d “wait” for the right man to come along. My not-so-romantic idea of love, forged on my own family experience, was: love ends. But understanding, friendship and support can survive. I want a man who can be a great father for my son even after our love will pass away. I didn’t have to wait too long. When I met Franco, it was just a matter of months before I carried his baby. We were the two happiest people in the world when we found out, and everybody else around us was desperate, trying to dissuade us with the perspective of a miserable future.
Daniele was born a few hours past my 17th birthday. Franco was then 23. We still did anything we had dreamed about, and we became the best people we could have become. Surely better because we had this baby to remind us, any given day, that living by desire instead of fear is the key to fulfill your life. Franco and I separated when Daniele was 5. But, guess what? We brought him up together. We still like each other. We enjoy spending time together still now that Daniele is an adult.
What more could I wish for?
I keep hearing from friends who feel like they have been "betrayed".
Long ago, I decided to cancel some words from my personal vocabulary. "Betrayal" and "traitor" were among them. To feel "betrayed" is a pure manifestation of self-pity, and self pity does not bring any good. Here is how Paulo Coelho expresses the same in the Alchemist:
"I'm going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me. I'm going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine. And I'm going to hold on to what little I have, because I'm too insignificant to conquer the world."
Please don't become bitter and distrustful because somebody changed their mind, moved on and maybe away from you. Don't resist change and don't hold on. Let go, and you will feel relieved. You will actually make space for new and positive things to happen to you. You'll make space for new people in your life. You'll embark in new adventures and conquer new worlds.
A friend of mine used to call a day like today "one of those days". That implies not such a great day when every single little thing, and sometimes even bigger things, go wrong. For a long time, I've been refusing to admit that there are such days. Come on, there is always something good even in a "bad" day!
Then I realized that having "one of those days" is ok as long as you don't let it be in control of your mood. If I can still smile at my dog when he plays dog-drum turning upside down for me to beat his chest and make it "play" music, it's all right. I can live with one of those days. They're not all bad but they're not that good. I just hope them to be only a few in the whole year.
And if they happen to be more than what I can deal with, well, then I'll have to do something and turn them into better ones.
It isn't full yet but it will be soon. But it was so gorgeous to look at, this almost perfectly round milky moon spreading its light on the path.
I was taking the Moki dog for his night walk and we cut through the canyon. I heard this swish behind a bush. Unusual noise, different than the usual buzzing and humming we hear there at night. When you like to walk in canyons at night, paying attention to these kind of details is a must. So we stopped and stood silently.
Ten seconds did not go by and a small coyote stepped in the path in front of us. Then she started trotting down the hill. For a moment, though, her silhouette came in the foreground, and in the back of her was the moon.
See, "those days" are not for real when you can have one of "these" nights. I am addicted to the moon.
I am a moon watcher. The moon is so mysterious and enticing. It makes me feel happy and in peace.
Who can be sad or upset when the moon shines?
I love thunderstorms. That's one thing I have been missing since I came to live in California. Last night, however, I have been presented with a surprise. Thunders and lightnings in September!
I was having dinner at a friend's house and I got wet on the way to my car. It felt good. Even better once I made it home and slipped under warm blankets in my cozy bed. I could see the lightning striking the sky from my window, looking up in the foliage of the big tree.
Thunders mean winds of change to me. And... guess what? I like that kind of omen.
It's here. Finally, after seeing one million versions of it, on-screen and for editing purposes, my book is a book. It arrived yesterday in the form of an advance copy, delivered by UPS. It will hit the bookstores in a couple of weeks. So, why in some way it seems almost unreal now that it is finally real?
I'm under the impression that my unusual braking and refraining from pure, sheer excitement has something to do with one little thing happened the day before the book arrived.
A very special person was in town visiting me. We were abstractly discussing our respective visions of life. We were playing and it was fun. I have to admit, I had just shown him Mighty Quinn and stated that standing under a coconut tree with my arms stretched to catch the falling ripe fruits is my personal idea of financial planning. But... is that enough to think that I am, actually, dumb?
Because my friend asked me all of a sudden to tell him when it stopped to be "reckless", prospecting me the following scenario. He was leaving his job--a good job that he likes, by the way--selling his house, going around the world a couple of times, then moving to Brazil to... sell barbecue ribs on the beach. "Is that reckless?", he asked me.
The immediate result of his question was that I thought I might have some serious communication problem. If that is what he got from me. I mean, I like to play, and I'm always game for games but, the game has to be fair and intelligent.
So... no, unless selling barbecue ribs on Copacabana Beach is your dream, that's not reckless. It's just stupid, of course. But the question is, do you think that I am stupid?
I did not ask him this question. I should have but I was still in shock at the idea that I could have transmitted a similar perspective on what I mean by "reckless".
I hope he will read the book, and maybe understand me better. But I am still worried. Did I give anybody else reasons to think that reckless means mindless jumping into the fire, just for the heck of it?
Or, am I being just a little too sensitive on this issue since it is so important and delicate to me?
Any comment will be sincerely welcome.
My friend and beloved Prince Tommy Rotten, aka Tom Robbins if you look up his name on Amazon.com, just published his new book, Wild Ducks Flying Backward. My attempt to read it failed already twice. I bought the book, and my copy got "stolen" by two different friends who had to catch a plane. I feel for people who have to endure a long flight without a good book.
So now, I'm almost out of the door, on the road to the bookstore again. This time, however, I'm going to buy the audiobook, aka the book read by the author himself. The author happens to have a voice that transports me miles and miles away in a happy kingdom. I love men with this kind of voices. Actually I love only men with great voices. And I love Tom Robbins.
I really REALLY love him. Not only because he is "the most dangerous writer alive", as a critic once wrote regaling Tom with infinite delight. Not only because his writing makes adults sing in the shower and puts babies to sleep as a lullaby. I love Tom Robbins because he's the most positive person I've ever met and he always sees the... jar of mayonnaise half full. I love Tom because he's smart and witty but also a lot of fun.
Tom is living proof of my theory as I explained it in "the age trap". Tom kept playing all his life, and he will still play in his next ten reincarnations. In this life, he has been playing with me too, several times. It happens either by e-mail, or walking in the scented woods of the Olympic Peninsula, looking for "vitel tonnè" at the deli in the historical center of my native city in Italy, Milan, or here in the Future, in my house in the Los Angeles hills. And I always have a hell of a good time with him and his beautiful, wolf-eyed, tarot-mancer bride Alexa.
So I hope you will have a good time with him too. Go buy his book and plan a cozy evening reading at home. I promise, you won't be sorry.
That's what I'm going to do tonight and... I can't wait for the night! Tiramisu gelato and a new Tom Robbins' book after dinner... hmmmm...
Who said happiness is not of this world ???
Santa Ana winds blowing in the bushy hills means fire. There has been a lot of fire since yesterday around the Ventura - Los Angeles county line. Some people went home last night just to watch their homes burn to the ground.
Some people lost their homes to the fire here in California. Lot of people lost their homes, and sometimes much more, to the water in Louisiana. I could smell fire in the air on the other side of the hill tonight when I was walking Moki up the trail. I'd love to smell the rain but it is not in the forecast.
I would not wish for some rain if the roof was still not fixed and prone to leak. But today, finally, after six estimates by different roofers, we got one to commit. He came and in four hours, with just a little help on my part despite 103 degrees, the roof was rainproof again. And I can cancel it from my list.
Repairs, maintenance and customer service drive me crazy. They require such a waste of time that I could use for more fun things. But then I think, how nice to have a roof on our heads that, supposedly, won't leak with the next rain! How privileged to go home and find the house still standing. And yet, all of this could change in a second. The second the wind would change direction.
I love the wind but the Santa Ana winds make me nervous. I love the fire but I don't like to see the hills go on fire.
Today on MSN there is a funny headline: How much to say, 'I quit?'
Suggestions follow with the usual scary scale of 1 to 5 millions to retire in today's shaky world. But here's the funny thing. Why keep working if all you think about is retiring? And why even thinking about retiring if you actually enjoy what you do?
Last time I quit my job, I think I had about $ 7,000 in the bank. Surely there have been times when I quit with less, and others with more. It never occurred to me, though, that there was a necessary relation between quitting and "how much money" I had. Probably because I never thought about retiring either.
Retiring from what? I mean, if I'm tired of one particular job or field, I can always go exploring another. If I'm simply working too much, I can slow down and work less. If I don't feel like getting up every morning at 7 a.m. anymore, I can switch shift.
We live in a world where telecommuting, working from home, being self-employed, run your own company... have all become much easier. Why not take advantage of that? Why keep having this close- minded employee 's mentality, '9 to 5, and I shut the door, 20 or 30 years at the same job and I can finally stay home?'
Please, don't hold back and keep staying at a job you hate just because you don't have 1 to 5 millions.
Don't be prisoners of your career, particularly if it does not fit for you anymore. Have a second, third or fourth career, either you are 20 or 60 years old. Think about change as a rolling wheel of cycles.
In nature, there is birth in Spring, blooming in Summer, maturity in Fall and rest and renewal in Winter. But that's not the end. It's just cycles. Because then there is Spring again.
Don't winterize your mind muscles before time or you won't be able to give them a good start again when the next Spring will knock at your door.
There is ALWAYS a new spring in the future.
Tomorrow I'll put my car in the body shop. Inconvenient, but the guy who backed up right into my front bumper and hood had some great excuse to be distract. So, no hard feelings. I just need to turn inconvenience into opportunity. I will take advantage of the deprivation of my wheels to start an experiment. Can I survive Los Angeles as a pedestrian? I will keep you posted.
Meanwhile, however, my greatest concern has been: can my dog survive Los Angeles without "his" wheels?
In fact, Moki thinks that a day without going to Griffith Park is not a day, and Griffith Park only seems so close. Impossible to reach the park on foot. But there is more. Moki just loves to ride sticking his head out of the window to be brushed by the wind. He's well trained to ride only in the back seat covered with his blanket. So when H. took him out on a date to cheer him up while I was gone, he refused to be in the passenger seat. Moki, by the way, manages to be asked out by lot of girls, and even guys sometimes. But his preference goes to those who can offer him the thrill of a ride.
Since I don't want to lose my place in his heart, I took Moki on a driving date tonight. And just as Edward Norton before turning himself in jail in "25th Hour", I got to think about what I--par me, we-- were going to miss the most without reliable private transportation. Was the night-walk at the multicolored Mulholland Memorial Fountain on the corner of Griffith Boulevard and Riverside? Or our once-in-a-while city walk on Vermont and Franklin in Los Feliz? Just the ups and downs around the hills surrounding Mount Washington? Maybe Moki wanted to run to Ikea to buy the new dog bed I promised him?
Well, we skipped only Ikea. Did all the rest, included a short strip of Sunset across Silverlake. I could not give Moki a real road trip tonight. Not like the trip him and I took last year, driving three days straight from Los Angeles to Rapid City, South Dakota. I think Moki still dreams about the buffaloes and antelopes and deers we met on the deserted roads. Pretty different drive than the L.A. freeways. But we happen to love both. And he was the best driving companion ever. Very supportive and patient.
So in the next days, if you are missing some company driving around, you can always book a date with my dog. As long as he's not on duty pulling the sled on roller skates that I'm planning to build, I won't mind. And Moki would surely appreciate
Santa Ana winds are over and the crispy clear blue sky is, too. I have a confession to make. What I thought was just a crush (a long one, since it lasted over 15 years) turned into authentic love.
I am totally in love with the Los Angeles October Sky.
I am very much like the weather. That means, unfortunately, that a grey muggy sky can turn my mood blue, while a blue clear sky makes me feel happy at the start of the day. I wasn't as laid back and relaxed as I am when I used to live in Milan.
Milan has horrible climate , contrary to the popular belief that all Italy benefits of wonderful weather year-long. Milan lays in the flats of the Pianura Padana, meaning the planes where the Po River runs. This geographic configuration disgraces "milanesi" with cold and humid winters, hot and humid summers. A spell very similar to what New Yorkers have to endure.
Spring and fall in Milan are much nicer, and they are my favorite seasons to go visiting my family. September, particularly, is a fabulous breezy month when you can forget even the city pollution.
But I remain partial and more forgiving to the Los Angeles pollution. It is thanks to it that I can climb the hill facing west in front of my house and enjoy unbelievable sunsets. There is something about watching the sun go down behind the gleaming silhouette of the Downtown skyscrapers on the other side of the L.A. River that sweetens my heart.
I watch the line of double red eyes of cars on the 5 freeway getting brighter as the profile of the hills gets darker, and I think that I live in paradise.
How can the Los Angeles traffic makes me feel in paradise?
It's a mystery. But so is love.
Finally the book is out. It is possible to order it either through bookstores or at Amazon.com (clicking the link below, in bookshelf.)
And I am finally very, VERY, excited about it.
Read it and let me know what you think. Your feedback is appreciated and very important to me.
I did not resist and bought also the hard copy of Tom Robbins' Wild Ducks Flying Backward. I can now go to bed with a goodnight story every time the moon rises on my Future.
Last night story was an ode to the Art of Kissing.
"Kissing is our greatest invention. On the list of great inventions, it ranks higher than the Thermos bottle and the Airstream Trailer; higher, even, than room service, possibly because the main reason room service was created was so that people could stay in bed and kiss without going hungry."
So writes the most dangerous and playful writer alive, and I couldn't agree more. Although a gleaming Airstream makes me dream of open roads and camping trips to Deadhead gatherings, and room-service is my personal idea of vacation-heaven, kissing is way-WAY!-better than any other western civilized invention.
Last night in my bed, Tom Robbins sprang out of the just uncorked bottle of champagne as the genie of the lamp, affirming himself as the very evolved personification of a species of manhood that I call:
THE KISSING PRINCE, alas the only kind of man I can date, alas a race much more evolved than the boring and absurd to me archetype of Prince Charming.
Now, to be perfectly clear and honest, I never dated Tom Robbins since I happened to meet him when he was already joint in soul-and-flesh to my highly revered friend Alexa-The-Taromancer. I will also admit to Tom only kissing my hand-as poetic and charming as only he can be-in the Malpensa Airport of Milan, Italy, at our first meeting.
A few more kisses followed down the road and over the years but they were all, indeed and-sigh!-, very platonic.
But here again I find myself in awe at Tom's choice of words to express what has always been on my mind:
"The best kisses, though, are those between lovers, because those are the consequential ones, the risky ones, the transformative ones, the ones that call the nymphs and satyrs back to life, the many-layered kisses that we dive into as into a fairy-tale frog pond of the murky gene pool of our origins."
Only lovers kisses are the real reckless ones, I will add. That's why I indulge and dive into the art of kissing with the greatest hedonistic pleasure.
A man, to get my attention, got to be a good kisser. Actually, not just good but a fabulous kisser since I am spoiled like an orange coming from the European lands of romantic Latin Lovers and great kissers (let's say it, there is some truth to it, generally speaking French and Italians do it better.)
"Beware the man who considers kissing as nothing more than a duty," warns us all The Most Dangerous Writer Alive, "a sop to the "weaker" sex, an annoyingly necessary component of foreplay. That man has penis plaque in his arteries and will collapse under the weight of intimacy. Send him off to the golf course while those of us who are more evolved celebrate the unique graces of the kiss: no other flesh like lip flesh! No meat like mouth meat! The musical clink of tooth against tooth! The wonderful curiosity of tongues!"
Tom's wit-sweet eroticism makes me jump and clap my hands like a little girl in a candy shop, makes me sing to The Kissing Prince.
And, as always, I worship his skillful, careful and loving caress of each word chosen to express what I'd have much more roughly and dryly resumed as:
ONLY A GOOD KISSER CAN TURN ME ON.
One sun ray shyly poking out of the clouds, and I am already in a better mood.
My headache is gone and my smile is back. Why am I so weather-dependent?
California weather was one of the main reasons behind my choice to move here from Italy, I recall. Once decided that I did want indeed to come living in the U.S., I ruled out New York (where it would have been much easier in terms of opportunities for my professional career,) and unanimously voted for the City of Angels.
I never regretted it. But last year down-pouring and this year little taste of what could happen again made me wonder. Should I just swap homes with my friends in Seattle? Rain-lovers to their bones, they are complaining about the unusual and sudden drought they experienced recently.
So much for the weather. I'll spend some time in the kitchen today cooking for my friend Daniel, who's coming to dinner. Daniel is 25, and one of the most accomplished people I know. The guy is amazing, Harvard MBA material despite his almost-ghetto background. Most recently, he turned out to be a lot of fun too. After focusing on his business goals for three years straight, he realized that he has a right to enjoy life more on his own terms. And I have been so privileged to observe his amazing rebirth.
Daniel likes meatballs so I am going to dig out grandma's recipe for her special ones. I am the family depositary of four incredible books of recipes, all in her beautiful penmanship with collages of clippings from women magazines of the Fifties. Too bad I can't really follow recipes, I find it so boring. But they work as inspirational tools.
Oh yes! I'll be working magic alchemy in the kitchen and forget about the still unsettled weather out of the kitchen window. I bet I can even lift Moki's mood, as depressed as mine by the gray sky, bribing him with a juicy meatball. Lucky dog, I don't follow the rule of no-human-food to the dog either.
Rules are also just inspirational tools. Strict adherence to them is not my thing. Philosophy works better but my "rule" for that is, if it can grow corn, then it's a good philosophy; if it cannot, I don't need it.
There are advantages and disadvantages in a long distance relationship. I had a few in the past and I'm having a happy one going on at the present time. Intensity is one of the bigger advantages, in case you're wondering what am I talking about. When you see each other again after being separated for a while, it's 4th of July firework-time any time of the year.
This is exactly how I felt this afternoon when I got my car back from the body shop. How beautiful she was! How nice! How... kissable. Well, I did not really kiss her but Moki did, dutifully licking one of the arm rests on the back door. I suspect it was just because one of the workers spilled some tasty burrito tiny bites there but it still looked cute.
So now my experiment is over and the results are as follows:
1) Yes, you can survive Los Angeles without private transportation but
2) Your life quality will hardly improve unless
3) You can deal with:
a) being slowed down
b) being very zen and patient
c) depend on others, particularly when you still want to go out at night, the dreadful time when public transportation becomes a true challenge.
Patience is hardly one of my virtues, and a slow pace just kills me. I am also addicted to independence and I like to act on the spur of the moment. Actually, did I mention how much I hate planning in advance even small moves like a ride to Griffith Park?
So, yes, I am happy that my car is back.
I never realized how much I love her and miss her until I had to go without. Life is just soooo much better when you have wheels.
The title of this post is the title of Po Bronson's last published book. The next one, Why Do I Love These People, should arrive in bookstores soon. Po Bronson is one great writer and the cofounder of Il Grotto in San Francisco, among other things.
I had a chance to interview him recently for an article I was writing about the topic "writers' communities", as Il Grotto is, and I found him sharp and pleasant. However, I never expected what happened tonight when I finally read this excerpt from his book, clicking on
I knew about the book, I saw it in the bookstores and thought it might be very interesting but I never really bought it and read it before. Funny how things work. Then, here is the link to this site arriving in my mailbox yesterday, late at night, and I am hooked. It was like mirroring my thoughts and reflections, idealism and passionate convictions included, down to his willingness of sharing enough time to get to know the people other writers would just "interview".
And Po Bronson too talks about dreams, and the ability to realize them at whatever age, just as I do in Reckless. He dismisses the common idea that one needs money first to fund his/her dreams telling the stories of people who did without becoming rich first.
How awesome. How inspiring. Tomorrow, first thing I'll do in the morning after coffee, will be heading to the bookstore to buy his book. You should do it too, if you are on a quest to discover inspiring life stories.
There are many ways to be politically or socially active, and many ways to "protest". Collecting signatures on petitions, either on-line or on the old written form, is just one way to express opinions and eventual disagreements.
I have a long tradition of "activism" starting in my very young years in Europe. A protest march at that time meant 100,000 students, or 500,000 union workers swarming the streets of Milan. A 24 hr general strike paralyzing the whole nation. Petitions voted by oceanic assemblies. Signatures collected knocking at people's doors, house by house.
So imagine my surprise when I saw my first American "protest", ten people standing at the traffic light in front of the Federal Building in Westwood, raising a few signs. One sign addressing car-drivers saying: "Honk if you agree".
I couldn't help laughing. It seemed so... inadequate. Small. Insignificant.
But when I turned the tv on that evening to watch the news, there they were, those few people standing by a traffic light, suddenly entering the houses of millions of other people across the country. It was enough to review my standards. It was enough to make me think that even a "small" act of protest could count. In any case, it was better than just silence.
Years went by, and I became "active" in the U.S. as well, learning different ways from those I learned during my formative years in Italy. Particularly, I have been involved trying to help amending some huge injustice of the U.S. Justice System. Death penalty looked (and still does to me), like barbaric justice. Keeping behind bars people sentenced for crimes they very likely did not commit, based on evidences discovered after their legal proceedings were exhausted? Unjust as well.
Yet, I am very careful and accurate in researching each situation before committing my time and energy to help somebody. I do it only when I believe it is deserved. So was the case with Leonard Peltier (and if you don't know who he is, and what's his story, google his name and you'll get the whole picture). So was with another Indian man, James R. Weddell, incarcerated in South Dakota. Neither one was sentenced to death but Leonard is still in prison 30 years after, for a crime he did not commit. James was finally freed in 2003 from S.D.S.P, where he was "housed" since 1986.
I personally collected thousands of signatures on petitions demanding liberation for both men. I sent them to governors and presidents. I can't say what kind of weight they had in Leonard's case. Shamefully and unjustly, Leonard is still sitting in a prison despite all efforts by so many people! But I can say they DID have an influence in James' case. A "small" influence, sure. James would not be free if we did not follow a long and painful legal iter, reopening his case in habeas corpus, in 1995. It still took 8 years and we had strong, new discovered evidences to throw in. But based on his attorney's opinion, James might not be a free man nevertheless, if... If around his case there had been silence instead of support. And all those petitions signed by thousands and thousands of people around the world showed that support.
So my idea is, everybody should do only what he believes in. But don't skeptically dismiss the importance of a small act like signing a petition. It does not cost much so give it the benefit of the doubt. You never know. They might help. And in a death penalty case, that "might" may indeed mean the alternative between life and death for someone.
I got totally obsessed. I discovered the mysterious and surprising reservoir of the feature "visitor stats and referrers" in my TypePad account, and now I'm checking it four or five times a day.
I can't help my curiosity. It's fun to know who your readers are. But the most fun, i admit, is clicking on the "google search" referrals, and see what the readers who casually came across my blog were truly seeking.
So far, the hit parade was won by a search for "Jimi Hendrix Griffith Park" that unexpectedly referred to my post "dog on wheels"! Amazing automated summing of criteria. And who knows what are the criteria automatically picked by Amazon.com. For istance, somebody let me know that yesterday, looking for my book Reckless and coming across similar titles by different authors, they decided to type instead my name and last name in the search field. The products resulting were not only the above quoted book but a compilation of "The Best of Led Zeppelin."
I wish I had a part in the lyrics for the band but... why even try to claim it, right?
A friend was telling me that he does not know what to do this weekend, and he was feeling bored. "Bored? What you mean by bored?", I reply. And, no, I wasn't teasing him.
I have absolutely no idea of what it means to feel bored. I'd better rectify. I vaguely remember feeling bored for five minutes, two or three times when I was about five years old. By the age of six, I had decided that boredom was pointless. Experiencing boredom would not teach me anything or tell me anything more about myself that I didn't already know. I was bored only when my ability to create new grounds for my imagination and desire of exploration was bridled and limited (call it "parental restriction" of my recklessness). Otherwise, there were always one million different avenues to entertain myself or change and transform repetitive tasks that could bore me, if just left "as is".
So, yes, I don't know what it means to be bored. But I have to admit that I have ultra-minimal patience for repetition. I can't stand routine. I switch my route to get home at least three or four times a week.
I don't shop at the same grocery market twice neither walk the dog on the same trail for days in a row. But, hey, these are solutions available to anyone in order to avoid boredom.
Then there is the pleasure of expressing my creativity in different ways. I am a writer, sure. But I am also a pretty good mosaic artist. I can mosaic with almost any material from broken glass to pebble stones, so... I don't even have to have lots of money available to pursue my hobby. I love to draw and paint. I get a kick out of designing my own clothes (okay, I'm HORRIBLE at sewing so I need help, eventually, for the next step but it's even more fun to have a friend participating to my creative endeavor). I think landscaping and gardening are highly creative and expressive activities that can bring great satisfaction.
But it's really all about attitude. I can have fun even cleaning the house. Everybody knows how much I love to be in the kitchen, and maybe then I'll dress up just to have an intimate, candlelight, everyday homey dinner with my roommate, as we did two days ago. And how about having the time to slip flesh and soul right into a great book? Isn't that a fantastic luxury? When I do, I feel the endorphin tingling into my bloodstream, and it's better than drugs.
Moreover, I enjoy learning new skills. No matter what they are, computer programming or how to fix a leak in the roof (very useful, just learned this last one). The learning process in itself is very exciting to me, and handling new tools is as well. I love to be handy because it gives me more possibilities to "create".
My new "baby" project after mosaic-ing the entrance sign a couple of weekends ago, is going to be building a tree-house in the back. So, next time you feel bored and don't know what to do, give me a buzz and come over. I give you a hammer, a chain-saw, protective googles and knee pads, and you can be an active partner in building my next dream-nest.
Get in line, anyone?
I am in a great mood. I couldn't wait for daylight to end, and today is sunny and shiny as a bright May day. There is fresh, tender, green grass all over the hills in the canyon. Do I love it!
I am also in a great mood for Reckless related things happening. I opened Amazon and there is one more readers' review of my book. I keep wondering who these people are, how are their lives, how did they come across my book. How interesting!
Meanwhile, my friend Litty decided that her Xmas present of choice to all her friends and family will be my book, that she will order soon by the dozens. How cute! Heather's friend Rosie, who's from S.F. and had us staying at her place during the Bloghers conference, came to visit recently with her boyfriend Anthony, who lives in S.D. She saw the book, asked me questions about it. Now she too will give it as a present to her friends for Xmas, and she came up with another idea. She will have Amazon ship them here first, so that I can sign them and then she can give them away as "personalized" gifts. How smart!
Then, there is this blog. I am enjoying so much getting feedback by the people who read it. Some readers are more daring and comment directly here. Some are shy and prefer to write me private e-mails. I heard from six shy readers this morning, giving me their own point of view about "Pointless Boredom". How interesting!
I don't want to sound provocative but with all this happening... Who could be so silly to waste time and energy feeling bored???
My favorite of the day from Yahoo news:
"Romantic Male Mice Enjoy Singing
LAST UPDATE: 11/1/2005 11:45:38 AM
United Press International
Washington University scientists have confirmed a long-standing suspicion: romantic male mice enjoy singing complex songs to potential mates.
Neuroscientists at the St. Louis university found male mice burst out in song when they encounter sex pheromones from female mice, The Guardian reported."
Well, more encouraging news than the ones about the Supreme Court nominee.
Sometimes we try too hard.
We keep "busy" just because we fear emptiness.
We talk because we fear silence.
We move incessantly because we fear to be still.
We spin like pin-balls from one thing to the other.
"It is in silence that new thoughts come. If we divert the mind with too much distraction, it becomes scramble like eggs"
(from Playing Chess With The Heart, words by Beatrice Woods, a very reckless woman and fabulous artist who passed away a few years ago, at 105)
I have a lot on my mind in these days. Part of it is my concern about possibly loosing what I consider some very important civil rights in a near future.
Several of my friends begged me not to talk about it in this blog. They worry that expressing my opinion on such a delicate yet hot issue could drive away some readers and attract arguments by religious fanatics. They might be totally right.
But since I'm known to rule my life rather by recklessness than caution (or you can also read it as I'm unable to shut up in the name of of convenience and diplomacy), I'll say it as it is.
Even better. I'll say it with the words of who seems to be my favorite poet in these days, Beatrice Woods, a very wise and witty elderly woman, bold enough to express herself on anything she thought necessary:
"Let us face it, it is not a question of whether the law is right or wrong where abortion is concerned.
Any woman desperate enough will go to an abortionist regardless of whether there is a law against it."
It started with the swallows. I was making my usual pot of morning coffee, still half asleep in my frog pajama (eh, eh Tom!) when I spotted a bunch of them out of the window. Baby swallows sucking on the jasmine flowers, confirming me what I had suspected since a few days now. Los Angeles has become a land where seasons exist but, as with everythingin L.A., even seasons get reinvented.
Now we are in Springautumn. Baby tender, new green grass on the ground and yellow/reddish leaves falling from the trees. T-shirt weather in the day, crispy and chilly at night. How much I love it!
So I was up to have kind of a stressful day with too many things to do, preparing for my departure. Yes, I am going to Italy for two weeks, leaving on Monday at 8 a.m. My son is coming here to sleep tomorrow so he'll take me to the airport by 6.30 a.m. (aggghhh!) I am pretty happy to spend my Sunday with Daniele, a luxury we did not have in a long time.
But today I was trying to do too much, with all this big list of commitments and tasks. Vacuum the whole house (since Heather will be already on Moki's duty, leaving the house clean and nice is the minimum I can do): check. Taking my car for an oil change, check! Washing Moki (big endeavor!), check! Do my laundry, check! Starting to pack up, check (and giving up my usual choice of traveling with only carry-on has been the best idea I had in a long time, immediately making me feel more relaxed). Writing the last story I have a deadline for.... Hummm, still not done.
Right. What happened is that the euphoria of having a whole suitcase at my hands to pack my stuff became contagious and affected all my other activities. I skipped writing for cooking.
Whoever said that cooking for one only person is not worth it, must be crazy! I love to cook for myself. But since it's true that it is a lot of work, I always cook for more that one ( I actually cook for an army, as my dad used to say), and... lucky who stops by the house later on to enjoy what's left. So tonight, it has been a delicious saffron risotto and sautee of broccoli and mushrooms. Sorry, Heather, I had to. You can hope that Daniele won't eat all the leftovers tomorrow for lunch, so you can still partake at dinner when you'll come back from your little trip.
The only unwanted consequence is that now I feel drunk since I smelled the white whine vapors all the way for twenty five minutes. I don't drink anymore, I used to but I quit. It's a long story and it involves the excessive drinking I witnessed on Indian reservations, and the time when Moki was dying with a horrible disease and I felt like I had to add some "weight" to my prayers, so I gave up drinking and smoking at once, and never touched a cigarette or alcohol since.
There would be my neighbor's party down the street, and I'd love to go since Bill and Brenda are two great persons and fun neighbors. But it's too far to walk over there, and I don't think I can make it driving safely. So I guess I'll just wait for Litty to come over and have me signing the copy of Reckless she wants to give to her mom. Her mom is a great woman who started a new career from scratch when she was already over forty, and I have a lot of admiration for her. It makes me proud that Litty wants to give her Reckless.
Then, later, I will watch The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl that arrived today in the mail. I ordered it on advice of Mike, who told me to watch it when I said that I was thinking documentary for the next Reckless adventure. Mike is really good at giving advice on books, music and movies so I am looking forward to slip the dvd in and sit down on the couch, with Moki sitting by my feet. And then, when It will be really late, Moki and I might go silently walking in the canyon, enjoying the buzzing and humming of the night.
What a fabuolous day in paradise!
I am 30,000 miles above the L.A. sky, where the time is still 9 a.m. My cell phone alarm was set at 5. 30 a.m. but I was up long before then. I was worrying about leaving Moki, although I know that Heather will take good care of him and will provide him with enough snacks and fun activities to convince him to stop his hunger strike. That’s Moki’s way to protest against abandonment. He won’t eat for as long as he can handle it, just to make sure everybody knows how sad he is. Then he will reap the benefits of cuddling and petting twice as much than if he’d just behave normally.
Yet, you can’t really call him a player. Moki sincerely fears that I might not come back, no matter if I always do or tell him that I’ll be back soon. What a dog knows about how long two weeks can be?
So, yes, leaving Moki is hard. So was leaving my baby son when he was a baby, despite my passion for traveling. So it will be leaving my mom when it will be time to come back to the States, despite my by then “wild desire” to do so. I am much better at separation with adults who can take care of themselves and don’t have to depend on others. Babies, elders, pets, they’re so… not independent. And that is too much of a limitation to happiness, in my opinion. Babies are the lucky ones because they don’t know better. While the elderly suffer more, particularly those whose minds are still sharp though lodging in fragile bodies, And a dog would not hesitate to jump into the fire to go with you.
But here I am at 30,000 miles of physical height, and my neurons are firing up like fireworks at midnight of New Year’s Eve. I know I won’t feel so euphoric 15 hours from now, when I’ll finally land in Milan after changing plane in Atlanta. Jet lagged and sleep deprived since I am unable to sleep in a cramped position and I have to keep myself in constant check to avoid getting claustrophobic.
But heights make me high. I love to see Earth from above. That’s also why I like the Future, nested in the hills and granting open views in many directions. That’s why I cannot stand the flats.
Flat land gives me anxiety. Not even the softly rolling hills of the prairie in my otherwise beloved land in Indian reservations such as Rosebud or Lower Brule in South Dakota, are enough. I need tall hills and dark forests. Black Hills like the magic, sacred Paha Sapa where I have been questing for visions many times. When I am on top of a mountain, on top of a tree or on top of the clouds, it’s easier for me to feel good. Closer to the power source. Connected. Relaxed. Balanced.
I could walk on a rope stretched across the edge and keep my cool.
But, please, don’t ever put me in a flat territory with no heights in sight. Or I’d feel trapped in a web of emptiness and start to act weird.
When I'm in Milan, I go real fast. Everybody does. Everybody walks fast, talks fast. Always looking in a hurry, and most of the time it's true.
You swarm the streets and brush against people up and downstairs, on and off the subway. You wait for your table at restaurants standing by a crowd of people in and out the door. Milan is fast paced, just like New York. There are blissful moments of stillness, though.
Little rituals that makes Milan still very human and pleasant for a big city. Breakfast at Cucchi, where there are no diamonds for sale but the best pastry ever, and a pie made of chocolate and custard creme with fresh raspberries on top, almost too beautiful to be eaten.
Aperitif, or " happy hour", as they started to call it here too, sitting at tables overlooking the Navigli, the water channels engraving the city center. Chatting with my friends and catching up on the past seven months of our lives.
I don't think I could come back here for good. But that might be the secret why I am now appreciating more things that used to irritate me. Like the constant closeness with other human bodies.
I recall to be disturbed by what I considered too much of an interference. Now, I find it fascinating. It makes me wonder about the lives of these human beings, no matter how many (many!) I meet in a day.
Who are all these people always in a hurry?
Who are the ones sipping cappuccino at Cucchi?
What do they dream of?
My curiosity and interest is so pungent I might start asking these questions to total strangers.
I wonder how they'd take it.
I'm back from mom's house. I have been there since 9 a.m. in the morning until 6.30 p.m. Until her caretaker came back since my mom needs assistance 24/7 by now.
She's ill with Parkinson's disease. It started 12 years ago and now she's at the end. I know she is.
I can feel it. Not only I can smell it around her. I could sense it when I was still in Los Angeles and that's why I rushed over here. I just waited for my book to be out.
My book is dedicated to my mom. "Thanks to her" I wrote, "I've grown into a strong woman. She has been a role model of independence, determination, and free spirit. She never stopped fighting, and she taught me to never give up." This was for the readers who don't know my mom. Then I addressed her in my dedication: "No matter how ill, odd or fragile you may feel, Mom, you'll always been my lioness and my warrior queen."
My warrior queen is sitting on the edge of the special chair my sister and I bought her for Christmas, last year. It has a mechanism controlled by a remote that raises the seat to help her to get up. It does not matter anymore. She lost the strength in her arms and legs and now needs to be lifted. Almost carried, like a baby, when she needs to go to the bathroom.
"You can't do it," she says. "You're not heavy enough". In her mind, I'm still her baby-girl, and she's the one who should protect me. "Don't worry mom. I'm strong as nails. I can carry you all the way."
She laughs but she tries. She hugs me around my neck as I tell her. She says "ready" when I ask her if she's ready.
I lift her. She's impressed. I make her stand in front of me, hanging to my arms and shoulder.
"You're strong!", she says feeling my muscle, as she can't believe it.
"And you're heavy!", I say imitating her surprise to make her laugh again. Because I, too, can't believe how she can be that heavy and that fragile at the same time.
It takes ten minutes to get to the toilet, one little step after the other with me walking backwards, and she's using me as her support.
I help her with her pants and underwear. "Could I only vanish!" she whispers.
You would if you could, mom, I know. And I wish you could, too. I wish I had a safe way to help you vanishing soon, and keeping what's left of your dignity.
She smells of medicines, a different one every two hours. Three eights of a pill and then half of a compress all day long, keeping a schedule that's like a hospital chart.
She used to smell of Chanel N. 5 and red roses that her suitors would give her when she was going out. I use to dive into her fur collars when she was leaving the house, just to smell her perfume. Now I need to hold my breath in order not to show her how disturbed I am by that pharmacy scent.
At 11 a.m. she asks me if we already had dinner.
Her mind used to be so sharp, her intellect cunning. I remember our fired up discussions, and how informed she always was.
She asks me who'd take Bush's place now that he's dead. We play crossword puzzles. I ask her if she has cards and would like to play some.
I don't remember any of the games she mentions, the same we used to play when I was little. By now, I only know how to play poker, and cards have never been my game of choice anyhow. But she tells me to go get the encyclopedia and look under "briscola", "scala quaranta" and "ramino". I do and we start play.
I need to pick her cards from her lap several times. Her hands can't hold them, they have no grip.
Her hands are unpredictably smooth and soft. Cold, because her circulation is so poor. Still beautiful, though.
She follows the direction of my eyes and smiles. She hooks my own hand when I am once more picking up her cards. She says: "You have my hands. At least, I gave you something good."
No matter how ill, odd or fragile you may feel, Mom, you'll always been my lioness and my warrior queen.
I mean it. And she will.
This is my native city. I should belong but I don't. I never did, to be honest. Never felt rooted here, always wanted it out. But I also never belonged to any other place in the world I visited or lived in for period of times. There was this natural detachment that I have with places as much as with possessions. Sure, it's nice to be there or have them around for the time being, but I can go without them all. Easy.
Now, instead, I am afraid that I am finally in troubles. I started to relate to the majority of people who buried their hearts in one only place on earth, no matter where they find themselves throughout their lives.
My heart must be buried somewhere in Elysia Park, Topanga Canyon or Griffith Park. Should you be curious to find it for good, hire Moki as a scout. My dog knows where my heart is. I have become a real Angeleno through and through. I miss everything about my beautiful city just a few days after leaving.
Kind of funny because I am in Milan, Italy. A place that most of my L.A. friends consider paradise dreaming of the elegant boutiques, the fabulous restaurants and the old churches and museums to visit. Well, I got good news for you. All those gorgeous things that make Milan such a special city are still there. So is the pollution, though, that is ten times worse than Los Angeles' because of the urban structure made of narrow streets and tall buildings that trap the cars exhausts and heating fuels.
Anytime I come to Milan in winter, when the heating of houses and offices is a bare necessity, I get sick. I can't breath. My eyes swell and get red and itchy. My throat gets sore and my voice goes down.
These are the first symptoms. I tried to ignore them and I keep going, pacing the subways up and down and swallowing my miraculous yellow pills of Chinese herbs. They work wonders against colds and flu in L.A. but they have no power under the Milan gray, salmon ribboned sky. My head starts to spin and It's very hard even to get up.
I get warmed up by casual encounters, though. They can happen on the street or in elevators. Like the other day, when I was going up to the 9th floor for a business meeting in the offices of Elle magazine. Stop at the 3rd floor. A guy all wrapped in his coat and scarf gets in, and asks me if I'm going up or down. I can't even manage an answer before finding myself trapped in a bear hug, lasting all the way to the 9th floor.
This was my friend Gianni Brancaccio, who used to be the art director of the second magazine I worked for. It was Paleozoic time but he still looks the same despite the grey in his hair. His eyes are bright and his heart, evidently, still as big. Gianni was great. He had a vision. Working with him was fun.
I meet another woman that I am sure to know at Cucchi. Her face looks just identical, only as if a make-up artist had tried to make a young face look older adding a few wrinkles here, a little sagging there. She said she feels the same way about me. Well, much more politely she says "you look exactly the same!" but that's just kindness. And she says and asks things that are heartfelt.
All my friends in Milan are great people and it's lovely to have a chance to hug them in person, a couple of times a year. Yet, if my mom wasn't alive anymore, I might come just once, in Spring or Summer.
Milan and I get along only from April to September. Any other month, I pay an unbearable price for my visit. And I start dreaming of the day I can come back to you, L.A. I did not give a dam about you for almost twelve years, treating you just as granted, and now I am all heels over head for you.
I am truly, insanely, sexually (as Mae West used to sign her letters) and passionately yours, L.A.
Five more days and I'll be able to kiss again your sun-kissed sandy land. How nice!
Never say never. This has been one of the driving forces in my life, together with the intriguing
question : "why not?"
Today my friend Andrea blew my mind, though. Andrea is the greatest Italian cartoonist ever, and one of the people who's able to live his life more reckllessly despite four young children to feed, metaphorically and literally. We've been talking about doing cool and reckless projects together in the very immediate Future.
We've been talking more than usually during this stay, and today he called three times. Last one was about his discovery of a DVD with a documentary about Cole Porter's life.
Porter had his motto tattoed on the pillows:
NEVER EXPLAIN, NEVER COMPLAIN.
No wonder the man composed some of the best songs ever.
Never explain, never complain. It's just so awesome and appropriate to the way I want to relate to the world most of the time. But many people don't get it. They keep asking me to explain what should never been explained. They are almost disappointed about my lack of complaining.
So, should I tatto-it on my butt? Or should I stick to the original tribal tattoo idea for the small of my back, and keep Cole Porter's crazy wise words printed on my heart?
You're allowed one vote each. I will act accordingly with the majority of the comments and e-mails received.
I'm back since a few days. On one side I feel totally home, on the other side I am as spaced out and jet lagged as one can be.
I wake up regularly at 4 a.m., and I'm happy. I go walking Moki on the hill crest, we watch sunrise, and I can finally breath. I hang out with Heather in the house and I'm so happy to do it again.
But I also miss some of my great friends who really helped me to face the situation with my mom in Milan. They supported me with unconditional patience.
I miss having breakfast at Cucchi with Franco, talking with my sister in a relaxed way not through intercontinental and hurried up connection. I miss talking to Andrea about all the exciting creative projects we're going to do. I even miss going to the magazines offices and hang out with my former colleagues... did I just say that?
And at the same time, I am so incredibly happy to be here and now. Moki led me to the place where my heart was buried, and I'm trying to place it back. But it seems not to be in one whole piece. And it has to hold so many different emotions now that sometimes I think it's going to explode.
Or maybe it's just sleep deprivation.
We're finally on. Well, almost. It's going to be:
Thursday, December 1, 7.00 p.m.
1360 Westwood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Angelika, Barbara, Lisa and Gevin will be there as well, so here's your chance to meet these fantastic women in person.
See you there!
I have awesome friends. Most of them will be at my book-signing party tonight at Borders-Westwood, 1360 Westwood Boulevard, at 7 p.m.
Among them, first and foremost Angelika, Barbara, Gevin and Lisa, the very heart of my Reckless team. More on them "live" tonight. There will be also my VERY SPECIAL friend Litty who, together with her husband Melkon, produces incredible artisanal flavored vodkas under the label Modern Spirits (please, check out their website, www.modernspiritsvodka.com, you might find some tasty ideas for Xmas presents). Litty and Melkon created a special "Reckless" cocktail, and they will be pouring it to your delight.
Then, there will be "my kids", my son Daniele and his lovely sweetheart Elizabteh, who have been absolutely encouraging in pushing me to dare writing this book and overcome my insecurities. It' SOOO good to have them in my life!
But I also owe a special thank to another special person, Pamela, who came all the way from the Midwest to support me tonight. Pamela is the mother of my roommate Heather, very special herself (and if you want confirmation of my words, check the Los Angeles times today, flip to the calendar section, and you'll find her there, smiling on top of the L.A. Times building, atop a very well written article by Scott Martelle about the bloggers of LAblogging:
Talking about this category of people, thanks, thanks, thanks to Bill Campbell, as well, who posted about my booksigning party on the above mentioned site. And thanks to Lisa Stone, who cannot be at Borders tonight, but wrote about it in a very sweet post at:
Thanks to Daniel Guerrero, great guy and great communications director at the West Hollywood Bureau, who used all his magic and contacts to help me out. Thanks to Franco, who wanted to fly all the way from Milan to celebrate, even if he could stay only for a few hours, but had a last minute obstacle to stop his reckless intention.
So many others I should thank, but my brain is fried with all the preparation details and I can't almost remember my name. So, forgive me if I did not mention you here, you know you are in my heart.
And I can always make up tonight, admitted that I don't have a panic attack and loose my voice!
All right. I see you all there.
COME TO BE RECKLESSLY HAPPY!
The book-signing party last night was a smashing success. Seventy-five people showed up, battling the horrible freeway traffic, and there were lot of flowers sent by some very thoughtful friends, melting my heart. Look at the pictures in the photo album on the left side, clicking on "Reckless Los Angeles", right under the "start here" section.
Litty put up an incredible buffet and her Reckless cocktail swept my guests off their feet. Angelika, Barbara and Gevin were exactly as I remembered them. Powerful, awesome, energetic, magnetic women, and so generous in sharing time and stories with everybody who'd ask them.
Best of all for me was seeing what a fantastic show of support I got. Friends that I haven't seen in years showed up.
People like Nomad, a great guy I met fifteen years ago in Italy when he was still living in Los Angeles, ready to move to Denmark, and I was living in Milan, ready to move to L.A. He wrote me an e-mail yesterday saying that he was back in the States and ready to start his own book-signing tour for Circular Thought-An African-Native American Traditional Understanding, signed with his native name, Winterhawk (please, check it out. Nomad is somebody who put his heart where his mouth is so, even if I haven't read it yet, I am sure it is an interesting book).
A book-signing tour starting the same day of my book-signing party after fifteen years of silence. How magic is that?
Gevin's mom and dad were there, see the picture below. Meeting her parents I understood why Gevin always says that she owes them everything. Gevin's brother too was there, and I enjoyed talking to him. He's a nice, nice guy.
I really enjoyed having all of you there. It meant a lot to me, and made me feel comfortable even speaking in front of so many people. All of a sudden, I wasn't scared anymore and felt, instead, happy and relaxed (or was that the magic pill that you gave me, Pam?)
What challenge could I take in 2006 to be really reckless? That's what was on my mind the other night. So yesterday morning, I dropped it on Heather when she woke up.
She was having coffee and it was her jaw to drop this time when I explained what was going to be my 2006 proposition.
See, I told her, I quit drinking and I quit smoking. I wouldn't say it was easy but I knew since start that I would succeed. Instead, when I gave up coffee before, for a whole year and for medical reasons, all I could think about was... coffee.
Truth is, I am a java addict of the worst kind. If I don't smell good coffee in the morning my neurons don't fire up. But I am really unhappy being addicted to anything.
So, why don't we both give up coffee, partner?
Heather surely could use to be less wired up too. But Heather is a big java junk herself. But Heather is also always up for reckless challenges, as long as you present them as such to her.
Yet, one year of deprivation seemed very long to her so we settled on one month.
The month is December, and here we go, already feeling the effects of sudden deprivation.
Reward will be triumph, though, as Barbara explained last night at the book-signing.
So roommate, shut up your cravings and be happy with chai.
For some mysterious reason, men generally ask me the question at the second date, if not the first.
"What do you want?", they ask. And I can see in their eyes that the only answer to fit their bill would be a stereotypical: "I want YOU', no matter what.
Well, maybe that is the true meaning of unconditional love. If it is, I'm unqualified for, at the present moment.
I have, in fact, very clear in my mind (or should I more honestly say in my guts?), what I want.
And I don't mean to give you my list of criteria for wanna-be boyfriends since I've always thought that just the idea of having set criteria is pathetic.
What I want, really, is to date. Yeah, right. Just like an unmarried couple, having more fun and adventures than talks about the future.
I might love you but that does not automatically translate in my immediate longing to live with you.
I am not saying that I will never want a future together but, please, can we avoid jumping to conclusions when we're still at the starting line?
Yes, it might have something to do with the fact that I am having the first roommating experience of my life at an age when people are instead more involved in assembling or breaking second marriages, while I was married and having a baby at a time when my classmates were roommating in college dorms. And I'm having, and had, lots of fun in both cases.
I can easily admit it, I might be a bit out of sync with normal life expectancy. But that's what and who I am, here and now, and I happen to know what I want.
So, if you want to be-not to become!- the man in my life, you got to know what you want. And your wants must match my desire.
I don't believe in "working hard" on a relationship to make it work despite limits and oddities.
I believe in magic.
Love is either magic or it isn't, in my reckless world.
Did you ever go on a date with your son or daughter?
If you didn't, I highly recommend it. And no, you don't have to wait until your kid is a grown up, as mine is by now.
I used to go out on dates with Daniele when he was just three years old. Once a month, more or less, or whenever we felt like, my son and I would go out to dinner. Just the two of us, dressing up and making a big fuzz about the whole preparation.
What to wear and where to go was discussed in details. Reservations were made. And when I'd show up at these fancy places in Milan with a "man" who hardly reached my hip level, waitresses and restaurant owners were delighted to help out and make Daniele feel how special that occasion was.
It was very special to me too, since I noticed how easier it was then for Daniele to bring up some of his eternal doubts about the meaning of life, or discuss his secret fears.
It was a little trick but it worked wonders to reassure him of my full attention and priority in my life.
It was also very stimulating. I've always thought that children have a lot to teach us, in terms of thinking instinctively instead of over-analyzing. I listen to children. Sometimes they give very wise advices.
But here I am now, with a son who's not a kid anymore, and we're still going out on dates. We never lost the habit, and it has been very enjoyable all the way through.
It created a few problems with some men in my past, who were absurdly jealous of the private time and obvious fun I had with my son. But that was their problem. Not even once I thought to give it up, and I will never, as long as Daniele feels the same.
So, tomorrow Dani and I will lunch in Santa Monica. I am very excited to think where would be nicer, and what to wear to see my son. Waitresses now always believe he's my boyfriend but that is something that does not concern either of us.
Would I date a man seventeen younger than me? Sure. Why not?
As long as he is at least Daniele's age. That has been the joke going on since Daniele passed my hip, then my chest and right after my shoulder height (he now towers over me.)
As long as he is as nice, as interesting, as special and humorous as Daniele is.
Sorry guys but I know myself.
I don't have boyfriends' requirements in a list but I know in my heart that I could never settle for anything less.
I don't know if it is because five is my favorite number. But I am working on five different tracks, all very challenging, and I am in heaven.
True, sometimes I'm loosing it. Even working late hours I can't keep up with everything. I happen to skip a few phone appointments and other little tasks. But the whole picture looks just fabulous since I find myself energized even by sleep deprivation!
On top of it, one week without coffee is gone, just when my schedule got more and more hectic. Surprisingly, I can say that I am coping with caffeine withdrawal just fine.
So, what is it? I've always known I am at my best when I am deeply under pressure but, at the same time, I am not a stress fan.
But that's exactly the point. I think I have by now elaborated a few personal stress-relief method that give me immediate results.
My morning walk with the dog is a big hit on that list.
I don't walk Moki just because I have too. I walk Moki trying to have as much fun as I can for that half an hour, and enjoy every second of it forgetting about my schedule for the rest of the day.
We walk up and downhill, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. We take time to salute the neighborhood dogs, the hawks and squirrels in the canyon, the blue jays and hummingbirds in the yard who elcome us back in the Future.
We stop at the three stumps and take in all the view of the lizardy Los Angeles river and the 5 freeway in front of us, with Griffith Observatory on our right and the Downtown skyscrapers slightly south of it.
The weather is still so nice that by the time we arrive there, I've taken my sweater off.
T-Shirt weather in December? Are we lucky or what?
That's the moment of the day when I give thanks for all the bounty that I have in my life since these are the goodies that most count for me.
Being able to have a life I love. Day by day.
Sure, there are moments that are not all so great, and a few difficulties and obstacles to deal with. But it's so much fun to find ways to overcome them that I can't really waste any energy focusing on the negative.
It's really all about attitude, isn't it?
Stress too can be turned into a very empowering force instead of letting it drain away your strength.
It just take a little alchemy. You just have to put a little magic back in the way you lead yourself throughout the day.
When I do, five-tracks seem almost not enough. I would not mind a six one to keep my alertness and interest 100% all the time.
But, yes, I'm not bionic yet. Maybe I need some sleep as well.
Okay. I lied. Kisses are not quite for sale like they were at country fairs during wartime. They're for trade, Indian way. And the trade does not benefit any relief program neither support our troupes abroad.
It benefits only me and, if you like the trade, eventually you.
Here's how it works. You give me a story, I give you a kiss.
I mean it. I will keep my promise. You've only to promise not to cry if you'll be turned into a frog after I'll kiss you (my magic is powerful but still a little bit chaotic.)
I'm looking for more exciting stories of inspiring, reckless lives.
It can be your life or somebody else's.
It can be women's or men's.
You can be a woman or a man.
You can either share it here with all the readers of this blog or e-mail it to me (address on the left, I know some of you prefer to go this way.)
Let's start to play.
Countdown to Christmas.
I tried hard not to write about it. I just can't.
But I don't want to trigger a bunch of arguments on death penalty and the innocence, or not, of Tookey Williams, whose life was terminated early this morning by lethal injection at the hands of California state employees. That's why there will be no access to comments to this post.
What I am most outraged about is the way our governor handled the matter. In cold blood, so to say. Delegating his lawyers to go "through the papers". Quoting statements released by Williams at his trial more than twenty years ago (when he was, admittedly, just a boasting, sprung gangbanger.) Refusing to meet Tookey Williams in person.
Had he done so, our dear governor would have been impressed by the amazing honesty of this man, a different one from the gangster who once lived in his pants. A man who took full responsibility of his past lifestyle and dedicated his years in prison to destroy his image as a possible- bad!- role model.
He did not take responsibility for the four murders, technically speaking, because he cannot recall pulling the trigger. "Since at that time I was constantly high on drugs", as he admitted to me when I interviewed him in San Quentin Death Row.
So taking the life of this man, who was certainly much more useful to society alive, governor Schwazenegger is sending out a precise message to young black kids who might have been involved in gangs and made some bad mistakes.
"You know what? Don't even bother trying to redeem yourself since one day we'll finally get you. And we'll make you pay with your life for your mistakes, no matter how good you've become in the years to come."
Great job, governor. You're really smart and brave. You authorized the state-assisted murder of one of the few men these kids were listening to, since "he had been there". Or do you think they'd rather listen to you, if you ever dared to show up in some Watts high school in your tailored suit, with your plastic smile?
King Kong lives in my neighborhood. To be precise, if you wish to check it out, he lives on Burnell Drive, up the hill from my house. Literally, since he likes better to live on the street, laying across it and forcing cars to find their way around his massive body.
I’ve been reminded of my luck to know such a graceful savage in person last night at the movies, watching the giant ape to interact with the brave beauty.
Although the personal version of King Kong I’ve been blessed with is a giant dog, not an ape. His head is as big as a bull’s, with a serious face and sad eyes. Or, so it was until we met. Then, just like Naomi Watts with the ape, I started trying to humor him, and the giant’s heart melted.
At first, I was a little concerned walking by with my dog, whos’ not small but still half the size of the giant. One snap of that jaw could easily break Moki’s neck-bone. But “Vito” is not interested in snapping anybody's neck. He is instead very friendly.
He got his name from my neighbor who kind of adopted him after the dog showed up at his door one day. My neighbor provides Vito with food and shelter in his yard but leaves the gate open for him, aware that a wild creature, no matter how tamed looking, still needs her freedom.
So Vito comes and goes from "his" house as he pleases. Recently, however, he decided that his new house was going to be our house. Imagine our surprise opening the door at 8 a.m. and finding him there, patiently waiting. He had managed to figure out where the house was since he knows my car, and probably followed Moki's scent as well. And he managed to break into our yard through a passage he opened for himself in the bamboo fence.
As soon as he saw me, he rolled on his back and started wagging not only his tail but all his four legs in the air. There was something really sweet about him then, and no sadness showing on his face. I patted his chest and told him what a good dog he was.
That must have been my mistake because, after that idyllic moment, Vito refused to leave. His intentions to become our dog were very clear. But Heather, who has been bit by a dog as a child, disagreed. Rather, she started to freak out and threatened to call the animal control.
The giant captured and caged? Maybe brought to "prison"? Maybe put to death, since he's not sporting a tag and I'm not positive that he "legally" belongs to my neighbor? Unbearable thought.
So I had to entice Vito to follow me back to his house. I bribed him in with biscuits and tied him with a rope to the entrance of his house. It was long enough for him to move around but it still broke my heart. Until, of course, Vito broke the rope, just Like King Kong did with his dreadful chains in that theatre. Looking a bit offended, he got loose and went sitting in the middle of the street again.
Heather helped me to fix the hole in the gate to avoid other early morning surprises. But Vito still came to sit in front of our gate, crying for my attention. And I had to retrieve in my studio to avoid opening the door to him. I really like that dog (did I just say that?) as much as he likes me.
But we live in a spot on a sharp curve, potentially dangerous for a dog who cannot move too quickly. So Vito and I settled for a different routine. He agreed to stay mostly around his house and I go visit. I bring and give him biscuits when I find him sitting inside his gate. Yet, if I'm driving by, Vito runs out as soon as he hears my car engine approaching. he lays himself down in front on my wheels so that I HAVE to get out. My "toll' to the road is patting his chest and telling him he's a very good dog. He appreciates the compliment and gives me yield, finally sitting up straight and following my disappearing car with his once-again sad eyes.
Just like King Kong, Vito is a creature of the jungle. But Vito lives in an urban jungle. That must be why he has great instinct but he's also street-smart. He won't be killed by machine gunfire neither by hunters. Hopefully, he won't be captured by animal control agents either.
"Poetry is nothing more than an intensification or illumination of common objects and everyday events until they shine with their singular nature, until we can experience their power, until we can follow their steps in the dance, until we can discern what parts they play in the Great Order of Love. How is this done? By fucking around with syntax.
(Definitions are limiting. Limitations are deadening. To limit oneself is a kind of suicide. To limit another is a kind of murder. To limit poetry is a Hiroshima of the human spirit....)"
From Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, by Prince Kissing Tom Robbins.
My 2006 will know NO LIMITATIONS of my passion, enthusiasm and energy.
I'm going to lasso the world by the throat and ride it as a wild bronco!
Last year, today. my book proposal for Reckless was voted and approved by Seal Press, after submitting the standard three chapters for their evaluation.
There was one condition, though. The whole book needed to be finished by the end of February, 2005.
Nevertheless, I was very happy. And I didn't have one only doubt I will make it, neither waited one only minute to answer "no problem".
It took a lot of self-discipline to stick to my crazy schedule, and a lot of faith to stop working on my other projects (those which actually pay my bills) for the time being, but it was totally worth it.
Tonight, I celebrate another glorious winter solstice completing the outline of the documentary project that I am going to turn my book into.
Couldn't ask for a better one-year mark.
I am not somebody who gets carried away with the holiday spirit.
I love the feeling of new beginning that comes with a new year, though. It's a good time to think about new projects and also to reassess guiding principles.
2006 begins with a beautiful new moon and I intend to celebrate this present from the universe joyfully splashing in the ocean.
In these days, I've been thinking about the way my values are quietly reassessing themselves. No need to state that loud. There are some things I learned from it that I'd like to share, though.
For instance, I know since a long time that freedom is the thing that matters most to me.
Now, I am starting to realize that freedom needs to go along with peace in order to be fully benefitted.
It is just like energy. Energy is a great thing to possess. Yet, if unbalanced, it can turn against you and others around you. It becomes that kind of energy that the 34 exagram of the I-Ching refers too. Applying too big and unruled power can undermine foundation and ultimately destroy the building. Too much energy in your toes make you move too fast and without thinking. Too much power in the mouth produces undisciplined words that you might regret later. It takes a lot of humbleness to understand the true meaning of this answer from the ancient Chinese oracle.
Humbleness. Here, I just said it. Humbleness is another very important quality to acquire. It's useful to understand that as unique as you can be, as special as you might think you are, you're still just a very small dot in the spider web of the universe in motion.
Keeping your energy balanced, respecting not only yours but others' freedom and peace, remembering to be humble instead of self-consumed. These are all necessary requirements to be a "great" person. Otherwise, you just become a big--not great--nuisance.
Sometimes, I have this kind of feeling when I read blogs too. After a while, I get bored with those where the blogger only talks about him/herself, and mainly to show how great he/she is. I like much better the ones where people share openly and intimately reflections and feelings that can be useful to everybody, like in a conversation with friends, not pretending to be "great" all the time.
On the other side, I certainly don't like reading, (neither listening to, for that matter) somebody who's venting out anger, frustration or other bad feelings. One of the best teachings I received from a Lakota spiritual leader is that "it is okay to experience the feeling, not to act it out".
The same things were taught to me in martial arts. Balance you energy, be respectful, be humble. Don't repress your emotions, see and recognize them, but don't let them dominate you. Particularly, don't let them out on others.
One blogger I really like, John Perry Barlow, once, asked about his new projects and goals, wrote: I want to become a good ancestor. How beautiful!
Here is somebody who knows a lot about freedom, having fought for freedom of the internet since its start as the cofounder of Electronic Frontier Foundation. Somebody who wrote some of the most touching lyrics of the Grateful Dead and is considered a genius. But he has become so humble, lately, that all he's concerned about is how to pass down the best of himself to his children and grandchildren and generations to come.
John is somebody who made lots of money and learned that material possessions are not the measure of your success. I challenged myself to learn the same without having to make a lot of money first.
Money, like many other things in this universe, is just energy, in a solid form. I prefer to concentrate on free flowing energy, the true chi of the universe. Keep in harmony with it, keep your thoughts pure and your actions balanced, and abundance will come.
I don't really care in which form as long as it brings me warmth, peace, joy and freedom.
Money does not buy you freedom. Only your peaceful and thoughtful actions will grant it.
Acting your feelings out on others does not bring you warmth. Learning to respect yourself AND others in communication, will.
This is, more or less, what I'll be able to pass down to my son, his children and the generations to come. My words are not wind because I've always tried to live my life by these principles.
I might have failed integrity a few times, but I've been able to recognize it and take responsibility for, apologizing to the people I might have let go off on. My family and friends, and even my supposed "enemies" have helped me on the never ending quest of self-discovery and self-improvement.
There is no end of the road when you start this path, and it's all good.
Every path is a good path as long as it has heart.
I am not talking about a Christmas tree.
It was dead but still standing in the backyard.
It was here since we bought the house.
It should have been removed by the previous owners, but it wasn't.
It was there, every morning, sitting just out of my bathroom window, halfway between my bedroom and my studio.
According to feng shui, old trees are very strong blockages.
According to the termite people, old trees are big triggers.
According to my personal taste, old trees are bad sight.
So finally on Christmas Eve, I had the old tree removed and deported to the dump.
This will be your coming-back surprise, H.
No more blockages for abundance in the Future.
Although I think we should plant a rose bush where the tree was since it was a live and lush tree once, before turning into the dead corpse of a bare trunk.
"I need you."
I am hearing a lot of these statements recently, both in private lives and at the movies, both regarding love stories.
Some of my friends just melt hearing those words by their boyfriends' mouths. Funny because the same words give me the creeps, reminding me of symbiotic relationships like the kind the hermit-crab has with its shell.
I need you, I can't live without you... Gosh, give me a break! Breath. Try, and you'll see that you can still breath on your own. Yes, even if you love me, it's not necessary to give up your basic autonomy in the name of love.
Logic give people what they need, magic give them what they want.
Love should be magic, shouldn't it? It should be based upon free, happy choice not desperate, grasping need. If you want to have a relationship with me tell me that you want me. Never (never!) that you need me.
I practice logic sometimes, when it's necessary, but I don't believe in logic. I believe in magic and freedom.
I believe also in love. As long as it does not remind me of CPR, without which somebody cannot stand up and breath and enjoy life on their own. As long as it does not evoke images of a sticky substance or spider web where two people get themselves trapped in, without even a clue of awareness.
So, I guess, I believe just in magic, enchanting, illogic and free love. If it stops to be that way, I'd rather go without.
Radiohead: In Rainbows
Dare and compare. Radiohead singular marketing campaign putting the cd out without a price paid off. The album has become an immediate cult. It deserves its reputation. But don't put it n mif you feel kind of blue.
Nothing Compares to you
Sinead O'Connor: Collaborations
She's all heart.
Ride Of The Valchiries
Wagner: Ride Of The Valchiries
To feel invincible.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Live In Hyde Park
Pearl Jam: rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003)
the most amazing lyrics!
Bold As Love
Jimi Hendrix: EXperience
All his music is Bold As Love to my ears.
Daniele Bolelli: 50 Things You're Not Supposed To Know: Religion
Fun. Witty. Informative and enlightening. Not just because my son wrote it :)
Don Winslow: Savages: A Novel
Raw. Cruel. Mind-bending. Innovative writing. Don Winslow at his best, so far. Leave you wishing for more, and then more. More punches in your stomach.
Thaddeus Russell: A Renegade History of the United States
It is on the Los Angeles Times booklist for Christmas gifts, with a reason. Cool research and refreshing style by the renegade professor, who's a lot of fun in person too. Great way to discover new things while learning more about the history of the American nation. I loved it.
Kem Nunn: The Dogs of Winter
I loved Tapping The Source and I'm always down for a good surf noir. But this Kem Nunn's left me with a feeling of deprivation. Instead of giving you energy, like a good surfing session or The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow does, it sucks it out of you. Not what I'm looking for in a book, definitely. It gets better in the very last 30 pages, trying a desperate redemption of the main characters, but it's kind of too late. The damage remains. Unforgivable sin.
Thomas Pynchon: Inherent Vice
Halfway through the book, and I am once more amazed at the geniality of Pynchon, this time challenging the hard boiled stereotypes. Reading that is a memory exercise for the Sixty lingo and definitely brain storming about the usual big questions. I just wonder how the writer who never write real endings will manage to avoid ending a thriller!
Daniele Bolelli: On the Warrior's Path, Second Edition
I loved the first edition and I was even more impressed with the second. I am not saying this just because I am the mother of the author. I am a fan of the warrior that I've seen to walk his talk and remain on his very own path every day of his life. Martial arts were my passion long before they became my son's but I never forced him to embrace them. He did by his own choice and went much farther than I've ever been. Martial arts gave Daniele balance and taught him to be strong but graceful and generous in life. Daniele shares all he learned in this book with his typical humorous, knockout style.
Gloria Mattioni: Reckless
Since I'm the author, I can't say anything about it. But I'd like you to do that. You can order it clicking on the Amazon link.