Archive for the ‘sunday scribblings’ Category

sunday scribblings: ocean

Prompt #58: Ocean

Ah, the ocean. Many have fond memories of going to the beach as a child, frolicking in the sand, building sandcastles, getting tossed around in the waves.

Not me.

I remember going to Atlantic City with my grandmother once when I was small, but we didn’t actually get near the water as it was too cold. And yes, for those in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, I’m talking about “going to the shore” here. Cheesesteaks optional but advised.

So my first time near a large body of water was in college when some friends and I went to Morehead City (accent on the first syllable; make your own jokes please), North Carolina. Is that possible? Nearly 20 years of my life without knowing the ocean?

Entirely. From the middle of Pennsylvania, where I am from, the ocean is several hours away; those from the Midwest may have even more dramatic horror stories. Add to that a family that was never, say, enamored with the water or vacations, and it’s not too hard to understand. Of course it is a bit strange if you consider that I now live minutes from the crystal clear Ionian Sea, a northern Italian and European holiday hotspot.

So when I was 19 years old, I got thrown around by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. Scary at the start, but then simply glorious. Being flipped and turned beyond your control really puts the world into perspective for anyone, let alone a 19-year-old college kid.

I remember feeling so small, insignificant, powerless. And happy. Deliriously happy.

It was the perfect time to feel and understand that I was just a tiny piece of the larger puzzle of the world. At the time, I was attending an ultra-competitive university with students who often fit every stereotype you could imagine; it was easy to get suckered into thinking that every decision, including actually eating dinner instead of having half of a plain baked potato, would affect my Entire Future.

Should I continue with German? Should I double major? Should I break down and take a math course? Can I fit in another part-time job? This was critical stuff!

Having nothing to do but lie on the beach, read some novels, and frolic, yes frolic, in the water was the perfect wind-down to another physically and emotionally draining school year; as it turned out, my introduction to the ocean happened exactly when I needed it and, perhaps more importantly, when I was ready to accept it.

I think that when you haven’t grown up with something, your adult years can either find you strangely drawn toward it or still keeping your distance.

With the ocean, I’m somewhere in between. I’m not afraid of the water, although I’ll admit I’m not entirely comfortable on a boat where I can no longer see land. If you haven’t guessed, I’ve never been on a cruise, but I’d welcome the chance if, you know, I won one or something.

On the other hand, I’m definitely not addicted to the sea either–a minor sin here, in fact, where I’m asked nearly every day in the summer if I had gone “al mare,” to the sea. Thank goodness I found P, who isn’t appassionato either, proving one of P’s (and now my) favorite sayings: “Dio li fa e poi li accoppia.” This is the equivalent of our “birds of a feather flock together,” but literally (and much prettier, I think): “God makes them and then matches them up.”

So while not al mare every day, I do enjoy quiet times at the beach when there are few others around. Lucky for me, Italians are quite rigid on when they go to the beach, so those early March and late September days? The beach and the moist, salty air? Pretty much all mine.

I imagine this might change a bit if I have children, though, because I would want them to be comfortable with the water and have all those sweet, frolicky memories that so many others have–although building sandcastles probably isn’t going to happen on our beaches here.

And so, I am at peace with the fact that the ocean and I have a bit of a strained relationship. I wouldn’t die if I wasn’t near it, but then again, that crisp, fresh air and cool water feels oh so good when the sun is warming my cheeks and shoulders (properly covered in sunscreen, of course).

But for now I’ll continue to take it in small doses until the Ionian, which surely knows more than I, pulls me to know it a little better.

And then I will open myself up to whatever it has to offer.

P.S. You can find more images of the sea here.

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[tags]ocean, sea, ionian sea, badolato[/tags]


Happy Birthday Mom!

Prompt #57: Wings

Cheesy as it sounds, the first thing that came to my mind when I read this prompt was Bette Midler’s song, Wind Beneath My Wings. And my next thought was of my mom, because, well, that’s what she is to me, and that song always brings tears to my eyes because it makes me think of her. Doesn’t hurt that today just happens to be her birthday as well.

My mom is truly my best friend, *the* one I turn to in times of happiness, sadness, and every emotion in between, and she has always, always, always been there for me. She’s never disappointed me. Not once. Ever.

Is she a saint? Well, sometimes I think so, but as far as I know, she hasn’t performed any miracles. Well, other than managing to remain a kind, loving person after what one could only euphemistically call a rough childhood.

But that’s her story, and certainly not mine to tell here.

What I can tell is my story, or rather ours from my perspective. How I became best friends with my mom through weekend and once a week visits. How she sacrificed custody of my brother and me when she left my father because she knew that’s what was best for us. We had already been growing up in a house with my father’s family; she saw no need to pull us from the stability. Besides, she was working the 3-11 shift at a hospital a half hour away–not the easiest hours to maintain when you have a 2 and 8 year old.

Of course I didn’t know any of this until many, many years later. But oh, how I appreciate it now. I marvel at the strength it must have taken to do something so unselfish, and I only hope I’ve inherited and/or learned half of what she’s exhibited.

And so, during my formative years, we got the best of the mother-daughter relationship (shopping, intimate chats, watching stand-up comedy into the wee hours of the morning on HBO, trying all the new restaurants) without all the daily annoyances (curfews, how much time we hogged the bathroom, begging permission to do things). Who woulda thought I would’ve ended up with such an idyllic childhood after my parents divorced when I was so young?

Now a lot of the goodwill that sprung up between us came because my mom let me be my own person, within boundaries of course. Controlling and domineering, she’s not, but she’s not a complete pushover either (although even she would admit to being more of the latter when it comes to her kids).

One of the stories she loves to tell, and that I have come to admire, is that I was always allowed to pick out my clothes–from the choice of a few pre-selected outfits. That way, she reasoned, I had the feeling that I was in control and making my own choices but at the same time didn’t leave the house in horribly mismatched, embarrassing outfits. Genius!

And that’s why I love my mom. She guides without pushing. She listens without judging. She loves with all her heart without taking.

And sometimes I think she’s more than the wind beneath my wings–she just may be my wings themselves.

Happy Birthday Mom.

And thank you. For everything.


Sunday Scribblings: Deepest, Darkest

Prompt #53: Deepest, darkest

In. Out. Deep breath. Here we go.

This week’s prompt is “deepest, darkest,” and perhaps since I’ve had something weighing on my mind for some months now, I immediately thought of secrets. We all have things that we’ve done or that have happened to us that we’ve told only a select person or two–or maybe even no one at all.

Through the course of writing this blog, I feel I’ve gotten to know so many new friends, and the basis of any friendship is honesty. So through this prompt’s inspiration, I’m going to come clean on something that has been churning around my stomach for months; I hope you won’t think any less of me for what I’m about to reveal.

I’ve cheated on P.

There. It’s out.

I don’t want to get into details, but it was just one time, a few months ago with an ex from here who doesn’t live in this area any more; he was visiting some family around the holidays, and well, you know how these things work.

I suppose I was waiting for those rumblings in my gut to stop, but maybe (hopefully) in time it’ll happen.

Perhaps if I confessed to P, I’d feel better?

What do you think blog friends?

***SEE COMMENTS FOR IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION***


sunday scribblings: in the kitchen

Prompt #52: In the Kitchen

My childhood home had a front door, but only strangers ever used it.

To get into our house, it was common knowledge that you should come up the alley to the backyard, lift up the latch on the gate (which rubbed in such a way so as to announce your presence), walk up the mostly unbroken cement path (avoiding jumps of a hyper dog of which there was always at least one), clank up the seven metal steps onto the wooden porch (color changed from brick red to deep green to spring green to medium grey to light grey, repeat), and let yourself in the back door.

And there, in the kitchen, you’d find my grandmother. At the stove, at the sink, or at the table doing crosswords, plastic canvas, or some other craft, watching the Phillies, or, depending on the time of day, napping, her head propped up by her hand as if she was simply bored with your arrival.

You’d be greeted with dark wood everywhere, and, for quite some time, avocado green appliances; they were all the rage in the early 70’s you know. But it certainly wasn’t the decor that would keep your attention.

You’d be assaulted by the smells of coffee and cigarettes, and, if you were lucky, delicious wafts of something fresh off the stove or out of the oven. You’d do your best to speak over the television blaring in the background with either Harry Kalas or Emeril imparting baseball or cooking wisdom (respectively); her dedication to them was unfailing.

You’d be ordered to sit down and drink and eat (and eat and eat), and you would do so with pleasure. You’d probably sit in that very spot for hours talking about something or another, and why don’t you have another piece of cake? You look too thin!

In the kitchen was *the* place to be in our house, and, in fact, my grandmother spent all day, every day there in her sturdy wooden chair, resisting all invitations to the more comfortable spots in the living room. It was, quite simply, her place. Many a guest, family and friends, passed through that back door to find my grandmother in the kitchen waiting to entertain; Christmas or just an ordinary day, it was business as usual in the kitchen.

Only the volume of food changed.

I miss that kitchen terribly. So many memories, so much laughter, so much love, many ear-splitting arguments as well, but always life. Anyone who has ever been in it would tell you that.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked through the back door and into the kitchen after my grandmother’s death. It was dark and silent and disappointing, and so literally, unbearably empty.

And I remember thinking that next time, I really should go around and use the front door.

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[tags]sunday scribblings, kitchens, grandmothers’ kitchens, grandmothers[/tags]


sunday scribblings: inspiration

Prompt #51: Inspiration

Oh the irony that I vaguely posted on this subject a mere two days ago, and here I am doomed blessed to revisit inspiration once more.

I’m not going to lie to you. The first thing that came to my mind when I read this prompt was the 1984 heart-warming ditty of Chicago, “You’re the Inspiration.” But since I have no specific memories attached to that song other than singing obscenely loudly (hardly unique to this tune), let’s move on.

Let’s talk about writing. Again.

Many writers refer to their projects as their babies, and I feel the same. If we’re lucky, the reward is a healthy, well-composed baby, and the path to get there is paved with inspiration–great when it’s around, torturous when it’s in hiding.

For me, inspiration comes when it comes, and there’s just no amount of pushing that’s going to convince the baby to come out until it’s ready. (I’d say “good and ready,” but this writer certainly cannot guarantee goodness the first time around.)

As far as I know, there’s no writing inspiration equivalent of a C-section just yet, and doesn’t sound like a particularly enticing idea anyway, but I do hear that walking around sometimes helps move labor along; with writing, I have to agree with this tactic as well.

Breathing fresh air and connecting with other living things–people, animals, or simply nature in general–often gives me that extra push I need to complete something, to break through a mental block, to inspire me to continue. And this isn’t limited to just writing. That load of laundry that’s beginning to move by itself? The floor that hasn’t been mopped since B.O. (before Obama)? The layer of dust that blurs my niece and nephew’s photographed faces?

It’s not a sure thing, but all of these chores have a much better chance of being tackled after I reintroduce myself to the outdoors.

Procrastination? Nah. Inspiration!

And there’s no better time than Spring to drink in all the inspiration I can stand.

Bentornata primavera!

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[tags]inspiration, writing, spring, primavera, flowers, sunday scribblings[/tags]


Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Recipes

 

Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake