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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

Melting Stress Away like Snow

Sorry everyone. My already slow pace of writing has virtually ground to a halt these days due in part to work busyness and holiday busyness, but also a bit of mental disquietude as the year comes to a close and reflection settles in. And to assuage the latter and to off-set the former, here are the fun things I have been doing:

The end of a week, which involved an impromptu business trip, a tornado-caused flight diversion to Alabama, a lot of down-to-the-last-minute deadlines and a lot of unexplainable reminiscing, called for some silliness. And that is what Rocket Bar offers. A neon sign is the only suggestion of this underground playland in Chinatown.

I was particularly allured and amused by the skeeball machines, a fond memory of my youth, but the darts game was also fun and took up a little more time (and perhaps skill).

Stacy Brooks Band
Holiday busyness is unavoidable, no matter how much you try to dodge it or plan in advance. The streets are busier, the public transportation is fuller, and the grocery stores are disastrous. I won't even mention malls. So, like it or not, this commotion seeps into every day life. That is why I like holiday-specific activities. Then the busyness is warranted. The Holiday Market in Penn Quarter amply fits this descitpion. Small but creative with its vendors and crowded as it is, it is a good place to find unique gifts. And, should you see that the Stacy Brooks band is playing there again (or anywhere else for that matter), I highly suggest going. Her booming voice is remarkable and her rendition of "I'd Rather go Blind" (a favorite of mine), was enough to have us sit down and listen despite the 30 degree blistering cold and the distance from an outdoor heater.

Christmas: Santa with Elves by Norman Rockwell

I also finally made it to the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the American Art Museum with only a few weeks to spare. It ends on January 2. The hearty exhibit from George Lucas's and Steven Steilberg's collections was fabulous. It showed a vast array of Norman Rockwell's different works from paintings he did as advertisements to ones honoring various people like the Boy Scouts or Charles Lindbergh.

The one above was definitely one of my favorites: clever, innocent and telling. Rockwell was able to capture emotions like no other and the exhibit's title "Telling Stories" is dead-on. He was a master. I couldn't help notice how a smile would suddenly come across my face as I walked up to a painting of a terrified kid peering over a diving board or a beautiful woman being taunted by two overly keen truck drivers. Looking around me, I noticed that I wasn't the only one with this reaction. If you need a reason to smile, visit this exhibit or if you are not in D.C., preview it here... The stress of the week quickly melted away after all.