Skip to main content


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


I hope you are indulging me with my happy cheery posts about strawberries and oranges and anything colorful, pretty and simple. The truth of the matter is that I need them. I'd like to think that maybe you need them too. But in reality, I know it is because I need them.

I need to focus on the little things for exactly the reason that I stated: none of the big things make sense at the moment. So I am offering these posts of little reflections to the world to join me in a form of catharsis, a form of refocusing and going back to the basics.

I am a bit at a loss at the moment because my traditional forms of relieving stress and toning down the crazy, running and techno music, have stopped working. I blast the music. I put on the runnng shoes, but my body won't move. These days I have lead in my feet. Despite the increasing number of days between runs, my body feels like it has been through a marathon. This is why I know it isn't physical.

No, the only running I have done too much of is the mental kind on the mouse wheel in my head. I have been running on that one so fast that I drain all my energy for any other activity. I am exhausted. Actually, no. I am the french word, exténué or as one dictionary puts it, vider de ses forces, to be emptied of your force/energy. It makes sense that they are called "extenuating circumstances," circumstances beyond your control. Belonging to the same root, circumstances beyond your control then are exhausting circumstances.

Another French expression also describes this feeling, à terre, to be depleted, literally to be on the floor. A terre: when all you can handle is a cheek on the cold, hard, permanent floor because you know that at least, the pavement isn't going anywhere. Changes can rock everything else in your life, but a floor will always be there to lay flat against, and it seems the only thing to hold on to. It's a common instinct. In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert shares this experience of being physically on the bathroom floor while her marriage is collapsing. The writers of Grey's Anatomy put Izzy on the floor after Denny's death.

So for now, rather than writing about my experiences on the floor (which might be thoughts for another time), I offer instead my writing about food and sun and color because those are building blocks. I hope that by stacking them up like a layer cake, first a base of sunshine, then a layer of nutritious and comforting food, perhaps a level of creamy gelato and frothy and foamy drinks and then hopefully at the top an icing of happy thoughts, I will be adding sugar and cream to life's lemons. I might even get a cake out of it.