Veronica Franco – The Poetic Harlot

  1. a woman
  2. a prostitute
  3. a sharp tongued woman
  4. a poet of erotic poems that would put Lord Byron to shame
  5. a witch who was almost lynched by the holy church of crap
  6. a feminist walking around in what one would refer to as freedom
  7. in bed with king Henry III of France

I hope my after life will be that way. All my tardy skeletons forgotten in some old gutter where dogs find shelter. Little to find on the internet except wild speculation and assumptions.

My fascination with Veronica is total. Was she for real? I want to be her. Tomorrow. I want my real love to say no to me so I can become a courtesan, a good one. I want my real love to marry someone else so I can have the satisfaction of having him in my bed while his wife waits, dries up & becomes bitter. I want to read books and…oh what the hell!

I found a good article by Andrea Zuvich. I am in love with this woman and I am definitely ordering her poems!

On Women:

“When we too are armed and trained,
we can convince men that we have hands, feet, and a heart like yours;
and although we may be delicate and soft,
some men who are delicate are also strong;
and others, coarse and harsh, are cowards.
Women have not yet realized this, for if they should decide to do so,
they would be able to fight you until death;
and to prove that I speak the truth, amongst so many women,
I will be the first to act, setting an example for them to follow.” (Lettere Familari 1).

            On Love:

“ I will show you my heart open in my breast,
Once you no longer hide yours from me,

And my delight will be to please you;
And if you think I am so dear to Phoebus
For composing poems, in the works of love
You’ll find me dearer still to Venus…

Know well, cruel man, the world will hear of it,
And, along with my sweet and bitter revenge,
Will carry the news of it to every place on earth.” (Terze Rime 2).

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Manon Lescaut Seduced by the finer things – in Stockholm

She is pathetic, Manon is. Love me, she says and then she loves fine things more than she loves herself. Or is she a woman of her time? No capital of her own, beautiful, caught between all the men who can offer her one luxury or the other? For something she has – sensuality. She has spirit too. What a voice!

The choices are impossible. To choose love or comfort? To be surrounded by beautiful things or to live in a small apartment with a student? Ack! that we cannot have both. She sings & seduces Des Grieux, again:

“Doesn’t this seem a feast
of gold and colour? It’s all for you!”

I recognize myself in Manon. What, with my love for jewellery and discreet leather products. Discreet to hide the price, of course. My wanderlust that costs a fortune and my fetish for soft whispering fabrics. To explain just how bad the fetish is: the other day, I was on the commuter train, and this gentleman stood right in front of me. He had an autumn coat that looked so exclusive, fabric-wise, I stretched my sweaty, twitching right hand and touched the coat. Lightly. To feel the fabric. He turned around and looked at me with a smile; I smiled back like a gold digger who is suddenly thrown into a gold bank. He must have thought I was reaching out to him. I wasn’t. He wasn’t there. The coat was. I am the same way with colleagues and friends. My first thought when I see their beautiful clothes is “I want to touch that! I want to touch that… I want to touch that…”

This can become an issue if I don’t see someone shrink like person.

fetal positionIf my love said I should leave everything and come away with him, for love, I would probably be found in a fetal position hiding my lovelies under my skirts. Love or no love.

Back to Manon Lescaut. I cried & laughed through ACT 2 & ACT 3/4. All of it. How great is that? That has never happened to me before. Usually it is a small tear here and a small laugh there. Sometimes I close my eyes & listen to the fantastic music. This did not happen at the #StockholmRoyalOperaHouse. My eyes were open & my emotions were in the open through it all.

I am very glad for the years that have passes since Abbé Prévost wrote this wonderful, desperate, tragic story. Grateful that I belong to the generation which can earn a living, buy my own jewellery & live with a man without having to marry him. Or, what the heck! No one is plotting to take me to the cloister just because they can’t be bothered to marry me off! Ah, well, sending me to a Catholic Girl’s High School doesn’t count…or does it?

Did you know that Abbé Prévost worked on different editions of the book for over 20 years? A work of love, like the Mona Lisa. 1st edition published in 1731, final edition; toned down and all, published in 1753. Puccini‘ s adaption of #Manon Lescaut came over 100 years later, in 1893. It is passion in music for a story of a passionate death.

 

Macavity – The Napoleon of Crime in Stockholm

They are in Stockholm this weekend. “Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, there never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity. He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare: Whatever time the deed took place – Macavity wasn’t there!”

I know nothing better than starting the weekend with Andrew Loyd Weber’s musical. Or is it T.S Elliot’s Practical Cats?

In Stockholm 2017, Grizabella was a voice to relax to. In the spirit of selfies and sharing the air you breath on Social Media, we got to sit on Old Deuteronomy and take photos during the interlude. Well, unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos because my company refused to indulge me – thankfully.

“For once, enjoy something without photographing it or sharing it! Your own inner enjoyment is enough!” He challenged. But, is it really? I wonder. Even though no one else knows about it? Talk about fun!

I write about it instead, in the night, secretly. shhhhhh

This is my first experience of Cats live. Being a cat lover, someone who knew me well bought me T.S Eliot’s book many years ago, I can’t remember who. I have since lost the book, but not before I perused through the Practical Cats of all sorts. Just as another someone who may have known me bought me Doris Lessing’s On Cats a few years earlier or later. That book I still have in the book shelf.

Cats have been on my To See Before I die list for the longest time. Right beside the Pyramids, The shitty Thames, Cape Town, Masai Mara etcetera etcetera. Did you know there is a character in Cats called Etcetera? I swear, I am  not making this up.

Cat DJs in Copenhagen
The mystical divinity of unashamed felinity

My next cat; when I have a garden and a cat-door – will be named Tantomile. By me. Isn’t it a beautiful name? Or Coricopat if I am feeling especially psyched.

Sounds of the world – Singing Birds

Others sing. The Malians make beautiful music. But then, I am not objective. My Africans roots are deep.

A friend & I had the honor to listen to Nahawa Doumbia at Fasching in Stockholm. IMG_1844[1]

Nahawa is older now; compared to the first time I saw her in Bamako. Her husband still plays beside her, to her left in the picture. And the fantastic instruments from West Africa! I could take them home just for decoration. I cannot play, I can dance to the music.

Has anyone listened to the Rough Guide to Mali collection?

If you haven’t, please listen & let me know what you think.

Lorde’s Melodrama is out and lawd! was it worth the wait?! I have waited. Followed Lorde on Twitter @Lorde. Followed Lorde on Instagram #Lordemusic.

Waiting. Waiting.

I think it is most interesting how we describe sounds. Birds sing. Birds never talk. If I ever said “I walked by the talking birds” or “I was woken by the talking birds”; someone of the loving people near me would shake their heads sympathetically. 

“no dear, birds sing. They. don’t. talk.”  slowly. so I can hear & save. So the crazies won’t take me with them.

My boss would definitely suggest that I take a short break from work to clear the cobwebs from the grey cells.

Lions roar. Fiercely. We should either be:

  1. afraid when a lion roars
  2. impressed and fascinated by the lion’s roar. The sea roars when a storm is coming on.

Otherwise, the calming waves are calm, like calming music.

Hyenas scream. Or laugh.

Horses neigh. Or snort. Or whinny. Even nicker.

But do birds really sing? All of them? All of the time?P1030100

Sometimes it sounds like laughter. Other times, it sounds like a conversation. An answer to a question. Sometimes it sounds like a scream, a loud uncontrolled scream.

When I am in a good mood, and listen to birds on a nice summer day, they sound happy. Each listening to its kind. Each answering to its kind.

Is it possible, that we, who love definitions & categorizations, have defined our sounds; and then allocated them to animals?

So since we like the sounds birds make, we call it singing?

P1020132No one ever says happily to their best friend during the summer “oh! I was woken by the vultures/carrion singing this morning! So beautiful!!” No one. When we speak about vultures, we flinch. But they are beautiful birds, aren’t they, just like hyenas are beautiful animals.

All about birds describes black vultures:

Black Vultures are silent most of the time. They make raspy, drawn-out hissing sounds while feeding and fighting, along with grunting noises that can sound like hungry pigs or dogs barking in the distance.

Courting vultures may give a yapping sound.

Under which circumstances do we use raspy, hissing, hungry pigs, barking dogs?

That’s right folks! disapproving, scared, hating & disliking etc.

Snakes hiss. We are not just afraid of snakes; we hate them. People who make us queazy, who scare us, who we don’t recognize ourselves in – are snaky.

They hiss when they communicate with us.

Cats meow & purr when they are nice, cooperative, satisfied & calm. Not scary.

The same cats hiss when they are angry, scared & unhappy. Scary.

Others sing to us. Sweetly. Silently. Deeply.

Healing us.

Time after time.

Tuscany 2017: For the “I don’t speak Italian” Traveler

I am in the bad habit of saying “merci!”, “gracias”, “gracias muchas”, when I want to be flippantly thankful. And si signor/signorita when I am feeling playful.

I learnt Swedish as an young adult. A process that stretched my patience, my self esteem & my intelligence to their thinnest. In my learning exhaustion, I have been very resistant to learn any new language in adulthood.

San Mignano wineryImagine my pleasure then, when I decided during this Tuscany trip that I will learn Italian! Even if I just manage to learn the basics, I will learn Italian.

It is not that Italians don’t speak English. Most Italians speak lots of good English. But; every day, we found someone who spoke very little English; like the little restaurant where we had the most wonderful quiet breakfast on our last day in Florence. The husband was totally dependent on his wife to listen to us & translate for him. It was a young-ish couple too!

Computer says No - Old Man
Foooor F#¤k’s sake!

We had booked a retreat to Diecimo Pescaglia in the Borgo a Mozano province. It is a nice hidden oasis hidden in the hills just 20-30minutes from Lucca. We arrived at the Diecimo-Pescaglia train station to find an abandoned station with an empty office. An old man was was approaching us at snail speed. Slower than snail speed. We were glad to wait because we needed to ask him if we could order a taxi or something to take us to Borgo Giusto Hotel. He eventually arrived. We said a jolly gracious Buongiorno! Buona sera! He answered back. In Italian.

We were so impressed with ourselves we looked at each other proudly. We then remembered why we had been waiting for him.

“Scusi signor, can we ask you how to get to Borgo Giusto?”

He stopped kindly to look at our printed booking, and read the address.

He said “I don’t know. I don’t recognize that. I cannot help you. Bye bye.” In Italian.

We, in unison asked “taxi?” we got kindly head shakes and finger wiggling.  “oh no. no taxis here. if you walk up the street there, you may find someone who speaks your language & can help you”. In Italian.

We turned in the direction he pointed & saw a man unloading his bags from the trunk of a red car. A Volvo. I am convinced that one of us said “oh! another tourist! we can ask him!” We dragged our 3 bags – we were 2 adults – towards the car. By the time we got to the car, the man had gone into the building. We thought it was a B&B so we were relaxed. There were 2 men standing outside, one quite old, another middle aged.

Scusi, can you help us call a taxi, call the hotel, or something to get here? – we were pointing at the print-out of our booking. Both men of different ages poked their noses into the paper, got into a long dialog with pointing wiggling fingers, head shakes and nods. “We don’t really know, but, it must be behind the hills. Far. And there are no taxis to take.” In Italian.

We: “English?” in english

Middle aged gentle man: “Non. a little French or German.” In Italian

What the holy f£$€!

Me a little edgy: “telefono” pointing at the telephone number to the hotel.

The gentlemen spoke among themselves a little more. heads shaking. laughter.

We were stamped. The oldest gentleman pointed at the younger man and says a lot. “he will drive you. That’s his car.” more pointing. “if anyone can find it, he can. He is great, fantastico, the guy pf the month!” In Italian.

Middle aged gentleman took our 3 bags to the car. We are young, we help out.

snaky circling roadWe had no idea what kind of contract we had signed or how much it would cost us. Trust in the lord. Or not. We needed to go places and someone was willing to take us there in any language. We got into the car.

Middle aged gentleman made a call on his mobile, spoke to a friend. In Italian.

“hola Montalbano! do you know where Borgo Giusto is!? two idiots I have to drive there! they seem nice, but totally lost. Can’t speak Italian either! Who doesn’t speak Italian??! Morons, that’s who. haha! siiiiii, round the bend? turn by the big oak? I know which one! oh ja, the yellow ones? they smell nice!” In Italian

For 15 minutes he spoke on the phone. We drove through a small village or market. I felt relieved. There were people here, behind the big hill. He hang up. And kept driving. Turned right into the bushes, by the big oak tree, on a winding road.

I am brought up in Africa. I am trained to depend on & trust other people’s kindness. Ubuntu. We are one, you live, I live, you die, I die. The wars for crude oil, land & other resources continue to rage in total disregard for ubuntu. My Swedish travel partner is brought up different. I have no idea how. He was fidgety, wondering if we really should trust this which we couldn’t understand. I kept my hand on his hand. To transmit calmness and trust.

Borgo Giusto ViewAfter 25-30 minutes drive, around the bend, after the old fig tree, we saw the hotel parking lot. A wonderful view, worth paying for. We were here. Since we didn’t know how much we agreed to pay, we gave our gentleman a note. It was not too big & not too small.

“no. it was my pleasure. I am glad we found it & that you are safe. Shall I help you with the bags?” In Italian.

We are Swedes, I say, My name is merry-traveler-1 and this is my person, calm-traveler-2, do you want to join us for a drink? In English. All is lost in translation. He drives off with a smile.

Weddings.
A couple taking photos in Florence. After their wedding I suppose. It is a universal language, isn’t it? the language of declaring eternal love to another person in all sorts of ways.

I am amazed at how much we can communicate with others without words. I am so happy to find that my childhood trust in basic kindness is intact. We are so humbled & thankful that with all the changes and online-lives, someone in Italy is still concerned about the safety of young people traveling in the unknown.

This happened to us so many times, I could write a story for every day. Not always someone driving us somewhere, but someone helping us out in Italian. Gladly, kindly & memorable.

Byron Lord.
I wonder if Lord Byron learnt Italian? […] But I have lived, and have not lived in vain:   My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire,   And my frame perish even in conquering pain;   But there is that within me which shall tire   Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire;   Something unearthly, which they deem not of,   Like the remember’d tone of a mute lyre,   Shall on their soften’d spirits sink, and move In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love.
Tips:

  1. Dont need help
    Ask for help! you will need it. We all need help sometimes.
  2. Relax! I believe if you only ever speak with people who understand you on the first try, you never really learn patience or appreciation of the simple truths.
  3. Plan some margins in travel. That way, even if you are a little delayed by language hitches, you still have time to listen in another language. It is part of the experience.
  4. If you are even a dot of the control freak that I am, you need to relinquish control & trust in basic human kindness. All is well if you find one person who is willing to listen & reply; even in Italian.

Safe travels!

Tuscany 2017: The Pain of Finding The Beautiful Pincio Gardens

While in Rome, The city view from the Pincio gardens is worth lots of pain. Bear with me.

It is interesting how instinct works. Like love. Or hate. Or fear. You get these feels that you really don’t know where they are coming from and can absolutely not control. You consider ignoring the feels but the “inner compass” just won’t let you. If you try to ignore the feels, you start to get nervous, anxious, fidgety, itchy, neurotic, edgy and irritable. Best way to deal with this is to act on the feels and move on with it.

So, on the day we are to find the Pincio gardens, I wake up with lots of feels. Instinct tells me that a pimple is coming on. So I start the morning with touching my face. I touch the exact place where a huge zit is going to show up because instinct tells me there will be a zit on precisely this spot.

My partner in zit & acne control says that I get all these zits because I touch & scratch my face. It is a chicken-egg situation. I feel the zit coming, instinctively, I touch scratch, squeeze, peel violently, point my nail directly at it & push, use the pincette, apply aloe vera, apply sun cream, ooh too much sun screen, wipe with toner, apply more sun cream, the zit, it comes.

It can’t be any other way.

Does my touching my face cause the zit, or, does the zit cause an itch that I have to deal with before the zit pops up?

Anyways, whatever I do, by breakfast (09:00 am), a spot on my face hurts.

Life goes on!

The hatI place my wonderful hat on my head and it lies right on the zit. It, the pimple itches and hurts all at once.

La vita va avanti!

I have to walk through Rome because my find the best city views partner has a garden he wants to show me. Pincio. We have with us the book Top 10 Rome, & in it is a map. I turn the map upside down, decide which way we have to go and start walking.

If you look at the Google maps navigator below, it should take 40 minutes, tops.

Walk to Pincio!We walked the whole afternoon. From 12:15 to 16:30.

The whole freaking hot afternoon (28 Celsius).

To be on the fair side, it is a wonderful walk in the sun through the best parts of the city. Brushing by the Colosseum, St. Peters Cathedral, Spanish Steps, the shopping district etc. When we find ourselves near the Trevi Fountain, we decide to come back to the Fountain later. I have been saving my 3 cents all week for the Trevi visit.

Because we will always be back to Rome.

We took a break on the way, took a coffee at a small café near the Flaminio tram stop. Just one stop from Flaminio Tram stop. After the coffee, my legs, feet, back & pimple hurt so bad I wanted to take the tram back.

My we are better than that partner said it couldn’t be that far to walk. I did not believe him so we had a short irritated conversation while we walked.

Me “I want to take the tram!

Him “No”

Me “I am tired”

Him “.”

Me: “You don’t hear me!?”

Him “. a look.”

Me “Are you listening???!”

Him “.”

Me: “Oh, there is the Flaminio stop.”  Just look at the map, a little north west of the destination.”

Him “. Smiles at me. touches my hand.

Embarrassed silence. We turn left or is it right?. Up the stairs, definitely up the stairs,  and there lies the famous garden in all its glory. A wonderful view of the city and statues of the historic famous in one place.

Flaminio to Pincio

 

 

Tuscany 2017: A bird shat on my hat! For Luck

We have been traveling through #Tuscany for 11 days and the experience has been, wildly rewarding; to put it mildly. We have known each other for over 8 yrs and have not done anything like this; just us; finding places, getting lost, using a map (that is an entire story).

I will be sharing our Tuscany experience in the coming posts, to share information, tips and the fun we had!

Prima: I was not singing or whistling. SO i am certain I did not set this up just to be in luck. Though to be fare to the Judases, I am known to speak to birds & cats.

Suddenly, my partner in travel & all sorts of drama says jumping dramatically he is a tall handsome guy; so try to imagine the sense of drama

“oh, bird shit! bird shit!

ooooh, on your hat!

Stop, you have to take it off!

It will stink!

And you can get Salmonella from bird shit!”

I calmly ask him if he can just wipe it off? kindly. He kind of hops away from me, you know like “NEVER! that will not happen” kind of hop

I take our bottle of water from the bag I am carrying. He snatches the bottle from me. “give me that! we could get salmonella!”

“Just drop some on my napkin so I can wipe the hat?”

I am starting to loose it a little. Many years ago, I got salmonella from in-flight chicken dinner and that was not pretty. Apparently, in the throes of it, I asked the doctor to “help me send a note to my sister because I am dying”

“maybe you have to throw the hat away and buy a new one!” he says

I snatch the bottle, pour some water on a napkin, and wipe the hat. And back on the head it goes. It is freaking 30 degrees Celsius out in Rome! I would rather lie on the floor of the hotel loo for 10 hrs dealing with Salmonella that have that heat on the part of my head that covers my brain.

It took MINUTES hours? for him to believe he could come near me & my hat without catching something. I mean, I was still walking and I seemed fine, right?

I am just hoping the wiping the hat with water doesn’t ruin my luck!

Did you ever hear that when a bird drops on you, you are in luck? Droppings from the bird means bird shit. Not diamonds, or saliva, or sperm or anything that exciting. Bird shit is’all.

I imagined that there could be some science behind this myth but after scouring the net this morning, I feel assured to declare this just another of those, “Myth or Fact” things that should come on the Myth or Fact? TV-program to put us all out of our misery.

I chose the USA today story, which is in no way scientific. It serves the purpose since I am not trying to prove anything right at this moment. My intention is to warn brag & inform you that I will be becoming very rich, or loved, or happy or something really lucky. Shortly. More lucky than I have already been.

Because a bird actually shat on that beautiful hat you see on my head in the photo in which I am standing by the river Arno (Fiume Arno) in Florence (Firenze).