Selling Lingerie to the Egyptians: Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, Aug. 10 & 17, 2015

Self finds the Peter Hessler essay in The New Yorker, “Learning to Speak Lingerie” absolutely fascinating.

She started reading Hessler because he wrote about his two years living in China (as a Peace Corps volunteer) in River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. Self is a graduate of   East Asian Studies, concentration in Chinese, hence the feeling of connection.

Moreover, Hessler is a very very very good writer.

He wrote his essay about Asyut, in Upper Egypt. Here, in this very conservative place (“Virtually all Muslim women there wear the head scarf”), there is “a Chinese Lingerie Corner in a mall whose entrance featured a Koranic verse that warned against jealousy.”

Along a “three-hundred-mile stretch,” Hessler reports he found “twenty-six Chinese lingerie dealers.” Their product? “butt-less body stockings, nightgowns that cover only one breast, G-strings accessorized with feathers, see-through tops . . . Brand names include Laugh Girl, Shady Tex Lingerie, Hot Love Italy Design, and Sexy Fashion Reticulation Alluring.”

Clearly, this is an essay that demands self’s full and unfocused attention.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Sylvain Landry Photo Challenge: PRIDE

The Sylvain Landry Photo Challenge this week is PRIDE.

Landry shares an e-mail from his daughter, in which she writes:

“It was not the exoticism of India that watered me but the feeling of having found my place.”

Self decided to post a photograph from a trip to India in January 2012. It was her first time to visit the country, which had always fascinated her. Dharamsala had not been on the itinerary, but she decided to go. And it was freezing cold (one night her inn had no power. And self thought she would DIE).

She is glad she went, for Dharamsala is a beautiful, magnificent place. And she would never have seen it if she’d “played it safe” and stuck to the original itinerary.

DSCN3495

Dharamsala, official abode of the Dalai Lama. Self was stunned by the whole idea of it, by the whole idea of HERSELF in Dharamsala, alone with two brothers who ran an inn called the Snow Crest . . . It was FREEZING in January, but the upside was: barely any tourists, only crazy ones like self.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The $40 Burger in San Francisco

OK, you know what, dear blog readers? Self is suddenly so repulsed at the idea of a $40 burger anywhere in San Francisco that she won’t name the place. The San Francisco Chronicle says “it’s a good burger, if nothing life-changing.”

And self thought the $24 she ended up paying for a cheeseburger in Manhattan was outrageous!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Woman, Do Not Weep!”

Florence, Palazzo Vecchio, early November 2015: Self visiting the city for the first time with her niece, Irene, stumbles on a conference to honor the 10th anniversary of the death of Msgr. Luigi Giussani (1922 – 2005):

Woman, do not weep! Do not weep, because I did not make you for death, but for life. I put you in the world and placed you in the company of people.

There is nothing that can block the certainty of a destiny that is mysterious and good!

Directions for the Journey to the Meaning of Reality

While self was wandering around Florence, early this month, she stumbled into the Palazzo Vecchio. Milling about in the lobby were participants in a conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the death of Monsignor Luigi Giussani. It was the first she’d ever heard of this man who, one of the conference staff told self, was a much admired teacher and writer.

Self walked away with a brochure of his writings, and wasted no time opening the brochure. She was very struck by this statement:

LIVE REALITY INTENSELY

Then, she read a discourse on the meaning of the word “Thing”:

I would be amazed by the stupefying repercussion of a presence which is expressed in current language by the word “thing.” Things! “Thing,” which is a concrete and, if you please, banal presence which I do not myself make, which I find. A presence which imposes itself upon me. At this moment, if I am attentive, that is, if I am mature, then I cannot deny that the greatest and most profound evidence is that I do not make myself, I am not making myself. I do not give myself being, or the reality which I am. I am “given.” This is the moment of maturity when I discover myself to be dependent on something else.

Self has a story in the New Orleans Review called — THING.

The consonance of her Thing with Monsignor Giussani’s discourse on the word Thing is super-mindblowing! It’s as if self’s frail tendrils of story, and this always-churning imagination of hers, has transported her across the ocean to Italy, simply so that she can receive a brochure at the Palazzo Vecchio where a teacher and philosopher tries to explain the meaning of Thing. Of Thing-ness.

Self’s story is about humanoids in the post-apocalyptic Earth. Where no one looks human anymore. Hence the use of the generic to describe that which-is-neither-here-nor-there. That which is thing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Fan Fiction for MIDDLEMARCH?

This evening, self began looking up fan fiction for George Eliot’s classic novel, the one she’s currently reading: Middlemarch.

She found not a single one.

But, in the course of her research, she found several highly literary books that have fan fiction. Here are a few (all titles beginning with the letter “M” because she doesn’t have time to search the whole alphabet for fan fiction stories!)

  • Lev Grossman’s Magicians
  • E. M. Forster’s Maurice
  • Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Kafka’s Metamorphosis
  • Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex
  • Moby Dick
  • Jody Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper

Fascinating, simply fascinating.

Stay tuned.

State of Self’s Novel-in-Progress

Self spent most of this year working on a novel about an 18th century priest who gets sent to a Philippine island to fight demons. It’s at 185 pages and she was extremely discouraged yesterday, thinking she probably had twice that many pages to write before she really knew what it was she wanted to say.

Then she went into one of her bookmarked food blogs, Kahakai Kitchen. And there is a review there of a novel called Water on the Moon, which is 244 pages. Hmmm, self thought: 244 pages seems do-able, at least it does to self. It would mean she only has to get 60 more pages in, and then she can review what her manuscript feels like.

Here’s the synopsis of Water on the Moon (Publisher: She Writes Press):

When her husband comes out as gay and an airplane crash inexplicably destroys her home, the mother of teenage twin daughters must rethink everything she knows.

In her debut novel, Water on the Moon, Jean P. Moore introduces readers to Lidia Raven, whose life begins taking seemingly endless wrong turns. Lidia and her girls miraculously survive the plane crash that destroys their home and are taken in by Lidia’s friend Polly, a neighbor with a robust collection of first-edition books who lives alone on a sprawling estate.

Struggling to cope with each of these life-changing events, Lidia discovers a connection between herself and Tina Calderara, the pilot who crashed into their home. In the months that follow, Lidia plunges into a mystery that upends every aspect of her life.

Dun Dun Dun! Sounds pretty interesting!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ornate 5: Siena’s Duomo; the Loggia of the Uffizi Gallery

Self’s niece was so organized that we got to see three small towns around Florence, all on the same day: Siena, San Gimignano, and Pisa.

Self’s favorite was Siena.

The beautiful Gothic cathedral has a magnificent interior (striped columns! Who would have thought!) but it’s the exterior self will focus on for further examples of the “ornate.”

For instance, all kinds of creatures proliferate, including a roaring lion sticking out of a buttress in the front:

Stone lion on the front of the Cathedral in Siena, built in the fourteenth century

Stone lion on the front of the Cathedral in Siena, built in the fourteenth century. The lion represents one of Siena’s 17 districts.

Here is the facade of the Cathedral, or as the Italians refer to it, the Duomo:

The Duomo of Siena is decorated with animals representing each of the city's 17 districts, which compete twice a year in horse races called the Palio.

The Duomo of Siena is decorated with animals representing each of the city’s 17 districts, which compete twice a year in horse races called the Palio.

For the third picture, self goes back to her archive of Florence photos. This is a shot of the loggia of the Uffizi Gallery. On Sunday afternoons, the stone benches are lined with people.

The Loggia of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence: a great spot to people-watch!

The Loggia of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence: a great spot to people-watch!

The last shot isn’t related to the Photo Challenge but is one of self’s favorite pictures from her trip.

On self’s last afternoon in Florence (a Sunday), she took a picture of this adorable creature, whose owners kept calling him “R2” which self thought was a kind of homage to R2D2 of Star Wars, until a young man told her that the dog’s name was “Artur.” Oh. How adorbs!

Artur, who self met on the stone benches in the loggia of the Uffizi Gallery

Artur, who self met on the stone benches in the loggia of the Uffizi Gallery

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ornate: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is ORNATE.

As the prompt on The Daily Post says:

Forget about subdued and restrained. This week, let’s embrace the breathtakingly extravagant.

It so happens that self is in Italy. Which gives her many examples of the ornate, like this church and fountain in the city of Pisa:

The Duomo of Pisa

Pisa: Cathedral and Fountain

The tour guide says this is an example of Romanesque architecture. Therefore, ornate.

The Duomo of Pisa: It IS pretty.

The Duomo of Pisa: It IS pretty.

Interior, the Duomo of Siena. According to the tour booklet, “this Gothic cathedral was one of Italy’s first.” Self was particularly taken by the striped columns. How very geometric and unexpectedly modern!

Interior, the Duomo of Siena: Breathtaking

Interior, the Duomo of Siena: Breathtaking

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self Is Learning New Things Every Day! Today, at the Palazzo Vecchio

Self has seen a lot of museums in just three short days in Florence.

This morning, she found her way to the Palazzo Vecchio. Well, it’s not as if she had any actual destination in mind this morning. She simply pointed her steps toward the Dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore and, armed with her Firenze Card (Irene’s idea, of course. Thank God for Irene!), she stopped at:

  • the Cathedral of San Lorenzo (the oldest church in Florence, consecrated by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, in 393)
  • the Palazzo Vecchio

She paid 5 euros for an audio tour at the Palazzo, and boy, was it ever worth it.

Before entering the Museum proper, she wandered around in the lobby, noticed posters for a conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the death of Monsignor Luigi Giussani and, out of sheer nosiness, asked a woman wearing a name tag who Monsignor Giussani was. The woman told self that the Monsignor was a highly respected teacher and member of the Church, whose writings were very influential.

She also gave self a brochure about the man.

Self began to read the brochure, and she found the man’s teachings exceedingly interesting. Here’s an excerpt from a section called LIVE REALITY INTENSELY.

“There is an experience, hidden yet implied, of that arcane, mysterious presence to be found within the opening of the eye, within the attraction reawakened by things, within the beauty of things, within an amazement, full of gratitude, comfort, and hope — how can this complex, yet simple, this enormously rich experience of the human heart — which is the heart of the human person — how can it become vivid? How can it become powerful?”

Self loves that he used the word “vivid” to describe the intense experience of reality.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,398 other followers