March 31, 2006


Is someone trying to tell me something?
In February, Kirk told me about lucid dreaming which I now realize I've experienced, but never connected it to what he was talking about at the time.

Five days ago, while browsing, I came across an article by Jon Bischke entitled "How to have a 36-hour day" in which he references Steve Pavlina's fascinating article about "How to Become an Early Riser" and about polyphasic sleep. I clicked to these pages in tabs but then I didn't get around to reading them and closed my browser.

A day later, I went to evhead, which I occasionally visit. I've followed Ev's work since his blogger days. Hadn't been to his blog in many months, and there it was, a post that also referenced Steve Pavlina's article. Maybe Ev saw the same article I saw via It was surreal to come across it twice in two days.

So I read Steve's article and then I started reading about his experiment with polyphasic sleep, and he also references lucid dreaming.

Tonight I found out that this week is National Sleep Awareness Week. No kidding. And now I'm yawning. Did you just yawn too?

March 30, 2006

Jump Kauai

Jump Hawaii, Kauai
In December, my friend Michael Grecco took this photo of us jumping in Kauai for my sister's fakefunk jump project. His picture of Jet Li would certainly make the cut. Cool.

March 29, 2006

Killer Lasagna

LasagnaI used to disregard photographs by Ansel Adams, thinking... "well, how can you take an ugly picture of a beautiful subject?" It's bound to come out beautiful. After seeing several exhibits of his works over the years, though, I grew to appreciate his printing technique.

Likewise, how can you make a bad lasagna with incredible ingredients? Trust me, there really isn't any technique involved. I sautéed the onions, shallots, garlic, and in with the sausages directly from the butcher's... then the tomatoes, spices, and herbs from my terrace. Simmer for nearly an hour. In the meantime, I also had totally fresh hand made pasta, the freshest ricotta you ever laid eyes on -- not packaged, I had to buy it over the counter by the gram, freshly ground parmesan, and buffalo mozzarella. Into the oven for an hour, take off the cover for 20 more minutes (to get that cheese nice and toasted)... and eccola!

How could this possibly come out bad? I ate an enormous piece. And then I had seconds.

March 26, 2006

Rilke Letters

I just came across this text, by Rainer Maria Rilke, from his Letters to a Young Poet, a book that Mike sent me when I was in Vietnam -- it was quite a memorable ordeal -- and though I've left it in the States, I'm aching to read it again.

The following text was found on the internet, and so I can't accurately credit the translation (I own the Stephen Mitchell version, who also translated my Tao Te Ching):

"We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors. If it has abysses, these abysses belong to us. If there are dangers, we must try to love them, and only if we could arrange our lives in accordance with the principle that tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us to be alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience.

How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races--the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses. Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are only princesses waiting for us to act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring Forward

For a week, we're going to be seven hours ahead of EST, ten ahead of California and five behind Vietnam... Italy observed Daylight Savings Time as of this morning so pay attention if you're going to call me!

Starting in 2007, the U.S. is going to extend DST, which was first suggested by Ben Franklin in 1784, to three weeks earlier (second Sunday in March) and end one week later than usual (first Sunday in November). We didn't catch on till WWI. Slow to learn, I guess.

March 24, 2006

On a grey day in Burano.

How could anyone not be happy living in a place like this? Even on grey days, it's quite colorful.
the colorful homes in Burano

March 23, 2006

All mine.

All mine.  This was only lunch.I love the Italian table setting. By the time we're through with a meal, the entire table is covered in glasses. Here, I have one each for red wine, vin santo, marsala, caffe, and acqua. I skipped on Marco's homemade white wine, though I'd had it a couple of nights before -- delicious.

This was just lunch.

Benefit concert

Congratulatory rounds
Does it seem incongruous to you to watch an asian woman belting out tunes like "O mio babbino caro" and classics from Verdi's La Traviata and Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia in Italian? It was well done at the Autism Free benefit concert in Roma last night, where we watched Sumi Jo, a Korean soprano, perform at the auditorium conciliazione just down the street from San Pietro.

March 22, 2006

Buon Primavera!

orchidWell, I know I always say I spend all my money on food and travel (what else?), and that I do my best to uphold the function and beauty rule, but the other day I went to the market with my friends Stephen and Elisa and I had to get myself this plant. Occasionally, when beauty is great enough, I make an exception.
Happy Spring!

March 21, 2006

On the subject of food.

My bowl of the week.While we're still on the subject of food... I spent most of today cooking. I turned most of what's in this bowl (items purchased from a truck that comes to town on Saturdays) into a colorful ratatouille and then I made a delicious tomato sauce for my fresh pasta using my herbs from the terrace.

Wednesday I'm having lunch at my friends' B&B and then I head to Roma for a musical concert in front of the Vatican.

March 20, 2006

Of Cravings

For a kid from a family so obsessed with food, I hate to admit it, but it's true. I am having a craving for mi goi... instant noodles. Yes, Kung Fu brand to be exact. It's the kind we grew up with. Luckily, JK brought sesame oil and soy sauce, while Ashley brought BBQ sauce and lemongrass for me. Still.
After I saw this picture that Souris took, I'm craving a burger, too.

March 16, 2006

Long live the Umbrians

Mmm, mmm, good.
beautiful and yummy Stephen, who runs the B&B down the street with his wife, Elisa, told me that Umbrians have the longest life span of all Europeans. They're renowned for their olive oil and artichokes. Ashley and Sarah and I think it might be because they close everyday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for their lunch and afternoon. Nice life!

Twelve states, two continents and one more year.

Another year gone by. Twelve states and two continents and 30,000 miles covered last year. My annual letter was designed in January but never distributed (a plethora of technical difficulties to be had here in Italy)... so here it is, at least in blog form with the last six years if you've any interest or time to kill.

The whole collection:
* 2005: Saigon, Vietnam to Kapa'a, Hawaii
* 2004: Rome, Italy to Saigon, Vietnam
* 2003: Santa Monica, California to Rome, Italy
* 2002: Sydney, Australia to Santa Monica, California
* 2001: London, England to Sydney, Australia
* 2000: Montreal, Canada to London, England
* 1999: ??? to Montreal, Canada

Office Space

View in 2004............View in 2005............View in 2006
Willkie office Hawaii office Terrace Office

The view from my office keeps improving (though I must admit, there might be some correlational affect on my income).

Hey, who's to complain? Not me. Not JK. Not Ashley or Sarah. No complaints to be had. Nuh-uh.

March 14, 2006

Somebody's got to play.

I wrote this email to my friend Desmond last night. We used to work together in a large windowless room divided by green cubicles.

I hope you [...] laugh when you think about the things I've been doing [...]:

private concert in ParranoEating more homemade fresh pasta than you could shake a stick at
Drinking the best cappuccini in all of Italy every day for only 80 euro cents each
Sitting on my sunny terrace with a glass of red wine soaking in my soaring views of the mountains and countryside
Going to a private concert for 30 in a private palazzo built over 600 years ago, of a quintet playing Astor Piazzolla's tango music
Drinking home made limoncello and home made white wines made by my friends
And learning bad words in Italian.

Hey, I know. Life is hard. Somebody's got to play. It might as well be me.

places to go, people to see

Ashley and SarahAshley and Sarah were here for a cobblestoned-street-packed week, and we took trips to Perugia, Citta della Pieve, and Assisi. My friend Gianni was sweet enough to drive us the hour out to Assisi (to drop us off!), I had a dinner party for my landlady and two friends (try making Vietnamese food in Italy... it's a challenge), and they in turn invited us to their stunning country home on the top of a hill for a pre-dinner gathering (as we also had dinner plans with another group of friends that same evening). A full week with men all over my girl friends. They all ask me now, "when are your friends returning?"

March 06, 2006

back posts

I'm in a cafe in Perugia... going to attempt back posting a few messages, but I'll post date them, or pre date them -- whatever. Maybe go past what you've already read to see them. ciao, H.

March 03, 2006

A newly filled social calendar

In the last few days, I’ve become friends with several new people in town. A French woman, Ani, and I spoke in a mix of French and Italian at the café. A gorgeous 83-year old woman chatted with me in the post office today. She was so beautiful, she reminded me of my grandmother. A younger fellow, Marcello, who plays soccer with a group of the guys here asked if I held an English course. I’m quickly filling my moleskines with slang and Monteleonese, as they say. They “mangiano le parole” – eat their words – so it can be hard to understand sometimes.

Tomorrow I head to Chiusi to pick up Ashley and Sarah for their first visit to Italy. Tuesday I’ll be having a dinner party with my landlady and some friends. The following week I’ll be helping Elisa with her computer, and Marco and Chiara with their menus. It’s good to be a little useful around here! The social calendar is full.

March 01, 2006

Città della Pieve

In Città della Pieve, I bought an egg beater from a kind woman named Veglia who spoke to me in French, English, and Italian, and told me that my eyes speak to her (Do not try this at home. It has been known to get me into trouble before.). Silvano and I headed next to the internet point which doesn't quite pass as a cafe. Fortunately, they have wi-fi so I can head to this town now and then with my laptop to work. Silvano’s cousin Mario runs the macelleria there, and I picked up two pork chops, two veal chops, 10 slices of bacon, cut to my desired thickness, 100 grams of prosciutto, four sausages, and a bag of polenta for a mere 12 euro. Note that nothing comes pre-wrapped in Styrofoam. Meat is cut as you request it. You just have to know what part of the cut you’re ordering.

Later I met Silvano at the café to go to dinner next door. Enrico, whom I’d seen many times previously at the café, was there, and we had a nice long conversation about painters, artists, photographers, architects, and museums (Lichtenstein, Rothko, Kertesz, Penn, Caravaggio...). He’s a painter and an architect himself and invited me to see his works sometime at his office in town. He also offered his office to me whenever I want to use the internet! People are so nice around here.

Silvano and I had dinner at the restaurant next door where Marco, the owner, joined us for a drink. After a long conversation, Marco asked me if I could draw (design and draw are the same word in Italian) a mural on their wall – I assured him that he wouldn’t want me to… However, we did manage to figure out that I could help them translate their menu into English, and to lay it out on my computer for them. For that, we were offered a limoncello and grappa. Cheers.


There’s a funeral today. On my way to the café in the early afternoon, I saw a color poster posted on the announcement board in town in remembrance of Fernando Constantini. I sat in the bar for several hours – between one o’clock and two, and it was empty while everyone was home having lunch. At two o’clock, a large crowd entered, the pall bearers in suits, and others dressed casually. Everyone met to go together. I left the café shortly after and noted that a very large crowd had collected at the front gate of the old city walls – they were all meeting there to proceed to the church together. Feeling as if it would be disrespectful to walk through the crowd, I took the back road so as not to disturb them as I watched the hubbub of activity. Everyone came out of their houses, faces I’ve never seen before came out for the mass service.