I’ve belonged to a women’s group since 1990. The whole thing started out as a sort of feminist discussion forum but that got old–for some of us–pretty quickly. The real feminists (as opposed to those of us who just liked getting together now and then to chat and eat) formed a splinter group, which quickly went out of business. The fake feminists have been meeting once a month ever since.
This is how it works. Someone hosts and someone (else) presents on a topic of her choosing. The food is–as always–a serious concern. There are some really great cooks in the group.
Over the years we’ve had some pretty interesting meetings. We learned how to do that Japanese flower arranging thing with sticks. We had a knitting bee. We discussed the OJ Simpson trial and the evidence botch in the Amanda Knox case. We learned how to make sushi and had a demonstration of molecular gastronomy. We also learned from our resident biologist how sex reassignment surgery works and it ain’t pretty. We’ve shared photos of ourselves when we were teenagers and opened up about our greatest wardrobe disasters. We’ve had authors, artists and chefs as guest speakers. Elizabeth Gilbert stopped by during the ‘Eat’ portion of her ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ tour and read excerpts from her one of her books.
As Friend Susan said in an email this morning, “Honestly, without the monthly fix of the women’s club, how could one keep up with world events and current scandals, Roman happenings, good books, tips on food, insights into health issues, what’s what and who’s who in the sit-com world, and more?” Indeed.
There are 12 of us in the group. People have come and gone (and sometimes come back) over the years but most of the members have been with the group for at least a decade. It’s not the kind of thing you walk away from willingly. We’ve been through illnesses, births and deaths together. We’ve shared recipes and hairstylists and skin care tips. We’ve grown up (or at least middle-aged) together.
Eating and laughing: what we do best
The meeting was at my house last night. I made enough food for 20 women’s groups. Friend Elizabeth came and gave a presentation about diet and nutrition while feeding us cookies that were probably about 3 000 calories each. We giggled and gossiped and ate. Today, I’m just really grateful to know these women and to be lucky enough to be part of a group that has given me so much support and friendship over the years.
I had a couple of days between the end of my last project and the beginning of the next so I thought I’d kick start the novel I’ve been talking about writing for the past 20 years or so. I’ve actually tried this before. A few years ago, I rented a little house in Umbria for a month. My plan was to devote myself to writing but when my friends got wind of the fact that I had rented a little house in Umbria for a month, I had a whole lot of visitors and not much time to write. I did manage to conquer the first chapter and there it sat in my computer, sad and lonely and unbacked-up, until the day said computer was stolen and so much for that chapter. It wasn’t much of a loss actually.
So here I go again! “What is your novel about?” you ask. Well, people always say to write what you know, so that is my plan. Hint: I live in Rome and I know about agriculture, biodiversity, and international organizations.
I’m not a good planner and I’ve not got the plot completely nailed down yet but rather than wait till that happens, I thought I’d start writing the stuff that I know I want to include in the book. That included a couple of character sketches that gave me great pleasure to write. They (the characters) will not be pleased that they will not be playing a major part in the novel. But they do have a part to play. Stay tuned.
I feel that this post needs some photos but since I have no intention of including a picture of me sitting at my computer with dirty hair and in my pajamas, you will have to be content with more gratuitous images of dogs.
You talking' to me?
Stop with all the writing and come play with me!
I’ve been writing this blog for nearly a month now and it seems to be nudging me in a particular direction. There are many bad things about being a workaholic, which I most certainly was, but one of the worst is the fact that it distracts you from everything else in your life. At least that’s how it happened with me. Particularly once the job stopped being fun there wasn’t much space in my brain, what with the anxiety and the stomach aches. This blog challenges me to pay attention again, to regain some of the curiosity I had when I first moved to Rome many years ago. I have no idea what lies ahead in My Life: Part Two but I do know one thing for sure. I never again want to be in a situation where work takes up all of the space in my head and makes it impossible to appreciate my family, my friends, and the fact that I live in one of the the most beautiful cities in the world.
Cheesy flowers aside, Rome is an incredible city and I need to start appreciating that more.