May 30, 2011

Rivers of Thought

It seems with every flurry of activity comes a downpour of thoughts in my brain. When they first form they are distinct little raindrops- yet once fallen, quickly becoming indistinguishable from one another. There seems too great a river in my brain to share anything cohesive with you.

Nearly a week ago I took a walk through the woods (its memory still plays in my mind). I tickled my sister with a fern I picked- she went for the tight muscles in my side- and then we were chasing and giggling and tickling and dragging and squealing and the ordeal was not over until we passed a stone cave built into the hillside and I threatened to throw her in. (It's either a root cellar or a druid hole- historians can't make up their minds- so take your pick). She calmed down, slipped her hand in mine, and told me firmly that, "We are at peace now." Then from her tongue came the most tender confidings- about sisters... and me... and laughter. (My heart still gasps when I remember- not the words that she spoke- but all that lay behind them).

This weekend was a whirlwind. On Saturday we drove down into the city and went to Zabar's- an incredible (and enormous) Jewish deli. We walked in and were immediately confronted by 40 barrels of assorted olives- and the smells of cheese, fish, and coffee. My grandfather bought all sorts of amazing goodies (meat, salad, cheese, bread) and we picnicked in Central Park (while listening to a jazzy street band). Oh, yes. And then we went to my Met again. Afterwords we sat out on the front steps in the sun and listened to a saxophone player... by the time we left a crowd had amassed around him and three young guys (two  in suits) were dancing.

I keep thinking of what God showed me when I prayed (thoughts oppressing my heart) for evidence of His love curled up in a hotel room... and it seems I have not yet had time to digest all that I learned and felt when I heard a sermon on Sunday from a visiting missionary.

I'm sitting at my computer (feeling hot and sticky and tired) and my mind is rambling down alleys... past the people I met... the music I heard... the foods I smelled... the feelings I felt... and the littered highways we passed which made me daydream about clean-up projects.

I live life through my experiences- and I see life through my thoughts. I don't know which part of me is larger- the half that delights in experience (and consequently adventure, sensory information, and the unexpected)- or that which longs to understand and conclude and realize and immortalize (and so betakes itself to the quiet to reflect and create).

My writing routine is a bit happenstance. I live (and don't think). And then I think (and don't live). I have to live to have something to write about. But I have to be still and think to write. Yet the longer I wait  for  ruminations to ripen- the more fuzzy the memories become in my mind.

I had thoughts yesterday. And the day before. But I didn't write them down. And so now everything feels fuzzy and half-baked inside... like I lost something and I'm not sure what.

Experiences are raindrops... they conjoin in pools, slip into streams of thought, and become the rivers we call our past.

May 26, 2011

Gogyohka-Thursday [36]

Guest Gogyohka by Jonathan Fiore - which he wrote yesterday while walking through Little Italy in the Bronx.

 Going down Arthur Avenue

with three pounds of Ricotta-

(two dark-eyed girls- so beautiful-

pass me).

I wish I knew Sicilian.

May 25, 2011

City Main Courses

Today was one part  trains, one part walking, one part window-ahhing, and two parts exhibits- pleasantly tossed with culinary adventures. Many thanks to my grandparents for such a delicious day. Some of the highlights were-

1) Seeing the Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry exhibition at the Cooper Museum. (People must have been bigger a hundred years ago- that stuff was enormous.)

2) Grace Kelly's engagement set from the Prince of Monaco!

3) Hearing lots of people speak in French- and in French accents. (Best one: "Ze batroom iz dis way- Yoo cannout mees eet nouw.")

4) Having a prosciutto sandwich (like I did seven or so years ago the first time) at Via Quadronno.

5) Amazing chocolate from La Maison Du Chocolat (favorite was one infused with passion fruit).

6) Resting on a stone bench- blue hydrangeas, watching people pass by, Annie playing with pigeons. 'Checking Facebook on my grandmother's iTouch. (My grandmother's more techy than me! I don't even own a cell-phone!)

7) The quilt exhibit at the American Folk Art museum. Such minute stitching! (I could never have that much PATIENCE!)

8) Finally storing away a bit of the Manhattan geography in this map-less brain of mine.

9) Splitting between the four of us Indian food and sorbet in Grand Central!

10) It being universally agreed upon (between my mother and myself) that woman's fashion has definitely improved in the last ten years.

My brothers had a day in the city too- they went to a Yankees game (we won). But what I found the most interesting about their rapturous report of their day was that over and over again they talked about food- food- and food. Italian ices. Pizza. The mozzarella, provolone, and three pounds of ricotta my Poppi purchased on Arthur Avenue. 

Is it just our family? Is it being Italian? Is it something in the New York water? I find myself wondering if all peoples in all places find such delight in joining together over food. I hope so.

If we ever meet in the city- I want us to walk down Madison Avenue together and try my favorite chocolate. And then maybe we will have Peruvian food at Flor De Mayo- or stop by little Italy to bring back cheese for our mothers.

May 23, 2011

Post on Pictures

Pictures are to posts as lipstick is to women. They  catch your eye, provide a mental image for the words, and beautify the face of the blog. They are a vital accessory, and I have long been devoted to their cause. However, I had no sooner started blogging then I was forced to recognize that you can't get pictures from just anywhere. If you google for pictures- you end up using somebody's work (imagine using somebody else's lipstick). Regardless of what you may think about intellectual property-rights and free-loading, the idea of being contacted by an incensed photographer years down the road (when they stumbled on my blog and found the photos they took on their trip to Tahiti were being used without so much as a citation) was not a pleasant thought. Consequently, I discovered the below alternatives.


Believe it or not, I do take some of my own photos (unfortunately I am not handy enough with a camera to take as many as I should like).  Some bloggers, it seems,  take mostly their own photos (kudos to them), but I have only attempted it a few times,with middling success. Another possibility is to use a friend's pictures (and credit them). I've done this before when grandparents or friends took good shots.


You can still go the Google route- and actually contact the photographer for the use of the photo. Down this road I have usually met with success. (I think photographers are typically honored that someone likes their photos and that they'll get a shout-out in a post-script on your blog). The downside is you do need to contact them in advance since it often takes 24-48  hours for the owner to get back to you (hence a possible delay in your post). I have gotten a "no" only once- when the photograph was on the website of a plumbing  and water-damage repair company (and they themselves had gotten the photograph from a third source).  [People, one of my favorite Gogyohka-Thursdays is waiting in darkness for the right water-damaged-book photo. Contact me if you have one.]


Currently this is where I get most of my photos. If you google "free images" you'll find host sites with a reasonably vast selection. Microsoft has quite a large collection- on occasion Wikipedia has a few historical ones. Also some image sites have free-trials where they let you download a hundred or so before asking you pay.


Yes, I have actually purchased photos before. Companies such as Fotolia or Dreamstime will let you purchase credit packages to be used at your discretion. As a poor college student, this is far from cheap. But when I have cash to spare I'll get a few credits for the rainy day in which I simply can't find a fitting photo in public domain.


I should mention- purchasing photos is a time-consuming and risky venture. I looked through a good 2,000 before selecting the one at the top of this post... and then somehow (I don't know how) I selected the wrong size and bought the XXL version- like the kind you'd print and cover a wall with. (I don't like it THAT much!!!) So instead of costing me $2.50, it cost me a disgusting, gut-wrenching $24. I called the company but there's nothing they can do.  It's a done deal. I'm pretty depressed now. (I'm thinking about using it twenty more times just to get my money's worth.) 

So do me a favor and please scroll back up and fully appreciate the heading photo.

*Photo of the Metropolian by John Glines. Used by permission.

May 19, 2011

Gogyohka-Thursday [35]

watching her try

to blow out

the candles

my arm

as wet as the cake

- 5/19/2008

May 17, 2011

Unbearable Beauty

Sometimes beauty makes me cry.

It's something in the trees... about quiet laughter in the afternoon... about sunlight filtering through branches and bare-feet on wet grass... in the stillness of a forest and the sound of running water.

"All we can do, in this deep summer hour,
with the rain, the taxis and the flowers,
walking between the dear ones holding on,
is shout, shout for joy."

There's something in a kiss, something in a bride. There's something in the smell of a new-born babe.  There's something in the smile of those you love, and there's something in a song sung in summer. -Something more than beautiful, something closer to sublime- so near perfection I can find no words for it.

"I said so little.
I could not think of replies.
The words all flew away,
up away from me, up into the trees,
where they shout, shout for joy."

It is these tastes of perfection that make me cry- that make my heart swell so full I think it'd burst and break- and so I weep.

Shout, shout for joy.

*Lyrics from Shout for Joy by The Innocence Mission.

May 14, 2011


Today I purge- today I sift through the work of the past nine months and decide what is worth keeping. I sit amongst piles of (expensive) textbooks,  folders full of papers,  endless notebooks half-filled with psychology and marketing notes… pages full of things I was supposed to remember… and have already forgotten. I feel like I’m selecting memories. 

I’m a memento kind of person. (Somewhere in a folder I have grass from a field I played in when I was eleven.) And maybe since such a large part of who I am is wrapped up in writing- it is difficult for me to throw away anything my pen has touched.

But I can’t keep everything. I don’t want to keep everything. I don’t want to keep the notes from the class I detested- the grades from teachers I disliked. I don’t want to keep the assignments I rushed through- memorials to pacts with mediocrity.

But as I sort the mess into piles (keep, discard), I find myself stopping for a rest- gasping- finding I’ve been holding my breath. I fear that somehow the worth of all that work is tied up in the notes and filled out tests and assignments stacked before me… if I throw them away- where is the proof that I sat through over 400 classes? Do I reduce those hours to a single-letter grade on my transcript?

Who can measure life-experience? Who can assign a letter-grade to the before-and-after ME? Who but I can understand that it is the impressions I received and my expanded perception of the world that I have to show- not facts I (can’t) regurgitate. The papers which I hold in my wavering hands (between the trash can and the next twenty years in a folder on a shelf) seem to embody a change, a process, and a part of my life.

            Can I say good-bye to part of me?

I have one folder that is particularly difficult: a large cardboard sleeve full of my art projects… from last semester. They’ve been sitting against my wall for the last five months. I worked hard on those, I really did. I fought for the grade from a particularly hard to please teacher. I forced myself to sit with my pencils and scissors and poster-boards and think outside the box. I played for hours with my glue-stick. And the result was some pretty decent projects on texture, negative space, and depth-perception. But as you can see- neither I nor anyone else is likely to ever look at them again. I don’t want to frame them. They only take up space.

            Is it enough to remember?

           Can I keep the life I have lived within me- without physical remembrances?

Maybe it's better this way. I need to say good-bye. I need to be ok with what has happened and what it has made me- who I am right now- and move on as I am.

           So with a wrench in my heart- I slap another thick wad of papers on the discard pile.

Down With Cloud Computing

So for those of you that don't know- Blogger was down for about two days (during which posts disappeared and a large segment of blogosphere was in read-only-mode). Imagine the panic I felt when I got up yesterday morning and found my last two posts completely gone. It made me reconsider keeping hard-copies of my posts on my computer (writing notes locally and posting them to Blogger only once they're ready). 

At any rate- the posts appeared to be back this morning, but weirdly tagged. I succeeded in correctly tagging them but then they got out of order... I succeeded in getting them back in order but now they say I wrote the last two today (which I didn't). Ah, well. The worst of it is that as of now many of your recent comments are gone.  The Blogger authorities claim they're working on getting them back but I confess this latest fiasco leaves me with doubts as to their preservation abilities.

My apologies for your lost thoughts. You know how much I love to hear from you- please feel free to re-comment.

L.E. Fiore

Gogyohka-Thursday [34]


so many plans

till I felt 

the hot sun

and I slept.


I'm really quite ecstatic. My last final is over. Over. I'm all DONE! Nothing is DUE. What should I DO?!?!

It was a great day, truly. My first day of tests (last Friday) made me rather miserable. I felt sick in the middle of my first final (I've never filled out something so fast). "There goes my grade..." I thought (while feeling miserable).  

But today was good. (Did I already say that?) Rejuvenated from the last two days of purposeful stillness- I woke on a day of my last finals fully peaceful. I had the car to myself- like I did my first day of school. The sky was blue. The light filtered through the new leaves making that special spring shadiness- playing with that muted, pastel, baby-green greenery.

First class- done. Second class- done. Third class- Shakespeare exam. I wrote a paper in class comparing Ophelia (Hamlet), Lavinia (Titus Andronicus), and Lady Macduff (Macbeth). I was pleased with it. My teacher said good-bye and have a good-summer, "You brightened the room," she said. And that brightened my day.

I found a picnic table fully in the sun and ate my lunch. It was a Francis lunch, like the one I wrote about last semester. I delighted in eating my lentil dhal and rice and the strawberries and cream. I wished someone would notice- those red berries drowned in pure white goodness. I felt like hailing people passing by- "Look! I'm eating strawberries and cream for LUNCH!"

Forth class- Poetry. I began writing "Poetry" in different languages on the black-board. Soon other girls joined me- the black-board became a collage of bilingual "Poetry" declarations. Kavita. Poème. Runo. Carmen. Gandicht. Dán. Then we each shared two of our own poems with the class... we snapped our fingers in applause.

Fifth class- done. I sat for a half hour out on a bench. I felt the wind on my face- I watched the sun go in and out from behind clouds and basked in its rays. A girl was sitting on a bench across from me under a tree. I told her she should come over and get a tan. She laughed and did. We talked about art history, what we wanted to do in life, and guys. (I talk to random people about random things. You should have heard a conversation I once jumped into on birthing and midwives.) She was waiting for her "Prince Charming" -quite literally- she left to meet him at the top of a flight of stairs. They went off together- under the arching trees.

Sixth class- Art History.  All my hard memorization payed off. I scribbled my way  blithely through the exam and handed it in. Mrs. C just smiled at me. "I'll be seeing you next semester, right?" Yes, definitely. I'm in her Modern Art class. "Keep the book." I definetly will. "Have a good summer." She gave me a hug.

And I'm done. I walked down the hallway... beaming. I can't help it. I'm  incredibly happy. Perhaps more so because I didn't get to feel the relief of being done  last semester (my mind was completely preoccupied with other issues at the time).

I walked up to the deli counter and asked (since it's the last day) if they have any food to give away. There's a beautiful red-head (tall and sturdy) with a Russian accent who works there. She murmurs something about me being "cute" and says, as she hands me a blueberry muffin and two Jamaican meat patties, "I was a college student once. " She tells me not to go spreading the word (there is a crowd of very large young men not too far off). I promise not to. She winks at me.

I walk to the car- munching away. I turn on the engine and the music. 

The summer stretches before me- with all its goals, work, and splendid vacation. My windows are down. I'm smiling at the future. And in my ears there rings a tune that goes like this:

Life is a highway, and I wanna ride it all night long. - Rascal Flatts.

*Photo of me by Sarah Emmett.

May 8, 2011


There's a verse in the psalms... Be still and know that I am God. [Psalm 46:10] In a passing moment in a sermon on Jacob this morning, my pastor asked us- "How often are we actually still?" It struck me.

Eek. I love being still. Really, I do. I love to betake myself to quiet places. I love to think.  But I'm in the middle of college finals. And lately it feels like my life has been lived for the next day, the next test, the next accomplished goal, the next season. I don't know if it's that I don't have time to think- I just haven't made time to think- or that at the moment my life is so full of things I could be thinking about that the amount of conclusions  I could  be coming to and self-evaluations I could be doing is overwhelming. Maybe I'm running from thinking. Maybe I'm not letting myself be still enough to remember WHO God is. 

It's not like I don't know at all. But I know in the intellectual sense- the sense in which one says, "I feel this  other way- but despite what I feel I will trust in what I know to be true." I feel like I'm running- headlong through each day- barely missing crash after crash after disastrous crash. I feel like I'm in yet one another of those periods in my life where amidst busyness and chaos and rampant emotions I whisper, "God, I need you to carry me today."

But I miss knowing- knowing in a wonderful, still sort of sense- not the survival sense. It's amazing because even amidst my panicked craziness I have been astounded by the amount of blessing God has poured out on me. (Why? Me? Why does He bless me when I'm too busy to be still? Your love still amazes me.)

Three more days till the end of the semester. And then my Holiday begins. Holy days. I plan on recuperating from the wreckage wreaked on my body, mind, spirit- and my room. I can't wait. But what about now? Isn't now when I need Him? Today? As Martin Luther put it, "I'm so busy I can't afford not to pray." What better way can I prepare for tomorrow? I need this.

I will be still and know that He is God.

May 5, 2011

Gogyohka-Thursday [33]

It's Spring:

flowers blushing-

couples kissing-

parking lots

full of motorcycles.

May 1, 2011

Random News Flash From a Fanatical Writer

GUESS WHAT!?! It's today. I get to start a whole, new, fresh, blank diary.

I'm a diary writer. Did you know that?

I began my first real diary when I was ten... but I stopped... my life didn't seem interesting enough to me- and what was the point in writing in that beautiful, little, red-velvet bound journal if it would be filled up before all I had to say was written down?

Then I was twelve. And on May 27th, 2005, my grandmother gave me a huge, gorgeous, 2'' thick VOLUME... lined, blank, and waiting. And so I began. I decided I had to write regardless of how interesting the day was. And I would write a page- a whole page- always- every day. I missed two days in the first six months.

I haven't missed a day since.

Those diaries have heard everything. It was- and still is- a growing experience- as I learn how to craft a day into a page- that page into a memory. I've learned what not to write down- so that it won't be remembered. And I have found an incredible delight in rereading the pages of past years and seeing God's sovereign hand unfold my life.

Each diary has a name. I'm not sure why- perhaps it's habit- perhaps I have some fundamental need to feel like I'm writing to someone. I choose each name very carefully- weighing the name's sound, the way it writes, and its meaning. The name becomes a sort of person- and that entity comes to embody that year.

And tonight I have a new name to write on the first of 400 beautiful, blank pages. I have chosen a name which means Wisdom- for I've been thinking and reading of wisdom lately ("If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God (...) and it shall be given him." - James 1:5) and this year I feel a need for it more than ever. So here we go.

Tonight begins my new year.