Valentine’s Day–What Is It Again?

DSC_0030I’m lucky–I’ve always dated people whose birthdays were close to Valentine’s Day.  Even better, I married someone whose birthday was on Valentine’s Day itself.

Of course, I didn’t always realize my luck.

But first, let’s have a Sophia Petrillo moment, and “picture it”:

Valentine’s Day, 2014, a not-so-little Indian restaurant in the heart of Rome’s Monti district, a solitary woman dressed in bright colours walks in and asks for a table–alone.  Already the front room is crowded with couples, but there is one table tucked away in a corner where the woman can sit…completely observed.  It’s perhaps not the strangest sight that the diners will see for the night, but it’s definitely contrary to what’s expected.  Where’s her date? or Is she waiting for someone? or Has she been stood up? they might wonder.  Nope. She’s there on her own, taking herself out for Valentine’s Day.

—-

Of course, I’m not the only one who does this. I’m sure many people do, regardless of gender/sex.  It’s just not what others apparently expect.  What they seem to expect is that you ought to be at home, complaining to fellow single friends about your single status, drinking your sad singleness away, pining after an old lover or unrequited love, shoving a ton of chocolate down your throat, and then chasing it with a tub of your favourite Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream (or gelato if you’re in Italy).  What they don’t seem to expect is that you can celebrate Valentine’s Day all on your own and love doing it.  If you’re single, then help me to disspell that misguided notion.

After all, let’s consider what Valentine’s Day really is: a day dedicated to Saint Valentine of Rome, who was executed just outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269 for refusing to renounce his belief in Christianity.  His feast day is February 14th, hence we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Moreover, he’s not just about candies and hearts. Saint Valentine is the patron saint of “affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, and young people.” (Catholic.org)

meaningofbeesindreams

So, this brings me back to being lucky.  I’ve been lucky because I’ve never really had the thought that Valentine’s Day was something do with my receiving anything (be it candy or flowers).  It was always a day about my remembering someone special to me and showing them my gratitude for their existence.  Being single doesn’t change that.  Valentine’s Day continues to be a day that I remember someone special and that I show gratitude for their existence…it just happens to be me. 😉

This Valentine’s Day, try to remember that it’s a day to:

  1. honour your faith (if you are Christian)
  2. remember a saint (if you are Catholic),
  3. thank the universe for the existence of bees (if you are bee keeper),
  4. ask for relief from suffering (if you have epilepsy or fainting spells or the plague),
  5. pray for a safe journey (if you are a traveller),
  6. embrace your youth (if you consider yourself young),
  7. say hello to people around you (if you are not alone, and if you are, then go find someone to say hi to),
  8. remember that someone has decided to put up with your crap (if you are engaged),
  9. remember that someone has been putting up with your crap for some time now (if you are married),
  10. work on having great sex (if you have a lover),
  11. and love yourself and those around you (if you aren’t already doing it).

So, what will you do this Valentine’s Day?  I know I’m looking forward to going to church (since it falls on a Sunday–lucky!) and thanking the universe for all that I have.  To top it off, I’ll likely have a piece of chocolate, give my mom a hug, make plans to travel in the near future, and wonder about the beauty of bees.

-D.

In the meanwhile, check out this video 🙂

 

Travelling While Black | In Rome, You Might Be A Prostitute, Plus Fire Dancing & Vegan Valentine’s

Vegamisu, Universo Vegano. Click to visit their website. Image by D. Blake.

Vegamisu, Universo Vegano. Click to visit their website. Image by D. Blake.

So, I took myself out for Valentine’s Day. Watch what happens. 🙂

 

Valentine’s Day? Don’t Say “I Love You.” Say Something Else (In Italian).

image and poem by D. Blake

image and poem by D. Blake

Hmm…It’s Valentine’s Day. I’ve yet to venture outside to witness the parade of couples flaunting their love–no, I’m not bitter or anything like that. 😉  I simply don’t celebrate many special (any) days.

Still, I thought I would do my part by sharing some words in Italian and Englishi that, were I in a relationship, I would use instead of having to say “I love you.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone!

D.

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*Yes, I made a decision not to use the imperative in the first line, which would have been: Amore, non legarmi alle parole piccole…

I’m still undecided whether or not I will change it. 🙂

Cercarle

Amore, non mi leghi alle parole piccole,
insensate, indefinibili, ma inebrianti.
Le parole volano, ne sai, quando sono parlate.

Invece di cercarle nella voce mia,
cercarle nel mio comportamento,
cercarle nei miei taciti pensieri,
cercarle nel mio cuore che batte ogni respiro
fino alla prossima volta quando ci incontriamo,

e cercarle in questi occhi che non ne avranno mai
abbastanza di vederti e vogliono bruciare
l’immagine di te nell’anima mia per l’eternità.

—-

Another version:

 

Basic Translation 

Search for them

My love, do not bind me with little words,
meaningless, indefinable, but intoxicating.
You know that spoken words are fleeting.

Instead of searching for them in my voice,
search for them in my behaviour,
search for them in my unspoken thoughts,
search for them in my heart that beats each breath
until when next we meet,

and search for them in these eyes that will never have
enough of seeing you and want to burn
your image within my soul for all eternity.

A Brave and Startling Truth…

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love to everyone (and to myself)!  And remember to give love to yourselves as well as to those whom you love!

A Brave and Startling Truth

by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

If we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.

Love costs all we are and will ever be.

Yet it is only love which sets us free.

A Brave and Startling Truth.

When we come to it

We, this people, on this wayward, floating body

Created on this earth, of this earth

Have the power to fashion for the earth

A climate where every man and every woman

Can live free without sanctimonious piety

And without crippling fear

When we come to it

We must confess that we are the possible

We are the miraculous, the true wonders of this world

That is when, and only when

We come to it.


Until next time!

Best,

D.

I do not love you…

To continue with poetry for Valentine’s Day…

I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love you
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it’s you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

Until next time!

Best,

D.

Oh V-Day….

So, this year instead of running all over Rome searching for couples in-love, red heart-shaped balloons or cards, or even chocolate fountains; I have decided that leading up to V-Day  (aka Valentine’s Day) just to post my favourite poems related to love… I hope you enjoy.

———————————

Ho sceso, dandoti il braccio, almeno un milione di scale

Ho sceso, dandoti il braccio, almeno un milione di scale

e ora che non ci sei è il vuoto ad ogni gradino.

Anche così è stato breve il nostro lungo viaggio.

Il mio dura tuttora, né più mi occorrono

le coincidenze, le prenotazioni,

le trappole, gli scorni di chi crede

che la realtà sia quella che si vede.

Ho sceso milioni di scale dandoti il braccio

non già perché con quattr’occhi forse si vede di più.

Con te le ho scese perché sapevo che di noi due

le sole vere pupille, sebbene tanto offuscate,

erano le tue.     (Eugenio Montale)


(I have not found a very good English translation of this.  If someone has one, then please post.  If not, then I will try my hand at searching again, or… oh my… trying to translate it–I had to for a course.  Thanks, Professor Biasiotti!)

Until next time!

Best,

D.

Hunting for Valentine’s Day! Plus, a woman eating alone = Feminista!

I will admit it.  I forgot. 

Upon waking this Monday morning, I had only two thoughts: one, call April and wish her a happy birthday; and two, finish my blog entry for yesterday.  I completely forgot that today happens to be Valentine’s Day.  As I mentioned in my very first post, I am usually late… and apparently, not just with time.

So, it was that I received excellent electronic reminders that today was indeed the day to run out and get your beloved all sorts of treats and flowers galore! And I thought, “Wonderful!  I am in this city that is supposedly filled with romance.  I am bound to find red and pink heart-shaped decorations, chocolate fountains, and dozens of roses just littering shop windows and even the streets!”

I actually threw on a pair of jeans and sneakers (and for those of you who have been around me more recently, the fact that I am not wearing heels is perhaps amazing), and ran out the door, ready to be greeted by amore and strains of “‘O Sole Mio.”

It's still a regular day on Via Arenula (2.14.11)

What I got, however, was this (image on the right).

Life in Rome was simply going along as though the day had no particular significance.  I couldn’t believe it!

I decided that I must be in the wrong section of town, and walked back over towards Campo dei Fiori, where I was certain I would find evidence of Valentine’s Day! Or, at the very least, some tourists showing excessive amounts of PDA.

Heart-shaped cakes in store window (Campo dei Fiori)

 

Campo dei Fiori did not disappoint me!  Although sadly, in comparison with the commercialization of Valentine’s Day (V-Day) in the U.S., the V-Day efforts of Campo dei Fiori seemed quite mediocre, if that. 

I was pleased to see the evidence of V-Day celebration being displayed by some of the vendors in the marketplace and also by some of the stores (well, one store).  

Woman with heart-shaped headband (Campo dei Fiori), 2.14.11

One woman, in particular, was really in the V-Day mood as she made her way throughout the marketplace.  Another woman was selling flowers (or hoping to) with a beautiful array of roses amongst other equally attractive flowers.  A male vendor sold carnivale masques and some V-Day theme items. (Although I am still not sure what they were… I just saw the sign.)  All in all, Campo dei Fiori had a pretty good and promising vibe for V-Day, especially as the weather was bright, fairly warm and sunny.

Woman flower vendor (Campo dei Fiori), 2.14.11

The experience at Campo dei Fiori left me feeling very hopeful. Thus, I made a mad dash towards Largo di Torre Argentina, camera in hand and at the ready to snap pictures of V-Day in the making.

I love Birkenstock sign (Rome, Italy), 2.14.11

Well… to cut a very short story even shorter.  There was nada, or niente (for the sake of adding an Italian flare).  I did, however, discover that there were expressions of love for other things… like Birkenstocks (I think Germany will be happy to know this on V-Day.)

Couple walking (Rome, Italy), 2.14.11

Oh!  And I almost forgot!  There was also the random couple that actually showed some potential acknowledgement of V-Day… 

Side note: Yesterday, Giuseppe told me that “love is the most important aspect of [Roman] life.  After all, Roma spelled backwards is ‘Amor,’ which means love.”  Really?  You could have fooled me.

 

 

 

 

 

I eat alone.  Therefore, I am a feminist!

After my long and emotionally taxing (Yes, it is quite emotionally draining to search for love – You and I both know it’s true!) morning spent walking around the apparently anti-Valentine’s Day city of Rome, I decided to head back to my neighbourhood of Campo dei Fiori for lunch.  Recently (as in, last night), I discovered a wonderfully inexpensive, but quite good, bar/cafe very close to my home.  It was to this cafe that brought my tired self to enjoy a little V-Day lunch before heading home.

I had been thinking much about yesterday’s demonstration by the women of Rome, and wanted to find a way to talk with some Italian women about their experience of gender roles in Rome.  Luckily, the night before I had met a young woman named Janet, who works at the cafe.  She also happened to be working today.  I decided to ask Janet if I could make a time to speak with her about her experiences. 

At the conclusion of our very brief conversation to exchange contact information, one of the male servers asked Janet a simple question in Italian.  Unfortunately for him, he assumed that because I spoke in English that I could not understand Italian. 

He asked: “Lei è femminista?” (Is she a feminist?)

I answered him, “Sì. Io sono femminista. Perché?” (Yes. I am a feminist. Why?)

In English, he responded, “Because only a feminist would eat alone.”

And so there you have it… If you do not want to be seen as a feminist in Rome (per this Italian man), best not eat alone.  As for me, eating alone is equally as comfortable and appreciated as eating in the company of others. 

I wonder what he would think if he knew that my grand plan for this evening is to watch the movie “Gladiator” and to write?

 

In Rome on Valentine’s Day

Love I will not write

The cold of my heart like snow

Words of my mind – death