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Wed. 28 September

Yesterday morning then I went out and did my grocery shopping, for some reason apparently I've adopted a grocery store a quarter of the way down to the P. Romana rather than any number nearer here (including two right here on the P.zza Jacopone). The usual supplies — milk, yogurt, grapefruit juice, sugar, cheese, plus lettuce, fruit and fizzy water from a fruit merchant.

Breakfast, shower, summary cleanup, out to the Azienda to check the new train schedules — it turns out they're the same for Todi — then to the clothing store to pick up trou; back at the apartment, put the lighter one on since 11:30 had past and therefore I'd be taking the bus to P. Rio from the gardens rather than walking down.

Also in fact stopped at the little bookshop on the Corso Cavour, bought a book for all the train trips. Bizarre sense of humor I suspect primarily responsible for my choice: "Tragedie e vittorie tra i ghiacci", in fact of course a history of maritime polar exploration, not ice skating.

[image ALT: A parking lot jammed with parked motorbikes and scooters, in front of the engineering faculty on the Oppian Hill in Rome (Italy).]
In front of the Engineering School on the Oppian Hill, Rome.
So down to Ponte Rio and off to Rome, immersed in my book, nothing of note (by the end of the day I'd read about 60 pp, few problems, I can consider Italian one of my reading languages except for poetry). In Rome, walked down Cavour and over to the Coliseum; looked absentmindedly at the Arch of Constantine (the ground around it, surprisingly, all dug up, they're excavating some arched brick structures — you'd think surely everything would have been excavated there), at the Arch of Titus, walked into the Coliseum, stood at the edge of the arena a few minutes in the crowd of fellow tourists; climbed back up to Termini via the Oppian Hill and in front of a major engineering school with hundreds of motorcycles parked in front of it, before rejoining the via Cavour.

Was on ice at the opening at 5, except that for the first time in many sessions, I was unable to get into a comfortable pike which is the last warmup I do — My blades felt very scratchy and odd — Giampiero saw me do my first little circle of XO's and came to tell me to push the hip in — When I left the ice (dogbones, F & B XO's, edge rolls, 3‑turns each foot, LFI/RFO/LBO spirals, stroking, those weird little steps — which afforded me a nasty little fall on the knee in exactly where the bruise is from last time) I was disgusted and felt the session had been unprofitable: in part, I can't remember what I'm supposed to think of; I cannot advance without a teacher, I feel a bit like the eunuch on the road to Ethiopia.

Coffee and a ham sammich and a piece of lemon pie afterwards, then sat in the stands and watched an unusually crowded FS session, about 8 girls and young women, everyone pretty much having a bad day too; Silvia Fontana ran thru a program — the program itself is not very good — an ugly straight line up then back down the center of the ice — but her moves were beauti­ful — a lovely lovely layback, very fluid, haven't seen anything like it at Crown.

So back to the real world: S.M. delle Mole station, four worried-looking nuns with a pile of large suitcases [. . .]

Despite my walking here not being continuous — usually my big hikes are from place A to place B and have me therefore sleeping on the tops of hills and having a much tougher time both physically and nervously (the awful uncertainty each night of where I'm going to sleep and indeed whether I'll get any sleep) — it's possible that if I push the mileage and am careful not to avoid the hills, I can come back with the confidence up as I do after the major hikes. See no real signs of this, lots of things militating against it: the availability for translation, James's visit to Todi, the skating days' interference with my sleep schedule (for example, today is likely to be a lazy day), etc.

I've now been gone 17 days from Chicago out of the 68: I think I have a couple of days, no more, to set goals for my stay here, or else find I've frittered away what could be an important opportunity in my life: how often do you get two months' leave like this? even if it's spoiled by various interruptions [. . .]

In the last few days I've been finding myself singing the section from Gluck's Orfeo,

Furie! [No!] Larve! [No!]

Ombre sdegnose!

Vi renda almen pietose

Al mio barbaro dolor

and can't help thinking what a pansy Orfeo is: as indeed, sung by a woman — Tamino for all his flaws is at least a man: I had better, just as Orfeo used to be years ago my favorite opera and now it's Zauberflöte, be learning what Tamino sings to get thru hell — the problem is, the hell music is in fact duets, and of course it's easier when there are two of you together; the real hell, where Tamino may not speak to Pamina, I think all he has is Sprechstimme, and she of course, altho' she has the music, merely wails, and that (a) I already do enough of and (b) is precisely why she's such an irritating little bitch at this point —

[. . .]

And finally, wrapping up a rather ascetic day with an orange juice, straight out of the can, at the caffé on the piazza: [. . .] So, with the Piazza virtually deserted — a coolish evening as we head into fall — I'll head back to bed [. . .]

Note in the Diary:

1 that would be 32½″ —

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Page updated: 7 Dec 20