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Thu. 29 September

The feast of Michael the Archangel [. . .]

Up the 47 stairs to the apartment then right back down them to the mailbox. A form from DHL in Rome asking me to supply them with an IVA number, and 'in case of failure to reply, we are not responsible for the consequences' and a whole satchel­ful of references to Italian laws and decrees, as amended. . . .

To bed but insomnia, which merged (due as it was probably to a bout of 60 situps right before bed, strenuous exercise not conducive to sleep) with worries about [. . .] — spent an hour rehearsing what I would say if that were an issue — got up finally and myself some warm milk with grappa in it; back to bed — Just as I was dropping off, the doorbell. . . rolled over and went to sleep.

This morning, a nice partly cloudy day, pleasant temperature, a pity I'll be on the train all day: nice walking weather.

Did first 66, then 75 skips. Careful attention and pacing and not getting excited are the keys to this. Delighted, because chances are in a few days I will have succeeded in doing what [. . .] told me to do. Reprogrammed Datebook to allow me to change my targets in the middle. If I can get back to Chicago with my current goals met, I'll be very pleased. 13 pushups this morning. Those are tough, and I need to think axel and think arm muscles!

Breakfast was high in butterfat this morning: a sampling of 5 cheeses (Parmesan, Vergano, a local Pecorino, Gorgonzola, and a 5th thing of mixed "mucca" and sheep), some in a sort of sammich with ham and biscottes; 2 yogurts, coffee, sausage, at least 3 glasses of grapefruit juice. Before this orgy of gluttony, I weighed 79½.

Amusing what the mind does on its own, rather like a cow let to wander on a hill: last Thursday Giampiero took me to task for not practicing on my own immediately after our lesson since that sets things and helps "make the movements mechanical" — in [. . .]'s parlance, imprints them — In the shower this morning I thought I'd tell him how I felt about that, viz. that yes I know I should, and also that I want to play — the phrase that came to mind, complete with the music, was "Vorrei e non vorrei. . ." — and suddenly it dawned on me that the exact same musical phrase was set up by Don Giovanni — "La ci darem la mano. . ." — which in fact is what Giampiero does to me: asks me to give him my hand (which I resist internally) and which has, as noted, a flavor of the dance about it — so apparently I've cast Giampiero as a dancing master. . . .

About 1 P.M. and I'm approaching Terni on my little train that a few minutes ago stopped in Acquasparta: which for the first time I recognized before I saw any signs. I have a slight sore throat [. . .]

Just passed Cesi on my left (I'm facing forward); except for the church belfry it looks very much like pictures of the Potala in Lhasa — a narrow, almost perfectly rectangular band of beige hanging on to a little ledge on some fairly grim limestone mountains covered mostly with brush, occasionally with pine forest which softens them a good deal.

Young woman seated across from a slightly overweight, grizzly-unshaven, tousle-haired boy of 18 or so (she has since got off, he's still there lounging in his seat with a closed book with the mysterious title "Merceologia" — I imagine this is 'Marketing'?),​a anyway she leaned toward him attentively, putting her head down to the level of his chest — an unusual movement or gesture. . . .

We arrived in Terni as I wrote that; we'd left Todi a few minutes late, but I had just the time to change platform quietly when the train for Rome pulled in, on which here I am, pulling out already.

Sitting in the nonsmoking half of a 2d-class car, darkish grey striated linoleum floors, black molded plastic seats with diagonally pinstriped grey and dark grey inserted cushions with a bold vertical red stripe down the center and a much thinner matching border on each side, four seats across with a fairly wide aisle down the center. Exceptionally again — I don't like it as much — I'm facing forward: the train is crowded, there was a crowd getting on with me, I just grabbed a seat.

To my right, a woman in her sixties with iron-grey hair and fairly thick glasses, slightly plump, dressed in a navy blue dress, some kind of synthetic material I think, mottled with lots of white; a big black handbag on her lap, hands crossed on it — a look of concentration or preoccupation. Just opened her bag took out a watch and set it, shook it a few times, passed it to her travelling companion across from her who wordlessly vetted it and passed it back — She put it on.

Her companion, a young man of about 33, stylishly unshaven, all Italy seems to have watched Miami Vice, about 5′11ʺ dark brown wavy hair, very thick eyebrows, blue jeans and a green and white vertically striped long-sleeved shirt (unironed, dried on a line), chest hair rising out of the collar to meet the grizzly stub of beard. Darkish blue-grey eyes, beginning of a double chin, rather pink skin, long straight and slightly spreading nose, stubby sort of hands like a child's. On the seat next to him, his probably double-breasted bistre suit jacket inside out and folded back exposing a very ugly shiny lining of the same bistre from one angle, maroon from another —

Across the aisle to my left, two overweight women of 40 and 48 maybe, I think cheaply dressed, but I really can't stare at them and give a full description. The seats across from them, empty.

The rest of my car seems to be all Italians — I did see three African women on the platform speaking what sounded like Hausa, two of them dressed in Western clothes fingering the bright blue topclothes of the third dressed à l'africaine. I've noticed that African women in Rome, of which there are not a few, tend to wear their native dress — but not the men.

[. . .] I don't feel too well — sore throat a bit more noticeable, fell slightly warm and 'wavy' as I call it, and it's not the weather, which is about 74° I'd say — a fine day.

Still, I made it out of the Termini — I'm sitting right kitty-corner from it (didn't feel like lugging my skates thru several miles of Rome as I usually do) at the very first bar-caffé under the arcades at the corner of the v. Cavour. I've had two cokes definitely for medicinal purposes — 33 cl is the size of the can — and a pretty good cheese and mushroom omelet; I'm having a third coke (served with a wedge of lemon in the glass) and, in lieu of the coffee granita I wanted, a "tartufo", an apparently chocolate confection of ice cream — a poisonous meal frankly, but considerations of forestalling a flu and getting me in condition to go to my lesson in a couple of hours came first.

Interesting (mildly) also the various new aches of course in the body, my body rather [. . .] (and in fact that is English and as a professional translator I ought to know better than accept transparency to my other language!). The oddest one is the soreness of the soles of my feet — what should I expect, I suppose, now suddenly starting a regimen of jumping up and down on them? on hard tile floors. . . The soreness in my knees, in the joints of my knees, is in fact not mostly due to the rope skipping but to the situps, since I'm tensing my knees to keep my legs on the floor. The soreness in my lower back is likewise from the situps, and in my calves except somewhat 'round the corner' as it were, is from the skips. Finally, only 25 pushups (12 yesterday and 13 today) have left me with sore triceps — a sign I suppose that the pushups are doing something, but I've got to be careful and I suppose I am, since this morning I stopped my situps at 30 because I didn't like what I was feeling in my lower back.

. . . .

It's been nearly an hour since my train came in, oddly enough it too a little late, although it left Terni on time. I feel much better. My temperature has gone down, I feel almost normal, almost not wavy, much of my sore throat is gone. That of course is what the liter of Coke was supposed to do, but: I wonder how much of that was nerves? I note that the last three days I've been reading, and writing this diary, without glasses — still mind you farther away than when my eyes started to go a coupla years ago, but without glasses just the same, and it has been occurring to me (what a lovely flexible language English is!) that in fact might not that be nerves? Stressed I definitely need glasses.

. . . .
An Olympic-size ice rink, the ice sublimating into mist, with a lone skater in the mid-background, preparing to enter a spin.

Entry into a spin. Olympic rink at Marino, 1997.
I'm the photographer here, not the skater.

Rink, right after my lesson. Giampiero had forgotten we were on at 5, at 5:10 I called him on it, we were flexible, I suggested 5:30 to 6:30 —

We spent the lesson refining all my crossovers; for the back crossovers he got some improvement out of me by having me push in a lemon-wedge1-shaped motion then hold then raise the foot, no more (this has to be done with the skating leg straight, for the purposes of the exercise only) so I got a feel for where my weight is = should be. I think that will be helpful.

We also worked edge rolls, he's getting me to do them as slowly as I can, basically; the arms go down to be in a walking position at midway, where the foot moves forwards slowly — this is on a barely flexed (i.e., almost straight) leg. I need to do them shallower. He says they're improving.

Three-turns and the blasted exiting edge, no real solution in sight; the problem is that although I do shift foot position, I don't shift weight — he had me to a sort of little dance like what skiers do on a slope —

I'm sitting in the stands overlooking not a high-FS session today but a lively scene of about 5 subgroups by age of Alpha skaters — lots of colors, lots of people talking. I've had another coke for the throat and general medicinality of it, plus a piece of torta ai pinoli, which is not very sweet and mostly an excuse for starch. Preparing to leave for home, I'm going to use the last few minutes at the rink to get out of the dancebelt which for some reason is unpleasant today —

. . . .

Apartment, 12:45 A.M. Terni, a good (small) meal at the restaurant that I always pass by to go sit at my caffé — wonder­ful fish antipasti, and a piadina (pizza crust, except rolled thinner, crunchy, folded over, the topping inside) which was also quite good — Got back home after the climb from Porta Romana —

Note in the Diary:

1 his word

Later Note:

a Nope: commodity economics.

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