L'Americana & La Formaggina

A year ago, our 11-year-old yellow Labrador, Brie, died of cancer. I never wrote her a proper obituary. But, she deserves one, because she was a member of our family and a friend to many. Below is an anniversary tribute to one of the great losses of 2017:

The day Brie died, I sat alone on the radiator in our living room at night and ate an entire pint of peanut butter ice cream by myself.  My family teases me for my love of peanut butter, and my Italian husband believes that Nutella is a far better substitute.

But, Brie didn’t care. She supported me first, unconditionally, in everything I did. She would have nudged me to eat that entire pint had she been there. And I would have shared it with her.

Because she was my ally -- from the moment my husband gave her to me in Rome as a three-month-old puppy. To her last day in which she fell limp in my arms as she drifted into her final deep sleep in San Francisco. She was our first family pet, and my first attempt at parenting.

Losing her felt like closing a chapter in my life that I wasn’t ready to shut.

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Musical Chairs

I had a love affair with a Steinway piano as a teenager that ended in a bad break-up because I wasn’t willing to commit.

Now I'm struggling to convince my kids to practice their musical instruments (saxophone for my son; piano for my daughter). They're horrible at practicing -- and I set no example. But every time I see a piano, a magnetic force draws me to it, and makes me want to play when no one is looking. Or better yet, when no one is listening.

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A Room of His Own

Whenever I try to write, I stare at the blinking cursor on my alabaster screen, and beckon it to inspire me with a new topic or a new story. It rarely does. So, inevitably, I start searching through the files in my computer of pieces I wrote long ago but either never managed to publish or never had the courage to show to an editor. 

This piece is one of those. I'm publishing it here because it's one I want to be able to dig up in the future and show my son, Luca, who will turn nine this June. I still sneak in on him at night and stare at him as he sleeps. But, these days, I'm marveled at the length of his limbs and the baby fat rolling off his beanpole body. It's in those quiet moments at night while his face is rid of a grimace towards his sister or a sneaky grin towards me that I see the same, lovely boy who will always be my "Uca." He shares a room with his sister now, and I think he'd much rather have a room of his own as he did when he was two, before she came along.

Here's the piece, written almost seven years ago, when we were living in Brussels, and when I still felt like a very new mother with a very new baby:

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