Day 139 of Project 365: Arepa plus.

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FunkyPlaid and I feasted on arepas plus a whole passel of other great food at Teote tonight. Oddly enough, the taste of arepas always transports me not to Nicaragua or Colombia but to Scotland. My friend Juliana would make them for us for lunch after we tromped through the woods of East Lothian with her two mini dachshunds. I’m missing that right now.

Writing from: my study in Portland. Listening to: “Catedral” by Francisca Valenzuela.

Day 21 of Project 365: Dark Tower.

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Pictured is not Dark Tower, the awesome electronic board game I loved as a child, but rather The Black Tower, the delicious dessert at local Thai place Passorn.

But now that Dark Tower was mentioned at dinner, I cannot get it out of my head.

Nostalgia is dangerous. It can seduce us with claims of an unblemished past, suggesting that a portal to this past is within our grasp. But I know — as we discussed over dinner — that the experience of playing Dark Tower now is not the same as the memory of playing it thirty-five years ago. Still, I enjoyed peeping into the portal with this commercial.

I wonder which memories of my time in Scotland will trigger that nostalgic impulse. There will be plenty lurking about my subconscious, I’m sure. Certainly one of them has to be skirting the Links, chatting away with Gav about a story I’m struggling to write.

Writing from: a chilly kitchen, now that the lounge is devoid of furniture. Listening to: that clock that never keeps the right time, still ticking away.

A line, a wrinkle, a sigh, a sign.

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FunkyPlaid at Barcelona Cathedral
You genuflected outside the gothic cathedral
the day after I got officially old.
My nose was running and cold and
I turned from the great grey edifice
to see the only familiar face
for miles. On that face,
the expression I tried to capture:
irreverent yet strangely penitent,
maybe just tired from walking
or overwhelmed by unfamiliar vowels
or musing how new it feels to feel this old.

Day 49 of Project 365: wedding purse

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Post-shower dresser scrambling prompted the rediscovery of this amazing creation, my wedding purse.

49.365: wedding purse

My mom made this by hand, which still stuns me. I was fortunate to inherit a little of her capability in this realm, but nothing to this degree.

While visiting Gargunnock House with friends over Christmas, I got into a little chat with some fellow crafters, and in it I described one of the earliest Mom-projects I can remember. She sewed these adorable Christmas ornaments that were puffy stars and bells and trees with little sculpted faces in the middle of them. My description doesn’t do it justice, and I don’t have any of our ornaments here so I can’t take a photo.

It made me happy and proud and also intensely nostalgic for home at Christmas all at once.

Christmas was difficult on a few levels, some of them obvious — our first away from the people and places with whom we have grown accustomed to spending the holiday — and some of them not. One of the less obvious difficulties that I am still trying to address is feeling like I am a terrible conversationalist. I mentioned the chat earlier as if it was some effortless thing, and it definitely became easier as it went along, but to start I second-guessed everything I said. Everything. And there were cultural references I simply do not have yet, which required explanations. I am so used to being the explainer and not the explainee.

I swallow my pride and elbow my stubbornness in the ribs on a daily basis.

It will get easier, and to make it easier I have to forgive myself a little awkwardness while being less comfortable in my new home. Someday I will be nostalgic for this, too, I remind myself. This is one of the most beautiful aspects of memory: it forgives, if you let it.

It was not the quesadilla.

Rossy de Palma
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It was not the quesadilla, the sloppy concoction of flat and goo. No, she decided, it was most certainly not the quesadilla itself, but the idea of the quesadilla, the meta-dilla that offended her. Even now, even hours after lunch, six washings with perfumed soap, six applications of scented lotion, and in between all that an hour at the firing range. Lavender? No. Gunpowder? No. Only the crass grease and onion stink.

Lovers, too, were like this. Long after they should have gone, they persisted with deserted panties, apostrophes of basin-beached hair. Now email and its hungrier cousins encroached on every absence. The heart grew annoyed, not fonder. She longed for the gentleness of memory in all of this rotting truth.

Rossy de Palma

Rossy de Palma in “Double Zero” – © 2004 Warner Bros.