The roar of the helicopter breaks the silence of the otherwise undisturbed plains. A man leans out and fires a couple of tranquilizer darts into the thick hide of the rhino. Dust kicked up, grass blades flattened, a handful of men jump out and get to work on the sleeping animal: its horn is sawed off haphazardly in a matter of minutes and, the helicopter already high in the sky, the rhino is left in unimaginable pain to bleed to death. This scenario plays out over and over, day in and day out, in countless African countries where rhinos live.
Trying to make sense of the world and life through food and words.
Recycling is second nature. I haven’t kept the tap running while brushing my teeth in 20 years. My toilets have been upgraded to low flow; the water I drink is filtered rather than bought in plastic bottles. I don’t microwave plastic containers. My dogs are rescued. I try to buy organic fruit and vegetables or, at least, pesticide free. I check the labels of canned or boxed products for hidden sodium, sugar, hydrogenated fat and unpronounceable ingredients. I worry about women in Africa, elephants and rhinos, homeless people and women’s rights. I will not sign my name to any petition until I have researched the facts myself. I have nearly eliminated meat from my diet. I am looking into installing solar panels. My primary physician, while holding a degree in Medicine, is a holistic doctor and has not prescribed me an anti-biotic or a pain-killer in 20 years. I take my electronics to recycling events.
“Research psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes the mind as a small rider, the conscious, sitting atop a giant elephant, the unconscious. The rider thinks he is in charge and can tell the elephant where to go, but the elephant has his own ideas. The rider cannot force the elephant in a direction, but can train him slowly over time.
If the rider and the elephant work as a team – when the conscious and the unconscious are close – my life is going to be rich”.
The year I spent studying in Florence is a blur of long nights in an old shared apartment in the center of town, walks along the narrow streets to the University building, the ice-cream cones from Vivoli and the double orders of pappa al pomodoro every time I sat down at the trattoria we used to call Unto (the Greasy one). Even then, the throngs of tourists cramming the cobbled streets and piazzas were a nuisance. Unlike Rome, Florence is rather small and it’s impossible to go about your everyday business without having to sidestep multitudes of Japanese, Americans, Germans and their umbrella-carrying tour guides. As beautiful as the city is, I never saw myself living amid that chaos.
Graziella Arcovito, 78 years old
Some boyfriends come with better accessories than others. My relationship with Giovanni lasted about five years – and, while it’s not unusual that our friendship endured to this day, what is a tad strange is that my friendship with his mother is still going.
Since becoming an US citizen, I have been experiencing all kinds of treats previously not open to legal aliens: voting, volunteering in the Presidential election, whipping out my blue passport when re-entering the country, by-passing the immigration lines (alright, I could do that with my green card too but now I am even more official) and I have been eagerly awaiting for the jury duty summons. Yes, the same summons most people go to great lengths to postpone and avoid altogether. I am a sucker for courtroom procedurals and, if I ever went on trial for anything, I would want someone like me on the jury. Or would I?
Last Summer, my mother suggested a strange outing: “Will you take me to see Marilyn Monroe’s gravesite? I think she is buried in Los Angeles”.
It turns out Marilyn is buried in a pretty, small and serene cemetery just behind UCLA, a street I passed a million times and never noticed. Her tombstone is simple marble, with only her name and dates of birth and death engraved on it, the only adornments some strangers’ bright red kisses and many flowers. Young people, mainly girls, were milling around, proving that Marilyn’s myth endures.
It seems every large city the world over possesses its own Chinatown – even Bologna, where I grew up, has a sizable Chinese community that either assimilated very well, or else doesn’t trust Italian palates, as every Chinese restaurant in town is simply awful. Los Angeles’ Chinatown might not be as picturesque or as large as New York’s or San Francisco’s, but it serves the city well. Many Chinese still live around it and if it’s good food, produce, herbs, medications, teas or acupuncture you are looking for, you will not be disappointed (for Dim Sum and more varietal Chinese food, it’s a trip to the San Gabriel Valley).