Tag Archives: family

Scenes from a Billy Joel Concert (not just a recap, folks).

billyjoelNonno was a barber who played Billy Joel records all day long. His favorite song–Scenes from an Italian Restaurant–is also mine. My memories of him are dim since I wasn’t even three when he passed away and yet I feel the legacy he left in our family so strongly. From everything I know, he was just one of those truly extraordinarily awesome people. He loved people well. He was funny and he had integrity. So maybe that’s why I’ve always loved Billy Joel. It’s a connection to him. I think of him, singing the words under his breath in his shop while I sing them too.

I was fortunate enough to see Billy Joel at Wrigley a few weeks ago–with my nonna, aunt, and dad–Nonno’s wife, kids, and first grandchild: me. I can’t say I only love Billy Joel for Nonno because let it be known: all of the people I attended the concert with? They are older than me. They are of different generations. And yet, who knew all the words? This girl.

I think the concert was different for all of us (Dad and Nonna sat by some crazy fools making it a little less than fun for them) so maybe it’s kind of like the song and we were living Scenes from a Billy Joel Concert. But standing there singing at the top of my lungs (bet everyone loved that) with my family, I danced and even teared up when he brought up men and women in the armed forces during Goodnight, Saigon. And I waited for the song, Nonno’s song. He was on my mind the whole night.

And I thought, when the song was finally played: isn’t this kind of magical? That the four of us are here singing Billy Joel with the city of Chicago as a back drop as a famiglia? We are a part of his legacy and here we are and bad things have happened, hard things. Some of those things are still happening. We’re still trying to fight through it. But we are okay too. We are making it–not always well and definitely not perfectly. But here we are, the four of singing the words to a song my nonno sung and loved, a song that might be the soundtrack to our family: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. And I found the whole thing kind of beautiful.

  Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence dancing on the piano during Uptown Girl were icing.   

   Sometimes I feel like the memory keeper in my family because I know that my family may be reading this and thinking: I mean, it was a great concert, Nina but I didn’t think too deeply about it. And that’s okay. That’s wonderful. Because I love being the memory keeper, I love collecting stories that happened before I was even born, because it’s all a part of a larger puzzle, a legacy, a history, a story. I don’t mind guarding the memories or putting the words to them. In fact, I can’t exactly help it. I’ll collect the scenes and someday they will be a song.    Signature

 

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There are places I remember…

Sometimes I miss it. Okay, I miss it all the time. If I hear some Italian while walking through a group of tourists (which, in San Francisco, happens more than I imagined it would) I turn until I can find it, following the sound, until I can ask them in Italian if they are, in fact, Italian. I’ve met a woman on business trip, a couple that was lost (okay, a lot of people I’ve met needed tourist advice), and a group of guys on the trolley on their way to the hip Mission neighborhood where I subleased.

with Heather, in 2008

with Heather, in 2008

I can’t really explain it. I love the language and the people. My Italian family (I’m referring now to the ones who still live in Italy) are some of the dearest people in the world to me. I love to laugh but one of my favorite ways to laugh is in Italy, sitting in my family’s living room, giggling until my belly aches over intense joking. There is something so rewarding about not just understanding the joke but understanding the humor behind it, realizing that some things transcend language–children making fun of their parents, parents making fun of their kids, family laughing with and at one another.

a more recent trip

a more recent trip

When I packed up my last shipment of books, my dad saw a book of intense Italian verb drills on top of the pile. I think he was afraid I was sending myself all of my textbooks. “Do you really need this?” he asked me. I told him that yes I did. I also needed the Italian version of Harry Potter and Narnia because I refuse to lose something I worked so hard to learn, something I love so much. When I go to an Italian restaurant, I can tell immediately if it is authentic, and if, for example, the waiters most likely speak Italian, based on the spelling of the menu. I always talk to them and it makes my heart swell in my chest. Any chance, anywhere, you will catch me speaking Italian. I remember the first time I dreamt in Italian and how excited I was. I was riding a bike, holding onto a bumper of a cadillac (the specificity cracks me up now. How did I know it was a cadillac? Because in the dream I called it il cadillac and the only English word probably hooked itself into my brain pretty deeply. Haha)SONY DSC

I don’t know when or how I will visit again but I know that I will–not only because it makes my soul happy but because I love my family there. Every trip I’ve ever taken there has been surreal until I leave, an unbearable sadness descending upon me somewhere over the Atlantic on the return flight. Have you ever been to a place and known it was one of your places? Every gear inside of you clicks together and hums with a strange joy. Rome is one of my places. I love her.

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P.S. I love this pictorial on countires’ flags made out of foods they eat. Stunning. Check them all out.

Greece

Greece

Italy

Italy

P.P.S. Please join us tomorrow for our Resolution Recap !

CoasttoCoast

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On the Last Day of 2013.

Still sick, I’m taking an abriged look at 2013.

In 2013, I learned

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  • -to complain less than I did in 2012. Hopefully, I complain less in 2014 than I did in 2013.Screen shot 2013-11-03 at 6.18.36 PM
  • -I don’t need the approval or permission of people.
  • -even I have limits.
  • -I need and want to be organized.
  • -I would rather risk it all now and fail than have regrets
  • -I want to keep not settling. No matter what.
Print is from the Everygirl, an amazing online mag, and their new shop, which I am obsessed with

Print is from the Everygirl, an amazing online mag, and their new shop, which I am obsessed with

  • -family is important. I actually like my family.
  • mugs are more popular than I knew.

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  • -I can’t put other things, even good things, ahead of my health.
  • -San Francisco is home for now

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Here’s to 2014. 

Love,

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And to get you in the mood…Auld Lang Syne which always puts a lump in my throat, particularly this version.

Here’s the best NYE scene; my aunt and I can reenact it; don’t even worry!

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Intentional Grinch Juice

SONY DSCI wish I had a post ready for you all but I don’t. Because I am still sick. I was healthy for one day and then I caught something else? I’ve had no voice for two and a half days but alas, I can type…right?

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Ava and I, sniffles and all, crossed something else off of our to do list. (Well…two things really, since we painted penguins on her nails.)

penguin nails...not easy on such little hands.

penguin nails…not easy on such little hands.

We made Grinch Juice. (I discovered that what I pinned is actually Yoda Soda but we aren’t really into Star Wars in these parts.)SONY DSC

  • -lime sherbet
  • -Sprite or 7UP (tried both since we’ve made it a bunch of times…both work)
  • -mix as you would punch, only in individual cups in this case

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Ava loved it and felt like she was cooking and mixing. “Yes!” she squealed. “I love this!” Furthermore, she called it “delicious!” which is a feat since that girl drinks only water–forget milk, milk shakes, chocolate, juice, soda, anything but H2O and she will not drink it.SONY DSC

I am not a mom but…I need to give all you mom bloggers out there a shout out. Way to go. I don’t know how you get the perfect photos with little people moving and dancing and making one adorable face one second but as soon as you grab the camera, that face is gone and there are tears. You go. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Ava loves to do things herself

Ava loves to do things herself

If I had to choose one word to describe how I look at my job as Ava’s big sister it is intentionality. There is no way, through the years and distance, that Ava and I would be as close as we are, with a relationship that is so much like any other big/little sister relationship, without God and intentionality. I want to talk more about this, if you’re up for it. I want to tell you about the moment I learned about Ava existing but I can’t do it justice half sick. So let me know if you want to hear more and what you want to hear. This mod fam…it’s not always easy; it’s not always pretty; but it is beyond worth it.SONY DSC

I cannot imagine my world without her in it.

Cheers! Or as we say Salute!

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Pop, Fizz, Clink!

**Wanted to let everyone know that there is a HUGE sale going on at StraightMugging, my Etsy Shop, today. Use the Coupon Code COMFORTANDJOY for 15% off everything, including the custom orders. There are also a ton of new styles I’m excited about. Anyway**

Well, I am just verklempt–totally choked with emotion. Christmas was the most I’ve laughed and the hardest I’ve laughed in such a long time with people who have known me…since birth. There is something so down-in-the-gut-good about that!

Screen shot 2013-12-25 at 11.02.05 PMBut I definitely wanted to participate in this link up with The Birdie Bowl and The Ledford Life and forgot about it last time.  I didn’t want to miss out this time, especially because I have been obsessed with the Kate Spade “Pop, Fizz, Clink” collection. And, it’s been all gold all the time lately, when it comes to what I like, and New Year’s Eve is the ultimate when it comes to that, right?

So, how will I decorate? How would I? What am I actually doing?

Hahahahahah.

Here’s the fantasy:

It all starts with a Studio Mucci banner to take pictures around.

Using these photo props:

Of course we need balloons:

And all gold, all the time straws to drink our champagne out of:

And these fabulous printables for our bottles:

Whereupon there would be a confetti bar…In which I would not consider the mess but only the beauty of everyone throwing their own, personalized confetti:

This would be my cake because hey, I am digging gold and to me, polka dots are timeless:

Individual festive cupcakes because cupcakes are in, ya know? Probably because cupcakes are delicious.

Wouldn’t these be the cutest favors?

Of course, since this is a fantasy, I would love to gift all the ladies these Kate Spade earrings I originally put on a gift guide way back when:

But in all honesty, I’ll probably be with my fam and my little sister, Ava. I will be having Champagne but wouldn’t this be fun too?

All I really want to do is laugh until my belly aches. And drink champagne. And maybe watch this movie sometime that day or the next:

Pop, Fizz, Clink,

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P.S. I forgot an important note. I need to hear Auld Lang Syne. It might be one of my favorite songs all of all time. It makes me feel sad and happy and nostalgic and I just…like to feel a lump in my throat.

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