Posted by: kimberlysullivan | December 14, 2018

Pirandello in the ER

I had to take my younger son to the emergency room this past weekend. Luckily, we were able to rule out more serious concerns with exams, but – until we got the good news that all was well – we had many hours to spend in the ER.

I had thrown into my bag the book he’s reading for school, Luigi Pirandello’s Uno, nessuno e centomila (One, No one and One Hundred Thousand).

I’m a big fan of Pirandello’s plays, and often go to see them performed on stage (even struggling through the dialect in which they are often performed), but it was the first time I read this novel.

My son was in pain and in need of a distraction (and we were in for the long haul), so I read aloud to him from Pirandello as we waited.

This is the story of Vitangelo Moscarda who slowly descends into madness after his wife points out that his nose is slightly crooked, bending slightly to the right. Poor Moscarda goes off the deep end after this, realizing that everyone he meets sees him differently from the image he has always had of himself. According to him, we could have one, none or one hundred thousand profiles to those surrounding us.

This is classic Pirandello (1867-1936), who wrote at the turn of the last century and often explores man’s loss of identity and his sense of self in a rapidly changing society. He often delves into madness, as he does in this novel.

Since the ER had its share of mad people that day, my son and I were able to draw some connections in our surroundings to the words Pirandello put on paper almost one hundred years ago. Plus, we managed a large amount of reading in what would have been a very stressful time.

A century late, perhaps, but thanks to Luigi Pirandello for keeping us well occupied in our ER stay – and attuned to all the Vitangelo Mosardas we observed around us.

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Posted by: kimberlysullivan | December 11, 2018

Getting into the Christmas spirit … in Madrid

We recently went on a weekend trip. My younger son asked to go “someplace Christmasy – like Vienna or Berlin”. We didn’t set out to dash those hopes, but in the end, we chose Madrid, Spain.

The Spanish capital wasn’t selected for its Christmas decorations, but we were pleasantly surprised that it was well decked out for the holidays.

The hectic Puerta del Sol had plenty of Christmas lights shining through the night.

Plaza Mayor was looking pretty Christmasy, too. There was no real Christmas tree, but one constructed of lights. There was even a Christmas market set out on the stunning square.

Madrid/K Sullivan

Wandering a little of the main town square, we even found mulled wine.

Although Madrid’s Christmas decorations are not yet rivaling Northern Europe’s spectacular displays, it was still nice to enjoy the decorations and to get into the holiday spirit in Spain’s capital.

So we did – surprisingly – enjoy a real Christmas spirit on the Iberian peninsula. Of course, also minus the sub-zero temperatures …

Madrid/K Sullivan
Madrid/K Sullivan
Posted by: kimberlysullivan | December 7, 2018

‘Tis the season for books!

It’s come around once again … the holiday season, also known as the perfect time in which to purchase books!

It’s also a good time for me to check out books I might not have known otherwise.

I’ve already selected historical books for my husband, business and economics books for my older son, and everything sports and track-related for my younger son.

I’m already planning on borrowing some of these to read once they’re done.

Always a good chance for me to receive novels I’ve been wanting to read … something that never fails to fill me with holiday joy. : )

So Happy Holidays – and reading – to all!

Posted by: kimberlysullivan | December 5, 2018

Egyptian splendor … in Madrid

I’ve been a few times to Madrid, but when I was back for a visit last weekend, I was surprised to learn that Spain’s capital boasts an impressive Ancient Egyptian monument.

Temple of Debod, Madrid/Sullivan

This can be found at the Parque de la montaña, close to the Royal Palace. It is called the Temple of Debod and it was built by Pharoah Zakheramon in the 4th Century BC.

How did it wind up in Spain? The temple sat on land that was flooded after the construction of Egypt’s Aswan Dam, and Egypt chose to gift it to Madrid to thank Spain for its assistance in constructing the dam.

Temple of Debod, Madrid/Sullivan

It wasn’t a particularly clear day when we visited, but there are some pleasant views over the city from this vantage point.

There’s plenty to see when you’re in Madrid, but if you have time the next time you’re here, why not stop by to visit this slice of Ancient Egypt on the Iberian Peninsula?

Posted by: kimberlysullivan | November 30, 2018

I met my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge

A public pat on the back. I finally met a deadline over a month in advance of the due date.

Of course, it helps that the deadline was self-imposed, and entirely pleasurable.

If only they were all like that …

Each year I do the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and 2018 was no exception. I set my goal at 45 novels for the year, and just finished number 45.

Another great reading year. I read some great books this year, discovered many new authors and read new novels of some of my favorites. A few duds, too, but that goes with the territory.

Still have plenty of novels on my towering To-Read list for the end of 2018 and the start of 2019, but I am always, always open to recommendations. Let me know your favorites.

And, of course, Happy Reading to all!

Posted by: kimberlysullivan | November 28, 2018

Zipping around the aqueducts at Rome’s Parco degli Acquedotti

If it’s an early Sunday morning in the fall, there’s a good chance I’m out shivering in some Godforsaken park around Rome for one of my son’s cross-country races.

Luckily, however, I do live in Rome, and some of those parks I discover on those early morning jaunts are truly spectacular.

This season’s races opened in a park I (can’t believe I) never visited before … Rome’s Parco degli Acquedotti.

Parco degli Aquedotti/Sullivan

As the name suggests, this park is full of the (amazingly intact) ruins of the Ancient Roman aqueducts. Hats off to Ancient world engineers…

The October day was cool but sun-drenched, and I couldn’t have chosen a better day myself to have explored this park.

These are the same aqueducts I saw (at another race) at Rome’s Tor Fiscale park (see my earlier post). They were built to carry the water from the Roman countryside that would supply the Caracalla baths – the greatest public baths of the Roman world. And pretty impressive even today (I see them from my office window…)

Parco degli Aquedotti/Sullivan

It’s remarkably easy to reach this park by public transport. Take the A (Red) line metro in the direction of Anagnina, and stop at the Subaugusta stop. From there, it’s a five minute walk away.

After I cheered my son on in his race, we had a nice walk around admiring the aqueducts. There were plenty of families out having picnics, jogging or biking. It certainly seems the idyllic spot to while away an afternoon.

If you’re in Rome and the weather is good (and it almost always is), be sure to stop by and explore the spectacular Parco degli Acquedotti.

Parco degli Aquedotti/Sullivan
Posted by: kimberlysullivan | November 20, 2018

Prohibition-era beer in Utica, New York

On a trip out to western New York last summer, we were staying near then small city of Utica, New York. I’d never been to Utica before, but I knew its Saranac beer (and soft drinks).

We saw there was a tour of the Matt Beer Brewery Company and decided to join in on the tour.

Like many American brewing companies, Matt Beer was begun by German immigrants, who founded the original company. It did quite brisk business until the period of Prohibition (1922-1930), when the production, transport and sale of all alcoholic beverages were outlawed.

Interestingly enough, while most breweries went out of business during those years, Utica’s brewery managed just fine.

It probably helped that they sold root beers and other non-alcoholic beers with big labels warning “Danger! Do not add yeast, as this could start a fermentation process that could result in the production of an illegal, alcoholic substance.”

Wink, wink.

On the tour, we were also told that then brewery had well-placed contacts in Washington, so no sooner was the 18th Amendment repealed on December 5, 1933, that the Matt brewery was churning out its first bottles of beer for overjoyed customers.

The tour is interesting and ends with a tasting in its saloon.  Non-beer drinkers – like my kids – can enjoy a wide range of soft drinks, including Saranac’s famous root beer and ginger beer.

So if you are passing by Utica, New York, enjoy a visit to then Matt Beer Brewery Company, and offer a toast for its clever business strategy for surviving the Prohibition years…

Posted by: kimberlysullivan | November 16, 2018

A new award for African literary voices

Exciting news that the French literary award, the Prix Orange du Livre, will be celebrating its tenth year by launching a new award aimed at African authors. You can see more in this article (in French).

For this first year of the award, editors must submit works that were published between 1 January 2017 and 30 October 2018. Those submissions must be completed by 30 November 2018.

The winners will be announced in February 2019.

There have been some exciting new voices in African literature in English. Although I love to read in French, I am less familiar with French African literary voices, so I’ll look forward to learning about the winners of this award and discovering new African literature from francophone Africa.

Great to see this new award that will recognize these new voices, and hopefully introduce us all to the exciting literature emerging from francophone Africa!

Posted by: kimberlysullivan | November 13, 2018

My (kinda, sorta) Rocky moment … in Guayaquil

Well, this Rocky moment certainly didn’t occur in a bout of heavyweight boxing. But I did feel like a (rather distant) cousin of Rocky Balboa each morning in Guayaquil when I went jogging up the steps to the lighthouse to enjoy the views over Ecuador’s largest city.

Do you remember the original movie’s opening scene where Rocky sprints up the steps of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art?

I was a slightly more exhausted version in this tropical city. How else does one start dawn off right, if not by sprinting up the 444 steps that wound their way up to this panoramic point?

And if you wonder how I know the exact number of stairs to the top. No, I did not count (too much effort on my addled brain), the stair numbers were marked.

Only 12 more to go!

This was a bit of torture each morning, as I would think “Oh, no! How am I only at 200?”

But my ego wasn’t too bruised. My jogging time coincided with that of the Ecuadoran Army and Navy, and they were battling it up the stairs at the same time I was – and often with the same difficulty.

But as often happens with jogging, once the hard work is done, it’s all worth it. It was a great start to my day to enjoy views from the lighthouse.

From the top of the lighthouse.

From there, you could see the wide Guayas River that winds into the Pacific Ocean and the colorful neighborhoods of Santa Ana and Las Peñas.

Since I spent most of my days in meeting rooms, this was a much appreciated start to my day out in the fresh air.

DSCN1221

I may have groaned my way up those stairs each day, but I never failed to enjoy catching my breath at the top, and having all of Guayaquil laid out beneath me.

Each morning I was in Ecuador, that was my (kinda, sorta) Rocky moment.

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Posted by: kimberlysullivan | November 9, 2018

Second week of the NaNo writing marathon underway

NaNoWriMo

I wouldn’t usually label myself as a Couch Potato, but when it comes to assessing my level of writing commitment during the crazed marathon month of November, I suppose it would be pretty apt.

As NaNoers diligently tear through 50,000 words of their first draft of their novels, I’m enthusiastically waving them on. Tucked under the warm blankets of my comfortable couch.

One of these days, I will join them. But for now, wishing everyone successful writing as you sprint up that hill. You’ve done at least 10 kilometers – just another 32 to go! Happy writing!

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