Monday, April 04, 2011

Mangia, Prega, Ama
I just want to say for the record a quick thank you to Elizabeth Gilbert, who I met quickly at the 10th Anniversary of O Magazine and in whose presence I was unfortunately as wild-eyed and desperate as the literary fan who waited in line to ask her if she should get a divorce. (She replied that even if she had known her since kindergarten, she couldn't give her an opinion on that one.)  I just really, really wanted to tell her about healing Bioenergy. Having an ulterior motive, even if it is genuine and super important, still is a downer in these kind of interactions. And she was still so gracious and kind to all of us kooky Oprah lovers.

She started off by saying how she wakes up at 4AM and meditates and does yoga and eats a perfect diet and has inner peace and then she followed up by saying, "Oh for lord's sake you didn't buy all that, did you?" Her point was that no one is perfect or has all the answers and that we just are trying to live our best lives alla Ms. Winfrey and that we should just cut ourselves a huge break. It was genius and managed to relax all of the hundreds of trying-oh-so-hard women in the audience.  I didn't even know she was going to be a speaker, but she was the highlight of the whole event. (Elizabeth Lesser was another highlight, also super kind to me.) I told her that I had a letter for her which I feel crappy about because it wasn't exactly for her it was for "Oprah's friends" in general. If I had known she was going to be there, I would have written something especially for her, obviously. We (T, F & I) did read Eat, Pray, Love both in English and in Italian before coming here. T actually read it like 35 times. I know she was ten at the time. She covered her eyes during the spicy parts, okay. Give me a break.

And I just realized that I have now given hardback copies (not cheap, euro wise) of the Rizzoli version of her book to my friend the pharmacist, to my friend at the accessories store, to three erboriste, to my friend the dry cleaners, to my friend at the hair salon, and  to one of my energy clients. It is a great, great book, so read it -- but don't ever see the movie which does fall back on some unfortunate Italian stereotypes and doesn't measure up to the book at all, sad as I am to say it. Obviously I don't blame Julia (Roberts) or Javier (Bardin). I blame the director who had to go and look at Eat, Pray, Love from a man centered perspective which undermines the whole  beauty and power of the book since it was Liz's bold move to write something biographical instead of her previous male centered novels. It was also annoying how Julia's getting fat on a carbohydrate binge in Italy made her look only the slightest, most imperceptibly bit less perfect.

I'm now reading her second book Giuro Che Non Mi Sposo, which I am really enjoying. I think in English it is called Commitment. See that Liz, now you're teaching me Italian. Isn't life funny? I do think she got Lucca a bit wrong as the book makes it seem like everyone here is really well off and living a blissfully affluent life. (The movie only covered the Rome parts of her journey.) But the truth is that Lucchese people are just really good dressers with really good taste, but they work incredibly hard ten hours a day six days a week and rarely get a break time wise or money wise. When they buy stuff, they save for it and buy the good stuff. Appreciating the quality of artisan artistry is a way of life here, and it has changed how I view goods and services and how I savor a meal or a color, even.

On the Oprah front, I just want to say that although the last person I put on a pedestal in my life was probably T's tae kwon do teacher --who I had a huge falling out with and later took to see Oprah tape her show from Central Park along with her friend and psychic Gemma Deller (whose blog and videos are great).  I am also guilty of putting Oprah on a pedestal, which is not the compliment I thought it was when I was doing it. I still love her so much that I have spent real time worrying that she can't accept fan love (mine!) because the cloak of celebrity means that people view you as a big movie screen for their projections instead of as a real person. But I can't help it that it's her voice I hear sometimes in my head when I need a smart friend. I know that my life is different because of what she's taught and showed me and so I am thankful, but the pedestal has to go because it isn't working for either of us. Stop by when you come to Lucca, Oprah. F will make you some of his famous gorgonzola bread.

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