Tennis

I have been hooked on watching the U.S. Open this past two weeks. There are many new faces, young and hungry. One, in particular, was a 19-year-old Canadian young lady named Bianca Andreescu. She was rated somewhere around 128 when she came into the tournament and just beat Serena Williams, a tennis legend, in the final.

What struck me as being extraordinary about this woman was how calm and focused she was at such a young age. In an interview, she said at the age of 15 she wrote herself a mock check as if she were champion of the U.S. Open and then updated it each year, with the new prize money total.

“Every year,” she said.

And here she was collecting that money for real. Amazing. I can only imagine where she will be in five years. Throughout the match, I watched her parents and was very impressed by how calm they were. They never jumped up and yell and clapped and hollered. They acknowledged her accomplishment and then moved on. It was apparent why their daughter was so calm on the court.

I was inspired but also a little jealous I must admit. I am much older than 19 by a long shot but still haven’t found that inner strength that allows you to believe strong enough to keep pushing through for your dream.

I am trying and am determined not to quit because of some other “obligation.” I have had a stumbling block recently with writing and that little voice of defeat is trying to sneak in and tell me to give up. After all, that voice that lives so deep in me is trying to tell me that I’m not supposed to be a writer. And maybe Bianca Andreescu wasn’t supposed to be a successful tennis player after her many injuries. But here she is the U.S. Open Champion.

I’ll be getting that check for my writing. Let that voice of defeat be still. A 19-year-old did it. Against all odds. Let that be me. Let that be you. The world needs more dreams being met.

Italy

Seems I’m on a roll for touring countries. I am of Italian descent. I also have German and English in my blood but being raised by my mom whose family was from Italy I consider myself pretty much Italian.

Having a little time off the first of the year I was sucked into going on Ancestry.com. Hey, there was a sale and I figured why not? I sent in my spit in a bottle (very technical) and waited for the results. It came back as expected so decided to dig deeper into my mom’s crazy-ass family.

My great grandmother came from a small town near Naples and came to this country at an early age. Even still she never really learned English well. My mom endearingly told me, according to her grandmother, sheets were shits. They were immigrants and very proud. My great grandfather dug ditches for a living and would put rocks in his lunchbox so no one would know he didn’t have anything to eat. It seems so strange today in the world we live in. And yet it doesn’t. I know people who have come to this country with nothing but with pride and sheer determination have made this place home.

I’m not much different from them even though I was born in this country. My mom was a cocktail waitress and we didn’t have much money but she taught us that if we wanted to succeed it would have to come with hard work and determination. Turns out my ancestors were not what the commercials say your ancestors could be. I’m not related to George Wahington or a king. My ancestors were laborers, tailors and yes ditch diggers. But they were very proud and hard-working like my mom and like me.

We are all made up of so many patches of this worldly quilt and in going through my family tree I have a strong desire to go back to that small town in Italy and rediscover what my great-grandma left behind so many years ago. Tradition and oh yes, the food!

Wine

I love a good glass of dry, red wine. When I lived in Europe, especially Paris, we would have wine at a meal every day. We also smoked cigarettes and ate wonderful rich french food for sometimes two hours. It was a magical time when working on fashion shootings started at eleven in the morning and went on until eight or nine at night. Then we would all go to dinner and have another two-hour celebration.

I loved those days when I felt brave and creative and excited about living in Paris. I mean it’s Paris for God sake so how bad could it be? I was a bleached blonde and loving the fashion scene.

I was booked to do a shooting with a magazine called Jardin des Mode with a fabulous photographer named Patrice Casanova. We toured the coast of France for five days with a family circus shooting the collections. While they were throwing up the tents to prepare for the night’s performance, Patrice was photographing stunning gowns of Karl Lagerfeld, Givenchy and Chantal Thomass in black and white polaroids. Every shot was a work of art.

But I have to say one of the highlights of the trip were the meals we had at the small bistros that lined the seaside towns we stayed. The table was filled with fresh mussels (the traditional french style with white wine, garlic, parsley and the juice from the mussels), an array of beautiful vegetables arranged perfectly, loaves of french bread, cutting boards of sublime cheeses and fruit and the perfect red wine. Bottles and bottles. The final spread in the film Babette’s Feast had nothing on these gatherings with such an array of wild and creative people. Heaven, pure heaven. Even the cigarette smoke didn’t bother me as it would today. The breeze from the ocean and the romantic dimmed lighting added to the ambiance. Aw, those were the days!

So now it is different in a way that I am older and all of the reports out say one should be careful about so many things that will be harmful to your health. Have to say that I can’t help having one glass of red wine two or three times a week. Really does me well. Viva la France!