(Frank Sinatra’s birthday
and Our Lady of Guadelupe Day
and the day before Santa Lucia)
My favorite story you ever told, and I was lucky enough to hear you tell it around your dining room table, thanks to Edvige who brought me over your house—
was when you had Ernie pull over on the highway one day so you could pop the trunk and punch down the dough you had rising so it would rise again before you reached your destination. You describe the other cars driving by, seeing you throw punches into the trunk of your car… and what they might have thought. I laugh every time I think of that story and I hear you laugh telling it—in your O so Italian American voice, la voce with just the right amount of hoarseness and a lot of adamancy. It’s that adamancy that makes us troppo for so many.
I’m working with your book “Chasing Ghosts” now. Ahh we’re both ItalianAmerican asthmatic daughters of soldiers who fought in WWII in the Pacific. So specific. You’ll understand what happened when I had the bright idea in college to take my father out to a Japanese restaurant. I don’t have to explain anything with you. And wouldn’t you know it—my Dad left a handwritten memoir. I’m working with it now. And sharing it with you in my thoughts as I go. Thank you for writing about your father and his platoon and paving the way, always paving the way.
I learned so much practical wisdom from your writing. In “Breathless” I learned don’t take walks in times of high car emissions. I’ve followed that advice for over a decade now, surely preventing asthma triggers. In “Crazy in the Kitchen” I learned it was okay I didn’t feel safe keeping knives in the house anymore. You saw directly through the baloney to the underneath unspoken dynamic raw truth. You had the hardest of work ethics and a no nonsense approach to life.
You set the bar high. I’m thinking of those Ninja Warrior Games where they have an obstacle called The Salmon Ladder. The athlete pushes a bar up a vertical set steps, and jumps upstream as it were. That’s what you did with writing and with life. I’ll be doing chin-ups on that bar the rest of my writing life and I thank you and salute you Louise.
Annie Lanzillotto is an American author, poet, songwriter, director, actor, and performance artist.