Kelly Kinsella


Kelly is currently performing her one-woman show: "WHEN THOUGHTS ATTACK!"

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Churches: In Assisi There's One On Every Corner

Churches: In Assisi there's one on every corner like a Starbucks-or whores-in America. Actually there seem to be alot of prostitutes here in the coutryside of Italy. On our drive from Rome we traveled through gorgeous scenery dotted with vineyards and villas, only to catch every few hundred feet a young ragazza in high heels and lots of make up waiting for... the bus? It was Pep who pointed out they were prostitutes. He's from here. He knows.

My memory of church is always a bad one. My Polish grandmother made us go every Sunday when we spent the weekends with her as children. My groovy parents preferred to enjoy their free time eating fondue and drinking Martini and Rossi Asti Spumante and listening to Chicago and Steely Dan without us. Meanwhile, back at the church...Frances (my grandmother) had to deposit me, being the youngest, up in the childrens area above the nave, which was cordoned off with plexiglass to keep the whines and cries of babies and toddlers from disrupting the congregation. We could barely hear the mass and the lighting sucked and even though muted sight and sound beset our senses, that ever permeable sense of smell assailed us with incense and mold. Maybe that's that I'm having trouble here with my sense of taste. Churches are beautiful things to behold, yet like the bunched dainty ivory blooms of valerian, they can smell as repugnant as a dirty sock.

Everthing for me comes back to smell. Yesterday Pep and I had the privilege to experience the Bosca di San Francesco, a 3 mile round trip meditative hike through the woodland following the footsteps of St. Francis to the Sacro Convento and culminating with a land art installation of olive trees in a clearing formed as three connected circles which one can walk in silence-its purpose- to inspire a moment of reflection on the relationship between Man and Nature. I loved the hike because it smelled like the Shawungunk Mountains in upstate New York. The grass, the trees, the air, the dirt was ever familiar and a refreshing salve to my loss of appetite and revulsion to the stench of local meats and cheeses. I took a quick photo of the convent and then headed straight for the olive grove. What I love about nature is that it does not discrimate. People do, literature does, food does and it seems even God...but Nature (I capitalize because I RESPECT- thank you Aretha) does not hold a pathetic and discerning gaze upon its beholden.

I decided that when I get hungry now I'll take a hike and breathe in Nature's bounty and pray for a pizzeria to be open when I get back to town.

Speaking of which, finding an eating schedule is as bad if not worse than finding food. One must get to the shops before noon which close until 4 or 4:30 when maybe half will reopen again until 7. For "colazione," the Italians eat biscotti and coffee, like children, or my parents who continue to eat cookies for breakfast til this day. When I come home at Christmas once every ten years, on Christmas morning my mother will put out a tray of holiday cookies-gifted to her since she doesn't bake- and pour herself a cup of coffee. "Merry Christmas!"-I'll say... and if it wasn't for her chewing I'd swear she mumbled a "Bah Humbug."

Haha my poor mother. Today I met an artist in a gallery on my way home from the shops. I told him I was here on a writer's residence and he asked me what I'm writing. "Well a novel of sorts...a humorist book about my mother. She is my muse!" And because he is a good Italian son he praised my intent. As a fellow painter, I chose to share the fact that I'm also illustrating a children's book about a girl and her dog. "It's inspired by my boyfriend Pep, my second muse," who at this point is behind only by a length as we say in horse racing. My therapist, Melodee, compared me to Picasso which was somewhat of a backhanded compliment since he went through muses like Kleenex. It has given me a better perspective on myself as a writer I guess. Picasso was way more prolific but given the current #MeToo movement I'm going to say that my lack of productivity is due to the fact that I'm a woman. 

And speaking of Melodee, I had the misfortune of neglecting to send a check to her before I left which I wrote out the day I planned to send but which got stuck in my backpack as I biked around NYC during my last week, going to and from work and running errands to prepare for my trip and being surprised that literally, all the mailboxes I usually frequent on these routes had been REMOVED. All of them-GONE. Now some of you who know me are aware that I live right next to the main post office in NYC. But, when you are on a bike and there are few places to lock up that bike and when you are on a very tight schedule, you may find it difficult to pop in the local post office to send a letter.

I wrote to Melodee to explain this conundrom on my arrival to France and she replied, "Well doesn't Paris have a post office?" Which frankly I hadn't thought of but the tone of her email was a bit off putting since she also took it as an opportunity to analyze my wrong doing as a pattern I'm repeating of my father and his tendency to put off paying bills and such for fear of lack or whatever to which I repsonded, thanks for the reminder but this has more to do with laziness. Her accusation worked though as I set out in search of a post office in Paris. But since I have to leave my iPhone in airplane mode and my daily schedule of getting lost and cooking classes left me with little to no time for small annoyances like post offices and visits to la toilette, upon arrival in Rome, I found that check still in my bag.

This morning I finally made the journey to L'ufficio postale while on my way from la Banca and on my way to the little old signora who I get my vegetables from. It is only open til noon which is why it took me this long to get there. My creative time is morning and I get the most writing done then, once I walk out that door all the local treasures call out to me...piazzas, vistas, cafes!

Of course this being Italy, it wasn't easy. I got lost on the way there and when I arrived there was a bit of a line with lots of yelling. An older man joined the queue behind me and clearly frustrated he asked why I wasn't going up to the window. When I told him I was waiting my turn he looked confused and laid an Italian monologue on me the likes of Sofia Loren in a production of Turandot to which I replied, "Io non capisco signore." He then realized I was foreign and seemed scared of me and just smiled. I encouraged him to go next for god's sake before he had a heart attack, I really appreciated his sense of impatience- being a New Yorker -but I had nowhere important to go except to the grocery store to seek out a cheese that doesn't make me want to "vomito."

When I got to the counter I presented the letter with Melodee's check inside that already had two American stamps on it and also two postcards from Paris that I wrote to my sisters. Who the hell writes postcards anymore? Well now I know why. The clerk told me he had to weigh the items (after I went through the effort of learning the word for postage stamp- francobello) and then for some reason the machine wouldn't print onto the cards so he had to write out a stamp number by hand on each piece and sign his initials as to officiate the whole thing. 

Talk about Freudian. In my last session Melodee screamed at me- "STOP ACTING!!!" which I found alarming...because I'm an actor. I admit I act out everything that appears to be an insult and judgement of me with an angry sneering tone, like my mother, or Pep, or anyone that's supposed to love me. I wasn't offended. It must suck to be a therpaist, listening to people complain and cry and whine and hear themselves talk out loud since maybe no one else will listen to them. 

And cut back to Assisi and the churches and the bad food and the fresh air. Maybe that's why I'm here now. To commune with myself, on every corner, where I find a church, or cafe with REAL coffee and not that shitty Starbucks.

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