Dominic Update- Italian, Writing and a Marathon


I hope you have been enjoying the posts. I have enjoyed writing them. Many of them are the results of mind-bending conversations I had with my students at Fort Dix a few months ago.

Some of the subjects were surprising, and others I just couldn’t wrap my head around or understand until I wrote them out. I did my best to capture and write about most of the things we talked about.

In the end there were over 40 subjects. Some of them I had touched on in previous posts and others that were brand new. I wanted to take a new turn and share some things in my own life.

A Promise Made

The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. I decided to try this.

Here is my list:

  1. Learn about being Italian.
  2. Learn how to be a writer.
  3. Run a marathon.

Learning about being Italian

I went to Italy for the first time in May. I visited my grandfather’s ancestral village. It was an amazing experience. It was something I wanted to do all my life. It changed the way I saw my heritage and myself.

Being Italian-American moved from being a description or something explicit to my implied ethnicity and culture. My worldview was now colored by being “Italiano.” It moved from the margins of my life to the mainstream. I am doing it by learning how to speak the Italian language and cook Italian cuisine.

Italian is unlike any other language. It can turn expletives into blunt force trauma and words into a song. It has a rhythmic, staccato machine-gun sound that fuses together syllables and vowels into operatic phrases. It is wonderfully descriptive with full-on emotion- loving and swearing is a performance art.

I could not cook a month ago. I burned water when I boiled it. The culinary journey of learning to cook Italian cuisine has taught me a lot. As a boy in my grandmother’s kitchen spicy food aromas filled her small apartment morning until night.

It was an assault on the senses. You tasted it, felt it, and could touch it.

I remember her washing greens over the sink singing in Italian. I can see her at the kitchen table with her big, sharp knife cutting vegetables and putting them into a large simmering pot. She would reach out and squeeze my cheek. Her hand smelled like garlic, tomato sauce and cheese- smells of love, comfort and understanding. No wonder I became a fat kid…just sayin’.

Now with the help of the Food Network, my foodie girlfriend and a well-worn Italian cookbook I am on my way. I have made dinner at home every night for the past three weeks. It’s been hard, sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding.

After visiting Italy I learned to believe in my heritage. I have tried to strengthen that belief in learning the language, the culture through cooking and the history of my ancestors.

This really deserves its own post.

Learning how to be a writer

This one was tough. I always knew I was a writer, I just had to figure out how to make a living at it.

I will never make a lot of money at it, but I feel my work is valid. This is a point that I tear apart mercilessly in my conscience daily. I sometimes feel I am a worthless bum “working” on a pipe dream. Other times I feel I am on the verge of some of greater understanding of the workings of the universe.

In any endeavor there is an incubation period where you need to devote all your energy to learning something new. Writing is no different. It is a craft and art that demands daily devotion.

I am trying to find my art by working on my craft. I try to do it every day. I do know that I am happier chasing my dream than I have ever been before.

I feel free, comfortable and my decision to become a full-time writer is one of the best decisions I ever made. There are no shortcuts just hard work, like anything worthwhile.

Learning the craft of writing has been tough. I make mistakes and I am learning the job by making errors, facing criticism and paying for it with rejection. It’s almost a public flogging daily, but I am learning and I love it.

I finally got my website up-to-date and I have been posting daily. The reality is five people in America read my blog and maybe one or two folks in Europe. They are an informed and knowing public, lol. I certainly try.

Running a Marathon

I have decided to run my first marathon. I have walked a dozen marathons all over America. This will be the first one I will run.

At 40, you have passed the happy-go-lucky age and doing things on a lark for adventure. Training for this marathon has really become something I have come to enjoy, but it’s been tough.

I am not a small man. Everything about me, minus my height, is big. Imagine a man with a bowling bowl middle with a basketball for a head and tree trunks for legs.

Now you have a picture of a bald, fat guy huffing and puffing his way down the street every other morning. Watching a fat man suffer and sweat is like seeing a car wreck, you can’t look away, it defies explanation.

Four months ago I weighed 248 pounds- the heaviest I have ever been and a 100 pounds more than when I graduated high school, ouch! I am down to 230.

No excuses just lots of stress. When I feel stress I eat, I eat food that tastes good and is not good for you. Two months ago, I moved in with my girlfriend, started a creative writing program, but I wanted to do something really tough, something I had never done before, and something I dreaded to get me back on track.

I needed a slap in the face that felt good. The Indianapolis Marathon on October 17, 2015 seemed like just what the doctor ordered.

The training is hard and time consuming, but so worth it. I have been running four days a week with my training runs at 3 to 4 miles. Each week I add 2 miles to my long runs. I did 10 miles on Saturday.

A simple yet effective method for my method of doing the marathon is a walk/run combo. I walk a mile for every four miles I run. Simple, but it answers the mail. When I say run, what I really mean is a passive jog. I am a king cruiser, a model built for pleasure and enjoyment, not speed.

I am passed all the time by insanely fit runners stripped to the waist, wearing Daisy Duke Shorts, and tanned brown as nuts. They are wearing heart rate monitors and the latest footwear.

Not Dominic. I wear long basketball shorts and old, worn out superhero t-shirts featuring Captain America, the Punisher or Spiderman. I am a serious case of arrested development. I have a handful of faithful New Balance running shoes that I rotate on each run.

My only concession to fashion is that I wear a nuclear green safety hat, so my bald head doesn’t burn in the sun. I still dread the runs, but my breathing sounds more like a car dying than a cat wailing. I guess that must be progress.

So, now you got the list. What is your list?