WHITE KNUCKLES | Acknowledgments Too Long for My Thesis

When I graduated high school, I wrote a farewell piece in the school paper; it came easy, words were flowing without obstacles, I had a lot to say. Four years later, I still have a lot to say; however, this is one of those very few times when I felt that there might not be enough words, or that they will be too small and timid, too controlled, too human. After reading Virginia Woolf, I found myself validated in my belief that humans are only allotted scattered moments of happiness – happiness which does indeed exist, but which is too big and overwhelming to be taken in over long period of time. We all know those moments in which everything lines up, in which time is right and slow, and everything is in place and shouldn’t be anywhere else – that is happiness, and it is a state of perfection that I always believed too divine to be long-lasting. I wasn’t completely right; the happiness I’ve felt over these four years was definitely human, not continuous but stretched out over weeks, over people, over places.

WHITE KNUCKLES | Spaces of Gratitude

As you might’ve figured out, my blogging technique is pretty straightforward: something happens to me – something simple, everyday, insignificant to history or to my neighbors but exceptional to me, less meaningful that I build it up to be – and I write about it. And since I went to Los Angeles for spring break last week, that is what I am writing about today. But you might also have figured out that I am not into linear narrative, chronological memoirs, climaxes of events – the most interesting doors are open behind small details: in the spaces between clubs in Hollywood and a road trip to Palm Springs, in the dusty backroads away from the beach, close enough for sand to get on them but far enough that they don’t smell like sea salt. In this case, I found a door in a vegan bowl of kale, spinach, beets, quinoa and tahini. The restaurant is near Venice Beach, and populated by people wearing athletic gear and impeccable hair. It is called Café Gratitude – I think it made an impression on me because lately I’ve been feeling very grateful.

WHITE KNUCKLES | A Window Of One’s Own

A frequently unkept resolution of mine is to detox from social media, in particular on days like March 8th, International Women’s Day. This year, my newsfeed was stained with posts like artless and dark graffiti, policing the way in which the day should be celebrated, pointing out the obviously achieved equality, asking with dissimulated wit why there isn’t an International Men’s Day. I decided to write a post with the intention of answering this question. But I am not going to simply say that it is Men’s Day every time that a woman doesn’t feel safe, is judged based on her looks, is asked to change clothes, works the same job for less money, is always assumed to be the nurse and never the doctor, is cut-off mid-sentence, is prevented from deciding of her own body, is told to smile, is criticized for both covering and baring her breasts, is called crazy / moody / emotional / fragile. I won’t go through all of that (but I just did!

WHITE KNUCKLES | The Young Pope, Liquid Modernity and Indignation

This year, Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino impacted my break and my liberal college student intersectional-feminist-relativistic-somewhat nihilistic philosophy more deeply than I like to admit. His miniseries The Young Pope had me glued to the television in my colorful (green and red-walled) living room in Italy, caught up in a story that I never saw coming. The show opens with a balding yet ever-attractive Jude Law interpreting a newly elected, 47-year-old Pope giving his first address in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. His speech is groundbreaking: it celebrates homosexuality and free love, different religions, abortions and premarital sex. The next scene reveals that it was all a dream; the attractive Pope will actually be unforgiving, conservative, homophobic and cruelly unwavering in his dogmatic beliefs.

WHITE KNUCKLES | Personal&Political

It takes a long time to feel at home in another country. It takes mispronunciations, catching up on a lot of pop culture to understand the references, adapting to a different kind of humor, eating unfamiliar food and walking other roads. It takes a family in both countries, whether tied by blood or by adventures and bad days at work and difficult prelims and the question of what to do next. It takes a long time, and it happens gradually; you only realize it when it’s already happened, its making slips away in days and seasons. To me, it’s happened.

WHITE KNUCKLES | Bucket Lists and the Ancient World

We all have the painful awareness that, during our lifetime, we will not have time to read every book worth reading, to visit every place that fascinates us, to learn what we’ve always dreamed of doing, to play musical instruments and knit scarves. In response to this anxiety, we make lists; bucket lists. Things to do, things you must see, 100 movies to watch at least once. They help us keep track of the meaningful time, of the time that does not dissolve between library hours and scheduled meetings and meals and sleep, the time that crystallizes in scrapbooks and gleaming pictures, in timeless anecdotes and stories repeated over and over. Cornell has its own bucket list, 161 things to do.


This piece is very different from what I usually write; it is inspired from the NYT Modern Love column, which I read avidly, and from my own life – for one can speak generally and universally only to a certain extent. When my mother told me about love, she always mentioned Paolo, her high school sweetheart. When I asked why it ended, she confessed that she was dating someone else, an older guy; when Paolo found out, a fist fight broke out, and two relationships were broken up. I always found myself amazed at the fact that they didn’t punch her, as I wondered how is love compatible with deceit, fist fights and lies? My mother would quickly add that Paolo was too immature for her; it would have ended anyway.

WHITE KNUCKLES | The Signs You Don’t Read

This is an open letter, one that will never reach the addressee, the type of letter  that mostly benefits the author and maybe open some isolated, outcasted pairs of eyes. One of those that are not meant to be read, but meant to be written and spoken to strangers with familiar faces about familiar situations, one of those often charged with aggressive passivity, when maybe all they do is delineate a relationship between two people where names are not needed, where intimacy is beyond the point and from which no friendship will spring. I start and end with who I am, and in virtue of this identity of subject and writer I sketch the outline of who you are. To begin with, this is where I am from: a multitude of places, but – for the sake of this letter’s focus – from the self-sustaining micro-universe of a crowded dining hall. My face, I know you will not know, but maybe the colors will sound familiar – red speckled with a golden name tag, black over my hair.

WHITE KNUCKLES | Ode to Concentration

A few days ago, I experienced the nth-to-last first day of school. Cornell was stunning on that Tuesday, Ho Plaza was crowded and the clock tower immortalized, the sun shone and the green was so bright it seemed to defy any memory or expectation of snow and white ice. I have quite a taste for goodbyes, but others I like to keep short. And now I am writing about beginnings – mine started with an end. I will have things to say when I look back on these years, I will have things still to check off from my list, and our campus will be giving back the light it is absorbing now.

WHITE KNUCKLES | Spell it Right

Starbucks never gets my name wrong: bold and thick, the four letters written with the sharpie mark my Cinnamon Chai Latte with comforting exactitude. My mother hated her name, could not bear the length of it, the excessive r’s and the harshness of the t, or maybe because of the fact that it was two names stitched together. For me, she wanted something short, the smoothness of the bilabial consonant, the bright ringing of vowels; she liked the literariness to it and its universality. It is impossible to mispronounce, to be  corrupted by accents or unconventional variations or too many confusing syllables. During my exchange year in Maine, my little host brother used to spell it “Ma,” because “M is pronounced Em, and a is pronounced a.” Like the clarity of a crystal, it was simple and immediate.