Gemma Marangoni Ainslie
Gemma Marangoni Ainslie (b. 1949) is a psychologist/psychoanalyst in Austin TX, with interests in psychoanalysis and the arts, as well as women’s development. She grew up in a village in Ohio, surrounded by Italian American relatives on both of my parents’ sides ("This past year I traveled, unannounced and unaccompanied, to my paternal grandmother’s visit in Molise, Italy where by chance the first person I met was a cousin.")
01 NOSTALGIA: What was felt more deeply because it took you back to your past?
Folding clothes, I recalled my hand pressing diapers and PJs and T-shirts flat, the feel of my children’s clothing an intimacy with them, and then remembered sunny spring afternoons in my childhood collecting dry clothes from the outdoor lines, in the company of mother or grandmother or aunt. Laundry chores I cherish.
02 DETAIL: James Salter wrote: “Life is weather, life is meals.” Describe a meaningful moment involving each in the last month.
January’s cold: I wrapped my head in a long scarf and donned gloves before I walked my dog. Hands and cheeks chapped by winter winds. The smell and slight sting of Jergens lotion, ever-present in my grandparents’ bathroom.
Italian seafood stew and home-baked bread: a house- and soul-warming gift to friends who tended me when I was heartbroken and diminished. My hands kneading the dough, the mussels and clams opening on the surface of the thick soup, a meal that reminded me I could be sturdy, could provide, could smile.
03 ADJUST: What are you amid that is almost (but not quite) right? A draft, a relationship, an injury…what needs refinement and attention?
Partway is an always in trying to know myself.
Choices about next are present on many fronts. Leaping contains the possibility of hurt – if I expect more than the shallows I might find in myself and in others, if I propel myself into waters deeper than I can master – disappointment, terror. The act of “next” can be frightening. Next can’t be undone. I am writing more, and more publicly, appreciating that forgiveness is a choice I need not make, allowing compliments.
04 INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?
I gave my adult children and their partners legos, hoping that they will always prioritize play in their lives. It seems I feel I can never indulge them enough, but then these actions are self-indulgences, right?
05 SELF-INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?
I wore a sexy sweater and had a cosmopolitan, rather than my usual Campari and soda, indulging “je ne sais quoi” at a lecture on Leonard Bernstein!
06 MINOR SECRETS: Describe something you did in private.(Perhaps not a "secret," but maybe something that never occurred to you to share…)
I whistle – only when it’s just me and my dog.
07 PARE BACK: Did you simplify something?
I’ve exchanged kitchen sponges for dish cloths, bath gels in plastic bottles for soap bars, plastic wrap for glass lids. On one level it’s simplifying, on another it is a constant reminder of what is at risk.
08 CULTURE LIST: What was read, watched, seen, listened to? And consider the ratio between the mediums.
Several great films, most of all “Cold War,” the romantic tragedy that left me recovering in the dark, reflecting on what women do to separate and to join.
Roberta Flack – “Killing me softly with his words.”
Joni Mitchell’s concert – The Isle of Skye.
Books: “The Friend,” the beginning of “The Moviegoer” – again alone and in union. Rachel Cusk – re-reading and re-reading.
Janine Antoni dancing naked and looking straight into the eyes of each of us watching, her bare feet shuffling on the brown butcher’s paper or slapping hard on the wood floor.
Seems like much more viewing and seeing but music and reading register as both sights and sounds to me.