Monday, October 31, 2011

Mischief Managed

Hello to all of you ghouls, goblins, sparkly vampires, and generally strange persons!

Halloween in Italy. A strange event indeed. My first thought was that it was going to be something along the lines of-completely shunned. But then, the closer we got to this Hallowed date, little things in random stores began cropping up. Things like, pumpkins, and witch figurines, and general oranginality (just embrace it). Then, as I began noticing other things, like whole stores suddenly converted/swapped into Halloween stores. Now, I'm not sure if that is strictly for all of the tourists that are floating around who would be more than thrilled to find their costume in an Italian store, or if there is a legitimate native demand for such things, but I throughly enjoyed it.

Then today, though I didn't notice anything much different than say, what goes on in Rome on the 30th of October, by about 4 this afternoon, there were some interesting characters seeping up through the cobblestone cracks. As Molly and I sat drinking our coffee at a local cafe, there were all kinds of costumed persons walking about. Granted, most of them were under the age of 10, but they're real people too!  And none of them were in the detailed, specific kinds of costumes that we tend to see wandering around cul-de-sacs during the witching hour with their hollow pumpkin bags bruising their shins.  These were more of the, it's Halloween so I should wear something fun kind of thing. For instance, instead of a witch wearing a black cloak, green face paint, a hat, and potentially walking with a staff, the Italian version would be something like, a little girl wearing a witches hat. Call it short order creativity, cultural standards, or just the fact that it was about 4, I still felt under dressed.

That's right. In an chickened out attempt to not upset the natives, I thought it best to not wear a costume. Especially after the splash last year of dressing up as Kate. That was a good time. But don't you worry! I'm already brainstorming for next year. And thus far those plans are top secret. I will tell you that I had considered being the Leaning Tower of Pisa for Halloween this year, but just walking around tilted to one side didn't seem like the most obvious choice, and far too subtle for language barriers. That's ok, Erica and I got a good laugh.

Oh! Other Halloween-esq things that happen in Rome. Birds! They are everywhere!  If you are terrified of anything that flies (I know some of you), then you would have been huddled in a dark room, rocking back and forth, and possibly hyperventilating. I'm not even joking. You've seen videos of ash floating in the air after a huge volcanic eruption? It was like that. Except those black specks that seem to cover the entire sky were birds and not scorched pieces of earth. Not even kidding. They were everywhere. There was not a visible piece of sky that didn't have a giant flock of birds swarming and swooping. To those of you this last paragraph just resigned you to nightmares, I'm sorry. I'll write about pretty ponies and rainbows some other time.

And the last delicious piece of news, Erica is a star!  She managed to make an entire homemade pumpkin pie just for a fall surprise. What a wonderful culinary elf. It was delicious!  Even with homemade whip cream too. Beautiful.

So that leaves me to the last dregs of this post, and you to the rest of your haunted night!  Have Happy Halloween you mischievous masked mongrels!

Digital Interface

This will be short.
Because I'm kind of short.


Highlights of my day included the grand total of 4 hours and 45 minutes I spent on Skype. I'm not sure who came up with this, but whoever you are, you're wonderful.

The first hour or so was with the lovely Claire. And although she is currently feeling ill, she has her ice cream, so all is well. The worse thing is that I miss her desperately, the best thing is that I get to go see her this month!  Huzzah!

Much later in the day, after dealing with a faulty airline booking server error thing, (Paris: CHECK). Then i had the stunning opportunity to Skype coach the team from afar. And that's the kind of 3 hour and 45 minute thing that just makes a girl feel better about being so far away. Looking good guys. Just all kinds of wonderful people performing, and saying hi, and eating Chinese food.  It's a good life.

And now I'm going to get ready for class. Ciao!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Famous Drinking Songs and Epic Death Scenes

Do what the Romans do.

That was the advice I got from all kinds of sources-orientation, my parents, friends, people who like to quote random things on the internet. But as I began searching my memory for things that Romans or even more generally, Italians do, all I could think of is eat delicious food and sing dramatically.

As we officially enter month 3 (WHAT?!?!  TIME WENT WHERE!?!?!) I think I have successfully eaten at least my share of delicious food. And as of tonight, I have also watched people sing dramatically.  Hashtag winning.

Erica, Molly, and I decided that this was the perfect weekend to go and see one of those famous singy-things people keep talking about. So we did some research, and found an opera performed in All Saints Church a little north of us. We buy our tickets, and suddenly decide that we should go out to dinner instead of cooking. All right. Someone set the timer, 3 girls, getting ready to actually leave and go to an opera, 15 minutes. GO.

DING! Ok winners! We we traipsing out the door in plenty of time, and over to our favorite little pizza place. Had some grub and then managed to get on some public transportation that we assumed was headed in the right direction.

The good news is that it was, in fact, headed in the right direction. The bad news was that since it was Saturday, and since it was about 7:30 ish, that particular bus route changed. Just, changed. So when we thought we were going to one area of town, we kind of made a much smaller loop back to the area where we started. Unga Bunga. The minute we realized that, we jumped off the bus, and began walking instead. This would only begin our turbulent relationship with the 119.

So three girls wearing cute outfits and heels (remember how Italy loves cobblestones? I do!) clop over to the church. Now this isn't as simple as it seems. 1) Read the part about the heels (I really do miss them... and my suits.... but MN is only snowy, not cobblestoney.) 2) Highly trafficked pedestrian area. 3) Back tracking where the bus should have gone.  But like the tough women we are, we made it all the way to the church with plenty of time to spare.

This church was surprisingly, British. All brick with only the marble columns, and dark wood on the floors and the ceiling. The acoustics were solid, but there's a slight flaw in the placement of the performers. Due to the partition between the alter area and the rest of the sanctuary, there is not only a marble banister, but a very specific archway that separates the two. The problem occurs when the orchestra is in front of the arch, and the singers are behind it. So all of the acoustic wonderful-ness that the building offers, only really helps out the instruments, and not so much the vocalists. So that was a little bit of a bummer. Especially, when a simple dynamic change/regulation could have solved most of those issues.

Regardless, the church was pretty, the music was pretty, the friends were pretty, I had a great time. I would have preferred that the aisle lights in the back been turned off, and that the orchestra would have toned it down a bit, but all in all, I'm content.

So after the final dying notes dissipated (who said I couldn't write. That was punny too. Look up La Traviata and tell me I'm wrong) we trooped out the door and began walking home. Clever us, we thought we'd catch the bus back. LIES. The bus drove right past the bus stop and we walked allllllll the way to Argentina. Sad cobblestoned day.

And now we are back home. My feet will continue to yell at me, and I'm going to bed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What they should have allowed me to write in answer to the random question

Ok, for those of you who are not familiar with the "Random Question" on Blogger profiles, they are really obscure and don't have a very direct point. When I finally found one that seemed answerable (ie, not rhetorical) I typed it all out, only to find out approximately 15 seconds later that you only get 400 characters to answer the question.  Hey Blogger, next time you want to restrict my creativity, make your questions multiple choice. 



So I posted that well crafted answer here. Enjoy.



Question: 


You're trapped in a well with a goat and a slinky. Describe how you will escape.



Answer:


First of all, this is a baaaaaad idea. (You loved it, don't lie)
The first step is obviously call for Lassie. She always helps in these situations. And while she was waiting for farmer Joe to arrive at the scene, she barked for me to throw the slinky up to her (which she promptly caught in her mouth) and I coaxed the small, adorable goat to be still while I wound the slinky around its legs. With the help of farmer Joe, Lassie pulled up the poor frightened goat, and then threw the slinky back down to me. By this point, the slinky was very stretched out. But thanks to my incredible ingenuity and dexterity (read: Girl Scout training), I climbed up the side of the well, rock-climbing style.  Granted, the Girl Scouts would be disappointed that I didn't have a belay, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I needed to get to dinner on time. So I used my last ounce (gram sounds funny, even if I am in Europe) of strength to throw my body far enough out of the well for Lassie to drag me to safety. Realizing that I was exhausted, she brought over a pail of clean water (not from the well, don't get excited) and helped me to my feet. Then the nice farmer Joe told me to hop in his '55 Ford and he drove me home, where I was just in time for dinner.
The End.

One ring to rule them all

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."
--Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Ring


That's actually from the LOTR if you know.... Lord of the Rings for those of you who didn't follow that. 


So we had a little roomie bonding night by watching the rest of the Fellowship.  I say rest of because we watched the first half last night.  But leave no movie begun unfinished (at least fast forward through it if it's really that bad--right mom?) and we wrapped it all up tonight. 


This was Kate's first time watching any LOTR movies, so it was quite the adventure. Hannah will know what I'm talking about when various characters meet tragic ends, and there's so much panic and question coming from the Kate side of the room. But we all survived, with relatively few tears shed. So that's good. We might rent the next two just to make it a complete set. 


Speaking of complete set, I really want to re-read these books now.... They are just so wonderful, that I think they deserve to be read again. Maybe that'll be my summer project. Hmmmm, ponder ponder ponder.  I think JRR Tolkien is pretty awesome. Well done sir. And props to you too, Peter Jackson. (Although where the first movie ended compared to where the first book ended still makes me mad.)


And I thought this quotation strangely fitting to my blog name. So cheers to that! LOTR (including the Hobbit) has everything- short people and giants!


So that pretty much sums up the most exciting part of my day. I promise that tomorrow will be more exciting. 



[Insert lyrics to Rascal Flatts Song Here]

I was chastised this morning for not posting yesterday. So I aim to remedy that now. Happy Pea B?

I would like to tell you a little story, and it goes something like this.

I am blessed to have some of the best friends in the world. This might get a little sentimental, so bear with me, but I'm dead serious. My dear roommate from the other side of the world has the remarkable ability to make everything make sense. And after type-exhausted fingers, my world seems just a little brighter in the mornings.  So to Bethany, I hope to eat chips and homemade salsa with you upon my immediate return. Also some Doritos.... and donuts.... and other delicious things that I can't seem to adequately find in Europe. Oh, and we're watching every Disney movie we can find within a 25 mile radius. So get ready.

Part two is dedicated to those who actually put up with my obsessive absence.  This means something like, I am over 5,000 miles away, and I continue to pester people about what is going on in places like Minnesota.  You know who you are. But for those who don't know who you are, Alecia (I will write you back TODAY), Brady, Cadi (rhyme much?), Sonja, Mariecus, Moua, and even Chloe (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctJJrBw7e-c&feature=grec_index) (because I said I would).  Thanks for putting up with me. You know you miss me Brucetifer, don't try and lie your way out of this one.

So now I'm actually going to start my list of things to do for the day. And thus far, it's extensive. Wish me luck, and if I find something interesting (of if I have dreams about vampires,) I'll let you know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rowing down the Tiber

So I've got a little song and it goes like this:

Take take take a test
quickly 'cause it's timed!
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
You missed that mystery slide!

Ok, so it doesn't have a happy ending. But hey, I tried. So that counts for something.

After that I managed to survive the next few hours of class, and ultimately to see my parents off before they leave tomorrow morning. It's been swell parentals! Have a super duper flight back.  Loves ya!

And with that, you can sleep peacefully knowing that I am about to also sleep peacefully.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Herding art viewers

After completing my Cin City midterm, I rushed home to make a very messy grilled mozzarella and tomato sandwich (it fell apart, sad day) before I headed over to the other side of town to pick up my parents and go to the Vatican museum. Weee!!!!  Fun stuff right?

Ok, three things here.

1) Erica and I have already discussed this, but you should be made aware of the new laws regarding camera usage. Basically, in order to purchase a camera with a flash, you must not only complete a 12 hour training course, but you must also take a lengthy exam including an essay that details what kind of damage you can actually do to others as well as art with a flash.  After this, you may then obtain your certification badge that will allow you to purchase a camera with a flash. If you still want to purchase a camera without going through these lines, draw a picture.

Until this law is enacted, I will resort to violence, yelling in different languages, and ultimately calling over uniformed security guards to escort you out of the premise where you will then pay hefty fines because of your idiocy and ignorance.

Have a nice day.

2) The modern art in the Vatican Museum (yep, that's what I thought, you're now thinking, say what? Modern art? huh....) gets almost no love. Where you can walk at a steady shuffling pace through the entire museum with 45,000 other people looking at fresco after fresco after tapestry after model after ancient Greek sculpture, by the time you get to the modern art collection, there are a grand total of 3 people in the room. And two of them are guards. For serious. Some of it is absolutely stunning too! It's just that either people just would rather spend their time craning their necks at the Sistine ceiling (I mean no disrespect), or just no one really likes modern art. If it is in fact the later, I am sad.

3) The Pieta makes me cry.

See? that wasn't so bad of a list. After we managed to escape the giant crowds, we went back to the apartment a la parentals and eventually went to dinner. Dinner with the fam is always interesting, mainly because my father has taken the sudden notion to not like pasta.  What's not to like about pasta? I haven't the foggiest, but he insists that having pasta 3 times this week is more than sufficient. I think he's wrong, but let the world judge when he orders things like "fish" and gets exactly what he wanted. Only half of that is a lie, you can decide which half.

Consequently, we went to an Irish pub instead. I mean, I don't personally mind, because, let's face it, I've been eating Italian food for almost 2 months now (holy schnockies-that long already? Woof-da) and to spice it up a little with fish and chips is not a bad option. But within a week, you can certainly make it around Italy eating Italian food with no complaints. Yes, that is me casting judgment on my father, don't worry about it.

So after that little adventure, I headed back to the apartment (mine this time) and reviewed for my midterm in the morning.  Everybody's excited now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes I like to pretend that I just know things

There once was a girl in Rome
Sometimes she really missed home,
She thought tests were done,
Profs said, "Hey that's no fun!"
Now she's back to a studying gnome.


So that was a little limerick describing my life. That last line was a shout out to Ellie.

I need to get back... or rather start really studying for my Cin City midterm tomorrow. I'm not entirely sure what to say about that other than, I guess I should probably look over the dates of those movies... and maybe the screenwriters... Maybe...

Ok... Fine.

Have it your way.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two days-one post. It's environmentally friendly.

Ok, here's the quick and dirty of yesterday because I'm a day behind and I need to catch up with the start of a new week. Ready? Go!

1) Francesco: The parentals and I decided that they should probably see the area where I actually live. So we met up to have dinner at Francesco's.  This is actually called Otello's (Stop saying Otello, it sounds pretentious) but Francesco's really the highlight, so that's what we shall call it. He was his usual jovial self, all kinds of quips and giggles. The 'rents seemed to have fun.

2) Baptism: After wandering around Trastevere for a bit (including some churches) we finally decided to grab some gelato (that's what good Italians do right?) and sit on a nice little bench outside a church (duh). Well we decided to actually go in to take a look around after we finished our delicious treats. And low and behold, there was a service going on in about 20 minutes. So we listened to the choir practice (see #3) and waited. Well, not only was it a service, but it was ALSO a baptism. So we had sort of accidentally crashed Andrea's baptism. But I'm still cheering for him, so I think that counts.

3) English: When we had first walked into the church, we realized that we had sort of stumbled in on a choir rehearsal. Now you know me, I'm a choir geek and proud of it. So I'm contentedly listening and suddenly it hits me. They are not only singing in English, they are singing gospel. "This Little Light of Mine" to be specific (there are many reasons why I love this one).  The greatest part was that they had pretty thick Italian accents with their English gospel. SO FUN. I kind of loved it. I'm not going to lie. And by the time they put on their wizarding robes (come on, dark blue with a shiny silver collar and a matching shiny stripe/sash down one side? Wizards). And basically when they started singing "Oh Happy Day" I was putty in their hands. Not because they were amazing or anything (they were fine, don't get me wrong, but I am a self professed choir snob), but there was so much Italian-accented joy.

Ok. On to today!  Woohoo! I love this speedy thing!

Today I slept in a bit and eventually wound my way back to going to lunch with my parents and going to see beautiful art!  I've got such a winning life.  It was really a Baroque weekend. I didn't fix anything (bah).  But we went to Santa Maria dell Vittoria, home of St. Theresa in Ecstasy.  Bernini? All the time. SO GOOD. Not even a joke. After a bit of that, we made our way back to the Pantheon area to San Luigi dei Francesi.  This is the stunning home of three (count them, THREE) Caravaggio works: "The Calling of St. Matthew," "Inspiration of St. Matthew," and "Martyrdom of St. Matthew".  Artgasm? Yes. Very much so. And I have no qualms admitting that on the internet. They are all beautiful and fantastic, and lovely, and stunning and my life is now complete.

After a far too short nap, the parentals and I went to dinner before going to the big show. You all remember Kozmic Blues? Well Daniele and Gina are also in another group called Heart and Soul with two other people. And they were playing at a place called the Fonclea.  It was late, but awesome. I was incredibly sad to leave early (class? what class? I don't have class.) But the choice of song was excellent (I mean, you can't go wrong with Rock and Roll, it just doesn't happen. And sung in 4 part? Yep, sold).  PLUS we got all of those CDs!!  Hashtag winning.

Loving life and going to bed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dough Vey=Oye Vey

Ok. Let's get to this biz-nas.  The short version was typed up in the last post, so that's where you can find the abridged version.

First thing I did was figure out how to get to Piazza del Popolo.  No, I hadn't been there yet, yes it was far away, and yes I had to take public transportation. Now this in and of itself is kind of a scary process. In fact, public transportation can be scary anywhere. But here in Rome, and I think I've said this before, buses often go where any normal person would think that buses shouldn't go.  So jumping on a bus that may or may not drive down an alley with 75 people crowded in front of it as it scrapes the paint off the side and on to the nearest building can be a daunting task for a morning. So I look up some information, get dressed, drink my coffee, and brave the elements of the tram and the bus.

And you'll be proud of me. I made it all the way there with no problems!  Once I got on the 119, and payed attention to where we were going/what the stops said, I was golden!  So I jump off the bus and begin walking toward the designated place I was going to meet my professor/classmates. Doobedoobedoo.... WHAT ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE HERE!!?!???!?!

I'm talking, holy cannoli. There were probably upwards of 500 people in this piazza. Now it was a big piazza, but they were all talking loudly and waving important and angry looking flags. After the last little spurt of unhappy crowds, I was kind of wary about actually walking into the middle to meet my professor. But all of the people were sort of gathered around this very official looking stage that had a bunch of electronic equipment that equally looked important. So I scanned the crowd and eventually found my intended meeting people.

And we trooped over to the museum that we would spend the next two hours looking at old pottery and fragments of Etruscan ruins and being stalked/followed by an older gentleman who probably thought this was an actual tour and not a class. Oh well. But we had a good time, saw some neat stuff, and I don't have to go on my own! That's a pretty good deal!

I then scampered off to meet my parents at the top of the Spanish Steps. Why I said the top of the Spanish Steps instead of taking my chances with finding them at the bottom?  I have no idea. I must have been delusional, but, I climbed the entirety of the Spanish Steps for the second time in my lifetime. And I think that's more than sufficient. But if I wanted to start a Roman exercise plan, that would be the first place I start. Actually it would be to run to the Spanish Steps, including dodging past the tourists, sprinting up the steps with no break, do that maybe twice, and maybe make a loop around the Colosseum and then back up to the Villa Borghese (to be mentioned in a minute) before taking your cool down back to where you started. If you doubt this plan, look up all of those places on a map, then tell me that again.

None the less I found them safely cloistered in the church (see what I did there?) and we headed out to find lunch. Lunch ended up at this cute little place that had about three floors once you decided to just keep going down the stairs.  Lunch was good, and we talked for a bit before deciding to head in the direction of the Borghese Museum.

Now let's talk for a moment about what is winning music to play when you want people to give you money. The Villa Borghese is basically a giant park with a few very important cultural buildings that house everything from cinema screenings to incredibly valuable works of art. But like any public park, there are lots of people doing what people do: run, sit, walk, read, beg, play the guitar-whatevs. As we are sitting there, I begin to hear the strains of a very familiar song. But something seems out of place, and it's not the fact that at least one string on the guitar was slightly out of tune. Oh yeah, that's the very famous song, "What Child is This?"

I've got a problem with this. The problem mainly consists of the fact that it is October. I love Christmas music as much as the next girl. Promise. I sing it, I hum it, I have several Christmas albums that I have memorized from the thousands of times I've listened to them. But Christmas music played before Thanksgiving is something that puts me in a relatively spiteful mood that is really only amusing for equally dark-humored cynics like myself. The nice version basically states that I think Christmas music should be saved for the blissful month of the holidays that lies between Thanksgiving and December 25th. That's not too much to ask for, honest. It's just that when the Christmas music begins in October, I have to kick rocks against trashcans and loudly sing various songs by boy bands from the 90s. It's really the only thing that helps the situation.

Luckily we escaped into the museum gift shop to wait for our scheduled time of entry.  The way that the Borghese Museum works is that you are allowed 2 hours to see the entire museum (pretty do-able if you prioritize), but that also means that you are only allowed to enter at certain times and only a certain number of people. So we got to go in at 5 with 200 other people. Snazzy huh? The Borghese is home to two very large collections of two incredibly talented artists: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio.

Let's start with Bernini. This is the kind of sculpture that takes your breath away. My mother commented, "I don't know how you make stone look like cloth." My thought is, "How do you make it breathe?" Bernini has this unsurpassed ability to make sculpture move. Literally quiver in space. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, I highly recommend the documentary in Simon Schama's series "The Power of Art" about Bernini (there is an equally good one about Caravaggio-yay educational things to watch in your down time! Vanessa knows what's up).  The collection of Bernini sculptures (there is also a beautiful Canova in one room as well as several lesser known works by other artists) is simply astounding. You can stare at any single one for upwards of 30 minutes without moving. Each one is in a word, entrancing. The movement, the style, the detail. We're talking detail ranging from the leaves branching from Daphne's fingertips, to the tears on Proserpina's cheeks. This is no ordinary chunk of marble. They breathe. They live.

Caravaggio has the same grasp over his medium: oil. There is just one room of almost entirely Caravaggio. One room. Maybe 6 very well known paintings. And I'm going to be honest right here. I cried. I mean looking at his last work, "David With the Head of Goliath," is just overpowering. Not because of its size (it's not very big) but because it's a self portrait. And that kind of visual representation of self loathing just comes in this giant wave of emotions. You can't help but pity him. (Again, Simon Schama does wonderful things in the Caravaggio section of "Power of Art." Watch it. You won't regret a minute.) Basic summary: It was awesome. My art history self was content.

After that we had the beautiful adventure of taking public transportation back! How swell! So once we found the bus stop, we're all standing there waiting. Keep in mind that this bus stop is about 50 feet from a McCafe (McDonalds).  This woman comes up to me and asks, "Doh-vey Mc-Donalds?" in a very stereo-typical I'm-an-American-using-my-limited-Italian-vocabulary-to-ask-people-where-things-are kind of way. To which I responded, "It's right over there" and pointed to my right. She understood the gesture very well, but it took her approximately two seconds to realize that I had responded to her in very clear English instead of Italian. "Thanks!" and she and her husband walked into the mcdream (not to be confused with McDreamy...).  This probably means at least one of two things: 1) I'm beginning to look like a native (questionable, but I'll take it) or 2) I just looked like the kind of person who would know where the McDonald's is. I'm really hoping it's the first one, but with my luck, who knows.

As we boarded the bus the "Italian sense of space" came into distinct play. Not only was it crowed, by the time that we got close to where we were going to get off (with in about 4 stops) there was a man who  decided to hold a very loud argument with a woman who was getting off the bus. Things like "you're uneducated" (in Italian) were being thrown around and even after the woman left the bus, he was still talking about. Well, being good Italians, everyone else joined in with their opinion. First the older woman sitting next to him. Then the younger one standing by him. Then the woman on the other side. Then finally (as he was getting off the bus) the guy who had been sitting quietly in the corner the entire time. From what I gathered, the angry guy was mad about how this woman said something to him and he thought she was rude.  Everyone else either a) couldn't figure out why he was still offended by it or b) didn't think it was that bad. I kind of laughed, my parents were somewhat confused. But eh, so is life.

Made it back to the apartment. Cooked some din din. And sat down for the first time to write this. But it's taken me until now to actually get it done.

For tomorrow:
1)Francesco
2)Baptism
3)English

123! easy as FBE! Ok, so I'm not the Jackson 5...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Preface

Adventures with parentals and Ertruscan art:

1) Protest
2) Pottery
3) Pasta
4) Perennials
5) Public Transportation

All of the above will be elaborated on soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Water-skpades

So in other news, Rome floods.

But seriously, we're talking the cracks between the cobblestones can no longer keep your feet dry, in fact, the cobblestones are now under water completely. And this is all from one little bitty baby thunderstorm last night. As in for the first time, maybe ever, I woke up because of a storm.  Then I thought to myself, "it's a thunderstorm in Rome!" and curled up in a little ball and went back to sleep. However thanks to that extra large thunderclap a a brief spurt of hail, I was at least semi conscious for the next hour ish. But in my semi-conscious state I had a wonderful spontaneous dream reunion with Kaitlin. As magical as it was, it is only a tiny fraction of how blissful our real reunion will be. And that's a fact.

So eventually I got up, and due to Erica's persistence, I watched a video that she took of our bathroom this morning. For those of you following along, our bathroom has been a source of semi-constant irritation for those of us living here. And today's mishap involved both the shower drain and the toilet water gurgling. Not just like a swish-swish gurgle, like a full on volcanically ominous cauldron a la toilet. So that was fun.

And as far as adventures to class, we had the surprise of noticing the street-sized puddles as well as the nice little mudbanks that had formed by all crosswalks over night. How? I'm placing money that Charles has something to do with this, but I don't want to assume too much. So half puddle leaping (that's different than puddle jumping which involves landing in the puddles, puddle leaping has the distinct goal of trying to avoid the puddles), half mud skating, I made it all the way to class. Exciting no? Welcome to Rome-soggy edition. It's very different from the frozen version that MN usually offers, but you know, hydration in any form.

And now I'm patiently wading (punny) for my parents to smoke signal me when they get to their apartment. (I suppose I should say something like, "Oh yeah, my parents are coming to visit me for the week!" but I figured you all would figure it out soon enough. You're clever people.) But I'm afraid that the smoke signal technology is a little short circuited with the whole wet Rome thing. So we'll see how that goes. Other than that it's a regularly planned Thursday! And that means blues with the roomies tonight should the weather cooperate. Here's to hoping!

Not voted off the island this week

I survived!  With almost no tears! Aren't you proud of me?

Ok. I'm not being entirely honest. One test was postponed. Now let's get something straight, I had prepared to take 3 lengthy midterm exams today. Not even kidding. One for Italian High Renaissance (51 slides, for 2 comparisons and and essay), Gaga (2 comparisons and an essay), and Philosophy (choice of essay). I was ready for all of them with only the allotment of time to review some things before I actually took the test! Girl Scouts' honor.

So I arrive in plenty of time to my first class of the day, and begin looking over the dates of the slides that I had just learned last night, and after about what should have been ten minutes into class (note, this is not unusual for JCU or for my professor in general. She is often a few minutes late and frantically trying to turn on the projector and usually talking about how her cat is still sick.) a woman from the front office comes in and says that Professor Smyth is going to be late and that the midterm is postponed until next week. How late? About an hour.

The reactions of my class are as followed:
Furious 50%
Relieved 49%
Laughing 1%

I am the 1%.

I just laughed. Seriously, what kind of day could this possibly be? My first test had been postponed, the class would start late, and I just couldn't stop laughing.

For many of you this is not a surprising reaction. Eventually, when you don't sleep enough, or the stress levels just get to you, laughter is the only real response to have. So the other 99% of my class hadn't reached that point and were absolutely no fun what so ever. Boo.

So I spent the next hour sitting by myself dancing to Britney Spears and studying Gaga... (well that's a strange sentence).  Professor Smyth (no, I'm not spelling that incorrectly) showed up, WITH HER CAT. Go ahead. Read that sentence again. I'll wait. Ok, yeah, so the sick cat came to school. Not that I'm complaining, I want to bring my cat to school all the time, but apparently with a flooding kitchen, and a sick cat, and being an art history prof, things just got out of hand and we were just going to go to the library instead.

The library across town.

Granted, it's supposed to be a fantastic resource for our projects, and we wouldn't have any idea how to a) get there, b) get books, or c) what do do with them once we found where they were (which is a process, believe me). So we trooped and tram-ed over to Piazza Venezia to find this specialized Art History international library. Good idea? Yes. Different from a midterm? Very much so.

This library can best be compared to a labyrinth. For example, it has many rooms. But not just any silly old rooms, these look like the Beast's library in Beauty and the Beast.  You know, filled to the brim with books? Floor to ceiling, covering every wall with steps and a platform to go up to the second level of books. There are maybe 5 of these such rooms, folded in on each other and stacked carefully. The tricky thing is not just figuring out how to get to the upper level of the shelves (there's only one way up, and that means it's only in one room and you have to wander your way around the edges until you get to that one corner of that one room where your book should be).  The other tricky part is that not every book is somewhere that you have access to. That means that you have to go through the process of actually finding your book (read: find title and author of book that maybe useful for your research, go outside the library to another room where the card catalogue is, riffle through cards in little bitty baby drawers, (my prof described this process as 'sensuous' but I'm not sure that's the same word I would come up with) find call number, attempt to figure out whether it is somewhere you can get to it, ask librarian who only speaks broken English, they say that you have to fill out a request form) then going to find the place/forms to make your request. Whewf. By the time we got to that part of the tour, my professor was adding extensive editorial remarks about the process which included that idea that once you made your request that little elves, who you never see, wearing funny hats scamper off to find your book and bring it back to you in 30 minutes.

So instead of taking a test, we learned about the Italian Librarian version of Santa's little helpers. Good work.

After that little excursion, I caught pizza with Kate, studied for my next test, rocked it, then decided that anyone with two tests in a day deserves a Nutella Crepe. So I got one of those before looking over my Philosophy notes. Otherwise known as looking at random pictures of Moua that I hide in my wallet. What? That's strange. Oh well.

Back to the apartment where I had the lovely pleasure of skyping dear dear Chloe. We plan on making this a regular occurrence, you know, after she finishes reading the news paper.

And that was my test of survival in Rome. Tomorrow's task? Water obstacle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I should have started a poetry blog

Sometimes blogs are hard
To write after midnight when
Good stories collide.

Tune in tomorrow when I publish a real post. Promise.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Choose your own adventure!

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Kelsey. Kelsey decided it would be fun to study in Rome for a semester. After about half of the semester had passed, all of Kelsey's professors held a large top secret meeting and decided that it would be really fun to plan all of their midterms on the same day. As each professor laughed evilly, Kelsey began to feel very stressed. The day of the evil plot drew nearer and nearer and Kelsey realized that the malicious plan of her professors would succeed. When it got to with in 12 hours of the first test, Kelsey caved and ate an entire bar of chocolate. Then she pulled her tear-drenched blanket over her cold toes and continued to study for her Italian High Renaissance slide test with her smeared, albeit beautifully crafted, study sheets. This tragic nail-nibbling scene continued into the wee hours of the night until Kelsey eventually fell asleep on the couch, where red pens and mystery slides haunted her dreams.



It's funny when it's written in third person and I can pretend like it's not me.

The sequel will be published tomorrow.  If this was billed as a "choose your own adventure" book, I hope picked the one where I live to see the last chapter play out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

See? Patience is a Virtue

I knew that if I just let this blog post simmer for another 24 hours something good would happen! And now you actually get to read something more interesting than, "So it's Sunday, I did homework and studied for midterms."

Come on! How boring is that? There aren't even any acronyms or anything. Snoresville (or should I say Schnoor in honor of the Larry Schnoor Invitational this weekend? Congrats to all, by the way. Super proud of my Gusties!)  So instead of boring you to tears telling you about how I'm going to compare and contrast Minoan and Mycenaean architecture and sculpture, I decided to just hold off for a bit and hope that something spectacular would happen in the mean time.

And whatdoya know, it did. So yippee!

So remember last Thursday when Erica and I went to that concert of Kozmic Blues with that guy playing the guitar and the girl who was amazing? Yeah, remember that? Ok great, because we came back late that night and basically scoured the internet for them. Luckily, they have a myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/ginafabiani) and we listen to it ALL the time (just like you should) and found a way that we could purchase a CD (or two).  But the tricky part is that there isn't just a "buy itunes CD here" button.  So through various channels, we finally found an email address that said "contact us here to buy CDs!" Erica and I are thinking, ok, sold.

The next morning I pull up that email address and write a nice little note about how we had seen them at the Ombre Rosse and would love to purchase/download CDs. Later that day, Daniele (he's the guitarist) wrote back saying that they only have hard copies of the CD but he would love to mail one to us. Great! Take a poll of the room-grand total? 8 CDs.

Needless to say, Daniele thought we were super fans and wrote back today that not only would he take off a little bit because we're so dedicated, but he would also like to invite us to their next performance!  AH! So fantastic! It's a different group, Daniele and Gina and two more, singing gospel instead of blues, but it's going to be so awesome! So I'm thinking that we may or may not be considered groupies now. File that one under things I don't mind.

Seriously. That was what made my day.  Other than that, we've been studying, cramming, and otherwise indulging in cupcakes. You only need be mostly jealous of my life. I'll let you know how those 3 midterms on the same day go. Woof.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Demanding change.... and cupcakes.

I can hear the helicopters in the distance, but nothing's burning nearby. Or in the kitchen-don't be smart with me.

For those of you who just read the news, yes, the Rome version of Occupy Wallstreet has turned violent, and yes, I'm ok. We were informed well ahead of time by not only SAI, but also by the US Embassy that today was not really going to be a good day to go see Rome.  Why? Apparently protests of this sort have the potential, and the history of being violent.  So instead of braving the elements also known as disgruntled persons, we chose to stay inside our little hovel and do homework.  Less exciting? Most definitely. Safer (at least compared to the tear gas, broken bottles, burning cars, and angry rioters)? For sure.

So I think that this evening, as helicopters hover overhead, and dangerous conditions ensue on the other side of the river, we will stay inside, make dinner (and potentially cupcakes), and I will watch my Italian movie.

I will say that I am thoroughly disappointed that this week on Saturday from 6-7 was not nearly as personally exciting as the past two weeks. For those of you reading for the adventure and the scandal, this week was not your week. I'm terribly sorry. Maybe next time.

Until I find a suitable scandal to regale you with, I suppose you will have to turn to the soaps, Grey's, or whatever kind of drama is happening in Complex. That's life.

If demand is high enough, I might even create some fictional dirt for you to peruse.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Accomplishment Man-here to save the day!

Today's major accomplishments included the following 3 things:

Uno: Getting Peas in Pasta Pisa video uploaded and on the blog. http://twopeasinpasta.blogspot.com/

Dos: Skyping with Megan for almost 2 hours on her birthday. That was wonderful! (now if only Chloe could make that kind of commitment. Hmmmmm. Where's a true champion when you need one?)

Tres: Finishing my Italian High Renaissance (still no nickname? It's been over a month. Come on my clever friends. Bethany can't always carry the team.) study guide for the midterm on Wednesday! It now has 51 pictures with title, artist, date, medium, commission, and location. All to be memorized! Who is totally excited for this exam? Oh yeah, me! Holla! I'm going to print it out soon and start studying! But first I have to do some Digipho, some Cin City (readings and watch a 3 hour movie), study and read some Gaga, and probably think about life for my "Dreams of Moua" class. Which that one will inevitably turn into me just thinking about Moua, but hey, it happens.

So for now, I'm going to just call it a day, go to curl up in a tiny little ball with about 3 inches of woolen blankets, and go to sleep.

Because I know you were intensely curious about the music things

Here are some recording I took from our night of fun music. This includes a short clip of the "Supertechno" group.  Aren't you lucky.

video
That is the Supertechno group playing children's toys and kitchen appliances that children should not play with.

I hope to eventually get a video of Kosmic Blues up here too. It may be a while, and it may be through Vimeo, but we'll work on it. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Music, hairdryers, and mixers-Oh My!

There are probably 3 things you should know about this Thursday.

1) There was a "Battle of the Bands" type thing going on in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. They pretty much covered all ranges of music.
2) There was a hairdryer and an electric mixer involved.
3) Then we went to our favorite Thursday spot and listened to some awesome blues by Kosmic Blues.

If that doesn't sound like the perfect Thursday night to you, then you just aren't as cool as we are. And that's just too bad.

Erica and I decided that this is the only fun we will be having until midterms are over, so seize the day and go have some fun! So out we go, in our tennis shoes, and wait for a bit while the Italian times catch up to where the rest of the world is and the 'concert' starts about 45ish minutes late. So we wander a bit, watch people, find our future boy friends (slim pickings here. That's sad.) and eventually stand around and enjoy not being able to understand anything said on stage. But that's ok! Welcome to Italy!

Best part of the concert (that we attended): Super-techno. That involved instruments that aren't really instruments. How? See #2. This group of people get onstage with a trashcan, a hair dryer, a sign (like the kind that reminds you that you aren't supposed to be going that fast... Cadi....Although I should probably yell at Kris first... Brucetifer....) and what appears to be a guitar hero guitar.  Fact of the matter is that it is not a guitar hero guitar, it's something much classier. It's one of those children's toys that plays little ditties that go along with nursery rhymes and such... in the shape of a guitar (why does my childhood suddenly feel inadequate? Mom, I could have been a star! Look I'm pretty mama) (If you got that reference, gold stars for you). And suddenly, they being to play. No, it's not the kind of magical thing you'd expect from just a wonderful set up, it's a little bit more, how you say, organic than that. But the hairdryer, and ultimately the electric mixer (I know we use it at my house for the mashed potatoes and things.  Not one of those every day cookie kinds of things).  That was pretty stellar, as well as a very distinct reminder that it is all in the performance. Showmanship is everything whether you like it or not. Sell it? You win.

After a good long while of wishing that the hairdryer would make a second appearance, we decided to move down the street to our favorite Thursday night joint.  Tonight was Kosmic Blues. And although it did not provide the laudable eye-candy, Erica and I agreed that it was the most musically moving performance that we had seen there to date. I will try to post some videos tomorrow. But the short version is that they are awesome and Erica and I are looking into buying stock in their record sales. We had both talked about leaving early, but once we sat down and they started playing there was no way that we were going to leave before they did.  We're talking the sultry, gravely, blues that your soul craves and doesn't even know it. So we stayed until midnight, then made our way back home where I began writing this blog post. Don't you feel just so up to date?

Anyway, I'll try to post a video or so on here so you can love them as much as I do. And the good news is that they have a myspace. And that means that there is music to be found, and enjoyed.

Happy Thursday all.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The title to this post is going to be longer than the post actually is

Instead of a long
Post I will write you: haiku.
It's eleven now.

Did you know that the
Plural of 'haiku' can be
'Haiku'? Learn something.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

But Serious, a Tuesday?

If you want to know how to suffer on a Tuesday, do the following things.

Spend all afternoon in the library writing a philosophy paper that you don't really understand. But make sure you do so after you show up for a class 30 minutes early, and get kept 30 minutes longer in the same class than you should have been. Then make sure that you sit buy a buy who wears very large headphones and plays them too loudly as he watches a movie. Make sure that the girl who is sitting across from you expects you to confront the big-headphone guy, but you just turn up your Itzhak Perlman playlist and pretend that you know how to write this paper. (At some point I may write an ode to the guy with the big headphones.  He had really pretty eyes.)

You should continue in this pattern for close to 6 hours. At that point you should probably give up, admitting that 3 pages single spaced on an incredibly vague prompt that you don't understand is just too much for a Tuesday. Go buy groceries. Carry heavy groceries home. Then convince yourself that you should actually finish that paper now. Now. NOW.  Ok, go eat nachos (real cheese isn't the same), then finish the paper.

Actually finish the paper.

No for realz.

Finish the paper.

Have dance party and eat cheesecake.

Write blog.

So here we are. The paper is done. The blog is done. AND pictures are posted. Who are you proud of? Oh yeah, me. Awesome.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Dullsville

Not that Monday was actually that boring... Other than my half closed eyes in Gaga...  but it happens.

The most eventful part of my day was for sure when I got left in the Vatican. How? Well I'll get to that.

So my Digipho class had intended to go to a photography exhibit.  The funny part is that the museum doesn't open until 4. So instead, we're going to go take pictures at St. Peter's. Ok great.  Pack up, head out to the most prominent cathedral in the world. And basically walked around people watching...  Pretty good time right? So about an hour and half later, I noticed that I couldn't find anyone from my class. Not that it's all that surprising.... I mean, there are probably close to a thousand people within the Colonnades. So I looked around for a while, and by the time the clock said 12:30 I decided that I'd better just go back. But on the way I decided to buy beautiful postcards because they were the cheapest I'd seen. Some of you can now be expecting postcards. Once I get stamps...  So maybe a little bit yet... And low and behold, my class was all back in the room, talking about some stuff that I didn't know, and I awkwardly walked in late. Woof. But the good news is that I was safely in the arms of St. Peter, and I got to people watch for about 2 hours.

Off to lunch with Kate, print off an abstract, go to class, stay mostly awake. Work in the library, stay mostly awake, write postcards, go to class, stay mostly awake. Note: I think it would be easier to say awake in class if my professors taught with the lights on. I mean, I understand when we are looking at slides or powerpoints, but that isn't always the case... and it's just dark. It's practically a nap endorsement. Not good.

Back to the apartment, planning on going to bed early (that could be a really funny joke tomorrow).

See? Mondays have got nothing on Saturdays between 6 and 7. What a shame.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wake up! We're going to Pisa!

And thus begins my blog about tilted towers, and how to go see them. Are you ready for this? One thing I do promise is that it will not take as long to read this post as it did to get to experience. Or to even arrive in Pisa.

As I said before I had thought that getting to Pisa was going to be the biggest problem of my day. Why? Oh yeah, because I thought that we were going to have to wake up at 4:30am to get to the train station in time for a 6:30am train. Here's how that played out.

I went to bed (after extensive half lucid research) around 1am and set my alarm for 4:15am. That makes it approximately 3 hours of sleep with the full intention of getting everyone else up and getting to Pisa.  But just to make sure, I decided that before I intentionally jumped on Kate's bed shouting, "Kaaaate!!!! Get up!!!! We're going to Pisa!!!!!!!" (Note, we had made jokes earlier about this and pronouncing it "piz-uh".  We're hilarious.), I would wake Erica up and make sure that we really wanted to take a 4 hour train ride starting at 6:30am. If that sounds rough, then maybe you aren't cut out for this kind of adventurous life style.

So my alarm goes off, I roll out of bed, go wake up Erica, and we had about a 15 minute discussion (whilest looking up train times) as to whether we actually got up and got to the train station if we could even buy the tickets. I voted, that if there was less than a 5% risk of getting stuck at the train station until the ticket office opened (this means just sitting around wishing we could go back to sleep) that we should do it. I mean, it'd be really fun to wake Kate up at 4:30am. But if there was more of a 49% chance that we would get stuck that I was going back to bed.  After extensive research (again, only about 15 minutes of that) we found that there was actually a 10:30am train to Pisa.  Of course, that meant that we would get there around 2:30pm, but it also meant 4 more hours of sleep. Erica then suggested that we just wake Kate up anyway, and 'live our day backwards'.  This meant (as I gathered) that we do homework before the train because we were going to sacrifice our evening that we had originally intended on being in Rome. Not buying that I would be very productive at 4:30am, we instead opted to go back to bed, catch the 10:30 train, and lose the joy of waking Kate up before dawn. The sacrifices we make.

4 hours later....

Wake up again, this time with the REAL intention of going to Pisa. Make some coffee, grab some gear, pack for two 4-hour train rides, and walk over to the Trastevere train station. This is a much more reasonable time to be awake, fact. Catch the train (with only minutes to spare, damn we're good) and then proceed to wander the cabins looking for 3 seats together. The trick is to not sit next to anyone who looks mildly creepy or who may smell bad. But for the first couple of stops, this proved very difficult. We ended up splitting for a few minutes, Erica by her lonesome, and Kate and I by a man whose dog was unhappily cowering underneath the seat next to him. Poor pooch. Although Rebecca Black's refrain was obnoxiously running through our heads, Erica finally found 3 seats together, and we moved. Thus begins our 4 hours of semi-journaling, doing homework, reading, and jamming to our tunes. Oh, and looking at Italian countryside and the glimpses of the Mediterranean from the window.

So the first order of business was to find somewhere to eat, after all, traveling for 4 hours especially over lunch is a famishing experience. So we wandered around for a bit, searching for somewhere that wasn't on siesta. Finally we stumbled across a little out door diner and probably finished off the last of the tortellini before we began our walk across town to find that one building... What's that called again? Oh yeah, I remember, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It sure does lean alright. And the funnier part is watching all of the people stand randomly on the lawn that you're not supposed to stand on with their hands in the air.  It looks like a series of people that are just desperate for a high five. In fact, it would be absolutely hilarious to try and stage a picture with someone else without knowing it that you would be high fiving them instead of propping up the tower. Hilarious? Yes.

So we did the full tourist thing. Pushed down the tower, propped up the tower, got chased off the lawn by the police-everything. Then we looked through all of the shops lining the street and made scarf purchases (always worth it). Decided enough was enough and got some gelato.  Looked around and then decided that if we were indeed going to travel the 4 hours back starting at nearly 8pm, that we should probably get some dinner, regardless of how late we had lunch or the fact that we just ate gelato. So we stumble upon a sushi place and begin discussion as to whether or not to eat sushi. But we continued this discussion as we walked across the street to an Italian Cafe.

Enter: Vittorio. He is an interesting individual who came up to persuade us that his restaurant was better than the sushi place across the street. Picture this: Sicily, 1945... uh, just kidding....  Uh, curly long blonde hair-but that's not the natural color. Naturally he would be a brunette darker than my color.  Pulled back in a bun.  Wearing extensive mesh-knit chains and has his ear pierced. His bracelets match the necklaces, but he's wearing a white collard shirt under his hoodie. His nearly perfect English with his British accent eventually wore us down so that we finally caved and got a table. He then proceeded to learn our names and how long we were in Pisa. Chat, chat chat. He eventually managed to persuade Kate to get the 'bomb' (which he had to write down on the placemat for dramatic effect) which was not an explosive device, but rather a very specialized Italian burger with a fried egg on it. We ordered, but unlike all of the other waiters in Italy, he was determined to keep coming back to check on us.

Checking up on us turned into hitting on fast. At this point I would like to point out the time similarites: This all was happening between the hours of 6 and 7pm on a Saturday. Do you happen to remember what was happening one week ago from that time? I'll give you a hint: 'face up'. So I'll keep you updated on other strange 6-7pm occurrences on Saturdays. He picked Erica and proceeded to pull out all the stops. And that means magic tricks. What? Magic tricks? Yup. All the stops.

Note to those optimistic boys out there who are thinking, 'Hey, I could do magic tricks!' Word to the wise--make sure they're good. But not Vittorio! He was attempting to do a magic trick with his business card. How? Because he had his contact information on one side, and his picture on the other. This is not a good plan of attack. The short version is that after extensive talking and flirting, he flips over the card to our 'surprise' his picture. Eventually he came back again this time with cards. Woof. Long story short, if the card that Erica picked had a blue back, she got to keep the piece of paper that she wrote her "contact" information on, if it was red, he got to. The good news is that basically the only real part was her first name. The bad news is that he got to keep it anyway. So by the end of the meal (which couldn't come fast enough) we were MORE than ready to sit on a train for 4 hours.

Run run run. See a pretty suit in a store window--had to go investigate. Found a prettier suit inside. Got weak in the knees looking at the pattern, completely blacked out at the price tag. So for my first-born, I could have purchased a stunning one-button, blue stitching on black fabric skirt suit. Too bad I don't have a first born up for sale. Kate and Erica dragged my limp body from the store with apologies to the clerk and we ran to the train station.

On to the train, sitting for 4 hours, this time with ample seating. Covering up (it was a little chilly) with the scarves we had purchased, and I read some of my book (I'm actually read for fun! The last time I think I had time to read for fun between the months of September and April, I think I was 12). And after that we walked home to our wonderful cheesecake. It was so good. And now it's gone. So good.

And a totally successful trip. I'll try to post some pictures soon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Table of Contents

I'm going to cut you a deal.

It goes something like, I will tell you all about my trip to Pisa.

But it will be tomorrow.

Counter offer?

All I hear is silence. So I win this round.  I will tell you about Pisa, and it will be tomorrow. I'm going to need a study break.

Things that will be covered:
--4:30am
--4 hour train ride
    Which seat can I take?
--Tower (SPOILER ALERT: It leans)
--Vittorio
--4 hour train ride part 2

That's like looking at the table of contents for tomorrow's post. So just like DDM taught me to do in my FTS, read it and learn the basic plot without actually reading the blog.
Just kidding, read my blog. It'll be more fun than this one.  Promise.

Also-Way to be Gusties being sassy at the Joust. Because Cadi was the first to tell me (on her FB status? Not impressed) I will wait until awards for my final call on who wins the grand prize. Get to it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Surviving a Friday without RB

How to spend a Friday when you don't want to go anywhere to exotic.

First, you wake up late. Preferably after 10am (it's still 10 military time too. Don't get over excited).
Second: Do homework all day. Take only short breaks including ones to make delicious peach and blueberry cheesecake.
3rd-- (All of the formatting geeks hate me by now.) Do more homework while you wait for the cheesecake to be done.
4.) Interrupting cow--MOO
5. Make delicious lunch (Grilled ham and cheese with an apricot spread-just do it)
Six: Repeat step 3 and 4.
Seventhly, check cheesecake in fridge and make delicious dinner (Chicken, green beans, mushrooms, and rice. Wonderful and pretty!)
And finally- watch Spiderman with Kate and Erica until they fall asleep.

At this point I chose to play mother hen and tuck everyone in.

But here's the kicker. We were planning on going to Pisa in the morning. And that leaves me to figure out how we're getting to Pisa in the morning. The cheap train is 4 hours and under 20 euros.  What's the problem with that? We'd have to be at the train station by 6:15am.  Translation? We'd have to be up by 4:30am. SO....  that's obstacle one.

The second obstacle is that according to the website, all trains leaving from Pisa for Rome leave at approximately the same time as the ones leaving from Rome to Pisa-Very early in the morning. What does that mean? That it could be a surprise 2 day trip.

Solution? Set the alarm for 3 hours from now. Wake up Erica, ask if we still want to risk it, and see what happens. But that's for tomorrow's blog post. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Melting Harmonicas

It's Thursday!

You know what Thursdays mean? Hmm? Well do you? They mean live music!!

That's right, we went back to the same place we were last Thursday and it was all blues tonight. We're talking a sweet keyboardist, a guy on the guitar who looks like the security guard on the Tiber campus (who looks like Joe from the Princess Diaries for those of you who don't know the security guard on the Tiber campus), a drummer, and (here's the kicker) a singer/harmonica player. Yup. I went there. I said harmonica.

And since it was all blues, it was not only in English, it was all soul. We're talking the kind of twist-that-knife-one-more-time kind of soul that makes you want to dance and let your body melt into a puddle on the floor all at the same time. I'm not sure how many other types of music demand that kind of dichotomous reaction from the listener. But let me tell you, that blues harmonica (there were actually several harmonicas in use throughout the hour and a half production, but we'll lump them together for clarity) just pulls at the center of your chest and won't let go. Talk about an emotional roller coaster.

The biggest let down of the night was that Pretty Boy and Wolverine were not present. Fact: They need to be in every band that performs on Thursday nights. This extreme disappointment was only mildly diminished by the fact that I got to wear my new leather jacket! YAY! It's finally cool enough in the evenings to make it a plausible mode of dress.  I'm thrilled, but I do miss Pretty Boy. He was so pretty.

And I think for the moment, that's a wrap. For other wrapping posts, see Tuesday's.
"...hey remember that time..." "Yup, sure do remember that..."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Earliest post in the history of mankind

I've had approximately two revelations today.

1) Sometimes it's worth it to be late to class because I'm actually living in Italy.
           All too often I find myself lapsing into my usual walking pace which is very quick (yes, even we short people can walk quickly) and I'm passing all kinds of characters. From the guy sweeping the sidewalk outside his store, to the woman making bracelets by Piazza Santa Maria. And sometimes it just hits me that, "Hey, I live here. This is Italy. I live in Italy." And that's a really big realization for a Wednesday morning.
           Your conclusion: Sometimes it's ok to stick around and drink your espresso at the counter.

2) They actually require us to do work here.
           This revelation has been in progress for the past two days and includes the fact that out of my 5 classes, 3 of them will have midterms on Wednesday the 19th. Here's another fun fact, I only have 3 classes on Wednesday the 19th. From approximately 10:30am to 6:30pm (or 10:30-18:30) I will be taking tests. That's two weeks from today. As for the other two classes, I'm not even sure they are having midterms. Secondarily, in route to those exams, I have at least one paper due, and should start working on two more. What fun is that? None. I'd rather just go to the Amalfi coast this weekend and ponder art and culture and eat pizza instead of writing papers about things like the ancient Greek version of portraiture, or the body/mind problem for Descartes, or the captives in the Accademia (the afore mentioned things could all be projects for the next two weeks of my life. Go ahead and guess the classes).
            Your conclusion: Sometimes they expect learning to happen inside the classroom. Then they want you to apply it a paper.

So I think I'm going to go make some dinner (WHAT? I'm posting before dinner? Strange day indeed), attempt to do some reading/writing/research, and then go to bed and pretend that I didn't finish off that jar of Nutella.

Ciao.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Ordered the Special?

As promised, here is the experience of a lifetime, in blog post form. Send all your love and appreciation to Cadi. So basically I'm describing my experience of a lifetime, in a blog post. If reading this is your experience of a lifetime, then we need to get you out more.

Anyway, this is a post about that two hour lapse that I promised to tell you about in my Tuscany part 2 post. Ready? Here goes nothing (which is the basic sentiment of the entire experience).

So since we were staying at the hot spring/spa place right? And because we could get discounts on the spa treatments, we decided, hey, why not? This is going to be magical anyway, and it'll never happen again.

We ask for a list of spa options and begin going over the list. Now I don't know what you think of when you hear "mud bath," but we definitely thought of sitting in a bathtub of mud. You know, just a girls' weekend soaking up some mud and good times, sitting in a hot tub of mud with cucumbers on our eyes and giggling about how ridiculous the Jones's are as we speak in pretentious accents.

None of the above happened.

We had just finished with the tour of the surrounding towns, and ran back to the residence to pay for our assumed memorable spa treatments (there was a discount) then sprinted to the actual spa place. Winded, but prepared to relax we were all taken to different rooms. So here goes nothing.

First thing to note is that none of the masseuses spoke English. And considering that my grasp of Italian is pretty much limited to what I can find on a menu, various arias, and the last names of artists (which isn't all that much Italian)-this was going to be interesting. I walk into the room (no, this is not one of those "so this guy walks into a bar" jokes) and she puts this thing wrapped in plastic on the table.  From here forward we will call her "Carmela."

Carmela: Face *points to part of table*.
Kelsey: Ok...
Carmela: Stomach *points to another part of table*.
Kelsey: Ok....

And Carmela left the room. I'm envisioning at this point that whole idea of hot tub full of mud literally evaporating before my eyes.  *poof* So I open up the thing wrapped in plastic that she had placed on the table.  Any guesses as to what it was? A fork? No. A spork? No. A happy meal toy? No sir. If you guessed "disposable thong," you are correct.

I'm guessing that less than 2% of you guessed that.

Well, this is real life. This is Italy. And this is going to be blog worthy. Fact.

So strip down, suit up, and on to the table. This is going to be nothing like that tub o mud I had envisioned maybe 5 minutes earlier. Carmela comes back in the room and I start hearing the mixing of mud. *suitable mud mixing noise here* and on goes the mud. Up one leg, up the other leg. All the way up. Back, shoulders, arms, hands- everything. Not a joke.

By this point I'm starting to relax. Thinking, hey, this isn't quite so bad. Then, like a bolt of lightening, those dreaded words.

"Face up."

Wait. What? No. She didn't say that. That's not real life. Trying to ignore the obvious, I decided that she meant turn my head the other direction, so I put my other cheek down on the table (don't get cheeky with me here) (Ah, puntabulous).

"No, uh, face up."

Oh. Oh. OH. She for sure didn't mean "just turn your head" she mean literally, 'face up'. Heavens be. Hello world, hello Europe. Face up indeed.

On goes the mud part two. All up, all down, all everywhere. Errwhere. After that she wrapped me in a plastic sheet (think human mud tortilla), threw a towel over me, and left.

At this point I began to notice the dulcet tones of the pan flute coming over the intercom. This included renditions of "Let It Be," "Sound of Silence," "House of the Rising Sun," and "Que Sera." Now if you haven't heard all of these being played on the pan flute, you need to jump on that ASAP and raid my father's music library. Totally worth it. (Note only slight sarcasm.)

After about 20 minutes, Carmela came back and asked me how much Italian I knew. Honestly? My vocal training for "Caro Mio Ben" doesn't quite cut it here. Recognizing my silence and confused facial expression as a 'No,' she proceeded to attempt to explain the next process to me with short words and hand gestures. Welcome to my world.

Carmela: Uh, doccia. Only water. Uh, *points to towel* *makes vigorous scrubbing noise/gesture*
Kelsey: Ok... (I just assumed that met 'dry')

She also helped me to detangle myself from the plastic sheet (no easy task when you stick to everything) and handed me another disposable thong. Yipee!

Scrub off the mud, suit up again, back on the table. This time round two is the same process, except with massage oils. At this point, bring it. The little shame I did have, has been washed down the Italian drain with the rest of the mud. Ciao.

After that, Carmela said goodbye and left. I put real, non-disposible clothing back on, and went to find my roommates who had hopefully survived the same experience. Once we saw each other, we just started laughing and pretty much sprinted back to the room to relive the entire awkward, soon-to-be-infamous story one at a time.

And now, 3 days later, we are still reliving that one time that we thought we were going to go sit in a vat of mud. My personal vote is that next time we try something like this, we should make sure it is the kind of mud bath where you just have and epic mud fight/battle until you are exhausted enough to collapse in the sunshine and rinse it off in the conveniently located waterfall. Maybe that isn't quite the same thing, but it'd be just as much fun, and the story would probably be just as much fun to tell.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tuscany: Part 2 (with a promise of an epilogue)

And thus begins chapter two of the Tuscan saga. Where did we leave off? Oh yes, dreams of horseback riding. So you're thinking, why in the world would you be dreaming about riding horses just when you got to Tuscany? Why not all the time or not at all?

It's because that's what we did Saturday morning.

Oooo, that's right.  Your girl Kelsey here went horseback riding in freaking Tuscany. That's right. What up world? So we woke up kind of early, grabbed some breakfast at the cafe place, and drove over to the farm where we would find our pretty horses.  Snagged some helmet and got saddled up for a little horse tour of the Tuscan countryside. I had the fine pleasure of being the line leader on Piccolo (who was pretty lazy and kind of stubborn) but we rode around some trails and just gazed at the countryside. Words don't do this place very much justice.  We're talking vineyards, trees, sheep, horses, rolling hills, steep drop offs, and a quick fresh breeze. It's like the Italian version of heaven. For realz.

After about an hour of riding though the hills and fields of Tuscany, we went back to the paddock and said goodbye to our new found four legged friends. And then we gawked at the baby sheep in the pasture next to the corral. SO STINKING CUTE. (I want one, as Kate would say, "Baby sheepy-sheep").  We were eventually torn away from the adorable sleeping sheep and driven back to the resort. There we ate lunch on the little patio outside our door, and I reclined in the sun (knowing that this was the last time I would see the real sun until May.  I am going back to MN in January. Uff da.)

Then we loaded up to go tour some of the surrounding towns. (Note: our residence was called Terme di Sorano) These included Sovana, Sorano, and Pitigliano. Of the three not-very-large-towns, Sovana only had a population of 109 people. So we're talking tiny little towns. Like smaller that St. Pete tiny. But there were some stunning little churches and some great little history lessons about what family took over what when. In Pitigliano has a rich Jewish history which was a fascinating little detour from the land of the Catholics, even though now they only have a Jewish population of 3 (that's only 2 more than the speech team).  Just a wonderful little tour. We also visited some Etruscan ruins (can you say Gaga? yup. It happened.) And eventually made it back to the residence.

This is will begin the two hour segment of my Saturday that I'm not going to tell you about. Disappointed? I understand. From those who know what happened (don't say anything) it's the best story of my entire European experience thus far. How do you get to hear this story? Easy. It all depends on Cadi. The minute I skype with Cadi, I will begin the extra bonus post about this two hour experience. Hear me Cadi? I am not a 'nerd' for wanting to skype with you, I just want to tell you the best story of your life. Fact.

After that we went back to the room to chill until dinner, had the typical four course meal in the same place as the night before, and then decided to hit up the hot springs. So a little midnight swim in the naturally heated springs, laughing, and relaxing.  Basically it was the best day ever. Not even kidding. I mean, how many times do you get to ride horses in Tuscany, see some beautiful little towns, take a cat nap in the sun, [mysterious 2 hour experience that you will hear about soon], eat a four course meal, and swim in hot springs all with wonderful friends in Italy? How often does that happen for you? Hmm?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

The next morning we woke up early, snatched breakfast, and headed out to this farm. Same farm? No. Different one. This one functioned as kind of a tourist, winery, organic, meeting place, and lunch gig. That was a lot to handle. But we toured the mini winery, talked about the organic foodstuffs, and then went out to see the demonstration of the Butteri. That's the fancy Italian word for "Italian cowboys". They are super proud of the fact that the butteri showed Buffalo Bill up sometime, and so now they did a little demonstration about how they manage to separate cattle and catch the calves for branding. No branding was involved, but some people still felt the need to freak out. It was a lot of fun to just stand around and watch this family of cowboys show off and have fun. Two of the little boys were out riding too (8 and 11) and the 11 year old felt the need to really show off and try and rope one of the calves. We all cheered for him, but no luck. There was also an opportunity to sit on the tied up calf and take a picture. Though I didn't jump on that one, Molly did, you go girl. We also watched them play this game called the Rose something or other. It basically involved arm bands with a rose on them and a bunch of butteri chasing each other around on horseback trying to snatch the other guy's rose. Fun? Yes. Does the girl get the rose at the end? You bet she does. Did we all want the little boys to win? Sure did. After a good long while of that, we went back to the main part of the estate and had some lunch, relaxed for a bit, and moved it all out and back to Rome.

Anyway, that nearly concludes chapter 2 of the Weekend of Tuscany. It was sweet. It was fun. And now I'm back in Rome and attending class.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tuscany: Part 1 (see? more chapter blogs)

Miss me? I know you did! So this blog post is going to function much like the one about Florence did: Multiple parts. When you spend so much time being awesome, it's hard to condense things into a single servings. So tough it out and read the chapter version.

Then again, if you want the "Spark Notes" version, I can't deny you that advantage. So here you go.

"Kelsey went to Tuscany. It was awesome."

The end.

See how boring that was? Cheaters never win.

Now that little bit is over, I'll actually tell you dedicated readers what went down this weekend. Why? Because you're awesome. So let's do that.

We left Friday morning-met all of the other SAI persons at the same Piazza that we met at for the farm adventure. To be clear, this was an adventure that was nearly entirely paid for by the study abroad program (there will likely be a separate post about that which is not covered) that I'm with.  So that's pretty sweet.

So we load up on the buses, luggage and all, and head out to the town of Bolsena. This is the sight of the largest volcanically formed crater lake in Europe. So we stopped, and had a little bit of lunch right on the lake (pretty!), then went over to the actual boat tour there.  Jump in a boat (I'm on a boat!) and take a little tour of the massive lake. This is not only huge, but it has two 'private islands' (Bisentina and Martana) (aren't you impressed I know this? Just kidding. I looked it up again), and some pretty spectacular scenery. So props to you Lake Bolsena.

We then jumped off the boat (on to land. No matter how many times I really wanted to jump into the water and sing 'Under the Sea'.) and walked around the town which included a tour of the local basilica and the catacombs. This basilica is founded for the Saint Christina. This is the paraphrased/mostly right history of the basilica: Christina lived in the middle ages and the town was worshiping Roman gods, but she was a practicing Christian. Her family got mad and tried to kill her in various ways including tying a very large rock around her neck and throwing her into the pretty lake that we all just had a dandy time on. Well instead of dragging her to the bottom, the rock miraculously held her afloat by letting her stand on it. This rock is now in part of the church and there are two very distinct little foot prints on it. She was eventually killed, but her body is entombed in the catacombs now. The second miracle of this church is that when a priest was kind of doubtful about the whole 'body and blood of Christ' in the Eucharist bit, when he was serving mass, he broke the bread and blood poured out of the host. The Pope showed up and said, hey, this must be a miracle, and established a feast day. The rocks of the alter that were stained by the blood are also on display in the church. What a nifty little history lesson. So we looked around there (remind me, at some point to post a little mini rant about how you should and should not treat artwork in a religious space... or any space for that matter. It can go under the filing: things people shouldn't do.) and eventually headed to the catacombs.

Now if you're creeped out by the whole dead thing, then maybe this isn't the gig for you. For those of you who are morbidly fascinated, come on down.  In this particular catacomb, there's evidence of more than 1,000 burials-most of which have been excavated. Now they just look like empty shelves with very narrow walkways between things. So the floor's a little uneven, and the air's a little damp, what do you mean you were always scared in Indiana Jones? (Anything but snakes. Which was a real question at one point this weekend.) But it was still awesome right? Right.

Then we all came back up to the surface and headed to the bus so that we could finally make it to our resort/hotel/where we were staying place.

HOLY CRAP. This place was gorgeous. None of what I say is an understatement. We're talking built practically into the hill with dozens of little condo/houses and all leading down to the natural mineral hot springs that are naturally heated by the volcanic activity underneath. Winner. (More on all of that later-like tomorrow).  So we unload our stuff, hang out, eat at the church on property (4 courses and good) (there were cakes), and back to the room to chill. Being out away from all the light pollution, the country girl in me got going and I demanded that we all go outside in sweatshirts (they were actually needed-yay!) and look at the stars.

Probably the best part of that day. Seeing 2 shooting stars, doing cartwheels with Molly, and laughing with friends. It was absolutely amazing. I can't make this kind of bliss up. Not humanly possible. It's just not. But we laughed until we couldn't stand the chill and then went inside and went to bed. All full of dreams about tomorrow and horseback riding.

Yep, that's what we like to call a cliff hanger. So tune in tomorrow to figure out what the perfect day in Tuscany looks like! I'll try and post pictures soon too.