Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No Nay Never! [Clap Clap Clap Clap] Ireland Day 1

Triumphant music!!!!  I don't know how to spell that in phonetics, but that's what is playing in my head as I write this. And the important part is that I'm writing this instead of yet another paper!  Aren't you excited!?!?! You should be.

So basically to catch you up on my day that allows me to actually blog right now: I was supposed to be finished enough with one paper to allow me to present to the class, finished with another paper, and still attend all of my classes. Well, I asked for an extension on one, didn't hear back from the prof, didn't turn it in during class, then proceeded to enjoy the hilarious class (ok, I thought it was funny, I'm probably the only one really laughing... typical.) So after that class I grabbed some pizza (I do live in Italy) headed straight back to the same classroom where I began my paper since I hadn't heard back from her, wrote until I had to present and participate in class (maybe tomorrow I'll tell you another story about Charles, it's good). Then to the library to write, to class (writing), to the caf, kicked out of the caf (imagine my anger.  I'm not even kidding, there could have been blood) upstairs, FINISH THE PAPER, email it to prof. Now though the entire process took all day, I would like to say that my completed paper totally 5.5 pages of A4 paper (it's bigger than regular paper, believe me) in approximately 3.5 hours. I'm a stud, and you know it.

Alright! Now that you know my life, let me tell you about the things that you actually read my blog for! The incredible lyrical and poignant detail that I write about each of my life experiences. (A long shot, but that's what I'm working toward. Just nod your head and smile.) I know, I know, I'll tell you about Dublin and Edinburgh. You are just never satisfied with the average parts of my life. Boo.

DUBLIN!  If you do not immediately start singing the 'drinking song' from Whose Line Is It Anyway, we need to reconsider our friendship. Acceptable alternatives are other Irish diddies like Bonny Wood Green, the song we learned/sang at every pub (Wild Rover), and any Ke$ha song. The Ke$ha has nothing to do with it, but you may sing Ke$ha all the time. So I'll start from the beginning and try to keep my incessant prattle to a minimum because I'm going to get very sleepy writing this if I don't.

Got up at a reasonable hour (ie early) and made it to the airport. Unlike my other airport adventures, this one was quite prompt and I rather enjoyed my flight on Aerlingus minus the lack of free beverages. On this flight Erica and I planned bachelorette parties. Not because we have any to attend, or even any to think about attending or planning for, but we got a good laugh out of it. So that's worth it. The Dublin airport was spacious, modern, and silent. I've never seen an airport that quiet. Not even the Kansas City one (which we all know is tiny and not so bustling) was a comparison. I'm dead serious. It was nearly silent, like speak in whispers, you're too loud kind of quiet. Weird.

Get on the bus to the city center, wander around in the wind-tunnel/area for a bit before finding our hostel. Get checked in, then decide to go out and explore a bit. Now this is one of two times where I became incredibly anxious during the weekend. This first time was because we were waiting for Vanessa. Yes that's right, that Vanessa, the one that sends swell letters and kept up with me in Art of Interpretation last semester. Can. Not. Wait. So we walk around all of these festive streets strung with all kinds of Christmasy decorations and such. Yay! Christmas time!

Eventually we wandered into a grocery store. Now, I know what you're thinking. Grocery store? But seriously. I think we're justified in doing this though, we heard that there was Dr. Pepper in Ireland. And Erica probably would have sold her first born for a DP at this point. Not an underestimate. So we begin our adventure through the grocery store and find a pot of gold. No, literally, gold in the form of cheese. Now don't get me wrong, Italy has wonderful cheese, but no cheddar. None. Not a crumb, we've looked. CHEDDAR!!! And we simply couldn't pass up this opportunity. We also found the wonderful and magical Doritos (again, the cheese thing, can't help it). So we bought both. And one the way back to the hostel, we found a place with Dr. Pepper and Rootbeer AND Reeses. WINNER. So delicious. Anyway, so back to the hostel with the loot, find Vanessa (So much hugging and squealing) and head out to a wonderful dinner of fish and chips.

So after din din, we went to another pub (because there are other places to go in Ireland?) and listened to a guy who looked like Colin Firth play the guitar and sing classics. That repertoire list includes Train, Irish Folk music, Bob Marley, and even some Muse. Be envious of my life.

Then back to the hostel for some well deserved rest.

So I think I'm going to bed now (yes, now that I just really started to blog) and I will work on bringing you day two tomorrow. I'm sorry this is so delayed, I took pretty pictures for you to enjoy... oh yeah, I have to put those up here too. Ok, I'll work on it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Carrot ahead of me

I'm currently using my blog and posting pictures as a motivational tool to get my papers done. Wish me luck, there will be postings soon. Promise.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh Aye-dee Aye-dee....

'ello there! Just to let you all know that I have officially survived my excursions to Dublin and Edinburgh, and am now back in Italia where the tidal wave of things I have yet to do are literally pounding down on my head, but hey! That's ok! I got to see Gusties all weekend! Totally worth it!

So due to this paper monsoon, I promise that I will do my best to update you fully about each beautiful day I spent this weekend, but I don't know if I'll be able to get it to you as promptly as I otherwise would. I also have TONS of pictures (all of them stunning and wonderful) but those might take a bit too. I'm incredibly sorry, and I know you all had higher expectations for me to keep up with all the parts of my life ESPECIALLY the blog part so you can dream that you are living my life. I get it. But alas, I'm going to attempt to prioritize according to what I should be doing, and not what I want to do. And that means that although I would LOVE to skype wonderful friends and blog extensively, that I will probably lock myself in the library with only a crust of bread and a bottle of water so that I finish these papers.

Irish and Scottish adventures to come soon.

Wish me luck (of the Irish).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Restlessness of an Hyper-stressed Globe-trotter

I'm terribly sorry you haven't gotten to virtually experience my stress levels for the last 3 days that I've actually been in Rome. Let me tell you, they are something to witness. With 3 papers coming up (all of relatively substantial size: 12 pages, 6 pages, and 3-single space pages) I'm in a very funny mind set.

However even with these overwhelming assignments, I managed to pull myself away from stress-ville (not a nice place to visit, and no I don't want to live there) to have dinner with Molly's family.  They are all in town, along with her friend Julie and it was a blast. We had some delicious food, and laughed probably more than we should have, and I don't regret any of it.

That being said, I can't wait to spend this weekend that the United States-ers call Thanksgiving weekend with some of my favorite people (Note: some of, not 'all'.  There are very many who are not included, though you are all invited.) As Erica, Kate and I venture to Ireland and Scotland this weekend, I hope that you all remember who has influenced your life, who you haven't spoken to in far too long, and who you are very thankful for in your life. I know I have my list, and I can't wait to reconnect with all of you asap.

So with that, I head to bed. Big adventures in the morning-international flights, green things, friends, and potentially leprechauns. It's going to be awesome.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Berets and art. Paris Days 2 and 3

PARIS! Day two (commence).

So we woke up kind of late (we're both still teenagers, we can't help it) and ate breakfast.  This consisted of some yummy bread with jam, and orange, and some juice.  After that we get ready for a day of adventure!  It's basically what I do. Well, that, and look at art. I do a lot of that too.

On the way to step one, we passed the monument to Princess Diana, I'm sorry I didn't get a picture, but it's beautiful, and I thought of Vanessa like I was supposed to.

Step one: Find Rodin Museum. If you don't know who this is, shame. I'll give you a hint, you should "Think" about it. That's a wonderful clue. Still no? Ok, he's the guy who made "The Thinker". Keep up. This museum includes a wonderful garden and outdoor area where you can walk around all of the sculptures and be surrounded by carefully sculpted (non-artistic) bushes. Then inside there are more sculptures by both Rodin and some other and these are marble, plaster, the popular bronze, and even a few manuscripts/letters. All very cool and some super sweet things. I totally dig it. Oh, and we also saw a famous French rockstar. I wish I could give you a name, but I've been sworn to secrecy. That's the line I'm sticking with.

Then we took a little stroll and a little bus to the d'Orsay (is that redundant? I don't even know) Museum. Now this is sweet. It's actually in an old train station (we're talking the super classic, must be from a movie kind of thing) and the collection is seriously impressive.  So we grab a quick (or quick as it can be in a crowded cafe in the museum) bite to eat and hit up the exhibits. I'm going to be super brief about all of the awesome things I saw in hopes that some of you art people will find this wonderfully amusing, but you non-art people (why am I friends with you again?) will not be angry with me.
(oh, and sorry these titles are in French, the magnificent d'Orsay website likes the French titles, you can Google them if you would like. Or go here ( and click on all of the rooms and have a blast!)

Poppy Field, La Cathedrale de Rouen (times two. Go series paintings), Essai de Figure en plein-air: Femme a l'ombrelle tournee vers la gauche, La gare Saint-Lazare

Dans un cafe, Foyer de la danse a l'opera de la rue Le Peletier, Dance Class

Jeunes Filles au Piano, Bal du mulin de la Galette, La Liseuse

Berthe Morisot au bouquet de violettes, Le de jeuner sur l'herbe, Le Balcon

Arrangement en gris et noir #1

(In case you were curious, that was all on one floor. And that's a VERY incomplete list. Go to that website. Make yourself smart)

The Circus

Van Gogh: (Side note, you should watch the Simon Schama Power of Art video about Van Gogh, it's awesome)
Portrait de l'artiste (two of these too!)
La chambre de Van Goch a Arles

For those of you who speak/read French, I apologize for the lack of accents, it's late here, and I'm not so good at figuring out how to copy and paste those in without one of those fancy keyboards/minion to do it for me. I'll work on it.

Next step (2? 3? Who knows. I don't do numbers. Chloe? Hannah? Help!).  Champs-Élysées!  And with that comes many things.  First was the super sweet Ferris Wheel that takes you up to see Paris from the air (a lot like the Eiffel Tower, except it spins) and there was this joyous atmosphere of a carnival and there was this catchy French song playing in the cart-thing and it was awesome. 

Once off the Ferris Wheel, we walked down the Champs-Élysées through all of the Christmas markets. And believe you me, I am one of those strict-THERE IS ANOTHER HOLIDAY BETWEEN HALLOWEEN AND CHRISTMAS people, but will all of the cider, and the chill in the air, and the delicious looking things, you couldn't help but feel just the beginnings of the holiday spirit. So we smelled all of the wonderful things being served up, and watched the crowds, and walked down the lines of year-round stores, and just had a splendid time.  We eventually wound around to eating at this Crepe place where pretty much anything worth mentioning is on a crepe. And that's awesome. I had a delicious crepe with ham, mozzarella, basil, and sun dried tomatoes then an applesauce crepe for dessert. It was wonderful.  Then we walked all the way home, watched the French version of Dancing with the Stars, and went to bed. 

As if that wasn't exhausting enough, we began day three in much the same way as day two with a late start and a good breakfast. Then we began the whirlwind that is the Louvre in under a lifetime. Hard to do, many attempt, and few do it well, but I can honestly say that I think we did pretty well for ourselves. Once again, I will attempt to make a very incomplete list of the wonderful works we saw.  

Portrait of Juliette Recamier
Crowning of Emperor Nepoleon
Intervention of the Sabine Women
The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons
The Oath of the Horatii

St. Sebastian

The Seasons (These are 4 separate paintings: Spring, Summer, Winter, and Autumn)

Leonardo da Vinci:
Mona Lisa (watched the crowds)

Death of the Virgin (Probably one of my favorites not just of the weekend, but in life.)

Raft of Medusa

The Marie de Medici Cycle

Dying Slave
Bound Slave

Cupid and Psyche

And something like 10,000 others, but I was in a hurry (even if you were there from open to close, you might get through a small room throughly. Not a joke. There are 35,000 works in the Louvre. Count those zeros again.)

But, sadly, we had to bolt, and made it back to the apartment where we met Sebastian (not the saint, Juliette's older brother) for lunch with the family. This splendid meal included something like baked mashed potatoes, and steak with pepper spread, shredded carrot salad, and a delicious rhubarb custard thing. Oh and there was American coffee. It was lovely. 

Then, I had to leave such a wonderful place. I know, tear. And I made my way back to the airport where I had the (un)pleasant surprise of being delayed for an extra 2 hours. No explanation, just delayed. And two hours later, I was starving, eating peanut M&Ms and playing endless games of solitare. When it gets to the point that you gladly turn to your Gaga readings for entertainment, that it's really bad and you're really bored. That's a sorry, depressing statement, but it's the truth. So instead of getting back at 9 ish, I was back at 11:30. It sucked. 

But the airport was honestly my ONLY complaint about the entire weekend. Good food, good art, good company. Always winning. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Reunionize Me Captain! Paris Part One

I would like to begin my re-telling of my Paris adventures with a joke that I made up in 3rd grade.

Set up: (a little bit of background so that you understand how wonderfully clever this is for a 3rd grader)

My class was in French class and our teacher wasn't yet there. So we are nicely sitting in the circle in this little room and someone asked, "Where did the French teacher go?"

Me: "She went out to take a breath of French air."

BAM. That's how funny winners are.

BAM. That's the air I was breathing all weekend. But for real. It was spectacular. I loved it.

So we'll start from the real beginning now. I packed all of my needed things for the weekend and made my way to the airport, full of excitement and the sense of adventure. Just like a little kid. The funny part of that is that I was going to meet up with a friend of mine I hadn't seen since the year after the birth of that beautiful joke you read above. That's a long time ago. And I couldn't believe that it was really and truly actually happening. So I get on the train to go to the airport. Watch this guy ask everyone in the train if it was going to the airport, then watched him get off at the wrong stop (unfortunate). Get there. Go through security (no they didn't search me), get to my gate, and sit down and relax for a bit. I grabbed a bottle of water and when I noticed people starting to line up in front of the gate, I thought, hey, that's not a terrible idea, I'll jump in line.

Bad. We're waiting there for about 15 minutes (still on time) when suddenly, right as we were supposed to start boarding, there was an announcement over the loud speaker that said that our flight had spontaneously changed gates. So everyone who had been waiting in line sprints down the hallway toward this other gate. I'm not even kidding. Literally running down the hallway, dodging past other travelers and magazine stands to get to the other gate. I get there like everyone else, a little winded, but totally wired for sound. And we wait. And wait. And wait. And by this point, I'm thinking, wow, that sandwich place looks really good right now. I'm hungry, but I ran all the way here, and of course the minute I get out of line, we'll start boarding. Instead I watched the two girls who were wearing I Puffi sweatshirts (awesome).  Although that was a fascinating past-time, it was still another 20 minutes before we actually boarded. Which eventually made the plane late by that 20 minutes. Boo.

None the less, I made it to Paris and began my search for the mysterious Orlybus. The only major problem with that is that I don't read or speak French past the extreme basics. We're talking the kinds of things the colorful puppets say slowly in the teach-your-baby-French videos.  That kind of basic. So after a brief search, I found the bus tickets right by the bus and got on. And other than the interesting choice of music (I didn't realize that the French would like Gloria Gaynor so much) I decided that regardless of my lack of language proficiency, "I Will Survive". (Get it? that was great). I get off at Denfert-Rochereau and there they were. Juliette and her mom. Perfect.

We hugged and it was just so strange to see someone who I used to be such good friends with. Crazy, but really fun. We then jumped on a series of trains to get to Juliette's grandmother's apartment. From about this moment on we began the necessary catching up. This involved everything from where are they now discussions to all of those nifty cultural differences that we discovered.

By the time we made it the apartment we were warmly greeted by her grandmother (she's so sweet, seriously) (s) and I was shown around the place. Couple of things: 1) It's huge!  I thought that our apartment in the center of Rome was big, this is about a 5 minuted walk from the Eiffel Tower and it's probably twice the size of ours. 2) The bathroom is split over two rooms. Let me explain. In one room there is a shower and a sink, and down the hall (like a ways down the hall) there is the toilet and another sink. Fascinating? Yes. But everything about it was just so cozy and fun. It reminded me a lot of my cousin Bev and Don's (except the bathroom(s) wasn't (weren't) tiger themed.  It was just that home feel with the piano in the corner and the old school chairs and the table cloth, it was lovely.

So we settled in, talked for a bit, and then sat down to a wonderful homemade dinner.  Now the thing about Italy is that they LOVE to eat. And I don't take this lightly, they love the act of eating, of sitting down and enjoying every bit, every sip of wine, the conversation, the food, the atmosphere, everything. The French are a oui bit different. There is distinct point to the meal. There is still that love of food, but it's not about the experience, it's about having dinner. (This is such an abstract and random thing to describe to you, I'm doing my best, promise) For example, this three course meal would have 3 very different reaction in the US, Italy, and France.

Family dinner, everyone is talking and kidding around. Kind of like Thanksgiving (I'm going to be craving turkey later this week) where the family gets together and talks about everything.  I don't know about you, but my Thanksgiving dinners have people eating for just about an hour-an hour and a half then everyone watches football and waits for someone to cut into the pie.

A 3 hour affair where there are at least 2 bottles of wine and everything is savored with the utmost deliberateness. There is probably some crazy storytelling and lots of hand waving.

It felt like any regular family sit down dinner. Not the kind where the whole crew is involved, just the immediate family.  You eat, you talk, you talk about the day-in three courses, but faster than the Italians would have.

We had this turkey with mushrooms and gravy with rice for the first course, a simple salad with an oil and vinegar dressing for course numero dos, and fruit and yogurt for the last one. It was wonderful to have a home cooked meal that I didn't have to cook.

Then, The Pezron family and I went out to see the Eiffel Tower by night. Magical? Oh ya you betcha!  It was so incredible! Not only is it just a stunning piece of architecture (no one can argue that) but to see it lit up by night is just magical. I'm totally impressed. But the crowning jewel was when we went all the way up to the top. That's right, get out your Bucket List counters, because this is on there: Top of the Eiffel Tower by night. CHECK. You can literally see the entire city from up there. And all of the other monuments are so well lit that you can identify them and practically plan your next day based on what you see. And that's awesome.

After taking tons of pictures (I promise I'll get on that asap) we walked back home and pretty much immediately went to sleep. Successful day? Of course. And I couldn't ask for a better reunion. Especially when there are basically two more days of magic to cover.

But that report will probably have to happen tomorrow, I'm still recovering.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Airports rock

I'm alive! I have oodles to tell you about Paris, and the wonderful time I had with Juliette and family, but it is currently 12:36 am and I'm exhausted. Let's face it, spending an unnecessary 2 hours in an airport is just not as relaxing as it could have been.  But, alas, I am home now, and before I start typing things that are unrelated, cow, or are misspelled, rowme, then I will go to bed.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Fun fact!

Exactly one month from yesterday, I will be back on US soil.

I know some of you are incredibly excited for this, and others are dreading every moment that brings that date closer. I'm sorry for you. But yesterday also marked a magical occasion.

I found a knitting store.

Well, I didn't find it, but I was in it!  A girl from my Cin City class showed it to me and we had a wonderful time reveling in the amounts of yarns, and I consequently spent far too much time looking at patterns that only require one set of needles (and that I could do in Rome).  I miss it hard core, but I know it will only be a distraction. Somehow I've managed to overlook that little obstacle, and continued to look at patterns.

That aside, I leave in approximately 45 minutes for an epic reunion in Paris!  Reunion? How? What?
Let me explain.

My childhood comrade Juliette moved back to France after 4th grade. Through the magic of Facebook, we have managed to keep in contact and even plan this eventful reunion. I'm incredibly excited to see the girl who played on all the same soccer and basketball teams with me, and I haven't seen since we were 10. So think about that next time someone disses the good old Facebook, bringing people together decades apart.

So I need to finish packing, probably should eat something, and need to get on a train/plane!

I'll let you know of my revelries on Sunday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I felt bad not posting, so here I am!

Ok, some things that I enjoyed about today:
1) Drinking too much coffee
2) Watching Ke$ha videos "with" Vanessa before class
3) Reuniting with the "Florentines" (High Italian Renaissance class) and actually feeling like friends and not a collection of people forced to learn together.
4) One class being delayed (for probably a little too long) and another being cancelled.
5) Texting Cadi as she drives through "the south"
6) Finding a moment in the drama
7) Skyping with Alecia and surprise guest Jonathan
8) Writing postcards
9) Talking to a guy in my Philosophy class, making a joke, and waiting until he figured out I was kidding. (Alexander: What are we doing today in class? Me: No clue, want to take bets? [beat] [beat] [beat] Alexander: [smiles])
10) Getting super pumped about Paris this weekend.

And that concludes my life story.

Ok, at least today's portion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crisis Averted? or Adventure Averted?

So that was a crap shoot.

Now, let me be honest here, the idea of Italy Reads is wonderful.  I think it's a wonderful idea that allows for students to interact with each other on a level that they would not otherwise seek, and about something that may not be the most immediate option. So generally, this is a fantastic idea.

The trouble is that there are some major flaws in execution.

1) I personally think that they are marketing this to the wrong people.  Much of the time they spend trying to get study abroad students here for a semester to commit a substantial amount of time to preparing for something that in theory should only take a few hours. Therefore, although they should not exclude the study abroad students, I think that the better candidates for this project are the degree-seeking students that are looking for a volunteering opportunity.

2) Organization. I'll say it again for clarity, Organization. The funny thing about recruiting study abroad kids is that their schedules fill up fast. And I'm talking like a large portion of these students travel every weekend, or just don't physically have the time with their class schedules to do something for 4 hours in the afternoon. Therefore, as a volunteer organization, you need to be on your A game to win a slot in these cramped calendars. And although it may be time consuming, it's not terribly hard to do.  And here are some basic ways that this desired amount of organization can be achieved:
     a) Set up a master schedule, and make sure that it is readily available to those persons involved, as well as those interested.  That means a link on a website (JCU website is a totally different rant), an email with an attachment, as well as the repetition of upcoming events at every meeting.
     b) Prompt email replies.  When travel schedules have the potential to change on a dime, it's important to make sure that you are willing to work with and talk about any upcoming questions or concerns. This is also imperative because when you send students out as representatives of your school, as well as your program, and they don't speak Italian, they are going to be worried about just walking into an Italian high school.  Support them, and they will likely be just the ambassadors that you want them to be.
      c) Make obligations clear from the beginning. Don't try to hide that the volunteers should actually read the book twice, or that it's nearly impossible to get to the school, that doesn't reflect well on your program.
      d) When you actually do plan to send students out on these school visits, call the school that morning and confirm with them that the teacher is there and still expecting volunteers.

See? Easy-peasy.

Unfortunately, none of the above things were implemented, and consequently, Kate and I spent 15 minutes waiting for our fellow students to meet us before going to this campus. Then when no one came, we went up to see Gina (not Gina who sings, other Gina) who gave us a free t-shirt, and a special letter and sent us on our way. Ok, so then we waiting for the H bus (I've taken that bus a lot this week...) and after bout 30 minutes of waiting for the bus, Gina called us and said that the visit was cancelled. With in that time we could have been walking into the school.  We could have been walking into a classroom that wasn't expecting us, whose teacher was gone for the day. Not smart.

So instead of talking to an classroom of Italian high schoolers, I'm writing a blog post.  Adventure adverted: boo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's like running in circles

The strangest things is that I actually feel like I've caught up on my blogging actives. What a novel concept.

Although Kate seems to be slowly losing her mind this evening, I'm relatively awake, and only mildly regretting walking all around Rome on a wild-picture-goose-chase. My Digipho class went on an excursion around the city to take more pictures.  Although this sounds like a blast, walking 4 miles (I haven't actually checked that, but that's what it felt like) after doing nothing but standing and walking all weekend did not sound very appealing. None the less, I strapped on my backpack, turned on my camera, and went to work. I'm not sure that's a good thing for me, but that's what I did. And we walked from "Campus oleeoleoooelooloeleoelolo" (that's what we call it in our apartment because it doesn't have a name and only 5% of the JCU population knows where it is), to the Capitoline Museum,  to the Roman Forum, to some other ruins (I don't remember what they're called), to the Colosseum, to Circus Maximus (where they used to race chariots), and then over to the "Key hole" which is this literal key hole that you can see St. Peter's dome through. All very cool things, just exhausting.

So after all of that adventure, I trudged back to have lunch with Kate, attended the rest of my classes (I'm really good at that.) and even attempted to take a nap in the cafeteria (non-successful, although I did get some reading done.) Went grocery shopping (always delightful), made dinner, and am now going to bed. I'm a sleepy kitten.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Firenze! All for Art and Art for All!

If I were to write a blog post about my weekend it would go like this.

Art. Art art. Art art ART art. Art art art aRt ART-ART, art art art art art Art art art! Art art a-r-t, art art art, (art art, ART!) art art. Lunch. ART, art art art, tart, art art art art Art, art art art.... ART.

Ok, that's enough of that.

But that's really what happened. Not even a joke. So much art that at one point I thought that my head was going to explode, my eyes were going to pop out of my skull, and my feet were going to fall off. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. And it was wonderful.

Ok, so now I'm going to attempt to list all of the things/places that we went as a class to see. This will be difficult and it will be incomplete, I apologize in advance.

Day 1 (Friday)
Santa Maria Novella: (yep, waiting in line for this one was 11/11/11 11:11.)
      Trinity-- Masaccio
      Strozzi Chapel-- Filippino Lippi
      Tornabuoni Chapel-- Domenico Ghirlandaio

      The Prisoners--Michelangelo (my presentation. Boo-yah)
      St. Matthew-- Yup, Michelangelo

Santa Trinita
     Sassetti Chapel--Domenico Ghirlandaio

Ok, that was exhausting. But so worth it. Presentation out of the way, life is better. Then a group of us decided that we would all go out to dinner.  Kelly had found this place that was on the other side of the river and it was absolutely delightful. I'm terribly sorry that I don't remember the name (I mean, I Remember the Name, but I don't know the name of this restaurant) but it was lovely. There were about 10 of us and we attempted half-sizes (a complete misnomer. Anything that comes in a bowl/plate twice the size of your head is not a half-size serving.) And everything was delicious. I personally had the ravioli with the walnut cream sauce, but I was also lucky enough to sample some traditional Florentine soup and the best gnocchi I think I've ever had (with truffle oil? yes please.)

After that we all walked back toward the Duomo (what a lovely landmark/meeting place, artistic and everything.) but separated back into our various parts of town where we were residing for the weekend. At that point I realized that I really needed something to do for the second round of 11/11/11 11:11.  So I'm in Florence, I'm not attending the Bob Dylan concert like I had thought about (let's be real, how sweet would that be?)?), and I have no where to be/no one to see. So I sat in the Piazza Signoria for a bit and when that clock got closer, I pulled out three coins from my wallet and decided that the best way to celebrate this once in a life time occasion was to throw three coins in the fountain there. I hoped that it works like the Trevi Fountain works, you know, three coins and you return to [Rome] (or in this case, Florence).  11:11 hits and in went the coins to a very satisfying (and hopefully lucky) ker-plunk, and I instantly became the happiest person in the world! (ok, just kidding, but it was fun, and I enjoyed it.) Then back to the hostel for some shut-eye.

Day 2 (Saturday)
      (Tondo) –Michelangelo
      David --Donatello (Life. Made.)
      Sacrifice of Isaac --Ghiberti and Brunelleschi (as the ‘audtion’ piece for the Baptistry Doors or Gates of Paradise)
      Pitti Tondo-- Michelangelo
     And two lions wearing crowns.  

Lunch at a native bakery where I had to be able to recognize my number when it was said very quietly in a very loud bakery. I'm telling you it's a skill. 

     Freaking everything.
     Birth of Venus--Botticelli
     Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Medici Medal-- Botticelli
     Annunciation-- Botticelli
(Everything mentioned thus far in this heading is in one singular room)
     Adoration of the Magi-- Leonardo da Vinci
     Annunciation-- Leonardo da Vinci
     Baptism of Christ--Verrocchio (and Leonardo, but it was only one angel)
     Rest During Flight into Egypt --Correggio
     Madonna and Child in Glory--Correggio
     Adoration of the Child-- Correggio
     Madonna of the Gold Finch--Raphael
     Pope Leo X with Cardinals...--Raphael
     Madonna of the Harpies-- Andrea del Sarto

And those are just the things we had presentations on.  They forcibly kicked us out at 6:30. Literally dragged us from the premise, it's a wonder we weren't escorted by armed guards.

Then I had about an hour of trying to communicate with a guy at the cell phone store about how I had accidentally locked myself out of my phone and would love to get back in, but my Italian was almost as bad as his English, or so I assume, I used my Italian. Then out for a night with the girls.  Tried Boar, had a lot of fun, if you really want to know the stories, you should ask me sometime. Things that happen in Florence.

Day 3 (Sunday)
Pitti Palace
       Pallas and the Centaur-- Botticelli
       Portrait of Agnolo-Doni-- Raphael (this is the cover of my text book for this class. How appropriate.) 
       David-- Verrocchio (That makes a complete set of Davids.)

      And maybe a dozen other things we talked about, mentioned, or have seen before: Unfinished bust by Michelangelo, 3-4 other Raphael portraits, a Rubens (I don't remember the title now), and in passing maybe another 700 paintings on the walls there. It would literally take me years to get through the Pitti (and the Uffizi, let's be honest) giving each painting/work the study it deserves. 

After lunch with the girls, I grabbed my bag and headed to the train station. Made it back home after speaking briefly with a Canadian family (cue anthem) and began writing this blog. Made some dinner, talked to the parentals, and now I'm calling it a night. Viva Firenze.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Venice: Part Two! Let there be food.

Ok ok. Strike two. I get it. I'm (again) so sorry that I haven't posted since Tuesday, but for some strange reason, they couple this thing called 'study' with this other thing called 'abroad' and I am forced to do both. So that's real life.

VENICE! Part two!

Saturday was the day of food. We woke up at a reasonable hour and grabbed some breakfast before catching a bus (and by that I mean a boat. It's a boat bus) to Murano which is an island in Venice that specializes in glass. So fancy magees, we eventually figure out how this boatbus system works and wait by the dock for our ride. Get on the boat (sing I'm on a Boat part two) and go for 45 minutes until we arrive at the island. This also involves making sure that we get off at the right stop because our Hostel gave us a special little card for a free glass blowing show and such. We get off at the right stop, wander for about 3 minutes and run right into this seemingly-non-entrance-like entrance.  So, on a whim, we walk in to a completely deserted glass store and marvel and the wonders found within. After a few minutes a woman came in and escorted us to a back room where there were several people watching the glass master and assistants make stunning things. At the moment they were collectively working on a rooster (someone had ordered 24 of them....  good.) but eventually he just made a simply glass horse. But the deal is that one moment it looked like a smouldering ball of hot glass, and the next it was a horse standing on it's hind legs on the table. It was amazing. Then he took a piece of paper and put it on the horse's legs and Whoosh! It burst into flame. Careful children, do no touch.

After we purchased things in the magical glass room, we wandered around various other glass shops until we found a small hidden restaurant.  There I ordered basically linguini with king crab and it came out the most beautiful plate I think I've ever seen.  And it was one of the best things I've had in Italy. Not even a joke. We ended up waiting a long time for the check, but the guy doing dishes kept blowing kisses my way, and although it was kind of creepy, it was funny too.

We shopped and shopped and eventually made our way back to the hostel by way of another boatbus.  Then we met the delightful Bissen family for dinner.  We walked into this Italian place basically down the street from our hostel, and I endeavored to try the black cuttle fish. Remember that guy I met in the airport? Michael? He said to try it if I had the opportunity, and here I was. So there I went.

To be fair, this dish looked like bits of tire chopped up and covered in tar. That is not an understatement. But you know you only live once, and sometimes you just have to eat what you have. And I'm so glad I did. It was absolutely delicious. Granted, it was not much for date food (that whole black teeth thing) but I throughly enjoyed it.

And after a delicious meal with good company, the three of us went out to a wine bar and enjoyed our last night in Venice with red wine and chocolate. Winning? Yes. Then back to the hostel for a hostel game of war.

Fast forward.  Minus that one time that some strange beeping noise went off at 5 in the morning, we slept well and got up and went out to enjoy our last day in Venice. To our surprise, the city had partially flooded. Now I'm talking a good several inches of water coving the piazza by St. Mark's. There were lines of people avoiding the water by walking on these nifty little foot bridge things and we made our way inside the Basilica. Uh, the floor was wet there too. But after about 500 years, I suppose nothing is surprising and mass was still going on. Boy oh boy oh boy was it pretty. This is a place where you just walk around dumbfounded because everything is so amazingly gorgeous. There was a choir, there was incense, there was an astounding amount of art. It was fantastic.

Back out side, do the rouser by a lion statue (no big deal), and play in the rain for a bit and off to buy more gifts and enjoy our last lovely moments in a stunning city. Exhausted but culturally filled, we got on the plane with a beautiful men's soccer team, and headed back to Rome. Unfortunately, they had to make a connecting flight and didn't stay.  That was the saddest part of my weekend.

And now I am walking out the door to go to Florence with my Italian High Renaissance class. Wish me luck, I've got a presentation tomorrow.  I'll try to update you on my life (you know, now that I've escaped the library) on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Venice-Long awaited day 1

First of all, I'm terribly sorry that I didn't post last night. I was actually trying to do homework (aren't you proud?) and by the time I looked at the clock it was well past my bed time, and any sentence that I would have typed would have looked something like: thewuick brown foasx juqqpmed over the lazy doggs.e

See? Aren't you glad that I didn't publish anything to the internet? It's just better that way.

Anyway, I will now attempt to adequately fill you in on what I did this weekend! (Drum roll please) I went to Venice!  Woohoo! Ok, the end.

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I'll give you all the dirty details, don't you worry.

So on Friday morning Molly, Erica, and I got up at a reasonable hour so that we could drop by Giovanni's and fuel up for a busy day. Then we caught the train to the airport where, you guessed it, we got on a plane.  To be more specific, we used one of those nifty electronic ticket machines and it just scanned your passport and printed off your ticket and BAM, you could get on the plane. (You know, after you go through security and such. Let's be real.)

After 15 minutes on the runway and a 45 minute flight, we landed in the city of gondolas, masks, and glass. (I typed 'class' there for a minute, and I think that's reasonable too.) The first thing we thought was, ah, well crap, it's raining. But then, like a bolt of lightening, we opened our eyes and noticed all of the stunning colors that the rain was literally bringing out of the woodwork and paving stones. It was basically the most beautiful city I have yet to see anywhere. We're talking the kinds of colors where you look down and want to literally video tape the street. Not the people walking on the street, the actual stones you are walking on. It's that pretty. Then you add on the canals, the boats, the seafood, the masks, the glass, and the lack of car traffic (where would they drive? Nowhere. The streets are too narrow and have too many right angle turns, and almost always end at water or stairs to a bridge.  Those are all bad things for motor vehicles.) make it absolutely stunning.

We dropped off our stuff at the hostel, got that biz-nas taken care of, and began our explorative adventures. We walked around for a while, staring with mouths wide open at all of the mask shops. Insisted on going in several (ok, these things are amazing. All of the walls are covered in masks just made for people like me who insist on pretending to be other people, or like Erica who live the Phantom of the Opera on a regular basis.) We found some lunch where Molly had the extreme pleasure of having "scallops" otherwise translated as chicken, and Erica tried some octopus. Who said we weren't adventurous?  Eventually, we decided that we would walk over across town to find what is probably Venice's (that sounds funny) most well known crown jewel: St. Mark's Basilica.

So we grab our nifty map and start walking. Now here's something that you may have guessed, Venice is actually constructed somewhat like a maze. All of the streets pretty much lead back to some sort of canal, but the trouble is that they do not all lead to a part of the canal (which ever it may be) where a bridge is. Therefore the next hour or so was dedicated to winding around streets that you could reach your arms out and touch both sides getting back to bridge-less parts of the canal, and turning around and going back the way we came. After many detours and scenic routes, we finally arrived at the San Rialto bridge and finally felt like we had made it to somewhere significant! Not that wandering around Venice wasn't significant, because we learned a lot about the city.

So we amused ourselves taking pictures of St. Mark's in the dark and mimicking sculptures as well as very large modeling adds. We had finally reached a point where everything was beautiful and we were just so happy to be in Venice. Thus, we took pictures only between the group hugs, and eventually we decided that we should wander toward some food.

In this process of searching for something we discovered that there were some gondolas lined up along the quieter canals.  This is what we call dream fodder. So on a whim, and fully intending to actually get in a gondola at some point this weekend, we went up to ask how much a ride for the three of us cost. With the initial bid of 100 euros, we walked away to consult each other. 3. 2. 1. Second gondola-eer (that's just what I'm going to call them) followed us with an improved number of 90 euros for the three of us. 40 minutes? 90 euros? SOLD. We jumped in the boat and we were off seeing the city of Venice by night, in a gondola.  Bucket list: Check.

After 40 minutes of awesomeness, we got Marco (the gondola-eer) to take a picture of us, and we actually went to find food. Hey guys, remember that time we rode a gondola in Venice? Oh yeah, those were the good old days.

So we had dinner and reflected on how freaking amazing our lives are, and that we were in Venice, and that we're awesome, and that we had another two days to explore this magical city.

Tay tuned for day two!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hey look over there!

So I know it's been 3 days since you've last read anything remotely exciting, but I'm going to have to keep you waiting another one.

First, I'm so super sorry, I promise there are tons of adventures to be told (literally, so many). And there are even some good pictures. I'll talk about food, and friends, and the stunning city of Venice, and things I bought (only in vague terms. Some of them will be surprises!) and why I am living the dream.

But until I craft the time to actually type out my adventures moment by moment, you are going to have to put up with me doing homework and preping for a presentation I have to do in Florence this coming weekend. (The month of November has hit, and it's going to fly.)

I love you all, I promise there are excellent stories-I was adventurous this weekend.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mission Impossible

So I was 20 minutes late to my Italian High Renaissance class this morning. Now before you start pointing fingers and saying that I should set my alarm earlier, or actually stop fixing my hair and get out the door, I would like to say that I was on time, until I got on the bus.

I woke up a reasonable hour, rolled out of bed and ready to get down to business (To defeat the huns! Just kidding, this is the Renaissance.) Figuring that it would only take me about 30 minutes to get there (I mean, public transportation is a lot faster than walking) I decided to go down to Giovanni's and grab a coffee.  Then I waltzed out of there to the tram stop and waited for the relatively prompt tram.  Jumped on there. Made it to Argentina, got on the bus right away, two stops later, I thought I was golden! Hold on, let me check the map, ok sweet, just right up this street.


Everything was wrong. I checked the map again, turned down this tunnel, didn't end up where I thought I was supposed to. Walked across some intersections, didn't find any familiar (as in on the map) streets, turned down a different street. Decided to follow a precarious sign with my destination written on it, and ended up walking up a set of stairs, and then turning a corner and going down a different set of stairs, finally saw a guard standing in a doorway and I thought-"Thank God! The Presidential palace!" (Note, not many people in Italy say that). So by then, I had some semblance of where I was. I then made it up the stairs to the Piazza Quirinale and next door, low and behold--where I was supposed to be 20 minutes ago.

Thus begins part two: Actually getting into the museum.  Plan A) Sneak in. Guards, damn it. Plus I'm sweating and carrying a backpack=not my sleuthing/ninja attire. Scratch that. Plan B) Look adorable and lost. Tactics: Look adorable and lost. "Hi, Professor Smyth's class from John Cabot is in there and she has my ticket." "What?" (Repeat). "Ok, yeah, go right in." EASY PEASIE LEMON SQUEEZY. (I could be such a good spy). Drat. Obstacle 2: Ticket lady. "Hi, Professor Smyth from John Cabot is in there with my class, and she has my ticket." "I can't let you in without a ticket." "She's already in the museum and she has my ticket. The people out side told me to just go in." "Oh, ok."

Mission Accomplished.

So I check my backpack, and run up the nearest staircase toward the exhibit. Speed walk, speed walk, not seeing anyone from class... uh... maybe they went up stairs to do that presentation first... Ok, next flight of stairs... desolate. There are about 4 guards and one old couple up there.... So I decided that in order to not look like a buffoon, that I would calmly walk though the second floor and try to catch my breath. Looking around, ok, I'll go back down stairs. Well looky there, I must have walked past them the first time. So I just jumped right in and stood in the back, and wasn't asked a single question about why I was over 30 minutes late to class. Call me skilled.

So I learned a lot in the museum. It was a lovely exhibit, lots of wonderful things, and eventually we were released to go back to our regularly scheduled classes. Having had enough of public transportation for the day so I was going to walk back to campus. La dee da. I think I'll walk over in this direction, oh hey, that's the Trevi Fountain. Yup, living in Rome. Finally made it back to a part of town where I trusted the buses, and jumped on the 119 headed to Argentina. In Piazza Venezia, there was a rather lost German family who kept asking for Piazza Navona.  Hint, I don't think this bus goes anywhere near it. But I don't speak German (In fact, my German-much like my Italian-is primarily composed of (PUN) lyrics to arias and art songs. And the first German song to come into my head is about proposals.... so uh, maybe not?).  So when we got to Argentina and they were going to get off the bus because they thought it was Piazza Navona, I did stop them and say that it was Argentina. But I was going to be late to class again.

Grabbed some pizza, made it to class, and survived the rest of the day without incident.

In other news, Kate's parents have arrived. We're going to Venice in the morning (so yes, this is the last post for a few days. Reread it if you need to.)

ALSO: Gusties are going to shine this weekend at the Norton. Good luck to everyone competing, make me proud, UPDATE ME.  That is all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Just like those fatty substitute fillers.

OK, so I started to write this delightfully witty post about how I was late to class, and how I had a wonderful time getting lost and wandering around Rome, but then I got distracted.

"But Kelsey, you're so focused all the time! How on earth could you be distracted enough to not finish writing my favorite source of entertainment? Now I'm sad."

And to that I say, have you heard Phil?

Yes, that Phil. The wonderful Missouri boy that I so desperately miss. I was the luckiest person ever when he decided to call me this evening. So instead of publishing that half finished masterpiece, I am postponing it until tomorrow, and you can read this one about how much I adore Phil.

Phil made my day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to pretend like you have friends, and they don't have to be imaginary.

This is a step by step instruction on how to get people to stare at you. To get people to NOT stare at you, you should not do these things. All very reasonable conclusions.

First, you should make sure that you have some kind of, I don't know, mannequin handy. Wait, the mannequin doesn't have to have hands, it just needs to be convenient. You could name it. That'd be fun. I happened to have one just sitting around the apartment, her name is Anne. Step one: Check!

Step two might include being crazy enough to say something kind of funny about going to take pictures with Anne, uh mannequin, in Rome.  Wouldn't that just be a hoot? Oh yeah, you betcha! Step two: Complete.

And then you might want to make sure that your roommate who you mentioned step 2 to (tutu) is both enrolled in several photography classes, and is equally crazy enough to take you up on it. Got to love it. Step 3: That happened.

And then you would precede to then grab Anne by the waist, and walk out the door.  This means taking a life size, hollow, humanoid inanimate object on public transportation, and through crowed streets. Step 4: DONE.

So if you follow these simple steps, you get looked at by people you don't know. If this sounds like your cup o tea, then do it. It's basically a blast. If you don't like these steps, you can also walk a very large dog. That'll work too.

I can tell you all of this because I completed steps 1-4 flawlessly. And consequently, Erica has lots of super snazzy pictures, and I got stared at a lot. Like, more than usual kind of a lot. (Yeah, and it's because I was carrying a mannequin, not because I look funny.) (Even I couldn't keep a straight face after that comment). And let me tell you, after being shoved in a corner and only occasionally mocked or referenced, Anne was loving the camera. Just working it like the inner diva she is. You go girl!

There was one point where Anne and I were leaning against a building while Erica was across the busy street taking pictures and there were tons of people walking by. And, due to Erica's artistic direction, I was kind of talking to Anne (bitch gave me the silent treatment) and people began to stop and look. Not just slow down to watch the crazy chick talk to her apparently traveling mannequin, but really stop.  Granted, most of the time it was only for a few seconds, but it was more than enough to send me into a fit of laughter. So those were good times.

And other than that little escapade, I've been completely unproductive. LIES, I booked tickets to Edinburgh and Dublin. So Vanessa, Claire, Ava, and (pretty please, I'll have your first born) Kaitlin--Here we come!  Well, in a few weeks. But still so close!  Yay!

And that concludes the adventures that occur on All Saint's Day. No school, but you can make a fool of yourself in public instead. And tomorrow's going to feel like a Monday-round two.