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Monthly Archives: September 2011

(Day 33) Backlogging

Relying on sprint-speak tonight, because I’ve got to get up in the morning to go on that bike tour:

Referring back to that Wednesday night concert: this was an opportunity ACM made available to us, and they paid for the ticket of anyone who wanted to go.  The evening’s entertainment was a selection of music by Gershwin and Bernstein, performed/orchestrated by this guy, Wayne Marshall.

To set the stage a little, the concert was set for 8:30 pm; this followed a work study session in the morning, Italian from 1:30 to 2:45, an on-site Medici class visit from 3:00 to 4:45, figure drawing class from 5:00 to 7:00, and a trek back to the station to meet Kari at 7:30.  So a very long day, especially since I was just starting to come down with that cold I now have.  Achoo.

So Kari and I set out once again, and we finally get to the Teatro Communale around 8:15.  And there’s a moment of perplexity, because the crowd standing around outside looks rather fancified, as in little black dresses every which way.  We ourselves looked respectable, of course, but we hadn’t been told to dress up — but eh, who cares.

We go inside —

— and find that we’re pretty much dead center in the orchestra seats.  Fantastic : D

Clock turns over to 8:30, and the concert-goers (relying on that very Italian idea of being “fashionably late”) wait until the official start time to start coming in — which is actually perfectly alright, because the ‘orchestra’ at the time is composed of one lone woman tuning a harp.

Twenty minutes later we finally get going…and bottom line is that it’s magnificent.  And fast.  Violinists flip their instruments onto their shoulders, horns are darting up and down behind the stands, all we can see of Marshall is the back of his tux knotting up and an occasional hand shooting off down the side of the piano, and the entire bottom section of the stage is just a throbbing sea of bows; aside from the way it sounds, it just looks incredible.  And the whole time I’m sitting there I’m just so very very glad I decided to come — yes, early bedtime would have been nice too, but this was pretty much perfect as a way to end a Wednesday.  Just sit there and listen and no worries at all.

So that’s that, and then we’re on to the intermission, which gets a late start on account of the encore procedure is kind of played out like a mind game.  First he’s gone!  –but now he’s back!  he’s shaking that dude’s hand!  again!  bow!  handshake!  gone!  back!  Too much clapping and I can’t feel my fingers anymore!

*sigh,* performers.  What can you do.

Second half of the concert nixes the piano but adds the choir, and now we’re on to Bernstein (and, as Kari told me several times with great enthusiasm, this means we get to hear “Chichester’s Psalms”).   And while the first half had been wonderful, this was the part that made me *really* wish that they sold CDs of this thing, because it was completely weird and fantastic and I would have been all over that.  iTunes, maybe?

…So yes, concert ends, there’s another round of exasperating encores, we’re out at 10:40, 20 minute walk back to bus stop, half hour wait for the bus, bed by midnight and up at 6:00.  And ultimately here we are.

 

Alrighty, then — my roommate’s on skype and I’m having a hard enough time forming coherent sentences even without distraction, so I think that’s about all we can do for tonight.  Back in tomorrow evening to keep on keeping on.

 

But first, a quick P.S. — While we were reading over the Teatro’s upcoming events [for one thing, it’s where we’ll be attending the opera], Kari and I found a concert on October 29th featuring music by Vivaldi, Mozart and Schubert.  \o/ ❤ etc., but the great thing is that we get guaranteed student rates and should be able to get tickets for about 10 Euro.  Nifty, no? : )

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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Culture, Persons & Peoples, Practicalities, The City

 

(Day 32) And again…

Lost internet for a long long while and have only just gotten it back; we’re good to go now, but if I horribly offended anybody by not answering emails, that would be why and I get to call do-over.

It’s a bit late here right now, but I’ll be back tomorrow to start talking about Venice and the Wednesday night concert and my first ever sight-size drawing.  Yup, good times : )

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Meta

 

(Day 29) Bouncing Brevity

Monday, 9:50 pm

*sigh*, Venice talk is now on the back-burner, because apparently classes starting today means that I am actually (despicably!) required to do work.  It’ll be a little bit of a sprint to keep on top of everything for the next couple days, so I would say that you could expect more Venice-vacation rambles Wednesday morning, or Friday at the latest.

In the meantime, here’s the ho-hum daily updates, of interest only to my immediate family.  Everyone else can feel free to avert their eyes.

  • Like I mentioned yesterday, first library shift this morning.  And it was nice and I enjoyed it, but…well.  The students who started the cataloging ACM’s library in the spring seem to have left for us incomers all the books that don’t have call numbers, and which are therefore impossible to catalog.  So, having discovered this little setback, the ever-so-brilliant idea I came up with was to *give* them call numbers — as in actual ones, in accordance with the Library of Congress cataloging system.  And Kari and I started on that this morning, but since there are actually two parts to the LC classification system that make it a really slick system for browsing (letters for the subject + numbers for the sub-category of the subject) and because I only just now found a way to accomplish *both*, we’re probably going to have to go back to refine the work we’ve already done.  AND I still have to spend tonight typing up ridiculously detailed fail-proof instructions for the other work study students, so that they too can do the impossible and catalog an un-catalogable library.
  • TLDR: We now have absolutely guaranteed work for everyone and this whole thing is going to look awesome on a resume.
  • Following that fiasco, a really fast lunch and then on to Italian, which we now have Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 to 2:45.  Like everyone else, I walked in perfectly awake and content but stumbled out sleepy and starving — mainly because there’s just no explaining Mondays.  Oh, and we also got more homework than usual, so that’s awesome.
  • Walked down with Willi and Katie to buy art supplies, and it was a beautiful afternoon so actually a quite pleasant time out and about.
  • Drawing class at 5:00.  The ACM group has been split into two, with half the group starting on cast drawings and the other half working on studies of a live model.  I’m in the figure drawing group, and I already know I’m going to love spending my evenings here.  They’ve got things to show me and I’m ready to learn, and the only homework *they* ever give is to draw more — which I think I can handle.
  • Finally got back to the house at 8:00, waited for Ellie, then dinner 8:20 to 9:15.  Start the homework, stare mournfully at the schedule for the days to come, and here we are.

But cool thing is, I do love all my classes so far (even though we have to give that oral presentation tomorrow in the Medici class), and we’ve actually got a couple events coming up that I’m really excited for.  Wednesday night, after figure drawing, most of the ACM group is heading out for a Wayne Marshall concert (performing Gershwin), and this upcoming Saturday I’ll be heading out with Kari, Willi, Katie and Leah for a 13-mile bike tour through the Chianti region.  And that will be a healthful and ever-so-fancy activity that I will just have to make up for on Sunday by bumming around the house all day in my pajamas.  I am a firm believer in balance, you know   : )

Oh, and please to be noting that at that point we’ve hit October, and one full month is officially down \o/

~~~

WELL.  That’s probably as long as I can allow for desperate procrastination rambles, so I guess it’s time to dust off that old Helmet O’ Invincibility and be off to do homework etc.  Back as soon as may be, and as always hope everyone’s hanging in there.

But just because I’d feel bad not to, one more Venice pic:

…See you tomorrow : )

 
 

(Day 28) Back!

Sunday, 10:25 pm

So, safely ensconced back in ye olde Florentine domicile, and thinking that bed is probably a good idea at this point.  But first, let me fling some pictures at you:

                                                           

I’m holding onto many of my favorite photos for later, but this is a solid sampling, so click/enlarge and (hopefully) enjoy : )

Tomorrow, first official library shift in the morning, Italian class (now shortened down to an hour and fifteen minutes) in the afternoon, and my first drawing class in the evening.  It’s a big day and I’m looking forward to it, and with any luck I’ll be able to squeeze a blog post in there to start going over Venice — because yes, Venice was amazing and it needs to be talked about.

As always, hope everyone’s having a good day, and I’ll talk to you as soon as I can.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Classes, Travel and Touristing

 

(Day 25) One Two Skip a Few…

Thursday, 1:36 pm

First off, yaaaay, 40/40 on the final exam!  And we were allowed to leave as soon as we finished, so got out of class an hour early — all in all a most excellent morning : D

Have to hop back on the bus in a few minutes to go to the introduction to our drawing class at Cecil Studios, *hugely* excited for that, and this evening I’m hoping to whip out a couple emails in between prep for Venice tomorrow.  So no blog.  And then no blog tomorrow or the day after or the day after that.  Three days, and nowhere to dump the unconscionable number of photos I’m about to take : (

But, happy to say that there’ll be plenty to talk about (and probably more than plenty/complete overkill) come Sunday night — boring weather talk’s behind us and we’re on to better things.

Until then, I love you (or at least the “you’s” to whom that’s not a completely creepy thing to say), and best wishes for a wonderful weekend ❤

 

P.S. — I had these lying around and realized I’d never posted them, so here’s the Duomo from ground level:

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Classes, Family, The City

 

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(Day 23) And now a Tuesday

Milestone moment, people: this was the first day that I’ve been able to believe that it will eventually get cold here.

For weeks we’ve been asking around and trying to figure out what a Florentine winter is like, and I think the information we’ve received can be boiled down to this: in autumn (now), the mornings and evenings will get cool but any direct sun will set you straight back to August (i.e., shade = pleasant but sun = blistering heat).  Hot days will keep being a fact of life until one day everything decides to go frigid for kicks and giggles, and there will be lots of rain and bitter wind and that’s winter.

Bit bipolar.

But, like I said, it’s been hot for so long that I was seriously doubting whether ‘winter’ in Italy could be that big a deal.*  So you can imagine my surprise (and also delight, and I sincerely mean that) when I head out to wait at the bus stop this morning and it suddenly feels like mid-October.  Overcast, all the light dim and shifting, with a pretty hefty wind whipping everyone’s hair around — and a jacket very very much a necessity.  It was back into the 80’s by 10:00 AM, of course, but it was quite a nice shock to the system while it lasted.

 

…Only slightly related, but I’ve been daydreaming about Christmas for the last two weeks.  I already miss baking and I’m pre-missing snow (which Tuscany sees about as often as Texas), but the nice thing is that we will get to see the start of Florence’s Christmas preparations.  And, since Italy is dripping with Catholics and Christmas is, as I am told, a day of some importance to the Church, we’ve been promised we’ll get something of a spectacle.  Along with a whole slew of new seasonal foodstuffs, and you can perhaps imagine how I feel about that.**

So yes, very much looking forward to the Christmas season, but we’ll get there when we get there and I’m certainly still set to enjoy myself in the meantime.  Got some tentative October plans in the works with a few other students (which I will tell you about only if and when they become solid), and we’re now just three days out from Venice.  Speaking of which, orientation for that is tomorrow afternoon — so I’ll see you then, when I’ve got some actual new stuff going on?

A domani : )

(Oh, but a quick P.S. — We all took a quiz this morning, and afterwards the other two classes watched movies while our class played charades.  It was a fast-moving game, right up until Umberto tried to get everyone to guess “Paranormal Activity”; watching someone trying to act out ‘normal’ is one of the funniest things I have ever seen [especially since he just kept repeating a bunch of gestures that we weren’t making sense of], and while we did eventually guess the title, amen to the student who said “I don’t understand what just happened.”)

 

 

*Just because I find it funny: we once asked about the most extreme low temperature we could expect here, and they said ‘0.’  Not so bad, we thought — but they meant Celsius.  So there may have been some amused Midwest snorting.

**Just to say it explicitly, a large part of what makes Italian cooking so tremendously good is that they tend to use fresh ingredients and only in season.  We are just now, for example, ending the season for grapes; so, a couple nights ago, Gabriella brought out to the table a dessert called “schiacciata con l’uva”  (a sort of crisp pie/cake with grapes all over it and through it), and told us that this was the last time we’d be seeing it pretty much anywhere in town because everyone’s switching over to fall/winter produce.  Again, the only-in-season mentality makes anything you eat here amazing, but it’s also completely tragic in that it makes most of their dishes impossible to recreate at home.  Even were I armed with recipes (which I currently am not, as Gabriella is resistant to the idea of guests helping in the kitchen), we just don’t have access to the same fresh, flavorful, and very definitely non-GMO ingredients that the Italian style of cooking is meant to accentuate.

But oh well.  We still beat them at breakfast foods ; )

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Classes, Culture, Food, The City

 

(Day 22) Mondays.

Monday, 9:50 pm

Brief updates are as follows:

  • Have a quiz tomorrow that may be about the future tense (as our teacher told us) but is probably about the imperfect tense (as everyone else’s teachers told them).  Study study *sigh.*
  • Trying to come up with a schedule for library work that can please 13 people with varying personal agendas.  Dare we go for the *double sigh.*
  • We’ve been having meetings to introduce us to our classes, and I’m getting very excited for my electives.  BUT, a fit of the “get-it-over-with’s” made me sign up for the first oral presentation in my Medici class…so now I (along with my presentation partner) have pre-class homework due this upcoming Tuesday.  And we’ll be studying for our Italian final Wednesday night and gallivanting off to Venice for the entire weekend, so this may not have been a case of especially excellent forethought.
  • It not only rained today, it hailed.  And then it was dark the whole afternoon.  Storms \o/
  • In October, in a town very close to here, there is a chocolate festival.
  • We are on break during the chocolate festival.
  • Pontifical lizard:

And I’m out : )

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Classes, The City