Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lost in Florence, Day 4

This morning I headed out thinking, "wow. I can totally make my way around Florence now without getting lost." And throughout the day I learned just how wrong I was in thinking that. I started off by going to the Ufizzi. I had tickets for 9:00 am, and I was finished by 10:30. So I came back home, my feet really aching and decided to stay in until 1 or 2 and rest for the next part of the day. Then I decided to go climb the Duomo, which didnt end up happening. From the piazza Santa Maria Novella I headed in, what I thought, was the right direction and found myself instead in the San Lorenzo leather market where I was sucked in and bought a bag. I haggled the lady down 50 euro, so that was cool. I also saw the inside of the church San Lorenzo. Then I meant to head right over to the Duomo which I knew was just down the road. Only I turned down the wrong road, got all turned around and found myself again in the piazza Santa Maria Novella. Then I headed back into the maze, this time sure I was in the right direction and all the time looking up for a glimpse of the enormous dome, and found myself in the Piazza Republica. If I hadnt noticed that's where I was I would have ended up at the river, way way off from the Duomo. So by the time I actually got there I was exhausted and did not want to climb up the thing. So instead I just went in, payed 3 euro and went into the crypt where they unearthed the earlier parts of the church, then I went around to the Duomo museum and paid 6 euro to go in there and see a Michelangelo and a Donatello. Then I bought more shoes. Then I was knackered and headed back home, rested for an hour and then went out again, this time trying to find the Santa Croce church, which by some miracle I did. I met up with Jendar and her friend and we went to one of the most darling little pizzerias I have ever seen. There are only 4 tables inside and one man taking orders and cooking up the pizzas right in front of us. We were the first ones in there and the guy was so adorable and nice. He made our pizzas in the shape of hearts. :) Afterwards we walked over to an old palazzo where they had a very informative Galileo exhibit that wasn't really on Galileo at all. It was about the history of the western world's view of the universe. But they did have Galileo's telescope, which was cool.

So back home, to sleep, then I'll take it a bit easy tomorrow. There are three more things I have to do: go to San Marco, San Miniato al Monte, and climb the Duomo. San Miniato is tomorrow morning's activity, then lunch break, then San Marco and the Duomo. I think that is very doable.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Italia, La giornata 3

I did a lot today, but had no itinerary to begin with, which made the day a bit of an adventure. I woke up and took a while to get going but eventually got out of the house with the intention of shopping. So I walked over one of the bridges thinking I would find a store where they sell Birkenstock sandals (which are very popular over here with all kinds of different styles, so I figured I should just get some) but the store that I read had them was super high end and I went in with my cheap old sundress and gross shoes and the woman just kept following me around and staring at me. I got out of there fast and decided to walk up to the Piazza Republica where there is supposed to be an H&M. As I was looking for it I found myself at the Orsanmichele, one of the oldest buildings in the city. In fact, Piazza Republica is in the center of the old Roman city and used to be where the most ancient part was, until they tore down all the old buildings 100 years ago and stuck the ugly Piazza and loggia up. Too bad. Fortunately they didn't tear down Orsanmichele. It used to be a big loggia where the grain market was held, then they walled up the arches and made it into a church.

Anyway, I finally found H&M and fortunately for me, baggy clothes are in fashion here right now. Which means that I was actually able to find things that fit. I bought an oversized t-shirt (pretty 80sish) with a parrot on it and some linen pants. Then I walked down to the Ponte Vecchio where all the jewelry shops are, crossed over and headed back towards Jendar's apartment. Then I passed the Brancacci chapel where some of Massaccio's most famous works are, and it looked open so I decided to go and buy a ticket. It was noon and I was able to get a reservation for 1, so in the mean time I came back to Jendar's and ate and changed.

The chapel was pretty wonderful. I loved it. It was cool to see those paintings that had such a strong influence on so many people. They showed a movie that was forever but it was informative enough. After I looked at the chapel I decided to head back over the bridge and see what was there for me to see. I heard there was a yarn shop, but when I went to the address it wasnt there anymore. The shopkeeper there was pretty darling when he told me that they had gone. I quickly fell in love.

So I crossed the bridge and walked up until I entered the Ufizzi piazza. I decided I might as well go in, even though I wanted to try to do things I've never done, so I bought a ticket for tomorrow morning so as to avoid waiting in line. Then I found myself at the Piazza Singoria with all the other tourists in Florence. I figured I might as well go into the Palazzo Vecchio since I hadn't before, so I did that. I was impressed with the inside and thought of all the crazy italian men who had run the city over so many years. There is a little veranda in the corner of the building with a great view of the south side of the river, and that I was really nice. The weather was not nearly as painfully hot today as it has been the last few days.

After Palazzo Vecchio I wandered up to the Duomo and was thinking about climbing the dome but i was so tired and hungry that I couldn't bring myself to. So i bought some shoes instead. I like them, but I won't be able to wear them for this trip because they rub my toe a little bit and i got a blister just from walking back home. It's a shame. And I decided to save the Duomo for tomorrow after the Ufizzi.

So I came back, got some more gelato, this time dark chocolate and blackberry, and made some great dinner for me and Jendar, and watched MTV. Italian mtv is pretty awesome. They actually play music videos. Then Jendar and I decided to go to the Serial Killer Museum, so we walked over there. It was ok. I didn't get any information I didnt already know about serial killers and it was long and boring, but I'm still glad I went. On the way home we stopped at the loggia in Piazza Signoria and listened to some street performers for a little, then came back home. And now I am exhausted. Tomorrow is the Ufizzi, the Duomo and San Marco, then we are getting some pizza and going to the Galileo exhibit. So, i better get all the sleep I can so I can be there on time at the Ufizzi. Ciao!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Italy, Day 2

Today I got up early and went with Jendar to where she works, Villa la Pietra. We took a tour of the garden and then ate at the cafeteria there, which was all really really good for being a cafeteria. Well, I guess the fact that we are in Italy probably makes a difference. After lunch I took the back down to Florence and then up to Fiesole. I was planning on walking, but it is literally like climbing a mountain. They call it a hill but it is just as high as Y mount. So I took the bus. On top of the mountain and just off the main square is an old Roman theatre. But it was closed today. :( I may go back tomorrow. I was almost defeated since that was the whole reason why I went up. But I decided to just keep looking around instead of going back down. I'm glad I did. I walked up the rest of the hill to the very very top where the old Etruscan and Roman acropolis were and where had been built a monastery and church later on. I had a hard time figuring out how to get in, but I finally managed to and it was very special. Before I got to the church I walked (hiked) past a little park with a gorgeous view of Florence and all the Tuscan countryside. I seriously could see forever. Looking at the city in that context was interesting.

So the church was tiny inside, recently restored, and just as lovely as can be. It was free, which was a plus because I hate paying to get into churches. Just off the nave were lovely cloisters and another (free!) museum, a Franciscan missionary museum so it was full of stuff from China. It also had Egyptian stuff like a mummy. cool. and some great Etruscan pottery. There was an Etruscan wall there too that the church had used instead of tearing down. It was very impressive, as ancient engineering feats tend to be. I loved this building so much. Probably because no one was there and it was free.

Below the church was a path that lead down the hill through a wooded park. Gorgeous. I strolled down it and in the main piazza I went into another church. It was again really lovely and nice and cool. (It has been SOO hot the last few days. Way up into the 90s. and the churches are usually the coolest places to be.) There was a huge group of German tourists there who were really really loud. I kept running into them in places, and when they showed up I left. After that I wandered down the hill to the north where there was supposed to be a cemetery. I wandered a bit too far, past the road I was supposed to go down (easy to do since it seems like none of those tiny roads are labeled), and found a little park with benches overlooking the north side of Fiesole. (Florence is to the South).

When I finally found the cemetery it was extremely interesting. All of the headstones have little tiny photographs of the people who died. There was also a loggia (a covered arcade used for hanging out it. Florentines love them) and I was a bit suprised to find that inside it was full of tombs, not just on the walls, but in the floor as well. It was weird walking on all of those graves like that.

After the cemetery I walked back down the hill to San Domenico to see the church. Inside was a painting by Fra Angelico that I really loved and was glad to see. Then I caught the bus, went back to Florence, got on another bus and came back out of the city to Villa la Pietra. I changed into a little nicer attire and watched a production of the Comedy of Errors in the "limonaia", the building where they store lemon trees in the winter time. It was fun, part of it in Italian and part in English. And I actually saw some kids there that I knew from an italian class a long time ago and who are living in Italy now. Weird. After that was a reception with free yummy food and drinks. It was a nice evening. Then we came back down, stopped by the gelateria and I got myself yogurt & nutella and coccoarancia (chcolate orange) gelato. Nearly died again. Love it sooo much. yogurt flavor is definitely my favorite so far.

I dont' know what i'll do tomorrow, but I think shopping is in store... I'm going to buy me some sandals and I know exactly what ones I want!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Italy, Day 1

Mamma mia. I am exhausted. I have slept 4 hours in the last 2 days. Very tired, but I am glad I made it! Florence is lovely....except that it was so freaking hot today and I'm just not used to the heat yet. But I've already ate gelato twice. I had mojito and tropicale on a cone, and then later I had yogurt and strawberry. The yogurt and strawberry nearly killed me, it was so good, and the tropicale was lovely and refreshing, but the mojito just tasted like lime and not mint at all.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm going to Villa la Pietra, where my friend is doing her internship, to have a personal guided tour of the gardens and works, then we're going to eat there and maybe I'll take a bus or walk up the hill to Fiesole to see the Etruscan ruins. Then later on at Villa la Pietra there is a play with a reception after that I am invited to. I'm gonna dress up all pretty. I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My body is a cage...

Like every young woman in the Western world, I have body issues. I tend to be rather uncomfortable in my body at times, and it has kept me from accomplishing a lot of things. I know my body doesn't fit into the acceptable perameters that our society has set for attractiveness, and somtimes it is difficult to live with this fact, especially when I am a human who needs love and attention just like everyone else. It's hard to live with and be around people who go on dates and are generally fairly attractive. It is especially hard when I am ignored while boys go after these pretty girls, and I just have to stand back and watch. It is also very frustrating to look for clothes when most of the places where I want to buy clothes don't carry my 16/18 size. I guess this is good because I do always seem to find something that will work, and I've learned to look at something and know whether or not it will fit. I also don't spend as much money as I probably would, and I've had to develop my own style. But it still is incredibly emotionally painful at times to live with my body in this world where I feel that I don't fit, and where I feel so often that I'm not wanted.

Not only am I uncomfortable emotionally when I feel inadequate and unattractive being around a group of attractive people, I also am often just physically uncomfortable. I think it has something to do with my low threshold for pain. I hate it when my feet are sore, and it doesnt seem to take much to do that, and I have a never ending problem with shoes. I simply cannot find any shoe that fits and is always comfortable. There's always some problem. In general, things always have to be just right or I go crazy. I have to be wearing the right clothes; when I go to bed my environment has to be perfect. I sleep with earplugs and I can only sleep in pitch black darkness. When i was younger I could only sleep in my own bed. I am always irritated by something physically, and one sad problem I have is not liking when people touch me. My skin hurts.

I'm going to Italy next week and one of the things that has been weighing heavily on my mind is how comfortable I will be physically. I know my feet will hurt, so I'm bringing several pairs of shoes that I can switch around since each pair rub differently on my feet. I'm going to bring some good strong painkillers, and I have loads of bandaids for when something rubs wrong for too long. I have also chosen my clothes very carefully so nothing will rub me the wrong way. The worst thing is that there are virtually no public restrooms in Italy, which means I have to plan carefully because I do not want to find myself needing to go to the bathroom and not being able to. Unfortunately I'd rather be dehydrated. I am also not looking forward to the beating my body will take just in traveling. I'll leave at 7 in the morning and get there at noon the following day. Now, Italy is 7 or 8 hours ahead so it will feel like the middle of the night to me, and I'll want to stay awake and have fun. Yeah, not looking forward to that day of travel at all.

Oh this stupid body, always needing to be cared for, always giving me problems, always getting hurt somehow. Fortunately I do have a very strong and healthy body. I am fat, but it's something that I need to really just accept because I know it is in my genes and it's not because I am a horrible person. I know my body's healthy weight, even if it is more than I'd like it to be, but I don't want to be obssessed with it for the rest of my life. I eat good food every single day and I am a relatively active person. When I was burned horribly on my face and arm the EMTs, the doctors and nurses were all astonished at how well my body maintained stasis. All my vitals were as normal as can be. The same thing happened when I was born, apparently. The labor was extremely difficult for my mom and I was stuck in a dangerous position for several hours, and yet when i finally came out I received the highest score possible for overall general health. I really was blessed with a good body, and I know that despite the various physical irritations I anticipate on my trip that I will be fine walking all over Florence and Rome for 10 days. I guess I should just chill the eff out and enjoy myself.

Monday, May 11, 2009

summer has officially begun

On the way home today I walked past a family sitting outside on their front lawn. There were two little tiny children playing and as I approached the house the little girl picked a dandelion and held it out to me. I took it and blew some of the seeds away. She was delighted to see this, so I handed it back to her and she blew some of the seeds and gave it back to me. Then as I walked past the little boy on his tricycle he waved at me. In the next second I walked past a woman holding her baby who also waved at me exuberantly. Three babies saying hi to me in the span of a minute. I about died.

This afternoon was truly delightful. Work sucked and it was kind of hard but I left at the right time to show up at my friend's house just as a everyone was going to the cemetery up on the foot of the mountains. 7 of us drove up there, stopped by a little roadside hamburger joint and got something to eat, and spent an hour or so sitting in the cemetery, talking and looking out over the valley. It was gorgeous, one of the most amazing views I've seen of Utah Valley, and I was with some pretty awesome people. I feel really blessed. I'll have to post some picture of that view at some point, I'm sure I'll head up there often this summer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pain don't hurt! (except that it does)

I don't like getting hurt (who does, right?). But, I don't deal with pain very well and I'm very sensitive so things tend to hurt me a lot more than they should. I've even passed out before because of pain. This fear of pain has tended to make me extremely cautious over the years (and slightly paranoid). I've never broken a bone and until recently I've never had to go to the hospital for anything. And I've never had stitches before, until today that is. I cut my thumb with a pocket knife and had to get 8 stitches. I almost passed out again, and when I was getting the stitches the doctor gave me an anesthetic (thank heavens), but the needle stabbing part was horrific. It hurt so much that I was in hysterics, laughing my head off every time she stabbed me. At one point she was like "You're still feeling this? I've used up all the anesthetic." And the guy helping her said "Boy, when you give birth you had better ask for an epidural." I finally went numb enough for her to start sewing my skin together. ugh.

When I got burned in October I had so many pain pills inside of me that I didn't have the "oh my gosh I'm going to pass out" feeling, but it never stopped hurting. I think I was in constant pain for 2 weeks. And I haven't been to the dentist in years because the last time I went I could feel everything and he wouldn't give me any more anesthetic. He told me to just suck it up. It's been 7 years since I've been in a dentist office.

I hate the helplessness of being in pain. One of my favorite books ever is called The Body in Pain by Elaine Scarry. She focuses on torture and war, but she discusses how pain is so singular. No one can ever know the pain you are feeling. They can have compassion and empathy, but your pain is your own. This is used against torture victims to unmake their world, their conception of reality. Because pain is so singular and inexpressible it contracts your reality. Your world grows smaller and smaller. Pain is blinding and binding because it occurs solely in your body and the body cannot adequately express it. I find this fascinating, and thinking about it theologically I find it to be interesting how my beliefs center so much on the Atonement of Christ, which is the event in which God made it possible for pain to be shared and no longer totally singular. While no other human being can feel the specific pain you feel, we believe that God can, that Christ does feel that pain because he took on the pains and sufferings of all the world. Based on what Elaine Scarry argues, this is an extremely liberating doctrine. It is world making. In the face of pain reality expands rather than contracts. I love this idea.

So, I'm feeling better about the whole thing, but I am still really mad at myself for doing this. It certainly does not help my anxiety problem, an issue that has been growing worse since I got hurt in October. And it totally interrupted my plans for the day. I hope I can get things accomplished tomorrow to make up for it. I have a lot to do in the morning. I need to go to campus to check out a ton of books I have on hold, then I want to head over to the farmer's market to buy some fresh food for the week and some little plants to put in my potted garden and then I'm going to lunch at 2 with some old friends. It's days like tomorrow when I need my car to be running. I guess I should just get over my anxiety and call the mechanic on Monday and get it taken care of.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

happy go lucky...

On the train today on the way home from Salt Lake songs kept coming up on my ipod that reminded me of experiences I have had in my life that have left me hurt or embarrassed. I kept thinking about people who I liked more than they liked me, people who ended up hating me for whatever reason, and people who I always ended making a fool of myself around. One thing I hate more than anything is when I don't have a good rapport with somebody, when they simply don't like me, or when I let them down or they find me annoying. I try to be pleasant, I try to get along with most people, and I try to do good things for others and be thoughtful and mindful of them and their feelings. And so when someone doesn't like me or when I make a mistake and people are mad at me, it kills me. Nothing feels worse.

I watched a movie tonight (that lacked a plot but had a pretty intense moment towards the end) called Happy-go-lucky about this girl who is always optimistic, who is always kind to people, who can't help but laugh all the time at stupid little things. She is a woman who is happy with her life, who has good friends and who teaches and helps little kids. She decides to take driving lessons, and she is just herself, but the driving instructor is a little nuts and her eccentric and constantly happy behavior unhinges him. He ends up being really violent with her and tells her that all she wants is to be the center of attention and just to play with people's feelings. But this is not true at all. There are a couple of scenes after this one where we see her sitting, obviously thinking about what had just happened, and you wonder if maybe he is right, if she is not actually such a genuinely good and happy person. But it comes to the point where she and the audience realizes that he is wrong, that she is who she is and he read is wrong. She wasn't trying to lead him on, she was just being herself. She was just being kind to him because she's kind to everyone. She shouldn't change who she is because one person didn't like her.

And so it should be with me. There have been people who have hated me. There was one girl that offered for me to go visit her in Portland, and I took her up on it because I always wanted to go. But, we had only worked together and weren't good friends and while I thought we got along, it turned out that we didn't at all. And I was there for 5 days, and it just got worse and worse. I know I could have made it better, I know I was immature. There was one moment when I asked her where her dad was (because her mom was remarried) and I said it in not the kindest tone. She said he was dead. And then there was awkward silence and then we didn't talk much for the rest of the trip. The plan was for us to drive back to Utah from Portland and her mom decided to come along instead of just the two of us. Neither of them talked to me the entire trip, I got out of the car and they said goodbye and I have never ever seen or talked to that girl since. And it bothers me because I know she didn't like me, and I did try to be pleasant. I don't think it is fair. She was in such a bad mood the whole time and it felt like I could never do or say anything right. That was 3 years ago and it still bothers me.

But it shouldn't. I wasn't a horrible person to her; I'm not a horrible person in general. Some people won't like me, but there are plenty of people who like me a lot. I can't please everyone, and something I've learned in the last few years is that I do have the power to change and to be better but there is something essential about who I am, about my personality, that won't change and that doesn't need to change to please anybody. And people will like me or they won't and someone may someday love me, but I really need to stop worrying about it either way.

I'm all right, you're all right, can't we all just get along?

one of my summer goals.

I emailed a friend I met at the Popular Culture Association conference who is the chair of the horror section and asked him what horror films he would suggest I should watch, given the fact that I feel less versed on horror than I should be. He responded with a pretty huge list. I'm going to highlight in red which ones I have actually seen, and see how I'm coming along on my road to horror scholarship awesomeness.

1900s: Watch Thomas Edison's 1910 version of Frankenstein.

1920s: John S. Robertson's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu; Carl Dreyer's Vampyr; Luis Bunuel's and Jean Epstein's The Fall of the House of Usher; Robert Weine's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

1930s: Jame's Whale's Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and The Invisible Man (you must see all of these!); Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong; Tod Browning's Dracula and Freaks; Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Carl Freund's Mad Love; Edgar G. Ulmer's The Black Cat.

1940s: All of the Val Lewton films, but especially Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Seventh Victim and Isle of the Dead (in that order, please!); Lewis Allen's The Uninvited; Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard; Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past.

1950s: Hitchcock's Vertigo; Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks's The Thing (from Another World); Hammer Studios' Horror of Dracula and Curse of Frankenstein; Gordon Douglas's Them!; Jack Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man; Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter; Jacques Tourneur's Night of the Demon (also called Curse of the Demon); also check out The Blob and The Fly; Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone television series; Mario Bava's Black Sabath.

1960s: Michael Powell's Peeping Tom; Hitchcock's Psycho; William Castle's The Tingler and Mr. Sardonicus; Roger Corman's House of Usher, The Haunted Palace, and Masque of the Red Death; Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls; Roman Polanski's Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby; Romero's Night of the Living Dead; the televsion series, The Outer Limits

1970s: Hammer Studios' Taste the Blood of Dracula; Polanski's The Tenant; Brian DePalma's Carrie and Sisters; Romero's Dawn of the Dead; Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now; Peter Wier's Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave; Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre; John Carpenter's Halloween; Ridley Scott's Alien; Dario Argento's Suspiria and Inferno; William Friedkin's The Exorcist; David Cronenberg's Rabid and Shivers; Larry Cohen's It's Alive, God Told Me To (aka Demon), and Q: The Winged Serpent; William Crain's Blacula and/or Bob Kelljan's Scream, Blacula, Scream!; Mario Bava's Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve)

1980s: Larry Clark's Deathdream; Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead (aka The Gates of Hell); Sam Raimi's Evil Dead and Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn; Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys; Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist; David Cronenberg's Scanners, Videodrome and The Fly; Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street; Steve Miner's Friday the 13th, Part II; the televison series, Hammer House of Horror; Stuart Gordon's Dolls and Reanimator; Joe Dante's The Howling; John Carpenter's The Thing; Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead)

1990s: The Silence of the Lambs, The Ring, Se7en, Scream, Scary Movie I or III, The Blair Witch Project

2000s: The Others, Saw and Saw III, Eli Roth's Hostel and Cabin Fever, The Orphanage, Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Rejects, The Descent, Hansel and Gretel (Korea 2009), The Strangers, Tarantino's and Rodriguez's Grindhouse.

From the looks of it, I have a long ways to go. This weekend I watched Land of the Dead, John Carpenter's The Thing, The Exorcist, Candy Man, Hellraiser, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So it looks like I'm well on my way. Next up I want to watch Silence of the Lambs, Suspiria and Reanimator. I need to see Reanimator because I'm writing about Lovecraft's contribution to the zombie genre. This summer is definitely going to be the summer of horror films.