Tuesday, June 30, 2009

bunch of little randoms

The week since I last posted about the David Byrne concert has been slightly insane. I quit my job last Tuesday so that I could focus more time on the class I'm teaching and on my thesis. Then I started teaching, and that has been quite the experience so far. I've been putting a lot into that, and I'm hoping it's showing. I have the tendency to ramble or say things without thinking (thus insulting people and spouting off inappropriate things) but I think I'm improving. Maybe I just needed some practice.

I feel slightly hypocritical because I am requiring my students to post 3 blog entries every week and I didn't even post anything last week, but I suppose I have my excuses. For one thing, this class takes a lot out of me, and when I sit down to blog it's usually complaints about all the things I have to do which is not interesting. In fact, I have the suspician that this post is very uninteresting as well. But that's ok, it's just a bunch of randoms. I spend hours preparing for the two and a half hour class, the equivelant of 3 fifty minute class periods. When my mom asked me what I did yesterday and I told her "prep for class and teach" she didn't believe it was all I did, but it was. It's a good thing I love it so much.

I hope that what I try to get accross to my students is working. I hope that they learn how important it is not to just feel and experience art but be able to read and talk about it as well. Maybe I'll keep working on making that point throughout the semester. I can't even begin to say how enriched my life has become because I can read and talk about art. I can examine it and understand it and reach new levels of experience that I wouldn't have by simply taking it at face value. I think we need to start analyzing right away.

I went to Moab last weekend with my good friend Brittany. We had a good time camping, and there were some interesting people to be around. I finally got to go to Arches National Park and enjoy the beautiful arches. I don't like hiking as much and that's because I'm lazy, but it was a wonderful experience.
Here's me at Delicate Arch

Where I am standing under this arch is actually quite precarious. I kept imagining myself sliding down the side and smashing my head open on the rock below. I don't know how so many people can visit and not all die. It just takes one slip.

I have to say that I love the desert. I didn't used to. Not until a couple of years ago actually when I read an article in a class about how our love for green is really just a social construct and that we should try to find beauty in the delicate blends of browns, reds, grays, and of course the bright blue of the sky, found in the desert. It's such a peaceful place as well. This is one of my favorite photos I took on our hike to Landscape Arch:

What a wonderful place to be. I'm glad that I discovered how gorgeous the desert can be.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Once in a lifetime

Last night I had the fortune to go see David Byrne in concert. Within the last year my tastes in music have shifted in time, so to speak. My favorite bands and artists now are all from the 70s (Glam rock: David Bowie, T-Rex, Sparks, Roxy Music, proto-punk and punk especially) and the early 80s (Post-Punk, New Wave, etc.) A friend of mine introduced me to the Talking Heads last summer through what is now one of my favorite films, True Stories which was written, produced, and directed by David Byrne the lead singer of the Talking Heads. The movie is a celebration of people in all their absurd glory. When I found out that David Byrne would be playing in Salt Lake I knew I would go.

I almost didn't because tickets were so expensive, but thanks to my brother-in-law who works at the U, we got 2 free tickets. There wasn't an opening band, and I was surprised at all of the yuppies there at the concert (I mean really, am I the only 25 year old in love with David Byrne?), but it ended up being fantastic. My sister and I found perfect spots right at the very front of the stage, probably the best spot in the whole amphitheatre. The weather at first was a little crappy, but it ended up being a really lovely evening with no rain and no wind. The atmosphere was perfect.

David Byrne came out wearing all white with white hair and sheepishly approached the microphone. "Hi, I'm Dave," he said and then explained that they would be playing music from the new album, Everything that Happens Will Happen Today that he made with the legendary Brian Eno, as well as some older things from his solo career and from the Talking Heads. I felt a little awkward because I was the only one dancing at first, but after two or three very funky songs the whole crowd was up an moving. By the end of the concert everyone within my sight of vision was dancing and the roar of the crowd when it was over was deafening. He ended up giving 4 encores.

I knew he would deliver a truly amazing show, but I wonder how many of the people there were taken by surprise. I wonder if they expected that they would have such a fantastic time. Not only was the music amazing (the new album is very dancable and they played several older songs with the Talking Heads' signature funky sound), but the visual performance was also incredible. All of the band was dressed in white including his three back up singers and three dancers who performed choreographed pieces for almost every song. The dances were definitely fun, but they also told the stories in the songs, and David Byrne took part in almost each and every piece. One woman was dressed in white shorts, a little t-shirt, white leggings and tennis shoes. She was adorable with a hair-cut that gave her a striking resemblance to a young Shirley MacLaine from the Apartment (as Lindy pointed out). The other woman was dressed in trousers, a button-down shirt and a jacket. She gave off a little more androgynous vibe and often danced with the other woman rather intimately. The third dancer was a man, similarly dressed in a shirt and pants and had some wild hair. I loved every piece they performed and wish that I could see and analyze the whole show again. I saw one of the numbers performed on the Colbert Report and absolutely loved the way they made the song so visual, and I was really pleased to see that as such an important element to the whole show.

I have a little bit of a rating system set up for concerts. I take in to account the ticket price, the atmosphere, the audience, the music, the visual aspects, where I am standing (and how many tall people are in front of me), the price of the merchandise, the overall joy of the concert, and the likelihood that I will continue to listen to the music. Wanna see my scores?
Ticket Price: FREE!!! 10
Atmosphere: lovely evening, it didnt rain on us, it was outside so I wasn't stuffy. 9
Audience: great audience, got into the music, a bit older but danced way more than young audiences. 9
Music: 10
Visual: the dancing was amazing. 10
Where I was standing: NO tall people in front of me, plenty of room to dance. 10
Merch: $10 t-shirt! but $10 buttons. 8
Overall Joy: 10. Definitely a 10. Just like in True Stories, David Byrne creates joy. That's all there is to it.
Likelihood I will continue to listen to David Byrne: Duh. No doubt. There are still Talking Heads albums I have never heard before! 10!

Ok, so based on this I am going to have to put that show into my number 1 slot of all time favorite shows. That's a huge step, but the fact that the ticket was free and that I will always listen to David Byrne beats out Arcade Fire for the number one slot. It was a perfect show.

The end.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fix it ticket

I got pulled over by a cop today. It was the first time I've ever been pulled over, and it was a very weird experience. I know I didn't break any laws. I wasn't speeding, I thought I had signaled when I turned, so I wasn't freaking out or feeling guilty or anything. When he told me that my break lights and turning signals were out I wasn't too surprised. I've been having issues with them, and have had them fixed at least 3 times. So I got a "fix-it" warning that I have to take to the police station and have signed within two weeks. No biggy.

The cop asked how many tickets I've had in the past and was surprised when I said none, because I am a good person and a good driver and am very careful. I was made a bit uncomfortable by the other questions he asked me, like if the car was mine and how long I've had it, if I had any illegal things in the car (like I'd readily tell him if I did, yeah?). One thing I'm scared about in my life is being wrongfully accused of something, getting into trouble for something I didn't do. It's something I think about every once in a while. If I'm going to get into trouble I'd like to have enjoyed the crime first, ya know?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Haiku

Mona, mountains, clouds
Flying from the rope swing--sky
hamburgers: summer.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Postcards from Italy

I left Italy a week ago. I suppose I should write that post about what I did in Rome for three days. Maybe instead of going into the whole thing with loads of details I'll just give a basic list. Fortunately I was familiar enough with the city that we were able to get an incredible amount of stuff done. I don't feel as if I really missed anything big. The only interesting things left to see were outside the city and would have required another day or two, so I think we did pretty well. So here is the list.

Day One:
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Esquiline Hill
Foro Romano
Piazza di Campodoglio
San Clemente
Teatro di Marcello
Jewish ghetto
Santa Maria in Trastevere

Day Two:
St. Peter's Basilica
Castel Sant'Angelo
Piazza Navona
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
San Luigi dei Franceschi (Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio)
Basilica di Sant'Augostino (where we saw andother Caravaggio)
Santa Maria della Paca (with the cloister designed by Bramante)
Sant'Ivo Sapienza
Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
Piazza Barberini

Day Three:
Vatican Museums
Sistine Chapel
San Pietro in Montorio
Spanish Academy
Santa Maria in Trastevere (went inside this time)
Ponte Sisto
Capo dei fiori
San Andrea di Valle
Largo Argentina
Via del Corso
Piazza di Venezia
Vittorio Emanuele II monument
San Pietro in Vicoli
Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli (baths of Diocletian)
Santa Maria della Vittoria (w/ St. Teresa in Ecstasy)
Santa Suzanna.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

per dimenticare di te

Got back into Utah tonight. It was a long travel day, but it wasn't actually too bad. Everything went as planned and I had plenty of time to do everything I needed to do. I'm tired, but my body feels like it's morning and should be just starting the day. I would be watching mtv Italy right now, getting dressed and planning what sights to see.

It's funny how the first thing I really miss is mtv Italy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Va be'

I had a good last evening in Florence. We went to eat at a place called Dante where students drink for free. The gorgeous waiter flirted with us and then a group of young men were there for a birthday party and they asked us to take a picture with the birthday boy. They were pretty funny and all of them incredibly attractive. Dinner was great, and cheap, and afterwards we went over and I had my last gelato. I got strawberry, dark chocolate and yogurt and it was the first time that I ordered gelato without sounding like an idiot. It was delicious, and then we came home and I watched an Italian sketch comedy show that was hilarious, even though I could only understand about 25% of what was going on.

I really am going to miss these Italians. I think I can relate to them so much better than Americans. I really like the way they think. I like how they have parties and want to get everyone around them involved, like those guys tonight and the ones in Siena yesterday. I just love them so much. It must be the Italian in me. These really are my people, and they make so much more sense to me than anyone else. I get the way they think, and when I'm walking around the city, pushing past annoying toristi and walking out into the street when it's obviously my turn to go, I feel like an Italian. I've said this before after living in Rome, but I really see an ebb and flow working in the city. You just do what feels right. You know when you can cross the street without a signal telling you that you can. You know when to step off the narrow sidewalk into the street when you're passing by someone, and when the person passing by should step off the sidewalk to let you pass. Everything is communicated without all of the ridiculous awkward politeness. You just go and try to stay out of people's way. And Italians really are polite. They'll smile at you on the bus, or give you a knowing look when someone is being annoying near by. They make you feel comfortable, like you already know each other, like you're already friends. And they'll always include you in their party, not by asking but by taking a picture with you, laughing and joking with you, dancing with you. I think this last trip to Italy has made me realize more than ever how much I love being an Italian, and how much I love these people.

I will come back someday and stay for a longer period and really learn the language, by actually using it like I have been without being scared, and I'll visit where my family is from and try to connect to that heritage a little better. This place is really part of me, and I can't see myself staying away from it for too long.

L'ultimo giorno

Today was my last day in Italy. :( I really love it here. I love the people and the way they live in the world. I have not been severely annoyed by anyone in the last 10 days, which is a miracle really. I'm also sad because I've noticed my italian getting better daily. I suppose I'll just have to come back.

I went to the monastery at San Marco where the great artist Fra Angelico painted the cells of the monks. I was very happy sitting in the cloister and then exploring the monastery and looking at the beautiful paintings. I think it was my favorite thing, and I'm glad I saved it for the last day.

Afterwards I bought my train ticket to the airport and then walked over to the Duomo. I was already exhausted by then and so didn't plan on walking up the 460 steps to the top of the dome, but I decided I would, since I didn't know when I'd come back to Florence and since this is Brunelleschi's masterpiece that I have studied and read about for years. So I did it, despite my claustrophobia and my acrophobia. I was shaking most of the time, but I finally made it up there and saw quite a view. It was pretty great and I'm glad I did it. I was a little wobly coming down and i banged my hurt arm on a pole or something and hurt it kinda badly. Good thing I had bandaids with me.

After that I got some last minute shopping done and came back to the apartment by 4. I probably should have stayed out longer, since its my last day, but I am so exhausted and my feet feel like they are broken and bruised. So I came back, made some food and packed up my stuff. I'm all ready to go now. Soon Jendar and her roommate Joanna will come back and I will take them out to dinner to say thank you for letting me stay here without paying anything. After that we'll get the best gelato I have ever had and hang out on one of the bridges. A perfect ending, yeah?

Gosh, I am going to miss this place. I'm going to miss the people and the grocery stores and the way everyone drives. I'm going to miss the busses and the different smells of the city. That's what I noticed most on my first day, how different it smells here. I leave tomorrow at 8:00 in the morning and get home around midnight, which will be about 8:00 here. That's 24 hours of traveling that I am not looking forward to. When I get back I am going to stay at my sister's house for a couple of days to take care of her animals while she and her husband are out of town. I'll have a nice tv all to myself and hopefully I'll be able to recover from my jetlag before i get back to Provo on Saturday night. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Out of town

The last four days have been spent outside of Florence. We took a train early on Saturday morning to Rome and stayed for three days. On the way back last night we added up all the major sites we saw and it was 50. 50 in 3 days is pretty damn good, I'd say. I think the fact that I knew my way around the city was very helpful. I don't have the time now, but I'll write about our Roman adventures soon.

We got back last night and then went to Siena today, one of my favorite places in Italy. It has such a completely different feel from Florence, which has been its long time rival. Sienese art is very different than Florentine. It's quite decorative, extremely busy and uses every space available to tell its proud Sienese history. It fascinates me because while we are so used to seeing Florentine art because it was the seat of the Renaissance, Sienese art is not as well known, and so it seems so very foreign. Siena is also a gorgeous little city without any cars on its roads (you have to be a permanent resident to drive through its streets) and the major piazza in the city slopes downwards, resembling some sort of amphitheatre. Since today was a national holiday we saw an incredible amount of families in the piazza. I have never seen so many Italian children in my life. I didn't realize so many existed, and they were all crazy and happy. It felt like being part of something sitting out there in the middle of the piazza. A fairly large group of drunk Italian men were singing and dancing to accordion music and after embarrassing several young tourists by dancing with them they proceeded to take their little party through the streets. Oh, also may I note that a very nice smelling and handsome man got on our bus with a darling little puppy on the way there. You could tell how much he adored her. He held her and kissed her when she whimpered and talked to her the whole way there. So sweet. With that and the dancing men and all the little children today I felt a good deal of love for Italians. They are great people, and I'm going to miss them.

While we were in Siena we also saw the Duomo, which has some incredible decorative architecture. Every stone in the building is alternated black and white, so it's all striped, and the floors are amazing mosaics telling the story of the city. The actual church was supposed to be only a trancept of a much larger church, planned in the 14th century. They started building this massive church to rival the Duomo in Florence, and they finished the walls of the nave before the plague hit the city and killed half of its population. They therefore had to stop construction, but those walls are still there. As we were going through the museum there was a little door open in one of the rooms. You had to descend some stairs and then there was a narrow passage. There were no signs or anything indicating what was there, so we followed it up a tiny spiral staircase and found ourselves on top of the unfinished nave, with an amazing view of the city and the Tuscan countryside. I couldnt believe how gorgeous it all was. I felt very fortunate to be there at that moment. I love Siena.

Tomorrow is my last day here. I need to go see the convent of San Marco. That is the major thing. I also need to buy my train ticket to the airport and pick up a few more things. So far my trip has been pretty much perfect. Everything has gone to plan and I've had a really lovely time. I am certainly not looking forward to the plane trip home, but it will be nice to get back to my life. I have a lot that I need to do when I get back. And I need to change some things in my life that have not been making me very happy. I'm going to quit my job and focus my time and energies on my thesis and on preparing myself to apply to Phd programs and also to plan out the class I am teaching this summer. Ugh. I need to not think about it and just enjoy the hell out of Florence tomorrow. I really love it here.