Wednesday, July 30, 2003

First time I have missed the cinema class, but while it is good it isn’t as fun as it is with Alberto and I really am missing him. It has been two weeks and it is hard. Instead I went out to a nice dinner with one of the new people Janine and Laura. Janine is kind of interesting in that character kind of way. She seems interesting but I am not interested in putting out the effort to cut through some lobster shell. As for Laura she is leaving and I really am going to miss her. I don’t know what that will portend for the next couple of weeks. I do really hope that Alberto makes it back for class next week. No more of my pansy ass stuff I need the hard ass!

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Well it has been a day of highs and lows. I was so damn excited about washing my clothes that I got a bit caught up. I tossed in my swimsuit, with out thinking- yes I know better than to do that normally I was just so damn excited. Accidentally put the temperature up to high on the machine. And my precious swimsuit is dead. I also slightly burned myself pulling the clothes out once I realized what had happened. The whole load wasn’t destroyed but the most important part was. I wanted to cry this morning. It seems so petty and insignificant but when nothing else is going wrong and it is something that was A. difficult to find, B. you love and use often C. is destroyed, well I wanted to cry.
Instead I ditched class went to the internet cafe, searched out where I might find another suit and sent emails to friends. I needed the contact with people and I need help trying to find another one. Even if I can find another one here, I want to try and find another one of the same kind to replace it. I am sure there are many other psychological reasons as to why it bothered me, and thankfully I came over after classes and Laura talked with me and that helped to "mellow/balance me out" some. I am hopeful I might be able to find another so PLEASE, as lame as it may seem, everyone pray/meditate/think positive vibes and anything else you can add in there.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Well amazingly enough today has been a wonderful day. Usually I simply stay in and accomplish nothing (spider solitaire is an evil thing). Instead I spent some money. I went to the private beaches with Vierna and a few other students. She seemed to be able to tell some difference but I couldn’t. It was nice but it wasn’t cheap, and I can think of better things to spend my money on. But once a month it was quite nice to have a lounger and read. I am more than half way caught up with my Italian reading so I wont complain. I was at the beach for almost 6 hours, almost all in the shade but you can still see some lines from the swim top (normally I am topless but there was a 17 year old male student for the school there and well it didn’t seem appropriate).
After my nap in the shade and work out walk in the sea along the beach I headed to the internet cafe. Got some of my financial aid stuff taken care of, sent a bunch of emails, got addresses to send postcards to, random other things and on I continue.
I came home and after a random conversation with Dino (the gentlemen who owns the house) I find out that there is a washer here and I can use it!!! Now I have gone one month with out doing my laundry AT ALL- Yes you did read that correctly one whole month. It was going to be a month and a half because I was going to wait till I go to Venice or Paris and use a washer (and dryer) there but I think I will go with some itchy cotton and was some of it here- Tomorrow!! Consider it a good thing that you live half way around the world from me :)
After doing my happy dance and taking a shower I headed out to the movie theater. Thought I was going to see Chicago, which would have been interesting as they dub everything into Italian for movies here. Instead since it turns out it wasn’t running I went and saw Bruce Almighty or in Italian "Il Settimane al Dio" The week of god. Don’t you just love how things are translated. Now imagine trying to understand that. Then try and understand it at the pace that Jim Carrey speaks at and you about have tonight’s movie. It was interesting, not near as bad as I was expecting, and I saw it with Sarah who I really like so all was fine. Walked home and enjoyed the evening. It is a bit humid but I will live, and continue the search for a fan. Might even start running in the morning now that I can do laundry, that might even help with the Gelato Baby I have going :)

Sunday, July 27, 2003

An amazing day. Went on a trip with the school to Croatia and Slovenia, and I was so damn glad to get out of Grado for somewhere that it was wonderful. As with many of the trips it was touristy but interesting. We went to the two most touristed towns in each of the countries, both of which are on the Istrian Peninsula. It is a bit odd as the Istrian Peninsula has been in the hands of so many. In the last 100 years the land has been part of the Hapsburg Empire, Italy, Germany, Yugoslavia, and now two independent countries. Strange as in some ways you really didn’t feel like you left Italy, but with the Slavic language it is also evident that you aren’t in Kansas anymore either.
We started off at 7am and drove up along the coast. Drove through Trieste, which looked moderately interesting but mostly just for the day. The coastlines did just pull me in- I adore the water and it is a gorgeous hue of blue. We stopped at the Slovenian border for breakfast- a yummy marmalata croissant. Crossed over and started driving through some amazing countryside. I most definitely want to do Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia as road trips like I did with Crete 3 years ago. We saw some of the salt fields, which is really interesting as I am finishing up reading Mark Kurlansky's Salt ; and ended up in Piran.
Piran is a quaint old town with some pretty amazing bluffs that have phenomenal views. It is fairly small, but almost everything is geared directly towards tourism. After walking around to see the main sights we headed to the "beach" for lunch and a swim. I was so damn hot I didn’t care about being salty the rest of the day and dove in. The salinity made so that even I the sinking child could float with only moderate work. Also used Mary Jane's mask, the waters are so damn clear! I saw all sorts of schools of fish etc. Really makes me remember that I need to add underwater camera to the list of things to bring.
After lunch we headed towards Croatia, I really know I want to come back and see more of Croatia for sure. The coast line is wonderful and it will interesting to see the difference with the Dalmatian coastline and the area around it. Hopefully it will be a bit more Croatian than Italian. We went to again the most touristed town- Porec, and the capacity of this little town is 40,000 people per day. Yes you heard that right. There weren’t that many there when we were but still GAH! Porec is a UNESCO world heritage site. Primarily because of the main church. It is a mosaiced church in the same style and sense, and by the same people as the churches in Ravenna were. This one has been restored in a different manner so much of it looks brand spanking new. It was just a bit to similar to Ravenna for me, we wandered the town a bit afterwards. I bought a few small things and then we bussed our way back to Grado. Where I convinced each of the border guards to give us stamps in our passports. The Croatian guy got a bit touchy feely though- something about liking my skin. It was odd, seemed like I was being felt up to become some leather product or something. I got my stamp though :)
When we got back to town, me and Vierna headed home changed and went out to dinner with a big group at San Daniele. Almost had a bit of a misunderstanding with the owner- Gianni. See I always order a plate of prosciutto for lunch or dinner when I eat there. I can only rarely finish the plate, today I did. So I came in to pay and told him what I thought was that I had finished my plate. I used the wrong person and basically he thought I was asking him out. OH DEAR. Straightened that out and headed out for drinks with everyone. Left them to head out to Cuba Libre on their own as I was simply too tired and my feet already hurt from all of the walking today.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

I cannot believe I have made it through four weeks, it really seems like yesterday that I arrived. There are days when I feel like I simply have not picked up enough. I can muddle my way through but one word out of my mouth in Italian and the first word out of theirs is "Spagnola?" Which is a good call on their part as I am but damn, its that obvious. I am proud of myself for really using my Italian more. I went out again tonight with Laura and Martine for "conversations" class. We talked I learned how to say pain in the ass in Italian it was great! :)I went to the beach today and for the first time got one of the loungers, they are 5 euros but honestly they can be worth it. Went out and swam in the sea, I love the Adriatic. Came back caught up on my reading and met the new girl who will be living in the house here and going to the school- Vierna. We have a lot in common and she is pretty cool so I think that is going to go well. Checked in on email and it seems I might be able to relax a bit as we should be receiving our financial aid distributions on the 26th. I really don’t like the poor part of being a grad student and this week is my bitching adjustment week to it I am guessing. Part of the lesson to figure out how to deal with no money coming in, more money going out, and still enjoying yourself.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Went out after class with Laura and Martine and Liviana. It is always interesting to wander around town. It is so foreign to most people the thought that everyone after dinner goes out and walks around town. I got to talk and use my Italian (trying to explain Mormonism- I am not Mormon) was humorous. It is always interesting to me to sit and people watch. I watched this group of highschool kids chasing around this Beagle that was completely into its being chased game. Loved that whole catch me if you can bit I think.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Well we showed up for our afternoon class and low and behold what do we find out, but Alberto got the chicken pox. I don’t know how Italians don’t seem to pass it around like Americans do when they are kids but all of the teachers confirmed they didn’t get it till they were almost 20. I thought it was bad at 14, I was wrong. Poor thing, they think he might be back on Monday. I am betting that he will be out for at least a week and a half. I was out that long when I was younger and they say it only gets worse as you get older. It is going to be rough on the other instructors who are coming in to cover for him and will be teaching 6 hours a day. Doesn’t sound like a lot but again, things in Grado are not exactly as they seem.
Since Alberto is obviously out of the loop tonight Barbara ran cinema class. We watched a movie L’Ora di Religione, which was easy to follow what was being said but sticking the story together is a bit more of an issue. Afterwards we went out for a small walk and a drink. I think with the way that the new session people have started to clique off and some of the stunts certain students have pulled on the female instructors, that they are feeling a little bit left out. It is rought because the current dynamics aren’t antisocial perse as much as they are very closed groups. You don’t see people out at night at the normal hang outs and we don’t go out with the teachers as much. I am going out with them but that is cause I feel closer to them then the 19 year olds and the 70 year olds.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I tried cooking class again today. I had decent lucky given my picky nature when it comes to food. We were making Primi Piatti. This would be where pasta fits into the Italian menu, just not in the amounts you imagine. I mean there is Antipasti before it and Secondo Piatti and Dolci after it. I still didn’t eat enough for Mariella, but she is like my family and I doubt I ever will eat enough. I am at peace with that fact. I do enjoy helping out in the kitchen though. Must be a left-over from Abuela. I love being in the kitchen, I love bringing joy to the table for others. I just hate having food forced at me.
Now I have to admit that with no television and being in a small town where everyone know everyone else’s business etc it takes very little to entertain me at this point. Today after class we sat at the local “bar” and watched two cats. One we think was in heat trying to approach the other. Watching to see if a battle would ensue, encouraging it and listening to meowling that is eerily human sounding. It doesn’t sound that pathetic till you admit that it entertained you for approximately 30 minutes. I am also having an experiment with my finger nails. I decided to let them grow and see how long they could get. They have gotten pretty long. I am also realizing that long nails are quite irritating. They scratch things (including myself), they get dirty easier and they can make typing much more difficult or annoying. Oh well, they have gotten pretty long and that was a novel thing for me too.
The other motto for the day is: I am not going to let money freak me out. I am not going to let money make me become a recluse. Ok so I am trying not to freak out about the grad school costs and how I am going to pay for everything today. I sent out a flurry of emails to try and deal with this fear. Hopefully it will calm things for me some, soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Another new week of classes. Things are going a bit better but it still almost always feels like a stretch. I can make myself understood and I can talk with my hands but my grammatical structure isn’t exactly getting better. Oh well, must learn English grammar and figure out how to slow down my head. Hahaha, like that will happen. I don’t have the name jittery girl for nothing :)
I caved today and bought a new pair of sandals I think they are pretty cute and I am amazed at how comfortable they are. I was pretty sure that while they wouldn’t be uncomfortable they wouldn’t be exactly comfortable. They are a pleasant surprise. Finished out my shopping adventure with a purchase of a new pen (that doesn’t work), a notebook, and most importantly my Economist. The one tie I have back to the English speaking news world, internet takes too much time and time is money right now.
Tonight was a pretty relaxing night I didn’t do much which sometimes is just the antidote. Went for a walk and came back to my room for a nice night of sleep.

Monday, July 21, 2003

The "American Circus" has come to town. Signs are up everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Whoever’s job it was to plaster the town did their job well. Here I was thinking the American Circus had already shown up when I got here. Seems someone else has taken my role as the freak of nature. Don’t know how I feel about that..... :)
This afternoon I went to the boardwalk and lounged in one of the chairs with my book and a drink. One of my favorite things about Europe, no one is going to rush you from your seat once you are done. Went on a walk down the beach which was just enough exercise for my poor feet. I really do need to find a pair of sandals (anything that encloses my feet with this heat is a No-No) that will provide better support than my 2 year old Old Navy $3 Flip Flops.
The amazement still hasn’t worn off I am starting my 4th week. I will be half way done by this time next week!! I really don’t know what to think about that.
I also went out to lunch today with Julianna. It is amazing how the perception of someone can change so much in one small bit. I really have grown to adore her and she is most definitely my adopted little sister. Now I just have to learn that whole lets not be too preachy with the youth bit.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Well since I am having another lazy weekend I am going to give the 5 second version of my day and then go onto random topics of humor :)
I slept in AGAIN instead of going to the mercato. I went to clear through my email etc, met up with Juliana who is like a little sister. We ate dinner, walked the town and she convinced me to go to Cuba Libre with her. But it wasn’t as much fun this time. Too hot, not a big enough and diverse group etc. So I headed home "early" 2am, and my feet of course were throbbing.
Now onto the true topic of today. The mystery of Italian toilets! You never knew going to the bathroom was an adventure did you? Well it is in Italy. This topic came to mind today when, bladder full to the point of popping, I ran (which doesn’t help and can be painful when you REALLY have to go) to the cafe across the street bought a 1€ ice thing and encountered my first Turkish/Chinese toilet in Italy. You know the kind that is a hole in the ground with two feet spots. I was promptly reminded why 1. I am thrilled I wear skirts here in Europe, 2. why women in the third world have strong quads and 3. why there really should be a bidet (for other uses) by every toilet of this sort. But this has not been my only toilet adventure in Italy, oh no. On the trip to Ravenna the bus made a pit stop at a very nice freeway place (kind of restaurant, mercato, etc combo). I went to use the restroom and they had the automatic kind. It flushed when I sat down, it flushed while I was using it (somewhat startling as I found out it sprays water while flushing) and refused to flush after I was finished. It is an adventure every time to figure out how to flush a toilet. None of them flush the same. Buttons on the side, on the top, behind somethingy-ma-bob, pull a chain (after finding said chain), step on a dot on the floor, the list goes one. I like diversity but really I just want to flush a damn toilet. Oh and for the record whilst flushing a Turkish toilet in Italy, step away from the toilet and quickly.

Had an average day in class. I know it is meant to stretch me but I hate feeling like I am incompetent and Alberto has an utter talent for calling on me for the one question I don’t know the answer to. We have been working on different verb tenses (of the lovely irregular verbs) and prepositions. Prepositions, in Italian honestly have no rhyme nor reason to them. It is a guessing game, use of the ear and going through the whole damn list when you have to.
For class in the afternoon we went to another author presentation at "Sotto L'Ombrellone." The author was a Ukranian who had been exiled and lived in Croatia, but has a love for Italy. His book was another take on the history of Venice (which I think is brave given that Venice has been done almost every way). The same as the previous presentation, there was less talk about the book than would be expected. He was extremely interesting person though. He is part of a panel for the EU Commission President (Prodi) on ways to promote Mediterranean culture through out the EU. It was odd listening to it as I wasn’t comprehending all of the links but after talking with Alberto for a few minutes, I was amazed at how much I had understood.
After the presentation I had dinner with some of the girls and then met up with Alberto, Barbara, and a visiting friend Lee. We wandered around had some drinks. Barbara and Lee went off to talk on their own and Alberto and I went walking and had a few more drinks. It really was an enjoyable evening, I really enjoy talking with Alberto. However I didn’t get home till 3:30 am- I am not sure I will make it to the mercato tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2003

It was a relaxing day. I went to classes and the beach. I am starting to see a line from my swimsuit bottom, which though faint is there. I am getting color people!! Well actually freckles and slight color. Still it's something. I have lived in the land of pasty people for 8 years, to have color again is completely foreign. I am also enraptured with the pleasures of cold afternoon showers. They are a god send. I spoke with Dino (the proprietor) and he said that the heat and humidity came early this year and it will probably be like this till I leave. My luck, I might just break down and buy a fan. It wont completely cool me off but it will at least circulate the air and that is better than nothing.
I am loving it here. When it gets really humid (the only benefit of the humidity if you ask me) and builds up we get a storm and they are wonderful! We had another one tonight while we were in grammatical drills class. Il Temporale, complete with the fulmine (lightning) and tuono (thunder). I get giddy with glee when I start to see flashes of lightning and hear the resonant claps of thunder. I am sincerely hoping that one of these nights I will be able to catch it at the beach and really watch.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Good news today, mail I sent before I left has arrived. Including some legal documents needed to sell my car. It will be a complete relief once it is taken care of and I have whatever money I can get out of it.
I went out for a long lunch on the boardwalk with a nice breeze. With the humidity as high as it is here and a lack of air conditioning, anywhere, it really does drag you. I find it utterly hysterical how Italians blame air conditioning for everything. You have a cold it must be because of air conditioning. You are coughing it is because of air conditioning. I grew up in the heat with air conditioning, must be why there is so much "wrong" with me :) I really do want to know what Italians have against cold things. You buy water (even straight from the fridge) and it is only moderately cold for the next 5 minutes, if you are lucky. You get water with your meal is it tepid. I am not dying for ice or anything (which when dispensed is like some kind of traded commodity, water is cheap you want it in another form give me all your money). Are cold things really that bad for you? Maybe it is the lack of cold things that keeps Italian women thin...
Went to class where Alberto proceeded to bash me and my Spanish accent. Which is true its there. Every time a random person shows up or I ask someone something they immediately ask if I am Spanish. I am easily identified, even more so than I am when I speak French. I am really going to have to concentrate and work on my pronunciation. Now if all of the phonetic soundings didn’t mess me up so much when reading them.
Had dinner with the Michael. It will be nice going into the TAM program actually knowing someone, in person. I took him to the best gelato place in town (done my research and got the waist line to prove it).
Afterwards I went to cinema night. I really look forward to these evenings. We went into town to the movie theater. I had delusionally hoped it might be just slightly air conditioned. It was not to be. If it was air condititioned the whole town would come down with the plague or something. We watched a film called La Finestre di Fronte. Very interesting film, it's from one of the Italian production houses (Fandango) and was released earlier this year. It is not sent abroad though (sorry).

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

It has been one hell of a long day. When they combine class (run 4 hours straight- into mid day heat) and an excursion, it is simply draining- fun but draining. So first there is waking up early. Then 4 hours of class after which your brain promptly explodes. Then one hour to make all the mad dashes you need and eat food before getting onto a bus. Ok so its hot- I eat dairy and then get on a big bus, not a good combo. Wasn’t car sick as much as I feel like I curdled my yogurt but never the less I got sick on the way to the first wine tasting.
I felt much better with two feet on terra firma. The first location is Castello Spessa and historically one of the significant facts has to do with Casanova. From what we were told he simply adored this estate, stayed there for a few years actually, and wrote about the place. In return they have named a wine after him. There is an 11th century wine cellar and it was wonderful to get out of the heat into the coolness. I was a bit concerned about my stomach etc but after a bit of bread I was tasting away. Lush I am, no way am I going to turn down wine I have paid for.
After that we headed over to another winery located right next to an abbey- Abazzia Rossata. We went on a tour of the abbey (now a nunnery and cultural center). It is a gorgeous abbey; initially Benedictine, went through the hands of the Dominicans and now is a Catholic nunnery. The nun running the tour is simply wonderful and darling. There are some interesting 11th century frescoes. She will talk your ear off and knows quite a bit about the history of the abbey, it was very interesting. The views from the back terrace are simply amazing. It is frustrating, there is no way to capture the beauty of this view with a camera. We then went to the winery next door, they did a presentation on their wines and we had a tasting. We were able to taste two more unique and indigenous wines which was really interesting. One is called a Pignolo, the other Picolit. The Pignolo (a red wine written about in medieval times, practically extinct and resurrected in the 70's) is amazing and I bought some (expensive), and the Picolit (a dessert wine) while nice especially when paired with a good gorgonzola, but wasn’t as good as the Pignolo.
We had a dinner on the way home. I took it easy but was nice to go out and get to know some of the new people etc, and the food was pretty good. Very relaxing way to end the day. I was glad Barbara came on the trip too, she is a lot of fun and I had someone in my age group to be my comrade.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

A new day a new session. I cannot express how much I detest tests. Placement tests rank right up there on the top of my list. Yet this morning I spent 2 hours taking a damn placement test. I seem to do ok but always feel as though I am failing miserably. I was placed in Alberto's class. Which in the end will be a good thing, but for now is going to make my brain hurt. I think they did that on purpose, I love Alberto don’t get me wrong, but I have had it easy for the past two weeks. Now comes the hard part.
I had a conversation today with one of my friends at home who as much as I love him, he can be completely inconsistent, though he doesn’t realize it. Talking on IM only makes it worse as in honesty there can be many interpretations of/reasons for what he says. I am currently looking at this as reason to myself to continue my learning lesson with letting go of things. Letting go of speculation about intentions, letting go of the need to control and know all the details at all times, simply letting go. I am in honestly not good at it, but I am getting better.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Another day of sloth, which thankfully has external impetus to get me out of the hole. It is an eternal battle for me to motivate myself. Quite amazing given the amount of motivation I have had to follow in my life. There is a certain sense of irony in the fact that I don’t feel I can motivate myself with out pressure from the outside. This is going to be one of my biggest challenges in going back to grad school. As the pressure is all on me, I need to start figuring this out. Where better to start than here??
Went to the welcome party for the new students. I started classes at an awkward time, so there was no welcome when I got here. It was odd to be at a welcome party already having been here two weeks. It will be interesting to watch the dynamics of the groups and people. There has been some shifts in the age groups more younger, more older- only one my age. GAH- oh well it turns out he is a student from the TAM program- Michael. So I will go into UNC knowing one person in person.
I took some of the new students out to La Caina (a friendly local restaurant) and relaxed. The evening weather was absolutely wonderful after having spent the rest of the day living through the heat and humidity I actually wore long sleeves and well I wanted to. I went out after dropping the new students off to have a few good bye drinks with some of the students who are leaving and came home to crash in preparation for the start of the new session tomorrow.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Today was a day of doing completely nothing. One of those I don’t even want to get up kinds of days. I really did nothing and honestly after two plus weeks of straight running it was what exactly what the doctor ordered. Some what falling into my bad habits but there are times when sloth is called for.
In the afternoon I managed to drag myself out and down to the boardwalk. I sat down ordered a moderately bad sorbetti and wrote post cards. I walked the length of the promenade, purchased and put away some small groceries. Took a shower which in the evenings are wonderful and watched a DVD.
Starting next weekend it will be time to travel. It is difficult to travel. There is so little time on the weekends to get anywhere and we are some what isolated, not to mention the energy it can take to plan something and going by yourself if no one else is interested…. However, there are 3-4 day trips I can do and to be honest I need to, alone or with others, get out of Grado.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

It is my last day of class as an advanced beginner. I have a feeling things are going to get more painful in my stretch to learn Italian. I haven’t a clue about where they will place me, but I have this feeling I am going to be pushed to the points of frustration and my comprehension is going to decrease dramatically initially. I know in the long run it is a good thing for me but at the same time the battle between over achiever and critical self in me and the acceptance and learning part of me is going to be a pain.
I am currently debating about getting a cell phone. Which to make it worth while for the rest of this trip I need to decide soon. I would feel much better had my car that Wes is selling for me at home had already sold and I had that money. I am really trying not to let my monetary fears take control over me, but it is flying out and with nothing coming in, I am doing my best not to panic or become overly psychotic.
I had intended since I am insane to go to cooking class today but I came home for a siesta and slept all the way through it. It turns out to have been a good thing. I didn’t like what they made and I would have only offended Mariella if I hadn’t eaten. I don’t need to gain, I want to loose weight.
For the last day of class Liviana (the instructor) took us to an Italian literary lecture series held in Grado. I was able to understand a fair amount which made me feel quite impressed. I truly enjoyed the author. Her opinions and the way that she carried herself and presented herself was wonderful. The kind of lady you would want to have for your Mom. Eloquent, elegant, intelligent, good character, etc.
We all went out to dinner tonight together at our favorite restaurant (San Daniele). It was a great dinner. The owner of the restaurant pulled out all of the stops for us. After which we went to Cuba Libre again. Mostly a girls night out. It really was a lot of fun. I am sad that some of them are leaving. I do believe though that the disco-bunny tendencies will reduce and to be honest for that I am grateful (more sleep, spend less money- drinks here are expensive).

Friday, July 11, 2003

I went to the beach and for the first time really went all the way out into the sea. I can honestly say I absolutely adore the Adriatic! The waters are gorgeous, it is bathtub warm, with small swells. The waters off the beach grade out and are fairly shallow most of the way out so you can really enjoy having some space to yourself and the water. I am a water baby in every sense of the word. I have always been most comfortable in it and it has always been an important part of my life.
Tonight was the going away party. It was a nice evening. We spent a better part of the night on the beach and at the end of it headed over to the bar for shots and talk. It was a lot of fun, but honestly I am going to really need to start taking some serious siestas. I really want to throw myself into the language as much as I can from here on in. Adjustment time is over.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

I was woken up at 4am by a HUGE clap of thunder and an utterly amazing storm. I love lightning and thunder storms. Had it not started to immediately pour I would have run to the beach to watch it from there. I have loved storms since I was a kid. The storm lasted for about an hour. It is actually a relief as it took some of the humidity with it. I may be from the hot lands (Arizona) but it is a dry heat. I hated that saying till I lived somewhere humid (humid with out air-conditioning- it's barbaric!)
I headed to the one place in town you can get any English language news. The lack of the news for a junkie like me is really painful. I managed to get the last copy of the Economist (handing over with glee an exorbitant amount of money) and happily strolled over to the beach to tan while reading it. It was soooooo good to catch up on some of the recent news.
School is going great. I came into the session at a bit of a difficult time and things are a bit "cliquey." Honestly I am not a cliquish person. I would prefer to have you say things to my face. The groups are some what impermeable and it really is getting on my nerves. I guess having left my strong community at home that I worked to create and come here to deal with the whole inclusion/exclusion games is bothersome. I am hoping that as much as I like some of the people, next week when the new session starts it will be a better blend of students and also less "cliquey."
I am thoroughly enjoying going to Alberto's cinema nights. He has a quirky sense to him that is fun and knows his cinema. Tonight we watched a current movie. It was interesting. Difficult to follow as there was a fair amount of slang, swearing and they spoke really fast. But it was exactly what was needed to start lifting the somber mood.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I am having a hard time with waking up early in the mornings. I am sure it has to do with my lack of sleep, bed times and the fact that my room gets little morning and afternoon light (not a bad thing given the heat, but does not help to wake me up). The hope was to work out before class. I am lucky if I make it to class on time. At least I am not gaining massive weight (none actually, but I had hoped to loose a pound or two). I really do want to start working out some. Going to have to figure this out.
A horrible thing happened today. There is a husband-wife (Mike and Francesca) team of directors for the school. The husband director, who does all of our trips and is much the balancing factor to his wife, was hit by a car while biking his way to the bus station for our trip to Udine. It was really hard for me having been a first responder in the medical field to not go into auto pilot. My programming is to immediately emotionally detach and assess the situation so I am able to take necessary action. Unfortunately it can come across as quite cold and callous, and I barely know anyone here so I haven’t the slightest idea how to be supportive. They were all quite traumatized by this accident. By the time I got there the ambulance had shown, but Mike was still lying in the middle of the street. Facts are, he could move his extremities, he was breathing and he was talking. They took him to the hospital. He may have broken some bones but I am pretty sure he will live. The difficult part of it for me as much as I am sorry that this happened, I simply can’t bring myself to create drama where it is not needed. It has obviously put a damper on things though with the school.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Wow it is already the start of week two. I am left wondering when this whole amazement that I am here and that time has passed will start to subside. Today was my first major email-athon day. I sent out a bunch of messages etc and even got to talk with Jayne which was so absolutely wonderful! It is hard to go cold turkey from your life and "family." I really was quite grateful to catch up with her. There area a handful of people in my life who have a way of making me utterly melt and two of them have done so today. That ability to be exactly what I need not one moment before or after I need it but on the dot and to know exactly what I need, is priceless.
As for any real events of today I went to see a slide presentation about tomorrow's trip to Udine (the sales, the sales!!!) and then out for a drink afterwards.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

I am sooooo drained. Getting home at 3 am every "morning" is not a good thing. I did some how manage to wake up in time and get myself out of bed for the Perdón di Grado. It is a 760+ year tradition where the fishermen of town make a procession of the statue of Mary through town onto a boat. Then all of the decorated fishing boats follow to a church on a small island outside of Grado called Barbanna. It is done as thanks for keeping the plague from Grado.
The morning was pretty grey and rainy and after the procession. And since I did not have a ticket to go on a boat to Barbanna I headed back home and promptly went back to bed. My whole body is in such pain that to be perfectly honest I simply cannot be arsed to do a damn thing. I managed to fight the antisocial vein in me and went out to dinner with some of the other students and walked around town a bit, bought some postcards. And then saw a most delicate and simple but lovely necklace. It is much more than I should spend but I am sincerely debating about purchasing it.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

I wanted to go to the open air mercato this morning. I intended to go. Unfortunately, I completely slept through it. This first week has taken quite a bit out of me. Sleep is gaining in importance. I really had a relaxing day though which was nice.
I wandered around town with no rhyme reason or direction. Had lunch with two of the girls from school before a siesta. Siestas are what I exist for in life. I headed out to the beach late in the afternoon and caught a little bit of sun.
Went out later to Hemmingway and met up with everyone else before heading over to Cuba Libre, the other club "in town." It is much better than Get Down, but one hell of a trek out of town. It was humorous to see "Grandpa DJ" playing Gangsters Paradise. But the music was better, which tells you a lot. It really is bothersome to not be able to let loose and really just enjoy dancing with out having men all over you. And sorry to report that so far there have only been one or two interesting Italian men. Though I will admit Mr. Eminem wannabe did at least make me laugh, which was well needed for the long haul home, my feet REALLY are going to hate me.

Friday, July 04, 2003

I am working hard to strike balance between being a part of the group (the need to be a part of something and accepted) and being on being on my own (independence thing, not the slothful type, but the doing things for yourself that interest you kind). After my experience in Norway of allowing culture shock and circumstance to control my perception and twist me toward the negative, I am enjoying the pure joy of living in Italy. Honestly the way time has flown this past month or so is amazing to me. The growth is immense for me, I am some what stretched to the point of pain, but I know this is the best thing I could be doing for myself.
Enough psychobabble onto a day in Grado. I spent most of my break today running small but necessary errands (like purchasing a dictionary and going to the ATM- thank god the fussy thing worked). I also went onto the internet and saw that my friends had created a happy birthday thread for me. As much as I love it here I do miss people and it completely made my day.
Had a cooking class today, I am honestly not sure I can handle the cooking classes. First of all they aren’t necessarily about learning how to cook as much as they are about eating. This wouldn’t be bad if the teacher (Francesca’s mother- Mariella) wasn’t offended if you didn’t finish your food. This wouldn’t be bad if she didn’t pile your plate with so damn much. Flashbacks to child hood- ACK. When I left class my stomach felt like a distended cement mixer about to explode. It was a dessert class and to say I was sugared out really does mean something as I have the original sweet tooth. My favorite was crepes with Bavarian cream filling and pineapples flambéed with amaretto. TO DIE FOR. Unfortunately it was the last in the line of 5 desserts, I was barely able to eat any and she cooked them so I am still kind of wondering how to make them...
I am an absolutely horrid American; I completely forgot and could have cared less that today was the 4th of July. We had a festa and I went more to spend time with people than for the whole national pride reasons. We played frisbee and soccer. I played sweeper and Alberto swiped me out twice and Becca once. My left leg is going to be seriously bruised.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Drugged myself last night to ensure I would sleep through the night and hopefully ward of the worst of the jetlag elements. Worked so well I barely made it to class. As a matter of fact I was 15 minutes late.
I had a light bulb moment today. Came to me late, as many of my close friends would have guessed it already. My issue with construction of Italian has to do with my lack of knowledge of English grammar. And since Spanish was my first language I don’t translate either language when trying to express myself. Therefore I have no clue who the subject of a sentence is half the time and what verb tense- HUH?? A revelation- at least for me it was.
Also had another self-realization today. This one was in relation to my personal choices on how I let the outside world affect my internal balance and perceptions of my surroundings. Other people do not have that power unless I give it to them. It is a decision I am much more conscious of now than before.
I am desperately missing my dog and I am utterly amazed that today of all days I saw a border terrier here in Grado. It took everything I had in me not to scoop the dog up and run off with it. I know Liam is better off at home in doggie boot camp but still it is odd not having a dog.
At school tonight we watched a movie called Profondo Rosso. It is a 70's movie that has Hopper and Hitchcock elements. It was filmed in Rome and is saturated with colors. Quite a violent movie in actuality but the violence is completely unrealistic. The story was interesting I understood about 45% which doesn’t sound like a lot but it was and with a bit of explanation I understood the movie. Reminded me personally a bit of a Clockwork Orange, but I am not a film buff, that is what Alberto is for.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Nope didn’t sleep a single wink last night. Came home from the club at 4:30am, watched a DVD and off to the bus station for a 6am bus to Ravenna I went. I spent all of the day walking- for which my feet will never forgive me. I promise next time I am bringing me some Easy Spirits and Dr. Scholl’s! And all of my time on the bus sleeping.
For those of you who don’t know anything about Ravenna it has some of the most amazing mosaics. Most are from the 5th and 6th century and the artistic work not to mention the enormity, immensity, and the detail of each of them is utterly mind boggling and beautiful. The trip was through the school and while it was a bit tour groupy for me. However, the director of the school who went with us (Mike) is an ancient history PhD candidate so the amount of information he provided was quite impressive.
Honestly the images I have cannot do justice to what we saw. They are simply amazing mosaics and I would highly recommend visiting. You have the mosaics and you are in Emilia Romagna one of the best places for Italian food as far as I am concerned. Piadini are to die for and I had a great white wine with my lunch. And if you want sushi there is a sushi restaurant in town.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

It amazes me. I am here, in Italy. I am starting my second day of classes. My brain still hurts desperately from trying to make it function in Italian, which thanks to what little Spanish I have left, is more than humorous.
Today was a day for adventures at the bank. At least I see the humor in it. I went to the bank for a cash advance. I thought an advance would be easier. Nope. Since I have written "SEE PHOTO ID" on the back of my card, they won’t touch my card. Didn’t matter that I had a government issued passport with a photo and a signature to verify, no-go. So when I reach the end of my Italian banking vocabulary I ask in very clear words. Parla Inglese? Do you speak English? What language do you think she responds in....... German. Now this doesn’t happen at just one bank but all three I go to in town. Do I look German?? Maybe, but the better reason is that this part of Italy used to be part of the Hapsburg Empire so German is their default language.
I had the best of intentions this evening, honest officer. Going out for a drink as bonding with the other students. I ended up stay out all night. Started at Bar Hemingway, proceeded on to another bar for shots (Alberto taught me that Italians use coffee grinds with rum shots like Americans use salt with tequila). Then we went onto a "discoteca" called Get Down. The place defies description. Lame really is the best I can come up with, that and empty. It was us, a group of 4 other Italians and two utter freaks.
Now I wear my freak badge with pride, but these two were the creepy kind. However, the really terrifying part was when they played this horrid song. The Chihuahua song- it prompts grown men to hop around with the hands flopping like ears screaming "Ai Chihuahua." I sincerely hope someone slipped acid in one of my drinks. If not I will need serious therapy to deal with the nightmares. We danced some but dancing attracts freak #1 to me (Yes, I have renewed my license as a registered freak magnet).
Now I am an excessively puritanical American female, as anyone who knows me will attest. Personally, I don’t think it is too much to ask to know the name of the freak before he grabs me and starts humping my leg. I know it is a lot to ask but if your crotch is going to come in contact with my ass, names shouldn’t be an issue. And please freak #2- I go to the bathroom by myself. I don’t have a part I need anyone to hold and I don’t need someone to watch me either. Maybe that is your thing, does nothing for me.

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