Friday, November 28, 2014

Life in Italy- Day 213 (2014)

Giovedì 26 Novembre
I should thank those kids who spent time teaching me about the uses of specific verb tenses yesterday because I made a 47 out of 50 on my exam today!! I'm guessing I'm at about an 8 year old level, haha! I aced my oral test too and then had the blessing of a fellow classmate who is a fellow American from New York come to lunch with me!!! We had a fabulous time talking!!
Then I went to rehearsals for the big event the school is throwing for poetry where I will sing two songs I have not yet memorized. I arrived early and spent time with an author of stories and poems named Stefano Adami.
He treated me to spritz and we talked about how amazing Rome is to live in and how there are jobs there, he told me of his years spent teaching in London & Chicago, & his trip to Cuba where he felt so at home because of the way the people MAKE you feel that way and that music is playing night and day there. He told me I speak Italian well and said that my intelligence is high evidenced by how quickly I pick up the language he was teaching me throughout the evening. Haha, but I doubt I'll remember the new words and corrections he gave me! 
Then I read my poem by Walt Whitman "I Sit and Look Out" in both Italian and English, very slowly. My professor Maurizio Spagnesi had corrected my pronunciation beforehand wherein I learned I had been pronouncing "z"s and double letters like "rr" "tt" incorrectly. I felt so good about how I read the poem in both languages and even received several compliments on my reading, from two who said I read it like I felt it. Then I sang the "America" written before 1900 by Samuel Smith and later Wade in the Water, which I wished I had sing first because I was most comfortable with it and I had held the words in my hand for the first one but most people were one when I sang Wade in the Water, which I felt God told me to sing. Grrrrr! I feel much more passionate about exposing injustice and the hope of attaining freedom than promoting any one country over another AND the lyrics perfectly correlated to the topics in the poem, such as slavery. Yet the slaves wrote a song about overcoming because God has the upper hand! 
The best part of the night was talking with all the nice Sicilian girls in a gospel choir. It felt so good to understand and speak Italian with Italians. My sweet Roman friend Alessandro walked me home and I didn't get into bed until 2:30 am!!

Life in Italy - Day 212 (2014)

Mercoledì 26 Novembre
At University, talked about a wonderful story called La Giacca Stregata written by the Italian writer Dino Buzzati. It is a mystery that unfolds to teach us all a lesson about corruption and it's effects!!!
I ate lunch at the restaurant where I work to see the group of male friends who then asked me to sit with them and I met new people: one, a local professional photographer who let me share a chair with him at a table. He takes fotos of Tuscan weddings, musicians, and more. His name is Roberto Panciatici.
Then, the sons and daughters of the owners saw me studying and taught me grammar rules for verb conjugations such as passato remoto, congiuntivo, imperfetto del congiuntivo, future composto and WHEN to choose to use each! It was so cute to see how excited and useful they felt to be capable of helping me. 
Then I had a practice for my band and everything went better than last time! 
I was so full of energy that I danced the first 30 minutes there and I understood them all better and what helped us a what THE INTERNET which we used to rehear the songs done by the original singers themselves. This eliminated a lot of unnecessary confusion about what the song is supposed to sound like. The drummer told me I tend I be OUT of the groove, behind the beat and that I need to practice singing the songs to the original recordings so that I can lead the song rhythmically if there were no instruments to guide me. I also met some new students at the jazz school, which always excites me.

Life in Italy -Day 211 (2014)

Martedì 25 Novembre
I went to the train station cafe and two of the train conductors who have come to know Eryona and I as the singers started flirting and trying to give me all the answers to homework material as if I didn't want to have think through it myself!! So adorable! I really wanna learn this material for realz, but they were insistent on doing my homework! Sorry professuh!
Then I met the elderly couple who always walk hand in hand and look at me lovingly. The wife was at the coffee bar and said hello, told me I am beautiful, and laid her head against mine in sweet childlike affection. Her daughter approached and told me she has Alzheimer's. I see more love in her eyes than those who have their full wits about them!
We watched an Italian film in class "Io e Te" that shows a teen boy who is isolated and wants to be that way because he has so much trouble communicating socially that he only knows how to relate to animals. Until a girl comes inside his life uninvited and this encounter changes his life. She is his sister from the same father and was trying to detox from drugs and needed a place to stay - he didn't want to let her into his place of solitude and solace that he had just created for himself one day before- maybe to wallow in pity, but he HAD to help her and then became close as a brother to her. 
I sat in CartaZucchero, one of the only two coffee shops in Siena who let you park it for a pair of hours to study and ate a panino!
For 2 hours I sat in the children's section of the library to study before I read the sign that says "area riservata ai bambini!!!" but I want to continue to disobey it because there's no adult gum smackers who whisper sensuously. In total, I think I studied for 8 hours and then I went home to call my lovely mother and slept. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life in Italy- Day 210 (2014)

Lunedì 24  Novembre
Sunrise this morning was beautiful -thick fog was everywhere but the big yellowishwhite ball cast a champagne and pink color all throughout the sky and outlined the spokes of a medieval wall.
Went into the city center for coffee before class for a nice change and liked the fresh atmosphere of the locals' morning habitual stop in the brisk fall air in the wide open corner just inside the Medieval wall and the Porta Camollia. I sat outside under white umbrellas studying verb tenses. 
After classes, I ran into a former professor who is highly intelligent named Elisabetta in the halls of the University and she insisted that we get coffee together. She treated me to it and we talked for a good visit. I was so uplifted by this meet and greet! Then I ran errands with my boss to buy cantucci (biscotti) for the restaurant and pay the restaurant's gas bill which was 1,000 Euro. horrible!!!! I studied more vocabulary words & read two Italian articles.
Then I had the privilege of attending a seminar on sustainability in food, leaving less of a carbon footprint on the planet and how food production makes up 9% of the carbon footprint. The seminar was put on by a organization called INDACO2. Studies show that Meat and oil production causes the most percentage of negative affects on the environment and cheese the next. We must burn up as much as we produce to be carbon free and Siena has reached that goal in 2014. They taught us where the in Italy the meat, wine, oil, and cheese is produced in such a way that it leaves less of a negative affect- and this is most often when animals are allowed to roam freely in the fields as opposed to being in stalls. Then the served us all food in grand amounts of the best quality. We ate the famous Tuscan soup called Rebollita (cannelli beans, pecorino rind, stale country bread, tomatoes, mixed greens, carrot, celery, red & yellow onion, garlic, parsley, thyme, pepper & red wine cooked for 3 hours) with local extra virgin olive oil from Chef Pierino Fagnani della Grotta Santa Caterina Bagoga who said "once you eat at our restaurant, there's nothing left to do but make love". And another soup we were served is called Papa Pomodoro (stale un salted bread, broth of organ meats, tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, onion, red pepper, salt & sugar) by chef Silvano Caroti of L'Hostaria il Buco di Chianciano T. Then we tasted white beans with pig meat and onions, pig liver, horse meat with homemade mayonnaise by chef Francesca Nannetti of La Taverna della Berardegna di Castelnuovo B.ga. Then came desserts-  pecorino cheese topped with honey and then topped with Panforte (this was the absolute best!! Panforte is made of sifted flour, cocoa, cinnamon, allspice, toasted almonds & hazelnuts, candied mixed fruit, candied orange peel & citron, honey, sugar, & a little powdered sugar), and a cake with liquor and fresh creme. The two desserts were the most impressive part to me taste wise. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Life in Italy - Day 209 (2014)


Domenica 23  Novembre 
Went to a different protestant church in my city with an Australian classmate. We sang current worship songs that I love, took communion with real wine, and the pastor spoke on how the foundation of our faith is a PERSON who paid for us by living perfectly and then sacrificing his life for us. 
I fell on my foot today in front of a crowd of people seated under cafe ombrellas drinking their morning coffee and it was so funny cuz I laughed out loud to make it funny but no one laughed with me-so then the silence of the crowd made it double funny. But now I can't walk and am in excruciating pain mixed with a pity party I am having today (tears included) for the difficulties of communicating what I want and need with my band and also understanding what my band mates want and need from me as well as the chef at the restaurant. She said last night I understand "Quasi niente" (almost nothing) as a joke, but....) Feeling incompetent!  And it makes me just wanna quit, go home, and speak nothing bur English the rest of my life. Pity party number two- that I haven't been snatched up for marriage yet cuz I think it would be so fun to be held and cuddled all night long inside the promise of spending everyday with a companion. I'm thinking "how hard could it be to find someone suitable?" and yet - I'm still single. I just want it to be quick and easy, this "snatching me up" thing where I barely have to think. 
I was in excruciating pain and couldn't walk on my foot the rest of the day so I was FORCED to study, haha. 

Life in Italy -Day 208 (2014)


Sabato 22 Novembre 
Woke up with a back pain so intense: the mix of these dorm beds, the heat, the thirst- I suspect make me not get profound sleep. Got my morning coffee at the train station and saw the same elderly couple I often see- they take morning and night walks, always hand in hand- theirs is a picture of tender and compassionate love. And the wife always looks me lovingly in the eyes even tho we've never met and waves hello with a huge smile for me.
The November hills are so different than the May hills and the difference is just as gorgeous. There's new born baby grass in bright, freshest green among little piles of mud dug up. The mix of these two colors on perfectly sculpted mounds -mounds that could fit beneath the palm of a million little hands-- play a happy dance in the soft light of the morning sun: soft green fuzz growing from the color rust, like a green velvet dress whose color becomes shadow in each curve of the bust; these colors are rolling neath the gentle sun. There are tall cat tail plants and a herd of sheep trotting down the slant. A villa here, a cottage there, and my eyes taking it in with a deep stare. I love the train because I love going; who would want to stay when you can ride in the midst of a drawing?
Got of at the train stop called Asciano M. Oliveto M. at 12:45 pm and only had til 4 o'clock to see her. But the amazing thing is, time seemed to multiply and I walked thru this silent and enchanted city alone, talking to God. I found a waterfall, surrounded by cottages and green trees. In this antiquated village were houses made of stone, brick, and or worn out aged paint of delightful colors like coral, yellow, or green. there were lace curtains in every small window, clothes on the line, and flowers of fushia and pink next to cactuses in every doorway. Wow! Then I ate a sumptuous meal robust with flavor at a restaurant called L'angolo Dello Sfizio. How was I so fortunate to happen upon the best tasting food? I had pici with chinta (a priced black pig) who's meat tasted like juicy fat gristle of a steak with sauce of tomatoes both whole and warmly cooked into sugo and fresh Parmesan cheese on the side. Then they brought me a slice of flakey pie filled with a fluffy soft mix of warm apples and figs! For free! So delicious! I will come back to Asciano just to eat here again. Then I found the bakery called Perugini Pastcierria with a vast variety of handmade delights crafted right there in the store. I met the baker and she gave me a sugar/egg white macaroon dipped in dark chocolate for free! These people are amazing.
Went to work and my back screamed in pain and I felt incompetent as I still don't understand any of the conversations of the staff when we all eat dinner together. This discourages me. I only convinced ONE couple to eat here this shift:(

Friday, November 21, 2014

Life in Italy - Day 207 (2014)


Venerdì 21 Novembre 
This morning I cooked mushrooms in butter and ate it like soup and then fried two eggs in butter and Parmesan & brought to school! It was the first time I cooked before school in 207 days!!
In class, I was satisfied because we worked on tons of Italian exercises that make us think from a website called www.scudit.net
We watched a film on immigration called TerraFerma filmed by Emmanuele Crialese. Mama mia, I would recommend everyone watch it because it speaks on the topic of immigration from all sides of the coin and makes you question what your own reaction would be to the problem. It is a tear jerker because it is so real to life.
Then I ran into two American girls not knowing how to get to the Medieval part of town and showed them the way, all the while teaching them the history of the city! Then I ran into Giuseppe, a banker at Monte di Paschi- Europe's first bank, based in Siena. He had seen me eat pizza so many times at the Consorzio Agrario di Siena that he finally made friends with me, saying if I ever need help in any way- let him know (that's the Sicilian way to be & he is from Palermo). He asked "is everyone from New Orleans as solare (sunshiny) as you?" I said "they may not all be solare, but they all are a certain brand of crazy." He said "I sense that you are a bit of a pazzerella (crazy woman) yourself" I'm thinking to myself "how do they all know I'm crazy? How is it so easy for the Italians to figure me out?" Haha! 
My friends who serve me pizza again gave me pizza for HALF PRICE for the second time this week. HOW NICE!!!
Then I ran into an Albanian worker at my residence- he and the Romanian worker were talking bout how they only get paid 1,300 € a month and often 15 days late for unjust hours like all-nighters at hotel reception desks and the one has a wife and 3 sons. He said all the while, those in retirement are getting 12000 a month, and he's lucky to take even half that home a year on account of taxes. He said the Italians don't like the immigrants and complain "they're stealing our work" when, according to him, there's obviously a need for this work and the Italians aren't willing to work those hours, so the immigrants do it yet without respect. I told him how the Italians are upset that Germany is making the laws that they (Italians) have to follow. He said its the Germans pay people for what they work and are more fair- while hear there are huge injustices and the gap between rich and poor is too vast- government officials get outrageous salaries. I notice my professors acknowledge this and aren't afraid to talk about the injustices in their country. 

Life in Italy- Day 206 (2014)


Giovedì 20 Novembre
Slept from 10:30-8 and dreamt about my sister and I making videos at Christmas with music in the background,  a decorated tree & presents everywhere. The purpose of the video= we were teaching people how to relax and take life easy lowering demands on oneself from perfection to graceful expectations. 
There exists a candy made in Italy that is a nougat of honey and TONS of nuts -walnuts or hazelnuts called TORRONE and it's made in Sardegna!! I ate this for breakfast & sang again with the barista at the request of a female professor who had heard us the day before. 
I feel physically bad everyday from 11-1:30 and don't know why. Nonetheless, I read two articles in Italian, met with my language trade partner and ate 2 paninos with melted cheese & prosciutto and drank a delicious coffee with cocoa!! Tried to take a nap, learn a new song, buy a microphone for our band, and go to band practice, reading the Bible on my walks in Italian is the only studying I've done in a WEEK!!! Horrible!! Practice with the band is so difficult only because I am too sensitive and it's amplified with the language barrier as I feel incompetent trying to discuss what we all want musically. Often they ask me to sing more freely with more passion more intensity, to sing full out, and to use more dynamic range but I am already singing at full blast and full passion, hurting my voice and somehow this is not at all evident to the musicians. We rehearsed at the jazz school where other Jazz students were rehearsing - all Italians- there, I literally ran into a jazz bassist I had formerly met on the street. his handsomeness is so vast I could stare at him for hours and he emits peace. His name is Francesco Losavio.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life in Italy- Day 205 (2014)


Mercoledì 19 Novembre
At the train station two male regulars at the coffee counter who had the barista and I sing the other day asked us to sing again. I ate a mixed grain croissant filled with thick slices of mozzarella, raw prosciutto and tomatoes! 
In class we had long discussions wherein everyone shared what it's like in their culture with regards to marriage, cheating, and drunkenness. It was interesting to hear from the Asians, the Russians, the Moroccans, the Saudi Arabians, & Iranians. 
Then to prepare for a poetry night wherein my professor asked me to sing an American popular song that's unpublished, written before the 1900s, I did a 3 hour research on blues, early jazz, slave songs, & American songs from 1700s-1800s. Here's what I found. Blues: "Prove It on Me" by Ma Rainey, "I Love That Man Better Than I Love Myself" "I Can't Quit That Man" "Hard Times Blues" "Low Down Dirty Shame" & "Give Me a Break Blues" all by Ida Cox, "Baby Won't You Please" & "St Louis Blues" by Bessie Smith. I like her voice the best of all of the blues singers: it's clear, smooth, agile, & wide-ranged. Lists of Slave Songs are here: http://cocojams.com/content/african-american-secular-slave-songs, and http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/education/feature.html
Negro Spiritual songs are here: http://www.negrospirituals.com/news-song/index.htm and. 
Popular songs in American History: http://www.contemplator.com/america/
Among which are the following that have really good lyrics: "Black is the Color of my True Loves Hair," "True Lover's Farewell," and "Early One Morning" from the 18th Century. I learned the names of early jazz female singers: Evie Anderson, Mildred Bailey, Connie Boswell, and Lil Hardin and of a song called "I've Got De Blues" from 1901. 
I went out to eat with my Japonese friend who's been in class with me since May and it felt so good to connect with her again in conversation. We ate a famous Tuscan dish called Ribollita- it's soup with greens, onions, beans, bread, spices, etc. and we drank red wine with it. Delicious warm meal that was perfect for this cold night (9 degree celcius). 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life in Italy - Day 204 (2014)


Martedì 18 Novembre
Thanks to the birds who woke me up at 6:30, I was able to watch the sunrise on my rainy walk - pink, gold, and white light around that burning ball. Studied at the train station and Eryona the Albanian barista sang to me "Shout to The Lord" and "Heart of Worship" so, naturally, I joined in and the patrons grinned. Class was boring and it still rained for like the 24th hour straight but afterwards there was a DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!! Got to tell folks it's God's promise that he will never flood the earth again and that His mercy triumphs over judgment. We watched an Italian film called "Scialla" that means "stay calm" about an author who learns he is the father of a delinquent 15 year old son. Things all turn around for the better through their relationship! Then I spent the whole day napping, responding to friends' emails, listening to 3 Italian songs, and talking to one of my best friends LARA LANDON who is a singer/songwriter who always encourages me in the faith!! Oh, how refreshing!! Afterward, a man who had left his wife and whom I had witnessed to about the love of Jesus, informed me that he returned home to his wife!!!! Hallelujah! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Life in Italy- Day 203 (2014)

Lunedì 17 Novembre
I slept from 8:30 pm to 6:30 am!! So I did my homework this morning just in time to turn in in today! It was a rare occasion at the bakery because they had a frittata and cheese panino!! Frittata is fried egg & onion! Italians don't eat eggs for breakfast, so this was like a TOTAL gift just for me. Wow!! I experienced anxiety all day because 1. A professor whom I respect thought I was angry because I protested his request that I pick a different song to sing and a different poem to read for his poetry night. I don't have time to learn another song!! 2. A seventh guy asked me out who has a girlfriend. He texted "we have to be secretive about it since I have a girlfriend." My response to him in Italian was "You don't interest me. I am about to vomit because you are the 7th Senese man who likes to "cheat". Who did you think I was? Goodbye, dirty person!" An acquaintance told me that I am the one who is attracting these men to me. But I disagree- I think that since I meet countless amounts of people everyday thru work & travel, and many of them ask me on dates, it has been God's grace and protection to always reveal to me before the FIRST DATE that these men already have a significant other. I am so amazed at how much protection God has given me every single day of this long vacation I am doing alone. Then the biggest blessing happened: my two male Italian friends who work at the pizza shop gave me two pieces of pizza and two cookies for 2 euro when this normally would have been over 5 euro!!!!! He said "God wants well for those who want well for others." Their kindness made me cry and I knew it was God loving me. One of the two wants to move to America this year to find work because the employers here cheat them their wages and hours! They also told me as men, they were raised "old fashioned" but that it's hard to find a girlfriend because all the girls have been cheated on by their boyfriends here and thus don't trust Italian men. Then it rained such a hard downpour it felt like God was crying. My umbrella served no purpose. My pants & backpack are soaked and my shoes are full of water like buckets. Then I went home and talked to my mom. Talking to her always brightens my day. Then I "instat chatted" with my Christian friend Tony Lucido for hours, encouraging each other.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Life in Italy- Day 202 (2014)

Domenica 16 Novembre
Since I didn't have to work last night & got good rest, I took a trip today to Volterra. the rain beat down hard on the train windows and I saw in the distance, sheets of blue raining down from thick clouds over a mountain. The view from Livorno to Quercianella-Sonnino was breathtaking as the sun broke thru the thick grey darkness reavealing a vast green ocean- we were riding along the sea who's waves beat hard against the shore line in white crests! All the surrounding trees became a rich fresh green color against bluest clouds freshly made blue by the appearing sun. I made it to Volterra and spent 4 hours there. It is a charming medieval town- with mostly brown brick but there are surprises around corners like one roomed brick chapels set on the edge of a hill, skinny triangle buildings in the middle of two streets, a roman cistern that from the 1st century in which I heard trickling water, and a Roman forum. There was glorious choral music playing in the baptistry and a cat walking the streets who let me pet him (finally a cuddly cat; thank God!). And all day my nose was pleased by the scent of candle wicks of flames recently blown out and roasting smoke from wooden fireplaces. And I went back to Colle Val D'Elsa to catch my bus to Siena. As we drove away, the blue mountains were outlined by a burning pink & creme setting sun with fields of grass the color that appears usually in the morning under a mist. 

Life in Italy- Day 201 (2014)


Sabato 15 Novembre
Today's my sister's birthday! I woke up at 8, fried 3 eggs in butter with Parmesan, drank a cappuccino at the train station and was on a bus by 9:40
for Colle Val d'Elsa. All the vineyards are yellow-leafed around the vines. In the public square and cafe were only older men, gathering on this Saturday to shoot the breeze, all the women were in the salon getting their hair done. I walked up a tall hill and reached a castle, bell tower, church, and are workshops in every window: carved wooden pinocchios and horses and snails, blow class chandeliers with faces in them, paintings, jewelry, etc. The facade of the buildings were at least 3 different types of stone all placed atop the other in colors grey, beige, maroon, brown, & red. Their are arches and tunnels and views of the country side! An old woman who caught me singing on the streets said "vai, canti, mi fa piacere" (go on, sing, it makes me happy/I'm enjoying it). I assumed I had all the time in the world to also go to Volterra but then learned only TWO buses go there each day and I wouldn't have time to see it before my date with Emmanuele, the man with curly brown hair. On the ride, I met an African man named FAITH!! He loves Jesus, so we encouraged each other in The Lord!!! The date was in Pisa: Emmanuele cooked for me and his friend in his tiny house of antiques: the kind of bed you see in old Italian movies (all dark wood & a headboard of one wavy curve with a mary painted on it) and  an old antique furnace he fed firewood to. He cooked us spaghetti with tuna & pesto & gave us fine wine called Lìanti wine from Sardegna (delicious and sweet). His parents have a house in Sardegna where they all vacation every year. He has 2 brothers, still lives at home because it's more "comfortable" (ahaha, typical). They all own their own clothing businesses in Pisa- just like his parents always have. He and his brothers work in the markets under umbrellas along the river. He used to have two actual shops but said that life, working from 8-9 every day was too stressful for him. He loves the ocean and islands. He even lived in Africa one time for two years and opened a store there right on the ocean. But when he visited his parents in Pisa for a month, his whole store was robbed. He said he cried when that happened. He gave me a kiss goodbye and let me run my fingers thru his brown curly head of hair!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Life in Italy - Day 200 (2014)


Venerdì 14 Novembre
Eryona, the barista at the train station's caffè, sang "I surrender all" and "God will make a way where their seems to be no way" with me in front of all the Italians watching us, commenting on the concert while Eryona didn't miss about making 6 caffe's at one time! Class was delightfully interrupted by a walk with our professor to a renowned bakery called Buti where we stuffed our faces with a caramello pastry: cream inside of a puff pastry enshrined with a hard sugar icing. Then we went to the fifth floor of a tall building above Piazza della Poste for a marketing meeting on www.terresiena.it where is shown the wonders of the territory in and around Siena. From that conference room window, we could see the whole city: the tower of the Palace, the gigantic Duomo, the brown stone roofs crowding into each other and the blue mountains and open pastures surrounding all this concentrated beauty further into the distance. Then I ran into my Arabic friend Areej with whom I got a cappuccino at Nannini (another bakery that makes the best beignets filled with soft cream and tiny square pieces of chocolate) and then we tanned in the piazza under the sun that came out for one hour after many grey days! Then we got pizza covered in sausage & porcini mushrooms at the best spot Manchetti where we had great conversations with a Sicilian and then an American well-traveled couple -all whom we exchanged contact information with for friendships to come! 

Life in Italy- Day 199 (2014)


Giovedì 13 Novembre
In class we watched "le notte prima degli esami" which made me cry at the scene of the grandmother dying. I thought of my two grandmothers. The German one who's skin is so perfectly wrinkled -her hand that reaches out to grab my arm, her eyes that are eternally and profoundly blue. Her vulnerability behind her stoicism. And my other Gran, who sits and reads in her arm chair with slippers on with only the soft light of the brand new morning shining in thru the slits in the curtains of her glass patio door. And her new girls still in place from the day before at the salon. I worry I shouldn't have left them alone. Plus I am alone here, so what good is it doing both parties to be apart? 
I had the kind of hunger that one does when fasting so I paid 10 euro for an all you can eat Chinese buffet and are mostly fried fish, egg rolls, & glass pasta while studying extra sections in our workbook that we weren't assigned. 
Then had my weekly language exchange with Lorenzo and asked him to tell me about the history of Siena. He told me Saint Caterina is the reason the seat of the pope moved from Avignon to Siena, that she had much influence and the city of Siena was in general very powerful in the sector of the clerical. As an additional fact, he said Siena and Avignon are so similar they're like twin cities. 
Then I worked and had a blast. As November has come, I have been less successful in convincing people to eat here. Only 2 or 3 tables this time- two of whom spoke only French. It is most intimidating for me to not have any words to relay information about our dishes! But the smile really goes along way. And I served 3 men who are filming a movie in Siena and it was great fun! Then my boss taught me how to make a Cuban= crushed sugar and like topped with ice, rum, & coke. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Life in Italy- 198 (2014)


Mercoledì 12 Novembre
It's cold & wet outside for the 6th day in a row. I wake up after 6 hours of sleep in this new bedroom because of extreme thirst, but I used the early hour to study at the train station again.  I watched all the bright green & blue "TRENITALIA" trains arrive and part from the platforms and dreamt again about taking a new voyage. The last time I was out of town was a month and a week ago (Oct 5). In class we were all asked to share about our upbringing and values we want to pass on to children. I shared my whole upbringing and how I felt in many ways like a prisoner to perfectionism & pleasing others- I didn't know how to develop my own opinions, to disagree with authority, how to say "no", and how to be aware of my own emotions but that the love of God was taught to me and the ways to develop my thoughts, opinions, beliefs, voice (basically how to be an adult in the world). Ate a hamburger where at my restaurant with my boss, two hairdressers, and a musician with two sets of twins and they asked me about my past psychology work with girls who had psychological problems and got to share some God-stories. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Life in Italy - Day 197 (2014)


Martedì 11 Novembre
Highlight of today was taking a nap in complete and utter darkness of my room, imagining myself being kissed by Josh Alcedo, listening to Drake's song "Hold On", eating pizza topped with anchovies & capers, laughing with my mom on the phone, and going to band practice. The guitarist told me to be freer and more expressive because they are here for me. This offended me because there's no possible way I can be more expressive and free and I am singing so loudly that my throat hurts. And it was impossible to explain this to him because of the language barrier. I hope I learn more Italian soon to help with this. He had the great idea to record everything we sang & played on his computer! And we didn't get home til 12:45 am.
I translated Walt Whitman's poem "I sing the Body Electric" on slavery for a poetry night I was asked to read for and sing for.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Life in Italy - Day 196 (2014)


Lunedì 10 Novembre
Slept ten hours and had tons of dreams about food, Australia, and salesmanship. 
Today, we learned a lot of fun adjectives in class which makes me happy cuz I love using adjectives when I speak! 
I took it upon myself to do a whole bunch of language exercises that we were NOT assigned to do at the cafe called CartaZucchero over toast covered in salsiccia e stracchino. The owner played American music cuz I was there and French music when French girls came in. Then on the street I ran into the father of the restaurant owner I work for. He drove me home and played Perry Como singing songs by Cole Porter. And it's dark at 5:30 pm now. Boooo
Then I spent the night in watching "La Ragazza Con la Valigia" (the girl with the luggage) made in 1961 starring Claudia Cardinale. I watched it to study more Italian! It was about a girl who was totally lost in the world, constantly looking for a man to rescue her and provide for her and take all her worries away but she never found her place in the world. Awesome positive theme! Haha

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Life in Italy - 195 (2014)


Domenica 9 Novembre
The leaves fell today. Someone offered me a ride from the side of the road so I said yes. Church was the bomb - The Lord gave me supernatural encouragement as I spoke in tongues for over half an hour while the other believers prayed aloud. The sermon was on how we have a hope that can be lived out (take an affect) here on earth; not only experienced when Jesus' returns and it's all based on the fact that Jesus rose and promised us provision, protection, and blessing. That that His resurrection gives us His objectives - new motivations for the way we live our lives! That Paul said in all phases of life- in abundance or poverty- he has the same hope in life due to Jesus' work on the cross and the affect that work has on us! 
Then I read the Italian bible in the piazza where the sun shined on my face, warming me and prayed for friends because I spend every single afternoon alone. God answered my prayer and sent me two South African Christians to talk to over salami, pecorino, & olives! Italian interactions: old man eating next to us said the Italians know better how to take their item to taste and enjoy their food and that we eat way too fast; a child who wanted to shake a policeman's hand was too afraid to do so and his brother made it worse by pretending to put him in handcuffs. The mom explained in Italy all the different types of police men and what they do- arrest people cattivi (bad people); a very elderly woman on one side of the street saw a statue of Mary on the other side and made the sign of the cross and then kissed that same closed hand twice afterward.  
I ate an ice cream bar covered in chocolate and crunchy cocoa & learned a new curse word "Porca Eva," while watching an Italian film set in Rome about the neighborhood Trastevere in the '70s.

Life in Italy- Day 194 (2014)


Sabato 8 Novembre 
Met up with my friend Areej from Saudi Arabia and this was a much needed time with a female friend, which I had prayed for!!! We both openly talk about who we worship as "God", share funny life stories of mishaps & embarrassing moments, and heart longings, disappointments and unhealthy tendencies all to the back drop of soft jazz music under brick arched hallways and books lining every wall. I ate raw prosciutto & melted pecorino panini with two Moroccan cappuccinos all for 5.50 Euro= a reason to return! It is freezing in there, so the tip your nose gets cold and you have to wear layers. We met a German guy who teaches Italian in Southern Germany. He told us the way to learn a language quickly is to listen to its songs!! 
Work was crazy because it's Saturday night without the head chef which meant that Duccio had to cook with his sister and leave the whole restaurant to me & Silvia, two tables waiting forever to be served food, one table waiting over 30 minutes for a check, and one written order completely lost in the kitchen. I decided to make a bill for someone to pay in cash after all their waiting and started making a desserts for those waiting too long. But I got mandated out of the kitchen and told I am not the one who decides when things happen. woops!!! But it was all still fun because of the groups of people I got to talk to, including a soccer team. And my boss gave me the reins to make mixed cocktails for people teaching me from across the room. And I finally learned how to open wine bottles- the owner's father taught me! Then I got to catch up with American Christian friends online to 3:30 am!!! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Life in Italy- Day 193 (2014)


Venerdì 7 Novembre 
My new professor's name is Antonella. She wears skinny jeans, high heeled black boots, black blouse with a tailored black jacket, two necklaces: one a choker & one longer with sparkling things on it, & a red shiffon scarfs with a red floral design. She teaches us with the use of Italian songs and Italian video clips, along with grammar rules and exercises (like short stories) to help us put those rules into practice. Adreina, my favorite Italian communication professor to date, showed us a movie today called Stai Lontana Da Me, a romantic comedy about a guy who always brings misfortune into the lives of the women he dates until he realizes it was his fear of commitment high-jacking all his love stories. This film addressed superstitions, discouraging the belief in them. 
Then I ate pizza and paneforte- the latter jam-packed with nuts: a hearty treat! Did some publicity for the restaurant to 3 couples who are tourists and then tried to study in the library where I laid my head on the table atop my hands for at least an hour half-sleeping!! This is so new for me. I noticed the way Italian men whisper is much more tolerable to me than how Italian women do. It's more cut, direct, clear, & to the point and a lot of less tongue sounds (thank the good Lord!)
Work was great because Duccio's wife came in who is creative, who write a book, who traveled to India alone for a year, who translates for a living, who loves her mother, and who has the best curly hair! Then work went well but was too easy. Not enough of a rush of stress for me to enjoy it. Duccio and his sister both cooked so it was me alone on the floor of both rooms for part of the time- by no means all. The people were all relaxed Italian couples on dates and not angry about how long it took to bring food. I ate well tonight: ragu on tagliatelle for dinner and then at 11 pm, porcini mushroom sauce on tagliatelle & grilled sausage the next hour and tiramisu a little while later which was the stupidest decision either (the perfectly delicious) cuz it is soaked in caffeine. Oh my word!! There was a party of 14 and the guy asked me to sing to happy birthday to him so I did in a very soulful full-sounding say and then he and all his 13 friends sang their contrada's song against their enemy neighborhood, using a curse word and the word pooh pooh. All of this was so fun because we pointed at each other from 10 feet away with outstretched arms while expressively and loudly singing both these songs!! The guy acts just like those of the cast of SNL (Saturday Night Live). Entertaining stuff right here. Barbara sang in the kitchen most of her shift, while cooking, songs that she was making up - to survive the stress of all the orders coming in (now that her main chef went home for a month). It was hilarious because she also sang sarcastic sentences that include curse words. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Life in Italy- Day 192 (2014)

Giovedì 6 Novembre
Figured out class had only been boring due to the half-moon seating arrangement and retuned to my normal "face-the-teacher from the first row" style. Then I danced in the street when I-by chance- ran into the group "men friends" who always eat at the restaurant- and this made them all laugh; one even danced sillily in response. Then I ate the best quality pizza like I usually do: it's crispy yet soft- HOW does this bakery do it? Manchetti, they're called. Made another library visit & learned the reason it makes me tired: the HEAT! these people are extreme; it's not even winter! One has to layer so profoundly in order to de-robe so that one can endure sitting in the Universities or libraries without fainting of heat.  Then I taught Lorenzo, the Sienese man English and he taught me Italian at a trendy cafe. It's called a language trade.
Then I attended the birthday party of my female teacher's 19 year old son! She wanted to throw him a surprise party that is international. So sure enough, he was surprised as we (complete strangers) sang "tanti auguri a te". The four of us girls stayed over two hours with them: he, his two college friends, his mom, and his 13 year old brother, eating fried Asian food and singing Michael Jackson songs. It was so great. How I had missed eggrolls, glass noodles, fried crab balls, etc. Our professor loves us and loves forming relationships with her students so they can take a piece of her home to their countries, she said. Then she paid the bill for all of us. I was stupefied! 

Life in Italy- Day 191 (2014)


Mercoledì 5 Novembre
It was raining so hard and having lost my umbrella, I didn't know how I would get to school. So I asked a stranger for a ride: a man whom I saw dropping off his son at the day care right next to my house. Being Italian, he said yes and we got to talk about how much is great about Italy!! 
It's my second day with a new female professor and it's been particularly boring. Two female professors at one time is one too many!
Then I passed by the restaurant and the sister offered me Ossobucco for free! Why? I don't know. But the big group of "men friends" was there and they invited me to sit with them: one a lawyer, one a dentist, two pharmacists, & a computer programmer. We ended up talking about the state of the Italian economy which they are all very direct about just how bad it is. I told them I think the EU was a bad idea and they agree. They feel the countries in the north part of the EU make all the laws without considering whether or not those laws will function in the southern parts of Italy, they feel that Americans view the Italians as frivolous & superficial with regards to following EU rules, they also pointed out that no other country in the EU has this many miles of beach territory open to immigrants, they feel that the regulations of the government now will make all of Italy poor soon and that in 10 years there will be a war between the EU countries and they hope so in order for their country to survive the state of poverty that taxation threatens to thrust them in to. But somehow, they were still able to be comical and all stood towering over me wagging their fingers yelling each their own arguement in loud voices as I sat at the table below their high heights- all just to be silly. They asked me why I came here and if I was running from a love story gone awry. Luckily, I shared, I don't have any baggage. And in telling them why I am drawn to Italy, I reminded them of all the beautiful aspects of their country: the beauty of the architecture so detailed in artistry highest quality, the beauty of the countryside, the sunflowers, the cypress, the green rolling hills, the beaches, and the teal blue green oceans, and the beauty of the Italian people who sing and whistle while they work, who make jokes in times of trouble, and who still remain closely connected to each other meeting every night at 6 in the public square when they are old, wrinkled, and grey. One of them pinched my cheek affectionately- a type of affection I receive at least once every two weeks from an Italian chap. 
Then I studied in the library again despite the ugly sound of whispering and sleepy affect it ports to me. 
Then my Asians friends whom I haven't hung out with for months invited me to dinner: two Koreans, one Taiwanese, and one Japanese. We spoke only in Italian. They had cooked the hugest spread of food. I could not believe my eyes. Chicken cooked every sort of way with all kinds of different sauces and vegetables, spicy kimchi, and sushi rolls. It was a rich time learning about each others countries. 

Life in Italy- Day 190 (2014)


Martedì 4 Novembre 
Slept for 9.5 hours but all day long felt as though I had not slept at all. Again I went to the library and there almost fell asleep. I also leaned that I hate the sound of Italian language WHISPERED. After 3 times in the library, hearing Italian whispering, I almost vomited in disgust. Too many rolled "l"s and "r"s quietly. Grosses me out! I forced myself to stay awake and studied for 4 hours there. Then I worked and still did not feel awake. Working in this physical state was so difficult especially the first hour when no one came to eat, but I convinced a table of 6 Americans to eat there and we had a great time together. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Life in Italy - Day 189 (2014)

Lunedì 3 Novembre
Happier than ever to not have school today and I will use it to memorize 11 songs that my band will perform. I am also more than thankful that God healed my intense back pain after only 3 days and my sinus infection after only 2 days!!! This is remarkable and out of the ordinary! 
I went to my neighborhood cafe where they ladies smile at me and met an elderly man there with whom I spoke for half an hour about his summer home an hour from here on the beach, his days in the military in Palermo, his daily routine spent at the park near the fortress now that he's retired, and his wife who died at age 44. I absolutely love gifts like this! 
Then I went to the grocery and night toilet paper (finally) which cost 9.70 Euros. This is HIGHWAY ROBBERY!! There, I read a magazine in Italian wherein Jennifer Lopez says she's to blame for all her failed relationships. And I learned to new phrases that I will need "non mi importa" (I don't care) and "intendo..." (I mean.....), cuz I am always saying "I mean..." in English to the Italian when I mess up speaking their language, haha!
Stayed home all day to memorize songs for my band and the landlord came by and scared the life of me with her manner of interacting. She asked if there was still loud noise in the house and I said not at this moment but usually always yes. She said "no there isn't! All the students say there's not noise!" When she left, I just prayed in the spirit of God for a long time that God would prevent her from kicking me out for telling the truth. Afterward, the Romanian who cleans told me this is why he told me to go straight to him first with ant concern so he can save me from being kicked out just like he was the one to convince her to keep me because he spoke for me. He then gave me the good news that he has kept my room without a roommate so I could live alone and that he will continue to so this for me as long as he can. I thanked him profusely and realized how much he has stood up for me without me realizing he cared since he had always yelled at me and mistrusted me when I told him of the smoke, the noise, the cold, & the lack of wifi. And this was exactly what I had been praying to God for!!! It is such a feeling of love that God takes care of me like this. I told him how it was his advice that taught me how to convince people to eat at my restaurant! Then he let me know my rent is due because half of the 500 Euro I paid last month was for deposit. So thank God I had the money from working 6 days this week to pay him. The heat got turned on in my room today so maybe that means I won't have to sleep in 3 layers of tops & bottoms! My Tunisian neighbor who's door opens straight across from mine again looked at my electronics lustfully and asked me if I would sell them to him. This makes me all that more glad he is forced to move today due to a lack of finances. 
After spending 8 hours trying to memorize songs for my band, I went to sleep at 9 pm!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Life in Italy- Day 188 (2014)

Domenica 2 Novembre
Slept for 13 hours!! My Christian friend Eryona who works at the train station sang gospel songs with me as I drank my cappuccino. Went to church and pastor Gionathan preached on how the spirit of God gives a joy and a peace not like the world gives. It's not like the world gives us nothing, but Jesus points out that He gives what doesn't compare at all with what the world offers. And since the spirit of God lives in us, we are invited to be filled more and more by His spirit. He said so many times we seek for guidance from voices outside of us, but we should be listening to the spirit of God within us instead- who is telling us what TO do and what NOT to do. He tells us what to cut out of our lives that aren't congruent with His best and if we love Him, we truly will obey Him. Wahoo!!!
Yesterday was called Ognissanti- the day where every saint is celebrated. And today was the day of the defunti= i morti (the dead), a day where everyone puts flowers on the graves of their loved ones who have passed away. And for this reason Italians from other cities were in Siena: Romans and Florentines and more, so we opened our restaurant today (we are not ever open on Sundays). I worked for 4.5 hours and it was another great day of service to the customers where The Lord helped me show genuine kindness to people that was received, my boss told me I am kind and that our team was of optimal camaraderie. I got to help wash the dishes and sweep. While we all cleaned the restaurant, Duccio sang all the instructions to us in an opera voice=hilarious.  I wrote a scripture on the front desk after which my boss told me he prefers science over religion and I told him that God and science can't be divorced.
Yesterday and today were holidays in Italy. Then I spent 5 hours with a new Italian friend named Alessandro who wants to be an Italian professor. He helped me by correcting my Italian every time I made mistakes!!! 

Life in Italy- Day 187 (2014)

Sabato 1 Novembre
It's the first day of November! I worked for 5 hours on a lunch shift with only myself, the sister of Duccio, and the 2 cooks. It was fantastic because we hosted 43 people which doesn't even happen at night! Only problem is two tables were not pleased with me because I had not dressed the outdoor tables. The sister had told me there's no need to do so in the fall. So the Roman couple were especially condescending to me and even asked for my name. And what's worse is I forgot I being them knives and an ashtray after they asked so they had to ask twice. But everyone inside was pleased and there was a couple from Milan who asked for my friendship and asked me to come stay with them in Milan, told me my Italian was exceptional, & asked me to have a grappa with them. I learned from my bosses sister never to go to a table first that say after someone else and to let the people wait longer before taking their order.
Saw my 50 year old friend who's a man from Siena. He said he didn't want to talk to anyone about anything because he was suffering from a huge hangover; yet I spoke I him anyway and he said he was gonna punch me so I left!!! Ahahaha
Then I found a new caffe where they let you sit all day regardless of how much you spend - just like in the states! And it's full of books on book shelves 6 shelves high lining every brick wall and the floors are made of wood. Then I ate dinner with my restaurant family- 6 of us staff and then I went to bed at 8 pm!!!