Jun 23, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Lucifero’s Heaven

It was so hard to get up this morning… We hurried to S. Pietro’s Basilica, and my eye was twitching with tiredness. Our pitch was “crawling dot” a practice in negative capability in scale.

Lauren and I roamed the church together. It was packed with tourists and it was just uninspiring this time. It was difficult to try to even approach the Pieta, and that’s about all that I wanted to really see. Still we circled, choir in the background as Mass ensued. We dropped down to the catacombs, and then called it good at about noon.

On the way to the church Mindy had been acosted by a scooter guy. He didn’t get anything but she kicked at him as she fell to the ground skinning and bloodying both knees. We all walked back to the Campo together. I spent the afternoon in my room working and trying to catch up.

Laurie and I seemed to be clicking again (I feel like to some extent I had been causing a distance in my wandering and such) and made plans for dinner together. We finally ventured to Lilo’s restaurant “Lucifero’s” (at S. Margherita and the via parallel to Pellegrino) at 23.00 or so. Finished after midnight, to join the rest of the crowd at the Campo. Most had 40’s in hand, and we headed again to the Tibre.

I walked with Lisa back, sharing stories and woes. To bed at 4am, always shy of a full nights sleep.

Jun 22, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

Up early to head to the Campidoglio. It was Laurie’s day to present, and she was the first presentation of the class. I feel in love with Hercules, the Statna di Venus Esquiline and a relief with Eros. I pretty much wandered alone, and had a long conversation with Rick which helped me to better understand Kevin’s input that I lack imagery.

In light of the previous evening’s events, I chose to dine alone with Hibbert’s Rome, and my research on Raffaello. I ate at the little pizzeria that Kevin had recommended, Baffetto 2. It was yummy. For some reason the quarter of wine washed through me with more intensity than usual.

After dropping my things of at the apartment I ventured over to Piazza Pigna to the “girls” apartment for dessert. It was a nice round table of program participants and they were cycling around the room with introductions and a quip about their names. It was a clever way to remember folks.

I was meeting up with Kelsey for drinks at 23.00 back at the Campo. I found her smoking with Nicholas, and we then ran into Lauren who had been venturing the city the entire evening. We all went to Nicholas’ place and picked up a bottle of wine to drink at the fountain. The piazza was tiny and we were the only tourists, let alone Americans. I felt like I was in good company.

On the way home, Mariano wanted us to stay when we passed the cafe, but, well, getting up in the morning was to be of certain difficulty.

Pitch:

Diptych (Contour drawings on one side, poems on the other)

My Sketch:

Down the hall
and to the right
Round the corner
and stand in awe

His ass
Is there any other word?—Forgive me mother!
His ass
Round, erect, firm
Mass of muscle implying strength
Beyond mortal imagination
Heavy legs, but not with wasted flesh
Thick in muscle
Legs with which to perch that ass.

Jun 21, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Tests of Self Reliance

So Laurie and I went to dinner with Tom, Mindy, Lauren at a place just off Piazza Navona. I normally prefer some a little less touristy (read: better food, and not a rip off), but we were all hungry and we wanted to stay close. (Laurie got bit by something and her leg wasn’t feeling so hot.)

Lauren and I just made an executive decision on which restaurant chosing the one which had an open table seemingly set just for us. After getting seated I suggested that we order salad (caprese) for the table since we were so famished. The idea went around and collectively no decision was made. The waiter approached and suggested salad and bruschetta for the table, and with a tired nod Tom conceeded. I concurred, that was the basic idea I had had as well… just couldn’t get anyone to speak up. Mindy also chose the house vino rosso, commenting on how good the house wine in Italy is, and so cheap!

A while later the antipasto arrived, and commentary began on how much it might be. We ended up with a indivdual plate with a slice of bruschetta each, a plate of procisutto, and two plates of caprese. I estimated about 8 euro per plate (counting the bruschetta as two). Discussion ensued about whether or not plates could be sent back, and anxiety began to build around the table. Finally Lauren suggested—wisely, a woman after my own heart—that we try to relax as it isn’t worth ruining the meal over.

Our plates arrived, and I have to say that mine was really quite good. I believe we also had two bottles of wine, and as much water. Then the bill came, and the table was in an uproar. There was an arguement with the waiter regarding how much the antipasto was (he had originally said about €4-5 each while it turned out to be €30 for 5 people) and the price of the wine (Mindy had assumed a price of €3-5 per bottle). The waiter responded that we had eaten the antipasto plates without complaint, and voices raised cacophonously around the table. I took over, calming the table, and informed the waiter politely that there was simply a misunderstanding about the anitpasto plates, that we had ordered based on the price he quoted, and that it came back being a euro more per person than the highest price. With a great show, he relented and said that we were taking the money from his own pocket, but that he would adjust the price. Next people started trying to split the check up, saying that they wanted to pay exact change and they didn’t want to wait which was frankly ridiculous as we all had €20 bills. I collected that together, Mindy being short (I need to remind her that she owes) and figured out close to exact change so we could leave. As the table scurried from the patio the waiter followed and came to me. He had thought we had left him shorted, but found when counting the money out that actually it was exact change.

Personally I was miserable while I (believe) that I hid it. There was no table charge, and while many Italians never tip I feel with as much discord we caused in what was previously a charming corner of happy diners that he might have been thanked. We left in our wake the stench of American tourists, proudly living up to all that is expected of us.

Here I will remind myself that I am privleged in having had the opportunity to travel and immerse myself in culture.

Then we picked up the guys who had just gotten gelato, and we all decide to wander (that sounded like a good idea to me, very unintrusive). Lucas needed a restroom, so Mindy yelled from the back of our wandering band of American gypsies that we should find a bar. Leading the gaggle I located a bar. The group crowded before the entrance standing somewhat uncertain and undecided and unaware while Lucas went in. I asked were we not finding a bar so we could share time together, and if so should we go in (or at least clear a path for other patrons)? The group gathered in the small bar and we signalled business for an otherwise empty inside. I ordered a gin & tonic. The waitress patiently waited while the group tried to make a collective decision on what they might order. Folks considered getting a beer, then Mindy suggested a bottle of house wine; she began considering the prices and then decided that they weren’t a great value and changed her mind now trying to find a mixed drinks and leaving others to fend for themselves. This all seemed an eternity to me.

Walking back to the Campo, the girls alone, we stood at a corner where each pointed in a different direction. I sighed and said that I was going to “go my own way” and walked off. Laurie stuttered in the middle of the intersection, “Angela, don’t leave us.” I felt remorse, but merrily (or so I hoped) waved as I walked off.

Minutes later I felt truly terrible. I knew Laurie, if not the others, realized that I was upset. I quickly returned to the room, and she joined me for a drink on the Campo. I confessed my anxiety arisen from the evening’s events, and with sweet liquor as my elixir, I let go.

I think I’m going to write in my book now.

Jun 21, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Elegance overcome

We were up bright and early to head to La Spagna in pursuit of Keats apartment while in Rome. Several of us met at Caffè Greco (where Keats once went to write) for cappuccino. A tour of Keats place followed, I should come back to note the highlights at a time when I might better focus.

Since we didn’t have any time to actually enjoy Antico Caffè Greco before the tour, I quietly asked a few of the girls if they would be interested in joining me for tea. One turned to the entire crowd and invited them. They were confused by the idea, they had never been to tea before and weren’t sure what that involved. I held my hopes that the experience wouldn’t be marred by the open invitation. A moment later I slipped away with Nicholas and down the street to the cafè. Finding a seat I saw Melissa and nodded to her with a smile. Then I turned to see a group of about ten filing in and loudly filling in the tiny tables. The alcove we were in was suddenly not so quiet but now bursting at the seams. Melissa looked a bit horrified. I gave a sad and somewhat apologetic look, after all this was my fault. I was Spartagus, I had unwittingly led them here. I gave her a confirming motion, she should escape, and was sad to see that she chose to leave altogether rather than to find another, distant, table.

Thankfully the wait staff was not at the ready. I apologized to Julie with whom I could no longer hear over our small table, and moved over to another location in the restaurant. Over the period of about ten minutes—”They have Coke!”—the group failed to find anything to their liking, and my companion and I were horrified to see the entire group then leave in a long string, having ordered nothing, and adding even less.

The atmosphere was again peaceful and I did find a moment to write. The tea was terrible, but then again, who orders tea in Italy?!

We returned to the Campo that evening for our first lecture, this one by Kevin on Keats.

Pitch:

Natural Magic, verses read by Keats

My Sketch:

A look passes
Understanding shared

Clinking of teacups, dainty
Humming of the grinder

A moment shattered
Elegance overcome


Alternate Sketch I:

The city sits on your skin.
A new layer of awareness…
Reflective,
Introspective.
The city sits on your skin.


Alternate Sketch II:

Church bells set the tempo
My hearts beats with the click
of Italian heels on the Campo

Concepts:

Give your senses over to the city
Velvet kisses of cappuccino
Melodic church bells
Tepid skin (tepid like the biblical waters, neither good nor bad but indifferent to be spat out)
Mmm… mozzarella!
Squawking birds
Espresso coursing through my veins

Jun 20, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

And all wrote of the bird.

On Wednesday our pitch “Aperture” and the task was to Crucify the City, this is to say that we would before days end cross the city from south to north, and west to east.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m really bad with names, dates and places. I can tell you whether or not I’ve seen something before… I can lead you from here to somewhere else with a great sense of direction. But well, I was excited to go to the Pantheon because I thought it was one place I’ve never been before. As we arrived this morning I laughed at myself to realize that not only had I been before, I’d passed by several times in the past few days while out and about. There was a bird circling the ceiling closing in a little slower and slower on the aperture—God’s eye in on earth from heaven—until finally it tired and perched. I could vividly picture rain pouring through the oculus, but I think this was just my mind’s eye as I can’t recall being in Rome with it ever raining…? (Raffaello was buried here: “Here lies Raffaello who, when alive, Nature was afraid to be won by him, when he died, she wanted to die herself.” Distichon written by Pietro Bembo.)

Next stop was Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola a beautiful baroque design set off against a piazza designed seemingly as a “Commedia dell’Arte” stage set with a bit of “trompe l’oeil” thrown in for perspective.

Moving through the harried streets to the Marco Aurelio column offering just a quick gaze. Onwards to St. Maria Popolo. There I was in awe of the Caravaggio’s and captured some very cool photos in black and white while the lights were out. They really show the amazing illumination that comes through in his paintings.

Then we step out of the Porta Flaminia Gate and back through as visitors and Romans alike would. I still appreciate the ancient roman gates and wall far more than the Renaissance’d ones. Next we climb to the Pincio with the first panoramic view of the city that day. Break for siesta.

Meeting again at 17.00 at the UW Rome Center, we broke then for the west to east portion of the crucifixion. We trooped out of the Campo skirting the Ghetto headed for Trestevre. Ultimate destination to climb the Passeggiata del Gianicolo. Winding narrow harrowing streets and steps which tested the limits of my skirt’s ability (hiking up my skirt a little more… Roma, show your world to me?). Atop we came to the monumental source of Rome’s water at the Fonte Acqua Paola. It is an amazing concept to think of how we worry about water resources in other areas in the world and Rome has aqueducts that flow so very freely supplying the entire population with refreshing, clean, cool water.

Continuing on we approached the Piazza of the Spanish Accademia. Inside is the Tempietto San Pietro in Montorio by Bramante which is illustration of the very image of a perfect Renaissance building.

We officially ended our walk on Gianicolo’s Hill with a class photo. Courtney, Lauren, Laurie and I wandered off then in the Villa Borghese. I still need to find that magical spot with the monument in the middle of the pond.

Pitch:

Aperture

My sketch:

Shackles fall away
The wide-eyed weary traveler
Enters the Eternal City
One cycle of the moon
Non basta una vita!

Jun 19, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Woe to Rome, the Poets have arrived!

So it turns out that we do indeed have wi-fi access from our apartment. I discovered it during siesta. Apparently someone turns it on during siesta and off again after. Oddest thing, but I’m not complaining! It is also strange because it sometimes allows me to access chat, but only some websites and not others.

This evening we met for conversation and a stroll into the heart of the city. It was the first moment that we met together forming an identity and a bond as writers and cohorts. Paraphrasing Kevin eloquence, we tossed a few poems off the Tarpeian Rock, to let our forebears know that some poets and writers had arrived.

We broke for dinner; I asked Lauren to join Courtney, Laurie and I, and we had a wonderful meal with lavish dessert at a restaurant just slightly off the well traveled tourist path. It was as I always seek, we were the only tourist desecrating the place.

Jun 19, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

“Unflagging Good Humor”, or Getting Lost

Last night I led the new found troupe to Mamma Angela’s where I had eaten last time. It was really far walk, and we were like the little Annie orphans trekking down fifth avenue (remember that scene?) but we finally made it. Somewhat disappointing because there were more American voices than ever, and the food wasn’t nearly as good but whatever. Left about 23.00 and started walking home, but veered off course and that’s when Laurie stepped up to help navigate.

Can I say, I love my roommate. We’ll be friends when we return to Seattle.

Other notes, our apartment is tiny but right at the Campo. Can’t say on the Campo because another group has one actually on the Campo (that’s gotta be noisy at night!) the Campo de’ Fiori is THE spot to be. Oh and the main point—tiny apartment BUT AIR CONDITIONING!!! I am happy. Gladly trade the free wi-fi (the ones above Joe’s http://www.joerivetto.com/ can pick up the signal from their apartment) for the air. Joe’s is so close anyway.

Speaking of Joe’s I’m special. Of course you knew that already, but it’s nice that they noticed. I think I’m the only student that they’ve decided to give a special 20% off card too. Every purchase—Love it!

OK, I feel bad being in the computer lab with others waiting when I have a laptop. Going to go find a SIM card today. No assignment today (first official actual day, yesterday was ‘get lost alone, and find yourself’) just to meet again at 17.00.

Ciao!

Jun 17, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

Arrival in the Eternal City

I got in safe and easy yesterday. Luggage took forever to come off the plane, but I had a lovely American woman monitoring it’s progress (read: complaining) the entire time so really it was just fine. I always love it when there is a guy waiting to pick YOU up. Located the guy with the sign with my name with no problem, then was off. Once again forgot how close Rome is to the beach. It’s just a 25 minute Metro ride.

Got to the hotel, Albergo della Lunetta on the Piazza del Paradiso, a lovely little place filled with American students and a few other tourists. I showered (hadn’t since the previous day, before staying up all night then riding planes for another day!), then knocked out on my bed. It’s six am now, so I did okay on getting onto time zone. Went to bed last night at about midnight.

After having lunch in the café Magnolia in the Campo, I end up back in the room. And just waited for Courtney to arrive. I didn’t have to wait long (I had already napped away most of the afternoon) and after getting her things situated in the room we went out. It was back to the Campo to check out Joe’s for gelato. We lingered for the rest of the evening, until about nine. Had waters, then I had a gin & tonic. They brought us a lovely antipasto plate. We strolled off to see the sites as it was Courtney’s first time here in Rome. My sense of direction is just amazing. I walked us directly to the Trevi fountain, and from there to the Spanish Steps. We arrived just in time for the Carabinieri to chase us away (11pm is curfew for the stairs). Grabbed another gelato on the walk home, and crashed in the room. I grabbed prosciutto, mozzarella and bread from a café on the corner to tied me over in lieu of the dinner we never had. The mozzarella was, of course, to die for.

Jun 17, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

University of Washington Creative Writing Program, Summer 2007

“JOIN a band of ink-stained writer-adventurers for a month of concentrated exercise and conversation in and about the Eternal City. This is Rome from a generalist’s perspective: history and geography, art and architecture, language and literature, the color and vagary and flavor of daily life all constellate in the writer’s notebook. Following in the footsteps of those poets, painters, saints and soldiers who for some two and a half millennia have traveled where all roads lead, we’ll sack the city word by cobble, in conversation, practice, and stride.”

Of note, Rick, or Professore Kenny is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Award”.

Here’s a link to my photo album for this trip. Will be updated daily or so. Check back often for updates! Ciao!

Apr 13, 2007 - Nibbles    No Comments

fickle fuddled words confuse me

in your mind there are so many reason we’re not compatible. you live in a world of dichotomies.

[Dichotomies are common in Western thought. C.P. Snow believes that Western
society has become an argument culture. In The Argument Culture (1998), Deborah
Tannen suggests that the dialogue of Western culture is characterized by a
warlike atmosphere in which the winning side has truth (like a trophy). In such
a dialogue, the middle alternatives are virtually ignored.]

because i like the beach and you do not you falsely create logic that we’re not compatible. you presume that an Italian vacation involves a large portion of sitting on a beach. In my
mind, it is quite the oppoite. but why bother trying to convince you otherwise? your reality is what you make it. you live in your own reality. the rest of us are merely reflections of people who are players in the makeup of the reality you devise. so because it is my job
to create the fallacy’s you create (especially since you have rejected me based on these fallacies) i will correct you yet again. in my mind several days (an undetermined number, flexible based on our preferences at the time) in Cinque Terre. First day would start with the ‘beach’ day in Monterosso. Just a day to be close to each other, to plan our journey to reconnect, to relax. The days to follow would be hiking the Italian Riveria. Nude beaches inbetween to provide respite from the heat you fear. I thought of taking a cooking course, since I thought you’d love that. This is where I come to the point where I realize that you never considered this vacation as something that we’d plan. That you could have what you wanted, if only you could tell me what that was. You just assumed the worst, whatever for you that would be. So we are not compatible for silly reasons such as I love movies and you don’t. That I love sunshine and warm shoulders, and you don’t. You probably haven’t realized it yet, but you could tell me that you could never marry me because I dream of a beautiful house with cherry apple blossom trees in the yard… you’d consider that a deal breaker because of your allergies, but you’d not consider that it was negotiable. that’s just the way you are. you speak in absolutes and you translate the gradients of lifes meaning into black and white.

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