Sunday, October 9, 2011

Va Bene

Hello, friends. It's been a while! I hope this little reflection finds you well. Nothing quite like blogging and letting Louis and Ella serenade ya on a cold day...

I've really neglected sharing my Castiglione adventures. You know hardly anything about my classes, my friends, the locals. All are more than wonderful!

To be honest, I was glad to have come down with a cold the week before last. It forced me to slow down and match my pace to that of the locals. There is an Italian saying that I love: "Domani...tomorrow."

One Italian friend, Pierpaolo, pretty much has the key to the city. There are a number of vacant, nonworking churches and other buildings in town that he has access to. It was so exciting to have him open the doors to this octagonal, oddly intriguing church to a few of us.

We also were able to see the 19th century theater that sits across the main was pretty much like being in a live version of Phantom of the Opera as we explored the rafters and backstage.

A couple of Italian girls are now interning here at Santa Chiara and have become some of the loveliest of my delight, Elisa showed us around the Arezzo market, the outlet mall, and even invited us to join her family for an incredible lunch. I had four–count 'em, four–servings of the most incredible pasta I have ever eaten. Made with love by her precious Mama who replied to my offer to help clean up: "You work in the kitchen at Santa Chiara, now I serve you!"

Speaking of working in the kitchen! It's a little tough but great. For some reason, washing dishes is therapeutic for me–even though it's about 120ish dishes. The chef, Giuliana, is like our Italian mama. She might pretend to yell at us, and think we're stupid for not knowing Italian, but she kisses us on our cheeks and refers to me as "Piccolina," or "small one."

I've never had a course load that is so suited to my interests and personality. In addition to culture and history of Italy, Paolo is working one-on-one with the 4 Viz kids that are here on a compositional/abstract project. "We don't know where we go, we just play!" is sort of our motto. He took us out for gelato and a glimpse at his private jets the other's ridiculous, isn't it?

My poetry class is taught by a woman probably around my grandmother's age. She's seemingly passive, but never ceases to make me laugh with her quiet humor and giggles. She's also commented on how advanced my work is, imagine that! I never thought of myself as a good poet, but turns out I can produce some journal-worthy stuff. We write poems on our experiences, on art, on buildings, on everything.

On the side, I'm doing watercolors and black and white photography. Developing your own film is such a fun process–to see a picture come to life before your eyes! There's nothing quite like it. Especially when it's taught by Paolo's older and precious brother Giovanni, who's taught B&W for 45 years.

It's a good life in Toscana. I wish that everyone could experience it, or any excursion outside of the States. If you have the desire to travel, DO it. Don't hesitate to set aside some funds, to mess up your schedule a little.

I think your senses are heightened when you are pushed into an unfamiliar setting. I try to appreciate everything, every meal, every encounter with other people. And I intend to apply that same sense of carpe diem to life back home. My friend Wendy compared life to picking up sand. It slips through our fingers very, very quickly.

The struggle is the same across the world: how do we best use our time? The Lord's blessings come in all shapes and he wants us to live life fully! I don't want to hold back any of my love. Let's worry about the rest domani.

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