Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Brick and Old Bay

Some very random thoughts occurred to me today while in Trajan's Market. All of them involved some sort of revelation about missing something. The first thought was that I missed the historical architecture of the Chesapeake Bay area. It was the brick that reminded me of it even though Roman brick is of course different. It was probably also the conversation I had last night with some seminarians from the NAC who finally stopped by studio for the first time. One from Australia said he had been to Camden Yards before. Again, brick.
John's Hopkins
Hampton House
Mount Clare
Fell's Point
Mount de Sales Academy
The seminarians brought American junk food as promised and when I saw candy corn I remembered that apparently it's Halloween in two days. Really? I refuse to believe that November is a few days away. That's a scary thought.

Anyways, after the brief Maryland nostalgia I saw one of those "Top Things about Maryland" posts that a friend had linked to on Facebook. Luckily I have some Old Bay here that is pretty potent because it was just opened. I may or may not have poured some into my palm and eaten it straight...

It was shortly before lunch time in Trajan's Market when I also realized that I really wanted Cafe Poche's grilled cheese and tomato soup. The problem with that is that:
  1. It is not a Friday so Cafe Poche isn't serving grilled cheese and tomato soup.
  2. Cafe Poche isn't even open yet. It wasn't even 6 AM in America when I thought about it.
  3. Cafe Poche is in the States. I am not.
Meh. I need to get back to work although I finally got Netflix to work last night so that's a bit distracting. For all those who have regular access to Netflix, Cafe Poche, American coffee that comes in a cup larger than a thimble, Halloween, chai tea, and pumpkin flavoured things, don't always take the cheap and mundane for granted.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back to Reality

We are "home" in Rome and back from a BEAUTIFUL week long field trip to the Veneto. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

We started out heading by train to Bologna. I borrowed a copy of Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue from a friend and read it along the way. Perhaps it would have been better to read it After Coffee but I was glad to have something, especially a book I've been intending to read. I was amused a bit when the french man behind me spilled his mineral water and exclaimed "Zut!". European problems.

At first I wasn't impressed with Bologna because all we saw were dirty streets and modern loggias plastered and defaced with irate and crude political messages. However, when we finally walked into the city center it became alive with wide streets, medieval arcades, and markets and shops. Bologna is supposed to excel at food and the narrow market streets we wound through had all sorts of delicious looking vegetables, fruits, fish, and bread (and really creepy, bloody beheaded goat faces). What I actually consumed in Bologna wasn't anything great so that was a bit of a letdown I guess. Some of the best food I've eaten since arriving in Italy came later in the week in other cities. The best thing to eat in Bologna seemed to be the fresh bread they were making in the piazza in front of San Petronio and selling for a euro or two. The first time I passed it with some friends we immediately stopped because the smell of the bread baking was arresting. We split these plain pieces of bread and as we were eating we joined the rest of the group standing a few meters away including Duncan Stroik who was with us for the week.

Duncan Stroik had a huge influence on me when choosing to study architecture and I highly respect him so he helped make this week so great. I had been introduced to him when I became a student at Notre Dame and we talked before but we got to know him and he got to know us much better this week. He told us right off the bat that his teaching style involves asking us questions. That comes with pros and cons (getting us to think and being vague, respectively) but overall I really enjoyed it. Those of us who had to walk around with him received very little information about history but a lot about architectural theory. He also forced us to draw and pace off dimensions everywhere we went which was great for lazy people like me who are intimidated by their lack of talent and thus draw hesitantly. But really, I think I noticeably improved this week. It was like boot camp. We followed him all over each city and didn't stop until around 6:00 or 7:00 (I started falling asleep while drawing in Verona because I was so tired). But even when we did our assignments for drawing class I don't recall having a mini existential crisis each time I sat down to draw a perspective so there's improvement there.

I thought I was going to have trippy nightmares about endless
Bologna is a city of loggias. Stroik recommended that we climb 666 steps to see the view of the city from a church outside the walls and some of us actually did because we figured why not. Well. There was a slight problem. First of all, we had been on our feet all day long and were already exhausted but then we walked all the way up the hill and hundreds of stairs and through 654 bays (at least) of loggias and we had to stop to catch our breath along the way. When we reach the last stretch of loggia we found that a gate was blocking people from the top. You couldn't see the city or the church or anything except fencing and a cross through the gate. I remarked out of breath that it was a great metaphor for life. You work through a long, difficult problem and have to turn around, start over and try again. So with that joyful message we trudged down those 654 bays (at least) of loggias and slept very, very soundly that night.

Sant'Andrea in Mantova
The next day we went to Mantua and upon arriving made a beeline for Sunday mass. We stopped in a large cathedral and mass was already going on so we left and power walked to Sant'Andrea by Alberti. The rest of the day was spent sketching and walking with Stroik like normal. The other group that went around with another professor had a different and more relaxed schedule. We were pretty divided the whole time which was strange but I was happy to go around with Stroik. We went to Giulio Romano's house, Italian painter Andrea Mantegna's house (where we sang the fight song in the circular courtyard because Stroik told us to sing something to test the acoustics and you do what he says), Chiesa di San Sebastiano, and the oh-so-mannerist Palazzo del Te (or if you're punny and prefer to call it the Tea House). We didn't get to see the famous room of giants because we spent too long in other parts of the palazzo with the professors. I don't know if I'm disgruntled about that or apathetic because Palazzo del Te isn't quite my cup of tea (ba-dum tssh) and I also don't find it to be as hilarious as Giulio Romano did. It was raining pretty hard by the time we got to Palazzo del Te and of course it was the one time when I didn't have my umbrella on me. I got a bit wet and it was a bit cold...perfect weather for soup...which I did not have...but nonetheless, perfect soup weather.
Hazelnut hot chocolate. Yum yum yum.
Later that night we ate tortelli de zucca which is one of the best things I've probably tasted in my life (it's pasta with pumpkin in it). So that was delicious but then we went in search of hot chocolate and found a place that had a bunch of flavours and upstairs had ottomans and couches in a barrel vault against a window. It was such a good experience it has changed my view of hot chocolate; it must come with a window seat under a barrel vault now. We sat in that barrel vault talking and laughing for hours while it rained outside until we felt we had to go back to the hotel.

After pillaging another hotel breakfast we left by bus for Verona. I spent part of the morning racking my brain for the exact wording of the opening lines of Romeo and Juliet. Freshman Honors English in high school was eons ago. We also never got around to reading Two Gentlemen of Verona.

We saw a bunch of palazzi, Porta Borsari, the duomo, Basilica di S. Anastasia, and Gardino Giusti - spacious gardens across the river. Verona was so full of balconies. I did not see the "Casa di Giulietta" but I was told by others that it was a bit of a disappointment and even ruined the romantic image in their heads. We'll just stick with Franco Zeffirelli's vision in Pienza, eh?

Some quotes of the day were "Tectonics are good, especially a gin and tectonic." and "This is an early-on-a serliana." Professor Stroik got lost and took us on a wild goose chase for which he apologized several times but I was distracted from irritation by the conversation we had about Bond Hall and the new architecture building for campus. I was so tired that night that I sat down on my bed and started falling asleep so eventually I mustered enough energy to change and crawl under the sheets.

Before we actually arrived in Vicenza we started our Palladian pilgrimage. This was a really, really good day. We just stopped at a bunch of villas and drew and explored them. I think it was prior to this when Stroik started a "game" called "Is it Palladio or Not?" and he made one girl in our class always ask the question and then we all had to answer. It was amusing and it sounded like a game show especially when he kept saying "Do you buy that?". We went to Villa Poiana, saw Villa Saraceno through closed gates, Villa Pisani, and ended with Rocca Pisani by Scamozzi. There also was a conversation with Stroik about Pride and Prejudice which was priceless. It is a verified fact that the BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle cannot be beat and that the Kiera Knightley/Matthew Macfadyen one isn't worth watching.
Villa Poiana
The villas I enjoyed most were Villa Poiana and Rocca Pisani. In Villa Poiana we got to see the inside of the roof, the vaults below, and the rafters and I was, no pun intended, beaming. Rocca Pisani is at the top of a really long hill out in the middle of beautiful nowhere. The weather during the majority of the field trip was a really moody, beautiful misty haze so that was the backdrop for these villas.
Rocca Pisani
When we got to Vicenza that night and trudged to the hotel I got a glimpse of Palladio's basilica and exclaimed "Ahhrgh! Garghhh!" and gestured with my free hand. I was so excited because it was something I analyzed in my very first project at Notre Dame and therefore meant something a bit more to me than to anyone else.

The next day I sat down at a breakfast table for three and, to my joy, Professor Rowland sat down next to me and a few minutes later Professor Stroik walked into the room and sat down in the other chair. It was the best start to the day I could ask for. Professor Rowland talked about the book she's working on and the new one she is beginning to write. I really, really want to read it when it comes out. Later on the way to Villa Rotonda there was a conversation I overheard about The Hobbit and she excitedly revealed she's writing a character in her book based on Richard Armitage. I'd tell you what it is about but out of respect for her I don't want to give away too much information in case that's not something I should be sharing.

We went inside the Teatro Olympico which is totes cray and then visited more palazzi and Villa ai Nani and Villa Rotonda. Freshmen year at ND people apparently spend nearly half a semester on the Villa Rotonda so all my classmates were freaking out and groaning "NOOOO! Bane of my existence!" and in general having absurd reactions. That was the first day I ever had to draw it so it didn't mean the same thing to me but I would have the same reaction if I saw the Rose Seidler House in Australia because I spent half a semester of freshman year on that.
Pretty much the same house, right?
We had a drawing assignment in marker at Villa Rotonda and it began to drizzle so it must have been a comical sight seeing all of the undergrads crouched in a manure laden lawn drawing under our umbrellas. Consequently lots of jokes were made as we drew. The problem with drawing in marker as it is raining is that washes appear where you do not want washes to be so it looks like we wept over the Rotonda. I hope the professors got a kick out of our misery because it was just a funny situation.  

I believe it was during our last night in Vicenza when some of us again went in search of hot chocolate. We spent another night of laughing hysterically in the upper floor of a cafe (no barrel vaults sadly, but a beautiful view of the Basilica and piazza) though only a few actually ordered hot chocolate. The rest of us got coffee and ate chocolate muffins. It drizzled again outside while we were talking. I spun around and skipped in the piazza with my umbrella on the way back to the hotel.
By the way, Palladio's basilica isn't a church. It refers to its typology.
We took a train to Venice and when we got off and stepped out into the surreal sight that is Venice. It was so blue. There is no other city that can compare to how unique Venice is...it's just...gah. I was excited for Venice because there was a build up all week to it and it met all my expectations. Venice is obviously meant to be seen by canal and we definitely took plenty of vaporettos (water taxi) around the city. I didn't get to go on a gondola but maybe next time. The gondoliers really do wear stripes and sing. We stayed in a former Dominican monastery that was a hop, skip, and a jump from its church Santa Maria della Rosario. The first day we saw Santa Maria della Pieta which was Vivaldi's parish and then we walked to Piazza San Marco and talked about that and the Doge's Palace. Then we went to four other churches including Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari which contains Titian's beautiful painting of the Assumption. A few of us went out to dinner with Professor Stroik that night and got gelato afterwards. A few of us listened to the competing bands in Piazza San Marco which was a lot of fun.

The next day we went to mass at San Marco at the altar where St. Mark is buried. San Marco is just gorgeous. The craftsmanship in that church is stunning. We went to Palazzo Ca'Rezonico later in the day and on our lunch break ran through the Doge's Palace after a friend and I had a picnic sitting on the base of the campanile in Piazza San Marco while people and pigeon watching. After lunch we went to San Giorgio Maggiore and Il Redentore where Stroik thanked us for the week before we went inside. I wonder how much planning he did for what came next. We went back to the sacristy, he talked for a bit, inched towards the door and then said "In the words of Bilbo, 'It's been too long. I've put this off for far too long. Goodbye." and then he actually disappeared. I'm not lying, we were genuinely confused. We exited the sacristy after him, looked around and didn't see him. A few seconds later we saw him sprinting out the doors and then he just kept running away. We stood there, jaws dropped, whispering "Did that just happen? He's actually gone." He had told us to draw half the plan and a section of the church so we diligently did so after he made that splendidly strange exit and then we left.

That night I went to a Vivaldi concert in the Scuola Grande di San Teodoro and then met up with more studio mates in the piazza and talked and listened to the dueling bands again until we decided it was high time to go sleep.

Before I put shadows in the sketch...
The next morning I saw Stroik at breakfast and he said hello/goodbye to me as he was leaving the table. I helped a British couple make tea by showing them where the hot water was since it was labeled in Italian. I should have warned them that the tea selection was terrible. Lipton is gross. We had the morning free except for a drawing assignment at Santa Maria della Salute. After I finished drawing and walked about the church I set off on my own in search of San Barnaba, the site where the scene in Venice from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed. After definitely over shooting the campo, I found it, snagged a picture, was satisfied, and made it back to the hotel in time to meet to leave for the train station.

It seems like most of us were very unwilling to get back to Rome, myself included. We are still mourning the end of the field trip and finding it hard to focus and prepare for our pin-up today. Ah well. Saturday night some of us made ourselves feel better by trying out Abbey Theatre for the first time and then getting Frigidarium. Rome is much too noisy, busy, and smelly and northern Italy seemed to be much cleaner and quieter. It was nice to have the normal solemn high mass at S.S. Trinita for the feast of Christ the King though. At some point in my life time I will go back to Venice. As for now I'll make a cup of tea and struggle to focus until Thanksgiving break.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday, Thwarted Plans, and T.S. Eliot

Thursdays are my beautiful and happy class-free days set between my two painfully long days. Today has been a bit unusually busy, however.

Thwarted Plan Number One. I attempted for the millionth time to go to English confessions today but seeing as my options are St. Peter's...or really just St. Peter's, I was unable to go. I guess the thing to do is wake up extra early and get to the piazza at 7:30 to beat the line. I still have yet to see the entrance line be anything shorter than wrapping around and across St. Peter's Square. There are still tourists galore here too. It's a very frustrating process trying to find confession times because they aren't posted online and in many places aren't posted on the church either. When we went to the NAC at the beginning of the year the priest told us they had English confessions on Tuesdays and mentioned the time but I didn't have anywhere to write it down and evidently this isn't publicized information because I haven't heard anything about it or them since and nothing is listed online including the address.

Thwarted Plan Number Two. Our awesome, cat-lady, super nerd, classics geek professor has offered to create a knitting club and teach or refresh people on the basics. A friend and I set out for the yarn stores but one didn't have a good selection and by the time we got to the other one it was closing. The knitting club is meeting today at 3:00 and the store is reopening at 3:45. So.

Thwarted Plan Number Three. People are playing soccer somewhere today. Due to a combination of problems (current lack of shoes, current lack of energy and health, current lack of time between soccer and knitting) I will not be joining today.

The best part of today so far was stopping in a proper bookstore/record shop. On the way back from the unsuccessful St. Peter's venture I decided my exploring for the day would be in the large bookstore on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II that just looked neat. When I walked in there were vintage prints and posters and rosaries for sale, when I went further there were delightful tons of used LPs and 45s, old and new books lining all the walls, old photographs and Italian newspapers, and a little bar serving coffee, biscotti, and "fresh squeezed orange juice". The whole place had a fresh coziness about it and they had tables and chairs and a leather couch with a coffee table facing the sunny street. They played American crooner music through the speaker system and vinyl 45s and architectural prints hung from the ceiling. The English books were an odd selection. They had quite a lot of baby books and completely uninteresting looking novels and thrillers. You sure can find Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling everywhere though; I have yet to find a bookstore with English books without the complete series of Harry Potter. They had English books mixed in with the Italian books in other parts of the store, however. Passing the poetry section I saw and picked up "Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot" and it didn't leave my hand until I had to put it back before leaving the store. I think they like to push that they have English books because the man working addressed people in English first. When I experienced this I thought it was because I just looked extra American today wearing my Mumford & Sons shirt but he did the same for every Italian who walked in. I ordered a cappuccino, sat down on the couch, read Eliot, and was content. The first stanza of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (the first one in the book) brought me back to high school English class. I smiled since I was in the process of drinking down the beautiful caffeine when I reached the part:

For I have know them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,  
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;   

It's nice to know that I can go somewhere in Rome where a cappuccino and copy of Eliot are waiting for me to pick them up. I suppose friends who have lived in Rome before me probably know about this place but I enjoy finding things by surprise instead of recommendation all the time. If any friends get a chance to visit town I will take you to this place and you can try the hot chocolate or espresso and flip through history in musty, speckled pages, or dog-eared paper LP sleeves, or photographs with cryptic descriptions scribbled in pencil on the back. It's as fun as it sounds. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Some Quick Updates/Recaps

1. I never talked about how our final review with Professor Graves went. One of the professors summed up the crit by calling it "good" and Michael Graves added "very good". Thankfully they all took the green watercolor plate with a dose of humour. My "regular" studio professor gently referred to it as "the copper plate" with a smile. It also helped that after we introduced ourselves our Miami student introduced "our huge sheet of mylar". It was huge. When we pinned up we started giggling. It was probably a very comical presentation because it included two of us knocking over the same can of pins and M.G.'s water bottle cap exploding off like champagne when his assistant opened it. The most flattering moment was when Graves singled out some of my drawings and addressed the one that was affected most terribly by the green saying "I'd like to congratulate you on that drawing...it's very inviting. It makes me want to be there." If you say so, sir. I think he only said that because he had seen it before looking significantly less verdant.

2. Last night I was able to talk to all of my family members at once thanks to a three way Skype video call. One of the most hilarious moments was when I mentioned that at the Papal Mass on Sunday there were three little girls on their dads' shoulders holding signs that said "W", "♥", "P", and "F" for "We love Pope Francis"; when I said this my nephew launched full force into the entire alphabet. There was also a span of time when he just kept giggling and repeating "Nothing! Nothing!....Nothing!".

3. Before going to Assisi I was waiting to hear something about this yearly pilgrimage I vaguely heard about and today they forward the email. Grr.

4. There is no indication in Italy that it is October. None at all.

5. Any architecture student knows that picking desks is really serious business. Because we are transitioning into our normal schedule with our normal professors and normal class times many people have to move rooms. Thankfully I don't need to move. If you asked me why I picked this desk I could spit out at least five reasons why I think it is in the ideal strategic location. It's strange to have most of the people around me change suddenly though.

6. We were assigned our new project today and spent studio time on a site visit. I think it was productive even though the first 45 minutes on our own were pretty much spent trying out the organic gelato and the bakery that the professors told us to check out. I also had a discussion about the new Avett Brothers album with the fellow Avett fan. My opinion: it is better than The Carpenter.

7. This song:

Now I'm in a bit of a Bert Jansch mood...or more Zeppelin.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Assisi and Papa Francesco

This weekend was close to perfect if one forgets the details that went wrong. Three friends and myself took a day trip to Assisi on Saturday and we woke up around 4:15 AM to walk 40 minutes to the train station. So our trip started off with us getting there and finding out that the schedule online was completely wrong. We bought tickets for the earliest train and then I passed out in the middle of Roma Termini. Yeah...see, since the day of my review (Friday) I had had a constant headache and fever and chills and Saturday morning at 5:45 AM was no different. I remember realizing that I was going to pass out so I leaned up against the ticket machines while my friends bought the tickets and, instead of just sitting down on the floor like I should have, I collapsed. I pretty sure I fainted onto one of my friends or at least he caught me somewhat. When I regained consciousness one of the first things out of my mouth was "This is awkward. Sorry for passing out.". About three Italian security guards were standing around saying "ambulance? ambulance?" and I definitely didn't need an ambulance. One of my friends gave me his water bottle and when they asked a bit later how much of it I drank I shook the bottle and said "All of it?" which made us laugh. Suffice to say, it was an interesting start to the morning.

We waited at least an hour for the train and it's not worth relaying the details of our commute because it was all a bit messy and confusing. When we arrived in Assisi it was raining and intensely foggy. It was hard to see the church through the fog but we quickly decided that the fog just excited us and made for great pictures. 

Basilica di San Francesco di Assisi

Continuing on the fever and chills theme, while it remained rainy, foggy, and cool I was told that my lips and fingertips turned a shade of blue. This eventually caused a friend to lend me his down Eddie Bauer jacket which worked much better than what I had. However, the weather did not stay like this all day and there was a point when everything cleared up very quickly and the sun shone down with intensity. We walked around the town a lot and saw the tomb of St. Francis and St. Clare and the original San Damiano crucifix. They also have some pieces of St. Clare's clothing and St. Francis's breviary behind some glass in the crypt of Santa Chiara opposite from St. Clare's body. I remembered many of these things from visiting before. We went to the Basilica di San Francesco, Cattedrale di San Rufino di Assisi, Santa Maria sopra Minerva and Basilica di Santa Chiara but I don't have many pictures because you weren't really allowed to take photos in most of them. 

We stopped in a little grocery store and got panini for lunch and ate on the steps of the Temple of Minerva/Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The inside is quite a surprise if you compare it to its temple front. 

At some point we walked up and up and up until we reached the castle, Rocca Maggiore. That's about the time when the sun burst forth and for an hour the four of us sat at the base of it just being content. If I could describe how peaceful it was I would.  

Rocca Maggiore. This is also a view of where we sat looking out over the city.
Yes, this is how drastically the weather changed.
I guess there's not much else to say about Assisi besides that it was such a good break from Rome. I absolutely love this town.

The train ride home was rough and we were all exhausted. The reason we didn't stay the night in Assisi was because someone found out that Pope Francis was going to say mass in St. Peter's Square. So this morning I set off at 8:30 with four other friends to St. Peter's. We had been warned that was not early enough for 10:30 mass and that warning was correct. We stood almost at the very front of the second barrier, a little ways outside the colonnade. I'm feeling better today than I was yesterday but standing for at least three and a half hours in the sun was enough to make me feel quite dizzy again. Very pushy Italians also do not help. But anyways, Pope Francis was celebrating mass today because of the anniversary of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and there was a procession of the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima around the crowd. The statue's crown now contains the bullet that hit John Paul II on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima May 13, 1981.

A rosary was led in Latin before mass. I was happy it was in a language I knew even though the Italian lady next to me said it loudly in Italian. Papa Francesco has a really soothing voice and I didn't understand every part of his sermon but he spoke more slowly and clearly than the average priest in Italy. He led us in the Angelus in Latin after mass ended. It took him forever to get into the pope mobile after mass because he was being individually greeted by priests; however, when he did drive by it was like a mad rush of excitement with people lifting up cameras, iPhones, even iPads trying to get a view of him. He passed us once, went down the street and obviously had to come back. He sped by the second time and as we were turning to leave I saw him on the screen kiss a baby and it was just adorable. The last thing he said was something about wishing everyone a good and blessed day and "Arrivederci!".

"Ciao, Papa!'

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bed Bugs, Black, and Birthdays.

Bed bugs. My friends are getting bitten up whenever they wake up at our hotel so that's fun. I am one of the lucky, unaffected people though one of my roommates has bites all over her. The hotel blamed it on our suitcases and suggested we take all our belongings out of our room and place them (five flights down for some of us) in one tiny room to solve the issue. We fail to see how any of this makes sense so none of us have moved anything. Not to mention that we live out of our suitcases so if they were taken from us that would create larger problems. Oy.

Black. Arkies love to wear black. I can at least vouch that this is true at "modernist" schools (ie. not Notre Dame) because my professor freshmen year smelled like a 5'6" cigarette, had hair like Shakespeare, and wore head to toe black or occasionally spiced it up with charcoal grey. I'm planning on wearing head to toe black tomorrow and numerous people today wore all black for their reviews. I think it's hilarious that a friend wore her black "shroud" to the final M. Graves review. "Not sure if this is a maternity shirt or shroud..."

Oh, also part of my group's project is uncommonly green. We have three sheets of mylar and one watercolor sheet which we printed. A grad student told us we could print on it, spray it with fixative, and stretch it with no problem. I don't at all doubt that he is right, however, the ink in the printers at the Miami studio must be different than the ink back at ND because it did not work and the ink bled to a vibrant green. There's nothing we can do about it except joke and say "One day we'll say 'Remember that time we presented that green project in front of Michael Graves? THAT was awful.'" It's like how we all have horror stories about previous projects that we recount with strange fondness.* We listened to the soundtrack of Wicked while painting it because of the green motif. We also named the fly that was flying around the room "Fred". Yes, we all had a decent amount of sleep the night before.

Birthdays. There were three in the past 48 hours but they were not celebrated (yet?) so there's nothing else of note to say about that. Sorry this is a downer.

So, there's that. Here's a picture of Steve Martin ironing a cat.
*One of my favourites is the night before my very first design project at Notre Dame was due I came down with a sickness and terrible fever and spent the night tossing and turning in bed having nightmares that I still needed to render it. The next day I was eating soup for lunch and it splashed on my white shirt before I had to get up to present. Good times.

Monday, October 7, 2013

More Lines Faster.

Here's a quick update. We have about 48 hours until this project is due so I have entered extreme focus mode. That means that I have been listening to the same simple, four chord, 3 minute long song for a half hour straight and I plan on continuing to listen to it until some later point. 

That happens. Before my calculus final freshmen year I listened to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" for about an hour. Don't ask me why. It seemed to help though because I got a miraculously good grade (seriously miraculous...I mean anything good involving myself and math is a miracle).  

We have a lot of work to do but the studio building closes at midnight so we physically can't pull all-nighters. That's for the best though the perfectionist in all of us dislikes this limited work time. Consequently, I'm going to go into hermit mode until I turn twenty. Don't worry, it's not as long as it sounds. 

St. Jude and St. Rita, pray for us. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"An Inconvenience Is An Adventure..."

I really can't think of a way to start off this blog post. I guess that took care of it.

All of us are still exhausted and now people are starting to get sick. Sarcastic huzzah! We've all been grumbling about the horrible disorganization of life in Italy and the meshing of classes because we really have no idea what is happening next each day. We cannot rely on the printed schedule because it isn't accurate. The professors relay everything via word of mouth like a game of telephone. They tell two or three students who in turn have to tell two or three more students and we have to trust their authority as official. For example, this morning I woke up and asked one of my roommates when class starts and she said 10:30 because we really thought it was 10:30. It turns out it was 9:00 and the professors were waiting and no one showed up because it was a 40 minute walk to Villa Giulia. Usually we are early and the professors are late so it was a switch today. When the stragglers arrived (including myself) everyone was already drawing so we had at the most ten minutes to draw. I'm not 100% sure but I think because I'm not in the Tuesday drawing class that thankfully those sketches are not due because my actual class is sketching tomorrow somewhere else. If that sounds confusing that's because it is. I honestly don't really know what is going on...just in general.

I think we've established that even those of us who don't get homesick easily are homesick this week. That combined with actual sickness isn't much fun. I'm not technically sick yet but one of my roommates skipped today because she really doesn't feel well. I just have a sore throat and perpetual headache. Sore throats are the bane of my existence. I can just hear my mom giving her advice "you need to drink more" from somewhere across the ocean. But really, dehydration has not been fun since I've arrived in Europe.

Anywho. Here are some of the things I'm grateful for:
1. The fact that I can still drink tea here. Moldy kitchen or not, I can still boil some water, use some of the tea I brought from home, and add this amazing honey with berries in it that I found in Campo di Fiori.

2. McDonald's fries. That's right. Today after some of us left Villa Giulia we went to McDonald's and bought milkshakes and french fries from the euro menu. Those fries were the most glorious thing I have consumed since the night of the banana pancakes. Now if only we could have tacos or burritos... 

3. Next semester we will be out of this studio. Previous classes have all said that it's terrible that we are moving but the people here who got to see the completed new building are convinced they said that because they are jealous. Personally I don't know because I haven't seen the new building but I'll take their word for it. I don't have anything against this building (except the moldy kitchen...I'm done talking about that now, really) but it's just exciting to me that we have something new to try out. Plus I've heard that it has COUCHES! and big terraces and you can see the Colosseum. 

4. We have internet in studio again and I was able to wash clothes on Sunday.

5. The cheap classical guitar we have. I think we may need an actual capo though because I used a pen and rubber band last night and it wasn't enough to hold down those pesky nylon strings (at least the middle strings). 

6. The music of The Avett Brothers. I recently discovered that a classmate likes them just as much as I do so he and I learned the riff to "One Line Wonder" last week. 

7. I could go back to the hotel and take a nap right now if I really wanted. I could also fall asleep right here at my desk since it isn't studio class time and maybe people would let me sleep...they probably also wouldn't judge....or maybe they would. Doesn't matter.

8. Here's a song that sounds like it should be motivational for this week but isn't exactly.

9. I just received word that the awesome custodian here is making lunch for us on Thursday. He's a very good cook...or so I've heard and smelled. I wish there wasn't so much of a language barrier because I'd like to say something more than hello to him.

"I say nothing to Him, I love Him."
10. It is now October! That doesn't apparently mean anything in Italy but it means something to me. I like it because it means autumn and awesome feast days. I never know if I should celebrate St. Thérèse of Lisieux's feast on the first or the third so I wind up turning it into a kind of triduum with the feast of the guardian angels on the second. Then there's St. Francis on the fourth. The best possible thing I could do for my birthday would be to go to Assisi. I LOVE Assisi. At least I love it from what I remember when I was eight. The project is due on my birthday but I may be able to go that weekend. Hmm.

It's a huge birthday month for my studio. One of my good friends has his birthday on Thursday, another is the day before mine, another is the same day as mine, and two more are slightly later in the month. They are all a year older than me, however. I have a feeling there will be a substantial celebration around the 12th when we are finished with reviews and Michael Graves leaves.

Yeah, I know I didn't pick a Giotto and El Greco is a Mannerist.
Deal with it today. I'm feeling Greco.
I really, really miss fall right now. It's very hot outside still and there aren't any trees to lose their colorful leaves. If someone could ship me a box of crunchy, dead leaves that would be the best. Maybe add some pumpkin bread and apple cider somehow...

11. The incredible thunderstorms yesterday that we got soaked in. The streets turned into rivers. I also saw out of the fountain-like windows on the bus a church with roses and a St. Thérèse outside that made me even more happy.

12. It amused me for some reason that today Michael Graves was explaining something to his eleven year old son Michael Graves Jr. about graves. I also enjoyed creepin' over M.G. Sr. watching him sketch something in the museum. I also swear I saw an amphora today that I studied in a Greek Art and Architecture class that I took at CUA to fill an elective requirement. Granted I saw a lot of amphoras but I'm pretty sure I'm not crazy...at least not in this scenario.