Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Venezia and the Great Divide

The mere mention causes dissent among travelers far and wide and can even incite the use horrific and dramatic adjectives: smelly, crowded, awful. For those on the other side of the Great Divide, the adjectives are soft and romantic: lovely, quaint, unusual. Venice. It's the city you either love or hate. There is no middle-road, and there is no question where my flag is planted. I love it.

I went to Venice today with my parents, and just as we stepped out from the train station, vivid colors, hollers from gondoliers, and the smell of salt water washed over us. Sensory overload becomes status quo in this weird and decadent city.

Much like my other visits to the "City Without Cars" (thank you, God), my parents and I had no real plan for Venice. A water taxi through the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco, and then we would figure it out from there. No maps needed... you can't really be lost on a small island. So we wandered. Through the narrow streets, over the bridges, into shops showing off their finest Murano glass, gelateries and one Osteria. No watches, no maps, no horns. It was glorious. The sun was shining... and the colors dazzled us from every corner and alley: turquoise, deep reds, and rich cocoas.

And yes some of those negative adjectives are, in deed, true. We spent $16 on three Coke Lights at lunch (always check the price before you order). The Rialto Bridge is crowded with over-priced sales carts. But tourism is part of this city... this whole country, really. And it doesn't bother me. From what I can tell Venice has ALWAYS been a touristy city, and there is a reason why people visit Venice for a vacation... it's wonderful.

So now you know I feel about Venice. What do you think?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vespas are like clocks

Yes, it's true. I have decided the zippy little hum of a Vespa engine is the best way to tell the time of day from inside (or outside) my apartment... well, that an the ping pong table below my office window (but that's for another post). I can tell it's late at night when the Vespas come in a random sequence every few minutes, or so. I can tell it's morning, when there is a steady stream with only a few toots of a horn to break the sound. I can tell it's late in the afternoon when, in fact, I don't notice them at all. And I love them.

Vespas (or scooters, actually) are able to maneuver around obstacles in the road and on the sidewalk without hesitation. This puts me at ease when I am running the Florence city streets... I never worry about colliding with a scooter... they'll get around me. They are small and efficient. They are cute.

And that's not all. There is so much else about Florence that has become a part of my regular routine. I am used to sipping espresso in the mornings and evenings. This is new for me, as this is my first visit to Florence as a coffee drinker. I am used to showing no reaction (while smiling on the inside) to the hollers of "Mama Mia" from the market vendors or the shop keepers, who like to LOUDLY compliment all women of all shapes and sizes. I am used to dogs everywhere, beautiful art, and animated people.

One of the things that I am still getting used to... is the genuine kindness the Italians have demonstrated to me. Like it's nothing at all, a fellow professor gave my parents and me a 2 1/2-hour of the Uffizi Gallery. The tour was offered, after we (literally) bumped into him in the museum. This tour was nothing less than world class, but when I thanked the professor he simply replied, "I really enjoyed it too." And he did. From extravagant homemade dinners to simple directions, there is no shortage of hospitality here, and that is helping me reset my clock a little, too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jet-lag Makes Me Sad

So, I am here. In Firenze. Finally.

I have anticipated my arrival in Italy for quite some time, and I am glad to say I am all moved into my apartment. Ian will be here in less than a week. The longest we have ever been apart is five days, so this will be a new challenge for us. I miss him like crazy.

I have been busy with orientation events, but I am itching to get into Firenze, drink an espresso, do a little shopping and blend into a sea of anonymity found in an ancient city of locals, students and tourists. My parents and two of my best friends are headed this way, and I can't wait for them to arrive.

I am still a little jet-lagged, but here are my early impressions of the trip:

1. Pepperdine's program IS as great as everyone makes it out to be. Being here has also made me reminisce about my days with the Harding program, which is equally as great.
2. I live in a HUGE apartment, with a bathroom that is truly worthy of being used by the Medici family.
3. My hands are having trouble typing, because my fingers are frozen from the unseasonably low temperatures. Since I packed for warm weather, exclusively, I will need to get at least one sweater to get me through the cold spell and rain that is expected to last for the next seven days.

Tomorrow more orientation and hopefully, venturing into Florence a little on my own or with a few students.

Ciao regazzi!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A fortnight...

14 days until I am big there...

Monday, April 12, 2010

21 days, exactly

The last few minutes of the this day are dripping away. It's Monday, which most people lament. But not me. Not this Monday.

For the past five years, I have worked almost every single Monday on the evening shift at KTLA. And I have loved it. Every single second of it. There is nothing like a breaking news story: those that matter to a community (like a fire); but especially those that matter to the world (like the death of Michael Jackson). I was there for all of it, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. But as of last week, I am officially on hiatus from my free-lance position at the station as I prepare for my trip to the Big Boot. So, today, this Monday is different.

I am full-time professor and media adviser at Pepperdine University, and that is where much of my heart lies. So, I am still working, full-time. But today, instead of finishing class and racing to a doctor's appointment or to KTLA or some other pressing obligation... I went home. Well, I stopped to buy a new pair of running shoes, and then I went home.

I cleaned the apartment, graded papers, went grocery shopping, went for a three-mile walk with Ian, made dinner and then went for a late-night run (my favorite). Now, I am writing. As the evening progressed... I kept thinking, "This is the way normal people live. It's nice." I haven't always worked so much, but I have always kept myself busy, and it's nice to catch my breathe.

I have no delusions, that my life is slowing down. In fact, these next few weeks are packed with lunches, dinners, parties, grading, graduation... and a very precious wedding. But today (and tonight) I took a deep breathe. It was nice... very, very nice.

To breathe= respirare

Friday, March 19, 2010

26 point who?

It's called "Stadium to the Sea," and this exciting new course for the 25th Annual LA Marathon begins at Dodgers Stadium and ends at the Santa Monica Pier.

Even though I have the destination in mind, will it help point me in the right direction? I hope so... because I have been feeling a little lost, lately. Busy, challenged, happy (for the most part)... but still I feel (a little) lost.

I am hoping this marathon will be a compass, an anchor, maybe snapshot of my sheer stubbornness. I am hoping it WON'T be the death of me ;).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A presto... my two friends

So, I may have made a rash decision... no, a stupid decision... no, an impossible decision. I decided to give up Diet Coke and chocolate for Lent. What? For most people, chocolate would be the hard part, but I just threw that in for good measure. Chocolate is like a friend who you see very infrequently, so waiting until April is no big deal. But, Diet Coke is probably my one true vice. I don't drink very often, I have never smoked, I have never done drugs. But every time I drink Diet Coke I ALWAYS think two things: "I know those chemical ingredients are slowly mutating my insides" and "I love this stuff." Every time.

And yes, I actually prefer the taste of Diet Coke to regular. For the past five years I have been sharply focused on eating healthy (I follow Weight Watchers) and working out. I am a dedicated health nut. Diet Coke is the one zero-calorie treat I get. However, my treat has gotten out of hand... I drink three or four a day. Now, it's time for a break. Last year for Lent, I gave up Diet Coke (except on Thursdays), but now I am going cold turkey. A real aspertame fast. It's 9:04 a.m. on Ash Wednesday, and so far, so good.

I'll keep you posted.

Diet Coke (in italiano) is Coca-Cola Light.