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.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Friendships aren't Flowers... but they grow, too

Recently, I had a GIRLS NIGHT OUT!... the infrequent night that women in their late twenties and thirties (and beyond) schedule to hang out with just the ladies. (Note: women in their early twenties don’t need to schedule such gatherings because every night out is GIRLS NIGHT OUT!). So, as careers, relationships, new friendships, and commutes have distanced me from some of my longest and closest girlfriends… I feel the need to rally in support of GIRLS NIGHT OUT!

As the plan was coming together in the past couple of weeks… I realized how excited I was to go. The faces of this particular GIRLS NIGHT OUT!, were a random smattering of invitees; A few of my closest friends… and some I have only just met. Still we are each connected by a distinct thread that weaves through a network of mutual friends on the Westside of Los Angeles.

So, with my hair straightened and umbrella in hand (thank you SoCal rainstorm), I kissed Ian good-bye and headed out the door… ready for GIRLS NIGHT OUT!

It was a good night… sushi, drinks, conversation and a lot of laughs. But the best part wasn’t the slychee martinis (yes, slychee) or the red velvet cupcake. It was the chance to catch up with friends who I don’t get to see nearly enough. One of my best friends (who was my roommate for three years)… had so many stories I finally got to hear… a whole new life down the 405 freeway in Irvine. Another former roommate (yes, I have had several) is jet setting around the world in the next couple of weeks. Everyone brought with them their umbrellas, their hilarious fatigue, and their lives.

While GIRLS NIGHT OUT! reminds me how good it is to see some of my closest friends, it also reminds me how glad I am our lives have evolved, too. I am glad that I no longer have roommates (that I have THE roommate); that I have made new friendships in the past few years that have become so important to me; that my work has taken me onto avenues of Los Angeles and my profession that I never would have imagined I would venture. But most of all, I am glad I can still look back on the ladies who I befriended when I moved to Los Angeles and that I can still call them my friends. My garden has grown, for sure (as have theirs)… but the original seeds have deep roots… and I hope that’s where they will stay.

Friendship = amicizia

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Vegas... (and a) Baby!

So, Ian and I decided to celebrate New Year's in a big way (this year) and join our friends in Las Vegas to ring in 20-10. It was a perfect trip to Vegas that included great food (starting with the Mad Greek on our way into town, Mesa Grill and the Strip House), our best friends, and only $2.85 lost at the nickel poker video machine. We even caught a glimpse of Holly Madison a former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner's and former star of "The Girls Next Door." We left Los Angeles around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon and arrived just before 11 o'clock that night. Traffic was a nightmare but Trevor kept calm, and we eventually arrived and rallied. All in all, a VERY good time.

But the thing that amazed me the most had nothing to do with the new City Center complex or New Year's Eve exhibitionists.

With all of the sights and sounds in Vegas (especially the ringing of the slot machines), I was most amazed by our friend, Melissa. At nearly six months pregnant, she braved Vegas. Not only did she LOOK beautiful (see picture) but she hung in there with the rest of us. Gives me hope this whole pregnancy thing is do-able. Thanks, Mel, for making it seem (not just) possible, but fun. Maybe I can do it too... some day ;).