Thursday, June 26, 2003

Daily Quote

"Why not seize pleasure all at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation?"
-Jane Austen

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Parliamo Inglese!

My job on the beach teaching children how to play group games in english (stressful stuff) starts this Monday, and Maurizio, the boss, called me two days back saying that he was still looking for another native English speaker. He sounded desperate. Corrie and I considered the options.

Weekdays, three hours a day on the beach, playing endless rounds of "Marco Polo." 550 Euros. Corrie was convinced. "I'll do it," she said. "And we can still make ravioli in the mornings on Saturdays." What a life.

Today, we went to meet with Maurizio at his office, amid piles of junk and paper on his desk and groups of Italians sitting around like patients at the doctor's office. Corrie and I entered and were quickly shuffled out again, since Maurizio was busy still meeting with other potential camp counselors longing to play beach volleyball or Sharks and Minnows. Finally he asked me back in, introduced me to the Future Camp Counselors of Macerata, and explained very little (which, in three meetings with him, is about as far as I've gotten in terms of what exactly my job is. All he really ever mentions is "550 Euros. Va bene?"). Corrie followed me in, said "I don't know what's going on," and I shrugged in agreement. This was the job. English on the beach. No plans. No explanations. Just 550 Euros. Starting Monday.

Finally someone pulled Corrie aside and explained that she should wait at the garden at 8 in the morning on Monday and bring a swim cap. When she asked "but what will I be DOING?" the assistant said "oh you know. English games. Involving handkerchiefs." We looked at each other and shrugged.

Finally, we signed some papers, explained that we weren't sure if we were really legally allowed to be working in Italy, were told that it was no big deal and we shouldn't worry ("Non e' niente. Non ti preoccupare! Tutto a posto!"--Italians say this about everything from exploding televisions to work visas, I've learned), and waved goodbye to Maurizio.

"A Lunedi'," we told them. We'll see you Monday. Swim caps and all.


A Pirate's Life For Me (or Aaarrrrgh, Matey)

Hooray for beach towns! The last two days I spent in Pesaro, Fano, and Senigallia - all coastal towns and all in our beloved Marche region. Jackie and I had a picnic on the sunny boardwalk of Pesaro before meandering the residential streets. On the return train, I hopped off in Fano and got run over by bikers...well almost. The Italian National Bike Race (or something more official sounding) had streamlined cyclists in space-age helmets rumbling down the cobbled streets of Fano's historic center. (Uneven pavement and rapid's all fun and games till someone runs over Corrie!)

I led myself on a mapless tour of the town, found a seaside albergo to spend the night, ate purple octupus pizza, and saw the lead singer of Coldplay strolling shoelessly through the streets. The band was in town for a concert, and I decided not to let logistics (like not having a ticket) get in the way of hearing their live show. Ask and Italia shall provide...from a deserted palazzo's courtyard I leaned against a pillar and enjoyed a private concert under the stars.

More tasty seafood awaited in Senigallia. After popping into a half dozen churches and checking out some recently discovered Roman ruins (and a medieval cemetery) under the town's theater, I stumbled upon the market. Freshly prepared seafood (something roasted on a stick and another balloon-ish animal stuffed with small octopus) and a veg salad were delicious in the shade of Senigallia's Rocca.

The view from the train back to Macerata changed from ocean waves to flowing sunflower fields. I was inland bound and full and happy to return, aaarrrrrrrghhh.


Today's Quoteee

The computer started pressing the 'e' key rather excitedly.

On to the quote:

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes for thousands of years."
-Willa Cather in O Pioneers!

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Il Succo delle Mele

Last night Antonello, Corrie, and I sat around the kitchen table listening to Italian pop songs. It had just become night, and the kitchen window was open--the moonlight shifting in--with the only other light being our dim stove-top lamp.

We listened to Per Te, which the Italian artist Jovanotti wrote as a lullaby for his daughter. It is a list of all of the things that were made for her--as if all of life were hers, completely hers. And they are the sweetest things a child could ask for, I imagine: Orange soda. The color of strawberries. Apple juice. The sun in July. The forms of the clouds. Everything, he says. Everything that there is.

But enough for us was just the young summer night, the open window, music, and the breeze. And Italy, of course. Always Italy.


Daily Quote

"I am drunk on yesterday. Its murmuring is preserved with every pounding of my blood..."
-Anda Amir

Monday, June 23, 2003

Bramante Naps

We drove to Todi in Umbria through sun and bluer skies than we had seen in days. Our Italian friends took turns driving, and Corrie and I sat in the back singing Indigo Girls roadtrip songs from a tape I had made six years ago. We all laughed and talked about the prettiest roads in Le Marche. We were happy.

Todi is one of Umbria's more enchanting towns, with the feel of old stones and vast piazzas, dream-like churches, and small town Sunday afternoons. We walked by a girl, complete with easel and oil paints, creating her version of Todi. She was painting buildings jutting from the city walls with a background of green hills behind, but she could have been standing anywhere, been painting anything in Todi, and it would have been picturesque. That is Italy: "a Circe dressed in silken landscapes", Kate Simon once said.

The most fairy-tale part of the day (our Rough Guide described Todi as having some sort of fairy tale magic to it) was Santa Maria della Consolazione, a church most likely designed by Bramante as a model for St. Peter's in Rome. The plans were discarded (changing St. Peter's from a square shape to a much longer, much larger church), but Santa Maria della Consolazione remains a testament to the magical, perfect church that Bramante had been considering. It IS a fairy-tale, perhaps: the church that never was.

We took naps in the shade of the cupola, waking up to our friend's cell phone and a nonna walking by, saying "Buona Sera, ragazzi, buona sera!" like some sort of retired town crier. We picked violets and walked to the car, stopping every few steps to look at other churches and take pictures of windows and door frames.

And then we were off again, into the Umbrian hills, with dreams of Todi still dancing in our heads. And it felt as if maybe this--Bramante naps and oil-painted green hills--had been a dream-day, after all: sun-kissed and magical. A true Italian fairy tale.


Oro di Todi

Yesterday went to Todi in Umbria with our friends Antonello and Alessandro. Highlights included an expertly led tour by Jackie (Achtung! Postkarten stehen zur Verfügung am wirklichen Besitz Büro!), cappelluci with tartufo and Trebbiano, meandering down viccoli just to see the incredible views, and napping in the shade of an impressive church, like millions of pilgrims before us.

Todi, its history, and our time there were wonderful, but I will remember the return trip just as fondly as I will the destination. Zipping through the Sibillini Mountains in Antonello's car, all my senses were engaged...incredible views from the backseat window, a cool breeze across my face, sweet pine in the air, American tunes from the Italian stereo, and the hint of sweet, young, white wine in the back of my throat. In all aspects...yum.

At one point, Jackie leaned over and said, "'Fool's gold' in Italian is 'oro di Bologna.'" The sun was setting and turning everything to gold outside my window. Though Macerata's skyline is always a welcome site, I wished the road to home had been just a little longer.


Quote of the Day

"Arrange whatever pieces come your way."
-Virginia Woolf