Tuesday, October 25, 2005

where are you guys?

Hello...please don't leave me out alone on this blog. You're part of this circle, make yourselves known- komeleon

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

And the fortune teller said...

So Taylor (fellow isrc resident) posted the following fortune on my door, we actually taped it up together...it's in the blank circle on my door...the rest of the circle are filled with globes that symbolize other people's worlds...For exampls, Columbus' World has a compass, Elvis' World has a vinyl record, Armstrong's World (the astronaut) has a moon, and there was one world left that had nothing in it, but now the space is filled with the following message: Lucky #'s 05, 13, 16, 20, 27, 29 and says, "You may attend a party where strange customs prevail" Haha...although Taylor found the fortune, she gave it to me...this was following a discussion in which I told her I wanted to have a feast on a frozen lake in the dead of winter in which everyone attended in their winter garb, I think the image is precious. I am in a giddy mood at the moment; I just came back from my first capoeria class (Brazilian African dance fighting), it was amazing...I love it to bits, if any of you get a chance, please join, it's a lot of fun. I know the Yiran, Dena and Debbie are already on that bandwagon. In other news, I have to now write a paper and study for a midterm, so later alligators, Love Komi.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Italy: Gondolas and Aussies

Ok, so before I tell you about my trip to Rome 2 weeks ago, I want to share my ADVENTURE this weekend in Florence.

Why was I in Florence might you ask? It all starts with the 3 Australians I met in Venice:

Thursday:

During Yom Kippur, Ashley and I went to service at the Spanish (Sephardic) temple in Venice.
I was hungry. We were all very hungry, and it took several pep talks to keep members of our tribe from buying a coffee & pastry. Even a Catholic friend was fasting with us! Our friend Cristina, the Italian-American from New Jersey, wanted to experience the holiday as well. I was taken aback and impressed by her resolve.
At 3 pm., we were hanging around this bridge in the Jewish ghetto (no, we weren't roughing it in the HOOD- "ghetto" has a neutral connotation here) and Ashley and Rachel, our British friend) decided to go back to the all-day temple service. Dinner was at 7:30. I don't know about you, but I can't do 4 hours of service, so Cristina and I read fashion magazines by the bridge.

Lucy & Ethel:
Cristina then came up with a "scathingly BRILLIANT idea" (if you can guess what movie this is from, I will be quite impressed. We really wanted to take a gondola ride on one of the two boats docked next to us.
"Maybe he'll give us a free ride if we find him two tourists," proposed Cristina referring to a tall Gondalier.
She later said she was joking, but I tend to jump on these ideas that require a bit of hootzpah.
So I approach the Gondalier, Igor, a tall, lean brunette Italian with a small goatee, in a black and white striped sweater, a straw hat and aviators. He smiles and kindly refuses the offer. Then, we hang out there for another 30 minutes and there's no business.

He comes up to me and says: "Se volete un giro, aspettate dopo che chiudo alle sei."
(I would have understood him but he spoke kind of fast. I thought he agreed to my plan. Instead he said: "If you guys want to ride, wait until I close at 6.")
So I got up and started looking for two people, dressed in my black blazer (temple clothes) and asking those crossing the bridge if they spoke English.
They all spoke French or Dutch. Where were all those American & British tourists when you needed them?
We kept looking but couldn't find anyone. So we sat down disappointed by his gondola and talked to him about the gondola business. Did he own his own boat or was he part of a company? What kind of tests did he have to pass? Were there any women gondaliers?
We finally helped convince a French couple to go with him. And when he came back at 6, we weren't sure if he'd still let us ride. We had been waiting for 3 hours and with baited breath. He said:
"Come on."
!!!!!! I was sooooo excited!

The sun was setting as we glided through the narrow canals of Venice. The moon was becoming visible in the sky and the streets of Venice (as they do around 6 pm) become quiet, and map-yielding tourists are replaced with some locals striding home with their groceries.
Though it is illegal for a gondalier to sing (it's weird, but singing is trademarked by one company and people have to hire professional singers to ride with them), Igor sang a beautiful song about Gondolas in Venice. His voice was CD worthy and Cristina and I exchanged starry-eyed glances, both so ecstatic and in such disbelief that this was actually happening, that we should have had vaseline to alleviate the strain of our affixed grins.

Debbie and the Oar:
I told Igor that he had the best job in Venice. I told him that if I could, I'd gladly be the first female gondalier. He grinned and asked "Do you want to try?" WHAT?!!! Cristina translated that he wasn't joking, so I jumped up and walked across the narrow vessel to become probably one of the few, if only, tourists to get to steer a gondola!!! I was alright but dropped the oar at one point, which emitted a "MOMMA MIA!" from Igor. I returned back to my seat hahahah.
At the end of our ride, Cristina had the guts to ask Igor for his number and he told us to call him anytime we wanted to hang out. I'm sure he was amused by our excitement and our attempts at Italian (he is around foreigners all day).
Indeed, it was a magical experience in Venice. I wanted to kick myself for not bringing a camera.

So great that I didn't realize that my stomach was groaning and it was time to break fast. At Gam Gam, a kosher restaurant run by Israeli Lubovitch Jews, they offered a FREE, and very delicious, dinner to tourists. It was there that we met 3 Australians...


Nothing but the Clothes on My Back:
To sum it up, Ashley hit it off with them and they convinced her to meet them in Florence this weekend. Nobody jumped on the idea. We walked the streets of Venice with them after dinner but Cristina and I weren't exactly hitting it off.
The next day, 10 people from our program took the train to nearby Bologna for the day. On the train ride, Ashley got a text message from the Aussies that Florence was great and that we'd all have a great time. Somehow, I don't know how, Ashley convinced me to leave Bologna early, with nothing but the clothes on my back, to spend the weekend in Florence. I love my roommate.

We didn't have our passports so we spent 2 hours walking around Florence Friday night looking for a place to stay. I was sick from some gelato that I ate in Bologna and was seriously doubting the merit of the word "spontaneous." But we finally found a woman that would let us sleep at her one star hotel without a passport. It was €70 for double which is SO cheap in Florence this time of year (like $42 a person) and we found space in a cheaper hostel for the next night. The older woman felt bad for us and even gave us a ride to the pub where we met the Australians.
We went on a pub crawl, which is a guided tour of several dance clubs and pubs in the area. It was an awkward experience. Nobody could dance very well and Ashley was taking turns making out with 2 of the Aussies...yeah... The Brits were cocky so I hung out with some other Americans studying in Florence. They did not seem to be having the same kind of study abroad trip I was having. They mostly spoke English, dodged tourists on their way to class and lived in apartments with unfriendly Italian locals. I'm so glad I went to Padova!

I spent the next day shopping and bought some cool stringy( wrap-around) leather( there is a LOT of leather goods in Florence) sandals for ALL the walking I was to do. I shopped and spent way too much time in Stefanel and on my way to Santa Croce Church found an Ecuadorian restaurant where I (FINALLY) found some chips.
That night, we ate at our favorite Florentine restaurant, "Zà Zà," and I ordered Florentine soup and split Roast beef in truffle sauce with Ashley (we could have licked the plate, it was SO good). The offer stands: I'll take whoever comes to visit me to Zà Zà.
On Sunday, Ashley and I went to an Italian version of "Barnes & Nobles" and mused on life, the Australian Jew (they exist!) she fell in love with, and I read a book about the way Tuscans view tourists.
Then we went home and I slept for what seemed like ages and woke up with a fever.

Ciao,
"Spontaneous in Italy"

P.S. Next trip: Siena (there is english on this site) and the super-popular CHOCOLATE festival in Perugia.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm not naked. I am nude.

Italian art has really taught me to embrace my body. With all its complexities...I am beautiful.
So I've included this photo of me nude in Rome:


Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Headed to Geneva

Bonjour tout le monde -

Like Michelle, I don't generally go in for the mass email approach, but I figured this was a little different. I've just finished a four-week "orientation period" in Aix-en-Provence and am getting ready to leave for Geneva tomorrow to start the l'annee scolaire. It's been nice here, and being surrounded by fifteen some-odd girls has worked out well so far. The program is through Smith college, so it's me, Shannon, a couple of other girls from other universities, and a mix of "Flag-burners and trannies" (their words, not mine - sort of).
Classes here meant four days a week learning French grammar and culture, and alternating afternoons with a little seminar on the European Union and what they've been up to for the past few years - given by a rigid but smart French lady dubbed "La Petite" when she can't hear - as well as a litterature class where we studied a book by a local author, Jean Giono. Quite a change of pace from Chemistry and a Comp. Lit./film class this summer.
I don't quite know exactly where everyone is or when the weather changes there, so my apologies in advance if I piss anyone off when I say it's been warm here for just about the whole month. Not warm with a lot of wind or hot in the day and freezing at night, just warm/hot/whatever. We had half a week of hard rain and that's it. I can't say much more in particular since they tell me it's ten degrees when I wake up and twenty-three in the afternoon, and I say, that's nice. But despite having to do a conversion every time a look at the forecast, no complaints so far.
Winter's going to be another story, but Geneva really looks like a great city. We landed there the first day and spent the night before coming to Provence. I got the chance to walk around some and see the building where I'll be living. Lot of old buildings, lot of flags, and a big fountain on the side - what more could you ask for? And I move in to the Centre Protestante - only not necessarily for Protestants - on Sunday. I'll be living with six other students - typically the international crowd ends up there since the students from the area live at home - with my own box to sleep in and a communal living area/kitchen/bathroom?
Got to mention my host family here too. I've been living with a retired Catholic mother who raised four boys and a girl in large part by herself and now rents the empty rooms out to students. So also wondering around the house have been a Swedish girl studying the language here, and two students who attend the Sciences Economiques faculty here - one from Ghana and another French. Nightly activities have ranged from cooing at the hedgehog that wonders around the fence or watching goofy French comics to impersonations - good or bad I don't really know yet - of goofy French figures, on the tele.
French politics hit home the other day too. The peuple decided to faire un greve (go on strike), and I had to walk around everywhere until they decided to stop. Not really a big inconvenience for me, but apparently no one hear likes the wave of privatisation and capitalism thats rocking their world at the moment.
Now it's off to the land of chocolate and watches, where everything opens and closes on time I hear. Hope everyone's going fine for everyone, and I'll try to keep this blogging somewhat regular in Geneva.

A bientot,
Rob

Friday, October 07, 2005

Calling all aboard!

Alrite you guys, we are not doing so good at this group bloggin as a team...we need to step it up a notch. I decided to update you all on what is happening in terms of our friends.

Debbie: our blog founder, is in Italy. So far she has visited Venice, Rome and she has some fabulous pics. Always the photographer, we all should look forward to some beautiful pics from Italia. Ya...she will be starting classes in October, I believe and is living with a fellow Los Angeles girl with the T-schini family. We spoke last Thursday by phone at 3 am in the morning...Debbie it meant a lot to me...i miss you neighbor.

Brian: a pillar of strength, sometimes I don't think Brian realizes how appreciated he is. Karen and I would like to tell you that you are the bomb and one of the best people to be friends with. So Brian is living up North, on Noyes and I recently was near his apartment visiting the gelato shop that just opened in Evanston. Brian was a trooper and came with Julia, me and this freshman living in ISRC named Taylor, to the new gelato shop where between the four of us we had 4 different gelato flavored ice creams: Swiss White Chocolate, Apple Berry, Pumpkin and Cinnamon. It's something you guys can look forward to on your return to Chicago. He helped fix my computer so that I can communicate via internet from my room...a savior. Sometimes we will reminisce just a little about the times.

Rob butler delaney: world traveler meets the swiss abyss: Yes folks, I have not heard much from Rob yet, but here's what he has to offer. He was in Provence, France until October 6th after which point he worked his way to Geneva, Switzerland. He started his journey with an orientation and took some language courses, lit courses and a European history course. His company: Smith college girls. We'll await future developments from Rob. He has promised to post on the blog. I'll keep bugging him about it.

Yiran Liu: artiste, ocean walker. From Chicago to China to DC to England, our friend has been hopping planes like no other. Yup, her China trip sounded fabulous, she said she saw some relatives, did some traveling and I believe at one point met a lama (the religious kind I think) who wanted to exchange postcards with her. (yiran correct me if I'm wrong, I was going to ask you to explain in detail this incident, but never had the chance.) Anyhow, she is in London now, living with her "flatmates" (how English!) and looks forward to the dinners with wine she has with them. In other news, she just began her classes/seminars last week...we will await her response.

Michelle Edelman: certified prankster: Michelley has landed on Oxford soil by now. She said she was looking forward to the "odd and interesting traditions." So far, all I know is that she is taking a Victorian Lit class and must wear robes to dinner, How Harry Potterish! Write more Michelley.

Justin Tackett: J-man and I keep missing the boat with each other. I e-mailed, then called, then he called...it's a long game, but as soon as I hear from him I will update all.

Jeffrey Katz: Spoke to the man today after a long time and he updated me on his summer in India. It was filled with many travel experiences, stopping at some of the many picturesque sites that India has to offer. He lived in a youth hostel and worked with a group reporting on Burmese refugees in India. In the future, he may have plans to continue the study abroad experience by perhaps hitting up areas of Latin America...I await details

Karen Chong: Chong Kong and I just had dinner at california pizza kitchen with Audreen last nite. She's doing great and is currently on a retreat in Wisconsin. She'll be back Sunday. Her cultural exchange-type trip to China this summer was fabulous, she had a great time visiting some of the smaller cities in China. Today she helped me make a grilled cheese sandwich in her sandwich maker. It was delicious; it was dinner.

Audreen Louis: Currently living with Karen in Allison, this little one is up to all kinds of things. Now a senior, Audreen spent the morning moving all her art supplies to her newly acquired studio space in Kresge. She helped finish making my grilled cheese sandwich and fed me a chocolate cookie and cucumbers when I visited her and watched her make a desconstruction art piece with black and white photos a friend gave her. It was looking good when I last left.

Allison Bruce: Our Allie is in London right now. She traveled there for the big Harry Potter midnite party although i haven't heard the details. I spent some time with her at Camp Kesem. She finds London fascinating and is overwhelmed by the amount of things to do there. I have to get back to her and then I will write more.

Julia Merryman: Julia, Julia. is the cutest and is my new ISRC neighbor. The lady is very busy and I look forward to getting to know her better this year. She recently was nominated for a post as ASG senator, exciting.

Dena Trugman: Dean Bean. the deanster and I met up randomly at the library. Her trip to South America sounds definitely like it was a winner. She did blog during that time, so you can check out the details of it on her blog. In other news, dean bean is currently working on trying to figure out how to start a capoeira class at Northwestern. Her new roomie's name is dilpreet and she really likes living with her.

ME: Alrite you guys, the hi-lite of me week has been receiving e-mails from some of you guys, thanks for the replies, going to the gelato shop with brian and julia, eating cpk pizza, watching U2 on Conan. We'll have to watch it as a team when you guys get back. They were great you guys, I was screaming in the Allison lounge where I watched the show with Audreen and Clare on my cell phone. I just declared myself a legal studies minor and am currently taking a class on wrongful convictions, it is so interesting. In addition, I am doing some research stuff with a pysch professor and have been planning events for international awareness with Globe. Other than that, I have been putzing around campus, doing random things and have met up with my family a couple times. Also, I have begun a project on forming a bowling team at Northwestern. Oh ya, for Debsta, eric and I have contacted each other, I might be going to his Harvest Feast, if and when he has one...I haven't seen him face-to-face yet, but will definitely give him our present when I do.

Anyone heard from Mariell-O? It might be difficult for her to e-mail and such, i understand.

That's all folks, keep in touch, please post!!!
Love, komi!