Sunday, January 24, 2010

Places I Want to Go (In a vague, but not particularly accurate order)

I've been itching to go somewhere new lately. I think it has something to do with the fact that last year at this time I was living in a new country, exploring new places every day, and altogether loving it. This, of course, was before I realized at a) the rain in Florence wasn't destined to stop until the week before I went home and b) Florentines are not known for their Grace, Warmth, and Hospitable Nature when it comes to dealing with American students. But anyway, I've caught the travel bug again. And as I've been keeping a mental list of places I need to go someday in my head for years, I figured I'd get in down on paper. Or blog. Or typepad? Whatever.

1) Colombia
Apparently all of the drug cartels have left Colombia and it's super safe now. And because they had so much drug money pouring in during the 80s and 90s, the place is absolutely beautiful. Cartagena is colorful and beachy, and Medellin spends 40% of its annual budget on education, and a great portion of the rest on the arts. So basically: natural beauty + actual culture? Take me there please!

2) Istanbul
I've been fascinated by Istanbul for a while now. It seems like it has this incredible mix of ancient history and a new, bustling atmosphere. I adore Byzantine architecture; mosiacs, domes, minarets = Alex's physical layout of heaven. And to that you can add ancient, imperial history (the kind I geek out over), a great modern art scene, and delicious food. And did I mention the Byzantine architecture? Because I love that shit.

3) Portland and Seattle
I figured that I should probably make an effort to see some of the parts of my own country where I have never been. The Pacific northwest has seemed pretty awesome ever since I read this book called The Mozart Season about this girl from Portland who competes in a violin competition where all the contestants had to play (you guessed it!) a Mozart Concerto.* Who cares if it rains 340 days out of the year? (I completely pulled that statistic out of my ass, but you get the picture.) They have music! And great restaurants! And farmers markets! And roses! What's not to like?

*As a side note, I've played the Mozart Concerto in A Minor that Allegra (the main character) had to play in the novel. And while it is indeed lovely, Mozart is far too neat and clean for me. Give me some dissonance, Wolfgang. Come on. And as a second side note, this was seriously one of my favorite books growing up. If you know middle-school aged girls, get them this book. Seriously, you really want them reading Gossip Girl? Or worse: Twilight?

4) Brittany
Have you ever heard a Breton pipe band? No? Then go here: . I swear, once you get over the shrill tones of what sounds like dying geese, it's some of the coolest music out there.

5) Dublin
I'd like to go back to Dublin and see and do some of those things you should actually ought to see and do in Dublin. You know, like go to the theater, go to a pub. Not just shop, which is what I did first time around. God damn my unenlightened 15 year old self.

6) Vietnam
I just finished reading The Quiet American. It was incredible, and combined with the fact that the country is supposed to be incredibly beautiful, the people friendly, and has a cuisine that makes me happier than almost any other, seems like a perfect country for me.

Anyway, that's it for now. There are tons of other places I want to go, like India, Thailand, Tahiti, the South of Italy, and the rest of Spain (Barcelona is wonderful, but that country is big!). But my fingers hurt from typing (no carpel tunnel, no!), and I have to wash dishes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On Finding My Place in the Universe

After years of contemplating who I am, my purpose in life, and my role in the Greater Scheme of Things, I have come to a conclusion that may (or may not, who knows) be extraordinarily astute and accurate:

I ought to be a peasant.

Well really, since I'm Italian, I ought to be a contadina. Or, since I also have almost as much Irish blood in me, a tuathánach (say that ten times fast and I will buy you a drink. Shit, say that one time fast and I will buy you a drink).

How, you ask, have I come to this conclusion? Answer: Science! Social science, at least. After all, that's what I do. Allow me to guide you through the various arcane data that has brought me to my thesis.

Posit One: I Prefer Red Wine to White.
And not just any red wines. I like Chianti, and Cote du Rhone, and other big, full wines that taste like they were made in Nonno's basement. None of that White Zinfandel for me, thank you very much. I want a wine that stains my lips such a vivid purple that people will be unable to decide if I'm a wino or if I'm hypothermic.

Posit Two: I Make a Mean Bolognese Sauce (and fresh pasta)
Granted, I used turkey and bison instead of beef and pork (I try to stay away from anything factory farmed), and I drained off the fat, something that I'm fairly certain would cause a read Italian Nonna to drop dead of shock. But hey, I chopped the million vegetables, used real pancetta and none of the turkey bacon bullshit, and simmered the sauce for the requisite 384572485748524 hours. And it was good! Especially on the pappardelle I had made and dried the night before.

Posit Three: I Have Hips.
I think it's safe to say that I should be able to give birth with relative ease. Which is perfect, because peasant women need to be able to produce an entire litter of stout, scythe-wielding sons to work the fields and solid, merry daughters to milk cows and carry water from the well.

Posit Four: I Can Walk Long Distances Without Getting Tired
Good for when our only donkey has to be sold to pay the landlord.

So, if you take this data and synthesize it into a working thesis, what do you have? Peasant!

(Disclaimer: This entire conclusion is only valid assuming that one ignores such things as my love of expensive food, clothes, and nights at the opera. Also that one overlook my poor eyesight and severe outdoor allergies, both of which would make working in the fields rather difficult. And that the countryside scares me.)