Back when the "New Material" post was written I went through a life transition that was both tangible and intangible. Among the intangible lies a change in my daydreaming habits. Before coming to Italy the Renaissance period fascinated me. I've seen countless films set in that time period, and I never seem to tire of them. I listened to classical music and painted scenes colored with words that the notes inspired in me - needless to say these scenes never graced the time in which we now live. Now my headphones sing with synthesizers instead of pianos and drum machines instead of timpani. I remarked a couple of weeks ago how my daydreams no longer flock backwards some 500 years, but forwards to futuristic nirvana.
Today, though, as I sat in Caffe' Amerini, I strolled back towards old friends in my 16th Century Poetry anthology - Marlowe, Donne, and Sidney, to name a few. I discovered a new poem by Donne that gave me chills, copying it meticulously into my journal, and afterwards I contemplated its significance. The poem, titled "The Sun Rising," addresses the Dawn and says lovely little things like this:
She is all states, and all princes I.
Nothing else is.

Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere:
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

Hardy a modern/futuristic way of expression, however beautiful it is. Can my two realms of daydreaming ever coexist? I'm not sure they can outside of the simple act of reading Sidney's "Astrophil and Stella" while listening to arguably over-the-top synth anthems.
But I like juxtaposition. I like what it does to us. It's fitting that I'm dreaming in the 16th Century and floating around in spacy bliss in the same mental breath. This means my imagination is not bounded by what makes sense. Since when have imaginations been subjected to rationality anyway?
Whenever I think of juxtaposition a favorite image comes to mind. College students often are not fortunate enough to have a wide array of kitchen ware, but we usually do manage to get our hands on cheap wine and champagne with relative ease. This leads to sometimes drinking said "champagne" in coffee mugs. Last time this delightful phenomenon happened to me I giggled at its peculiarity and also did something quite curious - I subconsciously clutched the mug close to my body as though its contents would warm me, fully knowing they wouldn't.
Some things just don't make sense when put side by side - Renaissance and Future, Champagne and Coffee Mugs, My Nana watching School of Rock late at night, eating McDonald's in Florence, etc. We do things to try and put them back into context, which is natural, but being flexible with what is considered normal and "strange," is refreshing.
I think John Donne would have enjoyed flashdancing in Kanye shutter shades and some boss Nikes.


Is that even legal?

Beth once posted about intangible transitions - when does a person stop being one-dimensional and start being a dynamic character in one's life?
Speaking of intangible transitions, I got this email last week from Serena, a woman at Palazzo Rucellai:

Dear students,
This is to remind you that tomorrow is the deadline to have your money back from the canceled match: Fiorentina-Napoli. After this date I won't refund you any more

This got me to thinking...at midnight tonight does the money really stop being mine and transition into being yours? Is that even legal? I'm pretty sure that the 20 euro I paid you is still MY 20 euro even after midnight on the deadline. However, if it is legal I'd like to say the following:

Dear Mom and Dad,
This is to remind you that tomorrow is the deadline to withdraw money from your bank account. If you do not withdraw all of your savings by tomorrow, I will not refund you after it magically becomes mine at midnight.

Bboying in Napoli


Quiz Me!

Lately I've been taking lots of online quizzes. This usually occurs either late at night or in the morning before class. So far, I know these things about myself:
-My pimp name is Scandalous Money.
-If I were a time of day, I'd be a Sunrise.
-My vocabulary is only at B+ level. I resent that, and I'd like to know how they came up with it.
-If I were a pair of boots I'd be combat boots, which makes me want to retake the quiz.
-If I were internet slang, I'd be "OMG!" OMG, I would?!
On some level I agree with most of the results, especially the pimp name, but all of the questions I've answered have been pretty basic, or the answer choices don't even contain things that I would ever do, like, or say. I choose anyway.
This got me to thinking about the little boxes in which we put ourselves and the labels that inevitably get thrown in there with us. I hope I'm not projecting my mental processes onto others but, usually these labels are pretty specific. For example this question, "How would you describe yourself?," was followed by the answer choices: Visionary, Inquisitive, Talented, Observant, Creative, or Daring. Or, "What's the first thing people notice about you?" : Your confidence, your brain, your intensity, your charm, your sense of humor, or your heart?
While I'm not sure if any of those describe perfectly who I am, or what people think when they meet me, I attempt to pick one that I think best encompasses all of the labels that I've made for myself.

Is this a bad thing? I think being forced to oversimplify yourself, climbing out of your personality box and looking at it, is healthy sometimes. I'm Inquisitive. My boots are made for Strutting. I'd prefer to be able to Read Minds. I like the mental flexibility that's afforded to me by taking these arguably silly quizzes. I'm forced to suppress all of those complexities that come rushing when I read questions that force me to sum myself up in only one word. Online quizzes won't listen to me as I have a 10 minute conversation about why I wouldn't necessarily say I'm just inquisitive.
I'm a big fan of quizzes, and just being quizzical in general. I've realized that I have a lot of subconscious, or not-so-subconscious, quizzes that I subject people to - mostly having to do with someone's ability to respond to random questions (take notes). If someone can respond to something like, "If you were a bathrobe, what would you look like? Would you be fuzzy or silky? How many pockets would you have? Would you be used after a shower, or just to lounge around in?" then I automatically have more respect for them than I did before I asked the question - good, you can think on your feet and you care enough about this conversation to want to steer it to an interesting place. These mental exercises aren't meant to trap you - I'm not asking for a 30 minute response about WHY you'd be made of terry cloth, I just want you to play along and give me some food for thought.
That being said, I think the most dangerous mental quiz I've administered so far went something like this:
"Tell me something."

(Photo by Annie Leibovitz)

P.S. I just found out that of all the mythological creatures I'd be a Mermaid because:
I'm a total daydreamer, and people tend to think I'm flakier than I actually am.
While my head is often in the clouds, I'll always come back to earth to help someone in need.
Beyond being a caring person, I am also very intelligent and rational.
I (apparently) understand the connections of the universe better than almost anyone else.


Incandescent Happiness

I've always loved the word "incandescent" or "incandescently." An Italian friend told me a couple of days ago that his three favorite English words were: dank, awesome, and schedule. Obviously he's never heard "incandescent" before.
I posted this song a few days ago when on the "Peace! Love! Ecstasy!" post, but I'm not sure if you all heard it since it was kind of hard to spot. Here it is again, and in much more obvious form:

Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream

I love this song. Seeing as I love music and I love movies, I have a slight problem (?) in that when I listen to songs I like, I often picture how the music video should look, or in what movie scene I would put the song.
In this case, I walk out of my apartment (the song is playing at this point) and begin my walk to Palazzo Rucellai for classes, the sun is shining. I'm wearing, this is important, my Nike Vandals that are pictured, and beams of light begin to emanate (another good English word) from them. The rest of the song consists of me moonwalking and flashdancing slightly above the ground in an incandescently happy manner - I haven't decided if people should join me yet, that might be too cheesy.
The thing is, that mental image isn't too far from the truth. I'm extremely happy here, though it's just began to hit me that this experience is almost over - a month and a half and I'll be back in Charlottesville. Despite the feelings that were promised over the past 3 months - depression, confusion, desperate happiness at the revelation of the experience's impermanence - I just feel content. I know that I'll be sad to leave, but I'm also really looking forward to getting back and having new eyes for my beloved Charlottesville.
I just looked up incandescent and the definition is as follows: emitting light as a result of being heated.
Things that are responsible for my spontaneous and continuous outbursts of light: new friends, seeing family soon, having another place that feels like home, and of course, my delightfully overactive imagination.


My Inanimate Object Doppelganger

Doppelganger, hailing from mid 19th century German, means, "an apparition or double of a living person." This pair of shoes is my doppelganger in inanimate form - maybe just because I'm lusting after them, but I'm still pretty sure that if I were a pair of shoes, those would be it. Sure, they're a little obnoxious and ostentatious, two things I hope that I am not, but for some reason this sounds like poetry to me:
Creative Recreation low top sneakers with metallic leather upper; velcro strap; gold laces; rubber soul...um, sole.


Peace! Love! Ecstasy!

When this girl was in Paris she inevitably encountered some moody Parisians (and some nice ones too!). Bethie and I were on the metro on the way back to our hostel, suspiciously named "Oops!," and a couple of old men strutted on and began to play their accordions. Oh, Paris. While Bethie and I were smiling ear to ear, the rest of the busy travelers were less than impressed. In fact, some of them looked down right pissed off. I unsuccessfully tried to smile at the guy sitting across from us and he didn't even have the courtesy to glare at me - "I'm not even going to waste any energy on you by altering my facial expression," he seemed to say. What's gained by being this way? I would rather burst into a beatific smile on command, and regularly, than nurse a sour expression like a self-inflicted wound.
Walking down the streets in Florence I've tried on multiple personalities. I've done the pouty, I-have-somewhere-to-be purposeful walk. Then there was the jaded, I-live-here-and-nothing-phases-me-anymore strut. They were okay, but I don't think they looked either good or convincing on me. Lately I've donned the incandescently-happy-and-cheerful-girl, what should we call it,... parade. Apparently (I just used a thesaurus) parade is a synonym for walk and I think that's the most accurate.
I've found it's way more enjoyable to connect with the random people I meet on the street instead of brushing them off like flies. Instead, if I feel like smiling, I smile. I love watching people stare after me, wondering why I'm so happy. I sincerely hope I incite them to recall a time where they unsuccessfully tried to hide a smile, and how it burst out of them like a ray of sunlight through a window.
Today I took my happy parade even further. I went to the market today, spontaneously bought a bunch of tulips initially unaware of what I should actually do with them. As I was walking down the street, listening to this song, I passed Rosella's shop. She's a gorgeous Italian woman who's always been incredibly nice to Beth and I...she needed a tulip. So it went the rest of my walk through the city - my happy, hippy parade spreading sunshine and now, flowers - how appropriate.

The thing is, why not do something like that once in a while? As everyone has heard since grade school, less muscles are used in smiling than in frowning, so unless you're working on improving your muscular strength around your mouth, just give it up and bust out those pearly whites. I don't care anymore if it's painfully obvious that I'm one of those legendarily friendly American girls, after all, no one criticizes the Mona Lisa for her mysterious smile.
Today as I walked by with my tulips I passed a number of street vendors selling prints of famous artwork. One of them clutched his chest and called out, I kept walking but put my hand on my heart and smiled back at him. One of my new favorite songs shouts, "Peace! Love! Ecstasy!" I wholeheartedly agree.

P.S. Sorry for the creepy mime picture.


I'm actually still 5 years old

because I still love this video.

I'm using a gigawatt of willpower not to post my favorite Muppets Swedish Chef video.

That was a solidly good day

I encountered this character on the way back to my apartment and he made me think.
I got up this morning (or afternoon), sat in bed with Bethie for a couple of hours, then decided to get dressed. Pulling on my gray suede boots, I wondered what I should do in order to have the "that was a solidly good day" feeling later. Answer: take Astrophil (camera) and wander.
I encountered the usuals - the golden statue man at the Uffizi, the enamored street vendor who asks for my number, countless caricature artists, etc.
A few hours before I opened my eyes this man woke up and put on his usual outfit - a bright purple suit with green shoes and an orange tie. While I lay sleeping, he tediously put on his grey wig, makeup, and applied the stiff-wired hat to his head. After doing that, he casually walked out of his apartment and out into the Florentine sunlight.

Somewhere during each of our days, our paths crossed. I stood there taking pictures of him, he obliged, but made a subtle nod to a hat with coins inside. I nodded back to put him at ease - we were business partners now, our relationship sealed with a silent and intangible handshake.
At the end of our encounter I fulfilled my promise by tossing some change into his earnings and he beckoned me closer. Stepping out of his pose, he took my hand and pressed it to his lips as the others around us snapped photos. As I began to walk away I saw him feign a love-sick swoon so I turned to pose with him for brief time before strutting off for good, the sound and rhythm of my heels making it sound official.
I had a solidly good day. Did he? How does he feel when he returns home, removes his costume, and becomes just another normal face? Does he think, That was a solidly good day, made some money, I should probably feed the cat tonight?
For some reason I'd like to picture him just as he is during the day. That's just who he is. Upon leaving the Piazza della Republica he goes to a bar with his friend who is feeling extra contented and wearing his favorite suit - a neon blue satin suit with a silver tie. They commiserate on how their hair just doesn't stand on end like it used to and stare enviously at the young bartender who has magnificently stiff neon green locks.
The two men head home to Dr. Seuss-like flats complete with their hot pink cats that snuggle up close to them, purring, and beds shaped like clouds, resting on feather-like trees while I sit here musing on extreme lifestyles.



I don't know what's clicked. This trippy mindset is ridiculous.
Two summers ago I was having a pretty rough time. It was the summer before college and I was having one of those, "who am I?!" moments much to the dismay of my parents. What got me through it? Friends? Family? To a certain extent, sure, but it was really something else that I would attribute my recovery to - hip hop.
Something about the attitude made me relate to it. I mean, unlike Memphis Bleek, I wasn't on the streets running from the cops again, but I was driving my Minivan to and from a job I really hated, having angsty thoughts the whole time. That's sort of the same...
Point is, at certain not-so-sunny times in my life I seem to always identify with a certain genre of music that makes me feel better. Hip hop said to me, "life may suck right now, there may be hard times, but screw it, you'll survive. In the meantime, you just have material to use for creativity." So I listened to it, felt the angst, got angry at myself and how things were, and survived. I rolled up in Charlottesville in my dirty beige Dodge Caravan blasting Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" Remix (it counts as hip hop!) or Mos Def's "Ms. Fat Booty," with my sunglasses and poker face on. I probably looked ridiculous, but true to form, I didn't care.
Now, my new nirvana is electronic music. As I said before, I was listening to this song and for some reason my whole attitude changed in that moment. Instead of the harsh, "yeah, you're here whether you like it or not, but it's gonna be cool," voice, I got a, "you don't even need to be there right now if you don't want to" whisper.
It's not that I'm disillusioned with Italy, I'm not. I was only unhappy with where my thoughts were always drifting. Like two summers ago, I was confused again about what composed Me. What would I do and what wouldn't be something I would do?
As I've always found, the best part about being in the pits emotionally is that you eventually come out. I've discovered one thing that is continually a part of my personality, and it's that I'm a big fan of reinvention when something isn't working out. The most fun about questioning who you are is often forgetting who that person was entirely and just reinventing. Sure, the important foundations are laid quickly and easily, but once that is done, all of the quirks and little odds and ends can create an entirely different individual - and this is what came out this time.


...and my Mama's certainly worth takin' out

Posting frenzy!
Okay, but seriously, this song is good too, and this one goes out to the Mama. Again, I unfortunately have to use the same format - damn that Man that everyone seems to be angry at.

Scissor Sisters - Take Your Mama

This song reminded me of my mother, obviously because of the title, but just take a look at these lyrics:

Gonna take your mama out all night
Yeah, we'll show her what it's all about
We'll get her jacked up on some cheap champagne
We'll let the good times all roll out
And if the music ain't good, well it's just too bad
We're gonna sing along no matter what.

My Mom, bless her little (or big, as it may be) heart, is two things: easy to please (hey, that's a great quality), and always up for a little singing. When I listen to this song I see that lovely lady above cruisin' the town singin' her usual Beatles song she loves so much when she's on cloud 9, 10, or 11.
Can't wait to take my Mama out all night in a couple of weeks. Here's to takin' our mother's out, showin' them what it's all about, and that we're doin' the best we can.

"you shake those hips, blondie!"

As my Dad so aptly phrased it, this song makes me feel like dancin' despite what the title suggests. Since YouTube doesn't have the embedding code, I'm forced to clumsily enlighten you to its charms through a link:

Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancin'

Basically, it's a love song about how he doesn't feel like dancing while he watches his girl break it down on the dance floor without him. How sad! My newly awakened disco soul reaches out to him in sympathy. I know if I was in purple spandex flared pants watching my honey get up and bust out something fresh without my rhythmic input, I'd feel jilted. I, however, do not have that problem and do feel like dancin' - though it may be by myself and in the middle of a piazza.

I'll tell you how it goes.


New Material

I'm feeling rather psychedelic as you can perhaps tell by the new layout. I just thought it was time for a change. I'm getting tired of writing about the same old things even if they aren't things I've ever written about before - I'm always confronted by new experiences over here, but the variation lies in the experiences, not in the fact that I'm confronted by them.
The new title "Electronic Dreams," came on a whim. I've been listening to a lot of electronic music lately from the blog DISCODUST (linked on the right), and as I was listening to this song:

Get Famous! - Slip Away

it just sounded like Electronic Dreaming. I know I've lost most of you by now - I'm up here acid dancing, with winged Nike Dunks on, and the rest of you are quizzically staring up at me wondering what's happened to me.
What has happened to me? Part of it is the fact that I've been sick for about 2 weeks now, I'm on about 4 medications for various ailments, and I'm really tired. This sinus infection is making my tastebuds not work as well, everything is a bit dulled except my sense of hearing and, evidently, my imagination.
Also, I just need a change mentally. Since my brain has been pulled constantly back and forth from the US to Italy, I just feel more comfortable up here in my indecisive world of infinite space and possibility.

Expect more or less the same content - I haven't been writing mostly because I'm just bored with what I've been writing, and also because I've been incredibly sick. I'm excited about this makeover, excited about more varying subject matter, excited about music, seeing my family soon, being free from regret, free from sickness, and hopefully free from creative limitations.


Culture Mild Interest

Before coming to Florence I attended a mandatory Study Abroad Orientation. Most of the subject matter consisted of something called, "Culture Shock." In fact, our orientation leaders informed us that due to this strange phenomenon, we would be depressed for a large part of our stay in each foreign country, some more than others obviously. I refused to accept this fact - after all, I didn't sign up to go to Florence, Italy to stare out of the window forlornly, pining for the United States (though it still does happen occasionally).
Upon arrival, sure, there were things I noticed that were different, but, as Beth and I discussed once, we took note of the differences, adapted, and moved on. This strange practice is what I like to call, "Culture Mild Interest."Culture Mild Interest happens in moments such as these:
-Upon arrival at the Frankfurt airport I noticed that the stall doors were large enough that there was no space at the bottom. Therefore, when you shut the door to these public restrooms, a complete vacuum was almost created. I found that mildly interesting.
-I was mildly interested as well as annoyed, when I found that in Inverness, Scotland, we had to pay 20 "pound cents," sometimes known as pence, to use the public restroom. I was confronted with this inconvenient truth again in the Milano trainstation. God Bless America and its free restrooms.
-Have you ever noticed that we usually pull on doors in the US to open them when entering a public building? I could be wrong, but I'm pretty confident that it's a rule of thumb. I figured this out when every door I approached in Italy wouldn't open for some reason. Ah, push, that's why.
These things were relatively easy to adapt to, and honestly I think Reverse Culture Shock will be more of a problem. I'm now accustomed to staring unabashedly at strangers, pushing on doors, being able to order drinks, attempting to formulate questions in Italian before I approach a stranger, etc.
In other words, it could be a rude awakening when I return to the US and discover that someone gets offended should I stare at them for an extended amount of time, or I begin to order a drink at a restaurant, only to be carded and subsequently judged afterwards. I find it interesting that upon traveling in a foreign country (Scotland, and now, France), I find myself missing Florence and Italian even though I'm not quite fluent and far from a native. I'm now of the opinion that traveling is an essential ingredient in that feeling of belonging somewhere. As is said in that wonderful Joni Mitchell song, "You don't know what you got til' it's gone," and it's certainly true in many facets of life - home, love, friendship...I often find myself back in Madison County, exploring the tall grass with Taz, laying in the hammock looking at the sky. Now, upon leaving another home, I surprisingly hear Italian come rushing from my vocal chords, attempting to ask where something is. I find that a little more than just mildly interesting.

Love from Paris, pictures and stories to come.