The Italian Dream

The Italian Dream

I want to live in Italy. I don’t really care where, as long as it’s near an airport and not too far from the coast. It would be easy to do soon, given the boyfriend’s job, if I found a job myself. I am, by virtue of my mother’s lineage, eligible for an Italian passport and dual citizenship, which would make the whole thing so much easier.

I don’t think I’d like to stay there indefinitely, but then again, maybe I would. It’s a discussion I don’t need to have yet. I would love to live there, in “sunny Italy.” I would be alone much of the time, but I could make friends, whether citizens or expats or both. My Italian language skills have increased by leaps and bounds, and I know if I lived there I could even speak passably. My reading, writing, and aural comprehension are decent, I think.

I can only think of three jobs as a native English speaker with elementary-intermediate Italian skills that could help sustain us: tutoring, nannying, and/or freelance writing. Of course, if we wanted to stay longer, I would inevitably learn more of the language, and could perhaps get a regular job, but I think we’d eventually end up returning to the States.

Have any of you lived abroad? What did you do for a job? What did you like about it? What didn’t you? Let me know in the comments!

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Monthly Goals for March

Monthly Goals for March

A new month has begun. How is it March already?! Here in the DC area March is practically spring, though yesterday and today have been bitterly cold. Next week should be better, and hopefully from there, as they said in the new Mary Poppins movie, there’s nowhere to go but up.

I have a few goals for the month of March. I hope to accomplish them in the next twenty-six days. It’s a reasonable request, but we’ll see. I’ll try not to beat myself up about it if I don’t accomplish them all.

This month, I’m going to try to blog five days a week. I’m shooting for Monday-Friday. I’ve noticed that when I sit down, determined to create, I typically do, almost prolifically. Writing leads to more writing, which leads to more content.

I’m also going to catch up on my journal entries. As a busy woman, I have a habit of typing my journal entries, promising myself to write them out in the paper-and-ink journal soon after. You can imagine how well this has gone lately, I’m sure. I just checked, and my last written entry is from September 14, 2018. I don’t journal daily, perhaps on average weekly, but it has been a few weeks since that one in mid-September.

I am going to finish the two library books that I checked out and mentioned in a previous post, and get more, and finish them too. Along that line, I am also going to read more blogs, a habit I have never truly had, but probably should begin.

Lastly, at least for this list, I’m going to begin working out at least three times a week again. I’ll work my way up to five days. I don’t care how long it takes. I need to exercise, for my physical, mental, and emotional health. I do exercise at work, where I regularly walk a few miles while lifting ten or more pounds over my head. But work doesn’t supply me with as many hours as I need to exercise.

These are some of my March goals. Do you have any monthly goals? Let me know how they’re going in the comments!

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

(DISCLAIMER: Spoilers!)

I recently saw the sequel to Mamma Mia! And boy, do I have a lot of feelings about it. Some are positive, some are negative.

Let us begin with the title of the movie: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. At first glance, this is simply a clever way to name a sequel besides putting a number at the end of the original title. But, as any ABBA fan knows, it is a lyric from the song “Mamma Mia.”

Some of the songs in the sequel were the same as those used in the first musical, but there were many others, mostly lesser-known, used as well. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is more music-heavy than the original, whose songs were clearly picked from ABBA’s greatest hits.

I fell in love with Donna in this movie, which was not helped by the fact that she was played by my very favorite actress, Lily James. James is not only a good actress, singer, and dancer, she is also gorgeous and one of the few non-natural blondes who can pull off blonde hair. Donna played by James in this prequel/sequel was utterly charming. She was sweet, reckless, romantic, adventurous, and ambitious – a devastating mixture. No wonder she had three men fall completely in love with her over a period of a week or two. Frankly, I’m quite surprised it wasn’t more.

But. There were a few issues I had with the movie in relation to its original. Firstly, in the original Mamma Mia! movie it is mentioned that Donna’s mother instills “Catholic guilt” in her. This seems unlikely, as it is revealed in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again that Donna’s mother is largely absent, performing in Las Vegas to adoring crowds. Not to make assumptions, but if Donna’s mother was constantly playing Vegas, she was most likely not a regular church-goer, because of her schedule. More likely and more defensible is the fact that if Donna’s mother was constantly performing and jetting off all over the world, she wasn’t with Donna enough to instill an innate sense of guilt based on Catholicism within her daughter.

Then there was my biggest issue: the timeline. The original stage musical took place in the nineties, which made sense, as Donna was supposed to have had Sophie very young in the late seventies/early eighties. This time period was the one during which ABBA was most popular. Sophie in the original movie is twenty years old, placing the original around the turn of the twenty-first century. In the sequel, Donna graduates college, then goes on to have Sophie soon after. So, assuming Donna is twenty-two or twenty-three when she has Sophie, when Sophie is getting married at twenty Donna should only be in her early forties. This is confusing, because she was played by the then-fifty-nine-year-old Meryl Streep (though I will admit I really love and admire her immense talent). Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again supposedly takes place five years after Mamma Mia!, but the technology is quite advanced, with many of the characters using some of the latest iPhones. Amanda Seyfried, who plays Sophie in both movies, while beautiful and still rather young, does not look ten years after the original movie like she is a twenty-five-year-old – mainly because she is not a twenty-five-year-old. All in all the timeline and casting were so messed up and confusing that the combination truly upset me, which distracted me from enjoying the movie a little bit.

Another, much smaller issue, was the fact that playboy Bill mentioned an elderly aunt on the island, and in the first movie it is explained that Donna inherited the inn she runs from an elderly woman she cared for on the island for the beginning of Sophie’s life. This elderly aunt never appears but in passing mention in the second movie, and Donna is given the inn by a kind middle-aged local woman.

In the end, the music was excellent, the visuals were stunning, the acting was good, the dancing great, the story incredibly touching. I definitely found myself stifling sobs in the theater during the end of the movie, something that has only happened once before during The Fault in Our Stars (but that was an open sobbing).

I would recommend this movie a million times over. It was fun and pretty and good. And, if it had major flaws, these flaws did not prevent enjoyment of the movie too much. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a movie that I am glad I saw in theaters, whose soundtrack I listen to ad nauseum, and a DVD I will ask for for Christmas. That is my recommendation.

Did you see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again? Did you like it? Did you find any of the flaws or more than I found?

Unintelligible

Unintelligible

Since I got to UNCG, I’ve intended to submit some writing or photography to the Coraddi, the on-campus student-run literary and art magazine. I picked one up at the festival on Tate street this past weekend, and just sat down and raced my way through it. But now that I’ve consumed the whole thing, I’m rethinking the submission.

Almost all the art in the magazine was excellent, whether copies of student-made paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, or what-have-you. Much of the writing chosen to publish was in the form of poems. Note that I used that phrase, rather than the loaded word “poetry.” I don’t wish for anyone to mistake my meaning.

Now, let me preface this by saying there is some fine work in the magazine I just finished perusing. There is a story depicting dementia that is touching without being cheesy, interesting without being exploitative, and accurate, as accurate as is possible. My favorite writer who was featured in the magazine, whom I cannot locate online but to whom I would like to give a shoutout, had two pieces in this fall 2016 edition. Because I do not have this person’s permission to use their name, I will just name the titles of the pieces: “Young American Dragons,” and “Young Women Grow like Weeds.” They were sparse in the amount of words, but each word was clearly carefully chosen. The imagery was gorgeous, the subjects appropriate for a college student writer beginning to think not more deeply about things, but to take ownership of these deeper themes and ingratiate them into the self.

However, these three instances were outliers, as I was not impressed with most of the written work in this edition. As I said before, the vast majority of the published written submissions were poems, but this does not mean they were poetry. Now, before you accuse me of being a purist, an old-fashioned English major snob, let me inform you that some of my favorite poetry in the world is free-verse, or at least does not rhyme. Much of the poetry in the first issue of the 119th volume of the Coraddi was free verse, but this was not the problem. The problem was that it was mostly composed of phrases, completely unrelated not only to each other, but also from descriptor to object. This is fine when done well, and/or for a purpose. But it seemed in the majority of these cases that these poems were attempts to seem artistic or brilliant or innovative, when they were, truly, none of the above. They were chaotic and unintelligible.

Of course, there were simple grammatical and spelling errors, easily found and easy to fix. I can’t imagine why any existed, as the magazine is published only twice a year. It would seem to me that would be plenty of time to correct grammatical and spelling errors, especially when it comes to the names of the authors or artists. Hopefully this is now much less of an issue, as the Coraddi is no longer published in print, but rather is entirely online.

What do you think? Should I submit to the on-campus literary and art magazine? Would it help me professionally? Leave a comment down below!

 

My Writing – Again

I don’t know what to write. I want to write – I always want to write. What is it about putting words on paper that I love so deeply? What is it, exactly? Is it the baring of my soul in the form of a story or just an essay? Is it the representation of life, as it could be and as it is? Is it the fact that I can bring beauty, or truth, through the writing?

Maybe it’s all those things. Maybe it’s none of them. Maybe I’m talented; maybe I’m not. I’m not sure, myself. I’d like to think I have a little gift, but then again, I’d also love to be a great, and I don’t know that that is in the cards for me, as a writer. I guess it’s as much in the cards for me as anything else I’m good at doing. I’m good at a lot of things, but because I’ve had natural ability, I haven’t worked hard on anything, really, in my life. I didn’t work hard at singing, or piano, or science, or math, or drawing. I have always skated on by on my natural affinity for those things, and I know I can do so no longer if I want to go any further.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’ve realized that I can’t just skate by on talent and bullsh*t anymore. I could, but I probably wouldn’t go very far, and I’d certainly like to. I’ve also gotten to a point where I am very open to and interested in constructive criticism and good feedback, and the current tendency to tell me simply that something is “good” is not doing it for me. I know I’ll never be great if I don’t practice, which I do, constantly; but, I also know I’ll never be great without someone to shake up my world and my art with a fresh perspective, or even just to tweak it to make it something more interesting, more beautiful, more meaningful, more true – any or all of the above.

I don’t know what to write. But something is in me. There is a story – or stories – to be told. I have to finish the ones I’ve started, though. Even if they’re never published, even if they’re absolute trash, at least I’ll have finished them. At least I’ll have practiced.

 

Shallow Is Important, Too

I feel there is a pervasive school of thought that believes that people should only nourish their deeper selves. While it is important to nourish the finer thoughts and feelings one has, it is also important to nourish the shallower parts of the person.

For example: you aren’t with your partner (if you have one) simply because they look a certain way – at least I hope you aren’t – and you aren’t with them simply because they have a lot of things in common with you. You’re hopefully with your partner because you not only find in them a good, compatible friend, but also a physically attractive human being. It’s important to have things in common and to get along with your significant other. It’s also important to be attracted to them physically. Does being with your significant other because you’re both attracted to them (shallower) and compatible with them (deeper) make you shallow or deep? It makes you both – you can be both! You are a multifaceted, multilayered human being. Both these things – physical attraction and compatibility – are important to maintain a happy relationship.

In another vein, it’s okay to enjoy things that aren’t necessarily “of substance.” The idea that only books or movies or what-have-you that are exigent is an old one. Victorians looked down on novel readers, because novels typically didn’t have a point other than to entertain. But that’s okay. It’s okay to like things that don’t teach you some kind of lesson! It’s okay to like things that are just fun – you’re allowed to have fun! Things that are just fun, or pretty, or entertaining, are good and valid too.

So, it’s okay read Dostoevsky, but it’s also okay to read a romance novel, or two or three. You are a multilayered, multifaceted human being. Don’t just attend to one part of your being and starve another. This goes both ways: don’t starve your deeper self to feed the more shallow part of the self, and don’t starve your more shallow self because you think it doesn’t need nourishment. It does.

Go read War and Peace, or US Weekly. Watch Citizen Kane or Pitch Perfect. Go volunteer at a homeless shelter, or go swimming. Do what makes your soul happy, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.

15 Facts about Me!

15 Facts about Me!
  1. I am a synesthete. (See earlier post on synesthesia.) My favorite color is cerulean blue. To me, the color represents joy and excitement, and the warmth and relaxation of the beach.
  2. Starting from a very young age, I was obsessed with the Titanic. I even met Bob Ballard and got his signed book (thanks mom!). To this day, I am still captivated by it, and Titanic the Musical is one of my favorites.
  3. My maternal great-grandparents came from Mariglianella, Italy, in the 1920s. My dad’s family has been in the U.S. for a long time, and they are mostly German-American. My dad’s surname is an Americanization of a German surname. Last Christmas my dad gave my sister and me a gift that proves we are Daughters of the American Revolution!
  4. I am a natural blonde. Until I was fifteen my hair turned almost white every summer. Also, my mother refused to do anything past trimming my hair for the first seven years of my life. I guess she couldn’t bear to cut the long, white-blonde curls.
  5. I am a lyric coloratura soprano. I studied vocal performance at Elon University for almost two years under Beth Carter’s instruction. I have sung in the Kennedy Center twice, and Carnegie Hall once, both times in choirs.
  6. I have broken my fifth metatarsal in each foot – on separate occasions, first in 2013 and the other in 2017.
  7. I love flowers. My favorite are pale pink peonies, though I also love roses, daisies, tulips, magnolia, cosmos, anemone, and hydrangea. (Thanks dad, for always bringing in your flowers from the yard.)
  8. My favorite book is the unabridged Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, though I haven’t read every page since the first read-through, because I learned which chapters I can skip. Les Miserables is also my favorite musical.
  9. I love to cook and bake, especially with unconventional combinations. One of my favorites is blackberry, ginger, and dijon on chicken, or chili powder on butternut squash.
  10. I love big band swing. I used to love the WAMU radio show, “Hot Jazz Saturday Night,” and looked forward to it every week, before it was cancelled.
  11. I’m currently in love with the TV show The Bold Type, which airs on Freeform. I love that it depicts strong female characters who support each other and lift each other up and make each other better people.
  12. On October 3rd, I will have been in a relationship with the love of my life for three and a half years. He is handsome, charming, funny, hard-working, supportive, loving, adorable, and crazy intelligent. He makes me a better me.
  13. My best friend and I have been best friends our entire lives. I cannot say enough good things about her, ever. She is beautiful, smart, strong, utterly hilarious, and quirky.
  14. I want to learn to crochet. I know how to knit (badly), but I’m told crochet is easier. It certainly looks more interesting.
  15. When I was a kid, I collected foreign coins. Friends and family heard about this, and assisted me in my collecting whenever they came back from overseas. Some of the coins are from countries that no longer exist, and I have no idea how many countries all these coins are from.