Archive for May 2013
Be this how it may, both Curio the Elder and Curio the Younger reproached Pompey for having married Caesar’s daughter Julia, when it was because of Caesar, whom he had often despairingly called `Aegisthus’, that he divorced Mucia, mother of his three children. This Aegisthus had been the lover of Agamemnon’s wife Clytaemnestra.
But Marcus Brutus’s mother Servilia was the woman whom Caesar loved best, and in his first consulship he brought her a pearl worth ` 60,000 gold pieces. He gave her many presents during the Civil War, ‘as well as knocking down certain valuable estates to her at a public auction for a song. When surprise was expressed at the low price, Cicero made a neat remark: `It was even cheaper than you think, because a third (tertia) had been discounted.’ Servilia, you see, was also suspected at the time of having prostituted her daughter Tertia to Caesar.
By the way, if I had been born in Roman days, my name would probably be Tertia. BUT I SHOULDA BEEN SECUNDA.
A few more things I’ve learned from Tranquillius: when Caesar was in Africa, everyone thought only a Scipio could win a campaign in Africa. So he took Salvito Scipio with him to Africa. Salvito had horrible hygiene and manners, so Caesar spent the entire campaign making fun of him. I’m about 2/3rds through this reading, and I’m already making a movie montage in my head about Caesar. Now he has a fat, sloppy sidekick name Salvito Scipio.
Further cast members will be created as I continue to do research for my presentation.
So today I walked from my apartment to the Circus Maximus!
It occurs to me that I never show you the ugly parts of Rome. I’m wondering if I should fix that.
I just love the random Virgin and Child image on an electric box in the middle of a bunch of motorcycle dealterships and car parts stores, across the river from a great ruin. It just…it’s just meaningful.
The Tiber River. I know, not a good picture, but I wanted to make sure I had a picture of it.
This picture is included because I think it is pretty.
My first hint that my walk was actually leading somewhere. The sun behind the shadowed ruin helped.
Look both ways before you cross the street!
Now look the other way.
Annnnd the other way.
There’s priests and nuns everywhere in Rome. I guess it makes sense, but, uh, really, everywhere.
It was only a twenty-minute walk across the river, or so said Google Maps, but it turned out to be a thirty-minute walk, plus an additional twenty minutes of wandering around trying to find my art class. At one point I crossed the street and there was Chelsea and Allison, who were also wandering around trying to find the Circus Maximus.
Some graffiti on the Circus Maximus (now that I know it’s the Circus Maximus)
“Why is it not this gigantic ruin?” we kept wondering (some of more coarsely than others
Chelsea), despite all the local’s insistence that the Circus Maximus was not the gigantic ruin. Eventually we realized that the Circus Maximus was the gigantic field right next to the gigantic ruin. The gigantic ruin was the Palantine Hill. Also, our classmates were sitting on the opposite side of the Circus from the ruin. As it turns out, that side of the Circus is the best place to draw the Palantine.
What I was supposed to draw.
What I drew.
This pigeon hung out by my feet long enough for me to try to draw it. It walked away once it realized that I was starting at it, so I couldn’t make it detailed. But still, a very pretty bird who was my buddy for a minute.
What I was supposed to draw.
What I drew. (please ignore the trees, guh, once I started I couldn’t stop even though they were just awful)
What I was supposed to draw.
What I drew.
What I was supposed to draw (for homework).
What I drew.
…Caesar overtook his advanced guard at the river Rubicon, which formed the frontier between Gaul and Italy. Well aware how critical a decision confronted him, he turned to his staff, remarking:
`We may still draw back but, once across that little bridge, we shall have to fight it out’.
As he stood, in two minds, an apparition of superhuman size and beauty was seen sitting on the river bank playing a reed pipe. A party of shepherds gathered around to listen and, when some of Caesar’s men broke ranks to do the same, the apparition snatched a trumpet from one of them, ran down to the river, blew a thunderous blast, and crossed over. Caesar exclaimed:
`Let us accept this as a sign from the Gods, and follow where they beckon, in vengeance on our double-dealing enemies. The die is cast.’
–Tranquilius on Julius Caesar, 31-32
“The die is cast” is one of the most famous Latin quotes — alea jacta est — but really it’s the rest of the quote that caught my attention. Honestly I could not focus on this homework reading last night, but today it’s fascinating. I think I was exhausted from all the physical effort from yesterday. I find myself wondering about Tranquilius. At this point I think he was a supporter of Caesar, a member of the Populus party. I was wondering last night, but today I’m certain. Look at this quote. If he did not think that Caesar’s invasion of Rome was blessed by the gods, why would he depict a beautiful supernatural being leading Caesar to Rome? Keep in mind that in Roman times, beauty equalled goodness.
It’s just such an odd anecdote. I’m surprised I’ve never read it before.
I know these pictures are terrible, but here they are! My first art projects here in Rome. As with the last introductory drawing course I took, we started with blind contour drawing, I guess to build up hand-eye coordination, or to make me hate myself.
My teacher’s biggest issue was that they were too small and too light. Weird.
I bought a bus ticket! It was amazing! Actually it was probably boring for everyone except me. But I was walking along the main avenue after class, thinking about calling my bank, when I saw the tobacco shop. I went inside. You see, they sell bus tickets at tobacco shops. None of the English-speaking websites that I’ve read understand why bus tickets are sold at tobacco shops. One site guessed it’s “a public service.” At the end of the month, they sell the monthly bus tickets, but monthly bus tickets are the best deal, so they sell out fast, so you have to buy them as soon as you can.
“Ciao,” said the clerk. (Hi)
“Ciao,” I said. “Biglietto…crap, what’s the word for month? …per guigno.” (Hi. A ticket…for June.)
“Trenticinque,” he said. (Thirty-five [euro])
I was counting money and hadn’t heard him. “Scusa?” (Pardon?)
“Trenticinque,” he repeated, pointing at the month-long bus ticket he had already gotten out.
I paid with a 50€. He gave me 15€ back.
“Grazie,” I said.
“Ciao,” he said.
“Ciao,” I called as I left the store.
I was just so low-key. I was so proud of myself.
Then I called my bank, then got the email telling me that my luggage was in, so I trudged back to school, wondering why my ankle was starting to hurt. My ankle got worse and worse as I retrieved the luggage, so I took the bus, then the tram, back to my apartment. It takes longer to take public transportation; it’s a twenty-minute walk, and the busses are really inconsistent about showing up. But my ankle was killing me, so I opted to take public transportation.
Everyone on the Italian public transportation system was super nice. They saw that I was bogged down with luggage. One man helped me get my luggage off the bus. On the tram, an older gentleman offered me his seat because he saw I was struggling. After two stops on the tram, I started to look around, realizing that I might miss my bus.
The little old lady standing next to me tapped my shoulder. “Quali?” (which one?)
I told her what street I live on. It’s right off of the main thoroughfare that the tram was on, so I could use it as a landmark easily, but there’s a lot of apartments on the street, so I didn’t have to worry about someone breaking into my apartment just because they knew what street I live on.
“Questi,” she said. (this one)
“Oh!” I said. “Grazie!”
Italian people are so nice.
When I got home that evening, my ankle was straight-up murdering me, so I stepped into the kitchen where I had put the painkillers earlier. Nicole was cooking pasta.
“I’m making that kind of pasta,” she gestured at a bag of pasta sitting on the counter, “And alfredo sauce.”
“Are you making the alfredo from scratch?” I asked. I was genuinely curious. I’ve heard of people making alfredo from scratch, but it’s in the realm of mythology.
She laughed. “Nope! I’m a terrible cook. We bought some alfredo sauce at the supermarket.” She nodded towards the fridge and continued to stare at the water, which was refusing to boil. I swallowed the painkillers and investigated the pasta. They appeared to be just flour and water. I approved.
After a moment she complained that the water wasn’t boiling fast enough. I put a top on the pot to contain the energy and get it to boil sooner. I sat with my leg up to rest my ankle. We chatted for a bit about the day’s classes and learning Italian. She, Deanna, and Sarah are all taking an Italian language course.
Once the water was boiling and the pasta in the water, she took out two containers of alfredo sauce. We struggled to open the containers, before we finally resorted to stabbing them. It made her laugh.
“This alfredo sauce is awfully hard,” she said. “Should I cook it? Maybe just on low heat, so it melts a little?”
“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea,” I said, settling back into my chair and putting my foot back up.
After a few minutes of chatting, she said, “It looks weird. Come look.”
I looked. It looked like white rice sitting in canola oil.
“Turn the heat off and whisk it for a bit,” I said. “It should reconfigure again.”
She did. But I got curious, and checked out the containers in the trash. Crema al formaggio. I looked up the translation online.
“That’s cream cheese,” I said. “Not alfredo sauce.”
We looked at each other and laughed.
“We’ll serve it to them anyway,” Nicole said. “They won’t know the difference, right?”
“I guess not,” I said. We laughed a bit more about how obvious it should have been. It was so hard in the container, after all!
Sarah wandered into the kitchen to get some wine. “How’s it going guys?”
“Great,” said Nicole.
Then we laughed histerically. Sarah gave us a look and left.
Then after a moment I looked up cream cheese and alfredo sauce and discovered that cream cheese can actually be a base for really cheap alfredo sauce. All we needed was milk, butter, parmesan, garlic powder, and pepper. I grabbed the garlic powder and pepper that Sarah and I had bought yesterday. Nicole shook some into the cream cheese.
“Do we have milk and butter and parmesan?”
I looked. We were already out of milk. “We have mozzarella,” I said.
“Can we use that?”
“Sure,” I said, although I wasn’t sure. “It’ll just act as a thickening agent.”
I cut a slice of the mozzarella and tossed it in the pot. Nicole and I watched it boil.
The concoction was ultimately thin, but pretty tasty. Deanna made a salad as a side. It was a pretty good dinner overall.
So I’ve tried my hand at Italian a few times today! I’ve found that asking for directions is super simple “Dov’e (whatever I’m looking for)?” They answer, but then also point, and I, uh, I understand the pointing. So I say “grazie!” and head in the direction they point. I’m totally learning Italian, guys.
The sandwich shop just outside the school had two employees working, one who spoke decent English and the other who didn’t. The one who spoke only Italian worked the sandwich section. It was mezzogiorno so the restaurant was busy. We poked around, trying to figure out what we wanted.
Ayini said, “I just want turkey. Kelsey, what’s Italian for turkey?”
“I have no idea,” I said. “I know the Italian for pork though.”
“What is it?”
“Porco. It’s like ‘pork,’ but with an O.”
“So if I said ‘No porko,’ they’d understand that I don’t want pork?”
“Yes,” I said, having no idea if that was true.
When Ayini got to order, she said, “I want a sandwich. No porko.”
The woman stared blankly.
“A sandwich,” Ayini said. She pointed at a sandwich that she thought looked good. I searched desperately in my brain for the word for sandwich. Panino? Were all sandwiches called panini?
The woman took a sandwich out.
“Does it have porko in it?” Ayini asked.
The woman looked at it. Then she looked at Ayini.
“That one,” Ayini pointed at another sandwich.
The woman sighed. “Le pesce?” she asked.
Fortunately I had already taught the girls le pesce means “fish.” “Yeah,” Ayini said. “Si. Grazie.”
“Toasted?” This appeared to be the only English the woman knew.
“Si,” Ayini said. “Grazie.” (yes, thank you.)
I knew which sandwich I wanted when I ordered. “Mozzarella e pomodoro, por favor.” (Mozzarella and tomato, please) (the please is in Spanish)
She looked confused.
“Mozzarella e pomodoro,” I pointed at the sandwich. Then I added, “Per favora.” (Mozzarella and tomato, please) (the please is in Italian)
“Scusa?” (Excuse me/Sorry)
“Per favora,” I said. “Mozzarella e pomodoro.” (Please. Mozzarella and tomato)
She picked up a sandwich from the bottom shelf. I wanted one on the top shelf.
“No, no,” I said. “Sopra.” (Above)
She stared at me, her brows furrowed with confusion.
“Sopra,” I said again, and pointed to the sandwich through the counter. By god, I had no idea what else to say besides “above.” Eventually she figured out what sandwich I wanted because I pointed at it enough times, and then she toasted it for me.
“Due e diecotto,” she said. I handed over my final 5€ bill. (Two [euro] and eighteen [cents])
“Prego,” she said as she handed it over. I was at that point not really sure if I could say anything properly anymore and just smiled.
My next real chance to speak Italian came from trying to find matches. We couldn’t find them at the grocery store. I asked a clerk “Scusa, dov’è la sale?” (Excuse me, where is the salt?) He gestured to the other half of the store. That gesture was not helpful for once. I said, “Scusa, dov’è…” then I gestured striking a match. He glared at me and went back to stocking.
So we went to la farmacia (the pharmacy) for matches. I said to the Chinese clerk, “Dov’è…” and gestured like a match. Sarah then mimed a lighter and made a lighter noise. The clerk nodded and pointed to all the lighters literally sitting next to her on the desk. We made noises of delight, because now we could cook! All of Rome is set up with gas stoves and gas heating, but you have to light the gas yourself. On our way back, Sarah spotted a tub of fresh basil in a planter’s pot. We picked it up and went inside to pay.
“Buonasera,” I said. (good evening)
The clerk nodded and said, “Sera.” (evening)
We gestured at the basil.
“Due e cinquanta,” he said. (two [euro] and fifty [cents])
But I had misheard him and handed over 2.20€, expecting to get five cents back. He straight-up glared at me. Like, for real glared at me. Sarah would comment on it on the way back to the apartment.
“Due e cinquanta,” he repeated.
“Oh!” I said, and dug through my wallet for a 50 cent coin. He slid the 20 cent coin back to me and that was that.
I felt embarrassed about my mishearing and almost left wordlessly. But he called, “Ciao!” to us, and we returned the valediction. It’s a casual way to say goodbye. I felt better after that.
The rest of this entry is pictures of my study abroad so far.
Hello, Montreal (briefly)!
Honestly it was weird being on Air Canada. All their in-flight magazines were in English and French, and their measurements were in Celsius and meters. So I would read an article about how you could visit the Salt Flats of Bolivia, and if you were nice to the locals, you could soak in their natural hot springs, which were 40 degrees celsius and super comfy. My immediate reaction was “What! 40 degrees sounds awful!” Then I realized that 40 degrees celsius is 104 degrees fahrenheit. I would rather have that.
Also my luggage experience is not unique, judging from what other American University students have said. Oh well, my suitcases will be here tomorrow.
This was my first glimpse of Italy.
These are the only decent photos of the literally dozens I took on the ride from Fiumicino Airport to my apartment. I was just excited to be in Rome!
Here is my bedroom. I chose the only single-bed room. I was the fourth girl to show up, so it was either take the single room or share with another girl. Quite frankly, I don’t like sharing rooms. I value quiet and privacy and the ability to change clothes in the bedroom, not the bathroom. Plus, it’s right next to a bathroom and the kitchens.
The common areas — kitchen, foyer, living room. You’ll notice there’s no carpeting. Apparently they’re harder to keep clean from all the dust and sand that sweeps into Rome periodically. They also keep cool better in the heat. However, it gets very noisy when you walk, so there are mandatory quiet hours from 10:00 to 7:00 every evening. You try not to run any water (water runs through noisy pipes) and you wear slippers to hide the sound of your footsteps. Most people just go to sleep. Violating quiet hours is a pretty common reason that American students are complained about.
The view from our apartments.
I took these pictures today, but not a lot has changed. Today was sunnier and I was thinking about making this entry anyway. Also, I’ve cleaned up my room more now. It’s such a small room that even a small mess makes the whole room look messy. But all the shelving around the bed makes it feel like a bunk, like in a submarine.
Just waiting for the bus after dumping my carry-on bag at the apartment. I couldn’t think of what else to do, so I headed to the school. We had to go there for the requisite tour anyway, although it wasn’t for several hours. There were other American University folks headed the same direction. One of them, Mike, was super nice and showed me around the streets outside the school, showing me how to order and where to order and what to order. He also gave me directions to a thrift store where I could find cheap used clothes. Thanks, Mike! I hope you have fun in California!
I took these pictures while wandering around campus. It’s actually very tiny. There are three buildings and that garden you see in the second picture there. The first is the view from a terrace in one of the classrooms. The last is the view of the entrance to the building next door. The three buildings combined have the capacity of one of the older buildings on campus, like West or Kruger. There’s only about 200 students who study there.
Yield to love.
You can get this great view of Rome from the top of these steps near the University. Below, about half of the students attending this Study Abroad session enjoy the view.
Next we did a walk through Rome. The purpose was to teach us how to walk through Rome and how to use the busline. We ended up at the Colosseum during sunset.
Walking the streets of Rome.
Bussing the streets of Rome.
Look at this! It’s Largo di Torre Argentina. It’s just an ancient historic, just hanging out like it ain’t no thang. It’s the site of ancient Roman temples and the Theater of Pompey. Somewhere in this picture is the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated. It is now a no-kill cat shelter.
I know what you’re thinking. “Kelsey, did you travel 8000 miles so you could take pictures of cats?”
YES. YES I DID.
Also I took pictures of Rome, honest!
I’m not sure what this building is. I think it’s the war museum? I remember visiting a war museum that looked similar to this last time I visited Rome, when I was with Beth and Lacey. Also the second picture is a good indication of why I prefer to be behind the camera. I just do not smile well.
Hahaha, look at this grandiose old-timey architecture. Italians, always trying to recrea– what is that?
What is that???
I must go to it. It calls me.
Gaze in wonder as it glows in the evening sun!
Its glory is awesome to behold! I can feel it in my soul!
THE COLOSSEUM. Bellum et beatum! Ubi gladiatoren pro popula amore pugnanno.
I could touch it, if it weren’t closed.
Look at those holes! Those are where the Italians drilled into the concrete to take out the steel bearings. That is why part of the Colosseum has collapsed: there’s nothing holding up the concrete. The part that is still standing still has the steel from when the Romans built it.
RAR I AM A GLADIATOR I WILL FIGHT YOU UNTIL YOU BLEED (I also had a nicer picture of me taken but nope!)
(there were also other ruins along the way but I’ll save those until I revisit the Palatine Hill)
Sunset on the Palatine.
Modern Rome itself is so pretty though. There’s just something special about it. Small things just seem to be set aside for people to enjoy, like this bridge.
Also we could see the sunset on the Colosseum from the restaurant where we ate dinner.
The view and the food was glorious. I had lasagna al ragu.
The Colosseum is just gorgeous.
So here I am. I am in Rome. I’ve taken some pictures, but so far they are all terrible. I think that’s because I was trying to take pictures from the car driving me to gli appartamenti from l’aeroporto, and highway pictures in a moving car are always terrible. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take some more pictures from my apartment, and of my apartment. My apartment is super cute and so are the buildings nearby.
I’ve already had some conversations in Italian! Sort of.
My first attempt at a conversation in Italian was with the customs officer at the airport. I was feeling very nervous and anxious, and I’m pretty certain he never looked at me. I kind of mumbled “buongiorno” at him, and he didn’t respond. He stamped my passport and handed it back to me. I muttered “grazie” and left.
And then somewhere in between that “conversation” and this next conversation I realized that my baggage was lost. You see, although I made sure to arrive in DC on time, my plane to Montreal did not arrive on time. We left an hour late. I ended up making the mad dash across the Montreal terminal to customs to the next gate so I could make my plane. I didn’t even have time to take a picture of a mounted bear wearing a mountie costume! My luggage didn’t make it in time, and so I am in Rome without 7/8ths of the stuff I packed for Rome.
I did feel pretty cool when I was standing pointlessly in front of the baggage claim carousel. The sign in front of me said Noi siamo sicura, which means we are safe. Hah. Conosco italiano.
After I was shown into il mio appartamento, I decided to venture out and buy toiletries and some sort of food. I approached the doorman. We have a doorman. He wears ordinary clothing and a sour complexion. I’m pretty certain he could break my spine without trying.
I asked, “Dov’e uno supermercado?”
He gestured down the street and said some words, and I got the gist of it. It was up the block and then I turned left.
“Grazie,” I said.
Then I wandered up the street. I hadn’t eaten in several hours, and I passed a butcher shop on the way to the supermarket. Nummm. I nearly went inside. I don’t know what kind of cooking materials we have in the kitchen yet.
I felt bad buying a whole bunch of American brands from the supermarket, but I totally bought a whole bunch of American brands from the supermarket. Except for the deodorant. I experimented a bit with that. And I guess technically the toothbrush (spazzolino da denti) was Italian as well.
My next conversation was with the cashier and it was a total failure. She ended up speaking English at me. “Do you want a bag?”
“Si,” I tried lamely to hold onto my Italian. “Grazie.”
The next conversation was in a pizza shop, just around the corner from my apartment. I completely blanked on how to order food. We spent a whole week on ordering food in Italy, and I just did not know what to say. I ended up just pointed at a pizza. It was a long pizza, which they would cut a certain portion of, then fold it over so you ate it like a sandwich. I let them choose how much pizza to give me. He pointed at the amount on the till as he said “Due e diecotto.”
I’ll get the hang of this Italian thing I swear.
Next stop, I think, is American University, but first, a nap.
I had a fruitful day of not packing, although everything is now organized and ready to be put into suitcases, I’m just scared of jinxing everything by actually putting it into the suitcase. My family then put me through the most rigorous ultra-American experience ever. Technically it was for my dad’s birthday. Technically. He doesn’t like celebrating his birthday, so every year we do his favorite things and don’t mention his birthday except for a “happy birthday” at dinner (which always has his favorite foods). So for multiple reasons I could pretend it was for my country-leaving benefit.
My aunt, uncle, and I drove in a gigantic SUV to Starbucks, where we ordered from a drive-thru.
I ordered a white chocolate mocha and got a venti chocolate mocha instead. Oops. I put it down when I realized what happened. Fortunately I didn’t get sick.
Then we ate at a Mexican restaurant. Do they have Mexican restaurants in Rome? Is that a thing? That they would enjoy?
Then we did something not so ultra-American and walked along the canal, which was lovely.
Followed by a baseball game, because America (and Dad).
We also won handily, yay! There were other things to keep us occupied though. When the teams are switching places, the cheerleaders try all sorts of shenanigans to keep the excitement going. Like sheep-racing.
All in all, a good, all-American day was had with the family.
Things that I have done today:
-Fed my beardies
Things that I have not done today:
-Packed my suitcase for my study abroad in Italy, which I am leaving for tomorrow.
I am a successful adult.
This was worth my time.