10:00PM March 29
Now I don't want it to seem that all I do here is travel. That's just where I have the most stimulating experiences. I actually had quite a nice week. John's grandparents came to Florence for the conclusion of their whirlwind tour of eight countries over the past two weeks. John met them in London over Spring Break, and they traveled together across northern Europe. They continued to travel around France while John went back to school, and then they met up again the next weekend in Monaco. Sunday night, upon arriving in Florence, they were gracious enough to treat several of the girls and I to dinner. It was quite a gesture, to which we responded by offering to make a large dinner for the following evening. Although they initially accepted the invitation, we heard from John the next day that they were no longer interested. I have a feeling that spending a second evening with several college students in their apartment was not what they were looking for on their vacation. We'd already prepped much of the big dinner already though, so we still had a feast Monday night. I took another stab at my tiramisu, and I'm happy to report that I really nailed it this time. It continues to get better, and this time it all worked out.
My classes have been really great. In my Italian class we're preparing a concert of sorts for Italian school-children with both American and Italian traditional songs, such as, "I've Been Working On The Railroad." Our big show-stopping number is "Mambo Italiano," and our teacher envisions one of the girls in the class dressing up like Rosemary Clooney, in a great swooping dress. The whole concept has gotten grander with everyday we meet. About two-thirds of the class is made of music students, so she proposed this idea to us in the first week of school. It seems now that every class she brings in a new song that she thinks would be just perfect though. The last one was Cat Stevens' "Wild World." I'd say our repertoire consists of about 12 songs now. At the end of every class we rehearse for at least twenty minutes when she doesn't feel like teaching anymore, and this week that was more like thirty or forty minutes a day. One of the highlights of my week is my Western European Politics class. It's a great mutual learning relationship between us five students and our German teacher (who grew up minutes from the Austrian and Swiss borders.) My guitar lessons have only gotten better too. I feel like I'm making much more progress with this teacher than I have since I got to NYU.
On Wednesday we attended a press conference with Uri Caine, who was in town to premiere his new orchestral arrangement of Beethoven's "Diabelli Variations." Caine is a jazz and classical pianist from Philadelphia, and over the last ten years or so he has taken to melding the two genres, inserting improvisation and modern harmonic schemes into classic works. It was great to hear him talk about his musical philosophies, but unfortunately we weren't able to attend the concert. By that point I was well on my way to Paris. (How awful?)