Day 25

Posted by Whit Barringer , Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:05 AM


CT 6:35 P.M.
IT 1:33 A.M.

Concerts and Kebabs.

Today was at least more eventful than yesterday, though it wouldn’t seem so at first glance.
This morning Rachel and I got around to meet at the school at 10:00. We ran a bit early, but it was kind of fun to just talk along the way. When we got to the school, we went inside and sat down, waiting on everyone else. When 10:00 came and went, we decided to go ahead and call Dr. Bane. I made Rachel do it because I didn’t feel like it, so the contents of the conversation had to be relayed to me. Paulette answered and asked why we didn’t get the text message. Then we both reminded her that my screen is messed up and Rachel’s phone has been lost to the depths of the Adriatic Sea (we think). She said that we didn’t have class until 2, so we basically had a free day. We had gotten around for nothing.

With some deliberation we decided to go up to the breakroom and finish working on our presentation. It didn’t take long, but we didn’t have anything else to do. We decided to call Halley on my broken phone. I could in the LCD strips that I could do a search feature, which I tried to do. I pressed call and handed it back to Rachel. It was Dr. Bane instead. Feeling like idiots, we got Halley’s number to find her. I called and she said that everyone else was still asleep but that she decided to go out and about. She told us to meet her at Piazza Signoria (which, by my approximation, is two feet from the school…. Approximately.). When we met up, someone had the bright idea to go and do the rest of our shopping at the San Lorenzo market.
When we got there, both of us started looking at wallets for people. They were very expensive (25 Euro for leather wallets made in Italy that were big enough to fit a checkbook in). Rachel was looking for a t-shirt for her sister, and I was looking to knock out some of the people on my list. That was all. I found a pair of “David” boxers (the statue’s nether regions are printed on both sides) and a “Ciao Bella” shirt for my mom’s friend’s daughter. A man tried to talk us into going to his stand. All I said was, “Buongiorno,” and he started talking to us in English. When we kept walking, he said, “No English? Dutch?” Halley and I just collapsed into giggles.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it already, but I have been looking frantically for a leather bag. I want one to look professional, hold some books, and be relatively cheap. My roommate talked someone down from over 100 Euro down to 40, but I’m not that savvy. I saw what I wanted though. An aura was shining behind it. But I knew it was too much so I walked on.

It began to bug me in the back of my mind. As I watched the other two shop, I started to feel antsy. I had been wanting it since I arrived in Italy. Since I saw my roommates green leather bag, I knew I wanted one. So I went back to the stand and asked how much (“Quanto?”). The man answered me in Italian (which is the fifth time I’ve been mistaken for such – kind of feels good). When he switched into English, he said 85 Euro. I shook my head, knowing that I could only put that much on a credit card and I didn’t really want to do that. Then he said, “if you’ll come with me, I have one that has more than one pocket. This one? Only one. The one I have is bigger. I’ll sell this one for 75, or you can take the other one which is usually 98 for 85.” I went with him to the store and fell in love with the bag immediately. It wasn’t huge, but it would fit what I needed (and would make me greatly reduce my carry load). He gave me the whole sales schtick: it’s made in Tuscany, really fine leather (and indeed it is), adjustable strap, and five pockets. I agreed to it. He charged it, and I walked away with a new bag.

Then I started feeling queasy in that special way that only happens when you’ve spent too much. I knew I loved the bag, but I wasn’t sure I had done the right thing. Shouldn’t I have tried to talk him down? He went down within the first few seconds of talking, so I certainly could have gotten him lower. Then I realized I had charged it, and usually vendors can only be talked down with cash. I cursed my luck but at the same time started feeling better for the bag. When I saw Dr. Bane that afternoon, he said that I had gotten a great price – which made me feel even better.

Rachel and I kept losing Halley in the market, but we finally met up long enough to part ways officially. Dr. Bane needed Rachel to find a receipt, so she went back to the apartment while Halley and I went to the Piazza Signoria to sit. She wrote in her journal while I read. She started eating, but a man came up to us and asked us if we spoke English. He then told us that we couldn’t eat near the statues – only water. So Halley had to sacrifice lunch for her seat, and we both sat amongst a mixture of 1st century and Renaissance sculpture.

At 1:00 I went ahead and went to the school, leaving Halley behind. When Rachel finally showed up (without the receipt that Dr. Bane needed), we wrote on the board the poems we were going to go over during class. I obsessed even more with my bag. Luckily Dr. Bane reassured me, as I mentioned earlier, and was surprised that I had gotten the reduced price even when I used a credit card.

Then Rachel and I did our presentation, which was actually really quick but sort of interesting (the poems we picked were almost definitely the best – Dr. Bane agreed). For instance:

Shall I each springtime
see flowery shadows floating
on the flowing stream,
and drench my sleeve in water that
refuses to be plucked?

In the waking world
you must, I suppose, take care,
but how it pains me
that you should keep out of sight
even in the realm of dreams.

And my favorite:

Pillows know, they say,
so we slept without one.
Why then do rumors
like swirling pillars of dust
rise as high as the heavens.

Very nice, right?

Anyway, after our presentation we wrapped up both classes. Dr. Bane took polls over the books we liked best and least. To his disappointment, I was the only one that liked If on a winter’s night a traveler (even though I didn’t get to finish it). When class was over, he told us to meet him at the school at 8:45 and we would go to some place special. All excited about the surprise, we all went our separate ways. Kim, Caitlin, Halley, and Natalie went to San Lorenzo again, but Rachel and I went back to the apartment. I have no idea what she did because I was “laaaaaame” and went to bed. I was exhausted, but it turned out to be a bad idea because of the heat.

Anyway, we headed toward the school. We went a weird way that we hadn’t gone yet and ran across Kate, Kara, and Megan. We waited on everyone. I gave Megan back her iPod, charged (she had given it to me earlier for that very reason). We all followed Dr. Bane to our destination – which happened to be one of the nightly concerts at a nearby church. The concerts go nightly and the proceeds go toward restoring the church (Dr. Bane said that some of the proceeds go to help the church where Beatrice is buried).

The concert was very good. Selections included Vivaldi, Bach, Schubert, and Mozart. They got a standing ovation and actually did a very beautiful encore. They announced it in Italian, but I have no idea what it was and wish I did. After the concert, which was a treat for all of us I think, Dr. Bane invited to go get gelato. I started to go with him, but I found out the others were going to get Doner Kebabs, which I can’t turn down. So I went with all of “the girls” to the kebab place near where we live (called “Mesopotamian Kebabs”) and mostly got doner kebabs con formaggio. Most of us agreed that it was our absolute favorite Mesopotamian/Egyptian/Middle Eastern place to eat that we’ve tried thus far. While we were ordering our kebabs, a drunk American came in and tried to cut in front of us so he could get a kebab. The man behind the counter told him no, ladies first, and took all six or seven of our orders before the other guy. The drunk cursed at him and said, “Dude, I gotta sober up to call my parents.” From the way he looked, no amount of kebab could do the trick.

We all talked about how good the kebabs were and miscellaneous subjects. We made tentative plans for tomorrow night since we have the first final tomorrow. I’ve decided not to study for it because it looks like it will be cheese compared to other tests I’ve taken. I read enough and listened enough to know. I’m not worried.

When I came back to the apartment, I started finishing the myriad entries I hadn’t gotten around to. Before I did today’s, I went ahead and took a bath, since the Italian mosquitos are like Italian lovers (contrary to how it looks, that is not a favorable comparison) and I needed some relief. Afterwards, I wrote this entry. And now I will finish it with a smirk of triumph that I’m caught up on all my personal entries.

Well, I am smirking.

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