Sunday Lunch

Less than 10 minutes by bike from door to door (unless we hit the light at sant’anna), we have the perfect lunch awaiting us every Sunday. Walking up the stairs brings on the aroma from the kitchen that loftily floats down the hallway beckoning our rumbling bellies.

The tables is always set the same: three place settings, two across from each other and the third at the head of the table. From day one my seat was assigned and has yet to change more than a year later. The same bottle of red vino sfuso, a liter bottle of acqua frizzante, a little brown wooden bowl with crackers still in their wrappers sits in the center. The faint sound of a tennis match plays on the television in the other corner of the room and Andrea occasionally acknowledges it with a curse at Italy’s opposition while he holds a spatula in his hand.

The one thing Italians are always on time for is lunch. Especially Sunday lunch which at this point is more of a religion than Catholicism.

Valerio’s dad, Andrea is our priest for this service of food. We always have relatively the same thing: Either a creamy antipasto dip he makes to be put on crackers or we go right to the main course of his famous oven roasted potatoes (which took us ages to figure out until he gave us the secret) accompanied by some sort of meat. Either roasted lamb or pork, beef stewed in red wine for hours, or more often than not, polpettone. Polpette means meatballs, polpettone means BIG meatball. But not what we have been brainwashed in America to eat with spaghetti, the meatballs in Tuscany are a mixture of very high quality pork, spices, eggs, onions, and breadcrumbs that are formed -in this case- into a giant flattened oval shape and either fried or baked. They. Are. DELICIOUS.

Andrea doesn’t have us work for our lunch, he makes us sit and he takes our plates one at a time to and from the counter above the stove. There is no salt on the table because there is no need for extra anything. People may find the lack of salt from the table presumptuous on the Italians’ part, but anyone who has eaten here knows that the food never lacks anything. It is cooked the way it is and does not require your extra pinch of salt.

After lunch, like clockwork, Andrea puts on the coffee, goes to the window behind the TV and smokes a cigarette. He leaves the coffee to it’s own devices and chats with us while I nervously glance at the coffee on the stove listening for the telltale gurgle saying it is done and if you wait a moment longer you have ruined the coffee thus ruining everything. But he goes on smoking and chatting and somehow times his cigarette perfectly for when the coffee is finished.

We get settled as best as one can on his couch which he sarcastically refers to as “the last gift from the ex wife”. This is because it is the most uncomfortable couch on this earth. Now we watch the motorcycle or car race that is on every Sunday and root for Valentino Rossi, Itay’s own motorcycle star. Before it starts, Andrea quickly preps our desert. In the summer we have gelato and in the winter we have chocolate. And then it is 60 laps for the motorcyclists and licking our gelato bowls clean for us.

This ritual is something that reminds me of why this country is special. After living here a few years it can become very easy to fall into complaining and criticizing things. I won’t even go into my feelings on the post office … But this simple lunch we have every week is on time, made with love, and is a way to pass time together in the most basic and uncomplicated way. It is charming to witness and even more so to be apart of something that does not change or falter. Even the nuances such as knowing where to put the placemats after lunch in an effort to help clean up is something small yet momentous all at once.


Barefoot and French

Barefoot and French

It has been far too long since I have written and I am in the middle of several pieces, but what happened to me the other night was something I was so moved by that I knew I needed to write it all down and get back on my blog.

I am a huge believer in the universe and that everything happens for a reason. This has proven to be true in my life on countless occasions and I can trace certain events from the root and see how they started maybe in an unpleasant way and then land me where I am meant to be. And this is because of our universe. This is because certain people are brought in and out of our lives at just the right time.

Last night was a confirmation of my belief.

I have a sweet gig singing at the bar I work at two or three times a month and it has been so special for me to sing in the piazza that not only is home to our bar, but also houses the church where Puccini was baptized. It’s an opportunity to sing the Puccini classics that everyone knows and then throw in a bit of musical education with Mozart, and go back to my musical theatre roots. It has also tested me physically in that we are performing for two hours and thus teaches me about pacing. And doing mostly the same repertoire every time, you challenge yourself to try and find how many ways a person can interpret “O mio babbino caro”. Not an easy feat! Tourists and sometimes even locals will flock outside to drink wine and let my pianist and I serenade them. It is a pleasure. An absolute delight to share opera with people who range from knowing absolutely nothing about the music to having been musicians themselves.

As a young singer, or a young artist/musician/athlete/grad student/business assistant…as any young person I should say: every moment can become a life or death situation. We are always hoping that everything we produce is perfect in our line of work. That kind of pressure can be motivation on some days and crippling on others. This past week was one of those Lifetime movie moments where I left a rehearsal crying and questioning why on earth I chose a career I have no business in. Having that happen 48 hours prior to a performance is not an enjoyable or uplifting experience. This was a big week of questioning (thanks a lot Mercury retrograde!). So when the other night (Friday, October 24th) came and an hour before my concert I had a fever, it just seemed as though the universe was telling me something. But I got excited as I always do to perform and tried to remind myself to pace, to focus, and to just ENJOY IT.

Spoiler alert: everything went wonderfully. I was very pleased with how I sang and interpreted the music and that’s all one can ask of oneself. The amazing part of this evening, however, was the presence of two rather strangely dressed young men who had arrived outside near the end of our set with a large group of people. The head of the group I recognized as my boyfriend’s aunt who was coming from her own performance art exhibit.

During a break she introduced me very briefly to her group and I shook hands with these two young men who I assumed were friends of hers. One had long blonde hair pulled back in a bun and was dressed in this pretty heinous bright orange corduroy tuxedo. The other exactly how you would picture a French man to look: clear eyes, light brown hair, a little bit of scruff, cute, and had on what I can only imagine the captain of a ship in the 1970’s might wear: white pants, an above the knee black double breasted suit top with some sort of emblem sewn over the heart, and a red cravat around his neck. It wasn’t until I was inside away from the crowd outside that someone pointed out they weren’t wearing shoes. I leaned over to glance out the front doors and indeed, they were barefoot! This furthered my theory that they were part of the aunt’s performance piece that had included dance.

The next set went on and as I sang outside into the night I noticed one of the men was filming me and high-fiving his friend. During our next break the two of them came inside all smiles and hugged Aldo, my pianist and I and could barely manage to get out words. So I just cut to the chase and asked, “where are your shoes?”. They told us that they were artists and came up with this project where they wanted to leave their houses with absolutely nothing (as in nude) with an end-goal in mind and rely on anything they find along the way or that people give to them. At this point Aldo said, “how are you both dressed better than me from just finding clothes in the donation bin?”. Needless to say, the strange outfits somehow were, as the French say: chic. I was intrigued by this entire endeavor and had a million questions to ask about where they found their clothes, how they walked so far so quickly (from the south of France to Lucca in 10 days), weren’t their feet cold, where were they going to do to next, etc…And when I asked how much longer their journey would be, they looked at each other and burst out laughing. In a thick French accent, the blonde one said, “Now, it is finished! We can go home!”. I said, “Oh, that’s so great! Congratulations! You must be so tired and now you have to turn around and walk back”. The brunette one said, “But don’t you want to know why we can go home?!” I nodded vigorously laughing from their contagious excitement. The blonde one cried, “Because we have found YOU!”. And then my American cynicism flew right in. My face dropped and I told this French poser, “Shut up. Don’t try to woo me”. And I went to turn around and they both started telling me, “Yes! It is because of you! We swear! Listen! Our entire goal when we left France was to come to Italy and find and opera singer! We have been looking for so long and we wanted to give up and then we found you! You are the end of the story!”.

I could not believe it. I didn’t know whether to laugh at them or give into my double ego (Soprano AND Leo) and say, “But of COURSE you were looking for ME”. They recounted their trip and how they had been sleeping on the road or were lucky enough to have a stranger host them and it was all to find an opera singer. This was the end-goal. They wanted to know if after our concert they could film Aldo and I doing a few pieces. We said of course. However, when the concert ended around 11, there wasn’t anywhere that was open to go. They didn’t want to film at the bar so we got emergency permission to use a beautiful oratorio the next day around noon. When I showed them pictures from a concert I had done there they started dancing in the piazza. Like Elaine Bennis from Seinfeld dancing. They were whooping and jumping around it was so funny. IMG_2585

With Aldo

With Aldo

We ended up talking for quite a bit while my colleagues closed up inside and we all crowded around asking them questions. When the subject of meals came up they told us that part of the project was to never ask for anything, but if people offer something then they can take it. When I asked when the last time they ate was they told me they had had a little bit of bread that morning. WHAT! I ran inside and had one of the girls cook them pasta and said I would pay for it. Seeing the look on their faces when two big bowls of tortelli and a mountain of bread came out was magical. Everyone was so excited to help them out and touched by their kindness and persistence for their project. I sat with them and watched them eat and was just filled with glee. I had a million questions and I felt like I was going to burst because I wanted to ask them all at once. “What do you miss the most?” One said the feeling of security you have from being in a home: you can have water whenever you like, you know you’re going to sleep in a comfortable bed and can shower etc. The other answered that he missed tenderness. Being touched by a partner, by a woman. I’m thinking, “You’ve only been on the road ten days, what a French answer…”. But in all seriousness it is such an important thing that we all need and crave so it made sense.

Tortelli Time

Tortelli Time

After my rapid-fire question session, the brunette one who I now knew was named Nans, began to ask me about my life and singing opera. Again, as both a soprano and a leo, I can really go on about talking about myself. I realized after a few minutes that the blonde one, Mouts, had been filming the whole time. Hope I had intelligent responses! I asked what kind of documentary it would be and they shrugged it off saying it was kind of said an art project just about meeting people and they would send me a link when they posted it on youtube.

We agreed to meet the next day around noon and go to the oratorio together. We hugged a lot and they were very emotional and relieved they had “found me”. I was absolutely floating. I felt like the universe had really forged a beautiful moment. Being able to go to bed after singing for two hours and then wake up and do it all again was so pleasing…a little daunting maybe, but exciting.

I could barely sleep and waking up felt like Christmas morning. I had gotten home so late I wasn’t able to tell my boyfriend the amazing event that had transpired and when we woke up I launched into my story, “-and there were these French guys with no shoes-“,
”Yes, I met them at my aunt’s art piece”.
“Really?! Well, guess WHAT?!—“
And like a little girl telling a fairytale, I told him about their epic barefoot journey.
“Hannah, come on. They aren’t walking around without a place to sleep and they didn’t just happen to find those clothes. They are professional filmmakers”.
I refused to believe this. And then Aldo called an hour later and told me in slightly panicked rapid Italian, “Hannah, we need to pick pieces to do today that are going to be perfect. These guys…I think they are professional filmmakers.”
“Are you and Valerio trying to pull a prank on me?”
I thought they were both acting crazy and then Aldo pointed out he had seen four professional cameras and a sound system with them. I guess I didn’t notice at first and then remembered they had a stereotypical hitchhiking stick with a sack attached to the end of it and there were two cameras embedded into it.

I still didn’t believe anyone and wanted to trust that these two struggling artists had indeed struggled here without anything to complete their project.

I met Nans and Mouts and took them to the beautiful oratorio and let them film around while I went in the back to warm up.

I started to notice that they had quite a lot of equipment with them and Aldo mouthed to me, “I told you”. Nonetheless, we went on! We did “Quando me’n vo” by Puccini because we ALWAYS HAVE TO DO PUCCINI IN LUCCA. And then they said they wanted to have me do a piece that could capture the emotion they had of being lost without anything, feeling hopeless and desperate. After conferring with Aldo we decided to do “Vilja” by Lehár as essentially it is the story of a hunter who sees this beautiful witch of the woods and falls desperately in love with her upon first sight. He searches for her and when he finds her she pulls him into her house and after a few hours of passion she disappears right before his eyes. He spends the rest of his life searching the woods for her and calling her name finally crying out for her, “Vilja!” to conclude the aria.

Here, hold this and sing high notes

Here, hold this and sing high notes

Nans and Mouts loved this idea and had me carry around their rucksack with the two cameras. We did three takes: the first time for audio, the second for wide shots, and the third for close-ups. It was a blast. It was really fun to do the piece in succession three times and find different emotion, movements, and dynamics all while using this strange (and very heavy) prop. Throughout filming people would wander in from off the street as usually happens whenever we use the oratorio and sit for a few minutes to listen and then go on their way. At one point between takes someone asked the barefoot Frenchies what this was for. I heard one of them say it was a documentary for French5, a major television station in France. Wait…what? I tried not to think about it and continued on.IMG_2607

We filmed in total for about 3 hours, we wrapped up with close-up shots of my hands, face, and feet, and of Aldo’s playing, their reactions to the music, etc. It was amazing to see all of the small pieces making up a story. And when we wrapped, Aldo played a little jazz ditty and we all danced. And then they whipped out waivers for us to sign. Where did that come from?!

This was when it all began to come together. They pulled out a credit card and started asking us to look up trains and flights for them to get back to France. I jokingly called them out on their deception and how they obviously didn’t leave their homes with literally nothing. They were good spirited and said that they had the credit card solely for emergency purposes with the camera, but that they hadn’t spent any money at all. I stepped outside for a minute and googled them. I was very glad I hadn’t done so before that moment because I found out that they weren’t just doing a random documentary, but that they are two very famous filmmakers in France who have a regular program on French5 where they travel to different countries in the same manor they ended up in Lucca and rely on people’s generosity to see them through.IMG_2598

I walked back inside mouth slightly agape and said, “But you two are really famous”. They both shrugged their shoulders and smiled sheepishly saying, “Yeah…we are”. Seriously though, thank goodness I did not know this all before! It was a very lovely and shocking surprise to end the day of filming! They were so humble and honored that Aldo and I were fawning over them. They were just the kindest people.

We all walked out together, hugged a million times, exchanged contact information, and promised to all meet up again one day in France. And then a rainbow formed overhead. No, that didn’t happen. But that day was such a surreal and inspiring window of time. For all of us to be in the right place at the right time and make a piece of art out of it was inspiring, emotional, and brought on overwhelming happiness. For Aldo and I as young musicians, this kind of exposure is so incredibly important for us.IMG_2604IMG_2587

The documentary is due to air in April, a long time to wait! I am hoping it all turned out wonderfully and that we sound good! Either way, these are the moments that make me reaffirm my journey. My insane journey of being an opera singer. I went from questioning my choices only days prior, to flying back to my apartment on a cloud of happiness at really being pleased with my work. Once again, Universe, you’ve done nicely. Thank you. Fin.


The Heart of the Matter

Thank you for the shout out, Francis! Norma and I were speaking on the phone this evening about your amazing commitment to blog everyday! I need to get the ideas I’ve had festering around in my head for months out on my blog and soon! You’ve inspired me to get back to business….

From London to Longoio (and Lucca and Beyond) Part Two

In her highly amusing and exceedingly insightful blog at budding international opera singer Hannah Moss (winner of “Grapevine’s” young writer competition for 2012 – see describes Italy as a “danger zone” (I wish she would write more such brilliant posts). Her apt description centres largely on the Italians’ almost hypochondriacal concern with their health.

Hannah goes on to describe such dangers as venturing outside one’s home with still undried hair after the morning shower, taking to the streets without being adequately dressed down to the ankles appropriately for the climatic conditions (I can always spot an English person in the Lucchesia – they usually start wearing shorts in April…) and diving into the Viareggio waves well before the official season (delayed this year because of the weather) for such activities permits one to get even within one metre of the salt water.

The “colpo d’aria” is the likeliest…

View original post 750 more words

Danger Zone: Italy

This is a disclaimer before I launch into my slightly judgmental blog post.  For all of these hilarious anecdotes, I feel the need to clarify that I adore the Italians and their culture and I only make fun of them because I love them.  And because I’m American and we get made fun of non-stop.  Just sharing the love.

 I didn’t realize that Italy was the most dangerous place on earth.  It took me a while to recognize it, but it is without a doubt terrifying to live here.  At least according to all of the things I have apparently been doing wrong my entire life.  You see, there is a list of things one should not do or one should avoid at all costs.  I’m surprised considering I’ve done or taken part in most of these things and am still here to tell the tale.

The first one is big.  I used to shower and go to school in below freezing temperatures with wet hair that would turn into crunchy ice atop my head and promptly thaw after walking into class.  I have been…berated for walking out of my house with damp hair.  Literally by everyone.  My Italian friends, my boyfriend, my boyfriend’s mother, my teachers, my American friends who have been converted after living here for years, the guy at the bakery, “What are you DOING?!” they would ask horrified (and with many hand gestures).  I thought my hair was on fire the first time this happened and stopped dead in my tracks praying for death.  There is truly nothing worse in this world than having my hair catch on fire.  Believe me, it’s happened.  And yet, I think people here would consider that a better fate than “wet hair death”.

Men take longer to get ready then I ever have because they blow dry their hair claiming if they don’t they will get a headache or a stiff neck.  Right.

While we are on the topic of artic death, not covering up completely will also lead to an untimely demise.  If I so much as think to leave my apartment with non-ankle reaching yoga pants and flats before May, I will be shunned from society.  I did this a few months ago as I was running a very quick errand and the LOOKS I received…I’ll be in therapy for most of my adult life.  No doubt.

I was surprised people were even outside considering it was drizzling.  I have had people on more than one occasion cancel plans with me at the last minute because it was raining.  “Why don’t you bring an umbrella?” I would ask incredulously.  And the answer was simply, “but it’s wet out!”

Being wet out is nothing compared to the insurmountable fear, however, to that of air-conditioning.  Even in the stifling, humid heat that characterizes July and August, it is very difficult to find somewhere with AC and once you do, if you are with your Italian friends they won’t go inside for fear of getting sick.  What if I had wet hair and then went into an air-conditioned restaurant??  The fear…


The crime scene…Frances is alive don’t worry

This next one is golden.  This is something that rings true in the United States also though to be fair.  The famous, “Don’t go swimming for an hour after you eat” is alive and well here.  I understand this one to a point.  If you eat too much and then are frolicking in the ocean you can get a cramp and be in serious trouble.  In pools as well, I’m sure it’s not the best idea, but I myself and no one else I know has ever had a bad experience from this.  And then I heard the following story that changed my outlook and my life.  My dear dear Italian friend, Fede, who has a flair for the dramatic and also a fantastic pool overlooking a Tuscan valley, invited our English friend Frances and I over one afternoon for a swim.  We swam a bit and then toweled off and made a nice big lunch that consisted of antipasto and pasta with pesto.  Afterwards, we chatted for 20 minutes or so and headed back out into the sun.  Within minutes, Frances and I jumped into the pool and upon surfacing were greeted with shouts of disapproval and (you guessed it) hand gestures galore.  Fede tried to get us out of the pool fearing we would get ill or pass out from a cramp.  As we casually laughed this off, he tried even more frantically to get us out of the pool telling us how dangerous it was.  First of all, the pool is MAYBE 12 feet long and 5 feet deep and there were three of us there so if anything happened I would sincerely hope one of the three of us could be bothered enough to save the other.  His final attempt to help us to safety was first-class.  He sat down on his pool lounger, sighed, looked to the heavens, and said, “Now, I tell you a story.”  We gathered around our dear amico as he bared his soul.  He said, “One time, when I was very young, I eat a kinder bueno chocolate,” he paused to collect himself.  “And I get into shower and open the water and after two minutes I faint”.  I will tell you all right now, that I was NOT the first person to burst out laughing.  Surprising, I know, but Frances absolutely lost it.  I followed in suit and poor Fede was left yelling, “But is true!! Is true!”  Long story short: we stayed in the pool and escaped with nothing more severe than pruney fingers.

The most feared condition I leave for last.  It is so notorious that is has its own name: colpo d’aria.  No one disease can do more harm in so many ways than this which translates to “a hit of air”.  A hit of air can happen if you sleep with the windows open at night, if you roll the car windows down, or if you’re outside and not properly covered on a blustery day.  Essentially, the air “hits” you in a way that can give you a sore neck, a cold, a headache, influenza, fever, soreness, and a myriad of other things.  Even in August people wear scarves on windy days because when you sweat and the air hits you…mamma mia say goodbye.  You aren’t safe when it’s hot and you certainly aren’t safe when it’s cold.  Basically what this all sums up to is, if you have any form of illness ranging from a headache to influenza, it is something you have done wrong outside.

The list is endless, my friends, but I must point out that these rules are absurd juxtaposed with the happenings I see out on the street.  You’ll see little kids running around bars until about 2 am on the regular.  Eating raw meat is encouraged.  And oh yeah, leaving the house with wet hair is a big to do, but 10 “ragazzi” piled onto one bike flying down a crowded street is rrreeeeaaallly safe.  Not to mention the dangerous amount of cologne the average Italian male wears.

I must say, however, it’s scary because now I’ve either become paranoid or am actually succumbing to these sicknesses.  I’ve found myself either waiting until my hair has air dried or even blow drying it for five minutes before leaving my house.  I HATE going out in the rain and wrap myself from head to toe if I need to.  When I leave Lucca and go to Pisa, Pontederra, or anywhere with a different pressure I end of getting a migraine.

Maybe our dear Italians know what they are doing after all.  I was recently in London and noticed that the change from being outside in the frigid cold to being inside the heated Tube left me really woozy and nauseous.  The rapid change of temperature is not good for your body.  I guess I can understand why all of the houses are kept freezing bloody cold in the winter and no one uses air conditioning in the summer.  I guess…



Have any funny facts or stories about health beliefs around the world? Share them!


Guys…I haven’t written about food and I’ve lived here for over a year…how has no one called me on that?  I must say that I haven’t written about anything lately to be fair.  There have been a bunch of happenings and then Christmas came and went and now my dear American friend is visiting so I will have to get all caught up.


Italians, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans: Everyone loves pasta!

 That all being said, I feel as though I do not need to explain the title of the post considering I’m in the country most famous for their history, their leather, their men (not together…but no judgment from me), and above all: their food.  It is indeed, as legend proclaims: absolutely f***ing fantastic. 

 One ponders (maybe aloud), “Who is the genius that created pasta? The most simple and yet most necessary staple in the Italian diet?”  And the answer is…ok I actually need to Google that… I got really ahead of myself there…

 aaaand the first answer that came up said it was actually invented in China!  I’m not doing too well here, am I?  Wait wait, ok now it says that they invented noodles, BUT noodles are not always pasta and that the famous forms such as lasagna and linguini were invented in Ancient Rome (I’m sweating right now).  So, yes, it was officially invented in Italy.  I’m sorry, but while the Chinese do indeed produce everything sold in America, this one is going to the Italians.


Fresh made pasta with porcini mushrooms

 Pasta:  Do I get tired of it?  Yes.  And yet, every time I groan that I don’t want to eat pasta and that I’m sick of it, the moment I put a forkful of in my mouth, I am absolutely positive that it was the right choice.  It is the most versatile food on the planet.  Just the other day we made a frittata with left over pasta ragu we had for lunch.  It sounds really strange, but it was amazing.  Really, any way the Italians can find to eat pasta….

 This is what I was afraid of when I first moved here: constant pasta.  I am a meat-eater and the idea of having pasta more than once a week seemed just out of the question.  It was something we had at home maybe once or twice a year.  All of the Italians that just read that probably died of shock…we will continue without them, but keep them in our memory.

 But it’s not just the pasta that makes Italy special; it’s the entire experience of dining here.  This is such a treat and the wow-factor is long from wearing off.


Our own aperativo…not too shabby


Even the cats eat pasta here!

 Aperativo, for example is the time around 6:30/7 when you go and meet your friends for a drink and then miraculously receive FREE FOOD.  This ranges from olives and chips to finger sandwiches, cheeses, meats, or even at one of our favorite places: pasta, risotto, and lasagna.  What I’m telling you people, is that with the purchase of one drink, you have a ticket to a buffet of Italian food that could replace dinner.  But it doesn’t stop there!  No, even after you have gorged yourself on salami, pecorino cheese, garlic bread, and more, you then roll over to dinner.


Peschino: Our haven for aperativo

 ImageThis is where the magic happens…Every time I have gone to an Italian’s house for dinner, it is like having a dinner party even at the most simple of occasions.  There are appetizers, more times than not champagne, and then more than one course.  This was something I did not pick up on for a bit when I first moved here…There is the “primo piatto” (first plate) and the “secondo piatto” (second plate).  Seems self-explanatory OR SO I THOUGHT.  One would think that ordering a dish of pasta would suffice as a meal especially when said dish is an endless bowl of penne covered in sauce.  This, my friends, is where we are all so very wrong.  My curiosity finally got the best of me one night at a restaurant in Rome as I was perusing the menu.  I was able to discern that the first plates were made up of pastas or rice and the second plates were meat.  Ok, good first step.  Then I finally asked and the answer was just more than I could handle.  You are meant to order ONE FROM EACH SIDE!  So you order your pasta dish, which is already dinner, and then you order your meat dish, which is again, dinner.  So you essentially have two dinners.  This is following your aperativo that could count as first dinner, but before desert and coffee.


Pass the meat

 “Impossible!” you may proclaim.  “There is no way anyone can eat that much nearly every night especially when you see such svelte Italians walking around in their skinny jeans”.  And yet, I am here to tell you that I have seen them in action and seen them walk away skinny jeans and all completely in tact.

 It is utterly unbelievable and amazing all at once.  Now, living with an Italian, I was so afraid about gaining weight from eating like this on a regular basis.  But oh my god, the opposite has happened.  We eat pasta nearly everyday and my jeans are falling off, I literally just put them in the donate pile last night.  I know that everyone reading this hates me, it’s fine I would too (I’m a Leeeeoooo), but I’m serious and I’m just as in shock as the rest of you. 


My personal Italian chef

 Eating here over the holidays was an Olympic sport.  There were the parties leading up to Christmas, Christmas eve, Christmas, the day after Christmas, two days after Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, my boyfriend’s birthday, La Befana (the holiday that signifies the end of the holidays…only the Italians would build in a day off to remind everyone you just had a bunch of days off),…it was just sheer insanity.  On one of the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we went to my boyfriend’s father’s house after eating a heavy pasta dish at lunch.  Still recovering from that, we were served champagne (I’m not kidding, it’s the equivalent of water here), aperativo, a seafood pasta dish…ok at this point I was like, “I can’t.  We had pasta for lunch and I’m still somewhat full” and then I looked around and everyone was almost finished with theirs and as soon as I put a forkful in my mouth I was like, “WHAT?! You eat this right now, you fool”. It was fantastic: penne with seafood sauce.  Boom.  And then my god, please no more….but oh, my friends, there was more.  Out came potatoes, huge shrimp, fish and homemade mayonnaise.  And just when I did not think I could eat anymore…I could.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned here, it’s that you can always find room for food no matter how full you are and no one accepts “no” when they ask you if you want more.  They do not care how you feel, you are eating it all whether you want to or not.  And bread is a utensil…and edible utensil.

 When people say Italy is a food culture, it is completely true.  I never really noticed that sitting down at a table, with a tablecloth, and non-disposable utensils was so important.  We always had really wonderful family dinners growing up especially around the holidays with a beautiful set table, but here it is every night that this tradition is upheld.  To me, that is something lost in the busy world and it is the fault of no one: everyone has different schedules and long hours, but sitting down and blocking everything else out for an hour or two and talking while you enjoy your (AMAZING) home-cooked meal is a beautiful thing that I have grown to appreciate each day more.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go eat the eggplant parmesan with ragu sauce my boyfriend is cooking WAY-OH!! Ciao



And just a few more photos to upset everyone further:


Seafood from Manarola


Buccellato with strawberries and lemon juice


Christmas mayhem!



Pasta Norma…my mouth is watering



An American in Italy on September 11th

I haven’t written for such a long time and I’ve had a few ideas about what I wanted to write about here in Italy, but just haven’t sat down to actually formulate the words.  I feel somewhat strange writing about something as sad as what I have chosen to write about after having not written for quite a few months.  That being said, I knew that using writing in a therapeutic way was going to aide in easing some of the pain and getting my feelings out about the day that has haunted not only Americans, but people all over the world for 12 years.

On the eve of September 11th, I thought I would take time to reflect on that day and it’s 12th anniversary tomorrow.  Every year I hear someone on the news or someone in passing say, “Can you believe it has been (insert number of years) since it happened?” and every time I feel the exact same sentiments.  I remember that day as if it had happened last week.  Maybe that is why my memories are so frightening: because that day was incredibly vivid down to every last detail.  I’ve never put into the written word the story of my day-and everyone has a story from that day- but rather recounted it solemnly whenever someone asked or just as a healing process to tell every year with my family and friends.

I was 11, in my first year of middle school: grade 6.  This was when my family still lived in Connecticut, a short way from New York City where my father worked for over 20 years.  Everyday he would take the train to Manhattan around the same time I would be leaving for school.  This was the happy time for my mother before I stopped taking the bus and begging her to drive me every morning just so I could sleep in an extra 15 minutes.  She should really get the mother of the lifetime award for doing that for years.  I remember walking down our long driveway enveloped by trees that made it difficult to see the sky.  But when I did see it…I will never forget this: it was perfect.  It was crystal clear, completely blue, not a cloud in the sky, no humidity, just stunningly perfect.  I kept staring up at it, waiting for the bus at the top of our road and feeling this sense of something.  I am in no way, shape, or form saying, “I KNEW”.  I didn’t.  No one did.  But I just had this indescribable feeling.  Maybe I was so touched by the perfectness of nature in the sky or still feeling nervous being only a week or so into a new school district where I didn’t know many kids.  In that moment I’m sure it was the dreadful feeling of knowing we had gym first period.  I mean, who does that?  Really…

And thus began gym class, but that day, being under that intoxicatingly blue sky, it wasn’t so bad.  Of course when we were called into the locker rooms halfway through class, I’m not going to lie: I was pretty excited.  When we got inside we were met with our usual peppy gym teacher asking us to change quickly and report to our homerooms.  When someone asked why, she somberly told us that we needed to be fast and quiet and that there was going to be an announcement.  Being 11 year olds, this of course spiked excitement like electricity running through everyone and rumors started in an instant.  Someone famous was visiting, someone had died, we were having another fire drill routine, or a pizza party!

I went upstairs and passed the classrooms leading to mine, took a seat near the front of the room and watched our science teacher roll our room’s TV set in front of us.  Every morning in homeroom we had CTV.  I will be so happy if anyone reads this that went to middle school with me and remembers that.  CTV was our morning show and I really did not appreciate how lucky I was to be in such an amazing school system.  We had a TV studio that produced a really wonderful “news show” every single morning.  Our principal was such a character and would be on it everyday with a lucky co-host student and they would have these hysterical pre-recorded segments intertwined with the live feed of what was going on that day at school.  Remember these moments is s beautiful and I just think I never really understood how fortunate I was to live in the town that I did, but I was young and didn’t know that other school systems weren’t like this.

Our principal, as I mentioned, was always in a contagiously good mood often walking down the halls whistling or singing, one time grabbing me during passing time and danced with me!  He was “famous” in town for making guest appearances (more times than not in drag) in our school’s theatre productions.  Because of this, none of us were expecting what happened when our teacher turned on the television.  Our principal was sitting in front of the cameras with a tear-stained face, visibly shaken, and taking a very long time to start talking.  I can still feel my heart dropping knowing something truly horrible must have happened for him to look this way.

Choking out the words, he managed to tell us that there was an attack in New York City.  What did this mean?  Being 11 years old, the word “attack” immediately conjured up images of Godzilla or super hero fights.  He said that two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers.  Because the planes hit each tower in just over 8 minutes, it was clear this wasn’t a coincidence and was in fact an attack.  He stayed on the television with us for a little bit, but didn’t give us any more information other than what he had already said.  This was disconcerting.  We were told there was an attack, but that was it.  What were we supposed to do with that?  There was a school filled with kids whose parents, aunts, uncles, friends and so on worked in New York City and yet that was the only information we were given.  I found out later that both of his children worked very close to the World Trade Center and he hadn’t heard from them.

I didn’t know what to think.  I couldn’t tell if I was angry or scared, I just knew that my dad and mom were in the city.  I didn’t have a cellphone.  No one really did at that time (can you imagine it?).  So I sat there like everyone else and waited while some of the other students speculated again on what it could be.  The most popular belief was that it was China.  Why?  I’m not sure.  Well…of course I’m sure, but now’s not the time.

The time I spent at school that day, I remember feeling very strange.  I didn’t say much, which for those of you who know me is shocking, I’m sure.  I think I was just in shock.  Nothing new was being reported and we could see the teachers whispering amongst themselves and knew they weren’t telling us everything.  And then one of the kids from another class who actually did have a cellphone started running from classroom to classroom shouting what had happened.  He had gone to the bathroom to secretly call his parents and the recounted the entire situation.  By this point, the first tower had fallen and the moment that this kid yelled that into our classroom, we all turned on the teachers and started demanding answers.  Looking back now, I understand why they did not tell us everything as it was happening because they didn’t want to cause panic, but that point was so far gone by this moment that it was inhumane to keep us all tightly locked in those classrooms with no communication to the outside.

One of the girls in my class had slipped out and called her family to find out that a relative had been in the tower when it fell.  She came back in inconsolable and it was at this point they started allowing us to call our parents to come pick us up.  And I didn’t want to.  I waited until almost everyone else had used the phone and prolonged that moment where I didn’t know if someone was going to pick up or worse, they were going to pick up and have bad news.  The thought of my parents being in the city had completely numbed me and I could not handle getting an answer.  When I picked up and dialed my mom’s cellphone, she didn’t pick up.  No surprise there, she never does.  I tired my dad and his phone was dead.  Then for some reason I tried the home phone and after a few rings I heard my mom’s voice.  The relief I felt in that moment is insurmountable to any relief I have felt since.  Her words, her voice, everything filled me with this warmth I could feel in my veins.  Before I could even ask she said, “Daddy is here, he’s fine” and I was in heaven.  I momentarily, maybe selfishly forgot about everyone else who was getting good or bad news from their families when they called.

My mom came right away to get me.  My little brother who was 7 or 8 at the time was there too.  All of us climbed into my parents’ bed and held each other as we watched the news.  This was the first video footage I had seen all day and the horror was paralyzing.  It looked surreal, as if someone had planned for it to be so beautiful outside.  The flames paired against the blue sky were strangely picturesque and otherworldly.  The news channels were flipping back and forth, all showing the same thing: the planes, the towers collapsing, the FDNY, NYPD, and emergency workers, our heroes, all scrambling through debris.  It felt like I was having a seizure watching all of the images being flipped between over and over.  The reactions of the New Yorkers was devastating.  The people jumping from windows to escape the flames was the worst.  I can still see them stepping up on the windowsills and my dad telling us not to watch, weeping all the time.  I had never seen him like this.  He was gripping the remote control and shaking his head, leaving tears streaming down his cheeks.  He was in shock, more so than any of us of course because he had spent everyday working there.  This was his 2nd home.

After watching the news for hours on end like zombies, my dad and I decided to get in the car and go for a ride trying to forget, but also keeping the radio on.  A strange dichotomy…Our normal route was automatic at this point: the beach.  Our default, really everyone in Westport’s default was to go to the beach if you didn’t have anything else to do or just wanted to go for a ride.  When we turned the corner to the entrance we saw it: The billowing black smoke starting to drift across the Long Island Sound that lay before us.  Silently, we drove to the edge of the shore, parked and watched it like it was some kind of strange dream.  The sky that day, I still cannot get over it.  It was just cloudless- the first clouds I was seeing all day were the ones that were carried from the burning buildings.

We watched for a bit and my dad’s shock, turned to sadness had now turned to anger.  He just kept asking “why?” over and over.  He was so angry at the people who had done this just like the rest of America.  Later that night, he and my mom told me what I had been wondering earlier but had forgotten in my relief of seeing them.  My mother was supposed to go into the city that day to get beads and at the last minute decided not too.  That was another phrase we heard a lot of for the years to come, “at the last minute I decided not to”.  Many people had those moments that day for some reason or another…

My dad was on his normal train route and in a time before iPhones, he didn’t have access to the Internet.  My mom had HAPPENED to turn on the radio in her car 30 seconds before the first plane hit.  She said she was listening to Howard Stern when suddenly he said, “I hate to interrupt this banter, but this is breaking news: a plane just hit the World Trade Center”.  All of us being avid Howard Stern listeners, hearing his change of tone was a dead give away something was wrong even as Robin and the guest carried on laughing and making jokes, he just kept bringing it back to the plane.  She knew immediately something wasn’t right and called my dad.  He assured her it was nothing but an accident and not ten minutes later she called back and said, “Clark, get off the train.  Now.”  The second plane had hit and now she knew for sure.  My dad told a conductor who made an announcement to the train that there would be an emergency stop for those who wanted to get off.  Of course everyone found out later that day that the trains from Grand Central were completely shut down leaving everyone stranded in the city.  People walked miles upon miles as if refugees to cross over the bridges leading out of the city just to get away from the debris and dust.

My dad, got off the train at the emergency stop close to my Grandparents’ house.  They came to get him, completely distraught.  My late granddad also worked in the city for a huge part of his life and was just astounded by what was going on.  He and my dad drove to the beach closest to their house where you can see New York City from the shore.  They both stood there and watched the second tower fall.  From such a considerable distance it still was too close.  I cannot begin to fathom how frightening that must have been to see.  Not on a television screen, but almost from another world.  So far away, but right in front of your face.

I don’t remember going to sleep that night, but hearing the television from my parent’s room upstairs and the faint voices repeating the same thing over and over.  I didn’t cry all day.  I thought something was wrong with me.  I didn’t cry all week either.  I was just in pain.  I remember that day perfectly, but the days that followed were a blur.  I was so overcome with relief that no one from my family went into the city and that some of my closest friends who had parents that worked in the towers themselves hadn’t gone in or had gotten there late.  How does that happen?  Why on that day?  I was also in pain for the devastating amount of people we lost from our area.  Schoolmates’ family members and of course the people of New York.  My heart broke over and over for them and never seemed to completely mend.  This was New York.  No one fucks with New York.  But someone did.  And I think that was one of the hardest things to comprehend.  But being addicted to the news for the weeks following and watching the rescue workers, New York Police Department, New York Fire Department and countless volunteers begin to clean the mess was a beacon of hope.

The next few days and weeks were impromptu memorial services for those we lost from our own town.  We all gathered as a community and held hands with strangers trying to understand.  I still hadn’t cried.  Even when we had to sing “Amazing Grace” 20 times at the different services, I just was so hurt and so numb.  But when it all settled one evening, I went up to my bedroom, put a pillow over my stuffed animals so they wouldn’t see me, and I completely crumbled.  I fell onto my knees and cried into my bed. I cried for hours until I felt that relief that slowly rocks you to sleep.

I dreaded every morning that my dad went to work and years later he told me that he too would hold his breath on the subway silently praying a bomb wouldn’t go off as speculations were coming in all the time of when and where another attack would be.  Living in that kind of fear is exhausting.  I would tearfully beg him not to go every single September 11th that followed, thinking that there would be another attack because of the anniversary.  Waiting until he got home was horrible.

We had to talk about it in all of our classes and see our school guidance counselors.  I know that is was good for all of us to express our feelings, but it was also like re-opening a wound every single time.

It was a terrible thing.  It still is.  The weeks following though brought with them stories of tragedy but also really beautiful and inspiring moments.  Our principal who I mentioned with the two children that worked near the towers, they had been missing.  They had no cellphones and worked blocks away from each other.  This story is truly a miracle: somehow through all of the mayhem, smoke, and thousands of people, they found each other.  They found each other in the middle of the street.  I’m weeping as a write this because I still to this day cannot believe how amazing this is.  They found each other without cellphones and were able to escape completely safe.

Another amazing moment was helping out a friend with a lemonade stand.  We were 11, ok?  Her Aunt had been on United 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.  We had a lemonade stand near the beach to raise money for the victims.  A little gesture that turned out to be an amazing triumph.  People bought the lemonade because it was fantastic obviously, but then everyone that passed by gave something, whether it was the change in their pocket or the mysterious man who drove up, handed us a 100 dollar bill and drove away without another word.  By the end of the day we had raised $2049.  I won’t ever forget that number.  We were so excited and ended up being in the newspaper!

Those little moments started to pierce holes in the darkness and soon our town and New York started to get back into their rhythms.  We will never forget of course and every time I am in the city near that area my heart hurts a little and every year on this day that I really dread, I just try to focus on the positives and how bravely New York pulled itself out and went on with its business.  No one can break that city.

Last year was my first year outside of America for that day.  All the other times I was either in Connecticut or at school in New York and could be or feel close to my family.  Being in a foreign country essentially alone with no other Americans was hard.  I wanted to express the grief and as supportive as all of my Italian friends are and as sad as they were for our country that day, they do not understand what it was like to be right there.  I spent some time meditating and praying for everyone in a church (no, I did not burst into flames surprisingly).  I am not a religious person so it felt odd being in a church praying, but it was a quiet place where I could just think of everyone from back home and it was very calming.

Tomorrow I will be here in Lucca again.  Last week was one year since I moved to Italy and that is something to celebrate.  But I will also be spending my time tomorrow thinking of everyone back home.  My family, some of my best friends who live in the city, and everyone affected.  Two of my American friends here I am glad to say will be with me tomorrow.  We will go light a few candles in a church and be together.  I used to spend this day trying to just get through it.  On the 10th anniversary when I was in college I slept until 5 pm because I just didn’t want to be awake for it.  This year I will see my friends and then I have a voice lesson and German lessons immediately after.  I thought the other day that I would call and cancel those so that I could be sad in my room.  And then I realized that I was given the opportunity to do the thing I love the most: sing.  And I thought it could be my way of being grateful, sharing good energy, and continuing to live.  I could write a whole other post on how important music is for healing, but I can only imagine people stopped reading this like 20 paragraphs ago.  So now I can say anything I want, right and now one will ever know?  I watched the whole first season of “Long Island Princesses” in 2 days…THE SHAME!!  haha…

If anyone is still reading this, thank you.  I know I would not have made it through.  I know this was an epically long post, but it’s the first time I have ever written down about my experience with that day and getting it out on “paper” has been very healing.

I usually post pictures of my life in relation to the post I write, but we have all seen the pictures and they aren’t something I can bring myself to look at.  Instead I will leave this video of Renee Fleming speaking about her experience of singing “Amazing Grace” after the attack.  Her voice and the music bring relief even just for a few minutes and this is the reason music is such a potent and powerful thing.

September 11th, 2013.  We will never ever forget.  All of my love and strength tomorrow with be with the people in New York, the families of United 93, and those from the Pentagon.

Endless Pleasure


The word “pleasure” brings with it so many connotations that it is not one of those terms you can casually drop into a conversation.  Here in Italy, it’s used more than the word “and”.  And as tempting as that sounds, it makes it incredibly difficult for someone trying to work to actually get work done.

I have always prided myself on my work ethic with my music.  It takes me longer to learn it without good piano skills, so I start earlier.  And while I am famous for my procrastination, I have to say, that only applied to work in school…and I did always get it done.

When I moved here, I had visions of myself practicing music for hours on end every day in one of those villas where there is constantly natural light streaming in and I’d be wearing a flowy gown and singing out over the fields.  On a more realistic note I thought I would be having having regular piano and voice lessons, learning one opera after the other.  No.  That did not happen.

This time around I am looking for work and doing the work at the jobs I already have and also enjoying a surprisingly ample social life.  So where does the music all fit in?  That was the reason I moved here in the first place: to learn the language and learn the music.  It seems as though those two things, my very reasons for being here in the first place have been put on the back burner.  Or so I thought…

In my mind, you have to be at school to learn the language and you have to be in a practice room or working with a coach to learn the music.  But I’m finding that those are the places that are just the jumping off point.  While I am in fact at a language school here, I have learned infinitely more by speaking with friends or simply walking around and starting conversations with strangers.  The friends will hold your hand and give you a break if you’re wrong, but when you talk to people you’ve just met, you have to get it right.  They don’t know your personality or in my case, your frantic hand gestures that make up for a missing word.

I want to be fluent.  Plain and simple.  I want to know this language inside and out.  It’s funny how when I knew the language less, I thought I knew it more.  The more I learn, it seems the less I know which is incredibly frustrating, but also exciting because I still have so much time to get it right.

For singing, it’s so much more.  Every time I watch the people here conversing, using their bodies and accenting certain words, I am learning my music.  The emotional highs and lows, I take them with me now and embrace them, acknowledging either the pain or elation and I’m learning my music with these feelings.

I was so afraid that when I thought I wasn’t practicing enough every day that I was failing.  I thought that if I did not go over all of my upcoming pieces or didn’t vocalize for enough time that I was going to just fall on my face and fail.  I felt like I was spending so much time NOT doing music that I would never improve.  But after being back for almost two months, I feel like the experiences I have had in this short time could easily carry me.  When I sing now, I sing from another place that I hadn’t sung from before.  From a pleasure center.  Everyone who just gave me a look…you’re only half right.

On one of my first nights back, still suffering from jetlag, I got to see a really dear friend of mine who I met last year here during the opera program.  Her Italian “family” and friends whisked us up into the mountains for her “last supper”.  Within ten minutes we were singing- or rather screaming- “La Traviata” and speeding through the winding streets.  Then the music abruptly stopped as her friend from the back paused the iPod.  He was so filled with joy and this guy (who is not a musician in the slightest) proceeded to recite the chorus part to the famous drinking song, “Libiamo”.  He said, “This is our culture.  We find pleasure in this, in our music, our love, our sex, our wine, our food.  Everything is about joy.  You must have pleasure here!”  He was so passionate about what he was saying that I didn’t even let my jetlag bother me for the rest of the night and I kept thinking about what he had said.  Or rather, what Verdi said with this piece of music.  The chorus sings:

Godiamo, la tazza e il cantico

la notte abbella e il riso;

in questo paradiso ne sopra

il nuovo dì.

Which translates to:

Be happy… wine and song

and laughter beautify the night;

let the new day find us in this paradise.

The verb, “godere” is kind of like that illusive word “pleasure”, it carries with it a few different interpretations that can range from “enjoy your day” to “enjoy what’s happening sexually”.  You can imagine the confusion this can cause.  Happy accidents?  But the bottom line is it’s all about finding pleasure in everything you do.

Practicing my music in such a strict way was not pleasurable.  Singing and emoting is pleasurable and I am finding, more productive.  When you can open yourself up to this way and not whip yourself for singing a wrong note or wrong word, you can just focus on connecting with the music and connecting with people.

Last week, two wonderful friends from school held a party at their house one evening.  These two sisters, or as they lovingly were dubbed “The Spicy Spanish Sisters” were here for a few months studying Italian like all of us and had became a core part of our group.  And they knew how to have fun.  Finding the beauty and the friendships in everything and everyone, this party they held was so filled with love (and copious amounts of wine, Spanish specialties and chocolate) that you literally could not be stressed or perturbed in any way, but just give yourself over to the pleasure of their company.


England, America, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain doing The Macarena

As a parting party, they told me I did not need to bring anything, not even the obligatory bottle of wine you instinctively carry with you to every party.  They just asked that I sing.

Maybe it was the glass of white wine or the warmth of the apartment, but when I sang for all the people at the party, I was so calm and happy to be sharing what I found my pleasure in with them.  And I enjoyed every second of it.  Even when I got towards the end and forgot some of the words thus forcing me to make up my own language (I might mention one of the people at attendance at this party is Italian and a published expert on opera), it was fine!  I did not break a sweat so no one else did either.  And what could be better than a night with your friends from all over the world, wine, and opera?

This similar instance happened a week later at an American style BBQ at a friend’s villa.  The sun had finally come out after months of cold rain, and we all gathered on her gorgeous property to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company.

At the language school I go to, there are people that come from all over the world and usually are only here for a few weeks, but this time around we were lucky enough to have “The Spicy Spanish Sisters” and “The Australian Couple” and of course, the token Swiss who were here for a few months.  I now group my friends by their nationalities…that isn’t racist, right?


Multi-Cultured Kickline

But all of these people were together on this gorgeous Spring day on top of about 15 others that are family and friends.  We cooked outside, fed each other different specialties, learned to salsa, had an impromptu Hannah Moss opera concert by request of our illustrious host,  spoke every language, had a kickline to 80’s music, and listened to a friend play guitar until the sun went down.

These are the days that make me a better singer.  When I can watch people from every culture converse with each other and fully communicate even with a language barrier.  It is something that feeds my soul and gives me pleasure.  These kinds of moments of such extreme contentment.  The extreme moments I think are when we learn the most and remember the most.  They are like muscle memory.  In my last post, “Home” about being (you guessed it) home, that extreme feeling of loss of faith and sadness.  I would not have changed that.  As terrible as it was, I use that now.  Or one of my nights when I got back here and planned to be in bed by 11 pm only to find myself running through the pouring rain in the streets at 6 am with someone who I never would have expected.  That extreme exhaustion mixed with extreme excitement is something I will never forget.

It’s a balance.  It’s easy to write about all the fun I’m having here, because I am having fun!  But intermingled with the apperativi nights and stolen kisses under the magnolia trees, I am trying my best to stay afloat.  Trying to earn money doing a bunch of odd jobs, getting up early for intensive language classes, and plunking out notes for all the music I still need to learn.

I always thought it had to be one or the other: you could work really hard all the time and just focus on that and yes, you would be a really great musician, but you’d be an empty musician.  But you also cannot be gallivanting around the city staying out until 6 am every morning.  As fun as that can be every so often.


Aperativi with the United Nations

I’m finding the balance…slowly.  I am trying to slow myself down and not be worried about what needs to happen in 6 months or where I need to be when and if I’m not there, I’ve made a huge mistake.  I talked about living in the present in my last post and how difficult that is.  When there is so much you want to achieve and so many people you want to move, it seems like the time we are given is never enough.  But it is.  It’s just enough.  I can honestly say that I have done a really good job living in the present these past two months.  And I’ve done a lot of living because of that.  Finding pleasure within and outside of the walls (even when it rains nonstop for WEEKS).  The friends: old and new, the language, the coffee, the sex, the sun (finally), and the music of course.  It all gives me such pleasure.  And I cannot wait to use that when I sing…unless it’s ANY of the soprano roles because we are all so tortured and usually go mad or die.  But at least my “Lucia di Lammermoor” will die happy…if only on the inside.