Friday, September 18, 2009

Harry Potter and The Lion King seem to be recurring themes in my life.

OMG it has been 15 days since my last blog post. I fail! But so much is going on! Also, I was discouraged my lack of comments, so I decided to punish the 3 of you that follow this blog by not posting. HA! GOTCHA!

Kay anyway, moving away from that bout of egoism to talking some more about myself, this is what has been going on. (I realize I said I'd dedicate this post to food, but fuck that, I'll talk about food later). I write to you now in bed, fresh out of the shower, with toothpaste on my face in the hopes that it will demolish the zit that is rudely forming on my chin. Basically, I look awesome.

I have been having a blast here in Firenze. I'm all about making friends with the locals and, my favorite part, flirting it up and getting free shit. I now understand what it means to be "having fun" as a single girl abroad! It does not mean contracting a plethora of venereal diseases, as I had once thought. Whoops.

Last night was our Big Night Out, so all of my friends and I went out in a large group to a bar called Rex Cafe. It is super cute, with a Gaudi-like interior and a crowd comprised of mostly, if not all, locals. There, I met Juan, my new Gay BFF from Costa Rica. He is traveling around Europe alone because his friends and boyfriend didn't want to cough up the dough, and he is Florence until tomorrow (slash today) noon. Juan began as my own selfish outlet for Spanish practice, but ended up a fabulous addition to our group. At Rex Cafe, we also met this creepy 35-year-old Tommy-Lee-look-a-like. OMG so many hyphens in that sentence right there. Anywho, he was gross. Also, my friend Humai was grabbed, kissed, and then ass-groped by this horrifying sneak-creep sitting in a corner near the bathroom. We decided it was then time to leave, and I made sure to stop in front of the sneak-creep, stare at him angrily for a good 10 seconds and then flick him off.

Then we (me, Alex, Sophie, Shelly, Jenny, Joci, Kim, Humai, Ryanne, and now Juan) decided to head to Amodeus, our new favorite bar a little further south. It was a great time, as always, because the creepy owner gives us free shots and the Senegalese bouncers are in love with Ryanne and call her Mother Africa (wtf? compliment? yes? we think? still weird..?). A new Senegalese man seemed to want to make me his bride also. COOL. Additionally ran into the Albanian guy I met there the last time who bought me drinks, but I was too obsessed with this Italian boy I had just met to pay him any attention. OMG guys, this Italian boy. I love him. His name is Karem and I woke up this morning to find his number in my purse on a napkin. Only then did I recall our conversation...

(Us for 10 minutes: flirtflirttalktalkflirtflirtyay)
Him: I have a girlfriend.
Me: That sucks.
Him: blahblahblah flirtflirtflirt
Me: flirtflirtflirt...we should hang out..
Him: I have a girlfriend.
Me: Right. That sucks. But..we can still be friends right?
Him: Yup. Yup! Here's my number!
Me: Right...but you have a girlfriend. But it's okay, you can still show me around the city?
Him: Yeah! Oh by the way, here's my friend--he wants to meet you and your friends.

Enter short, fat friend.

Anyway, Karem is beautiful and tall and has a lip piercing (yes please!) and also, if you guys didn't hear, has a girlfriend. Fuck my life. Oh well, I don't think I'm going to call him...though I do love him. I'm always afraid that when guys give me their number, they are wasted and if I call them and they see me in person again they will be like "WTF who are you and why did I give you my number?!" Ergo, I don't call back. Ever. Ever. Evereverever. But oh Karem, you should break up with your girlfriend. And ditch the obnoxious small fat friend.

So yeah, that was last night. It is almost 2 am here and though there is so much more I'd love to blog about (homemade risotto, chocolate mousse gelato, my British boyfriend-for-a-day, the gay bar, Siena, etc. etc.) alas that will all have to wait. I have to wake up at 6:30 t0 catch a train to Cinque Terre. I'll be there till Sunday, so I'll blog when I return.

A presto!


Mi dispiace amici, ma non ho photos for this entry! Next post will be photo-obese, promise!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Economic recession and emotional regression

I've never lost a phone in my life. I've almost lost a phone before, sure, but never lost one. No matter how wasted, how confused, how spastic, I always remember my shit. Wallet? Check. Lighter? Check. Camera? Check. Phone? Checkcheckcheck. But somehow, after a little over one week in Italy, I manage to lose my phone on our first real night out on the town. I wasn't even drunk! It literally must have fallen out of my pocket.

This mostly sucks because technology is mad expensive here, and my phone was a rental. So I guess that's Euro 98 down the drain. I hate myself right now.

Otherwise, it was an interesting night. We went to this club called Twice, a schmancy/borderline-tacky looking joint made of some black-sparkling rock on the outside. It's kind of like being in the cave of a well-to-do neanderthal. Around midnight, Andrea the Panino-boy and his friend Lorenzo met up with us--some of us literally jumped from our streets to go meet him. No, we are not pathetic.

Sophie and Humai

Anywho, he's not just about delicious Italian sandwiches and good looks (though I'm willing to bet heavily on those two). Andrea is also studying psychology; Lorenzo, law. We hung out and danced with them at Twice and after a while, most of our friends had gone home since they had class in the morning. I found myself with Andrea, Lorenzo, Sophie my roommate, and Joci, girl in the NYU program from Duke. We decide to leave the club, at which point I realize I have lost my phone. I'm frantic, but honestly too exhausted of the crazy busy crowd inside that I decide I don't care and I'll come back the next day to look for it.

Humai and I

Not tired, we start walking towards a cigarette machine (you heard right) for Andrea. Then we are lead to a park, which I hear is beautiful in the daytime but looks a lot like Wash. Square pre-facelift at night (read: stab-tacular). Apparently, it's time to smoke some hash. During this entire time, I've realized that although these boys are nice, I am just not interested and frankly, really bored. Sophie and Joci reach the same conclusion so we make up an excuse to leave the park and let Andrea and Lorenzo smoke their hash in peace.

LinkAlex and I

We saw Andrea today at the panini-place, Antico Noe (we go because it's arguably the best panini joint in Florence! not because of the cute waiter anymore), and it wasn't terribly awkward. There was the same morning-after dread but without the needed night-before hookup, if that makes any sense. Either way, I'm sure we'll hang out with Andrea and Lorenzo (who was also very cute) soon again, but I don't see anything going on there.

A few nights before, on the way to a bar on Wednesday, we were walking towards the Piazza di Santa Croce and who do we see other than banana pants! In a black Mercedes convertible, with his hair looking impressively more tame than I had last remembered. Wednesday nights are the big party nights at Central Park and that's where Stefano was headed; were we too? he asked. I told him no, we had class the next day but I'd e-mail him, which I did later that night. He was going to try and stop by Twice last night, but didn't make it--alas. My friends think he's cute, but all I see is Ali G + Cosmo Kramer. With a Mercedes convertible.

Tomorrow we are going on an NYU sponsored trip to Siena, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in Tuscany. I'm going to try to get to sleep, but it may be hard seeing as how the enormous throng of American students at Lion's Fountain across the street don't seem to be planning on quieting down anytime soon. Who can blame them for having a good time on venerdi, though?

Also I've decided on making some of these posts thematic, just for organizational purposes. As such, the next post will be about two of the things I love the most about this city: food and wine. It'll be just like the magazine, but way classier.

P.S. For more thorough accounts of life here, check out my roommate Sophie's blog--she's much better about updating daily than I am and she gets in all of the little deets I leave out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stupid NYU Scare Tactics

Because of the thousands of e-mails and briefings we've gotten on swine flu, my developing sore throat and runny nose is making me stupidly nervous. NYU wants you to think you are going to die if you have the sniffles and that you will get murdered if you walk home alone at night. Thank god life is so much safer in New York! Wait, what?!

Anyway, some stuff to catch up on. Let's see...oh, although I know I previously said otherwise, I've already begun to frequent Lion's Fountain. Okay, no, lies. I've been twice...but damn, drinks are horrifically overpriced. Beer for 6 Euro? That's $9--more outrageous than New York! But I mean, that's the price you have to pay for such a quality establishment--the kind where you don't have to worry about being left alone by creepy Italian men who are socially inept. No, at Lion's Fountain, you get your $9 worth of creepdom. Better call it the Lion's Den.

Beer on the street? Yes, please!

Last Friday, a large group of us went in search of this club called Central Park. After getting lost multiple times (Italians give you fake directions all the time when they don't know where something is--why!?), we found it but our group of originally 8 had dwindled down to 3. I of course did not admit defeat. Why give up when you can reward your hard work with alcohol and crazy dancing? Anyway, the club was ridic huge and full of basically American students and Italian creeps. You know how in New York, or I guess anywhere in the States, sometimes a guy will awkwardly latch on to a group of girls dancing in circular formation and do the sneaky-grind? This is like that, x1000 and the grind is not so sneaky. They will grope the shit out of you, but that's why god gave us boney elbows I guess.

Borgo degli Albizi, my street

The night itself was absurd. I went there with these two girls Humai and Kim, both of whom are absolutely gorgeous. Humai gets super wasted, Kim wants water, I go with Kim for water, we can't find Humai, Kim starts crying, and I realize that I'm super wasted. BUT then I get into the zone where I start telling myself, "OKAY NAMI. SHIT IS GOING DOWN. YOU'RE WASTED. GET YOURSELF TOGETHER." Works like a charm. We find a belligerent Humai, pay to leave, Kim loses her ticket during the 1 minute walk from the register to the exit and starts crying again (what the fuck?), but eventually, we escape. We had met up with a rather large group of Indians at the club, all of whom are in the same NYU program and they were planning on leaving too. I remember drunkenly finding out some guy was Gujarati and getting way too excited about it and probably seeming a freak. Good thing I don't subscribe to drunken shame!

Me and Anwar, the Indian man who runs an Indian jewelery stand in the Mercato Centrale and gives me "Special Indian Price" which means dirt cheap + free shit. I love being Indian.

The Indians all live in the same building, which is close to me but when I ask if I can take the taxi with them they tell me it is full. SO I walk back with Humai and Kim, who live about a 15 minute walk away from me. I get them home and then have to walk home alone at 3 am. Why does this always happen to me? Thankfully, since I had pulled myself together and was hyper-aware of my drunken state, I remained alert and assured myself I'd be fine because 1) I could stab someone with my keys and 2) I knew how to say "FUCK YOU GO AWAY" in Italian. Vaffanculo, vai via! Also I called Mary and got to talk to her, which was nice.

On another note, I've been consistently proving to myself here that Nami + alcohol + technology = disaster. I've said it before--technology is a privilege, not a right. Clearly haven't earned that yet. Fuck.

I got home at 3:30 and didn't sleep till 4, yet woke up the next morning at 9 am to meet Alex and her family to go to the beach. We took the 1.5 hour train to Viareggio, a little town on the Adriatic Sea. You have to rent out umbrellas and chairs, which is stupid but the beach was so wonderful and relaxing. It was great to get out of Florence for a day and just lounge around. Plus I go to wear my overpriced, accidentally purchased J.Lo bikini.

Walking to the beach in Viareggio

J. Lo, without the lovely lady lumps

We had gone far into the ocean on a sandbar when Alex screams as a huge wave came towards us. People start looking around, confused and concerned, and she starts babbling on about some animal in the water. We then had to escort her out but later saw that she was right, and a huge ass jellyfish washed up that had almost hit us smack in the face. Thing was huge.


Granite di pompelmo, grapefruit ice made with fresh juice and had bits of pulp in it--yummm

We got back into Florence that night and went out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant--you know, to try and switch things up. Never get Mexican food in Florence. Maybe even in Italy, who knows. In the words of Charles Barkley, it was trbl trbl trbl. Gnarls Barkley even, because that shit was crazy. I miss Mexican food, y'all! It's okay, apparently they sell cheddar in the market and so I'm going to try and see if I can get the ingredients to put together some sort of makeshift Mexican feast. Wish me luck!

Also have found 3 Indian restaurants, which I will check out soon I'm sure. For the time being though, I'm loving Italian food and have been eating so much gelato it is obscene. We went across the Ponte Vecchio last night and got quite possibly the best gelato in the world. I know everyone who comes to Italy raves about "the best gelato place in the world" and that I haven't even been here long to really know, but we got directed towards this place by locals and I swear, I felt like I was enjoying the ambrosia of the gods. I got una coppeta con yogurt&nutella flavored gelato and dark chocolate gelato. Really though, guys. This is probably what cherubin shit tastes like or something--un-freaking-believable.

Artichoke pizza and prosecco at the cafe beneath Alex's apartment

I was going to write about classes, but I don't really feel like it. Eh, it's good so far. Italian is so similar to Spanish that I am terribly bored in my elementary language class and translate everything the professoressa is saying for other students, but recognize that I can't realistically transfer into intermediate because although I can understand Italian relatively well, I still don't know how to speak it. So frustrating! But I'm trying everywhere I can. For example, I spoke with Fernando, the Sri Lankan (holla at Suri--he's from close to Colombo!) barista at NYU's campus cafe, in Italian. Then tonight I spoke to the man who works at the wine bar across the street. And of course, the highlight of my day, attempting to flirt with the beautiful 21-year-old Italian boy who works at the panini joint across the street. Andrea...oh Andrea....we love him. I love him. He has classic Italian good looks--dark hair, tan skin and bright green eyes. Plus he's adorable. Did I mention he is fucking hot? And the panino I got was crazy good and molto economico, so I have a legit reason to stop by almost everyday right? I'm a creeper, I get it.

Where I catch the 25 Bus to campus, the Piazza di San Marco

Il Battistero di San Giovanni in front of il Duomo

Alright sleep soon. My shoulder and back are killing me at the moment, I think because of the 4 hour art class I have on Mondays where I must sit on a wooden slat stool with no backing and draw for 4 hours straight. Plus the art studio has no air conditioning and is infested with mosquitoes. Plus we were working with charcoal so my hands were completely black and I had 30280 itches I couldn't touch. Plus flies kept zooming around my face. Plus my Professor is super critical. So much for my slack class!

Long post, lots of pictures but that's okay right? I'm gonna set my computer aside so it can take an epic hour to upload 5 pictures. Yay.

Buona notte,

Monday, August 31, 2009

Call me Martha

I had a brief experience with house arrest last night, so that's one thing I guess I can check off my life's to-do list.

I'm going to keep this blog post really brief because I am sleep deprived out of my MIND. But tomorrow, I promise to recount everything that has happened this eventful week. It is 12:22 AM and I don't think I've received more than 5 hours of sleep on any of the past nights. And I have to wake up at 7 tomorrow. FML. Although considering the fact that my two biggest problems in life right now are that 1) I've been having too good a time (save yesterday) calling late nights and 2) a zit has left a mark in between my eyebrows so I feel like I have a tattooed bindi on, I guess I can't complain too much.

So before I go to bed, I leave you with this story. Last night, after Skyping with Mama and Papa Patel and enjoying me un bicchiere di vino bianco at the wine place literally across the street from me, I was ready to blog and call it a night around 1. My roommate Sophie gets a call from her friend who is outside at the Irish pub also across from us and goes down to meet her. After 10 minutes or so, I get a call from Sophie asking me to open the door because her key doesn't work. Thinking that's kind of weird, but no problem , I get up to answer the door. No go. After 35 minutes of futile attempts at turning our keys, we had to call the emergency NYU number.

Being NYU, they were of course extremely helpful...yeah fucking right. No, NYU sends over a PA (an Indian girl I know) which is basically an RA, aka a junior student just like us. After another 45 minutes of the same shit, they send over an RHM, an older staff member who is just as useless. We waste 2 hours trying to open the door. The RHM continues to think that I'm withholding crucial information about the door or that I'm some sort of neanderthal that doesn't know how to operate a fucking lock. Look lady, I know how to turn a key, alright? And even though it is so fun to sit here and waste my time, I swear, I'm not lying to you about what's on the other side of the door just so we can hang out like this.

Keep in mind, the door is unopenable from either side--that means Sophie can't get in, but me, Jenny and Shelly (my suitemates) also can't get out. And it's the Sunday before the first day of school. Was I inspired to write an R&B saga about it? Perhaps.

We're told that there is nothing that can be done, that "this is Italy and no one will come help right now." Fuck. That. So Sophie is whisked away to campus, which is so out of the way, and we are told that someone from maintenance will come at 7 am. Shelly has to be out of the apartment by 8 am for class--things are not looking promising. Anyway, the results? Maintenance man Marco comes at like 830, somehow opens the door but tells us that yes, it is messed and needs to be fixed, but who knows when that will happen. Shelly and Jenny both miss their first classes, but are excused because of the circumstances. Then Sophie returns to our apartment in the morning and is forced to pay for her own cab ride back from campus even though she has no wallet. Had we been able to just call Marco at 1 am last night when this all happened, this fiasco could have been just a fiascino. I hate NYU sometimes.

Anyway, here are some pictures from Saturday. Firenze is still amazing, even if NYU is stupid sometimes.

La mia cona con gelato di crema

At a cafe in La Piazza di Santa Croce

On of my favorite buildings on my street with a once completely painted facade

Wandering around my neighborhood

A domani!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

C'è internet!

I finally have internet in this apartment, oh glory of all glories. I had no idea I was such an internet whore, but it seems whenever I leave the country, the internet becomes my umbilical cord to my life-as-I-know-it. Which consists of, obviously, all you people that I love. And even those I don't (that means you Mary).

Yesterday I moved in to my new apartment around 3 o' clock. My other roommates did not arrive until 6, and for a while during my wait, I feared that I was going to be living here all alone. No worries, they showed up. My apartment is in the very heart of Firenze, a 5 minute walk from il Duomo and a 10 minute walk from the frenata dell'autobus where I catch the bus to campus (also unbelievable). I am living in an NYU-leased apartment, meaning it is NOT off-campus housing but rather, an NYU sublet. There is AC in my room, though not in the other (I'm living with 3 other girls--2 of us per room), beautiful exposed brick walls, a cute kitchen, a washing machine, clothing lines outside the window for drying laundry, and plenty of sunlight. Our building is super old and we are on the third and topmost floor--there are only 3 rooms in this entire building--of a walk-up.

Walking from my apartment, Borgo degli Albizi 3, to the Duomo

Outside Villa Ullivi at La Pietra, NYU's campus

Our neighborhood is great too, very young and lively, with an absolutely amazing restaurant called Natalino right below us and an Irish pub that I don't plan on frequenting across the street. The old Italian man who dropped me off yesterday also told me there are many heroin addicts nearby. Great. Haven't seen any yet though.

Pear-filled pasta with gorgonzola cream sauce at Natalino, as amazing as it sounds

Orientation was today, continuing tomorrow and Friday. Then classes start on the 31st. Since this is a leased apartment, we didn't have internet so we spent a good 4 hours researching different companies this afternoon and FINALLY purchased internet for 39 euro a month, plus a 38 euro installation fee and a 30 euro refundable deposit. I bought my cell phone from the same man, who I thought until today was scamming us, but have decided he is alright. I think I've made it clear that if he fucks with me, I will come at him ATL style. Y'all know what that means, suckas.

On another note, I find myself already becoming comfortable with my Italian, asking questions (at the risk of making an ass out of myself) freely and without feeling self-conscious. I also am drinking lots of delicious vino--all types, I don't discriminate. Mm mm boy. Che cosa bella!

Yesterday I also got to meet up with Alex, and it was a breath of fresh air to see a familiar face. For a brief moment, I found myself frustrated with having to revert back to the freshman-esque unfamiliarity with everyone, annoyed knowing that I already had friends I loved back home and didn't want to bother making new ones. Thankfully, I came to my senses. My roommates are nice and we've been hanging out some, and I'm excited for classes to start--to both jumpstart my social life and give me some sort of structure to my days.

Carousel and street performers in la Piazza de la Republica

Speaking of new friends, yesterday as Alex and I were walking around at night, trying to find a place to sit down over a drink and talk, I spotted none other than banana-pants Magoo! WEARING THE SAME BANANA PANTS! I hope he is like Doug and has a closet full of those pants. Anyway, though I do think he's a good guy, I didn't feel like being dragged out to the bar he was going to so Al and I spent some time alone at a cafe next to my apartment where I think the waitress hates me.

Okay, it has taken me 2 hours to upload pictures on this damn connection and the rowdy bar downstairs is dead silent, apart from the noise of departing Vespas. Before I go, a few things:
1) My Skype name is naminyu. Add me motherfuckers!
2) I also have a cell number you can call, so let me know if you miss my melodious voice and I'll give it to you.
3) Comment on this blog! I am not feeling the love.
4) Apartment pictures to come.


Monday, August 24, 2009

La Vita è Buona

So I’m sitting in the hotel bar, drinking prosecco…I hope that came off as pretentious as I was going for. Anyways, the first entry is often the longest because I have way too much time on my hands right now.

4 cities, 3 planes, and almost 17 hours later, I arrived in Florence yesterday afternoon around 3. Some quick highlights:
1) I got virtually no sleep on the trans-Atlantic flight from Chicago to Zurich because of the endearing, yet baffling non-English speaking babushka sitting next to me who found it necessary to poke me every so often and non-verbally ask frantic questions about various things on the plane. Yes babushka, this is the remote. Yes babushka, I do have my seatbelt on. Yes babushka, I will open your packet of cheese for you since your weird old hands can’t.
2) Ran into Hayden Panettiere at baggage claim. No big deal. Went up to her and asked, “Are you Hayden Panettiere?”, quickly realized I had nothing more to say, and so once she confirmed I smoothly ended our conversation with a “Cool” and decided she was a bitch. Good to know my awkwardness isn’t specific to one country.

Il Duomo

Anyway, I got to the hotel, took a much-needed shower, dicked around the room re-organizing my things and whatnot, and then passed-the-fuck-out for like 9 hours. So today marked my first full day in Florence, or I guess should appropriately say Firenze, and it did not let me down. I took the bus from my hotel to downtown Firenze, a 15-minute drive. With no real plan in mind, I decided I’d head for the obvious and eventually found myself within il Duomo, engulfed in a sea of fannypacks and shutterflashes. It was absolutely gorgeous but I tired of the crowd and realized I’d undoubtedly return soon, so I headed out with no sense of direction and began wandering the cobblestone streets in the almost unbearable heat. I decided to try and find where my apartment will be, but inevitably got lost and thought it better to get some gelato. I attempted to place my order in Italian, and didn’t fail too horribly, but once asked further questions I had nothing to offer but a dumbstruck face.

So off I go again, eating my gelato, dripping it on my pants, the usual. By this point, I’m heading in what I’m pretty sure is the right direction towards my future apartment, so I’ve got a swing in my step and am feeling good. I slow down my New York pace and enjoy watching the people the pass me by, tourists and Florentines alike. I silently laugh at the man in front of me, dressed in a tailored white button-down shirt, white belt, white shoes, and tight, bright yellow pants. I continue walking until I hear a question directed at me in Italian. Why, it’s banana-pants Magoo! I’m again dumbstruck and tell him I don’t speak Italian, so he begins talking to me in English. Those of you who know me well know that I am easily skeeved out by guys, so though I was polite, I continued walking hoping he’d soon go his own separate way. But no, and turns out he is pretty normal and sane.

Sitting on Ponte Santa Trinita, overlooking the Fiume Arno

Audience, meet Stefano Sabini. Real estate lawyer specializing in re-finished wine estates. Works independently, consults a large Tuscan contracting company. I spent nearly 3 hours of my day with Stefano. He first took me to a delicious little hole-in-the wall restaurant where we drank red wine, ate fig tarts, pecorino cheese with honey, and—HOLY SHIT GUYS—melon and figs with prosciutto, salty Italian ham. That’s right, I ate pig. And it wasn’t all bad. But I don’t know if I’d order it for myself anytime soon, but how great to try new things. We spoke about the EU, the economy, our respective cultures and specifically, romance in each culture. After insisting on paying for said meal, Stefano acted as my own personal tour guide and took me around Florence to appreciate the beauty off the beaten track. Around 4, he had to get back to work and I, though glad to have met him, was ready for some alone time. I crossed the Fiume Arno and sat in a piazza writing and reading. Stefano and I exchanged e-mail addresses and I do hope that we hang out again. I am not interested in him romantically but I do think he is an alright guy who’d make a great (and valuable) friend in this foreign city. During our next encounter, though, I’ll probably bring along an extra body just to get a second opinion. But seriously guys, he is normal. I know a few of you are worried. STOP.

View from my hotel room

On Ponte Vecchio, photo courtesy of the Spanish couple

Anyway, my day ended with a long and lovely walk across Ponte Vecchio (where I got to use my Spanish and ask a gay couple from Bar-the-lona to take my picture—huzzah!) and then a dinner of prosecco, artichokes (mmmm), and ravioli with walnut cream sauce at an outdoor restaurant on the Piazza del Mercato Centrale. Back to the hotel, take a bath, soon find out I don’t really like baths, and now here I am. Tomorrow I leave for La Pietra, NYU’s flamboyant Florentine campus. La vita è buona—life is good.