Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm Ready for the Marathon

Yesterday, I sprinted around Florence. All of Florence. All day. It was not fun, and I hope I never have to repeat the experience. Let me tell you about it:

This was the one day that I had something actually important to do in the morning. I had an appointment with the portfolio store to build my portfolio case for printmaking. I was scheduled to meet my professor at the McDonald's in the train station at 8:50 AM.

The night before, I set my alarm for 8 AM, made sure it was on and correctly set, and went to bed. I had plans to make an awesome breakfast and write my one-page paper due that day and then go to the shop with my teacher and all would be wonderful and productive.

Clearly it was not meant to be.

I woke up of my own accord at 9:20 AM. I bolt out of bed, throw jeans, shoes, and a shirt on, pull my coat on and remember to grab my glasses and purse before sprinting out of the apartment. I crash down the four flights of stairs and burst out of the door and run to the train station. I arrive at 9:27, and my professor is nowhere to be found. So I sprint to the art studio, in hopes that she went there to wait for me. No such luck. So I wonder to myself whether she went to the McDonald's outside of the station instead, and so I sprint back to the station and look there. Still no.

It's now 9:45 and I don't know what to do. So I sprint back to the studio and ask the person at the front desk if she has Lucy's (my professor) cell phone number. She looks at me and says "Oh, you're Laura. Lucy just called looking for you. She's at the shop already."

Wonderful. Now I know where she is. I prepare to sprint off again, but remember to ask, "How do I get there?"

The lady prints off directions, but fails to print off a successful map, and I'm running out of time, so I just take the directions, thank her, and head out again.

I run past the train station and past the fortress and pause to find the next turn when an Italian woman asks if I need help. I tell her no, but she insists and when she sees where I'm headed, tells me that it's very far away and I need to take the bus. Cool. "Which bus?" Number 22. The bus stop is right down the street.

I round the corner, walking briskly, figuring I will have a few minutes before the bus arrives, and see bus number 22 pulling out from the bus stop and heading into traffic. So I start running again and now I'm enacting every Hollywood scene of the poor kid running after the school bus, desperately trying to catch it so he doesn't have to run the whole way to school. The bus stops at a red light and I catch it. I bang on the door, pleading with the driver to let me in. He takes pity on me and opens the door. I hop on and breathlessly ask if his bus goes to the Piazza near the shop. He nods and hands me a ticket.

When the stop is next, I prepare to push the stop button, but the driver turns around and looks at me and says, "Your stop is next." Thanks, guy. I'm really not as pathetic as you think. But I thank him and get off at the next stop.

It's 10:10 now, and I know my teacher has somewhere to be at 10:20, so instead of looking around the piazza and finding the street that I need to take, I sprint around like a crazy person being pursued by the Devil himself, running down each street a little ways, supposing that somehow I'll recognize where I am (I've never been in that part of town before). Luckily, my teacher flags me down and drags me into the portfolio shop.

"Where have you been?" Oh, if only you knew...

She has taken care of the preliminary work for me, so all I had to do was pick the color of my portfolio and we were done. I was scheduled to meet with her again at 11:15 to go to a special appointment at the National Library and see original art books by Picasso and Duchamp and Depero (an Italian futurist) and Rodin. Lucy just looks at me and says "Please don't be late." I won't, Lucy, I promise. I may not be able to be like Rembrandt, but I will fight hell and high water to make this next appointment. I won't fail you.

It's now 10:20 and I have to get to the other side of the river to the National Gallery. I promised my professor that I would be there 5 minutes early (11:10). I walk to the bus stop and see that the next bus isn't coming for 15 minutes. That is unacceptable. So I sprint back to my apartment. It's a 15 minute hard run. I race up the four flights of stairs and grab my computer and furiously write that paper I intended to write several hours earlier. I send it to my professor via email because I don't have time to print it out, and grab my books for the rest of my classes that day. It's now 10:55. It's a twenty minute walk to the other side of the river. I make it there in 8.

So I'm sweaty and out of breath and disheveled and exhausted (because I had only slept 6 hours that night, and the previous weekend was full of raving and NOT sleeping), and up the stairs walks my professor, followed my three chic Italians: two female professional artists and a male professor at one of the top universities in Florence. They exchange formalities with me, but it's clear that they think very little of my appearance. Lucy tells them that I "of course don't speak Italian," and the man switches to French and asks me if that is better. I tell him I speak a little Spanish and understand that language the best of the romance languages, and he nods and switches to that. They all communicated what they needed to say to me in a mix of Italian and Spanish, with Lucy translating the more difficult concepts in English.

The artwork was amazing, and we had to wear gloves to touch it. They were all in great condition, except the Rodin lithographs for The Temptation of Saint Anthony had some severe foxing. The Italians knew so much about what we were looking at, and tried to educate me, but a lot of the concepts they were trying to explain were things I didn't even know the words for in English, so when they asked me if I knew the Spanish word and I did not, they immediately assumed I had lied about my understanding of Spanish and was a typical, stupid American. It was mildly frustrating, but I couldn't complain, because I was getting an opportunity that most people never get in their lifetimes.

Because of the explanations and the dwelling over the beautiful works, we were done at 1 PM. I had class at 1:30, by my apartment. Again, a 20 minute walk. I still hadn't eaten since I woke up, and so I thought I would stop by a cafe and pick up a sandwich to eat in class. I got there, and of course had to fight the lunch rush. By 1:25, I had reached the front of the line, but I needed to get to class. So I abandoned thoughts of food and ran to class. I arrived just as the teacher was shutting the door to start class.

I then had class for 4 hours.

After class, I was ready to go back to my apartment and eat, but I ran into a friend and she just had to tell me about her life (and unfortunately peppered the conversation with pertinent information and questions, so I needed to stay and listen to get all the information from her.

It was 6 PM. I realized that I needed to get to the studio before it closed (last entry at 7, close at 8:30), so I raced to the studio and printed. I did, however, do final prints for another plate (2 down!) and got another plate ready for final printing. So that was successful, at least.

Then I walked very slowly back to my apartment and crawled up the stairs and pulled food out at 8:45. It was the first thing I had eaten all day, so I just stuffed myself with starches and carbs. It was wonderful to finally eat something.

Then I took some photos of myself for the photo project I had due the next day, and then I passed out around midnight. I woke this morning sore, unable to move my legs.

And that's how I spent all of Tuesday sprinting around Florence.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh...sorry you had to suffer such madness! I hope the National Library was worth it, though; it sounds fantastic. If you're trying to get in shape, I recommend yoga. It's much more relaxing;)

    Also, thank you for the postcard! It totally made my day!