My Monday started with procrastination. That good ol’ snooze button. I had gone to bed with high hopes and a goal of 6:30 AM. Unfortunately, I snoozed till 7. Then reset it for 8, at which point I turned off the alarm entirely. I woke up at 11. I skyped with my girlfriend for a bit while still in bed. The thought of moving myself was too much to handle.
Then I…well I couldn’t really tell you what I did. I have vague recollections of reading a bit of Paradise Lost, lounging, writing, sprawling, watching online TV…you get the idea. It was reminiscent of Adam Samberg’s “Lazy Sunday,” but later in the week. I should have been partaking in the world of productivity, that great economic wheel that aids the hard workers and spurns the wasteful. I selected the third option: non-participation.
I could claim it as a struggle against the system, that churning system of money that turns people into expendable parts, discard-able orange peals as Willy Loman described his sorry situation. But no. It was just a bit of laziness. I’m not an adult. I can pretend, but I really don’t have those responsibilities yet and I might as well enjoy it every once in a while.
And then you find a brilliant man that voices everything you are thinking:
So maybe we could have planned better. At this point, pointing fingers won’t help anyone. And at the very least, it was a good life lesson. But needless to say, the concrete floor of Florence’s streets aren’t ideal for sleeping. I believed I mentioned it in an earlier post, my friend and I went to Florence to play Ultimate Frisbee.
“Why?” You might ask.
I can hardly restrain my excitement
“Why not?” I would incredulously respond. So what if it was a Tuesday, and I had class the next day at 9. It was time to seize life by the throat.
Well, come 1 PM that night, we came to the decision that a hostel for 20 euro wasn’t worth the four hours we would be sleeping before our 5:50 AM train that morning. At this time we also learned that the train station was not familiar with the phrase “24/7.” Yet none of this matters a lick, because the minute we reached that train after 4 or so hours of restless sleep, our lights were out, big smiles plastered on our faces.
It’s also important to mention that for a Midwesterner like me, who is quite unfamiliar with trains always performs the same routine upon arrival at a train station. First, I search for Platform 9 3/4. Then, I quietly become giddy as I sit into my sit, realizing that I’m playing out the story of Harry Potter.
We were all a bit too excited for the train
I am blessed to know a family who lives in Rome, a family kind enough to take me into their home for a weekend, feed me incredible food, teach me the joys of cooking, and walk me through historical, religious, and contemporary center of the city while giving me extensive background on every church, monument, and museum we came across.
Not to mention every second was spent speaking Italian, a great weekend of practice.
The first night, I took a walk and ended up at the Spanish Steps. The night struck me with two contrasting images: the solid, imperturbable weight of the Steps, the fountain in the square, the cobble stone street all contrasted with the chatting tourists, couples enjoying the evening, and vendors pushing their flashy goods.
A Beautiuful, Pensive Night
See the incredible conclusion HERE
Tagged: Andrew Erlandson, Butler, life, monuments, night, people, rome, spanish steps, student, tourist, travel, visit
The most fascinating part of the weekend was later that day when she walked us through her grounds (something between a medieval castle and a renaissance villa) and taught us about her process.
She uses a grape that is unique to Toscana, one that is smaller and produces a third the amount of wine than other grapes. Her rationalization: “I drink wine, I don’t drink money.” It was a simple joke, but the meaning behind that completely floored me. A profound connection exists between the people and the food they grow, one that transcends profits.
She recognize this. She said again and again that when you eat, 70% of the material comes out as waste, unusable, unneeded. However, that 30% that stays, that can remain with you forever. She was hyper-aware of that. For that reason, when we visited, she put incredible amounts of effort into preparing our meal. As her guests, she sees an intrinsic duty in providing us with healthy, wholesome food. Once she has cooked and we have eaten, a connection is formed between us forever.
How can you not love this place, and these people?
There's a proper form that must be followed when serving wine. I have it down pat.
The duchess (as we call her) taught us not only how to taste wine, but to experience it. She said, “I have this friend, God, you might know him, who gave me two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.” And those were the exact tools that we used to probe into the before-unseen depths of this “nectar of life” (Again her words).
Corno Di Vino, an amazing place
We could see the type of wine, the age of it, how it was housed, the percentage of alcohol. We could smell the bitterness, the dryness, the flavors. We could taste the dryness with our gums, the initial burst of flavor that has been mixed with the air and one’s saliva, feel the heat on the tongue, and (my favorite), the final tastes at the back of one’s throat, a faculty of the mouth I had never before realized.
Ever since I was “un bambino,” my parents have had a glass of wine with their meal. I never before understood why. “It tastes awful!” my adolescent faculties screamed in protest. But I have been given a taste of what is actual present in every glass of wine.
Part 3: The Culmination of the Weekend
Do you know the difference between Italian and American culture? Well, besides the humorous videos that have delved into this topic before, I believe it is contained entirely within the realm of wine. Fo’ real.
This weekend past I made an excursion with my class—those of us studying in Perugia through Arcadia University. We traveled to an “azienda agricolo,” also known as a vineyard. The bus ride was, as usual, one beautiful view after another rushing by like clouds, yet imprinting themselves on my mind like the memories of a good friend would.
Andrew's attempt at being profound and artistic. Comment below if he even came close!
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by one of the most humorous, bashful, and profound personalities I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. She is a duchess, life-long producer and appreciator of wine, and life-philosophizer.
Read On: Part 2
When I was a sophomore in high school, I came with my brother when he visited Butler. At the time, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: become a concert flautist. Now, this might strike an odd picture for me, a gangly 6’1″ male, but it was what my heart was set on at the time. Butler’s music program looked incredible.
CELL-O! Didn't you know Butler rocks?
Years later, as a Writing Major at that same university, I find myself reminiscing about the music I used to play. I’ll set my Pandora to a Classical Music Station, and it will draw me back to the years of largo movements, treble clefts, and crescendos. I consider picking it back up, practicing on campus.
We all know life changes. Butler is prepared for the most wicked curve balls that we can throw at it. Those of us who haven’t made up our minds about what we want to spend our lives doing (which I think is a wildly unrealistic expectation to hold for incoming freshmen), there’s always the Exploratory Studies. For those of us who change our minds, the options are nearly limitless on where to go next!
Tagged: Butler, career, change, exploratory, explore, growth, life, major, music, musician, personal, professional, student, university