Archive for the 'Books' Category

Now off to Austria with You, Go On Now

Then I took a job teaching English in Austria.  I met some amazing people (teachers come from Budapest and Berlin) and hung out with some really amazing kids.  Three different weeks in three very different small towns.  Photos soon I promise!


Bad Gastein


Leibovitz Lecture


Last week I had some amazing luck and ended up with a ticket to the sold out Annie Leibovitz lecture at the C|O Berlin where her retrospective is up, “A Photographer’s Life.”  The space was beautiful and walking past the giant line felt pretty great, turns out Germans love her; I saw a “Willkommen Annie” cover story on at least 3 big newspapers the day she arrived.

I know a lot of photographers don’t feel this way.  My room mate, for one, who was her first assistant for many years back in the 90’s.  Fortunately for me he didn’t really feel like going (apparently she can be more than rude on set) and thus I ended up with his ticket.  A lot of other photographers who have never actually worked with her, like me, kind of cringe about her because she’s become one of those names.  You know, like Ansel Adams or (more full on cringe here) Anne Geddes.   The type people who don’t know much about Photography mention whilst in awkward getting to know you conversations with a photographer.  I know I’ve had to surpress an eye roll on more than one occasion when people mention those names, it’s happened to the best of us.


All that said when Leibovitz walked in, I stood on my tippy toes to see her and later on found myself taking as many photos as I could while she was nearby.  She’s a household name for a reason and although I still don’t get Anne Geddes I had a similar experience with Ansel Adams in which I went to a retrospective show and was floored by the beauty of his prints.  Sometimes there’s reason for the hype.


Also, I just finished reading the late Susan Sontag’s journals “Reborn” and since Leibovitz and Sontag were partners I was interested to hear her talk about her.  When she did the audience went completely silent, more so as we watched this very powerful seemingly guarded woman grow a bit emotional as she referred to ‘loosing Susan.’


“when we met she knew I could be better, I could’ve been a jerk or the work could’ve gotten better.  I never really could be the person she wanted me to be.  She had a high set of values.  I never felt like I could totally please her”

Apparently the “Women” book was Sontags idea, interesting fact.  I found the photos in the show of Sontag to be really beautiful.  I think it’s always telling to see the portraits the portrait photographer takes of their loved ones.  Leibovitz said that was the motivation for the show, after Sontag died she was looking through photographs of her believing in all their years together she’d failed to get any really great ones.

She went on to talk about the photograph of her Mother, from the Women book and how it has become so much more to her over the years.  Just before taking it her Mother had asked her not to make her look old and after when she showed her parents neither one liked it.

“We always had to smile for photos when I was younger, in the best and worst of times.  And my Mother always smiled in photos.  But, I began to distrust the smile, in my protraits you rarely see people smiling….later at the show someone came up to me and said ‘she looks as if she loves you in that picture'”


It was nice to hear some of the anecdotes behind the photos I’ve referenced since I was 16.  And yes I have to admit I was a bit star struck; it’s hard not to be when you walk through the rooms of people she’s photographed.  I mean just to have met all those people is a pretty amazing feat.  I know I know, you can roll your eyes if you must.


“as a photographer, my achilles heal: I like people to look good.”

Annie Leibovitz


Wonderful Visits

Well my visit back to the states was quick. I’m already back in Europe and it feels like I just left Italy. Being back in the states was nice, seeing my friends and family was wonderful.

Here are some highlights:


Whitest Christmas I’ve ever had on Whidbey, and most productive scarf making week of my life.  Turns out being snowed in ain’t so bad.


Hanging out with Liam, my nephew.  He kept pretending to take my picture then telling me I looked like Mikey Mouse.  It was so great to see him, my niece Annexea and my Brother Leaf.


My Mom at our family friends for Christmas dinner.  Notice her festive Christmas lights necklace (which is available at Caseys Crafts of course!).

The clouds on my flight to New York were stunning.


So was the view of the NYC skyline from Alyson and Este’s Apartment.


Oh America I missed you.


The best part was seeing all my wonderful friends!


And of course a big shoutout to Layla and Isabella in Brooklyn and Rosa in Somerville.  I’m really glad my friends own cats.

dsc_0332Home Cooked meals including Mama Mushalla’s Quesidillas, Alyson’s Roasted Red Pepper and Polenta, Ross’s Pancakes, Triple E’s potato pizza, and (above) Amanda’s Mac and Cheese!

Walking around Boston and Cambridge bookstores was also fabulous.  No photos of those though.

And of course playing in the snow with everyone, which seemed to follow me everywhere I went.  First in Washington where it was out of control, then in NY a little bit, and then a snowstorm in Boston out of nowhere.  Wonder what the weather will be like in Germany.


For more photos of friends and good times check out my facebook or my flickr in a few months when I get around to putting them up.

Ciao mie amiche! Mi mancete!

After class the next day we all walked Aneja to the train station, it was raining again. The four of us had really become so close that we were pretty choked up in saying goodbye, Aneja kept waving from the train and we stayed on the platform until the train was to far away to see.

That day was kind of quiet; I went to COOP then to school to blog, Anna packed.  That night we all met up at il Pozzo.  Then later we saw the seminaries at Gianni’s sharing a beer on their last night and we all sat together to chat.

They were headed to Rome the next day where they started school to become priests and where they would be studying theology and philosophy for the next seven years.  I badgered them with questions for a while and then went back to Anna to have our last room mate chat before bed.

After Anna left I was pretty sad.  Alex had gone to Cortona with school and I didn’t think Florence would help.  The only thing in Florence was shopping and crowds and I wasn’t interested.  Instead I went to the market and bought a plant for some company.

I busied myself by moving into Anna’s room and sorting my stuff in the process.  It’s nice to have the bigger room but it’s strange to be alone on the top floor of the apartment.

The next day there was less to do; all the shops are closed on Sunday.  The weather wasn’t great and I was feeling pretty low.   I read “Frida’s Bed” and studied for a few hours then took a very long walk.  I decided it was time to make the call to Mom; cause even though it’s expensive talking to family and friends always cheers me up.  After that I called Amanda and chatted with her until my phone ran out of money.  I felt much better.

Adesso Italiano

Aneja va Venerdi alle 14.00 e Anna va Sabato mattina.  Ho una camera nuova ma, sono triste perche mi mancano loro.

Va bene, ho molto tempo a SGV. Conosco questa e solo una momenta triste.  Ciao mie amiche!  Buonviaggi!


The following Sunday we went to Arezzo for the market and the twice a year jousting ceremony.  If you’re interested in the history please check out the link below, also if you’re in Italy I highly recommend it.  Primo, the market:

the church next to the market

the church next to the market

Then the festivities began; first the men were announced and paraded through town with marching bands and then later the jousting began. There are four different groups/teams each represent a quarter of the town:

  • Porta Crucifera know as Culcitrone(green and red colors),
  • Porta del Foro know as Porta S.Lorentino(yellow and crimson colors),
  • Porta Sant’Andrea (white and green colors) and
  • Porta del Borgo, today called Porta Santo Spirito (yellow and blue colors).

We found out that San Giovanni Valdarno is of Porta del Foro and decided to buy some scarves to represent.

putting up the target for the jousters before the event began

putting up the target for the jousters before the event began

Anna, Aneja, Alex, Carol, and Gabby

After some lunch we were off to the square where we got a reasonably good spot (not in the craziness of the crowd but able to see the jousters run).  Everyone entered and the events commenced.

Flag throwing!

Flag throwing!

look how high those flags go!

look how high those flags go!

enter the jousters

enter the jousters

After the second joust they realized they would not win

Then we headed home on the train, speaking Italian most of the way.

Then we headed home on the train, speaking Italian most of the way.

I’m enjoying this light hearted summer read right now, as recommended by Dan Savage (one of the many authors) on the Savage Love Cast. I think it’s great to read about people reflecting on failed relationships as learning experiences they’re the better for and being really funny at the same time.