Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Te amo...

Love. The heart. Is sacred in Italian culture. 

We learned about matters of the heart and passion for our work, as well as one another. Johnny, our Tarantella instructor is one of the most passionate people I have ever met. There is so much fervor that runs thorough him and exudes from his movement, his voice, his presence. It is a gift that I hope to one day assume in myself. 

I don't want this to be too long of an entry so I'll leave with the thought of love.

To say "Te amo" Johnny says, is very very powerful words. Many are afraid to say this unless there is a deep passionate connection that you have with another. He says even to relatives you would rather say "Te vulevo bene" which is more in the terms of "I like you a lot," a term of loving but not so deep as "Te amo".

I thought about how much we say we love one another in America, and I thought of how sacred it is to say these words.  To my family and friends, when I say these words to you I will mean it, remember that. "I love you," because I really truly do have a passion for you and for what you are in my life. 

That's all for tonight. I'm beat.

"Te amo"....

PS new pictures are up from day 14 and 15. MORE TO COME!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


What I choose to write about in my time abroad are of happenings and experiences that have heavily impacted my life and that will make me a better performer, leader, friend, daughter, sister and person when I return back home.

The past week have been work intensive and heavy on my heart and my body. I have been pushed to my limits in so many ways. From physically straining days, to emotionally challenging ones; we are given the opportunity to grow and become stronger people with every interaction that we are given with one another.

Sometimes I just wish you all could be here to see me in my element, because here when I am in my work I know that I am in that place, where no one can bring me down.

This may not all make sense, but these are my thoughts right now. And this is how I feel at this very moment.

Being behind the mask is a place where I do not feel so vulnerable in the way where I am afraid, but rather where I am vulnerable and willing, where I am ready for my body to take control of its self. The passion behind my movement, my action is present and to release that is such a powerful thing.

I feel present in my body and I feel present among the ensemble that I work with. I think of nothing more than living out my characters and feeling them without judgment. The most judgment comes from your teacher when you take courses, but with Michele, the most appreciation comes from him. He constantly pushes for us to do our best work and I strive to do it, because this is why I am here. This is why I am here so I could push myself beyond my limits, so that I could have Michele, with his approving and proud grin, give me a nod of gratitude for my work after each day. "Very good work" that's all he says, but he doesn't even need to say a word for me too feel what he has felt from my work.

We hope for times like this. For moments of appreciation, to build you up and put you in a place where you feel that much more assured that your passions are not leading you astray but rather bringing you to the place where you undoubtedly belong. The mask is a remarkable place to be. I let it take over me, and when I remove it I feel I have given a piece of myself to it and to my class for them to hold on to.

Improv work has been extremely challenging, having a 9-1230 period and then lunch in between, and a period again at 4 but before coming to class to have work ready to present, has been a mind fuck, but one that has brought out some of my deepest inner feelings and has allowed me to look deep within the work to find something I can really connect with and I can share with others.

Our piece we have been working off of is a Midsummer Night's Dream, but not in the way you always see it worked, like any Shakespeare. But our focus are the actions, and how the characters create those actions and are driven by their actions. We have taken it piece by piece, day by day and found more brilliance in it than I have ever seen or thought of before.

The question for the past week was "Where am I?" and I am in a place where I feel ready, and I feel willing to have life throw whatever it wants at me so I can take it in, struggle with it, learn from it, and grow from it.

Tarantella class and not having Michele around today was intense and emotional as well. Tarantella was meant to dance away the poisons and toxins of the body from the bite of the tarantula. It was said that someone inflicted with tarantula poison because lifeless, where their being would shrink away until they were dead. The cure: to dance the poison out.

And so today we danced, and felt one another and our presence in the room. We made connections to the ground, to the air, and most importantly to the flesh and bodies around us. To perform and experience Tarantella took us to a place where it seemed there were no confines around us. We were always to focus further and further, where if our focus was a wall it would be beyond that wall, if it were a person it would be into the depths of their heart.

Our subbing teacher today says that we owe to the audience the exposure of our hearts, we are to give them the present, of our presence and our openness. Today i danced away any negativity I have had and only focused on the work well done. 4 and a half hours of Tarantella, Commedia for the past weeks day after day; at the end of each day my sweat was dripping, my feel were callused, but I have never felt more alive than in this work of movement, of action, masks, of presence, of the heart.

I am awakened.

Friday, July 4, 2008


This past week has been a remarkable one. 

I have been delving deeper and deeper into this community and into the work that I have come here to do. Everyday I have pushed myself far beyond the reaches that I have ever been given the opportunity to do in any theatrical work I have experienced in the past. It has been a gratifying and fulfilling challenge, not only for myself as an artist, but also as a person, as a human being.

I cannot explain to you all how physically and emotionally draining this work is. I will be honest. Sometimes... I feel as if my studying theatre is not as worthwhile or to you all not as serious or difficult or what have you. But it carries its own weight and it is something that means a lot to me. I feel sometimes Artists are belittled. Sometimes I feel that you all may not think that I can perform either. But I have reaffirmed for myself, that I can and that I am good at what I love to do. I just never gave myself the credit.

I was always afraid of the judgement.

That's what comes with the work. No matter how hard you work, no matter how talented you are... there will always be judgement. 

Today I had a very beautiful experience with my work in class. I've experienced this sensation many times before, but today was the most intense I have ever experienced. I just tell myself that I am here to do my work, and to do it well, and to bring back whatever I can when I leave. For my art, for my soul, for my friends and family, my Kababayan and all the things I care about.

I also had a beautiful talk with Ricardo about life. And work. "Ricardo" it is always said by the other staff members "is the backbone of this Villa" because without him everything would fall apart. He is not married, he does not think to go back home because all he does is work. He says that he puts his heart (puso he said) into his work because it is what he has, and it is how he can live. But it return he is able to see the fruits of his labor. he knows that if he did not care for his job then no one would care for him, they could easily throw him into the streets. 

He also spoke about how he hired to work under him all his close friends and closest family he has in the Filipino Community here. It is difficult for the men, he says, to find work. And so he chose his men. He said that you have to choose wisely who works beside you, because there needs to be respect and love to assure you will not be threatened, or have to pay for the work that those under you cannot or are not capable of doing.

He knows the value of work and struggle and we spoke of how knowing this makes us appreciate our culture, the people we are, and our lives. 

I love him for always sharing his wise words with me and his strong heart.

He and the other Filipino staff members put on a party for us today, with Filipino BBQ, Lumpia, Magic Mic, Flip Cup and Beer Pong and good company. And it was absolutely amazing. So much generosity and so much good humor. I enjoy their presence and I have been doing my best to help them in any little way I can. For as long as I am in this Villa I will help them to know that they are appreciated and loved. 

I cannot explain to you all how much being here has taught me to appreciate everything that I have and everything that I am. 

I have always been dedicated to any work that I do. And it is all important because it is important to me. And I am determined and I know I will make a difference somewhere some day. 

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Some thoughts... and PICTURES POSTED!

So I'll leave you with the thoughts that stuck with me today!

Michele (after being translated from Italian to English by Dory!): "We have to keep going with this work, we will add on and go deeper and work deeper until we feel we will die!" 

That's a relief... hahahaha

Cayanne: "Think of the words Wellness and Illness, the only difference is "We" and "I""

That is all! 

Pictures posted!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


You can learn strength and happiness as long as you can learn  generosity to others and appreciation for what you are given. I have learned, in the past two days generosity because of the blessings and sacrifices that others are willing to give to those around them and appreciation because of the ability that I have seen in individuals to appreciate their lives and all that God has provided for them, regardless of whether others may feel it is not enough. I want to allow these individuals into my heart, because it will only further teach me to be a better person.

Ricardo, Jeff and Eric are the Filipino maintenance workers at the villa and I appreciate how they allow themselves to be happy with making the lives of those in the villa more comfortable than maybe their own lives. 

Ricardo has been working in Italy for 15 years, 10 in Rome and 5 here in Arezzo. He is the head of all the other Filipino workers here, like a Kuya to them all and a Kuya to us as well. He is always smiling and always in positive spirits. I enjoy his presence.  He is still yet to return to the Motherland. Eric has been here for 3 years, but he says "No real difference from home to here... Either work in the kitchen in Italy or drive tricycle in Philippines." Jeff is only 16 years old, the ading of the bunch, he says he does not want to go back to the Philippines. He's been here for 1 year and all he has known is work. He never finished school, he was okay with this because he knows he has to work, for himself and his family. 

These indiiduals live day to day to work, and do the work day to day to live. I love and appreciate them for their humor, patience and generosity. 

Yesterday we had an Operetta concert at the villa and a reception after. They served us appetizers and wine and had to wait for everyone to be done schmoozing before they could leave the villa for home. They were here until after midnight.

I think to myself, do others realize this, do they see Jeff standing in the doorway ready to refill our Vino take away our dirty glasses and bring whatever is needed? Do they see how Ricardo is never sitting down? How we never see these individuals have a meal? How they are here from the moment we wake until we sleep. A hot meal three times a day, a clean villa, fresh linens... I like to think they see all of this and appreciate it and that they will maybe show their gratitude to them eventually. Whenever I have the chance I sit to talk to them and let them know that I notice and that I appreciate and that I love them.

I sat in the kitchen with them while they waited for the guests to all leave and the students to turn in, for so long I missed the meeting time Wes and I were supposed to talk online. Just listening to their stories and joking with them in ilocano, teaching people bad words and such. We listened to Ilocano music off of their fancy cellphones they were so proud to have. They tried to challenge my ability to understand the Ilocano  and were so happy to know I understood. They all speak 4 languages, Ricardo fluently (Tagalog, Ilocano, Italian and English) i respect them so much for that. If any person in this villa sat to have a conversation with them they could. 

I told Ricardo that I was craving Filipino food and I was tired of all the Pasta. he told me I'll make you a special lunch, Chicken adobo. And sure enough today there was chicken adobo and mongo on our menu and right before my eyes at lunch. I have never appreciated a lunch so much in a long time.

My roomate Yessenya is another amazing and inspiring person. Thank God for blessing me with a month of living with this beautiful woman. She is 28 years old and she came to America when she was 19; alone and with Spanish as her first language, barely speaking any English at all. In Ecuador she was wealthy, her family owned much land, but she was the first of her family to come to the states. She lived with another family when she came, but she experienced uncomfortable surroundings because of the Father of the family. She could not live there anymore, but before she could figure out what to do if she left, they kicked her out. 

She was left to the streets on her own; she slept in a park for weeks, until she met a woman, who she calls her family, and Yessenya was brought into her home with her large family. They lived together with 12 others in a small shack like home. There was no room for her to sleep and so they offered her a place in the small coop in the back where the chickens slept. Yessenya was happy to be with them. Their meals were almost nothing and the surroundings were poverish, but she appreciated the generosity and the love they gave to her. 

A little after they were kicked out of this home because they were unable to meet rent, but she was no longer alone and although they slept in the park for more weeks, she had her "family" with her to sleep beside.

She later returned to Ecuador after living for herself in America, and now she is married and back in school studying at UCI and now here in Italy and she is happy and strong. 

She reminded me of the people in my life who have given to me with gestures and with just their presence. I think of my parents and how I know they would give me the world, even if that world was just the clothes off their backs. How could you even take for granted and not appreciate such sacrifice and the genuine generosities of the heart?

I feel so privilege that God has continued to introduce so many beautiful people into this life and I only hope to be able to do for them even a fracture of what they have done for my soul.