Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Firenze Effect

It seems that this amazing city has quite the effect on us writers.

Ha, I just called myself a writer. I've never really thought of myself as one before, mostly because in high school, I abhorred it. With the notable exception of writing fiction - in fact, for a long time I wanted badly to be a creative writing major. But, I was Dedham's resident "music major to be" and I played that part so well that I even convinced myself that it was what I wanted. Well, many of you know the story, but I arrived at Converse a bright and eager band director to be. It took one week for me to figure out that it was not who I was. Looking back on that time now, I see how much of a true crisis of identity it was for me. I went from "The Music Education major/band geek" to " have no idea what I want to do." Have you ever seen a show or a movie where a girl (it's always a girl - but that is another feminist rant for another post) gets asked if she's seeing anyone, and when she says "no," she gets the head nod of sympathetic pity and "oh, that's ok, you will." Ok, well, that was my exact experience when people asked what I was majoring in: "I'm undeclared right now." "Aw, well that's ok..." Oh MAN did that tick me off. I have never not had an ambition; in first grade, I was going to be an art teacher. In middle school, a choreographer. In high school, I had the band director plan set in stone in my mind. And then along comes reality in the form of music school and it took a very heavy sledgehammer to that stone.

And then, I took my first English class at Converse. It was so interesting, and it felt so liberating to not have to  have to fight in my head of "oh, I could do, wait, I'm a music major." I wasn't even aware how often I did that to myself until I cut that chain. It was a wonderful feeling. I tried Creative Writing, but even more to my surprise, I didn't like it. Sophomore Fall rolled around, and I was introduced to the wonder and beauty that is early British literature with Mr. Morgan, and hook, line and sinker...I was an English major. I started getting praised for my writing, even though ever paper I write is accompanied by major self-doubt and perfectionist concerns (much to the chagrine of my amazing and very tolerant roomie). I started to realize that, hey, I kind of like this writing business. Around the same time, I started getting into the world of food blogs.

Got into it I did. Enough to believe that maybe I should start a blog. But I was intimidated and more or less camera-less, so I put it off. A week or so into my time here, after watching more and more people jump on the blog-abroad bandwagon, I decided to jump too. And I am SO glad I did.

It's actually a source of comfort knowing no matter how wonderful or how crappy a day is, I can come here and talk freely about it. Writing is my release. Expressing myself through the written word is such a natural, organic process to me, and this informal space I've created allows me to write without second-guessing myself or worrying about being clear or correct. Playing with language has always been really fun for me, I was just never able to articulate that until recently.

To return to the first sentence of this post, I have been feeling so inspired and liberated by the lifestyle here. I had an "Italian revelation" if you will, a few days ago. I was walking back from my 8 AM Italian class, cold, sniffly, thirsty, and sleepy. I was speed-walking as only Americans can when it suddenly occurred to me that I could be much less miserable in this very moment if I simply slow down, look around, and enjoy my walk back to my apartment where a cup of green tea and a lovely bowl of oatmeal awaited me. So I did. And it was lovely.

And speaking of lovely...

Chocolate-pear oatmeal. A little cocoa powder can do amazing things.
(Chef's Note: The bottom picture I cooked the pear in the pot with the oats, which I recommend over mixing in after, as the flavors mesh a bit better. Less pretty, perhaps, but I find it tastier.)

Both Alaina and I have felt that our passion for writing since starting our blogs abroad has intensified unexpectedly, and it's really a cool feeling. The idea of writing a book popped into my head a few days ago, and for the first time I actually feel like it is a feasible project. Sure, I've thought about it, but it has never seemed truly doable. Until now. Yes, there I go again, trying to find an ambition, because heaven forbid I, Gillian, live a day without "knowing what I want to be when I grow up." I am, in fact, ok with not knowing. What I am enjoying right now is the freedom of knowing that options are limitless, and it's even more exciting to think about now having uncovered my passion for food.

I was having a rather icky day today. Didn't sleep, stomach hurt, cold and gray weather, and wasn't getting much accomplished at all. But I feel better just getting it out there. Thanks for listening.


1 comment:

  1. Fabulous description of what a college education is supposed to be about- figuring out who you are and what you want to do. Go for it-write the book- maybe you will inspire Mom to write hers! Hopefully you can even earn money doing it.