Sunday, April 29, 2007

Clearwater Beach, Florida

I spent all of last week in Clearwater Beach, Florida, which happens to be the worldwide Scientology headquarters, as well as the location we picked for the quarterly Electric Sheep Company retreat. Lots of work to get everyone (55 people!) down there and to get them organized, fed, etc once they were there. But it was our most successful retreat to date. Lovely to be on the beach.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The belated Italy recap!

I started the trip in Rimini, a beach town on the Adriatic coast. Paganello was sadly underwhelming this time around, but I still can't complain about getting to play Ultimate for 4 days in perfect weather on a gorgeous beach. We ended up winning our game on Monday morning, which won us 19th place out of 22 women's teams. Then we watched the 3 finals games (women's, mixed, open) and had one last evening of hanging out together.

Tuesday morning I split for Venice and arrived within 30 minutes of Scott, who was coming down from a long weekend spent in Vienna. A few hours later, we met up with the rest of Team Italy: Paul, Amy and Jay who were hilariously loopy from being awake for 24+ hours. We wandered through the big sights and ended up in the ghetto (the first Jewish ghetto in the world) where we had a beautiful Italian dinner. We all slept very well that night.

We spent all day Wednesday in Venice (toured the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica) and then took an evening train to Florence. We checked into our hotel there, and then went out for gelato - the best in Italy.

(The basilica in Florence.)

We spent all day Thursday in Florence (saw Michelangelo's David) and then took an evening train to Rome. Yay Rome! It felt good to be "home." We walked from the train station to the downtown apartment where we were staying, and were greeted by Laura and Valerio (the tournament directors) a dozen other Ultimate players. Bread, cheese, beer and a few tournament details rounded out the night.

(Fishing a frisbee out of the river.)

A quick note about the Rome tournament - there were only 20 or so players, divided into 4 teams. We played throughout the city, wherever Laura and Valerio deemed there to be enough space for a small field. Friday's games were in the northwestern part of the city. We tossed at the Pantheon, but the police told us to move on, so we made our way to Piazza Navona, where we managed a 30 minute game of 7 on 7. Lots of tourists stopped to watch, and only a few wandered blindly through the middle of the game. From there, we went to the banks of the Tevere River, and then on to St. Peter's. We got in a few points of Flutterguts before the Vatican City police told us the area was "only for praying." On to Castel Sant'Angelo, where the old moat offered a relatively spacious, peaceful area for our last games of the day. We went home, showered, and spent the afternoon touring the Roman forum. I've been there a few times before, but it's always incredible. Afterwards, we made our way along Via Aventina, where I used to teach, and had cheap champagne at the bar I used to frequent. The bartender still recognized me! We crossed the river and made our way to the Trastevere restaurant for the tournament dinner - pizza and beer. Fantastic. A pretty walk home, and a deep sleep.

(St. Peter's Basilica)

Scott and Amy and I got up early on Saturday in order to see St. Peter's basilica before the games started. We were in the church by 7:15, gaped a bunch, and then climbed to the top of Michelangelo's dome for amazing views of Rome as well as the inside of the basilica. We hustled down to Piazza Venezia for the first games of the day, on "fields" filled with trees, trash cans and gnarled roots. We happily moved on the Colosseum for a quick, cramped game, before heading through the Forum for a game under the basilica of Constantine. Incredibly, no park police kicked us out. We finished with a nice big game in the Circus Maximus.

We had a busy Saturday afternoon - the Pasta Museum, the Cappucin Crypt (decorated with the bones of hundreds and hundreds of monks) and the National Museum. We met up with the rest of the tournament players for dinner at a nearby restaurant and ate all kinds of good salami and pasta.

Sunday's games were in the northeastern part of the city. A few minutes at Piazza del Spagna, before a pair of undercover cops kicked us out, a nice long game overlooking Piazza del Popolo, and finally a grand finale game on a pebble field right behind the Villa Borghese. We hustled back to the apartment, grabbed our stuff, and hopped on a train heading north.

We arrived in Vernazza, one of the Cinque Terre towns, around 9. Our landlady met us on main street and showed us to our apartment. Lovely seafood dinner, a walk through the narrow winding streets which culminated in a stunning sea-and-stars vista.

We spent all day Monday hiking between the 5 towns. I hadn't visited Cinque Terre when I was living in Italy, so it was exciting to see a new place, especially one so beautiful. The five towns are stretched out along seven miles of the coastline. They sit right on the water, clinging to the rocks, and separated by terraced lemon and olive groves. The trails between them offer stunning views. We stopped halfway through the second trail and clambered down to a little pebble beach, where we swam and sunned for an hour or so. We continued to Corniglia and had a leisurely picnic. We arrived in the last town, Montarossa, around 5 - just enough time to get gelato and hop on the ferry back to Vernazza. We had a relaxed evening writing postcards and sipping cocktails by the harbor before an enormous pizza dinner.

(The Cinque Terre coastline)

(Documenting the coastline)

(Sunset at the Vernazza harbor)

Scott and Jay and I took the earliest train out on Tuesday morning in order to get to the Vatican Museums at a decent hour. I called my friend Lucas when I got there - we used to go salsa dancing when I lived in Rome, and he works for the Museums. Fun to reconnect with him. We spent hours in the Museums and Sistine Chapel and were among the last to leave. (I ran into another old friend while I was there - Rich, who used to work at St. Stephen's with me, and who works as a tour guide. Pretty funny.)

Finished with the Vatican, we turned our attention to shopping. Limoncello, lingerie, fine cheese, all the Italian essentials. We ran into Paul and Amy, who had taken a later train to Rome, and stopped into a fantastic pastry shop just as an enormous hail storm started. Our only instance of bad weather the entire trip, and we were trapped in a pastry shop! Delightful. We continued walking/shopping through the city, checked into the apartment we were renting for the night, and went out for one last good Italian meal.

Wednesday began with a 5 am taxi to the airport and was a long, long day of travel involving canceled and delayed flights. Happily, everyone made it home safe and sound at the end of the day. A successful trip.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Italy was great

Sorry for such a long hiatus in posting. I got back from Italy on Wednesday night, did lots of laundry and work, and then I left for Florida for a Sheep retreat on Saturday morning. I promise to post pictures and a summary soon! In the meantime, enjoy this video about how Italians are different from other Europeans.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Another Paga update

A quick Paga update.

We lost both of our games on Saturday, by pretty wide margins. Arrgh. The theme of that night's party was Hollywood, and our team decided to go as red carpets. Not a very obvious costume (lots of red lingerie) but easy. Some of the other teams had *amazing* costumes - Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Clockwork Orange, film crews, the Hollywood sign... great stuff. I went to bed "early" (2 am) and woke up "early" as well (9 am).

We lost our first two games today, and then won the third. It felt good, but it was another 13-2 win over the same team we beat that way on Friday... so not very exciting. I wandered past the massage tent and was amazed to find that there was no line, so I got a terrific free massage from a very friendly masseur. I told him my neck hurt from last night, and he demanded to know the name of the guy who did it to me. I explained that I had been alone, that I'd just slept on it funny, and he asked me my room number. Very good natured, not creepy, oh-so Italian. It was a great massage - all kinds of neck and spine cracks, and right on the sideline of the Arena, so we could take in the semifinal men's game at the same time.

We'll play 1 game tomorrow and then watch finals and drink beer. I'm off to Venice to meet up with the rest of Team Italy on Tuesday morning.

All in all, I'm happy and healthy and excited to be here!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

In Rimini!

A very quick post to say that I arrived safe and sound in Rimini on Thursday afternoon and am thoroughly enjoying myself. My team, The Lotus Eaters, went 2&2 on Friday and held seed. I haven't sunburned or lost my voice yet. I've had a good Italian pizza e vino dinner, and some fun dancing under the Paga circus tent. Gorgeous weather - sunny, not too hot, not too windy. Couldn't ask for better! Fun teammates, plenty of friends from other teams. Ultimate is such a small community in the end, even at an international tournament with 1000+ players.

Ciao amici!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Paga contact info

By the way, you can send me e-mail while I'm at Paganello! If you send it to and put my name in the subject line, they'll print it out and give it to me at the beach! This is the best organized tournament I've ever been to.

Can you blame me for being so excited?

Prometheus Bound, Fools Fest, Flashdance

This morning's thunderstorm woke me up around 3:30, and I was too excited to get back to sleep, so I'm in the kitchen enjoying the storm and feeling glad that I got to see the cherry blossoms last night; this rain will knock all the petals off the trees. My flight to Italy leaves at 5:50 this evening!

New York was fantastic. Besides seeing lots of Sheep and getting energized about our work, I got to hang out with Lisa and then with Kate - she and Scott and I went to see Scott's sister Julie in Prometheus Bound. The play is difficult, but Julie and the rest of the cast are superb. Julie even got a positive review in The New Yorker!

I got back to DC on Thursday night and left for Fools Fest on Friday morning - the first tournament of the season. I played on a women's team, SARS, that didn't do very well (to be specific, we came in seeded 12th out of 12 on Sunday morning), but it was a great group, and it felt good to play women's rather than coed. I played a few games with Scott's coed team, which was definitely fun and also reinforced my preference for women's Ultimate.

We all got back to DC on Sunday afternoon. Scott and I played Scrabble.

On Monday, I watched Flashdance for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt like I was catching up on a big piece of cultural literacy.

On Tuesday, I did a running/plyos/jumping/core workout with about 6 other Ultimate players. Gorgeous weather, glimpses of cherry blossoms.

My flight for Italy leaves in 12 hours!