The Journey That Was 2009

I’ve been working on but mostly off on this blog here, I had planned to have it finished before 2010 came along but I guess I failed that seeing as we are already half way through February! So please excuse me if this blog doesn’t flow smoothly! Here we go…..

I started off the year 2009 waking up on the tiled floor of a mansion situated on the river in Perth Australia. The sun was shining, it was warm outside and I was with good friends. Nice way to start. A week would then go by in my home town before I made my yearly trip back to Verona Italy where I was greeted with a white blanket of snow. Unfortunately it decided to stop snowing the day I arrived so the wet cold Verona winter began. I’d go weeks without seeing the sun and my slight tan I managed to achieve on the beaches back home quickly faded.

(I may go off on slight tangents here and there…just a warning)

I always find it funny to spot those vain self loving Italians or Veronese that walk around this town. It’s winter, and like I said the sun has disappeared and naturally you are going to get pale. The majority of people, like myself, accept this phenomenon and gracefully let our skin colour fade away… however… I can’t help but laugh when I see, in a sea of white, that single Italian who has just spent the last hour in a tanning bed. I mean, seriously, have you seen yourself in the mirror?? You look like an orange turd!

So winter carried on and friendships were formed in all shapes and sizes. One friendship that would continue to grow strong throughout the year would involve a couple from North Carolina called the Munday’s. I met this couple while working at Oberdan Cafe (my second home so to speak) in 2008, but our friendship became much stronger throughout this year 2009. Spending evenings hanging out at home, or drinking at bars, I got to learn a lot more about life through the eyes of someone who was covered in tattoos. Today tattoos have become more accepted in day-to-day life but it was always amazing to see the peoples heads turn, and hear those sly remarks about the way they looked. I’ll admit that Munday and Amy were the first people I’ve become good friends with who were majorly involved in tattooing and being tattooed. And through them I learnt even more the value of not judging someone just by the way they look. They are lovely people who I would do anything for and at the end of August I offered to share my apartment with them so as to save money and help out.

But before August arrived there was Easter. At this time my brother was also living in Italy in a place called Salsomaggiore, for those who don’t know it’s the place where Miss Italia is held every year!…however my brother (Trent) was going through some rough times and missing home. He came to stay with me the month of Easter and not long after, our parents arrived for their Easter holiday. Like usual the holiday was spent agreeing and disagree, arguing over something small, fighting and then making peace over a lunch or dinner. We headed over to Croatia which I will say is a beautiful place. Found ourselves an apartment there, cheap as chips, stayed by the water’s edge for 4 or so days, then returned to Verona as my classes had once again begun. By the end of the Easter break we had decided that Trent would return home with the parents to begin working in the family business which now is proving a wise decision as he is now happier and enjoying life. Also he has turned out to be quite the real estate man.

So with the departure of the family I was once again free, able to roam wild in the streets of Verona all the way to Inkaddiction. As I said before Munday was a tattoo artist and this is the place he was working. A cool, friendly environment where art is created. Now earlier I had done a sketch of my violin, taken it to Munday and asked him to incorporate a woman into the drawing anyway he felt possible.
The outcome was like so

It was now or never and as everything in life comes down to choice, I chose now and this artwork now resides on my right thigh. Only the lucky ones get to see it….if you know what I mean.
I did what anyone would do if their parents didn’t know and decided not to tell them. A good idea at the time which turned into a few days from hell from my dad and 2 weeks of hell from my mum (for both me and my dad)…but I guess it didn’t help that I went and got another one from another amazing artist, friend of Munday, who owns his own shop in North Carolina, Errol. The cool cat with whom I shared many a spritz and heard stories about the punk era, post punk era, car fanatics, parenthood and more. His goal would be to bring together my family crest with an image/word my dad made up, Aroostercrat, (a mix of a Rooster and an Aristocrat) so basically a rooster with a cane, top hat, and monocle. And this image resides on my other thigh.

It was July, exams passed with flying colours, it was the holidays, and I was invited to go down to Puglia with my friends from the conservatorio for 2 weeks. Things were looking great, the sun was out, the beach was beautiful and the girls too, I was having an awesome time and taking pictures to remember the occasion. Now with the pictures being taken and me enjoying the sun and heat glimpses of the tattoos could be seen. So after the holidays I had to make a decision. Tell the family over Skype that I had gotten tattooed or let them find out for themselves on Facebook. So I man-ed up and told them… and then began hell…. But all that passed September came and the Munday’s moved in.

The day they moved in was an experience I’ll never forget. Munday was at work and me, Amy and Brandy (friend of Amy) were left to moved all of their things down the road, round the corner, round another corner and up the flights of stairs to my apartment… in the summer heat. But we made the most of it! and thanks to all our effort and the sweat put into moving the Munday’s now resided in my lounge room on the pull out couch bed.

Those months we all lived together will remain forever with me. The delicious vegan dinners Amy would cook. Our first home-made sushi nights. Being able to hear what music Munday was listening to on his iPod on the bottom floor from where we were on the top. The odd jam session here and there. The evenly matched games of Madden. I could go on and on but I would be here forever. When the time came to say “until next time” it was a sad moment, but as with all things in life you must move on and look at the brighter side. And with the brighter side came Americans from Chicago, an Italian Girl, The Aroostercrats and a couple from Poland and just in general more people to hang with

I was extremely fortunate with how my year went. Such lucky guy to have met so many amazing people and to have made such great friends. And what better way to start 2010 than by waking up on the tiled floor of an Italian Villa. I look ever so forward to what this year will provide…. That being said, 2 months have gone by already and they have already given me so much.

The Journey That Was 2009

January


February


March


April


May


June


July


August


September


October


November


December

Let’s get our 2010 on!!

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The Good, The Bad and The Hairy

Wow, I’m actually drawing the biggest blank I’ve drawn for a long time. I had a great idea as to what I was going to write about but its just completely disappeared. It’s like those times, well it might just be me, when I’ll be chatting away with someone in English and I get to a word which I would’ve learned when I could first talk and for the life of me just cannot say it. It’ll be right there, edge of the tongue and everything, and my brain won’t allow me to say it let alone think of what it was that I was trying to say. I’ve found that after 2 years, coming up 3, of living in Italy I’m forgetting the occasional English word (which is really embarrassing seeing as I’ve just put up flyers to help Italians with their English)! I guess it’s because when you’re an English-speaking person living in another country, where the majority of the people there speak English, after a while you speak like you would if English was your second language. Breaking up sentences, simplifying complex words so others can understand you, and my favorite, just not using words at all but having an entire conversation based on your hand movements. I’m now fluent and can sign “Let’s go get something to eat and drink, however I have no money”…signing, that is, the Italian way.

I think my daily dose of 4 espresso (or more, which has happened today) is now just kicking in. My mind is just wandering about the place tripping over memories and words floating around my head. So now I’ve just fallen over Love… now that’s a word that floats around a lot. What is it? A very dangerous word to try and figure out but lets see what I can do. According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary it has 9 meanings, the free dictionary (.com) has 10 meanings and a list of how it’s used… how helpful… I could look it up more but that’s just silly and I’ve forgotten where I was going with this, but I mean, does anyone really know what love is? It’s used so much in and out of context that it can be such an amazing word, a terrifying word or simply just a word without meaning. I’ll admit I’ve said that word, ‘love’, thinking I knew what it meant and felt like but in the end I really just had no clue. I guess when I meet someone I really like and who likes me back I’ll find out, either that or we’ve just said we like each other too many times and now ‘like’ has lost it’s meaning.

WAIT wait wait!!

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”
— Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

If that didn’t make you want to go out and find that someone to have and share that feeling with, then, well, I just don’t know. And if you’ve found that person and feel that way then I congratulate you both. But that’s the hard and annoying part of it isn’t it… finding that person. I’ve had problems finding/meeting someone here in Italy that I actually feel that way about, partly because I really don’t know what I’m looking for and when I think I’ve found it, turns out I was wrong. Then there are those moment I actually do meet someone, (you know that time when everything is going great, you really like her, she really likes you, and you can’t stop thinking about her and you want to spend every single second with them…1…2…3… yeah, that girl) she just happens to have a boyfriend or live on the other side of the bloody world and is going home after a few months never to return and you know that if you try and find out, understand, what it is you are feeling at that point in time, with that person, it will just disappear…and it pretty much sucks doesn’t it…

Well…the coffee is wearing off, leaving in its place the unavoidable tiredness slash not wanting to do anything… I still don’t really know what I was going to write about in this blog post and I can assure you I didn’t plan to blabber on about love… but in the end it kinda felt pretty cool to write.
No-Shave-Vember!! that’s what this post was going to be about… haha weird

But yeah anyway me and Munday have been doing a variant of No-Shave-Vember which involves October November December started half way through September and not shaving until the first of 2010! It has been an experience and is keeping my face warm in this cold rainy Verona winter.
Beards!Me and Munday

BeforeBefore

Me as of 2 seconds ago“After….wow I’ve gotten really pale! Gotta be the fault of the flash… yeah I’m going to stick with that excuse haha”

So that about ends this post. Now, because the year is almost over I’ll probably write another post before I head home to Australia for Christmas just to re-cap this whole year and I can’t wait to revisit all the memories I’ve had this year! Should be good…

Well…Ciao

Mark

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Concert Time – Chuck Ragan Padova 2009

So if you don’t know much about me and my life, you’re about to find out that my childhood music scene wasn’t as extensive as it is today (there you go, now you know).

With a mother who was a semi-professional dancer, including ballroom etc I was taught at a young age the basic dance routines like the waltz and the one I’ll never forget, walk, walk, side together side, back, side together (starting with your left foot). On the car rides to school, in the early years, our dad would control the radio station and we grew up listening to the golden oldies and my dad’s favorite artists like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. And when I started taking my music seriously playing in orchestra’s and band’s I was introduced to classical and jazz.

As of a few years ago I never really listened to or appreciated much rock, punk or that kind of genre. But when I started living in Europe and meeting new people I was exposed to many different tastes of music and now I can listen to, and like at the same time, the majority of music out there. It wasn’t until I met Munday and Amy that my music world was turned on its head. Artists like Alkaline Trio (who I’m listening to now), Flogging Molly, Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr and Against Me! and many more are now up there in the list of favorite music thus bringing me to the subject of this blog, Chuck Ragan.

Click here to go listen to Chuck Ragan

Click here to go listen to Chuck Ragan

For those who don’t know who Chuck Ragan is and have never heard of the group Hot Water Music will not know how amazing this man is and how awesome each song he sings or writes is. After listening and educating myself in the music of Chuck Ragan for some time, Munday one day was full of excitement as he had just discovered Chuck to be playing in Padova on the 5th of September and declared that we would go. Excited myself we set off to Padova with friends, our destination the Club “Unwound”. Upon arrival we lined up for our tickets, made our way past the merchandise stand to the bar, bought a beer, cheers-ed, then went outside for some fresh air. At this point Munday had already managed to meet Chuck Ragan for a second and give him an Inkaddiction shirt (Inkaddiction is the tattoo shop here in Verona where he works), gotten a beer and headed outside. So when I made it outside, Munday was already talking to some other Americans. When introducing themselves as the band members my excitement began to rise. They were all nice people drinking beers and having a good time.

We all went inside to get another beer and listen to the opening act, Digger Barnes (a musician from Germany whose music was also great and later played with Chuck). After a while of standing there with Munday, a little in-front of the other band members, Munday headed to the bathroom and Amy and Brandy were outside talking girly I assume. I was left alone not wanting to seem too eager to speak to the band members. Then another man arrived and started talking to the band. He seemed to be friends with them and then I thought, is that Chuck? I, (looking back now it seems a little bit silly), but I had gone to the concert not knowing what Chuck looked like. I sent a msg to Amy, “I’m not sure but I think I’m standing next to Chuck, come here now”. By the time I had sent it Munday returned and came and stood next to me. I whispered “Is that…” with Munday replying “yes” before I finished. We stood quietly watching the opening act. Camera-less I went outside to get the camera out of Brandy’s bag and when I said that Chuck was standing next to me the girls freaked and we all headed inside, subtly of course, but only to find that Chuck, the band and Munday were heading outside.

We followed and stood next to the group having our own conversation as Munday chatted away with the band. Both groups went silent as our conversations reached their ends and without warning Chuck turned and introduced himself to Amy, Brandy and myself. So cool. A musician, who I had only recently discovered existed thanks to my friends, and whose music I now love had just introduced himself to me. He wasn’t at all like the big-headed rock stars that populate MTV and the daily news who have too much money they don’t know what to do with, but a simple down to earth man with a wife and dog and owner of a construction business back home to make ends meet and earn money to support not only himself but his family. A fisherman at heart I was amazed as we carried out a normal conversation and discovered his love for my home town Perth Australia. After accepting to have his picture taken with us, he and the group headed back inside to get ready and we eagerly followed.

(From left): Me, Brandy, Chuck Ragan, Munday, Amy

(From left): Me, Brandy, Chuck Ragan, Munday, Amy

I need not say how amazing the show was because this blog would never end but by far this was the best live show I have seen. A close and personal performance from an incredible man, enjoyed with great friends. What more could one ask for?

So there we go, the first chapter of Concert Time, and no better way to start than with Chuck Ragan.

The next concert on the list is Dinosaur Jr in Bologna on the 10th of September so another chapter is not too far away.

Amazing

Amazing

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Amy vs My House Round 1

So, as of the 1st of September I have new house mates Brandon and Amy Munday, along with their friend Brandy who leaves in a few more days.

Moving in was the first obstacle as they ended up having more things to move than what they originally thought. So a challenge was born. The place they were moving from was basically just down my road…then the first left…then a quick righty lefty…right at the bridge and just a little down that road. As Munday (Brandon) was working at the time it was up to Amy, Brandy and myself to move and clean, so from then on out it was 2 Girls a Guy and 3 Suitcases (our new moving service coming to a town near you). But that story I won’t dwell on, it just involved a great deal of sweat, a hot sunny day in Verona and a lot of inhaled dust particles.

Now begins here the story of Amy Munday vs My House.

She had already made it clear that she had made a name for herself by being able to break anything she touched. I didn’t really pay much attention because she didn’t seem to be that type of person. But after just 2 days the nightmare began and already she has melted the top of my TV (by placing a hot straightening iron on top) and by breaking the flusher of my toilet… how she managed to do this I don’t know (so now it’s being held together by one of those clamps you use to hold paper together!)

As I look back over these 2 days gone, I can’t help but think what chaos and adventures we will encounter in the next 3 months that they will live with me! 🙂
But they are my best friends here in Verona so I can’t really complain…well too much anyway.

Stay tuned to find out what will happen next! haha
Amy 2 – 0 My House

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An Australian In Italy

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So, the first question you may ask yourself is why have I started a blog. Well to be completely honest, I came across a day (this day) in which I had absolutely nothing else to do and had a odd desire to write something. Very strange on my behalf because English class and essay writing were never a ‘forte’ of mine. Myspace nor Facebook weren’t appealing to me, neither was my new Twitter site, but I was intrigued by my friends blog. So putting 2 and 2 together I created my own blog site thingy.

And what better way to start than with a slightly brief introduction to me, Mark Pagnozzi, and how I ended up living in an apartment, on the 6th floor of an ancient ‘castle’-like building, situated on the border of the famous Piazza Bra, here in Verona Italy.

It was June 15th 1988, and a baby had just been born. Well I’m assuming many babies were born that day and I don’t think my birth was anything special. To be honest I can’t actually recall what time I was born, bad I know, I should probably look into that. But anyway, that’s the day I was born. For the first 3 or so years I don’t remember much, as any baby would, but I was told that I went on a few holidays and day trips here and there, and there’s photographic evidence that I was quite the cute baby. Interesting fact, up until my 1st birthday I didn’t sleep a full night…apologies to mum and dad.

That's Me

So the year is 1992 and I’m four. Looking at me now you may not believe this but I was quite a smart 4 year old, able to read and write at a first grade level, so when the school year started I was enrolled in Year 1 at Hale Junior School. Being a 4 year old surrounded by big 5 year old kids was no walk in the park, but, I survived and made it out alive to tell the tale. However, this tale is short because I don’t remember much of my youthful school years, so I’m just going to summarize it up in a paragraph.

Firstly Hale School is an all-boys school, if you weren’t already aware, which was a bit of a shame to say the least! Though I should probably give a little bit of credit to the school for igniting my passion for music, see when I was going through the Junior School they had you start either the violin or cello in Year 2, at least for a year. I started the violin and that is one of the reasons why I am here in Italy today (now the main reason for why I live here). Year after year I continued the violin picking up the trumpet, piano and singing in the school choir along the way. Right up till the end of Year 12 I played in numerous bands and orchestras, not only school organized but state and country run too. Highlights of my school life would have to be winning a few awards for music, making some really great friends, Year 12 Music Captain (can’t forget that one!) and making it through 12 years in an all-boys school without going crazy!! (They give you a certificate to prove it too!)

I finished school in 2004 at the age of 16 and then along came University life. Without hesitation I enrolled myself into the music program at The University of Western Australia (UWA). Ready to go, I prepared myself for an awesome first year of music but after the first few weeks felt like I had hit a brick wall, running as fast as I could, being chased by a bull…it was pretty bad. The best times I had at UWA would have to be when I was sitting round with my friends drinking coffee at Hackett Hall early in the mornings, cheekily skipping ‘not-so-important’ music classes to get food at Reid Library, and Italian classes. Here I met TJ, a guy who I’d never really talked to at school, but we became good friends in our Italian classes together.

These classes were the times where we would have fun. Befriending our teachers, we joked around, enjoying our 1 sometimes 2 hour classes a day, but always paying close, serious attention of course. It was at this point when we thought it would be so cool to go and work/holiday in Italy for a month during semester break. Thanks to my dad who had contacts at a campsite in Venice, Camping Fusina, after working there himself for a few years in his youth (don’t worry dad you’re still youthful), we found ourselves on our way in July/August of 2006 with another friend, Enston.

Enston, Me, TJ

So there we were, TJ, Enston and myself, at a campsite in Venice having a welcome beer with the boss in the afternoon. Beautiful. In the end we worked for our accommodation by painting anything our boss told us to, by sweeping the leaves off the streets and by doing the bin run each morning. But it was worth it just to go to the pizzeria, have a cold beer together after a hard hot day’s work, and just chill out in a world unlike any other. Each night new tours like Contiki, Busabout and Budget Tours would roll in containing groups of mostly girls ready to party the night away. Unfortunately we had all gone away with girlfriends…but that didn’t stop us having fun if you know what I mean. To the guys credit they are both still with the same girls they were with that day.

K.W if you’re reading this Enston was on his best behavior and have nothing to worry about, also partly because his dance moves were really quite unattractive and a circle always used to form around him with the peoples backs turned!

Enston and his Dancing Skills

That holiday passed and I was a changed man, well, at least that’s what my girlfriend at the time said when we parted ways. I started 2nd year university but with a certain desire to leave it straight away (it had nothing to do with a Polish girl I’d met at Fusina I swear!…). There were the same ‘past their expiry date’ music teachers (with the exception for a few..too few cool ones) and the same run down music department which probably to this day still has that staircase sealed off by concrete, because the department ran out of money to finish it (hmm.. I wonder if they’re ever actually going to lead somewhere). I needed to get out. So I came to an agreement with my parents and in March of 2007 I would take a year off to go back to the campsite to work full-time, clear my head and return to start my 3rd year of the music course in 2008. That day came and I once again regretted that I had gone away leaving another girlfriend behind. My journey began at 18 years old. Myself and my 17 year old brother Trent, who came with me to pursue a soccer career, arrived in Milan.

My Brother and I

We made our way to the hotel where we would stay the night before I went to Venice and he went to trial in the States, before returning to play in Ferrara. Trent’s first task was to go to the pharmacy and call a doctor because our farewell dinner back home at the lovely Coco’s Restaurant had given me an extremely bad case of food poisoning, which haunted me throughout the duration of our flight from Perth – Dubai, Dubai – Milan…basically a day in an airplane for those who don’t know. It was torture!

I arrived at the campsite sick, frozen (not being used to the cold Italian winter), alone, depressed and without a heater in my cabin.I was already thinking I had made a mistake by going there. But I pushed through, other workers began arriving and the coolness made way for the heat. Along with the arrival of the sun came my fortunate streak. With a few emails, a lovely family, and a generous violin teacher, I made my way out of the campsite to begin studying the violin under an amazing Maestro at the Conservatorio di Musica in Verona.

2007 ended with a decision. Do I stay in Italy to do a trial year at the Conservatorio and hopefully pass, or do I take my already booked flight to a world I knew and was comfortable in. Choosing option 1 I would miss out on the next years spent with friends and family, the beach, my car and my dog. Choosing option 2 to return I would miss out on the opportunity to follow what I really wanted in life, music. So, in the end I decided to venture into the unknown and continue studying in Verona. Already lucky enough to find a teacher willing to help me no matter what, my streak continued when I found the apartment in which I am now writing this (thanks to dad who was helping me search for possibilities on the net). Contracts were signed, luggage was moved and food was bought and in October of 2007, I had myself a place to call home in Verona Italy.

My Balcony in Verona

In the years leading up to now I passed the trial year and enrolled into a 3 year degree, I made more actual friends than who I believed were friends back in Australia and those who bothered to stay in contact with me I realize are true friends. I starting teaching myself guitar and now am writing acoustic songs (hoping one day I might make my own CD…I’m on Facebook and Myspace if you want to check them out…www.myspace.com/markpagnozzi ah self publicity), and I can now say I’ve modeled in Milan (this is true)!

So now as I sit here typing away about my life I realize that it’s been quite the eventful one full of excitement and disappointment. And even though I left behind my friends, family and the place I call home to pursue what I hope one day to make a career of, I’m not sad. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss Australia dearly but leaving my comfort zone has helped to draw the outline of the person I will one day be remembered as, taking with me each and every memory from my experiences and hopefully passing on my stories to the people who care to listen.

So, if you’ve taken the time to read this I thank you and wish you the very best in what you do and who you strive to be. Until next time, goodbye.

…………..”Dare to be different”

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