Arrivederci & hello again

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A few nights before I left Rome, I took a last stroll along the Tiber. My friend was trying to catch a nutria and I was “helping her,” which actually meant I had just invited myself along so I could distract her with irrelevant conversation and convince her to let me shoot Crocodile Hunter-style videos of her talking about ducklings in an Australian accent. She did not catch a nutria. I am not helpful. Don’t take me places.

But anyway this walk along the Tiber, however unsuccessful it may have been as a hunt for large rodents, was such a fantastic way to say goodbye to the city I’d fallen in love with ten weeks prior. Three hours spent meandering past suitcases full of moss and beached tires, gaggles of drunk tourists, barefoot, sitting on the banks and belting out pop ballads, the cheerful slur of “WE’RE GERMAN!” echoing downstream when they noticed us snickering past them. As is only appropriate, the Ponte Sant’Angelo guitarist played “Hotel California” not once but twice as the sun set, bringing my final count to 10 (not as impressive as I’d hoped for, but still abnormally high). I can still kind of hear it, much like I can still kind of taste that stupid-delicious pizza marinara from Dar Poeta, which I ate later that evening. As for the nutella calzone… I am not yet emotionally ready to discuss my feelings.

Throughout my last week, I kept joking that it was a good thing I was leaving Rome. On that Saturday, Karly and I set out for the Corso to do some shopping – we walked from Trastevere to Campo, and from Campo we somehow ended up by Castel Sant’Angelo, which utterly perplexed us, and then suddenly we were at Largo Argentina, overrun with stray cats, and we were like… how did we get here? Then we were on a street I recognized, and I thought we were nearing the Piazza del Popolo, but out of nowhere popped the Altare della Patria, blearingly white and not where it was supposed to be. Do you remember back in April when I claimed to have a sense of direction? I’m now comfortable admitting I never had one at all, but I’m still inclined to believe I was living in a place which strove to deceive me. I always end up characterizing cities as teases. I guess when I can clearly see their cleverness trumps my own, there’s always something to chase. Rome is dangerously enigmatic, so I laughed as I claimed to be saving myself from a lifetime of lostness – even though I kind of wanted it.

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I wanted to come home, but I didn’t want to leave. Standing on the corner of Piazza San Cosimato and waiting for a taxi, morning, June 5, felt incredibly matter-of-fact, as did the stiffness of my back as I went into the sixth hour of trying to sleep on my transatlantic flight. There wasn’t really anything I could do about it, I was being pulled. And I was beyond happy as I jogged through baggage claim at Seatac into the arms of my mother, and I’m still very happy to be here in this PNW sunglow of a summer with family and a shower that doesn’t leak – but, as I expected, it feels like Rome is something I dreamt. I keep finding myself silently reciting “Ode on a Grecian Urn” while I do the dishes, just to prove to myself that I actually went to Rome and memorized poetry.

Well, it happened. I was happy there, and I’m happy here. Mostly, I’m grateful. Grateful for my professors, my friends, pizza, knock-off Birkenstocks, notebooks and noteworthy people, drinking fountains, and, it goes without saying, mosaics. I’m grateful that I can now take it easy on myself when my jogging endurance is abysmal, because I spent two months “eating carbs and staring at art.” But seriously where the hell is the gelato? Damn it, America.

Tomorrow, I get to see Sufjan Stevens, who basically propelled me through Italy with “Chicago.” It’s become like the cliche traveling hipster song, I know, but it will always, always remind me of shooting across the country by train and feeling impossibly young and ready.

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All things go, all things go.

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Rome I: sunrises and sightseeing by chance

I’m a little more than slightly irked that a pre-cold runny nose got me up at 6:30 when I could have slept in till 8, but I suppose this is just an unexpected opportunity to reflect on my first few days in Rome. Although my head aches in an unpleasantly dull way from the congestion, this feels like a pretty appropriate time to be doing this – the birds are twittering away, the sun is slowly filling the space of our courtyard, I am at the maximum comfort level in sweats, a crewneck, and a flannel. Really, the only thing missing here is a two-hands-required, bowl-sized mug of black coffee… but I don’t drink black coffee. You know. Goals.

The morning I took off for Rome, I was pretty exhausted (if you recall from my last installment, I did not sleep the night before). So after the continued issues with flights and cancellations, when I finally got into the air en route to Heathrow Airport, I actually, legitimately cried about the beauty of that morning’s sunrise over the Scottish countryside. Before you judge me, please just take a look through my eyes:

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Crying about a sunrise on an airplane full of business people could easily be considered a low point in my life, but I’d argue it was a cheesy-albeit-fitting beginning of my journey to this city. I had my layover in Heathrow, where I ate pizza and drank prosecco at like 9:30am. In my defense, my concept of time at that point was egregiously warped thanks to my sleepless night at the Glasgow Airport, but I did not have the chance to tell my fellow diners this and could feel their cold, judging stares. LIVE AND LET LIVE, GUYS.

Predictably, my flight to Rome was delayed by about an hour – this honestly felt like a blessing after the problems I had encountered in the earlier parts of my itinerary. We’re leaving an hour after our planned take-off time?! We’re practically early! I was in and out of sleep the entire flight, partly because I was knackered and partly because some asshole had taken the window seat, and what’s the point of staying conscious if you don’t have the window seat?

I touched down at FCO around 3:15, waited impatiently for my bag, and hopped into an insufferably muggy cab. I think I had this previously unacknowledged expectation that we’d somehow magically hop from the airport into the middle of the historical city, taking some nonexistent route which wound us past the ruins of the Forum, and the Pantheon, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Quite unrealistic, like so many of my expectations. So when we reached the dingy outskirts of town, with its bright paint and mini marts and buildings thrown up in the 70’s (aka the worst time for architecture), I found myself feeling slightly disappointed that this was a part of Rome. And this made me think about the ways in which I love cities. I tend to love cities for what I perceive to be their authenticity, but when it comes down to it, I’m not even sure how I’d define authenticity. Does the guy selling selfie sticks outside the Castel Sant-Angelo make the monument any less real or valuable? Do the dilapidated fringes of the city detract from its history or culture? Whenever I’ve considered these questions in the past few days, my resounding answer has been “no.” Everything that is a part of this city is a part of this city. And it’s important to learn how to embrace the pieces which aren’t carved out of marble or painted by a guy I learned about in 9th grade art class. I think I’m getting somewhere.

To carry on with the story, eventually we did start seeing crumbling pillars and cobblestone streets, and soon enough our driver had pulled into the piazza where our campus is located and was unloading our bags and saying “ciao.” There we were. In Rome. Getting keys to our apartments. In Rome. Perplexedly gazing at maps and getting lost. In Rome. It didn’t sink in then, I’m not entirely sure it’s sunk in now.

So far, it has been a spectacular experience. One of my favorite things about Rome is that it’s so easy to wander, to just impulsively dive down winding side streets, and sometimes when you’re doing this you can glance up, in a moment which is the dictionary definition of serendipity, and find yourself stumbling up the steps or across the bridge to an incredibly old and famous monument. I’ve done this multiple times. The city is full of sculptures and fountains and panoramic views that seemingly come out of nowhere, jump right in your face when you’re least expecting it. I’m learning to sightsee by chance, which means I get to take in a lot of details that might be glossed over in a whirlwind tour. I absolutely love it.

Equally fantastic is the group I’m here with. Most of them I’ve only just met, but everyone is so kind and chatty and interesting in their individual ways – I’ve got my introverted tendencies, but I love getting to know people and learning their quirks. So, needless to say, this fun for me. What better way to make friends than getting lost in Trastevere together?

I won’t talk about any places I’ve visited yet, but that will come soon. I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep, but I do think my posting on here will be uncharacteristically frequent for the next few weeks; I actually have material! When does that happen?

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Story, Goal, Song: part I

Here begins a series of posts I can really only describe as cliche (a label I am consistently trying not to care about). I know I’m not the only victim of the tidal wave of sentimentality that accompanies the last month of the year, so I’m deeming it okay to kind of give into the appeal of both reflecting and resolving – so that is what I shall do. I am going to tell a memorable story from 2014 (with a grainy iPhone photo, naturally), explain one of my goals for the coming year (unrelated to the story, because who has time for that kind of thinking?), and since it brings me great joy to incessantly barf music recommendations on everyone, I will include a song that has come to embody my year. Let’s go!


A story: In February, I took a little weekend trip to Oregon with my family. My little sister’s volleyball team was playing in a tournament at UO, aka the worst place in the world:

My father and I wondering what we are doing in the land of the Ducks.

My father and I wondering what we are doing in the land of the Ducks.

It was incredibly cold, so much so that inhaling felt like unwillingly swallowing a 10-gallon bucket of ice water (no exaggerations to be found here). Pretty much everyone was sick, the girls were losing their games, and the coaches were visibly grumpy. Also, as I said, we were in Eugene. Enough said? Enough said.

But despite all of this, I count that weekend among my favorites of this year. Everyone else was quite clearly miserable, but I was having a delightful time – I got to spend three straight days with my parents, eat nachos and experience a Seahawks victory in a local pub, watch episodes of Lost as I went to sleep at night… and to top it all off, my parents and I were the first to stay in a newly remodeled room at our hotel, meaning I was the first ever person to sleep on this pull-out bed mattress:

Am I weird for being excited about things like this?

Am I weird for being excited about things like this?

So, yes. Against my better judgment (being a natural-born rival), I made some fond memories at the University of Oregon. And on the drive home, we happened upon a Noodles & Co, which we had only ever seen in Denver – dreams do come true.

A goal: Apparently 2014-15 is the year of mass scattering for my close friend group – one of my best friends is on a multi-month whirlwind tour of Europe, another has been in Norway since August, and yet another will be in Scotland for the remainder of the academic year, while many others are in different corners of the state. Come April, I will actually be putting pen to paper in the sun-soaked streets of Rome, so I suppose I have jumped on the bandwagon as well. But as exciting as all of this is, it has been and probably will be problematic for me – I am not phenomenal at keeping in touch.

Although I’ve been lucky to have a lot of close friends who are persistent enough for the both of us, I’d really like to step up my game in the coming year and combat the whole “out of sight, out of mind” state of thinking (a state which is involuntary in my case, I assure you). It’s really a matter of re-prioritizing and being intentional, which, unsurprisingly, is an idea at the heart of most of my resolutions. To put it concisely: I want to get better at showing the people who are important to me that, even though I am far away, I still consider our friendship very valuable and something that is worth maintaining. (and I refuse to apologize for how cheesy this is)

A song: With a whopping 1,700+ tracks saved to my many spotify playlists this past year, picking out just four or five to include in this series of posts is SO HARD. So, to make things easier for myself, I am making the first one a very recent favorite (recent, like I discovered this song a week ago). It’s called “Even the Darkness Has Arms” by the Barr Brothers.

One of the many songs with lyrics I wish I had written, and one of the many songs that makes me really, really want to pick up a guitar and learn how to play it. I am seriously excited about the music this band is making, and I encourage you to listen to their newest album, Sleeping Operator – you can stream it on spotify, or just buy it (probably the better of the two options).


And with that, I will say “till next time.” I hope your day is lovely!

Lost without u

All my friends.

All my friends.

Possible spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned. 

If you had even one conversation with me between the beginning of November and the middle of January, you will know the following: I could not shut up about Lost. Perhaps I was a little late on the bandwagon, but that obviously did not lessen my enthusiasm – for a person who usually gets sucked into NBC primetime comedies, Lost surprised me with its undeniable ability to rope me in. I was up to six or seven episodes a day over winter break, which admittedly isn’t the most destructive habit a person can form, but I think we can all agree it isn’t the most productive either.

Well, I finally got to the end a couple weeks ago. I sat on the couch, curled up into a ball of anxiety and anticipation, all of my “OH MY GODs” muffled through my Spider-Man blanket. I had watched Part I of the finale the night before, and I was still in the process of finding my way through the emotional wreckage that Sun and Jin’s deaths caused. Needless to say, I was expecting tears and, more importantly, I was expecting my mind to be blown. My sister and I had come up with multiple theories throughout the series – they’re all actually in purgatory, this whole thing is just Hurley’s schizophrenia, etc. – so I was clearly hoping for something crazy and outlandish, for something that would make me say my most-uttered phrase of the past few months: “J.J. Abrams, pullin’ some shit.” Well. I don’t know about everyone else, but I was relatively unimpressed with the shit our friend J.J. pulled. The whole thing was real, most of the insane things that took place were explained; I wasn’t left confused about the details, major or minor, because reasons were given for basically everything. Except for a few things:

  1. Why, in the name of all that is holy, did Sayid never cut his fingernails?
  2. Why did no one ever bother to give the Man in Black an actual name, like Leonardo or Giorgio or something? No wonder he turned into a destructive pillar of black smoke, he had TWO MOMS and neither of them cared enough to give him a name. What did they call him as a baby, the Baby in Black? What did Jacob ever do to deserve a name?!
  3. Did you really need to kill off Boone so early on? (I think I speak for all when I say Ian Somerhalder’s unrivaled smolderhalder was sorely missed after season one)
  4. Soooo what was the overall purpose of the Dharma Initiative again?
  5. Finally, the big question. The Man in Black aka Smoke Monster becomes notorious for reanimating corpses and making them waltz around the island like normal people. For example, Jack’s dad – Christian Shephard’s coffin is found empty, and Jack sees him running through the trees or whatever. In this case, the black smoke takes over a dead body. HOWEVER, there is also the case of John Locke. Poor John remains in his coffin while a duplicate of his body houses the Smoke Monster. Eko’s brother, Yemi, is even more interesting. Yemi’s Nigerian drug plane crashed in the jungle in what I presume to be the early nineties, meaning he’s just a cobwebb-y skeleton by the time Eko finds his body. But then we see pre-mummified Yemi creepily staring at his brother through branches, skin and eyeballs and everything. His skeleton is still in the plane, but it has somehow been duplicated and restored by the Man in Black. Why are some bodies copied, while others are not? Did I find a really good plothole? I think I did.

All of that aside, I was disappointed for another reason. When I first started watching the show, I just kept thinking… wow. This is such an interesting portrait of humans and how they react to tragedy, individually and together. The first few seasons felt so full of humanness. Everyone was flawed, but they all had opportunities for their strengths to come through – there was love, there was anger, compassion, cynicism, hopefulness. Even though they were in kind of a crazy situation, the characters felt real to me, and they were certainly the main focus of the show. But after season three (or something close), I felt the gears shift ever so slightly. The purpose or “theme” of Lost got muddled and confused with all of these fancy time-travel schemes and so-called “history of the island” that I think the writers basically pulled out of their asses – they had also played with the idea of destiny before, which was really interesting, but then they just went wild with it later on. Maybe the creators were going for something more impressive and complicated, but I think people and their interactions and behaviors are impressive and complicated enough. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a scifi person. But I was sad to see the profundity shrink in the midst of time flashes and thrown-together pairings.

Even though my incessant complaining makes it seem like I am pissed off, I’m really not. I was sad to finish the series, even if it didn’t go out with the bang I had hoped for. And in all honesty, I will probably watch the whole thing again because I’m just like that. So I guess *shout out* to Netflix for consuming my life, and to Olivia for being the kind of person who introduces you to drugs and then sits back and cackles maniacally as you spin out of control (just kidding, I like you and thanks for explaining everything that confused me). That, readers, is my take on Lost. Bam. See you later.

Week one.

Rain is a somewhat disheartening way to start off the new year. So is a hefty pile of class readings. But by some miracle, I am a happy camper.

I’ve had bad years, I’ve had good years, I’ve had years I can hardly remember (aka middle school). 2013, I think, was an important year; I’m hesitant to say it was ‘pivotal’ since, you know, I only have ten days of perspective. Nonetheless, I spent a lot of my time thinking and listening and – this is the exciting one – speaking. I won’t start yanking everyone on-board my crazy train of thought over the past 12 months, that’s not what I want to write about today. But I am an increasingly sentimental person, so how could I let an entire year of smiling and crying and laughing and internally screaming at people slip by without at least writing a paragraph about it? That’s right. I can’t.

Anyway. About a week ago, I was not feeling the new-year-new-quarter excitement. In fact, I was being reduced to a puddle of tears – sitting on my floor, listening to “Antichrist” by the 1975, and experiencing a new and dangerously intense wave of sobbing every time the lyric “and I love the house that we live in / and I love you all too much” found its way out of my speakers (does this story make me more endearing? probably not). Quite often, I find myself dreading the inevitable pain with which life will one day smack me, and this, friends, was one of those dire times. “LOVE IS PAIN. TIME IS PAIN. PAAAAAIN.” (sidenote: sometimes I think I should get one of those choppy emo haircuts and write depressing poems on my hands in sharpie, like really.) Generally I’m a reasonably optimistic person, so this is not how I pictured day 4 of 2014.  You can’t really anticipate the bad days, but they happen. Conversely, though, you can’t predict the days that’ll be the happiest of your life. And eventually I realized this. And I got up, and I took a shower, and I ate craisins and watched Lost*.

And in the days since – despite the rain and the pages of reading piling up – I’ve done a lot of smiling. I’ve enjoyed some fantastic company. I’ve learned so much in my classes already. And I’ll be damned if I haven’t savored the moments when I can just curl up in my bed and stare out the window. Ahhhhh. Life.

In other news, I rearranged my room and it's basically heaven.

In other news, I rearranged my room and it’s basically heaven.

AH YEAH

AH YEAH

I was going to try to document my outfit everyday, but then I quit. Oops.

I was going to try to document my outfit everyday, but then I quit. Oops.

As you may have noticed, I gave my blog a little makeover. Not crazy about the size of the text, but I can deal. Makeovers are fun.

Here’s to the (ten-day-late) New Year!

*I am on season 6, and seriously (!!!!!) if anyone spoils this for me I will make your life miserable. Already had a spoiler scare when I watched This is 40 a few days ago, DO. NOT. WANT. AGAIN.