Rome II: Pope Francis and the towel shortage

I’m taking a break from my snack break. Yes. That’s a thing.

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Generic brand nutella, shortbread cookies, and pictures of Boy George in the 80s…?

This weekend, my first weekend in Rome, has been full of mishaps and laughter. Our weekdays were filled with walking and eating and writing and learning – we visited the Pantheon, Sant’Ignazio Church, Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, Keats’ House, and various lookout points, the names of which I honestly could not tell you. It certainly kept me busy and happy. I am a very, very contented explorer here, I love simply walking around and seeing what finds me – but after looking out on the Forum for a good hour and battling the Good Friday crowds at the Colosseum (people were leaning on me – I know the song, but the sentiment was not there), I was very ready to sleep. Until noon. Which is what I did.

Yes, I spent my first Saturday in Rome cozied up in my apartment with my two roommates, and I was only awake for 12 hours. I went outside once, for about thirty minutes, to get the aforementioned generic brand nutella and some $2 bottles of wine. I’m sure some people would consider this a grand waste of time. That’s understandable. But it was the perfect lazy Saturday, sitting around with these amazing girls and exchanging life stories, listening to music, eating a home-cooked meal (thank you, Maddy!). First of all, I feel pretty damn lucky to have been put with these marvelous young ladies – I’ve lived with them for under a week, and I already have a lot of love for them in this little heart of mine. Also, it is a huge privilege to even feel like I’m able to veg out on a Saturday while I’m here. I’m going to be here for two months, I am living in Rome. I have a lot of time to be out and about and adventuring. Therefore, it is acceptable for me to spend a couple weekends trying to open wine bottles:

One of my favorite pictures of myself, ever (thanks, Karly)

One of my favorite pictures of myself, ever (thanks, Karly)

Today, though, we went to the Vatican for Easter. The three of us whined and whined and whined as we walked out the door of our building, as we realized we would be standing outside, in the pouring rain for upwards of two hours – a couple of us were actually just getting ready to turn back, opting to watch the whole ordeal from the comfort of our loveseat in our pajamas, but eventually I was dragged down the street to a taxi stop, and at this moment there was no turning back. After a shockingly short ride, our driver dropped us off at the edge of St. Peter’s Square, which was positively teeming with people in an array of pastel-colored rain ponchos. In a few minutes’ time, we had hopped on this plastic-covered bandwagon, doling out five euro a piece to minimize our misery by like… 15%. While I was juggling my purse, umbrella, and jacket in the attempt to don this emerald green rain poncho, the endearingly goofy (and probably filthy rich after the downpour today) salesman skipped over and held up my umbrella to protect my hair, glasses, dignity, what have you, and I think we had a conversation about wrists? Funny guy. I was glad I bought the poncho.

Long story short, I was roughly seven feet away from the Pope today. It was cool. He has a very kind face. I’m still trying to make #moshpitforpapafrancesco a thing, but it’s not really catching on, do you guys want to help me out?

The rest of my Easter Sunday has been spent doing homework, taking snack breaks, and wondering if I can actually pull off this half-up, half-down bun thing. But before I sign off, there are just a few random things I would like to share (in no particular order):

  1. I was mistaken for a local my second day here. Two elderly Italians approached me on a bridge and asked, in Italian, if some dome in the distance was the Vatican. I had no idea. I looked at them sadly, shrugged my shoulders, and said “I do not know,” which was met with a “stop” and the appropriate hand signal from the man. They promptly walked away. I felt bad, but also flattered that I they thought I looked like I belong here?
  2. Back to the nutella. I never eat nutella when I’m in the States – it’s so sweet and peanut butter is far superior. But I had just a little bit yesterday, and it has been nutella on my mind, all the time, for the past 30 hours. I have no idea why this is happening, but I am letting it happen. Ya know. When in Rome [you have to have a spoonful of nutella everyday].
  3. I’ve been listening to Sufjan Stevens’ new album the past couple nights, and although I love it and I am inexpressably happy to hear him doing folk again, it has been giving me crazy weird dreams. His eccentricity is like seeping through my headphones or something. What powers do you possess, Sufjan!
  4. Champagne gelato tastes exactly like champagne. Also I am obsessed with champagne and other sparkling white wines, which has seemingly come out of nowhere.
  5. After having practically NO SENSE OF DIRECTION for my ENTIRE life, I am suddenly able to navigate a city I’ve never even been to before. I mean, my track record in Rome is not flawless, but for the most part I have this inexplicable sense of where I need to go in order to reach my apartment – I’m not talking about confidence in my understanding of the cardinal directions, not at all, but rather a “let’s go this way” and an oddly self-assured point down whichever street “feels” right to me. And this method has gotten me home, safe and sound and unrattled, probably a dozen times. I am completely mystified by this.
  6. Either our washing machine is broken or we are incompetent. Either way, we are fresh outta towels, folks. Why? We’ve been using them to mop up the leak from the tub whenever we take a shower, and for obvious reasons we are not going to use mop towels as body towels. So yesterday I used a washcloth, which I’m estimating is 17% of a normal bath towel. Step at me, Bear Grylls. I’m the new woman in town (or rather the wilderness).

And that is all I have the energy to type. More stories to come. In the meantime, here is the Forum (after two seagulls noisily desecrated one of its pillars with their lust for each other):

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Story, Goal, Song: part IV

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I made a mistake last week. I started watching Aerial America again. And now, while everyone else has come down with a cold, I have come down with yet another bout of wanderlust.

So today my mom and I hopped in the car and drove toward the mountains. She probably just did this to shut me up, because whenever I’d caught sight of them earlier in the day it was all I could do to not thrust my hands in the air and yell “HOLY SHIT” (not an unwarranted exclamation – they were seriously majestic). But anyway, we drove toward the mountains, and then we turned around and headed toward the water, practically chasing the sun at this point, and one of the pictures I took during this leg of our journey is up yonder. I don’t know why my natural response to a beautiful day is to shout swear words, but HOLY. SHIT. What a breathtaking day.

Just had to get that out. Moving on! (if you missed them, part I can be found here, part II here, and part III here)


A story: Spring break trips are sort of a rite of passage for college students, as I’m sure everyone knows. Most, understandably, migrate toward the equator for that week – my friends and I decided to go north, to Vancouver BC. Vancouver is a beautiful land where the drinking age is only 19 and every building looks like this:

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The four of us arrived in this gorgeous city and settled in (shout-out to my dad for hooking it up with the Marriott points), soon venturing out again to find sandwiches and, more importantly, explore the Granville Island market. Many photos were taken – the background/wallpaper for this very blog is actually a picture I took of the water around Granville – and we discovered the soap shop of all soap shops. Feeling pretty grand about our touristing skills, we went back to the hotel to do some crucial pub/bar research; we are four young women who do not settle for mediocre cocktails. And we kind of wanted an Irish pub atmosphere. Priorities.

On a sidenote, the restaurant where we ate dinner had the coolest bathroom ever (so cool, in fact, L-dawg sent me on a secret mission to take a picture of the sink, which could be turned on by stepping on a pedal):

Canada, you really have it  all worked out.

Canada, you really have it all worked out.

By 7:30pm on that Monday evening, we were sitting at Doolin’s Irish Pub, not even getting carded for the drinks we ordered because those who “go out on the town” before 10 are probably harmless. Worked for us. There was live music. We had fries. We left by 9:30, grabbed some fancy dessert from a local cafe, and fell asleep watching the Food Network around midnight. This is good because, first of all, it’s kind of my ideal night, and secondly, we definitely needed our energy for the next day. I mean…

TOPSHOP is paradise, and it basically doesn't exist in the US (for those of you who don't know)

TOPSHOP is paradise, and it basically doesn’t exist in the US (for those of you who don’t know)

After taking advantage of the continental breakfast (since that is the point of staying in a hotel, after all), we went on a shopping spree and then a walking spree. Overestimating our speed/endurance/patience and underestimating the amount of rainfall that would occur that day, we attempted to walk all the way to Stanley Park. I cannot even give a rough estimate of how many blocks we traversed on our way to this so-called gem of Vancouver, but I can tell you that by the time we actually reached the park we had all silently agreed that a picture of a few ducks in the first pond we encountered would suffice, and we turned around. If there was ever a day, in the whole year of living together, when there was a nearly-palpable feeling of annoyance bouncing between the four of us, this was it. But a hot cup of tea with a towering tray of pastries can pretty much solve anything, and luckily that was next on our agenda.

This was my spring break, and these are my friends (all of whom I get to see on SUNDAY! *shrieks with happiness*). Such good memories – even walking in our rained-on misery.

A goal: Today’s goal, believe it or not, is actually related to both my intro and my story. When does that ever happen? Soak it up, guys.

Maybe you’ve already picked up on it, but I have this desire to see cities and mountains and canyons and grassy hillsides and practically everything. You know, the spirit of a traveler. Regrettably, though, I do not make enough time to really get out there and do stuff. I want to get out there and do stuff. I see these pictures of people I know road tripping and going on hikes and whatnot, and I always have that what-am-I-doing-with-my-life moment, when suddenly you can see very clearly your priorities have somehow been thrown askew. I’d like to get them back where they should be. And one of my top priorities is seeing and experiencing places. (I’ll start off strong by watching the Aerial America marathon all day on New Year’s, Smithsonian Channel if you’d like to participate from your own couch)

A song: Now we come to yet another song that has stayed with me through all the seasons: “I Can See Your Tracks” by Laura Veirs. In February, I sat on various benches and listened to it on repeat. It was on our spring break mix CD. I listened to it on the bus over the summer, and it is (predictably) stuck in my head now, at the very end of December.

It is so relaxed and sweet and makes me feel like I’m wandering around a prairie at sundown. If that doesn’t make you want to listen to it, I don’t know what will.


As always, thank you very very much for taking the time to read, and stay tuned for the final part of this series (and final post of 2014)!

Also, I would like to wish a very happy birthday to my dear Olivia Rose – can’t promise I won’t cry when I see you

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.

 

 

 

The Day I Sacrificed Comfort for Cuteness

Remember about a month ago when I was raving about how marvelous the weather was? Yeah, the times have changed, guys. The times have changed.

I’m generally a pretty reasonable person, and I don’t think I’m wrong in believing I have my share of common sense. But alas, I have a weakness: looking cute. I wouldn’t call it vanity, exactly, although I will admit to being a frequent mirror-gazer (might as well enjoy the way I look, since I’m kind of stuck with it). What it really is, though, is this rarely-acknowledged innate desire for my life to be a movie; a movie in which I am the endearingly quirky protagonist who has witty internal monologues and a wickedly eclectic soundtrack. So sometimes I can’t help but dress in pretty florals and walk around campus listening to the Kooks.

Usually, this habit/inclination/mental condition causes me zero problems. But it’s February in the Northwest, and do you know what that means? Massive amounts of precipitation. I am no stranger to it, but somehow I still forget rain exists… even though I have windows and look out of them pretty often.

So today, I decided I wanted to look like the human embodiment of springtime, with flowers and ballet flats and all that jazz. Even after my roommate came in from class complaining about the rain and the wind and the fact that she had worn flats, I still didn’t change my outfit.  For purely referential purposes, this is what I was wearing:

What can I say, selfies are awk.

What can I say, selfies are awk.

Walking down the hallway, I was really cold. Walking outside, I sort of wanted to die. Those leggings, if you can’t tell, are verging on paper-thin. My umbrella was seriously trying to invert itself because the wind was ridiculous, and I am frankly surprised I didn’t get picked up on one of the stronger gusts and blown into the clouds like Dorothy and Toto. The shoes, however, posed the biggest problem – those stupid flats are difficult to keep on my feet when they’re perfectly dry, but when they’re rain-soaked… ah man. I was slipping and sliding all over the place, and I actually lost one of those dumb shoes while walking up some stairs. Outside. With people around. People who are smarter than me and wear rainboots when it’s raining! What a novel idea.

Needless to say, this will not be a recurring happenstance. I no longer care how nicely the pattern of my shoes contrasts with the pattern of my leggings. Because of the rain, I am a changed woman.

After the flood, all the colors came out.

Have you ever felt like you could seriously look at something forever and never, ever tire of it? That’s how I feel about my city today.

Frankly, it has been a rough week in pretty much every sense of the phrase. First of all, my emotions have been all over the place due to reasons I have deemed too personal for my blog. Like, really, someone should have flown me to a desert village for drought relief, because if my tears had been filtered and purified, they probably could have quenched many a thirst. Truly. Second of all, winter quarter has started – and it’s a busy one. I don’t simply walk from class to class, I speedwalk. Sometimes it borders on running. So my legs and my lungs are exhausted, and my ears are very tired as well from hearing my right shoe squeak every time I take a step. Thirdly, it has been drizzly and gloomy and altogether freezing as of late, and there have been multiple occasions when I have feared various appendages would just fall off of my body. So.

But today is the kind of day I live for. It’s so sunny it almost hurts my eyes, and the air is crisp and terrifically chilly. I got to walk to class (in my mind, I was skipping) and listen to Beautiful Day by U2 and not feel like my iPod was lying to me – that, friends, is worth a million bucks. All of the buildings on campus looked even more brilliant and regal than they normally do, even the rusted urban rooftops I can see from my dorm look beautiful and worthy of a poem. And none of that even begins to describe the city I see in the distance, its skyline illuminated and peeking out between trees. It sounds stupid, but everything is sparkly, especially the water. Never really considered myself a sparkle-loving girl, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.

I just love how something as simple and omnipresent as the weather can give birth to new optimism. Maybe I’m just weird and let my surroundings affect me too much, but I’m pretty certain I saw a bounce in almost everyone’s step today. And honestly, sitting here in my dorm lounge and looking out over my marvelous city, I can say I would not want to be anywhere else in the world at this moment. If that isn’t happiness, do tell me what is.

And if you’re in a dark-grey gloom right now, literally or figuratively (either way, I can relate), just trust me that the sun does still exist and it’s probably coming your way.