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 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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Oops, I took another hiatus

Just for the sake of cushioning my own ego, I am going to assume at least one or two people have taken note of my absence on here for the past month and a half. I have readers other than the “chace crawford fat lip season 5 gossip girl” googlers, right?

Well, my second hiatus of 2015 (and it’s only March) resulted not just from writer’s block, but a towering stone fortress built around any creative drive I may have possessed in recent times. How did it get there? I don’t know, I probably built it in my sleep. Regardless, this fortress is of very sound structure and has been pretty successful in executing its purpose. Proof:

  1. Every meal I cook for myself is basically the same.
  2. If it’s not an analytical essay, I can’t write it.
  3. I WEAR THE SAME JACKET EVERY DAY
  4. I have a list of approximately five songs that I listen to over and over.
  5. Whenever I doodle in the margins of my notebooks, I just end up with a maze-like continuous line. Touché, mindless doodles.

And maybe I’ve been anxious and busy and distracted, but for the most part I take all of this as an indication that my soul is ready for a change of scenery. I’m restless and a little disengaged. Ennui? Not quite there yet, thankfully, but it’s always good to take preventative measures. So I’m going to hightail it out of the country and hope for the best – “the best” being massive heaps of gelato, and rainfall in the Pantheon. I think those two things should be sufficiently inspiring, and perhaps I will begin to function as a creative human being again. We shall see.

In the meantime, you can find me lying on my bedroom floor because that’s my favorite method of avoidance when it comes to packing. CIAO!

PS: I could not claim this post as my own if I didn’t include a sampling of the aforementioned “over and over again” songs. So here you are, unwilling listeners.

From under eight blankets…

Ohhh hi. Nice to see you all after an unexpected little three week hiatus. I’d apologize, but I think anyone who knows me at all is quite familiar with my annual “it’s January and I feel like being a recluse” gig. If you don’t know me, hey, fun fact! I like hibernating in the winter.

Me, when I have to get up in the morning.

Me, when I have to get up in the morning.

Well if I haven’t been blogging during this period of hibernation, what have I been doing? Oh I’m so glad you asked.

  1. Having double-header indie movie nights. FrankSleepwalk With Me, and Your Sister’s Sister – all on Netflix, you are welcome.
  2. Eating shortbread cookies.
  3. Wearing this amazing denim jacket I bought secondhand practically every day and hoping no one notices…
  4. Reading about 1960’s Cuba and feeling more invested in a class than I have in quite some time (all the while adoring my professor, who is nothing short of spectacular).
  5. Shopping at Trader Joe’s and liking it 😦
  6. Attempting to marathon Jane the Virgin, even if it means I have to buy episodes on Amazon. In addition to faaar exceeding any expectations I have for a show on the CW, Jane the Virgin has Justin Baldoni’s face, which makes me want to cry. CRY, YOU GUYS.
  7. Listening to “Heirloom” by Sufjan Stevens and old Rattle and Hum-era U2 b-sides. I say this in the least pretentious/annoying way possible.
  8. Catching stunning sunrises on southbound buses. (this only happened once, but is worth mentioning)
  9. Actually cooking myself breakfast pretty much every morning.
  10. Thinking. Underthinking. Overthinking. Overbudgeting time. Underbudgeting iced mocha expenditures.

And that, my friends, is just about the extent of it. Perhaps I’ll keep up blog appearances from here on out. Perhaps I will continue to be a hermit. “That’s why people love me: I’m unpredictable,” she said sarcastically.

Find your fleece lining

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I am welcoming the month of December in high style, and by that I mean I am wearing fleece-lined leggings under my jeans.

I’ve never really been much of a fleece person – by way of blankets, I generally prefer a down comforter or microplush Spider-Man throw – but I have recently come around. I got fleece-lined mittens a couple weeks ago ($3, I love H&M) and around that same time my mom sent me these leggings, which have actually changed my life. Winter is full of crisp, chilly mornings, especially when you refuse to turn your heater on, and these angel pants (did I just coin a new term of endearment?) are the perfect solution to the “freezing bare legs for five seconds while changing from pajamas to real person clothes” problem: wear them under your pajama pants, keep wearing them under your actual pants. And, of course, throw them in the wash every once in awhile. We are adults here.

Perhaps every cloud has a silver lining (I never remember to check), but not every pair of leggings has a fleece lining – find yours.

Other things I’ve been enjoying lately: sleep, the song “On Ice” by Chris Thile, family time, burning candles even though I’m not supposed to, Sufjan Stevens’ rendition of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” and, as usual, Zayn Malik’s face.

Happy last month of 2014!