Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How to make a 20+ hour bus ride fly by

There is nothing like a Kansas sunset. Even if you are in the heart of Leawood, the entire western half of the horizon turns a brilliant and unique combination of orange, purple, pink, yellow, and blue. And here I am, on a bus with a bunch of speech kids, headed to Texas. Now if that doesn't sound like a blast, then you are missing out in life.

Let's do a recap of the past few weeks since the last time I put something on the Internet for everyone to read at their leisure: speech.

Good now that we've covered that I can tell you about today, in its infinite excitement. After packing all of the important things that you would need for a forensics tournament, you know, like shoes, underwear, and the ever wonderful suits, I finally managed to get to sleep. This morning I rolled out of bed, attempted to collect some blankets, some food from the caf, and the important things previously mentioned. And hobbled/tottered/dragged my freezing behind through the newly remembered winds of the hill. So despite my incredible struggle to make my way across campus with unicorn pillow pet and Judy Garland blanket in tow and I admittedly couldn't feel my fingers by the time I got to that fabulous new building.

Fast forward and think about driving on a coach bus through, by the end of the trip, six states (MN, IA, MO, KS, OK, TX) can you say busy? I mean besides the stunning scenery, and the beautiful Kansan sunset, it's been a pretty normal speech ride. Strange jokes, funny commentary, random CDs, and a few odd movies. Add in the "team bonding" games that happen to include packets of condiments taken from fast food restaurants. I don't think I can explain that any better.

So I think at this point I'm going to leave your imagination to run wild with the idea of 25 speechies on a bus, watching labyrinth. Sweet dreams!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Leaving the Eternal City

The good news: 

I am not dead, I have survived finals, airplanes, and the welcome home crew. 
I have recovered from jetlag.
I am now going to relate to you my last few hours in the beautiful city of Rome. 

Basically that means that you are really excited and can't wait to read the rest of this post! How thrilling!

Forgive me because part of this was from about 4:30am at the airport and such, so I'll do my best to piece together the good parts. 

And here we go!

Technically I have been up since about 7:15 on Friday.  Currently, it is 5:37am on Saturday and I am in an airport. I will admit that I took a bit of a catnap before I really left the apartment at 3:30 this morning.  Now keep in mind that I have been a very busy little munchkin.  For instance, after enjoying our last night at Ombre Rosse, and watching Roman Holiday (yes, I finally got around to it.  I personally think it was more fun to watch after living in Rome for four months.) I immediately went to bed so that I could wake up bright and early and do some damage on that Italian High Renaissance Exam. Favorite way to start a day? You betcha. That exam is a whole different can of worms, but I’m willing to tell you about the rest of my day. So after I managed to survive the test (with or without Carolyn’s help… 3 not on the list? Really Carolyn?) I talked to a few people from my class and then leisurely walked to Campo de Fiori.  Where I made a last minute souvenir purchase, and then swung by that yarn store that I mentioned earlier.  Yes, I caved. I bought some incredibly soft yarn just so I could make a hat. Unfortunately, before I can even begin to think about that hat I have about 3 other knitting projects to get to work on.  So I’ll let you know how that turns out.  (To give you a little hint about how wonderful this yarn is, Erica described it as no longer fabric, but goo. I don’t know how I feel about that, but it seems relevant.)

Moving on! So I then walked all the way back to the apartment (a lovely little stroll) to a group of panicking roommates who were freaked out that I didn’t answer my phone and was waaaay later than the exam should have taken. But they quickly forgave me and everyone was content listening to The Muppets Christmas Carol (a splendid little beam of light for any occasion).  So after our little freakout session, I began my whirlwind packing tour.  Since I have been the last to finish with finals (that sucked), I was also the last one to pack. Thus, while everyone else was frolicking and having a jolly time packing, I was barricaded in the library with large academic picture books and attempting to study. And after some frantic packing and singing of Christmas carols, we headed back out to return our bricks, I mean cell phones, and to explore the city one last time. This meant giving one last patriotic send off to JCU, and traipsing around Via del Corso and eventually ending up at the Trevi Fountain. 

Now there are two sides to the Trevi Fountain. One can be seen during the day, and a totally different aura happens at night that you just have to experience for yourself to really appreciate it. The crowds and tour groups are much diminished for one, and the four of us were able to find a seat and just enjoy watching the fountain for probably close to an hour. If this seems like a waste of time to you, you haven't been there.  

After making our wishes and doing the Gustie Rouser one more time, we headed back home to change into something a little bit more dressy and go to dinner. There we traded our secret Santa gifts (big hit, we're cool people) and proceeded to make our way to this 4 star restaurant that we had found with the help of our ever fancy guide books called Ferrera.  

Though right in our backyard (relatively), we had never stumbled on this little jewel before. With their exquisite wine list, we had a delicious time eating and being generally jovial. At midnight we left the premise and I began my stop watch.  Yes, that is correct, as a good speechie, I brought a stopwatch with me to Europe and now seemed like the perfect time to use it. Why? Because I had just begun the longest birthday of my life. 

So considering that I had been awake since 7:15 that morning, and I had to leave my apartment for the airport at 3:30am, there was really no point in going to sleep, so let the packing festivities begin! We went back to the apartment to do some last minute packing and such.  And around 1:45, I just couldn’t stand it any longer and took a cat nap until 2:45. But of course we were all terrified of not waking up for our flights, so there we were, all falling asleep, all with the lights on. At 2:45 I woke up, threw the last few things in my bag and called it a night. I made sure that everyone got up to wish me off (it did include a few tears, and not just because of the early hour) and I rolled my way out of the apartment for the last time.

Driving to the airport I realized that Italians, no matter what time of day, drive like it’s Mario Kart.  That’s not a racist slur at all, it’s just fact. It’s 3:30 in the morning and there is no real reason to drive like you are avoiding the wrath of God, or the police for that matter, but that’s what was happening. And within 20 minutes we were pulling up to the terminal.

I drag all of my worldly possessions up to the ticket counter only to find that it has no one to attend it and approximately 10 other JCU students patiently waiting in these predawn hours for someone to take the heavy things toward their final destination. No such luck. So I parked my caravan of things and took a seat to wait for an hour before someone decided that it was time to go to work.  That happened at 5. Let’s do a little tally of time spent asleep from the time that I woke up on Friday morning, to when I went to bed KC time on Saturday.  So far, it’s Saturday morning and I’ve been asleep for 1 of 22 hours. After the chaos of getting bags checked in and paying exorbitant amounts of money to get a second one in (because a backpack is not a personal item) through the same security line as the mosh pit style one-except without the problems of Prague. So basically a breeze, to the gate, and then on the plane.

There were two lovely things about this plane ride: 1) I had a row to myself. 2) Because of 1, I got to sleep.
Sleep total: 3.5 hours of 26.5 hours.
When I got off the plane, one of the flight attendants said, “Hey look, she’s awake.” That is the last proof that I have of any sleep I had on this birthday of travel.

In Zurich, I had to re-go through security, which instead of metal detectors and angry people in polyester, it was just a booth of angry people in polyester asking questions. Same difference. So I grabbed a cup of coffee and some breakfast, and waited for the next flight. As that flight began boarding, there was an announcement over the speakers that said something like, “This plane will be landing in Baincorh (spelled phonetically) before continuing on to Philledelphia.” Uh… did he just say Bangkok? That’s in the wrong direction. I will never make my connecting flight. When the announcement was made again, it sounded like Bengal, which is also, nowhere close to Philly, or home.  Crap.

So when I get up to the front of the line, I ask, now where are we landing? “Baincorh, you’ve never heard of it? It’s in your country.” I’m sure Bengal and Bangkok are in my country. To hell they are. “Yeah, Baincorh Maine.” OH. Yeah, I totally know Bangor Maine.


Great, on the plane, there are no personal TVs, I’m going to Maine before going to Philly before going to KC and there’s a balding, dandruffed (didn’t think that would go together), overweight, bouncing man sitting in front of me. Every time he sat back down, he literally bounced in the seat. Talk about making working on my computer a real hazard. None the less, I was sitting next to a fellow art history major who had also survived JCU and we bonded over the Extreme Couponer episode being played. Classy stuff.

Over that 9+ hour flight I think I slept less than an hour, and never well, so we’ll round that down to 30 minutes and add that to the earlier 3.5.  Total: 4 of 36 hours. 

Land in Bangor. It was boring, we didn’t get off the plane, and pretty much got right back on the runway and headed to Philly.  My one discovery in Bangor was that my phone was completely and irrevocably dead. Talk about anticlimactic.

Eventually land in Philly, recheck the luggage, go through customs, and wait for the next and final leg of my rather long journey. Keep in mind that now it is approximately 5 Philly time, and I’ll get back home at 7:30ish KC time. Fast forward (past all of the, they speak English here realizations, and oh wait you don’t need my passport to get on the plane things) and I took a catnap on the plane and that brought my grand total up to something like 5 of 40 hours. Then [drum roll please]


Yes, after all of this time, I finally made it all the way back home. Home: to the little humble KCI airport, to my three mildly crazy cats, my parents, and my own bed. What a lovely thing it is to be home.

We had some Chinese food, and I opened 2 presents (I was not awake enough to open the rest, remember? It was my birthday all during this adventure) and crawled into bed until the next morning.

Since that very long day, I have been reconnecting with friends, getting my technology problem fixed (I’ve joined the dark side, hello iphone?) and knitting like a fiend.  It’s good to see all of these wonderful people, but I also know that the next reunion is going to be located in the more convenient St. Peter. Minnesota style.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

A final boarding call

I'm sorry i'm sorry I'm terribly sorry!

I will post a desperately long (series) of posts about the final hours of my Roman Holiday and how I returned to the states during the longest birthday ever, and even what I've been doing post Italy.

In the meantime, I would like some input.

Should this delightful little blog continue?  Would you still love me if I didn't have as many adventures to share?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finals and what you would rather do.

So here's a little blog post to kick start my morning. On the agenda is studying, and after this I'm actually going to pull myself up by my to-be-put-on-socks and go to the over crowded library where I will undoubtedly be annoyed by the people there and be unable to find somewhere to sit. Happy Finals Week!  Huzzah!

So the studying will be reviewing, learning, and memorizing close to 80 slides so that I'm tested on 5-10 of them (depending on how you define 'test'-identification, comparison, mystery.  The joys of an art history major).  Thus far I have survived my SinCity final, my Gaga final, my dreams-of-Moua final (I wasn't asked my favorite questions about Moua though, so that was a bust.) and my Digipho final.

What you ask? Final in Digital Photography?  How absurd? Was that class really hard or something?

No. In fact, that was probably the most asinine two hours of any exam I could have experienced. As many of you know, and know all too well from maybe your own experience, public speaking is an art. An art that some people never truly manage to grasp.  And quite frankly, I would rather not listen to them try on a Wednesday night. Regardless, I managed to survive, with only a few restrained-in-the-nick-of-time smart ass comments. The point is that it's over now, I took some pretty pictures, and that's about it.

So with that, I am going to recommend to you that you go find your own personal major's meme and enjoy the inside jokes that it brings. And in honor of my art history fiesta today, have some Art History Major Cat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beam Me Up, Scotty!


I'm sorry I didn't post yesterday, but I'll make it better by telling you the second Charles story in honor of my last final with him.  (It was an emotional class for all of us)

Episode Two:
The Fall of a Great Empire

But now we backtrack. Back way long ago to last Wednesday.  Last Wednesday marked a very special occasion for Charles, and it came up as we were waiting to get into the room.

So we are all standing in the hallway, Charles by the doorframe, me across the hall (which is very narrow) and some of our other classmates scattered about. And we began our usual banter of what are we going to do in class today.  When suddenly we hear a soft sign from Charles.

"What's going on, Charles?"

"Nothing, i just realized that this is my last class as an undergraduate."

[Immediate applause] And all of us began enthusiastically discussing how special we were going to make this class because Charles had to celebrate his last class as an undergrad.  So we asked him if there was anything special that he wanted to do (you know, besides a recitation of his paper on pomegranates) and someone mentioned (I'm not sure if I should take credit for this or not) that we could sing to him. And he said that we should sing to him the entire Odyssey.  Done.

Girl one: "Well damn, I just don't know all of the verses to that one."
Me: "That's ok, we'll work through it."
Girl one: "Alright, let's do it!"

At this point Charles was chuckling at our seemingly uneducated banter about ancient epic poetry, but that's ok. I'm much better at banter about epic poetry than singing it (though I've admittedly never really tried to sing epic poetry....) and this gave a prime opportunity to learn some things about this mysterious character.  Here is what I've gathered.

1) JCU is the largest school he has attended and he will graduate this spring
      (How is this possible? The graduating class is typically around 50)
2) For elementary and middle school he attended a small private school
3) In high school he was home schooled
     (NOW things are beginning to be explained)
4) He is working on his thesis in the spring.

Excellent. The pieces begin to come together.

So we go through class, and it was something about Alexander the Great (I finished this exam, it's all gone now) and then we had to fill out a class evaluation form (no, there wasn't a box for aliens present in class... I looked).  Well, by the time I had finished my thought on the paper, only Charles and I were left in the room.

Me: So Charles, now that you've survived your last class of your undergrad work, are you going to have a party in celebration?
Charles: Well, I don't know.
Me: Oh come on!  You've earned it!
Charles: I might have a party after I finish my thesis in the spring.
Me: See here's what you do. You have just a one night party for finishing your classes, then when you finish your thesis, you can have a whole week of parties.
Charles: [laughs] I don't know about that.
Me: Well, you don't have to have a big party, you can just find someone who cooks really well, and have them come cook for you. That works too.
Charles: Well, I don't need anyone to come cook for me. Actually, cooking is one of my greatest passions.
Me: That's perfect then! You can make yourself something special, and eat all of it yourself!  That'd be a blast!
Charles: Maybe I will.
Me: I've got to run, but congratulations again for surviving.  *high five*

And I left.

Immediate reactions: I-JUST-HIGH-FIVED-AN-ALIEN. Shortly followed by, of-course-he-cooks. And I-bet-he's-a-good-cook. And that-was-weird-but-sort-of-hilarious. And I-JUST-HIGH-FIVED-AN-ALIEN.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I miss Charles already.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Greek things can be learned from Blogging right?

And here are the facts: There is no possible way to make ancient Greek Art and Archaeology interesting or fun to study. None. I've tried. And I'm sorry to say that but my attention span for such things is approximately 43 seconds... usually less, so I'm attempting to escape this drudgery with a blog about something related to Gaga....

You guessed it, Charles.

Hooray!  Let's talk about aliens and be merry! I have two Charles episodes to relate to you, and I will title them appropriately so that you may distinguish between the two.

Episode One:
The Love Potion

So for Gaga, we all had to write a term paper. Not a big deal (annoying as hell, but reasonable) and the week before they were due, everyone had to do a short presentation on the topic of their paper. Now unlike the presentations before, we all got to choose our topics for our paper as long as it fell under the umbrella of this course. Great! So everyone got to talk about something that interested them, and that's a lot more creative than just a regular topic.

So while everyone is presenting about some pediment on some temple somewhere, or on some mythological scene represented on some clay stuff, our dear friend Charles took everything to a whole new level.

Charles gets up in front of the class with a plastic bag and a powerpoint. Then he starts talking about pomegranates. Oh yeah, and he pulls a pomegranate out of the mysterious plastic bag. That's cool. So he's talking about all of the ancient uses for pomegranates like contraceptive, love potion, symbol of wealth, death, rebirth etc.

At this point he had only been casually tossing the pomegranate between his hands an occasionally flipping a slide, but suddenly he asks if anyone has actually tried a pomegranate.  Most of us had but he reaches to his belt and whips out a knife. (WHAT!?!) flicks it open and begins to cut open the pomegranate in his hand. Our professor (remember billy goat man from Ostia Antica? Yeah, him) says "Wow, I guess you don't mess with Charles." And then Charles starts to hand out pieces of pomegranate to the rest of the class so that we won't feel left out.

Keep in mind that out of a class of about 15 ish, there are two boys, including Charles. Now that everyone is munching happily on their piece of pomegranate, our professor chooses this exact moment to say, "hey, all of you girls eating this pomegranate have to marry Charles now."

Awkward laughter...

Charles blushes...

True, he had been talking about pomegranates as a love potion... but I'm not sure that was necessary...  I'm also not sure how I feel about marrying an alien....

After the end of his presentation, everyone proceeded to ask for a copy of his paper because it was actually interesting.

Pomegranates: doing work.

A+ for Charles.

The End.

Now I'm going to study some real Gaga, and post the second episode when I need another break... And with your luck may be very soon.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Talking to Birds

So this morning at 6am, I decided that it would be a good idea to wake up, get out of bed and get on a train.  Doesn't that sound like your perfect morning?  Now just add a suit and it's a regular weekend!

Anyway, I stumbled my way to the kitchen, made some coffee, and figured that I should get ready.  So load up at the crack of dawn and make it all the way to the train station. La dee da, train ride, blah writing and watching the beautiful countryside whiz by.

So in Assisi there are a few things to do. 1) Go to the St. Francis Basilica. 2) Go to the St. Francis Basilica and look at art.  Guess what I did? I'll give you three guesses.  So I went there and did that and it was amazing.  All I really want in my life is a chorus of Giotto angels.  Ok, and maybe the ability to talk to birds (also applicable to this topic. Look it up), but that's all I really want.  I spent a good hour and a half visiting the art and Francis himself as well as his historical clothing.  All good things really.

I then spent some time walking around stores, speaking to the natives and just enjoying the day.  I walked around a few other religious sites and then got back on the train and came back to Rome. What a delightful day away.

First of 5 finals tomorrow. May the countdown to home begin.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Immaculate Conception

When you miss parties in Italy when you thought that it was just a regular holiday....  it's really a bummer to find out things like the Pope lights Christmas trees with tablets....  Oh well.

But that's ok!  Why? Because Erica was baking today and now I'm feeling fat and sassy.  So after that we watched Back to the Future (which is obviously amazing) and ate said treats.

In the morning I am taking a study break and headed to Assisi tomorrow. All bright and early-like, so wish me luck!  I'm basically going for the art, and that's ok with me. But I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Though I Czeched out of Prague ages ago...

Aren't you thrilled?  You should be excited for two reasons: 1) I'm actually posting about Prague now! and 2) I'm done with classes at JCU! That means one step closer to home!!! In the words of Patricia Kazarow, 'Wahoo!!!"

Ok, now Prague. (And while I'm thinking about it, remind me to tell you Charles stories. There are two)

So day two in Prague arrived, and it was much like the first one-kind of rainy.  But that's ok! Because I have a mildly sunshiny personality, and I'll make due with any thing to be in Prague. So basically the first thing you should know about walking around Prague is that it's common to forget you are not actually an animated cartoon with forest creatures following you around.  It looks like a fairytale! Not even a joke. You basically cross one bridge and suddenly all you can think of are Disney Princess songs and twittering birds. It's almost ridiculous. But not really because I love it.

So the first thing we did was grab Starbucks. And there is not much more delightful than a take away cup of coffee that is larger than a Dixie cup. You think that's a joke, it's not. It's a wonderful invention by apparently caffeine crazed people from the US. But that's ok, I love it.  Then we caught a tram to go meet one of Erica's friends: Gabriella.  What a delightful person! She is studying in Prague and was gracious enough to not work on her paper for a few hours and show us around! So we went up to the Prague castle and walked around the area, saw some great views, saw a pretty spectacular cathedral with some amazing stained/painted glass. Once we were done taking pictures of that, we decided to go see one of the major squares with some markets (and the name escapes me now, but that's what you get from a person who wrote a philosophy paper today), and while we were there we got some delicious pretzel-cinnamon-sugar things. I don't really know what they are called, but they were circular and warm and delicious. See? Even the food is fairy-tale themed. Then we managed to walk around a bit more (saw a 'large' ice rink....  lies.) T

Then we went to a French lunch!  Oui! Ok, you caught me. We really did go to a place called the Cafe Louvre, but I'm not so very French. Anyway, we had a delightful lunch of Quiche and good times.  Then Gabriella led us up to another excellent view before she darted off to work on that pesky paper.  We photo bombed each other and then headed back down the hill to do some shopping and look around a bit before dinner. For dinner we headed back toward the Christmas markets (where there were obviously the most people) and we had a delicious dinner under a canopy watching the people go by. I personally had some goulash with dumplings, and that was quite good. And being the good roommates we are, we all had to share, so that was fun.

Then we decided to walk around the Christmas market (now that we're there to shop and not just to pass through) and it was so much fun!  All kinds of places open and selling food and ornaments and hats and gloves and everything else!  It's like window shopping, but they are in little vender stalls.  At one point, Molly and I lost the other two and went up to a vantage point to seek them out. Upon finding them in a crowd (and watched them look for us) we called them and made them dance for our return: always appropriate task.

So after finding all kinds of worldly goods, we were just reveling in the atmosphere and started spontaneously singing Christmas carols. Well, eventually we found ourselves standing in a circle, by one of the most crowded places in the market and singing full volume all of the Christmas songs we knew, regardless of whether there was a distinct language barrier.  And after about 30 minutes of this, a man came up to us speaking in rapid-language-I-don't-know and we assume that he was complimentary! So that's good. And we spent half the time fudging up the lyrics, or giggling, but it was amazing. And since we didn't get a video the first time, we walked back toward the giant Christmas tree and starting singing Hark the Harold and O Come All Ye Faithful back to back. During this rendition, we were not only applauded, but someone was taking video of us. So that's pretty fricking spectacular. And we had fun, so that's totally worth it.

After that little crowning jewel, everything was pretty much a slide from there. We met up with Gabriella for another hour later that night, and saw her at this adorable cafe the next morning (and had some cake-very good) and then back on the plane.  What a stunning last trip.

Now that all of my papers are done, it's just finals and packing (PACKING!?!?!??????!?!) and that's always a good time.... ish....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prague delay (just like real life)

I procrastinate
Far too well to update you
Seventeen syll'bles

(that means you don't say that syllable right? Ok, great, glad we're on the same page.) I'll be done with my Philosophy paper I'm writing about Moua by tomorrow, so I'll tell you about our most exciting day in Prague.

Hints to keep you reading this blog and not to skip it like you probably want to right now because I let you down:
1) There were pretty things
2) There was singing
3) There was good food

That's it! "I'm the stone you can't squeeze blood from and that's the truuuuuuth!" (That's a Muppet's Christmas Carol quote for you.)

You probably also were the one to throw me out the door, I'll accept that fate....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Prague Day 1: Getting Searched and Searching for Ghosts

If I knew the real way to say 'Hello' in Czech, I would, but for now you'll have to deal with my made up phonetic version: Doh-bree-e-den.  Wasn't that wonderful? It's amazing that I don't teach languages.  I'm talented.

So the only fiasco that we encountered in going to Prague was actually getting there. The original plan was to get up before dawn, get to the airport, and get basically to Prague in time for a proper breakfast. Well, that would be far too easy, so instead, we were notified that our flight was cancelled, and that we were being moved to a later flight... One that left 7 hours later. BOO. So we sucked it up and left 7 hours later instead (and I did enjoy that little bit of extra sleep).

None the less, we made it to the airport in time for the rest of the world to also want to be leaving Italy. Why does everyone want to leave? Not a clue, but basically all of Rome was in the airport in one small room. Not even kidding. It was the most hellish airport experience I've ever had. We waited in a que line for a good hour, get our passports glanced at and then literally thrown into a mosh pit of angry travelers who don't know how to prepare for security scanners. (In my personal opinion, this means that you shouldn't be traveling, but they don't let me run things. I'm not in charge.) So instead, it was the biggest pile of hot mess you've ever seen in your life. Approximately 300 people all mobbing toward 8 security scanners WITHOUT QUE LINES. What?!?!?!  What happened Italy? String would do, long pieces of tape, reconfigured spiderwebs, ANYTHING but it just turned into an anxious swarm of unhappy. And because there were no que lines, or any guiding factors really at all, the people kept pushing toward the front without regard for those in front of them, trying to sneak in to the scanners first, and generally pissing off everyone else. Then all of the people who were running late (ie erryone) were extra anxious because there were 7 people who were on time in front of them. Woof. Town. So after another hour of that, we made it to the gate, slightly bruised, and temperamental, but going to Prague!

Boring plane things, blah, PRAGUE. Now to get from the airport to the hostel there are several things you have to do. 1) Get Czech money. That's approximately 25 Krona to 1 Euro. So get something that feels like a lot. 2) Get a 24 hour pass. 3) Take the bus. 4) Take the Metro. 5) Take the Tram. 6) Walk around and get kind of lost because we don't read Czech, and it's dark. We then walked up a hill to suddenly find our hostel! Huzzah! Czech in, (there are going to be a lot of those in here, get used to them) drop off our stuff, and find some dinner.

So we wander, wander, wander, and after walking into several adorable stores (hey dad, I found one with a toy John Deere tractor. For the low low price of 1125 krona!) and eventually found food. In this tiny little restaurant, there was a lovely television screen showing pictures of what we determined were deer-kats: they looked like meerkats, but patterned like baby deer.  And if that's not enough of a draw to go to a restaurant, I don't know what you want.  (Besides maybe Gates BBQ. OH FOR THE LOVE OF GATES). At this point we decided that we wanted to go on a ghost tour. On your marks, get set, GO-we have 20 minutes to find the ghost tour listed in the brochure.

Now if you've only been in a city for a few hours and it's dark, and you haven't walked anywhere, trying to find an office on some random street is not the easiest thing to do. But with spidey senses tingling, we managed to run right into it. And lucky that we did. In order to get the 10 o'clock tour, one other couple had showed up. Unfortunately, the 10 pm tour is only supposed to happen in the summer, as in not December. Oops. Apparently, the other couple had been told that if more people showed up, that he would give the tour, SURPRISE! Here we are! Saving the day or ruining the day, depending on who you are. Oh well. So we giggle and sign up for tour.  He shoos us out of the little office while he puts on his costume. Oooo scary.

So he comes out of the office in his red cloak/hood that is intended to be the costume of the traditional Czech executioner. Fun stuff right? And we go back into the office for a quick introduction and a survey. Survey? Oh yes, how would you prefer to be executed? A) Noose. B) Axe. (the joke here was that it was the middle school boy spray, same dif) C) Sword. (my answer) D) Hammer. E) Fire. F) Water.  There were little tallies next to all of them, with the most popular being axe. So while you ponder that, just picture us going on the most hilarious ghost tour ever. I mean, I've been on several ghost tours where they tell you creepy stories, and some of them are half believable, and even frightening, but this one was just straight up joke. He tried to scare me once, I wasn't too frightened, as in I had a super delayed/faked scream. Funny, but not the reaction he was looking for. So he decided to scare Kate instead, that one worked.

After the hilarious tour, we walked around singing Harry Potter Puppet Pals (what do you mean this isn't Czech?) and wandered around the pretty much closed Christmas market. Tried a bit o grog which was disgusting, and then called it a night and went back to the hostel for some shut eye.

And I will leave you hanging on that terrifying note. Expect day 2 of Prague tomorrow.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I'm Alive!

So the updates that happen before you get real updates go like this.

1) I'm back from Prague and it was beautiful.
2) I'm 98.7% done with my Gaga paper-and that's beautiful.
3) I miss all Christmas concerts hard core (read: CinCC and Winter Blessings)-they're beautiful
4) That was my last weekend trip of the semester. AND THAT MEANS THAT IT'S ALMOST OVER.
5) Read #4 again, except with my panic voice.
6) I'm sleepy.

Good night wonderful people, I'll work on pictures and blog things tomorrow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ireland and Edinburgh-The leftovers

Huzzah! Thus begins day two in Ireland. We wake up to attempt to find some decent grub in the hostel (besides the half bag of Doritos and left over Dr. Pepper) and we found instant coffee, and toast. So we went to Starbucks. That's right, Starbucks. Laugh if you want, but it's one of the greatest inventions of all time. And we went there a lot. I love coffee.

So after that we decided to take a little self guided tour around Dublin. This included stopping in and around various cathedrals, taking adorable pictures, and generally being amazing. Eventually, we decided that it was worth grabbing some lunch before the Guinness storehouse tour. So we dropped into this cafe and had some wonderful soup. Now you're thinking, I mean, yeah soup, whatevs. LIES. After having pasta and pizza and pasta and pizza and gelato and pasta and pizza, SOUP IS AMAZING.

After that little tidbit, we went over to the Guinness factory. Now, I'm not what you would call a good Irishman (woman), so this could be a serious struggle. But, like a true trooper, I was going to enjoy every minute to the best of my ability. So that was that.  As someone who knows nothing about alcohol fermentation and different grain combinations and such, this was a fascinating experience. It is all pretty well organized, using a variety of different mediums to keep you moving and entertained. I will say that one of my favorite parts was the room of various add campaigns. So interesante!  One of these included that you should drink a Guinness a day for health reasons. Similar to the concept of an apple today. This was recommended by doctors!  So there you have it folks, a Guinness a day. Just like the doctor ordered.

Keep in mind that this storehouse is 1) built on a 9,000 year lease (hey dad, got any of those?) 2) It's the largest pint shaped glass in the world.  Lots of pints fit in there. 3) It's 7 stories tall. So if that wasn't enough to swallow, we managed to actually do the entire tour all the way up to the top where there is a panoramic view of Dublin while enjoying our pints of fresh Guinness. It was just so much fun to be with wonderful friends in a unique landmark.

After that we decided to walk around the shopping district for a bit, then grab some dinner.  We dropped off our stuff at the hostel before dinner and wandered around for a bit before deciding to try a 'boxty' place. Now if you don't know what a boxty is, then you are not alone. So as we were seated in almost our own private room, we just had to ask what we should order. And that came back as get anything with boxty in it. Ok, then when the waiter described it as an Irish burrito, we were sold. So a few minutes later he returned with our boxtys (ies?) lamb for Kate, steak for Erica, and chicken for moi, and they were delicious. Simply wonderful.

After that we had to enjoy our last night with Vanessa by going to find some live music/Irish dancing. And low and behold, we found some. Vanessa and I planned our escape, and that was basically magic. The Irish step really just reminded me of two very different things. 1) Ava. 2) The Congressional Award. Both are strange associations, but I think very applicable. But we sadly had to leave and get some shut eye because we were leaving the hostel before God gets up. And by that I mean we had to be down stairs for the shuttle at 4:30 AM. AM. BAH. And that's without pump up music loudly playing, or other people around. Boo.

Fast forward (it's only 4 hours, you didn't miss much.) and we are in a shuttle driving backwards. Literally driving backwards. You thought Cadi's picture with the semi was confusing? Imagine if you will driving on the left-hand side of the road IN REVERSE. Of course at 4:30 am, this irony is just too much to vocalize without drooling or crossing your eyes (it's kind of like a strange dream where you can't figure out if anything is real or not.) So I (and this is rare) kept my mouth shut and didn't make any smart comments about how they really do drive backwards here....  None the less, we made it to the airport, mostly driving forward. So that's good.

At the airport I got Naked. No, not like that....  I found (at Starbucks=life saver) Nakeds and I was basically the happiest person in the whole airport. I actually think I'm at my funniest around 4-5 am. I think the team will attest to this.  And we jumped on that earlybird Ryan Air flight and enjoyed everything that they tried to sell us (Newspapers, cigarettes, food, Women of Ryan Air calendar-Christmas list for sure, and there was one more, but it was a short flight... so I forgot.).  Get into Edinburgh and get ready for our just over 24 hour experience.

Find the hostel, find a Starbucks (yes, again. It's like crack) and then go to the cafe where we were going to meet Claire and Ava. Now this is the final reunion of the semester, and this time we got smart and took pictures. Way to go Erica. The pictures basically show pure joy. And with that many pretty people, it's hard not to see joy and beauty at the same time.  There was lots of squealing and hugging (trend?) and then we all had more coffee and bagels (yeeessssss) and all talked very quickly at the same time just rying to catch up as quickly as possible without being super obnoxious. Eventually we peeled ourselves from the warm cozy atmosphere of the Black Medicine cafe (I think that's right) and began our tour a la Edinburgh.

First impressions: It's suuuuper windy. (just like GAC!) It's adorable (Part of this reaction is because I don't think you can quite call Rome cute. So everything smaller than Rome is automatically precious). And there's that realization that there are some really cool things that have happened in this city. Like, oh yeah, Harry Potter began here. WHAT!?!?!  Yes, that's right. The Elephant House, I went there. It was amazing. There are so many nooks and crannies that history just lurks and people remember all of it.

We walked through a Christmas market and past the soggy ice skating rink, all the way up to the view point that over looks the water. And it was so windy that you could lean at a 45 degree angle and the wind would hold you up. There are so many pictures of us trying to either stand upright, hold on hats, or just giving up and letting the wind do with my hair as it would.

Then back down to take a few pictures of the castle, and then off to lunch. Lunch was a wonderful plate of nachos and a burger, you know, very Scottish food. And we talked for a few hours before heading off to Claire's apartment to relax and catch up a bit. Then while Claire's boyfriend Kalin began cooking, Ava took us out for a little bit of shopping.  We bought our kilts and headed back to the apartment for some delicious moussaka. It was absolutely delectable.

After dinner, we went out to meet some of Claire's friends, and had to say good bye to Ava. That was a bit heart wrenching, but I managed to keep my tears back.  Enjoyed the company, the atmosphere, and eventually headed back to our hostel after saying goodbye to Claire and Kalin.  I miss them all desperately already.

And pretty much the second my head hit the pillow, I was out for the night. We got up kind of early the next morning to get to the airport.  Layover in London, then on to Rome. Nothing too terribly exciting to report (no backwards driving), got home later than expected, but not because of delays. All in all, a fantastic weekend.

Since those adventures, I've been trudging though papers and attempting to go to school. It's sort of working. Oh, and I leave for Prague tomorrow. So that's awesome. It's the last trip of the semester though! I'm thrilled to be going with three wonderful ladies and we are going to have a wonderful time of it. I'll try to let you know how that one goes sooner than I did this week.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No Nay Never! [Clap Clap Clap Clap] Ireland Day 1

Triumphant music!!!!  I don't know how to spell that in phonetics, but that's what is playing in my head as I write this. And the important part is that I'm writing this instead of yet another paper!  Aren't you excited!?!?! You should be.

So basically to catch you up on my day that allows me to actually blog right now: I was supposed to be finished enough with one paper to allow me to present to the class, finished with another paper, and still attend all of my classes. Well, I asked for an extension on one, didn't hear back from the prof, didn't turn it in during class, then proceeded to enjoy the hilarious class (ok, I thought it was funny, I'm probably the only one really laughing... typical.) So after that class I grabbed some pizza (I do live in Italy) headed straight back to the same classroom where I began my paper since I hadn't heard back from her, wrote until I had to present and participate in class (maybe tomorrow I'll tell you another story about Charles, it's good). Then to the library to write, to class (writing), to the caf, kicked out of the caf (imagine my anger.  I'm not even kidding, there could have been blood) upstairs, FINISH THE PAPER, email it to prof. Now though the entire process took all day, I would like to say that my completed paper totally 5.5 pages of A4 paper (it's bigger than regular paper, believe me) in approximately 3.5 hours. I'm a stud, and you know it.

Alright! Now that you know my life, let me tell you about the things that you actually read my blog for! The incredible lyrical and poignant detail that I write about each of my life experiences. (A long shot, but that's what I'm working toward. Just nod your head and smile.) I know, I know, I'll tell you about Dublin and Edinburgh. You are just never satisfied with the average parts of my life. Boo.

DUBLIN!  If you do not immediately start singing the 'drinking song' from Whose Line Is It Anyway, we need to reconsider our friendship. Acceptable alternatives are other Irish diddies like Bonny Wood Green, the song we learned/sang at every pub (Wild Rover), and any Ke$ha song. The Ke$ha has nothing to do with it, but you may sing Ke$ha all the time. So I'll start from the beginning and try to keep my incessant prattle to a minimum because I'm going to get very sleepy writing this if I don't.

Got up at a reasonable hour (ie early) and made it to the airport. Unlike my other airport adventures, this one was quite prompt and I rather enjoyed my flight on Aerlingus minus the lack of free beverages. On this flight Erica and I planned bachelorette parties. Not because we have any to attend, or even any to think about attending or planning for, but we got a good laugh out of it. So that's worth it. The Dublin airport was spacious, modern, and silent. I've never seen an airport that quiet. Not even the Kansas City one (which we all know is tiny and not so bustling) was a comparison. I'm dead serious. It was nearly silent, like speak in whispers, you're too loud kind of quiet. Weird.

Get on the bus to the city center, wander around in the wind-tunnel/area for a bit before finding our hostel. Get checked in, then decide to go out and explore a bit. Now this is one of two times where I became incredibly anxious during the weekend. This first time was because we were waiting for Vanessa. Yes that's right, that Vanessa, the one that sends swell letters and kept up with me in Art of Interpretation last semester. Can. Not. Wait. So we walk around all of these festive streets strung with all kinds of Christmasy decorations and such. Yay! Christmas time!

Eventually we wandered into a grocery store. Now, I know what you're thinking. Grocery store? But seriously. I think we're justified in doing this though, we heard that there was Dr. Pepper in Ireland. And Erica probably would have sold her first born for a DP at this point. Not an underestimate. So we begin our adventure through the grocery store and find a pot of gold. No, literally, gold in the form of cheese. Now don't get me wrong, Italy has wonderful cheese, but no cheddar. None. Not a crumb, we've looked. CHEDDAR!!! And we simply couldn't pass up this opportunity. We also found the wonderful and magical Doritos (again, the cheese thing, can't help it). So we bought both. And one the way back to the hostel, we found a place with Dr. Pepper and Rootbeer AND Reeses. WINNER. So delicious. Anyway, so back to the hostel with the loot, find Vanessa (So much hugging and squealing) and head out to a wonderful dinner of fish and chips.

So after din din, we went to another pub (because there are other places to go in Ireland?) and listened to a guy who looked like Colin Firth play the guitar and sing classics. That repertoire list includes Train, Irish Folk music, Bob Marley, and even some Muse. Be envious of my life.

Then back to the hostel for some well deserved rest.

So I think I'm going to bed now (yes, now that I just really started to blog) and I will work on bringing you day two tomorrow. I'm sorry this is so delayed, I took pretty pictures for you to enjoy... oh yeah, I have to put those up here too. Ok, I'll work on it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Carrot ahead of me

I'm currently using my blog and posting pictures as a motivational tool to get my papers done. Wish me luck, there will be postings soon. Promise.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh Aye-dee Aye-dee....

'ello there! Just to let you all know that I have officially survived my excursions to Dublin and Edinburgh, and am now back in Italia where the tidal wave of things I have yet to do are literally pounding down on my head, but hey! That's ok! I got to see Gusties all weekend! Totally worth it!

So due to this paper monsoon, I promise that I will do my best to update you fully about each beautiful day I spent this weekend, but I don't know if I'll be able to get it to you as promptly as I otherwise would. I also have TONS of pictures (all of them stunning and wonderful) but those might take a bit too. I'm incredibly sorry, and I know you all had higher expectations for me to keep up with all the parts of my life ESPECIALLY the blog part so you can dream that you are living my life. I get it. But alas, I'm going to attempt to prioritize according to what I should be doing, and not what I want to do. And that means that although I would LOVE to skype wonderful friends and blog extensively, that I will probably lock myself in the library with only a crust of bread and a bottle of water so that I finish these papers.

Irish and Scottish adventures to come soon.

Wish me luck (of the Irish).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Restlessness of an Hyper-stressed Globe-trotter

I'm terribly sorry you haven't gotten to virtually experience my stress levels for the last 3 days that I've actually been in Rome. Let me tell you, they are something to witness. With 3 papers coming up (all of relatively substantial size: 12 pages, 6 pages, and 3-single space pages) I'm in a very funny mind set.

However even with these overwhelming assignments, I managed to pull myself away from stress-ville (not a nice place to visit, and no I don't want to live there) to have dinner with Molly's family.  They are all in town, along with her friend Julie and it was a blast. We had some delicious food, and laughed probably more than we should have, and I don't regret any of it.

That being said, I can't wait to spend this weekend that the United States-ers call Thanksgiving weekend with some of my favorite people (Note: some of, not 'all'.  There are very many who are not included, though you are all invited.) As Erica, Kate and I venture to Ireland and Scotland this weekend, I hope that you all remember who has influenced your life, who you haven't spoken to in far too long, and who you are very thankful for in your life. I know I have my list, and I can't wait to reconnect with all of you asap.

So with that, I head to bed. Big adventures in the morning-international flights, green things, friends, and potentially leprechauns. It's going to be awesome.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Berets and art. Paris Days 2 and 3

PARIS! Day two (commence).

So we woke up kind of late (we're both still teenagers, we can't help it) and ate breakfast.  This consisted of some yummy bread with jam, and orange, and some juice.  After that we get ready for a day of adventure!  It's basically what I do. Well, that, and look at art. I do a lot of that too.

On the way to step one, we passed the monument to Princess Diana, I'm sorry I didn't get a picture, but it's beautiful, and I thought of Vanessa like I was supposed to.

Step one: Find Rodin Museum. If you don't know who this is, shame. I'll give you a hint, you should "Think" about it. That's a wonderful clue. Still no? Ok, he's the guy who made "The Thinker". Keep up. This museum includes a wonderful garden and outdoor area where you can walk around all of the sculptures and be surrounded by carefully sculpted (non-artistic) bushes. Then inside there are more sculptures by both Rodin and some other and these are marble, plaster, the popular bronze, and even a few manuscripts/letters. All very cool and some super sweet things. I totally dig it. Oh, and we also saw a famous French rockstar. I wish I could give you a name, but I've been sworn to secrecy. That's the line I'm sticking with.

Then we took a little stroll and a little bus to the d'Orsay (is that redundant? I don't even know) Museum. Now this is sweet. It's actually in an old train station (we're talking the super classic, must be from a movie kind of thing) and the collection is seriously impressive.  So we grab a quick (or quick as it can be in a crowded cafe in the museum) bite to eat and hit up the exhibits. I'm going to be super brief about all of the awesome things I saw in hopes that some of you art people will find this wonderfully amusing, but you non-art people (why am I friends with you again?) will not be angry with me.
(oh, and sorry these titles are in French, the magnificent d'Orsay website likes the French titles, you can Google them if you would like. Or go here (http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/tools/plan-salle.html) and click on all of the rooms and have a blast!)

Poppy Field, La Cathedrale de Rouen (times two. Go series paintings), Essai de Figure en plein-air: Femme a l'ombrelle tournee vers la gauche, La gare Saint-Lazare

Dans un cafe, Foyer de la danse a l'opera de la rue Le Peletier, Dance Class

Jeunes Filles au Piano, Bal du mulin de la Galette, La Liseuse

Berthe Morisot au bouquet de violettes, Le de jeuner sur l'herbe, Le Balcon

Arrangement en gris et noir #1

(In case you were curious, that was all on one floor. And that's a VERY incomplete list. Go to that website. Make yourself smart)

The Circus

Van Gogh: (Side note, you should watch the Simon Schama Power of Art video about Van Gogh, it's awesome)
Portrait de l'artiste (two of these too!)
La chambre de Van Goch a Arles

For those of you who speak/read French, I apologize for the lack of accents, it's late here, and I'm not so good at figuring out how to copy and paste those in without one of those fancy keyboards/minion to do it for me. I'll work on it.

Next step (2? 3? Who knows. I don't do numbers. Chloe? Hannah? Help!).  Champs-Élysées!  And with that comes many things.  First was the super sweet Ferris Wheel that takes you up to see Paris from the air (a lot like the Eiffel Tower, except it spins) and there was this joyous atmosphere of a carnival and there was this catchy French song playing in the cart-thing and it was awesome. 

Once off the Ferris Wheel, we walked down the Champs-Élysées through all of the Christmas markets. And believe you me, I am one of those strict-THERE IS ANOTHER HOLIDAY BETWEEN HALLOWEEN AND CHRISTMAS people, but will all of the cider, and the chill in the air, and the delicious looking things, you couldn't help but feel just the beginnings of the holiday spirit. So we smelled all of the wonderful things being served up, and watched the crowds, and walked down the lines of year-round stores, and just had a splendid time.  We eventually wound around to eating at this Crepe place where pretty much anything worth mentioning is on a crepe. And that's awesome. I had a delicious crepe with ham, mozzarella, basil, and sun dried tomatoes then an applesauce crepe for dessert. It was wonderful.  Then we walked all the way home, watched the French version of Dancing with the Stars, and went to bed. 

As if that wasn't exhausting enough, we began day three in much the same way as day two with a late start and a good breakfast. Then we began the whirlwind that is the Louvre in under a lifetime. Hard to do, many attempt, and few do it well, but I can honestly say that I think we did pretty well for ourselves. Once again, I will attempt to make a very incomplete list of the wonderful works we saw.  

Portrait of Juliette Recamier
Crowning of Emperor Nepoleon
Intervention of the Sabine Women
The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons
The Oath of the Horatii

St. Sebastian

The Seasons (These are 4 separate paintings: Spring, Summer, Winter, and Autumn)

Leonardo da Vinci:
Mona Lisa (watched the crowds)

Death of the Virgin (Probably one of my favorites not just of the weekend, but in life.)

Raft of Medusa

The Marie de Medici Cycle

Dying Slave
Bound Slave

Cupid and Psyche

And something like 10,000 others, but I was in a hurry (even if you were there from open to close, you might get through a small room throughly. Not a joke. There are 35,000 works in the Louvre. Count those zeros again.)

But, sadly, we had to bolt, and made it back to the apartment where we met Sebastian (not the saint, Juliette's older brother) for lunch with the family. This splendid meal included something like baked mashed potatoes, and steak with pepper spread, shredded carrot salad, and a delicious rhubarb custard thing. Oh and there was American coffee. It was lovely. 

Then, I had to leave such a wonderful place. I know, tear. And I made my way back to the airport where I had the (un)pleasant surprise of being delayed for an extra 2 hours. No explanation, just delayed. And two hours later, I was starving, eating peanut M&Ms and playing endless games of solitare. When it gets to the point that you gladly turn to your Gaga readings for entertainment, that it's really bad and you're really bored. That's a sorry, depressing statement, but it's the truth. So instead of getting back at 9 ish, I was back at 11:30. It sucked. 

But the airport was honestly my ONLY complaint about the entire weekend. Good food, good art, good company. Always winning. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Reunionize Me Captain! Paris Part One

I would like to begin my re-telling of my Paris adventures with a joke that I made up in 3rd grade.

Set up: (a little bit of background so that you understand how wonderfully clever this is for a 3rd grader)

My class was in French class and our teacher wasn't yet there. So we are nicely sitting in the circle in this little room and someone asked, "Where did the French teacher go?"

Me: "She went out to take a breath of French air."

BAM. That's how funny winners are.

BAM. That's the air I was breathing all weekend. But for real. It was spectacular. I loved it.

So we'll start from the real beginning now. I packed all of my needed things for the weekend and made my way to the airport, full of excitement and the sense of adventure. Just like a little kid. The funny part of that is that I was going to meet up with a friend of mine I hadn't seen since the year after the birth of that beautiful joke you read above. That's a long time ago. And I couldn't believe that it was really and truly actually happening. So I get on the train to go to the airport. Watch this guy ask everyone in the train if it was going to the airport, then watched him get off at the wrong stop (unfortunate). Get there. Go through security (no they didn't search me), get to my gate, and sit down and relax for a bit. I grabbed a bottle of water and when I noticed people starting to line up in front of the gate, I thought, hey, that's not a terrible idea, I'll jump in line.

Bad. We're waiting there for about 15 minutes (still on time) when suddenly, right as we were supposed to start boarding, there was an announcement over the loud speaker that said that our flight had spontaneously changed gates. So everyone who had been waiting in line sprints down the hallway toward this other gate. I'm not even kidding. Literally running down the hallway, dodging past other travelers and magazine stands to get to the other gate. I get there like everyone else, a little winded, but totally wired for sound. And we wait. And wait. And wait. And by this point, I'm thinking, wow, that sandwich place looks really good right now. I'm hungry, but I ran all the way here, and of course the minute I get out of line, we'll start boarding. Instead I watched the two girls who were wearing I Puffi sweatshirts (awesome).  Although that was a fascinating past-time, it was still another 20 minutes before we actually boarded. Which eventually made the plane late by that 20 minutes. Boo.

None the less, I made it to Paris and began my search for the mysterious Orlybus. The only major problem with that is that I don't read or speak French past the extreme basics. We're talking the kinds of things the colorful puppets say slowly in the teach-your-baby-French videos.  That kind of basic. So after a brief search, I found the bus tickets right by the bus and got on. And other than the interesting choice of music (I didn't realize that the French would like Gloria Gaynor so much) I decided that regardless of my lack of language proficiency, "I Will Survive". (Get it? that was great). I get off at Denfert-Rochereau and there they were. Juliette and her mom. Perfect.

We hugged and it was just so strange to see someone who I used to be such good friends with. Crazy, but really fun. We then jumped on a series of trains to get to Juliette's grandmother's apartment. From about this moment on we began the necessary catching up. This involved everything from where are they now discussions to all of those nifty cultural differences that we discovered.

By the time we made it the apartment we were warmly greeted by her grandmother (she's so sweet, seriously) (s) and I was shown around the place. Couple of things: 1) It's huge!  I thought that our apartment in the center of Rome was big, this is about a 5 minuted walk from the Eiffel Tower and it's probably twice the size of ours. 2) The bathroom is split over two rooms. Let me explain. In one room there is a shower and a sink, and down the hall (like a ways down the hall) there is the toilet and another sink. Fascinating? Yes. But everything about it was just so cozy and fun. It reminded me a lot of my cousin Bev and Don's (except the bathroom(s) wasn't (weren't) tiger themed.  It was just that home feel with the piano in the corner and the old school chairs and the table cloth, it was lovely.

So we settled in, talked for a bit, and then sat down to a wonderful homemade dinner.  Now the thing about Italy is that they LOVE to eat. And I don't take this lightly, they love the act of eating, of sitting down and enjoying every bit, every sip of wine, the conversation, the food, the atmosphere, everything. The French are a oui bit different. There is distinct point to the meal. There is still that love of food, but it's not about the experience, it's about having dinner. (This is such an abstract and random thing to describe to you, I'm doing my best, promise) For example, this three course meal would have 3 very different reaction in the US, Italy, and France.

Family dinner, everyone is talking and kidding around. Kind of like Thanksgiving (I'm going to be craving turkey later this week) where the family gets together and talks about everything.  I don't know about you, but my Thanksgiving dinners have people eating for just about an hour-an hour and a half then everyone watches football and waits for someone to cut into the pie.

A 3 hour affair where there are at least 2 bottles of wine and everything is savored with the utmost deliberateness. There is probably some crazy storytelling and lots of hand waving.

It felt like any regular family sit down dinner. Not the kind where the whole crew is involved, just the immediate family.  You eat, you talk, you talk about the day-in three courses, but faster than the Italians would have.

We had this turkey with mushrooms and gravy with rice for the first course, a simple salad with an oil and vinegar dressing for course numero dos, and fruit and yogurt for the last one. It was wonderful to have a home cooked meal that I didn't have to cook.

Then, The Pezron family and I went out to see the Eiffel Tower by night. Magical? Oh ya you betcha!  It was so incredible! Not only is it just a stunning piece of architecture (no one can argue that) but to see it lit up by night is just magical. I'm totally impressed. But the crowning jewel was when we went all the way up to the top. That's right, get out your Bucket List counters, because this is on there: Top of the Eiffel Tower by night. CHECK. You can literally see the entire city from up there. And all of the other monuments are so well lit that you can identify them and practically plan your next day based on what you see. And that's awesome.

After taking tons of pictures (I promise I'll get on that asap) we walked back home and pretty much immediately went to sleep. Successful day? Of course. And I couldn't ask for a better reunion. Especially when there are basically two more days of magic to cover.

But that report will probably have to happen tomorrow, I'm still recovering.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Airports rock

I'm alive! I have oodles to tell you about Paris, and the wonderful time I had with Juliette and family, but it is currently 12:36 am and I'm exhausted. Let's face it, spending an unnecessary 2 hours in an airport is just not as relaxing as it could have been.  But, alas, I am home now, and before I start typing things that are unrelated, cow, or are misspelled, rowme, then I will go to bed.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Fun fact!

Exactly one month from yesterday, I will be back on US soil.

I know some of you are incredibly excited for this, and others are dreading every moment that brings that date closer. I'm sorry for you. But yesterday also marked a magical occasion.

I found a knitting store.

Well, I didn't find it, but I was in it!  A girl from my Cin City class showed it to me and we had a wonderful time reveling in the amounts of yarns, and I consequently spent far too much time looking at patterns that only require one set of needles (and that I could do in Rome).  I miss it hard core, but I know it will only be a distraction. Somehow I've managed to overlook that little obstacle, and continued to look at patterns.

That aside, I leave in approximately 45 minutes for an epic reunion in Paris!  Reunion? How? What?
Let me explain.

My childhood comrade Juliette moved back to France after 4th grade. Through the magic of Facebook, we have managed to keep in contact and even plan this eventful reunion. I'm incredibly excited to see the girl who played on all the same soccer and basketball teams with me, and I haven't seen since we were 10. So think about that next time someone disses the good old Facebook, bringing people together decades apart.

So I need to finish packing, probably should eat something, and need to get on a train/plane!

I'll let you know of my revelries on Sunday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I felt bad not posting, so here I am!

Ok, some things that I enjoyed about today:
1) Drinking too much coffee
2) Watching Ke$ha videos "with" Vanessa before class
3) Reuniting with the "Florentines" (High Italian Renaissance class) and actually feeling like friends and not a collection of people forced to learn together.
4) One class being delayed (for probably a little too long) and another being cancelled.
5) Texting Cadi as she drives through "the south"
6) Finding a moment in the drama
7) Skyping with Alecia and surprise guest Jonathan
8) Writing postcards
9) Talking to a guy in my Philosophy class, making a joke, and waiting until he figured out I was kidding. (Alexander: What are we doing today in class? Me: No clue, want to take bets? [beat] [beat] [beat] Alexander: [smiles])
10) Getting super pumped about Paris this weekend.

And that concludes my life story.

Ok, at least today's portion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crisis Averted? or Adventure Averted?

So that was a crap shoot.

Now, let me be honest here, the idea of Italy Reads is wonderful.  I think it's a wonderful idea that allows for students to interact with each other on a level that they would not otherwise seek, and about something that may not be the most immediate option. So generally, this is a fantastic idea.

The trouble is that there are some major flaws in execution.

1) I personally think that they are marketing this to the wrong people.  Much of the time they spend trying to get study abroad students here for a semester to commit a substantial amount of time to preparing for something that in theory should only take a few hours. Therefore, although they should not exclude the study abroad students, I think that the better candidates for this project are the degree-seeking students that are looking for a volunteering opportunity.

2) Organization. I'll say it again for clarity, Organization. The funny thing about recruiting study abroad kids is that their schedules fill up fast. And I'm talking like a large portion of these students travel every weekend, or just don't physically have the time with their class schedules to do something for 4 hours in the afternoon. Therefore, as a volunteer organization, you need to be on your A game to win a slot in these cramped calendars. And although it may be time consuming, it's not terribly hard to do.  And here are some basic ways that this desired amount of organization can be achieved:
     a) Set up a master schedule, and make sure that it is readily available to those persons involved, as well as those interested.  That means a link on a website (JCU website is a totally different rant), an email with an attachment, as well as the repetition of upcoming events at every meeting.
     b) Prompt email replies.  When travel schedules have the potential to change on a dime, it's important to make sure that you are willing to work with and talk about any upcoming questions or concerns. This is also imperative because when you send students out as representatives of your school, as well as your program, and they don't speak Italian, they are going to be worried about just walking into an Italian high school.  Support them, and they will likely be just the ambassadors that you want them to be.
      c) Make obligations clear from the beginning. Don't try to hide that the volunteers should actually read the book twice, or that it's nearly impossible to get to the school, that doesn't reflect well on your program.
      d) When you actually do plan to send students out on these school visits, call the school that morning and confirm with them that the teacher is there and still expecting volunteers.

See? Easy-peasy.

Unfortunately, none of the above things were implemented, and consequently, Kate and I spent 15 minutes waiting for our fellow students to meet us before going to this campus. Then when no one came, we went up to see Gina (not Gina who sings, other Gina) who gave us a free t-shirt, and a special letter and sent us on our way. Ok, so then we waiting for the H bus (I've taken that bus a lot this week...) and after bout 30 minutes of waiting for the bus, Gina called us and said that the visit was cancelled. With in that time we could have been walking into the school.  We could have been walking into a classroom that wasn't expecting us, whose teacher was gone for the day. Not smart.

So instead of talking to an classroom of Italian high schoolers, I'm writing a blog post.  Adventure adverted: boo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's like running in circles

The strangest things is that I actually feel like I've caught up on my blogging actives. What a novel concept.

Although Kate seems to be slowly losing her mind this evening, I'm relatively awake, and only mildly regretting walking all around Rome on a wild-picture-goose-chase. My Digipho class went on an excursion around the city to take more pictures.  Although this sounds like a blast, walking 4 miles (I haven't actually checked that, but that's what it felt like) after doing nothing but standing and walking all weekend did not sound very appealing. None the less, I strapped on my backpack, turned on my camera, and went to work. I'm not sure that's a good thing for me, but that's what I did. And we walked from "Campus oleeoleoooelooloeleoelolo" (that's what we call it in our apartment because it doesn't have a name and only 5% of the JCU population knows where it is), to the Capitoline Museum,  to the Roman Forum, to some other ruins (I don't remember what they're called), to the Colosseum, to Circus Maximus (where they used to race chariots), and then over to the "Key hole" which is this literal key hole that you can see St. Peter's dome through. All very cool things, just exhausting.

So after all of that adventure, I trudged back to have lunch with Kate, attended the rest of my classes (I'm really good at that.) and even attempted to take a nap in the cafeteria (non-successful, although I did get some reading done.) Went grocery shopping (always delightful), made dinner, and am now going to bed. I'm a sleepy kitten.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Firenze! All for Art and Art for All!

If I were to write a blog post about my weekend it would go like this.

Art. Art art. Art art ART art. Art art art aRt ART-ART, art art art art art Art art art! Art art a-r-t, art art art, (art art, ART!) art art. Lunch. ART, art art art, tart, art art art art Art, art art art.... ART.

Ok, that's enough of that.

But that's really what happened. Not even a joke. So much art that at one point I thought that my head was going to explode, my eyes were going to pop out of my skull, and my feet were going to fall off. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. And it was wonderful.

Ok, so now I'm going to attempt to list all of the things/places that we went as a class to see. This will be difficult and it will be incomplete, I apologize in advance.

Day 1 (Friday)
Santa Maria Novella: (yep, waiting in line for this one was 11/11/11 11:11.)
      Trinity-- Masaccio
      Strozzi Chapel-- Filippino Lippi
      Tornabuoni Chapel-- Domenico Ghirlandaio

      The Prisoners--Michelangelo (my presentation. Boo-yah)
      St. Matthew-- Yup, Michelangelo

Santa Trinita
     Sassetti Chapel--Domenico Ghirlandaio

Ok, that was exhausting. But so worth it. Presentation out of the way, life is better. Then a group of us decided that we would all go out to dinner.  Kelly had found this place that was on the other side of the river and it was absolutely delightful. I'm terribly sorry that I don't remember the name (I mean, I Remember the Name, but I don't know the name of this restaurant) but it was lovely. There were about 10 of us and we attempted half-sizes (a complete misnomer. Anything that comes in a bowl/plate twice the size of your head is not a half-size serving.) And everything was delicious. I personally had the ravioli with the walnut cream sauce, but I was also lucky enough to sample some traditional Florentine soup and the best gnocchi I think I've ever had (with truffle oil? yes please.)

After that we all walked back toward the Duomo (what a lovely landmark/meeting place, artistic and everything.) but separated back into our various parts of town where we were residing for the weekend. At that point I realized that I really needed something to do for the second round of 11/11/11 11:11.  So I'm in Florence, I'm not attending the Bob Dylan concert like I had thought about (let's be real, how sweet would that be?)?), and I have no where to be/no one to see. So I sat in the Piazza Signoria for a bit and when that clock got closer, I pulled out three coins from my wallet and decided that the best way to celebrate this once in a life time occasion was to throw three coins in the fountain there. I hoped that it works like the Trevi Fountain works, you know, three coins and you return to [Rome] (or in this case, Florence).  11:11 hits and in went the coins to a very satisfying (and hopefully lucky) ker-plunk, and I instantly became the happiest person in the world! (ok, just kidding, but it was fun, and I enjoyed it.) Then back to the hostel for some shut-eye.

Day 2 (Saturday)
      (Tondo) –Michelangelo
      David --Donatello (Life. Made.)
      Sacrifice of Isaac --Ghiberti and Brunelleschi (as the ‘audtion’ piece for the Baptistry Doors or Gates of Paradise)
      Pitti Tondo-- Michelangelo
     And two lions wearing crowns.  

Lunch at a native bakery where I had to be able to recognize my number when it was said very quietly in a very loud bakery. I'm telling you it's a skill. 

     Freaking everything.
     Birth of Venus--Botticelli
     Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Medici Medal-- Botticelli
     Annunciation-- Botticelli
(Everything mentioned thus far in this heading is in one singular room)
     Adoration of the Magi-- Leonardo da Vinci
     Annunciation-- Leonardo da Vinci
     Baptism of Christ--Verrocchio (and Leonardo, but it was only one angel)
     Rest During Flight into Egypt --Correggio
     Madonna and Child in Glory--Correggio
     Adoration of the Child-- Correggio
     Madonna of the Gold Finch--Raphael
     Pope Leo X with Cardinals...--Raphael
     Madonna of the Harpies-- Andrea del Sarto

And those are just the things we had presentations on.  They forcibly kicked us out at 6:30. Literally dragged us from the premise, it's a wonder we weren't escorted by armed guards.

Then I had about an hour of trying to communicate with a guy at the cell phone store about how I had accidentally locked myself out of my phone and would love to get back in, but my Italian was almost as bad as his English, or so I assume, I used my Italian. Then out for a night with the girls.  Tried Boar, had a lot of fun, if you really want to know the stories, you should ask me sometime. Things that happen in Florence.

Day 3 (Sunday)
Pitti Palace
       Pallas and the Centaur-- Botticelli
       Portrait of Agnolo-Doni-- Raphael (this is the cover of my text book for this class. How appropriate.) 
       David-- Verrocchio (That makes a complete set of Davids.)

      And maybe a dozen other things we talked about, mentioned, or have seen before: Unfinished bust by Michelangelo, 3-4 other Raphael portraits, a Rubens (I don't remember the title now), and in passing maybe another 700 paintings on the walls there. It would literally take me years to get through the Pitti (and the Uffizi, let's be honest) giving each painting/work the study it deserves. 

After lunch with the girls, I grabbed my bag and headed to the train station. Made it back home after speaking briefly with a Canadian family (cue anthem) and began writing this blog. Made some dinner, talked to the parentals, and now I'm calling it a night. Viva Firenze.