Veni Vidi Amavi                 

Veni Vidi Amavi 

    We came. We Saw. We Loved. 

 

I’ve been back in the states for a couple of days now and as always after travel I find myself reevaluating where I am and where I want to be. This trip was so much different and wonderful than I could have ever hoped for. I found out so much more about myself than I ever could have imagined. 

 

I haven’t been out of the country since my autoimmune disease diagnosis. I needed time to understand it and get to a place where my body and my mind were strong enough to handle lengthy trips again. I was beyond nervous as I had been having a horrible flare up for several weeks before leaving and didn’t know if the doctors would clear me. I barely scraped by with clearance just a day before I was supposed to leave. There were times during the trip where I could feel my body aching and tiring too quickly but overall I felt more like myself than ever. I won’t say my old self though because that self was broken, confused, and very lost. I’ve never been ashamed of where I’ve been or who I’ve been…it’s all a part of me and a part of my story and I appreciate those parts the most as they helped me claw my way out of the little shell I had glued and stapled myself into. This trip managed to rip off the small remnants that were still bandaged on. 

 

Brussels forced me out of comfort zone like no other trip ever had. It provided a feeling of liberation as I learned to fly by the seat of my pants again and to not be afraid of what comes next. There was no plan- a very not me move. Every day brought on a new adventure with different twists and turns that I could have never anticipated. I had the most resistance with Brussels as it was so far out of my comfort zone and with that I found more freedom and the ability to resolve my emotions. 

 

Dublin captivated me. I was in awe at the beauty of the cliffs of Moher and the ruins of the Rock Cashel. The stunning grounds of Blarney found the magical spark I thought had gone out long ago as the history flooded through every tree and rock. The streets of Dublin and the swans captured my heart in a way I don’t think I will ever be able to fully describe as I lived out the perfect movie scene day after day.

London reminded me just how connected we all are. We were all so different, but together we blended into the most imperfect mesh of culture, society, and humanity. I got to be Alice, meet the more sophisticated London version of me, conquer fears, get tattooed, and eat foods from all over. London, most of all, felt like home. Some city, some art, and the ease of walking around a place that seemed so familiar yet very new. 

 

And I got to do it all with my best friend by my side as she kept me wild and I kept her safe. 

 

Advertisements

Not a 9-5er

I’m not a 9-5er. I’ll never enjoy having a social hour around a water cooler, relaying the latest office gossip. I don’t enjoy the office setting; but I find a comfort in structure and routine. I don’t do well with spontaneity; yet some of my best decisions have come from “fuck it” moments. I hate waking up to an alarm clock. I love waking up to my internal clock. Sometimes this makes me a dawn to dusker- or a dawn to dawn person. Some nights I don’t sleep at all. I enjoy heels; but not nearly as much as I enjoy walking around barefoot. On occasion I love to dress up, do my hair, my make-up. I am, what some people would call, a girly girl. I also love getting dirty, off-roading, and every other word I think is usually inappropriate or sarcastic. To some, that makes me a tomboy. I’m artsy, stubborn, tattooed, and love puppies.  I’m the last thing most people think of when you say the word sorority girl. But, for 4.5 years I proudly wore my letters as an active member, and served in several positions. I live for the sounds of the city, the hustle and busyness, and the excitement of exploring new areas. But I crave salt water air blanketed by the gentle warmth of the sand. I enjoy a good glass of wine or a cosmo. I also love a good shot of whiskey. I hate cooking; but when I really concentrate at it I’m actually a pretty fucking awesome cook. I have an anxiety disorder; it makes life incredibly difficult, trying, amazing, and interesting.

There are so many boxes that we try to place ourselves in. But we never truly fit into just one box and I am very tired of trying. At what point do we set aside this cookie cutter illusion we’ve built up and just wing it? At what point is just winging it not enough? It seems as though for some people this method works and for some it doesn’t. Is there something that makes this happen or is it just a roll of the dice? Either way it’s pretty ironic. The main question at the end is…do you take the risk?

Sunflower Field

Last week my boyfriend and I moved to New Jersey. This was definitely not an easy thing for either of us to do as we were both leaving behind people we care about. But, we were also leaving behind pasts that neither of us wanted to take with us or have hold us down anymore.

One of the first days we were in New Jersey we drove past this beautiful field of sunflowers. Mind you- I’m not a big sunflower fan. But this field had a magical quality to it. In fact I was so drawn to it that a couple of days later I randomly brought it up and Jae and I dropped everything and got into the car to go hunt for it. We finally found the field close to sunset- and let me tell you…that was a sight to see! The purples and pinks and blues all meshing with the gold from the flowers was absolutely breathtaking (that’d be the photog inside of me).

But the field was more than that. You see- sunflower season is very much ending right now. So, most of the flowers were wilting or bent over as they were dying. But, while the sun was setting even the wilted and tattered flowers looked stunning. It was like they knew it was their time, but they were going to make sure to go out with a bang.

For me that resonated so much because that’s where Jae and I were at. We were shedding our pasts and having our last moments as those particular people at the same time as these flowers. It was the first time all week that I truly felt confident about the move and knew I had made the right decision.

The best part is that next year when sunflower season starts we’ll be able to go and see them in full bloom and see the strength and beauty they took a year to create and know that we’ve done the same.

image

image

What I learned on my trip to Italy

Every year I take one big trip by myself out of the country. It gives me a small adventure and really throws me into the spot. I almost always have some type of anxiety break down while on these trips, but it forces me to cope with it and be strong for myself. It also throws me out of my comfort zone.

This year my destination was Italy. So I was VERY far out of my comfort zone. in fact I was so far out that I didn’t even know any Italian. But, this wasn’t even a problem! Now- onto what I learned on this trip! Be ready for some history, art appreciation, and social insights!

If you are at the airport (FCO) Don’t ask for help from anyone but information after you go through the passport check. They will more than likely not help you and will tell you to find information.

If you can- take the train to your destination. It’s the cheapest route. However taxi’s are 40 euro and the door to door bus is 70.

There are no rules when it comes to driving and lanes are suggestions…and so are pedestrians.

The trees are beautiful, especially the umbrella trees. Umbrella trees are only native to Italy!

Nothing is within walking distance unless you are willing to walk 45 minutes or longer. Some monuments are close to other ones if you don’t mind walking a few miles, but for the most part nothing is in walking distance.

Naples was the capital in the 1700s and 1800s.

Auto grille’s are awesome ( it’s like a Sheetz, but better). You can stop there for a cafe and cornetta.

When you order you say “cafe e cornetta”. Then you pay, they give you a ticket, and you move to the other counter. Place a 10cent euro on your receipt for the waitress. They will come, look at the receipt, make your espresso and give you the cornetta. You eat it at the bar and then walk away once done.

At the Auto Grille you can buy a 4 pack of wine for 10euro and in the states the same wine costs $50 per bottle.

Naples is the home of pizza.

In Pompeii the rich people had fountains and plumbing. Everyone else shit in the streets.

The man who first stabbed Caesar had a house in Pompeii. It’s still there and still very decorative.

In Pompeii they have the remains of several people. If you notice some have belts there is a reason for this. Anyone who has the belt on was considered a slave.

They had many brothels in Pompeii. Sailors could find them by locating the Penis carved in the stones in the sidewalk. There were photos of each sex act so sailors could identify what they wanted due to language barrier.

Poop stones- there were 3 large stones placed in certain parts of the road for people to walk across on because the streets were literally flooded with poop.

Places that tanned hides offered free bathrooms to people because they used their poop to tan the hidesf

Pomepii has two arenas. A large one and a small one- mostly used for plays.

Many bath houses in Pompeii and most still have the tiles in place.

While in Naples and Pompeii you will want to negotiate prices at souvenir huts. You can get really good deals.

They have Lemon cello samples.

Pizza and fizzy wine is a staple.

Gas means fizz- so they will ask you if you want wine with gas. Water can also be sold with or without gas.

Campfire girls/ umbrella girls= prostitute. They received these names because at night they build camp firesz and during the rain or really sunny days they’ll walk around with their umbrella.

The word polluti (now meaning trash) comes from the the Pompeii days. Polluti referred to the people in the highest seats at the arenas and collosuems. They were called Polluti which means stinky people.

The apean way is a tree line of umbrella trees with a walkway down the center. You can walk from Naples to Rome through this path.

Capua is where gladiators trained. It has the 2nd largest colosseum in Italy.

Sparta trained at the original one (built and destroyed before Capua)

Capua is considered sacred because it was built where he trained.

At Capua you can go underground and see the behind the scenes stuff- where animals were kept, vendors came in, etc.

There is also a crematorium- only rich ppl could afford to have ppl put there.

The Italian version of ever clear is called Grappa.

Solopaca- wine shop where you pump wine like you pump gas. Cheap wine.

Fruit grows everywhere and is sold on all the streets in Naples.

Vietri is absolutely beautiful. It’s known for it’s ceramics.

If you buy something from Vietri makes sure it says Vietri in the bottom. Otherwise it wasn’t made there.

Vietri is on the Mediteranean and you have to take the Amalfi way to get there (partially).

It is literally what you pictured Italy being like…Vietri was my favorite destination.

Do the hop on/off tour to get most of Rome. It’s only 18euros.

At the collosuem you get a combo ticket for the collosuem, palatine, and roman forum for 12euro. You won’t get a student discount anywhere unless you go to a European school and have valid id.

They have water fountains everywhere- but they don’t look like what we have- they’re usually a legit fountain. Buy a water bottle outside of the forum- it’s 1euro and usually frozen and you can fill up at many of the fountains in the site

No good place to stay bc everything is spread apart. Near Trevi fountain is probably ideal as most things happen here and there’s a lot of shopping and eating.

Always buy the house wine at restaurants. Its cheaper and just as good.

Vatican City is the smallest state in the world and it houses the largest church in the world.

If you go to the Tarot Gardens make sure you have a translator on your phone because almost no one in Capalbio speaks English.

The train station in Capalbio is machine run- so buy your return ticket when you buy your departure ticket. You can take any train from Capalbio to Rome Termini as they come by the hour and you are not assigned a set departure time- even if you chose one when buying the ticket (so- buy the cheapest one).

Once in Capalbio you would need to either go to the bar next to the station or the one across the street to have someone call you a Taxi driver. The Tarot Gardens are 6- 8km from Capalbio. That equates to about 6-10 miles.

Taxi’s in Capalbio will cost about 20 euro round trip.

With all that being said…GO TO THE TAROT GARDENS. If you love art, breathe art, are obsessed with art, or even just like art or like to climb things that are shiny…go! This was my favorite site to see!

Everyone wears jeans in Italy. So, if someone tells you the opposite they’ve either a) never actually been b) only gone to tourist areas or c) were only at a nice event.

Smoking is about as common as brushing your teeth. Everyone smokes…it’s even worse than Scotland.

They all have permanent smoker’s cough.

Rules are not actually rules. Most are suggestions. For instance- at the Collosuem it says no purses, backpacks, or large bags. Everyone had a purse, backpack, or large bag. Other places will state not to climb on something- but everyone is climbing on it- including the people that work there. People will smoke right under a no smoking sign and a police officer will come up and join them.

There are 5 types of police in Italty. Why? I have no idea…

If you take the train make sure to get your ticket validated. This is a HUGE deal. If you don’t have it validated they can kick you off the train.

If you take the Regional train they will not announce the stops. you have to look out the window to see what station it is.

Pope Francis is considered a Revolutionary Pope. When he was named he refused to put on the honorary gown and he refused the escorts. He walked up to the rest of the Holy party and looked each person in the eye and said he was a sinner- just like them. He then proceeded to walk onto the balcony unescorted. He also walked up the steps instead of being carried.

This is the first time in recorded history that there have been 2 live Popes in Italy.

Michaelangelo hated Rome.

When the Pope asked Michaelangelo to do the Cistine Chapel he refused 3 times before the Pope sent the Swiss guard to Florence to retrieve him.

Michaelangelo was so angry about this that he actually painted a man mooning the Pope on the ceiling to get back at him for making him do the Fresco.

Years later when the new Pope asked Michaelangelo to do another Fresco he said he’d do it if he could make everyone naked. The Pope agreed. However, another head of the Church was disgraced by this and every day he told M to put some clothes on the people.

To get back at this man M painted him as the Devil in his Dante’s Inferno series. He has the man wrapped up in a snake with the snake biting his penis off. M also pianted himself in this fresco. A man is holding the skin of M in his hands. This signified M’s depression and want to die.

During Jubilee (every 25 yrs) if you walk through the door the Pope smashed with a hammer at St. Peter’s Basilica (church) you are cleansed and baptized again.

All of the Apostles except for Judis are represented by statue in Vatican City.

The Pope leads Prayer almost every Wednesday and Sunday in St. Peters Square. These days are the most packed.

St. Peter’s Basilica holds the statue of Saint Peter and if you rub his foot it brings you luck.

The foot is NASTY. It used to look like a foot with a sandle on it…now it’s like a round blob. This is a checmical reaction from having sooooo many people touch it.

There is a statue known as the truth statue. Many couples go there to makre sure their spouse is being faithful. It is said that if you put your hand in the statues mouth and tell a lie it will bite your hand off.

This actually comes from a true story. A woman knew her husband was cheating and asked him to go to the statue with her. She asked him to place his hand in the mouth and state if he had cheated. He did and said that he had not cheated and his hand was taken off. However- the woman saw this coming and had hired a butcher to sit on the other side an chop off his hand if he did not admit to cheating.

Nike is an old Goddess that is depicted in Rome as well. She was depicted with wings similar to the Nike symbol and many people are convinvced that this is where the name and symbol for the shoe come from.

The lily is the symbol for Florence and was founded by the Romans in 59bc.

Fiesole is a town right outside of Florence. It used to be a strong military hold until Florence took them down.

The best view of Florence is at the top of Piazzle Michaelangelo.

Don’t take the hop on/off bus in Florence. The city is fairly walkable. But, you will want to be sure to give yourself enough time to get everywhere.

Dogs are everywhere in Italy. They are allowed to go in to all stores ( like H&M), historical sites, restaurants,trains, and musuems. I’m pretty sure there are more rules for what people can and can’t do than dogs. So, of course, I was in heaven.

Gelato is amazing and delicious.

Learn where your free bathrooms are. In Vatican City at the gift shop there is a free bathroom and at the Roman Forum inside the musuem is a free bathroom. Train stations will make you pay. Most restaurants will have a bathroom too. You’ll just need to ask if they have a “toilette”.

and finally…3 words: PASTA PIZZA PANINI.

That is all you will eat

Dear Me

Earlier today one of my best friends and I went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The movie was absolutely amazing- however if you’re like me it hits home and tugs on your adventure strings. After the movies  my friend and I went out for dinner and discussion. As we were discussing how bored I’ve felt with life lately she asked me some pretty tough questions.

These questions are just one of the reasons on why I value my friendship with this particular person. She always pushes me to look outside of my tiny little box and forces me to look at questions I don’t even realize exsist. She asked me why I wasn’t doing what I love to do and I wasn’t pushing and working towards those goals. Then she asked me what my 12 year old self and my 8 year old self would think about who I am today.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure both of them would be fairly disappointed in what they become. I’m not saying I’m this horrible person or that I haven’t accomplished some things. However, my expectations were quite high at those ages and I definitely thought I was pretty invincible. But, somewhere along the way I forgot these things.

My 8 year old self wanted to be a dancer on broadway part time, an actress part time, and then an Egyptologist as well (as I stated…I had high expectations). She was the version of me that was fearless (most of the time). My 8 year old self was the one who jumped onto the rope swing from the highest points and jumped off mid air. She ran through woods and biked without a helmet. And she never listened when someone said “You can’t do it”. She was still creative and loved to play with clay and act…in fact she was a bit of a drama queen.

My 12 year old self ,however, had been through quite a bit of life and had to grow up and act much older due to previous events. She looked before she leaped and she kept quiet most of the time. However, she was still creative. She liked to sing, act, and write. At this stage of the game I knew I was made for bigger cities and people with open minds. I wasn’t quite as fearless, although I had my daring moments.  I still wanted to be an actress, but I was also toying with the idea of writing. I was dying to work for National Geographic and was ridiculously interested in Science and Nature.

If both of these girls were here today it might be hard to see some of these qualities as a few have faded so you can barely see them  while others have disappeared completely. I’m obviously not an actress or working for a magazine. But, most of all, I think they’d be disappointed in how much I second guess myself. I’ve learned to not do it so frequently and am getting a lot better at getting back to my fearless self. Unfortunately- life happens and it teaches us to be concerned and afraid. It teaches us to look both ways before crossing and to watch where we step. But, it also teaches us that life goes on. Every moment connects to a new one and our thread line keeps spinning and spinning. Sometimes it’s ok to take a leap of faith- we just have to know how to judge the moment. But, most of all- Life teaches us that it’s a journey and the clearest path may not always be so easy and the right path may not always be clear. 

I think these past two selves would be disappointed as I did not become what they thought and wanted. However, as they are past selves they haven’t learned the lessons I’ve learned,  taken the paths I’ve taken, built and burned certain bridges, or seen what I’ve seen. Given this knowledge I’d say I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

It may not be perfect and it may not be Broadway, but for now it’s real and solid. Just because right now is now doesn’t mean it’s forever and that’s what I’ll keep telling myself. Because the more I push myself and the harder I work at getting back the positive traits I’ve lost the more I’m learning about who I truly am and what I really enjoy. I’ve taken many risks over the last year and had many adventures. Sure, life right now seems a bit slow and boring- but if we didn’t have those days nothing would ever be exciting.

If I was to write a letter to myself at these ages it would simply state:

Dear Me,

I’m sorry I’m not what you wanted. But that’s ok, because I’m who I need to be right now.

Love,

You

What would your letter say? 

Image