it can be found through the twist of a camera lens. or the turn of the age dial. or the easy childhood you had. or the difficult time you went through. or if you’re employed. or if you’re a man. or if you’re a teenager. or if you’re lonely. or if you’re in love. or if you ran there. or if you took the first left instead of right.

for whatever reasons got us to this point, it’s given us all a unique perspective. we can experience the same event and come away with different conclusions. we can taste the same meal and simultaneously shudder in delight and disgust. we can smell the same flower and want to sniff again or sneeze and pull back. we can hear the same song and laugh or cry. we can touch the same water and either dive in or run away laughing. we can see the same mountain and be comforted or challenged.

that last one actually happened. kristen saw that mountain in lake como and thought this.

i saw it and felt comforted.


because it was always there. every morning. strong. solid. sturdy. stunning. it was waiting for me to walk out onto the porch so it could make me smile. every afternoon. the houses bordering the base, tempting the mountain, urging it to disagree with the civilization. the trees still grew, filling in the picture, outlining its vast size. the rocks reflected the sunshine making the white spots gleam like a hollywood startlet’s mouth. every night. giving the setting sun a backdrop. providing an audience for the twinkling stars.

i was introduced to that mountain at a time where i felt lost (directionally and emotionally) and confused and homesick. but every morning, noon, and night, there it was. unchanging except for the shadows that danced in the revolving sunlight. i would see that mountain and know i was near home. a temporary home. but one that was safe and modern and new and filled with two girls who opened their vacation and let me slip into their hugs hello.

that mountain shows how steady mother nature is. and when you’re feeling lost, isn’t it just like a mother to send a source of comfort?


golden rule (of couches)

it started with a bathmat. or rather, a replacement one. roommate said she had reached her limit and was going to buy one of the wooden ones they use in spas. upgrade #1.

it continued with a work trip. to ITALY. upgrade #2.

it was furthered when roommate reached her limit (again) but this time with the couches. we had 3 of them. all 3 were hand-me-downs when we first moved into our apartment 7 years ago. (to be honest, neither one of us expected we’d still be roommates this long, so the hand-me-down couches seemed like the perfect short term solution.) but here we are, still roommates, still with old couches. plus you have to factor in 7 more years of butt sitting and dinners being eaten and beverages being drunk while on them…yeah, ick. we attempted to spruce them up with slip covers, but that didn’t really help. roommate uses the living room more than i do, so it was natural she’d reach her limit before i did. but once she reached it and pointed it out to me, i quickly realized how frumpy that room was. she did some research and ordered 2 brand spanking new couches. and they are lovely. the apartment looks grown-up. upgrade #3.

and then a weird thing happened. E&T went off to visit Japan and needed someone to pick up their CSA farm shares of vegetables and fish during their absence. roommate and i happily agreed. and this past tuesday night, we were inundated with fish and fresh vegetables. upgrade #4. except neither one of us knew what to do. well, to be fair, roommate had more of a clue than me, especially when it came to the fish. i’ve NEVER cooked fish. heck, i’ve only just started eating it. (i rarely ate it growing up. unless it was those frozen fish sticks, which, ick.) long story short — we had a complete dinner of fish and veggies tuesday and then last night, i took the reins and made a baked fish dish with rice. for two nights, roommate and i were able to cook and eat together (while sitting on the floor in the living room so as not to spill on the beautiful new couches!). despite our hectic schedules and the variances in our taste buds, we had our own little family dinners.

eating dinner together as a family is something i treasure because it’s what my family did every single night of my childhood. no tv, no books, no phones, just food and family. sure, when i was a teenager, i wanted nothing to do with these dinners, but the forced regularity of conversation was a lesson that extended beyond the family. (because there are a lot of times here in adulthood when you have to talk to people you don’t necessarily want to.) and frankly, that lesson extended into the family because i got to know the people who sat around me. they’d talk about their days while i secretly tried to hide the fact i wasn’t eating my vegetables.

but what these recent upgrades have shown me is that i am becoming an adult even though i certainly don’t feel like one. when i was little, i thought being an adult included being married and having kids and owning a house. i have none of these things, yet my age says i’ve reached adulthood. the bills and taxes i pay depict adulthood too. but my health and imagination make me feel 10 again. so i guess it’s time to use my mind and start “faking it ’til i make it” to adulthood. or rather, an amended version of adulthood.

i can’t help but think that having a new bathmat, 2 new couches, a kitchen full of fresh food and a person to eat dinner with is a good starting point.


awards season

traveling takes you out of your routine. and one of my daily routines is checking my google reader. it’s the cream of the crop in organizing all the blogs i follow. and when there is a site that lists all of the blogs i follow, it becomes a site packed with words and wonder and hilarity and sincerity and all sorts of awesomesauciness.

as i was catching up with all the bloggy goodness that i missed while i was a broad traveling abroad, i came across THIS. which made me pause. and then shriek, HOLY COW! an award for me?!? thanks, patty!

and it’s the best kind of award because i get to pass it on. of course, all the peeps patty listed are all ones i’d have highlighted too, but since i’m supposed to forward the love, not reflect it, i’m going to pick some of my OTHER favorites to single out. but before i do that, let’s cover the rules.

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award. (THANKS, PATTY.)
2. Share seven things about yourself. (SEE BELOW.)
3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it. (SEE BELOW.)
4. Lastly, contact all the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.

One Lovely Blog Award Rules:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and link back to her. (THANKS, PATTY.)
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. (SEE BELOW.)
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Seven Things You Never Thought/Aren’t Sure You Want To Know About Me:

  1. i don’t like citrus. lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit, BLECH.
  2. i often get phrases stuck in my head the same way others get songs stuck in theirs.
  3. i have to read something, anything before i go to bed. even if it’s only one paragraph. it calms me.
  4. i might look like i’m of the age where i’m proficient with technology, but it actually scares the heebeegeebees out of me. and i often have trouble. and i often have to call in reinforcements. in the form of family and friends.
  5. i sleep with a fan on. every night. i like the wind. and the white noise.
  6. i cannot touch my toes. i might be the most inflexible person ever. in the physical sense. i’m actually quite easy going in the, uh, personality sense.
  7. i startle easily. it usually happens at least once a day. i cannot explain it. i guess i get so caught up in what i’m doing, that i don’t notice when people are standing outside my office door or are walking around in my apartment or are about to jump out from off camera in a movie. which means that yes, i cannot watch scary movies. heck, i can’t even watch the commercial trailers.

and that’s enough about me, so without further ado, i pass the blogging honors along to these talented people, listed in alphabetical order by first name. (what? I like things to be organized neatly):

Adriana Kirilova
Carrie Harris
Gayle Forman
Gina Choe
Jen Stayrook
Kristen Munson (or this one.)
Kristi Marie Criddle
Lauren Miller
Libby Jones
Nancy Howell
Natalie Whipple
Stephanie Perkins
Things Organized Neatly
Thoughtful Eating

go forth and read!


mama dearest

today is my mom’s birthday.

she is cruising around alaska with my dad and a bunch of other couples, so since i can’t talk to her directly on her big day, i got to thinking about what i would have said to her had we been in the same state at the same dinner table raising our wine glasses in a toast to the lady that raised our family so successfully.

first, i would have sang to her. incredibly pitchy and off-key and horrible sounding. but with the best intentions.

then, i would have apologized.

after that, i would have told her thank you. thanks for being there on days when i needed her. thanks for being there on days when i all i wanted to be was alone. thanks for not being there so i was forced to learn and grow on my own. thanks for pushing me to be better. thanks for allowing me to fail. thanks for putting up with my teenage anger. thanks for being my role model. thanks for laughing with me. thanks for yelling at me. thanks for her respect. thanks for listening to my opinion. thanks for asking for it. thanks for knowing when to call, when to write, when to visit. thanks for opening her wallet. thanks for supporting my dreams. thanks for letting me sleep in. thanks for cooking even though it was the last thing she felt like doing. thanks for being my drinking buddy (once i turned 21). thanks for her understanding. thanks for her intelligence. thanks for passing along her blonde hair and blue eyes. thanks for teaching me how to read. thanks for complimenting me. thanks for sticking around. thanks for putting up with me. thanks for loving me always even if she didn’t always like me at the moment. thanks for teaching me. thanks for learning with me. thanks for being in my corner. thanks for making me roll my eyes at her. thanks for making me want to hug her. thanks for encouraging my individuality with words in a family of numbers. thanks for making me go it on my own. thanks for letting me come home. thanks for being proud of me and informing me of such. thanks for being my friend. thanks for being my mom.

then, i’d go into the kitchen and do the dishes because no birthday girl is supposed to do that.

happy day, mom. cheers to a fabulous year and the start of an even better one.


italian lessons


so i’ve successfully traveled to italy and back. alone. (i can’t say i did it with confidence. and i can’t say i did it without tears and homesickness. but i can say that technology never ceases to amaze me. i had a few people step up to the plate and despite the time difference, email with me or reassure me or talk me off the ledge. and while i’m sure that i won’t be traveling abroad alone again, i can say i am a different person because of this trip.)

i’m still suffering from jet lag and because i have blog readers who aren’t on twitter and because i’m taking the easy way out and because i want to memorialize the trip and because (for me) a large part of traveling is sharing the experience, i’m going to cut and paste my #ItalianLessons from twitter.

(note to those NOT on twitter: a hashtag #, in its most general use, is a way of labeling a tweet. because i was on this crazy work/personal holiday trip, i decided to give my italian tweets a label. it made them easier to locate, plus it gave the readers a point of reference.) also, take note that, for whatever reason, the blackberry i rented from verizon was consistently on east coast time. it never switched over to italian time, so the timing of my tweets is going to look a bit bizarre. (if you really care, italy’s +6 hours ahead).

i’ve already unpacked my suitcase, let’s unpack the memories too. and away we go:

This is beyond bizarre. I’m here at the airport at my gate. I’m doing this. I’m going to italy alone. *butterflies flutter wildly* 7:32 PM Sep 4th via mobile web

TWITTER, I’m so glad you fit into my carry on bag. But now I must leave you. When you wake, ciao verona! 7:43 PM Sep 4th via mobile web

Locked in and loaded. See you on the other side, TWITTER. 8:06 PM Sep 4th via mobile web

Ciao, verona! You look beautiful even through my fuzzy, 2 hours of sleep eyes. 6:42 AM Sep 5th via mobile web

I’ve had my first italian espresso, met a bilingual dog named eva, and was dropped off in saint zeno with no clue where to go next. Ciao. 9:18 AM Sep 5th via mobile web

I totally stumbled upon juliet’s balcony by accident. Totally touristy yet completely irresistible. Ah, l’amoure! Sunday, September 05, 2010 11:57:10 AM via mobile web

Buongiorno, TWITTER. Sun isn’t up yet, but I am. While all you munchkins celebrate Labor Day. I’ll be working. Granted, I’m in italy… Monday, September 06, 2010 12:33:58 AM via mobile web

I thought I had the jet lag beat. HA says my delirious brain. NOT SO. Monday, September 06, 2010 1:47:16 AM via mobile web

Just when you thought the day was ending, you find out they’re starting the other volume RIGHT NOW. #HowDoYouSayLongDayInItalian Monday, September 06, 2010 11:14:49 AM via mobile web

In case anyone’s keeping track besides me, yes, I’m still at the plant, still okaying press sheets. #twelvehoursandcounting Monday, September 06, 2010 3:06:50 PM via mobile web

Actually, it’s 14 hours and counting. Apparently my math skills aren’t any better over here. Monday, September 06, 2010 3:21:29 PM via mobile web

(editor’s note: i was at the plant until 12:30am. i had gotten there at 7:30am. yeah. happy labor day.)

And those little hairs on my forehead still stick up. Come on, italian air, can’t you help a girl out? Monday, September 06, 2010 3:22:50 PM via mobile web

(see above. me = delirious. that is also the point at which the blackberry stopped working. and i had to call in reinforcements. for future reference, if you have computer problems, restarting the computer will fix the problem. usually. but if you have cell phone connectivity problems, turning it off isn’t enough. you have to TAKE THE BATTERY OUT. don’t ever forget that. fortunately, it [first] crapped out while i was at the plant, so i had access to a computer. there is a lot of down time while on press. in case you were curious.)

TWITTER, my blackberry is not liking the italian air. i cannot connect to email or to YOU. how do you say lonely in italian? Tuesday, September 07, 2010 3:28:49 AM via web

if you work for VZW, send help. my blackberry world is internet deficient and i have no way to call to troubleshoot. Tuesday, September 07, 2010 4:25:49 AM via web

so does my blackberry, per favore. @veschwab Twitter, I need good juju for this week. Tuesday, September 07, 2010 4:46:55 AM via web

OMG. i was a muse. and it’s better than i ever imagined. @kmcriddle Tuesday, September 07, 2010 5:33:06 AM via web

(no, that tweet is NOT italian related, but come on. i was a muse. it still makes me giggle in wonder.)

being a muse, that’s totally italian. maybe italy is agreeing with me…? now, if only my blackberry would work… Tuesday, September 07, 2010 5:35:08 AM via web

uh oh. i signed into google and all instructions are in italian. not sure if i’m signing out or signing over my 1st born. *clicks* Tuesday, September 07, 2010 5:45:57 AM via web

OMG. What a whirlwind of time, emotions, and logic. I’m back in action thanks to G. #GratefulToG Tuesday, September 07, 2010 9:56:05 AM via mobile web

(see the mobile web tag? that’s how you know the blackberry was back in action.)

I’m learning that the timing of a statement is as effective as the words spoken. #IUnderstoodItalian Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:17:44 AM via mobile web

(ha. that’s a story for another time.)

Strigoli is a type of pasta. Strigori is a type of vampire from VAMPIRE ACADEMY series. #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 07, 2010 3:42:42 PM via mobile web

(and that was the first tweet i labeled as an #italianlesson. i guess you could say my creative mojo had been jet lagged until that point.)

You won’t say “non capisco” as much as you thought but you will have it said TO you. #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 07, 2010 3:44:24 PM via mobile web

Lacrosse is not popular in italy, but drinking vino is. #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 07, 2010 3:47:31 PM via mobile web

Travel packs of nutella are as amazing as they seem and should go everywhere with you. #ItalianLessons Wednesday, September 08, 2010 2:59:23 AM via mobile web

Infomercials are as ludicrous and outlandish as they are in the States. #ItalianLessons Wednesday, September 08, 2010 3:25:16 AM via mobile web

Thunder cracks and rolls with an accent. #ItalianLessons Wednesday, September 08, 2010 5:38:40 AM via mobile web

RT @aquinnm If you’re going to get caught in the rain, it might as well be in Italy. #ItalianLessons Wednesday, September 08, 2010 5:40:47 AM via mobile web

(that was allison. she is friends with kristen, who is a friend of mine. they were randomly in italy at the same time as me. they were so kind as to allow me to join up with them and their vacation. they had just arrived in milan. i was still doing the work thing in verona…)

When visiting L’Arena other tourists will try out the natural acoustics by yelling TEXAS or CHRISTINE or BUONGIORNO. #ItalianLessons Wednesday, September 08, 2010 8:21:48 AM via mobile web

The sun will break through the storm clouds, temp will raise by 15 degrees, and you’ll wish you weren’t wearing a sweater. #ItalianLessons Wednesday, September 08, 2010 9:16:13 AM via mobile web

Don’t buy the 300 euro sunglasses even if they look really really cute on. #unexpectedsunshine #ItalianLessons Wednesday, September 08, 2010 9:32:27 AM via mobile web

(i didn’t buy them. though it did instill a craving for a nice pair of sunglasses. i do wear sunglasses a lot. perhaps it’s time to invest in something other than $12 pairs from aldo.)

A glass of Amarone vino is a happy hour indeed. And yes, it is 5pm here. #ItalianLessons Wednesday, September 08, 2010 11:04:19 AM via mobile web

(amarone is a wine that’s made locally and man alive, delicious! if you ever have the opportunity, you should order some. it basically pulls up a chair and sits down with you. that’s how full bodied it is.)

Rush hour is at 9am, so I’m guessing they are all fashionably late to work. #ItalianLessons Thursday, September 09, 2010 3:43:35 AM via mobile web

You’re supposed to buy souveniers not leave them behind. Goodbye trench coat belt. #ItalianLessons Thursday, September 09, 2010 4:33:00 AM via mobile web

(yes, sadly enough, the fabric belt to my trench coat is gone. i had it on the plane to italy, but i didn’t have it when i left the hotel room.)

Does constant anxiety burn a crapton of calories like breastfeeding? #ItalianLessons Thursday, September 09, 2010 6:18:17 AM via mobile web

Have reached lake como. The sun is finally shining, both literally and metaphorically and emotionally. Thursday, September 09, 2010 8:11:17 AM via mobile web

See @aquinnm for pics because this blackberry is sans camera. Grazie. #ItalianLessons Thursday, September 09, 2010 10:00:40 AM via mobile web

San Franciso doesn’t get rainstorms. #ItalianLessons Thursday, September 09, 2010 10:04:02 AM via mobile web

(isn’t that weird? both kristen and alison were LOVING the crazy thunderstorms because they don’t get such eclectic weather there. me, on the other hand, i was a bit more hesitant in liking the storms. the rain came down in buckets and the thunder was wicked. though, if you asked them, it was like an opera.)

Seriously, the thunder here is intense. Deeper. Louder. Clearer. Accented. #ItalianLessons Thursday, September 09, 2010 12:30:53 PM via mobile web

They do two things fast: driving and drinking espresso. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 1:25:13 AM via mobile web

Bellaggio and Menaggio are molto bene. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 7:37:06 AM via mobile web

The lake on the shore is more of a lapping than a wave crashing. So soothing. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 7:49:55 AM via mobile web

Mini golf is called crazy golf. And it’s played on a hard and fast surface, not turf. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 8:11:19 AM via mobile web

I think @kbreakey‘s bad boy MC drives a motorcycle like an Italian – fast, furious, semi-reckless. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 8:49:45 AM via mobile web

Italy brings out the technological side of you…cameras, smartphones, iPads. #ItalianLessons (@kbreakey) Friday, September 10, 2010 9:01:59 AM via mobile web

Have two scoops of gelato and call me in the morning. #fauxdoctorsorders #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 9:06:03 AM via mobile web

Skipping stones on the lake is a great pre-dinner activity. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 1:09:37 PM via mobile web

They won’t bring you the check, even if they are closing the whole restaurant around you. You must ask for that bill. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 5:43:56 PM via mobile web

(it was totally unintentional. i promise! we were just giggling and enjoying one another’s company. we realized our mistake, though, when our waiter [no longer in his work clothes] zoomed out the door. the manager happily stayed until we were ready. in fact, we had a bit of a difficult time trying to get her attention to get her to bring us the “il conto, per favore.”)

To quote Kristen: “The stars! They effing twinkle!” (And she didn’t say effing). #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 6:07:21 PM via mobile web

It’s true, they are sparkling up a storm for us tonight. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 6:13:33 PM via mobile web

Texts and phone calls are not cheap on a rented global plan. Good thing late night chats with Kristen are free. #ItalianLessons Friday, September 10, 2010 7:05:31 PM via mobile web

Adventures await today. Not sure of the specifics, just that they are going to be grand. #ItalianLessons Saturday, September 11, 2010 2:31:59 AM via mobile web

(and by adventure, i mean to the emergency room. kristen had chest pains, which, you know, you don’t mess around with. the x-rays revealed: pneumonia.)

Food always tastes better outside, but when you add italian air, perfecto! #italianlessons Saturday, September 11, 2010 6:11:40 AM via mobile web

Tipping in restaurants is different, not done, really. Service reflects that… #ItalianLessons Saturday, September 11, 2010 7:11:27 AM via mobile web

X-rays are a unique souvenir of your time abroad. Just ask Kristen. #pneumonia #ItalianLessons Saturday, September 11, 2010 12:50:04 PM via mobile web

The moon fell out of the sky. This is not an #ItalianLesson, this is merely an observation. The MOON fell out of the SKY. Saturday, September 11, 2010 5:03:26 PM via mobile web

(seriously. that was so weird.)

You can get on a train or boat and GO ANYWHERE. Adventures are abound. #ItalianLessons Sunday, September 12, 2010 3:23:43 AM via mobile web

Spending the majority of the day on a boat on the lake will leave your body rockin’ hours after you’ve landed ashore. #ItalianLessons Sunday, September 12, 2010 12:55:16 PM via mobile web

Everybody eats gelato. Everybody. Me? I taste test the chocolate at each separate store. #ItalianLessons Monday, September 13, 2010 2:36:09 AM via mobile web

If they like what they see, the men will slow their cars to 85mph so they can honk and holler. #ItalianLessons Monday, September 13, 2010 4:17:11 AM via mobile web

It sure can. #ItalianLessons RT @maureenjohnson “The work can wait,” I said, quoting our business motto. Monday, September 13, 2010 5:38:31 AM via mobile web

The ferry is the best form of public transportation ever. #ItalianLessons Monday, September 13, 2010 9:33:47 AM via mobile web

Prego is an all purpose word, like the British English version of Cheers. #italianlessons Monday, September 13, 2010 11:29:57 AM via mobile web

The natural lighting that occurs in the 5-6pm time frame is stunning. #ItalianLessons Monday, September 13, 2010 12:25:29 PM via mobile web

Lemoncello. I had it. I feel italian. I probably won’t have it ever again, but I can cross it off my #ItalianLessons list. Monday, September 13, 2010 4:01:36 PM via mobile web

The temperature swings wildly based on the position of the sun. #ItalianLessons Monday, September 13, 2010 4:05:54 PM via mobile web

And THAT was a proper Italian sendoff: gnocchi, amarone vino, convos in italian, giggles in english. #ItalianLessons Monday, September 13, 2010 4:13:46 PM via mobile web

AND lemoncello AND tiramsu AND procuitto + melon AND sunset over bellaggio. #ItalianLessons Monday, September 13, 2010 4:15:51 PM via mobile web

My last lakeside morning. Sunrises are really gorgeous in Italy. #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 14, 2010 1:11:47 AM via mobile web

The sun does everything fast here: rises, sets, heats up, cools. I’m going to miss that Italian way. #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 14, 2010 1:28:20 AM via mobile web

Traveling back east means my day will be 30 hours long. But my suitcase is filled w/memories. All worth it. #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 14, 2010 3:08:59 AM via mobile web

When the 1st portion of a flight is delayed, panic attacks ensue while waiting to see if you’ll make the connecting flight. #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 14, 2010 8:17:07 AM via mobile web

(i did make it. with 2 minutes to spare before boarding began.)

I have never been so happy to board an 8 hour flight before. It means I made my connecting flight in frankfurt to boston. #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 14, 2010 11:29:52 AM via mobile web

I am on board. For the next 8+ hours. You behave, twitter. And this is me signing off for #ItalianLessons Tuesday, September 14, 2010 11:41:08 AM via mobile web

(and then we sat on the plane for an hour. and then the pilot came on and said (first in german, than in english), “we’ve received word that the french air traffic controllers are on strike. we have to sit here for 2 more hours until we can get a new route.” WTF? before the shock had time to settle in, the pilot came back on and said, “we are cleared for take off.” umm, AWESOME, but what the heck was that? an elaborate practical joke?)

Home Sweet Bed. about 14 hours ago via twidroid

Woke up disoriented and wondering why which hotel room I was in. So much to do to re-integrate back to life… about 6 hours ago via twidroid

and that’s a wrap. more thoughts and stories to come. i’m sure.

oh wait, if you’ve made it this far, click here for pictorial documentation of the trip.

UPDATE: and here’s a link to allison’s photos.  and here’s one to kristen’s. more dreaminess!