Wednesday, April 29

peeling paint

I'm not sure why it is, but every time I go out with my camera I have a thing for photographing things deteriorating, looking old, looking ragged, looking worn down. I am actually toying with attempting a photo shoot with a friend this spring/summer and want to find a good rundown warehouse to use as our backdrop. I'm still in the hunt.

PS: I really will get back to my Italy stories... things have just picked up speed and I haven't had time to sit down and write them out for you. But I will, I promise.

Friday, April 24

back in black for cf

You might know him from his spots on The Daily Show... but he's a big contributor to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Check it out!

Thursday, April 23


My apologies... I've been negligent in posting this week. Let me make it up to you with an onslaught of pictures from Capri.


I love Italian doorways/entrances. I'll spare you the essay I once wrote on them and just say, "They're awesome."
Some day I'll make a book of my favorites.

Monday, April 20

PSA : FREE ice cream!

Tomorrow is :

Read more about it and find a participating Ben and Jerry's near you! I'm sure they're doing it in honor of our one year anniversary of living here. :)

Saturday, April 18

beep, beep, beep...

... we interrupt your scheduled broadcast to bring you "A Photography Date with Myself."

Friday was sunny and nearly 70. I had a few hours to spare in the morning, so inspired by a friend's recent "date," I set off on my own, with my camera and my wavy hair. If you don't know already, which I'm not sure you do, because I don't often share this; I love my hair when it's curly. I feel most creative when I let it do it's own thing. It's almost as if the freedom I allow my hair slowly trickles into my creative juices and they start to flow.

It was lovely. I should take myself on dates like this more often.

Wednesday, April 15

tmam: parte tre

My apologies for leaving you hanging in suspense the last few days. It's just been so busy around here lately I haven't had time to think about writing more down. But, since you're being so patient, I'll try.

Let's see where were we... oh, right, Orvieto (the first time around).

When I think about trying to describe Orvieto to you, so many things run through my mind that I hardly know where to start. Coming upon it from the road below, it seems like a town rose right out of the tufa rock, high above everything else, sitting contentedly on a tall plateau. The town below it is quite modernized, but as you wind your way up to the top, things begin to take on a distinctly older hue. Roads are paved with cobblestone and sand and weave about in no particular order. Houses are tucked into nooks and crannies, with clothes lines hanging from balconies. The tiny cars zip around corners and make seemingly impossible turns on roads built long before macchine (cars). The church bells toll on random hours and from nearly all directions, as there is a church in almost every piazza.

The convent I lived in was built in the 1400s and had not only a courtyard, a terrace, a marble staircase, but also caves. Yes, caves that formed part of the basement, where our kiln for firing our ceramice (ceramics) sat in an abandoned corner. There were times when it felt like living in a maze of sorts. Stairs leading one way, hallways leading another, doors opening to rooms I didn't know existed. It made for an adventure each time I left my room.

The impact of not knowing the language was bigger than I could have anticipated. Because Orvieto is relatively small and doesn't get many touristi, very few people spoke english, in any amount. This meant every interaction I wanted to have outside of the convent (who's nuns didn't speak english either) it required speaking Italiano on my part. It became obvious early on that picking up a language was not one of my strong suits. I struggled to hear where the breaks were for each word, I confused my pronunciations, I labored over what article went in front of which gendered word (and what gender was it??). It was painful and time consuming and most of all humbling. I watched other students learn it with much more ease and for the first time I felt like the kid who sits in the back of the class, not at all confident in their ability to learn something new.

I can now look back and realize that my main difficulty was my unwillingness to make a mistake. If I was going to speak, I was going to speak correctly; grammar, pronunciation, all of it would be spot on. And so, because I set the bar so high for myself, I rarely spoke. Never in my life have I said so little for four months (or so it felt that way). I would study and study and figure out how to say something, only to break under pressure and forget it all. I distinctly remember being on a train, sitting with some of my friends and a few Italian women who had engaged my friends in conversation. It was soon apparent that I was saying not a word and so they tried to "help" me out by coaxing me into speaking. This was mortifying. Any vocabulary I might want to use was flying out of my head, scared off by the pressure. And so, as I had become accustomed to doing, I just smiled and shook my head. But they persisted and kept repeating words in an effort to get me to repeat them back to them. I remember thinking, "Is this what it was like for kids in school? For those who just didn't get it as quickly as others? Did we pressure them into feeling even more inadequate by putting them on the spot and forcing them to learn before they were ready?" If anything it gave me a great appreciation for students who struggle and overcome those struggles to learn. Because my natural instinct was to hide in the corner and be a mute. Luckily, the second time around was not so traumatic. In fact, it was quite full of great interactions, but only because I decided to allow myself to make mistakes, lots of them. And wouldn't you know? It worked.

More later, but for now I must get to work...

PS: I did make it to the library on Monday and I came home with Julie Andrews memoirs of her early years (brought on by a recent watching of Sound of Music on tv).

PPS: The picture was taken from inside San Lodovico, looking out to the stairs that lead up to the terraza that overlooked the valley below.

Monday, April 13

a day off... sort of

I'm attempting a day off, though it's already included about 2 hours of work.

Oh well. I'm trying.

So, as any day off for me contains, here is my "to do list." Please note the last item. This is truly a treat for me, if I do indeed actually get there. I often think of going but by the end of the day have run out of time. Not today! Today I will GO!

PS: Yes, I am wearing a hoodie sweater. And yes, I've been walking around the apartment for the last 4 hours with the hood up. It's my day off... I get to look funny if I want to, especially when I'm at home shuffling around by myself.

Sunday, April 12

an Easter treat!

Remember way back in November when I won a free photo shoot for my parents from Hoffer Photography? They got a chance to redeem it last Thursday and I think the results are just wonderful!

Check it out!

This is a BIG thanks to Tony, who took some awesome pictures of two people I love dearly. If you're in need of a photographer, Tony's your man.

Friday, April 10

good friday

I have this on repeat today. It's my favorite song this time of year.

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Thursday, April 9

| straight from Capri

I was having some fun last night and updated our desktop wallpaper image to one I'd taken while sitting on the dock in Capri waiting for our jetfoil to arrive to take us back to the mainland. M was so impressed with it ("You took that? And didn't do any editing?" : it was very sweet of him) that I thought I'd share it with you and your desktop. So if you're in the mood for a nautical theme, just click on the link BELOW the picture for the large version.

Desktop version right HERE

Wednesday, April 8

lens flare and sun spots in orvieto

for a friend who's fond of those little spots...
|Via Della Commenda, Orvieto: just off the Corso|


I have a lot of pictures from Florence I want to share with you, so this will come in installments over the next few days.

|Il Duomo, Firenze : Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore|

|Cupola of Il Duomo, Firenze : designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, to appreciate the magnitude of this endeavor you can read more about it here.|

|Standing on Lungarno Torrigiani looking towards Ponte alle Grazie, with our backs to Ponte Vecchio, Firenze|

20 points to the person who can spot my Mom!

Tuesday, April 7

can you imagine?

So, as I'm sure you've heard, Italy was hit with a pretty bad earthquake on Monday. As of tonight, they're still trying to find people in the rubble. And while it's all very saddening, I did find one tidbit of the story that I thought you might enjoy...

From BBC:
"A 98-year-old woman was pulled out alive in L'Aquila after being trapped for 30 hours, local media report. She spent the time crocheting"

That is one tough Grandma. Or Nonna as they say in Italia.

Monday, April 6

tmam: parte duo

Today's "to do list" is quite long, but I know you're waiting for the second installment of the story I started on Friday, so I'll tell a bit more to hold you over til I have more time.

M and I often joked that we spent the first year of dating apart more than together. Leaving him at the end of sophomore year was hard, and I immediately began counting the days until he would visit. He was in Colorado most of the summer so it wasn't like we could just drive to one another on the weekends. I have many wonderful handwritten letters from that summer, exchanged back and forth across the many miles.

He came for about a week just before school started and before I was to fly off to Italy. I was on cloud nine. I probably had the biggest smile plastered across my face all week. Watching him drive away at the end of that week nearly broke my heart (and his, I'm sure). My poor mother spent the rest of the following week trying to comfort my tear stained self. As any normal melodramatic young love, I was sure I was going to curl up and die without him for the next 4 months.

About a week after he left I received a package in the mail, that along with other things, contained a dated letter for each week I was in Italy. I wasn't supposed to open them until the date written on the outside. Each week was filled with anticipation of opening the next letter. It was a way of counting down the days til I was home and could see him again. I distinctly remember getting to half way and thinking, "finally... it's downhill from here."

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me back up and tell you about Orvieto...

(next time!)

Friday, April 3

tell me a mitzi

Today I'm feeling a bit like an antsy student in a Friday afternoon B quad class. The sun is out, my brain is with it and my focus is... well, unfocused.

I've been ruminating about how to share all of my Italy experiences with you and I've come to the conclusion that instead of just pictures, I really should start telling some stories along with them. You can't truly appreciate what this last visit there meant to me if you have no knowledge of my first memories there. So I will do my best at trying to give you a glimpse at what it looked like then and how it appears now and the life time it feels I've lived in between those visits.


From the moment I started looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to do a semester abroad. My college choices were narrowed down largely based on their "study abroad" programs. If they didn't have one or it was very small, they were off the list. I'm not sure when I decided on Italy, but it was early on in the process. While Wheaton did not have program going to Italy, I found Gordon College did. I had no idea at the time that picking Gordon, who had a program in Oriveto, would end up giving me such a unique experience as opposed to a program set up in Rome or Florence. I liken it to studying in NYC vs a small town in rural America. I'm not saying one is better than another... just totally different.

Sometime during the spring semester of my sophomore year I was accepted into Gordon's program for the following fall. I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to go and experience all the stereotypical things you think of when you envision Italy... food, ancient ruins, quaint shops, another language etc. Having never lived outside the country I had no inclination of how things would actually end up transpiring. While some daydreams played out nearly by the book, others were so far off the mark I had a hard time believing I'd been so off base (read as: naive).

The anticipation of my semester abroad pushed me through that spring semester. I was ready to go and have my Sabrina moment, just in Italy, not Paris. She went over there a little nerdy girl and came back this sophisticated woman! I would be untethered and free to experience it to its fullest.

HA. Oh was I ever wrong.

Towards the end of spring semester it became blatantly clear (no matter how much I tried to deny it) that I was falling for a guy. Let me correct myself. I was fallen. I fell. I was down for the count. In the beginning I had tried to say "I'm going to Italy, I don't want to be attached." But the more time we spent together and the closer we got to summer, it was evident that I would be leaving for Italy that coming fall, but my spirit was going to be wishing I was still in Wheaton.

And so my vision of what Italy would be was already changing before I even stepped foot off the plane.

(more to come next week...)

ancient modeling

|Sculpture from Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome : a piazza designed my Michelangelo in 1536–1546, commissioned by the Farnese Pope Paul III|

|Fountain from the courtyard of the Vatican Museum, Rome|

|Sculpture from the Trevi Fountain, Rome : marks the terminal point of an aqueduct that supplied water to ancient Rome|

Thursday, April 2


All little info on Orvieto:

Elevation: 1,066 ft
Area: 108.5 sq miles
Population: 21,000
Region: Umbria
Name origin: "ancient city" urbs vetus in Latin

|View of Orvieto from our hike to a convent nearby : I love how it just sits atop the rock, above everything else.|

|Close up of Il Duomo, Orvieto - where I attended mass on Sundays|

|Some laundry hanging on a line off of Corso Cavour : Nearly everyone line dries their clothing as a way to conserve energy costs.|

|Fruit stand of a shop off the Corso : Apple = Mele|

Wednesday, April 1

making room for italia

I decided that with the onslaught of pictures I'm sure to lay upon you, I should resize things a bit to give you the best viewing experience. Now, I realize that not everyone is browsing via a 24" screen, so please holler if this layout looks crazy on your 1024x768. I may have gone a bit bigger than need be. I'll see if I can find a happy medium for all.

lunedi, marzo ventuno

|Piazza San Angelo, Orvieto|

|Costa De' Magnoli, Firenze|

|Piazza Simone Mosca, Orvieto|