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Archive for February, 2012

Words of the Week

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.'” Jim Jarmusch

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No matter where I am in this world, my heart belongs to Italy. Amidst those narrow, chaotic streets, I find peace.

Over the holidays, my boyfriend, David and I returned to the city where we met – Siena, Italy.

We were lucky enough to catch this spectacular sunset overlooking the Tuscan countryside.

On Christmas Day, we visited Il Duomo di Siena – Siena’s main Cathedral.

We made our way to Florence where we took in this beautiful view of Ponte Vecchio.

It wouldn’t feel right without mounds of bicycles and mopeds littering the streets of Firenze.

I’ve made it a habit to take photos of unique and/or colorful doors in the cities I visit – this one in particular caught my eye with this juxtaposition of a lifeless door and green potted plants (…and cactus?).

I swear that one of Tuscany’s sole purposes is to create opportunities for beautiful photos – it is a living and never-ending canvas where even a simple old car or a shabby bicycle can be considered works of art.

A day trip to San Gimignano – a city known for its many towers, where 14 of the original 72 still stand – offered us this breathtaking view of the Tuscan countryside.

And what would a trip to Italy be without a stay in the country’s capital?

Fontana del Pantheon – located in Piazza della Rotonda, in front of the Pantheon.

New Years is always an eventful holiday, and Rome is a beautifully chaotic, hot mess;  the two combined together make for one unforgettable experience.

The streets were lined with colorful lights to embody the Italian flag, and there were enough fireworks being set off to question if this was the outbreak of WWIII.

Our midnight in Rome, New Year’s Eve.

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Words of the Week

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it’s only intangibles, ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

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Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest with David, Kaleena, and our new friends!

Time to play catchup. Let’s start with September, September 17th to be exact, the first day of Oktoberfest. Throughout the 17-day festival, I consumed way too much Festbier (the tasty brew that’s only served at Oktoberfest) than my liver should be able to handle, while donning my traditional dirndl and befriending the equally intoxicated Germans at my table. Needless to say, I miraculously came out alive by the end of it all with some priceless memories in tow.

I also began my first Deutsch language course. I knew going into it that German was not the easiest language to pick up, but I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was. Everything from the spelling, to the pronunciation, to the grammar, oh goodness, the grammar, the words that are spelled the same but mean different things depending on the context and the pronunciation. Basically, German equaled one big fat headache for the first few weeks. But then, like magic, everything suddenly fit into place.

More Oktoberfest...

My German still sucks, of course, but at least I now have a better understanding of the structure of the language and usually can comprehend what people are saying; forming a correct sentence in response is still another story. Now that I’ve formally broken up with the idea that I could actually be fluent by the end of the year, my goal is to be able to comfortably hold a conversation without needing to immediately cry “Langsam bitte!” (“Slow please!”). Luckily, the kids I work with are ages 2 and 5, and while the 5 year old frequently corrects my German, I can, for the most part, comfortably communicate with them in their mother tongue.

It’s now been six months since I moved to Munich – and it took long enough, but I can finally say that I’m starting to feel at home here. These negative degree temperatures are currently turning me into a hermit, though, and has me seeking out every opportunity to hide under a blanket or to drink something hot and frothy, while anxiously waiting for Germany to defrost.

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“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.” One of the most clichéd sayings of all time – when the going gets rough, you can count on someone to recite these words in hope of providing thoughts of optimism. But let’s be honest, when you’re stuck in that dark tunnel, there seems like there will never be a way out; there will never be a resolution from this bottomless pit you’ve found yourself in. Hitting rock bottom. That is when the tunnel is the longest and the darkest – and the hardest to crawl out of.

I’ve been M.I.A. for the past five months. My dear blog has been neglected; but I assure you, there is a reason. You know when things seem too good to be true? When everything is running so smoothly that you can’t help but anticipate that everything will crumble in due time; it’s only a matter of when. Why is it sometimes so hard to appreciate the good in life? Instead of being consumed by pessimism, thinking that it will never last?

Well, I succumbed to this miserable state of pessimism, only to find myself trapped in that dark tunnel with no end in sight. In the shortest and most descriptive of words, I turned Emo. Listening to those sad songs, wallowing in my homesickness; unproductivity became my new hobbie. Studying Deutsch? Forget it. Writing my blog? Took too much time. Especially when I could be laying in bed watching a movie instead. Working my hardest at my editing job? Pshh. Too much effort. I needed to concentrate my energy on how miserable I felt.

Yeah, I became pretty pathetic. But I couldn’t possibly let anyone in on my little secret, so my skype dates with friends and family consisted of “Everything’s great, Munich is so pretty,” or “I’m just excited to travel – this will be such an awesome experience!” No mention of “This kinda sucks, I want to come home,” because, after all, I’m living in one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited – I’m in freaking Europe – I have the world at my feet; people would kill for this opportunity. Yet all I want is to go home? I know what you’re thinking, and trust me, I’m just as embarrassed and disappointed as you are.

You know those movies where the main character is a complete screw-up, their life sucks, everything is going wrong? Maybe there’s a good reason as to why this is, or maybe there’s no reason at all. Either way, the climax of the movie is when the character finally wakes up and decides to do something about the shit-hole he or she has found him or herself in. They discover what needs to be done, and they come out ahead of the game.

Okay, this stuff does happen in the real world – the true story behind the movie The Pursuit of Happyness pops into my head as a perfect example – but it’s not as common or as easy as Hollywood makes it out to be.

I would picture myself as one of these characters, imagining how I would find this underlying strength and make everything okay again. But, it’s easier to imagine all of this  than to actually make it happen. Weeks went by, and I just couldn’t find the strength I needed to pick myself up.

....this is how I felt.

Then I hit bottom, and I mean the lowest of the low. No going back, everything fell to pieces.

But in the midst of it all, something in me changed – I remember looking in the mirror and telling myself, “Ok buddy, enough is enough. Pull yourself together!” I decided I needed to make a move and do something…and I actually meant it this time.

I wish I had some kind of explanation as to why I felt this spark of hope, strength, and optimism. It’s almost as if I woke up one day as a different person – that I told my current self to suck it and welcomed back the old me. There’s only so much time that can be spent watching sappy movies and feeling sorry for myself – and I was well over that limit.

So, I started being active again. Exercising, eating better, reading. I became dedicated to my job as an editor, and as an Au Pair. I was reintroduced to this phenomenon known as productivity. And suddenly, the sun shone a little brighter, my beer was a little tastier, my smile got a little bigger. I started experiencing life again. I was like a newborn babe!

So, to all of you wondering why my blog, in the words of the kiddos I look after, went kaputt, this is your answer. A long, drawn out, potentially a little too honest, answer.

“What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.” Alexander Graham Bell


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cartoon pictures from hyberboleandahalf

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Okay, so it’s been over 5 months since my last Words of the Week… so here’s to making up for lost time.

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t happened yet.” – Anonymous

“Comfort zones are overrated. They make you lazy.” – Melina Marchetta

“At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

“When you are irritated tell yourself to shut up!” -R.B. Oulliet

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In front of the Cathedral of Seville

(August ‘2011)

Don’t get me wrong, spending nearly two weeks relaxing by the pool, reading, and playing with Tristan and Jolina at a beautiful Spanish Villa has been a wonderful experience, but regardless, my body has been itching to get out and do some solo exploring.

Graciously, Sven and Claudia took me along on a day excursion to Seville, a beautiful town about two hours away from Marbella. After lunch, we separated and I was free to wander wherever I wished. Armed with my Canon DSLR and a large bottle of water – it was over 100 degrees F – I set out in search of the famous Cathedral which houses the tomb of Christopher Colombus. Once I arrived, I spent around 1 1/2 hours wandering through, admiring the architecture and embellishments throughout the structure.

Despite the heat, I forced myself to climb to the top of the Cathedral’s tower for a bird’s-eye-view of the city. I slowly wandered, casting my gaze on the buildings below, silently envious of the little ant sized people swimming in the rooftop pools. Anxious for some relief from the heat, I traipsed down the tower to bask in the cool shade provided by the stone structure of the Cathedral.

When I was ready to again brave the sweltering temperatures, I made my way to Alcázar, an exquisite structure that served as residence to many generations of kings and caliphs, and meandered through the beautiful gardens there. I posted up on a shaded bench, relaxing and reading, only to be interrupted by a massive – and brilliant – peacock. I was initially caught off guard, thinking perhaps that the heat had gotten to me and I was hallucinating. Then I took a look around and noticed that there were multiple peacocks, cruising down the walkways, just hanging out. I could have stayed in that garden all day.

Plaza de España

Except for that damn heat. I continued on to Plaza de España, which was built in 1928 for the Ibero-Amercian Exposition of 1929, and rested by a shaded fountain taking in the views until it was time to meet my host parents for dinner before heading home.

We enjoyed authentic paella – I miraculously found veggie paella, which is hard to come by in Spain – and I sipped on fresh Sangria as the day turned to dusk and the heat sank to a comfortable warmth with a mild breeze that cooled and comforted our heat-exhausted bodies.

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