room 11/15

room 11

there and back again.

we are back in rome. the three of us had a much smaller room this evening, a 4 bed mixed dorm. jen and yen had the bunk and i got to "share" part of a double with our roommate, yet unmet (1 bunk bed and 2 twin beds somewhat close to each other).

the three of us traipsed about rome, heading to st peters and the trevi fountain. a college age boy interrupted drawing in his moleskin to take mine and yen's photo at the trevi. we joked later about how it was a shame we didn't have etch-a-sketches with us so we could join him in his artistic endeavours.

jen had a bit of a migraine, so yen and i went out for sundries at the supermarket and then ran out for dinner.

we asked the guy at the desk for a good restaurant and he recommended one just around the block!
the food was wonderful! red wine, of course, but also marrow (fried zucchini flowers). yen completely dissected her flower, noticing they were filled with mozzarella. erika had mentioned these to me in the past, but this was the first time i got to try them. SO GOOD. i drool just thinking of them.

note to self: grow zucchini when i am able to have a garden. gorge on the flowers.

towards the end of our meal, who should sit down next to us, but alex, davin and christopher (our roommates from our first night in rome)! we talked about our respective trips and had a really great uproarious time, especially towards the end of the evening when the server put our tables together (ignoring our requests for the check) and bestowed upon us a delicious, sparkling bottle of spumanti dolci.

we made our tipsy way back to the hostel to find jen and our roommate, some 21 yr old named ... leelo? leelee? lolee? regardless, he was insanely creepy and oversexed. he seemed nice enough, i suppose, at first.


we all went to sleep and i had the worst time falling asleep. and poor yen, her top bunk was SO LOUD and sqeaky. she mentioned in the morning that she had tried not to turn about too much.

naturally, the instant i actually fall asleep is the moment our neighbor decides to tap me on the shoulder.

lala: are you awake?
me: wha? um. i am now.
lalee: i can't fall asleep. i'm bored. wanna make out?
me: um, no.
loser: are you sure?
me: yes.

at this point, he turns over and leaves me alone.

in the morning, i tell jen about it in the bathroom and she said how he asked her the same thing and creeped her out so much that she slept with a sharp implement (a cuticle trimmer) in her bed in case he tried anything.

apparently he regaled her with stories of his explicit sex life, informed her that he was ok with the "idea" of rape and noted that he thought there was nothing wrong with really young boys being with (in the biblical sense) really old men (5 yr olds with 80 yr olds).


room 15

the next day, i walked yen to the train station and jen and i got a new room.

we walked about the city, from the coliseum to the forum. very relaxed, overcast day. *sigh*

overall, i had a lovely time in italy. delicious food and delicious wine.

it was surprising because i expected to enjoy florence the most, but really, ravenna was my favorite. and i wasn't expecting rome to as fun and walkable as it turned out to be!


pin-up room

florence finds us at the dany house hostel. our room has prints of pin-up girls. it's part home/part hostel and is quite cosy except for 2 things:

1. it is not a 10 minute walk from the train station, as advertised. it is a 30+ minute walk, which is significant when carrying a huge pack on one's back. we are breathless, sweaty and woozy when we arrive.

2. the people who run the hostel are smokers, so all of our clothes smell like smoke by the time we leave. very "ugh".

much time has lapsed (i.e. 1 month) since i traveled, so much has become hazy due to time and alcohol.

what i do know:

13th - arrived in florence from rome
14th - jen went to cortona to see spend time w/ simone (an ex) and his family, yen & i puttered about florence
15th - spent the day with jen & yen
16th - left for rome

yen and i wandered about the uffizi art gallery, my old stomping grounds around san lorenzo and spent a lot of time admiring jewelry on the ponte vecchio (yen was searching for a ring to replace her lost wedding ring). the florentine style is gorgeous - i love all the filigree. oh! and we ate at the central market! yen was able to try "italian wasabi", as the man in the stall tried to explain, and almost died. seriously spicy and delicious when followed by a slice of cheese. of course, wine with lunch.

AND i bought a pair of camper shoes (at the store i would pass so often when i lived there). i coveted shoes from that store for so long and my dream finally came to fruition. wearing the shoes was like softly padding my swollen, sore feet in cotton balls soaked in cocaine. seventh heaven (and not that shitty family-values television show).

i was saddened, however, to see that a market now stands in front of santa croce - it used to be large and spacious and peaceful.

florence was a beautiful blur of gelato and red wine. we were able to have pesto, tomato and mozzarella sandwiches at the grana market and enjoy gelati three times in one day! (insert more wine guzzling here.) we ate at nuti, passed antico noe, went to perche no?, walked by borgo la noce #1, meaghan and john's old apartment with the bakery and restaurant underneath, visited the stationary shop i love and think is just the cutest, smelled the leather in the air and tripped over cobblestones.
it was strange and bittersweet to come back to florence after 7 years.

fast foward

busy bees. february has been deemed photography month by moi. it is an attempt to get all of my photographs in working order. thankfully, i’ve gotten a head start on “photography month” by starting mid-january. let’s just say that for the past 10 years i’ve been collecting prints of developed film like a bower bird collects brightly colored objects. consider the same obsession, yet w/ a supreme lack of organization.

ten. years.

martin luther king jr weekend saw me in gainesville (photographs to follow soon!) cooing over owen and teaching him the colors pink and blue. i also managed to roughly organize a huge bag of photographs into their respective significant-other-eras. since then, i’ve bought 3 photo albums and have been culling and sorting and culling some more.

740 gently selected photos? check. and that’s from approximately 1998-2002. is that a lot? i feel like that’s a lot. mostly because it’s just… so much to slog through. at one time. there’s probably that much in my discard pile. *sigh*

1. keep up with your photos
2. don’t bother with duplicates
3. photos look infinitely better in an album, even a subpar album


copy & paste

check out the awesome, cut & pasted, uber-corporate, anti-employee email below (names changed). what a load of horse wallop:

OOooOOOoooOOoo this is TOO exciting!!

As you know, John Q Smith, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bitters, Inc., one of the TOP CEO's in America, will be visiting us this Monday morning, January 14!! He will arrive sometime between 8 a.m.-9 a.m., and will go on a tour of our site from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

His tour will begin on the 2cd floor, and by about 9:40 a.m., I will greet him in our 3rd floor 'lobby' area to take a tour of OUR organization!! We will walk into our wing by the curved green wall, and Suzie will then take him from Kristen and Bobby Joe's workspace area, to the main hallway in front of Louis's team, down that hallway to the P team area, through the P team to the other main hallway, and back up to where the J team sits, where I will then thank him for visiting, and he will be taken to view the other Bitters organizations on our floor and the 2cd floor.

While he is taking the tour, please be aware!!:

  • We have him for only about 5 minutes, so please stay clear of the walkway path while we take him around our "U-turn" hallway, and please don't walk between him and Suzie; we want to tell him everything about you, the great job you do, and our progress over the past two years, and don't want to spend even a second having to respond to "excuse me, please" while someone tries to get between or around them. This is our time to tell him how great you are!!
  • He has been known to want to listen in on a phone call!! I'm asking the supervisors to please have designated personnel ready who are near the hallway, just in case!! (WHAT an opportunity to show him how you service our members, cool!!) (but his timeframes are very tight, so I wouldn't expect this to happen, but it might!).
  • He has also been known to ask people to tell him an example of when you lived a Bitters Value at work! I know you live the Bitters Values every day you're here, and in case you don't realize that, think about it:
  • you have integrity because you keep the commitments you've made to members, your co-workers, etc.;
  • so many of you try to eliminate hassles for our members by calling providers or pre-c, educating members, etc.! That's quality service and definitely a value add!
  • and think of all the innovation you've been a part of! Those file reviews, the rework initiative, our mentor program, Q, the A rollout, the changes in our C plan test flows since last year - I could go on and on about your excellence and taking accountability to get things done, the right way!
  • so do think about the Bitters Values, and an example you might want to share with him, should that opportunity arise!

  • Please don't use the microwave or eat at your work areas prior to 10:00 a.m. Monday!! We don't want to have any food smells on the floor while he's taking the tour, and certainly don't want to put you in a spot where you've just taken a bite of something and boom, there he is, asking you a question!!

I wish we had a room large enough to hold all of our employees, so that everyone could attend one of his Town Hall meetings, but we don't, therefore about 13% of our total employee base can attend. Those who are attending one of the two meetings have been notified. For those of us not attending, we'll hold the fort, keep servicing our customers, and know that John Smith knows what we're doing, and that's living the Bitters Way.

I've copy/pasted our Values below, in case you need.

And in case you need this reminder - we value each and every one of you, and appreciate that you are in our organization, working with us. I'm just TOO proud of you!

Thank you, and have a great weekend!


la pratellina

we arrive in ravenna (via bologna) on the 11th and... adorable! ravenna is adorable! also, hugely devoid of tourists. so lovely. there are free yellow bikes that anyone can ride, but we decide that our ears cannot handle the biting wind. another time, indeed.

the stone streets in the historic area have differently colored stones in the center to denote the bike lane. so friendly! small lanes and wonderfully walkable. little planters on the roadsides have rosemary bushes that smell delightful.

our hotel is santa maria in foris. gorgeous. amazing. the beds aren't super comfy, but the bathroom faucets are strange brutal ducks with faux gold gilting and the room itself is large and spacious. plus, we get delicious chocolates on our pillows.

we have dinner and head out to walk around the town. jen hankers for some cigarettes and buys some from a vending machine. she realizes too late that the machine doesn't give exact change and is then forced to feed it more money and buy some candies and 2-3 bottles of water to not lose precious euro (exchange rate not as sucky as the pound, but still rather high).

the next day we warm up and savor cappuccinos and pastries at a coffee shop. we meander about the town and take lots of lovely photographs of mosaics, the basilica san vitale and the mausoleo galla placidia. much time is spent in the museo nazionale as well (no photographs allowed!).

we have a swoon worthy dinner at la rusticello, recommended by a somewhat brusque shopkeeper down the street from the restaurant (she softened up a little when we practiced our painful italian on her). the owner (?) would come out of the kitchen with a little apron on while stirring a dish of tortellini and gave us glasses of prosecco after our meal. :D

damn, italy rawks.

{jen and i got to see yen cranky here. she was so hungry and therefore grumpy when we weren't serviced right away, it was so funny! we laughed about it once we finished a carafe of wine.}

our last day in ravenna, jen made some phone calls in the room while yen & i went to dante's tomb (jen had already seen it). the only bad was that the museum was closed, so i was unable to really "learn" anything. which would have been nice, so we could have understood what we were looking at. alas!

a run to 2 socks stores (italian women seriously love their socks and stockings) and we were off to florence.


the year in which i turn 29

a belated new year to you and you and you!

2007 was a roller coaster year and i am glad that it's over. 2008 feels like a clean linens fresh start (truth in fact, i even changed my sheets).

my motto for 2008 is: fuck resolutions.

mostly because, while goal setting can be good, i just need a bit of a break, plain & simple.

instead of RESOLUTIONS, i shall instead have 2008 hankerings. these are to mostly involve my stomach innards and my head innards.

> continue with my reading pace, i'm happy with it, slow as it may be.

> try to eat more breakfasts with friends on weekends.
> no more craft shows! etsy shall be my friend.
> eat out less, experiment in the kitchen more.
> perfect gelato.
> be less afraid to look like an asian tourist when holding a camera.

> travel to (at least) 1 new city with anthony.
> explore the possibility of home ownership.
> buy 1 more pair of camper shoes.

room 43

monday morning we awoke in our 14 bed dormroom, sick and feverish. not a good travel day. but we made it safely from london to rome.

our room in rome was an 8 bed mixed dorm. we 2 females and 5 males. sausage. fest.

in all honesty, it was really rather relaxed. jen hung out in the room, resting from headache and sickness and i walked to the supermarket for some blood orange juice and a salad.


- usually really tiny
- not unusual to find one-way stores, with an entrance at one end and checkout at the other end, emptying out on another street
- fruits should not be touched with bare hands, put on plastic gloves, you filthy thing!
- you weigh the fruits yourself and a price sticker is printed
- it's best to bring your own bag, otherwise you buy plastic ones

our roommates had awoken from their stupor and introduced themselves - alex, christian and davin. we later met ?? (from portugal) and brent.

the alessandro palace hostel exceeded our expectations, so we booked it for our last few nights in rome as well. large room with a non-urine smelling bathroom. excellent.

after jen and i ate of the free pizza party in the hostel's bar, we took a night walk to piazza navona, jen's favorite piazza in rome. sadly, it has been much changed into a carnival-esque atmosphere (we are hoping this is simply a "buon natale" carnival).

i learned from jen about bernini's four rivers fountain and michelangelo's borromini's church of sant'agnese in agone - a myth tells that the two rivals disliked each other so much that the statues on each artist's works refuse to look at each other. sadly, wikipedia discounts this as urban legend
since the fountain predates borromini's facade by a number of years.


- i took a trip in high school w/ the french teacher; our group totaled over 80 people. a small group of us split off on our own for rome! it was fun, but mostly i remember HEAT and the PAIN of my feet. and really unflattering pictures of each other in the train (imagine a cramped train compartment not unlike a sauna).
- later, i travelled again to italy with my best friend michelle. towards the end, i was on my own (i was supposed to meet up with an ex, but that didn't work out) and found myself in the roma termini train station at 10 o'clock at night. hardly understood any italian and pretty overwhelmed. so i hopped an overnight train to munich; lodging issue solved!

rome was much better to me this (third) time.

in the morning we packed up, headed to the train station and met yen as she descended the leonardo express from the airport!

hurray! our group was complete. we ate, had some foodstuffs and were off to ravenna.