Thursday, December 31, 2015

On Being Homeless.

Yesterday, I slept in my bed for the first time in a week, then promptly re-packed my bags and headed out again (after a load of laundry, a stop at the bank, a cup of coffee). Point is, I've been moving from house to house for dog-sitting, and now that I've done it for several days, I have a system down:

1. Always pack extra socks.
2. Take the bus when you're transporting your laptop and soluble instant coffee from house to house. (I don't know if anybody's ever told you, but it rains Portland. A lot.)
3. Do not pack food. That shit is heavy, and there are several grocery stores in walking distance from where you are staying. 

Bonus from dog-sitting (besides cash dolla dolla bills bills)? I've learned that I love dogs. I'm still more on the cat-person side of the pet-owner-identity spectrum, but let's say I'm a Part-Time's my job.

When I moved to Sellwood at the beginning of December, I was delighted to have a room of my own again. My own bed. My own space to think in. A place to display my books (read: NOT stuffed in my suitcase). However, I quickly recognized some drawbacks to living in Sellwood: it's sort of far away from everything. And the buses are expensive and run irregularly. And even with the Springwater Corridor bike path, which cuts travel time in half, it often (surprise!) rains here, which I'm not about to bike in.

So, if I want to go out, I either have to leave early enough to catch a bus, get a ride, or sleepover at a friend's house. Sleepovers can be fun, but there's that moment the next morning when all you want is your bathrobe, or a clean pair of socks (which you forgot to pack), or your own bed to laze around in.

Before Sellwood, I'd been crashing on friends' couches for extended periods of time, and I am grateful. I would not be where I am now without their abundant hospitality and aid. I've enjoyed living in their living rooms, on their futon and couch, curled up with their furry friends. Seeing them every day--getting a chance to chat about whatever--has brought us closer, and it has also helped me process my headspace as I barrel onward in my life-journey. (Thanks again, guys. You know who you are).

Before that, I'd stayed at my parents' house for several weeks. Before that I'd moved from Daphne's flat in Nice, to another Niçoise flat--taking residence in a friend's room to split rental costs. I had my own bed, and lived there for several months, but it still felt temporary. In Scotland, I stayed in a hotel, a hostel, Natalie's parents' house, and one night, after a jaunt in Glasgow, on her friend's couch. In London, I stayed with Tom. I have not really not lived out of a suitcase since residing at 5 rue delille.

College was a longer-term temporary situation. I knew I'd be there for a while, but I was also aware of an end date. Hartwick is where I perfected my moving skills. That first semester, I co-inhabited a dorm room with my randomly-assigned roommate, Danielle (we're now nerd-compatriots), yet I quickly realized I needed to join the environmental campus, Pine Lake, after my tennis teammate took me there for a day trip one weekend and we made pumpkin soup with Ashley and Casey in Outback 1 (or was it Outback 2? I can't remember). After finals, Emily's mom helped Emily and me shuttle our belongings to our double in the Lodge. Summers, I boxed up my stuff and either packed it in the trunk of my mom's Toyota Highlander, or moved it, one or two parcels at a time, to my room in the Farmhouse (the Pine Lake summer staff house). Each semester I schlepped my books, bedding, random array of collected furniture (a rocking chair, a beat up arm chair, a rug) from Lodge room to Redwood 1, back to the Lodge. I went to Paris and packed minimally, taking on the French mentality of employing several basic, essential items of clothing, and accenting these with the orange and green scarf Shannon brought me from India, and my Salvation Army trench coat, and my sturdy black clogs (which served me well, carrying me across miles of Parisian cobblestone). 

I came home to the Cozy house in Oneonta with my one suitcase, stuffed with the books I'd acquired from patroning Shakespeare & Company. That was a great summer of barista-ing, beer, and trampolining. Then, one late-August morning, Shannon lent me her car so I could bring my many (sarcasm) possessions to townhouse A5 for senior year. I made a home with three hooligans: Olivia, Ben, and Aaron, and enjoyed providing refuge for stranded Pine Lakers whenever they needed a place to chill on campus. I stayed in townhouse A5 all year, and that was the longest residence I'd kept since moving to Litchfield, Connecticut with my family in 2009. 

Litchfield sucked. I managed to get a part-time barista position at Common Grounds Café, which allowed me to save my own money--(most of which would go to a J-term trip in New York City the following year), but I was still battling my parents for independence; I underwent non-stop identity crisis (there was never a dull moment); and it took me the entire year to find people I could be myself around. I still resent Litchfield to this day. I'm trying not to be so bitter about it, and in many ways the struggles I endured have helped shape me--for the better. What I struggle to understand is why so many of the people I met in Litchfield were assholes. Maybe my judgement has been clouded by retrospective, residual angst, but I feel like my peers could've been more inviting. Sure, there was the brief let's all meet the new girl phase, but no one really cared to get to know me. Not for a while, anyway. I just wanted to be seen, and very few people took the bait. (That being said, here's a huge shout out to Katie, Bridget, and Chris for encouraging me to air my freak flag in their presence. Thank you, guys, for making me feel not so alone).

Vermont, although it's going on six years since I've had an 802 area code, has the closest semblance to home. This is where I grew up. Where I fell in love with bookshops. Where I became a vehement devotee of cheese, maple syrup, poetry, mochas, skiing, New England weather in all four of its glorious seasons, sustainability, and community (although I wouldn't be able to articulate my appreciation for some of these things for some time). It's where I met my best friends, started second families, and built pockets of support systems. Vermont is where I first planted the seeds of wanting to become an artist.

Syracuse, the city in which I was born, feels as foreign to me as Mars. I have a mild interest in it, but no burning desire to visit any time soon.

This pattern of migration didn't start with me: I come from a family of nomads. My grandfather on my father's side was the son of a marine officer, and they moved from place to place all his life, until Granddad started a family with my grandmother in Ithaca, NY. My grandmother moved from Decatur, Georgia to Miami, Ohio, to Ithaca--this is where she raised her children and began her role as a grandmother--before moving to Sarasota, FL. And, of course, my mother, youngest of eight siblings, saved her money to leave Brazil and move to America...where she met my dad. My parents began their relationship in Washington D.C., went to Cincinnati for a bit, and then lived in Syracuse, which, if you've been following the story, you'll correctly guess is where me and my sister came along.

You can probably see why I have a difficult time answering the question, "So, where are you from?" When I'm living abroad, I have the opportunity to respond simply: Je suis américaine. But if people inquire further, things get messy. "Oh, I grew up in Vermont, but I've been living in ______," or "I grew up in Vermont, but my parents moved to Connecticut when I was a senior in high school," or "I went to college in upstate New York before teaching English in France last year and then for a couple of months I lived in a small town nearby where I went to college before moving to Portland. Cooperstown? It's where you'll find the Baseball Hall of Fame." I've always struggled with this question, never able to give a one-word answer.

Where am I from? If I'm being honest, I think the truest answer is that I'm not from anywhere. I'm homeless. Or, hometown-less.

I was talking to Tom about my hometown-less-ness, and he mentioned that the nomadic thing is an American thing. He has a point. The draw to discovery and adventure--to the west! To fortune! To fame! is an American quality. Plus, America has a wonky workforce narrative. People follow jobs, and jobs crop up depending on opportunity--across miles and miles of country.

For a long time, I'd been sort of sad about not having a hometown. But I've realized that many people aren't necessarily proud of their hometowns. In fact, a lot of American short stories, novels, poems, and plays all depict youngsters desperate to leave wasted-away, one-stoplight townships in search of something bigger. I need not cite fictional stories; my aunt Robin left small, college-town Ithaca for the Big Apple. I actually wanted to leave Vermont while I was living there. Everything is SO FAR AWAY. NOTHING happens here. I'm so BORED. Of course, promptly after leaving I realized Vermont is a beautiful, liberal utopia.

Many people leave the place in which they grew up in search of something else. Something grand. Something that fills them up and forces them to grow. People may not know why they want to leave, exactly, but they feel a call. So they go. And by leaving, they turn to homes fabricated, nestled in-between the cracks of the road. Sometimes home is on the road, in the form of of a car, ox-drawn wagon, minibus, or motorcycle. Many of the homes I've found and co-created I mention, in some form or other, in the story above: Pine Lake is a big one. 5 rue delille. Cozy. My friends' living rooms. But more so, many of these homes haven't been in actual houses. They've been found in relationships with people. I feel part of and rely on communities when I need support, comfort, a shoulder, a pillow, a ride, a conversation, a coffee, a hug, a kiss, a memory, a dream. These connections, lasting or temporary (oftentimes dormant for months before resurging when I need them most), are my homes. My many various, montage-y, bespeckled homes.

So, I'm not really homeless at all. Not really. I'm home-a-lot.

As I continue through life, I hope to maintain my open membership of these magical places. At some point, I'd like to have a homebase--where there are shelves to store my library, an open bed for a visiting friend, a kitchen for cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, a table for hosting pot lucks, a pillow to rest my weary head, a desk for working, etc. But home, simply, will always be, as it always has been, where the heart is. Awwwww. Aren't clichés nice?

I love so many of you and I hope you find the comfort and warmth you seek from your various homes; I hope you keep making new ones; and you are always welcome at mine.

Be well, and here's to a home-filled 2016!

Bonus. Have a poem I wrote:

I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!!!

Happy Boxing Day!

I hope you are having/had a lovely time with friends and family even if you couldn't make it home (like me). There were a couple of moments where I was quite sad about being away from my family, but I'm happy with how my festivities went down.

I have made a vlog in which I take you with me out and about on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which I will link below. I'm currently dog-sitting two dogs, Indie and Sunny, and they have been wonderful company. (Professional furry cuddlers are always welcome). The house I'm staying in has a beautiful tree, and the owners let me have some friends over. I entertained! I wore a party dress! I love playing host, and I must give my mother a shout out, as she taught me most everything I know about party presentation, even though she didn't host that often when I was growing up.

Christmas Day I had tofu scramble, vegan peanut butter cookies, mimosas, and coconut milk nog with Aaron and Emma. We swapped some gifts, and Emma remembered me saying how each Christmas I get a haul of Burt's Bees in my stocking which gets me through, chapstick-wise, each year. She and Aaron got me a stick. <3

In the evening I went to the Sellwood house (where I live normally) and had Christmas dinner (ham!) with my Portland family. I was a little loopy from not getting that much sleep the night before, so when we played some games after dinner that required me to think I was a little slow, but I got into the groove and by the end of the night Steve and I (we were partners for this game, I forget its name, where you have to get your partner to guess the name of a famous person...similar to charades but it's its own thing) dominated.

Then I came back to let the dogs out and had a wonderful sleep.


I've been listening to Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking, and the experience has pretty much gone like this:

1. Amanda tells a story about her life.
2. She explains how this is related to her philosophy on love and community.
3. I cry, smile, laugh, nod, mutter "Hmm" or shout "YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
4. I am left with a warm feeling in my heart and a huge love for this crazy, intelligent, kind, thoughtful, encouraging person I've never met.
5. I am filled with inspiration to create, create, create, for and with others; share, share, share; which is to say love, love, love.

If you're looking for a good New Year's Resolution, I'd say you should listen to The Art of Asking on audiobook. It's wonderful to hear Amanda read it herself, plus there are bonus clips of songs she's written in-between chapters.

Friendly reminder, if you love someone, just tell them. If you're scared, that's okay. It makes it more real.

Be patient and kind with loved ones. I know family and friends can get on one's nerves, especially when politics is thrown into the conversation. But life is way too short to let that stuff get in the way of our happiness.

I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Christmassy Vlog:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas is in a, bro.

As I lie on my comfy bed and listen to a live version of Years & Years' "Eyes Shut" (which is distracting me very much, by the way... I just want to jam out. Example:


it hits me that Christmas is a week away. It's sad that I'll be so far away from friends and family back home, but I'll be pet-sitting a wonderful dog and cat in an awesome house, and I want to treat the seclusion as a writing retreat. When I'm not doing my regular babysitting work, I will be writing. Poetry mostly, I think, unless an urge to work on a short story I started so, so long ago (like, two weeks ago) sets in. We shall see. The house is also equipped with an Apple TV and the owners have HBO Go, so anything could happen, really. Basically, I'm excited to have my own space for a week.

I've talked to several friends on the phone recently, and when you talk to people you know well and catch up on life, you do a lot of evaluating. Because inevitably you will be asked, "How are you? How's the new place? Are you doing well?" And you will give the best answers you can give, but, really, do you even know how you feel? I'd like to stick around long enough to see what it'll be like to communicate through sensation or feeling--I think in the future we'll all have little antennae that we'll poke each other with and a sort of sensational communication will take place and we'll just know what the other person means.

How am I? How's the new place? Am I doing well? In short, yes, I am well and the new place is good. Portland is a great city to live in, my living situation is working out, and I'm staying busy with both work and play. I'm getting confident on my bike and learning which roads are bike-friendly. I'm growing a tougher skin against the rain. I'm sampling a variety of brunch restaurants. Have I mentioned how insane brunch is in Portland? People here are nuts about brunch. It's crazy. I'm talking hour-long waits at some places. But, brunch is something I am 100% willing to wait for. Brunch is the Merlin of meals. King Arthur is lunch, like a solid soup & sandwich combo. Guinevere is after-work drinks. Lancelot is the app sampler at Applebee's. But Merlin--Merlin is the glorious magic that is brunch.

Guys. Do you ever feel stuck between your present and your future? I am putting in a conceded effort to participate, contribute, say "yes!" to invitations and opportunities. Even though Portland isn't exactly what I thought it would be, I am grasping it by the horns and taking it in. I suppose I could try harder to meet "native" Portlanders (read: Californians who've been here for 4+ years who deny that they play into the Cali-migrant stereotype) but I feel fairly comfortable with the group of peers I have at the moment. Anyway, in addition to Portland life, I'm wondering what's next. Where am I going? How can I do what I love and make money? How am I going to shape this next phase of my life? How can I be near the people I care about and still follow my dreams? 

Something I've realized since being here is that I have to do the things I want to do. I know that sounds stupid, but it's true. In college, I wanted to be a writer, but I hardly ever read (outside of class) or wrote. After graduating I started reading again. In Nice I wrote occasionally but didn't make it a priority. Now when I have a free moment, I'm like, "I should be writing right now." I want to make YouTube videos and be consistant in the content I create and upload (and now that I have a room of my own, I can do that again!). I want to build community around reading and writing, and I started the Writer's Forum MeetUp group, which is a good start. I don't know. I don't know if any of these things will lead to a job or career, but the compulsion to make something and share it is there, and I'm going to ride it and see where it takes me.

Currently I'm listening to Amanda Palmer read her book, The Art of Asking, on audiobook and holy 'effing poo, read it. Something I have a difficult time admitting, or proudly proclaiming, is that I'm an artist. I am. I have to make things. And I have to share these things with others. (Not everything. Lol. Some things no one will ever see.) Amanda talks about asking people to believe you, as an artist. 

Rarely do people look you straight in the eye and see you. Part of an artist's job is to create situations or environments in which those eye-lock moments can happen. To connect the dots. 

This was a Poet — It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings —
And Attar so immense

From the familiar species
That perished by the Door —
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Arrested it — before —

Emily Dickinson explains that a poet (or artist in general) creates this concentrated bit of meaning out of the "ordinary"--something imperceptible that the artists brings to life--and the audience is like, "Whoa, bessie! I've totes-bagoats felt that way before. Thanks for showing me my own feeling/experience." When that happens--when there is a tangible exchange between a creator's creation and its audience--that moment is what I'm after.

But money is a thing. Woo hoo!

If you want to see more of me, feel free to check out my latest YouTube videos! I recently did a video blog (vlog) where I take you around Portland for a day:

Here are some photos:

Cookies & Christmasy drinks party with friends

Portland being festive 
(despite the current war on Christmas)

Snack one of my girls I babysit made <3

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and holiday time and that 2016 knocks everybody's socks off in the best way. Love, love, love. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Job/Housing Search: What A Hoot ....that's sarcasm

I'm not sure if anyone has told you this before, but moving to a new city--finding a place to live, and then finding work to fund that living...takes time. Before I left for Portland, I knew getting myself out there and getting established would take effort. But I was fairly lax in my attitude. It'll work out. And it is working out, but maybe not as quickly as I thought it would.

I have a place to live! It's in a neighborhood called Sellwood, and it's with a family: journalist, professor, thirteen-year-old daughter, dog named Olga, and cat (name to be learned). Their house is full of books. Done deal, really.

On the work front, so far I have a part-time nannying position. I'm also tutoring two international students--one needs help with his composition class, and the other needs conversation practice. Powell's, the bookstore, isn't hiring at the moment, but I'm keeping an eye out (read: refreshing the application page several times a day).

Meanwhile, I've been exploring the city. Emma and Aaron are going through the same thing as me, so when we're not all worrying and stressing and scouring Craig's List, we hang out. Tyler and Laura have been most welcoming--they've showed us some of their best beer haunts, including the splendid Mississippi Pizza, which has pub quiz on Wednesdays. And Emily has just been the best, opening her home to us.

Outside Mississippi Pizza

Kate, Laura, Emma, Aaron at Green Dragon Pub

Sunset from Mt. Tabor Park

The next step is mostly to keep doing this step: find reliable work. Keep exploring this new city. Additionally, I'd like to make friends with some Portlanders. "Find my people," more or less. You know.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

I Like Portland

This city is totally Angelica-friendly. There is excellent coffee everywhere. As a standard. It's amazing. The city welcomes bikers! Bike lanes abound and there's even a bike/pedestrian specific bridge. The whole food truck thing is ridiculous. I can't get over how much good food this city has. And the craft beer. Jesus, the craft beer! I don't know if I'm just with friends who have good taste, or if every bottle/tap in Portland is genuinely delicious. It certainly seems that way.

And the books. Thanks to Powell's, bookstore Mecca, this city really likes to read. Yesterday, I went to a literature festival for crying out loud. The art museum seems cool, too. And there are so many used bookstores scattered throughout the city. Bookstores I want to explore--I'm glad Powell's is here, but also that it can co-exist with so many unique, smaller shops. Record stores! Thrift stores!

People recycle here. The environment is respected and appreciated. People want to go skiing and hiking and general adventuring.

Everyone is young and smart and interested in stuff. At least, from what I can see. It's pretty cool.

These are my first impressions.

Buzzfeed's personality quiz wasn't wrong when it said I'd fit in here. Buzzfeed knew.

 First view of bookstore Mecca

 Polish food truck food

 The Willamette river

 Turkish coffee

Tart Berry toppings

Thursday, October 29, 2015

So, I'm Moving To Portland...

On Tuesday, November 3, I'm spreading my wings (last minutes packing) and flying (taking a plane) to a city I've never been before, but according to Buzzfeed, I'm quite compatible with. I don't have a job, or a clue, really. Luckily, I have generous friends who have offered to keep a roof over my head until I find one of my own. I plan to drink amazing coffee. That's my primary goal. Then, go to the bookstore Mecca, Powell's.

Over the past months, when I've told people where I'm going, the most common reaction question is: "Why?" Which makes sense. I haven't mentioned Portland before. I don't have any particular connection to it. There's no professional reason to go out there. On a basic level, I'm going because I can. I'm a leaf in the wind! Not all those who wander are lost and all that.

There are dissenters. Some have told me about all the people with MA's who are making tacos. In a city full of educated young people, good jobs are hard to come by. Housing is pricey and the cost of living is just going to keep getting higher and higher. I'm sure all this is true, and yet I don't know how acutely the statistics will affect me. Will I become a statistic?

If it doesn't work out, I can always go someplace else.

For now, I'm busying myself with work, packing, and goodbyes. Cooperstown has been a lovely home, The Farmers' Museum has been a unique and fun place to work, and my hiatus in upstate New York before embarking on this next adventure has afforded me the time and space to reflect on what I want, where I want to go, and who I'd like to become. I don't have any definitive answers. But that's okay. I have an idea, and from ideas great things spring forth.

I'll keep you all posted.

The Farmers' Museum

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's October and I've Been Doing Stuff

Time is passing at a weird rate. I'm super aware of the weather--it is autumn. The leaves are changing. It is getting colder. This, in addition to the fact that I finally bought a ticket for my flight, has made me hyper aware of the time I have left before I leave for Portland.

I have several books I want to read before departure (so I can leave them behind...I really can't carry everything with me) and I don't spend enough time reading. I've started re-watching The Office. It is the single most comforting thing in my life right now, especially when so much is uncertain. I know that Michael Scott will always be inappropriate. I know that Jim will always gaze lovingly at Pam. And I know Creed will always be inexplicably weird in an old guy with one hell of a back story kind of way. Crawling into my collapsed futon bed with my laptop and, frankly, too many snacks, is, at the moment, my definition of solace. I'm gearing up for the changes ahead.

Other things I've been up to:

-Reapplying for my student loan payment plan
-"Saving" money to move
-Developing my interpreting style at work
-Thinking about writing poetry
-Freezing my hands while walking to work
-Getting tickets for Glastonbury Festival
-Falling in love
-Learning how to work the wood stove in the print shop
-Doing the dishes
-Cuddling hardcore with Kristofferson the cat
-Dancing at Sam & Kyle's wedding
-Chatting with a co-worker about whether or not women should be in the military
-Listening to "Dolphin's Cry" by Live
-Respecting Miles Davis

If you want to hang out before I leave the east coast, tell me so we can figure something out. However, I might say no, as The Office is perpetually calling my name. Just kidding. Sort of.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Life is good.

I work at The Farmer's Museum. I interpret rural life of upstate NY circa 1845. This is how I dress most days:

I like my job! I work in the print shop and I've made some cool things, including a copy of this Emily Dickinson poem:

I like living with Robby and Andréa. They take really good care of me. We have good chats all the time. Andréa and I have started watching Chopped on Netflix after work. I've also fallen in love with their cat, Kristofferson. It's not entirely mutual...yet.

On Monday nights I play D&D. We've come so far in the campaign! One more level, and my character will finally get to turn into a giant eagle.

Sometimes we go to dances, or play games, or get drinks at the fire bar. One time we rode on the Blues/"Booze" train.

Life is good.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Purgatory is a good word for it--how one feels moving between one adventure and the next. The waiting, the wondering, the stress. A harsh light is shed on the temporality of situation, and relationships. Everything moves too fast and so, agonizingly slow. Decisions must be made. Adulthood must happen. Money is probably a good call.

It's good to be back. To see faces I haven't seen in seven months. To listen to friends' stories and life updates. To compare goals and ask big questions together. It's also been really great having access to my favorite Thai food.

But now is the time to make important choices I've been putting off since April. It's all fun and games to decide to move across the country, but then the reality of actually doing it hits you in the face. Is this what I really want? There are two sides to a coin: on one side, one wings it. On the other, one carefully researches and plans. Maybe these sides are on the same coin for a reason. I've got the winging down. The planning I'm working on.

I have no idea what I'm doing. It is terrifying. Luckily, I have amazing friends who feed me and let me pet their cat. Amazingly, I've found some work to occupy my time (and fund my craft beer tastings) until I get on the road. Hopefully, I can keep my shit together until that time, if not for longer.

There are some things that are keeping me sane. The first sip of coffee in the morning. The sunrise over Otsego county's breath-taking hills, knolls, and farmland. Loving Kristofferson, Andréa and Robby's cat. Music. And walking. Frothing the perfect foam for a latte. And writing, when I do it.

I'm going to leave you with a poem, because poetry is great and everybody should appreciate it on a more regular basis.

The Orange
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I got a half.
And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It's new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

No Longer Allergic!

I'm back in the United States of America. For the foreseeable future. It's very bittersweet. Like, if you looked up "bittersweet" in the dictionary, there would be a close-up picture of my face as I stepped on the plane that took me to Moscow*. And beside that photo would be a GIF (because this dictionary is interactive and on the Internet, apparently) of animated rainbows dancing. Guys, I'm so excited about the Next Step. Super pumped. Ready to roll. It's going to be amazing (and hard... adulthood is not as simple as clicking your red heels together; it's more like a long and treacherous journey down an apocalyptic alternative reality version of the yellow brick road--let's be real). Like, whoa.

But I miss Nice! Fancy that! Let's take a moment and look at what I thought of Nice before I even got there:

"So, I'm a little nervous about moving to Nice. Nice has 147 days of "strong sun" and 64 days of "weak sun" annually. That's 211 days of sun. I'm used to a 164 days of sun! I will have to deal with 47 extra days of sunshine! Oh my! What am I going to do?!"

I may have been a little too preoccupied with meteorology. I have gotten rashes from the sun before, so my worries were legitimate. Besides this, though, I had no idea what to expect from Nice. I had no sense of the place. No inkling of what I'd find when I got there. No expectations. Which is cool, I guess. I was free to experience the city without prejudice. 

Now that I've lived there for 8+ months, I definitely have a sense of the place. My sense is that Nice is always going to be something different. People come and go too quickly there. Businesses fall apart and go up in days. The turnover of tourists is remarkable. These are integral parts of Nice's identity. In some ways, it's good that I'm leaving Nice when I am. The delightful pocket of Nice I experienced last year no longer exists, which is very sad, but is also the nature of the universe. Change. C'est la vie and all that.

I want to take a moment, though, to appreciate my Nice. The Nice in my head--the Nice I'll always remember. Here's a poem:

Allergic to the Sun

When you move to a place without 
expectations, and with an apprehension 
for the sun, you will fall into friendship
with the bars and the people--with the 
people, for a night and with 
the bars, for a lifetime. 
This is the inevitability of the Côte d'Azur.

Do not be alarmed. The sea will sooth
your browning skin. The rocks that
make up the plage will leave gray 
dust on your clothes--reminders of good 
times gone by. Ghosts of smiles.

The street names will remind you of
dreary Paris, but the light and the 
colors--weapons Matisse harnessed to 
revolutionize his craft--will awaken 
in you a fidelity to a place you never

thought you'd call home. Here, you
work, and you play more than you work,
and that is the nature of your stay, and
you don't mind. The government does
its best to dishearten you, and you

laugh at it, because that is all you can
do. You laugh and file the paperwork, joke
and then pray. You go to the beach with friends
who laugh and pray with you. You sit beneath a
brilliant sky and wonder at how this 
became your life. And as you sit you realize 
you are no longer allergic to the sun.

Whoop, whoop! There it is. Nice won me over, guys. 

Anyway, I want to give a huge shout out to all the lovely people I met who made my Nice experience what it was. You guys basically won me over, so there you go. I can't wait to see some of you again--either at a Nice reunion, or a chance encounter, or during a trip to a new corner of the world. You're also welcome to come find me in the U.S. I will feed you delicious Annie's Mac n' Cheese and we will drink fantastic craft beer. Deal?

*My trip from Nice took an epic 2 days in which I traveled via overnight train to Paris; Orly airport to Moscow; Moscow to JFK; airtram to Grand Central where I had beers with Olivia and Max!!!; Metro-North train from Grand Central to Waterbury; and my dad's car from Waterbury to home.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

From Scotland With Love

Guys. Scotland is gorgeous. BBC Radio 1 is perfect. Scotch eggs are delicious. There are sheep everywhere! And used bookshops for charity! And wonderful beer, and people, and fun!

I arrived in Scotland a week ago. Grant picked me up from the airport and we drove to a picturesque town in the highlands, Pitlochry, where we met Natalie. That evening we listened to live bagpipes, traditional Scottish music, and saw trad dancing at the town hall. I had my very first Scotch egg (a hard boiled egg encased in breaded meat) and loved it. The next day started off right with a full Scottish breakfast--including black pudding! We went out to Blair Atholl where I had my picture taken with some highland cows! (Mad horns, man!) We rested mid-day with high tea whilst watching Wimbledon. (At that point, I realized how insane these stereotypes were getting, but, when in the UK...) The next day I saw Blair Castle. The Ballroom is ridiculously decorated with a bunch of deer heads and random swords and it's pretty amazing. It has a huge wooden floor and I imagined I was out of time at some sort of contra dance-viking-fusion party. For dinner we went to The Old Mill Inn and I had haggis. And I loved it. The next day I relaxed and wandered around Pitlochry. It's pretty small, but cutesy. I got a poetry anthology at the train station secondhand bookshop for £1. After Natalie got back from work, we went to Gregg's for lunch. Hooray for cheap, hot food! On Friday we walked a path to Scotland's smallest distillery and went on a whiskey tour. It was cool to see how whiskey is made (and to taste some...especially on a cooler, rainy day). After lunch, Grant, Natalie, and I headed to Inverness! On the way there we stopped at the Battle of Culloden Memorial where Natalie told us the story of how Bonnie Prince Charlie lost Scotland to the English in in 1746. That night we got delicious pub food and went to a place called Hootananny where a group of 20-something guys were playing live traditional Scottish folk music (read: jigs and reminded me of Pine Lake so much). We made friends with a pair of older gentlemen named John and ? who've been to Belarus. They had some incredible stories. We ended up staying in the most lovely, chill hostel. In the morning we had free tea/coffee before heading to Primark where I got some new shoes (my old ones were wrecked from hiking through wet grass). Before heading out, Natalie showed us this AMAZING secondhand bookshop called Leaky's (which, let's be honest, belongs on Diagon Alley). Then we did some serious touring of the highlands, guys. I actually can't believe we got this all in--Urquhart Castle, Fort William (and Loch Ness, of course), the set of the Great Lake and the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter movies near the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and Glencoe. We did all of this on our way to Glasgow, where I got to meet Natalie's friends and get a taste of the Glasgow Uni neighborhood and Glasgow bar scene. We had a DELICIOUS American-style brunch at TriBeCa restaurant the next day before touring Glasgow University campus (which is essentially Hogwarts). Later we got refreshments on Ashton Lane and watched the crazy tie-breaker between Federer and Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. And then we headed to Linlithgow where I took a much needed shower, relaxed, and enjoyed a lovely evening with Natalie and her parents.

On Monday and Tuesday we're volunteering at the charity shop and seeing the Linlithgow sights and then on Wednesday I'll get to see Edinburgh before heading off to London. So much is happening and it's all wonderful and I'm just really glad, happy, and thankful. I can't believe I'm here. Shout out to Natalie for being a tour guide/host goddess; Grant for driving and being patient and up for anything; Sarah & friends for hosting Natalie and me in Glasgow; and Natalie's parents for being the sweetest people ever. Okay, I'm done now. 

(No pictures at the moment because my computer charger doesn't work in the UK but stay tuned!) 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wedding & Beyond

I've been bedridden for the past couple of days. Reason? I've been having too much fun. I had a manic socializing phase, and getting sick is my body's way of telling me to slow down. On the one hand, it's good that I'm getting time to myself to recover and rest. On the other, I wish I'd been a tad better at reading myself and my needs. Because I'm coming to the end of my stay in Nice, I want to get the most out of it. But there's definitely a balance that can be struck between friends and me-time.

The main thing that has happened since I last wrote is that I went to Kristen and Lee's wedding. It was awesome. The ceremonies happened on a Wednesday and Thursday--one day was the French civil ceremony (it was really cool to see how a French marriage places a lot of value on rearing children) as well as champagne and canapés at High Beach, and one day at Kristen and Lee's wedding villa in Cannes. I can't believe that this is my life. But apparently when in the south of France...

Kristen and Lee are such wonderful people, and they surround themselves with cool people. I loved getting the chance to hang out with their family and friends, and bond with my lecteur/Nice family. Caroline and Tom, Jenny's friends from home, visited as well, and it was really good to see Caroline again (we went to Dublin together along with Helena and Jenny), and meet Tom.

I feel really blessed and lucky to have met so many amazing people since I arrived in September. I didn't know much about Nice before I left my Pine Lake home. I wasn't sure what I'd find here, except for maybe some teaching experience, some free time to figure out what to do with my life, and some sun burn. Now that I'm leaving, I'm really sad to go. I think I've definitely lived life to the fullest here--more so than I did when I first lived in France. Maybe too full at times. I guess I shouldn't be sad that it's over, but that I should "smile because it happened," or whatever.

Anyway, here's to more fun times ahead! (I'm not leaving yet).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Now That I've Finished Teaching...

I went to wine country outside of Nice with Kristen and Lee a couple of weeks ago. We tasted several different wines, drove in a CAR (which was so liberating...public transit is nice, but this American girl misses her open highways), and managed to see some really beautiful land.

The wine is for a party of sorts. 72 bottles = success.

Then Kirsten and I had people over for a pot luck!

Kristen has a Vitamix that only seems to work at our house when the dishwasher and oven are off (the industrial blender takes a lot of energy to use). Kristen made delicious hummus, gazpacho, cashew dressing for a salad, and silky-smooth tofu chocolate cake with the super-powered blending possibility on hand. I made a veggie tarte. Kirsten made veggie wings and kale chips. Amy made a cheese hors d'oeuvre, and Lauren, Katya, Lee, and Jenny all came, too. 

Yesterday Kirsten, Kristen, and her brother, Kevin, and I all went to Antibes. We did a coastal walk on Cap d'Antibes, and then got lunch at a lovely vegetarian restaurant. Lee met us later and we got coffee, then checked out the ENGLISH BOOKSTORE. I didn't know there was one so close to Nice! But there you go! It is really small and cozy and caters to the many English tourists that visit the cute coastal town. After the bookstore we went to the good 'ole Absinthe bar. It was a great day!

Cordon bleu--breaded and fried tempah
with goat cheese

Floppy hats!

Absinthe and random hat-induced sass

Other than hanging out with friends, I've been reading, watching TV, and private tutoring. I recently finished Gilmore Girls and have caught up on the latest seasons of Game of Thrones and Once Upon A Time. I have yet to go swimming at the beach. I've definitely acclimated to Niçoise temperatures because 75 degrees doesn't seem hot enough to put on a suit and get in the water. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

An Update in Three Parts

Part I

I went to Italy to see Alessandro graduate from the University of Milan and got a sneak-peek of Italian living--of both family life and college-student life. It was really fun to walk around Milan, pick up some Italian words, and meet some of Alessandro's family and friends. And eat! I had some great meals in Italy, as you do, but I didn't get to try nearly as much as I would have liked to, so, basically, I have to go back...

One of the classic moments from this trip was after we'd all gone out to celebrate Alessandro's graduation. We'd been drinking and it was fairly late, and I was hungry. I suggested stopping somewhere to get kebab or fries--some sort of drinking food. But Alessandro's friend was like, "Oh, I'll just whip up some pasta when we get home." And she did. So there's Italy for you.

Me, Cyril, and Alessandro in Milan

Lake of Como

Hotdog encased in Italian bread

Alé chillin' with his degree

Hurt feet from walking the streets of Milan

At the graduation party

Part II

When I studied abroad in Paris, I had the wonderful luck of meeting some of the world's greatest people. One of these amazing humans came all the way from Brest (basically draw a diagonal line across France from Nice, and that's where you'll find Brest) to see me. Emma! We had a lovely time together--from exploring Nice, to celebrating Emma's birthday with brunch, to hanging out with some random animals at Parc Phoenix, to eating good food, and to some great nights out. I'm really glad we got the chance to reconnect and create some new memories together!

Birthday Brunch

Oh, hey, mini Statue of Liberty!

Random wildlife in Nice...JK

Typical Niçoise fare at La Tapenade
with Kristen

Paris sisters at Pub Quiz

Part III

I went to Dublin. It was pretty cool. The pride that the Irish have for their history, stories, language, drink, and culture really stood out to me. I felt so welcome and so a part of the city while I was there--so much so that I definitely want to go back. I traveled with Jenny, Helena, and Caroline and we had a lovely time going on a Literature Pub Crawl, as well as going to the Whiskey Museum, the Viking Museum, and a suburban town outside of Dublin called Dún Laoghaire, where we visited the James Joyce museum. We also had a good taste of Irish night life, in addition to trying some wonderful Dublin restaurants. This was an amazing holiday.

Welcome to Ireland. It's green.

What up, Oscar Wilde?

Jenny, Caroline, and Helena
outside of The Duke on our Literature Pub Crawl

Drinking Guinness at O'Neill's

Dún Laoghaire in the sun

That's what I've been up to. Oh, I also moved to a new flat, and have proctored some exams, and said goodbye to some lectrices. This is a whirlwind transition moment as my job is ending, adventures are just beginning, and the great beyond is utterly impenetrable. Hurrah!