Saturday, December 29, 2001
Yesterday I watched the movie "crazy/beautiful." It was amazing. Understated but meaningful. The direction, script, cinematography all came together to make an incredible film. Movies are so cool. I can't wait to move back to LA and learn more about the whole process. I think I would be a good set dresser. It would put to great use my attention to detail and obtuseness. And I want to perform, but I don't know that movies or tv would be my ideal thing. I would love to get in a theatre class and do some plays and just have fun. That would be so wonderful.
Anyway. Earlier last week, two friends and I went to the Seattle Art Museum for the exhibition of Annie Leibovitz' latest project, called "Women." It was incredible. The photographs were stunning and thought-provoking. I loved the way she put the exhibition together, contrasting images. For instance, at one spot, on the left were two stark, black-and-white close-ups of battered women, and on the right was a photo of three middle-aged Texan socialites, looking so self-important and disdainful. It was a powerful juxtaposition, one example of the division of labor and power in our country.
Wednesday, December 26, 2001
Oh, by the way, in case anyone was curious (what a joke, since that would require anyone reading this nonsense!), the next day I tried to finish the waxing. It didn't hurt as much, perhaps because I knew what to expect. Either way, it was still uncomfortable, but it's not like leg nerves are that sensitive. Right?
So Christmas sucks. I was in a crappy mood (as I was last year, if i recall), and I was astonishingly tired. At the family dinner on Christmas Eve, I felt soberly intoxicated. Meaning, I had to concentrate on enunciating words and it took a large amount of energy to stand up, also not to fall over or run into things while standing. It was terrible. I can't wait to be on my own for the holidays, to be depressed without having to report to family or whatnot. (Dude, I hate people that say "whatnot.")
Christmas morning, we awoke to a breathtaking sunrise, brilliant blue sky, a beautiful vista of the snow-capped Mt Rainier and surrounding foothills. That part wasn't so bad. I wouldn't have minded snow, but sunshine was the next best thing.
The job is going pretty well. I'm still not entirely sure of myself, but I can tell I'm improving. That's all anyone can ask of me, right? Yup. Plus, there are boys. Some of whom are actually cute. Woohoo! That makes work ever so much more fun and interesting. In general, the folks there seem pretty genial. Haven't met any kindred spirits just yet, but that's not really expected anymore.
This weekend there was a fun, all-night soiree to celebrate the graduations of two friends. Congratulations! And it was fun. Even if I still haven't recovered from the lack of sleep, I had a good time. Many games were played. We stayed up way too late. Just like the old days. :)
Sunday, December 16, 2001
Finished my first week at my new job, training. This week it will be for real. Eek, I always feel unsure of myself in new places for a bit. I hope it goes okay. I've met some neat people. I'm told I did well and learned quickly. We'll see.
Today I had my first experience with home leg-waxing. It was interesting. Not what I thought. It was messy and awkward. It certainly hurt, but it wasn't the mind-blowing pain one hears about. Rather, it's a grit-your-teeth-and-just-get-it-done-with sort of pain. Like if men had to do it, they'd be clenching nails betwixt their teeth and grunting loudly. Actually, I grunted. In an attempt to transfer some of the energy from the pulling and the pain, like the noise-making distracts or surprises the nerve endings, so that instead of, "Yow!" they turn their little nerve endings and say, "Hey, what was that?" It certainly took a lot of grit to pull the damn things off. Talk about steeling oneself. Man. I didn't know I could do something like that.
I should say, though, that I only did a little bit. Maybe five on each leg. I figure that's a plenty good start, for my first time. Right?
Friday, December 07, 2001
Saturday, December 01, 2001
Tuesday, November 27, 2001
Saturday, November 24, 2001
Yesterday I got an unexpected call to go to work, with the other temp agency. So, with the prospect of much-needed money luring me out of bed, I agreed. Yay.
Oh! More news regarding Julie's future. I finally got the information packet from Americorps. I am going to Maryland at the end of January, which we knew already. But now I have more details about what to bring and what's going to happen. Not the missions or anything, that doesn't happen til we get there, but the structure of things. They're gonna make us do a lot of physical training. Which, perversely, I am looking forward to. I need discipline to get off my butt and get active.
The car thing is my current quandary. There's no point in keeping it at home for ten months, and it would be wonderful to have a car in Maryland, seeing as how the campus is in the middle of nowhere. With a car, I can explore the entire Eastern seaboard, which I've never seen. So I should take the car with me. The problem is how to get it there. Driving across the entire country in the dead of snowy, blizzardy winter would be dangerous, especially as I'll most likely be on my own. Shipping it would cost way too much money. So we need to do some problem-solving, and quickly.
Friday, November 16, 2001
Wednesday, November 14, 2001
While out yesterday, I locked my keys in my car. Somehow they flung themselves out of my hand before exiting the vehicle. No idea. So I panicked for awhile. Then I sought the help of the University Police who were at QFC. One kindly decided to help me, and he successfully jimmied the door for me. Thank you, kind sir!! So today, I prepared to counteract any future stupidity. I plan on giving everyone I know a copy of my key in case I lose it (my key, not my mind. What's wrong with you?) or lock it somewhere useless again, and I have a hideakey thing too.
I was supposed to pick up a paycheck today, for my hard work of last week. However, due to somebody's oversight, they mailed it instead. So who knows when I'll receive it. Oh well, I should just be happy that I almost have some money. Yeah, that's right.
Oh! We have a serious winter storm on our hands. It has been raining for two days straight, and there is standing rain all over the roads and freeways. Thankfully, none of my families live near any of the local rising river. It's turning out like Hard Rain, but without Christian Slater. Thank goodness.
I made another trip to the King County Library, this time in Mercer Island. I had to call my mom, who is working in Utah (I heard someone call it Ootah the other day on the radio-funny! Like Canadia), to tell me where the Mercer Island Library was. I have been a library fiend recently, going like three times a week. God Bless Free Books. That's got to be one of my Happy Thoughts.
Tuesday, November 06, 2001
Thursday, November 01, 2001
Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Tuesday, October 30, 2001
Tomorrow is Halloween, in case you didn't catch my hip, jokey reference above, or in case you're an anticapitalist, pagan-bitter freak living in a cave. Sigh, don't I wish I were with you. Anyway, that also means that my birthday is two short days away. Now hold on a minute, you don't know what I'm going to say. There's no jumping up and down and frantic party-planning. (Kristin and I were laughing about our mutual opinion that the phrase "birthday party" is universally childish and silly, conjuring images of little kids in funny paper hats and the like. Although I'm always up for pinatas-woo!) I'm actually un-excited about having a birthday so soon. Rather bored, and otherwise unsocial. I don't want presents, I don't want attention, I don't want to see people, I don't want to pretend to be happy, I don't want to do anything. So I know that I will end up sitting in this cold and empty house all fucking day long, not doing a goddamn thing. And I know that that is ultimately the most pathetic thing EVER. Sigh.
In addition, this not-being-employed bit sucks ass. It is nice to stay up late and not worry about getting up early, but it sucks. I have nothing to do and believe me, I do nothing. I'm sending out resumes, but I got sick of filling out stupid application forms and the like about four years ago. And I get to do it some more, for an unknown continuous amount of time! Yippee! I'm thrilled. Especially the part about sending in things for jobs that I really don't want but that sound easy and boring and skill-lacking enough that I could do for a couple months, just to bring in money, and then having to drive all over the freaking county to go to silly pointless interviews, for, let's remember, silly pointless jobs that I DON'T EVEN WANT. That was a really long, grammatically-incorrect sentence. See what this is doing to me? Sigh. I really do hate my life. Oh, don't worry, there are many more reasons than that, and more substantial ones, rest assured. On a more positive note, I was pleased as pie to learn that I do indeed type fast. According to my test today, 60wpm. Go me!
More random, only-interesting-to-me stuff. I've begun listening to Christmas music already. (Perry Como is playing on my stereo at the moment. No, I have absolutely no shame about this, so just shut up, I don't care. You can't make me cool!) It's certainly cold enough for it. It has been raining for the better part of today. Which is kind of cool, it fits my mood perfectly. I am quite enjoying the fall, the changing leaves all over, the crisp weather. It's decisive. I like bundling and it's fun to dig out hats and scarves and gloves. Because I'm so sensitive to the cold, I use them constantly from October through March or so. Again, it's fun, like in a movie. I also am going to pick up some instant spiced cider, (To Kristin=Iced Spiced Chidah), because of its warm fuzzy qualities, emotional and physical.
Oh, my point was that one of my LA lessons was my enjoyment of the phenomenon of seasons. Especially the fall, and especially in Bellingham. I remember being enchanted by the pretty colors and haphazard piles of leaves on the walk down to campus from the Ridge. And that little ridge that sits behind Red Square, just like a movie, always remained a solid block of green. It was truly beautiful. The rain pounding at my window right now reminds of the petulant winter rain-and-windstorms. I felt like something essential was released, listening to the rustling trees, frolicking in the cold, hard breeze. And it seemed to a phenomenon unique to Western, because I suppose that around here, where I've lived forever, the sea isn't close enough, and plus, there are too damn many houses.
I better get used to this frigidity, because in January I'm going to Maryland to serve with Americorps. I am looking forward to it a lot, being the terribly bored, dying-to-get-out person that I've become in the last years. I enjoy looking up words in the dictionary, words that I've heard a lot, and whose general usage I vaguely understand. This evening I looked up "sycophant." My dictionary listed two synonyms: 'Parasite' and 'Toady'. Yes, toady. No, I don't think I get it either. But isn't it interesting and entertaining nonetheless?
Friday, October 26, 2001
So it's been approximately 25 hours since my return. I made it in record time: I drove seven hours on Wednesday, and ten on Thursday, breezing from mid-northern California (fifty miles from Redding), through the entire lovely state of Oregon, and back to Home Sweet Renton. This morning I took everything back out of my car, but other than putting my stereo up, that's as far as I got; everything is strewn on the floor.
My plan so far is to get out there and find work; money has to be my priority. Plus I'm looking forward to finding some new, different work. That is an exciting though scary thought. I've got some ideas already and one of them is to scour the Sunday classifieds.
I haven't really told people yet; I feel kind of weird about suddenly being back. I wanted things to be different but I guess they're not. And I know no one's reading this, but that's okay. :) I'm not sure if I need to tell people either; I can never tell when it's that stage of growing apart. Depressing, eh?
Sunday, October 21, 2001
The first day, Sunday, went fast. Leaving home about 11 am, I made it to Portland in two hours and less than half a tank (I love my Saturn!), and prompty got lost, wanting to find some good shopping. Go figure, serves me right, I suppose. Because I'm stubborn, I just kept going, ending up on freeways going who knows where, and getting very desperately lost. Took some random turns and ended up in a lovely green area. Reed College was on one side of the street, and the Rhododendron Garden was on the other. So I parked and finally got out of the car. It was warm! I was pleasantly surprised. I spent awhile there, looking at my atlas and trying to figure out my itinerary, then I just read for a bit. It was lovely there. From Portland I found 99W, which wound through little towns and forests, linking with 18, which met up with Highway 101. At that junction is Lincoln City, a beautiful, if touristy, ocean town. I was thrilled to see the open Pacific Ocean; I can't remember the last time I did. So I parked again and frolicked in the sand and the freezing water. I didn't find a place to eat so I started driving down the coast. I got pretty far; around 7.30 I decided to stop, in Florence, Oregon. Chose a random motel, which was equipped lovingly with cable-woohoo!
Monday morning--got up around 10 or so, watched tv (I couldn't help myself, I so love cable), left again about 11ish. The drive was pretty gnarly, if you will. The coast highway is really the coast highway. It winds around the mountains and rocky bits just in from the ocean. The trees and brush grow in a wind-whipped shape. The roads wind back and forth in near U-turns. Lovely views, viewpoints everywhere. Something I found reassuring was the fact that nearly the entire coast is made up of various state parks. Good for Oregon. Seriously, I very much enjoyed being inn Oregon, it was beautiful. Successfully made it through the rest of Oregon and into California, which I found exciting. Soon came upon the Redwoods and more state parks. Perhaps I'm jaded, but the damn trees weren't that big! They seemed like any other group of trees I've seen. For instance, the ones on the hike to Fragrance Lake. These ones did seem to have bigger circumferences, though, I'll give them that. Along the road were various attractions, like the one-log house. This consisted of one huge log, hollowed out and sitting on its side, made into a caboose-looking house. Went by another house, this one actually in the tree, like the Berenstein Bears. That was cool. Decided to try to make it as far as I could, but then I started getting sleepy and the way was getting pretty isolated and few other cars were on the road. Kinda creepy. So I stopped finally in a town of approximately 130. Lafayetteville or something like that. The motel I chose was cute, and it had HBO, but only two other channels. Waah-I want my cable tv! Aren't I a spoiled brat? :)
Tuesday--actually got up early and got going at a good hour. I think I left around 9 or 9.30 or something. Drove through wine country, it was very pretty. I was excited to see the Golden Gate Bridge, nearing San Francisco! It was so cool! I've only been there once, when I was like ten or something. My dad and brother and I had a taxi ride straight out of the movies, flying over hills and all. That and the Fisherman's Wharf is about all I remember. So anyway, it was thrilling to get to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, and even thrilling to pay the three dollar toll. Woohoo-three cheers for Seattle's non-toll bridges, traffic-plagued though they are! I headed on through downtown S.F., still on the 101, which was very cool. The city has a neat vibe to it, I enjoyed seeing it. The traffic sucked. But traffic everywhere sucks. Or at least in the big cities. I was heading to San Jose to meet Mom at her hotel, and the signs on the freeway declared it 101, to San Jose. But it never said where exactly San Jose was; I kept expecting it to be just around the corner. But there were no mile-marker signs to be seen, so I got off the freeway to find a gas station. There was one right off the offramp, but my luck continuing, it was closed down for construction. So I kept going down the road and entered residential-land, so I turned around. Then there was something weird with the gas pump when I did find a station, and whatever, blah. Finally made it to San Jose, but could not for the life of me figure out where the exit was! There simply wasn't one! So after I noticed the freeway surrounded by desert, nonpopulated places, I somehow got off the freeway and went the other way north, then found another freeway to explore, and, miraculously, found the right exit and successfully arrived at the hotel. Triumphant, I got out of the car, sweaty and hungry. In the lobby I called Mom's cell phone. There was no answer, which I found odd, and then I was looking abstractedly around and saw Mom walk right past me. That worked out well. We had drinks out by the pool and read. Mom set up her meeting stuff and I drove down the freeway a bit to the nearby shopping center. I found a really cute shirt, a pink-type one, since I haven't bought a new pink garment lately. I was craving to buy books, so I wandered around the mall and examined the directories in dismayed disbelief--a million square feet of mall and NOT ONE BOOKSTORE! What the hell were they thinking? Don't people in San Jose read, for crying out loud? Goodness. So then I had to get back in the car and explore, looking for a bookstore. I found one, but,being me, I was on the wrong side of the road so it took me approximately fifteen minutes getting turned around and arriving at a Barnes & Noble. Quickly found two books to buy, and headed back to the hotel for the season premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Wednesday--left way late, about 12.30. It was fun to hang out with Mom and be in a real hotel with big, nonsqueaky beds, cable, yummy-smelling shampoo samples and good water pressure. Woohoo! Drove pretty much straight through, I think, deciding to stay on 101 rather than detour again on the 1, to go faster and stuff. Oh, wait, I did stop for awhile, when I came upon the Hearst Museum. I got out and stretched my legs (and my poor sore bum!), got some expensive nachos, and admired the surroundings. Gotta love what oodles of money can build for you, eh? So then I got back in the car and headed into the maze of the Los Angeles freeway system. Arrived at Kelleigh's around 8.30, promptly getting lost in the housing complex. Sigh.
Thursday, July 19, 2001
Oh, and Monday was Chicago (the musical) in the West End, just a few blocks up from Trafalgar. We sat in the front row, which made it even more interesting. The show was fantastic! I thoroughly enjoyed it. The two female leads were incredible, and the dancing was great and marvelous. The chorus men were gorgeous and fabulous. No one wore much of anything, which only made me appreciate all the more what incredible shape these people are in. Wow, wow. I love the theatre, I must go to more productions. London is the perfect place, they have theatres coming out their ears, and productions are way numerous.
So now I'm in that anxiously depressing state of remembering that I am now at home again, and things haven't really changed at all. I struggle because I want things to be different, I know that I have definitely changed, but those new bits of understanding don't have much relevance in my current everyday life. So banal. I hate this part. Boo hoo.
Monday, July 16, 2001
"However, the single-track road and the frustrated local are minor inconveniences compared to the hazard presented by sheep. Let's be clear on this one--they are not to be regarded as cuddly, friendly, woolly jumpers with a magnetic attraction for car bumpers. Treat them as devious, plotting assassins hired by some crooked breakdown merchant to force cars off the road. In short, they are a menace."
Last night we went to a show called "Art." It was funny. Tonight we are seeing the musical "Chicago." It has been quite awhile since I've seen a musical, I miss the theatre.
Today I wandered around a bit, to the Tower Bridge, through Regent's Park, and then around Oxford Street. Holy cow, the Mecca of the London shopping experience. It was amazing. You should be very proud of me, I have not bought books in almost a week. It's a struggle, I tell you. I just keep reminding myself of the books I already have to carry back, and how darn heavy they get. But I'm gonna get bored! I figure I'll buy a book at Heathrow, for entertainment on the plane. Even though they show three movies in a row on the long flight. That's okay. Books are good.
The other day, I met up with Sara Patterson from last year's Paris group. Hi Sara! We had fun. :) I'll put up that pic when I get it. Oh, and I'm going to scan in all my good photos from this year (hoping that most of them turn out well!) and all my sketches too. It'll take awhile, but I figured I'd let y'all know.
So I'm bored. Don't have anything else to say. I guess this is it. I will add on one more bit after I get home, just to record that.
See you all soon!
Saturday, July 14, 2001
This morning we just finished seeing the National Gallery. Love that place. Love the van Gogh, Michelangelo and da Vinci. Incredible, wonderful, amazing paintings. Genuises all. Sigh. Planning to visit the British Museum next, I believe, and a show sometime this weekend, perhaps tomorrow or Monday. That will be exciting; even though one of my main objectives of going to London last summer was to see as many shows as I could, I saw nary a one. Too frugal for my own damn good. We are definitely seeing one this time, though, and there's great ones to choose from.
I guess I should go, but I will be in touch now that we are back in a proper city. Sadly, today is Day 32 of our 35. A week from today I will be at home all adjusted and working as if I never left.
So the highlights of those four days, let's see. The first full day we began by visiting Dunvegan Castle, ancestral seat of the Clan MacLeod for many centuries, continuing to this day. The current Clan Chief, John, lives there. The MacLeods were quite the bigwig muckety mucks around there for a long time. Sometime around the 14th century, they acquired the Fairy Flag. According to John's video narration, three things are known about the Fairy Flag. It dates from the 4th to 7th centuries. It is from the East, the Holy Land (Syria?). It wins battles. So it's quite the prized possession of the Clan.
We also visited Portree a couple times, the biggest town of Skye. On the map, everything was listed that we saw on the roads, but most of the 'towns' consisted of a few houses. We're talking seriously small populations here. But it was a lovely place. Oh, and Portree was enjoyable. All the road signs on Skye have both English and Gaelic. Some of those Gaelic names are impossible, but all are beautiful. Portree was Port Righ, and other names were Drynoch and Drumnadrochit. Fabulous.
Also went to Armadale, the estate of the Clan MacDonald. The castle has not been kept up and now is just a few walls. However, it was also much newer than some others, built in 1815. The estate is 20.000 acres! Wow. These Clans remain pretty powerful, if only in property holdings. Armadale is in the south of the island. One day we went up north, all the way round the top peninsula. Visited a town called Uig, and went to Kilmuir for the Skye Museum of Island Life, which was fascinating. Went to the nearby cemetary to see the gravestone monument to Flora MacDonald, who helped save Bonnie Prince Charlie from the English.
Saturday, July 07, 2001
07/07/01: Hey, I found the Paris branch of EasyEverything-yay! I sort of found the one in Rome too, one night walking around. I love this place! Sigh.
So it's the last day here in Paris, as you may have noticed. I am just wandering around looking at things and visiting things for the last time, like Gibert-Jeune, a colossal University Bookstore of Paris, only better, of course. :) And I will go to Champion (the supermarket not the clothes shop) one last time, later today. It feels weird to be leaving already; last year I had so much time and there was absolutely no rush. Hmm.
It has been raining, no, monsooning, the past few nights, along with thunder and lightning. I wish it was a little nicer, it's no fun walking in the rain. Dancing, yes, but walking, nope. Of course I do have an umbrella, but I have forgotten it more often than not.
Oh. Yesterday evening we walked from the Place de la Concorde, past the Madeleine and to the Opera and the big department stores. They're still expensive, even with the fabulous sales. Really nice jewelry and I was very tempted. But alas, too frugal for my own good. Damn. After that we had dinner at the Frog and Princess. At last a real salad.
Friday, July 06, 2001
07/06/01: Last night we realized that we had a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower from our room! That is, it is lovely if one stands on a chair and looks over a big tree. But we can see enough to see the lights and the fun sparkly light show at nighttime. So pretty.
Mom arrived safely this morning. We are all going to go shopping and perhaps to a cemetary or two. The weather here has been questionable, lots of thunder and lightning, and rain.
Tomorrow is Saturday and will be our last full day here in Paris. Sunday morning we leave for Scotland. If we can get our Chunnel tickets, of course. They are in Paris somewhere, we just have to find them, in a matter of speaking. Not like a big game of Scavenger Hunt or something. That would be great fun, though. I should enjoy that. Our time in Paris has gone by surprisingly quickly, considering we haven't done anything of great consequence. But that just makes me all the more determined to return here and stay for as long as I can. Someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later, I'm impatient! Oh. My. God. The men. Italian men have a horrible reputation, so I thought things would be pretty bad there, worse than Paris last year. However, there really wasn't too many problems. Some random icky people saying ciao at you, but hey it could be worse, I hear in the South of Italy they'll grab you. Anyway, so yesterday afternoon I took myself to the Luxembourg Garden, to sit and write postcards and such, because it's quiet and very pretty. So I sat on a chair and began writing. I was there perhaps half an hour, maybe less. And in that time, no less than THREE gross men significantly older than me sat in the chair nearest me and began talking at me out of nowhere. There I sat, alone yes, but clearly occupied, not looking up or around and merely minding MY OWN FREAKIN BUSINESS, and these men took it upon themselves to strike up conversation out of thin air. Not much of a conversation, mind you, all three asked me the same questions. Where are you from? Why are you in Paris? How long have you been here? Do you like it? One asked my name, and I said, huh, no. Then he got a little testy, but hell what do I care. The first two left of their own accord, because yes I answered the questions they all asked but then promptly returned to the postcards, trying to show that I was not interested in talking and that I was otherwise employed. But they pressed on with the stupid questions! I chatted a little better with the third man, who was the oldest, but also the most polite and unrude. However, it had begun to rain so I got up to leave. The man, who I would guess was around sixty or so, asked what I was going to do, if I wanted to get something to drink. Oh, and all of these conversations took place in French, except for some of the middle guy because he was straight harrassing me. And this was creepy, some buddy of his was pacing around behind him as he shot stupid questions at me. Ew! What is up with these people? The interesting thing is that I believe all or most of these men were not actually French. Nor was the Rome guy Italian. All of these men were Arab and/or North African (ie, Caucasian). Last year the men that gave me trouble were all French-speaking African men. Apparently I have stages in which I attract clearly unwanted attention from different sorts of men. EW! Do I look that stupid, naive and gullible? I do my best not to smile at people to not give them mixed messages but they forge ahead anyway.
Okay. Trying to calm down. Breathe.
I still love Paris and I still want to live here. I love just walking around and seeing whatever is there to see. I like to shop here, especially with all the sales. I love the beauty of the city, with the buildings, churches, old stone streets, tree-lined boulevards, produce stands and lovely bakeries/pastry shops on every corner. What's not to love?
Thursday, July 05, 2001
07/05/01: Well so much for that. Tuesday, our plans did not go according to plan. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, which we should have had the sense to look up. We thought maybe we'd go see the Musee D'Orsay instead, but there was a huge line, so skipped that too. Decided not to go to Versailles yesterday.
It is Thursday now. Wednesday we did go to the Louvre. And I went shopping and got a cute new outfit if I ever decide to go out in the evening. Went to the Champs-Elysees just in time for a typical Parisian downpour, then went shopping and saw another movie. Tuesday night Sara and I saw Tomb Raider, and last night all three of us saw Return of the Mummy. Stacey, you were right, it was incredibly silly and implausible. But oh well. :) Today Maureen and Sara braved Versailles, and I met up with Kathleen from last year and her friend Marlow. We have walked around several districts, and though the gelato place was sadly not open, we did find some heavenly fruit sorbet. Tasty.
Oh, and the other day we went to Champion, the supermarket. I got lots of yummy food, and notably a melon. I was all excited to have melon again, and the next morning I cut it with a plastic knife, only to discover it was a plain old cantaloupe! I was terribly disappointed. Boo hoo.
Can't stay, gotta run. The girls are waiting for me. Mom arrives tomorrow morning!
Tuesday, July 03, 2001
07/03/01: Well here it is the first full day in Paris! Got a chocolate eclair this morning, you remember how I love those! And I'll get cookies and other goodies later at the store.
We went to Notre Dame this morning, not as early as planned but still pretty early. Apparently many things don't open before 10 am. Sadly, the towers are closed for two weeks starting yesterday! They're building a protective corridor or something, so no tower tour for us. Boohoo. But in any case, Notre Dame is magnificent. And ever cleaner. We are now at an internet cafe which has, wonder of wonders, american keyboards! Hallelujah! Gotta love that.
So let's see, it's still just the morning. We are planning a stop at the Louvre, and at Les Halles for some shopping. As some of you may remember, the entire city of Paris is ON SALE from the end of June to the middle of July. I'm all ready to spend some money! Tomorrow morning we will go to Versailles and get that 'out of the way,' so to speak. Other than that, we don't have too much planned just yet. I definitely want to go back to the Frog and Princess, but we may wait til Mum gets here on Friday so she can see it too. And then I can finally get a real salad. Yesterday we went out to dinner but all I had was a plate of frites, which, frankly, are getting rather boring. Time for some new food. Well, not really, but you know. I think I for one will be going to the Place des Vosges tomorrow, which I can't wait for. Also, we will attempt to secure free ice cream at the Champs-Elysees Ben and Jerry's store. We heard a rumor of this phenomenon last summer, so we're hoping it's still true. Plus maybe we'll see an American movie again too. There's a lot over here, Valentine is just coming out, and Tomb Raider, and even Crouching Tiger (which, obviously, is not american but whatever). I love seeing movies in English and reading the French subtitles. It's so educational! and fun!
Man, somehow this has gotten boring, hasn't it? And I promised everyone a better one than last year and now it's starting to be crap. I'm terribly sorry! I'll do what I can, but I have such a limited imagination, it's difficult to think outside the box.
Here's something interesting. On Sunday, in Venice, I just sat around various places reading, and of course there are pigeons absolutely everywhere. I was absently watching them bob around and all that, when I noticed that one of them was missing a foot! It was a one-footed pigeon! I never saw one of those before, nor did I imagine there were any. I found myself wondering about the life story of this little bird, and how it felt about not being a normal pigeon. Do you think the others disowned him, and he has to fend for himself, with his one foot and really short legs?
Monday, July 02, 2001
Last night I took the overnight train from Venice to Paris. I actually slept pretty well, and my body kept feeling as if in a train for an extra two hours, too. Interesting. So I got to the hotel at 9,30 and Maureen and Sara got here at noon. I led them on a short walk, and then we went to the ever-fabulous Gibert-Jeune and got stationery stuff, yay. I love new pens. Then I showed them Shakespeare and Co, and gawked at Notre Dame-so clean it practically sparkles-it is gorgeous. The other two are currently napping; jet lag sucks.
It`s so strange to be here again-I don`t feel like I never left, but I feel so at ease and comfortable. I keep forgetting I`m here and out of Italy. I also forget that we have a long time-nearly a week. No rush, there`s plenty of time for everything. Also strange to be not a lone traveler once more. I`ve had three distinctly different experiences so far: with mum in a tour group in greece, alone in italy, and now with relative-people in Paris. I do enjoy the independence of solitude, one has to constantly prove one`s mettle. I feel very proud for getting around Italy and doing so well, on my own. So we`ll see how I adapt. I think I move a lot faster than most people when traveling; this may be an issue.
Excited to get to a grocery store after all this time away to have my favorites--fresh bread; crepes; melon, etc. And you all get to hear about it again--bwa ha ha....
Saturday, June 30, 2001
06/30/01: Almost my last day. My night train to Paris leaves tomorrow evening, can't wait. This morning I went to the palazzo where Peggy Guggenheim used to live and where her modern art collection is on display. Some of it I actually liked. I've never really been able to get into modern art, most of it seems like BS to me. For example, there were three Pollock paintings, and I'm sorry, but that's just made-up crap, you know? There was a painting I liked that at first seemed to be just a bunch of colors and weird shapes, but when you looked a second longer, the shape of a bicycle and rider became visible. The colors were nice. Altogether a neat painting. I certainly have to admire these painters like Picasso and all the others who could take normal things and distort them so much but still make them recognizable, you know? That has to take some skill.
Walked around some more. I am enjoying Venice, it's a lovely place and ever so much calmer than Florence and especially Rome. Nice to not have to jump out of the way of crazy cars and mopeds. Plus, I don't feel bad about being completely lazy and unproductive, it seems like that's the way of Venice. In fact, the tourist hordes this morning went so slowly I could have slept on my feet.
Once again, had more chocolate gelato for lunch. Wish I could explain the heaven that is chocolate gelato. And, interestingly, raw green beans. Yum.
So this morning I lazed around and switched hotels. Kinda sucks lugging luggage all over the place every day. But that's okay, everything is nearby, so it's not that difficult. I followed the signs to the Ponte Rialto through a literal maze of little streets. They are much narrower than I am tall. But it's neat anyway. Lots of little shops hiding here and there, and restaurants of course. I love how there's water everywhere! I know, it's Venice, duh, but still, I had no idea what it would be like. It's easy to tell when you're near water though because it quite suddenly smells quite strongly of fish. But other than that, I enjoy it. So I made my way (shocked I didn't get lost!) to the Piazza San Marco. I had no idea it was like that! It reminded me of Orthodox churches, with all the gold and the five or six domes. It was lovely. Definitely unusual, and not your average Notre Dame. Also toured around the neighboring Palazzo Ducale. It had lots of paintings and things. Went through the prisons, too! Fascinating. The cells seem pretty big, but apparently there were six to ten men in each. And some of the doors were only three feet tall. Don't know what's with that, people couldn't have been that short! There was a wine bar in the central courtyard. Dry bread, soup, water and wine were the main dietary staples in the prison. Interesting!
I think I must go; I'm getting hungry and I want some ice cream. Yesterday for lunch I had some splendid chocolate gelato, yum. Today I'm thinking more of that.
Friday, June 29, 2001
In Florence, I walked around a bit. A lot, actually. It was tough. According to the internet, yesterday it was 33C. Ick. In the morning I went to the Accademia and saw the David and the Slaves by Michelangelo. David is so huge! I knew it was 12 or 14 or whatever feet tall, but wow, it's impressive. I liked it a lot. What else did I do? I swear I did a couple other things....I went to the Museo Nazionale at the Bargello, which had a lot of sculpture in it, like Donatello's David (with the dumb hat), and a couple more Michelangelo pieces. That guy really got around!
I got back in after the lockout, and just sat around the entire rest of the day. How fabulous is that? There's a terrace in the back of the hostel with a fountain featuring slightly smelly but oh so refreshing water to dip one's feet in. Sat around and talked with people from England and California and a fellow Seattleite. Later we all ended up at the Fiddler's Elbow, an Irish bar in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. It was fun. Oh, except for the Canadian who was literally no fun. But it was a good time, and we got back late, and I had an early train today, so I didn't get much sleep.
It's rainy and drizzly here but still warm. Had to go four or five places until I found a room in a small hotel. Haven't really explored or anything yet, I figured I would walk around and see what I saw. Obviously. But you know what I mean. Tomorrow morning I'm going to St Mark's, I'm looking forward to that. I enjoy these big cathedrals.
Not much else to say, I suppose. Heard an interesting non-joke yesterday that, since most of y'all never laugh at my jokes anyway, may want to hear. Anyway.
Wednesday, June 27, 2001
So today I joined the tourist pilgrimage around Florence (everyone I see is a tourist/backpacker), starting at the Uffizi, and ending at McDonald's. The Ponte Vecchio seems a little overrated to me, especially since all the shops lining it are jeweller's and thus nothing I can look at or afford. Went to the Duomo too, which is lovely on the outside, but rather bare on the inside, and not as light as some of the other churches. But nice anyhow. I went to some gardens, but I didn't stay long because I was tired and hot.
I successfully got a hostel bed for the next two nights, getting here at 6.45 am. Yuck. I think I'm gonna do not much of anything the rest of the evening so as to recuperate. I have to go, there's a line for the free internet. Woohoo, free!
Monday, June 25, 2001
So I got here and found the nearby hostel I wanted to stay at, and it was full, of course. Since I was short on patience and all sweaty and hot, I decided to spring for a hotel room. It's small, but it has a great view, surprisingly! It will be nice to have a room to myself and a decent bed, not to mention a real shower. The hostel in Rome was fine, but subpar to my 'standards of excellence,' ha ha. Tomorrow in the Early Morning Hours I shall try to find a cheaper place, be it hostel or hotel. I figure, why not treat myself? But I do want to meet new people.
Speaking of meeting new people, oh my god Kristin, I have to talk to you! Oh boy.
For some reason I have the fabulous luck to be in European cities when the local teams win football champions. Last Sunday, meaning EIGHT DAYS AGO, the Roma team won the championship (I think of Italy but I'm not sure). This Sunday, meaning yesterday, a full SEVEN DAYS AFTER THE EVENT, not only had there been continual chaos and general running-amok, not to mention lots of car-horn-honking this whole week, there was a huge gathering in the Circo Massimo, presumably to cap off the excitement. Thousands and thousands of people were there, to celebrate and yell, sing, cheer and otherwise make general noise for the players. It was MADNESS, I tell you. Remind me to never be a football fan, because then I will never be crazed like these Europeans.
Oh, so yesterday I was still in Rome, obviously, and looking forward to being in a new place. However, I realized that I was used to being there, that even though I was bored I had gotten to know my way around, not to mention see all the sights. Well, most of them. Did I tell y'all about my piazza tour? Did y'all know that there are a GOOD LOT of piazzas in Rome? Like, almost every other corner has a fountain or a big statue or obelisk of some sort? It's crazy. Very enjoyable and pretty, but nearly overkill.
I joined a walking tour of the Jewish ghetto and the Trastevere area yesterday afternoon. It was interesting and certainly educational; I am not very familiar with the history of Rome or any part of Italy, other than the obvious things like the Roman Empire and stuff. Duh. We went over the oldest bridge in Rome, which leads to Tiber Island. It was built in 63 BC and has not had to be rebuilt. A two thousand year old bridge! Imagine! In the square where the French Embassy is now (in a former Renaissance palazzo), there are giant bathtubs disguised as fountains. The rich family that lived there took the tubs from the nearby Baths of Caracalla, and had seats installed, and then mounted in the square so that the family people could sit there and be important and see all the goings-on. In a BATHTUB. Does this not strike you as terribly silly?
So yeah, I've got however long to be here in Florence, and so that I don't get bored, I decided to relax and spread things out. I haven't decided if I shall do something this afternoon and evening. I'd like to just sit around, but that gets boring pretty quick. Plus, the other day I got these nasty blisters on my toes that obviously make walking rather unpleasant. But maybe I'll go see the Ponte Vecchio, that's old, famous, and free. Oh, I need food. I think I'm getting malnourished or something. I haven't had much more than pears, yogurt, crackers and the occasional ice cream for the past five days and I think that's why I'm headachy and lethargic. I am drinking lots of water, though, which is nice.
Sunday, June 24, 2001
So it is Sunday and there really isn't much to do that's open. I caved and bought some used books at an english bookstore yesterday, so I plan to find a nice park (see? didn't use 'pretty') to sit and read for awhile. I leave tomorrow morning, so I'm going to buy my ticket today to make sure everything is set, and so that I can sleep a little later. I hope I don't oversleep! That would be bad.
Yesterday I toured the various piazzas around the via del Corso-there are five or six. It was interesting. Plus I had an interesting encounter with a guy. Interesting not in a good way, but at least it was in French. More on that later. Also went out with some Australians from the hostel and was at last validated for my Australian-accented 'no'. Hooray! Had some more ice cream too. Which is always good. I was hungry.
I don't have much time left, two minutes, so I guess I'll catch up with y'all in Florence! Ciao!
Friday, June 22, 2001
Back to last Saturday, almost a week ago now! Dang. After Epidavros, the bus took us to our hotels in Nafplion. Ours was on this bluff overlooking the sea (I would say which sea it was, but my guidebook, in various maps, gave three different names for it. So.), built into some ruins. The guy who built it was buddies with the Greek President of the time (something with a P, who was incidentally buddies with Nixon), and he (the President) passed a bill legalizing building inside archeological ruins. He undid the bill the next day. But this hotel lived up to the questionable history. We had a cottage-type room, on the bottom level (so no pesky neighbors in our sights), with a magnificent view of the sea, the harbor, and the town. It was so lovely! Sigh. We had to leave in the morning.
I think I covered Olympia and Delphi, right? And Olympia seemed smaller than I'd thought, but it was still neat. The columns of the temple of Zeus are still lying from when they presumably fell during an earthquake in the 5th century, they're in order and everything. They're huge. The altar of Hera is where they light the Olympic torch, but it's just a few stones in a sort of bench formation, so recently they started using a place next to it that has some columns around it, to make it look more interesting and probably more "ancient Greek". Did I get to Delphi, after all? Oh, I didn't. I was disappointed that the temple of Apollo is closed off. And its theatre was not nearly as good as Epidavros. The stadium was more interesting than the one at Olympia, there are bleacher seats instead of grassy knolls.
Oh! Wednesday, we stayed the extra day with the tour and went to the monasteries of Meteora. Wow. They're built right into these cliffs that rise from a huge plain, an ancient lake. We went to the big one, the Grand Meteora. Our guide, who was just fabulous, taught us about Orthodox churches, paintings, and dogma. It was very interesting. In the chapel at this monastery, outside the inner church is a room filled with portrayals (15th century frescoes) of Christians being all kinds of tortured. The monks use this as inspiration!
Okay, Rome. So it's Friday today, good god, only Friday still? Let me explain. For some reason, since getting here yesterday, I have been tired, achy, and cranky. It's difficult to be in a completely new city, alone. Rather depressing, actually, and so I am not really thrilled about being in Rome. I'm kinda indifferent, and I want to move on. But I'm here until Monday, and maybe I will go to Florence as planned, or maybe I'll do something else. Who knows, cause I feel almost bored. Isn't that pathetic? Yes, it is.
Anyway! Moving on! Pretending things are happy and spiffy! Which they sort of are, because it is neat to be here and seeing these things. I just wish I had more energy. And holy crap, I'm spending money like there's no tomorrow! I can't believe how much there is to buy or spend on. But really.
Yesterday, since it was only 2pm when I left here, I had to do something for the rest of the day. So I took the metro down to the Colosseum. Waited in hot sun for awhile, then finally got in and caved to buying one of those phone-looking audio guides, to help me spend time wisely. The floor of the place is pretty small, it seems that most of the space was for seating. Did you know that women were relegated to the highest and worst seats, the nosebleeding fifth section up? Interesting, eh? After that I wandered around the Roman Forum, for a bit. Like I said, I haven't felt very energetic or anything.
Today I took the metro to the southeast part of the city, and I did nothing there. Then I went up to the Spanish steps. They are pretty cool. Too many tourists, of course, but still impressive or something. I got some gelato at the McDonald's down the block-yum. Yes, I know, McDonald's. Why not? From there, I decided I had better get to the Vatican and St Peter's, it being almost the weekend. I got turned around and almost lost, it took awhile to find the Vatican museums. They were interesting, a lot of paintings or frescoes actually I suppose, and then got to the Sistine Chapel. Even though it was literally crawling with people, and those people were too noisy, it was pretty fabulous. The audioguide told me all about the various frescoes. Did you know that where Michelangelo's Last Judgment is, there had been two more windows that he had frescoed around? Some pope guy or something wanted a different thing there, so that had to be all covered up. Interesting. I wonder what it looked like then. Oh, and they recently finished the restorations, and the colors are incredible. It indeed looks like it would have looked freshly done, it's all shiny and glowy and marvelous. :) From there I found my way to the Egyptian exhibits, which were extensive. They had a female mummy on display, unwrapped. ! Her nails were really visible. She was so tiny! Only the head, feet and hands were out, but they were so little! I know most people were a lot shorter then (in 1000 BC!), but wow.
From there wound around to get to St Peter's Basilica. Holy cow is it huge! I had no idea it was so big inside. It just goes on forever. The altar is beautiful. People taking flash photos all over the place, which really detracted from the ambiance. And Michelangelo's Pieta, of course, was fabulous. Still more flash photos, of a glass wall for god's sake, stupid tourists. Buy the freakin' postcard and save the exposure and stupidity. Whew.
I climbed up the however-many stairs to get to the top of the cupola to look out over the city. At one point, both side walls slant inwards, which was really trippy! I get dizzy so easily anyway, that didn't help! After that I made my way back to the hostel. And I am tired, and my feet and legs hurt. Boo hoo. I have no idea what I'm going to do for two more entire days. Wah, help me!
Thursday, June 21, 2001
Saturday was the biggest day, actually, and I skipped that. We drove over the isthmus of Corinth and saw the canal, then drove down the Pelopponese and first visited the Ancient Mycenae site. The ruins were smaller than I thought they'd be, but fascinating nonetheless. That's where the famous Lion's Gate is, and the whole thing dates from before the '12th century BC. Can you believe that? I have a hard time getting that through my head--several thousand years ago! The so-called Mask of Agamemnon was found here by that phony Heinrich Schliemann, but it's too early to be really Agamemnon. His brother was Menelaus, away from whom the infamous Helen ran away with prince Paris. The two Mycenaens then began the Trojan War, after, of course, the wind didn't blow for two years and the daugher Iphigenia was sacrificed to the gods. (Actually, I have heard conflicthing accounts as to whether she was actually sacrificed or saved at the last moment by the warrior Achilles.) Plus, the view from the acropolis that the ruins are on is amazing-a large valley and mountains all around. Greece is second only to Norway in most mountainous European nation--25% of the country is covered with mountains. We drove up and around some of them on the two-story tour bus, which was an adventure in itself!
So Mycenae was really interesting. Plus, to get to the top of the ruins, one must clamber up a rather slippery marble slope. But I made it, even though my sandals don't have much traction to speak of.
After Mycenae, we drove through Nafplion to the ruins of the sanctuary at Epidavros. It was a hospital founded by Asclepius thousands of years ago, I don't remember when. The theatre is the best preserved part of the site, because it had been buried under mounds of earth. The acoustics are astounding. The middle of the circular orchestra has an altar to Bacchus, and when you stand on it, your voice sounds as if you have a microphone in front of you. It's amazing. The theatre seats between 14 and 17,000, so you can imagine what it must have been like. I wish I could see a production at an ancient theatre like that, I'd probably hear it better than anything else! I have to go, my time is almost up. I will keep going very soon.
Sunday, June 17, 2001
So it's Sunday now. Day five I think. Currently we are in the town of Olympia. This afternoon we visited the museum and the ruins of the ancient Olympic site. It was really interesting! I love all this ancient history, and the sculpture is amazing. Yesterday we went several places, and stayed the night in Nafplion, in a gorgeous hotel built into ruins on a cliff overlooking the sea. It was so fabulous and incredible. I really wanted to just move in and stay forever, looking at the town spread below us. Sigh.
I still can't believe I'm in Greece. Greece! At last. I am loving it. I wish I had more time to visit more of the country. Alas, I'll be moving on soon. As much as I loathe "tourists" and being stuck in that category myself, it's certainly convenient. We've seen a lot of things in just two days. Mostly of parts of the Pelopponese. And the guide is great. Hidden bonus: this tour is in both English and French! Go figure. So not only do I get to learn stuff, I can listen to French. Of course, then I try to speak it and remember that I am in Greece. Today I learned to say "good morning" (kalli mera). I am able to sound out most of the words, which is fun. I wish I understood some of them! Maybe later.
I can't wait to show you all pictures and things. Ask me about the art on postcard stands. Especially you, Kristin. I'll give it away by proclaiming it "interesting." Ha.
Anyway, must run. The one street of Olympia is probably shutting down soon. Do write more, I enjoy hearing from everyone, even if I can't write back just yet. This country is amazing! And my trip has "only just begun."
Friday, June 15, 2001
Thursday night we flew to Athens, arriving at about 4.15 AM, local time (ten hours ahead of PST) today, Friday. A driver met us at the airport and drove us to the Hotel Oscar Inn, in the Omonia district. Oh, and Mom's bags somehow got sent to Copenhagen, boo hoo. I could't sleep when we got here, and I wanted to get an early start exploring. So I organized my stuff and finally got a shower and all that. Mom was not happy because I was waking her up or something. Whatever!A little later in the morning (my god, I can't believe that was just today! crazy), she finally agreed to get up and go with me on my expedition. So we walked through town a little bit and wound around the long way to get to the Ancient Agora, then climbing up to the Acropolis and the lovely, wonderful Parthenon. I still can't believe I'm actually in Athens! I was at the Parthenon! I've been waiting so long for this. Anyway, it was lovely up there, despite the construction and the ever-growing crowds of tourist groups. The sun shone brightly, and there was a refreshing breeze. I was surprised; in pictures the Parthenon always looked white, but of course it's not, it's kind of a marbly beige-type color. The view of Athens from the Acropolis is amazing. It spreads out everywhere, into all the corners that you can see. Four million people live here. The traffic is indeed crazy and insane and everywhere. It's sorta fun walking around, navigating the cars and shops and people. We passed a market area this morning, fish on one side, nuts and more fish and meat on the other. We bought some fruit and bread for our meal; after three days of business-class airplane food (pretty darn impressive stuff!), we don't need much!
So we had a busy, long day. And we were back in the hotel by noon! Strange. Anyway, then I proceeded to sleep until 8.00 tonight. Ha! I hope I can get some sleep tonight. Tomorrow morning we meet up with a tour group. I'm very apprehensive of being an actual tourist, but I suppose it is the best way to see a lot of things quickly, and to learn something about them.
I have decided that I really need to live in Paris. Not only will that be fabulous in itself, but I can visit London as much as I want. I also now know that after Paris, I'm living in Greece. Except probably not, because I know absolutely nothing of the Greek language, and I hate that. Actually, when we took the metro (very nice and clean and new! like a cleaner version of the Paris metro) on the way back today, I helped a French couple figure out where to go. French keeps popping into my head, because I'm in a foreign country and apparently French is my default foreign language. I'm weird.
So I'll just say again, I love this! Athens is really neat-o, and I'm so thrilled to be here! I'm looking forward to seeing other parts of Greece too. So write me, y'all! I want to hear from you people. I don't know how many internet cafe's I'll find in the next two weeks, so write soon!