Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Evening in Ostia

This airport stinks and now that I've got my partner in crime let's get outta here. With Christy's bits of Italian we find the right bus and head towards of hostel outside the city in a town called Ostia.

On the bus ride we giggle sleepily with the realization and thrill that we are, in fact, in Italy. I believe at one point the overwhelming excitement and exhaustion causehe non-sequitor gasp of, "We're in Italy! Look there's corn!" to escape from Christy's mouth. Yes we were in Italy and yes indeed there was corn; it became a war-cry of excitement and approval for the rest of the trip, "hee hee hee. We're in Italy!" "Yep! Look there's corn." (Insert sleep deprivation level of humor here.)

At some point in this blur of the sandman's spell and excitement for the adventure that lay ahead we changed buses. The flavor of Italy was all around us and the soundtrack was....was...

was Eminem??? A few young guys on the bus were rockin' out to Eminem. We tried to capture this contrast: the Italian men and women on the bus, the architecture, the graffiti, the tiny cars, and the misplaced soundtrack on video but as soon as the camera came out one of the young men leaned in, put his arm around and me posed with a big smile for the camera. We had no choice but to capture this to on film (or memory card...whatever). As we were exiting and trying to conceal our smiles, the young man shouts after us with what seemed to be a very thought-throw and enthusiastic "bye" in his adorable Italian accent.
And just a side note here: Italian men LOVE Christy. I think our first few hours in Italy she was given 3 phone numbers. We had men stop dead in their tracks and chase after us just for a chance to speak with her. (Many didn't speak English but certainly kept trying in order to get to know this mysterious beauty from the west.) I got absolutely no attention whatsoever. I know many of you think I'm lying-but ask Christy, she'll confirm. I was invisible in the shadow of her her Italian tractor beam. Many of them looked at me only long enough to let me know they wished I was gone. Most didn't even bother with that.

We arrive at the Litus Hostel in Ostia, Italy and check in to our room. We spent a few extra $ and got a private room. This place is Posh. At least for a hostel and compared to many discount hotels. There are large, french doors I'd guess you'd call them (hee hee french doors in itally. hee hee hee), with huge shudders that open up and look right out on the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Oh yeah. This is gonna work out juuuuuuuuust fine.

We decide to grab some grub (if you can even call such heavenly bliss such a thing). We head out along the beach and look for a restaurant but are delayed and distracted by what I shall forever consider in my heart and mind, "the colors of Italy". I'm literally talking about colors. They're unbelievable! Everything is saturated in shades and depth we can't even imagine here. The blues! The purple-blues! The oranges! The so many different shades of seemingly white, whites! So thick in pigment and rich vividity (vividness?)! I'm sure a new and previously unused portion of my brain needed to be accessed to experience those colors!

After a photographing session of the city and sea we decide on a restaurant and get our socks rocked. I was seated so that I was looking at the piano player (SCORE! Live music), who hammed it up and winked us whenever we caught his eye, and the sea. Christy was facing the entrance of the restaurant and snickered several times informing me that all of the male wait staff were hovering near a doorway and watching us (well, her). I quite enjoyed my view though, too.

A picture of us, both very tired, giddy, and ready to eat, if we don't fall asleep before the food arrives.

When dinner arrived we were both literally blown away by our dishes. I still dream of mine and have been in search of yellow saffron ever since. She had some delicious something with like vodka-type sauce I think...I don't was good....but I was too completely enamoured with my lemon-saffron linguini to focus on hers (which she seemed to be enjoying equally as much as I). Changed my life that pasta did. CHANGED MY LIFE. (Again previously unaccessed portion of the taste section in my brain. MMmmmmmmmmmmmmm!) Photos depict actual reactions to the first bite.

On our way home, Christy picks up another phone number as we walk back to the hostel. I'm pretty tired at this point but in good spirits. When we reach the hostel they inform us that they are playing Gladiator in the theater room. MAN! I've never seen it and what a perfect setting to see it in. However, I decide it's more important to be awake for Rome than to watch a movie.

Yet another guy who stopped us (by us, I mean Christy) and insisted on making sure Christy had his number.

And we head to bed. I'm out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Went to Rome Today

So, my friend Christy Warnick (link to her blog with better pics and details of the trip, who insidentally is the first person I really met when I first moved to the bay area in January.
(I met her at church and she was more than willing to tell me where all the best hiking and running trails were. In fact, we jumped in her jeep after church and she took me to all of them-what a cool girl! I also found out that she used to work on cruise ships with the twin sister of a guy I was dating [in Texas] at the time.) Some people are just supposed to meet I guess.

Anyway, so my friend Christy Warnick went to the UK for vacation. The whole thing had been planned months in advance. She gets to Scotland and the girl who is supposed to travel with her bails. She's jet-lagged and can't sleep; it's some ridiculous hour in the morning there. It's like 9 or 10pm here. We chat for a few minutes on facebook and she tells me her predicament. My response is, "you want me to come meet you some where?" Her response, "You know if most people were to say that I wouldn't think much about it but with you, I know you're serious. I've never been to Rome and always wanted to go."
Great! In all of Europe, Italy is the one place I've always wanted to go. 6am (her time) comes, sleep and travel frustrations build, she decides to get some sleep and will call me when she wakes up.

2:30 am: my phone wakes me up. It's a go. I find a beautifully cheap flight to Rome, book it, pack and fly out 4 hours later.

On the plane I met two brothers Mike and Walter, originally from Italy, now in Philadelphia (Mike owns a gift shop, the one right across from the liberty bell if you're ever in need of a Philly souvenier hook up), who are headed to Eastern Italy for a cousin's wedding and I'm invited. HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?! To experience Italy via Italian wedding style! If only I could get ahold of Christy and if only we had more time. Alas, you can't win 'em all but still I'd really liked to have won this one....but turns out I wouldn't have traded the trip I ended up with either. The answer is simple. I just need to spend more time in Italy.

16 hours later I arrive in Italy, 8am local time. Christy's flight doesn't come in until 4pm and I am kaput! I've got time to kill and desparately need some sleep. I scour the airport for a crash pad. Apparently I'm really good at finding good places to sleep in airports cause at one point I was awoken by homeless man poking my side repeatedly. I was in his spot. At first I just grunted, turned and closed my eyes. I could take him and it was the only row of chairs in the airport that didn't have armrests between the seats, but the poking persisted. FINE. GRRRR.

At this point I realized it's probably better to move since many homeless people have underlying mental disorders (which noramlly don't bother me as I see them in a clinical setting and they feel more safe but can act out irrationally and unpredicatably when not in a "safe place" or feel threatened, not to mention the very slow processing of my brain as to what sorts of stuff I was most likely laying IN if this was his regular spot.

4pm comes, and goes, so does 5pm. Her flight finally arrives somewhere closer to 6pm. We see each other and just smirk with exhaustion, relief and mischief. We did it, as silly and possibly stupid as it was, we had planned that morning and met the next evening in Rome, Italy. And what a miraculously wonderful time it turned out to be.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I think I'll go to Rome today.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I got nothin'

Yesterday I completed the last shift of my assignment at Children's Hospital and Research Center of Oakland. I was pleasantly surprised by all of the hugs and well-wishes I received as well as the multiple requests to stay on/come back as a staff nurse. These included an invitation and inpromptu interview from a couple of managers on the Hem/Onc floor, which is my favorite population of people to work with.

Right now the world is wide open (aside from the offer from the Hem/Onc floor to come back-I wish they could have at least waited until Monday to request me to take a position there :o)-I have no immediate offers/plans, which I love). I have no job (but the peace of knowing one might be easily obtained with some effort and enough of a cushion that the immediate need for one is not pressing) and other than a pressing engagement with friends to go blues dancing tonight and a hike in the works for tomorrow, I. ... got. ...nothin'. ...

I take better care of myself when I have options. When I feel like I have nothing I have to do I absolutely accomplish more, make better decisions, and live a more productive life than when I have fewer options.

I started my morning today perfectly...woke up, said my prayers-thanked God for the day and the possibilities His world contains- read a novel while the sun was peaking through my blinds... When the sun had just barely finished showing it's full face I moved into the almost warm outside while I nibbled breakfast at the outdoor table and smelled the fresh cut grass, listening to birds. I then had a short phone conversation with a few details about the job here in Oakland and have spent the last little bit downloading Josh Ritter and Johnny Cash songs while occassionally chatting with good friends online.

All that being said, I'm allowing myself a few days of lazy thoughts (meaning no deep thinking and deciding-thoughts can come and go as they please, thus allowing me to ponder options if they so wander through, without me feeling the need to make them dwell or finish them out). I will enjoy these moments whole-heartly while they last- sincerely, naturally, taking better care of myself and making better decisions next few days without force or compulsion.

p.s. I'm still in my pajamas, complete with motorcycle slippers and a smile.