It’s the long-awaited finale to my photos from the trip to Rome, Italy I took two summers ago! I thought to myself the other day “hey, did I ever finish that Rome travel series of posts?”, checked the blog, and no, I had not. There was one more to go. So here we are, a full year and a half into my COVID lockdown life, unsure when I’ll venture out on international travels again, looking at photos of Rome. I don’t recall much about this day, but remembering what little I do feels so odd now. Like when I watch a YouTube vlog that I don’t realize was pre-COVID, and I have an automatic reaction at so many crowds gathering unmasked. How odd that it once was that I never thought twice about all this and plowed through crowds fearlessly to get the best view of an old pretty thing.
This was the Borghese Gallery, and they didn’t allow photography inside. But holy shit, this was a good art museum. Like, top three I’ve ever been in. Maybe even top one?! The paintings and sculptures are all beautiful, but the interiors are similarly gorgeous – marble, cornices, the works. I have no better words to describe this other than: holy shit, so fucking good, I’m dying to go again.
One more thing I’ll say before we leave for the gardens – the café staff were quite rude here. I made a mistake in my Italian when ordering and the guy helping me laughed, turned around and said something to his coworkers, and then they all laughed. I hope now that I was reading into it, but I think based on context, tone, and body language, they were laughing at me. And it was pretty shitty! That’s the last commentary I’ll leave in this post – we walked around the park after, all the way back to Piazza del Popolo and then to our hotel near The Pantheon.
We are in the midst of a global pandemic and that means I have a little more time at home than I expected to have. I’m editing photos from last summer’s trip to Italy, thinking about what they’re going through there and here and everywhere and wanting to kind of sort of completely burst into tears, and waiting for shit to hit the fan even more here in the U.S. It’s not a great time, as I’m sure y’all know. I didn’t know if I should keep puttering away here while things are crazy outside, but 1) no one reads this blog anyway and 2) it seems like nice things are nice during good times and bad, so I don’t think I should stop doing them. OK, we’re done with the guilty introduction to this post – let me tell you about my favorite day I spent in Rome.
I started off at the Trevi Fountain, this time during the day and packed with people. A bit, uh, awful if I’m to be honest. Crowds and the heat are the worst way to explore.
Would like to highlight this funny looking car!!! What a hoot!
I followed the Rick Steves Europe app tour (my source for all the fun facts I’ll spout) to the opening of an ancient aqueduct, the same one that still feeds the Trevi Fountain. Although the Acqua Vergine was blocked by a grate, it was still cool to see and think about all those old timey Romans getting water from the same place they’re using today. You ever think about how funny time is and how weird it is that we’re here and there were people here before us and things are so different and yet similar all at once? You guys, I’m not even high when I think these things.
The Column of Immaculate Conception, made to advance the doctrine of Immaculate Conception from the Catholic Church in the 1850s, is the idea that Jesus was born without sin and so was his mother Mary. She stands in front of the Palace of the Propagation of Faith, aka the Church’s PR department, which has a yellow flag indicating it’s still owned by the Vatican.
The Spanish Steps are named so because the Spanish Embassy is in this square! Rome needs double the embassies of any other city, because each country needs two embassies here – one for Italy, and one for the Vatican. The one here is the Spanish Embassy for the Vatican. Anyway, beautiful of course, and roasting and crowded with people. I sat in the shade for a bit and people watched while I tried to ignore how sweaty I was from walking here.
This orange building has a sign between its windows that says John Keats died here of tuberculosis. He was 25! Jeez.
This Sinking Boat Fountain is fed from the same aqueduct we saw earlier! And it was built by either Bernini or his dad (so, the Bernini we all know, or the less famous one that gave the dude his surname.
Happy almost New Year! Here are some more photos from my trip to Rome in uh July! Today is the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It was incredibly hot and I was tired and grumpy as a result.
We were so confused about tickets. So, so confused. I was really tired this day and it was really hot and we walked alllll the way from our hotel to the Colosseum and my travel companion and I are not bosom friends who can spend upwards of 72 hours together and have me still feel :]. All this to say, I almost cried when we ran into ticket trouble on top of all my other feelings. It’s always like that, huh? Depression? A bunch of things go a bit off and if your headspace is in a depressed hole at that time, it’s only a matter of time before one of those things pushes you to burst into tears! These posts about Rome have been colored by my depression during that time, and while I was there I felt so guilty for feeling depressed amidst all the beauty and privilege of travel. I still feel kinda guilty about it but I’m trying to remind myself that it’s OK to feel whatever I’m feeling and let it just pass through me, instead of feeling bad and then feeling bad about feeling bad on top of it all.
OK let’s get back to the Rome stuff!! This is the Arch of Titus, the sort of entrance point to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It was built after the Romans won their war against Judaea (present-day Israel, I think?) in AD 70 and so, uh, it was built by the Jewish slaves who were captured by the Romans. How awful, right? Your people lose the war and you all get captured and then you have to build an arch depicting that victory with all your enemies carrying off menorahs and slaves aka you?? Jeez. Caring about people really ruins how pretty some fancy old things look.
You think this woman’s saying “Look! It’s the Roman army carrying off a menorah! This is when the Jewish Diaspora was created because they no longer had a home!”?
The Basilica of Constantine, now. These arches are the side niches of the old basilica, so originally this place would have been fucking massive with a statue of Emperor Constantine on a throne at one end. His finger would have been as big as a human!! Lordy lord. I’m imagining an ancient Roman style Grand Central Station from NYC lol, because I think that’s the biggest rectangular building I’ve been in where I felt like whoa. I imagine that’s what this would feel like in its proper glory.
Some kind of temporary exhibition that I no longer recall the details of due to this being several months ago.
What time better than midterm season to look back at my time in Rome, eh? We start in the Pantheon, which is actually unreal. Even with all the people there, like the Chinese couple I saw using it as an opportunity for a photoshoot (I am srs, this man had a huge variety of intense camera lenses and the woman had multiple scarves to do outfit changes as she posed it up), it is ~breathtaking~. Very much one of those buildings that you see in person and stop in your tracks and go, I understand what the postcards are about! Shit!
There are lots of fun facts that I learned from the audio tour on the Rick Steves in Europe app, but I have forgotten them. I do remember that this altar has changed according to the dominant religious and theological views of the time. Now, it’s Jesus and a Catholic cross, but back in the earliest days it was for Jupiter, the Ancient Roman god.
I always wonder what the people who work gift shop and custodial and everyday kinda jobs at these fancy tourist spots think about. To them, are we just fools gawking at their everyday background? Do they ever stop to look up and gawk themselves?
This is Rafael’s tomb! I was reading the little plaque about him and thinking about his life and work and getting all in my feelings and started to tear up… and then I heard a conversation behind me between a couple Americans that went something like –
Mom: Look, Rafael is buried here! The man the ninja turtle is named after!
Son: Oh my god. Wait. RAFAEL IS DEAD?!?
– and then I was snapped out of my feelings and had to stifle laughter. Americans deserve our reputation for being horrible guests in other countries.
OK out now! The square in front of the Pantheon is so busy all the time and it still blows my mind how so much modern life just happens in and around ancient buildings.
Our hotel walls were painted to appeal to hapless tourists like us.
I did the first half of the Rick Steves’ audio tour on his app today, starting at the Campo de’ Fiori. During the day it’s kind of like a farmer’s market vibe, but I get the impression a lot of the vendors just target tourists rather than it being a place for actual Romans to shop. One of the guys selling cabbages yelled “Konichiwa” at me which was a surprisingly racist start to my day.
Loved this show of EU solidarity!
The center of this square has a statue of a monk called Bruno, an outspoken Dominican priest who ended up getting kicked out of Italy, the Calvinists, the UK, the Lutherans in Germany, before finally getting burned right here by the Inquisition. Chilling, right?
I spent a little over a week in Rome this June with my dad – here are the photos!
We stayed in a hotel right next to the Pantheon, so it was a really good distance from touristy attractions. This was my first time in Italy/Rome; it felt a little surprising, in that it’s not a location that I’ve seen a lot of or thought a lot of so I didn’t have that many preconceived expectations about it. Anyway, Rome is a city with a orange/red/yellow and green color palette. The younger people all look like they’re fun at pubs and pool parties. The older people look like that too. And I’m into it all. So now I’m head over heels for both France and Italy.
I started this day wandering around semi-aimlessly by myself. My dad was doing work at the university, so I set out to meet him but took my time to look at whatever caught my eye. I wasn’t very on top of planning/researching, so I’m afraid I didn’t know what a lot of things were until later in the evening when I looked them up. This is the Capitoline Museum, which I reached after crossing a terrifying roundabout.
The Vittoriano, or Altar of the Fatherland, is for Italy’s first king, Victor Emmanuel II. The Capitoline Museum is behind it, but this huge marble edifice is what originally caught my eye and set me started on a path through an intense roundabout and a huge flight of stairs in the heat.
I so enjoy walking around by myself in a city – it’s freeing and fun, to think of nothing but what you want to do in a city where no one knows your name and you don’t know much either.
Now the evening! The Pantheon was literally a one minute walk from our hotel and, I mean, how wild to have slept next to this building for a week. To think about how much life this building has witnessed is entirely mind-boggling; from marriages to religious services for the Roman gods at first to the Catholic church it is today to modern-day tourists like me to travelers passing through ancient Rome to locals using it as a meeting point for drinks after work, it’s been there for all of it.
This is the second part of this post, where we go to Santa Monica, UC San Diego, and then I go to UCLA without my parents to stay with my friend for a few days. First up, the beach!
I don’t have a ton to say about the beach, because all we really did was walk around for a bit. So here are photos of said walking around!
It’s weird to think that in a month I’ll be living closer to Santa Monica than to “home”. It’s weird to think that “home” might change soon.
In this one corner there were SO! MANY! BABY! SQUIRRELS! Please now enjoy a detour into amateur wildlife photography with me because they were SO small and SO cute and I COULD NOT BELIEVE HOW CLOSE THEY WERE TO ME.
This June I went to Rome/Italy for the first time! I’m a big fan of pasta and art, so Rome is a good place for a tourist with these interests.
I went with my dad, who had a work conference, and that was a. lot. of time to spend with him. And I didn’t super understand what having only him as proper social contact for 24 hours a day for 10 days would do to my mental state!! Short-sighted on my part, seeing as I try to avoid my parents normally, but we live and we learn. As a result of this miscalculation + the stress of traveling, I felt pretty depressed for a few days over this trip and it was really scary! One of the biggest giveaways of my depression flaring up into a bad spot is when I lose my appetite completely; I enjoy eating for fun and regularly melodramatically whine about how I’m absolutely starving and must eat something right this second or else wither away into nothingness, will somebody please bring me some chips!!!!! When I’m depressed, I lose my desire to eat completely. It’s really weird and I don’t know how it works, but when that happens I can easily not eat for, like, 12 hours with nary a tum grumble at all. So that happened in Italy, which was scary and made me feel really guilty for getting to travel to such an amazing place and then not wanting to get out of bed at all.
That said, what a time it was. The art was beautiful, the architecture was beautiful, the people were too, and I’m already mentally planning a trip back for myself – maybe not in the middle of summer when it’s roasting hot. We hit all the main tourist attractions while we were there, so ideally next time I’ll get to spend a lot more time looking at art in museums and galleries.
These are some photos from my phone, but I’ll pull together some DSLR pictures for a post! Hopefully sooner rather than later, but that’s a battle I’ve already lost lol.
And lastly, a page of doodles in the back of my Passion Planner of things I saw a lot of there. It’s funny (in the interesting funny sort of way, not the interesting haha sort of way) to see the smaller, everyday things that are so different from place to place. I think that’s why I like going to grocery stores when I travel so much lol – it really shows how people live, in a way that I think you would miss if you just went to the major tourist attractions and nowhere else.
Eddy de Pretto’s Random performance on Colors: I’ve been listening to this YouTube video on repeat, and I do not mean that in a hyperbolic way. I mean that I have actually been rewinding the YouTube video (the actual song recording on Spotify just doesn’t sound as good to me?) over and over again while I cross stitch or edit photos or reply to emails or whatever. I have no idea what he’s saying parçe que je parle no bien français, but this is really good. I dig his monk going bowling look, too.
New phone: This month I got a new phone! I had the iPhone 6 and now have the XS. It’s very nice to have a phone that doesn’t crash apps all the time and act very slow, as well as to be able to take portrait photos of my cat lol. I think this might be the last iPhone I get because of pricing/functionality/very obviously planned obsolescence.
Stardew Valley: Like any young child who disliked violence in video games and enjoyed games where the goal is to befriend people and chickens, I loved Harvest Moon. I played it a lot and had a notebook that I kept notes in, featuring illustrations of townspeople and their favorite things. (I married Ellie, in case you were wondering, and in the Nintendo DS version where I played as a girl, I married no one because I thought all the eligible male bachelors were ugly. Ten-year-old me had high standards, apparently.) My bf told me about Stardew Valley by describing it as “a better and bigger Harvest Moon”, I downloaded it on my phone (the only time I’ve ever bought an app with my own money), and now I’m obsessed. It’s just like Harvest Moon but better and bigger and I’m amazed that one person made it all, from the character design to the music to the coding and technical stuff. The game is basically a farming simulator, where you play a person who has inherited a farm and now must make a life for yourself in Stardew Valley. You farm crops, you raise animals, you mine gems in caves, you fish, you befriend villagers, you marry someone, YOU HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE. I think this is a game for people who enjoy games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, where you don’t shoot anyone or steal any cars – you just give your neighbors cookies and hug your goats everyday.
3. not favoritez
Shopping for sunglasses: I’m Chinese, and one of the facial features people with my ethnic background tend to have is a very low nose bridge. This makes it difficult for glasses to stay up on my face. In turn, this makes it very difficult for me because I need glasses to see. I want to get prescription sunglasses because 1) I live in sunny California and 2) I don’t like contact lenses, and it’s been hard finding nice sunglasses that look good and don’t fall off my face immediately. It’s 2019, y’all! Why aren’t there more options for me!? Gentle Monster is cool and all but I don’t have that kind of money!!
What I’ve learned implicitly from family: I’ve been realizing a lot of beliefs I have are pretty dang harmful to me, my mental health, and my ability to live and be cool and fine. Those beliefs had to have come from somewhere, and a lot of them come from my parents and how they raised me! Whether intentionally or not, I’ve taken on a lot of things, and this month I realized I think affection/love is tied to achievement/success (and this is part of why I’m terrified of failure bc it equals being alone and uncared for 4evr). Fun fun funnnn. This video on manipulative parents made me :/, but (not to get all emo or anything) I think it’s better to become aware of these things so I can excavate these shitty beliefs from my mind and grow better.
4. camera roll
Another UC meme, lol.
Rose, bud, thorn via Cupcakes & Cashmere: I hate small talk and like to squirrel away questions to ask people to force them to open up to me, so I thought this was a good one. The idea is you go over a positive thing currently going great (rose), something with the potential to grow (bud), and a struggle or negative you’re going through (thorn). I really like this one, so I hope I remember it next time I’m catching up with someone.
Officine Universelle Buly 1803: A beautiful store’s Instagram I discovered via Lorna Luxe‘s Instagram, filled with things that would be so cool to get or give as gifts. All madly out of my price range, of course!
A Stardew Valley comic that made me actually laugh out loud.
Annamarie Tendler Mulaney’s interview with Nylon: Talking about women by mentioning their husbands first is something I dislike doing, but I discovered Annamarie via her husband John (the comedian, the skinny white guy that wears suits on stage) and this article via his Instagram, so I’m afraid I will here. On this picture, his caption reads ‘As I once said to [Annamarie] “you are an art project that is always evolving”‘ and that is when I melted. What a lovely way to view one’s life, right? Her many artistic ventures from makeup to lampshades to embroidery to looking cool as fuck are so cool to be able to watch. And that sentiment of being a constantly evolving art project is something I hope to keep with me instead of freaking out about how I don’t have everything planned out perfectly.
5. goal recap
Repaired my necklace that I wear everyday
Started investing (opened a Roth IRA! HOW ADULT)
Registered for orientation at UCLA
THE NOT SO GOOD
Find new sunglasses
Do a whole lot of cleaning/decluttering
Finish my LA post for WordPress on time (not that there is an on time, but it’s been like 2 months lol)
Sent my transcripts for UCLA late (snail mail takes a while, who knew!)
Remembered things I did/didn’t do this month tbh
That’s all I’ve got for June! I can’t believe we’re already a good week into July. Next month I’ll have my UCLA orientation, and the month after that I’ll be moved in there – so weird to think about. I hope your summers are going well and that you’re taking good care of yourselves ~
At the end of May I drove down to LA with my parents to visit UCLA, my future school. I took some photos, I want to talk about them, we all know how blogs work. We did a tour led by one of those backwards walking student guides, met up with some of my dad’s friends from college who live in the area, and I dealt with some intense impostor syndrome.
I’m always into a blue and orange combination. And I really liked the “adventure starts here” lettering!
UCLA has a gorgeous campus. It is green and sunny and feels like California in all the best ways. It makes me want to post on my studyblr more and be a Cool College Gal laying on the grassy lawn reading smart books. It also kind of makes me want to have an anxiety attack on the bathroom floor. During our tour I felt intensely insecure about my place there and scared of myself, scared of failure, scared of my ability to self-sabotage so that I fail, and eventually I realized that I live with fear at the top of my mind and that’s something that I want to get rid of. It feels maddeningly simple now but when I thought about it then I was like “my god, is this what Kylie Jenner talked about when she said realizing things?”. I don’t think I’d ever fully grasped how much I live with fear and how much I think in a fearful way – and from that, how much I want that to stop now. So, that’s where I’m at now in regards to this Big Life Move Thing, and I’m trying my darnedest to keep hope and belief strung throughout my brain despite my worst instincts.
It was almost the end of the quarter when we went, so we saw lots of people doing graduation photo shoots and flinging confetti in the air (only to later land on the ground and remain for who knows how long).
This building is Royce Hall and is on the cover of all the brochures and websites and shit that gets trotted out to potential students. This building is also one I had a stress dream about, involving me showing up to class here and being turned away. It’s impossible that my dream will actually occur, in part because I was accepted god damn it, but also because I think this building is only really used for fancy purposes, not classes.
We are almost done! Truth be told, I’ve been a bit sick recently so stuck at home with time to edit photos and whatnot lol. Today we’re going to Lijiang (丽江), a city in the northwest of Yunnan province, to look at the historic Old Town area. Like any good day, we start with a couple bags of chips in the car.
We had a meal (lunch? Breakfast? How do I remember timelines almost a year afterwards?) at this place on the side of the freeway, where we had chicken soup. I wish I could tell you more about it because it was delicious and there was some kind of special method for cooking it but, alas, memory does not serve me as well as it did in my youth.
A China Mobile shop near our hotel! The Naxi ethnic minority lives in this area, so you can see their language on a lot of signs – like here, the smaller characters underneath the Chinese 手机 words show the Naxi language translation.
And here we are at the Old Town – my uncle works in the tourism industry, and this city is a really big spot for tourists (mostly Han Chinese, not international, I think) after having been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Frogs, according to my uncle our tour guide, are important to the Naxi people because they’re…resilient and strong? Do not remember, pls take all info with several hundred grains of salt.
My brother and I tried bubble waffles for the first time here! When we were in London, there was a bubble waffle place on the corner of Chinatown that we would always pass and think about going into but never did because of the huge lines that were always there. So we are late to the trendy food party and it is indeed fun to eat, and fluffier than regular waffles.
We walked around Old Town going in and out of buildings and shops. These are some signs showing the Naxi language, which a nice old man started explaining to my dad and I.
You can’t super see, but this picture on the right has one of those stone lions that sit outside buildings and there is a BABY LION BREASTFEEDING. This is the interior decor of my dreams.