Travel

rome 🇮🇹 the trevi, spanish steps, and more picturesque wandering about

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.

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Personal

march | 2020

1 – welp

Anyone reading this right now probably knows that everything is shit, but it still bears mentioning. So uh, we’re obviously in the midst of a global pandemic right now. That means I’m back home with my family in northern California instead of in my LA college apartment, and it feels bonkers to think about what I started this month doing and feeling versus how I’m ending. At the beginning of March I went to my friend’s theatre show, a dinner with twelve strangers (a cool UCLA alumni event where I had tortellini the size of my fist it was great), voted in our state’s primary election, finished my tours training, ate Korean BBQ and spent legitimately the next 3 days feeling full, watched a lot of New Girl, and planned my spring break. Soon after those first, like, ten days of the month, it became clear that life was not going to proceed as previously planned. I did all my finals online. I cancelled my spring break travel. UCLA announced the whole of spring quarter would be online, so I came home for break and now I’m home for an indefinite amount of time, planning to work from home and wondering what the hell’s gonna happen to my apartment. At some point in all this, I turned 23. (It was on the day we got the email that spring quarter would be all online.)

It’s funny, because I was walking around campus sometime in late February, listening to some music that may or may not play in the indie movie daydreams I have, and I thought to myself “man, I’m really gonna miss this place one day”. And that day is upon us! Who knows when I’ll be back at UCLA, you know? My days were already numbered, and now those numbers have dwindled even more. This time has been clarifying for me, in the way that tragedy always is. I know I — and my family, friends, state, country, planet — am not even in the worst of it yet. But already I’m thinking about how I want to live after this is over. I want to dye my hair blue, because life is too short to worry about how weird it’ll be and it’ll be fun and I’ll either look cool and love it or not look so cool and it’ll be over soon enough. I want to donate more money to causes I care about, because I can probably spare the price of a dinner and what’s the point of being an American immigrant with a better livelihood than your grandparents if you can’t help others get there too. I want to canvass for policies that need voices, any voices, maybe mine, just to have one more. I want to give more hugs.

So, um, yeah. That’s where I’m at as March is ending. I’m 3 for 3 on saying “this month was awful, I hope it gets better!” but this time, for the world’s sake as well as my own, I really fucking hope things take an upturn from here.

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Personal

february | 2020

1 – the good times were good, the bad was real bad

Ah February. You half listened to what I wanted from you, and gave me some good times, but also some p bad ones! I’m ending February and beginning March much like I ended January and began February, meaning that there has been a string of Real Bad Days that I’m eager to leave behind. I did some nice things in February, to be sure – had good times with friends, went on a lil trip to Big Bear, did some good hard work in therapy, got an A+ on the midterm for this class that everyone said was terrifying. But I also was stressed out and tired bc of health and home things, and of bad things to happen, they were pretty bad things to deal with. We’re not even getting to the public bad news of February, lol. Anyway, March is my birthday month, I’m really hoping it’s a better time. Fingers crossed!

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january | 2020

1 | a bad time

January has been an utter shit to me. The first few days were still winter break for me, but then I started winter quarter, which I have heard many people say is the worst quarter out of all of them. So I’ve been trying to balance my four classes, internship, job, and not give up eating and showering, but I’ve also been dealing with this health thing. My stupid body’s taken me to doctor’s office, specialist’s offices, so many please hold’s on the phone, insurance customer service, and a whole nightmare. It’s such a slog to take care of yourself, god. I’ve been so tired. Cried a lot. Cried in a school bathroom for the first time! A professor’s office! All that fun stuff. So, yes, January has been a shit, and I am hoping February turns out better. On the up and up, right? (It’s Feb 10 as I write this, so I can say that I thiiiink I’m coming out of it.)

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2020 please be kind to me

We’re fully into 2020, so here are the things I want to do this year. New year, same me just tryna get a little better to give myself more joy and peace. I really like this Instagram post from @revelatori; it helped me conceptualize goal-setting and New Year’s resolutions not as antidotes to our deficiencies (“I suck and am lazy but this year I’m going to not”) but as exercises in self-compassion and gifts to ourselves to make our lives better, because we deserve to not hate things all the time (“Taking care of my body will bring me physical and mental strength and improve my life, and I want that for myself”). Anyway, we’re like mostly through January already lmao so heeeere are all the things I am hoping to do in the coming days and weeks and months!

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Travel

rome 🇮🇹 the colosseum & the roman forum

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.

The Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina.

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Travel

rome 🇮🇹 the pantheon, musei capitolini, & more walking in fountains and piazzas

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?

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