Friday, June 28, 2013

{when in rome}

We made it!


We are in the beautiful city of Rome, Italy.  Getting here was a hassle because our flight from Seattle to Frankfurt was suuuuuper delayed due to disorganization of the flight staff (I know some things can't control, but we didn't even start boarding until about 5 minutes after the plane was supposed to depart) so we ended up having to catch the next flight to Rome from Frankfurt two hours after our original one.

Once we got to Rome, Stacey and I took a cab and got absolutely ripped off, but we didn't care because we were so damn tired.  I tried staying up all night the night before we left (went to bed at 4, woke up at 8, with hopes of sleeping on the plane) and I learned that no matter how fucking tired I am my body cannot sleep on planes! Rude.

Once we got to Rome, we checked into the hotel, threw our shit on the bed, and then went exploring.  We went to the Trevi fountain, got some dinner, and I crossed a few things off of my bucket list to boot. Yay!

Last night, our first night here, consisted of a lot of walking around a long with gnocchi, wine, and wishes at the Trevi Fountain.  We came back to the hotel, and I was so goddamn tired I didn't wanna go explore anymore, so Riley and I went to bed.  Then we woke up and took a tour of the Vatican... which was downright beautiful.  Now, I'm not religious, but that place was amazing.  Seeing all of the artwork, and all of the history was completely breathtaking.  We lost my mom for a little bit, but we found her eventually- but trying to find her, and get ahold of her was an adventure in its own.  Later in the evening, we took a night tour of Rome, where we saw the colosseum, St Peter's (again), the Embassy de Marta (I may be spelling that wrong), and lots of other goodies that Rome had to offer.  It was probably my favourite part of the trip so far, and our tour guide was awesome.  He showed us some unconventional places in Rome that not many tourists know about... for example, a 2,000 year old cobblestone road about 20 minutes out of the city center that had marks from chariot's from Caesar's empire.  He also brought us to the top of one of Rome's 7 hills and showed us an awe-inspiring panoramic view of Rome at night, as well as warding off some street vendors who kept trying to get us to buy roses. Nooo, thank you. Finally, he showed us a little part of the city where lots of painter's go.  He pointed us out to "Rome's best gelato" (coming from a man born in Rome, I believed him) where we got AMAZING gelato, and even tried the Viagra flavor.

Rome has been full of adventure, food, laughs, history, and art work.  I'll be sad to leave tomorrow morning to get on our cruise ship, but excited to see what other parts of Europe have to offer.  Next up is Naples, Italy, including a tour of Pompeii.  Another place I'm stoked to see!

Here's a teeny peek at what we've done so far!


The BEST spaghetti I've ever eaten, hands down.


View from our hotel in Rome



Drank a glass of Italian Wine!


Making a wish at Trevi Fountain



Tried gelato. Yes, even the viagra.



St. Peter's. The Pope talks on one of those balconies!




Ciao!

Monday, June 24, 2013

{almost there}







Two days from now, Stacey and I will be making our valiant departure to Rome, Italy.

I can't remember the last time I actually flew with someone as opposed to by myself... I think it was four years ago? Even then, it was just a short flight to Los Angeles with my mom. This time, I'll be taking a 10 hour flight to Frankfurt and then hustling over to another gate (I've heard the airport is giant... grumblegrumblegrumble) and then a 2-ish hour flight to Rome.  I've never travelled internationally before, let alone to two different countries which speak languages that I haven't the slightest clue how to speak.  We have an hour between our flights in Frankfurt, which is hopefully enough time to get off of the plane and over to our connecting one to Rome.  If not, we're fucked. (Think optimistically!)

Then, once we get to Rome, we have to take our own taxi (something else I've only done once in my life) to the hotel, which is smack dab in the middle of the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum.  Apparently you have to set a price with the cab driver before you go there... something else I've never done: bartered.  I guess just the first 24 hours of this trip will be filled with firsts.

By the time we get to our hotel, Coralie, Riley and my mom will already be there, and proooobably sleeping or something.  I have a feeling we're going to be pretty tired, considering it will be about 5 AM on my own internal clock and I have an awful relationship with sleeping on planes.  I'm planning on getting no sleep the night before and then taking melatonin on the plane so that I can hopefully get some shut-eye.

The first night in Rome we're going to be taking a limousine tour around Rome, including the Trevi fountain.  (Bucket list!)

The next day we're gonna check out the Vatican (hopefully my dress passes their dress code qualifications.. it covers my shoulders but comes to just above my knees) and then just.. explore Rome? I'm not really sure.  The day after, we board our Cruise ship and head to more exotic places.

I've planned like crazy for this trip- I've made lists upon lists of what to pack, what to wear (even outfit itineraries... ridiculous, I know), read online tips/tricks to packing for Europe, but I still have no idea what to expect besides gorgeous photos and lots of sunburns.

I guess I'm just super excited. I'll probably post again when we get to the hotel in Rome, granted it has wifi.

ciao!



Saturday, June 22, 2013

{five}

Today marks five months since my dad passed away.

I try really hard not to dwell on it, and not to let it overcome me, but the 22nd of every month since January has been more than just a normal day.

It's a reminder of what we lost, and conversely how far we've come.

For those of you who have been affected by cancer, you know how much it sucks.  You know how hard it is to watch someone you love be torn apart physically, emotionally, and psychologically by the disease.  Being part of the "I've Lost Someone I Love to Cancer" club isn't something I ever thought I'd have to live with.  Luckily, everyone in this "club" is so loving and caring that it makes it that much easier.

I was being bored a few weeks ago and searching through my old emails, and I found this gem from my dad.


My dad and I emailed each other often, mostly because I was in school and we had completely opposing schedules (he'd be getting home from work and I'd be going to the gym, and by the time I got home he'd be in bed) and so we just constantly emailed and wrote letters.  I don't remember what the context of this advice was- probably feeling bummed out from a bad grade- and he always had the best advice, even if it was something so little.

Since he died, I've done a lot to help with my own 'well being'.  I've changed majors (and haven't felt so happy about a decision this big in such a long time), found out the people who matter most, and just taken small steps to find overall happiness.  I don't want to sound na├»ve by thinking this... but in times of hardships, we really realize who we are, and where we want to go from there.

If you are sad, be sad.  If you are happy, be happy.  Don't let anyone tell you how you should and shouldn't feel.
Don't feel like you have to stick to something if it doesn't feel like the right thing to do.
Have the conversations you want to have, while you can.
When people ask "how are you doing", don't feel obligated to say "fine". It's okay to break down and cry.  The people who love you won't care.
Do the things you want to do while you have the chance.
It's okay to smile when the whole world thinks you should be sad.

I suppose I'm lucky to have learned all of this at the age of nineteen.
Thank you, dad, for teaching me these.





What I want, more than anything, is for my dad to be remembered not as his disease but as the person he was. 
How he had the ability to light up the room.  
How he could play 'blackbird' on guitar over and over again and no one would get sick of the sound. 
How he was always happy to come home from work and see his family.  
How he could make anyone laugh with the silliest joke, or a word he made up on the spot.
How he would get up early every Sunday and make me his famous French toast and take me to a movie.
How he would ask me a million questions when watching Doctor Who because he failed to watch the most recent episode.
How he would let me lie my head on his belly and listen to the funny noises it made when I was little and we were watching Saturday morning cartoons (especially Rocko's Modern Life, because it was his favorite).
How he would let me skip school almost every Friday during my senior year because I hated my class.
This is who my dad is.
And this is how I choose to remember him.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

{what to wear?}

I've recently become obsessed with clothing.

Rewind to a few years ago. I literally didn't care at all about what I wore.  In high school, most days I would wear just jeans and a sweatshirt- most likely one from PINK, because it was the cool thing to wear in 2008 and it was comfortable.  

I downgraded from that when I moved to college, quickly trading my jeans for yoga pants simply because they didn't fit me right.  I would wear junior's sizes (I was 17 years old so it made sense to me) which had a really, really low-rise and thus meant pulling up my pants constantly.  Plus, I have the luxury (sarcasm) of attending a very hill-y university (and lived on top of the tallest hill on campus).  So- yoga pants it was.  And sweatshirts.  I cared more about comfort than what I wore.  I also didn't want to admit that I was *drum roll* plus size.

All my life, I had believed fat is bad. Society tells us over and over that fat is ugly.  Fat people shouln't wear pretty clothes.  I should lose some weight if I want to wear that.  Conversely, plus size clothing was embarrassing, and somehow in my head it would definitely mean I was fat, something I had tried to deny since I was a kid.  I couldn't win.  

Finally, I realized that it doesn't matter what number is on the tag.  What matters is that I think the clothing is cute, that I think it fits me properly, and that I feel good in it.  Comfort helps, too.  I am a college student, after all.

So, what made me love clothing?  I think a lot of it had to do with that newfound freedom I had given myself by embracing the fact that I was plus size.  Body positivity has been a long journey for me (that's for another post), but finding my own style has considerably helped.  Also, the fact that I was hired at a very popular and inexpensive clothing store helped feed my addiction. 

I found myself wearing more scarves, earrings, cardigans, skinny jeans, boots, et etera et cetera et cetera in sophomore year of college.  It was the complete opposite of freshman year's yoga pants and dingy hoodies.  I didn't mind taking risks.  It was fun.  My wallet disagreed (sigh!).  I also gained a sense of confidence that it didn't matter that I was fat- I could look cute no matter what my size was. Even my dad, the most fashion-illiterate person I have ever met, said he liked the new 'scarfy style' I had obtained and that he could tell I felt good about myself.  Hearing that from my dad, of all people, gave me more of a confidence boost than I could have ever imagined.

This brings me to now, June 2013.  As mentioned in my last post, I'm going to Europe in a week, and packing has seemed to be both the most daunting and exciting task EVER.

Outfit planning, list v 2.0.  Sorry for the
shitty iPhone picture.
I know in Europe, people dress classier, which means more sundresses and less denim.  "Organized" is one word I would never use to describe myself in a million years, but when I get excited about something, I delve in, and make a million lists and plans.  I also have over-packing tendencies.  I will pack something even if I have never worn it prior to the trip because "what if I get the sudden urge to wear this and I don't have access to it"?  God forbid!

I've even gone so far as to make 2 different outfit itineraries for this trip. I got 2 new dresses after I made the first one, so it obviously wasn't valid anymore and I knew I needed to make a new one.  I swear, one dress was meant to be... I fell in love with this dress online a month or so ago, but when I finally got the guts/money to buy it, it was sold out.  I cried. (Not really).  Then, I happened to be checking it out online, and I noticed "out of stock" wasn't written in red below the description... and there was only one size available- my size! So, I bought it, and as soon as I got the order confirmation email, it said 'sold out' again.  Fate, I tell you. FATE. 

I found my cute dresses at a variety of places:  Fashion to Figure, Forever 21+, Target, and Asos Curve.  All of them will be showcased on this blog when I'm connected to the wifi in either Rome or London, or maybe even when I get home.  I'm gonna be one of those super annoying tourists who takes a million and five photos of every sight I see, because when am I gonna get to Europe again?  I have no idea.  So I'm gonna savor every tacky & touristy moment I can.

I use parentheses too much. 
Sorry. (Not sorry). 





{vacation to-do list}

One week from now, I will be in Rome.
Two weeks from now, I will be in Greece.
Three weeks from now, I will be in London.

This is crazy to me! I can't believe I'm finally going to go to Europe, and see all of these places that I never imagined I'd be able to see.  The only other country I've been to outside the US is Canada, which doesn't count, since I was born here. (I say here because I am currently in Canada visiting Coralie & co).  Our family has been planning this trip for a few months, but it didn't seem real to me yet.  I have a small 'excitement capacity', so if I have a few exciting things coming up in the future, I can only get excited about them in a timely manner.  For example: I went to Sasquatch! Music Festival in May, and before that I had Relay for Life, I couldn't get excited for Sasquatch until Relay was over, and even then I didn't actually believe I was going (which makes no sense because I shelled out an arm and a leg for that wristband), and after Sasquatch I got excited for school to be over, and THEN it hit me that we were going to EUROPE!!!

I fly into Rome with Stacey, who has been one of my best friends since we were toddlers, on Thursday the 27th.  The longest flight I've ever been on was from Utah to Florida and I was only 9 years old so I don't remember it much, but I am NOT looking forward to the flight.  I can't sleep on flights at all. I'm pretty sure I could take ten sleeping pills, but my excitement would keep me from falling asleep.  Stace and I will hopefully be too excited to sleep the night before we leave, so that I can sleep on the plane.  If not, I'm planning on loading my iPad with books so I can read on the plane, which usually kills time and I just love to read.

We spend a few days in Rome and then we'll be headed to our cruise ship, which will then take us to all these exotic places... Greece, Croatia, Turkey (hopefully, if the ship deems it unsafe to go then we won't dock there) and Italy.  Then after that, we head to London, a place I have wanted to visit since before I can remember.

So, what that brings me to, is my bucket list.  When I go on this trip, I have a list of things I absolutely MUST do. (edit: and PHOTOGRAPH each one)



1.  Visit the Colloseum
2.  Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain
3.  Become an Italian pop star a la Lizzie McGuire (kidding! but that would be pretty cool).
4.  See the white buildings of Santorini, Greece
5.  Visit Pompeii
6.  Try authentic Italian pizza
7.  Order a glass of wine in Italy
8.  Take a water taxi in Venice
9.  Visit the London Eye, and actually go on it (I'm absolutely terrified of Ferris wheels)
10.  Eat fish & chips in England
11.  Trafalgar Square
12.  Find a BLUE PHONE BOX! 
(From hereon, all were added after post was published but I don't want to forget them)
13.  Do something silly in front of the guards with the hats in London. You know, the ones that don't smile. (Extra credit if they do smile.)
14.  Italian espresso!
15.  Order a beer in London
16.  Snap Matt Smith's suspenders. (Just kidding. But not really.)
17.  Gelato!


Most of these I know we'll already be doing, but hey, that's a pretty damn cool bucket list if you ask me.

Ciao! (see? I'm practicing my Italian!)







(ps- I added some buttons to the side of my blog! feel free to add me on facebook or follow me on instagram/twitter!)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

{i don't wanna grow up}

As I mentioned in my last two posts, I'm on vacation now.  And it's still not technically summer.

I'm in my apartment, by myself, as I have been for the past two days.  None of my roommates are here and neither are our might-as-well-be-roommates.  So basically that means I cook Monster's Inc. macaroni and talk to myself.  Is that weird?

If you know me, you would know that I have had countless blogs, and only kept up with one (which doesn't count because it's a tumblr and that's not really 'blogging') and that I've always loved to write.

A million people ask me- what do you want to do when you grow up? And my answer is always not a fucking clue.
FUUUUTURE?! 

I'm starting to figure it out, but the idea of being an adult scares the shit out of me.  I can't imagine living in my own house, by myself (or with a husband!?!? what1?@!??), paying a mortgage, going to work every day, la la la.  I just can't.  I have no idea where I'll be in a few years, what I'll be doing, where I'll be working, who I'll be living with, or how many cats I'll have.  I get a little internal anxiety when I think about it.  There is such a question mark in my head when it comes to the future.  When do I get my responsibility certification?  When do I start being treated as an adult?  When do I start doing my "own thing" and relying solely on myself, no help from mom?  How do I adult?!  I've gone to the DMV by myself.  I've paid my own bills.  I've gotten a tattoo.  I've signed my own lease without a cosigner.  I've procured my own car insurance.  I've cooked a meal and not killed anyone.  I've set up my own printer.  When I was little, those were adult things. Does that mean I'm an adult?

If anyone has any pointers, please let me know, because the whole turning-into-an-adult thing really freaks me out.  When I graduate from WWU in two years, I'll probably read this blog post and point and laugh at myself.

Friday, June 14, 2013

{home}

Home is kind of a funny thing. I have a few of them.

First, there's my home in Bellingham. Right now it's a tiny four bedroom apartment close to my school. In a month I'll be moving into a house with four other girls-two of which I live with this year- closer to campus. It's kind of home, but we only lived there for a year, and some pretty shitty things happened in my time there so I'm excited to get out. 

My other home is in Maple Valley. It became less of my home when I moved to college, but even less of a home in January. It feels so unsettling here now. I don't get the same "ahhh, it's good to be back" feeling anymore. It's empty without my dad, even though he didn't take up a lot of room or make much noise ever, but his presence is gone, and it's weird. Everyone is sad without him and it definitely reflects in the atmosphere. It's stagnant and bittersweet (emphasis on the bitter) in this house. There are constant tiny references of Dad, whether it's his guitars in the den as soon as you walk in the door, or something as small as a "menu" he made for the kids in the pretend restaurant (which was just the kitchen) that's still hanging on the fridge. 

I've heard people say time and time again that they can feel the presence of their lost ones with them. I can't. But this is as close as I'll get to it. Instead of being reminded of the happy times in this house, I'm reminded of the times I saw my dad frustrated because his hair was falling out, or struggling to breathe while going upstairs, or not being able to play his guitar because he was too tired. 

Home is the place where I would hear my dad's silly laugh and hear him playing Blackbird on guitar. 
That place doesn't exist anymore. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

{hello, summer}

It's Wednesday, June 12, 2013 and today is my first day of "summer" break.
I put summer in quotations because it is not technically summer yet, nor is the weather remotely summer-like, but that's what the university is calling it for now.
Well, technically, it's still finals week, but I finished my last final at 8:45 this morning so helloooo, early break for me!

All of my roommates are leaving on Friday, including myself, but the difference is that I'm coming back next week to have the apartment for myself.  It's always weird staying by yourself because it's kind of nice at first to be able to do whatever you want whenever you want and not worry about intruding on anyone, but after about 6 hours, it gets lonely. I'll only be up here for a few days, and that will be to pack up my room and to pack for Europe (squeeee!) and then it's back down to Seattle I go, and then to Frankfurt (very briefly), and then Rome, and then all over the place.

This year brought me SO many ups and downs (later post).  I've encountered some shit that no one should ever ever ever have to go through, and had some highs that everyone should experience at least once.

But, I guess in short, hello, new blog. Right now I can't think of a clever name at the moment but I just really wanted to start a new blog and waiting for a new phone to come in the mail makes you really anxious so you do whatever you can to pass the time (including creating a really shitty blog header).  As Coralie told me, I will think of one eventually, but right now nothing is coming to me. Brain overload? Maybe. Too much studying will do that to you.

Au revoir (for now),
Allie