Friday, August 21, 2015

Waking up in Rome

It's what I have been waiting to happen since I left. Ho voluto tonare da quando sono partita.

After leaving California and sleeping through almost the entirety of BOTH flights, I never felt like I was in zombie mode. I envy the person who can sleep within seconds of closing their eyes practically anywhere. But with help from a little medicine, I managed to sleep through three of four hours to Montreal, and to my surprise slept the next seven of eight hours to Rome...(having the whole middle row to myself on this ride obviously helped.) With a total of only two conscious hours on both planes combined, hands down the best travel experience. 

I was not still dreaming- when I awoke I was actually, cento per cento, in Rome. my great aunt and I wasted no time. As soon as I could change into my bathing suit and drink my espresso, we were at the beach. I made my way back to Italy, beat jet lag, and worked on my tan-all in one day.

I was a bit worried I would not be able to find aunt Rita at the airport.
No cell phone, no great aunt was right there to pick me up from the her torquoise and tribal printed pants almost identical to a pair I have.

Staying in Rome until September. Hopefully a quick trip to Napoli before moving to Bologna for school at Spring Hill College Italy Center for round 2!! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Guerilla Spam- ugly where it counts.

Bologna, Italy. Have you heard of it? It is not the most well known Italian city, and that may be why it is one of the best.
The food capital of the world is vibrant and warmed with yellow, orange and red walls and i portici*.
It is filled with college students, apertivo, and street art

On my normal route to class along side the endless cobblestone something new sort of jumped out at me...with an appetite for Apple (not the fruit)

He was about to eat my eye phone right out of my hand.
And yours too.

And what if he did? Could we survive without our GPS or documentation of the chocolate heart on our cappuccino? Have we turned into exactly this sort of monster?

One one of the lasts walks back from that classroom my friend Alex asked me if I had seen that new piece of street art. I knew exactly what he was talking about. We stopped and he asked "Do you think he turned into a monster after eating those?"
Or is a monster the only thing with cravings for technology?

After we passed it I showed him I picture I took of it...and another  I took while I was in Venice that looked quite similar, with a similar message. I zoomed in, and turns out, both were signed with the same name- Spam

I love this piece because I loved Venice except for one factor, the tourists. The city is flooded, not with water just yet, but with tourists. It is considered the Disneyland for adults, hence the "Venezia Land" print on this creature's shirt. Once upon a time, people actually called the canals home. Now, the magical aquatic sidewalks await the tourist trap gondolas. The  It does not feel like Venezia, feels like Venezia Land.

After realizing these two pieces were done by the same person(s) I took my research from the streets to the all knowing internet. If the articles I read are accurate, a group of artists met in Florence in 2010 and have been spreading their message like spam across Italy and Spain since. They are infecting the walls with the truth. These creepy, crawly creatures reflect the culture that walks the surrounding streets.

In fact, the title of this post is a bit misleading, I  do not know if the artists are ugly at all- their an anonymous group.
What I do know for sure is that their piece I found in Bologna has to be one of the newest. I had been walking that street on my way to class every week since September and it was not until November that that little monster had slithered its way onto Via Mascarella. 

*there is no English word for these covered sidewalks. Essentially if it is raining you could walk through the entire city center without needing an umbrella-adding to the city's charm.

they have a blogspot too!
Guerilla Spam

Sunday, September 28, 2014

ho trovato il mio cuore italiano

I have yet to be in Europe for a month, but it has felt like four- and I hope to make it forever.

All three of my roommates from the Babe Cave in San Francisco are studying abroad in Barcelona (I'm visiting November14th!) but I knew I had to come to Italy...even if that meant traveling alone.

My grandma was full blooded Italiana from Napoli- Three out of four of her sisters still live there. She was the only grandparent I had a relationship with and my only connection to culture in my life. 
Of course, I did not hold enough appreciate for her language, smell, accent, heritage, stories, experiences.

She passed unexpectedly five years ago. Apparently the family has a history of heart conditions.

My mom says I brought her soul back to Italy.

I met her sister, my Great Aunt, Rita for the very first time last weekend. We connected after my Grandma left Earth, and stayed in touch through the occasional comment, like, or facebook message.
I told her I hoped to meet my Italian family one day
Maybe I would studying abroad
She replied:
"Il cannot forget the my sister family because she is also mine correct?"
I will never forget those words.

I told her I would be in Italy next, year, next, month, and then the word tomorrow finalmente applied.
Finalmente vado!!

She lives in a neighborhood of Rome called Fiumicino. Let me repeat that...she lives in ROME.
Rita, along with her son Federico picked me up at the train station. Her face more angelic than human as we looked into each other's eyes for the first time. We embraced twice, I cried a little harder each time. She looked at me, simply and sweetly said
"tranquilla?" which means are you okay/relax.
I asked to take a photo but could not find my phone quickly. She said "non importante"
In a moment like that, she was right, it wasn't.
We held on to each other through out the train station and through the market where we grabbed tea.
Federico has three adorable children and the nicest wife!

I was expecting a much larger language barrier, but with my little practice over the summer I was able to communicate rather well. Even if I had not taught myself a little Italian, there is a universal language; one of understand that need not words.

His wife Agnes and Rita showed me around all weekend.

Mateo, my 12 year old cousin, joined us on Saturday as we toured some of the fountains and piazza's of Roma. When I first arrived, he pulled out his English workbook from school so that he could try to communicate. When I got water with lemon (which I guess is super American) he did too. Agnes told me he has never ordered that before. We were exhausted after both days of exploring and we did not even see half of Rome! We got gelato Saturday and I got a lesson on how to eat it. Quickly, and from the bottom up unless you want it all over your hands. My aunts and little cousin were laughing at the Californian who clearly did not know the trick to the lick. I was not a big ice cream fan, but I was converted after that coconut scoop you see to your bellow.

Federico and Agnes took me out to diner along the ocean, lungo al mare, Saturday night. Agnes asked if I had ever eaten osrtica, which means oyster but it sound like she said ostrich. The answer to both was no.
As if I already had not felt like I was living a movie, fireworks lit the sky on our walk back to the car to celebrate fine l'estate, end of the summer.

Rita's laugh makes my heart smile. She is such a gentle and kind woman- her heart is pure gold.

Although I may not be able to understand 100% of what she is saying, I know we have the same sense of humor, and even with my choppy Italian we were able to share a few laughs.
Both Agnes and Rita are sweet but will not take anyone's shit. I watched as Rita approached anyone through the streets of Rome to start conversation...hmm that, and her sense of style, must run in the family.

The word family has meaning now. I do not have a large one in the states at all. Meeting mia famiglia Italiana e uno signo che si avvero- Seriously, and not exaggerating in the slightest it is a dream come true.

I am going back in October, November, and staying with her for three weeks after my semester is over in December. I will meet the rest of the fam on Christmas!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

God is a Woman

I had arrived in Bologna, Italy for no more than two days when our program left for a justice (or lack there of) tour of the Balkans.

As yous step off the ferry- admire the beauty yes, but do not let it fool you- an ugly, but ever so important, history awaits a few hours away in the mountains of Bosnia.

Sitting in our pre-Balkans information meeting (gravely hungover) does not even compare to sitting in Eddie’s van and listening to the many other intellectuals on our journey through the former Yugoslavia. His “Pimp your Mercedes” van, as our director Dr. Waller called it, was more like a time machine- taking us back twenty years earlier when his neighbors turned sworn enemies. 
We asked our driver, Eddie, countless questions on our five hour ride into Mostar, Bosnia- a town now seemingly forever divided- officials have not held elections in over six years and has not met
in over two years! City hall is empty.
My inner journalist was nerding out as Eddie's words brought to life what brief history of former Yugoslavia we had discussed previously. I was no longer reading through a handout or looking at a fuzzy black and white map- but present in a beautiful region still recovering from a war that ended only 20 years ago. Young Croatian/Bosnian adults my age grow up in completely different countries d than their parents. Yet, the people themselves, their culture, and heritage are the same, but never to be united again.

Amoung rolling green hills, a turquoise river to match, bright eyes and smiling faces one would never guess the divided regions of former Yugoslavia have been devastated by horrific crimes of war, power, and greed. Maybe the bullet wounds in buildings as numerous as holes in sponges, or mass graves at almost every turn of the winding road would give away the largely untold history of a land plagued, and still recovering from a brutal civil war.

Mountainous regions infected with countless white head stones at almost every turn of the winding roads in Mostar and Sarajevo, Bosnia. Mass graves forever to serve as reminders of the blood shed and countless lives lost. Graveyards are more common now than the once spacious backyards.

My inner journalist gets really shaken when thinking about the fact that this war is largely unknown! 


We met with two women who now lead the Association of Mothers who lived along the Serbian and
Yugoslavian border. Their brothers, sons, and husbands were taking by the Serbian army...and never returned. When the war began, all of the Yugoslavian militia were turned over to the Serbians- these women and all other former Yugoslavian people were betrayed by their own government. The two women who spoke with us said that all of their Serbian neighbors were able to flee town before they were bombed.
When these women spoke, I could not understand their language (we had a translator present) but I could hear the strength and passion in their voices.

I had no idea this war took place, which I am sure is the case for the majority of my country. War is something that seems so distant-worlds away...until you meet with people, victims, fellow human beings...walk through their homelands forever changed by evil and greed. 

I will never forget those ten days in former Yugoslavia or the people I had met. Like Eddie, our driver, who is also a writer. When his book is translated into English, he is kind enough to send me a copy. The title: "God is a Women." 

Yes she is. 

We traveled the Adriatic Sea from Ancona, Italy to:

  • Split, Croatia
  • Mostar, Bosnia
  • Sarajevo, Bosnia
  • Dubronik, Bosnia
  • back to Split to catch the ferry

Thursday, July 31, 2014

~Power to the Mermaid~

Ocean tides and designer dreams have been sewn together with handpicked high quality fabric to bring the modern mermaid a possible new set of tan lines.

Sorority superstar turned swimwear designer, Caroline Christ, has combined her love for crafting, the beach, and bathing suits. Just as soon as she received her diploma, I received a follow notification from Caroline Penny Creations on Instagram.

 I have only ever seen Caroline running around from class to work, gym, meetings, then back again. I only have one question...besides how does she do it all...
Does she ever sleep? At least she can take a nap on the beach in her own handmade Chevron Stripe Watercolor Wrap Top or Siena String Bottoms. Caroline says each suit has a taste of both Orange County and San Francisco making this swim line (and the mermaids wearing them) as hot as sun baked sand.

Barely there kinis may not have much fabric to sew, but Caroline's first suit took her 10 hours to make! "The beauty of the bikini is all in the details."  With inspiration from her Grandma Penny and help from the other members of the fam, Caroline now has over 50 items on her Esty store! Custom sized, reversible bikinis are giving Sally a run for her seashells.

Mix and Match with different styles and over 30 fabrics
~~~Order yours while the water is still warm~~~

Friday, May 23, 2014

Move your body- Wag your tails

Any surprise that a rock star’s midday refreshment of choice is a Rockstar? Mario Garcia, one of the founding members and drummer of Wag, was spotted on multiple occasions pairing the energy drink with a student and musician budge friendly Lunchable. Garcia’s 90’s style cutoffs, vest, and scruffy beard in competition with his even longer hair on his head does not scream “I AM IN A BAND”-but it definitely gives a glimpse into his artistic abilities that are further revealed on stage.
His ego does not scream “I AM IN A BAND” either. Garcia even said he is not much for “being the center of attention.” From what I have noticed both in the classroom and on stage he is right about that. Usually hanging out in a corner of the classroom by a breezy window seat, Garcia was never too talkative but when he did speak up in class, his comments were always well thought out and insightful. Not demanding all of the attention but never going unheard or unappreciated, the drums mirror Garcia’s shy but passionate personality. If you have only seen Mario on stage you would not guess that he considers himself rather quiet. Maybe that is because he explains a trance like state while performing- his alter ego taking over on stage. His memory of most shows he says, blends into one because of that adrenaline rush. “It’s kind of like blacking out” Garcia explains. He may be quiet in the classroom but his beat and rhythm on stage are loud enough to make the room want to dance.
Which is just he and his fellow band mates had in mind when Wag opened for Hippity Dipppity, another popular local band, at Milkbar, 1840 Haight St. A community of young creatives joined together to watch Mario perform at Milkbar, a venue perfect for local hip-shakers and San Franpsychos alike.
 Who says a beer, live music, and good company does not constitute homework? Because, for at least a few of the audience members, it was.
I texted Garcia to clarify how long Wag had been together, he replied 1971 and quickly blamed the joke on a final’s induced lack of sleep. For only being a little over a year old, not 40,  Wag has grown up fast and has a pretty bright future. With an upcoming album release titled “No Worries” and summer tour, these guys truly do not have too much to worry about. Garcia was kind enough to give me the link to their record on soundcloud-which is expected to be released at the end of May 2014. One song, Tin Crown already dropped- turning Wag’s toughest critique, Garcia’s little sister into a fan. “She never liked any of our songs until she heard that one,” he says with a smile. His sister is not the only one wagging her tale to their classic alternative rock sound waves. Garcia says after Tin Crown, started circulating, small labels, even one on the East Coast have become interested. “They shoots us emails and ask what we are up to. It’s kind of crazy.” 
Not to mention, as I was writing this, Garcia told me that Wag was nominated for Bay Area’s Live 105.3 local battle of the bands. The winner will be performing at the BFD music festival- which had over 24,000 in attendance last year. If Wag receives enough votes, they will share the ticket with big names like Foster the People, M.I.A, and Fitz and the Tantrums. The contest’s homepage reads: “Remember to support local music!” A message much needed in a time where ,Garcia explains, the music scene is struggling against the rise of gentrification.For full time student and drummer Garcia, playing in a band is not just homework, however; it a major part of his life outside of USF’s campus. Whether or not in a band in the years to come, he is grateful for his experience in Wag for showing him that he wants to make a career that works with music in one way shape or form. Garcia, a San Diego native, was always playing music. Along with the drums, he can also play the violin, and while in high school he played the guitar in a British titled punk band, Many Chuffs. He says he saw his first show while in high school and “fell in love”, which was The Artic Monkeys at a venue in San Diego. Like most SoCal kids, Garcia decided to see if all Bay Area buzz was all it was talked up to be. He met former Gilson floor mate Jordan Duala and thus, Wag was born.
It is a small world after all-especially for music. And it is becoming smaller. As a relatively new member of the San Franciscan music scene, Garcia has learned that a lot of musicians are forced to leave San Francisco because of the high cost of living.
If you did not know Garcia was in a band, than maybe his finger tapping on his notebook as if he is practicing for an upcoming show would give it away. If you still would not figure Mario to be a bandmate, than his red reusable water bottle with a black and white hand drawn bull dog sticker would be the next clue to bark at you- their bassist, Strong, creates all of Wag’s artwork. I asked to interview Garcia about his band before I even knew the name of it. 
When I finally asked, he answered “Wag. W-A-G. Like a dog.” The name, he says, was inspired by a joke Darula, the only other USF student of the group, heard from one of his professors. Ironically, when asked his favorite breed, Garcia says he is indifferent to dogs because he never grew up around them.
Dating, drugs and the uppers and downs of both resonate throughout their self-released 9 track album. Ironically, “No Worries” highlights typical 20-somethings’ anxieties but with a soulful beat throughout the album that makes ya wanna dance, take a drive with the top down, or kick back with a beer and forget about it all.
Of their 30 plus shows in only a year, Garcia has already accomplished on of his goals of playing at one of his favorite venues in the city, Bottom of the Hill. He said the venue had a great sound system and an even better turnout. The “best show” in Garcia’s opinion was played at Das House. It was 10:30pm with a packed audience jamming along. The mosh pit of head bangers and tail wagers overruled any sound complaints that night. Wag’s most unique performance was not at a venue at all but an art gallery, MOCO gallery in Oakland. There first show was in a cafĂ©, and understandably did not go as smoothly as planned- and those were the only details Garcia wanted to rehash of that night. Wag is scheduled to open for one of Garcia and Strong’s most loved bands. Garcia says he is especially excited to open for Manhatten Murder Mystery this summer. They will be performing, headlining actually, in an illegal hostile in East LA where Garcia admits “cops don’t bother.” He says he anticipates a hip, youthful and, no doubt, a rowdy crowd.
If there is one thing that is not in fear of growing outdated or inevitably obsolete- it’s music. Even though some elements, like the record, cassette*, and CDs are facing extinction, the feeling that music gives the artist and audience alike will remain evergreen. Shifting from my major’s focus on an ever changing, progressive, and competitive media market I wanted the subject of my final paper to be a part of an art that is here to stay-even if the radio isn’t. New ways of discovering and sharing music cannot distort the passion for creating as well as listening to music- the energy of a live performance can only be felt in real time- not streamed through the internet. Which is why I decided to wait to hear Wag’s material until I could listen live and watch the live talent and teamwork-everyone enjoying the same sound-alive.
I had never spoken with Garcia before asking to talk with him about his band, but being that we shared two core classes for the same major I was hoping he would understand the importance of journalists in society. What band member is going to turn down some free press? (Even if only to be seen by Dr. Robertson) I was right-Garcia was very open to being the star of my final assignment, and later explained he is also profiling a musician for one of his classes as well. In fact he was going to meet his subject right after our first interview. I think I will always remember how ours ended- as he was standing up, throwing his backpack over his shoulder he apologized, “sorry if I talked too much.” “Don’t be sorry!” I replied, “That is the whole point!” Being considerate of the journalist’s time and not just concerned with his, Garcia seems to have steered clear of any sort of hot headed ego. Maybe I will check in after their summer tour and see if that statement still applies. If he follows his own advice of keeping true to himself...he shouldn’t have any worries. “Never forget your roots, because you’ll learn about new genres and new experiences but never forget what got you there and who you really are.”
*Wag may be resurrecting the cassette- Dr Records will be releasing “No Worries” on tape this summer

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Finding Mr. Right Meow

After staring in their own Youtube channels, Instagram, songs, and being shamelessly printed all over shirts and even shoes, cats have moved their trendy tails elsewhere: they have dipped their paws into the world of online dating. 

My curiosity over Tinder did not kill the cat, in fact, it only revealed more. Tinder may have uncovered a cats best kept secret: they are tied for the title of Man's Best Friend. 

Cats make great companions not wing men. I must admit I am a huge cat lady, however, these pictures were swiped to the left as quickly as I could take a screenshot. 

pet-resembles-owner complex

selfies must be taken seriously to some felines

cat with human head? or human with cat head?

I don't know who's more stoned

someone get the cat a shirt

woah, watch the paws

pet-resembles-owner complex 

Moral of the story: posing with your pussy will not help your search for more.