Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Patrick!!!
landmark [land-mahrk]
a prominent or conspicuous object on land that serves as a guide, esp. to ships at sea or to travelers on a road; a distinguishing landscape feature marking a site or location
Synonyms include: benchmark, guide, monument, memorial

(I am determined to blog about our ENTIRE trip no matter how long it takes! One of my New Year's resolutions is to finish everything I start so here I continue...)

Every nation has its famous landmarks: the Statue of the Liberty here in the U.S., the Eiffel Tower in France, Big Ben in the U.K. And then there's Italy. Well, there's literally a monument or famous landmark everywhere you turn!

Mission #7 - Buy ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner
Point of Origin - 63 Via de la Pergola (our apartment)
Destination - San Lorenzo Market

Our 3rd day in Florence was Thanksgiving Day here at home. We had a fieldtrip planned that afternoon so we split up that morning to accomplish 2 things: 1) To pick up the rental car, which Cile, Randy and Pat took care of and 2) Shop for Thanksgiving dinner. Kay and I assisted Chef Seong with this. Where better to shop for fresh produce than Florence's San Lorenzo Market!
San Lorenzo Market is wow! Everything you could possibly want to cook with is sold here: fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, breads, pastries, wines, freakin' lines of prosciutto hanging from the ceiling - everything! It was here that we realized what a "multi-national" guy Seong could be. The 3 of us were walking through the vegetable area, saying "Buongiorno" to all the vendors. Out of nowhere, this guy popped out, saw Seong and yelled in the clearest, loudest voice possible, "GOOD MORNING, JAPONES!!!" hahaha! Kay and I wanted to cry - we were laughing soooo hard!One mistaken identity, 3 caffe lattes, a run-in with a bread-guy who spoke better english than we did, and several bags of groceries later and we were off!

Mission #8 - Find the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Point of Origin - Florence, Italy
Destination - Pisa, Italy

After finding ourselves at the end of a one-way street in Florence (with vespas, bicycles and pedestrians giving us the evil eye), then stopping at a gas station only to walk across the street to ask a lady at a bus stop where "il torre di Pisa" was, we finally decided to park the van. Cile was like, "It has to be around here somewhere. The sign pointed this way!" So we parked and walked down this alley-like street.

We weren't sure where we were walking, but we knew the sign with a picture of the leaning tower pointed this way so we went. The street, placed between buildings on each side was narrow enough that you couldn't really see much ahead. But a few minutes into our walk and BAM! LEANING TOWER!
It really wasn't as tall as we expected, but we were amazed nonetheless. You see something like this in magazines, books, on tv and sometimes even cartoons. I really never imagined I'd ever see it in person. The Leaning Tower was built to be the bell tower for the Duomo (I swear, Italy has a hundreds of them!) next to it. The inside of the Cathedral, like every church we saw during our visit, was nothing less than extraordinary.

I think the detail involved in every aspect of its construction is what makes it so awe-inspiring. The long hallways on each side of the altar is guided by a line of pillars, the frescas of holy images, the marble walls - amazing!
And we were there?! Crazy! We opted not to climb the tower though. It costs about 6 euros to get up there. After having climbed to the top of the Duomo in Florence, we figured nothing could top that so we stayed close to the ground. Duomo snobs!! hahaha!
We brought snacks, thinking/hoping we could stop somewhere and eat, but we didn't have much time so we improvised. Hunger makes you do that. We had everything; bread, meat, condiments, tools. All we were missing was space...and the ability to use a knife without fearing for your life!

Pat, Kay and I managed to make sandwiches from the middle row of our Saab. It was no Quizno's, but it sufficed us until dinnertime.
Yes, that is indeed the driver eating. Mind you, the car is a stick...

Mission #9 - Prepare Thanksgiving dinner
Point of Origin - Hunger
Destination - Unfathomable food coma

Before we cut, boiled, broiled or fried a darn thing, we took shots...the Korean way!
We always anticipated dinner over there. What am I saying? We anticipated EVERY meal over there! From breakfast to brunch to lunch to snacking to dinner, with gelato breaks in between - we couldn't get enough!
Randy manned the stove, Seong manned the oven, Cile grated fresh parmesan cheese, Pat and I cut...everything...
...and of course Nonna slept. Geez! Kay didn't lift a finger that night except to pick up a fork to eat or a glass to drink!
And then we feasted: pork chops, eggplant parmagian, rissotto, twice-baked potatoes, mushrooms and...CHOW MEIN! (Pat started to miss Chinese food. haha!)
That was our happy Thanksgiving in Italy...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

comfort [kuhm-fert]
to soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to; to aid; support or encourage
Synonyms include: alleviate, soothe, encourage; solace, support

I was cleaning up my emails at work and came across some words that people have shared with me when life felt unbearable or simply just exhaustive.

Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak; sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go.
- Author Unknown

I do hope that your anger somehow gets channeled into something else - something for you. A realization that YOU are better than the idea of any ding-a-ling, piece of hot ass. And that you're better than any guy who digs a ding-a-ling piece of hot ass. hahaha!
- Riann Reyes

When love is lost, do not bow your head in sadness; instead keep your head up high and gaze into heaven for that is where your broken heart has been sent to heal.
- Author Unknown

The lows in our lives remind us that we won’t always get everything we want. We still have to work hard for it and pray for it and not expect it to be served to us.
- Iya Morelos

NO REVERSE. I'm in charge of kicking your booty forward.
– Cecile Marie Fortun Tecson

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.
– Maya Angelou

Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from doing things. You’ll survive if you do make a mistake. You survived before so you will again!
– Anna Termine

Maybe…it’s not butterflies. Maybe it’s just gas.
- Jovi Candelaria

Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its trouble. It empties today of its strength.
– Mary Engelbreit

As for insecurties.... it comes from fear. Fear is the root of jealousy, sadness, evil, madness, etc. Because of fear, you have this need to control everything, know everything; and you try to protect yourself from the emotional wounds you're so used to making upon yourself. The only way to conquer it is love. And love is free. Hahahaha!
– Cecile Marie Fortun Tecson

Caution to the wind, sistah!!!! Bring it!!!
- Christine Fantone

No writing has any real value which is not the expression of genuine thought and feeling.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Don’t mistake my curiosity for a need to help or give advice. I’m just a nosy little pest that takes comfort in knowing other people have problems too. haha! j/k!
- Jovi Candelaria

You're a control freak, so let go and see what's out there for you. Take the risk. If it's boo, move on. If it's great, move on. You can only handle things of today and not tomorrow. Keep taking each step one at a time until you reach your happiness...then you can breathe.
- Joe de los Reyes

It's natural to fight pain and run from it. But you do not need to be defeated by it. Believe it or not, pain can be a gift. The day that understanding comes to you, you will find peace.
- John and Dorie Rhodes


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

genuine [jen-yoo-in]
possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real; free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy
Synonyms include: authentic, pure, heartfelt

Sometimes this is all you desire...

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile - her look - her way
Of speaking gently, - for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'-
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee, - and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,-
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

On a less serious note, I'm finally wearing a skirt I that bought in December! I love donning new clothes. Too bad I went to Ralph's this morning and set off the alarm - TWICE! DAMMIT WHERE'S THE CENSOR ON THIS THING!!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

pessimism [pes-uh-miz-uh m]
the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems, etc; the doctrine that the existing world is the worst of all possible worlds, or that all things naturally tend to evil; the belief that the evil and pain in the world are not compensated for by goodness and happiness
Synonyms include: cynicism, despondency, distrust, hopelessness

February 6, 2007 marked my 1-year anniversary at SAGE Publications (yay!). To give thanks for such a wonderful blessing, I went to mass after work. I sat there in church, grateful and content though I was, felt a certain gnawing inside. I’ve been feeling this way for a few months now, at times unable to figure out who or what could cause such a negative force to sporadically find its way into times in life when I feel any sort of happiness. Suddenly, gratitude turned to self-righteousness, and contentment became a lackluster attempt at trying to achieve what I knew I didn’t have. A blessing had turned in vain and hopelessness had arrived for its timely visit. Then Fr. Joe took the podium.

Why, he asked, does everything that appears on the nightly news have to be tragic to compete for airtime? No wonder everyone is so cynical! We don’t look for good anymore. We’re too busy waiting for the worst to happen. Where is everyone’s faith that God will get you through it?

That’s me a lot of the times. As much as I’d like to think that my philosophy is based on hoping for the best, a great part of me would rather expect the worst. I don’t like to be led on; it makes me feel foolish. I don’t like feeling foolish; that just tells me what a pawn I am in this world. I hate thinking that something happened without my knowledge; it makes me feel like I have no control over my destiny. Such worries can snowball in a nano-second with me. It really doesn’t take much. But Fr. Joe, you’re right.

Who wants to live this way? Worried all the time that every choice they make will result in mistakes of gargantuan proportion? I worry too much about things that haven’t even happened yet, when I should be thankful for the potential GOOD that such moments in life have yet to bring. It’s like the monster that every aspiring, as well as professional, writer faces: the intimidating blank page. What if I can’t fill it with anything but crap? What if there aren’t enough pages to write on? What if no one cares to read what I’ve written?

But then, one last glance at the empty parchment suddenly flashes image upon image of promise. Soon you realize the power that the blank page offers: every and anything you want. You just have to let the pen hit the paper and then you write your heart out. On these pages you are the villain who attacks, you are the damsel who distresses, you are the heroine who saves, you are the omniscient narrator who guides the story through. Trust your characters to play their parts, let them be free to make mistakes and be hurt. Let your story be told. And, a wise friend once told me, “You have to be able to close one chapter before you can start writing a new one so that you don’t keep rewriting the same chapter over and over again.” Sometimes it's good to go back and forth to edit, but sometimes it's okay not to know how the story ends just yet...

By: Natasha Bedingfield
I am unwritten,
Can't read my mind
I'm undefined
I'm just beginning
The pen's in my hand
Ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines, oh yeah
We've been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can't live that way oh, oh
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live you life with arms wide open
Today is where you book begins
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten
Once upon a time when I was 29...
(Thanks to Cile, Kay, Pat, Randy and Seong for paying attention to my "dear diary" moments in Europe.)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

showcase [shoh-keys]
to exhibit or display
Synonyms include: advertise, demonstrate, model, lay out

Hey Everyone! If you're not busy this Saturday night,
please join us at The Kutting Room Gallery for a
showcase of creativity by some local artists!
gig [gig]
a light, two-wheeled one-horse carriage (WHAT THE HECK)
Ya'll know what a gig is in slang terms.... My co-worker's band, Natural Cause, is playing at B.B. King's in CityWalk on Monday, February 12th. Check out their sites (on flyer) and let me know if you want to come! We'll make it to CityWalk for real this time!!!! Hahaha!!!
Happy Birthday, Kashi!!! =)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

hangover [hang-oh-ver]
the disagreeable physical aftereffects of drunkenness, such as a headache or stomach disorder, usually felt several hours after cessation of drinking
Synonyms include: drunkenness, aftereffects, crapulence

There's a part in "School of Rock" where Jack Black asks his students if they know what a "hangover" is. And they respond, "It means you're drunk." And he responds, "No, it means I was drunk YESTERDAY." Hahaha! Yeah, we can laugh about it now, but last night, for those of us who either yacked, passed out or blacked out, it didn't seem so funny.

We partied at Tokyo Delves for James birthday. I usually volunteer to be a designated driver on party days, but this time Randy was kind enough to offer, plus the celebrant said, "Anna, you're getting drunk that night!" I kind of WANTED to get hammered anyway. That's a rare desire for me, so I ran with it. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! haha!

It's very hard not to have fun at that place. It exudes a PARTY 'TIL YOU DIE attitude that is as apparent as the servers high-fiving and cheering you on upon entrance. As soon as we sat down, our waitress Heather asked us if we wanted to drink anything and, with no hesitation, we requested SAKE BOMBS! We got a keg for each end of the table and just went at it.

"When I say SAKE, you say BOMB!"

And then we pounded on the table until every tiny cup of sake, perched atop two chopsticks hanging over the mug, splashed into the pool of beer and then....WE CHUGGED!...and chugged...and chugged some more. As far as I can remember, I had 3 sake bombs in 20 minutes, and another one after I had food in my stomach. James had a sake bomb every time we all had one, in addition to some 1-on-1 let's-see-who-can-hold-their-liquor-the-longest contest with Pat. Pat won!

What happened during the last 30 minutes at Tokyo Delves (I remember doing the "ByeByeBye" routine on top of the chair with everyone and eating. Yes, I definitely ate), up to the moment Fantone dragged me up the stairs at my house, is kind of blurry. I remember A LOT, but there are bits and pieces of the evening that I've heard about but don't clearly remember.

I know that some of us made it to CityWalk (Rach and Mark had to take Cile home because she was nearly passed out in the car. hahaha!), but we didn't, or rather couldn't, stay too long because James and I could hardly walk on our own and, well, the products of inebriation started to PROJECT themselves. So Randy took me home, Fantone helped me get to my room, Randy took James home and then...a few of us had a REALLY LONG NIGHT. The partying ended by 10:00 pm. Hahahaha!

I haven't been hung over in a long time. I'd forgotten how awful it feels. Just lying in bed I didn't want to blink or breathe because every movement caused my brain to pound with fury.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Happy, Happy Birthday