Monday, December 15, 2008

Final Statement

Word of the Post: Arrivederci (Farewelll)

“When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it’s not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.”- Twilight-Stephanie Meyer

Playing college field hockey was absolutely a dream come true. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity that I had, to play with the teammates that I played with, play for the coaches that I played under, meet the people that I met, played in the games that I got to play in, see the schools I got to see. I was never the spotlight athlete in high school, and I was never seen as a field hockey player who would make it into a top tier school. Playing division 1 hockey after seeing only twenty-four seconds of varsity play time my freshman year of high school was beyond all expectations that I ever imagined.

So when that dream came to an end on April 14, I found myself grieving for a long time. But that was when my world was so small compared to what it is now. Now, I have actually seen the world. Now when I fly over a country, instead of walk or drive past a place, I can remember a time; a second, a minute, an hour, a day, even a month that I spent in a country. And I have no regrets.

The past three and a half months of my life were unexplainably, undeniably, unbelievable. I saw so many things, walked so many miles, met so many people, and learned more about myself than I ever have in my entire life because of this trip.

The truth is moments can either make us or break us. I let a moment break my last year. But not this time. This time the moments made me, and I made the most of those moments.

I want to thank you for joining me in my travels: seeing the places that I saw…reading my entries—both boring and entertaining, learning different Italian words, and opening my many emails throughout the semester. This semester was a blessing in disguise, and I am glad I had people to share it with. Now that I am back in the states, I have had to readjust. I slip at dinner and say grazie instead of thank you, and when I walk into a store I am taken back by how fast someone speaks English to me. Sometimes I think of how I am supposed to respond in Italian, and then realize the clerks are looking at me awaiting a response…I have been Romanized, and I hope that you feel a bit Romanized as well. It has truly been the adventure of a life time.

“Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. We leave our homes for work, acting, and even believing that we will reach our destinations with no unusual event startling us out of our set expectations. The truth is we know nothing, not where our cars will fail or when our buses will stall, whether our places of employment will be there when we arrive, or whether, in fact, we ourselves will arrive whole and alive at the end of our journeys. Life is pure adventure.” -Maya Angelou

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Rome will collapse if I don't see you tomorrow"

Word of the Post: YIKES (YIKES)

When my friend Steph and I told eachother that Rome would collapse if we didn't see eachother today before leaving to go back to the states...we weren't serious. Apparently the father of rain took us seriously though, as rain has been pounding the city of Rome for days and nights now. Wednesday night I awoke to booms six times throughout the night. The next morning I woke up and proclaimed that their must have been an earthquake. On my way to school this week, I got hailed on twice. And last night when I came back from our apperitivo the Tiber River was the highest I had seen it since I came to Rome-and today the river was even higher. Forget it being the highest I have ever seen the river since being is the highest the river has been in FORTY years.

Forget Alitalia strikes being the reason that I could have possibly not made it home tomorrow--The Tiber River could potentially burst its banks and flood the streets of Rome leaving us stranded in our apartment or causing us to be evacuated but to where?--Awesome.

One man died today trying to help another man with his flooded car. Two people died in other flooded parts of Italy through the course of the last few days as well.

This morning while we climbed the Cast of San'Angelo, we saw police men racing towards a bridge, so we raced towards an opening of the Cast, to watch why they were running. Then we saw why. A houseboat had been ripped from the bank upstream and had come downstream in the current...The water was raised so high on the arches so we anticipated the upcoming crash...People ran towards the bridge to watch as we peered from up above..."here it comes," ... "IMPACT." The crashing sound echoed up to us, and we were stunned. The three of us as well as other onlookers had our digital video cameras out catching all the action...None of us could believe what we had just seen. A house...that was a boat... had just crashed into a bridge. We went back home and told our housemates about it, and then went on with our day.

I went to see Steph -- so Rome shouldn't collapse. On my way back from visiting with Steph I looked out to the bridge to see if the remains of the boat house were still there... No the boat house was no longer there...but something now much bigger was two arches over--A ship, turned sideways attached to its dock.

The rain has slowed, and we haven't been evacuated (hopefully if we are--it is to the airport)...and now all we can do is wait--and watch as arches now shaped like mouths begin eating more structures and river debri...

For more news visit

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I hope he comes out Soccer positive....

Word of the Post: Giornale (Newspaper)

I like to keep up with the news on a day-to-day basis here. Some things are extremely over-written about: See articles on Economy, Elections, California Wildfires. And then there are some that are extremely wild...literally: See article on coyote found in Sears in Lower Nazareth, Pennsylvania...he would make a great mascot.

However, the latest news in my New York Times message box has revolved around the World News of: Athens, The Entertainment of: Twilight, and the Science News of: DNA testing to determine what sport your kid will be good at. My previous two posts were about the first two mentioned stories. Here is my post on DNA testing....

Freedom of choice. I always loved having this right in my family when I grew up. I love having the right to choose which party I will vote for, and the right to choose which vegetables I want to eat, but more than anything I have appreciated my right to choose which sports I want to play. Maybe I have been lucky to have parents who gave me that choice, or maybe I am just lucky that there was never a DNA test when I was little to tell me which sport that I should be enrolled in because it would be the one that I would excel in.

After reading the recent New York Times article, “Born to Run? Little Ones Get Test for Sports Gene,” I couldn’t help but laugh. Had my parents been able to have me tested to find out if I would be good at a certain sport or any sports for that matter, I think the test might have told them “couch potato.” I am not your ideal athlete. I am not petite, I don’t have the quickest feet, and my numbers during athletics testing never appear high. You see numbers mean nothing to me. If you put me in a game I have cat-like reflexes, I can get down the field hockey field quickly, I can read passes and see things develop, and I can step-up my game 110%. Maybe it is adrenaline or maybe it is skill, but nothing can test your ability like a real game, and that includes DNA testing.

It is one thing to test for a disease that may be treated; it’s another hedge your child’s sporting bet. It also raises another subject that has already been a concern: the elitism of contemporary youth sports. Not everyone will be able to afford such a test. Can you imagine the kids on the court mocking the others, “My test was basketball positive, yours wasn’t.” or “I got tested soccer positive, and you couldn’t even get a test…you suck.”

And as for the parents reactions. I can see the latest headlines now: “Father drowns son after DNA test.” The story to follow would read something like this: “On Monday afternoon, little Tommy was running around his backyard playing stickball with the neighbors. By Wednesday morning, Tommy was found in the river. On Tuesday, Tommy’s father, Tom Sr. brought his boy to the doctor because he wanted to make sure his son would be the football player that he had been in high school. The DNA test came back saying the exact opposite. The DNA test actually read: sorry Tom Sr. your son will be in the Nutcracker ballet one day. This drove Tom Sr. to throw little Tommy in the river.”

Then there is the idea of choice. Say little Tommy goes and gets his DNA test done and it tells Tom Sr. that his son will be a football star. Then Tom Sr. goes home and says to his son, “NO MORE STICKBALL,” tapes a football to his hands, and says you run back and forth across the yard with this, eight hours a day, because you are going to be a running back for the Packers one day. Little Tommy becomes tall Tommy who would be much better fitted for basketball but is sitting on the bench of the junior varsity football team because his dad never let him have the choice. Poor Tommy.

Of course this is an extreme case. I would hope no father would be mad enough to throw his son in the river, and I would hope that no father would tape a football to his son’s hands to a football (how would he eat, write, or read anyway?) But I think that DNA testing to determine what sport your kid will be best at is better off left undone. What if Michael Phelps parents had brought him to the doctor and they told him that he would be the fastest man alive, and the parents took that as if he would be the fastest track runner—not swimmer. Then we wouldn’t have our world record holder from the 2008 Olympics!

A mentor of mine told me she was very lucky to have the parents she did, because they let her choose her hobby of choice. She could have chosen finger painting if she wanted, but she chose field hockey. It was up to her to figure out what she was best at and do it, and she found that thing and she was great at it.

A friend of mine’s little brother is enrolled in every sport there is, and now his problem is that he doesn’t know which sport he will ever pick at the high school level because he just likes them all too much!

Last, a friend of mine was a natural swimmer, a state champion as a freshman, but will be going on to play field hockey at a Division 1 school instead of swimming because it is what she loves. And no DNA test can read what you will love.

The Twilight Zone

Word of the Post: Andare al Cinema (To go to the movies)

Irresistibly corny.

The last time I used those two words together, I was talking about an ‘N Sync Christmas album. This time I am talking about the latest sensation for teen girls and women nationwide, the movie, Twilight directed by Catherine Hardwicke. I am not one to give into the hype of book series. When I was younger, I read the Babysitter’s Club to make my mother happy, but I never really enjoyed it. When I got to the end of elementary school and began middle school, the new rage was the wizard, Harry Potter. I am proud to say that to this day, I have never read a Harry Potter book. The next series on everyone’s list was Lord of the Rings, and again I can proudly say that I have never picked up a Lord of the Rings book. Sure, last year I gave in and read Something Borrowed (Emily Giffin) followed by it’s sequel Something Blue, but I didn’t give in because it was the hype, I gave in because I hadn’t read a quality book since 1984 by George Orwell in my senior year of high school. Many Italians are chain smokers, but while I have been over here in Italy, us American students have been chain reading the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer.

I have never been a fan of movies that have stemmed from books. My only exception to this rule has been the beloved David Fincher film, Fight Club. The Borrowers (1997) directed by Peter Hewitt was a let down, Pride and Prejudice (2005) directed by Joe Wright was a major let down, and needless to say Stuart Little (1999) directed by Rob Minkoff was the ultimate let down. I don’t really know what I was expecting walking into the new release of Twilight. I had an inkling of an idea as I read through the reviews posted in various newspapers, and as I heard friends in my program in Italy ranting about what they loved about the movie (mostly the male protagonist Edward played by Robert Pattinson) and what they hated about the movie (mostly the female protagonist Bella played by Kristen Stewart). But I had to go see it none-the-less, since even I gave in to the hype of the series to begin with.

And the only words that I can use to really describe the film are “irresistibly corny.” Maybe it is Edward’s changing eyes, or his cold pale skin, or his subtle grin, or maybe it is the random clever lines thrown in once in a while (especially right near the end of the movie) or the desire for the movie to slightly differ from the book in one particular way-which of course it could never do, that makes it so irresistible. But it is definitely the acting, the effects, the unforeseen gore, and the general dialogue that contributes to the corniness. Lines using the word “monkey,” and “buddy” come to mind.

The acting is below subpar, well at least on Stewart’s part, the special effects are elementary as the characters almost seem to be moving robotically when they are supposed to be moving faster. They leave out key scenes, and everyone who has read the book would know what I am talking about. Things that took 150 pages in the book to occur take only the first half-hour of the movie to occur, jumping from one thing to another with no middle explanation. I understand that with a 450 page book there have to be cuts somewhere, but did they really have to cut out some of the pieces that really stood out in the book? They even leave out the most romantic scenes, and take away from the ones that are supposed to be romantic throughout the movie. The only exception is the piano scene where Edward sits perfectly playing “Bella’s Lullaby” by Carter Burwell—which he is actually playing himself in the movie. The director has added scenes that never take place in the book, and the director has changed scenes, scenes that were better left untouched, but I guess that always happens in movies taken from books. Still, I wonder if Stephanie Meyer really had any say in the screenplay for the film that they adapted from her novel.

While most scenes were filled with previously mentioned corny lines and more, some scenes were played well, but I could just be biased—since I am a huge baseball fan and my favorite scene happens to be the baseball scene. Something about the music, the lighting, and the sound just all seem to come together in this one scene, as the family whips around the bases, the ball ricochets off of trees, and the lighting falls to a dull gray with colors faded into it. It is almost like a real family playing stickball in their backyard, and it is about as real as the family gets to being mortal.

Yet, while the movie still borders on a corny darker 21st Century version of a Peter Pan (the immortal and his mortal girl), it is still irresistible in going to see—especially if you have read the also irresistibly corny book that doesn’t fail to also produce the same corny repetitive lines.

It’s like a guy with bad pick-up lines—you just keep falling for it, but yet you aren’t quite sure why.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I almost went to Athens this past weekend...

Word of the Post: Una Manifestazione (Student Riot/Student Strike/Protest)

My childhood best friend is currently studying in Athens, Greece. When I was making plans to travel this semester, Athens was on the top of my list. I figured that I would get to visit my friend, I would get to enjoy some sunshine, and I would get to see one of my favorite structures-The Parthenon. In October, I looked up flights to Athens from Rome and found one for $125 for this past weekend. It was our long weekend so I would have been able to go for approximately 5-6 days...I am a pretty spontaneous spender (at least my mom would say so), so I almost instantly took up the offer on the cheap flight. As far as I was concerned Athens would be my home for my final weekend in Europe. Then something clicked inside of me--I wanted to spend my last weekend in Europe, in the country that I had lived in for the entire semester. Thank god for that decision.

Apparently Italy is not the only European country that has student protests, riots, and strikes. Greece does too.

Currently, students are rioting like crazy in Greece. And I don't mean 1 million person strike like the one here where students marched through the streets. No, in Greece they are lighting things on fire, destroying hotels, setting off small bombs, and destroying things. It is madness, and I was supposed to be there this past weekend. I can only imagine what my mom would have been emailing me the entire weekend while I was there... "Are you okay?" "Has your hostile, or apartment been lit on fire" "Let me know when you are back in Rome safe." No worries Mom, I am safe and sound in my lovely Roman apartment. But I still worry about my friend who is seeing all of this out her Athens window...and to think I almost went to Athens this past weekend...

If you would like to read the assosicated press article:,0,5381314.story

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Few Roman Myths

Word of the Post: Bugie (Lies)

Before I came to Rome, I was told MANY things that I may encounter here. However, most of these things, I have no encountered, and this is the list of those things:

1. Small portions - I have had one small meal since I have been here, and that is because I cut it in half.

2. Baby throwers- I was told gypsies would throw babies at me to steal my money. I haven't encountered any baby throwers yet. I haven't seen a baby thrower yet. I haven't even seen a gypsie holding a baby--just many homeless people with dogs as their companions.

3. Bag stealers. Maybe I don't walk around by myself enough, or maybe I just keep a close enough eye on my purse--but I haven't encountered any of these, or seen any of these yet either. And the only vespa driver who even tried to reach for my bag was in the French Rivs, not Italy.

4. Spiderman- I don't see men scaling buildings to go in and steal everyones belongings.

5. A jeanless Rome- people wear jeans here.

6. They hate Americans- they actually like Americans--well the ones who like Obama at least.

7. Spaghetti and Meatballs- Sorry folks this is an American misconception. They never serve them together.

8. Fettucini Alfredo- They don't really know what alfredo sauce is.

9. They don't wear shorts- Not all of them do, but they don't NEVER wear shorts.

10. You can easily hop buses without a ticket- Not true, plenty of my friends have been busted and owed a 160 EURO fine.

11. Bread w/ Olive Oil- They don't dip, just us.

12. They don't drink to get drunk- OH YES...SOME OF THEM DO.

Things you may not have known about Rome...

Word of the Post: Io bisogno ti dire ( I need to tell you)

Here are all the things you may have never been told about Rome-Italy-and Italians.

1. A lot of the population have not been inside the Colosseum.
2. If Rome voted in our election, McCain wouldn't have even been on the radar at all.
3. Cups of coffee are miniature--food portions are not.
4. T-shirts are allowed.
5. The men selling random toys on the street don't know Italian.
6. Bargain deals--if a scarf is being sold for 8, you can normally get it down to 5.
7. Sandals are not a Roman thing.
8. Many churches actually lock their doors on Sundays.
9. Wifi sucks here.
10. Protests every day.
11. They listen to more American music than Italian (at least from what I have heard).
12. They play American music during their street protests.
13. Gyms are in basements and cost A LOT.
14. Rome is walkable.
15. It HAILS a lot.
16. Romans are never on time.
17. Bus drivers will stop mid route for a smoke break.
18. Never fly Alitalia.
19. Notebooks are expensive.
20. Postcards reach the US in a matter of days.