30 October 2007

recap: italia!

Before I forget all detail, and am left only with the pure shiny beautiful-ness that was my trip to Italy, I'm going to try to do the trip justice by jotting down some of the good and not-so-good moments. I'll try to be succinct ;) and if you don't care so much for words, but just want to see pics, Venice pics are up on my flickr account (soon to be labeled)- working to get more up soon.

Travel day(s) to Milan:
up at 3am in Santa Barbara to catch 7am flight from LAX. Upgraded to roomy bulkhead seating next to sweet rancher from Wyoming. About -4 hours to Milan, begin fantasizing about change of clothes and fresh face application. Arrive at Milan to find my luggage stayed back at JFK, apparently to visit friends and take in the nightlife before joining me 3 days later at the villa. Later, at train station, I buy a ticket for Lucca, and call family to let them know ETA.

I wander around for a while, buy a caffe, wander back inside. Fortunate! as the train is about to leave. I get on, wandering until I find my seat, which is occupied by an adolescent with a nordic accent. His father looks at my ticket and points out that my ticket is for Florence, but the train I'm on is bound for Venice (in my defense, in Italian Venice=Venezia, Florence=Firenze. I think I saw that telltale Z on the platform placard and assumed I was in the right place...). At this EXACT moment, the platform wranglers have wrangled all the stragglers onto the train, as it's leaving within seconds. I see my window of last-minute opportunity, and I go for it- pushing people out of my way, felling small children with my overstuffed backpack. I make it back to the doorway LITERALLY as the it's sliding shut. By some grace of god, there's a gaggle of train station employees just outside that particular door. Wild-eyed and crazy as only a clueless Americana can be, I beat on the window to attract someone's attention. A man looks at me (and really, I must have looked cartoonish at this point!) asks what's wrong. I yell that I'm on the wrong train! He shrugs his shoulders in mock pity, and at that moment, the train pulls away from the platform. Do you believe that the cosmos have a sense of humor? I kinda do ;) I have to laugh and marvel at this little experience, simply because it couldn't have been timed any better had it been scripted.

A few more mishaps, and I arrive in Lucca, 12 hours after arriving in Milan (a normal, coherent person could have done it in 5 or so).

I think I'll leave off here. Charlie Brown and the Great Punkin Patch is on, and my roommates have pumpkin cheesecake.

sweetness & light.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here in this particular space (though I'm sure it's come out in conversations with some), but one of my favorite and most regularly visited websites is the daily puppy. It's like crack for people who love dogs, as evidenced here, here, and here, and... here. The pictures are good for a daily dosage of pure cuteness, but I also love the narrative for each dog, and the comments people leave about the pictures. Pure love. Pure puppy love.

It's been a long week. Coming back from such an amazing vacay is tough work (and, not surprisingly, almost no one gives any kind of sympathy for this complaint). Plus, all new classes started up on Tuesday (which I somehow made it to, despite total jet lag combined with lack of sleep). It's also the last module of my training, and I'm feeling that old familiar feeling: SENIORITIS! (in a manner of speaking.) All the symptoms are there: lack of interest, little enthusiasm, no drive to complete tasks/assignments on time, overwhelming desire to skate through remaining portion of class time without actually exerting any effort. I'm fighting it though. Unlike the last time I was marinating in the jowls of this particular ailment, I'm fighting it by actually trying to get my work done, rather than by rousing my Bennie sistren to join me for *every day in May, Middy stylee. 7 more weeks until I hold the cert card of all cert cards in my hand:

23 October 2007

au retour.

It always seems so quiet when I get home after a trip. Maybe it's the contrast between the din of an airplane cabin and the rattles of my car, but somehow entering my own room always feels so quiet and serene upon return.

Home from the trip, back to school tomorrow. Everything in Italy was amazing- Lucca, Pisa, Florence, Venice, and Cinque Terre (my favorite day of the trip!). Traveling to and from was kind of a nightmare logistically (lost luggage, demolished luggage, missed connections, late flights, wrong trains), but it really had no bearing on the trip itself, apart from mild frustration. It was sort of like eating a good hard salami, with a nice stinky cheese, but then stuffing it between 2 pieces of Wonder bread. Yeah, kind of like that.

There was lots of walking, and wandering, and churches, and museums, and eating, and gelato, nice shoes, euro fashions, people watching, and on-the-fly translation.

Molto bene, as the Italians would say (I think).

12 October 2007


I know you can't see me, but I'm doing that backward wave thing, so commonly attributed to the Italians. Some of the things I'm saying goodbye to for the week:

Desks and textbooks and manuals and timekeeping devices, computers, phones and work. To the devil with you (for the next 8 days)!

In the upper right you'll see a few photos, something I've been using like a visualization, to help make the trip seem more real. If you look closely you'll see me with Jeannie, Red Fuzz, and Mee-gan Kelly at the Colosseum; above that, with my arm raised in mock Euro food approval gesture with Amy in a cafe in a small town somewheres, eating pasta, drinking table wine; and standing with Mic above a canal in a very cold Venice of winter '96/'97.

Can you believe I'm going back?? I'm so excited I could pee my pants.

10 October 2007

t minus.

2 tests down, 1 to go.

Today I finished my Surface Supplied Ocean Diving final, and my welding final. 1 more day of class/lab, 1 quiz, and my mixed gas diving final and I'm finished with the first half of my (hopefully) last semester at Marine Tech. I cannot believe it's already half over. There's a part of me that's so excited, and ready for a change, so hungry to earn a living again, but also a part of me that's in simple disbelief. I was pondering this today, that in a few months, I'll actually be a licensed and certified commercial diver. Wicked. But also really bizarre. I mean, I knew that's what I was going for when I started the program, but I didn't really think, just one short year ago, that I'd actually be preparing to move to the Gulf of Mexico to actually do this work.

After my exams today, I allowed myself the luxury of doing a wee bit of shopping. I'm not sure what it is about travel, but I always get the urge to buy just one or two new things, some comfy walking shoes perhaps, a sweater for those chilly Venetian nights...

09 October 2007

hot tamale.

I'm taking all my finals this week, a week early. I'm really, really agitated, stressed, a little scared, preoccupied, plus many other adverbs (are they adverbs? i think they're adverbs) which describe my present mental state. Outwardly I think I seem ok, but on the inside it's like... it's like if you took a chihuahua, and fed it some caffeine-coated jumping beans, washed it down with a red bull+espresso concoction. Here's a glimpse:

May the heavens see me through til I board my flight Saturday morning ;)

06 October 2007

just so.

Today is a day off. It wasn't meant to be, but circumstances have colluded so that here I sit, with no plans, and no work to go to until much, much later. I slept 11 hours last night, waking up this morning just shy of 11am. I know studies have shown you can't make up for lost sleep, but I think I disagree with them. I was pretty damn tired last night, and it felt really good not to set my alarm, to just languish in bed this morning. Mostly I plan to hang out and do homework today, drink coffee, maybe call computer support and inquire where my desktop items might have scampered off to yesterday afternoon. I do sort of wish I had a manservant, a valet at my beck and call, who I could send out for soy milk and condensed milk for a delicious coffee concoction, but instead I guess I'll have to leave the apartment for 15 minutes.

The seasons don't change much here, but it's definitely beginning to feel like autumn. The sun is beginning to hang lower in the sky, and yesterday we even turned the heat on at the restaurant, and shut the door. But of course, this isn't typical of Santa Barbara autumn. September and October are generally pretty warm and sunny, with many outdoor festivals. I think the current conditions (chilly & windy) are something of an anomaly. I kind of like it though, wearing my sweater around during the day, bundling up at night, shutting all the windows. I might even wear a hat when I go out for milk.

05 October 2007

10 years gone.

My favorite possession is my passport, which I relinquished to the man a few months ago, in order to be issued a new one. One of the things I'm proudest of in my whole life was a day a few years back, coming back into Kuala Lumpur with my beau of the moment after a splendiferously lovely and tumultuous (my relationship with this particular beau seemed to thrive on arguing and alienation, tempered by the eventual makeup) diving excursion to the Perhentian Islands, off the east coast of Malaysia (or it may have been after our visit to Borneo, which sounds cooler and more exotic, but I can't be certain which). It was upon this visit to that great city that I was finally forced to make my way to the American Embassy to have supplemental visa pages sewn into my passport:

I had received some chiding and abuse at border crossings by officials searching for room to stamp my passport, but this was during the whole SARS thing and not long after 9/11, plus there'd been some shenanigans (bombings) in various parts of Asia, and the US had just invaded Iraq, so border crossings, in general, were not extremely pleasant.

The process of applying for the added pages was simple, no drama involved, no ceremony, it was important, momentous only to me. Basically I walked into the embassy office, located in a remote industrial-type area, filled out some paperwork, and waited, just like any other bureaucratic undertaking.

The funny thing to me about my new passport is that I've received it under just about the same duress at the age of 31 as I did at the age of 20. I leave to travel internationally in 8 days, and just received my passport today. When I applied for my first passport 10 years ago, I also just barely received it in time for my departure.

the more we change, the more we stay the same.

I like looking at this old passport though. All my international travel was done during my 20s. Before I studied in France, I'd never left the country, save for the occasional border crossing at Thunder Bay. The last time I left the country, for the Flanagan wedding in Mexico, was 2 months shy of my 30th birthday. I suppose more than anything, I look back at this sweet, chubby little face, and think about who I was then, such a different person from who I am today.

I'm pretty excited about my new passport. The design is different, with lots of stuff to look at, and quotes to read. It's shiny and new, and simply screaming to be used and abused in typical ang fashion.

03 October 2007

woman's work.

Back from my weekend excursion on the boat. A few pics from the weekend:

"D" dock.

Night dive.


work attire.

view from the swim step (kind of like my office).

The trip was fun, and pretty grueling. The itinerary/my work schedule shaped up to look something like:

Fri. 9pm, underway to Anacapa Is.
Sat. 12am, divers diving @ Anacapa
2am, underway to Santa Cruz Is.
3am, divers diving @ Santa Cruz Is.
4:30am, to to bed, underway to San Nicolas Is. (about 5 hours voyage)
10am-6pm, divers diving
8pm, night dive
11pm, to bed
Sun. 7am-12pm, divers diving
1-5pm, underway to the VC
5-6pm, adieuing divers, cleaning boat.

Hectic and grueling. Fun, amazing divers. Beautiful islands and elephant seals! in native habitat at San Nick. Definitely hard work though.

One of the definite benefits of having roommates about is the sharing of meals together, and the conversations that arise over wine and tequila on a Tuesday evening.

I came home from school today and, having accomplished so much in the morning/afternoon, decided to take the night for myself, cook up a little butternut squash soup, do a little reading, turn in early. I sometimes have these ideas, and most of the time the ideas get upended by other plans that come flitting into my consciousness. Mostly, though, I end up chatting with my roommate, Claudia, about life in general. Our conversation about life in general began this evening around 5pm, continued up to, and after a viewing of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and finally concluded around 11:30pm, after a few bottles of vino and some tequila sippin. We are like minded of many, many topics, and have a hard time stopping the talking once underway.