Friday, December 17, 2010

elyssa: chez cafe nola

location: back on the mountain

studying furiously in anticipation of christmas, and everything this next week will bring :)

just a quick post to let you know that im at our place. dont worry - im holding down the fort.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

elyssa: exams and snow

location: toronto (hardly leaving the apt)

winter is in full swing

grilled cheese is the lunch du jour.

goat gouda with leftover thanksgiving cranberry and sweet potatoes. mmm.

studying the night away. keeping to my 1 hr daily gym goal. the gym has never felt so good.

current obsessions: fava beans. lupini beans. what to get my loved ones for christmas?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

elyssa: thankful

location: toronto (post-family departure)

apologies for the belated t-day post - it has been a wonderful start to the holiday season. i am so thankful: for the beautiful food consumed this past week. for the loving hands that prepared it. for friendships undeterred by distance. for a surprising turn of events. for my faith. for love.

oh and for the hope that this time next year the holidays will no longer go hand in hand with the ominous cloud of exams. it's definitely time to seriously hit the books.

all day i've been carrying with me the warm and fuzzy afterglow of our 6 day thanksgiving festivities. definitely not conducive to productivity - so i'm off to starbucks to shake off those cozy vibes and get to organizing the next 20 days of studying frenzy. stressful - but nothing that cant be solved with a good list/calendar combo.

for now, a thanksgiving week recap:

most days started off with breakfast in the apartment. a frittata seemed like a good and easy way to feed all 6 of us.

cheddar, bell peppers, tomato, basil

clearly high-fashion was a must.

at least we clean up well.

lovely dinners out.

but nothing compared to the big day.

t-day preparations started bright and early. we took turns. shared and helped. the day flew by and culminated in a beautiful feast enjoyed by 20 friends and fam. so. much. food.

enough left over for a turkey pot pie whipped up by my mom just minutes before she left for the airport. aaannd enough turkey and fixins in the fridge to feed an army of exam-season starving students.

new goals:

unfortunately, my abs and bum challenge (previous post) is going to have to take a back seat to exams. no biggie. for now, the goal is to maintain a daily exercise regime during the busiest time of the year. regardless of how much i can do, the idea is always to do something. it makes me feel better. it makes me think better. i really think exercising makes me smarter. so i'll keep at it.

current obsessions:

goat yogurt. finding the perfect new years dress. surviving exams.

ps happy belated dearest bff. wish i could have celebrated with you.

Monday, November 29, 2010

hira: we all float on alright

current location: SAA library, at uni. blogging in increments, in-between writing essays and practicing my italian conjugations.

a new week brings a chance for mending relationships--relationships with others, but just as vital, relationships with oneself. rites of passage. new chapters. closed doors. this last week was officially deemed 'birthday week, version 21', and it was filled with wonderful surprises, dinners, and late-night renditions of classic hits (i.e. spice girls and oasis), and plenty of long walks, writing, and a trip to sardegna. yes.

before i leave you with a slew of photographs from the birthday festivities, there is one last thing for which i am grateful. something that i did not post about in my previous thanksgiving post--that of community. community in italia--because when surrounded by a group of friends with the same information, the same passions but differing means of achieving similar goals, you are moving in the same direction. you not only make yourself* but also tap into a stronger and swifter current; a current that has moved past the great thinkers behind you and surely will move those who come later. i am grateful for running into strangers on the other side of the world, looking for the same things and are willing to keep me company. italians love their routines, their regulars--regular customers, regular bars, regular markets. i have definitely found this in my neighborhood gelaterria, pizzeria, pane e amore cafe, salon, palestra, pub, uni, etc. we are all telling each other's stories.

fifty years ago, Simon and Garfunkle produced a chart-topping album retrospectively described as "a meditation on the passage of life and the psychological impact of life's irreversible, ever-accumalating losses". this last week was just that. a long, drawn-out and active meditation. that's how i like it. I just finished a book called Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, a nonfictional account of Paul Rabinow's time in Morocco in the 1960's, and I came across a ringing bell: dépaysement. this French word was similar to an Italian word I'd discovered with delight some days before, spaesato, in a magazine article about the plight of Italy's current youth generation. I noted paese, or country, and the prefix s, which usually indicates an opposite like un- or dis- in english. un-countried. the electronic dictionary told me it meant 'out of one's element; uncomfortable.' a state of unease for lack of being in one's own homeland. Rabinow, describing the various personal and historical reasons for setting off for North Africa, was compelled by Lévi-Strauss's obscure concept of dépaysement, a "paradoxical call for a distancing that would allow one to return more profoundly home."

yes, that sounds about right.

anyway, so i turned 21. i celebrated with friends here in torino, and then flew south to italy's second island Sardegna--to it's capital, Cagliari. here is evidence.

pizzeria on genova. my favorite.

nelli and valentina.

an after-uni surprise on my bed--balloons, a card, and an apron from venice. they know me well.

this is awk.

insert about three hours of sleep, and exam, and then...

boarding pass for cagliari, passport, and a side of pasolini's A Violent Life

views from atop the bastione di saint remy.

there are lots of stairs and hills in cagliari.

beautiful streets in the city's Castello region

piazza porta palazzo, Castello region, views from the duomo

three days of an un-lonely solitude. it was an adventure.

oh, before i forget: my coffee in the cuneo airport on the way to sardegna--a heart.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

hira: they DO have turkeys in italia

current location: pane & amore, staring out the windowpane at the first snowfall of the season.

we both know that the values and traditions that come with the thanksgiving holiday should be practiced daily---nonetheless, i have so much for which i am thankful this year. my first thanksgiving spent away from home in Maryland proved to be a success.

currently thankful for:

my mom who will clean my room for me even when im not there and will shop for me, placing things on my bed that will await my return, my hardworking father, my best friend who shares this blog with me and still loves me 10 years later, my friends around the world that have tuned into extended family, the opportunity to live and study in italy for the semester, common sense, christmas lights, international students, creamy cappuccinos, torino's public transportation, black opaque tights, the ability to appreciate solitude, the love of company, a working washing machine, friends who will travel across continents for visits, the fact that GROM stays open in the winter months, amazing people who will cook turkey for me, great directors turned friends (and their patience), a body that bounces back after indulgent meals or exercise-less weeks, a warm bed, a full fridge, my parents trust, and my faith that keeps me composed.

forty pounds of turkey. so starts thanksgiving.

the usual sides: potatoes, corn, salad, stuffing.

initially, i thought to myself--'i wish i was home, so that i could eat sweet potatoes, and spelt pumpkin bread, and quinoa.' and then i thought of something Hannah wrote to me "if you make everywhere your home, then you never are homesick". besides, having food and laughter in a safe place--what else could i ask for?

no pumpkin pie. in italia, we are served tiramisu. i'll take it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

hira: gypsies drink coffee too

currently: further procrastinating my italian cinema homeworks. sipping a macchiato.


what a concept. in high school, i used to religiously drink starbucks and port city java coffees and lattes before or after school---coffee dates were trendy. since then, i had drastically cut back in favor of more gentle teas.

now that i'm in italia, caffe is never far from my reach. bars (not american bars that feature solely alcohol; it italy, a bar refers to a coffeeshop) are found on every corner and are often filled with regulars, stopping in for a caffe and a quick chat.

my friend mihai, originally romanian but now lives and studies in torino, works at his family bar in the evenings--i sometimes go there just to hang out, do some reading, and drink plenty of macchiatos, cappuccinos, and before-dinner aperitivos.

mihai, probably making me a macchiato, as he generously offers me plenty of drinks whenever i come by

evening lull, we close the bar and enjoy some music, drinks, and conversation before leaving to meet other friends

planning my life. lists. always.

this week is looking quite busy, but full of wondrous celebrations, and i am thrilled to be able to spend the beginning of the holiday season here in italia. birthdays and thanksgiving--i have a lot for which i am thankful.

and so it begins...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

hira: embracing the rain

typical european weather occurring right now--cold and rainy. you know me--running out of the house with weather-inappropriate clothes and footwear is pretty normal for me. not here. i have to wear my coat and boots and scarves, often carrying an umbrella and sometimes adding gloves. this kind of weather usually scares me, tempting me to stay indoors and thus contradicting my need to always 'be doing something'--i go stir crazy if i am inside for too long.

so i've been embracing the rain and exploring, since that is what makes me the happiest. exploring and walking and meeting interesting people who teach me new things. cooking in simplicity. inspired by stone soups's five ingredient lifestyle.

kamut farfalle pasta tossed with a simple sauce of zucchini, local chicken, [homemade] roasted red pepper, and freshly grated asiago cheese.

when i can't get a good natural light through my kitchen window (always), i run my food to my window in the bedroom. quickly, before my food gets cold and i'm usually hungry by this point.

holiday season has arrived--store windows arrange for christmas displays and the city is decorated with a plethora of holiday-themed art nouveu---different streets and piazzas are lit up, decorated with colorful lights and symbolism, giving the city a new perspective:

walking down via lagrange, one can walk along and read another line of a story

via roma, lined with arches of a man and women, forever joined in a romantic harmony. italians...

piazza carlo felice, decorated with multi-colored bulbs built specially to reflect their colors in specific directions and intricate ways.

reflected into the two churches, one originally built for the poor and one for the rich

under the 'flying carpet'--red, white and green lights for the 150th year of the unification of italy.

birds flying down via garibaldi

piazza castello

i have a mild obsession with the acute angular corners that are so popular in torino

current goals:

1) why is it that as soon as winter arrives, my water intake decreased drastically? i need to keep working on this. i carry my bright green water bottle with me everywhere.

2) 28 days left in torino. make every day count.