Sunday, November 4, 2012

'Tis the Season to be Thankful: Mama

As I'm sitting here at my table eating a delicious burrito made from the taco meat my mom brought down several weeks ago (no one panic - it's been frozen all this time), I thought, "Hey, I'm really thankful for this premade food," which led to, "Hey, I'm really thankful for the mom who premade this food." These are just several of the many things I love about my mommy :)

1) She knows me best. This stems from the fact that I'm incredibly similar to my mom. Not only do most people think we look a lot alike, we are also extremely like-minded. We react to situations in much the same manner, so my mom knows when I'm going to be upset/stressed/excited, etc.  She knows exactly how long to let me rant before cutting me off and saying, "Enough is enough." Which leads to #2...

2) She is wise. Just this past week, I was complaining to my mom about an annoying feminist girl in one of my classes. Per usual, my mom listened to me for several minutes before dropping a truth bomb on me. She simply told me this: "Sarah, not everyone grew up like you, surrounded by men who value the opinions and actions of women. Not everyone grew up with a father who loves and respects his wife." In essence, I have no idea what storms this girl has walked through. My mom reminded me to look through this girl's eyes before I claim knowledge of her heart. Which leads to #3...

3) She is kind. She cares about other people's feelings and needs, she listens, she encourages (I have a stack of cards my mom has given me over the years, usually with a verse or two, encouraging me to keep running my race), she teaches, she tells it how it is. She doesn't put nuts in brownies because I don't like them even though she does. She doesn't make meatballs when my dad is around because he doesn't like them.  I have not seen heads or tails of a mushroom in our house my entire life because none of the rest of us like them even though my mom LOVES mushrooms. In high school, my mom would stay up late with me some nights when I had lots of homework, simply to keep me company. She loves me even when I am unlovely.

4) She buys me salt water taffy. And if you know me, that's the surest way into my heart :)

God has truly blessed me with a Proverbs 31 mother:
"She is clothed with strength and dignity...She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue...Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her...a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Yes, I am bragging about my mom because she deserves it. Mom, I am thankful for you always! I love you :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'Tis the Season to be Thankful: Mundane

I love writing things when I have a topic to write about. I'm not good at pulling things out of thin air, so I thought, "Hey, it's almost Thanksgiving (sort of...I wish) - I should write about things I'm thankful for!" This thought process also coincides with major conviction regarding the angst that is so prevalent in my life. Thus, by reminding myself and writing about all of the 3,098,403,803,834 things I have to be thankful for, I'm hoping to offer myself some help in the anger management department :) Tell me what you're thankful for, too!

Item #1 that I'm thankful for: Mundane Tasks.

You're probably thinking, "She's crazy..." (HA! I caught you!'re right).  But seriously, I love little tasks that are so perfunctory and mindless and seemingly boring. Like dishes. Each night before I go to bed, I trek upstairs with the dishes I've accumulated during the day, and I wash them. It takes me like 5 minutes maximum so it's quick, easy, and painless. One of the only activities of my day that falls into all three of those categories.

Mundane task #2 - making my bed. Yeah, I never used to do this. Until I came to college and started spending my entire existence in my bedroom, and I realized that an unmade bed was a serious distraction - napping just seems like the only feasible activity when my rumpled covers beckon to me! Now, I make my bed every morning right after I get up to A) prevent me from getting right back in bed and B) provide several peaceful moments in which I struggle to accustom my mind to the chore of being conscious. Haha.

I think one thing I am thankful for about these tasks is the fact that they really cannot be done wrong. And they are built in moments of my day that I don't have to be completely focused or paying attention. This does not mean that I'm dying to come do your dishes or make your bed. But I am learning to appreciate these tasks as unavoidable facts of life that I might as well enjoy because it's better than grumbling for an extra ten minutes every day.

P.S. I'm also grateful it's starting to feel like fall in ABQ!
P.P.S. Someone should do a statistical study on how my blogging rate has a positive correlation with how much homework I have to do...

Bonne soirée!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


What the heck.  The semester is already half over, and I've been really bad about updating this bloggy-blog. Oh well, one day I'll have a college diploma to prove that I actually do stuff with my time other than watch online TV.  Speaking of online TV...LET ME JUST RAVE FOR A MINUTE. Oh my gosh. Blue Bloods has to be one of the best shows going right now. If you're not watching it, you should be.  That's all. life...

I'm really busy.  I have a job (yay, income!), Young Life is so much fun, and school is wild and crazy, but this is probably the most interesting semester of education yet. I love my roommates and my housemates (welcome, Elliott Clay Collins!), and I'm finally feeling the coolness of fall in the air :) Yippee!

Also, I'm thinking of changing my major. Again. Why you might ask (or maybe you wouldn't ask that, but I'm going to tell you anyway).  Well, I want to change my English major to a creative writing endorsement instead of liberal arts.  So nothing too drastic, nobody worry. I really only have about 12 credits until I could graduate, but I'm going to stick around because honestly, I am totally not ready for the real world. I'm scurred. However, I also am really interested in pursuing creative writing. One of my dreams is to be published at some point in my life.  I still want to teach, but maybe one day, when I lead a quiet life living on the Italian coast and sipping wine, I will write a novel. On a typewriter. Or not. But wherever I am, I would love to write.

I've also begun checking into grad schools, and I would absolutely love to go to Columbia's Teacher College.  Yes, that's setting my sights high.  But in my opinion, it's better to dream big than not dream at all. I've always loved the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt - "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." I feel kind of like Oprah writing this post..."Yeah, you go, girl! Believe it and do it, sister!" (or brother - yay, boys who read this!). Seriously, though, don't count yourself out. If I'm going to try to get into Columbia, you have to chase some crazy dream, too. Ready, set, GOOOOO!

Peace and blessings, y'all!!
(You should probably watch this if you haven't yet...

Sunday, September 2, 2012


My roommate Meredith is fantastic. And she has a great blog, and she does this cool thing sometimes where she documents current things in her life so I'm stealing the idea from her.  But I'm not plagiarizing because I just gave her credit. At ease, MLA police...


Reading:  The Kite Runner and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.  Both excellent books.  Kite Runner is seriously such a heart-wrenching story, and it is SO WELL-WRITTEN.  Lovin' me some Khaled Hosseini story-telling, for sure.  I'm probably going to bed really, really, REALLY late tonight because I can't stop reading.  English major problems...Also, I'm not very far in Autobiography yet, but I like it already.  Hefty subject matters but extremely well-written.

Why doesn't the New York Times hire me to review books? Oh yeah, because I'm a 20 year old that doesn't even have a college degree yet...patience...

Watching:  MERLIN. Meredith and I (ok, actually Meredith's amazing sister to whom I'm forever indebted) found season four of BBC's Merlin online on Thursday night.  This show is great.  I love Merlin. And Arthur. And Lancelot. And Gawain. And Gwen.  And Gaius.  And...yeah, you catch my drift.  Also, the US Open tennis tournament is going on right now.  My productivity level is low if you can't tell.  But let's be real, watching Federer gracefully destroy his opponent > Cortes' adventures in the New World.

Thinking About:  Writing a book.  Or a short story.  Afghanistan.  The amount of work I have to do this weekend.  How dang awesome my life is.  The Lobos winning at football - actually, that should go under what is currently blowing my mind...haha.

Anticipating:  Umm...I don't know.  Christmas?  Is it too early to be anticipating that?

Listening to:  I won't bore you with my typical "One Direction, Ed Sheeran" rant (although I am listening to them obviously!).  My dad and I spent the evening reliving the golden age of incredible music as we listened to James Taylor, Cat Stevens, John Denver, and Keith Green.  I am confused as to why these men's voices are not still blasting out of every radio portal in the universe.

Eating:  HAHA. Real question: what am I not currently eating?? Most accurate description of college eating habits I've ever heard: "I don't gain the Freshmen 15 from cafeteria food, I gain it from going home on the weekends and over vacations."  I simultaneously love and hate the stocked refrigerator at my home here in Los Alamos.

Working on:  I'm trying to write some sort of short story/novella about my adventure this summer.  It's one of my goals in life to get something published.  Maybe this is my opportunity!

Wishing:  Weekends never ended.  But then again, if weekends were everyday life, they wouldn't be special :)

Favorite quote at the moment - "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.  The man who never reads lives only one"  (George R.R. Martin)

Friday, August 24, 2012


I took a sabbatical from blogging.  Yeah, I know, I've only been blogging for about four months, why would I need a break?? The truth? I got depressed after I left Rome, and I seriously couldn't write anything.  My life was so much less epic once I got back to the States that I didn't want to depress myself even more by frantically trying to dig up something funny, awesome, or witty that was happening in my life because all I did was sit on the couch and watch the U.S. dominate the Olympics (Ok, let's be real, that was pretty awesome, but I wasn't going to write about the medal count - USAToday had that covered).

So now I'm back in good 'ole Albuquerque, hitting the books once again.  Well, right now I'm not.  As soon as I got done with class today, I promptly returned home, started blasting Ed Sheeran, got my daily dose of One Direction stalking (new single out in October - HOLLER!), shopped online (and bought cute boots!!! So stoked for fall!!), and chatted with Abby for half an hour since neither of us has a life.  See what I mean about my life being much less epic?  I go from dance parties at the Pantheon to laying on my bed creeping on the internet...Annnndddd now my pity party is over.

A side effect of living in Rome for 6 weeks:  I'm an aggressive walker.  I stride around campus like nobody's business, and I get really peeved when people meander along in front of me.  MOVE PEOPLE.  We need walking lanes on campus:  slower traffic keep right.  I'd always be in the left lane.  Yeesh, these turtles...

I'm sure my Early American Lit professor is going to provide me with lots of great stories to share.  Every time I walked out of his class this week, I felt as if he lied to all of us.  He's extremely entertaining and really funny, but some of his information is highly suspect.  If one day I go on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and I answer the question "What famous red-haired explorer did Spain support because Spain's red-haired queen had a crush on him?" with Christopher Columbus, and Regis tells me I'm wrong, I'm blaming Dr. White.

Bon week-end, tout le monde!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

#WhenInRome: Enchanted

Last weekend we took a program trip to Northern Italy, making stops in Florence and Venice.  The expedition quickly turned into my favorite of the summer.  Both cities were incredibly enchanting to me:  Florence with its trove of treasures in the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia and Venice with its maze of small streets and canals guiding you from one jaw-dropper to the next.  If I tried to list all of my favorite things about each city, this post would drag on longer than the Twilight saga, so I’ll try to be as selective as possible.

1) The Uffizi Gallery.  I have never been as continuously gobsmacked by a museum as I was by this one.  It’s MASSIVE – three stories of room after room of priceless paintings and sculptures.  Caravaggio’s famous Medusa head, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, several Leonardo da Vinci pieces, some Raphael and Michaelangelo.  You know, no big deal.  The Gallery was incredible.

2) Michelangelo’s David sculpture.  Ok, WOW.  I almost have no words for this, but it’s me, so let’s be real, I always have something to say.  The amount of emotion portrayed in David’s face is astounding.  He looks so human – you can just imagine the setting, and David’s thoughts and feelings in the moment before he takes on Goliath.  Our professor was lecturing on him, and I just stood there staring up at this massive sculpture in awe.  I cannot get over the David.  Probably my favorite sculpture I’ve seen yet.

3)  What is it that makes cities so incredible at night?  A group of us went exploring after dinner, and we walked into the heart of Florence, soaking in the beauty and life of the bustling city.  We witnessed a hilariously awkward streetshow, several AMAZING chalk artists, and the beautifully lit up riverwalk.  Take me back. 

4) The Duomo.  Whoa.  That is one large dome you might say.  The inside is really cool and takes a lot of inspiration from Dante’s Inferno – nerd moment!  Several of us climbed to the top, and the views from the top were spectacular.  The country surrounding Florence is gorgeous and totally worth the perilously steep trek to the top.

VENEZIA (Ok, this is going to be really hard.  I basically loved everything about Venice…ahhhhh!)
1) St. George’s Campanile.  We climbed up the bell tower at this church and got to look out on the lagoon, the city, and the ALPS.  Yes, you can see the Alps from Venice.  I HAD NO IDEA.  It was incredibly beautiful, and I couldn’t help but imagine what Venice was like in its prime with painted facades along the canals, a bustling port, and beautifully outfitted courtesans. 

2)  Tintoretto’s Crucifixion of Christ in the Scuola Grande di Sant’Rocco.  I’ll be honest – I actually shed tears while looking at this.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  It’s this massive – seriously humongous – painting of Golgotha.  Jesus is at the very center of the canvas hanging on the cross, surrounded by the action of the other characters.  I love how Tintoretto includes so much, but none of the focus is taken from Christ.  Wherever you look in the painting, some detail points your attention back to the cross.  It’s not only an incredible work of art, but it’s also an amazing analogy for life:  I need to fix my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith, Jesus Christ.  This is definitely my favorite painting.

3)  Teatro La Fenice.  The Venice Opera House.  The royal box, the ballroom, the ornate ceiling, the salon.  I have no words for the beauty of this theater.  It’s my dream in life to go back and attend an actual performance.

4) St. Mark’s Basilica.  Holy cow.  The mosaics inside this church are insane.  It’s so beautiful.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the Byzantine style before I came to Europe this summer, but St. Mark’s has officially won me over.  And it’s not only the inside of the Basilica – the façade is so ornate and just plain massive.  Architecture nowadays cannot hold a flame to these old buildings in my book.

Ok, I’ll stop.  But the next time you see me, you should ask me about Florence and Venice – your ear might fall off, but I’ll love you forever!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#WhenInRome: Feet

Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

While in Rome this summer, I decided to read through the book of Romans.  See what I did there?  Yup.   Anyway, this verse makes me think of Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet.  I have a whole new appreciation for this story after living in Rome this summer.  I wear sandals or Toms every day here, and let me tell you, my feet get NASTY.  I’m talking visible layer of dirt and grime.  My feet are hot, sweaty, and smelly by noon. I don’t even want to touch my own feet much less someone else’s.  

I can just imagine that Simon Peter’s feet were even worse than mine:  splinters from a lifetime of going barefoot in his fishing boat; broken nails from repeated toe-stubbings on the cobblestones; cracked heals from the wear-and-tear of his Jerusalem cruisers.  But even Peter’s weathered feet couldn’t deter Jesus.  The Son of God got that basin and towel and knelt in front of His disciples.  He scrubbed, washed, and dried those grubby feet.  You know what I also think?  I bet Jesus loved on His disciples’ feet – it wasn’t an “oh-my-gosh-GROSS-let’s-get-this-over-with” washing.  I bet it was more like a parent bathing their precious child:  carefully pouring water over his or her little body while only using the gentlest Johnson&Johnson shampoo.  Showing love with each and every miniscule action.

It made me think:  Jesus wants my feet – dirt, bumps, and all – just like He wants my heart – sin, shame, and all.  He can use any feet:  big feet, small feet, even NO feet!  We with our finite capacity cannot limit God’s infinite resourcefulness just like we cannot limit God’s infinite love.  As I watch the dirt from my feet spiral down the drain with the water from my shower, I realize Jesus’ blood did and does the same exact thing to my heart – His blood cleanses to the core.  And just as I have to wash my feet every night because they are continuously getting dirty, I need to ask my Savior to forgive the sins that smudge my heart each day.  And guess what the amazing thing is?  Jesus’ grace works like the faucet:  His refreshing forgiveness is simply waiting to cascade all over you and me!  He’s waiting to give you the pedicure of a lifetime.  Lord, give me beautiful feet!

Monday, July 16, 2012

#WhenInRome: Paolo

My art history professor here in Rome is probably one of the coolest people I'll ever meet.  I've never laughed harder in a class before, and, let's be real here, folks, I've had my share of pretty hysterical professors (i.e. the psychology professor who lip synced an '80s song in class while jumping around on a table).  Why is Paolo so great you might ask?  Let me tell you.

1) He hates tourists.  A good portion of class consists of Paolo discussing the many ways he'd love to dispose of the tourists that clog up Rome on a daily basis.  He claims to have studied "tourist zoology" and gives examples of typical tourist behavior often.  He's obsessed with Uma Thurman from Kill Bill and wants her to come and help him take back the city. No joke, he references her at least five times each class.  Today, he stated that if he was the mayor of Rome, he would make Uma his prime minister. But then he went on a rant about the corrupt Italian politics and how he believes emperors, consuls, and such are the best governmental system.

2) He nonchalantly revealed that his best friend in Rome is the princess of a prominent Italian family.  WHAT? She was going to give us a private tour of her family's palazzo but ended up being out of town on vacation. Cool, Paolo, you're friends with royalty. No big deal or anything...

3) He legitimately cares about his students.  This is why he despises tourists because they make it so difficult for him to lecture on-site and give his students the best possible experience. We went into Palazzo Barberini for class last week, and the room with the Barberini fresco was being used to throw some sort of electronic gala so our class wasn't allowed inside.  This sent Paolo into a rage about how Italy disrespects its amazing collection of priceless artwork, and at the beginning of class today, he informed us all that he sent a letter to the overseer of Palazzo Barberini expressing his outrage. What a boss.

4) He is the best lecturing professor I've ever had.  He's super organized, ridiculously knowledgeable, and not in the least bit boring. I wish he taught all of my classes!

My entire program loves Paolo, and we swap stories about the new schemes he hatches daily to rid Rome of her tourists.  "Where is Uma..." Hahahahaha.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

#WhenInRome: Gobsmacked

My favorite recent pictures from photo:

Basketball. The sport of the UNIVERSE.

Rome is so full of character. Thursday on our photo walk, our professor found this hidden little park/garden with a basketball court, a soccer pitch, a fake rock fountain, and an old playground. Several men were gardening, and my whole class had a field day taking pictures. Photo is such an amazing opportunity to get to see this alternate face of Rome - wander onto back streets, up hills, through closed gates, into churches. I've gotten a different impression of the city each day we go exploring. I think I'm falling in love with a city, haha.

I continue to be blown away by the Italian generosity and personality. About fourteen of us from the program went out for dinner last night, and this tiny little restaurant accommodated all of us and gave us free samples of a bunch of their different pastas (SO GOOD. Oh my gosh. I'm going back to this place - they succeeded in whatever they were trying to do...), and we're pretty sure the owner (who spoke wonderful English) was our waiter. They were so kind. And they made fun of us and taught us how to order in Italian. They won me over, for sure. Of course, anyone that gives me free samples typically has my approval...

Several of my friends and I took a late night stroll to the Spanish Steps last night. So the Spanish Steps during the day are kind of lame and really crowded, and I've always been a little confused as to why they're so I know - the night wakes them up. It was the coolest atmosphere: locals and tourists just chilling together on the stairs, a guy strumming his guitar for his own entertainment, cool air, Rome lit up at night spreading out before us. It was perfect. These are the things I will miss when I leave.

Things that I love: 
*Ed Sheeran. He is my new musical obsession. I'm a sucker for (good) acoustic soul singers.
*Gelato. Old news. But I had a massive gelato cone last night full of mint, coffee, and cream flavors - it tasted like a mint mocha, and I got to eat it in front of the Pantheon. Even better :)
*Cities, in general. I like that I am not the only one awake at two in the morning!
*Making up narratives to go with my pictures. I have like twenty stories I want to write inspired by my photos. Now, to find the time to do so...
*Bruscheta. 'Nough said.
*Olympic Fever!! 13 daysssss!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#WhenInRome: South

This past weekend my program ventured south to Naples and Paestum to visit the ancient cities of Pompei and Herculaneum.  Tip #1: GO TO HERCULANEUM. Pompei was cool and all because it's Pompei or whatever, but it was hot, dusty, crowded, and extensive. Herculaneum, on the other hand, was much smaller, we were basically the only people there, and it was much shadier. Just fyi for when you go on your own tour of Italy :)

Pompei Amphitheater

Vesuvius from Pompei

Greek temple ruins in Paestum
In Paestum, we visited the ruins of several Greek temples in another ancient town.  Apparently Italy is home to the best preserved Greek ruins in the world. Huh, somewhat counter-intuitive. It's amazing, though, to see these incredibly old towns that really have very modern layouts and houses. Some things really never do change, I suppose...

Vesuvius from Herculaneum
Herculaneum was incredible. It was buried under 20 meters of ash from Vesuvius until a farmer randomly dug up a bit of it, beginning the excavations in earnest.  Herculaneum is better preserved than Pompei because the ash fell much quicker and more suddenly here, basically cementing the town in a thick layer of volcanic debris. They even found a petrified loaf of bread in one of the houses when they began digging at the sight. Crazy stuff!

We also stayed at a hotel right on the beach and went swimming in the Mediterranean. It was amazing. We were on the beach at sunset, and I soaked in every minute of it!  We went back out that same night, and the stars were perfect. It made me think of Los Alamos - it was so clear and peaceful. The sound of waves lapping up on the beach has to be one of the most relaxing noises in the world.  I've heard the continuous waves of the ocean (or sea in this case) compared to God's grace - just as the waves always roll in, so God's grace never runs out.  Wave after wave, grace after grace. Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, July 6, 2012

#WhenInRome: Literary

You know you're an English major when...

1)  ...your photo teacher points out that a significant portion of your photographs have words/text in them.  For example...

Or your pictures are of bookstores...

2) ...bookstores make you ridiculously happy. I walked into an English bookstore near my apartment today, and I wanted to cry I was so excited. I bought two books and got 10% off because I'm a student. FTW!!

I could probably come up with a million more of these; however, I will spare you.  In other recent news...

My photo class is so cool.  We are basically instructed to get lost (as a group, of course) and simply observe our environment and photograph anything that stands out to us.  This seems to good to be true. Well, so far, it's not. It's just amazing. Also, we take afternoon stops to get coffee. I'm extremely okay with this. Three words: granita con panna. It's like slushy espresso layered with whipped cream. No explanation needed. IT'S DELICIOUS.

Rome is filled with sundry incredible works of art.  Yes, they're amazing to behold but learning about them and all of the meaning even the seemingly minuscule details hold makes them all even more brilliant.  Our professor lectured in the Vatican Museum on Wednesday, ending at the Sistine Chapel.  I spent about 20 minutes just staring at Michelangelo's masterpiece. And when I was done there (can one ever be done staring at this ceiling?), I traipsed back to Raphael's room, passing a Caravaggio and Leonardo da Vinci on my way. This place is a treasure trove! 

Realizations from today...
*I will always need my mama
*I really hope Kindles, etc. don't put REAL books out of print
*Rome is amazing - oh, wait, I realize this EVERY day :)

I'm off to Southern Italy! Ciao!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

#WhenInRome: Venturing

My roommate Anya and I took an evening stroll into the city to take pictures tonight.  We walked along the Tiber which brought us to St. Peter’s – a stunning place for night photography.  It’s completely lit up:  fountains, pillars, obelisk, dome, and façade.  I actually like sightseeing in Rome at night better than during the day because a) it’s way cooler and b) there are not droves of people flocking all of the tourist sights.  Piazza San Pietro was basically deserted compared with the afternoon crowds, and an Italian high school choir was singing in the center of it all.  Anya gave me a lesson in how to use Abby’s camera, and I’ve decided I really like photography.  Fave pictures of the night!!

Fountain in Piazza San Pietro. Did you know Bernini designed this Piazza?

The columns!

All lit up :) One of my favorite places in Rome

Favorite picture

Favorite statue

I needed one more of the same shot. Haha

Reflection of the light bridge


*Italian Tiger Mosquitoes.  I’m being eaten alive.  My legs are covered in golf ball sized welts…Awesome…

*Coffee and Mint Chocolate Chip gelato mix.  Excellent choice.  And yes, I’m patting myself on the back.

*Anya and I navigated the Roman bus system.  We are champs.  NBD.

*The first lecture of my art history class was held on sight at the Pantheon.  Winning!  The Pantheon is an incredible building.  Factoid of the day:  the light from the oculus in the ceiling of the Pantheon only shines through the doorway of the building on Rome’s birthday according to the old Roman calendar.  WHATTTT?? So cool.

*Spain kicked Italy’s butt in the Eurocup Final.  I was so bummed!  We didn’t get to see the Italians go wild!  But over 70,000 people showed up to watch the game at the Circus Maximus.  Crazy…

*I’m pretty sure I got cursed at by an Italian man who ran a red light on his motorcycle while I was trying to cross at a green crosswalk.  Oh, I’m sorry, sir, that I’m doing something wrong by FOLLOWING THE RULES OF THE ROAD.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

#WhenInRome: Tivoli

On our first program field trip, we visited Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este, both located in or around Tivoli.  I was most impressed by the sheer size of both places:  Hadrian’s Villa is like its own little working village while Villa d’Este consists of several magnificent levels of gardens and fountains.  My favorite factoid of the day:  when the Pope came to visit Villa d’Este, the owners erected a fountain in his honor the night before his arrival.  No big deal.  It was so beautiful and refreshing.  Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the day!

The "mafia" room at Hadrian's Villa

Tivoli on the side of the hill

Hadrian's dining room

Stairway at Villa d'Este

Villa d'Este fountain

The "Roma" Fountain

#WhenInRome: Reunited

It’s very strange to hang out with people out of context.  So spontaneously spending the day with one of my best friends in a city halfway around the world was crazy but extremely refreshing.  Bryn trained down from Florence to Rome, and we explored the Spanish steps, Piazza del Popolo, St. Peter’s Basilica (and Cupola!), the Piazza Navona, and the church of St. Ignatius together.  Highlights and reflections of the day…

1)  A man tried to sell us roses at the foot of the Spanish steps.  We kept telling him we didn’t want them, but he insisted saying we were so beautiful we just had to have flowers!  When he finally realized we weren’t going to give him anything, he snatched the roses from our hands and stalked off without another word.  Bryn and I instantly burst into laughter.  This man thought he was telling us what we wanted to hear…Sir, if you want to get my attention, put gelato in my hand, not roses!

2)  St. Peter’s Basilica was more stunning than I remembered.  The gold engraved roof is beautiful.  The first thought that popped into my head as we walked inside?  “If this is so incredible, and it’s man-made, I cannot wait to see heaven.”  Wow.  Talk about breath-taking.

3)  We climbed to the top of St. Peter’s!  About 550 steps in the sweltering heat through a slanted dome part of the way but totally worth it:  the view from the top was incredible.  We got a 360 degree panorama of the entire city – I could even see my neighborhood from up there!  If you ever get the chance to climb the Cupola, please do it.  It’s an unimaginably beautiful view worth every slippery step and bead of sweat.

4)  I took Bryn to St. Ignatius’ Church.  I’m obsessed with this place and its wild perspective.  There is no way that some of the paintings on the roof are not 3D statues or carvings or something.  It’s outrageous. We spent nigh on five minutes just standing with dropped jaws, gazing at the masterful artistry on the ceiling.

5)  We saw three street performers in Piazza Navona.  They were incredible!  They were bouncing around on their hands while in handstands, one guy spun around on his head, gah!  It was wild.  Can you imagine the life of a street performer?  I want to know how much money they make every day.  It would be so difficult to rely on others’ generosity in order to make a living.  Which brings me to my last thought from this day:  there are so many beggars on the streets of Rome.  It breaks my heart, but I can’t give money to all of them.  I lived such a sheltered existence in Los Alamos, and I don’t trust some of the homeless people in Albuquerque.  But these people are crippled or mothers with children, begging while it’s ridiculously hot, and they’re legitimately helpless.  I feel so bad!  Bryn told me she prays for each of them as she walks by, and I like this idea.  I may not be able to take care of them, but I need to trust that God will.

View from the top of St. Peter's!

In front of Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona

I am so thankful Bryn came to Rome for a quick day trip.  Friends have an amazing capacity to produce an entirely new mindset.  I no longer feel too homesick or panicky about living overseas, and I’m ready to continue this incredible adventure! 

Friday, June 29, 2012

#WhenInRome: Beginning

Several reflections on my first real day living in Rome...

*Seriously, gelato is the best, most refreshing thing on a sweltering hot day.  Mix strawberry gelato with cream gelato if you ever get the chance.  To quote Scar, "It's to dieeee for!"

*My favorite thing about Rome (so far) is that oftentimes I stumble out of some random side street only to be faced with an ancient and super famous landmark.  Like the Pantheon, for example.  Just strolling along down a little alleyway, and then...WHAM. Hello M.Agrippa! Magnificent.

*I wish water continuously poured out of street fountains in Albuquerque...

*I hung my clothes out on our clothes' line.  There are no dryers in our apartments. Or basically anywhere in Rome.  I think this is valid.  Actually, I think it's extremely practical, and I think the U.S. should take notes.  Only people in Seattle and Oregon are allowed to have dryers. That's my contribution to the energy crisis.

*I want to ride on a Vespa.  Even if this seriously endangers my life, I feel strongly that it is an experience I need to have.  I don't want to drive one because that would give me a heart attack, but I would have no qualms about being driven around by an attractive, not sketchy, young Italian man ;)  As long as I have a helmet.

*I went inside Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio today.  It's a church dedicated to St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit order.  It's beautiful. The inside is incredible, and the "dome" over the altar isn't actually a dome at all. It's painted in such a way that from the vantage point at the entrance of the church, the roof looks like it arches up! And as you move around and toward the front of the sanctuary, the dome flattens out, and the apex moves around the circle.  It's wild and really cool.

My program eats a true Italian meal tonight aka four courses of heaven.  Good thing my shorts are kind of big... ;)  Pace e benedizioni a tutti voi!  (I used Google translate for this, so if it's wrong, please help me!!)

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Previously, I wrote about all of the craziness of my trip.  Now let me tell you some of the amazing things I’ve seen and done while being across the pond…

Rome, as always, is incredible.  The history, the architecture, the FOOD.  The Italian language is beautiful; I love the lilt and flow, the animation, the intonation.  I’m eager to begin my residence here!

Spain.  I don’t even know where to begin.  I LOVE SPAIN.  That’s a good start.  There is an intangible and indescribable feeling prevalent there that exudes relaxation, joy, and life.  That’s it.  Spain is alive.  The people don’t want the day to end, so it doesn’t.  Simple as that.  Valencia is a magnificent place.  One day we spent the whole afternoon lounging on the beach, took a boat ride to watch the sunset, then sat on a rooftop terrace until three in the morning listening to the raging block party in the street and watching fireworks over the city.  WHATT?? Is this really my life??

Gaudi has to be the most incredible architect in the history of the world.  His Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is otherworldly.  I got goose bumps from looking at this building – twice!  I didn’t even know that was possible.  Every single detail holds some significance to the story of Christ.  For example, the pillar spiraling up to hold baby Jesus in His manger lists the genealogy of Christ from Abraham to Joseph.  Or the sculpture of Judas kissing Jesus has a serpent slithering at their feet.  It’s amazing.  I’m already planning a trip back to the cathedral when it’s finally finished!

My first impression of Paris was that I knew a whole lot less French than I thought I did.  My second was that pain du chocolate is WAY better than anyone ever told me.  Actually, French food in general is way better than anyone ever bothered to inform me.  The Grand Marnier soufflé and then this apple pastry (Chansonne Pomme? I think?) were to die for.  I’m convinced the flaky butter crust on the pastry was made in heaven, possibly by the angel Gabriel himself.  Also, the Eiffel Tower is bigger than I expected, Versailles is impressive, and I could spend weeks in the Louvre.  Our sightseeing was cut short in Paris by Abby’s maladies so I need to get back there again at some point in my life.

When I’m around Americans now – or any group that’s speaking in English – I find the fact that I can understand their conversations almost abrasive.  It’s so strange how quickly I adapted to being secluded while still being surrounded by people.  I also need to learn more about the French medical system – whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it well, and if we’re not already, the U.S. ought to take some notes from them. 

My next post will be the first in my Rome series:  #WhenInRome.  And if you’re wondering why I’m using a hash tag, well, I do what I want. J  Ciao!


My mom had said to me before I left for Europe this summer, “You know, I think I get why a lot of people don’t go to Europe; it’s not really a vacation.”  I dismissed her comment which should have been my first red flag – when I don’t listen to my mother, she’s always right.  Little did I know what was in store for me…

1) The stress began before I even left my house.  I (stupidly) left most of my packing until the morning I left, only to discover the backpack I planned to take was WAY too small.  Praise God Jenny came to my rescue with a larger pack.  What would I do without her??

2)  Abby and I began our time in Rome with a 70 taxi ride to the northern outskirts of the city – our hotel’s actual location NOT the advertised location of “near Termini.”  I felt the need to punch something while we road in the taxi, watching the money meter tick higher and higher…

3)  The same hotel lied about the bus number to get back to the city center, so Abby and I trekked around Rome for a good hour and a half trying to find a nonexistent bus stop with our monstrous backpacks.  This hotel is not getting the best review from me.

4)  Our hostel in Barcelona gave off illegal vibes.  We stayed in a random apartment in a back alley of the city.  They only took cash.  We’re also pretty sure someone shot off a gun in said alleyway the last night we were there.  Needless to say, I wouldn’t recommend this lodging sight either…

5)  And this is where the real fun begins!  Our last night in Paris, Abby didn’t feel well, but we just thought it was some type of food poisoning.  The next morning Abby felt that the pain was pinpointed right around her appendix scar, and she was throwing up uncontrollably.  Here ensues 36 of the craziest hours of my life:  figuring out how to operate French payphones, calling Mom and Dad, getting Abby to a Paris emergency room, sitting in limbo for 7 hours with limited contact to anyone who speaks English, a solo taxi ride to my hotel, navigating the Paris metro at midnight through throngs of drunken Parisienne concert-goers, meandering into a hospital afterhours with no clue as to where I’m going or what’s going on with my sister, and not eating for most of this (and anyone who knows me knows how poorly I operate while hungry).

[Update on Abby:  She has now undergone two surgeries.  The first was to remove a leftover appendix piece from her appendix surgery in 2009, the second was to drain her abdominal cavity of infected fluid and remove an infected piece of her colon.  She’s currently recovering (and recovering well according to doctors – praise Jesus!) in the Saint-Antoine Hospital in Paris with my dad by her side. Keep them in your prayers!]

6) The whole situation with Abby has been beyond stressful.  If it hasn’t given me an ulcer, it’ll be a(nother) miracle.
Anyway, as my mother predicted, this has NOT been a vacation.  But looking back on everything that has happened, I can so clearly see God’s hand working faithfully in every situation.  The 36 hours of limbo was full of miracles and people I’m pretty darn sure were angels.  I didn’t realize it at the time, and I still haven’t fully come to terms with everything that has happened in the past two weeks, but I’m so thankful for a God who cares for His children and acts on their behalf.

Psalm 112:7-8  “He does not fear bad news nor live in dread of what may happen.  For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I have a new sister! Please welcome Kathryn as the newest member of the Worland clan!  It still surprises me that anyone would want to marry Phil (haha just kidding), but if anyone is up for the job, it's definitely Kathryn. She's amazing, and she was the most beautiful bride I've ever seen. Abby and I had the honor of being two of her bridesmaids, and it was such a fun experience. All of Kathryn's other bridesmaids were so kind and friendly - I felt like I'd known them for a lot longer than three days! The wedding took place about twenty minutes away from the town Kathryn grew up in, so a lot of wedding activities took place at Kathryn's parents' home. Dr. and Mrs. Hartford are incredible people.  They are so generous and fun, and I so appreciate how they have really made Phil a part of their great family, as well as Abby, my parents, and I, too!  I don't think I can ever rant enough about how great Kathryn and the Hartfords are, but that will do for now :)

Phil and Kathryn included 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 in their ceremony and verses 4-8 are some of my favorite verses in the Bible.  "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  How beautiful is that?  And even better, 1 John 4:8 tells us that GOD is love. So God possesses all of those characteristics; He is the perfect embodiment of them all.  God never fails, and He keeps no record of wrongs. Amazing. Simply mind-blowing.

It was weird to think about this weekend, as Abby, Mom, and I sat around getting our hair done, that the next time someone in our immediate family gets married it'll be Abby or me.  Preferably Abby.  Haha. I'm already planning a pee-your-pants-laughing then cry-your-eyes-out maid-of-honor speech!

Wedding: check - my brother is married to a wonderful woman. Next thing on the list:  Young Life camp at Lost Canyon!!!! So excited! Can't wait to see what God has in store for this next week.  Hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful beginnings of summer as much as I am.  Love these lyrics from a Bob Marley song: "Sun is shining. Weather is sweet. Make you wanna move your dancing feet." Savor this season!

Monday, May 14, 2012


I am a useless bum.  How did I come to this conclusion? The minute summer hits, I literally do nothing. I didn't get dressed today until three in the afternoon. I lounged on my bed, perused Facebook, and watched One Direction interviews on YouTube.  [Tangent:  if you haven't listened to One Direction, please go do so now. I love their music, and I love them because they're British and a boy band - can they get any better?? No. End tangent.]  Anyway, as you can tell, I'm lazy.  I have all of these brilliant plans to read hundreds of books, write a novel, watch a ton of movies, run marathons, save the world, etc. during the summer, but I cannot follow through. That is why I'm really glad I'm traveling this year - I'll feel like I'm actually doing something useful and educational.  And awesome...

Update on the moths: they followed me to Los Alamos. We have a colony living in our hallway, and they are sabotaging my house.  They (in the course of battle) broke a picture frame on our wall.  My dad dove on the floor yesterday in order to kill one.  Mom and I battle-royaled with three in the kitchen last night. I fought one in the stairwell this morning. Absurd. Dear moths, y'all and your moth dust need to GET OUT. Sincerely, moi.

Realization from the four days I've been home:  my mom and dad are super cool.  Like they are so funny. And they are great people. My dad took me on a date to see the Avengers, and he talks really loud in the theaters, but that's okay with me now. I don't get embarrassed by them anymore because, honestly, as I get older, their quirks are more endearing than annoying.  I appreciate them more and more every time I'm with them because I realize they're my God-given Yodas: so wise and so thoughtful.  Just take a minute and think about all your parents do for you, sacrifice for you, and about how much they love you. It's amazing, and I thank God for my mom and pops every day.  *end of sappiness* Haha.

Nicole found this quote the other day, and I want to travel this way this summer:  "Put down that map and get wonderfully lost." Isn't it so true that some of the most amazing moments in life are unplanned and unmarked?  Take some time this summer, no matter if you're in Timbuktu or your hometown, and leave the map at home so you can stray from the beaten path into a world of adventure and spontaneity.

I'm reminded of Bilbo Baggin's words:  "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door.  You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept of to."  But Bilbo, what if I don't want to keep my feet? What if I want to be swept away on a glorious adventure?

I think I'm ready for this "dangerous business", Summer 2012!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Here's the deal.  I have severe writer's block for my term paper for my 19th Century Lit class.  Don't get me wrong, I actually really like this class, and I enjoy my topic for the paper - insanity in the Victorian woman - but I have zero inspiration right now.  Maybe that's because it's not two in the morning which seems to be prime writing hour for me...Awful, I know. Haha.  I can only write in "that chill which comes over one at the coming of the dawn, which is like, in its way, the turn of the tide" (Bram Stoker).  Where is my turning of the tide at 5:30 in the evening??  Apparently resting up for another late night...

I am done with school in 4 days.  Thursday at noon I'm done with my last final.  Hallelujah!  I'm ready to head home and spend several days relaxing before the craziness that is Summer 2012 truly begins.  I'm soooo ready!! Come at me, Summer!

Finals Week is a funny time.  A wave of impostors descends upon Zimmerman.  There's seriously a 50% increase in the amount of people at the library.  All of my favorite study spots have been hijacked.  Starbucks is making bank: there are 8 Starbucks drinks in my immediate vicinity. And suddenly the motivation that's been faithfully walking next to me all semester deserts me.  All I want to do is lay in the sun and read a book.  Okay, done complaining.

Must. Write. Paper. Good luck to everyone else taking finals and finishing up school! Summer's just around the riverbend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Alright. I know I was singing the praises of Albuquerque in my last post, and don't get me wrong I still love it here, but these last few days have been MISERABLE.

There is a moth invasion in Albuquerque.  The other day when I started my car, a cloud of moths flew up around my windows.  At Young Life on Monday, there were like 10 moths fluttering around the lights distracting the kids - GET OUT MOTHS. When I was younger, I was deathly afraid of these critters - as in scream until the moth was dead, "Dad, I will not go in my room if there's a moth," kind of fear. Thankfully, I'm over this mortal terror, but I still don't like the little buggers and their "moth dust." Also, Jamie and I figured out that they pee on you. Can moths get any worse?? No. Their only redeeming factor: they saved Gandalf from the Tower of Orthanc (credit: Daniel and Katie Swaim - thank you for alerting me to this fact and therefore decreasing my bitterness these past three days).

Today was an ugly day.  Every so often, Albuquerque takes a step back in time to the 1930s and reenacts the days of the Dust Bowl. I could not see the Sandia Mountains for most of the day. The wind whipped my hair back and forth in a manner aggressive enough to make Willow Smith proud. And I got a free exfoliation treatment from the sand pelting into my face. Awe-some.

However, so as not to rant for this entire post, I did eat a green chile cheese bagel for dinner tonight. YUM. And I caught up on the current season of Gossip Girl. Today was not wasted.

One more thing! (Did anyone watch Jackie Chan Adventures in the olden days? I always think of Uncle when I say "One more thing!"). Ephesians 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." This verse is amazing. God has already planned good works for each and every one of us to complete - pursue these deeds wholeheartedly, love your neighbor, do good.

Calo anor na ven! Yes, I did just leave you with an Elvish phrase. It means "May the sun shine on your road." Watch out for those moths!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


First off, anyone who immediately thought of Usher because of the title of this post wins.  Because that's what I was thinking of when I wrote it. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.  I feel like all of my blogging thus far has revolved around revealing strange things about myself. So why not continue along this path...

1) I have a strange fear of falling through grates in the ground. I traversed campus all day Friday running errands, and I had to keep avoiding the grates because they're scary. What if it broke as I walked across it? Yep, there go both of my ACLs and femurs...terrifying. Seriously.

2) I love dogs.  A group of us from The Mission volunteered through Spring Storm at a pet adoption event in Albuquerque this morning, and we basically just got to hang out with and walk dogs for like 3 hours. I fell in love with some of the pooches! Some of them were so sweet and calm, and I just wanted to take them home with me! So I came to the realization that the minute I can realistically afford/house/care for a dog, I will get one. And then probably another one. And then another and another...Some people say getting tattoos is addicting - I'm going to have a canine addiction.

3) I like playing sports I didn't play in high school. Like volleyball. I've played the past two nights and really enjoyed it.  In high school this wouldn't have been the case because I hated doing things I wasn't good at.  Now, there is no pressure, just fun. I realize that I've mellowed out a lot since coming to college - I'm still competitive (let's be real, I'm a Worland, that'll never completely disappear), but I can actually enjoy competing without kicking, punching, or throwing things. I like to call this "progress". Plus, I get to hang out with my awesome roommate who I rarely see during the week...I don't see her "for dayzzzzzzz!" Haha.

4) Albuquerque is great.  I thought coming to college that I was going to hate living here.  Surprise!  I love it.  Getting involved with Young Life and The Mission has played a big part in my change of heart because both ministries have allowed me to meet amazing people and to live life with them. Playing volleyball under the lights. Laying on the rooftop hollering at the Greeks.  Eating Oreos in the Dion's parking lot.  It's great.  Albuquerque nails home the adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover."  Any city is amazing and offers unique opportunities - you just have to dig a little and get out of your comfort zone for awhile!

Find something you love to do, even if you're in a place you do not love.  After all, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."  Peace and blessings, y'all!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


One thing you should know about me: I get really obsessed with things. Ask my roommate Nicole. At the beginning of the year, I would spend hours on my computer searching for apartments. I don't need an apartment. I don't even want an apartment. I've got the sweetest living set-up on this side of the Mississippi for crying out loud! I just got obsessed with apartment hunting...

Purpose of this confession: my new obsession is Pottermore. It's this amazing website all about Harry Potter. If you know me at all, you know I love Harry Potter like I love cake - and that's impressive. Basically you join the site, and then proceed chapter by chapter through the books, discovering new information from J.K. Rowling, shopping in Diagon Alley, practicing brewing poitions, casting spells, etc. It's amazing. I feel like I'm at Hogwarts. I got my wand - Elm wood, Phoenix feather core, 14 and 1/2 inches, hard - from Ollivander, of course. And the Sorting Hat placed me in Ravenclaw - no surprises there. Every Sorting Hat test I've ever taken (and let's be real, folks, I've taken a lot of them) has placed me in Ravenclaw. Not that I'm complaining! "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure." Hahahahaha.

Anyway, I know a lot of people don't like Harry Potter. They have their reasons, and I get it. But the amount of imagination these books took to write and the detail of the information J.K. Rowling included is astonishing. I love reading about the little nuances of each of her characters, the extra plot lines she wasn't able to include, and the influences of her own life that carried over into the books. She started with nothing and went on to create an entire world from her imagination. It's really quite inspirational.

So my point is not that you have to like Harry Potter (although, I really think you should give it a shot!). My point is that you should appreciate literature, reading, books - anything that encourages imagination. I'm an English Lit major, and oftentimes people ask me, "Why the heck are you majoring in that??" Well, I want to teach English, but also, I love to read. I love the way a book can steal me away from reality for hours at a time.

I really have no idea how my blog is going to work or what the point of my blog really is. And it figures that my first real post would be about Harry Potter! But I'm challenging you, over the span of the next few months, to read a book. Not for school, not for a reading group, just for you. Get lost in the story, get attached to the characters...just READ. Let me know the book you choose :) I'm always scouting for a new series!

"Words, in my humble opinion, are the most inexhaustible source of magic we have." Albus Dumbledore.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


This is an experiment. I'm not going to make any false promises of "a blog a day" and what not because, let's be real, that's not going to happen. However, last night as I worked on yet another essay into the wee hours of the morning, I realized I need to write for fun. I need an outlet for my writing that's not a journal but also not a formal essay. So I'll dip my toe into the blogging pool. Another motivating factor: I'm going to spend the summer in Europe, and I needed a forum to keep friends and family updated on my whereabouts and adventures. Therefore, without further ado, I present my as-of-yet untitled blog ( to suggestions!) detailing the awkward amazingness that is my life. Peace and blessings, y'all.