Thursday, February 26, 2009

Easier Digestion

I believe anyone can climb a mountain. Anyone can run a marathon. Anyone can write a novel. With preparation and the right approach, any of these things are possible. It's all about breaking them down into manageable chunks.

It helps to have someone pushing you. My old hiking friend used to pull the old, "let's just go to that tree up there." My running friends did the same thing when I was first beginning to train. And the thing is, you can always reach the tree. And next time you can probably reach the tree after it.

In 2003, I got laid off and I decided to write a chick lit book. In 4 months, I wrote 216 pages. The only way I made it through was by dicing that story into smaller chapter stories and slicing those into outlined scenes. I'd get through one and move on to the next. (Note: That novel is still in manuscript form, gathering dust on a bookshelf but at least it's finished!)

I'm so thankful that somebody—or many somebodies—taught me to take things in small bites. It's what is going to get me through the next several months.

Breaking down the months into weeks and weekend Skype dates; punctuating those weeks with a visit to London over Easter; hopefully closing up the months with a move abroad—this makes the whole thing a little easier to swallow. It takes the edge off a climb that seemed impossible to complete. And I'll keep pushing myself to reach the next tree and the tree after that until I reach the one he's standing under.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I’m Not Here

I’m sitting on a balcony with you, watching the sunset across the Mediterranean. We’re drinking red wine we didn’t realize was dessert.

I’m watching your shoulder blades slide under your shirt as you hike in front of me to a waterfall overlook.

I’m reading next to you in bed, touching my foot to yours.

I’m holding your hand across a table, waiting for our plate of cheeses and fig spread to arrive.

I’m digging in the dirt in your garden, planting herbs, listening to the squirrels chatter in your avocado tree.

I’m resting my head on your shoulder in a movie theater.

I’m licking gelato off your spoon as we shiver in Rome’s evening air.

I’m riding down Lombard Street as you wiggle my car around each curve, driving one-handed while drinking your coffee.

I’m staring out across a vineyard, wanting to bottle the moment, dreaming of the day we’ll have a backyard full of vines.

I’m eating yogurt and honey. A new favorite breakfast you taught me to eat. We’re in the rooftop restaurant, awaiting our trip to the Acropolis.

I’m riding a bicycle alongside you with the waves crashing on Santa Monica beach.

I’m holding you close, staring at the ceiling of a converted monastery, listening to U2 sing “In a Little While.” In a little while, surely you’ll be mine. In a little while I’ll be there. In a little while, this hurt will hurt no more. I'll be home. Love. I can’t help but cry.

I’m hiding. From the calendar and the clock. Hiding my eyes from the blank months ahead when I’ll be here and you’ll be there.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Isn't it Rome-mantic?

Yeah, so I was in Rome for Valentine's Day. Most romantic place on earth right? Well in grand Mel Heth fashion, I came down with a stomach issue that evening (I'm blaming the yogurt and berry gelato I ate before dinner) that forced me to make Mr. W put on his headphones with very loud music while I spent some time in the bathroom. Totally exactly how I thought my ├╝ber romantic V-Day would go down in sexy, beautiful Rome.

The picture above is Trevi Fountain which was completely incredible. I felt like a very bad, stupid American when I caught myself thinking "Huh, it looks like something you'd see in Vegas."

This was the very cute courtyard outside the apartment where we stayed. We actually found a postcard (with kittens in the picture...smooshy!) with this very courtyard in it. I guess it's kinda famous. It was very charming and in a great location—just minutes from the Pantheon.

Oh hi. That's me. Hanging out. At the freaking Coliseum. Where gladiators used to fight lions and stuff. Thousands of years ago. No big.

Here's part of the Forum, which was extremely impressive. Aquaducts and drainage systems? Seriously. Crazy smart Romans.

I'm still not quite ready to be a fully-functioning blogger and member of society. Hopefully I'll be ready to join the masses again in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ciao from Italia

Internet, glorious Internet. We’ve been several days without wi-fi, so I have been feeling a bit cut off from the world. But oh the time we’re having! Much to my surprise, I loved Venice. I sort of expected it to be run down and gross, but it was charming and magical. I couldn’t stop singing Phantom of the Opera “Masquerade” in my head because of the Carnivale masks everywhere. Even the insane flooding the day we left didn’t get me down. Mr. W and I simply wrapped our feet in trash bags and slopped through the streets like everyone else.

From Venice, we took a train to Florence to our little apartment 5 floors up. Florence took some time to grow on me. I think I had an image of a small city in Tuscany in my head, which Firenze is not. It’s a bustling city complete with crowds and graffiti, but also draped in all the beauty of Renaissance Italy.

The duomo and the cathedrals and museums are just gorgeous. And I found it endlessly entertaining that we were walking among “high rises” that were built 500 years ago. Highlights from our stay there included a 1.6 kg steak—no idea how many pounds that equates to, but it took us two nights to eat it. All the food there was delicious, gelato included. I also loved the Santa Croche church where Michaelangelo and Da Vinci are buried.

But by far the most incredible part of the trip there was seeing the statue of David. It literally took my breath away. I had no idea how huge it was, or how magnificently crafted it stands. It was such a sight. I wanted to eat it.

We also took a day trip to Pisa, which despite the major pain in the ass of trying to get out of Florence via car, turned out to be a great little expedition. Pisa was beautiful…and we had the best dessert ever after lunch.

I am sooo loving the wine and cheese and chocolate here. Thank goodness for all the stairs and long walks to balance it all out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Athens Gets a Bad Wrap

Okay so I don't actually have any pictures of Athens uploaded yet. I even had to steal the pictures here from Mr. W's file because I haven't saved mine onto his laptop. So the picture above was taken on Naxos—which we loved. We rented a scooter and drove all over the island Monday. Above you can see a marble quarry in the mountains there. The mountainous area was beautiful—green, rolling hills and olive trees.

Here's Apollo's Sanctuary, also on Naxos. Now that I'm in Athens, sitting in the rooftop bar, looking over Zeus's Temple to be exact, I'm even more aware how amazing it is that all of these ruins are still intact. Here in Athens, you walk around the city and randomly interspersed with concrete and modern architecture are the remnants of things from like 12th century B.C. Unbelievable.

Here's me looking like a dork along the southwest shore of Naxos. The water was exactly what I'd expect of Greece—crystal clear and stunningly blue. Although Athens doesn't have the same tropical charm of the islands, it's still a pretty cool city. Parts of it remind me of Paris, other parts New York. And the Acropolis looks incredible all lit up tonight. So far, Mr. W and I are really enjoying it. But we leave tomorrow afternoon for Venice.

Here's a shot from sunset on Santorini. That island was definitely my favorite. Last night we were in Paros, which is probably fine during the summer, but it was so dead we had to eat Cliff bars for dinner and spend the night in our room reading. I think tonight is making up for it. Although we're exhausted from our 4-hour ferry ride here and will likely be turning early.

Sadly, the ferry ride was quite rough and we spent much of the trip staring blankly at the horizon trying to keep our equilibriums intact. Mr. W made it almost the whole way here...until he offered to go get some Dramamine for me from reception. Walking to the back of the boat was too much and when he came back, he tossed his cookies into a to-go bag. My poor, sweet boy. We're both still a little wobbly from our the rough seas, but he's feeling much better.

Looking forward to hiking up to the Acropolis tomorrow. Kali spera.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Box up My Stuff and Ship it Here, Please

The only way I can think to properly describe the aesthetic here on Santorini is by calling it Shut Up Beautiful. Seriously, it is so incredibly pretty, I just want to keep saying Shut Up! The picture above was taken today in Pyrgos. Mr. W and I have been looking for the famous blue-domed church, but there are so many of them, it's hard to tell which one might be THE one.

The crazy cat lady in me is getting indulged to the nth degree. There are cats and dogs roaming everywhere you go. I've seen about 5 different ones in our hotel. This little guy greeted us when we arrived, and stayed out on our balcony for quite awhile. Pretty nice view of the caldera, huh?

Here's the view from the hotel right below ours. It is truly stunning. It seems like no matter where you are on the island, there is something incredible to see. The ocean. The rolling green hillsides. The architecture. It's everything I would've dreamed of. But everyone speaks English, which I never would've imagined.

I loved that when we first arrived, there was a train of donkeys coming up the path to our hotel. They were all decked out with fancy harnesses and bells. I'm sure to impress the tourists. It worked, I was impressed. More impressive, however, is how gorgeous the weather has been since we arrived. Whoever said visiting the Greek Isles in the middle of winter was a bad idea was sorely mistaken.