Thursday, July 30, 2009

This is a good one...

I made a friend yesterday in a neighborhood called Bon Pasture (I think that's how it is spelled) As I mentioned before there is a serious lack of cats in this city, so I was stoked. I picked her up and she let me hold her a bit, though she was a bit more of a rambuncuous young cat who wanted to play than a docile lap cat who wanted to be held. She bit me a little and pawed at me to get down, although rather gentley, and I think now that I think about it I didn't feel any nails scratching me so either she was very gentle or didn't have claws.

When my group rounded the corner, I picked her up and started walking with her in an attempt to see if I could get her to follow me a bit. I think I forgot to mention before that the area that we were touring is a low income neighborhood where they are doing a lot of rennovation. As I was walking with the cat, a man from one of the houses came out to me, and told me that I couldn't take the cat, because it belonged to someone, and trying to communicate to him that I wasn't intending to take it I said "No me tocar, no me tocar" I said this several times and then said Lo Siento. He didn't seem angry, but he also didn't seem completely with it either, so he didn't really respond to what I said.

When I caught up with the group I told them that I had gotten in trouble for cat-knapping, and they asked me the story and I told them what I said to the man. Two if the girls who speak Spanish said that tocar does not mean take, it means touch and that I had actually been telling the man not to touch me over and over again. If you couldn't already guess, everyone had a really big laugh over this- including myself. I try really hard with the language, but sometimes funny mistakes like this can make my day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

El Carmel and Tres Turones- Why Planning Seems so Different in Barcelona

A lot of the things we have done in my classes so far has been going to see presentations that are done by municipal organizations who are in charge of the revitalization of certain areas in the city. They have told us about their plans for changing neighborhoods and improving them to make housing conditions, services, and transporation better for certain areas. One of the groups told us about 20 times that they were trying to design their city so that there would be diversity between the young people, older people, families, and the disabled. They feel that this integration is very important and makes for a healthy community. I think in a lot of these neighborhoods it's required that about 30% of the housing be public housing, which has controlled prices and ia subsidized heavily by the government. It's not a very rare thing to have really low income people living next to those who are middle class, and many private developers who own buildings are required to have public housing and controlled prices in their buildings to a certain extent by the government who pays them to do so. It's incredible to me and to others that no one protests this social housing, because in California when people try to put up affordable housing units people tend to be very upset and show up at city council meetings expressing the fact that having affordable housing in their backyards will bring crime and cause property values to drop. It's kind of amazing here that people from different income levels are able to live together in the same building without their being protest for the tenants that are not receiving help via social housing programs that have been established and funded by the government- it's a total contrast.

The pictures here are taken in an area of the city called El Carmel. It has a very difficult topography, and because it is on the outskirts of the city many people immigrated to that area and erected houses with their own two hands in order to have a place to live. (The pirate flag picture is from an area where many building were erected by the people who inhabit them, rather than by professional developers.) Because they were constucted in this manner the city doubts the safety of them. Also many of them are very very small and have poor ventilation and there are doubts about the health of living in such places. The city has a major renovation plan that will put in a new main street and has also put in several elevators and escaltors to help people reach their homes that used to require them to climb steep hills. As a result of this construction projects and also as a result of tearing down a lot of the unsafe housing people are displaced. However the city never displaces people and leaves them without a place to go. It is the law that they must be guaranteed housing in the same area, and if they chose not to be relocated they are given a lump sum of money. The brick building in the city is an example of new construction at the top of three newly installed escalators that climb the hills for you, where many people were relocated when their houses were removed in order to make such improvments to the neighborhood.

I think that the unique thing about this renovation in El Carmel is the fact that the improvements are being made to this area in order to improve the lives of the people who live there. I think that the kind of development I am used to seeing in S. Cal cities has to do with making improvements to the city in order to bring in more business and to push things along economically or even for better transporation purposes. So if they have to build public transport or a freeway through a very poor part of a city they give people money and they expect them to find a place to move to, as where here the improvements that they are making are not to bring in revenue for the city, but in this neighborhood especially they are made to help the people already living there, and if the city does have to claim eminent domain over your house or property they don't just hand people money and expect them to figure out where to go, they actually faciliate new housing facilities for the displaced.

The only thing that is suspect is that fact that so far we have talked to far more municipal workers than residents, so its hard to tell what the attitudes of the people living in these neighborhoods really is. Are they happy with the renovations? Do they feel that it is ultimately helping them or that the government is interfering to much by chasing them out of their houses into new places? Do they feel like they are being bought out or are they satisfied with the compensation and services that the city provides? When talking to those from the municipality I get these feeling that the city governments here really are doing great things for their residents, but I am excited to get out into the field next week and hear a different perspective on things. At this point, all I know is that the city's approach to working with neighborhood residents here seems to be very different from what I have seen in Orange County. Municipalities work closely with neighborhood associations in ways that appear to really impact positive changes that containa great deal of input from the residents. It's difficult for me to accept this concept after working with residents in Anaheim who are practially begging the city to accept their input. It seems that there is great benefit to the many Socialist municipalities in Barcelona- at least from the perspective of the residents who seem to have much more say in what goes on than I have seen in my experiences in Anaheim.

I like to listen...even when I don't understand it all.

I have slept quite a bit since I went to Rome. I was really tired out by the trip and on Monday we had a very intense class in which we took a 4km walking tour/hiking tour in one of the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. It was a wonderful tour, but unexpected amount of activity for the group on the day after we all were kind of tired from weekend adventures.

I haven't been indulging in the siesta thing here. Most days I sleep for about 6 hours and I am good to go. Today I slept for three and woke up and was thinking about trying to traverse some of the more Bohemian parts of the city alone, but decided to go out with the group for dinner instead. It was really nice- I am pretty much loving this drink they have here called a clara or clarita, which is beer mixed with limodada, but when my food came it was not what I ordered, which was not a huge deal, except as I was eating my Caprese pizza (and what I wanted was a Caprese salad) someone asked me what that little swirly thing was in my Basil and it was none other than a snail. A first other joked and told me I was supposed to take it out of the shell to eat it, and then eventually we told the waiter who apologized to me a lot, and gave me a salad. It wasn't a huge deal. I got the impression that it was part in parcel with all the fresh basil on top of the salad.

I stuck around after dinner to hang out with Karl, who is one of the staff with the trip. He is truly amazing- knows the city very well and it a great organizer of the students, oh and PS he worked with he worked with CESAR CHAVEZ for eleven years, and just mentioned this casually in a convesation one day. I decided to hang out with Karl and his friend, whose name I am really bad a remembering. She is from and lives in Barcelona and although my Spanish is limited I have talked to her quite a bit, and I think I get a lot of what she is saying. I decided to stay with them and not make Karl translate everything, so I just listened to what I could understand and it was interesting... We wound up at this swanky cafe right next to our residence where we had a late night coffee and took from photos on the egg chair that is pictures above. Karl asked our friend how she had met her other friend Teresa that he knows and she said that she met her on the metro or the bus, (I am not sure which) and Karl commented that people in California rarely get to meet other people like that because most of them commute to their jobs in cars by themselves. I told them about how when I lived in DC no one ever talked on the metro, and Karl said that New York's metro system was much different that people talked a lot more and made eye contact with each other.

I am thinking that perhaps another summer I can come here a month of so and do an intense language school and if I keep in contact with these new friends we can go out and talk about other things. I think that it can get frustrating when you are in places and out with people and just can't understand what people are saying, but I think it's really fun to just sit and listen to people and try to pick up on what you can from words that are familiar, or sound the same as english words, or through body language. I enjoy times here the most when I try communicate with people in Spanish and they try really hard to communicate back. I don't always get 100 percent of the picture, but I think that trying and picking up a little bit at a time is important and for me it's what really counts.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Spanish Cat

Between both Rome and Barcelona for two weeks, I think I have seen a total of less than 5 cats wandering the streets, which for me it a bit sad. However, the other day I did pass a pet shop and I went inside. Now, D doesn't usually condone my wanting to go into the puppy mill pet stores, because we both kind of think that it's gross to be selling purebred dogs like that when you can adopt so many from the pound, but I let the cuteness overtake my ethical beliefs about cats. You know that those places kind of stink, right? Well imagine one that is probably more cramped than you have ever seen before, with lack of, or very little air conditioning, with cats, dogs, and birds... All of this in about 90 degree whether. It was hella gross, and most of the cats literally looked like they were dead because they were so hot and asleep. It was gross. I wanted to buy them all just to release them, but the one in the picture was about 507 Euro, so it was a no go...

Anyway, do you think Ireland and Scottland might have more cats?tr

When in Rome...

Seeing all the historical sites in Rome is amazing. I have a feeling if it wasn't 90 degrees outside and I had about a week here I would just sit in many of the piazzas and just stare. Honestly, the Palladium alone could take you a whole day to get through- but but I really think that would only be possible if it were not mid-July.

Yesterday I went to the Collosieum in the morning and later to the Vatican Musum, which I thought was the place I needed the sleeved shirt for. When I didn't see any signs I figured that they were being lax because of the heat, but it turns out I had the wrong place, and today when I went to St. Peter's Basilica, I did need to buy a shirt to get in. Oh well. It seems like a common occurrence, it would just be nice if they told you before you walked all the way in.

Last night I wandered around and had dinner at a tourist trap that sat in the same Piazza at the Pantheon. I figured that paying a bit more for a meal was worth is to have a front row seat to that sight. I forgot to throw a coin to the Trevi fountain, so I may have to do that tonight or tomorrow before I leave.

After exploring the Palantine and the Forum all morning I went the the Tiberna island in the middle of the river and had possibly the best gellatto yet. I have ben here for 24 hours and this is my forth gelati, which is truly neccessary. Then I wandered around in the Ghetto- or the Jewish quarter and eventually made me way to a cafe on the west side of the river where I sat and had the best Caprese salad of my life. It was the perfect meal, as a cat sidled up to me before I was served.

I got on a city bus and had no idea where it was going to I wound up riding for about an hour or so. It went all the way to the end of the line and stopped for 4 minutes, so I got out and took a few snapshots of Saint Paul's Basilica, until I got back on the bus to ride a bit more. I had considered paying a lot of money for one of those expensive tour buses, but riding the municipal bus can accomplish a lot of the same, minus the narraration and the guide telling you exactly where to get off and what to look for.

My limited Italian has been quite shameful, but thankfully everyone I have encountered speaks English well enough. I speak Spanish to people a lot, and they seem confused...

Tonight I headed off to a place that my tour book touts as being one the best places for Pizza around, so I will let you know how that goes....


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

La Sagrada Familia

I don't know if the guide books would consider this to be the crown jewel of the city, but I do. I have been here three times, and I have never braved the line to enter this catherdral, however the outside if almost spectacular enpugh to not see it from the inside. It is a work that was started by Barcelona's famous and unique artist and architect- Gaudi.

He worked on it for the last fifteen years of his life, but he was kind of interesting in terms of creating a large building like this because he didn't like to make plans on paper, her kind of just liked to "go with it" and plan as he went, which has made it and even more challenging project to complete.

You can read more about it on Wikipedia, however please note that it was started being built in 1882 and it not expected to be finished for almost 20 years from now, however some Barcelonians think that is will never be finished, and that for some reason is just always needs to be under construction because it has for so long. Some of the recent issues that have arisen with it have included the implementation of high speed rail in the area and questioning whether or not the structure will hold- some engineers have questioned whether or not the foundation is strong enough to support a structure such as this regardless of the introduction of high speed rail vibrations in the immediate vicinity. It would be a tragedy is this thing collapsed, so here's to hoping for rgood engineering in this case.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ink and Sand in Spain

I didn't have my tattoo very long before I came to Spain, and I am wondering whether or not people will stare at it in the States like they do here. I would say on a normal day here I see 40 people look at it, 10 stare at it, and about three tap their friend on the shoulder and point to it to tell them to look at it- every single day. I don't know if it's just a huge tat and something that warrants being looked at all the time, if its weird because I am a female with one here, or if this is going to happen for the rest of my life- Europe or no. I don't really have any strong feelings about it either way- I like it. I think it's a good piece of art and that people should look at it, I guess I have just been overwhelmed by the response...

Also, this picture was taken on the beach of Tossa Del Mar on the Cost that is north of hear and is on the coastline in the way up to France. The water is beautifully clear there, and very salty, so it's easy to float and wonderful to swm in. My only gripe is that there rocky sand HURTS--- it's like little sharp pebbles in your foot everytime you take a step- that combined with the heat of it made it almost unbearable the other day, but well worth it to swim in the clear cool Sea.

Las Ramblas- Tourist Trap

Las Ramblas is a main street that runs from the Sea (starts with a big monument to Christopher Columbus) and runs up to the Plaza to Cataluyna, with fountains. The road is filled with shops on either side that cater to tourists (at least there prices do) and the main road on the center is filled with street performers, and illegal vendors selling things that they rush to fold up and run away with when the policia walk buy. Men are frequenty selling beer straight from the six pack, and yesterday I saw a man walking around naked with the biggest male anatomy I had ever seen in my life- I am talking horse size my friends-- I feel like he was probably a regular as he had underwear outline tattooed on his butt, and seemed like he would have been perfectly willing to stop for a picture had anyone been brave enough to ask.

The picture with me and the dragon above is a good example of the street statues that stay completely still until you drop change in their hat, which is when you can go up to them and pose for a picture. There are also pet shops on the main street that sell rats, bunnies, hedgehogs, turtles, and one even had a chipmonk the other day, which I thought was weird. I think that the thing that bothers me the most about this is the fact that I feel like touristas probably buy them and then can't take them with them, but who knows....

The ramblas is known for being a bit theft-happy because when tourist gather sround performers in big groups that are close together, it is easy for pickpockets to sneak their way in and brush up against pockets without people noticing much.

I have mixed emotions about Las Ramblas, becaue this is my third time here, and I thought that I would be rather touristed out by it this time, but in all honesty as long as you keep an eye on your stuff, and don't want to do any cheap shopping it's a perfectly entertaining way to spend a few hours people watching in this city...


Most of my classes here in Barcelona don't take place in a classroom. We go one walking yours about every single day, and walk for miles in intense heat, and thus far I have only had a few shoe problems (which were solved with a shopping trip), and I have not had a hard time keeping up. I was definitely scared about the city bike tour that we were taking more than anything else on the whole trip... I think mainly because I rarely ride bikes, I lack balance, and I am pretty ungraceful and uncoordinated overall. I felt that this characteristics combined with the fact that I would be riding near traffic and in a group of 30 people could equal disaster... However, I resisted my urge to opt out and decided to attempt the bike ride, and I am really glad that I did. We rode mostly on the waterfront, and through a few neighborhoods and I was able to keep up reasonably well and not cause any accidents for my group, cars of pedestrians. I actually think that because of the experience I might look into getting a bike for a few other afternoons I have in the city, because overall it was a rather relaxing an invigorating experience, and I am glad that I didn't let my fear keep me from doing it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Update on nude swim...

No pictures for this one.

I am proud to say that after much struggle with trying to narrow down when I could actually do this, tonight I was one of two women who attended the nudist swim night in Barcelona's indoor pool that was used for the 1992 Olympics. I am kind of at a loss for understanding why this event it only attended by men, but all of the people working as the pool told me that this was normal, and one of the naked men in the hot tub with me told me that it was always similar when one went to a nudist beach...

I think the main thing that we learned from going was that it was not a particularly well attended event, and it was definitely not a tourist affair. However I did find it totally fun and freeing, and pretty wonderful to do it. I feel like I could personally be down with a nudist movement, and it's hard for me to understand how it is that we became so prudish in the United States. It's just the human body, right?

Anyway- one notable part of the time we were swimming was that several spectators walked by to see the Olympic pool, and I dont think many of them were expecting what they saw. Amy said that it was one the craziest things that she has ever done in here life... I might have to agree.... I wish that my swim in the Mediterranean had also been nude...well not really, but a little bit. = )

I am hoping to catch up on blogging this coming week. I have needed to put the computer down and get some rest at night, so I have slacked a bit.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Puedes nadir desnudo?

t(Picture taken at local daycamp in a municipal courtyard with an amazing looking pool that surrounds a water tower. The counselours eventually blocked me from taking any more pictures of the kids, because I think that they thought it was a bit creepy.)

I have been reflecting today on how many people here ask me if I speak English when I try to speak to them in my poor Spanish. I am trying to understand why and whether or not this has anything to do with the fact that Catalan is spoken here and English is their primary second language, but anyway here is a good story to go along with my use of espanol.

So just incase you don't know the Olympics were held in Barcelona in 1992, and because of that they have two official olympis pools that you can pay a fee to swim in. I was told that Tuesdays was the day for nude swimming, which my friend and I really wanted to participate in. However, we didn't want to go all the way there without bathing stuis just to find out it was the wrong day. So I decide to pick up the phone and call the pool with my limited english. I decided to try and use the room phone and when they answered I said something about la piscin, to ask whether or not I had called the pool, and I thought they said yes, so I proceeded to ask them what time the pool closed and then I asked if I could swim sin ropa or without clothing. They said in English a few times that they didn't understand, so I hung up and looks up the word for naked, beccause I thought then I would be able to ask more easily. I called a second time, and they said that they didn't know what I was talking about, and that it was the reception desk at the residence where I am staying, so in other words I basically called the residence desk twice and asked them if I could swim naked, despite the fact that they don't have a pool. As if this wasn't bad enough someone knocked on my door a few mintues later and asked me what the problem was- I explained that I had been trying to call a pool, and she explained that they didn't have a pool and that if I wanted to place outgoing calls I needed to come down stairs and pre-pay. Luckily this encounter with the reception worker was with my friend Amy rather than mysef, but Amy is only going to be here for a week, so it works out because now every time they see her they will think she is the one who kept calling the desk to ask them about nude swimming, when really it was me the whole time.

Eventually we used skype to call the real pool and I said "Puedes nadar desnudo?" and the lady told me en Sabado- not Martes, so it's a good thing that we didn't go today, because even though I'd be happy to swim their con ropa I'd also love to swim in an authentic Olympic pool nude, just to say I did it... I have several Saturdays ahead of me, and if I am not in Rome you might just know where I will be.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Barcelona, Urban Planning, Historic Preservation, Roman (Gothic) City

We have started learning about the history of Barcelona, and one thing we learned is that because of its location it was not a major Roman city to start out with, and to make a long history short, there was a centralled walled-in Roman city. Under Spanish rule (I believe) it became larger but was heavily fortified with Spanish military and walls around the city to limit development, because the Spanish government was worried that it might be a revolutionary threat because of the differences in the Castillian and Catalonian kingdoms.

When the city became more properous, it began to develop more, but it could not develop outside of the set borders (yet) so it developed very narrow streets and was built up high. It was very dense. Living conditions became very stratified and the lower classes lived next to the bourgeosise who decided to revamp their city's history by investing lots of money into restoring what is now considered to be the Gothic part of the city...

What we learned today is that a majority of the buildings, walls, etc in the Gothic part of the city were not in the same places they are today when Barcelona really was a Roman city. Things were rearrange, building surfaces and walls were moved brick by brick to create plazas and beautiful squares to recreate the Roman history of the city... The church that is pictured above is an intesting case because it was never finished during the period it was built in, so when Barcelona started to prosper and money came into the city Barcelonians with money researched the period quite a bit, and made the outside of this Cathedral a model example of the type of architecture and design that they wanted the building to look like...

This brings up interesting questions about what is authentic and what is not, but more importantly, why a city would chose to re-CREATE this historical part of the city, which was not entirely true to real history. The lecturer today talks about how this recreation of history is a way to create cultural community and identity. In doing to the Catalonians and Barcelonians can emphasize the history that they care to, and not emphasize what they would rather forget. I suggested that it was the commercial creation of history for tourism, however it was suggested to me that the Barcelonians really needed the re-creation of this historical identity for themselves as much as it is something nice for tourists to look at... I wonder what other kinds of historical preservation movements do the same thing. How much of the history that we see is authentic, and what was researched and restored to look more periodic in order to highlight the parts of history that we want to be prominent in our cities?

As things progress I hope to learn more about the Cataloian identity that has been created in this region of Spain. Also, Barcelona is apparently one of the best models of modernist planning that has ever existed, which I am supposed to learn about tomorrow.

Interesting stuff, and great times in Spain.

Gatas y Montjuic

This morning I went with a group to Montjuic, which is named for the secret Jewish community that lived their I think in medieval times- not sure about dates. We took a cable car up to the Castell de Montjuic, which is a place where many people were executed per Franco's orders. I remember taking the furnicular up to Montjuic with my sister, but then not wanting to walk anymore- the view was certainly beautiful and I saw the first two cats of the trip, which is always a good sign. Now I am going to shower (cold) to get ready for class tonight. The humidity hear is killer, I am glad I am from the east coast, so I at least understand what it is...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Black Rice- secret ingredient...

Many of the signs around here at cafes advertise that they have arroz negro, but I didn't know what that will until tonight. It came out after they had served all the other food, and I asked if it was a postre, because they serve it with a white creamy sauce that looks like creme fresh. However, it's not a desert, its kind of like paella with squid in it, and it is black because of the ink from the squid. With the white sauce, which is aioli it is really very tasty.

Today was the orientation for the program, and I learned that I am one of two grad students here, and it looks like a pretty young crowd that will do their fair share of partying, but it looks like the coursework is going to be really good.

I also went out earlier this morning to try and explore the city, but kind of forgot that it was Sunday and a lot of things were closed. After having been here two other times, I have to say that I am kind of over the main strip called Las Ramblas, because it really just seems like an oversized trap, but the human statues are really fun to watch...

My apartment is close to the city's central park, and there is a zoo there, which I will make my way to at some point. It looks like a great place to relax in the afternoons after class. I am glad that my eastcoast uprbrining prepared me for the humidty here, because the California seems like they are dying a little bit.

That's all I have to report for now. I put a few pics on facebook, but will leave you with a picture of my large and wonderful window, where I sat this morning and ate breakfast. Tomorrow more advetures to come...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Favorite foreign activity

I don't know why one of my favorite things to do when I am visiting a foreign country is to go grocery shopping. I think maybe it's because it seems like in Europe they just have such a wider selection of creamer yogurtsh creations which I find to be amazing...

Tonight I had Special K con frutas rojas (strawberries and raspberries) and Spanish bread with nutella on it for dinner. I promise that my abroad blogging won't just be about food, but there is something about a super mercardo in a foreign country that could have me browsing for many hours on end.

So, yeah- I am here, safe, unpacked, and fed, and I think that very soon I am going to lose this second wind, realize that I might have had 2 hours of sleep within the last 30 hours period and crash goodnight, but right now I am enjoying the Spanish breeze blowing into my new temporary apartment.

Days in L.A.

Yesterday D and I spent the day together in LA before I left for Europe. We went to see the Pompeii exhibit at LACMA and then dined at The Stinking Rose for dinner and stayed in a hotel close to the airport.

This morning at breakfast I spilled coffee on my hand, which caused me to start crying and having a bit of a melt down. I have been so excited about this trip, but as happy as I am to have such an adventure, I am also sad to leave my love behind.

Now I am in Heathrow Airport, and I am just exhausted from this being about my 8th hour in an airport today... I am ready to arrive at my residence in Spain, to shower, and to sleep.

More adventures to come...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Not much for the Blogging Lately...

School concluded about a month ago, and I think maybe I have gotten so facebook dependent so much that I feel like I keep up with people by tweeting rather than blogging, but I do like this forum as well. As many of you know I am headed off to Spain in about one week. I will be studying there for a month, and then I will be traveling with my mother in Ireland and Scottland for about two weeks. I am very excited and I plan on updating often with lots of pictures to show when I am on the trip.

My sister has been deported for her Peace Corp service for a month and a half now, crazy right? You can check out all of her latest happenings here I had thought that I was going to be able to see her when I was in Europe this summer, but it doesn't look like it is going to happen as of now. She is going to be living in a rather remote village that will not be easily accessible via weekend tripping. It's sad, because I miss her, but I feel like I get to talk to her enough to keep in touch and to know what's going on. She seems to be doing really really well for herself, and I am so proud of her.

One of my best friends is getting married this weekend, on the 4th of July. A few people have commented that this is really weird, but I think it's amazing that I get to go to an awesome party thrown by someone else for this holiday. It will be wonderful and I am sure there will be amazing pictures.

I got a new tattoo. It's a Japanese crane- taken from the album The Crane Wife by the Decemberists. It's not complete yet, but when it is the bird will be standing in water and the water will say " Here All The Bombs, They Fade Away". People have asked me why this is so significant, and I guess the best way that I can explain it is that I love the Decemberists and there music makes me feel extremely connected to my sister, because she told me about them, we have listened to them together, and enjoyed a few of their concerts together and it has been magical. Also, this is my third tattoo, and it is a bird like the rest. The bird references have to do with my mother, because she is a birder through and through, so it all links back to her-- like most things in my life.

I don't have a ton more to say. I have really just been relaxing and getting ready for my trip and I am excited about it- even though I will miss D I think it is going to be good to get away and to experience the world a bit more...

Expect to hear from me more when I am In Europe. Have a wonderful summer everyone.