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30 December, 2010

Resolutions Achieved

Every year around this time, I sit down with a mug of tea (with milk, of course), looking through last year's resolutions, checking off the accomplished and making a new list for the coming year. I have a tendency to be harsh on myself, but a look at what I accomplished in 2010 is a much needed reflection of my capacity to succeed when I put my mind to it.

In 2010, I....

Managed (finally) my finances

Left a horridly abusive job (a la Devil Wears Prada)

Navigated the daunting world of the unemployed

Was accepted to graduate school

Traveled to Armenia

Traveled to Europe

Painted more frequently

Dabbled in freelance writing

Went to New York City

Visited friends in Washington D.C. and Georgia.

Kept up with my obsession to learn new languages

Took more videos

Spent more time with my family

Blogged more

Learned to be more open with the love of my life

Had a Valentines Day Date (My first ever!)

Celebrated a very special one year anniversary

My resolutions for 2011 are hefty but, with a rather large dose of determination and perhaps a false sense of confidence, anything is possible!

Chicago In The Wintertime







29 December, 2010

Does Santa Make Second Rounds?



I saw these shoes today. They are heavenly. The price is not.


27 December, 2010

J.K. Rowling at Harvard

Many of you may have already seen this video, but I just discovered it and found her message so powerful, I had to share. Happy Tuesday!

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

Needle and Thread


Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Stranger,
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.

Hafiz

This quote takes my breath away. And makes me realize, again, how lucky I am to be loved by a man beyond measure, with a magnitude so forceful, so encompassing, that there could never be enough thread for a blanket that goes on forever.

24 December, 2010

Gingerbread House














(Gingerbread house made by my incredibly talented Mom and sisters. Photos by (not so talented) me!)

Joyeux Noël !

Snow is falling in light flurries, delicious smells waft from the kitchen, presents lie wrapped under a glittering tree.....Christmas is almost here.

Wishing you all a Christmas filled with loved ones, delicious food, and JOY.

20 December, 2010

O Gather Me the Rose

O gather me the rose, the rose,

While yet in flower we find it,

For summer smiles, but summer goes,

And winter waits behind it.


For with the dream foregone, foregone,

The deed foreborn forever,

The worm Regret will canker on,

And time will turn him never.


So were it well to love, my love,

And cheat of any laughter

The fate beneath us, and above,

The dark before and after.


The myrtle and the rose, the rose,

The sunshine and the swallow,

The dream that comes, the wish that goes

The memories that follow!


-William Ernest Henley

(via)

19 December, 2010

Uncertainty

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The past few months have been ones of adjustment and I have found myself sad at times, frustrated, unsure of what lies ahead. Somewhere along the road, I lost sight of what life is truly about. I had plans for my life, and life wasn't cooperating.

The fact is, life isn't about planning, nor is it about certainty or reaching certain milestones. Life is about living, now and in the moment because ultimately, the only certain thing about life is its uncertainty.

Today I read a few old e-mails from people who were once a part of my life, and looked through photos from my travels around the world, of old friends, random acquaintances. I remembered warm summer nights in Madrid, making new friends in Montreal, watching futbol in a piazza in Rome, and so much more. Remembering those moments, I felt a rush of nostalgia that was almost painful. A nostalgia not so much for the people I've met or the places I've been, but for that feeling of being alive that is so hard to feel in the mundane nature of every day.

Last summer, I spent a few weeks in Europe by myself. Boarding the plane, I felt a rush of anticipation - unsure of who I would meet or even where I would stay, the possibilities were as endless as the vast expanse of sky visible from my small window.

I need to learn to embrace that uncertainty in my everyday life with the same gusto as I do when I travel.

(via)

16 December, 2010

I Belong To You/You Belong To Me


Adesso no, non voglio più difendermi
Supererò dentro di me gli ostacoli
I miei momenti più difficili
Per te

There is no reason, there is no rhyme
It's crystal clear
I hear your voice
And all the darkness disappears
Everytime I look into your eyes
You make me love you

Questo inverno finirà
And I do truly love you
Fuori e dentro me
How you make me love you
Con le sue difficoltà
And I do truly love you
I belong to you, you belong to me
Forever

Want you
Baby I want you
And I thought that you should know
That I believe
And you're the wind that's underneath my wings
I belong to you, you belong to me

Ho camminato su pensieri ripidi
You're my fantasy
Per solitudini e deserti aridi
You're my gentle breeze
Al ritmo della tua passione ora io vivrò
And I'll never let you go
L'amore attraverserò
You're the piece that makes me whole
Le onde dei suoi attimi
I can feel you in my soul
Profondi come oceani

Vincerò per te le paure che io sento
Quanto bruciano dentro le parole che non ho più detto, sai...

Oh..
Want you
Baby I want you
And I thought that you should know
That I believe

Lampi nel silenzio siamo noi yeah
I belong to you, you belong to me

You're the wind that's underneath my wings
I belong to you, you belong to me

Adesso io ti sento
I will belong forever to you

(I really recommend listening to this song. Even if you don't understand the Italian (the English lyrics above are part of the song, not a translation of the Italian parts) the melody is so moving and dual combination of vocals from Eros Ramazzotti and Anastasia are phenomenal. Not to mention their live chemistry....sizzling! Listen to it here)

I Want One

14 December, 2010

Frustrated.


Since starting graduate school, I moved back with my parents to save money. In the meanwhile, my love moved here from New York and is living with his brother in the city. We have plans to move in together around summer.

After a year of a long-distance relationship, what more could I ask for than being in the same city, seeing each other a few times a week and having plans for our own place in the very near future?

Well, my parents complicate things. While his parents are more relaxed (he is the youngest of three, after all), welcoming and have basically made me feel as if I am already part of the family, mine are super conservative and are taking their time in accepting him, regardless of the fact that he is EXACTLY the type of man they have always wanted for me. Of course, they are very nice to him and my mom has made no secret of wanting us to get married ASAP.

And there's the problem. They basically won't "officially" except him until we're engaged. This means no sleeping over at his place, no displays of affection between us when near my parents, etc. etc. On one hand, I understand. I am the oldest of three girls and this is a first for my parents, not to mention precedent for my younger sisters. On the other hand, its MY life and its not as if I'm out every night with a different man. He has talked to my dad and told him that he will marry me and love me for the rest of my life. I thought that would break the ice but words, it seems, are no match for a ring on my finger.

All I want is to be able to, at least once a week, fall asleep in his arms and kiss him good morning.

The saying goes, parents know best. But, ultimately, they are human, like me, and prone to errors in judgment and to being stubborn and unreasonable. I don't think they are taking the right approach to this and I doubt our relationship will be the same for it. It is so, so frustrating having to put my life on hold while I am living under their roof.

(via)

09 December, 2010

Exhale

Four papers done, one to go. I've already crawled under the blankets, and the candle next to my bed is slowly spreading a warm vanilla scent through my room. I'm going to watch old episodes of The Hills (don't judge....after a combined 80 pages of bi-variate regression, conflict analysis, state-building and genocide, I need mindless programming to slow my mind down). I'm so, so tired but it feels good.




Sidenote: I discovered this incredible Polaroid application via Jenni's blog (ahhhhmazing blog, go and read it now!) and have been obsessively converting my photographs to Polaroids since. As if I needed more ways to procrastinate.

06 December, 2010

Letter to the person who hurt me the most

To be honest, there isn't a person who has hurt me the most. In my life, there have been a few people who have disappointed me, lied to me and even betrayed me. The worst were those that hurt me for no reason at all, but who managed to make me feel I deserved it. Ultimately, I learned to give myself worth and not rely on the actions of others to measure what I deserved but, rather,to measure others against what I deserved. Sometimes, when I think of a particular time I was hurt, I feel a tiny pang but it quickly goes away. That is what life is - a series of joys, hurts, achievements, disappointments - without pain we cannot measure pleasure.

And though it is right to forgive, I don't think a true hurt is ever forgotten.

Testing

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05 December, 2010

Words

I am obsessed with learning new languages.....and this is why:




04 December, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Last night, I came home to find a package waiting for me. It was from wonderful Holly, who was my swap-mate for a calendar exchange hosted by Caroline, of I Am A Greedy Girl. Despite my anticipation, I hesitated to open the package - it was so beautifully wrapped!


I opened it carefully and was absolutely smitten with the lovely calendar, elegant card and an adorable little "A" stamp (perfect for holiday card stamping!).



Then, this morning, I woke up, opened my shutters and saw this.



Presents and snow....and its not even Christmas yet!

Is it snowing where you are?

03 December, 2010

Happy Friday!



I'm sitting outside of Spanish class, studying (clearly) for the final exam. Ahead lies a weekend full of writing, a week of meetings with professors and then, a sigh of relief and quality time with those I love.

But today, as soon as the exam is over, I am heading to spend the evening with my love. And homework is not invited.

Have a lovely weekend!

(via)

01 December, 2010

I Feel Like This


Two more weeks until the month long winter break. Two torturous weeks of never-ending paper writing and research. This is the time when I really have to remind myself how much I hated corporate life. Two weeks of madness for something I love versus a lifetime of enslavement - there's no competition, really.

But that doesn't mean I won't be complaining for the next two weeks (and baking to procrastinate. note to self: baking powder does NOT equal baking soda).

(via)

28 November, 2010

Letter to My Favorite Internet Friend(s)


I was first introduced to the blog world when I was planning my first trip to Italy and stumbled upon this blog about a British woman living in Positano, a small town on the Amalfi coast. Positano quickly found its way onto the list of places to go (and it did not disappoint). I decided to start my own blog and little did I know the people I would "meet" and the ways in which they would inspire me. From Sweden to Peru to Italy to Tunisia to Poland and everywhere in between, your blogs inspire me and allow me to travel the world without leaving my room. Though we have never met in person, in a way we meet everyday. It's amazing how small the world really is.

Keep writing!

(via)

25 November, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!



Remember everything you are grateful for and, celebrate with those you are most thankful for. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

24 November, 2010

Letter to the ex Prince Charming

Dear Prince Charming:

I use your nickname with irony now, as you were certainly not my prince and, if I look back, not entirely charming either. I met you during my first trip to the city I had loved for years. In the midst of my excitement and floating on cloud nine, there you were. Instantly, you were swept into that whirling sphere of time when Paris represented the future to me. You were a physical embodiment of those unexplainable emotions I felt when I walked through St. Denis. When you wrapped your arms around me, I felt the city envelop me, too.

I didn't feel butterflies when you kissed me, and you were never very affectionate. But I put any concerns aside because you were a package deal, you and Paris. But when I could no longer deny the fact that, like two mismatched puzzle pieces, we simply didn't fit, I let you go and realized that I could still keep Paris.

And I also realized what I really wanted in life. And when I got back to Chicago, I realized who I really wanted was right in front of me.

And so, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, thank you. Thank you for being, for giving me a glimpse of what I thought I wanted, so I could realize what it was that I truly wanted. Had I not met you, I would probably still be chasing a distant dream, not realizing that it was already within my grasp.


23 November, 2010

Un Nuovo Bacio

Negli occhi miei
Ormai ci sei
Chissà se con lo stesso sguardo
Vedi me negli occhi tuoi

Allora si
Io devo dirtelo
Mentre provavo a non pensarti
Ti pensavo sempre più

Siamo un po' troppo vicini adesso per scappare via

Tu non lo sai
Prima di te
C'è stato un altro che ha lasciato
Le ferite dentro me

Non aver paura giuro amore sono qui a difenderti
Con il tempo guarirò il tuo cuore cancellando i lividi
E per tutti i giorni che verranno ti respirerò

Io ti dirò le cose dette mai
Di questo amore noi saremo gli angeli
Il mio petto da cuscino
Per la vita ti farà

Sembra cominciata già
Una storia senza fine


Farò girare il mondo intorno a noi
Arriverà Natale senza nuvole
Le domeniche d'agosto
Quanta neve che cadrà
E nel tempo che verrà
Il mio cuore ti sorprenderà

Che freddo fa
Stringimi un po'
Riaccendi tutti i desideri quasi spenti dentro me
Con le dita sfioro il tuo profilo poi mi fermo un attimo
Per giocare con i tuoi capelli che nel vento volano
Prima di scoprire un bacio nuovo
Che sapore avrà

19 November, 2010

Wine Tasting





Thursday night, fed up with arduous paper writing, demanding professors and windowless offices, us ladies of the department decided to relax with a girls night out. After a long day of classes, we headed to a rooftop bar in the loop for their monthly (and, best of all for penniless graduate students, free) wine tasting. For once, my eyes were trained on the menu, and the gorgeous view, instead of mountains of research material. Heavenly.


18 November, 2010

Swing



I could really use a swing (or two) in this hammock. With my man lying beside me so I could rest my head on his shoulder as we swish back and forth, under crystal-clear waters, enveloped in a warm ocean breeze.


(source unknown)

16 November, 2010

Taxi!


Today I took a cab to the train station. On the way, I struck up a conversation with the Colombian driver about school, relationships and life in general. I love charismatic cab drivers.

We pulled up to the train station and I handed her my credit card ( I had told her in advance I didn't have cash). She wouldn't take it and insisted on giving me a free ride.

I love when the extreme, unbridled kindness of strangers takes me by surprise.

15 November, 2010

Nerdiness


How cute are these little food erasers?

Letter to A Stranger


Dear Stranger:

Sometimes, as I pass you in the grocery store, or sit next to you on the train, I wonder - what would it feel like to be you? What if I was you, watching me? I wonder, what is your life like? What are you thoughts, your hopes, your dreams? What is hidden behind the outlandish hair, the manicured nails, the business suit? What do you see when you look at me?

Is the world so much different from your perspective?

14 November, 2010

Letter to My Dreams


Dear Dreams:

There sure are a lot of you inside me -- my heart and mind are constantly enveloped in a swirl of possibilities.

The incredible, amazing news is that the most important one of you has been achieved - I've found true love.

Now I wait (not so patiently) for all the others --

A cozy apartment where I wake up every morning to his sleepy kisses, of spontaneous trips, of decorating Christmas trees together. Of getting married, having a boy and a girl who have his kind eyes and generous soul, growing old together, of a lifetime of shared memories.

A career where I feel both fulfilled and know that I am making a difference. A life full of love, family, adventure and passion.

Though it seems far away now, I dream of living in Europe. I remind myself that true love encompasses all dreams, so anything is possible.

Yes, dreams, you have changed over the years. And some of you will remain as you are, just dreams. The time for certain things has come and gone. But that is okay, because sometimes, reality is better than anything I could dream of.

Letter to My Sister

Okay, so I skipped a few days. I'm back on track now.

Dear Sister,

Right now you are playing the piano and I. Absolutely. Can't. Stand. It.

I don't know why, but ever since you started practicing for a few hours a day at age 4, I've had this deep-seated dislike, perhaps even loathing for the piano. But honestly, deep inside, I admire your talent and your hard work, even if I can't appreciate it.

We've had our ups and downs and sometimes I feel I still hold a little resentment towards you for things that happened in the past. But then I think of how much you have grown, your incredible generosity, stunning creativity and kindness, and I am reminded of how lucky I truly am.

A few years ago, you wrote me a letter for my birthday, and I was absolutely stunned by how well you know me, it was completely unexpected. I'm really happy that we are slowly becoming friends, not only sisters. I loved people watching with you in London, walking the streets in Armenia, long walks to the library over the summer, and late-night talks in your room about how unreasonable parents can be.

Remember when we were little and I used to drag my mattress from my room to yours so we could have sleepovers? I don't think our parents ever understood why, after years of sharing the same room and fighting over whose side was cleaner, we would voluntarily sleep in the same space, just for fun. Actually, neither do I!

I have to admit, when I was little I wanted desperately to be an only child (probably because you were always stealing things from my room and I dreamt of a place where I didn't have to hide my "treasures" under sweaters and such). But then I realized, who would I have to share my childhood memories with?

I am so lucky to have such an amazing sister in my life (now, can I borrow your earrings?).

10 November, 2010

Letter to My Parents

Dear Parents:

You probably don't realize how much I appreciate you, but I do, and I've written so before.

But I think we would all agree that we are all waiting until I move out. By this age, I've developed a set of ideals and standards that do not often meet with yours. And that's okay, because we are products of different generations, of different cultures. We are the way we are, just because.

It will be easier for all of us to accept this when those ideals are not always clashing over the same roof.

Until then, I noticed you two have started gin-tonic date nights - maybe I will smuggle a bottle of wine into my room and have a date night with myself (if only I could sneak my boyfriend in, too(see: ideals)).

Love you.


09 November, 2010

Letter to My Crush

Dear Guillaume Canet:

Last year, I asked you to marry me. Lacking a response, I have since moved on to another (infinitely better, no offence) man. You didn't expect me to wait around forever, did you? In any case, I see that you have found love with another one of my crushes, so all is well with the world. An invitation to your wedding will suffice to close this chapter of our relationship.

Best,

A.

08 November, 2010

Air Mail


I've just come home to a package waiting for me, airmail from Scotland.


I can't say I haven't been eagerly waiting for this - my obsession for snail-mail and lovely things was duly fulfilled when I opened the brown wrapping to find these beauties:


My favorite part - the paper inside is made from recycled money. On some pages you can see larger imprints of bank notes. Quids in!

Thank you, Betsey and Libby for this fantastic giveaway!!