Roman Reflections

This trip has been an eye opening experience for me in many ways. I had never done any traveling internationally, any art or ever had a group of women as roommates so I didn’t have any clue what was going to happen. I feel like I have grown from this trip. As I write this blog entry on a train at 7am heading to Venice with some of my friends, I am shocked at how normal it feels to just hop on a train and go somewhere awesome, whereas two months ago I would never have had the nerve. I feel like I have grown up more and can handle more things by myself. This trip has also reinforced my instinct to protect and care for the younger girls around me in any way I can. Most of the time they don’t need it because they are strong and capable but they know I enjoy it so they indulge me.

Romans, while not living in the cleanest city I’ve ever seen, seem to live cleaner lives. They eat better food without all the preservatives and chemicals, they buy from markets so their produce is always fresh and healthy and they eat well. They eat slowly and don’t stuff themselves, which is a trait I have embraced. The food here is exquisite! It’s simple, fresh and I can eat gluten here without the intense body pain which is not something I can get away with at home. The Roman people also walk everywhere so they get more exercise which is something that I will be attempting to get into (within reason) back home also. I shockingly ate like a queen and still lost weight here.

Rome is a beautiful place and it seems to be at its most beautiful in the early morning, before the traffic and the hordes of tourists. This is Rome at its most peaceful. When the history of the place really hits home and a century seems like a blip on the radar of history. Even during the day, with the mass of people invading them, Rome’s historic sites shine like lanterns encouraging us to remember who we are and where we’ve come from. Perhaps it is to help show us where we are going.

The Coliseum with its grand arches and its maze of corridors reminds us of when fighting to the death, be it animal or human, was considered glorious and was celebrated up to the highest levels of society.  The Roman Forum sits quietly as a reminder of day’s past when Rome was a grand experiment of a republic and what happens when corruption infects our governmental institutions. The majesty of the Pantheon reminding us that regardless of what we specifically believe in, spirituality can never be fully quashed because people always need something to believe in.  The multitude of art everywhere reminding us to find beauty in everyday things so we can really see the truth within the extraordinary ones. The crypts and tombs reminding us of our own mortality and to not forget to live.  These are the lessons I will take home from Rome.

As we roll through the countryside of Italy it feels like home. The rolling fields of crops don’t look much different than those in Snohomish or Skagit counties and the work is the same it’s just the architecture that’s different. It really draws me into the truth that we are all the same people, with the same struggles and the same joys as everyone else. Here in Italy just as at home, there is poverty and plenty, rain storms and sunshine, life and death. We are all one humanity and it is reflected in our art, our history and our daily lives. I think that is the other lesson I will take home with me from this trip. That, for me, the world is just a little bit smaller than it used to be.

When in Rome…Actually not in Rome…In the Vatican!

7/15/14

Today was crazy. We got up and met the group at the Musei Vaticani at 10 am and began what would end up being just over a 4 hour tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.  The art was incredible and awe inspiring. Everywhere you turned there was priceless pieces of art that you see in art books and we got to see them in person. Amazing. Our tour guide Francisco has been giving tours there for 38 years so he was incredibly knowledgeable in everything we were looking at. We went through and saw Rafael’s frescoes and Michelangelo’s sculptures and then suddenly we were herded in to the Sistine chapel where I was expecting to be in total awe but frankly found it to be too crowded, hot and without seats to be fully appreciated. I did get to see that scene where man and God are almost touching fingers which  was pretty cool. That was about 2 and a half hours in and I was pretty ready for a break which never came. So after that we went down to St. Peter’s which is also stunning. There was gold and marble everywhere and the art was magnificent. I’m gonna go back there at some point because by the time we got to the church I was hurting really badly from my fibro acting up and I didn’t absorb as much as I would have liked too. Maybe that should be 2 days of touring next time. LOL  So a good lunch, 4 ibuprofen and a nap later I seem to be human again, still hurting but human and ready to study for my finals for Italian class and Roaming Rome class.  Man I could use an acupuncture treatment. LOL

Love you guys and miss you.

Pics are on Facebook.

Michele

Gaeta….

7/13/14

Gaeta blew my mind. I have been to the beach before and rarely had much fun but this trip was way different.  We reserved two umbrellas and 6 beach chairs for the 6 of us who hung out and we just chilled….or baked, whichever you prefer. We took  turns going down to the bluest water I have ever seen and playing like little kids in the surf then when we went back to the chairs a couple  girls bought 2 bottles of wine and brought them plus an ice bucket over. Best beach trip EVER! Gaeta isn’t just a beach though. Friday night there was a Santana cover band playing in the park by the hotel and we danced the night away with each other and any Italian guy bold enough to approach the circle of giggling American girls. It was awesome. This is the town I want to bring my mom too for a week just so she can see that blue ocean. Blue is one of her favorite colors and this water was many stunning shades of it. It inspired me to paint one of the pictures I took there and I think it’s pretty good for a newbie.

Gotta go peeps.

Ciao!

when still in Rome…among other places….

7/9/14

Rome is amazing. I am surrounded by things older then I can really comprehend and I am in awe.  The walking everywhere and the stairs to my apartment have been a challenge because of my fibromyalgia pain but the young people on this trip with me have been amazing and they are looking out for me on the good days and the bad. But truthfully a bad day for me on this trip cannot be truly bad because I’m in Rome. This trip is almost over and I still cannot believe that I am in Rome. I have walked the Roman forum, the pantheon, the Colosseum, Ostia Antica and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, many of the churches and museums. Tomorrow we go to Gaeta and get to hang there overnight. I’m excited to see the beaches there and learn about the history of the place.

Catch ya later,

Michele

When in Rome….

6/27/14

Hey Everybody!

The young ones have gone off for the evening and I’m supposed to write this thing called a blog while I’m here so here goes.

First things first, for all my close peeps, I miss you guys so much it’s crazy. This place is amazing and you all should be here with me and if I ever win the lotto…. It’s on like donkey kong.

This city is…stunning. The only way I can truly describe it is stunning.  Its older than any landmark in the US by a millennia.  That is a concept that didn’t really enter my consciousness until I wrapped my arms around one of the pillars of the Pantheon. This is seriously old stuff. Back when people openly worshiped Hera and Athena these stones stood. Amazing.  Erin has said that when we visit the coliseum she is going to cry and hug the building and I think I will join her. I may be in too much shock to cry but hug I will.

This trip has been life changing for me in so many ways.  I am experiencing what college would have been like with roommates. So far it’s been awesome. I was paired with people I was familiar with and have found a fellow music lover in Brynn who has a FANTASTIC voice and has already written an amazing song at 19. She’s gonna be famous someday because her art is amazing too. Everybody I am here with is talented at something. Erin and Sylvia are delightful and incredibly intelligent. I am older than all but two of my tripmates by at least 5 years and the more time I spend with them the more in awe I am. They are all quality people.

Tonight is my first Friday night in Rome. We walked a lot today for class so I am resting my poor ankles and feet. I swelled up like a balloon until the Farmacia down the street gave me some homeopathic ointment and a powder to take in the morning.  It has helped my ankles not swell but I keep them elevated every chance I get. The kids on the trip keep reminding me to elevate my feet every time it’s possible. Those who I am close to have begun calling me Mama Bear because I am instinctively taking care of them and making sure they have everything they need. Wet Wipes, Sunscreen, water, Advil, Vitamins, you name it, I carry it. Not so fun for my back but having what someone needs is helpful and the only guy (22 years old) on the trip has volunteered (as any gentleman would) to carry my pack for me if I need help…. It may be partially due to the fact that I keep hearing out of his mouth, “Hey Mom can I put my notepad in your backpack?” He always compensates me in caffeine, wine or him carrying the bag if it gets heavy so I always say yes. Will is completely adorable. I hope we can be friends even after this trip because I am enjoying the bond we’ve formed. They all joke that they are my ducklings…. Sound familiar?… LOL.

I have made friends with a couple shop owners near the Rome center because I keep bringing people in and if it’s busy I bus my own table, which surprisingly, people don’t do here. Yesterday and today I got hugs and cheek kisses from owners thanking me for things that I do naturally but which are a novelty here apparently. The girls tease me that these delightful men, both in their mid 60’s, are my boyfriends in Rome.  I am ok with this as they are adorable and they both feed me. Bonus.

Apparently my Italian is actually pretty good for a beginner. My ability to pick up accents and the fact that half my husband’s family is Italian has helped me be understood by those I am speaking too. Today after a halting conversation about my support of family businesses and purchasing some DEEEELISH red pesto from a vender in the Campo Di Fiori she said goodbye with the words Ciao Amore which means Bye Love. I feel very at home here. I feel like I have lived here before in a previous life.

The food is AMAZING! There are even Chinese restaurants! I eat whenever I need too and I don’t ever stuff myself and run like in the US. I am also not in as much pain from the Fibromyalgia as I am in the US. I think that the wheat being processed differently and the heat of the days is helping my muscles relax and loosen even if its making me sweat.

I wish my husband could be here. These are our people and he needs to see this beautiful country too. I miss him and my mom sooooooo bad. Rome is something that EVERYBODY should see once in their lifetimes. It’s feeling like a pilgrimage now. I want to come back and I haven’t even left yet.

The only things bothering me so far are the fact that in this lovely apartment we have been assigned, our toilet doesn’t like to flush solids and we have no wifi so keeping in touch with people is HARD!  We were promised both of those so It’s a bit frustrating that we aren’t getting what the Rome center has paid for. We will call the landlord asap to see if we can fix the important stuff soon.

I miss everybody but am having a blast…. Although I may need a shipment of more Chinese Curing pills for the tummy (I have been helping as best I can with my friends and teacher’s tummy upsets) and a t-shirt with Rob’s Deodorant for my pillow. A month is a LOOOOONG time to miss my husband.

On that note, I’m going to take myself to bed so I can get some sleep and prepare for the upcoming week.  Miss everybody.  Love you guys.

Michele

Hey Everybody!

6/30/2014 Blog by Michele Bartleson, NURS, When in Rome: Interdisciplinary Studio Art and Italian Culture

The young ones have gone off for the evening and I’m supposed to write this thing called a blog while I’m here so here goes.

First things first, for all my close peeps, I miss you guys so much it’s crazy. This place is amazing and you all should be here with me and if I ever win the lotto…. It’s on like donkey kong.

This city is…stunning. The only way I can truly describe it is stunning.  Its older than any landmark in the US by a millennia.  That is a concept that didn’t really enter my consciousness until I wrapped my arms around one of the pillars of the Pantheon. This is seriously old stuff. Back when people openly worshiped Hera and Athena these stones stood. Amazing.  Erin has said that when we visit the coliseum she is going to cry and hug the building and I think I will join her. I may be in too much shock to cry but hug I will.

This trip has been life changing for me in so many ways.  I am experiencing what college would have been like with roommates. So far it’s been awesome. I was paired with people I was familiar with and have found a fellow music lover in Brynn who has a FANTASTIC voice and has already written an amazing song at 19. She’s gonna be famous someday because her art is amazing too. Everybody I am here with is talented at something. Erin and Sylvia are delightful and incredibly intelligent. I am older than all but two of my tripmates by at least 5 years and the more time I spend with them the more in awe I am. They are all quality people.

Tonight is my first Friday night in Rome. We walked a lot today for class so I am resting my poor ankles and feet. I swelled up like a balloon until the Farmacia down the street gave me some homeopathic ointment and a powder to take in the morning.  It has helped my ankles not swell but I keep them elevated every chance I get. The kids on the trip keep reminding me to elevate my feet every time it’s possible. Those who I am close to have begun calling me Mama Bear because I am instinctively taking care of them and making sure they have everything they need. Wet Wipes, Sunscreen, water, Advil, Vitamins, you name it, I carry it. Not so fun for my back but having what someone needs is helpful and the only guy (22 years old) on the trip has volunteered (as any gentleman would) to carry my pack for me if I need help…. It may be partially due to the fact that I keep hearing out of his mouth, “Hey Mom can I put my notepad in your backpack?” He always compensates me in caffeine, wine or him carrying the bag if it gets heavy so I always say yes. Will is completely adorable. I hope we can be friends even after this trip because I am enjoying the bond we’ve formed. They all joke that they are my ducklings…. Sound familiar?… LOL.

I have made friends with a couple shop owners near the Rome center because I keep bringing people in and if it’s busy I bus my own table, which surprisingly, people don’t do here. Yesterday and today I got hugs and cheek kisses from owners thanking me for things that I do naturally but which are a novelty here apparently. The girls tease me that these delightful men, both in their mid 60’s, are my boyfriends in Rome.  I am ok with this as they are adorable and they both feed me. Bonus.

Apparently my Italian is actually pretty good for a beginner. My ability to pick up accents and the fact that half my husband’s family is Italian has helped me be understood by those I am speaking too. Today after a halting conversation about my support of family businesses and purchasing some DEEEELISH red pesto from a vender in the Campo Di Fiori she said goodbye with the words Ciao Amore which means Bye Love. I feel very at home here. I feel like I have lived here before in a previous life.

The food is AMAZING! There are even Chinese restaurants! I eat whenever I need too and I don’t ever stuff myself and run like in the US. I am also not in as much pain from the Fibromyalgia as I am in the US. I think that the wheat being processed differently and the heat of the days is helping my muscles relax and loosen even if its making me sweat.

I wish my husband could be here. These are our people and he needs to see this beautiful country too. I miss him and my mom sooooooo bad. Rome is something that EVERYBODY should see once in their lifetimes. It’s feeling like a pilgrimage now. I want to come back and I haven’t even left yet.

The only things bothering me so far are the fact that in this lovely apartment we have been assigned, our toilet doesn’t like to flush solids and we have no wifi so keeping in touch with people is HARD!  We were promised both of those so It’s a bit frustrating that we aren’t getting what the Rome Center has paid for. We will call the landlord asap to see if we can fix the important stuff soon.

I miss everybody but am having a blast…. Although I may need a shipment of more Chinese Curing pills for the tummy (I have been helping as best I can with my friends and teacher’s tummy upsets) and a t-shirt with Rob’s Deodorant for my pillow. A month is a LOOOOONG time to miss my husband.

On that note, I’m going to take myself to bed so I can get some sleep and prepare for the upcoming week.  Miss everybody.  Love you guys.

Michele