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