Tag Archives: feelings

I’ll Bring My Baby to Bookstores.

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I’ll bring my baby to bookstores.
And I hope you will, too.
So she can learn the smell of books,
the sounds of the pages turning.
I’ll bring my baby to bookstores
so she learns at a young age the value of the written word,
the value of its power.
I’ll bring my baby to bookstores
so she grows up with a handful of novels
and a brain full of knowledge.
I’ll bring our baby to bookstores.
She’ll see us stealing glances from across the room.
She’ll learn that books are synonymous with love,
and that’s how every life should be lived.

Juliet.

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Five years ago, your lips met mine for the very first time.

Between stolen glances, our hands brushing lightly and those eyes, my god, those eyes… you pulled me closer to you and it felt as if one million bolts rushed through every fiber of my being.

You tasted like those raspberries, and everything I’d ever wanted.

I swore by the moon that we made a spark when I finally pulled away.

But maybe Juliet was right when she said, “Swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, that changes in her circled orb.”

Because one day, it did change.

And you bolted faster than you were once eager to kiss me.

Although I still thank my lucky stars for the time we shared.

But the next time I fall in love, you won’t hear me swear by the moon.

Daze in Perugia.

Ciao, amici!

I haven’t posted in awhile, but now that I’m currently studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, I think this is the perfect time to blog. I’m meeting so many new people, exploring new places and experiencing everything and anything that I possibly can. I only have until mid-December here and I know it’ll fly by so, so fast. It’s only been my fourth night in Italy and I feel like I’ve been here for weeks– that’s how you know I’m experiencing a lot already and really taking advantage of my days here.  If you’re interested in my adventures in Europe, check back here for my updates!

At first, I really wanted to make my travel posts deep and meaningful (Hannah Brencher style) but I think my journey will speak for itself. I’m sure this post is going to be long enough, so I’ll cut right to the chase: when I arrived to my apartment, which is right next to the main square in Perugia. Let me just tell you, I was NOT expecting my apartment to be as amazing as it is. It has such old Italian charm: big windows with shutters, three quaint yet spacious bedrooms, a beautiful terrace with a beautiful view, old bookcases, the tallest ceilings, huge armoires… the list goes on.

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Not to be bias or anything, but I think my roommates and I were one of the lucky ones. Amanda and I were especially lucky because we have two truly awesome roommates to share this beautiful apartment with. Not many students at the Umbra Institute were blessed with as nice and spacious of apartments as we were. I was literally jumping up and down when I saw where I was living. After I collected myself, I opened up the grand doors out to our terrace, took a deep breath and took it all in. I really couldn’t believe this was going to be my life for the next four months. How did I get so lucky?

After some orientation things I don’t want to bore you with, it was time to finally get to know Perugia a little better. Luckily my school provided all of the students with our first Italian pizza dinner at Merlin’s Pizza, which was as good as you think it is. We had limited choices, but I ordered pizza with ham on it and a glass of chilled white vino. Not sure if you guys know this, but Italy is so cool you don’t even have to tip your waiters. They don’t expect it because it’s not common at all, and they truly want you to enjoy your dining experience so much that it doesn’t even matter to them. You also have to ask your waiters for the check because they don’t want to make you feel rushed, ever. Why can’t America be this chill????

After dinner my roommates and I got ready for our first night out on the town! We had a small pregame (sorry, Mom and Dad) in our room with the other Quinnipiac students I traveled with and their roommates. I must say, I have a pretty solid group here. We all bonded so quickly, it’s weird to think I met them only four days ago. Our group first went to a little bar called Dempsey’s and get this… it’s owned by a young guy, Andreas, who is from New Jersey!!! It was really refreshing to meet someone here who could relate to my home.

After a drink at that bar we made our way to a place called the Luna Bar, which is more like a mini Italian Toad’s– for the Quinnipiac students reading this, I’m sure you have a good idea of what I’m talking about. I honestly had such a good time here!! The bartender even gave us a round of free shots because we were the first ones to arrive. Apparently Italians go out really late, which we weren’t exactly aware of at the time. But anyway, my friends and I danced so much and had a lot of fun. We will definitely be visiting this place again soon. There’s even a pizzeria right outside of the bar for (drunken) people that I’m pretty sure is open up late… it’s like my calling.

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The next day was a bit of a late start for everyone, so we began meandering around Perugia a little after 11:30 AM. At the end of August each year, Perugia has a huge sale at all of the shops with little carts set up outside each store. It was so cute and had a great feel to it. I personally didn’t buy anything, but I was really tempted. I mean, every store was 50% off or higher. My friends and I also walked to the end of the squares and got a great view of the rest of Perugia. The views are amazing here. Perugia is a hilly town with ancient, yet beautiful sights. What more could you ask for?

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After that, we stopped by a smaller market with jewelry, paintings and other antiques and knick knacks. We then explored something that’s basically considered the underground fortress of Perugia, which was a little spooky but really awesome at the same time. Amanda and I had lunch at the same pizzeria that Umbra took us to. I had the Quattro Stagioni pizza that had artichoke, spicy salami, mushrooms and ham on it. It was soooo good. We met a really sweet and cute Italian waiter there named Zach who really wants to learn English. We talked about dogs and Perugia… it was a great convo. I see him around town a lot and he always greets us with a smile! I also had my first craft beer ever at this local pub called Elfo’s in the late afternoon. It’s Perugia’s oldest pub and there’s so many craft beers, I had to have someone choose one for me. Also because I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to craft beer. We watched the Roma vs. Juventus futbol game there and to be honest, I felt a little bit like a local.

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We had dinner at a little pasta place later on in the night. I had fresh Umbricelli pasta with sausage and truffles, an Umbrian speciality. Perfetto! Tomorrow meant the beginning of our week of intensive Italian to really get the ball rolling on this beautiful language.

After four hours of intensive Italian, my program affiliate (CIS Abroad) hosted a dinner at a little trattoria called Wine Bartolo for CIS students. We had a four course meal that included four dishes that are special to the Umbra region. Our first course was an Umbrian meat carpaccio that was prepared perfectly. The second course was a strangozzi pasta dish cooked with white wine that had a different meat in it. I didn’t really know what type of meat was used, but it was tasty and the pasta was so homemade and fresh that I didn’t care. Our third course was a Chianina cattle meat dish with sautéed potatoes. Apparently Chianina is one of the most prized meats in the world; I could see that, because the dish was so tasty and tender. I got food snobbery from my mom so I guess you could say I really, really appreciate good food when I eat it. Our final dish was a flourless chocolate cake made with Perugia chocolate and fresh peaches. So. Freaking. Good. During dinner I sat next to our CIS advisor, Romina, who is the sweetest lady. We exchanged stories and she gave us little tips to help us with our stay in Italy. I’m looking forward to seeing her again real soon!

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CIS Dinner at Wine Bartolo

After dinner, my friends and I went to an Irish pub called Shamrock’s. On Monday nights, they have karaoke. Not to mention one euro shots and two euro glasses of Sangria. The Umbra students had our own little space near the karaoke station and everyone was having so much fun making complete fools of ourselves in front of the Italians, dancing on tables and such. It was a pretty funny night.

The next day was another long day of intensive Italian and a meeting with the U.S. Embassy, which entailed true horror stories of American study abroad students, of course. It’s safe to say most of us are experts on how to deal with safety in Europe. After class, we relaxed for a bit and went to aperitivo at a cute little ristorante/bar on a legit cliff. Aperitivo is a time every day usually between 6:30-9 PM where Italians go to grab drinks and in return, get a bunch of plates of FREE finger-foods. It’s supposed to make you hungry for dinner since dinner time in Italy is around 9 PM. Except we all got too full and ended up not even getting dinner. Although we did get gelato, because there’s always room for gelato.

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Aperitivo

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My friends and I at aperitivo!

After aperitivo, we had to be those Americans in Perugia. We just had to. So we traveled down the road from my apartment to where Amanda Knox once lived. It’s actually pretty creepy down there. Like, I think even before that whole thing happened the area was still spooky. Or maybe it was just because it was nighttime and we were just freaking ourselves out… I’m not sure. But regardless, still creepy. We didn’t find the exact apartment, which was number seven, but I know we saw it without knowing which one it exactly was. There was no number seven apartment, but there was every other number 1-10, so my guess is the town took the number off? But don’t quote me on that. I’m just assuming a lot of people go down there to check out the area, so maybe they didn’t want to draw attention to that specific apartment since new people probably live there now.

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Street that Amanda Knox lived on

Again, today was another four hours of intensive Italian. I’m not sure what tonight’s plans will be, but that’s the amazing part of studying abroad. You can pretty much do and go wherever you want. Italy is exactly how I pictured it: walking around staring up constantly because the views are to die for, grabbing paninis on the way back to your apartment, wishing you were on a vespa 24/7 and practicing spontaneity at every turn, among other things. Arrivederci for now, amici. I’ll be posting again soon!

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XO, Caisse

“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’” –Lisa St. Aubin de Terán

Pinch Me.

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One recent morning I awoke from a stranger letting me ugly cry into his shoulder. 

I wouldn’t exactly call it a dream because, well, it was more of a nightmare. Fleeting, yet terribly haunting moments of a brown-eyed boy I used to call mine pranced in my thoughts. I lay in bed trying to piece it all together– a nightmare, yes, but what did it all mean?

Later that day I got to thinking, (so Carrie Bradshaw-esque, I know) what really is a dream? Figments of your imagination would be the easy way out of this question, perhaps. Or maybe it was just a way for life to say, “Ha! You thought you were in the clear, didn’t you?” But even so, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was more to it. If there was truth to it.

I think it’s safe to say there’s a little truth to anything we dream about. And there’s more truth within the realistic ones– the ones where your deepest hopes and fears are picked from your brain and sewn together in episodes while you sleep, a most vulnerable time. It all just sneaks up on you when you think about it.

I like to believe my dreams are presented by a tiny ‘Me’ who lives in my mind. You have one, too. She’s the part of you that knows what makes you tick. She’s the one that taps her BFF Subconscious on the shoulder and lets ’em know what exactly you’ll be thinking of that night, all without any of your consent. But she’s also the one with the meaning, the reasoning, the truth.

And if you’re anything like me, you’ll search high and low for the Meaning of it all.

As if Meaning is the Post-It note you need to slap on to your dream and tuck away in the “Don’t Even Go There” section of your mind (since you’ll need that reminder). Because Meaning is the reason you say, for anything that happens your life, “Oh. Well, that’s why. It all makes sense now.”

I couldn’t make much sense of this nightmare because my search for its Meaning had been completely fogged. As if my little ‘Me’ was taunting me into going back on something easy, something I grew up wholeheartedly believing in because I wasn’t ready for the truth: the old myth that proposes whomever you meet in your dreams is wishing to see you, too.

While I know now that the myth holds potential to be (only somewhat) true, I realized a long time ago that it’s no use to hang on to pretty words that people preach just for the mere reason that they can. It was time to put away the version of me who grew up with dream books strewn across her floor with dog-eared pages. I found that even though it’s tough and I like to poke at things for the sake of knowing now, letting things be has allowed for more happiness in life.

So maybe that’s the trick to pave the path to clearer Meaning. Maybe I need to stop doing the work and let Meaning come to me. And when Meaning finally does decide to show up, I can thank it for giving me the piece of mind I thought I needed. And that will be that.

When you falsify meaning– because it’s the one you want, not the one you need to hear– things get messy, don’t they? Dream on, dreamer but do not dwell on finding the meaning of it all yourself.

XO, Caisse

“Why aren’t we afraid of dreams? They are literally creepy riddles we have to solve given to us by a chunk of magic meat in our head.” — Krista Doyle

September 11, 2001.

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I stood in line aside other wandering eyes waiting to get through the metal detectors. It looked exactly like airport security, except it wasn’t in an airport. 

Last weekend, I visited the 9/11 Museum in New York City. 

And, well, it was hard to walk through. I was crying the entire time. People around me were crying the entire time. I watched individuals in their moments of true honesty– I saw some cup their mouths and walk away while others couldn’t bare take their eyes off what they were seeing. Displayed on the walls were real depictions of September 11th, 2001. It showed real footage, real quotes, real artifacts, real, real, real. The museum portrayed the bare truth during that crisp, clear day 13 years ago. That’s all the guides kept noting: it was a crisp, clear, beautiful day gone completely awry. The whole museum is an honest, disturbing portrayal of everything that went on.

But I’m happy this experience shook me inside-out. For those of you who don’t know, my mom worked in the World Trade Center in building seven. Her building wasn’t the two main towers and it wasn’t directly hit, but my mom was there. There. Downtown. In New York City. Not far away at all from the main towers. She experienced everything that happened alongside other New York workers. My mom’s office window was blown out from a ball of fire and her building eventually collapsed, too. She was there, a place she had come to know dearly over the years. A place that gave her much happiness.

While we were in the museum, my mom said something that really stung me. Her words radiated through me and imprinted themselves onto my bones.

“All I kept thinking about that day was you and Daddy. I just thought, ‘I’m never going to see you grow up.’ I didn’t know if there was a chance I would make it back home to you.”

After she said that, my inner first grader flashed back to the embrace my mom gave me when she finally got home. That crisp morning, my dad had a direct view of the Twin Towers from his office in Jersey City. He happened to be on the phone with my mom when the first plane hit, and warned her when he saw it coming. After first crash, my mom didn’t know if her building was damaged at all. At the time, my mom didn’t know if there were other complications coming, either. She just didn’t know. And for someone who usually has something to say, I couldn’t sympathize with my mom.  But the story of my mother’s experience that day will be something I hold close to my heart for as long as I live.

In the museum, there are two parts that are sectioned off. The first one I encountered was the Memorial Exhibition. It was an entire room with pictures of close to 3,000 beautiful, innocent souls who lost their lives that day. In that room is a smaller room where audio recordings play about the victims. It states their name, a short biography of their life and what brought them to the Twin Towers that morning. A majority of them even have a loved one speaking on their behalf.

I sat through probably 10 of the recordings, along with many other quiet, listening individuals before I had to leave; tears were streaming my cheeks and I just couldn’t bare it. I noticed a guard standing in the room, most likely because photo taking/video recording is strictly prohibited in this area. I got to thinking… that guard has to stand in that room and listen. Listen to the thousands of stories one after the other. I thought about how horrible it must be to have that job; some of the stories are happy or funny, but all of them are equally heartbreaking. Except I was simply thinking on the surface of it all. I was tainted with the image that each story had to be automatically sad. But I soon realized that the victims’ stories remind us they are still human. They’re not just a statistic, or picture on the wall. Their stories live on, so their soul does, too.

After experiencing this exhibit, 9/11 will become a day for me where I can celebrate the victims’ lives. They all had a special place in the Twin Towers, after all. And I can guarantee a few things: the victims were successful people, they had family and friends and people who loved them, and they worked in one of the best cities in America. I think that is definitely something to take in, note, and celebrate for.

The next room was an exhibit that is designed to take you at least 45 minutes to walk through. There is one official exit, but as you walk, you notice there are doors to “leave early.” Before you go in, there is a sign that reminds what you will be seeing consists of graphic and disturbing content. Another worker outside of the exhibit insists absolutely no photography or video recording is allowed.

I couldn’t not go in. I needed to know it all; I needed to know every last detail of our nation’s tragedy. It sounds twisted, I know– but, it’s not meant to be that way. Every part of this exhibit offered something I found myself forcing my legs to up and walk away from. I wanted to take everything about this day in. But one part… this one part of the exhibit I couldn’t bare to read the whole way through. It was about the victims who jumped from their office windows. I won’t go off into detail about this, but the museum recognizes the ones who made this decision to be exceptionally human and modest.

I don’t mean to sound morbid; in fact, I’m writing so people are more aware. Because before I went to this museum, yeah, I knew the gist of 9/11. But that’s all: just the gist. We know as individuals September 11th is a day that will be forever remembered, so we’re already aware, yes. But I think this museum is a part that makes this nation whole. It makes our awareness more whole. It’s not until you hear recordings of the victims on the plane, dialing to their loved ones that you realize 9/11 taught us more than recognizing it was a terrorist attack. It is awareness about al Qaeda; it is awareness that our government will do anything in it’s power to protect us from terrorism; it is awareness that all of the victims were true heroes; and it is awareness about our nation’s sense of community despite what some people think. The hours that I spent within this museum has made me hold a much tighter grip on life than ever before. It’s cliché, I know, but it’s true nonetheless.

After I left the museum, I wanted access to my laptop right away. I needed to let everyone know what I saw and how I felt about it, just like any writer should. But I don’t think I can put everything I saw into the appropriate words.  The museum is more than a lesson in history books, it’s more than a Google search, it’s more than a video on YouTube. Take one day to spend in the city and visit this museum. You’ll probably leave with tear stains on your cheeks, but you’ll be more whole, more aware, more appreciative. This blog post doesn’t nearly do the museum justice– it’s something you need to experience for yourself, and you’ll know what I mean when you visit.

Rest in peace to all of the beautiful angels that lost their lives on this day, and thank you to everyone who risked theirs to help in the aftermath.

XO, Caisse

“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” — Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl