Love Now, Miss Later

More often than not, I do not truly appreciate a place until I leave it. I do not see the beauty in the minute details and the mundane routines that make up my life until I’m plopped in a completely different setting and start longing for things that I once took for granted. And that is a foolish way to live life.  When will I stop dwelling on memories of a place of the past instead of opening my eyes to the beauty of the present before it, too, is reduced to a fond memory to dwell on in the future?

So I decided to keep a list. A list of things that I will miss later and should love now:

  1. Free access to a gym
  2. Living with friends
  3. Life being divided into semesters–new classes, new professors, new classmates, new housing, new faces on campus, new routines every few months
  4. Everyday is different
  5. Long holidays
  6. Student discounts
  7. Accessible mentors and resources (Professors, career fairs, workshops…)
  8. Naps

To be continued

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Dear Vito

You once told me that when you have to make a decision, you’re in the wrong place.

You told me this when we were standing outside Theke, cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. It was late April and it was cold; we had just met and we were different. But there we were talking about living, learning, and loving. You might not even remember this conversation– but I do. And now, I’m at a point in my life where a chapter is about to end, and I don’t know where to go. Where are the cosmic forces that are supposed to propel me this way or that? And what are the decisions that I’m not supposed to be making?

I need you to tell me this again. I need you to explain yourself. I need to feel the tranquility and the optimism and the liberation I felt with you at that moment.

Love,

Your Ciliegia

Cookies and Peace

I just received a text from my best friend saying that as she walked out of our favorite bakery with our favorite cookies, a woman glared at her and said, “You shouldn’t be eating cookies in the morning.”

Just a few questions for you, Woman:

Why does an action that has nothing to do with you aggravate you?

And why does it aggravate you SO MUCH that you felt the need to say something out loud about it?

And why did you say it even when you knew it would probably make another person feel terrible?

My best friend and I love that bakery. If we could live there and work there and lick cookie dough off the floor everyday, we would. Every cookie is as big as my palm. They’re perfectly crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. When we were at boarding school, my dad would send us a dozen for Valentine’s Day, and it would be the best day of the year. These cookies have always been associated with sweetness, gratefulness, warm tummies, giggles, and chocolate all over our faces and down our arms. What she said was one simple line, but the implications were immense. This woman ruined the experience.

And what the hell is it with people and food these days? Why are people so damn sensitive when it comes to eating? People are being judged on what they eat, how much they eat, and when they eat.  If eating something makes me feel good, then I’ll be eating until the day it stops making me feel good. So leave me the hell alone.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, and maybe I’m getting a little too worked up over something that didn’t even happen to me. But I just don’t get people who 1) can’t mind their own business and 2) people who try to force their lifestyles onto innocent people who are just trying to start the day on a good note by eating A GODDAMN COOKIE FOR BREAKFAST.

Saw this the other day. So accurate. #Preachx50000

mind your own business

Boxers and Connections

Remember how I’m a magnet for weirdos? Well, about 10 minutes after I published my previous post, I met Severo and Moones. Just a quick summary of my last post: I expressed the struggle of finding balance between being adaptable and retaining my identity.

I noticed Moones first because she is a 70 pound boxer. Then Severo, the 36-year-old guy with the dreads.

Severo is essentially a homeless artist whose soul you could feel by the positive energy he was emitting. He really listened, he really looked into my eyes, and he didn’t just say words–he really spoke.

In less than 10 minutes, I learned more about him than I wanted (he’s been celibate for a year); half the stuff he said did not make any sense to me (artsy stuff); and I couldn’t keep up with all the tangents he was going on (shelters, music, the government, souls…). But after I left the 2-hour-long conversation with him, I was the happiest I had been in a long time.

My description and paraphrasing does not do him or the power his words had on me justice. We talked about everything–dogs, art, traveling, our hometowns, and life. Most of it revolved around being present and being happy. In between topics, he would slip in comments like, “Nicole, you have such pure expressions!” I have no idea what that means exactly, but it was the most genuine and confident-boosting compliment I have ever received. We talked and talked until I felt so comfortable with him, I blurted out, “So I just wrote this blog post…” I told him all about my living out of a suitcase for a month and my mini identity crisis. When I got to the word “adaptable” he interrupted me (the only time he interrupted me) and said, “Connecting.” I probably had the dumbest look on my face because he continued to say, “Don’t put yourself down by saying ‘adapting.’ You connect.” I was shocked by this completely alien point of view. I liked it. I continued, replacing “adapt” with “connect” and finished describing my struggle. He then told me that I’m trying to appease. He said that I do that because I don’t want to offend or make people uncomfortable. He said that I should just be me and scare the shit out of people because that’s how shit gets done! That’s what gets people thinking and growing.

“But,” he said, ” I understand ‘appeasing.’ We all do it. But if you’re going to do it, make it your art. You could be like a samurai, and have different masks in front of different people but have this hidden sword that people don’t know about.” OKAY. So that part didn’t make complete sense to me, but I dig the “making appeasing an art” thing. I guess our conversation never really answered my question. He presented a case for both the “adaptable” and the “unapologetic” me. But the way we talked about it, the way he looked at each side so positively, made me feel so good about myself.

At one point of the conversation, he asked me, “What intensifies your life?” That stopped me dead in my tracks because what the hell intensifies my life? I thought about it as he rambled on about his art and his initiative. I guess what intensifies my life, Severo, are the unexpected encounters I have with people I meet. Especially honest people like Severo, whose fire burns so fervently, that the whole journey ahead of me has become a little brighter because of him.

Playgrounds and Friends

Today’s rant is going to be about growing up.

It sucks. Period.

Everything gradually becomes more difficult and complex with age. Take making friends as an example. I vividly remember my playground days. All I had to do was go up to a kid who looked like fun and say, “Hey, wanna play?” they say yes, then boom! FRIENDSHIP! There was no beating around the bush. It was just me, my new friend, and a game of family or princesses in a castle or whatever.

I wish that were the case now.

Having been a gypsy for a month, living out of a suitcase and crashing at a different friend’s house each week, I’ve fully experienced the phenomenon that different people bring out different sides of you. One friend brings out the chill side of me; one brings out the vulgar and loud side of me; another brings out the considerate and contemplative side of me. But there’s that one “me,” my favorite “me,” the “me” that is unfiltered, unapologetic, and genuine, that I wish could be present at all times regardless of who I’m with. Is that possible? Can I just be that ballsy girl on the playground, ALWAYS?

I’m a very adaptable person. I consider it my only true strength. My adaptability was instilled by my mother, who spent an endless amount of time telling and showing me what it means to be a good guest, and developed by the time I have spent living as a guest in friends’ homes, and having culturally, socio-economically, and temperamentally diverse friends. This means that not only am I a considerate guest, but I also have an adaptable personality. The way I talk, the way I dress, the way I eat alters with the person I am with. That should be a good thing, right? Being flexible, morphing my personality into what fits the others’? But why do I find it so exhausting? And why do I find myself yearning to be but not being able to be the one, true “me”? So tell me, whoever is reading this rant that is no longer just about growing up, how do I keep my adaptability and my identity at the same time?

SOS

Weird Vibes and Pathetic Puppies

Today I went to Starbucks. Below is my encounter with the barista:

Me: Hi! Could you fill my water bottles, please?

Starbucks Guy: Yeah, with water?

Me:  I mean, it would be nice if you could fill them with iced coffee, but water is fine.

SG: Yeah, I can fill it with iced coffee. (Proceeds to fill my 1 liter water bottle with iced coffee)

Me: Oh. Wow. Thanks.

If you knew me, you’d know that I’m a magnet for weird encounters. Sometimes they’re pleasant–like my free weeklong supply of iced coffee–and sometimes they’re just straight up bizarre. For example, just yesterday, a sketchy man came up to me and said, “Hey.. Uh.. so I have this backpack situation.. and uh… I’m just a little short on my cab fare… And uh… yeah.. I left my backpack.. and yeah I need 25 bucks in cash.”

OKAY MISTER. First of all, 25 bucks isn’t A LITTLE short. Second of all, WHAT?

There’s something about me that makes strangers think I’m the go-to girl for the time, for money, for cigarettes, and for DMCs (deep meaningful conversations). I’ve also had a complete stranger say, “You’re the girl of my dreams and I’ll be thinking of you all night” to me. Mind you, I was on a run wearing baggy gym clothes and panting like a dehydrated donkey.

What is it about me? I can’t tell if it’s because I look approachable or if I look like a pathetic puppy that’s fun to fuck with. It’s a question that I’ve been struggling to find the answer to.

LMK/HMU if you find the answer.THX

Contrarians and Paris

In four days, I will be in Paris!

Until a few days ago, I had no desire whatsoever to visit Paris. I’ve always subconsciously rejected everything that is widely popular to seem like a nonconformist (I’m not a hipster I swear). That’s why Russia is at the top of my to-go-list, and why I am taking German instead of French or Italian, and why I hate Finding Nemo. With Taylor Swift… well… I have a love-hate relationship with her. Contrarian, I believe, is the word. Paris has always been showered with praise. #shitnoonesays: “Paris was mediocre at best,” or “Paris was such a bitch!” So naturally, I developed a slight animosity towards Paris. I thought Paris was overrated and that I’d seen all that there is to see in movies. This all changed on Friday.

A few weeks ago, I met a French girl at a hostel in Puerto Rico. Her name was Chloé and she also happened to be doing an exchange program at the college I attend. This past Friday, I arranged for us to meet over coffee to talk Paris.

Being a contrarian, the typical tourist attractions have no appeal to me, so I went to Chloé for the inside scoop. After an hour and a half of excited giggles and oh-my-god-you-HAVE-to-go-here!s, my new Parisian friend presented me with a long, extensive, and barely legible to-do-list.

I would like to share this list with you for three purposes:

  1. To type it out so that it will be legible to me later
  2. To share a local’s perspective on Paris with all travelers
  3. To be held accountable for writing a follow-up post about my trip in a week

I apologize in advance for the lack of breathtaking pictures but I promise (I may or may not be crossing my fingers behind my back) I will put them up some time in the near future.

Grouped by area/places within a walkable distance:

Group 1:

  • Pont des Arts (iconic bridge with locks)
  • Centre Georges Pompiduo (Museum for modern art)
  • Le Marais (neighborhood)
  • –> L’Cas de Falafel (good falafels!) on rue des rosiers (shopping, vintage clothing)
  • –>Place des Vosges (house of Victor Hugo)
  • L’île St Louis (another neighborhood)
  • –>Glace Berthillons (best ice cream in Paris, according to Chloé)
  • Jardin du Luxembourg (garden)
  • Notre Dame (no explanation needed)
  • La Sorbonne
  • Pantheon (old building a lot of art on its exterior)
  • Rue Mouffetard
  • –>La Crete (Greek food)
  • “Patrick Roger” (Boulevard Saint Germain)  Best chocolate in town
  • Republique –> Canal Saint Martin (to shop and walk around)

Group 2:

  • Jeu de Paume (museum, photography)
  • Arc de Triomphe on Avenue des Champs Elysées (walk on the top of the arc for free to get a beautiful view of the city)
  • Grand Palais (museum, cool building so nice to walk by if time doesn’t permit a tour of the museum)
  • Le Louvre (Obvi)

Group 3:

  • Montmartre
  • Le Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart)
  • Place du Tertre (cool place to just hang out, look at art)
  • Moulin Rouge

This is a super disorganized list and I left out a lot of details Chloé gave me but I will let you know how it all goes when I return!

Thanks for tuning in!

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