Photo of the day

Just a quick little pic of some things on my desk that make me happy. We spend more of our waking hours at the office than almost anywhere else, so I’m a firm believer in making the workspace a happy space. I have my Natty Boh mug, purple sparkly panda from Cait, Lorax puppet from my dad and a couple family photos.

What’s on your desk?


Rome – Here we go Steelers


From: Emily Date: January 9, 2006 3:14:38 PM EST  To: All

Subject: Here we go Steelers!

So last night we decided that being the diehard Pittsburgh fans that we are we must find the game on somewhere. I remembered SL putting the Abbey Theatre on the map she made us and hearing from some of our classmates it seemed like a good bet. The Abbey Theatre is an Irish pub near Piazza Navona that plays all of the major NFL games that us crazy Americans can’t go without. It took us forever to get there because the alignment of streets on the map is totally different than what it is in reality. When we finally reached it we found nothing less than crazy Steelers and Bengals fans cheering on their respective games, but brethren underneath it all, a few fellow Americans in the Eternal City. There were Italians looking in the window and laughing at us. They definitely think we are insane in our love of American football. One of our friends, ran into a guy he went to high school with who is here studying architecture. Who knew? Across the world in a foreign city to see someone you actually know!

We just finished dinner, fresh made pasta from a place here in Trastevere. There is no better dinner than with 6 of your friends; good food, good wine, good music, good company. So far I think this is my favorite part of being in Rome… you just walk down the road and get everything you need at all these different stores. Tell the signora at the pasta shop how many people you have and she gives you an appropriate amount for that. Go down the street for bread and they treat you like kings. What a place to be…

Con ama (with love),



I haven’t been on my computer much in the past week or two, but I wanted to post these pictures from Kacey Musgraves on Valentine’s Day at Rams Head Live.  “Follow Your Arrow” is one of my theme songs for 2015 and Cait and I sported little temporary arrow tattoos for the show.  Since we were up on the balcony without a zoom lens, most of these are wide angle rather than up close, but I touched up the color a bit to give a better idea of just how punching it was.  Of course, now that I’ve started my photography course, I already know at least 15 ways I could have improved these photos, and intend to do so at my next show!


Kacey1 (2) Kacey2 Kacey3 Kacey4 Kacey5 Kacey6

I love concert photography.  Love love love it.  It combines two amazing things – live music and raw emotion.  Artists let it all out, everything they are feeling, pouring it into their craft and to capture a single moment of it is an exhilarating challenge.  I remember the exact moment I fell in love with the art – some time in the early-mid 2000s, I was taking photos for an ex-boyfriend who had designed the lighting for the summer Arts Fest concert for which Lit was the headliner.  I couldn’t tell you a single song by Lit now, but I will never forget capturing the most perfect moment of the lead singer, wreathed by red and orange light, with his arms extended and head thrown back, completely in the moment in front of the crowd.

Deep Creek in Deep Winter

It took a long time, but I finally updated to a digital Nikon SLR from my old film Canon.  I’m still learning the digital world but I can’t wait to fully immerse myself in it.  Photography has been a passion for as long as I can remember and no matter whether it’s a point and shoot, an iPhone or some other type of media, I still love it.  We went to Deep Creek, Maryland a few weeks ago and it was one of my first opportunities to really play around with the new camera.  Everything here was shot on automatic with minimal or no Photoshop manipulation.  Still a lot to learn before I move to fully manual mode!












8 genaio 2006

This morning we went to the flea market in Porta Portese. It is insane! They are selling everything you could possibly imagine- jewelry, shoes, pillows, clothes, books, kitchen supplies, bags…much of it junk or stolen, but sometimes you can find something nice, you just have to dig. It goes on for at least a half mile and is so crowded that if you lost someone you would never find them again. Kelly, L and I held hands or coats as we shuffled our way through. I don’t think I will go there again, at least not the way we found it, which was through some very rundown neighborhood on the wrong side of Viale Trastevere.

We walked back along the river and went to a cute,small restaurant on Via della Scala with good sandwiches. I had a salmon sandwich with a thick tortilla bread and an accua tonica. It is very close to where we live and one side is a bar. Convenient. I’m still full from lunch and can definitely see myself eating only one meal a day.

This evening L and I walked to the hill above Trastevere to Piazza San Pietro, at the spot where Saint Peter was believed to be crucified. Bramante’s Tempieto is right there! It was built in the 15th century after the original church was torn down and rebuilt. It is supposed to be the purest of Romanesque architecture I believe. We walked around it and down some steps to try to look inside, but the light was too faded by then to see. We kept going up the hill past the fountain where you can see out to the whole city. At the top of the hill is Villa Aurelia where Garibaldi had his headquarters when the papacy fell and republic took over. Past the park there is a place where you can look out to the city and the other way you can see St Peter’s basilica. Amazing sight, if you ignore the necking couples!

Tonight we are going to go to an Irish pub, of all places, to see if the Steeler’s game is on as we heard rumored.



What a fantastic Irish Pub to watch American football! All the Italians were stopping by the window to look at the crazy Americans jump and scream at guys in spandex throwing a ball at each other. B ran into a guy he went to high school with who is studying architecture here this semester. How crazy is that??

With friends at the Abbey Theater

With friends at the Abbey Theatre


From: Emily  Date: January 8, 2006 12:13:15 PM EST  To: All

Subject: il segundo giorno in Roma

Ciao ragazzi!

We’ve made it through 2 days in Rome! I think I dislocated my shoulder from carrying my bags all over two continents and spending 8 hours in the Toronto airport. Our apartment is fabulous and we have the nicest landlord, Luigi. As we have heard from another LArchie we have the best apartment; it’s two levels with a living room, bathroom and kitchen on ground level and the bedrooms below with one tiny window in the door. I have to share a bed with my friend Kelly, which so far, being one night, is not so bad, just a rock-hard bed. I think we have one of the best areas of town, called Trastevere. The people here are very proud of their neighborhood, it is very old with tiny winding streets, across the river from Roma centrale.

Let me try to describe Trastevere… the streets are a combination of parking, driving, walking, socializing. Sidewalks are only a suggestion here and you always have to be on the lookout for the scooters and tiny SmartCars that zoom through the streets. Most of the piazzas are not what you would imagine, they are not big like Piazza Navona where all the major festivals are held. Instead they are the intersections of streets or just where the street widens so people can gather, cars can park, or markets can be held. There are bars and cafes and stores tucked into every corner, you can hardly believe that people can find them, but there is hardly a street or corner where you don’t find people.

Last night we went to a restaurant down the street from us and became friendly with the waitress there. She was very nice and helped us with ordering and our Italian. She is an architecture student in Rome; I believe architecture in Europe encompasses landscape architecture as well because it sounded a lot like what we are doing. She gave us her number and another waiter’s and told us to call them to go out sometime. They don’t go out until LATE (they weren’t until 3am when they got off) and as we hadn’t slept in two days we decided to pass and just walked around the town instead. There is always something going on here. One of the best times to explore is early in the morning because there are less people out and it is easier to see things. L and I found a dry cleaner, shoe repair, theatre.

Even the seagulls sound different here! Their calls to each other must be in Italian as well… Today we walked all over the city to get a feel for it. We started out in Campo di Fiori where there is an amazing market. I bought oranges and ate them all day. I can’t wait to go back on Monday to buy fruit and vegetables and anything else my bag can hold. We mostly wandered and almost literally stumbled upon the Pantheon. It quite took my breath away. Some of the other monuments we saw included the Forum, the Trevi fountain (I really had to resist playing Sylvia), Spanish Steps, the Monumento nacionale (affectionately- not really- called the wedding cake, commissioned by Mussolini). It was wandering for about 5 hours and definitely a respectable number of miles.

We have wireless internet in our apartment so we are all relaxing and sending emails. I’m planning on staying in tonight to catch up on sleep and so I can get up early and go to the flea market in Porta Portese. There are currently 9 of us in our apartment of 6; we have become the place to go for internet since it is cheaper than going to the cafes. We’re considering charging 1 euro anytime our friends want to come over to help us pay for it, but definitely a better deal than 2 Euro a half hour at the cafes.

Escribeme! Ok, so that was Spanish, but whatever…I’m learning 🙂


-Ema (as I shall be known in Italia… hehe; Em to the rest of you)


Me enjoying my orange on the steps of the Campadolgio

Day 1

5 genaio 2006

We are getting ready to leave Toronto and I can officially say that I am terrified. It’s not a vacation; I am going to be living here for 4 months. Starting to wonder what in the world I was thinking. I generally don’t like talking to people in English, much less Italian. There is no turning back…

So now it’s us three, Kelly, N and I. The woman in front of me has extended her seat the entire way and my backpack is shoved and squished only halfway under the seat, so my leg room is near zero. We spent eight hours in the Toronto airport! Getting onto the plane from Pittsburgh we walked down the ramp to an empty opening and went “Where’s the plane??” Didn’t realize that it would be a puddlehopper… Oh well…adventure to adventure.

6 genaio 2006


I saw the most beautiful sunrise this morning. It started out with a single star and rim of light across the horizon with the rest of the sky filling with stars and the Big Dipper. Slowly the colors across the clouds turned to gold and red, spreading like a sheet, the light growing, turning to pink, then back to gold; the clouds look like a pillow of cotton, so solid you want to bounce on them.

We are flying across a freaking mountain range. Snow covered peaks stretching across the entire distance of the eye. The snow comes to an abrupt end as we reach the sea. I wish I knew exactly what country we are over. My breath is literally taken away, the whole cliché. I can’t tell if there are buildings along the shore, buildings or just large rocks.


First day in Roma! Ashley arrived at the airport the same time as us and we all found the car to bring us into the city.  The driver was very nice, telling us about the city as we were driving from Fiumicino, weaving in and out on the freeway between tiny cars and motos, cypress trees as still as the traffic was fast.  Luigie, the owner of our apartment, was adorable.  He wears a stocking hat that’s native habitat should either be on the ski slope or in “The Night Before Christmas.” He is coming back tomorrow to collect the rent, giving us time to figure out how to obtain our money in a foreign country. The apartment e molta bella. Very tiny with the kitchen, living room and bathroom on the first floor and the bedrooms below and only one window in the front door. Kelly and I are sharing a bed with L on the single in the same room, Ashley and N in the other double, and S with the single in the hall. The door key here is definitely unique – skeleton-eque – and it’s hilarious to watch us struggling to get the hang of it. This afternoon we walked up to Roma Centro where I had a near-breakdown because I couldn’t extract money from the ATM. Much worry and three Skype phone calls later, I realize that I just couldn’t take over a certain amount out at a time. Ashley and I walked through Campo di Fiori, then around Trastevere to try to find internet. I was so cracked out, tired, upset and homesick that when Z and B ran into us I practically jumped up and kissed them. It was soooo nice to see people we knew. I have never been so happy to see those guys…

We all rather passed out at the apartment for awhile- N got lost! First day and we lost our roommate! She got called an “American with an ugly sweater” (translation please?!) – I think we all died laughing when she told us. I fell asleep on the couch, drooling on my arm- kinda like how I am falling asleep writing this. Finally we were all together and went out to dinner at someplace down the road with a Guinness sign in the window. We were so obviously dumb Americans, but I think you begin to just embrace it until you’ve been here long enough to know better how to act. The food was amazing and our waitress was so nice to us, helping us figure everything out. She’s our age and studies architecture. We were able to ask her a lot of questions; where is the bancomat, per exemplo. The boy our age gave us directions to some of the clubs and activities here and we got his number from Marta, our waitress. Two Italians on our first night that we may be able to get to know! Very exciting. Oh, Enrico is his name. Once we get our phones hopefully we will call them and go out.

After dinner we just walked around Trastevere- beautiful town, absolutely beautiful. Tomorrow we will explore more. And get boots!

The Journey

In 2006 I spend 4 months studying abroad in Rome, Italy.  Since nearly the day I returned, I have wanted to document the journey, just as Frodo did after his return to the Shire – this is my epic, such as it is.  (I even bought a red leather book that reminded me of his.)  These are my journals, emails, letters, drawings, photographs.  I don’t pretend that they are great pictures or even thrilling stories, but they are my memories and deserve to be recorded.  Much has changed in the past 9 years and I like to think that my time in Rome helped prompt some of those changes for the better; I am certainly a different person now that I was then and this present person would definitely do somethings differently, yet I wouldn’t go back and change anything that was.

As was well-said in one of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun:

“Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be elsewhere.  I would be different.”

Here we go.