Bits and pieces

Visual clues to what I’ve been up to. I’ve been staring at ceilings, mostly tin, playing pool, eating delicious breakfasts with fantastic human beings, and living a life that at times seems utterly surrealistic and simultaneously ordinary. I can’t decide which my life dips more into, but perhaps deciding isn’t the point.

 

Massive photo post of what’s been going on.

Alright, so my life has been semi-hectic. I apologize for a lack of real posts. Using Frans Hals is not a legitimate excuse, I know! Forgive me!

I moved into my apartment, as you saw in a previous post. I have a window that won’t shut, and chickens that wake me up at 4 am living behind the apartment. I have to buy groceries like a real adult- and damn, it’s tough! My classes have started- I love my Italian Baroque class, even though I thought I was Baroque-d out! (You know what they say: If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!). I got in a debate over medieval art before class with a sassy grad student today. My Oceanography course seems interesting, and my course on the History of Museums is going to be AMAZING because I find museums to be the most glorious of things. If I could take up permanent residence in one…well, I can dream.

I’ve been bowling and breakfasting and not turning in my film, so some of these are a few weeks old! Remember that hike I hated? Yeah, some more pictures from that trail from hell.

This last weekend a good friend was in town and stopped by- an adventure in the Lewis and Clark Caverns ensued, and a tour of my campus was included- a brush with Walt Whitman was required, as I walked past this sculpture everyday. Discussions of music, stalagmites and stalactites were had, and Bozeman actually wasn’t an oven, which made walking and hiking bearable. Breakfast was had with other friends at a kitschy establishment that proved to be delicious. I got ready for class, and unpacked more things.

Goodbyes have been happening lately. I hate goodbyes. I’m so bad at them, I’m more of a pretend we’ll see each other and never make the formal thing happen kind of girl.  I do genuinely believe, though, in the whole “small world” concept. Living abroad for two years has taught me that you can and will see people again, no matter what, if everything lines up. The world is incredibly interconnected, and people find each other and luck has a way of making it possible to make your goodbye not so much of a permanent thing. I have not seen my best friends in Switzerland in almost two years (a lifetime for somebody 21) and although it hurts, I have no doubt that I’ll see them soon. So, when I say goodbye to people in my life, I never really put faith in that goodbye, because I don’t believe it will really be so final.

Other than making grand ideas of mine known to the Internet, I’ve been biking sans helmet (a certain somebody is judging me), going to the gym every morning before class, and the library has already been offering solitude from the oppressive, smoky heat. I’m on the student newspaper this year, and everybody on staff seems to be rather glorious. Fall has yet to arrive- right now it’s just hot hot heat and a lot of sunscreen.

I hope your summers are winding down beautifully!

A city I dearly truly miss: Zurich, Switzerland

It’s a place for day trips, for wandering, for cobblestone streets, good noodles, Luxemburgerli, and gorgeous views. Trams in admiral blue whiz efficiently, the people wander, couples relax on benches, and the Limmat river cuts the city neatly into pieces.

The Kunsthaus stole my heart, and I fell in love with the Grössmunster. Seeing Mondrian on a bare wall and being able to wander in an early morning haze made me feel ethereal and weightless. Regardless of the fact that I couldn’t afford to shop or stop in any of the boutiques, not to mention that my Deutsch is of the most rudimentary sort (I can order food, curse, and ask for things like tickets for the train or how to get to the cemetery), Zurich is still a city that I find myself loving.

The multi-lingual book stores beckoned me, the crowded energy in the Sprüngli cafes, and the quiet walk near the Bahnhofstraße all managed to spin me into a sort of fantasy world. When I miss Switzerland, I miss the crisp spring air of Zurich and the knowledge that I didn’t need to be anywhere, that I could go anywhere at all.

What a place.

In the last week or so

These pictures are evidence that A) I have friends and B) I do things, even though many a time I feel as though I don’t do a lot.

Last weekend Kristin and I drove up to Lincoln to find huckleberries, and came back with NOTHING- minus some huckleberry milkshakes from a local diner. Wednesday was lunch with Claire and Chelsea- Claire just got back from two months in Guatemala and had stories to tell for what could have been hours (my lunch break was vastly shorter than the time needed).  Thursday evening consisted of hiking and eating ice cream on a porch. Mild chaos ensued at the beginning when a baby garter snake darted in front of me- I have a strange infatuation with all reptiles and amphibians. After attempting to locate it, we continued on a lovely loop that consisted of skinny trees, evening shadows, and the usual talk that ensues among people you’ve known for a long time.  Friday was Moonrise Kingdom for the 4th time with somebody I was hanging out with for the 1st time. The rest of Friday included pushing a bike up a hill, drinking lots of wine, taking some blurry photographs of our Gothic cathedral, and general revelry that was quite marvelous.

My Minolta has a dirty lens that I haven’t cleaned but it’s giving me a nice blur that I’m enjoying.

Part 2 of the Washington D.C. adventures

A visual journey through a place I went to almost a whole month ago.  D.C. was full of funky neighborhoods, fantastic eateries, and much more than just touristy sites. I did a lot of the typical stuff, but my roommate is a native of the area, so she took me to her favorite parks, gardens and spaces.

I was so lucky to go with her- Meghan likes things that spark interest and also have an intellectual edge to them. Although, I’m not going to lie- we went to the Portrait Gallery and spent the entire time comparing dead people for their appearance- we were browsing for husbands and lovers among the centuries-deceased. Not our classiest moment, imagining their crooked teeth and smallpox scars and admiring ruffs and lace and double chins.

 

 

Washington D.C. Part 1: Or, how to use three rolls of film in one museum.

Hello readers! I am so sorry for my extended absence. I have been back for over a week, but work has taken a turn towards total chaos, and things like seeing Moonrise Kingdom, writing about Frida Kahlo, and sleeping have become more important to me.

Alright, my adventures on the East Coast! They were mostly either extraordinarily hot or either severely air-conditioned.

The moment I landed in DC, the change from the dry dry heat of Montana has so noticeable, I think my curly hair rose a few inches from all the humidity- it continued to defy gravity for most of the trip. That evening, we drove around the Mall, where I got to meet Einstein, gawk at the tourists on the Segways, and admire D.C. for all its POWER. And yes, that is the word I want. Power in the solid, stoic buildings that convey strength and independence and all those good old American (‘MURICA!) values. You know, all those patriotic things that only Americans value? (Joking: I have a running streak of cynicism with American Special Snowflake Syndrome: that is for another post).

Anyway, the next morning, Meghan and I took the D.C. metro, a creaking but clean form of transportation into the city and went straight to the Museum of Natural History. I could have spent a week exploring each nook and corner of this gorgeous space- the mineral collection alone could have sustained my curiosity for eons, no doubt! Meghan imitated giraffes and turtles, I photographed skeletons with a fever I normally reserve for food, and we spent half the day there- hardly scratching the surface on the beautiful things there!

After that we went to the Hirshhorn Gallery, where we played in 3-D sculptures and imitated Francis Bacon and other modern artists. The security gaurds were wary but amused when I went into a pose like Francis Bacon- I hope we made their day a bit more interesting.

Afterwards we decided to devote our afternoon to the Holocaust Museum. I don’t know if my words are even going to come close to describing the museum and the experience it attempts (and succeeds) in giving- total claustrophobia, darkness, cold, general feelings of being uncomfortable- the museum highlights suffering and tempers it with facts about genocide, racism, and how this managed to occur in Germany (and all over Europe).

I’ve been to both the Dachau and the Auschwitz concentration camps- however, both were in the open, with much of the artifacts largely removed. Auschwitz was another story- a creepy sinister feeling hung over everything, but when we went in April everything was blooming- purple flowers grew close to the brick buildings where women were sexually abused and experimented on, and green grass gave the whole place a fresh smell, when in reality Auschwitz should be plagued forever by the terrible stench of death. It felt too bizarre.

The Holocaust Museum gave me the sinister vibes WITH the artifacts and minus the creepy spring everything-in-bloom-renewal feelings. We left emotionally exhausted, and wandered the streets until we decided we were good to ride the metro.

 

Refrigerator Canyon hike

Kristin and I decided that a hike was much needed in our blood, and decided upon one of the most interesting hikes in our area. After an 85 minute drive, some hairy switchback turns, and getting sunscreen on, we began the hike.

The canyon funnels all the wind into it, so it actually is about 5 to 10 degrees cooler for the first 1/2 mile or so of the hike- the canyon reaches up to 200 feet tall in some places. Kristin and I scrambled over rocks, around trees, jumped over the meandering stream running through the canyon, and made our way through the breezy nature-made wind tunnel.

Montana hikes are often not the greenest. We’ve got fierce heat, not a lot of moisture that hangs out, and wind that takes off top soil like nobody’s business. Refrigerator Canyon’s hike is almost the exact opposite- the humidity is high, every surface is lush and fertile, and greenery takes over. We hiked for about 6 miles through the trail, and admired Western Tanagers, scouted elk prints, and found the leg of a deer. We ate a quick snack at the overlook, where you can see the surrounding hills, and continued on our way.

Overall, the hike was easy, and we went at a good pace. It was a perfect hike for a couple of hours of fun in a gorgeous setting. I need to  hike more around my area, seriously!

I hope you all had an awesome weekend! Now I’m making Cocoa Pebbles marshmallow treats and cleaning my house. Tschüß!

Recycled Fashion Show

Again, my posting has been sporadic! Yeesh, I wish I was better at sitting down and seriously committing to making blog posts these days!

This last Tuesday Julia, Chelsea, and I showed off the magical creation we designed from duct tape, foam, an old skirt, and other various recycled things. This year it was sort of Alexander McQueen-y, sort of Christopher Kane, and a whole lot of awesome. Last year we set the bar pretty high by re-making an Alexander McQueen Highland inspired thing, which turned out beautifully!

When Julia walked out, the crowd sort of got a little quiet. Our creations the last two years have always been a little on the avant-garde side, at least as far as Helena goes, and lots of people definitely didn’t know what to do with our work of art!

Afterwards we celebrated at Shellie’s with pie, coffee, and discussions of everything and anything. It was a perfect way to end the successful evening!

I have many more blog posts in my mind! I hope to seriously settle down and record my life recently, bear with me!

 

Ay, Barcelona!

Once upon a time, when plane tickets were cheap and travel was easy, Adrienne and I spent a little over 24 hours in Barcelona. With little time to spend in this glorious metropolis, my photographs feel sparse.

I only took two analog photographs, and the rest are digital.

Last night, while I was procrastinating studying for a ridiculously easy exam, I rediscovered some of the photographs I had taken. My aversion to digital is such that I abandoned a lot of my photographs, thinking them to be worthless. Luckily, I found some images from our trip that are full of memories, sunshine, Spanish, Parc Güell, and the lovely vistas that Barcelona has to offer.

So, here is the story of our trip to Barcelona, told from memory and saturated in nostalgia.

Adrienne and I arrived at the Barcelona airport at about 22:00, and quickly realized that we had little no idea to get to our hostel. I had to scramble together whatever I had left of my high school Spanish, jumbled with Italian, but we got on the bus from the airport and made our way to whatever stop we ended up getting off at. We were both exhausted- travel had just finished, and I had been in Turkey for 10+ days.

We eventually found our hostel, Backpackers BCN Casanova (good place, good price, good location) and entered our room. Immediately, we smelled cologne, and saw enormous white sneakers scattered. Adrienne and I both knew what that meant: HOMBRES.

As it would turn out, we were rooming with four large Slovakian boys who really liked to party. When I say large, I mean they were tall, one or two were very muscular, and they were LOUD. Adrienne and I crawled into bed, exhausted, and at around 3:30 or 4:00, the Slovakians enter, loud and intoxicated. I was on the top bunk, poor Adrienne right on their level. Much noise (including grunts?) and knocking about later, our room stayed silent.

I don’t remember what hour we rose, but we went out hunting for breakfast. We found some juice and some sort of sustinence, and then planned how to get to Parc Güell. Several metro stops and a bus later, we found our way to Parc Güell, and spent several hours wandering, talking, eating the snacks we bought earlier, and running our hands over the tiles Gaudi transformed the park with. Adrienne was looking snazzy in a new suede jacket, and I was wearing some flats I had purchased for my birthday. The sun was shining, and Barcelona looked AMAZING from the high-point that Parc Güell was perched on.

We got there early enough to have the park to ourselves for a time. Flowers were already blooming in mid-March, cacti flanked the paths, and wispy trees gave languid shade to parts of the park. It began to get rather hot, and we found a quiet area to sit. We planned out our next stop, and decided to make it to the Sagrada Familia.

A bus and a few more metro stops later, we arrived downtown, close to Las Ramblas, and with our handy tourist map got to La Sagrada Familia, only to find hundreds of like-minded people already there. By this time, the Spanish sun, already blazing in March, drove us to the conclusion that it would be more pertinent to find food, nap, and then reform our game plan.

After a lunch with terrible sangria, cubes of cheese, and some other foods I don’t remember (we both agreed the meal was less than satisfactory), Adrienne and I found our way to the Museu Picasso de Barcelona, where we spent the next few hours admiring this genius’s amazing pieces, and then cavorting in the museum cafe making up limericks and rhymes about historical figures.

After that, dinner! If you go to Barcelona, I know that there are thousands of restaurants, but Origens was excellent. It wasn’t super pricey, the location was awesome, and the service was amazing. Adrienne and I almost went to the beach at night, but realized that we didn’t really want to be out super late, as we had to wake up at 5:30 am to catch the bus back to the airport.

The Slovakians had other plans for us. In our pajamas, without contacts in, the Slovakians came in and began attempting to coerce Adrienne and I to come out clubbing with them. They promised to have us back in time for our shuttle. Adrienne and I declined many times, but ended up having a couple hours of conversation with our new international friends. They invited us to visit them in Bratislava (which I have always wanted to go to), and explained how American speak English.

“You Americans speak English like you have a hot po-tay-toe in your mouth”, and then went on to fake an American English accent, which was really quite accurate! Eventually they went out to explore the Barcelona night, and Adrienne and I slept to the terribly early hour, then got up to leave the beautiful city we spent only one full day in.

Hasta luego, Barcelona, pero no adios!

That One Time We Were In Florence and Tuscany: Nostalgia 2009

The gang. Lexi, Allyse, Hillary, Exa, Kalli- these people make living better. Miss you all!

A group photo on the Ponte Vecchio at night (touristy, ja?)

(last photo by Lexi). Typical activity in Florence involves running through alleyways and streets.

I have a confession to make: I had extremely short hair for a long time. I also thought it looked good in a mullet-y, alternative sort of way. It was fun. We had fun. Plus, it was easy to find me- I was the short haired ginger girl with the loud laugh.

For two weeks a group of classmates, led by a fearless professor, ventured to Florence and Tuscany to soak up the delights of Italy (i.e. food, mostly). I roomed with Lexi, a photographic genius, admitted addict to being pale, and all over badass. I made lifelong friends in these two weeks- even though I ate so much that most adult men couldn’t keep up. Lately, I have been feeling wanderlust so deep that it aches, and by doing these sort of nostalgic posts, it eases my pain. Bear with me!

In Florence, we stayed in a nice hotel about one block from the Duomo. We went to the Uffizi, ate Nutella covered waffles, heard pick up lines galore, shopped and bought leather journals and bags. In Tuscany we went to Perugia in time for a chocolate festival and to look at some hybrid Renaissance-Byzantine art that was truly remarkable. In Lucca and Siena we dined at eateries ad sat in piazzas soaking up the late-fall sunshine. We also ate candy, watched other people ride bikes, and bought trinkets for loved ones back home. Along with this were guided trips to churches, museums, and historic areas. It was windy in some places, cold in others, but we all bonded. It was one of the greatest trips of my life- I learned so much, and those two weeks have mattered so much for my life.

Thusly, here is Florence through the eyes of a first-timer, armed with a flimsy Nikon digital camera and a heavy use of contrast! WOO!