Trip Preconceptions: I’m going to Europe, I guess?

So for some reason I have put off this post a bit. I’m not entirely sure why. I think part of it is that it still doesn’t really feel real that in 9 days I will be leaving for London and Rome for 3 weeks. It still feels like this weird dream that I might wake up from or a really elaborate, no celebrity punk’d. It’s not though. Guys, I’m going to Europe! I’m going to London! I’m going to Rome and the Mediterranean sea! What is even happening?!?

It’s weird because I’ve been away from Portland for 4 weeks before. I spend 3 months or more away from my home town but this time feels different. I’m not just going back to Idaho for the holidays or heading back to Portland for school. I am headed to a place that is 100% new to me. A place where nothing is familiar. I’m excited for the new, the uncharted territory and the differences I will experience. I’m also slightly terrified. I’ve never really traveled somewhere so foreign, unless you count Texas 😉 I’m nervous about my return, coming back to Portland to real life with real bills is stressful for me since I will miss 3 weeks of income, but you know, this whole thing worked out and so with that. Also I’m going to miss so many people! Kirk, Tamra, Kathrine, Lainey, Laith, everyone at Marylhurst, etc! I’ll also miss working, strange I know. And I’ll actually miss my garden! I find so much peace out there.

I’m also a little afraid of the plane ride for a number of reasons. I’ve never been on a flight longer than 2 hours, I’m afraid my muscles might get tense and trigger a series of migraines and I’ve always had an irrational fear of flying over the ocean. However, I’m pretty excited to fly in a huge plane, I’m excited to re-watch the Harry Potter movies and I can crochet all the things in a 9 hour flight!!

It may sound strange but I’m kinda afraid of information overload. I’m afraid I’ll come back and people will ask, “How was your trip??” and It will be such a crazy blur in my head that I can’t even describe it! I’m also a bit afraid of the travel bug this may stir up in me. Luckily I’m young and have many years to see the world.

I can’t really put into words how really truly excited I am though. I am overwhelmed by the support I have gotten to make this trip happen. I am overwhelmed by the fireworks that are going off in my heart every time I think about being in London and Rome. I’m overwhelmed with emotion almost daily ( and writing this whole post) I seriously am so glad I get to take this trip through and with Marylhurst. This school has been an incredible staple in my life and it makes this trip just that much more magical. Truly.

I’m grateful,










alive, and going to Europe in 9 days.


-Travelin’ Tori


The Bittersweet beauty.

In our Rome reading packet there is a poem about the Campo dei Fiori by Czeslaw Milosz that I feel perfectly illustrates the contradiction that many places in  Rome have.Campo dei Fiori, which I look forward to going to, is a piazza filled with vendors of food, flowers and other goods. Often people remark on it’s beautiful colors and lively atmosphere. The thing about the Campo dei Fiori is that it is also the sight where Giordano Bruno was burned alive. This is an interesting juxtaposition of things. This place that is now filled with wonder, freshness, and beauty was once a place of death, brutality and punishment. I feel as though I may have these opposite emotions for many places we visit while  we are in Rome. A city with so much history has so many layers of emotions, and happenings. Even parts of Portland still show its rough history with, say, African Americans. I think it’s important to recognize and appreciate all the layers and all the history even if some of it is messy.

Campo dei Fiori

By Czeslaw Milosz

Translated By Louis Iribarne and David Brooks

In Rome on the Campo dei Fiori
baskets of olives and lemons,
cobbles spattered with wine
and the wreckage of flowers.
Vendors cover the trestles
with rose-pink fish;
armfuls of dark grapes
heaped on peach-down.
On this same square
they burned Giordano Bruno.
Henchmen kindled the pyre
close-pressed by the mob.
Before the flames had died
the taverns were full again,
baskets of olives and lemons
again on the vendors’ shoulders.
I thought of the Campo dei Fiori
in Warsaw by the sky-carousel
one clear spring evening
to the strains of a carnival tune.
The bright melody drowned
the salvos from the ghetto wall,
and couples were flying
high in the cloudless sky.
At times wind from the burning
would drift dark kites along
and riders on the carousel
caught petals in midair.
That same hot wind
blew open the skirts of the girls
and the crowds were laughing
on that beautiful Warsaw Sunday.
Someone will read as moral
that the people of Rome or Warsaw
haggle, laugh, make love
as they pass by the martyrs’ pyres.
Someone else will read
of the passing of things human,
of the oblivion
born before the flames have died.
But that day I thought only
of the loneliness of the dying,
of how, when Giordano
climbed to his burning
he could not find
in any human tongue
words for mankind,
mankind who live on.
Already they were back at their wine
or peddled their white starfish,
baskets of olives and lemons
they had shouldered to the fair,
and he already distanced
as if centuries had passed
while they paused just a moment
for his flying in the fire.
Those dying here, the lonely
forgotten by the world,
our tongue becomes for them
the language of an ancient planet.
Until, when all is legend
and many years have passed,
on a new Campo dei Fiori
rage will kindle at a poet’s word.
Warsaw, 1943
-Travelin’ Tori

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The Aeneid- A love story.

The Aeneid is a wonderful mythic writing filled with typical hero’s journey adventures. Written by Virgil, it is a story very similar to those of Homer’s. War, travel, conquering, but ore than all of this it is a story about love. It is a story about heartbreak. I love how the tale of the love between Dido and Aeneas is written blatantly in word but also very subtly through the poetic nature of Virgil’s writing. There is so much beauty and emotions in a lot of the Aeneid. In class, I think the assignment for my group was to find 2 or 3 passages that were just beautifully written. By the time is came to share with the class we had underlines maybe half a dozen passages. It was too hard to narrow it down to just a few! Here are a few that really speak to me. Read them and enjoy 🙂

“The Man by Jove’s command held fast his eyes

And fought down the emotion in his heart.”

I find this gender role recognition important. He is a male therefore he must suppress the emotions he is feeling.

“Night never veils the earth in damp and darkness,

Fiery starts never ascend the eat.”

“Unconscionable Love,

To what extremes will you not drive our hearts!”

I just love imagining someone shouting this as they shake their fist as the heavens. Gah, Love!

Okay these last four just sing to me. I love them.

“…when midnight hushed the earth;

And lonely on the roof tops the night owl

Seemed to lament, in melancholy notes,

Prolonged to a doleful cry.”

Amazing! The reader can really feel the sad emotions in this moment.

” With a calm look, a clear and hopeful brow”

Can’t you just picture it!? Hopeful brow… so good.

“With honey dripping slow and drowsy poppy.”

Drowsy is such a good descriptor word. Then match it with honey? So perfect.

Okay last one!

“The flow of the rivers, make the stars move backward,

Call up the spirits of deep Night. You’ll see

Earth shift and rumble underfoot and ash trees

Walk down mountainsides.”

So this one is my favorite. I like the flipped perspective of the stars moving backwards and the trees walking as opposed you you moving forward in travel.

In the end Virgil’s writing is both story and also beautiful pros that evoke the exactly perfect emotions.

-Travelin’ Tori

Poems by John Keats

I feel like I could read poems by john Keats all day. What an incredible writer. Choosing a single quote to comment on is indeed hard. I read all the poems provided to us in our London reading packet and then some more on the internet. I think the poem that captivated me the most was Ode on a Grecian Urn.  I just felt that each sentence was so perfectly descriptive. 

My favorite line was, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter; therefore ye soft pipes, play on” (Keats) 

During spring term I took a class that was very focused around mindfulness and being in the present. One of our texts spoke on how important it is to stop and listen to the bells but how it’s even more important to listen to the silence between the bells. I have found many times of silence to be some of the most profound. When I can sit in silence with someone I feel closer to them. I feel like our silence speaks louder than words. I also feel like in this world we must seek out the silence or we will really get lost in the noise. The songs unheard are beautiful. The words unsaid are louder than those shouted from the mountains. There is so much that can be said, accomplished and healed through silence. I have kept many of the mindful practices I learned in that class spring term because it really make me feel better and makes this life feel just that much more amazing. 

-Travelin’ Tori 

The Other Side. – Hughes Chapter 4

I’m a firm believer in hearing all sides of every story. The good, the bad and definitely the ugly. Often times our culture tends to want to hide the bad and the ugly. Or at least only share a bit of them. Chapter Three in Rome : A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History was all about the multiple sides of Christianity. He included the bad and the ugly very well. I am always surprised with how little I know about some of the things that have influenced my life so much. I found it interesting to look at Christianity from a Roman historians point of view. It really widened my perspective on what Christians must have seemed like to folks back then.

One of the most interesting things Hughes said was,

” Christians had arrived only recently, boasted one of them, Tertullian, ‘and we have filled everything of yours–cities, islands, forts, towns… palace, Senate, Forum. We have left you only the Temples.’ This was an exaggeration. But nearly everything that was said about Christianity in it’s earliest years was and exaggeration, and nothing more so than the popular notions among pagans of what Christians actually believed and hoped for.” (Hughes 137)

Right after reading this quote I had flashes of all the different people groups that sort of started out in a similar manner. Any religion was once exaggerated and completely seen as absurd. Accepting black people in the 50s was crazy. Even 10 years ago the LGBTQ community was seen as crazy, wild, over the top, and like Tertullian said, everywhere. There is always a group that is fighting for rights, and there will always be people who are against them. Granted, not everyone sees new found people groups this way, but the majority of the human race pushes back on what they don’t understand and discriminate based on many different, sometimes silly, reasons. I am trying myself to strive to be more transparent, understanding, and mindful when it comes to anything I don’t know or choose to believe in. All sides of the story are relevant and important.

-Travelin’ Tori

Hughes, Robert. Rome : A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage, 2012. Print.

Ancient Roman Comics!

We all know how awesome comic books are. I myself have always been a fan! I written and illustrated my own short  graphic memoir and read many over the years. From the classic Archie comics I read as a kid to the more modern graphic novels like Fun Home by Alison Bechdel that speaks to modern culture (and becomes a Broadway musical and wins 5 Tony Awards!!) Ancient Rome was apparently just as fond as we are and have been. Or at least one would think so when facing the hundred-foot high cylinder called the Trajan’s Column in the Forum of Trajan.


This column has stories like comic books carved in a continuous spiral up the entire column. The scenes are all from the Dacian Wars on the Danube frontier in 101-2 and 105-6 c.e. There are over 2,600 figures throughout the whole piece and a variety of military scenes. Everything from motivational speeches to offering sacrifices to the gods. In all it is a magical, incredible feat.

TrajansColumn4Two more crazy things about the column. Much of the Form Traiani, Trahan’s Forum, was destroyed in Christian times. Many of the sculptures were burned or pillaged. So the fact that this column was untouched, undamaged, and unharmed is rather incredible. Another cool fact is since the column is so high the artists tried to compensate the perspective bu making the figures bigger at the top. So as they get farther away from the viewer on the ground they still seems about the same size. The figures grow from 0.6 meters to 0.9 meters at the top. Pretty neat! I believe we might get to go here on our journey! How exciting!

I like what Hughes writes about viewing this whole thing. He says, ” For anyone with good binoculars, a sustaining interest in Roman Military history, and a crick-proof neck, this is a mesmerizing document, if “document” is the right word for something so big, stony and solid.” (Hughes 113)

This just might be me! I love it!

-Travelin’ Tori

Image Sources:

Book chapter 3: Hughes, Robert. Rome : A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage, 2012. Print.

Every little thing…

Is gonna be alright.

I’m finally feeling a little more assured about my upcoming trip. I’m back to optimistic Tori. I’m back to happy, grateful tears instead of frustrated, sad tears.  I have gotten so much support and love in the last few weeks it is incredible. I feel a little less stressed and a little more excited. My instructor said just the right thing for me. Something along the lines of I am indeed deserving of such an experience but is it not unheard of to have doubts of my decision when the stresses start to come forth. I appreciated having my feeling be acknowledged.

Today I said to Kirk, “I’m feeling good” because I am. I’m feeling good about the next month, the trip across the pond and my upcoming year. Last year I started my year with being chosen to speak at Dr. Melody Rose’s inauguration (I’m at 6 minutes if you want to watch) at Marylhurst University and ended the year with being selected to help find our new provost (big deal). This year I will start the year going to London and Rome and end the year with graduating with my bachelors degree. What a year this is going to be. I am 100% looking forward to it and ready. Let’s go!

-Travelin’ Tori

Writers are Wizards.

I’ve always admired writers. I can write a mean academic paper but when it comes to anything creative, it is just not really in my blood. In the past year I have been attending the Portland Poetry slam on Sunday nights and that has sparked some creativity within me. I have a couple of poems that may some day be read to an audience.

Truly though writers are so amazing. They write down words, some of which we use everyday, and yet the way they present them, arrange them and fill them with emotions changes the words for us. As an artist I have a lot of elements to work with when I create. Paint, pencil, charcoal, ink, canvas, fancy paper, clay, and the list goes on a on. Writers have…words. And then they blow your mind and make you feel things deep in your soul using words! I’m in awe.

I feel Anthony Doerr described writing in Four Seasons in Rome so perfectly. He says,

“I x-ray sentences; I claw away a paragraph and reshape it as carefully as I can, and test it again, and peer into the pages to see if things in there are any clearer, any more resolved. Often they are not. But to write a story is to inch backward and forward along a series of planks you are cantilevering out into the darkness, plank by plank, inch by inch, and the best you can hope is that each day you find yourself a little bit farther out over the abyss.” (Doerr 98)

Isn’t that so tragically beautiful. The way he describes writing really makes the reader feel that slow and steady inch towards and abyss. What a poetic way of describing a not so easy task.

I feel many of us have experience this type of feelings towards whatever we may be working on. Whether it’s just getting through school, inch by inch, working towards a degree that we’re not sure what we’ll do with it. I know I feel this as an artist. Sometimes a painting has to be clawed apart to find what element, color, or line I was missing.

-Travelin’ Tori

Doerr, Anthony. Four Seasons in Rome : On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. First Scribner Trade Paperback ed. 2008. Print.


Four Seasons in Rome- Anthony Doerr

What a delightful read this book has been. First off Doerr is from Boise Idaho and so there a little something extra in there for me. I really feel that connection of leaving a small place in Idaho for somewhere enchanting and huge. For me it was Portland but soon for me it will also be Rome just like Doerr and his family. I also love the fact that the place he stayed while writing this book is where we are staying while in Rome. It adds just an extra personal connection to this memoir and the adventure.

Four Seasons in Rome has bee very easy and enticing for me. Doerr has an incredible way of describing things. He often juxtaposes positives and negative, good and bad, to make beautiful descriptions. The words he uses are just so simply perfect with one another. They evoke the perfect emotions to fully understand what he is trying to describe. Here are some examples.

“Sleep is a horizon: the harder you row toward it, the faster it recedes.” (Doerr 26)

” I never tire of the clouds here… the light bleeding through their shoulders.” (Doerr 30)

“Think of that sundial, all that bronze burning in the sun. Think of those barges, a 170-ton granite needle laid from bow to stern, following in the sea.” ( Doerr 40)

” I think: Idaho will never look the same. I think: Maybe what glitters in the air above [Rome] are souls, so many of them rising from this same earth that they become invisible, get shuffled around the wind, get blown thirty miles west, and settle across the shining plains of the Tyrrhenian Sea.” (Doerr 44)

There are so many more but these are some of my favorites. I think he writes so effortlessly. He has a great skill of making every word out. I am in love with this book and very much in awe of Doerr.

-Travelin’ Tori

Doerr, Anthony. Four Seasons in Rome : On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. First Scribner Trade Paperback ed. 2008. Print.

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies…

Saturday was a hard day for me. The stress and weight of the coming month beat me down. I leave for London and Rome in exactly one month and my lease is up at my current place while I am gone so I also have to move 2 days before leaving. I decided to sit down and calculate all of the income I am scheduled to earn from now until I leave and then calculate all of my moving expenses plus everyday expenses to see where I sit. This summer I got a second job to help pay for the trip. I have sacrificed a lot of things in order to do this, including a lot of time with kirk. I thought that between my second job, my donation page, and my two scholarships I would be okay for my trip and my move. After doing the math… I’m not… I have enough for the move, maybe enough for food in Europe and that’s about it. No money for gifts, fun, or rent when I return.

So on Saturday I very much felt like a fool. I felt as though I was an idiot for signing up for a trip I couldn’t pay for. Growing up poor you come to accept that certain things are just not for you. If you can’t afford them, you don’t get them. I had forgotten that. I felt determined to make it work. “Trip of a lifetime” ya know? I also felt like I’m completely out of options. At this point in the summer I can’t get a third job. Additionally, there aren’t even hours left in the day for a third job. I also don’t want to continue to ask for money. People have been so generous and I’m so grateful but there comes a time when I start to feel guilt with how much I’m depending on others. I legit wanted out of the trip on Saturday. The trip feels like a mistake, an undeserved adventure for this poor college student.

Obviously I’m still going on the trip, I’m still grateful for the opportunity, but I still feel out of place. I still feel undeserving. I still feel so stressed and will while I’m away. And I still feel like a fool.

This post is not for your sympathy or money it is simply to inform you all of what was wrong on Saturday. I had so many people reach out to me through message, texts, and comments encouraging me. It truly helped me get through the day. Thank your for your continued support and love.

The stressed and a little sad,

-Travelin’ Tori