March 14th, 2015


The last train ride I took, I met a really nice man that had just moved to the area.  I asked where from and we got into talking about travel (and work, and life..) when he said that most recently he had been living in Nepal, working with trafficked youths.

It’s so interesting to learn about the different experiences people have.  He had studied abroad in Ireland while in college and has since taken whatever chances he could to travel and work around the world. He met his significant other, Hai, in Vietnam, and the two of them will be traveling to Tokyo for their friends’ wedding later this year.

It was fun talking with him and learning about the work he does, which I found really interesting- he assesses infants and young children to identify any kind of developmental delays or anything of the sort, and can then help the family access services that would help them- anything from speech therapy for the child to marital counseling for the parents.

Anyway, I was just missing Japan and Italy. Travel.
Today I spoke with the CEO of the nonprofit I worked with a few years ago in Japan, and my Uncle (my Dad’s best friend) just told me he’s going to be visiting Japan for work soon too.

Well, this was kind of a meaningless post, but it is what it is! And now it’s late so I’ll be ending it here.
Thanks for listening to (reading?) me ramble.

June 7th


A big thank you to the lovely Steph Ma for actually taking some sort of photograph of me.
So here it is- proof that Kristen was indeed in Venice.

This was actually on the Rialto bridge, yesterday.  On the other side, rowers were already practicing for the upcoming Vogalonga – a boat race that will take place tomorrow, June 8th.  The Vogalonga is a huge race, through the Grand Canal from Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square) to Isola di Burano (the island of Burano). It is not a competitive race, but one that you would simply want the experience of taking part in.  Basically any kind of rowing or paddle boat is acceptable for use in the event, giving the canal an amazingly diverse assortment of vessels.
As in I passed two teams from different Chinese dragon boats on my way home from the supermarket this afternoon.

This was my supermarket companion, by the way:
His name is Geoff, and he’s awesome.  Everyone on this trip with us knows this as fact.

This picture I actually took about a week and a half ago (or two and a half..?), on Isola di Murano.  The island is known for it’s glass, as it used to be one of the very few places where glass-blowing was cultivated, adding to the allure and grandeur of the Venetian Lagoon.  Now it’s really quite touristy, with cartoon-esque figurines and various glass bead jewelry lining the windowsills of small shops.
Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true.

After exploring the island, buying souvenirs for girlfriends and parents (except for this girl– I seriously couldn’t find anything that was both non-cheesy and not incredibly overpriced), we entered a little restaurant, where we were led out back into an enclosed seating area, ending with a gate into a little courtyard scattered with pigeons.  There were vines and foliage laced across the seating area, resulting in those really fun light patches being thrown about- including the one on Geoff’s face..
But that’s okay. He still looks nice!


Well, this was random.  I’m actually amidst the finals-rush and simultaneously writing this while figuring out a final paper for my Venetian Art History class.. I should probably devote my attention whole-heartedly to the pressing matter..





– E D I T –

Did I mention that my roommate got slapped in the face by a pigeon in flight today?
Well now I have.

May 21st, Burano




A classmate of mine took a photo of me.. taking a photo. It’s photo-ception, guys. So the first image is that photo of me (hi!) and the second is the photo I was taking (for my capstone/documentary photography/photojournalism project).

On Wednesday (May 21) all of the students from our school studying abroad here in Venice took a trip out to the island of Burano.  It was a bit of a ride, about 40 minutes each way on the Vaporetto (it’s like Boston’s MBTA or NYC’s MTA, but with boats).  We played the game Heads Up to pass the time on our rides, with a growing crowd of entertained and confused European onlookers (we hold a cell phone to our forehead, a word is displayed on the screen and everyone gives that person clues so they can guess the word; if you get it right you dip your head down and back up to move to the next word, and if you’re stuck, you throw your head back and then return to normal head-positioning in order to skip.  we obviously looked quite silly).

The island of Burano is known for two things. 
   a) its incredibly colorful arrangement of buildings
   b) its lace
– As you could imagine, for a group of young adults studying Italian history and documentary photography, it was a field-day of sorts. Just running around with our cameras and looking through all of the lace (yes, even the men.. although it was mostly for gifts for their girlfriends and mothers).



I was super tempted to pick one of these up for my mother’s lovely neighbor Val, who is expecting her daughter Maya this summer!
But then I realized that she wouldn’t be big enough to fit into one this season, and would probably have grown too much by next summer to fit into it either..


Unfortunately I didn’t buy anything, due to the inflated prices of tourist-poaching shopkeepers and my wallet’s still being in shock over the unexpected expenses of this trip.  Had I found something that I really loved, though, I would have pushed myself to purchase it.  I’ve decided that I will do that, while I finish up my stay here in Italy, as a graduation gift to myself.
I mean come on- I graduated from a five-year top-rated institution with my sanity intact, magna cum laude.
I need to learn to give myself a break and reward my efforts once in a while.


All in all, I had a lot of fun wandering around the small island (and by small, I mean take a ten minute walk from one side to the other), taking photographs with my newly-apropriated friends.

January 1st, 2014

2013 was an especially crazy year for me.
There were so many ups and downs, and their peaks so extreme- I never could have prepared myself.  I never would have believed that some of the things I had to go through would actually happen to me.
But they did.

I don’t necessarily like the “New Years Resolution” wave that everyone rides at the beginning of the year.
But I have made a decision.
A choice for myself.

This year, I am going to be a fighter.
Not just fighting to survive but fighting to live.
I will fight to love myself.
To be as confident and assured as those closest to me believe I deserve to be.
I will fight the fear.
The endless vacuum of negativity; of failure, loss, corruption, lonesomeness, pain.
I will fight for my body.
My mind.  My physical embodiment.  My sensitivities and the burdening boundaries they impose.
I will fight for that which I deserve.

photo 2 final

this is my final project for photo 2. It’s called the little things.
It’s not what I wanted, due to extreme time constraint and, well, the rushing of a busy life.
Not to mention Monday.. terrible, terrible Monday.


On Monday, my step-sister Leeann was the first person to get ahold of me and check to see if I was safe from the bombs.
I don’t think she’ll ever know just how much I appreciated that.
How incredibly glad I am to have her for a sister.

When I got her message, a flood of memories came back to me.
Of that day when my sisters and I stood in line to the left of my father’s casket, with his mother, brother, and sisters lined up with us.
All of these people were just coming in, making a big U-turn from the entrance, to the casket, and then down our line, giving out condolences like we were a group of kids and it was Halloween.
And I was still in shock. I was stone-faced.  I was numb.
And then I saw my stepsisters walk through the entrance of that room, that room that my legs itched to sprint out of.
And Leeann didn’t pause for a second.  She didn’t even stop and consider moving through that U-shaped line until she got to my sisters and I.
No, once she was in the room she kicked up her heels and ran straight across the room.
She ran straight over until she was suddenly plowing into me, holding me in a hug I will never forget.
And that was when my tears started to fall.

I felt sad, and I felt loved.


My time in Japan impacted my life more than my friends and family really understand.
One afternoon our family in Nagasaki went out shopping, and we stopped by a friend’s, the incredibly talented Tomosuke Nakayama,  shop.  He’s an incredible artist, leather-worker and silversmith.
He had a small case in the middle of the shop with smaller items on display & for sale.  There were leather bracelets of different sizes, colors, and patterns, and I found one that I really liked.  I asked how much it was, and when I went for my wallet he motioned for me not to.  He pulled out the beginnings of the same kind of bracelet, and wove the leather into a beautiful pattern, right there for me.  He said it’s a gift, and wouldn’t let me pay him for it.

I wear this bracelet every day, and every time I see it I am once again touched by his kindness, and reminded of my loving families and friends in Japan.
It means so much to me, I don’t even know how I’d react if something happened to it.


There’s a reason why girls always love a man that plays guitar.
It’s not just “cool” or a show of talent; it’s one of the most soothing kinds of music out there.
One of the few belongings I possess from my father is one of his guitars.  Granted, it’s an old, cheaper one, it’s still mine, and it was his.
My sister Taryn has his Ovation, which is just an amazing piece of my childhood with him..
Every morning I would wake up early, so I would fetch my drawing pads and pencils, and head to the living room in our small apartment, where the windows made the room open and light. I would sit there, cross-legged, and draw until my father woke up, or my sisters came out to join me.
When my father woke up, he would go into the middle room (a room with our furnace and bookshelves between the kitchen and the living room) and take his ovation off of its stand, bringing it into the living room where he’d take a seat at the edge of the couch and play.
He played before breakfast, before brushing his teeth, before dressing.  He started his day with his guitar.
And I miss it so much.

dad mom ring

This is the ring that my mother wore while married to my father.
They were hippies, huh?
My father also had a heart engraved onto the inside.


My best friend in Japan sent me a package that arrived only a day or two before my birthday.
I  love her (and everyone else ) so much.


My eyesight isn’t all that bad, but when I first got my glasses, I was so happily surprised at all I could see.  That I could see leaves on the trees outside, instead of just a mass that I knew to be leaves.
This is because of my appreciation for sight; that I can see all the beauty that surrounds me in this world.


Kristen asked me to save this coat for her when she was 10 years old.  Dad

After my father died, I went back to the apartment, where his sisters and brother were already rummaging through his, and our (my sisters and mine) belongings..
To keep it short and simpler for you, my sisters and I weren’t allowed to keep much, not even of our own belongings.
But one thing that I did get was my father’s jacket.
He always had a leather jacket, and when we were ten years old, he retired one for another.
While “cleaning out” his closet, someone came across this old jacket, with a note in the pocket.

He had saved it for me.


They’re small.  They’re remnants of a wound, now closed.
In all technicality, they are a sign of being healed.
But they tend to have so much more to them than you would expect just from looking.


You would never know how medicated I was if you didn’t know me.

buzz lightyear

This belongs to my best friend, Michael.
His girlfriend gave him this Buzz Lightyear keychain years ago, and he wears it everyday, even though it’s so old that one of his wings has been ripped off, and the paint is partially removed from his face, leaving a pretty frightening visage behind.
But he loves her.
So much.