Warrior Princesses Strike Back at The Strand

I am so happy that I was able to attend the Feminist Press book event for the recently-released memoir “Warrior Princesses Strike Back” by twin sisters Sarah Eagle Heart and Emma Eagle Heart-White. The Eagle Heart sisters are members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and wrote a deeply personal memoir that explores their upbringing and how they overcame a series of obstacles together. 

The event took place at The Strand a few weeks ago on the third floor in the rare books section with a moderator and authors, discussing their book for about an hour, followed by a Q & A and a signing. It is rare for them to sell out and the tickets are reasonably priced. My advice, therefore, is to attend as many as you can as often as  you can. The only issue for me is schlepping into the city on a school night, but I was happy to do it for a chance to experience firsthand an author event of this caliber. 

Mark Ruffalo was there and, yes, we made eye contact. I then casually looked away since I am too cool to react to a celebrity, or, at least, that is always the hope. Piper Perabo interviewed the subjects whilst giving off Gloria Steinem vibes with her long, straightened blonde hair and bulky glasses in what I interpreted as an homage. She did a fantastic job interviewing the authors on their new book, which deals with connectivity and healing. 

The two sisters discussed their upbringing on a Native American reservation and the hardships that they had to face, but how they came through it together. I was most moved by their discussion of spirituality, how they are Episcopalian but how they also hold onto their indigenous belief systems, and reconcile the two by acknowledging that there is one creator and that the two belief systems are therefore not mutually exclusive. There was such a strong element of sisterly love present that night. Afterwards, they signed and personalized my copy of the book and I had a chance to tell them how excited I was to read it. 

This event was also my reunion with my friend Valentina, who I haven’t seen since I left for Italy. Afterwards, Valentina and I got pizza nearby and discussed what we thought of the event. There were positive reviews all around. 

I ended the night after that. I now have “Warrior Princess Strike Back” at the top of my TBR pile and will let you all know what I think in due time.

The Tragic Queen,


A Very New York City Day, Plus Chicago

I’m back in New York and observed this by having a very New York City day with my good friend David Gerson. David, you may recall, is an old friend of my mother’s and now a very good friend of mine. 

It was his suggestion that we have a chic day at the Neue Galerie, the home of one of Klimt’s most iconic paintings “Portrait of a Lady in Gold.”

The Neue Galerie is on the Upper West Side just across the street from Central Park, but tucked away so that tourists don’t know about it. Inside, it looks like the type of place Truman Capote would go to, a high-ceilinged cafe of German and Austrian food where you can have a cappuccino in a thimble-sized mug.

After we ate our lunch, we went upstairs to see the painting. David, who knows all things art and theater, told me the story about the painting that we were about to see. 

He explained to me how the painting was stolen by the Nazis and then later returned to the rightful heiress in a massive legal battle that went all the way up to the Supreme Court. The painting had hung in an Austrian museum up until she made her claim, but Austria declared that since they were a sovereign nation, they couldn’t be sued for ownership of the painting. The U.S. Supreme Court saw it differently and it was returned to her, until she eventually sold it to the Neue Galerie in New York. 

The Austrian government was plenty ticked off about it with people saying that Klimt’s painting being removed from Austria would be like the Mona Lisa not being in France (though I hesitate to remind them that the Mona Lisa is actually an Italian painting and is only in France because Napoleon took it). 

I don’t blame her for selling the painting. You could hardly expect her to keep it over her fireplace in her living room in a New York City apartment. Try as I might, I can’t picture her telling her cleaning lady, “Oh, would you mind dusting off the Portrait of the Lady in Gold please? Thanks.”

Photo of me, taken by David Gerson

Either way, I’m glad that she chose to sell it to the German-Austrian museum because that was how I got to see it in person. Interestingly, and unlike so many of the museums I’ve been to, you can’t actually take pictures of it. To make up for it, they let you take a picture with the replica downstairs and right outside of the bathrooms. 

As if seeing a Klimt painting at an art gallery wasn’t enough, we followed this up by getting a drink at a bar and then seeing Chicago on Broadway. I had been dying to see Chicago for years at this point. David was eager to see the show because he wanted to see the drag queen, Jinkx Monsoon, perform as the warden. Being that it is one of– if not the– most iconic musical to ever hit Broadway, I leapt at his suggestion to go see it. 

Even if you don’t love musicals, you will love Chicago, simply because it is just so different. The dance moves were more like gymnastic routines with the women bending down into splits and then pulling themselves up like marionettes being controlled by puppeteers. The perfection of Fosse’s iconic choreography was on full display that night. The set pieces were minimal, as were the costumes. All of the women were dressed in black lingerie and had it been me doing the dance moves, I would have looked like an uncoordinated, half-dressed loser rolling around on the floor. 

The music and the concept behind the show were both so original. The woman who played Roxie, and is apparently a veteran performer of the role, looked as though she could have done it all in her sleep. David and I were completely blown away by her performance in a show filled with show stopping performances.

Then, as if improving my understanding of art wasn’t enough, David also improved my understanding of Broadway. Bob Fosse made Chicago, but he didn’t make Cabaret, although he did direct the movie, and The Chorus Line was made by someone else entirely. These were all things that I needed answers to. 

It was a culture-filled day of classic artwork and Broadway theater, during which I learned a bunch and ate some German and Austrian food at a posh little cafe. It was a fantastic return to New York.

I promise you, I’ll keep it up. 

The Tragic Queen,


This Book, That Book: All The Books I Read in 2022

This is where I recommend whether you should read this book or that book. 

You know my policy on New Year’s resolutions: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But every now and then, I get in a mood to change my life and that usually coincides with the start of a new year. It also was brought to my attention, by my mother, that New Year’s resolutions represent hope, hope for the future and hope that there are better things yet to come. 

Per my usual with unofficial New Year’s resolutions, the results were not bad but not great. Headway was made in understanding the New York subway system, my main unofficial resolution, my screen time was not cut out fully by reading books but dented, as you will soon see, and I did not go out on a single date, although that was not for a lack of being asked. All of those were some nice New Year resolutions that sort of happened but didn’t fully pan out in 2022.

In 2021, I read an embarrassingly low 13 books and therefore set myself the loftier goal of reading 25 books in 2022. 

In the name of full disclosure and at the risk of not sounding like a bad bitch, I will now admit that I did not read 25 books. I read 21 and that pissed me off. 

There were many books that I started but didn’t finish and plan on finishing in the new year. However, here lies the books that I did read, in their entirety this year, and what I thought of them. 

This esoteric list of books is an amalgamation of recommendations from friends I trust, strangers on the internet, professors who passed me, Instagram pages, Youtube channels, celebrity book recs, and, of course, the New York Times Bestsellers list, in the hopes that it would all amount to a nuanced book list with good taste.

Judge for yourself…

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkin Reid–  tells the story of a fictitious soft rock band in the 70s that’s loosely based on Fleetwood Mac. The story is told from each character’s perspective as they get interviewed about the band’s success, and failure, in a novel that captures the hipness of the decade, the torment of genius, and the abuse of the music industry. It does all of this while remaining sensitive to the topic of addiction. I found myself wishing that they were a real band with the dreamy way they sound. In particular, I loved Daisy, a talented, misunderstood, and messy woman working up to a world level, because, as the novel puts it “we love beautiful, broken people. And it doesn’t get much more obviously broken and classically beautiful than Daisy Jones.” The six were fine, but I could have read an entire novel just about Daisy Jones.  

My book and the backpack that I carried it around in, photographed at my favorite consignment store.

White Ivy by Susie Yang–  is a twisty, moody novel that explores ideas of assimilation, familial backing, ownership, and orchestrating the life that you want. Ivy Lin positions herself as the perfect woman in order to marry the guy she has been in love with since childhood, conflicting with her true nature. I could not predict which direction this story was going in until it had already gone there. The novel is smoothly written and very enjoyable and therefore highly recommended.

Cultivating Creativity by Iain Robertson– emphasizes the importance of facilitating creativity in classrooms and generates discussions around the creative process. In it, Robertson describes the relationship between rigid and fluid thinking and demonstrates the immense discipline that goes into creating. “Cultivating Creativity” includes exercises designed to improve students’ creativity and reconceptualize how they think about their own relationship to creativity. It is a far more distilled, less nuanced version of what I studied in my “Theories of the Creative Process” class, but offers a refreshing look at the creative process, interwoven with commentary from students who took part in the creative exercises. It is a very rich topic. 

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech– is a novel written in the form of poems. It’s a story about a young boy that is not interested in poetry until he discovers the poetry of Walter Dean Myers and begins to explore his own feelings in writing. This is one of those stories that would be ruined if the author revealed too early on what the story was about, but churns out the story so subtly that you are midstream before you realize that the story is about a little boy grieving a loss. You realize then that everything he writes is colored by that experience. I love the unreliable child perspective that the story is told from since it proves the complex emotions that children have and how we can feel the same visceral emotions even when they are shown through the lens of a child’s first brush with heartache. 

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin– is also a novel written in poems, because this is a thing, apparently. Technically, it is written in verse, originally in Russian. Pushkin is seemingly one of the lesser known Russian writers and Eugene Onegin is one of the lesser known great works of Russian literature, at least in the United States. Translating Pushkin out of Russian is like translating Shakespeare into any other language since Pushkin, I’ve been told, never wrote an ungraceful line in his native language. I find that easy to believe having read the story myself.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chiamanda Ngozi Adiche– Many of Adiche’s ideas are no longer surprising to us as feminists, since her talking points have gone far and wide, becoming synonymous with feminist ideals, yet, she has a way of phrasing things so brilliantly that it made me think about it entirely differently. I recommend everybody read this sliver of a book in order to acquaint themselves further with her ideas.

Divining Chaos: The Autobiography of an Idea by Aviva Rahmani– Aviva Rahmani has exactly what a person needs in order to write an excellent memoir: an interesting life. Yet, it is not solely her life that makes this story interesting. Her philosophy and her belief in “trigger point theory,” as well as the politics that form her principles, are what she devotes her memoir to discussing. It is a true feminist story and should be read as such. 

Becoming Myself: reflections on growing up female edited by Willa Shalit– takes stories from an eclectic group of prominent women, including Kate Spade, Lily Tomlin, Julia Stiles, and many others. Coming from different walks of life, these women all have different interpretations of the question: “what does it mean to grow up female?” Marlee Matlin’s story was head-and-shoulders the most interesting excerpt in the book, in which she details how she struggled to speak Hebrew for her Bat Mitzvah due to her deafness, but how she was determined to do so anyways. All of this she connects back to the concept of girlhood by explaining that Bat Mitzvahs are a tradition that previously excluded girls, but one that she was happy to participate in. 

Tasha by Brian Morton– is a memoir about the difficulties of looking after an elderly, senile parent, written by one of my writing professors, thus making me extremely biased. The mother in question, Tasha, was clearly a colorful woman with a colorful life and did not go quietly into that sweet good night. It discusses the turbulent relationship between mother and son and how taking care of a parent can be admirable, but exhausting work.

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz– It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that I couldn’t put down. This book was that for me, although I wanted to slam it shut every time the author mentioned anything about a successful writing career not panning out. The book was all about writers and writing, focusing on a disgruntled, down-on-his-luck writing professor from a creative writing MFA program. The author in question steals the plot of his novel from a deceased, former student leading to an onslaught of anonymous threats made against him from someone who knows of his subterfuge. Despite the initial hook, however, I felt that the story progressed in a way that was fairly obvious. I kept reading in the hope that the book would confound my expectations, yet, in the end, the plot did not thicken like I wanted it to. The bad guy was so obvious that it was as if the writer said, “bad guy enters stage left,” and the rest of the novel proceeded in a fairly straightforward manner. The writing, however, was insanely good, making it worthwhile. 

Inheritance by David Gerson and Stephen McMaster– So say for instance you’re me. You’re standing in front of your family’s book nook, when you discover that thee David Gerson has written a book. You then learn that he has such an incredible turn of phrase. I was impressed with the way in which he managed to tell snippets of his life story in a clear and eloquent way. His writing is so lucid and dispassionate, yet evokes such strong emotion in the reader. I was very smitten with his writing, and, as always, with him. Stephen McMaster did a fantastic job as well. Both stories deal with identity and being gay and what that means to them. 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath– What is left to say about The Bell Jar? The Bell Jar, though it needs no introduction, is a story about a young, college-aged girl who works for a fashion magazine in New York City, who is having a slow mental breakdown. As a girl who lives in New York and writes for a fashion magazine, I had to read it. The Bell Jar lives up to its reputation of being a psychologically robust, feminist novel. As she is treated without dignity in her asylum, the reader cannot help but sympathize with Esther Greenwood and by dealing with the issue of getting her hands on birth control and refusing to marry a man that she’s been dating for years, this novel is a true feminist piece of work. With all of its references to fashion and cosmopolitan life, the novel feels chic and girly in the best possible sense.

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion– is a bare-bones novel in which most chapters are only about half a page of a few lines of dialogue. I went into the book knowing nothing about the premise, wanting only to experience the writing of Joan Didion, a woman who I am now having a love affair with. I discovered that it was very apropos for the summer in which I read it, since it depicts a woman getting a back alley abortion. This prescient story revolves around Maria, a soon to be washed-up actress in a failing marriage. Anyone who reads this story will always remember to never pick up a rock because you’ll find a rattlesnake and to play it as it lays. 

My professor’s copy of the book when he recommended it to me.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine– is a memoir from the lead guitarist of the 70s, all-female punk band “The Slits.” The title gets its name from Albertine’s mother, who used to tell her that when she entered high school all she would want to talk about was “clothes, clothes, clothes, music, music, music, boys, boys, boys.” Then, she became a rock star and her life became all about “clothes, clothes, clothes, music, music, music, and boys, boys, boys.” (Doesn’t sound too bad to me). I believe that this is the type of book that all teenage girls should read. She covers everything a girl should know: marriage, decaying marriage, abortion, sex acts, infertility, masturbation, feminism, feeling self-conscious, and owning your sexuality, with a cast of characters such as Sid Vicious, Nancy Spungeon, Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McClaren, Steve Young, Mick Jones, and Johnny Rotten all making multiple appearances in her life story. It also happened to be viciously funny and deeply heartfelt, bolstered by her ability to divulge hard information about herself and her clean turn of phrase. 

My copy

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover–  (TW: domestic abuse and sexual assault) I read “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover when it was #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List and was surprised to find that it was a nothing special novel written in a simple, conversational tone with clunky metaphors, expressions, and a frustrating amount of cheesy romance cliches that long outstayed their welcome. After ignoring a series of red flags, including anger management issues and possessiveness, a woman finds the strength to leave her abusive husband with her child in tow, the end result of which being her co-parenting with the man who sexually assaulted her, something that the novel largely glosses over. It is a supposedly happy ending for her but not the triumphant she-unloaded-a-double-barrell-shot-gun-into-his-chest that I had been hoping for. I do appreciate her depiction of an abuser being an affluent doctor and not a man in a wife beater in a trailer park, how the woman did leave her husband in the end, and her central point that everyone blames the woman for not leaving, while ignoring the man that did the abusing.

“Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur in front of my aforementioned book nook. Please excuse the nude painting that I got from Italy in the background.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur– I don’t want to join in on the gentle-ribbing that has always been directed at Rupi Kaur and her collection of poems “Milk and Honey,” but I have my thoughts. “Milk and Honey” falls into the genre of “Instapoetry,” which means that she wrote poetry on Instagram before she wrote a collection of poetry set to her line-drawing illustrations. I wanted to like it, since there are a handful of strong feminist points, a clean turn of phrase at times, and she clearly has many, many ideas, but overall, the whole collection feels like wasted potential. Perhaps, I don’t get it because I’m not a romantic, but most of the poems come across more like inspirational quotes rather than full-fledged poems.

Here is the entirety of her poem “more”:

I don’t want to be friends
I want all of you

That’s not a poem, that’s a drunken text to an ex. 

(Her poem women of colour was pretty good though)

Witches, Sluts, Feminists by Kristen J. Sollée– After reading one or two underwhelming books, I was pleased to pick up this exciting manifesto on how we as a society went from viewing women as witches to sluts to feminists and how much of our initial reactions to women as witches bleeds into our modern-day perceptions of women. It covered all of the basics: the sexism of the Salem witch hunts, the way that sexism was weaponized to bring down Hillary Clinton, r*pe culture as seen on college campuses, and the ways in which feminism, much like witchcraft, has been made fashionable and commodified, all as they relate back to the idea of a woman as a witch. WSF is a slim-volumed, intersectional feminist page-turner that makes a point of straying away from the oft-observed white, cisgender feminist narrative, only to not go thoroughly in depth on any concept of the witch or the feminist outside of the western world. I’m not trying to sound too angst-ridden about this since I mostly agreed with her point-for-point on the points that she does make and overall enjoyed the collection of essays. 

A Novel Obsession by Caitlin Barasch– Is all about a young woman in her 20s, working on a novel and her first ever relationship. Naomi, the protagonist, becomes obsessed with her partner’s previous girlfriend, going so far as to stalk her and make her the subject of her new novel. The story is stylishly and excitingly written (though there were moments where I wanted a more experiential, close-narration). It gave me many new thoughts on being a young female writer and plenty of new places to visit in New York City. 

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams– Is a strongly-worded romance novel about two writers who spent seven days together in June, only to reunite for another seven days in June years later, and to realize that all of their writing over the years has been about each other. I wanted them to get together, but I was waiting, 40 pages before the end, for the other shoe to drop when their happiness, and now mine, would be shattered by a fresh tragedy. I’m not much of a romance reader, but even I could see that this was a beautiful book about regret and past trauma. I will also now be using many of the expressions that Williams uses in her book, starting with “F-train reads” (topically-relevant and politically-savvy books that people read on the subway so that they can look socially-conscious).

My Policeman by Bethan Roberts– It should be painfully obvious that I picked this book up for strictly Harry Styles purposes. My Policeman is an epistolary novel told from the perspectives of a policeman’s two lovers– his wife and his boyfriend. The title reflects this balancing act and the idea of ownership. Whose policeman is he? Based loosely on E.M. Forster’s own relationship with a policeman, this novel tells the story of forbidden same sex love in 1950s England. The book largely revels in gay suffering too much for my liking since it is another gay love story that is simultaneously a tragedy, but it is well-written

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman– I read Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman as I was leaving Italy and was surprised to discover that it was mired in controversy. The fact that the protagonist is 17 when engaging in a relationship with an adult makes the relationship seem predatory, while many in the LGBTQ community objected to the depiction of obsession in the relationship (but many loved this depiction). Either way, it is a beautifully written novel that gives the reader a sense of the balmy weather, the sexual tension, and the obsession. Even though it is a work in translation, it had very sensual language that contributed to the enchantment of the overall novel.

My three favorite books of this year were White Ivy, The Bell Jar, and Play It As It Lays

Despite not hitting my goal, I am still assigning myself a higher goal next year. I am striving to read at least 30 books in 2023. Wish me luck on that assignment! Happy reading.

The Tragic Queen,


My Royal Portrait

I came back to the states within days of Christmas with nothing but Italian Christmas gifts and the need to wrap them, a bunch of dirty clothes, and a desire to faceplant into my childhood bed at my parents’ house. My packing style is if there’s a will there’s a way, which is why I sat on my suitcases to zip them up and was very friendly to the woman who weighed them at the airport. All of which went according to plan. 

Once stateside, I put Christmas behind me and got on with another annual tradition: my royal portrait. 

Every year I have a very sassy photo shoot around my parents’ house so that I might feature them on my holiday/New Year’s card and here on my blog. My high school friend Lauren comes over with her camera and we have a very fun and goofy afternoon of playing “Vogue” while listening to some music. This year, since I gave all of my money to the Italian economy, I could not afford to pay for Lauren’s services. I, instead, had an informal photo session with Padgett and her iPhone. My bougie photoshoot with a friend from high school was well underway. 

Per my usual, my royal portrait picture appeared on the front of the card and a picture taken from within the year appeared on the back where I wish people a Happy New Year. 

The picture that I chose as my main photo– my jewel in the crown if you will– was inspired by (queen) Sofia Vergara’s fabulous photoshoot for SNL.

The muse
The cheap imitation

I’d been told by my grandmother that I had “such a lovely smile” and that I should therefore use it on my holiday cards, instead of wishing people a “happy holiday” while pouting. I nearly missed the mark once again this year when I almost selected a picture of me blowing a kiss instead of smiling, but I pulled it together.

The kiss

My outfit consisted of a short black dress, black tights, and a black top hat. I like to keep things casual.

It’s not a royal portrait photoshoot until I take a black and white photo over my black and white tiles in either a black dress or a black and white dress. 

Here are the BTS shots of me moving around the supplies for the floor shots. I gotta set the stage.

No matter who is taking the pictures, I always end up with some funny ones; it would be no fun if I was completely serious the whole time. This is one of the many reasons why I think that people should do the same. Take pictures of yourself at the end of every year to chart your progress through life and have some fun while doing it. 

That settles it for this year’s royal portrait. It was another royal portrait for the books. It’ll be another few hundred days before I have a friend “getting me from my good side” again. 

The Tragic Queen,


That’s Amore

On my last day in Florence, I climbed to the top of the Duomo. I had been outside of it nearly every single day (not an exaggeration), and attended Sunday mass there, but hadn’t gone into the dome. I bought my ticket, waited in line, and was then ushered into the cathedral. You walk first around the dome on a balcony that wraps around the inside of it, where you can see into the entire cathedral, at the pulpit and the altar, while you walk alongside the mural.

As you go along the duomo, you can see how high you are as you climb higher. Me and all of my fellow tourists single-filed our way through the narrowest passageways imaginable. There is some room for you to step off to the side, but otherwise, you need to keep walking since you have hundreds of people behind you trying to get to the top as well.

I was white-knuckling my way through the 463 step hike until I saw a flight of stairs that were so steep, it was practically a ladder. That was when I decided to stand off to the side to take a deep breath. This then led to countless people walking past me, asking me if I was okay, in various different accents.

I told you all that there was a skeleton in the Duomo’s mural

“Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine, I just needed to catch my breath.”

“Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine, I just needed to catch my breath.”

“Hey, are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine, I just needed to catch my breath.”

“Hey, are you okay?”


Funnily enough, it was very difficult to catch my breath, seeing as to how I had to repeat the same phrase every two seconds. Had I realized that this flight of stairs was the last one, I would have just soldiered on through it. 

I made it to the roof of the Duomo to see the most extraordinary view I’d ever seen. It’s hard to put into words what I was looking at, but it was breathtaking. You’re so close to the sky you feel like you’re almost in the clouds. 

It made my nausea, wobbly legs, and shortness of breath all worth it. 

I could see every place I’d been to in the city, except for the greatest landmark of the city, the place I’d been to everyday, because I was standing on top of it. I could see Santa Croce, the Basilica that I’d been to for class with a piazza I’d hung out at for a Christmas Market, the Ponte Vecchio where my grandmother had me buy some new earrings for myself, the River Arno, which I’ve walked along and sat on top of the wall once (don’t tell my parents), and the Ferris Wheel where I slipped and busted my ass about a week earlier.  

From there, I could see every place I’d been to during my three and a half month stay in Florence, which is not bad for a final day in Florence. I was the last one down of my group, taking in the inside of the Duomo one last time as I made my way back down. 

Despite all of the school work I still had to turn in, I decided to keep up the momentum of my final day by going to the Gucci Museum. After seeing classic artwork for weeks on end, seeing the wildness of the Gucci Museum was a fun and stark deviation. It was three floors of painted walls, minor assaults to the senses, featuring one of my favorite things of all time: fashion. It dealt more so with the art of the brand than the design of the outfits, but I still enjoyed the aesthetic. 

Afterwards, I climbed the Duomo Bell Tower while it rained, and had a similarly gorgeous view. I pictured myself as the heroine at the dramatic climax of my own adventure story, in the cold rain, stalking up a bell tower in a famous city. I made the trip up and down both structures, knowing that I’d be sore the next couple of days, but that I would be sitting down for eleven hours on my flight soon enough.

There were a few revelations that day, starting with the fact that I needed to workout. The second one had to do with my experiences in Italy, reviewing them all as a whole. 

I had a great time in Florence. It led to mild bodily harm when I couldn’t ice skate or climb that Duomo without getting winded, but that was probably nothing compared to the bodily harm that happened when I drank. 

I don’t want to view this trip like a white woman eat-pray-loving my way across Italy, riding a vespa, sipping wine and gorging on pasta, the very definition of the phrase “not a care in the world.” It wasn’t all just about wine and pasta (although, I did eat so much really good food, most of which I photographed. I’m not proud of myself, but my phone eats first).

I learned a lot, mostly when it comes to speaking Italian. It should be obvious by now that I didn’t become a fluent Italian-speaker, but I’ve come so much further than I ever was before and I am now determined to finish what I started. With any luck, I’ll be rolling my “r’s” with ease in no time at all. 

I perhaps did not leave the house as much as my host mother expected me to, but I did what I wanted to when I wanted to do it. I went to every landmark on my list and tooled around Florence, sometimes just walking around town when I just wanted to be out and about. By the end of the trip, I was finally ready to go home. I missed my friends, family, and school, although I’m sure my love for school will quickly subside once I’m in the full swing of my final semester and my senioritis takes full effect.

I feel as though I’ve matured exponentially, having gotten out into the world.

So thank you Florence. I shopped at your vintage clothing stores, attended your art classes, enjoyed your wine tastings, and improved my Italian, thereby vastly bettering my wardrobe, palette, and art and language skills. 

It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

The Tragic Queen,



“I drink wine”


The last weekend I was in Italy, I went for a wine tasting at two different wine vineyards. My brother has informed me that I can just refer to them as “vineyards.” I said that sometimes the haters gotta know that you’re not drinking grape juice.

So, I went to some wine vineyards with a few of my new Italian program friends. There were a few usual suspects there, namely Cody.

Reminder: this is Cody

It was Cody’s idea for a few of us to head into the mountains for a wine tasting, as a last hurrah in Italy and obviously I said yes. The trip was to go into the mountains, further into the Chianti region of Italy, and visit two different wine vineyards.

As we traveled up the Italian countryside, which was now speckled with orange and red trees, I wanted to take it all in, but my motion sickness wasn’t having it. Having been shaken up like dice in a can, we arrived at the first wine vineyard. 

The vineyard was filled with dead winter trees, but with an incredible view of Tuscany. A woman showed us around the vineyard, making references to the chianti and fava beans they grew there (they were just begging me to make a Silence of the Lambs reference). Then we got to the good stuff: a room with a table full of filled wine glasses. 

We tried whites and reds, eating salami and cheese the whole way through. I tried chianti, with and without preservatives, and found out with which one I preferred. I bought my parents a bottle of my favorite and snail-mailed it to them to enjoy in the New Year.

We went to the next vineyard, now nighttime, and we continued what we started with more wine and cheese. 

I learned how to hold a wine glass by the stem and swirl it around in order to get all of the flavors activated before shoving my face into it. I wrote down my observations about the wines, but all I could remember was that the last one was a sweet white wine that tasted like honey as we dipped cookies into it. Overall it was a good day of trying new things and saying “cheers.”

I was well aware the whole time of how fortunate I am to have moments like this in life. My arm getting tired from lifting it to cheer the whole time and then bending it towards my face is the very definition of champagne problems.

The ride back was smoother, despite the wine in my system. We then went to get some dinner at the Florence market, before I turned in for the night. 

It was a very relaxed, boozy day. We then returned to Florence to finish up our classes and soon we should be saying goodbye to Florence.



Italian Ice

My night took place at an ice skating rink, surrounded by a few half-assed Christmas shopping markets and a giant Ferris Wheel. The appeal of the Ferris Wheel is that you can see all of Florence from the top of it. It was a definite tourist trap, but a fun one to be sure, and since I am a tourist, I put my pride to the side in order to have some fun. I was able to see the Duomo, Santa Croce, and all of the other places that I’d been to during my stay. 

After the group rode the Ferris Wheel, everyone immediately left. No one wanted to stick around, but I was not ready to go home. It’s a long walk to get home and I didn’t just come here to ride on the Ferris Wheel and then leave. I was too busy carpe-ing all of those diems. 

So I decided to go ice skating all by myself. The tourist trap was created around a massive pond, but instead of freezing over the pond, they froze over the sidewalk that went around the pond. As soon as I stepped out onto the ice, I realized something: this was just a layer of ice over concrete. It instantly felt dangerous. But I spent 14 euros on this so once more unto the breach.

As I was shakily skating and holding onto the railing, all I could think was: this was a mistake, this was a mistake, this was a mistake, some of which I said out loud.

I moved like a newborn fawn. I don’t remember what happened next except that I thought to let go of the railing in order to truly ice skate. I didn’t even make it around the circle once.

It was all a blur but I do know that I immediately fell forward, crashing down on my knee.

Everyone behind me went “ohhhh.” 

Both of my legs were laying on the ice and my upper body was pressed against the railing, having landed on it. Suddenly, I was very glad that no one else from the group had stuck around. 

A very nice Italian girl beside me asked if I was okay, as I pulled myself up the railing. 

“What hurts?” 

“My dignity.” (I actually said that), followed by “my knees.”

“Do you need ice?”

I burst out laughing. Ice is what put me in this situation in the first place. 

One of the workers, who heard about my TKO, came over to me and brought me a big, plastic penguin-shaped chair to ride back on, because when you’ve just fallen a couple of feet from the starting point and everyone saw you hit the ground, all you want to do is compound the embarrassment by being pushed around on a penguin. Better still is that when I tried to sit on it I nearly fell off and busted my ass all over again. He shuffled me back the 20 feet to the entrance and gave me an ice pack for my knee. 

After feeling sufficiently sorry for myself, I got up and limped five minutes to the student hotel, like the trooper that I am. The student hotel is a place for study abroad students to stay when they don’t have a host family and is a great landmark to call a taxi from. You can’t hail a taxi in Florence, you have to call one. The buses were on strike (again), Uber doesn’t really exist here, and it’s an hour long walk back to my house, so a taxi it was.

The taxi services will also hang up on you if there isn’t a taxi in your area and since walking back wasn’t an option, I wasn’t going to let that happen, so I immediately informed the dispatcher that I needed to get a taxi because I couldn’t walk. 

I got put on hold and then hung up on.

I cry very easily and when I cry, I scream, so when I called back that’s what the man had to endure.

He said he was willing to try again. I got hung up on again. I called a third time.


“I’m sorry, ma’am I was really insistent, but no one responded. I’ll try again.” I want it to be clear though that I wasn’t yelling at the dispatcher for not getting me a taxi. I was screaming in general about all of the things that had just gone wrong. The student hotel has a bunch of swing sets in the lobby and I’d been sitting on one while I iced my knee and called for a taxi. A little girl on a swing across from me witnessed all of this.

So, after traumatizing the taxi dispatcher I got a taxi that was extra roomy in the back seat and clearly made for people who maybe had leg injuries. 

I had to look at this as I got into my cab

Back at my homestay, I kept on icing my badly bruised knee. I’d gotten to ride a Ferris Wheel, in which I got to see a bird’s eye view of the city I’d been living in, and then managed to ice skate about twenty feet before being taxi-ed home. So there you have it: It was an eventful night, but one that I sought out when I refused to go home early. It was one of those moments where I knew that I would laugh about it someday, despite crying about it at the time, and that day came sooner than expected. 

I had more adventures in store, as I limped towards my final day in Italy.

The Tragic Queen,


The World Cup

I was nearing the end of my stay in Italy. I’d been to Venice, Rome, and Siena, gone out for a wild Halloween, and now was on my way to watch some of the World Cup. My peers were all a-buzz about it. The World Cup offered a nice backdrop to my stay in Europe, where it is taken very seriously. 

I went to the Irish-themed bar that was showing the World Cup. I can’t remember who was playing, which didn’t seem to matter since neither had scored a point for the entirety of the game. Two different countries were competing with a bar full of impassioned people shouting at the screen. There I am cheering for neither, which is fine since neither one is winning. It was just me alone in a room full of drunken, cheering maniacs, judging some of the single best athletes in the world, because they can’t score a point. 

The night passed like this for some time. Me, trying to drink beer, but not loving it, and eating something that came with French fries. One of the teams scored a singular point, making them the winners, and then I called it a night.

A couple of days later I went to a different bar to watch the World Cup again, this time more invested. I went to finish my homework and cheer on Croatia in the World Cup. For those who don’t know, my great grandfather emigrated to The United States through Ellis Island from what is now modern-day Croatia. My great grandmother similarly came from Trieste, now a part of Italy, but it was still Yugoslavia when she was born there. Ethnically, she was Croatian, making me about a quarter Croatian, which is why I was rooting for them in the World Cup. 

Red Garter is an American restaurant and bar in Italy. I had no need for American food; I’d be having the real thing soon enough, but I still went there anyway for a burger so that I could remember what I’d been missing. That was how I spent my evening: American food, fruity beer since that’s the only kind I can tolerate, last minute homework, and the World Cup. 

And what do you know folks: Croatia won. I’d never once cheered on a sports team in my life and they just won. 

I go halfway around the world just to see a Georgia game on in the bar that I’m at

The crowd went wild, as did the Croatian team. That is one of the things that I love about watching a team win a match in the World Cup: the losers wallow in self-pity as they mosey off the field while the winners dry-hump each other and roll around on the grass. My other favorite part is when one player breathes on their opponent the wrong way and they crumble to the ground like feta. Clearly, sports are my passion. 

So there you have it folks, a slight detour out of my comfort zone. I watched a sports game and drank some beer, twice in a row, and then I was done. Now, onwards and upwards to my final days in Italy.

The Tragic Queen,



When you last saw me, I was cutting a rug on a dance floor at midnight on Halloween (or I suppose on the day after Halloween since it was midnight), not at all preparing to catch a train the next morning. This story begins with me tired and dunking a tea bag into scalding hot, flavorless tea at the train station the day after that, probably with globs of unwashed makeup still in the corners of my eyes, and my mind questioning why I did this to myself. The answer to that question is simple: when Halloween calls, I answer. 

I’m not trying to complain too much since I was up to catch a train to Venice, which could be a whole chapter in my privilege manifesto. 

I decided to kick off the first day of November, and my fall break, by going to Venice with my friend Cody.

So, this is Cody:

You may recognize him from his brief shoutout in my Siena post. He’s a super cool dude, a fellow Sarah Lawrence student, which speaks for itself, and a film student. He gives off very cool film student vibes, which is a compliment.

So, that’s Cody. 

When we arrived, the entire city was blanketed in a layer of fog, making everything feel moody and atmospheric. We checked into our hostel, which was a menagerie of bunk beds, and then set off down the street for lunch at the water. 

We had lunch at the water, during which time a seagull got up close and personal to me, thereby freaking me out

Venice doesn’t feel real. It looks and feels magical, like the destination at the end of a fairytale adventure story. Cody commented that he couldn’t believe that we were there, since Venice has always been a place that existed on a postcard and I agree. Venice is where celebrities go for red carpets and film festivals, not a place for regular college students. It is famous for its glass, is covered in bridges, and has streets that are filled with water.

For the most part, we just wanted to experience Venice. We hadn’t made any plans for our day, except to walk around and see what interested us, so we went to the bridge that they filmed a scene from “Spiderman: Far From Home” on. It was, in fact, a very nice bridge. 

We rode on a gondola and marked it off my bucket list. It was a half hour ride around the city, being told about all of the places that the tourists don’t know about, without telling us the names of them, so that we couldn’t go either. Onlookers standing on bridges could lean over the sides and stare down at us as we sailed by in our gondola. 

In the evening I did some Venetian glass Christmas shopping for my relatives and later we sat on a dock and looked at the water, where everything looked like solid black glass. Soon after that, feeling exhausted, I went to bed and the next morning Cody informed me that there’d been a blood moon. 


Keeping me humble. I can’t have too many bragging rights when I come back. People would hate me at dinner parties if I went on about the blood red moon that I saw in Venice, among other things. I was, however, beneath the blood moon the whole time. Instead I got a good night’s sleep and was ready for our train the next morning. 

I had to get back in time for the art class that I was not allowed to skip during fall break. We had a day full of gondolas and water taxis. I’d love to go back there someday, hopefully for longer, and actually see something like a blood moon. In the meantime though, this was a fantastic trip and I am very thankful to Cody for accompanying me.

Until next time! Ah! Venice!

The Tragic Queen,


Creature of the Night

Am I about to enthrall you with the madness and the mayhem of a Halloween for the books? I certainly hope so. Hijinks ensued, there were some honest intentions, some good civic duty, and an attention-grabbing outfit choice. I hope that the suspense is killing you. 

Let’s take it from the top: my trip to Siena came and went at the end of October, giving me a little over a month left in my Florentine stay. Around this time, I needed to get a COVID test, having fully breathed the same air as a then-COVID positive friend of mine in Siena. It had been a while since I’d gotten a COVID test so I’d forgotten what it felt like to be harpooned in the nose. I dragged myself to the local pharmacy for a few rapid tests where they now have a delightful new way of testing for COVID in which they first plunge the Q-tip into the back of your throat, before swabbing it so far into your nose that I swear it touches your brain. 

I knew that this was going to be bad, but solemn and dignified, I accepted my fate. Then, she thrust it back towards my tonsils and I reeled my head back, making the sound that my cat makes when she’s going through it with a hairball and it sounds like the world is ending.

I then proceeded to do this test three more times over subsequent days. 

My results came back negative each time, giving me a clean bill of health just in time for my favorite night of the year: Halloween.

This year, I planned to go as Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show. For those who’ve never seen Rocky Horror Picture Show, for starters change that, but there is a character named Magenta, an alien and a “creature of the night” who lives at Frank-n-Furter’s mansion and wears a French maid costume, some fishnets, and some pretty heavy face makeup.

For those who don’t know

Twas my time to shine. I went to a hole in the wall store to buy my Halloween costume a few days earlier and put together my Magenta look using the off brand Wednesday Addams costume they sell under the title of “gothic school girl costume” and their maid apparel. 

I walked around all day in costume.

People have since said to me, “I didn’t know that they celebrate Halloween in Florence.” 

They don’t, but I do. 

That might explain why those two people wanted to take a selfie with me. There were also a few strange looks on the bus.

As the day progressed, I seemingly was running the risk of not having any plans on Halloween night, sadder in my mind than not having any plans on Valentine’s Day. When my proposal for an in-costume bar crawl was unceremoniously rejected in the groupchat, I decided to instead go to a nightclub. Tenax nightclub had Nobody’s Perfect with Body and Soul playing that night, starting at midnight, and although I had no idea who any of those people were, that sounded right to me. 

I could not, not go out on Halloween night. Did I or did I not say “creature of the night?” I was in the mood for a science fiction double feature and to do the time warp at midnight.

Me on the bus

Halloween also happened to be one of the last days that I could vote in the Georgia midterm election so after taking an hour-long bus ride to print off my absentee ballot, I walked to my nearby post office and mailed it before going out to the nightclub. Just a girl with wildly teased hair, wearing dramatic face makeup, fishnet tights, and a French maid costume on her way to vote for Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock. The only problem was that I went to the place beside it first as it was closing and a man who was leaving had to inform me that I couldn’t mail in my ballot there. Frustrated by the amount of things going wrong, I started crying. 

The man was dealing with this

The man, who was taken aback by the crying American girl in a Rocky Horror Picture Show costume, was kind enough to walk with me around the corner to mail in my absentee ballot. This was the day that I learned that I have a pretty obvious tell for when I am about to cry since I throw my hands up in the air near my face like a cat that is about to start clawing at things. The man helped me get an envelope and a smaller envelope and then organize everything in the convoluted way that you must when you send in an absentee ballot. 

I explained to him that I was voting in an election. I was then trying to convey with my body language that I am voting progressively, which is impossible to do, but I think that my outfit communicated that well enough. He said that it was nothing, but that man went home with a story to tell. So, after traumatizing a man who was leaving work and voting in my midterm election, I went out clubbing. 

Tenax was perfect– alcohol, bright lights, and loud techno music. I felt like I was the best dressed person there since it’s hard not to be with basically a party-city white, faux-silk apron. I cut a rug on the dancefloor for a while. I couldn’t bust out the Wednesday Addams moves since I found myself once again in the middle of a mosh pit. There’s not much to say other than the jostling of the crowd became fierce and that the Halloween atmosphere was perfect. 

I didn’t stay long because I had to get up the next morning to catch a train to Venice. Oh, you want to hear about Venice? More on that next, but as far as this night was concerned, my Halloween in Florence was one for the books. I had the right costume and the right idea. I partied hard at night and walked around all day in costume, taking Halloween as seriously as I always do. 

I’m already planning my next Halloween, at least in terms of the costume.

The Tragic Queen,