Buon Anno!

2011 came in with a plunge and went out in flames. Quite the year, eh?


One year ago today, Austin and I jumped into freezing Lake Michigan in Chicago on our first official polar bear plunge. I had to be convinced for a good 45 minutes that this would be a good idea, and after all was said wound up dipping a toe into the water before declaring it a day, but a good time was had by all.

Ready to freeze.

Also in 2011, I:

Went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras…

A REAL parade.

Wearing our Mardi Gras attire.

Throwing beads off a balcony. What could be better?!

Graduated from college…

All the banners for the colleges.

Gotta love the cap and gown. So much accomplishment in one little outfit.

Made it out to Colorado/Montana and:

Watched a movie at Red Rocks…

Top Gun for the win.

Hiked through Rocky Mountain National Park…

Please ignore our general appearance. You're supposed to be looking at the scenery.

Reached the summit of a fourteener…

If you can't read the sign, just trust me.

Watched Old Faithful erupt (a few times. It was just so awesome)…

We were joined by huge crowds.

And stood at the continental divide…

Oh yea.

Saw a real-life double rainbow…

They DO exist!

Made some wonderful friends…

Both in Pittsburgh...

And overseas.

Moved to Bologna…

What a city.

Attended a festival dedicated to one of my favorite things…


…And saw my first effigy burning.

This brings me to last night and ringing in 2012 here in Bologna. The Bolognese have an interesting tradition for New Year’s called the Vecchione. Each year, someone makes a paper sculpture for the city to set on fire come midnight, which means that every year Bologna is filled with smoke and the scents of burning as the clock counts up from the beginning of the year. It signifies the end of last year’s struggles and a new hope for the new one. This year’s piece was titled “The Barrel Scraper,” and it was made by Paper Resistance. They have a few pictures on their blog so you can watch them putting it up. I only got to watch it come down, but man was that fun.

In all his glory, waiting to burn. You can really see how huge it is - that balcony is two stories up.

The city also got a gospel choir to perform on the steps of San Petronio. It was led by an American, so theoretically the music was good, but I'm pretty sure they were just singing their way through the soundtrack of Sister Act. They also gave a rendition of "Amazing Grace," for which one verse was simply the repetition of "Praise God." Funny.

And at midnight, the flames began. At this point, the choir was in the midst of "Joyful Joyful," which made an interesting backdrop to the flaming effigy around the corner, but I thought it was fun. The flames got so high they were over the top of the building, but I was too short to get many more photos. I'll share some good ones when I can steal them off other peoples' cameras.

There were also fireworks following the burning, and tons more music. We, however, made our way home, stepping around the broken glass and people peeing in the street. There were also firecrackers going off everywhere, so it was like walking through a joyful warzone. A great way to ring in 2012.


This year, I have a lot of grand plans. I got into (and then backed out of) law school last year, and this year I plan to actually go. I also have tons of travels planned, including Brussels and Berlin in March and London and Prague in May with my sister. Beyond that, I plan to relax, enjoy the moment, and take everything in stride. Here’s to a great 2012! (And the world not ending in December.)








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