Where am I now?

As you can see, this blog hasn't gotten any love in many years... But you can now find me on my site jessicatravels.com.

25 March 2009

Happy 1000th Post, Otturatore!

Back when I started this blog, I didn't really think about meeting other bloggers along the way. I didn't have "internet friends." I can't say that anymore, as I've made connections with people from all over the planet - both via BootsnAll and the various expats in Italy I've "met" - but I think I can safely say that my first "internet friend" was someone who I later had the pleasure to meet in person, stay in contact with to this day (something like 5 years later), and who is celebrating a milestone of his own at the moment.

Let me introduce you to Alessandro of the fabulous Otturatore photo blog.

I found Alessandro's blog via Photo Friday many moons ago, and linked to it on my sidebar. Naive as I was to the ways of the web back then, I didn't realize that he'd be able to track me down via that link - but track me down he did, and he commented on my blog. That was back in 2003 or 2004, and it began a correspondence that's continued to this day. Ale's become a great friend, and we've gotten to the point where we'll spend a bit of time just about every week on Skype - me at the beginning of my workday, him at the end of his - chatting in both English and Italian. I'll confess that his English is far better than my Italian (he's completely fluent, in both normal English and all kinds of slang, in a way I dearly hope to be someday in Italian), but he's very patient with my Italian mistakes and has even taught me a word or two in the Friulano language of his home region.

Chris & I had the good fortune to meet Ale in 2004 when we passed through the Friuli en route from Venice to Croatia, and although we were nervous about meeting this "internet person" I'd only corresponded with via email, he turned out to be delightful, friendly, and incredibly generous. He even managed to teach me how to use a couple of the gazillion bells and whistles on my big DSLR (which I'd completely ignored to that point).

I should mention that Ale's a great photographer, with an eye for turning the everyday into something artistic and worthy of a second look. When we met, he was toting a new (well, new to him) medium-format camera, and I'm convinced he's forgotten more about photography than I'll ever know. He posts a photo every day on his blog, and he recently sent out a note to proudly announce that his 1000th post is going up tomorrow, March 26.

So, happy 1000th post, Ale - I look forward to visiting you again - hopefully on a day you've decided to bake something delicious, perhaps to help you celebrate your new house, and (if I'm lucky) learn a new trick or two on the camera.


16 March 2009

Happy Birthday to, uh, Me!

While I wasn't paying attention (as you'll no doubt have noticed by the distinct lack of posts here in, well, ages), this blog has turned four years old as of today. Yes, it was apparently on March 16 of 2005 that I decided to start sharing my thoughts with the world in an online fashion. No, I don't have the exact date pinpointed for when I mostly stopped doing said thought-sharing on the blog. But thanks for asking.

So, happy birthday, blog. No telling where we'll be four years from now...

07 February 2009

Quick Update

It's been a few weeks since my last post, so here's a quick update on what's going on around here...
  • My ankle/foot is still healing from my stupid fall, but I still keep it wrapped at all times for extra support. The first 1.5 days I couldn't put any weight on it at all, but since then it's been getting progressively better. Which means I haven't gone to a doctor because I figure I wouldn't be able to walk on it without much pain if it was broken. (Logic is the best doctor ever, right?) It's a slow process, which is irritating, but hopefully in another couple of weeks it'll feel good enough so I can leave it unwrapped most of the time.
  • Bub is back on chemo. It's a lower dosage than it was for the first round, but he was steadily losing weight and an ultrasound revealed an intestinal wall that was slightly thicker than normal. They say it's still within normal range, but it could be a precursor to lymphoma in perfectly healthy cats - and given his history, we decided not to take any chances. The good news is that this chemo is all pill form, so he doesn't have to go to the vet any more than his usual monthly check-ups. He's still a major pain in the arse to pill, but we've got a system down.
  • Work is busy for both of us, so much that weekends often involve a bit of time spent in front of the computer. We both still love what we're doing, but a little more down-time now & then wouldn't be a bad thing.
I think that's about it. Not terribly exciting, I know. But that's probably why I haven't updated in awhile. So you can count your blessings next time there's a big gap, eh?

Hope you're all well.

18 January 2009

That Last Step is a Bitch

So, I'm feeling like an idiot today. Here's why.

Yesterday afternoon as I was walking down the lower flight of stairs in my house to retrieve a clean load of laundry, I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking and I missed the last step. I landed hard on my right foot on the tile floor and then (of course) collapsed. I thought I'd rolled my ankle badly and possibly broken it. Chris helped me back up the stairs and we got some ice on the ankle, and after a few hours (and a couple ibuprofen pills) it was just annoying rather than seriously painful. I was feeling more optimistic that it might just be a sprain - until, that is, I tried to walk to the bathroom.

Yeah. That really sucked.

We're more than 24 hours later and I still can't really put weight on that foot. I can move the ankle around, and there's basically no swelling or bruising, but there's a pain on the top of the foot when I try to walk on it. I think I'm finally resigned to the need for an x-ray, although I'm planning to wait until tomorrow when I can go to my regular doctor (they have an x-ray machine) instead of the ER... Because I don't even want to contemplate how much that trip might cost.

Anyway, we called around to a few friends we thought might have crutches lying around in their garage, but none did. So Chris is now on a mission to get some crutches for me (I seriously had no idea places like Walgreen's or RiteAid even carried crutches, but I'm assured they do) so I will no longer be forced to hop everywhere on my left leg.

Y'know, when we first bought our house, I loved the fact that the townhouse didn't feel like an apartment (despite being attached to our neighbors' homes) - and the main reason it still feels more like a house than a condo to me is now the thing I hate about this place: the STAIRS. Bedroom on one level and kitchen on the other? I can tell you right now that's going to be the biggest pain in the ass for the forseeable future.

11 January 2009

Happy Moroccan Independence Day!

Happy Nepal National Unity Day! Happy Anniversary of the Designated Hitter Rule!

The point is, every day is a holiday somewhere in the world. And today is no different. I bring this up because, well, I didn't poke my head in here to wish you a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, or Happy New Year. I could go with my usual tried-and-true excuse of being overly busy (which is still very much the case), but this time there's actually something else going on.

I wasn't ever one of those people who got seriously gung-ho over the holidays (and especially not since I entered puberty), but when my dad died a scant four days before Christmas in 2007 it made the holidays particularly un-festive that year. As you can imagine. I'd heard people say that "the first year is the hardest" when it comes to dealing with the death of a loved one, but I thought I was doing really well throughout much of the year following my dad's death. Yes, I thought about him every day, I missed him very much, and yes, I cried occasionally. But I thought I was handling things well - so much so that I figured the 2008 holidays would be back to business as usual.

Oh, how wrong I was.

First, it was the damned holiday music that started playing in every store even before Thanksgiving. I don't spend much time in stores, so I wasn't subjected to it as much as I might have been, but it was enough that by the time early December rolled around I realized that every time I heard a Christmas song I got angry. Not depressed, not nostalgic, but angry. It bothered me that everyone was preparing for a fun holiday, when I was coming up on the anniversary of my father's death. Evidently that whole "first year is the hardest" thing has some truth to it after all.

I made it through the holidays just fine in the end, and I don't think anyone really knew what I was thinking through most of it, but I couldn't help but wonder - will there ever come a time when I don't automatically think of my father when Christmas comes around? When I don't get upset with the cheerful dispositions of shoppers and the glittery decorations in front windows? When the holidays are just the holidays?

In 2007, I skipped doing a holiday newsletter for the first time in many, many years. In 2008, I couldn't bring myself to do one, either. I wrote a draft, which still sits on my computer (un-looked at since I first attempted to create it). I don't know if I'll eventually get a letter out to people in the early part of this year or not. I feel like I need to send out something, because I know some friends and family feel out of the loop - they're asking questions about things they'd know about had I gotten around to sending out a letter - and because I kind of feel like I need to force myself back into something of the old routine. But it's hard. I wish everyone was as web-savvy as the few folks who I know read this blog, because I'd just send out an email with a link to some kind of online holiday missive and be done with it. As it is, I'm still faced with the daunting task of finalizing the letter, printing it and getting copies made, addressing a gazillion envelopes, and stamping them all before dropping off the stacks at the post office. It's a holiday ritual I used to kind of enjoy, but that may be a ritual I never find pleasurable again.

Then again, maybe I'll just get my act together and send the letters out in honor of India's Republic Day on January 26. Yeah, okay, that's a little ambitious. How about Kuwait's Liberation Day on February 26? Could be do-able. Point is, whatever day you receive a holiday letter from me, whenever one should arrive, I guarantee it's a holiday somewhere in the world.

Maybe I should just pick a different holiday to mark with an annual letter from now on, actually. Any suggestions?

25 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm tired after a full day on the computer, and more tired because I feel like I'm fighting off a cold, but I wanted to take a moment to wish y'all a Happy Thanksgiving.

This is easily my favorite holiday of the year - totally centered around food, and no gift-giving involved - and it wouldn't be a proper Thanksgiving without my mom's traditional menu. Of course, being my mother, the traditional menu includes a couple non-traditional items and our traditional Thanksgiving meal is eaten on either Friday or Saturday of the holiday weekend rather than the actual holiday itself. I can't even remember when that started, but it seems so normal to me now I don't even realize it sounds odd when I tell other people. This year, our Thanksgiving will be on Friday, which means Chris & I get most of Thursday at home to relax (sans workload for me, at least) and do a few chores that have been waiting to get done before heading to my mom's on Friday morning. I'm looking forward to that extra day of rest for many reasons, not least of which that the big BootsnAll holiday party is the following weekend and I'm quite certain I'm going to be bloody exhausted after that.

Also on the schedule this holiday weekend is something unusual even for my kooky family - a football game. Yes, some people always plop down in front of the TV on Thanksgiving to watch whatever football game is on, but this year the annual "civil war" between Oregon State and the University of Oregon is being played in Corvallis (not far from where my mom lives) and one of her coworkers (whose husband works at OSU) managed to get us all tickets to one of the "luxury" boxes for the game. I'm not a fan of American football, but the whole gang is going. And, as my mother points out, on the luxury level there's food and a full bar. So at least I'll be well-fed and kept slightly buzzed. And in a weird twist of fate, it turns out the game is actually a big deal this year, as it could determine whether the Beavers go to a bowl game. (Don't ask me more than that, because I don't know and also don't care about further details.) I'll be wearing my warmest holiday coat and my favorite scarf, which just happen to be black and orange respectively, so I'll look the part of an OSU fan even if I don't have a clue what's going on.

At any rate, I do hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend wherever you are!

02 November 2008

Backing Away from the Edge

I'm sorry, I know I've been a little quiet lately; there are a couple reasons for that. First, the whole thing with my friend's sister, who died on Monday, October 13th, brought up all kinds of memories of my dad's death. It's amazing to me how one encounter with mortality blends so seamlessly into another, so that one death makes you think of every other death you've experienced. And then, of course, it's a compounding emotion, with each sadness building upon the last one; I can only hope that at some point one gets to a zen-like state about it - otherwise, every death will eventually bring me to my knees.

Another reason for my absence has been that for a few weeks recently I was sort of pulling double-duty at work. One of my colleagues was traveling in Europe for just over five weeks, and although he was in touch fairly regularly, he was also extremely busy doing research and his internet connections turned out to be spottier than he'd anticipated. So, I was trying to not only keep up with my own normal workload but also many of his day-to-day responsibilities as well. Needless to say, I was working a lot. I worked late just about every night, and worked just about every weekend for a month or so. I knew it was temporary, so I just kept doing it, and didn't bother to say anything to my bosses - which was a mistake. I finally mentioned it last week, and they were more than sympathetic. My colleague is back from his trip now, and has re-claimed his old duties, and another project that had been queued up for me has been assigned to another colleague - so I'm feeling much more sane about my workload now.

In other words, I think I've reclaimed my life from the stress I felt last month, and I couldn't be more pleased about that.

While I was under that stress, however, somehow it turned into November. I can not believe it's November already. I don't know how that happened. There are, what, three weeks until Thanksgiving now? And then another month until Christmas? Seriously, I don't know where this year has gone, and time is showing no signs of slowing down...

In other news, I got my second portrait tattoo yesterday. It's a portrait of my mom, to go with the one I got of my dad in August. It's still healing, and is still red and puffy at the moment, but Chris tells me it looks great. I'll post pictures eventually when it's less pained looking. And although I'm going to have to wait until my bank account is a little more replenished after these last two tattoos, I'm already plotting for where the next ink will go. Here's a hint - if you prefer my arms as they are, you'll want to get a photograph of them before I next go under the needle.

Finally, I can't be typing a blog post on November 2nd of an election year without saying this:


Vote for hope, vote for change, vote to re-establish America's reputation in the world, vote for a new direction, vote for sound judgment, vote for inclusion, vote for anything's possible, vote for the dream of a new generation. In other words, VOTE FOR OBAMA.

11 October 2008

Thoughts About Cancer

I've been thinking a lot lately about cancer.

Before my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer a few years ago, cancer and I had only passed once in a dark hallway. A friend I used to work with had a recurrence of breast cancer when I was working with her; we later lost touch, but I hear through friends she's doing well after a scary year or so. Other than that friend, I can't recall another time cancer has come anywhere close to me. There's no history of it on either side of my family, which is one of the reasons why my dad's diagnosis was such a shock.

In some ways, I guess I was lucky that cancer hadn't been more a part of my life before my dad's diagnosis, especially as the past few years it seems that the disease is making up for lost time.

After my dad got cancer, one of our cats then was diagnosed with lymphoma. We put him through a year of chemotherapy, and he's doing splendidly well now. My father's cancer wasn't as amiable, however, and he died in December after it had spread to his lungs, lymph nodes, and spine.

Between my dad's death and the memorial gathering we held for him in early February, the elder sister of one of my college girlfriends was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. She began chemotherapy and has spent the majority of the last eight months in the hospital. She got a bone marrow transplant a month or so ago, and things were looking up. Then a couple of weeks ago her body started showing signs of rejecting the new marrow. Her doctors have been grappling with the graft/host issues ever since, and yesterday I heard that the doctors can do no more.

Ever since my dad died at the age of 72, whenever I hear about someone whose parent is still alive at the age of 80, 85, 90, or more, I have the immediate and selfish thought of, "That's not fair." And it's not, I suppose. Yes, at 72 he had lived a good, long life, and had gotten to watch his children grow up. But I still maintain, in the selfish way a daughter who has lost her father would maintain, that he should have had another 10 years.

What my friend is now going through, on the other hand, is unfair to the point of being criminal. Her sister is only a couple years older than we are, in her late 30s. She is married to a wonderful man who adores her to pieces, and they have a precocious little boy who's five or six years old. She will not live to see her son grow up. She will not grow old with her husband. Her son will not have his mother around for the rest of his life. And there is no way on this earth that is anything but tragic, unfair, and wrong.

There are blessings in the midst of all of this, in that my friend's family is very close - her parents and their respective partners are all good friends. The family unit is incredibly tight, and they've been leaning on one another for months now as they work their way through this. But no parent should have to face burying their child. Ever.

Last night as I sat on the sofa watching TV and thinking about my friend and her family, I looked at my cat sleeping next to me. I watched the side of his body move up and down slowly with each breath he took, and I couldn't help but wonder why he had lived and my father had died. Why was my cat spared and my friend's sister is in her final hours? I love my cat dearly, and I'm glad we chose to put him through the year of chemo and I'm glad he responded well to the treatment. But what kind of disease spares a house pet and takes two people instead?

And I think that's just it; cancer is, at heart, completely and utterly unfair. It makes its living by being unfair. It's ruthless, heartless, unforgiving, rude, cunning, and sadistic, but all of that pales in comparison to how heart-breakingly unfair it is.

All the positive thoughts I'd been thinking for my friend's sister to get better are now being transferred to the whole family, in the hopes that they can see their way through this.

A friend sent me this poem shortly after my dad died, and I still find great comfort in it. I've been thinking about it again lately, and will eventually send it to my friend and her family. When the time is right.

"Dirge Without Music" - Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

05 October 2008

Baking Music

I don't know about you, but when I get to doing domestic stuff I really need the right soundtrack. And since I don't really cook all that much, it's not often that I need baking music - but this afternoon I baked two apple pies, and I knew that facing that many apples that needed peeling and coring required something to keep me motivated. So I broke out my old favorite, a 2-CD set guaranteed to take me through any marathon baking session - James Taylor Live.

I remember getting this CD set back in college, when all my friends had it and I coveted it, and then in the years after I graduated - when I lived alone in a dark basement apartment in SE Portland and didn't really do much cooking at all - the CDs kept me company when I would clean. I'd blare the stereo and sing over the noise of the vacuum cleaner - those old James Taylor favorites kept me happy and moving when I would have just preferred to sink into the sofa and watch TV.

Nowadays, I have plenty more CDs that are just as upbeat and motivating, but sometimes I just crave my old favorite. And today, when it's been raining all. day. long. and I knew I'd be baking my dessert equivalent of comfort food, I wanted something like the musical equivalent of comfort food, too. So James Taylor and his excellent band have been keeping me going for the past couple hours. Now the pies are just barely out of the oven, the house smells amazing, and the last song just finished on CD #2. I feel all warm inside. Mission very much accomplished.

What's your cooking soundtrack?

03 October 2008

I Made an LOLcat

I'm a big fan of the I Can Has Cheezburger site, with its endless supply of hysterical cat pictures that have been even-more hysterically captioned by people who are way more clever than I am. Well, I don't think it's a masterpiece, but the other day when Bub stuck his head in the almost-empty Burgerville bag hunting for something to steal, I grabbed my Blackberry and grabbed this photo. It's not pretty, but you get the idea.

Do click through to the actual site for more pictures - pictures that are much funnier than this one.

26 September 2008

Post Turtle

As if to further drive home the point I made in my last post that it's unusual for me to be voting for anyone with an R after their name, I wanted to share a joke a friend just sent me.

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year old Texas rancher whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Sarah Palin and her bid to be a heartbeat away from being President.

The old rancher said, 'Well, ya know, Palin is a post turtle.'

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was.

The old rancher said, 'When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle.'

The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain. 'You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, she doesn't know what to do while she is up there, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put her up there to begin with.'

24 September 2008

Why I'm Voting for a Republican for the First Time This Year

Before anyone panics, let me start with this - no, it's not McCain. Get real, people.

I've voted in every election that's come up ever since I turned 18, no matter how goofy it seemed that there might only be one person "running" for a school board position or how many British stamps I had to put on my absentee ballot for the 1992 presidential election. Once I became a registered voter, there was going to be no stopping me. And, until this year, that has meant that I've voted for a Democrat in every office where parties were listed. I fundamentally disagree with so much of the Republican platform that it's usually a pretty easy choice to make. I am not, however, one of those people who just sees a "D" by someone's name and votes for them without reading about them or doing my research on them, but I have never found a non-D candidate I thought was good enough to get my vote.

And that's all going to change this November.

In Oregon, of the two major candidates for State Treasurer, I've decided I'm going to vote for the Republican, Allen Alley. I've been mulling over this decision for months now, and I'm sure it's the right choice. Allen's got the most business experience in the race, the best ideas, and the biggest commitment to doing what he can to turn the economy in Oregon around. On top of that, there isn't really a true Democrat in the race at all - the guy with the "D" after his name was an R two years ago (and even was an Independent in between being an R and re-registering as a D). As a lifelong Democrat, I'm thoroughly disappointed in my party, that it thinks he's the best we can do for a candidate. He's not, folks - not even close.

So when my party lets me down, it doesn't make sense for me to reward it by making a bad choice worse. It doesn't make sense for me to support a candidate that I actually think will do harm (and not just be ineffectual) to the state's economy. It doesn't make sense because there's a great candidate on the other side of the proverbial aisle.

And so it is that come November, for the first time in my life, I'm going to check a box next to a name with an R next to it - and I urge you to do the same.

Learn more about Allen Alley at his website

18 September 2008

Do I really talk about laundry that much?

So, you may have noticed the little Twitter updates at the top of the blog - I'm a big Twitter fan. I use Twitter every day. I talk about work, Italy, the cats, the husband, food, and whatever the heck is on my mind. Just today someone I follow on Twitter posted about her "Tweet Cloud," which of course I had to check out for my own account - and I'm kind of horrified at what I found.

For some background, a "Tweet Cloud" is Twitter-speak for a "tag cloud" - and a "cloud" in this sense is essentially a list of words that you use often in tags (or, in this case, posts on Twitter), where the words are physically different sizes based on how much or how little they're used. The idea is that you get a graphic representation of how often you talk about certain things. So, because I was curious, I decided to see what my "Tweet Cloud" looked like (can I just say here how much I hate the word "tweet" for Twitter updates, and wonder aloud why things have to be cutesy and make us sound like idiots when we talk about them?).

I'm not surprised that the word "today" is my most-used word on Twitter - I usually start off each day talking about what I'm going to do that day. So the fact that "today" has 99 appearances & "day" has 81 makes sense to me. "Italian" coming in at 71 appearances doesn't surprise me either. ("Italy" has 44 appearances.) But the fact that "coffee" shows up 63 times is a little frightening. I had no idea I talked about coffee that much - it's especially weird because prior to our February/March trip to Italy, I didn't drink coffee at all. Ever. So apparently I'm making up for lost time or something.

If you look at all the food-related words in the whole cloud, there's quite a bit of food-talk going on in my Twitter stream, too. And the other day, one of the people I follow on Twitter wrote, "Raise your hand if andiamo's tweets make you hungry - and jealous." This is all surprising to notice, given that I basically don't cook. I eat.

And finally, I'm a little disturbed to note that the word "laundry" shows up 13 times. Now, it's not exactly competing with "Italian" (or "coffee," for that matter), but I swear, I had no idea I'd even mentioned doing laundry all that much. The fact that it's there 13 times is bizarre to me. And it's going to make me think twice about mentioning my laundry again.

08 September 2008

The Miracle of Bun Toast

You know that I live with a cook - Chris is a wonder in the kitchen. He makes a royal mess when he's really getting into it, but I can't complain. He cooks pizza about once a week, makes homemade tomato sauce & sweet pickles, and even got into making fig jam last year. But when it comes to breakfast, he's a one-trick pony - it's cold cereal and milk in the morning, every morning, and has been for as long as I've known him.

That is, until a few months ago, when he invented Bun Toast.

More accurately it's known as Cinnamon Bun Toast, but he calls it Bun Toast for short. I still don't know what possessed him to create it, but it's genius - it really is. It starts with basic cinnamon toast, but on top of the usual butter & cinnamon sugar he spreads a layer of vanilla cake icing on top of the toast. It's not just any cake icing, though - it's Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Vanilla, thankyouverymuch. He even writes it that way on the grocery list when I do the shopping, so I don't get the wrong kind by mistake, gawd forbid.

When he first told me about his new creation, I thought he was nuts - but then he made me some Bun Toast one morning for breakfast, and I'll be damned if it didn't taste almost exactly like a cinnamon bun.

Genius, I tell you.

I have friends coming into town this weekend to stay with us, and I told Chris I'd asked them what we needed to have on hand for breakfasts, etc., and he said, "Wait'll I make Bun Toast for them..." So he's all set to spread the Gospel of the Bun Toast. Hope the world is ready.

29 August 2008

The DNC Makes Me Cry

I'm not sure why, but I have a habit of crying during speeches at the Democratic National Convention. I remember crying during the 1992 DNC because I thought, "Holy shit, we actually have a chance this year!" That year, listening to Aretha Franklin sing the National Anthem also brought me to tears, which I kind of think should happen to everyone when she sings the National Anthem - but it's possible that I've shed tears every four years since then as well.

I don't recall crying at the 1996 or 2000 conventions specifically (although I distinctly remember crying when the stupid effing Supreme Court handed a victory to our current lame-ass excuse for a president), but I do remember in 2004 watching a skinny black guy who I'd never heard of before in my life give what I thought was one of the best speeches I'd ever heard - a speech I still remember parts of to this day. It was a speech that made me cry. And as I cried, I thought, "If I live to see a black president, it's gonna be this guy. Now what was his name again?"

His name, of course, was Barack Obama. And I cried my eyes out this week watching the convention in Denver. And while I may not have a "valid excuse" for crying in the past (not that I feel I need one, mind you), I know at least one of the reasons I was so emotional this week - I'm watching history.

I've always been proud to be a Democrat, and a Liberal Democrat at that. My parents raised me to care about other people, particularly those with less than I have, and to think that our government has a responsibility to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives. If you squander your opportunities, that's your business - but if you have no opportunities, that shouldn't be your fault. Even when that's not a popular opinion, I've always been proud to carry that worldview in my heart.

But I've never been prouder to be a Democrat than this year.

This year, my party had as its two finalists in the primaries not one but two historic candidates. And this year, my party nominated the first African-American on a major party ticket. The Rs may crow about their VP nomination this year, but let's not forget Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. The bottom line is this - you can't tell me the Democrats aren't the party of change.

So, as Obama implied last night during his amazing acceptance speech, I say bring it on, November. There's a change-making army coming your way, whether you like it or not.

22 August 2008

The Tattoo & The Photo

My tattoo has healed nicely; the itching stopped, and it's not the least bit sore anymore. In fact, I don't even notice it now. Here, you can see how well it's healed for yourself:

That's the tattoo on the left, & the original photo on the right. Just in case you were confused. I can understand why you would be, & all, because the tattoo is so damned realistic...

And now that I've gotten my second tattoo, 11 years after my first one, I'm seriously anxious to get my third. It's like a need now - and although my appointment is in November, Jerry said he might be able to get me in before that if he gets another cancellation. No offense to the people who might chicken out & cancel their tattoo appointments, but I'm really hoping someone gets cold feet soon.

After 36+ years with nothing on my back, now having the one portrait there makes me feel like it's unfinished until I get the next one... Weird, I know. But there you are.

12 August 2008

November Came Early This Year

Remember in the last post when I said I had a tattoo consult coming up? It went fine, but the earliest appointments that were available weren't until November. I made my appointments, and promptly stopped thinking about tattoos.

Well, not three days after I'd had my consultation with Jerry, my tattoo artist at the very fine Atlas Tattoo, he called me to say, "Hey, I have a cancellation tomorrow - you want it?" My answer:


So, last Saturday I spent just over three hours lying on my stomach with my neck twisted painfully to the left as a bearded man drove three different sets of needles into my left shoulder blade at high speed and repeatedly. In other words, I got my second tattoo.

It's still healing - we're past the "wash three times daily & apply ointment" phase and have now moved into the "apply lotion 3-5 times daily" phase. I think that phase lasts a week. The tattoo has started to peel a bit as of today, but that's normal. And the most important thing is this - it looks fucking amazing.

I'd seen portraits done on those TLC tattoo shows, and always been amazed by the skill that it must take to render a perfect copy of a portrait in ink on skin. And after looking at Jerry's portfolio, I knew he'd be able to do it. But there's nothing that can prepare you for the moment when you look in the mirror and see a perfect copy of a photograph you've know and loved your whole life on your skin. It's trippy, people. Seriously trippy.

Jerry said that it's likely he'll have another cancellation before my next scheduled November appointment, so I may be able to get that one a little earlier as well. We'll see. Until then, I'm dealing with a near-constant kink in my neck because I keep straining to see the tattoo in the mirror.

The picture above is from Sunday morning, when the tattoo was first unbandaged and still quite red & a little puffy. I'll have Chris take another picture when it's healed more so you can see the detail better. Until then, you have my permission to be amazed anyway.

29 July 2008

The Next Tattoo

When I got my first (and only) tattoo in 1997, the tattoo artist told me, "They're addictive - you'll be back." I wasn't sure at the time, because it hurt like hell (I'm a complete pain wimp, though, so maybe it didn't hurt as bad as I thought it hurt), but not long afterwards I knew I was hooked. I dreamed up all kinds of other designs, and for awhile everything looked like a potential tattoo. But, as noted, that was 11 years ago.

Well, I'm finally getting inked again. I don't have an appointment yet, but I have a consult set up on the 5th, at which point I have to lay down a deposit in cash, so I'll be making an appointment before I leave that consult - that's for sure. I'm both excited & nervous, because what I've got in mind is pretty big.

The idea for the first part of the new tattoo design came to me when my dad's prognosis became so grim last year. I knew he wanted to be cremated, and I'd seen some memorial tattoos done on TV (yes, I love those TLC tattoo shows) where small amounts of the ashes of the loved one are put into the ink that they do the tattoo with. I knew right then that I wanted to do that. I didn't tell my dad, because he really didn't like hearing about what he called the "maudlin" stuff people were thinking about him dying. He just wanted to live. So, I kept it to myself. And now I have a consult with a guy who, based on his portfolio, is a kickass portrait artist (no small feat with tattoos - I looked at another portfolio in town that was shockingly bad in comparison). I'd like my favorite photo of my dad, which happens to be with me on his lap when I was about three, tattooed on my left shoulder blade.

Then that got me thinking about my mom. She's still very much alive, but a few years ago she gave my brothers and I each a framed photo of herself with the words, "This is how I want to be remembered when I die." Yes, she's like that. And not in a morose way. Anyway, it's a gorgeous black & white photo of her, and as I was thinking about my dad's portrait tattoo I thought that photo of her would also make a lovely tattoo. So, I'm planning to get that on my right shoulder blade. She doesn't know, and I don't plan to tell her until I can show her. (And she doesn't read this blog, so far as I know, so no worries there.)

Portraits aren't small things - they're big. And these will be big. I want them to be big, I'm totally loving how I think they'll look. And I'm also freaking out about the pain. I know that I can stop it at any point and come back, but I'm still really nervous. Of course, for the first tattoo, my overly freaked-out self was actually a blessing in disguise - it hurt, yes... But it didn't hurt nearly as bad as I assumed it would. So maybe that's actually kind of a strategy I have here - assume the worst, so that anything better than that is a huge relief.

Anyway, I've got my consult on the 5th, to which I'll bring in the two photos in question along with my cash deposit, and I'll get to chat a bit with my artist. Yippee!

23 July 2008

I'm really not a very good traveler sometimes

Honestly, as much as I love being in other places and experiencing different cultures, there's plenty about traveling that really just bothers me. I hate travel days, for instance, the actual days when you're moving from Point A to Point B - especially (actually, almost exclusively) when it involves air travel.

For starters, I think I kind of suck at packing, and not in the way you might expect. I'm so insanely good at cramming bits & bobs into all the nooks & crannies of my suitcases that I end up "being able" to get way more into my bags than I really need to be bringing. And what's even worse is that when I'm done packing, my first reaction is to look at my open & fully packed suitcase and think, "Wow, I'm good." It's like this beam of light shines down on the bag, and a chorus of angels comes over a loudspeaker, and I hear, "She beheld the packing job and - lo! - it was good" in a big booming voice in my head. The beam of light and chorus of angels go away as soon as I have to pick said bag off the floor and carry it up or down a flight of stairs. Then I curse myself under my breath, wishing I hadn't packed so much crap.

Problem #2 about air travel days is the airport itself. While I still get a thrill about entering an airport, knowing that I'm going to go to bed in a different place than I woke up that morning, the thrill leaves pretty quickly. Basically, as soon as I have to start stripping off my belt, shoes, coat, and any other random metal pieces of jewelry at the security gate. I've gotten better about this process, in that I no longer feel compelled to have all of my stuff ready to go onto the conveyor belt in the specified plastic bins in the oh-so-short time it takes me to get from the pile of bins to the metal detector. I used to get really freaked out that I was holding up the line behind me, but now I just tell people to go around me if I'm still fumbling with my laptop or if I've stupidly put a double-knot in my shoelaces that day. But still.

Then there's my seemingly pathological need to be at any appointment (and I'm including flights in this category) insanely early. I tend to get just about anywhere I'm supposed to be going at least 10 minutes before I really need to be there, and it can be up to an hour if I don't know the area well. On the one hand, this means that I'm almost never late for stuff, and that theoretically it gives me time in the airport to relax and not feel like I'm running to catch a flight last minute. On the other hand, however, this also means that I'm stuck in an airport for way more time than I really need to be there. And if that airport doesn't have free WiFi (*cough* SFO *cough*), then I'm also stuck paying a few bucks to turn my computer into something that'll keep me entertained for all the extra time I've ended up sticking myself with at the airport.

I used to be able to sleep on planes, and I seem to have lost that gift. So that's another problem. I find myself sitting nearly bolt upright (and that's with the seat back fully reclined, of course), staring at whatever the nearest video screen is and watching whatever's on it, no matter how horrible. I eat the often-inedible stuff they put in front of me, and I barely move - this despite usually getting my requested aisle seat. All this means I arrive at my destination bleary eyed, exhausted, disoriented, and with a really short fuse. Of course, in one of those cruel jokes likes to play, I'm usually able to sleep on the way back home - but those are the flights that are almost always at night, when I'd rather be staying awake so that I can sleep when I get into my own bed. Yeah, those are the flights when I doze off in spite of myself. Go figure.

What I'm saying here is that I'm not a very good traveler sometimes, and that I don't always like the travel part of a trip. But even with all of that, if you dangle the promise of a plane ticket in front of my nose, I'll salivate like a rabid dog. It's like in that moment I forget all the stuff I actually hate about travel, which is good, because if I didn't I might never go anywhere again.

Wow, I'm going to have to bite my own tongue for even saying that now.

Anyway, the point here is that while I'm not so bad as to be a travel writer who hates to travel (a-la "Accidental Tourist"), you can definitely add my name to what I imagine is already a long list of people who love travel but really hate travel days.

20 July 2008

12 F*#king Years

That's the phrase my dear husband and I (affectionately) use to talk about how long we've been together. Today marks the actual 12th anniversary of our first date, in fact, and it's a date we still like to mark and acknowledge because... Well, because it's a long f*#king time. We've only been married for five years, and saying we've been together for 12 years carries more heft, I think. And while we may joke about that amount of time, we're also really proud to have been together for a dozen years and still share hopes and dreams together. We don't always think alike, but we always support each other and when the going gets rough we are able to lean on one another. It's something I try not to take for granted, and for which I feel very, very lucky.

So, happy anniversary, hubby - I'm looking forward to the next 12 f*#king years.

11 July 2008

Cat Update

I realize I kind of left you hanging with the whole cat situation, in that the last time I wrote about Bub he wasn't eating... Well, the not-eating scare is over! It was over pretty quickly, actually. He started eating again after 5 days or so - too long for my tastes, and he lost a fair bit of weight, but he's put it all back on (and then some). His whiskers are coming in like gangbusters right now, and his tail is getting fluffier. In short, our boy's back. And we're very happy about it.

He'll need to go in for monthly checkups to get poked around the middle to make sure the tumor's not coming back, but unless they find something suspicious, that's all he'll have to do. He doesn't know it yet, but he's very happy about that, too.

09 July 2008

Where the hell is Matt? - 2008

If you've never heard of "Where the hell is Matt?" then you've been missing out. Matt Harding started out by making his own travel videos of himself doing his dorky little dance in the places he visited, and how he's lucky enough to be sponsored to do the same thing. Yeah, while I have a cool job that I can't believe I get paid to do, this guy's got us all beat. He gets paid to travel and do a dorky dance on film.

This is his 2008 video, and if it doesn't put a gigantic grin on your face, then you might want to check your pulse and make sure you're still alive.

And do yourself a favor - go to the original video on YouTube so you can watch the video in high resolution. To see the looks on the faces of the people he's dancing with is half the fun (if not more).

07 July 2008

Three Days in San Francisco

I'm happy to say that I've got plane tickets with my name on them, but sadly they're not for any destination in Italy. What they are for is a blogging conference I'll be attending in San Francisco next weekend - BlogHer 2008. I've never been to a blogging conference, let alone one geared toward women, so this will be interesting on a couple of fronts. I'm hoping to pick up a few new things that I can use for work, mainly related to building community on blogs and writing for online outlets as opposed to print ones. We'll see how much new knowledge I come home with.

In addition to the conference, of course, there's the social aspect of the trip - a blogging friend of mine from Milan will be there, and it'll be really fun to see her, and I've got a few other friends who live in San Francisco and who I'm hoping to see at least a little while I'm there. I'm sure it'll be one of those weekends where I'm more tired on Monday than I was on Friday, but it's all for a good reason. I hope.

Oh, and since the Italian consulate in San Francisco is the one we'll be working with to get our visas and such, I'm planning on paying them a visit at some point, too. Even if I don't have paperwork to hand in or anything to pick up, I figure it can't hurt to drop by and make myself known to them. And my Milan friend has offered to come with me and help make a good impression by speaking flawless Italian to them (that'd be her speaking flawless Italian, not me). Hey, whatever works.

20 June 2008

Bad Blogger pt. 437

Oh, so many things going on, and never enough time to write about them... Here's a quick snapshot:
  • Bub had his last chemo appointment last month, and got a clean bill of health from the oncologist last week, but ever since that visit (although he didn't get any chemo or even have blood taken) he's been mostly uninterested in food. I'm seriously stressing out about it - there are few things worse than when a pet won't eat, because, of course, he can't tell us what's wrong. We've got him on an appetite stimulant now, and we're trying every kind of food we can think of, but we're still in a wait & see mode. We may have to bite the bullet and pay for an x-ray or ultrasound to see if there's a tumor in there somewhere that the vet can't feel (maybe behind his ribcage) that's making him feel poorly. It sucks, but we're keeping our fingers crossed that it's just a temporary thing and he'll start eating again soon. And that the cancer hasn't come back.
  • We're making progress on the things we need to get our Italian visas. One item was that our newly-minted birth certificates had to get what's called an "apostille" from the state in which they were issued. Which meant sending them back to the East Coast states from which they'd just arrived (to another department, but still). They both arrived back here at our house today, so we've checked another thing off the to-do list. Our marriage certificate didn't need an apostille, because we got married in Scotland and that meant it was already "good in the European Union." We certainly didn't plan that when we got married, but that's a bonus. Next step is to get the birth certificates and marriage certificate translated into Italian, and then we have to figure out if we need to actually go down to San Francisco to visit the consulate in person, or if we can do it by mail. We've received mixed responses on that question, but ultimately we'll do what the guy in the consulate tells us we need to do.
  • I've become all-consumed by the Euro soccer tournament, especially as it concerns the Italian national team - the Azzurri. I get completely worked up & stressed before & during every Italy game, I scream at the TV when they do something stupid, and I swear like a truck driver. I actually made my throat sore during one close game. It's highly amusing to Chris and my co-workers (I've watched one Italy game at the office, and hope to not have to repeat that for fear of more ridicule). Italy plays Spain on Sunday, and if they lose their tournament is over. I'll no doubt start stressing out on Saturday. Hell, who am I kidding? I'm already stressing out about it. I never thought I'd be this into a sporting event. The bummer is that I realized (thanks to Chris) that I have a haircut scheduled for Sunday right in the middle of the Italy match - a haircut that was scheduled months ago, when I had no idea about the outcome of this tournament. So we've got to record the thing and watch it later when I'm done, and in the meantime we've got to ignore the internet, the phone, and all incoming text messages on the off-chance some so-called "friend" tries to talk to me about the game before I've seen it.
Okay, I think that's it for now. Hope you're all well...

09 June 2008

Flickr Mosaic: Who Am I?

I saw this Flickr meme over at Bleeding Espresso, and I couldn't resist it. Of course, there are a few of these things I could have had several different answers to, and I kind of changed one of the questions a bit, but overall it's a fun little meme.

The gist is that you answer 12 questions, and then use those answers to search Flickr. You then put the photos you get as search results into a mosaic. They're not your photos, but they kind of describe you. It's an interesting game. Here's mine:

The questions I answered were:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What did you want to be when you grew up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your Flickr name.

(#9 was originally - "What you want to be when you grow up?" - but since I feel like I've inadvertently gotten my dream job, I figured I'd reflect on what I used to want to be. And I'll confess that for #5 I very nearly had to toss a coin between a couple fellows, but this one is on my mind lately because the Italians are playing in the European football championships. So, there you are.)

If you want to play, here's how to do it:
1. You have to type your answer to each of the 12 questions listed above into Flickr Search.
2. Then, using only the first page of search results, pick one image.
3. Copy & paste the URL for each image into this cool mosaic maker (after adjusting it to make sure there are 12 squares).

And these are the folks whose photos I used for my Flickr mosaic:

1. Jessica(s), 2. Pear Gelato with Dark Chocolate Cookie, 3. North of Corvallis, 4. Orange as any orange on a tree, 5. andrea pirlo, 6. Ripasso Valpolicella, Villa Vinea, 7. Myra - turkey, 8. Gelato, 9. racoon-singer, 10. The Road Less Traveled By, 11. Must be careful when you cross the road,:P, 12. Andiamo tutti al cinquecento

07 June 2008

Catching Up

Chris got back safe & sound on Thursday night from his trip to Milan, and we're laying low this weekend - he's exhausted (he almost never suffers from jetlag, but this time he's got it) and I'm not feeling much more energetic myself. I have a bad habit of staying up way too late when he's not around, and that went on for the entire 10 days of his trip - so I've got some catching up to do, sleep-wise. At any rate, a slow weekend is looking really nice from both our perspectives.

His trip was, overall, really good - and we still don't really know anything more. He had good meetings, met some more people, saw the end of the Giro bike race, caught a free Andrea Bocelli concert, and caught up with some of our new Milan friends. And the folks who owned the apartment he was staying in had a cat and a kitten, so he got all kinds of feline attention even while he was away from our own cats!

We're both still feeling optimistic about a move to Italy, and we're confident it can happen, but with summer coming up quickly - and with Italy being a country that virtually shuts down in August (not to mention part of July), we figure something will either come through in the next 4-6 weeks or it won't happen until September. So, we wait and see.

On the other front, we're also pushing ahead with obtaining our Italian visas. We had to get new copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate, and are still waiting on two of the three items to come in the mail. Then we've got to take all of them to Salem to get a special stamp put on them, after which we have to take all of that to the Italian consulate in San Francisco. So we'll be planning a quick trip to SF here in the near future, whenever we can get an appointment.

And in other SF news, it looks like I'll be heading down there in mid-July for a bloggers' conference - my first professional conference as a blogger. I'm pretty excited. The last year has been really amazing for me, career-wise, and I still sit back and feel amazed that someone pays me to do what I do for a living... I am very lucky, and very thankful.

31 May 2008

Chris' Italian Adventures

Chris is about halfway through his trip in Milan right now, and he's already had several meetings and interviews. But this weekend he's going to have a bit of fun - on Sunday, the final stage of the Giro d'Italia races into Milan, so he'll be going to see that. And then on Monday, which is a big national holiday in Italy, he's planning to go to a free concert in the Piazza del Duomo by Andrea Bocelli. He's got my little camera, so I told him to snap some pictures. Both events should be a nice diversion from the work he's been doing so far.

Meanwhile, we're moving ahead with the visa paperwork process. For some reason, the copies we already have of our birth certificates and marriage certificate aren't good enough - they have to be issued within the past six months in order to be approved by the Italian consulate. So, we're ordering new copies of all those things. Then, when Chris gets back, we'll have to plan a trip to visit the consulate itself in San Francisco at some point this summer. I think that's one of two trips we'll have to make down there as part of this process, but I can't keep it all straight. Chris has been shepherding the whole thing along, thank goodness. I just do what I'm told.

I've been getting up way too early (for my tastes) to watch the live coverage of the Giro via the internet, so I'm absolutely exhausted (partly because on top of the early mornings, I've also been staying up too late!). I'm going to go to the farmer's market today and then will be enjoying a nice, long nap. I can't wait.

16 May 2008

Milan: 3 Visits in 6 Months

We just bought a ticket for Chris to go back to Milan - solo this time, bummer for me - for a second job interview. He leaves on May 25 and will be there for about 10 days, having not only that second interview but also a bunch more meetings he's currently setting up. He'll also get a chance to meet again with the folks at the relocation agency in Milan that we're working with to secure the necessary visas for us to actually live in Italy, so that'll be good. We'll probably have to plan a quick trip down to San Francisco shortly after his return to visit the Italian Consulate down there as part of the visa process, but he'll get that confirmed on this trip.

So, while our lives are still very much up in the air, we'd appreciate all the positive thoughts y'all can spare starting May 25 for about 10 days!

12 May 2008

Here But Not Here

purple iris reaching
Originally uploaded by andiamotutti
I know, it's been awhile since I posted... And, given the subject of the last post, you might have thought I resigned from the blog! Well, fear not. I'm still here. Sort of. I mean, I'm here, I'm just not here. If y'know what I mean.

There's always too much stuff going on in our lives these days, it seems, and now's no different. We're in the process right now of trying to figure out a time when Chris can get back to Milan for a week or so, for interviews and more meetings. We're also trying to catch up with friends we haven't seen since before we left for our trip back in February - this past weekend we were quite the social butterflies, let me tell you! And we've still got a long way to go down our catch-up list. Oh, and the Giro d'Italia started this past weekend, so we're getting up too early each morning to watch the live coverage. I'm so not a morning person; I can't help but think, "Gee, it'd be much more pleasant to be a fan of this race if I was in the same time zone."

We did squeeze in a "fun" day a couple of weekends ago, just the two of us, during which we browsed the Portland Farmer's Market (our local market opens this weekend - FINALLY!) and spent a few hours wandering through the Portland Chinese Garden. We had lunch in the tea house there, too, which is always fun. The picture above was taken in the garden that day - I just love that garden, and I especially love looking at it through the lens of my camera.

In other news, I'm sick to death of all the incoming calls we're getting that say "no data" on the caller ID screen (we don't answer them). I've yet to fill out my mail-in ballot, but even if I'd already gotten mine in the Oregon primary isn't until May 20, and we'd still be getting calls right up until then. Ugh. I swear, I think I prefer it when Oregon's late primary doesn't matter to the national candidates. It's bad enough to get the calls from the statewide races! I'll be really pleased when May 20 comes and goes, and the phone stops ringing.

So, you see, I'm here. And I could say I'll try to be better about posting to the blog here, but y'all probably know me better than to believe that crap anyway, right? I hope you know I mean well, at any rate...

27 April 2008

The Things You Find When You Clean

Chris & I have just spent the last several hours cleaning out/de-cluttering part of the upstairs hallway that leads into my office nook. There's still quite a bit of work to be done, but we got so much accomplished today, I'm really pleased. We're getting rid of a bunch of stuff, and a bunch more got organized and put away (like it was supposed to have years ago). So, all in all, even though my back is now aching, I'm happy with how I spent my Sunday afternoon.

Of course, there are all kinds of odd and interesting things you tend to find when you're cleaning, especially if you're cleaning out an area that has been untouched for, oh, well, years. One thing I found today made me smile, just as it did when someone first sent it to me via email almost a decade ago, and I thought I'd share it with all y'all.


Consider this official notice:
I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult.

I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of an eight-year-old again. I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four-star restaurant. I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make ripples with rocks. I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them.

I want to lie under a big oak tree & run a lemonade stand with friends on a hot summer day. I want to return to a time when life was simple. When all you knew were colors, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes, but that didn't bother you because you didn't know what you didn't know and you didn't care. All you knew was how to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good. I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again. I want to live simply again. I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in a month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness, and loss of loved ones. I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, imagination, mankind, and making angels in the snow.

So... Here's my checkbook and my car keys, my credit card bills and my 401K statements. I'm resigning from adulthood. And, if you want to discuss this further, you'll have to catch me first, 'cause:

"Tag, you're it!"

19 April 2008

The Last Photos from Italy

Okay, I've finally gotten around to uploading the rest of the photos I took during the trip to Italy - many apologies for the delay. The entire trip is now chronicled (more or less) in this set on Flickr. The only thing I've left out is the photos from the start of the Milano-Sanremo bike race; but there's a link to that separate set if you're really interested in cycling (or you can go directly to the cycling photos from race sign-in here).

Again, sorry for the delay in getting these online; I hope you enjoy them!

14 April 2008

Thanks for the Support

I read a blog post recently about an American gal who's been living in Italy for the past eight years - she's married to an Italian man, and just had her first baby recently. She mentioned in her post how her mother used to leave classified ads for jobs she'd be qualified for around the house whenever she'd come back to the US to visit, and how she's now upped the ante (now that there's a grandchild added to the mix) by saying, "They've had you for eight years, now it's our turn!" The blogger was wondering who exactly had "had" her for eight years, since her move to Italy in the first place was her decision.

Anyway, it got me thinking how important it is to have a base of support behind you when you do anything that's even remotely unusual or difficult. Yes, great things can be (and often are) accomplished by people who work solo and who don't even have a cheering section, but I can't help but think that's really the tougher road. Even if your support network does nothing more than take you out for a drink every so often, or listen to your complaining, or remind you that you're wonderful no matter what happens - these are incredibly important elements to undertaking any difficult task.

So I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who's been supportive of Chris' and my "Project Italy," as we sometimes call it. It seems crazy to some of our friends and family that we'd want to live in Italy, but for the most part all we hear is encouragement. Some people are sad that we'll be further away, but generally speaking their first question is, "You're going to have a guest room, right?" It means the world to us that our friends and family are so supportive, because although the end result (living in Italy) will be excellent, getting there (figuring out a way to live in Italy legally) is definitely not easy.

In fact, we just found out today in a detailed email exactly what it will take to get one particular visa that would allow us to live and work in Italy without Chris having a job ahead of time. In addition to the cost of the visa, there is an incredible list of documents we'd need to pull together, get translated, and bring personally to the Italian consulate in San Francisco. And, ironically, one of the documents is proof of a residence in Italy... Which is something we thought we couldn't get without the visa first. It's such a circular process, it's no wonder people just go and stay illegally.

At any rate, this is all to say that while we know this isn't necessarily what everyone out there would want for us to be doing right now, we appreciate the support you're giving us anyway. It's quite something to have so many people cheering you on as you try to realize a lifelong dream!