Sunday, June 26, 2011

"O" the Places We'll Go

Strange things go through your head as you are walking along in Italy trying not to get mugged. Is it wrong that I acknowledge the workmen’s whistles, turning around to see them gesture, most likely inappropriately but I don’t speak Italian body language, I turn back, shaking my head, but smiling knowing they are watching my swagger, confident that I am the most desirable pasty faced Irish American to walk by the last minute and a half. But in my mind, I am a siren. Sometimes it’s those little moments of pleasure we have to accept and savor; the twenty something who takes just a moment to check out your chest…and then returns to your eyes before calling you Ma’am. Ok, maybe that one wasn’t quite as good but the blue eyed guest who connects with your eyes and for whatever reason makes you lose your words…just for a moment…that one was good. Or the guest artist who gets so flustered when you’re around that he blurts out, “I think I’m a little bit in love with you,” after your second meeting. Am I a terrible person for enjoying these little tributes to my greatness? No. None of us are. Sometimes we have to fill in the blanks ourselves, remind ourselves of all the cool things that make us the rock stars that we are and sometimes we just have to open our eyes and see it for ourselves. I once read an article in O Magazine (don’t judge me, I was at the hair dresser) about ten women interviewed who each named a feature they liked about themselves, one liked her strong shoulders, another, her brown eyes, etc. The title of the story was something like “Changing Body Image” or some such. And as I pondered this tripe, I was struck by two thoughts. One, how sad is it we as women, need to find one good thing about ourselves to change our circus mirror body images and two, I have way more than one thing that I like about myself. I started mentally ticking off the amazing features that made me me, things that perhaps no one but me would even appreciate. I love my eyes because they are blue like my Dad’s, the only one of us who inherited that, I like my tiny feet because they were not the claw feet of a dancer, I liked that my shoulders were broad and strong, that my round little face looks good in any wig and my pale skin good in any jewel tone-who wants to wear pastels anyway? I left the salon with a fab new haircut, a new lease on life and a mission. I wanted everyone around me, ok, I wanted every woman around me to feel as amazing as I did; the men were on their own.

I bring this up now because I kind of forgot about that list until recently when it was brought to my attention, the torture we women put each other through with the constant critical comparisons, forever fishing for compliments while highlighting our least favorite attributes. I realized as I walked along that I had started quite a lengthy mental checklist of all the things I once again liked about myself, the things that had gone away during my brief hiatus from mental health. And the more I embrace those traits, the more appealing I become. There are those people you meet who are inherently, classically, undeniably beautiful…and then there are the rest of us. But I know as I strolled along, conversing silently with myself about my coolness factor, basically laying out my good and bad to my imaginary companion; my obsession with food, my outrage at not being grandfathered as average height when they changed the standards (I still maintain 5.4 should be average height for anyone born before 1985), my complete inability to stay sane in any kind of relationship and burning desire to meet someone, fall in love, marry, have children and grow old together absent of the knowledge that I’m in a relationship, even my complete defiance of gravity by being able to flip completely vertical without the aid of a sports bra…take that Victoria’s Secret!; all the cool, silly, neurotic and unique things that make me special, I realized that it didn’t matter if I was growing more beautiful to others. I was growing more beautiful to myself. Actually I was suddenly beautiful with no input from anyone. Not a huge revelation, I know, but for me, and probably for so many others who feel they walk through the world making no impact, effecting nothing and going completely unnoticed, it was tantamount to triumph. I was not only on a date with myself, but entirely smitten again. My husband has noticed it. He told me he just realized how much my friendship means to him, especially now, said I’m the tops and called me "Doll". My co-workers have noticed it. The construction workers noticed it…well, probably my *ss but I like to think it was my spirit first. The point is, my mission was to fall in love with this amazing person I kept hearing about, and suddenly, I get it. That amazing person is me. The person you have followed, read about, probably got annoyed with for a while but in the end, want to and never truly want to be.

The setting sun is reflecting off the blue-green ripples of the Mediterranean Sea casting a bright orange glow across the water and a pale pink haze which beautifully backlights Mt. Vesuvias. I feel the romance of this moment envelope me like the strong familiar arms of a good friend and I decide to take myself on a twilit walk around the deck. Standing in the glow of all this beauty I enjoy the vision of my hair lustrous and gleaming like a halo round my partially lit face. Who cares if the vision is real? There are no mirrors here. In this moment, I am magnificent. So where will you find your sunlit romance? F*** it, turn off your computer and go be a vision.

The Affliction

It is an interesting journey to wake up one day and realize you’ve been play acting in your life. Not the first time I’ve had the realization by any stretch and I am positive not only am I not alone but most certainly it is a common occurrence which most people don’t know how to or do anything about, but perhaps the most surprising since I thought I was finally at the stage of recognition. But I suppose each new hurdle, encounter, experience, what-have-you affords you yet another opportunity to slip up and this latest was just so much that I thought for sure this time drama and suffering must be the correct course of action, the emotions most appropriate to the situation. It had to be, right? I mean, every young girl dreams that she will one day grow up, fall in love with someone who loves her and well, a bunch of other people but she’s in the top five or so, marry into bankruptcy and live happily ever after until that joyful day she hears the pitter patter of little feet…from the undersized Keebler lawyers she’s hired to settle her divorce. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! Compound that with the relationship gone array and I thought for sure this was time for a full on emotional tempest. But after a couple of months it just grated on me and felt false…and stupid…and pointless. Hey wait, don’t I usually approach my problems with aplomb? Didn’t I put the fun in funeral? Didn’t we put the fun in dysfunction? So what happened that I’m suddenly putting the “y-because I feel like being” in crazy and the “me” in meaningless outbursts!?! Ok, regroup. Instead of acting like I’m a victim in some Greek tragedy it’s time to be my own Deus Ex Machina. I’m not a victim! I’m…the my own VERY dark comedy! Yup that seems to fit better. Yes, this feels familiar, comfortable, way less self-destructive.

It’s tough at times being in these beautiful places having no one with whom to share them. I remember my final day in Cozumel my first contract; I had the most delightful day to myself. I took myself out to lunch where I was serenaded by two mariachi, one of who, either a mid sixties or a very rough lived fifties, lost his place in the middle of the song and at the end he professed, “Seniorita,your eyes-I could not look away.” Smile…yes, I took it as a compliment. My eyes are very striking in the right light. I walked around the city, past the crystalline blue-green water, ripples of radiant diamonds in the noon-day sun. I crept up side streets and down alley ways, dancing through the dappled sunlight shining upon the bright fuchsia petals of bougenvelia. I was so overwhelmed with the romance of it all that I really just wanted to find a stranger with whom I could seal this experience with a kiss. The romance of a city sealed with the kiss of a stranger…my own singular fairy tale that required no prince, no slipper, no pumpkin and no lifelong contract.

But back to reality. So in my current efforts to take back my life, I sent out a message to all of my family and friends regarding the divorce. I was worried we would do this all wrong. You see, I think I may be a bit addicted to convention. Like an alcoholic or sex addict, I crave the thing that hurts me most. I yearn for convention, seek it out, thinking somehow this time it will feel good and make me whole, that this time I can handle it, just a little; I can stop any time. But it’s bullsh*t. Many people are conventional; they want the house, the picket fence, the nine to five, the 2.5 kids and that is in no way a bad thing because they never even question if there is anything else. But the truth is, that is not who I am, it is not my destiny. It sounds arrogant, but I’m special; I’m meant to be the person other people live through, vicariously, I’m meant to be an inspiration; I’m meant to be the one that makes other people question the convention of their own lives. Cool, but a bit unsettling. It doesn’t mean there can be nothing traditional in my life; I love my family and defend them furiously, I crave love and a legacy to leave behind. But I’m friends with nearly every ex, I am acting as my husband’s wing woman, and I don’t adhere to the “When Harry Met Sally” legacy of man-woman interaction that says men and women can never be just friends; conventional wisdom unfortunately shared by the wives and girlfriends of some of my closest acquaintances. So to clear the air, I sent out a message not of sadness or pain, not of anger or guilt but of laughter and support. I asked that our friends not ask us to take sides just as we ask them not to. I asked that they support my husband until I return home and then afford me that same encouragement. And mostly I asked not for punishment, not for forgiveness but mostly for humor. Because that my friends, is who I truly am. That’s what makes me so much cooler than the rest! And that is what I hope inspires you, my (hopefully) avid reader. Here is an excerpt from my message:

“Now before you get all “hugs” and “love you” understand we are still friends and colleagues. We have been together well, my entire adult life, still love each other and are better friends now than we’ve been in years but our life goals and career goals have just diverged and we are happier apart than together. So to recap:

1)No, we are not pregnant, we are divorcing. The baby bump is nothing more than too many pastries and the three pizzas I split with one co-worker.

2)We are remaining friends.

3)That is not a euphemism

4) Ladies, we are divorcing. That was not just a pick up line.”

I was worried my husband would be mad but instead he thanked me and called me doll. We’ll get this divorce stuff right yet! I just hope I don’t have to change the name of blog. Singlesinglegirl just doesn’t have the same ring.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


So I sit down at my computer feeling very excited, happy and upbeat. I have a small window of time to send my husband an email, congratulating him on his trip cross country and to finally broach the subject of going public with the divorce. We are both feeling good and closer than ever, having agreed to no longer keep each other at arms’ length, preferring to write and talk to each other as though we were going to attempt reconciliation despite the fact we shan’t. But this new-found joy could lead to false hopes and I’ve grown so tired of living a duplicitous life so the time has come to put it out to the world that we are no longer a “we”.

So I grab an email he sent to me, and hit reply, write him a very chipper message letting him know how proud and excited I am for him, how happy I am and that I am so glad because it feels like we are better friends than we’ve been in years, I’ve transferred money into his account to pay a bill, and I was wondering if he thought it might be time to go public with what was going on between us. After all, I’m on a boat full of strangers who’s opinions I could care less about, but he is home, living it every day with no one to talk to. “Anyway, give it a ponder.” I conclude with, “I love you and I can’t wait to talk to you again. Laurel.” Send.

“Message Sent”…

To my entire web ring. You see, I replied to what I thought was a message from my husband about his show since his email address appeared in the sender line. However, what I really replied to was an advertisement he sent out to all our friends asking them to come to Cinderella. Oh cr*p!! I quickly and vainly search the help center of hotmail looking for a retract button but I know it is a futile exercise. I’ve been down this road before. I start to sweat and look at the time. Ten minutes until I must return to work. I reread the email. Optimistic, friendly, loving…wow, so now my friends shall very likely think that we are pregnant. I suddenly flash to a vision of my welcome home dinner which thinly veils the surprise baby shower, images of my friends scanning my facebook photos looking for the tell-tale baby bump, speculating on our consception and my due date, fooled by the weight that has actually resulted not from nuptial bliss but rather from too many pastries abroad. I take a deep breath and dash off a quick “Hey guys disregard blah, blah, blah” message, knowing this fruitless task will only insight them to read more voraciously though at least they are less likely to issue a response. I look at the actual email address for my husband. Work…and it’s Saturday. G*d, he won’t even know about this until he gets to work Monday. I have to tell him, in case someone, any one of our friends who, though well intentioned, are often very thoughtless and shortsighted and would want to be the first to the finish line of friendship offering support, effectively blindsiding him. So I take my now remaining six minutes and email him, at home, explaining what has happened, apologizing profusely knowing this will go one of two ways. One, he will be really, truly and, let’s face it justifiably p*ssed, or two, he will, as I am now doing, laugh at my innocent and typical mistake. Perhaps you are thinking, “How could he laugh at that?” but you must remember there was no malice in my action and more importantly, he has known me a VERY long time. It is comic stupidity such as this that first attracted me to him. It’s the one constant in our relationship.

Anyway, I finish my email, now picturing fully the saga that is unfolding back home and thinking I need to do some creative image editing to my photo albums. I take another breath, maybe only my fourth in the last five minutes, wipe away the tears that have now formed at the ridges of my eyes not from sadness but from laughing at my own foibles, and remember a passage which just seems to resonate to this situation as well as to all aspects of my life. No, it’s not from the Bible. I thought you knew me better than that by now. No, it’s from the Rules of Improvisation as explained by Tina Fey in Bossypants. “Rule # 4. There are no mistakes…only opportunities.” Yes Tina, I have created an opportunity. A great big, huge pile of …opportunity.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Day I Realized I Was a Racist

I was raised a happy, chipper, blue-eyed blonde haired porcelain skinned all American girl. Not remarkable in appearance but blissfully unaware of that fact; in my mind, I was amazing. I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood, surrounded by some pretty messed up friends thus rendering my whole home situation unexceptional. Everyone there was a new family, we were all around the same age, struggling to make the jump from lower to middle, then middle to upper middle class, 2.5 children, dog, picket fence, etc, etc. Except for the latchkey years and the dysfunction, violence and alcohol abuse, we were as Rockwell as you could get while living on crabs, microwave popcorn, grilled chicken, and mac and cheese. And I was especially proud of the fact that I lived in a “covenanted community.” That’s what the sign said. I think I didn’t really know the difference between covenanted and coveted but either way, I loved looking at the sign each time I passed by, just outside the volunteer fire station which held the yearly Christmas celebration and marked the starting point of the fourth of July Parade. We had only one church in the neighborhood which housed three different sects of Christianity on Sundays and held Saturday Sabbath. And being raised by two reformed hippies slash recovering lapsed Catholics I was a fairly open-minded child, though it wasn’t until middle school that I finally made note of the serious wash of white in my elementary school and finally understood that our one black (pre-African American) family was not actually surnamed “Token”. By high school, I had gone from pride to shame having finally discovered that “covenanted” translated to “no blacks, no Jews, no gays”, though it appears the Jewish population had made it completely under the radar and as I discovered in high school, I was the out queen for the gays. No, I never outed anyone; they just seemed to realize after dating me that they were gay, but I like to think it was just my comfort level and not actually my…um…abilities.. which made them ready to come out. I was more the star-crossed, “if only I was straight, you would be the one” gal. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet but it still lacks the right physiology. Ironically, I found out at my own 10 year reunion that I too was on the gay-dar in high school. My best friend and I did the whole Romey and Michele thing because she was still single and my husband had a prior commitment. As we entered, arm in arm as we often were in high school, a girl we had known only peripherally timidly approached, assessed us for a brief moment and with a smile that grew like a flower blooming at the first rays of morning, said, “It’s so great to see you two are still together.” My friend was oblivious to the whole thing but I sensed the subtle overtones of comradery and with no real desire to shut her down said something innocuous like, “Well, sometimes things just work out.” Who cares, I wouldn’t see these people again until the 20 year and let’s face it, Hollywood has paved the way for the on again off again married, gay, straight, bi-lifestyle anyway.

Truth to tell, one of my first real fights with my mother was over a lesbian. When I was fifteen and a naïve, ok more so than now, freshman, not yet even in high school because ours was a three year, I worked at a Renaissance Festival. Now something to know about the renfests of old is that they were a huge hormone fest, rather a plethora of untapped sexual tension that my young, nubile self could neither comprehend nor handle. I didn’t know it at the time but there was an entire network of people enlisted to ensure my virginity stayed intact and had I ever looked back while traipsing the grounds I would likely have seen ninjas fall from the trees behind me. They did actually fail in their quest, but I’ve no regrets because that was the start of Mr. Darcy and we had some wicked times on that fairground! But I digress. One of the people most avidly involved in the shoring up of my innocence was a wonderful woman, and an extremely talented actress in her mid to late thirties; a teacher and as it turned out, a lesbian. She acted as my mentor that first year and a better instructor and friend I could not have asked for. But one day as I was regaling my mother with tales of her greatness, she caught wind of the fact that this woman, this muse to my unrefined talent liked women and my mother freaked out. It was the first time I had ever seen my mother discriminate against anyone and it cut me to the quick. I couldn’t wrap my head around it because she had always been an advocate for everyone, she worked in public housing, she worked in theater, she loved anyone who wasn’t an *sshole. But faced with the prospect that I was being mentored by a woman who loved women, she freaked. I realized she didn’t make a distinction between lesbian and child molester and I took issue. It was a very difficult time and for the first time, I saw my mother for the human that she was, fiercely defending her child, tilting at windmills. I was a child, not a woman and this woman was merely my friend; she had no interest in me. My mother said we couldn’t hang out together anymore and I said no. It was to be the first of only two times I really ever said no to her.

So my racist moment came a couple years later. I was performing regularly by now and was quite popular as a leader of the disenfranchised when it came into my head to take a trip to Romania. My then fiancé and I had attended a convention where they were promoting a Dracula tour through the Carpathians. Well, I was fully engulfed in my nerdom, having embraced my dorky side thus transforming it to cool and was carrying a full course load as a theater and English double major with a focus in performance and Victorian Literature. Yes, a clearer career path was never carved so deep. Anyway, without a doubt the epic adventure appealed to my Victorian aesthetic and the gothic geekout appealed to my husband’s. So after some creative budgeting and preplanning we booked the trip and flew to New York to meet the rest of the tour group which was comprised of twenty one adventurers and two tour guides, one US and one local. We arrived in New York, paperbacks and vampire teeth in hand and fairly floated to the counter, so excited we were to be going. And there we encountered the shock of a lifetime. Awaiting the arrival of our guide was the most mismatched band of miscreants; tattoos, piecings and enough manic panic to demand sponsorship. I clung to my companion and we began the discussion of whether we should use our spending money to book the flight home when a young man, blond, about our age approached, wide-eyed and fearful. “Are you here for the tour?” “Yes.” “Thank g*d, I think I’ll stay with you guys.” “Ok, who are you?” “I’m the tour guide.” Great, that bodes well!

Our tour ended up comprised of two distinct groups, the Goths & Punks and the Historians with the two of us strangely bridging the gap between. I was for a time freer than I had been in years, breaking into cemeteries, playing hide and seek with local kids in Dracula’s castle, eating some amazing and some amazingly bad food, and really letting out my dark side. It was the first time he ever saw who I really am and what he saw he didn’t like. By the end of the trip he regarded me as some kind of nymphomaniacal kleptomaniac. It was the last time I would ever let him see that side of me, the side that bridged the gap between Punks, Goths, Historians and a sweet, blond Jew from Connecticut. It was also the side that realized she had judged a group of people solely on appearance and was ashamed. Because in the end, they were just people; some lovely, some jerks. And me, the siren muse of the ostracized, I had prejudged and nearly fled. I was no better than my mother. I was..human. It was a life lesson that discrimination wears many faces, some more accepted than others but none truly acceptable.

My Discount Day

I have one very good, very lifelong friend on board, who has I fear been growing weary of the woe-be-gone me that has returned to this ship. I can’t blame him; I’ve grown weary as well. But because he is my friend, he is giving me a few free passes which I am gratefully accepting because I don’t generally know what else to do. I’ve never been in such a state and I never expected for my world to be so completely turned upside down but I think sometimes you just hit a saturation point of how much loss you can handle in any given time and I did and it changed me. But today was a day to let those things go. It was not a romantic day hanging with myself, which is good because I really wasn’t ready for a romantic day to myself anyway. What I was ready for was a non-romantic day with my dear friend. So off we went, two peas in a pod of sublime ridiculousness. You see, he is one of the people who I know I am blessed to have found, another likeminded soul who finds adventure in the everyday though our everyday currently resides on the ocean so it is perhaps not as mundane as could otherwise be. He is indeed one of my most treasured friends.

Now our port of call is known for a few things. First is the cable car ride which I was up for but he was not being that his fondness of heights rather resembles a day in the pits of hell at the cost of eighteen euro a piece, second is the basket ride where you travel down a huge hill pushed in a basket by men in silly hats rather like a toboggan sans the snow, ice and toboggan, which he was up for and I was not, not because I was afraid but rather because I am cheap! So we compromised and skipped them both for a negotiated narrated taxi ride around the island during which we would stop at the various locations to take pictures of ourselves doing the things we refused to spend money to do. Our cable car was a swing set we happened up and our basket ride a wooden crate we pinched off a pier, building the stories in our minds that we would later retell of the “discount” tour we had happened upon. I laughed until my face hurt and I was again for a time my old familiar self; scratch that, my young familiar self. I suppose it is all about the people around us and the adventures we discover, not the things we leave behind. The past shapes the present, the present sets the stage for the future. We just have to leave ourselves open for a future of opportunities, not regrets. Perhaps I will be ready for a romantic date with myself sometime sooner rather than later but for now, I’m just giving myself permission to live in the moment and let things go.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Misadventure to Miss Adventure

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything since Malta. I am so behind because I am slammed right now and trying to fit in any number of adventures while still not getting fired or collapsing from exhaustion. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, which has led to a series of unfortunate but somehow grounding setbacks of late. The first of course was the realization about my camera. The second, the loss of my ID card and the third, was the morning I woke to the buzzing of my phone when my supervisor called me because I had turned off my alarm by mistake and was now thirty four minutes late for work. Can’t claim traffic, I’m on a ship. So I dress in a record six minutes, including makeup and hair, and rush upstairs but in my haste, I am so frazzled I make rather a mess of the entire morning. I had to comp to everything and confess to my manager, make apologies all around and of course there is the punishment to be had. The problem is at this point it is a punishment because I was late. I didn’t make some mistake I can learn from or grow from or make better next time other than adding a second alarm as a backup. At least, that’s what I thought. But something really strange happened. I went in to talk to my supervisor, and asked what next I should do. His response? “Process it, compartmentalize it, learn what you can from it and then let it go.” Really, my manager said this? Now, my usual response would be to analyze it, beat myself up about it, get depressed and defeated by it and make myself generally miserable and crazy while I mourned the thing that I had done that I could not undo. So, in short, a rather typical female response. Sorry ladies, but you know it’s true. But instead, I took what he said to heart and decided to let it go. I just didn’t fret. And it was much easier than I thought it would be. Maybe that’s what Heath and so many others in my life have been trying to tell me. I can’t change what has come to pass and in some cases, I can’t even learn from it. I can only move on; something that doesn’t come easily to me, so I have never understood why it comes so easily to others. I always thought it was because I must not be worth holding onto. But maybe it really is because nothing changes when you hold on, except your own level of misery, which seems to become greater the longer and tighter you draw that fist. It’s weird that I needed to hear my supervisor say the words, to have his permission to let it go. Ironically I realized that every breakup was really just permission to move on whether I chose to accept it or not. Not always the most pleasant of permission or dressed in the most beautiful finery but an opportunity none the less. The choice to end it may not have been mine, but the way I felt about it, how hard I fought against it, and how miserable I made myself and how I responded was. So, now it is time to give myself permission NOT to mourn and suffer and to not create my own punishment. There is no merit in it. It will not change the past…it may only taint the memory of it. I may have actually changed the past to something bad and regrettable because of my need to hold onto it. I hope that with time the memories will as they so often do, filter into only the good, for everyone, not just for me. Who knew that I would gain so much from my fouled alarm.

The greatest irony in all this was in looking realistically at what happened, the actual event was an hour of my life. Not a horrible year, not a terrible month, not an impossible day but one lousy hour. From there, it was up to me how far-reaching the impact would be. I noticed my posture had changed, my facial expression had changed; everything had changed because I started to let that one stupid hour get to me. And guess what? I’ve been doing it for months, letting something short-term and small effect every other aspect of my life. Ok, not everything is small and compares, but the analogy is accurate and in some small way, it makes me feel better about everything that has transpired, good and bad. Maybe I’m off base but since I’m alone, who cares. The idea that it wasn’t worth fighting and making things worse, well, it makes me feel better. And feeling better is my new goal. Better, best, amazing!!! I suppose in the end, it’s about judging when the fight is more detrimental than the resignation and about keeping an open heart to the world, even to those who may not know or care that they still hold a residence there. If my alarm hadn't been silenced, this siren song may never have sounded.

Ironically, as I sit in a café in Villefranche writing this, there is a slow melancholy version of Sexual Healing playing quietly,plaintive and serene in the background. Funny and somehow appropo.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


What an amazing day! I don’t know how these things happen, how one day you just feel ok and everything aligns to aid you, but today was one of those days. It didn’t seem like it would be, though when first I looked out the portholes at that beautiful walled city, my heart skipped a beat, but upon getting to work I discovered nothing was ready and upon returning from work, I discovered my camera was missing…that’s ok, I think it was turned into guest services…and offloaded in Barcelona! Oh noes!!! Don’t panic, they assure me it is in a box in a warehouse in a storage area in an undisclosed location in the city, waiting for me to send the specs via email. No need to worry! Boy do I wish right now I could remember the make and model of that camera. Oh well, I’ll have to send an email to my husband and ask; not going to be able to hide this one. So what to do? I know, I’ll use my camera phone. Ahh, pretty pictures….which have to be emailed…from Europe! Nope, that won’t work either. But wait, I have an I-Pod. It doesn’t currently do anything but I have one. So with great determination, I locate a WIFI sight, plug my I-Pod into my computer…and nothing happens. I try again. Nothing. One last time, like Clark Griswold, lighting the good ol’ family Christmas, I try a third and final time. Suddenly as if by magic, my screen comes alive with activity and a little camera icon appears in the upper right hand corner. Success!!

Now I am sitting at an outdoor café and all I want is a cappuccino but I can’t use my debit card for less than 10 euro. I start to leave, slightly defeated but turn back and ask, “How much IS a cappuccino?” “One euro fifty.” And low and behold, I have in my pouch a one euro and a fifty cent piece. It is meant to be.

After a time of catching up and enjoying the act of sitting, leisurely drinking my cappuccino I decide to head out on my sojourn, armed with my new I-Pod camera and a renewed sense of wonder. Pictures cannot capture nor can words describe the beauty of this land, nor the supreme joy I experience treading upon these sun bleached streets of marble and stone. I felt as though I was floating rather than walking and the smile on my face might have bordered on grotesque so permanently plastered there was it, yet never anything but genuine.

I let myself wander, taking in the sights, sounds and scents around me, meeting the people who are as warm and friendly as the land they inhabit. I let myself get lost down side streets and alleyways confident not only that I would find my way back, but that around each corner some new adventure lay waiting for my arrival, another new acquaintance waiting to be met. I play in a fountain and find a shop full of delicious goodies. Pointing out one in particular, I ask, what is that? “Cheese Puff”. No ordinary cheese puff but a light, flaky pastry filled with ambrosic, unpasteurized, unspoiled dairy manna. “How much?” “Forty cents.” There are two unidentified coins in the bottom of my pouch. I turn them over to discover they are in fact two twenty cent pieces. What, you can’t be serious? “One cheese puff please.” “Heated?” Oh, you betcha! I see the most delightful sights and one of my favorite signs of all times. At a museum, one of the exhibits is closed and a handwritten sign in English states, “We excuse ourselves for the inconvenience.” Lost in translation or just honest and efficient? You decide.

In my final hour before I had to return, I met an older gentleman, a local bus driver, who asked me about America and chatted on about his country. I bid him farewell, jokingly remarking that I’d see him again in eleven days when my ship is due to return to this delightful port and he assured me he would look for me. As I left, I turned back quickly and asked for his name.


Hmmm, interesting. Perhaps, in a day of signs and “meant to be”s it is a sign the time is nigh to put the “I” in my own salvation.

Back on Track...Kinda!

I am currently rotating between Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day (of which I visit maybe twice a week), reruns of 30 Rock, a book given to me by an ex-which makes me both sad and nostalgic but is, independent of my past, quite enjoyable and a self hypnosis positivity CD. I adopted a policy of “fake it ‘til you make it,” trying to trick myself into feeling happy and relaxed by wearing the joy physically in my body until my mind gets on board. It’s an acting trick that works for very emotional scenes so I’m taking it for a spin in real life; putting my training to use in the “real world”, as it were. I can’t stand Debbie-Downer mopey me and I’m starting to get on my own nerves. The transatlantic crossing was very demoralizing but I’ve decided instead of giving notice I’m going to refocus on my work and see if I can move ahead. If not, I’ll leave but for now, I’m setting new goals that don’t have to do with home or men or children or even necessarily reality. No reason to dream small, right? Now that I know I can reach home when I need to, I don’t need to so much. And the stress and urgency of my life is starting to lessen. I’m also starting to question how committed I was to making the long distance thing work if I wasn’t even willing to spend the money on the means to keep up contact. It is tough knowing that I have this huge hurdle to overcome when I get home but it will be there whether I go home now or at the end of the summer and in the meantime, if I progress professionally, it won’t feel so much like my life is on pause, even if it is, or that this job was a huge mistake, even if it was.

In a cruel twist of fate I’ve developed a mean case of reflux just in time for the Mediterranean which I’m currently combating with a steady diet of bread, Maalox, some tablets from Spain as yet undefined and more water than any human should stomach in a day but I am hoping to stave off the ill effects long enough to be able to indulge in a few Tuscan lunches even if my morning and evening meals resemble Alcatraz.

Under the Tuscan Sun is playing on the crew TV but I’ve yet to catch it and I’m afraid it may hit too close to home. I need to maintain my positive mind frame, each time stretching longer and longer until I spend more time happy than sad or morose. In the interim, a steady stream of self-affirmations has become my mainstay mental supplement; vitamins B, C, D and “I’m a rock star not meant for the mundane,” a bowl of Wheaties and eight glasses of water.