Tuesday, December 8, 2009

on the eve of bill's arrival

so ladies and gentlemen -
the year has passed like a ship through dark still water and my time in italy draws to a close. i'm not sure how this much time has managed to slip by so quickly but it has nonetheless.

it's strange really to be left with anxiety knowing that this year away, this challenge, this life altering event that has defined my identity in a time of rapid change is now passed and i am once again left to re-define myself for and by myself. the process of assimilating the new me, the former-expatriate-former-sibling-someone's-wife-me back to a life that i left behind brings with it no small measure of anxiety to be sure. it's hard not to fear that my life here will somehow slip away because, back at home, i'm the only one who knows about or understands it. i can try to share it with the people around me, but they don't know what it's like here, what it's like to be me here. in a few short days i can attempt to put it all on display for bill, but somehow that seems like a fool's errand.

so tomorrow morning, i will go to the airport, greet my husband whom i've missed very very much, and make it work, because that's all i can do.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

expect the unexpected

it's so funny how always the least expected thoughts and realizations are the most poignant, important, and from time to time, painful.

shortly after bill and i got engaged i remember realizing that certain things, marriage, children, settled domestic life, had never been certainties for me. that these kinds of steps in life are things that we consider wanting or not wanting, having or not having. what i mean is that getting married or having children or a particular type of career can be fantasies with fuzzy edges and indiscernible details, but it is only when you have already laid the groundwork for these dreams to become reality that you can truly visualize them.

so, back to the point, the full impact of what it meant to be engaged to someone, to know the name, face and love of the person who i was going to marry, also meant that i knew who would be the father of my children. it seems like a stupid obvious thing, but i can tell you, with certainty, that it was a significant moment for me.

so now, a little more than a year later, i'm trying to plan the next steps of my career that i can only barely visualize thus far. i can't help thinking that pete would be finishing his time in korea and doing the same planning and dreaming right about now. this is one of those blindsides of a realization that threatens to hurt the most.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

the road to hell -

so clearly just when i thought that i would be a good little blogger, i breached faith in the most egregious way thus far. it's been quite a while people and to be completely honest i don't have the energy to catch you all up; furthermore i'm betting that you don't have the energy to read the tome of an entry that it would require.

it's july 28th. i go home a week from today and i've never been more ready in my life. it has been four months since i've seen bill and seven since sweet home chicago. i have actually been missing the city quite a bit lately - ah homesickness.

right now things are fairly quiet. i've been working on my field project with a group of three other women who i generally like although one of them has been driving me reasonably crazy on and off. i've basically reached fluency in italian, thank god. there's nothing that i detest worse in this life than feeling ill at ease, stupid, or unable to express myself (as those of you who know me well very well know) so having conquered the majority of that obstacle feels pretty good. it's interesting to be at this level with a language though because i often find myself thinking in parallel in english and italian. so far it has served me well.

anyway. for those of you in chicago: i hope to see you in the next four weeks. for those of you outside: i hope to see you too i just don't know when. vi voglio bene.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

so much for good intentions

i suppose i shouldn't set such high standards for myself because i always seem to balk at the precipice if you know what i mean. i've been all over the place and back again lately, so as you can imagine, things have been pretty hectic. after napoli i went to paris and then a couple weeks later spent four days camping in the south (a bit south of salerno) and hanging around a music festival with friends. i had an amazing time.

ever since i got back it's been hard to concentrate and i've been exhausted. there's an expression in italian, non ho la faccia per...qualcosa which literally translates to, i don't have the face for...something. this is pretty much how i feel about school in general these days. i'm just trying to hold out for the next two weeks until we start our field projects at which point i'm hoping to get a second (or third) wind.

i've been thinking a lot about pete lately. i'm finding the idea that he's dead for my whole life incredibly difficult to accept. i'm not convinced that i will ever really be able to accept it. it seems more like a brutal reality that will confront me on a regular basis than something that i will get used to. i suppose time will tell really.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

oh wow -

- have i been blowing off the blog. but, in fairness to me, i've barely been in milan lately.

about a week after my last posting i went to napoli and spent four days messing about in the south which was really great actually. it's really a beautiful city that oddly enough reminds me a whole lot of san francisco. a friend of a friend lives down there and he was kind enough to organize some nightlife for me so basically i wandered around during the day senza programma and at night got together with people and experienced a bit of that. i stayed at a really cute hostel right in the center of town on the border of the centro storico. i was really impressed that the hostel was actually pretty true to the photos on the website, which seems to be something of a rarity. so, if you ever go to napoli i highly recommend. the historical center of the city is quite gorgeous actually and you wouldn't believe how many little pizza man magnets can be for sale in one place. it's actually a bit terrible really. i can't imagine how the napolitani must feel about selling this absurd italian stereotypes to the absurd american tourists...oh well, a euro's a euro. here are some photos:

i also had the chance to go to capri, which is ohmygod beautiful, although it's impossible not to get the distince sense of not belonging to the club there (and by club i mean the ultra rich residents/tourists of capri club). i promise i'll add photos soon, but at the moment i have to stop doing this and start doing work, actual work that is. xo

Friday, May 1, 2009

fuori salone, armani, manifestazioni

i just finished uploading the rest of my photos from design week onto my computer. this batch is actually from fuori salone from the zona tortona area, which is pretty close to my house. i saw some pretty great things, but the actual fair itself was pretty hard to beat.

while on my way over there i met a couple of kids from the netherlands, eindhoven actually. apparently this city is not only the location of a very famous design school but apparently is the center of the design universe in the netherlands. i hear they'd like to give milan a run for the title vis a vis organizations like brainport they were here with a group of students and alumni exhibiting at fuorisalone. their space was called jewels and joules . it was one of the best things i saw over the entire week. the two people that i met were the "food designers" which is a totally new concept to me. basically they experiment with different flavors of food and design dishes. as chefs have been doing this since the dawn of time, it's not a particularly revolutionary concept. the twist in this case is that the people doing it are not chefs so they come to it with a different perspective on how food mixes and functions socially - interesting indeed. in this particular project they were using foods that are typical of south-eastern holland such as white asparagus, purple potatoes and smoked eel (totally delicious i swear to god). the eel is hanging above the table in this photo, along with bundles of asparagus.

the following photo is of a lamp that is currently in production that is made up of small foam oil drums. the number of oil drums that make up the lamp when the customer receives it depends on the price of oil at the time of purchase: the higher the price the fewer drums and thus the smaller the lamp, the lower the price the more drums and the bigger it is.

much of the show was about sustainability, gardening and food. here is my absolute favorite thing that i saw at the salone del mobile. it's a cultivation cabinet in which one can germinate seeds and grow small plants. it could comfortably live inside of the house and is a really beautiful structure. i'm going to ask bill to build me one.

here are some other assorted photographic highlights from zona tortona:

all of the preceding fuorisalone business happened last saturday. i had had all kinds of grandiose plans for sunday, but ended up doing basically nothing because i was exhausted and the weather was rainy and shitty. the weather remained rainy and shitty through wednesday. ugh. milan. wednesday night some girls from my program invited me out to an aperitivo and then we went to armani prive. i know it sounds super exclusive, but it's basically just like an other club, except it really is guest list/table only and the drinks are 20 euro! wtf man?! i did really have a good time, drunkenly dancing all over the place and being appalled by all of the incredibly scantily clad women bouncing about. i definitely can't see going there regularly, but every once in a while it's fun as evidenced below.

i know that this is the longest post in history, but it's mostly images! i'm trying not to tax all of your brains too intensely with lots of reading, just visual stimulation - yeah!

today, may 1st, is a holiday in italy. i honestly have no idea why and i don't really feel like researching it (but conveniently you're already on the internet and can if you feel so inclined). i went to my friend yael's house to interview her for a project and ended up staying and having lunch. we went out to meet up with a friend of hers and decided to go to the center, since it's the only part of the city that's open on holidays - if you're lucky. our tram driver made an announcement that it couldn't reach the center due to a manifestazione. we decided to walk since it wasn't really that far. about two blocks closer to the duomo, we found ourselves in the middle of this:

in case you were wondering, yes, that huge black thing is a wall of speakers that was blasting out fantastic reggae music and all of those people around us were dancing up the street behind it as it drove towards the center of the city. it was truly fantastic, particularly in a country with no open bottle laws. we were drinking beers and dancing up the street and the weather was amazing!

Friday, April 24, 2009

salone del mobile

the inauguration of salone del mobile, which is probably the most important design fair in the world, was a few nights ago. the trade show is accompanied by fuorisalone, literally translates to outside the salon, all over milano, during which time showrooms, galleries, studios and stores and open until all hours of the night and the city teems with designers, industry people and enthusiasts from all over the globe. i've been looking forward to this week since i arrived in italy and thus far i have not been disappointed.

my school scheduled our class on management of design-based companies to coincide with design week, which was quite brilliant on its part. tuesday night, after an abysmal attempt to go out with some friends to check out opening cocktail events, i ran into anna, a friend whom i've been thinking about for some time. a friend from the mafed and i ended up hanging out with anna, her boyfriend and some fantastic friends of theirs until late. one of the best things about italy (or really the world outside of the united states) is that there are no open bottle laws here, so i went to the kebab shop, spent 3 euro on a large bottle of beck's, and enjoyed it outdoors in the company of about 500 other people. it was fantastic, really.

last night (thursday) after taking it easy wednesday, read: going-out-light, i went to an aperitivo at strafbar with a couple of friends from school and friends of friends. then we went to the kartell store, drank a couple glasses of free prosecco and then to g lounge, where i danced the night away surrounded by (mostly) gay men. i scored ten additional points when i spilled someone's drink straight into one of my favorite ankle boots - yes, my foot was in it at the time. another excellent night.

today really kicked ass.

woke up hung over, sleep deprived and shall we say, slightly disoriented. i managed to break through the hangover by the time i was in the shower and got myself out the door on time, dry hair, looking decent (save your applause please). after a few minor hiccups and a very crowded metro, i arrived at the rho fiera complex where the salone del mobile is held. words cannot describe how incredibly, unbelievably, amazingly ridiculous this show is. it is chock-full of the most important design companies in the entire world. i was awestruck.

you would've been too...i promise. this afternoon we went on a couple of tours of the showrooms of some pretty amazing companies: b&b italia and boffi which were utterly amazing. so, at the end of a long long LONG week, i'm happy - and lying in bed. here are some photos for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

i just watched a youtube clip of susan boyle singing on britain's got talent and i spontaneously burst into tears about two seconds after she started singing. i've never seen anything like it. every single person's face who was listening to her had the eyes of a child. it was one of the most amazing things i've ever seen.

i was talking to a friend the other night and she reminded me that i have a blog that - embarassingly enough - i had completely forgotten about. i'm sure i would have remembered eventually on my own, but the reminder certainly didn't hurt.

so. it's been about two and a half weeks since i wrote my last entry. i don't even remember what it was about. maybe i'll go back and read it. i actually somehow feel like a different person again. my state of mind has completely changed since before bill came, which is quite strange considering that it was less than two weeks ago. i am so so glad that we had a break from school. i was on the verge.

bill came on wednesday april 8th and it was really amazing to see him. when i first saw him at the airport, he looked kind of strange and unfamiliar to me. it took a little while before he just started looking like him again, about 45 minutes i'd say, so not that long really.

it was funny to be together after so much time. we, of course, know each other well but there was also something a bit foreign about him that was great. we didn't do a whole lot of sightseeing or running around really. i introduced him to my couple close friends here, which was lots of fun. otherwise we basically just talked and spent time together. it was really nice to catch up with him more than anything, and to have him in my space here. i was super-entertained by the fact that i had him in my apartment. funny.

we went down to reggio emilia which is a pretty small city in emilia romagna (a food famous italian region, the home of parmigiano, prosciutto, culatello and balsamico). we basically just hung around the mile wide downtown area of which our hotel was in the center. we got out saturday night to eat dinner at a fancy restaurant in parma. the food was good, but i don't know why we keep trying to do the fancy restaurant thing. we've been over it for a while - maybe nostalgia? so, it's time to cut it out. otherwise we just spent really good quality time together...surrounded by delicious food...in italy. not so bad really.

since he left on wed, i've mostly been hiding out in my apartment. i've left a couple of times to run errands and get together with friends, but for the most part...hibernation. it's been great actually. tomorrow more me-time and then maybe a drink with a friend.

i really have a major urge to start blog posting in italian, but seeing as how approximately 100% of the (i'm thinking five or so) readers of this blog don't speak italian...it wouldn't really make sense. it occurs to me that i could start another, but let's be honest; if i'm not keeping up with this one, do we really think that i'll write two? no we do not. so - english. for now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

on and on

ever since a friend told me about a completely amazing streaming tv site, i've been hooked. something about dark comedy has been deeply satisfying lately. i watched four seasons of weeds in two weeks. now i'm onto dexter. it's completely amazing in a totally sick way and i'm in love.

school's going fine. time is passing, and i'm managing to somehow pull good work out of my ass. i have no idea where it's coming from, but i'll take it. bill's coming in two and a half days. i can't wait to see him. i can'hardly believe that it's been three months already. time is flying by.

i started thinking about work today. i'm dreading the job search. i've actually been musing about california a lot lately. i don't really know why but it keeps jumping into my head. who knows? maybe we'll move back there. i certainly wouldn't say no to the land of no winter. after this past one (not really) in milan, i don't think i can go back to chicago for another freezing ass seven months of indoor sports. it's just too damn cold and too damn grey.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

the silence is ringing in my ears

the past week has been interesting.

i've found myself completely and utterly unmotivated to even go to school, let alone actually do any schoolwork. it's a good thing that i have groups, otherwise, i would literally be doing nothing right now. it's really depressing to be so uninterested, but mostly i think i'm just really burnt out.

bill's coming in two weeks! i'm actually a little bit nervous. stupid right? it's been a really long time since we've seen each other. of course i'm super excited, but nervous nonetheless.

my class visited the tod's flagship store on via della spiga (super upscale part of milano) yesterday. it was actually really interesting. that seems like a stupid thing to me really because i spent so long working in stores, but mono-brand directly owned stores, are totally different animals that exist for totally different reasons. perhaps the best thing about the visit was that diego della valle, one of the gods of italian entrepreneurship himself, showed up to say hello to us. that was pretty fucking awesome.

i feel like i have other things to say, but am never quite sure how candid blogging can really be. i would love to let it all hang out, but that somehow feels unwise on this platform.

i hope you've been enjoying my written schizophrenia but sorry lovely voyeuristic readers...

guess you'll have to find some other sap from whom to get your information.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

i love i love....reggae music

tonight i finally went to a reggae night that i've know about since i was here in november. i've been meaning to go forever, but haven't for one reason or another. it was fantastic. the music was totally great and i danced my ass off. i met some totally adorable girls who seem like a lot of fun. thank god for a prospect of life outside of mafed!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

tie me off and shoot me up...

i went to micam yesterday, which is one of the biggest shoe trade shows, basically in the world. it was completely amazing. i got a major fix yesterday and today my soul feels nice and full.

when i worked at city soles, all of my favorite companies were those that my boss saw here in milan. i never had any access to them and had no opportunity to understand who the people were behind all of those unbelievable shoes. it was clear to me that these companies, TP and Moma in particular, were the ones that i wanted to get to know the best. yesterday, i finally had that opportunity, and it was utterly amazing.

i was just walking around, checking out booths and taking in the scene, when i was approached by a very tall russian woman, who i had seen earlier modeling some shoes. she asked me where i was from. when i told her that i am american and that i had worked in the industry for a few years, she invited me to come to see her collection. basically she asked to give them some opinions and perhaps some advice about getting into stores in the us. as it turned out, the company was actually a small manufacturer from barcelona, who had some really great ideas, but were scattered all over the place. i told them they needed to tighten up their offering and gave them some tips on which stores to talk to. they were so happy that we had spoken, that they gave me a bottle of spanish wine and invited me to visit them in barcelona. i'm totally going to do that, by the way. it was really really lovely.

the second fantastic thing that happened, was that i ran into a shoe designer from new york, whom i've known for a couple years now...and i completely adore. i sat with her in her booth and talked for about an hour and a half. it was totally great. she's been in the business for such a long time and had so many insightful things to say. she's great! i'm always so happy to see her, but this time in particular.

the third and most amazing, wonderful stupendous event of yesterday was the time i spent talking to the people at TP, which as i mentioned earlier is one of my all time favorite shoe companies in life. it's a factory in marche, that makes most of its money by manufacturing for other companies, but has this totally unbelievable, kind of avant garde line, that's just really amazing. there's a woman working for them, about my age actually, american, who's been living in italy now for the past almost seven years and has been doing all kinds of things in the industry. we sat and talked for like two hours. it was stupendous. i also spoke with a man who is clearly in a managerial position at TP, although what specifically, i don't know. he told me that the company was looking for someone like me who is passionate about the product to represent them in the us. yay! job! i told him that i would be coming to the marche in the next few months and that we would talk more then.

theeeen...i met up with a guy who owns a store in portland, actually who i met through scott starbuck (old city soles boss). nathan and i had a great time, just talking and walking around. we went to a couple really great stores near the duomo in milan. i finally bought some good olive oil to eat raw on salads and things. then we picked up a friend of his and went to aperitivo. it was really great conversation, about all kinds of things. we talked a ton about the future of the industry and retail in general in the us. it really got my blood pumping and my brain racing again.

all in all, a really really fantastic day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a mountain from a molehill

for the past few weeks i've been feeling like everything is finally catching up with me. when i first arrived back in italy it seemed as though all of the pain of pete's death was far away from this place. milan and school seemed like a shining golden opportunity to bury myself in a productive place in which i could forget the painful circumstances of my life and focus on taking positive strides toward the future.

as you may have guessed from the first sentence of my post, this is no longer the case. of course school is exciting and i am taking major steps toward realizing my goals, and i'm getting excellent grades and performing as well as i could have hoped. my state of mind outside of school, however, is the real problem.

i'm just sad. i'm sad all the time. the real shit of it is that i'm constantly torn between knowing that the sadness IS in fact the reason for my disproportionate overreactions to just about everything these days and that there is a world full of people around me who still look at me and see only the things that i do and not what sadness is brewing behind my actions (and overreactions as it were).

[i realize that i should probably re-phrase the preceding unapologetic run-on, but i just don't feel like it.]

so these days, every little upsetting thing, already magnified by my distance from everything familiar and my husband (who soothes me better than anyone else) becomes ten thousand times bigger than it should or needs to be. everything pains me. my insecurities are enormous. i commit social suicide in my head on a daily basis. group dynamics, which are normally already difficult for me have become virtually impossible to navigate. even my ability to judge character, which is normally something on which i pride myself, has gone completely out the window. so basically, i'm a big fat mess.

i'm sure that i'll feel better tomorrow (or at least i hope i will), but today---

fuck today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

has it really been this long?

it's a bit hard to believe that it's been a week and a half only/already...

time is moving very very quickly again, which, considering my workload of late, is totally unsurprising.

i feel like i have tons of things to say, but then nothing at the same time. so today i'll go with nothing...

stay tuned.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

this week...

this week has been quite busy for me. i took an exam, visited two companies and got my grade back from the first exam of the year (about two weeks ago) and i got wireless internet in the house!!!

i took the accounting exam on monday. i think it went pretty well. i'm actually sort of amazed at how much i really enjoyed the accounting class, ridiculous right? we mainly focused on managerial accounting, which is concerned with how to allocate costs in order to get a very clear picture of the financial impact of decisions. interesting indeed. yes, i'm a big nerd.

we visited the fratelli rossetti factory on tuesday. it was a really amazing visit actually. we got to see shoes actually being made. duh rachel it was a factory. they really make such beautiful things. then, of course, as you would expect, i bought a pair of shoes...really really beautiful green patent leather loafers...i love (love love) them. the best part? 80 euro...from like 250 or something in the store. designer outlets in italy rock my world.

then we had a couple days of class (blah blah blah). just kidding. i'm still enjoying classes a lot although right now the subject matter is a bit dry...finance and statistical data analysis: both interesting subjects, but taken together are a bit much in the way of technical/interpretive number play. i got my exam grade back from our first test...five out of five (although rounded up from a 4.83). not bad. it's funny though actually how much pressure i'm feeling now to get perfect grades. i just feel like my professors and classmates would expect me to and if i don't they'll look at me funny, as if to say, "i thought you were smart, but i guess not." it seems stupid, and generally i don't discuss grades with classmates anyway, so it isn't really that big of a deal. it's just a strange thing about being in school as an adult, when i have a much larger emotional, financial, and intellectual stake in being at the top, not to mention the ego.

yesterday we went to milano unica (which is one of the biggest fabric and trend shows in europe) and then to the dolce and gabbana headquarters in legnano. in their facility there, they take a garment from a sketch to a sample. i'm not going to outline the entire process here, but if you're interested, email me and i'll tell you all about it. they made a special presentation for us on the structure of the company from an hr perspective and then gave us a walking tour of the facility. we actually got to see the clothing that will be going down the runway in the beginning of march. let me just say, that both the dolce and gabbana and d&g shows will be very good. on an interesting side note...did you know that there's actually a specific verb in italian that describes walking on the runway? "sfillare" is to walk and refers only to walk on a runway during a fashion show. it can describe both clothes and models, so in italian, the clothes literally "walk down the runway."

i love this country.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

my return to the blogosphere

as you have probably noticed, i've been quite lax about writing in the blog for the past week and a half. it's mostly due to the fact that life has settled into a fairly comfortable routine here. i'm in school all day every day during the week, and weekends pass without major fanfare, although i've spent some really nice days doing this or that around the city.

yesterday a friend and i went out walking around to do a bit of research for a project on the handbag industry and ended up sitting in a salon together getting our hair cut. it was a really nice experience actually, as it had been some time since i've seen the inside of a hair salon. the woman who cut my hair understood english well enough for me to explain what i wanted, and then we conducted the rest of the conversation in italian. i'm pretty much conversational now in italian without stressing out too much, but occasionally needing a repetition, or explanation. i think i got a pretty nice haircut, but it's hard to know exactly what it will look like because she did this totally masterful blowdrying that now involves some curls and swooshes and the like...see photo for reference.

tomorrow i have an exam in accounting, which, surprisingly enough, is a subject that i quite enjoy. then on tuesday morning, we're going to visit the fratelli rossetti (high end shoe company) factory...for me very very exciting. then, more class all day wednesday and thursday, and then friday milano unica (one of the biggest trend and fiber/fabric fairs in europe) and the dolce and gabbana factory (for samples only). also very very exciting. so, things here are moving along. it's snowing a bit outside right now which for better or worse reminds me of home.

love love love.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

things are looking up-

today was a good day. i was very tired because i stayed up late last night with friends, but as a stranger in a strange land, it's a good reason to miss sleep. i am absolutely in love with school. the classes are incredibly interesting, relevant and challenging enough to keep me on my toes with a healthy sprinkling of epiphany and self satisfied understanding. the professors have a really broad range of experience and influence that i'm looking forward to absorbing (and hopefully capitalizing on) over the next year (and more for job opportunities).

i'm also finally making progress on resolving the last of my loan issues with sallie mae, aka, il diavolo, and securing full time internet access (yay skype availability!!). so, check back for further updates on those as well. i love and miss you all dear readers. drop me a line and let me know you're still here.

much love.

Monday, January 19, 2009


it's been kind of a tough weekend. i've been thinking about pete a lot and crying a lot (because i've been thinking about pete). it's easy to be so far away and to convince myself that i'm ok. clearly, i'm not ok. i'm functioning, doing well in school, making friends, blah blah blah. but my feelings have been a little wacko lately. i'm sure that he's the reason.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

i feel like i should write, but i don't really have that much to say at the moment. i was elected as one of the two reps for my class...that's pretty cool. i basically act as a liaison between the class and the administration and i think greet guest speakers and stuff. so, not bad. i'm looking forward to it.

otherwise, things are moving along. school is interesting but feeling a little slow to me at the moment. i'm sure that i won't feel that way a week from now. i still have a fair amount of free time and have been making some more friends, so that's good too. i'm waiting to see what the dynamics of the people in the program are really going to be like. i know that it took a while for people to feel comfortable enough to be themselves in the precourse and it seems the same here. the feeling each other out process is always a bit strange for me and this is no different.

all in all though, so far so good.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

"school" or "the most kick-ass master program on the face of the earth"

this past thursday, the first day of my program, was a full day of introductions. the director and our various course coordinators spoke to us about all the areas of the program that await us over the next year. i pretty much spent the entire day with a shit-eating grin on my face. i almost peed my pants i was so excited.

the program is composed of about six months of intensive course-work (basically like one year in a normally paced masters), then a solid month working on field projects, then half time seminars/classes and half time field project work. if you examine the calendar closely, my one year program is kind of like a super condensed two year program.

there are lots of great things about it, but probably the most fantastic thing of all is the field project. ten or eleven different companies pay a fee to the program for a consultancy regarding an upcoming need that the company has, e.g. new market entry, retail reformatting, etc. so basically the groups from my program take on these various projects, some of which involve travel, and produce results. the groups then present these results in front of the board of directors of the company. un-fucking-believable! when i heard that i almost passed out! i knew that this program would provide me with access, but i had absolutely no idea that it would be this kind of access. so, yeah...awesome, amazing, stupendous. this doesn't guarantee a job or anything, but at least it gives me an idea of what kind of connections this program has. totally and completely fantastic!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

my return to milan, my departure from milan, and my return again.

i keep on trying to sit down and blog about all of this stuff, but it's been really difficult to find time, energy and internet access all at the same time lately. get ready for a long one.

i returned to milan on saturday morning having not slept a wink on my redeye flight. i waited an eternity for my baggage which forced me to push back my meeting with my new landlord to take possession of my (adorable) studio. when i eventually figure out how to post photos in the blog, you'll see some. anyway, after a minor, annoying elevator adventure, i caught the train back to the city from malpensa.

i met with the landlord and got my place. by this time i was completely delirious, but i knew that i had to stay awake until it was time to go to sleep for the night. so, i went to the center of town, near the duomo, to look for some bed linens since saturday was the first day of the sales here. it was a madhouse and i didn't find anything anyway. i had seen some sheets at a store called upim which is in my neighborhood. it's kind of like a more upscale target, but smaller with a narrower selection, just clothes, home and a few cosmetics. i didn't buy them b/c i thought i might be able to find something "better" on sale in the center. note: i bought a deeply discounted set of 800 thread count sheets about a year ago which have completely ruined me. now i'm a total linen snob, which is really sad when you have no money.

upon my return from my unsuccessful shopping trip, i went to the grocery store and totally wacked out and bleary eyed bought cleaning products (for the apt that really needed them) and only the food that was easy to prepare. i ended up forgetting some totally essential food items, which made cooking the things i did buy virtually impossible. thank god for jet lag right?

while i was in the grocery store i got a call from francesca tosca, my old landlord/housemate. i went to collect the rest of my things at her apt, where they had been since i left in a hurry and ate dinner there (she made polenta...yum). her son alessandro, whom i had met previously happened to be in town so i spent the evening with them. at about eight o'clock i was so tired that i literally thought i was going to collapse, so right after i ate, i took a cab with my suitcases and bags back to my apartment. i put sheets on the bed, made a couple of phone calls and passed out, expecting to sleep through the night.

i was up at 3 in the morning.

i couldn't go back to sleep to save my life. so i cleaned and unpacked, which i had planned to do the next day. i finally went to sleep again around 8:30 in the morning and didn't wake up until 3:30. so now it's sunday. a good italian friend of mine was returning from london that night and we had made plans to get together. so since i had to kill some time i took a walk around.

sunday in milan is really a day of rest, because you have no other choice. everything is closed. you literally can't even shop for groceries because stores aren't open. so, you better have something already planned to do or else you will be seriously bored. the one sunday when things are open is the first sunday in january because of the sales. so i finally bought some bedsheets - those that i had seen in upim on my first examination, imagine that - and various other things for the house. took a walk up to the duomo and sat and drank coffee for a few hours and talked to the servers. my friend didn't end up getting home until super late so we didn't get together. i somehow ended up staying up until three in the morning. you might expect that i would have slept through the night at that point, but alas...no.

i was up at five thirty.

at about seven thirty that morning i decided that i really wanted to get out of town. i had been thinking about pete and had started reading a book on grieving that bill bought for me. milan was dreary and none of my friends were here yet. the one who had arrived was departing for switzerland to be with her family. so, i decided to take the train to rome. oh, and i forgot to mention that my internet went out early sunday evening.

so, i went over to my friend isa's house (the one who left for switzerland) had coffee, used her internet and dropped off some uggs that i had brought back for her. i checked the train schedule for rome and basically dashed back to my house (a subway and a tram) and ran around my house getting ready for a totally unplanned, last minute trip to rome. let me also say that by this time, i was so tired and nuts that i was nauseous, hot and shivering. i basically kept telling myself just to stay awake for one more hour because then i could sleep on the train. and i did sleep, some.

when i arrived in rome, i realized that i had absolutely no idea what to do or where to go. i wasn't terribly worried, since after all, i speak italian. i went to an internet cafe, called bill to tell him where i was (not that it really made that much of a difference as rome and milan are both far far away from chicago) and to find a hostel. found one, and walked over there. i passed a couple of AMAZING shoe stores. i'm totally convinced that the shopping is better in rome than milan, at least for non-designer labels. hopefully i'll have more time and money sometime soon to test this theory.

i walked around rome that night, which is totally beautiful. i met up with a roman friend who drove me around for a little night time tour of the city which was lovely and then went back to the hostel to pass out around 1.

i was up at 5, again. now it's tuesday.

that day i went with some americans (adorable, nice, from wyoming) around the city. we had an amazing breakfast in campo dei fiori. i bought some unbelievable spices there for very little money.

i also went to piazza navona which is this very famous gorgeous place that was completely nuts. january 6th in italy is a huge holiday called epifania (epiphany). it's actually a catholic holiday celebrating the visit of the magi to the baby jesus, but there's no other place that celebrates like italy. in italy the children have a sock hung on the wall and a with named la befana comes to give them candy if they're good and coal if they're bad. la befana also symbolizes all the bad things that have happened and sweeps them away, which is why she's often associated with brooms. the piazza was full of vendors selling everything, food, balloons, etc.

then i went through the coliseum and the ruins. i have never seen anything so beautiful and humbling in my entire life. i took a million pictures, but in truth they don't come close to doing it justice. everyone should see this place. to stand in a building that has existed for 2000 years is something that i simply have no words to explain.

i decided to leave rome that night on an overnight train for two reasons: it was about half the price, and the hostel that i was staying in was really gross and i didn't feel like sleeping there again or finding another one. so that night, after having an amazing dinner and conversation with an old friend of my father's and her husband, i went to the train station to leave. when i went to buy my ticket it said that there were no seats available so i figured the train was sold out. there were no seats available on any train that night. i, the most exhausted that i have ever been in my life, started to freak out. i went to the ticket counter and asked the woman sitting behind the desk about it. i was speaking english at this point because i was so tired i could barely remember my own name, let alone how to speak italian. she told me that i could buy a ticket, i just couldn't have a seat. i said, ok, fine, whatever, i'll hussle one up or something. now, let me also say, that i was flushed, shivering and my stomach was turning somersaults i was so tired. i got on the train and it was packed. there was not a single seat to be had. i got off a couple of times and ran up and down the train looking for seats. no such luck. in my travels i had met a nice family so i went back to their compartment to ask if i could store my things there, while i sat on a jump seat in the hallway for my eight hour train ride. they said ok.

i curled sitting on the floor in the aisle and prepared to go to sleep. just then one of the guys sitting in the compartment offered me his seat. he gave it to me for almost the entire train ride. i almost kissed him (sorry honey). he ended up wandering around and smoking cigarettes in between the cars all night. i talked to this totally hilarious family from mantua for most of the night. we parted ways, but they invited me to come to their house for dinner some sunday. i'm definitely going. when they got off the train in parma, at 5 am, i finally got to sleep.

we arrived in milan at 7:30 in the morning to five inches of snow of the ground, which is way more snow than is typical in one snow fall. it ground the city to a complete halt almost. i walked from my the duomo to my house, which took some time in the snow. i arrived home around 9:15 and basically slept for the rest of the day.

the next morning, today, was my first day of class. it was amazing and i have lots to say about it, but i think it's much much more than enough already for one day, so you'll just have to wait for the next installment.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

new years and beyond

i had a pretty good time on new years eve. malcolm, querida and i went to the bristol for dinner, which was delicious. they had a prix fixe menu of three courses, starters for the table to share, a choice of entree and then a dessert. as usual the cocktails were outstanding, and it was an all around lovely experience. I wore a new outfit that i really liked, which is particularly good b/c most of my clothing is in italy.

after dinner i went home and smoked some pot, watched some tv and put music on my computer. when bill got home we drank a bottle of laurent perrier, and around two went to a party. i got a good buzz, hung around with friends and my darling husband. all in all, not a bad night.

new years day was a lazy one, although we did get down to chinatown to eat dim sum which was delicious as always. bill had a pretty bad hangover, which seems to be morphing into some kind of flu (never good). i thought about pete a bit at the restaurant because the last time i was there it was with him. it's getting a little easier, but still very very shitty.

last night i felt like quite the little wifey, cleaning up the house and taking care of my sick husband. who knew?

thus far this morning i've been running errands and thankfully was able to complete my mental list in less than two hours. i had been shooting for one, but it seemed unlikely from the outset. i'm flying in less than five hours. i'm not ready to leave though in truth i don't think it's possible to be. i suppose now is as good a time as any.

this is the first year that i've ever really felt connected to the secular new year. in the past, the jewish new year has felt much more relevant to me spiritually. i'm starting school in a new place, with a new husband, with new people and newfound motivation to live my dreams. as some drunk asshole told me on new year's eve, may the highlights of 2008 be the downfalls of 2009.