September 26, 2009

The Woes of Moving

Moving is never fun. Especially when you don't have a new house yet! Well, I have a 99% sure option, and it's nearby and convenient. But its tiny, and today I discovered that when you live someplace for two and a half years, it's really really easy to accumulate stuff. So far, the thing I have most of is books - five whole boxes - which I guess is a good thing, since only one of those boxes is full of unread books, and they're all books I've gotten in the last two years...so the good news is that I read a lot. yay. But I also have a lot of shoes (yeah yeah yeah, maman, you can save your "I told you so" for later). Not as many shoes as books, but I guess since I have so many books, it isn't a great comparison. And then I have to sort everything. Obviously, since I'm only moving somewhere for two months, it doesn't make sense to bring everything with me to the new place. So a lot of stuff is going to Santa Marinella for storage. But then I need to think of the stuff I won't need in the next two months, but that I'll need for December in Boston. And then the stuff I won't need until Spain. So much sorting!

But the worst part is that I don't have a house yet! Sure, if I move across the street, I could literally move on foot (which might actually be easier, since it's a hell of a maneuver to get from here to there by car). But if I move near work, I actually need a moving plan. And since the first of the month just happens to be smack in the middle of the week, my moving plan is going to be a little tricky to actually plan, especially since I don't have a car. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, since if I don't have a house to move into, it'll pretty much all be moot.

But I guess when I chose to live in a beautiful five bedroom apartment in the center of Rome - rent free - for two years, I waived my right to complain about anything house/rent/moving-related for a long while...

September 24, 2009

Delicious Delights

So I was at UNICEF and I wrapped up what I was working on, and then got a little distracted... the NY Times health section led to an article about healthy eating which led to an article about the best food blogs which led me to start fantasizing about all the delicious things I could make for lunch (a dangerous topic since I ran out the door with hardly any breakfast and my pantry is reaching dangerous levels of soon-moving-out emptiness - which means I feel pretty much justified in going out and buying whatever I'll be craving when I leave here).

But when I finally settled on one blog, Pink of Perfection, I luckily got distracted from the soo scrumptious looking double chocolate cookies (which I totally intend to make at some point... maybe as a moving-day snack) by a post about ways to feel rich without spending any money. Normally I don't go for all that cheesy nonsense ("think about the people in your life and the richness of their love"...yeah yeah yeah). But this one actually had some not so terrible suggestions, like going to a fancy restaurant... for lunch, instead of splurging on dinner. Or like filling your shopping cart full of things you want...and then closing your browser. Internet window shopping is much more satisfying than actually holding the thing you want, in the store, and then having to put it down and walk away. Especially because there aren't any enthusiastic sales ladies telling you everything "makes your ass look fabulous" (oh man, Ellen DeGeneres cracks me up).

But all this "cheap ways to enjoy life" stuff only kept me piqued for so long, and of course I wandered back to the food stuff. Aside from the soo scrumptious looking double chocolate cookies, I found delicious-looking oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and yummy-looking brownies!

And then I realized looking at food blogs is a little like window shopping, in that I can look at all these delicious things, and enjoy them, without having to go through the trouble of making them. (Although I probably will make them at some point, if my cravings get the best of me...last year around this time, I made chocolate chip cookies for like a month). In the end,  my cravings did get the best of me. But because I had neither the time nor the energy to bake all afternoon (I'm apartment shopping today!), I bought one of those quick non-bake cakes (lemon) to have with Valerio after a pork chop dinner tonight. Yum.

"Taking food and drink is a great enjoyment for healthy people, and those who do not enjoy eating seldom have much capacity for enjoyment of any sort"
                                                                  - Charles W. Eliot

September 22, 2009

I Heart Pumpkins

It's raining, and the weather's getting cold, and tomorrow morning I have to wake up at an ungodly hour to go back to an ungodly place (the motorizzazione), but life is still great because it's pumpkin season! 




I started seeing them at the farmer's market downstairs a few weeks ago, but those "didn't convince me." They were too puny or something. But then I saw some at the supermarket and I just had to get some. But I didn't get very much, so instead of making a big dish, like pumpkin soup or roast pumpkin, I decided to stay small and make pumpkin pudding. I really wish I had gotten more pumpkin. The first time I made it (yesterday) it was a little too moist...I didn't bake it enough. And the second time I made it (today) it was a little too dry...I forgot about it and almost burnt it. Maybe the third time I'll get it just right. But either way it was delicious! It's kind of like pumpkin pie without the crust. (Although this pumpkin pie, courtesy of Heidi Swanson, is second to none).

Maybe next week I'll make pumpkin ravioli...

September 21, 2009

Rainy Day Musings

So today is grey and rainy and I finagled it so I could stay home all day. The pro is that I don't have to go take public transportation in the rain, but the con is that now I have no excuse to not study GRE math all afternoon. One thing is making the occasional excuse to your boss, another, much harder thing is making excuses to yourself (it's almost like yourself always knows what you're up to...). You can make deals with yourself though, and my deal is that I have until 4 to waste time, and then the books come out. And then maybe I'll take a little break every once in a while to make the studying more palatable. In the meantime I'll just set up a relaxing Madeleine Peyroux playlist, perfect for a rainy day, make a nice hot cup of tea, and start sharpening my pencils...

...So I got in a good hour and a half of math. I'll pick up again in a bit, but I thought a little snack would be in order. There's nothing like a hot cup of chai tea, with homemade hummus and pita chips to ward off an early autumn chill. And since I can't really do math and eat at the same time, I thought it would be a good time to get a little distracted and share some of my favorite online nonsense, such as this hilarious tiger/piglet combination from one my all-time favorite blogs, Fuck You Penguin.... (those piglets are ALL over that poor tiger!)

And now back to math... boo...


September 20, 2009

Leads on the Home Front

I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch or anything, but I may have found an apartment... below my price range AND right across the street from where I live now! Which means I could literally carry my stuff to my potential new place. But we'll see, nothing is certain yet. My alternative is an apartment right around the corner from my office... so that wouldn't be too shabby either since I could walk to work! Either way things are looking pretty good.

Pretty soon I might have a working means of transportation AND a home! yay!


September 19, 2009

Yay for working scooters!

So my new (or should I say 12-year-old) scooter is working great! Team Valerio and Mauro (my amazing personal mechanics) are fixing her up to be a real beauty! They even put a makeshift acceleration block on it so that it would pass the test (legally, scooters can't go faster than 45k/h and this one did 75/80 k/h, so we had to slow it down considerably). And it's so shiny! Now I just have to go to the motorizzazione a couple more times, stop by my insurance guy, and I'll be mobile again! No more waiting 35 minutes for a bus that's supposed to come every 10 minutes! No more having to give up my seat on the metro to whiny old nuns out of guilt! No more crying babies in enclosed spaces!

Then I just have to find a place to live! Apparently people here are really bad at responding to emails about apartment listings. It's like they post their ad, and then take their sweet mediterranean time to see if there are any responses. 11 days and counting until I have to move out. I really hope I won't end up homeless!


September 18, 2009

Another Day in Bureaucratic Limbo

So this morning Valerio and I go to the Motorizzazione Civile (the place where culture and manners go to die - the Italian equivalent of the DVM) and the same guy who earlier this week told me I absolutely needed a certain document gives me the weirdest look when I hand it to him and asks me "what the hell is this?" Ugh. So after explaining to him what he explained to me 3 days ago, he's like "oh right, fine. go talk to that lady over there." And then even though the guy told me everything was fine, the lady tells me that the document I brought "doesn't convince her", whatever that means. In the end, they send me away with a stamp and tell me to come back next Wednesday for the scooter check. I wish someone could explain to me why the people they hire to handle all of this bureaucratic crap have no idea what they're doing.

In other news, today Sgt. Pepper caught a giant fly, held it in his mouth for a while, and then batted it up and down the hallway for like 20 minutes. Now he's smothering it on the couch. Cats are bizarre.


September 17, 2009

Running off the Cliff

So I'm a lemming. I started a blog too.

There will probably be moments when I'll want to kick myself for doing this, but right now my inner exhibitionist is too curious to see what blogging is all about for me to not be a little self-indulgent and start writing about myself. (that's my secret excuse at least...)

My "real" excuse is that transitions are a-coming and I figured keeping everyone posted here on my upcoming activities would be a lot easier than having to explain them everyone who asks. (A short preview: getting a new scooter and dealing with the bureaucratic crap involved, getting a new apartment, studying for the GREs...again, applying to grad school, going home in December, and trying to find work in Madrid while not actually in being in Madrid).

And also because the weird/hilarious/infuriating moments in my life are just too many to keep to myself and I know people love to hear funny stories... like the other day when this crazy lady at the supermarket not only paid for each item in her overflowing basket individually (getting change, a receipt and everything), but spent the whole time screaming at the cashiers and calling them "sheep-herding whores" (a rough translation).

So there ya go... now all you lucky people get to hear about my fun life. Only if you want. I don't have a captive audience (yet). So enjoy!



p.s. Kate and Becca - I'll finally get to cry about it in my "online journal"! yay!

September 9, 2009

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More About Me



Welcome To  
The World Is My Oyster!




Where to start? Well, I'm Julia, and my dad is Italian,

My dad and me, January 1985 (I was about two days old)

and my mom is French,

 My mom and me, July 1986

(yes, they both have silly accents). But they met and got married in the United States, so instead of growing up in France or Italy I was born and raised in Cambridge, Ma. At first it sounds less exciting and exotic than living up in Europe, but they do call it The People's Republic of Cambridge for a reason, so it wasn't exactly a boring place to grow up.

Oh, and I also have a little brother. His name is Lucas, and when he was small and annoying I used to call him Mucus. But now he's twenty-three, twice my size, and can totally kick my ass, so I don't call him that anymore.

 Lucas and me, Santa Marinella, July 1992

Lucas, Harvard Graduation 2009

Because both sides of my extended family still live in France and Italy, my parents wonderfully took the time to teach us both French and Italian growing up (I say wonderfully because I know too many first generation kids who sadly don't speak a word of their parents' languages). It was sort of confusing - since my dad only spoke to us in Italian, my mom only spoke to us in French, and they spoke English to each other - but we managed, even if I occasionally mixed up the languages and made some funny international sentences.

They also managed to bring us to Europe every single summer to spend July in Italy with my dad's family, and August in France with my mom's. Though growing up I knew how lucky I was to be able to travel so much, as an adult I've really realized what an incredible privilege it was to be able to go to Europe every year, and to grow up really knowing my extended family even though they lived so far away.

The beach house, Santa Marinella

This connection I've had with Europe throughout my whole life is what really made it easy to move there when I finished school. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

After spending eighteen wonderful years in Cambridge (aka Harvardopolis) I decided that I needed a change. So instead of sticking around in the North East (college central) I chose the Great White North, and went to university at McGill, in Montreal, Canada where in four years of school I spent equal parts of my time:

partying,

Charlene and Me, popping bubbly for my 20th birthday


freezing,

Skiing at Mont Orford

and studying.

So I don't actually have any pictures of me studying, but this is me graduating (and getting bopped on the head by the dean, in a bizarre McGill tradition), which proves that I studied enough for them to give me my degree.

After graduating, I wasn't ready to go back to the US. I didn't have any job prospects and I wanted to spend some time in Europe. So I moved to Rome in July 2007, where I taught English (first in a language school then privately) and worked at UNICEF. 
At the Colosseum 

 Hugging a Fiat 500 (my favorite car)

 In Tuscany

My original plan had been to spend a year in Rome and then a year in Argentina (to brush up on my Spanish - which I studied for ten years - and learn first hand about the culture, since I minored in Latin American studies). But that didn't really work out. I ended up staying two and a half years in Rome (partly for work, partly for love) and I only managed to arrange for six months in Spain - which was good for learning Spanish, but bad for learning about Latin American culture.

But oh well, beggars can't be choosers and with an EU passport it was easier for me to stay in Europe.

So I moved to Madrid in January 2010, where I lived until June, teaching English in a private elementary school and learning Spanish.

 Me and the kids
(dancing to London bridge)

 My co-worker Amanda and me

In July I went back to Italy to spend a month with my family, including my cousins and their kids.
 Playing with Duccio

I'm currently getting a Master's in International Affairs at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in New York City (with a concentration in Human Rights and a specialization in International Media, Advocacy and Communication), and I plan to graduate in May of 2012. I've only been at school for a year and already I'm realizing what an honor and privilege it is to have the chance to study here and meet all of my amazing classmates. I'm very much looking forward to this last year, but I'm a little bit sad it's going by so quickly!

 {via}

 {via}

As for the future, I really can't say what will happen after that. I'm crossing my fingers for a lucrative career in human rights advocacy, but I think if you're making big bucks in non-profit someone is doing their job wrong.

But even if I don't end up rich, I'll be happy with any job that keep me globetrotting.


***


Aside from clinging to my pipe dreams, I love reading (if a book is any good, I will devour it in a day), cooking and baking,


eating what I cook and bake, traveling, wandering around beautiful cities taking amateur photos (I'm trying to get better at this one), vintage Italian cars (especially fiat 500s), and a cold glass of crisp white wine on a hot summer evening.


 
I love having a good laugh!

In Brescia, at my cousin's wedding

I love blogging, trying modify my blog and getting confused in the process, watching bad horror movies (and other kinds of good movies), Italian food, French food, Japanese food, Indian food... well, all kinds of food, really. So you'll find some recipes here. And I've recently discovered a passion for sewing, so there will definitely be some of that too.

Anything else you want to know?

e-mail me! 

theworldismyoyster@lookingformypearl.com