Monday, April 30, 2007

Twas the night before......

Well, here we are...just scant hours before I leave...the packing is still not done but the new (2nd new) laptop is all set up! I wouldn't recommend staying up for 42 hours in a row...what a science experiment that was! Other than packing, there really isn't anything left that I can is what it is at this point.

However, I do have some advance warning in the fraud department....I am being told that by using my ATM card in Italy more than once will trigger a fraud block...nice feature but one would think that if I called in advance (like I did) and tell them I am gone for a year and will be using it, they could put some silly notes down and all is well. Not so, says the fraud department--they don't have the same software as the bank and so don't have access to my account until it hits the fraud trigger...then they are going to call me (at which point I won't be here to answer) to confirm that it is me and....well, you get the picture...

My last meal in Phoenix...I thought about it for a while (not long because I was hungry)...perhaps Arriba's Mexican and a big margarita to go out in style but not enough time, etc for that luxury. So, the next best thing (and this is not for the weak stomached people out there..) is peanut butter cookie dough! Since I am going to be deprived for a bit from the ol' PB experience, I thought this was a good choice...I can't believe I just confessed on the internet that I eat cookie dough for a meal! That's almost as bad as having a My Space page! :-)

Well, off to finish the packing....I am so tired of saying that...I have been packing for like a month now...soon, I get to unpack!

Talk to you from Italy!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It figures....

You know how things go so well for so long and then you slam into the wall. Well, I met the wall and I am a bloody mess. My brand new $1500 laptop has developed a hard drive issue and does not connect to the internet. How this happened is beyond me. It worked great a day ago and then last night, nothing. I have been on the phone for a total of 10 hours with various people around the world (India, Phillipines, etc) and we have gone as far as removing everything and putting it back to factory install. Still no internet. So, now I get to drive clear across town tomorrow to drop off my brand new $1500 laptop for service...and supposedly that it is under warranty is to bring me comfort! No laptop travelling with me to Italy. I have no idea what to do...I have officially lost it...crying like a baby and beyond exhaustion. I give up....moving to a foreign country is not the faint at heart and I have been a trooper for 9 months--running on nothing but adrenaline as I worked, went to school and prepared for the move. And, now, in the 11th hour, death of my lifeline......I don't know whether to be mad or sad....having not slept all night probably doesn't allow me to make an accurate decision....perhaps I need a nap.

And now it's several hours later without a nap but a good jolt of Coke and I am the proud owner of a new laptop! Yep, a new laptop! Don't have time to deal with this crap so being the determined individual that I am, I solved the problem! Andrenaline is running high (alongside caffeine) and I am off to tackle the packing once more--for good!


After months of being asked if I was scared or nervous (at which the reply was always a firm NO), it happened. I spent 5 hours working on some phantom laptop problem last night that wasn't really a laptop problem but probably an ISP problem. At 1230am this morning as I hung up the phone from the umpteenth 'techncial advisor' with what seemed to be a resolved situation, my stomach ached and my head swam and my palms were sweaty. And just a few moments later, the tears rolled. I am officially scared......what am I doing?! Just a little thing like who am I going to call in Italy when my laptop freezes was enough to start the litany of questions. I am leaving all things familiar and comfortable for the unfamiliar and uncomfortable...who in their right mind would do that on purpose?! I don't exactly have an answer for that because in my exhaustion, I fell asleep crying. I have awaken with "Marty Feldman" eyes and way too early, only to check my computer and see the phantom has returned.....finally, it is all real...the months of planning and thinking and strategizing are all in the distant past and I am faced with the new adventure that unfolds. God help me! seems to be all I can come up with.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Elusive Wardrobe

So, I talked with the realtor this morning in Venice and he informed me that my apartment was just painted (I didn't know that was going to happen!) and that there is a wardrobe (armoire) in my bedroom! I have a place to store all those shoes! :-)

The suitcases are all packed and only one thing does not fit....might have to 're-do' on Sunday one last time to fit it in. They are really glad there are porters everywhere because the last thing I want to do is schlepp 250 pounds around the world....yes, I said 250 pounds....5 suitcases and an eight pound cat!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

High Five!

Yep, 5 days to go....and really, all I have left to do is pack. That doesn't seem like much. In fact, today, I started at 9am and was sure that I would have it all done by 6pm and get to hang out for the remaining 4 days. Well, let's not jump to conclusions so quickly.....

First, I got everything in one room. Then I realized I had laundry to do, so I needed to wash that so everything could be in one room! Then I stood there looking at all that stuff and promptly turned around and left that room. Then Cammy came over, Deb called, Diana came over, Heather called, answered some emails, walked in and out of the room several times just waiting for the packing fairies to do their thing.....and, then, magically it was 6pm and time to get ready for dinner with Susan! Now its 930pm and all that stuff is still all in one room and no where near being's so hard to find good fairies these days! And the really bad thing is that the 'one room' I chose was my bedroom, so now I can't even go to bed! I guess now is a good a time as any to try out the guest room and see what it is like to sleep there......or there is always the couch....

On a positive note, however, I did manage to 'delete' 4 pairs of shoes from the 30 pounds. That's great progress...I can hear the congratulations and applause already!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Out of School and Unemployed....

Isn't this what you hear from recent college grads?! Why am I saying it at 41 years old? :-) (by the way, don't tell anyone I am 41). Wow, quite a walk of faith for me right now as this reality has made itself evident today (not my age but the unemployed part).

Saying goodbye to my coworkers this morning was really very difficult. I had no idea but as I thought about it later in the day, I realized that we spend more time with our coworkers than our families and friends....and for me, my coworkers have become my family and my friends as well. I won't get mushy here but suffice to say, some tears were shed.

Leaving class tonight was also emotional but for different reasons. Now I actually have to go and use what Sirio has been teaching me for months! That's enough to generate another hot flash! :-) My first task is to tell the water taxi driver where I want to go...that should be tons of fun....we could be driving around for ages if I don't get it right........time will tell.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Single digits and goodbyes

So, I am just home from a weekend in Las Vegas to see my dad and my aunt one last time before leaving and a momentous thing happened along the way.....I am now down to single digit days before the big trip. You know how you think and plan for something for soooooooo long and it takes on a rather surreal life of its own; but before you know it, the actual event arrives and reality hits and the hot flashes set in! Well, that's where I have arrived...8 days left and the hot flashes are coming! How am I ever going to get all this done in 8 short days? And how am I going to fit all that in these 4 suitcases? And how long can I keep saying goodbye before the tears can't be hidden? And how in the world is Mr. Peabody going to stay in that 18X12X12 carrier for 19 hours without freaking out? Well, enough of the rambling, you get the idea. Probably the only thing that isn't down to single digits is the number of shoes I am taking! But, I am beginning to realize that I may have to rethink the whole 30 pounds of shoes...this doesn't make me happy, but it must be done...stay tuned for the final weigh in!

Friday, April 13, 2007

They Come in Threes!

Well, that's what they say anyway....and I don't really have anything that is happening in threes....except that I have 3 days of work left before I am officially unemployed and I have 3 Italian classes left before I have to start using it for real. Oh yeah, and for the first time in my life I am probably eating 3 meals a day. I never knew so many people loved me (or are happy to see me go!) but I have literally been eating my way through the city with friends over the last month! Right now as I type this, I just got back from a dinner and am doing my 'Al Bundy' impersonation....I am going to need elastic waistbands soon! But, I am truly honored that so many people want to spend time with me to hear about this great adventure. So, the few extra pounds are worth it and can easily be walked off in Venice. And I imagine, lugging around my 30 pounds of shoes for a day can contribute to some weight loss! (and you thought I couldn't fit the shoe story in this thread, huh?!)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

30 pounds!

Yep, that's right, 30 pounds of shoes in my suitcase! Even I had to give a hearty guffaw when I looked at the scale last night. I managed to take 3 more pair away and didn't buy that really cute pair I saw in the store tonight, so progress has been made!

On the upside, I still have 20 pounds of 'stuff' to pack in that suitcase to reach my 50 pound limit. Wouldn't that be funny if they lost the suitcase with all my shoes and I had nothing....ok, well, maybe not funny, but you know what I mean.

So, there it is. Done. Decided. Finito (as they say in Italy).

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Italians - 1, Susan - 0

I was reminded today of one more thing I am going to miss. The ability as a consumer to get some action done on my behalf.

I have been trying for a month now to get one simple Yes or No question answered by my realtors in Venice. Do you think I could get an answer? I have gotten a response that says they will check, but not an answer. All I want to know is if there is an armoire in my bedroom...simple enough, right?

Now, don't get me wrong, they are good people and in general I really like them and the Italian culture. But there is absolutely no sense of urgency over there. Wait, that's not a fair statement. There isn't a pulse to get something done in any sense of timeliness; why even bother having a sense of urgency if you don't have a pulse?! Now, this is an enduring quality when you want to slow down from the 'bigger, better, faster, more' culture we live in and breathe, but it's not so endearing when you just want an answer to a simple Yes or No question!

In the US, this is completely unacceptable. And I can hear many of you say, "I would call so and so and ask for the supervisor" and "I would demand such and such or else". Well, that works for the most part here, but has a highly adverse reaction in Italy. I don't want to make sweeping generalizations but just know that the culture over there doesn't work the same way.

So, as I start to deal with the extraction of my type A personality (and I bet it will be ugly at times), I have decided to wait and see for myself what the answer to my question is. Surprises are good, right? I am sure you will be sitting on pins and needles also wanting to know where my clothes and all those shoes are going to live for a year, so I will tell you when I find out!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God I am Free at Last!

Ok...that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but today is my first full day without a cell phone! I feel somewhat free, yet naked at the same time. Now, I still have my work phone, my home phone, various computers to send emails, my Italian cell phone, and if all else fails, I can get in my car and go talk to someone in person. However, it is an odd feeling when you are suddenly unplugged. I have to admit that my drive home today was a bit longer as I was not able to call anyone while stuck in traffic. The upside of this, however, is that I might actually pay more attention to the road while driving! :-)

I recently saw a news report where they asked this high powered executive at some magazine in NY to go without a cell phone for a week. It was a fascinating psychological pursuit. The first day he was just a bit put out at the inconvenience. By the third day, he was getting change and going to pay phones on the street and by the fifth day, he literally had a breakdown and started crying. Right there on national TV--just like a big baby. He said he couldn't take it anymore and would have to quit before the last 2 days! Wow!

Well, I can assure you that I won't have a nervous breakdown without my cell phone. It's not like it's peanut butter!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

What Will I Miss?

There are two questions I get over and over since this adventure started. One...aren't you afraid to move to a foreign country by yourself? (by the way, the answer is no). And, two, what are you going to miss the most while you are gone?

Well, since we all know I am taking enough shoes, I probably won't be missing any of those! :-) But there are a few things that might make me nostalgic for home. First, is peanut butter! In fact, those of you visiting me already know this is your 'rent' to stay with me...a jar of peanut butter. I hear if you search high and low and have some mafia connections, you can find peanut butter but it's not the same as American peanut butter, so why bother!?

Italians use alot of Nutella spread (which by the way is wonderful, but it's not peanut butter).

You can't even imagine how ecstatic I was when I found out there was a peanut butter restaurant here in town (PBLoco)....nothing but the best! I've even pondered opening my own franchise restaurant...there has to be others out there like me, right? Yesterday, I ate at PBLoco 2 times (I'm a regular!). For lunch I had the "Wacko" which is curry spice PB, pickles, coconut and potato chips. It wasn't that bad regardless of the noise you just made...tasted mostly like a mustard sandwich...but probably not worth repeating. However for dinner, I had the "Cinny Nilla" which is cinnamon and raisin PB, vanilla cream cheese, apples and caramel. Now that was good. Probably one of the best there is the "Memphis" which is any flavor of PB you want (they have 12!), banana, honey and bacon....just like Elvis did it I am sure!

But I digress...I swore I wouldn't write one of those silly blogs where people tell you all the stupid things they did all day and here I am doing just that after only 3 tries.

What else will I miss? Target, using a dryer for my clothes, movie theater popcorn (and the movies to go with it) and massages. Well, of course, all of my family and friends but half of you are coming to see me...dont' forget my peanut butter!