Friday, May 23, 2008

Let the games begin....

I am now officially and gainfully employed! I took the job today at the airline and start on June 2.

It was a crazy interview process. This was the company that I thought hated me after my first interview. Add in the mix a headhunter (not mine) in another city who wasnt the sharpest tool in the shed to confuse both sides with mis-information.

I had an offer on the table from another company since Monday and was stalling until my interview at PetSmart on Thursday. Loved PetSmart and really wanted the job. They told me they would give me feedback the next day. By the time I got home from that the headhunter said he got me a second interview on Friday at 1pm. Not being thrilled from my last experience I was reluctant but decided to do the right thing and go.

On my way to the airline interview, PetSmart called and said 'thanks but no thanks'. I was bummed and went into my second interview a bit disappointed figuring I would take the offer from Monday. In the directors office, the first thing out of his mouth was 'what questions do you have for me'? To say the least, I was confused.

In the end, it wasnt a second interview but was an offer interview! They had been working on the paperwork and approval ever since that horrid day of the first interview. Between the salary, benefits and lack of desire to accept my other offer from Monday, I said YES.

They whisked me away immediately to pee in a cup and fill out more paperwork than I thought was possible for a job. Medical and dental are effective immediately and those prized flight benefits are effective on the 16th day of my employment. Now I imagine people are going to start being nicer to me because I can get them some cheap flights!

And with this monumental transition back into the 'real world', I think this is a good place to stop the blog (for real this time!). I will enjoy my last 10 days of freedom before I start. I will use this time to get mentally prepared to keep the things about Italy and Venice that I loved close to me so as not to get caught up in the American rat race again. But if that fails, I can fly for almost free to Venice in a heartbeat to have a reminder!

Ciao for now........

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

But its a dry heat!

I have noticed over the past few days and have received some emails that my second home in Venice has been a bit rainy. Quite the contrary here as expected. However, we are dealing with our own wierd weather.

Last week at this time, we were unusually cool for May at about 82 degrees. By Sunday, we had hit our first 100 for the season (105 to be exact) and then the last two days have topped out around 110!!! I have been in this city for over 15 years and its way to early for those numbers. In fact, we shattered a record for having the earliest 110 in the season as well as jumping so quickly into it. However, not all is lost, because a storm is blowing in and we are to be 79 by Thursday! I am sure that is another record.

I dont complain about the heat...never have. It was a choice I made to come here and leave Wisconsin (where it is downright cold alot!). Actually, I only ever complain about being cold! This is evidenced in my blog all year about the cold marble floors and humidity in Venice. I am the person who wears a sweater at work because the a/c is too much for me! So, 110 is not something to complain about in my book. However, it is a bit early in the year and hard to pace onseself knowing that 100 degree temps are around until at least early October. Lets hope after Thursdays storm, the temps decide to creep back up to just 100 for a while!

Here is the million dollar question, however. Would I rather be warm in Phoenix or cold in Venice? For now, I will stay in Phoenix. A job offer has come in and 2 other interviews are happening this week. I guess I will be gainfully employed by June 1. However, I will not count out being cold in Venice again sometime in my future.......

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I paid for the gym all year because they wouldn't put my membership on hold and at $12 a month, I couldnt see myself cancelling and re-signing up at a higher price. The first day I walked in and swiped my card through the machine, the electronic lady told me to stop and check in again. When the counter gal looked at the computer, she said, "you havent been here in 411 days!" How is that for intimidating? But I told her I had a good excuse as I was out of the country. I dont think she believed me!

I tried 3 different exercise classes this week. As of today, we had our first 100 degree day, so being outside (which is what I prefer) is no longer an option until about October. I sure do miss just walking around Venice, climbing bridges and getting that exercise without even knowing it.

My first class was called Power Pump. Its an all over body and weight workout to music. I used to go to something like this before I left so I was prepared. My arms are still as weak as ever but I could tell that all that bridge climbing made the squats a heck of alot easier.

Then I went to Zumba! Apparently a new fad or craze since I have left, its Latin based music with dancing/exercise. Quite the workout actually. I used to think I had some rythym but I am certainly no JLo when it comes to these moves. The good news was there were a few people in there less coordinated than me so I didnt look like a complete idiot.

And finally, I tried Yoga. I tried it years ago and didnt like it. Guess what--I still dont like it. Not my cup of tea doing 'down dog', 'cobra' and 'side warrior' type positions. And surprisingly, it really hurt my knee. Remember the knee drama from January. Its been good since I have left the humidity but I dont think I am ready for the static movements of Yoga yet.

So, there you have it...I have re-entered the gym life of America. One small step in the transition and hopefully one that will have a good side effect in the end. Maybe I can figure the rest of my struggles out while I am swiveling my hips to some Ricky Martin in class next week?!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So much for gut instinct!

Well, oddities of all oddities happened today when the airline called back and said they wanted a second interview and for me to meet the director of the division! They said they really liked me and my answers and wanted to pursue this possibility further. I looked around the room for some hidden cameras because I was sure this wasnt happening in reality! So, apparently, not only am I suffering from cultural shock, I have also lost all skills at reading people and understanding situations! :-)

I agreed to see them again despite the fact that I was sure they werent impressed with me. Everybody deserves a second chance, right? And afterall, they fly direct from Philly to Venice so they might come in handy some day for a freebie!

On another note, I am having my second American massage tonight. I sure did miss Gianna this last year (as well as a sheet over my body and the lack of paper thong action). She informed me that my neck is a mess and something is up above my right eye. Well, that would be the place where I hit myself with the infamous glass door last June or July back in Venice. Just thinking about that incident makes me embarassed and brings about pain. So, hopefully, she can fix the neck and the head and I might stop getting all those headaches. Of course, the headaches could be coming from the interviews at this point!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Did I mention that I dont want to work anymore? Thats a dream of mine but in the meantime, I am out there interviewing. Despite the stats in the economy there are all sorts of job openings that I am 'qualified' for. And being on and sure takes some of the legwork out the old fashioned way of getting a job.

I had an interview last week with my old boss from three time removed. It went well and surprisingly I was rather excited about working in that environment again despite the fact that it would be a horrendous 25 mile commute each way.

Then on Friday, I got a call from PetSmart. That was fun...great company.....corporate headquarters are here and every Friday is bring your pet to work day. I would never do that to Mr. P...he's been through enough, dont ya' think?!

On Monday, I got a call from last weeks interview. The HR gal called to say they would call me back in the afternoon to make me an offer but she wanted to know my salary range. I told her and never heard back from them! :-)

Then today, I had an interview with an airline. What a horrific nightmare that was. I couldnt speak english or italian, was not impressed with the work conditions and they werent impressed with me. When it was over, we all just sort of got up and left. No one said 'thank you', no one shook hands, no one said 'we'll be in touch'....we just all wanted OUT!

Not a bad start really for the first week back from what I understand. Applied for several more positions this afternoon. Time will tell.

However, to hopefully get a routine (ugh I hate that thought) going, I went to the gym today for the first time in over a year. I loved the exercise I got from walking around Venice and 'hiking' over the bridges and taking bike rides on Lido. But this was way different and I already hurt all over! If I live through the night, I might write another blog entry and let you know if I got hired!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


So last night was my welcome back get together at the Mexican restaurant. Boy did I pig out! I think I was very close to committing the sin of gluttony. Today, for mothers day, my mom wants buffalo wings, so off to Chili's we go! I am actually looking forward to Tuesday's diet at this point.

But the real part that plagues me doesnt seem to have a timeline and I dont really have much control over it. Last night was the first time I had any non superficial discussions with anyone since I have been home. Partly because I didnt want to and partly because I didnt need to. I was listening to my friends talk about various things and the entire time my insides were screaming. I just dont quite feel like I belong and I can relate to these things anymore. It seemed at times like I had changed so much that we were strangers and yet, I remember not too long ago participating in those same conversations.

I tried my best to express myself but it was futile. I rambled and probably offended and, in the end, felt worse than if I had kept my mouth shut. Even now, I struggle for words to describe how I am feeling. I wrote in my book shortly after arriving in Venice that plane tickets dont alter your life--they just transport it somewhere else. I am not sure I believe that anymore. Or perhaps its true and the actual living in Venice is what changed me.

And what has changed? Alot and nothing. I have this tug of war inside when I think about doing something. Just this morning, I thought about how nice it would be to have the morning paper delivered again so I can read it at leisure. But then immediately, I thought that was the old habit I had (and all I ever read were the sales ads anyways) and how much I wished I could walk around Venice instead and view the sights. Its a small thing, I know, but it only escalates from there when I think about my relationships and my future. Its rather maddening.

Perhaps I didnt really know myself before I left and have a better impression now that I am back. Regardless, I am different. I long for the feeling of comfort I had once here and yet I find it strangely repulsive. I dont want to fall into old habits and traits but I desire some consistency. I say to myself that once I have a job, this will all be better and at the same time I think that the job will take me back to that other life where I was someone else and I am not sure I want to be that person again.

This is all too deep and horrific for a Sunday morning and something I have no answers for, so it probably best I stop waxing poetic and move on to something those boneless buffalo wings I am about to eat!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Eat Santa, Eat!

As I continue to try and fit in again in this big ol' country and city, I seem to be relying alot on comfort food to help. And at this point, all food is serving as comfort food! If I dont stop soon, I will have to buy a new wardrobe.

I had a good interview yesterday and 2 more on the horizon next week, so I think someone will hire me eventually. In the meantime, however, I seem to be eating my way through the city. I miss the pizza in Venice and my one restaurant that served up some serious pasta dishes. But here, I can get ANYTHING I want!

Let's see, I went to Chili's and had a blue cheese chipolte hamburger with fries and I stopped at Quizno's for a sub and then I visited my old favorite deli and had the worlds best rueben (been wanting that since Dublin!) and tomorrow some friends of mine are all gathering together for a welcome back dinner at my favorite mexican place where I will eat more calories than humanly possible and drink a very large margarita (or 2!). Monday is a lunch with a former coworker after breakfast with another friend.....

And in between all those outings I have been to the grocery store twice. While I had good intentions of buying only fruits and vegetables, etc., I ended up with Ben and Jerry's ice cream, lots of peanut butter, and a variety of cookies and crackers.

Then there is the water. Its a shame we cant drink the water out of the tap here in Phoenix and I miss that about Venice. But in order to appease us, they have managed to create all sorts of water for sale--flavored, 'smart', vitamin, you name it and they have a gimmick for it. And I am falling for those gimmicks.

I feel full just thinking about all this...the diet starts on Tuesday!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Interview

I have to be honest.... I would rather have a root canal without novicane than go back to work, but since I am not independently wealthy, I went on my first interview today. I havent interviewed in almost a decade so I knew I would be a bit out of practice.

I remember they used to ask stupid questions like, 'if you were a sandwich, what kind would you be?'. This apparently would tell something psychologically important about you and be the deciding factor as to whether or not you would get hired. I decided that in the event, they were still asking this stupid question, I would answer 'tremezzini'. That should keep them occupied for a while!

But they dont ask that anymore....they just give you tons of psychological profile tests to come up with the same answer. And, they check not only your background but your credit and if you have a MySpace site and what you say on it (boy am I glad my blog doesnt have my name in it! haha).

Then came the question of all questions--why did you quit your job and move to Italy? Thinking quickly and knowing that they probably dont want to hear the truth (i.e. I was in the middle of mid life crisis and had to run away!), I chose instead to say: 'An opportunity presented itself that was too good to ignore and I was allowed the chance to achieve a lifelong dream'. Of course, that is true also, but its much more vague and doesnt lead on that I was in the throws of mid life. I think they were satisfied and I managed to get over this politically correct moment.

In the end, however, I dont really care if they were satisfied because this job was not for me. I have another interview Thursday, one Friday and a great call this morning from an airline...I hope they call back to schedule an interview.

However........I suppose now is a good a time as any to share with my blog community what my true dream job is for now. I spent a good 6 months creating my own website for a business I want to start here. How I am going to get it started and have a 'real' job at the same time plagues me, but I will do my best. Check it out and feel free to hire me!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


After a year in Venice, I forgot about crime. Or should I say, physical crime. Its no secret that the Italians are good at corruption and tax evasion but since there really wasnt a lick of crime in Venice, I sorta erased that 'inner fear' from my system.

It wasnt until today that I realized I wasnt in Kansas anymore, Toto! Last I heard, Phoenix was the 5th largest city in the country and the population is well over 2 million compared to my little 2 1/2 mile long island with less than 70,000 residents. So, one would expect some crime I guess. But watching the news for the first time and seeing a variety of murder, rape, robbery, etc. made it all real. Guns and drugs are prevalent again.

And when I got in the car for the much anticipated hair cut, I remembered that we arent really supposed to look at other people in cars because 'you never know'. That brought back memories of road rage incidents I have read about or seen. And before I knew it, I was a bit nervous and wanting. Nervous because I have to be on guard now and wanting because I can no longer walk around by myself after dark (or anytime for that matter) without fear. I am not a person who lives in fear and lets it rule decisions, but I now understand out of necessity how it does affect a person.

I suppose thats the price one pays for living in a large city, but it has certainly made me realize how special it was to be in a place lacking of these things. I think I had a taste of what it must have been like 100 years ago in the US. And short of moving to the cornfields of Iowa, I probably wont experience that lifestyle again soon. Venice calls me.....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Are you finding everything.....

No, this post isnt about my unpacking (although I did make some progress). Its about how polite everyone is here! Ok, I am sure thats a sweeping generalization, but if I could get a euro for everytime someone has said one of the following to me in my 2 times out, I could come back to Venice soon!

Are you finding everything you need
Can I help you
How are you today
Have a nice day
Thank you
and my favorite...why did you leave Venice!? (ok, yeah, I have been telling strangers about what a great year I just had)

I wont harp on the Venetians anymore because we all know how I feel about their manners but I can tell you it sure does make a difference in your attitude (and for me, transition) when people are friendly. Albeit, its probably just stuff that most people say in passing and they really hope you dont ask them to do anything, but its still nice to hear it. I took that for granted before I left and now actually enjoy it.

I have a friend here in Phoenix who 'never met a stranger'. She talks to everyone she meets or stands in line with and makes eye contact. I never realized how important that was and how affirming it can be. Of course, I suppose it can be annoying to talk to everyone (like that person on the plane next to me from Atlanta to Phoenix who wouldnt stop talking for 4 hours!) So, lesson learned!

You might be asking where I went in my latest outing since I last left you with the idea that I was not going to leave the house ever again! I had a list of things to get outside of the 'brand new and improved and bigger grocery store' and went out to conquer the world and my newfound fear of consumerism.

After making a few stops along the way, it was off to Target to fulfill the list of 'stuff' needed. It wasnt easy in Target as the bright lights, pretty colors and sale items draw you in. I had several conversations with myself about whether I needed that or wanted it and why did I want it after I swore to my blog community that I wouldnt fall into this consumerism trap! In the end, I only walked out with what was on my list which I think was a first for me in Target (and they were sad about it I am sure!). One success under my belt.

So, another thing has been checked off my comes the one I am really dreading...the job interviews. 3 this week and 2 next I think. I have really become accustomed to not working and have had no problem filling up my days--I think I could do it for a living! The thought of working makes me want to say....Ugh! Oh well, theres always hope that I will marry rich! :-)

Editors Note: As an aside, I am just tickled pink after unpacking all my shoes (gosh I love shoes!) that I havent seen in a year. It was like I just went on shopping spree and got all new ones. I think I am doomed to this consumerism thing.....will need to wear some sort of electric collar type mechanism that shocks me everytime I get too close to buying!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Grocery Store

I made my first venture out into the world yesterday....not because I was ready but because I had to. I had not a lick of food for me and the cat, so to the car and grocery store I headed.

Driving is wierd. You have to pay attention to so many more things than just walking! In Venice, my biggest concern was who was coming up in front of me and should I play the game of chicken with them to see if they will move out of my way. And listening to the radio instead of Italian conversations is almost somehow more distracting. However, just like riding a bicycle, I made it to the store.

The grocery store was an event in itself. While I was gone, they remodeled and made it bigger and better (go America!). I can now not only buy my food there but also most of my household supplies and my furniture! The grocery cart was 'molto grande' compared to the little toy models I was used to. And the room...oh my much room to walk around.

I noticed immediately that the price of fruits, vegetables and cheese was much more expensive than I had left it and much more expensive than Venice. But, as part of the remodel, they did add several international sections so I can actually get a few of the things that I didnt used to be able to buy here.

I ended up staying in the store for almost 2 hours! And I think the people around me thought I had tourettes syndrome. I couldnt seem to focus and had sensory overload, so the only way I could get my brain in gear was to read everything, here I am walking up and down the aisles saying oranges, beans, cookies, tea, ice cream, etc. What a hoot!

After a year of living out of a dorm sized fridge with no freezer, I felt like the world was my oyster. I could buy anything and lots of it (at least as much as an unemployed person can buy!). I purchased a 15 pound watermelon because I could put it in the cart, have someone bag it for me, wheel it out to my car and drive it home to the safety and convenience of my garage instead of the manual labor involved in lugging it over 6 or 7 bridges. Well that, and the fact that it didnt have seeds.

I didnt buy anything in the freezer section (except for that new flavor of Ben and Jerrys!) because I dont think I want anything frozen anymore. I really enjoyed fresh food and not sure I can go back to cans and frozen items...guess that makes me a snob now, but I think it might be worth it. Maybe I should get rid of my fridge and put a dorm one in its place? :-)

However, after that outing, I was ready for home and havent left again since....I hope I dont develop some fear about going out......guess all the more reason to keep up on the blog for a bit more---it will be therapy for me!

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I managed to get 4 hours of sleep in 2 days--I wouldnt call it jet lag because that has never really plagued me, but more of being dazed and confused. Its an odd sensation I am experiencing. I dont feel lost but rather like I dont belong. I suppose this is normal even though I am living in a place I have been for 16 years and I am in my own home. After a year away, so many things have changed and so many have stayed the same.

I unpacked the 5 suitcases--or should I say, I deposited the contents of the suitcases into various rooms in large piles to be sorted later. Nothing was broken which I take as a testament to my packing skills. I should have gotten an Academy award for my packing--no really!

But the TSA did visit the big suitcase (the 88 pounder!). God bless them for emptying it and getting it all back in. They went all the way down to the bottom to check out the alcohol (i.e. limoncello), coming dangerously close to my limoncello glasses! And apparently, the TSA agent was a 2 year old because along the way, they ripped open a Baicoli box of cookies like they were Cookie Monster and taped up a bottle of limoncello (to let me know they were there in addition to the calling card they left) so as to make it impossible to see it or get into it! I hope they had fun.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

And we're home....

Its midnight in Phoenix and 9am in Italy...basically 24 hours from the time I left. I have arrived in no less than one piece and the cat lost another life today, but since he has so many, we arent worried!

I paid $700 today for my suitcases and cat! What a bargain, eh? Then as I was about to go through my last gate to board, I realized that the ticket gal didnt give me back my veterinary certificate....what a drag that would have been! So, just for fun, they made me go through security again (i.e. take shoes off, take cat out of bag, take 2 laptops out of bag, walk through, get dressed and organized, etc.). With all that, even before I left Venice, I felt like I hadnt showered in 3 days.

The flight from Venice was uneventful and almost everyone had their own row because it was empty. I watched 3 movies which was a treat since I havent seen a movie in a year. Ate some horrible concoction they Italian food on the plane and got a lecture from the flight attendant because I had the cat carrier on the seat next to me instead on the floor. She said I was committing some Federal felony and if the pilot knew, he would have to land immediately (nice trick since we were over the Atlantic!).

Being in Atlanta for 3 hours was surreal--my country, my language, my home. First, I had to deal with customs and my 5 the way, there are carts down there but no porters, so be prepared! When I finally made my way through, they saw the cat and told me I had to go to another line. So, I schlepped my 2 carts and the cat whereupon the woman there told me she didnt want to see any paperwork because they dont check cats! "What, you dont think my cat can carry a disease? I worked hard to get this piece of paper and then I almost lost it and had to go back and, just look at it!!!!!!" Obviously, I was tired at that point :-)

The flight from Atlanta to Phoenix was completely booked and pretty turbulent since there happens to be many tornadoes going on right now. Poor Mr. P, lost his lunch a few times. It was a long 4 hour flight for both of us.

Upon arrival, two of my friends greeted me with flowers and candy and tabloid magazines so I could get re-acclimated! We paid the porter to schlep because I really couldnt do it anymore and came back to my house.

Talk about strange feelings, turning down my street and unlocking my door for the first time in a year. The house was immaculate, my mother had brought my car back into the garage and Mr. P seemed to remember his old stompings (either that or he was just so damn happy to be out of the cage!).

So, all the bags are right where we wheeled them in, I ache all over, I ate one candy bar already and I think its time for bed!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Last Day

Or is it? As I am all prepared to go (finally got that last suitcase packed but had to mail another box to myself), I am going to wander around my city today and enjoy a last meal at my favorite restaurant.

I was given an offer yesterday to stay here to work full time with housing provided. So late in the game, but who knows what I will think when I wake up in the morning! Maybe I will just stay, maybe I will go, or maybe I will go and come back.

If there is one thing I learned from this year, its that no matter what type of planning, hoping and maneuvering we do, you just never know whats around the corner!

Its been quite a week of saying goodbyes (at least for a little while) to my new friends here. Very emotional to get that last 'double kiss on the cheeks' Italian tradition...I managed to slip in an American hug every now and then!

I have taken the opportunity to go out late the last few nights and walk the streets after the tourists and locals are long gone. Thats the Venice I love---the stillness, the gentle fog, the lapping of the water and 'whisper' of generations past hovering. I didnt think I would be this nostalgic or this sad. It actually hurts to think of leaving. But then again, it has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to live in Venice and, now, to wake up and see the dream ending has to be sad. I have no regrets--its was better than I ever imagined or planned for and I know I will be back.

To everyone who helped to make my year so special.....Marco, Denise, Gerry, Gabriele, Liviana, Monica, Guido, Tommy, Christiano, Elise, Ancelyne, Mimi, Ryan, Jo, Gaspare, John-Henry, Marilyn, everyone from the Pantomime, the cashier Nazi, and all the people who read my blog, who I met, and who visited me......from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

See you soon! A presto!