You are browsing the archive for 2010 July.

Terracina, Italia – And What I’m Doing Here

July 30, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games

Terracina is a small beachside town in the Lazio region of Italy – Western, central, on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. There are hills and mountains; beaches and Roman ruins; sailboats and tourists. In the distance, La Maga Circe – a profile-shaped mountain named for the witch of Roman myth – reclines in the sea.

The sea is said to be the sea of Ulysses. The grapes that grow in this province are supposed to be the sweetest in the Mediterranean. The ancient ruins attract travelers from far and wide, and the beaches see high tourist activity during the summertime, full of summer people and summer beach homes that empty as the sun’s rays weaken before the start of the school year in September.

In Roman times, there were the gods, the witches, the emperors. In the medieval era, there were the forts built during the Gothic Wars. Later, there were Baroque churches, the epidemics of malaria, the World Wars. And in the mid-20th century, there were the Moscatellis.

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Life in Two Suitcases Under 40kg

July 27, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games

Flight to Italy tomorrow morning, early. Taxi called for 5 a.m. Passports, e-ticket, wallet, and dollars to exchange. A small plastic egg stuffed with a plastic bag from Ryan Air, just in case. Mini umbrella. Keys that you won’t be needing for over a month.

Life, scattered throughout the bedsit, separated into several piles: clothing, electronics, soap, gifts, books. The soap pile threatens to engulf everything else, including the clothing. Because that’s how you roll. If it smells good, you need it. End of story.

Clothes are on the bottom – flat, not folded or rolled. The smaller bags are packed inside the bigger bags. The electrical items are wrapped in thick rolls of socks. The cards and letters are slipped into the suitcase lid: Happy 30th. Happy Holidays. I miss you. Come to our wedding. A drawing made by a student in Japan two years ago that somehow stowed away to Dublin. The flat items – a notebook, a tiny tray – are slotted into the sides of the suitcase. Same with the shoes. Same with the book – just one, the purple one with your name in it. The others will come in the second round. So will the Vietnamese leaf painting. So will the bathrobe. This trip here – Phase One – is just for the essentials.

There are only six other books. There are only five pairs of shoes. Rule one of being a serial expat: buy nothing. Rule two: Sell or donate the stuff you buy when you break the Buy Nothing rule. Rule three: Books and shoes are instant death. Resist, and when it’s time to move on you, too, will be smug as a Cheshire Cat. Even if part of you longs for such stationary things as a beautiful tea set like the one your classmate has, the poet from Donegal, the one she served you on when you went to her house for tea. Patterned Irish china, delicate as old leaves.

Life disappears into the two suitcases. Under 40kg or not – the attendant at the airline counter will decide tomorrow. But you think you’ve done it.

A pint of Guinness to help you sleep. You know a thing or two by this stage. Don’t you?

Things I Will Miss About Dublin and Ireland

July 26, 2010 in dublin, Ex-Patriate Games, Ireland, Looking, spazarific

It’s not so bad. I’ll be back anyway for a few weeks this September to close out my lease, get the rest of my things, and publish my thesis… but Phase 1 of Operation Move to Italy goes down this Wednesday and, for all intents and purposes, this is the beginning of the end. I see an anchor in my mind’s eye – creaking and jostling in the sand, ready to float free.

A couple of days ago, I looked my new address for the first time. A German street name; zip code preceding the province, province preceding the country. I also took down the phone numbers for my new cast of blog characters mother’s family, who live in the province to the North. Seeing the new address and contact numbers always makes things that much more “real” and a bit unnerving. But, as I always tell myself, the physical symptoms for excitement and nervousness are the same. Even if said “excitement” is making me think about the things I will miss when I’m really gone. Namely:

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Down the Pub

July 24, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games

Back in Dublin now after 5 weeks in 5 different U.S. states. The Irish summer weather, slushy and cold when I left, is now bright and crisp; perfect for an afternoon watching the swans in leafy St. Stephen’s Green, or an evening stroll down Grafton Street. I’d do both of those things if I could get out of bed before two p.m. – jet lag, you are a cruel, cruel mistress twitching a cat o’ nine tails and spearing my back to the bed with your stilettos. Bitch.

When I’m awake, there’s work to do here in Dublin. Meeting with the portfolio advisor at College, packing for the Next Big Thing, getting my fill of Irish sights before I’m gone. But first, it’s the weekend. I’d had plans to go out for drinks with a classmate but she canceled, pleading exhaustion after an all-nighter meeting a portfolio deadline so that’s her tapped out, and me on one of my last weekends in Dublin refusing to go down without a fight.

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Dear Ireland,

July 21, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games, Ireland, Oishii, spazarific, WanderFood

I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked – I’m coming back soon, I promise – but as I was sitting down to lunch at Dallas BBQ on 8th Street, I inhaled a steamy whiff of my chicken vegetable soup and was suddenly reminded that there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a very. Long. Time. Warning: this may come as a shock.

This is what soup is supposed to look like. It is not meant to look like mash. It is not meant to look like strained baby food. How many times have I ordered “spring vegetable” or “chicken” soup at one of your restaurants and been served a bowlful of mystery glop? Too many times, Ireland. Too many times.

Look; you can actually see the ingredients advertised by the soup’s name. Pure. Honest. Slurpable. You can’t imagine the deliciousness of soup in its true form. I want you to know. I need you to know. So, Ireland – mams at home, café cooks, Cully & Sully – put away the blenders. Let the ingredients be.

I know. I’ve just blown your mind.

Yours in hunger,


This post has been brought to you by Wanderfood Wednesday.

What Big Siblings Are For

July 15, 2010 in spazarific, The Odd Siblings, True Fairy Tales of New York

We’re at Marie’s Crisis and Joy gets a text from her older sister, Shelly. Shelly is watching Joy and Diego’s new Pomeranian, Tallulah. Joy has been anxious all evening about how the dog is faring, so Shelly’s text is a lifeline between mother and puppy. However:

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I Take Thee, Cake

July 14, 2010 in spazarific, WanderFood

The thing you need to know about me and weddings is that I’m while I love my friends, dancing, and hearing about the color schemes, ultimately I’m there for the food. Those tears I’m wiping away as the bride glides down the aisle? Tears of hungry anticipation.

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The Long Island Railroad Montauk Line Travel Guide

July 12, 2010 in Looking, New York, spazarific

Gia and I are headed to Islip for the wedding of Jeremy and Ellie. We’re going together, but I’m boarding the train at Penn Station and she’s boarding it at Atlantic Avenue. It is our plan to meet when the train hits Atlantic Avenue, which we figure will be the first stop after Penn Station. Somehow, last night on the phone at 1 am, this seemed like it would work. But then my train doesn’t stop at Atlantic Avenue; heads on toward Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

She texts me: Where are you?

I text her: I think we’re on different trains. Mine goes straight to Babylon.

She texts: Mine goes to Jamaica. I have to transfer to the one to Babylon. Will we meet at Babylon?

I text: Yes.

She texts: Okay.

L: I am hungry. I am wearing a black and white dress.

G: Me, too!

I look out the window, at the strip malls and trees. It will be at least another hour before we hit Babylon. I’m bored. I’m hungry. The train leaves Rockville Center. Next stop: Baldwin. I pick up my phone again. I text Gia.

Now it’s not often I do American travel writing, so pay attention.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

July 9, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games, New York, spazarific

As of 2010, the internet does not come complete with smell-a-vision and I was smacked down by a singing waiter when I tried to take a video, but just try and imagine the rush of stepping into Marie’s Crisis – the olfactory punch of whiskey and beer, the jangling notes of the piano, the rapturous voices singing along to Gershwin or Sondheim or Kander & Ebb. I’ve adored Marie’s Crisis since 2005 and lust it each time I touch down in New York City. Going down those rickety old steps will always be the portal to my instant joy.

This post has been brought to you by Deliciousbaby Photo Friday.

The Things I’ve Carried

July 8, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games

While I was in Florida last month, my mother watched me pull out my wallet to pay for something – probably candy.

“Geez,” she said. “Your wallet is huge.”

She was right. My purse has been weighing down my shoulders for weeks and the wallet – stuffed with heaps of euro coins – is the culprit.

So I sat down to clean it out. First, I scooped out the euro coins and put them in one of the pockets of my suitcase. Then I noticed that the business card slots were packed pretty tightly so I began to pull them out one by one, to see which I still needed and which I didn’t.

This is what I found:

My whole life as a serial expat- carried around with me each day, both figuratively and literally.

From Ireland: the KopiKat photocopy card from college, my dermatologist’s business card, member/saver cards from Brown Thomas, Boots, Dunnes, and Zeba. My membership card from the Literary Society at school. My 30-Day Student Bus Rambler Pass. My college ID.

From Japan: My Popeye Media Cafe membership card (ah, 久しぶりね 、 Popeye-san?), my Kenkouhoken card, my gaijin card.

From New York City: Metro cards, my New York State Driver’s License, the new Duane Reade’s club card, more club cards from Sephora and D’Agostino’s. Business cards from my dentist, a supposedly authentic yakiniku restaurant on St. Mark’s, and my friend, Thomas - production and talent.

From Italy: My health insurance card.

Up top, real money and play money.

And finally, the wallet itself – bought at the Tennoji Takashimaya in Osaka.

Countries lived in over a period of forty-three months: 3.

Times I’ve cleaned out my wallet since 2007: 1

Memories: Countless.

What will my wallet – and my shoulders – look like in a year?