September 26, 2011

I'm moving, changing, and so is my blog!

Since I've decided to move to Rome, and change so many things in my life, I thought it was a good time to change my blog.

So please check out my new blog, Leaping Without a Net at:

September 21, 2011

Moving to Rome: I may need some help.


It's the damnedest thing.

The more clutter I clear out of my rambling old apartment before the movers come, the more things I seem to have!!!

At his rate, how am I going to keep my packing for Rome down to only two suitcases? And a carry-on? I may need to smuggle a pack animal onto Air Canada to help me with the luggage!

A few days ago, I booked my airline ticket to Rome for Nov. 30, with a vague return date that can be changed. What's more difficult to change is Air Canada's parsimonious packing policy. One suit case per traveller. Madness.

Of course, for $70 I could bring a second suitcase; but a third piece of luggage would be ruinously expensive. So, I am facing hard limits.


Fine. I can work with limits and deadlines. And with the movers coming in only a few weeks, I've been organizing my things into categories:

a. Items for storage with the moving company
b. Items to store with friends (personal papers, my handmade ceramics)
c. Items for charity
d. Items for the rubbish (I really don't need to save mismatched mittens)
e. Items to take to Italy

It's that last one that's proving a challenge.

I'm a writer, therefore I need electronics. Seriously; no one uses the fountain pen any longer. A laptop, net-book, various power cords and plug adaptors. Headset for Skype. Cellphone and charger; iPod and chargers. External keyboard, mouse and hard drive. Camera and its charger. All to go into the carry-on along with $1,000 worth of prescriptions (asthma and ulcers get expensive.)

Books. I need to bring a few favourite books, plus Italian study guides, dictionaries (English and Italian.) A few CDs and DVDs (at least they're flat.)
A file of favourite recipes, especially for lentil soup (cheap protein); tax receipts so I can claim all those damned prescriptions; notes for both novels, the one that's completed and the work in progress.

Jewelry and cosmetics -- what if I stay a year or more? I can't keep wearing the same earrings! Sox and Spanx tights. Underwear. Jammies.


At least Teddy won't mind being crushed.

And the clothing -- oy vey! Winter boots, summer sandals and everything in between. (And no, I can't buy shoes when I get there. I'm very tall with long long feet. Nothing in Italy fits me -- other than the lifestyle.)

Work clothes, gym clothes, sitting-at-home-studying-Italian/watching-those -engrossing-Italian-TV-game-shows clothes. A raincoat, a wool winter coat.

I have lists, and lists of lists that I should make.

I think I need a Sherpa. Then, a scotch.

September 16, 2011

If my mother asks, I'm just in Rome on an extended visit!


Each week, my elderly mother double-checks: I'm not moving to Rome, right? I'm merely taking an extended visit, correct?

I reassure her with partial truths. I have rented a studio apartment in Rome for three months, beginning in December. True. I've also told her that I hope to find some work to pay the bills, but my focus will be studying Italian and working on my second novel. Also true. Sort of.

What I don't mention is that I'm preparing to stay in Italy many, many months. Say, 60 months. Or maybe 100 months if all goes well.

It's also true that I've gotten some leads on work in Rome that might allow me to stay much longer. But why trouble her with these details now, in case things don't go well and I come scurrying back to Canada next spring, broke and downcast.

Whatever. I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it.

Meanwhile, I'm practising using Skype so I can call Mom frequently from Rome (whether I can catch her in her room at the senior's home in rural Alberta is another question. She loves it there and is in a social whirl the likes of which I have never seen!)

Skyping to Mom's phone will, hopefully, be less expensive than calling from my Italian cellphone. Just one of the few ways I can find to save money in Rome.


For it’s becoming clear that My Life as an Italian is going to be rather expensive. So it has become all the more important that I find some decent work there. At least things are finally looking up on that front!
I've applied for some writers grants to help with my fiction writing.

It seems there will be some solid opportunities for me to work as a freelance reporter in Rome, which would be a great way to meet more Italians, oil up my rusty reporting skills, and practise my beginner Italian language abilities. God help us all.

Meanwhile, my speechwriting contacts are hinting that I should be able to continue to do “remote” work for them. Remote at this point means my apartment, instead of their offices; but thanks to the Internet, remote should also translate into me writing speeches from Rome. So that's helpful.

And there are a number of UN agencies in Rome that I'm hoping will need the communications skills of a reporter/speechwriter/comms strategist right there on the ground. My new business cards should read “Will write 4 food.”

But for now, the money is pouring out as I pay for business cards; hire movers; and arrange for my belongings to be put into storage next month. And buy a winter coat and new shoes (since I'm too tall to fit Italian sizes so can't buy them there.)

I've switched to a bank account that charges a higher monthly fee, but offers free ATM transactions, saving me the usual $5 charge every time I use a foreign bank machine. I crunched the numbers and the more expensive account actually does mean savings -- or, to be more precise, lower overall expenses.

Soon, I'll have to get a six month supply of prescriptions which is going to cost a small fortune.


And -- a top priority -- my hair stylist will give me the formula for my highlights, to take to Rome so my coiffure can be maintained (though I'm certain that the Aveda salon in Rome is going to be pricey.)

On that last point, PLEASE don't tell my Mom -- the money I spend on my hair, more than anything else, would scandalize her!

September 11, 2011

A moving-to-Rome to-do list


I'm a list maker, it helps me to feel in control. Also, I get into trouble when I don't make lists. I forget important items. On a visit to my family in Alberta once, I forgot to pack bras so I had to wear my mother's. I don't think forgetting bras has a deeper meaning, such as hatred of underwear. I have seen that: my friend's dog Charlie once ate an entire bra from my laundry when I was dog-sitting. All we ever found was a single under-wire....

So, I've already begun my packing list for my move to Rome. That'll be a challenge and a whole separate blog topic.

My pre-Rome to-do list is a variation on the moving lists we've all had to draw up when changing houses or cities. With an extra twist twist, of course: I'm leaving the country and the continent, not just the province.

I've borrowed this list from my blogging friend Jane, who moved her family to Italy for a year. Here, in no particular order, are things I must take care of before November:


1. Ensure I can pay all of my bills online. Especially the credit card bills. I expect I'll be using Visa a fair amount. Also, remind Visa not to cut off my credit when they begin seeing charges from Italy.

2. Ensure my homeowners insurance covers my belongs in storage. And keep paying them.

3. Remember to cancel all of my services: phone, electricity, mail, newspapers, cable TV, Internet. The last thing I need are bills for services I don't require.

4. Give Canada Post my friend Dale's mailing address as my new forwarding address.

Continue reading "A moving-to-Rome to-do list" »

September 5, 2011

Moving to Rome: This will take some discipline


When I paid a hefty deposit in early July to secure my apartment in Rome for the coming winter, I was nervous but very excited. I had just returned from three wonderful weeks in Italy and my mind was filled with all of the sights and scents and tastes that I could not wait to return to!

Now, it's September, my move to Rome is about 12 weeks away, and logistical worries are pushing out feelings of excitement, replacing them with anxiety. Will I find work? How quickly can I learn enough Italian to hold a conversation? Can I really restrain my packing to just two suitcases, yet still bring enough clothes to last thru spring and enough favourite books for when I feel down?

The practical matters around packing up my apartment here in Canada and putting everything into storage, then couch-surfing for a month, are also less than fun.

I take a lot of comfort from the fact that everyone around me seems to be thrilled with my plan, and their encouragement and enthusiasm reminds me of why I am doing this. And that it really will be great!

It also prods me to be much more selective in my thoughts. This is an essential lesson that I need to practice and now is certainly the perfect opportunity to remind myself: Select your thoughts.

Rather than obsessing about logistics to the exclusion of every happy thought, I must find a balance and make room for excitement.The details of wrapping up this old life and organizing my new life in Rome are important-- but it's crucial to remember why I want to live in Italy, what I want to see, and accomplish.

Left unchecked, my mind would rather return to its comfortable old groove: anxiety, fear, worrying details while missing the larger picture.

Continue reading "Moving to Rome: This will take some discipline" »

About Me

I love to travel, even though I always burden myself with far too much luggage! I also love to write, so here's my attempt to combine the two.... Read more

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