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!