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This is Thirty – Day 99 – What’s in a Number

In 1999 I was eleven on New Year's Eve and I still can remember the hype around what the Millenium would bring. At midnight my Dad turned off the lights at Jean's house and cackled when it stopped everyone short for a second. In the months leading up to the big day, I...

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This is Thirty – Day 98 – The Infamous Block

It's here - Day 98 and I've been sitting here looking at a blank page and really have nothing to say - not even a funny way out of really writing. I'd say a 98-day streak is pretty good though. I thought about writing about New Zealand today and the more I researched,...

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This is Thirty – Day 97 – Stick Out Your Tongue

We were back in Sara's with Giulio this time - Rami holding him up to the glass, asking him to choose between little pastry cookies - each one filled with blackberry or apricot jam, then folded daintily into a little pocket before baking. *Sidenote: as I just asked...

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This is Thirty – Day 94 – What is Education

This morning as I was scrolling Instagram, a new post from Humans of New York came up. The latest photo is of a woman who is looking at the camera as she sits on a park bench. "My mom had her own issues, so I was never really parented," reads the little paragraph of...

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This is Thirty – Day 93 – Inside Days

I haven't left my house today. Rami got home late last night and was working tonight so we stayed in bed for the morning. The weather outside has turned appropriate for this time of year, even though I don't like to admit it - cold and cloudy, all we were missing is...

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This is Thirty – Day 89 – “I am The Pazza”

When the UPS guy comes when we aren't home here, they drop it off at a UPS drop a few miles away and then I can pick it up there whenever the place is open. Sometimes it's an actual Post Office, lucky for me, our closest one is an adorable little bookstore that only...

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This is Thirty – Day 87 – Renting the World

The other day I read a tweet (I think? There are too many social pages to remember - I'm old and I can't find it again) that said something along the lines of "I miss back when buying things actually meant owning things." I was reminded of this today when my workout...

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This is Thirty – Day 85 – I Would Throw You In

When I was working for the study abroad program I was working for (because at this point lets not name names?), there were way too many times that I wanted to say things, and was told I wasn't allowed to say them. There were a lot of rules that were only based on the...

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This is Thirty – Day 84 – Errands & Interactions

I am currently already in bed. Rami is at work until at least 1:30 or 2:00 am. After months of having Rami home at this point every night, Luna is thoroughly confused and is refusing to settle. I knew this would happen, but at eight months, she is still thoroughly a...

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This is Thirty – Day 82 – Safety While Studying Abroad

Even though you'll get briefed on any possible thing that could go wrong while abroad during orientation, I need you to stop all of those thoughts and remember one thing: wherever you’re studying is this same planet, just with different people – and they are people....

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This is Thirty – Day 80 – Walk into Her Story

I've mentioned my inspiration for this blog project before, but for those who don't remember, it came from my friend Ela, who had previously succeeded in completing an entire year of blogs which you can read on her website called 365 Days of My Life....

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This is Thirty – Day 79 – Kindle Ads and My Perugia

I just finished a memoir that I had picked up a few days ago because I was interested in the editor and wanted to get a sense of what she approved of. It was ok. The writing was a bit lackluster in some aspects for me but I am picky in that sense. I hit the last page...

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This is Thirty – Day 76 – Living Without Fridays

I grew up loving Fridays. In my family, "Thank Christ It's Friday" is an official slogan. We lived for the weekends, and they were the happiest days of about twenty-three years of my life while it rotated on the same schedule as most of the US. Once I was in Italy,...

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This is Thirty – Day 75 – Asmana

Apparently, Asmana is a word in the Marathi language from India that means "the sky or heavens." In Florence since 2015, it means the biggest day spa in Tuscany - and we got to go again today because we had a gift card. I'll tell you, it's absolutely appropriately...

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This is Thirty – Day 74 – Wine and a Cookout

After getting away, it's incredibly difficult to get back on track. Today is really day 74 an it's now lateee at night because after having Giulio again for the afternoon, I came home to Rami and Luna and the grill going in the garden. We're missing our fireplaces so...

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This is Thirty – Day 73 – Personal Space in Italy

There is none. Ok that's a lie - there's some. But honestly, coming from a US upbringing it really means none. The study of "personal space" is called Proxemics, ever since 1963 when the cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall, decided to name it extremely...

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This is Thirty – Day 69 – Little Italian Town Life

We easily parked on the main street and walked back up through the town looking for places that were still open past 7:00pm. There was a little market, a tobacco shop, a pharmacy. One more cafe with a few people smoking outside the entrance. The church doors were...

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This is Thirty – Day 66 – Going off The Grid in Italy

This week, my little Giulio is in Dubai with his parents so we're taking advantage of the free-er week and taking off too. When we first decided to go, it didn't mean we knew where. There are a thousand possibilities from Florence. A four-day trip can be driving...

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This is Thirty – Day 64 – Study Abroad in Italy Advice

I'm not young enough to base the study abroad experience on my own anymore. I didn't even have wifi in my apartment in Ascoli back in 2010, nevermind apps. So there has definitely been a switch in how students navigate their time here, but as a new round of students...

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This is Thirty – Day 63 – Fitbit Step Counts

I'm almost positive I was still living in the US when the Fitbit craze hit. I never got one myself, though I've certainly had experience with heart rate monitors and step counters before. I remember everyone watching their steps. We just recently watched an episode of...

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This is Thirty – Day 62 – Banksy

It is 1 AM and I just now had time to sit and write. The day was long and busy with voluntary and involuntary events, but some of it was work which was great, and another few hours was watching a little two-year-old, and we made progress with his separation anxiety...

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This is Thirty – Day 61 – Wine Windows of Florence

I noticed them almost immediately when I moved here, but no one could tell me what they were. These little tiny doors in the walls of the palaces of Florence. Most cemented shut, but some still showing a wooden door fit for a fairy. What is that for? They seemed...

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This is Thirty – Day 60 – One Single Violin

This past weekend, Giulio was sick, and normally in the early days of recovery, he is a bit grumpy, to say the least. Thankfully we had playdough and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant (which I absolutely remember reading when I was younger) to hold us over until Nonna came...

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This is Thirty – Day 57 – Snapshots of Venice

We sat at the base of a column holding the marble building above the lagoon. The Giudecca stretched out to our right, St. Mark’s across the mouth of the Grand Canal to our left. No matter what time of year, or what type of weather, Venice makes me tired. The sea...

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This is Thirty – Day 56 – Friends in Flo

We're heading out tonight to see old friends. One on the other side of town and then picking one up at the airport. The weather is thankfully better and warmer today so hopefully, the evening will continue the same way. Living in Florence has its benefits when...

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This is Thirty – Day 55 – Snow Flurries in Florence

This morning we woke up to big fat clumps of snow falling into our garden. I, of course, launched out of bed and was absolutely ecstatic. Rami and Luna less so. This is the second year in a row that I’ve seen snow in Florence, and though it didn’t stick this time (and...

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This is Thirty – Day 53 – Boston & Florentine Accents

Florence is known for being the epicenter of perfect Italian. It was where Dante first wrote in the local dialect instead of in Latin, and in 1861, the Unification of Italy made the “Tuscan” Italian the official language. Yes, even today, Tuscans speak much more of...

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This is Thirty – Day 52 – Journal Entry

After days of immigration and government shutdown attention, my posts became a bit more focused and centered on information I had already written in the past, but felt I needed to get out in the public eye again. Mainly, it was so I could just send a link to people...

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This is Thirty – Day 51 – Pieces of Paper

“Why do you keep them though?” She asked as she flicked her hand-rolled cigarette into the ashtray on my kitchen table.   I looked back down at the prayer cards in my hand. One was from the Tomb of St. Francis - It was given to me by one of the Monks when we had...

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This is Thirty – Day 50 – Bagel Withdrawals in Italy

I got to eat a bagel today. For many, I can understand what an underwhelming statement that is, but for me, this is an occasion. I grew up on bagels. It was a staple in our house - regardless if they were frozen in our freezer, fresh from the grocery store, or special...

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This is Thirty – Day 46 – Tired

This morning we had our appointment and I waited out in the cold because I wasn't allowed to even be near the building while Rami went in. The news after his appointment wasn't good, and we were told again that the only way to do this was to permanently immigrate. I...

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This is Thirty – Day 45 – Don’t Quit.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will, When the road you're trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the debts are high And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you must, but don't you quit. Life is...

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This is Thirty – Day 44 – The Vibration of the Drum

The first time I remember it, I was in a school gym. The off-white walls that towered to a raised ceiling. The floor wooden and painted with white lines for a basketball court - shellacked until it was shining underneath the globes of light. We were gathered in a...

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This is Thirty – Day 42 – How to Move Abroad to Italy

After learning my story and seeing my life in Florence many ask me how they can move to Italy like me. How did I do it? What do they need to do? Unfortunately, my situation isn't really common, and moving abroad isn't at all as easy as it seems. Movies and Hollywood...

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This is Thirty – Day 41 – Organizing Based on Joy

I was sitting in my bedroom surrounded by porcelain dolls. I had taken the boxes down from the attic, unwrapped each one, and placed them on the minimal surface space remaining in the cluttered room. Mum walked in at one point as I was lining up the barbies on the...

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This is Thirty – Day 40 – Part Two

On another night, we were walking out by the College Woods - an area of campus that resembled more farmland that university. If I remember, we had both taken a break from projects, had walked outside and decided to determine our path by the LeftRight method - where...

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This is Thirty – Day 39 – Part One of a Few

That one night years ago, she drove us down narrow dirt roads to a wooded parking lot. One string of street lights back behind the trees in the middle of a warm summer. Three hours from the closest city. She threw the car into park and shut off the engine. A tangible...

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This is Thirty – Day 38 – Colpo d’aria

Those more familiar with the culture here may have heard of the dreaded colpo d’aria. Literally translated, it means being smacked by air, which is an extremely serious issue here in Italy. If you get smacked by air, your neck seizes up, I've also heard of catching a...

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This is Thirty – Day 37 – The Janitor

I cannot write today Not in complete sentences that are carefully planned out to make something I’m feeling resonate in your head at the same vibration, an echo of my thoughts transferred through a digital screen used as a tuning fork so you can hear my imperfect...

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This is Thirty – Day 34 – Fame & Fashion in Florence

I’m sure I’ll be writing about fashion more in the future because of my three years working in Polimoda for FIT (two of the top fashion schools in the world, though I’m not bragging, they are). There are certainly some stories there, but right now we’re going to talk...

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This is Thirty – Day 33 – Having Features that Fit

For the past few years, I have struggled with my own identity. With it being ever so easy to slip behind the cultural norm wherever I go. Dark hair, dark eyes, a face without too many particular attributes that’d give me away. I look as Italian, as I do Irish, as I do...

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This is Thirty – Day 32 – Travel Tip: Always Look Up

When I was younger, Christmas and Easter (or at least one of the two) would be spent driving into to Boston. The seemingly endless amount of kids dressed in clip-on ties and pastel dresses ran through the little narrow house. Shiny white patent-leather shoes would be...

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This is Thirty – Day 31 – My Word of the Year is Focus

It’s crazy what can happen in a month. Everyone is back to work after another weekend of festivities for the Epiphany here in Italy. Soon the Christmas lights will come down and the trees will disappear, and we’re left with a quiet Florence until the new students...

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This is Thirty – Day 28 – Leaning Towers & Immigration

I wanted to write about our day in Pisa today but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I am exhausted after filling out a US Visa application with Rami for a temporary travel visa to the US for this summer. We absolutely know it won’t work, but we’re just tired of being...

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This is Thirty – Day 24 – Looking Forward to 2019

Today we went back to the butcher to get a steak for tonight (“You got a beautiful steak to share with a beautiful wife on New Years?! What more can you ask for!”), took Luna to the dog park, and then hung out at home in the backyard with a fire, and then just on our...

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This is Thirty – Day 22 – Pen vs Keyboard

Maybe, as I saw in a post, it's because it's "that space between Christmas and New Year's Eve where you don't know what day it is," but I don’t feel like writing today. I’m not sure how many people understand what I mean when I say that. I don’t mean all writing, I...

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This is Thirty – Day 21 – Long Distance Siblings

There’s only one person that can share the Christmas Eve memories I have, and the stories about where I grew up and how I was raised. My brother is the only one that can really understand my crazy emotions and knows just the right ridiculous joke to send me to make me...

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This is Thirty – Day 20 – Lunch Debates at the Trattoria

On days like today where there’s nothing big planned, we decide that it’s is a Grotta day and head to have a lazy lunch next door. When I say next door, I mean the front room of the restaurant is in our building. On good days, we can smell the simmering sauces from...

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This is Thirty – Day 15 – The Nutcracker

Outside the theater, groups of Florentines in heavy coats and furs smoked cigarettes and the few little girls that got to stay out this late wore sparkly shoes and jumped in place with excitement. Even though the furs were a bit much in this warmer weather, it was a...

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This is Thirty – Day 14 – Babbo Natale

The last time I was flying back here this past September, I had a middle seat in the middle aisle of four seats of a three-aisle plane. I had a woman with an arm sling on my right who was almost absolutely silent the entire flight - which is absolutely fine with me,...

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This is Thirty – Day 13 – Tuscan Butcher Secret Menu

I currently have two and a half pounds of wild boar meat marinating on my kitchen counter. My dog is chewing on a bone that was personally cut and given to her by the butcher down the street. Tomorrow Rami is cooking dinner for us and friends - and a plate of...

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This is Thirty – Day Ten – Yellow Vests & Protests

This past weekend, people flooded the streets in France to protest for the fifth weekend. Though the numbers were halved (from an estimation of over 60,000 protesters to over 30,000 across the country) after President Macron responded to the movement and met some of...

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This is Thirty – Day Nine – Sundays in Italy

On Sunday morning, Italy sleeps. We walk down the street past darkened storefronts - the pharmacy, the corner store, the bakery. Though some restaurants do stay open, our favorites are run by families that also like to have a day off. There are some days I love the...

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This is Thirty – Day Seven – MiaoMiao & Diabetes

After a week of entries, writing these certainly doesn't feel normal, and I still want to perfect every post and lie awake at night wondering if I copied the wrong thing WordPress before I pressed publish. In other ways, I like knowing something specific I have to do...

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This is Thirty -Day Six – Eight Years Later

The minute I stepped foot into Ascoli Piceno, Italy in the spring of 2010, I was on my own. Sure, my study abroad program gave me an apartment, a little introduction tour of the city, and were advised on important things, and they (the two staff and handful of...

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This is Thirty – Day Five – Private Gym? Check.

Today was a long day full of birthday lunch (happy birthday to my (and the best) father-in-law, Bassel!) and work for me - I stayed at home today to work because it’s too cold to venture into the center (it’s 39F but I’ve lived here for six years now and, I don't...

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This is Thirty – Day Four – Library Daze

She sits across from me at this great big dark wooden table. The library lamp suspended between us is casting a yellow shadow on our work and I have unfortunately had to pull out my laptop, though in this setting I feel like opening a computer is a crime in the...

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This is Thirty – Day Two – December in the City

The Sunday after a holiday in Florence means the center is packed with Italians and the outskirts are a ghost town. We wanted to see the tree lit in Piazza Duomo and saw that there was another fair in Piazza Annunziata so decided to head in for lunch. Plus, Luna needs...

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This is Thirty – An International Outlook

After an entirely lovely 30th birthday yesterday, I’m starting a new project on this page that’ll last for the next 365 days and will hopefully entertain you as much as it will me.  First, thank you for all of the birthday wishes! The day was spent well with too much...

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Hiking in Italy – Autumn in the Hills of Florence

The meeting point is at a Pasticceria and on a Sunday morning, a flourish of humid chaos breathes out of the building as we open the front door and walk into the cacophony of trilled calls for caffè and brioche, espressos clattering on white marble counters. The register rings constantly and the air is heavy with voices over the roar of the coffee grinder – neighbors meeting up for their morning cappuccinos – children run through the tables or climb into grandparents’ laps. A group of young girls in the corner bursts into fits of laughter. Two older women sit by the window – seemingly friends for ages, chatting every so often between watching the dance of this place as they sit dressed better than I’ll ever be – with pearl necklaces and perfect pin curls.

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My Personal Italy Itineraries

Here’s to the days that I walk into treasure chests & remember not to get too jaded while living in this fairytale city. — at Cappelle Medicee In October, Florence is churning out the harvest and hunkering down for winter - with heartier dishes in the restaurants...

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Learning Italian from Life Instead of a Textbook

I have sat in so many places with teachers telling me that this is what I need to do. Sit, listen, repeat. Io vado - I go, Tu vai- you go And I’d sit there with these lists of conjugations that frighteningly err on the side of math instead of language and I’d repeat...

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