25 May| Reminder! Faculty Reading and Welcome Party at JCU! — JCU // Creative Writing Workshop

Join us tomorrow for the Institute of Creative Writing and Literary Translation‘s faculty reading and welcome party. Hear the latest works from our professors: Elizabeth Geoghegan (pictured above), George Minot, Michael Carroll, Elena Buia Rutt, Mike Traenor and David Keplinger. The event will be held on the Secchia Terrace in JCU’s Guarini Campus from 6:30 PM […]

via 25 May| Reminder! Faculty Reading and Welcome Party at JCU! — JCU // Creative Writing Workshop

30 May |Women Writers & The Art of the Short Story: A Tribute to Lucia Berlin — JCU // Creative Writing Workshop

Join us on Monday, May 30th (Memorial Day), in celebrating the life and work of author Lucia Berlin (1936-2004). This event will feature JCU professor Elizabeth Geoghegan, Italian screen and fiction writers Chiara Barzini and Francesca Marciano. Event will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Room G.G.1 in JCU’s Guarini Gampus. Click here […]

via 30 May |Women Writers & The Art of the Short Story: A Tribute to Lucia Berlin — JCU // Creative Writing Workshop

Congratulations to the Winners of JCU’s “Italy Reads” 2015 Video Contest — JCU // Creative Writing Workshop

(From article “‘Italy Reads’ Program Holds 2015 Student Video Contest Award Ceremony” on JohnCabot.edu) Now in its 7th edition, Italy Reads is John Cabot University’s community-based reading and cultural exchange program. Each year, high-school teachers and their students read a work of American literature and engage in discussions and activities surrounding the themes, in English. […]

via Congratulations to the Winners of JCU’s “Italy Reads” 2015 Video Contest — JCU // Creative Writing Workshop

Travel | Rome: Renewing Your Permit to Stay (Where to Go & What You Need)

Immigration

 

Are you studying abroad in Rome and thinking about working there afterwards?  Well, the video below may be useful for you.  Prior to graduating from John Cabot University, I decided that I wanted to give myself the option of remaining in Rome to work, which meant changing my residency permit type, from study to work.

With much help from friends (thank you, Dario and Sylvia), my university, and the Garbatella patronato, I was able to get through the process successfully.  Still, I found the experience quite stressful, especially going to the renewal appointment alone.

In this video, I show you where you need to go to renew/change your Permit to Stay (Permesso di Soggiorno), and explain the basics of what you need to do before you go.

Hope you’ll find it useful!

Have specific questions?  Feel free to ask.

 

Travel | Let’s Chat For a Moment: Public Transportation Woes… (Boston Area vs Rome)

Image found via GIS.

Image found via GIS.

I happen to be travelling to Boston this weekend and spending a couple of days for a few greatly needed medical appointments.  To be quite frank, living in Rome has meant living without direct access to the doctors who know my illness best. Still, I’m happy that I have the chance to go and see them–many thanks to my mom and April.

Here’s the thing: being frugally-minded, I made a wonderful deal with Priceline.com to travel roundtrip from Orlando to Boston, plus spend the night in a decent hotel, Bedford Motel.  From the reviews on TripAdvisor.com, the Bedford Motel seemed reasonable and its location was in between or close to all the places I needed to be: Lexington, Burlington, Arlington, and Cambridge.

Of course, there is catch, although there shouldn’t be, but it’s not the fault of either Priceline, the hotel, or even my poor self.  It’s the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority).

Travelling from Orlando, where public transportation is basically nonexistent, I thought “Yes! I’m going to Boston. Subways, real buses, even a freaking ferry!!!” I was truly excited…until I called the hotel and was informed that…

The MBTA does not provide bus service to Bedford after 7pm on Saturdays or 9:30pm during the weekdays.  

What?? Seriously? You have to be kidding me. There I was thinking that I was returning to a little bit of a traveler’s haven, i.e. a city, only to be informed that I had no way of getting to my hotel except via taxi at a rate of ~$130 from the airport or ~$60 from the subway station.

With my savvy traveller skills, I imagined that I had found a work-around: Okay, I’ll sleep at the airport, grab the first subway in and catch the #62 bus to Bedford and sleep for the remainder of the day.

I checked online, found out that it was relatively easy to sleep/hangout in Terminal B 28 until the morning, where there are rocking chairs. I thanked the universe and sighed with relieved.

Yes, I thought I had found the answer, i.e. until I actually checked the bus schedule to Bedford.

No service on Sunday.

What?? Really??

This is beyond ridiculous now.  Why ridiculous? Because I expected more from the MBTA.  Not only was the service limited, but the fare had increased as well!

You see, coming from Rome where the buses show up whenever the driver feels like arriving, I had an expectation of refined service, catered to the needs of city dwellers.  I was not expecting this.

Yes, you may say that Bedford is a small town/neighbourhood/whatever.  I say that there must be working people in Bedford, people who need to get to work or simply get about the place.

In Rome, although the service leaves much to be desired, it is available on the weekends–there is always a way to move about the city, no matter the time.  Night bus services takes you into neighbourhoods that are outside the historic center. That service runs until regular service picks up again.  In Boston, I read that they are diminished night transportation services at the end of June.

So, it looks like I’ll be hopping on the subway and catching a taxi from Alewife to Bedford.  It’s sad news, but for this reason I know that I can never recommend staying at any hotel that is not within proximity of the subway system.  At least the subway runs on the weekends.

Until Next Time,

D.

Vlog | Before I go… Pictures from Roma Pride 2015

DSC00841

Saturday, June 13th, was Roma Pride March. Since 1994, Rome’s lgbtq community has celebrated Pride Week.  Thousands came together to take over the streets, including representatives from major companies, such as Microsoft. It was truly an inspiring day and is another reason why I love Rome.

 

Happy Roma Pride Day!

from GIS.

In a matter of 20 minutes, Roma Pride March will officially begin. If it’s anything like last year, then that means it will start in about an hour. Hence, I am still at home writing this post.  😉 I’m looking forward to capturing some footage of this event and sharing it here.

If you are in Rome, come out to Piazza della Repubblica.  Event starts at 4:30PM!

Happy Saturday! Happy Pride!

Until Tomorrow,
D.

Fibromyalgia & the New You: How to Begin Restructuring Your Life After a Loss of “Self” (Part 1)

hyperrealism,art,swim,swimming,relax,

A decade ago, the word fibromyalgia didn’t exist in my vocabulary.  To be honest, my relationship with illness was that I was never ill in any serious way.  I lived to work and study, which eventually jeopardized relationships.  That way of functioning, however, was what I was taught growing up.  You were suppose to disregard all else in favour of work, whether physical or mental.

I saw my body and my mind as tools to be used relentlessly.  I would work from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. at one job, then jump in my car, drive one hour, and then work from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. I worked every holiday–a habit that I did not break until I moved to Italy. I volunteered to work when someone else didn’t want to, or called out, or whatever.  I made myself overly reliable, and everyone knew they could ask me to step in to help at any time.

Work trumped all else.

So, what happens when a person who self-defines through excessive work (“workaholic”) loses the ability to overwork or even work?  In Rome, we say sono distrutta/o (“I am destroyed”) when something happens that is overwhelming and/or devastating.  I think this expression is apt: you feel a huge part of you has been destroyed.  There is a shattering of the self, a destructive blow to one’s inner worth.

However, the blow doesn’t happen just once.  There are many blows, one for each thing you realize that you can no longer do.  Moreover, the blow aren’t just internal.  You receive external blows that land in the form of judgement, dismissal, and utter disregard…even from the people for whom you once bent over backwards to help when you were well.

That, sometimes, isthe harsh reality of having this illness.  Some people may begin turning their backs on you as they come to realize that you can no longer do what they want/need.  Although such experiences can hurt, they offer you the great opportunity to begin understanding who your real supports are, who you can really trust, and where you actually stand.

Knowing where you stand with yourself and with others, I think, is the one of the most fundamental aspects of beginning to restructure your life after any sense of loss of “self.”   In an earlier post, I wrote about reality checking, i.e. making certain that you understand what is happening in you and around you. Knowing where you stand with yourself and with others is, in essence, reality checking.  One might even call it being mindful to self and environment. Regardless of what you choose to call it, simply do it.

First, take stock of you, what’s going on within you.  Open yourself up to a non-judgmental inner dialogue, and encourage yourself to express all that is challenging you when it comes to your illness and the impact that it has had on your life thus far, or even what fears you may have about the future. Be honest with you.

Second, speak directly with those around you. Open yourself up to non-judgmental external dialogues, and encourage others to express to you how your illness challenges them, what scares them about it now and what they worry about in the future. Of course, make sure you express your thoughts and feelings as well.

Remaining in a non-judgmental stance is vital, in my opinion, to understanding 1) where you are, 2) where you are going, and 3) where you might prefer to go instead. It keeps you here and now, but with a distance that allows for some objectivity about your life.

It’s true that having fibromyalgia can suck the life out of you. However, you do not have to allow fibromyalgia to suck you out of life. Yes, things are different now. Yes, you have no idea how it’s all going to work out.  Yes, you are scared.  All of those things are okay. Your feelings are you feelings and they should be owned you.

Still, having fibromyalgia isn’t the end of the world.  It may be an ending of a chapter of your life as you knew it.  And now you can write a new chapter.

Until Tomorrow,

D.

Travel | Night of the Killer Moth and Other Thoughts at 1:40am

Image from Flickr

I’m sure moths can be beautiful.  When, however, you wake up to one trying wage war against you, they seem more like a nightmare.

Now, I aim to live peacefully with all creatures. I even apologize to the ones I know that I am squashing as I make my way through the day. If I could stand still and hurt not even one, I would be a happy person.  And perhaps it is silly of me, but I expect the freaking same from these creatures, too.  Live and let live.  Sleep and let sleep.  All right?

Well, that hasn’t been the case for the past two nights with Mr. I-have-nothing-better-to-do-than-terrorize-you Moth.  Seriously, I’ve resorted to hiding under the covers and leaving the light on…which seems to be a good deterrent.  Any suggestions?

While strategizing to find the best way to live harmoniously with Mr. Moth, it dawned on me that I had learned another important lesson while living in Rome: insects have a right to exist, too.  I always knew that, but in the US it seems like we spend a lot of time trying to keep our surroundings bug-free (which, of course, can be a very good thing).

If you are travelling to Rome and you do not have a good relationship with creepy and flying things, prepare yourself psychologically beforehand.  Here, it’s not uncommon to see flies in bakeries (pitching on your soon-to-be-eaten pizza slice) or in restaurants. Seriously, it happens, especially in the warmer weather.  And the attitude is….well., live and let live. 🙂

Strangely enough, I’ve never seen a cockroach (knock on virtual wood).  Now, I’m off to negotiate with a moth.

Buona giornata!

Until tomorrow,

D.

Daily Blogging & Writing Fearlessly

On Via Fori Imperiali

On Via Fori Imperiali (May 2015)

I’m almost certain that many writers spend time thinking about how to write more, why they aren’t writing more, when they can write more, if they should write more, if they can write more. I’m no exception.

Lately, I’ve been writing, but not publicly. I have an awful tendency to stop writing because I believe I have nothing of interest/importance to state–usually, that translates into “I feel like crap about myself in the world.”  I recognize that writing about true feelings/thoughts not filtered through psychobabble scares the living daylights out of me.  Seriously.

It is a scary thing just to write “I feel…” and not add something about Freud or CBT or DBT immediately before or after it.  What would it mean to simply state my feelings, my thoughts unfiltered, uninhibited in my own little virtual space?  Who knows. This, however, is the starting point.

It’s a promise to myself. Every morning, I will write something, anything on this little blog of mine. It may interest you. It may bore you to tears.  The point, however, is that I am writing what is honest/authentic/true for me. I hope you’ll continue to give me your support.

Also, I an starting a health journey daily vlog upon my return to the US.  It will run from May 25-August 15, and will be tracking my progress with taking better care of my overall (but mostly physical) health, including diet, exercise, hair, skin, etc. I am really ready to commit to a healthy vegan and natural lifestyle, and I would like to document that process. So, wish me good fortune on that as well.

Sometimes it’s when we are about to experience enormous change that we truly recognize the direction in which we are heading.

Until Tomorrow,

D.