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

Valentine’s Day–What Is It Again?

DSC_0030I’m lucky–I’ve always dated people whose birthdays were close to Valentine’s Day.  Even better, I married someone whose birthday was on Valentine’s Day itself.

Of course, I didn’t always realize my luck.

But first, let’s have a Sophia Petrillo moment, and “picture it”:

Valentine’s Day, 2014, a not-so-little Indian restaurant in the heart of Rome’s Monti district, a solitary woman dressed in bright colours walks in and asks for a table–alone.  Already the front room is crowded with couples, but there is one table tucked away in a corner where the woman can sit…completely observed.  It’s perhaps not the strangest sight that the diners will see for the night, but it’s definitely contrary to what’s expected.  Where’s her date? or Is she waiting for someone? or Has she been stood up? they might wonder.  Nope. She’s there on her own, taking herself out for Valentine’s Day.

—-

Of course, I’m not the only one who does this. I’m sure many people do, regardless of gender/sex.  It’s just not what others apparently expect.  What they seem to expect is that you ought to be at home, complaining to fellow single friends about your single status, drinking your sad singleness away, pining after an old lover or unrequited love, shoving a ton of chocolate down your throat, and then chasing it with a tub of your favourite Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream (or gelato if you’re in Italy).  What they don’t seem to expect is that you can celebrate Valentine’s Day all on your own and love doing it.  If you’re single, then help me to disspell that misguided notion.

After all, let’s consider what Valentine’s Day really is: a day dedicated to Saint Valentine of Rome, who was executed just outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269 for refusing to renounce his belief in Christianity.  His feast day is February 14th, hence we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Moreover, he’s not just about candies and hearts. Saint Valentine is the patron saint of “affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, and young people.” (Catholic.org)

meaningofbeesindreams

So, this brings me back to being lucky.  I’ve been lucky because I’ve never really had the thought that Valentine’s Day was something do with my receiving anything (be it candy or flowers).  It was always a day about my remembering someone special to me and showing them my gratitude for their existence.  Being single doesn’t change that.  Valentine’s Day continues to be a day that I remember someone special and that I show gratitude for their existence…it just happens to be me. 😉

This Valentine’s Day, try to remember that it’s a day to:

  1. honour your faith (if you are Christian)
  2. remember a saint (if you are Catholic),
  3. thank the universe for the existence of bees (if you are bee keeper),
  4. ask for relief from suffering (if you have epilepsy or fainting spells or the plague),
  5. pray for a safe journey (if you are a traveller),
  6. embrace your youth (if you consider yourself young),
  7. say hello to people around you (if you are not alone, and if you are, then go find someone to say hi to),
  8. remember that someone has decided to put up with your crap (if you are engaged),
  9. remember that someone has been putting up with your crap for some time now (if you are married),
  10. work on having great sex (if you have a lover),
  11. and love yourself and those around you (if you aren’t already doing it).

So, what will you do this Valentine’s Day?  I know I’m looking forward to going to church (since it falls on a Sunday–lucky!) and thanking the universe for all that I have.  To top it off, I’ll likely have a piece of chocolate, give my mom a hug, make plans to travel in the near future, and wonder about the beauty of bees.

-D.

In the meanwhile, check out this video 🙂

 

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 | Back to Rome on Monday…Why Again?

Found via Google image search.

Found via Google image search.

The other day I wrote a post about being nomadic, and once again I find myself about to board an airplane.  Monday, I return to Rome and will be there for a month.  If you were to ask me why, then I could give you about 5 good reasons (not in any particular order): 1) my stuff is still there, 2) I need to pick up my work permit, 3) I never picked up my university degree, 4) I’ve had a poetry translation published in a book and I will receive a copy there, and 5) it’s a great chance to see my friends.

Still, above all of these reasons, remains the most important:  I will know whether or not I really want to live in Rome.

When you are immersed in a situation, it is difficult to be objective about the reality of it.  This is why it is important to take a distance from it.

As a nomad, it’s incredibly easy for me to adjust to a new environment.  After about 2 weeks, I am often settled into a routine, thoughts about my previous life have eased out of my mind, and I’m excited to focus on what my new environment has to offer.

For some, being able to transition so easily from one environment to another would be a welcomed skill.  For me, I have to remind myself that, although it is great that I acclimate well to new places, it is important for me to understand what I have left behind, both people and things.

So, I’m heading back to Rome. I have no idea what this trip will mean, what it will accomplish in moving me further on my path, but I’m looking forward to it.  I’m packing my almost-finished-novel-in-progress (yes, it’s really almost finished), my camera and laptop, and whole lot of faith in the universe.

Wish me well. 🙂

Until Monday, (I’ll write while I’m in the airport)

D.

 

 

Travel Tip| Get A Week LinkPass Even If You’re There For 2 Days (Boston)

View from my Delta fllight back to Orlando.

View from my Delta fllight back to Orlando.

Travelling around the outskirts of Boston, I made a mistake (or two), learned the resulting lesson, and am here to share.

I’m frugal, eco-friendly, and patient.  This makes me an ideal candidate for using public transportation anywhere in the world.  I don’t mind being jostled, witnessing vomiting drunk college kids, listening to the latest gossip from conspiring middle-aged minds, and smelling a screaming baby in need of a serious diaper change. I’m good, you see, with just about everything.

So, where did I go wrong on this trip?

Being frugal, I immediately went on the MBTA site to look at passes. There a couple of options for short stays (3 weeks or less): Day LinkPass for $12, and Week LinkPass for $19. (Both provide unlimited subway, bus, ferry and commuter rail Zone 1A travel) 

My dilemma occurred when I understood that I had to take a taxi to my hotel Saturday night/Sunday morning and that I would be unable to leave the area where I stayed until Monday…because public transportation is unavailable in Bedford after 7/8pm on Saturdays. That meant I only needed to travel on Monday and Tuesday.

I thought long and hard about it–apparently, not enough, however.

You see, I only needed to visit four places. I thought, Hmm…well, I can get a CharlieTicket and use bus transfers. That surely will be the best choice. After all, the fare for the bus is $2.10.

First, let’s break down a couple of  prices for the MBTA:

  • CharlieCard $1.60
  • CharlieTicket $2.10

There are, of course, more fares, etc.  For my trip, the above two costs were the important ones.

It is apparent from comparison that travel with the reloadable plastic CharlieCard is far less expensive than travel with the paper CharlieTicket.  They both offer transfers, but users of the CharlieTicket are made to pay a surcharge. What for? I’m quite uncertain.  Still, I get the eco-friendly idea of the plastic CharlieCard versus the paper CharlieTicket.

The problem with the CharlieCard is that you can only purchase it at certain stations between the hours of 7am-7pm or from certain retail stores.  I’m sure this is convenient…if you live in the area.

If you are just visiting and arrive after the sales hour and are not in proximity to one these retail stores, then the CharlieCard fails to be an option. You cannot purchase the CharlieCard from the fare vending machines located inside the stations.

Understanding the above, upon my arrival to the Airport subway station, I purchased a CharlieTicket for $10 (sold in values of $5, $10, $20, etc.) to use on Monday when I needed to leave Bedford for my appointments. I believed that this would be good for a total of 8 trips, i.e. 4 regular fares and 4 transfers.

I miscalculated.

The CharlieTicket does not give transfers from bus to subway. So, you must pay the subway fare separately.

Unfortunately, I had gotten into the habit of the Rome subway system that allots 1 one-way subway transfer alongside unlimited bus transfers within 100 minutes (cost 1.50 Euros).

In Boston, you are allowed 1 bus transfer within 120 minutes (cost $2.10).

In the end, I purchased another $10 CharlieTicket because I hadn’t realized that I would need to use the subway as much as I did.

Total cost of public transportation trip $20 with 2 CharlieTickets for 2 days. Less than 2 Day LinkPasses ($24), but more than the Week LinkPass ($19).

My recommendation? From day one, get the Week LinkPass. You can purchase it from the fare vending machines in the Airport subway station.  If you are going to be in Boston for more than 3 weeks, get the Monthly LinkPass ($75).

Otherwise, get the Week LinkPass.  For $19 you get unlimited bus, subway, ferry and Zone 1A commuter rail travel.

Lesson learned.

Until Friday,

D.

P.S. If you are travelling to Rome, and staying for more than two weeks, then buy a monthly pass (35 Euros). You can purchase them inside major stations or by roadside kiosks! I’ll write a separate post about this soon! 🙂

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.