Monday, May 30, 2011

Putting the Details in Writing

I'm over at 'S Wonderful today, talking about the plan manifesto Mr. Wonderful and I have started to help us figure out how in the world we're ever going to get that vineyard one day...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Can a Tic Beget a Tic?

A couple weeks before I left for my honeymoon, my team at work had to move to a different floor. They're consolidating everyone onto 4 floors instead of 5, so we're pretty much sardined into the available spaces now. It's not the worst thing that's ever happened in life, but I am definitely having a hard time adjusting to the change.

Particularly because of my new cubicle neighbors.

Especially the one with the tic.

I'm not sure what day I first noticed it. I think he may not have been in the office the first few days after the move. But then, one afternoon, I heard it.

Ttt Ttt.

It's sort of like a tisk sound, but also sort of like a tapping noise. It comes in twos and threes, quickly sputtered. Sometimes it's rapid fire. Other times, there are big gaps between outbursts.

People, it is like Chinese water torture of the ears.

I turn up my headphones and I can still hear it. It's the perfect pitch to cut through other sound. And it's driving me batshit crazy.

I think I'm developing an eye twitch as a result of hearing it so often.

Do you think I could get fired for muzzling a coworker?

Monday, May 23, 2011

If Only Intuition Spoke a Little Louder

I felt off the minute we stepped onto the train.

We were hurrying along with the crowd and when Mr. Wonderful tossed our suitcases into the designated storage area, my stomach twinged.

Then as we walked almost the entire length of the train car to get to our seats, I thought, "We should move the luggage closer."

A beggar woman came through our car after we'd been in motion for thirty or forty minutes, and again I had an uneasy feeling. But I said nothing.

When we reached our destination, my suitcase had vanished.

The sickening feeling of discovering that was worse than when I've been robbed before. This was my honeymoon. And I'd purchased a bunch of (not so cheap) new clothes for it. And I'd been so selective about the souvenirs I chose for my nieces. And the little reminders Mr. W and I would take home to keep around and smile at and think of our special trip together.

I ran down the platform, whipping my head in every direction trying to spot the person who had taken my bag. Mr. W searched every car on our train.

I'm sure my suitcase got off 3 stops before we did.

And so I began to wonder if it was intuition or manifestation that was at play before we left. Should I have trusted my instincts? Or had my worry put an energy into the Universe that caused my feared outcome to come true? I asked my friend Janice what she thought when we met her for a drink by the Pantheon. Janice knows stuff. She has a Master's Degree in Spiritual Psychology.

She said it was intuition for sure.

Unfortunately, that almost made me feel worse. If only I'd listened to that little uncomfortable voice. Maybe I'd have my favorite turquoise sweater and the underwear I'd worn on my wedding day now.

I like to think that I'm not a huge "stuff" person. I regularly purge things from my life and donate them to Goodwill. I'm not a person who needs to own a $500 purse or fancy jewelry. I am a sucker for things with sentimental value, though. And maybe that's why this is hitting me so hard (still...even though I've been home for 2 days...). I feel like the world stole my nostalgia. I won't be able to put on my sundresses and remember how I wore them in Capri. I won't be able to look at the bottle of olive oil in my kitchen with the little lemon stopper on top and think about our stay in Ravello.

I know I'm being a big baby. They're only things. No one was hurt. It's all replaceable. But it sure was a stinky way to end an amazing trip.

I'm hoping I'll get over it soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nudity Research is a Must for Future Endeavors

So wouldn't ya know it: Mr. W and I took the ferry to Positano yesterday and right there in the middle of the public beach for all eyes to see were four (FOUR) topless girls. Eight boobies shining in the sun.

Mr. W quickly tried to convince me to go down on the beach and join them, but I didn't have bathing suit bottoms (or even nice underwear since we're drawing close to the end of the trip...) and I certainly wasn't going to just sit in my skirt and no top.

The lesson here, kids, is to always research things like this so you can plan ahead. Otherwise you'll just end up with a bad case of nudie-jug jealousy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Thing about Going Topless in Amalfi

If you read here regularly, you may remember that one of the goals of Mr. Wonderful's and my honeymoon was for me to go to a topless beach. Initially, it was one of my Things to Do Before Turning 40, but I think after I notified the husband of it, it quickly became an important goal for him.

Sorrento was our first coastal stop, and because it's mostly up on top of cliffs, I didn't see much hope for finding a beach. Next was Capri, where again it was quite a hike to get down to the coast.

"We'll find one in Amalfi," Mr. W assured me.

But Amalfi is quite small and the only easily accessible public beaches are right in the harbor. Our hotel was across the street from one, so after we checked in, I stood on our balcony and carefully examined its inhabitants.

They all appeared to be wearing bikini tops.

I told Mr. W that there was no way I was taking my top off when no one else on the whole beach was.

"I think maybe I'm just going to have to forgo crossing 'go topless' off my list," I said.

"Noooo," he whimpered like a kid who just had his gelato stolen.

Then he quickly offered a solution: we would rent a boat and take it around until we found a beach. There had to be a secluded spot somewhere where I could, as Nilsa says, Free The Girls.

This seemed like cheating to me. The original goal was to go to an actual topless beach and participate in the festivities. But I didn't want to let Mr. W down.

So we rented a boat.

Giancarlo and some other sunburned young Italian buck explained to us all the rules of boat rentals. They showed Mr. W how to operate everything and drop the anchor. Then they explained to us that we could only "park" 100 meters from shore and that under no circumstances could we go to the beach. Giancarlo had been arrested for doing so (which they both found hysterical...I'll bet he had a topless girl with him too...).

After dropping Giancarlo and his sidekick into another boat, we took off wondering whether "don't go on the beach" meant not to beach the boat or not to trespass onto any actual sand. I didn't want to risk it. Particularly if my tiny American tatas could be out in the open for the Italian polizia to behold.

But then I thought again of my sad puppy dog husband.

So when we found a beautiful little cove and he slipped the anchor into the Mediterranean, I untied my bikini.

The water was much too cold for me to swim to shore. But we did document the incident. And although you can't see them (thanks to my highly strategic cropping), my hands are making sure no one gets too good a view of what was going on.

I'm not sure this counts as fulfilling the actual goal, but considering how many barriers we came up against, it sure seemed like a good effort.

Friday, May 13, 2011

You Wanna See Capri? It's Gonna Cost You!

Off the coast of Italy lies a little island that is not only the birthplace of my beloved Caprese salad and the shortie pants I like to wear in summer, but home to the Mediterranean's Rodeo Drive.

The tiny streets of Capri might as well be lined only with candy shops and bakeries. Each window you look in boasts a rainbow of shapes and colors, trying to lure you in. "Indulge here," they whisper. Fendi. Roberto Cavalli. Hermes. Bvlgari. Prada.

Gabbana never seemed so dolce.

A girl could blow ten handbags full of cash here. And it's not just the stores that getcha.

When we bought tickets to take a boat to the famed Blue Grotto, we paid in the marina. Then we paid again for an additional ticket to actually enter the grotto. And of course there was a fee for renting the canoe driver who would paddle 10 feet to get us into the cave. Altogether, it cost us each 25 euros. A beautifully orchestrated racket.

They even charged us a euro to walk into Giardini Augusto for a view of the flowers and the cliffside. We later discovered we could've walked right in, had we taken a different route.

The bottom line is: Capri ain't cheap.

However, the price you pay for the attractions, the irresistible gelato, and the fashion (which I didn't have room for in my suitcase) are returned to you in vistas everywhere you look.

Capri, you and your delicious salad have won me over. Keep the change.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First She Whacked Me with a Rolling Pin, Then She Stole My Heart

If Rome is like a passionate kiss, Naples is like a kick in the shin.

Mr. Wonderful and I arrived Monday morning after a nice train ride and a grungy metro hop. I knew immediately once we got to the underground platform we were not in Rome anymore. Designer heels had given way to beat-up kicks. Fine tailored suits were replaced by tattered leather jackets and greasy hair. I'm pretty sure one man on the subway had a Tuberculosis cough.

When we emerged at street level, we were immediately assaulted by honking horns, pieces of trash blowing down the sidewalk, the smell of gasoline fumes and cigarette smoke. I thought we might have accidentally gotten off at Hell instead of Stazione Cavour.

For every dimple of charm Rome flashes with a flirt, Naples reveals a scab and a scar. But then she beckons you closer, lifts her skirt, and offers you the most delicious slice of pizza you've ever imagined. And suddenly, you're in love.

After quickly recharging at our oasis of a hotel, we headed back out to the chaotic streets to find a pizzeria Mr. W had read about online. This was when I felt myself start to fall. Like when you find yourself suddenly attracted to the scraggy biker in your chemistry class, despite the fact that he hasn't showered in 3 days.

There's something endlessly endearing about the way Neapolitans desecrate their city with graffiti but then drape it in pride with Italian flags. And then there are the beautiful Italians eating pizza...

I have never in the States seen a beautiful woman polish off an entire pizza in one sitting. In Naples, it's just another lunchtime. Try as I did, I couldn't finish the whole thing. Next time, next time.

Thank goodness I have an excuse now to return to this new city I adore.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Familiar Faces in Faraway Places

Mr. Wonderful and I arrived to Rome Saturday night at 11:00 p.m. Exhausted and famished, we were anxious to get to our little apartment near the Spanish Steps. But when our driver rounded a curve and the Coliseum was to our left, strategically lit against the night sky, food and a bed no longer mattered. We were in Roma!

We ate dinner close to midnight and every bite of proscuitto, every morsel of tomato, tasted like the best I'd ever had. The wine was like water, quenching my thirst. It is so easy to sink right into this city.

So here we are thousands of miles from home, and yet so much is familiar. Mr. W remembers the street grid from his other visits. He navigates like a local. Our favorite gelato shop is right where it was before. And the best treat of all: I have a friend in town!

My ex coworker from long ago—and currently amazing travel blogger—Janice (of After the Artist's Way) is here. So amidst the throngs of strangers, Mr. W and I met up with her to visit the catacombs. There she and he are, walking to the bus station after our tour. She is decked out in her Vatican best, looking like she's lived in town for years.

It's funny to be so far from home and having such fun with a once local friend. It's funny that she and I had seen each other only once in about 6 or 8 years, and yet our paths crossed enough that we could enjoy a whole day together. This world is very small. There's no way to fully experience that than to get out and see it. It astounds me every time I travel.

Funnier yet is that we have other family friends who will be in town when we return to Rome after our Amalfi Coast stops. What are the odds? We'll try to meet up with them too.

Here are Janice and I enjoying a dinner near the Trevi Fountain. It was lovely to be able to share the experience and talk about boys and giggle. It was wonderful to be reminded again of just how tiny this earth really is.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Italy, I Think I Love You

By the time you read this post, I'll be in London or maybe even Rome. I'm meeting Mr. Wonderful in the Heathrow Airport where we'll embark on our honeymoon.

When we first started thinking about where to go for this essential post-wedding vacation, we talked a lot about Japan. We felt we'd seen quite a bit of Europe and that it might lead to a bigger adventure if we visited a new continent.

Then one day last fall we were running errands and I got an idea. "What about the Amalfi Coast?" I asked him, already knowing the answer.

Mr. W is a sucker for Italy.

Before I went with him in 2009, I had such a romantic notion of what it would be like there. I remember reading Eat, Pray, Love and just hanging on every page, visualizing the piazzas and monuments and pasta. And when I went, I discovered it was all true.

Funny side note about that book: Mr. W and I had only been dating a couple months when I read it, but even then in the infancy of our relationship I knew I was falling for him. I thought about saying, "I Think I Love You" to him on more than one occasion. And then my crazy copywriter brain realized that if you turned that phrase into an acronym, it was ITILY. Italy.

One chilly winter afternoon, as Mr. and I laid on his bed reading, I started to stare off into space and he asked what I was thinking about. "Italy," I responded, holding up my copy of Eat, Pray, Love. But what I really meant was ITILY.

I told him this story a year or so later, and the acronym became a code word for us.

Now it seems only fitting that we're visiting that country for our honeymoon.

Here's a clip of one of the things I'm looking forward to most. The Blue Grotto on the Island of Capri. How can you not just swoon over the singing?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Homegrown Produce

I'm posting over at 'S Wonderful today, sharing some pictures of the tasty treats growing in our garden.

Take a look!