Thursday, November 18, 2004

Chris and I are headed to Jersey for a bit tomorrow. It’ll be a whirlwind of a trip with a ton of folks to see, but it should be fun. We’ll be wined and dined like celebrities. Absolutely ridiculous, but I will be happy to be the recipient of everyone’s hospitality. Chris has never experienced Thanksgiving and is looking forward to it. My mom has a full crew of family, friends and assorted hangers on coming over so should make for interesting mix.

Having our footy stammtisch tonight at new Twisted Bavarian place around the corner. Got a good group going – all the footy regs – me, Chris, Bev, Gary, Planty, Cal, Lise and Richard as well as a few special guests – Jen, Paul, Simon, Vicki and Martina. Ought to be fun. A few beers before we fly. Got to remember to be judicious when drinking – do not want to be hungover on the flight to Philly.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I told one person in Jersey about my arrival date and apparently she told one person and now I have a full in box demanding to know when I will be going to hang out with the coffee gang! I had hoped to sneak back quietly, but that ain’t happening! I can’t help but be completely flattered that so many people want to see me. I had coffee with that crew for at least five or six years straight and I miss them every single day I am here. When Chris leaves every morning I become completely deflated. Those folks in Haddonfield made me laugh, cry, and think every morning. Living alone can be lonely (and joyful too, truthfully) and I always enjoyed the company of that gang the first thing in the morning. I was there between six and seven a.m. almost every day. I could count on seeing Cheryl and John and the two yapping Bichons, Jack in his usual chair, Bob, Ken, Lynne, Suzanne, Frank, Nancy, Jane and many other people. On weekends we caused such a ruckus in that side room that people were afraid to trespass, yet when they did they were welcomed – a bit of a trial by fire. On Saturday mornings I would sit quietly for an hour with Andy and Craig, two of my best pals from the gang before everyone arrived and all hell started breaking loose. So am happy to be seeing them all this weekend. Poor Chris will be walking into a lion’s den, but I suppose he can deal with it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Felt a bit neither here nor there last week with the folks from home. I am used to being the center of the whole fucking universe so it's hard to cede my position, but absolutely necessary as Chris reminded me. In addition, my mood has been in a bit of freefall too lately. When I moved to Munich, I was experiencing the most happiness I had ever felt in my entire life. I felt great about my relationship and positive about the move. I genuinely felt (and still feel) that I was going forward and it was a fantastic feeling. So, stupidly, I stopped taking the Prozac I'd been taking for years to combat my chronic depression. For months and months I was fine, but in retrospect that had a lot to do with my personal situation and the weather. About a month ago, I started to lose ambition to do anything, constant feelings of inadequacy, and bouts of tears for no reason. Poor Chris, whose personality and temperament are always perfectly even, didn't know what had hit me...or him for that matter, but as always, endeavoured to be completely understanding. He knows my family history of depression, but it's hard to fathom unless you've been there. But he's been great. Last week when I saw Joanna and started on a crying jag, the first thing she said to me was "Did you go off your meds?" Fuck, how I hate when she is right. She knew immediately having been down this road with me at least once or twice before. She made me promise to get back on them and I have. She's right. I have got to stop doing this shit. It is crazy. SSRI's have made my life so much better and I need them. Not one thing wrong with that. So they will kick in during the next ten days or so.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Jen and I had a flight booked to Rome on Wednesday, November 3rd. I never slept at all the night before which was Election Night. I watched the returns come in on the BBC and when I left the house at 8 a.m. Munich time, it wasn’t looking too good for my guy and when we landed in Rome, my worst fears were confirmed. I can’t really even talk about it because I become completely over the top enraged every time I begin to discuss it. I’ll say this though – I have always been proud to be an American, but right now I am ashamed. The Europeans think we are crazy and they are right. My only consolation is having voted in a Blue State.

We had a great time in Italy. Hooking up with the gang from home felt wonderful. I cried when I saw Joanna at the airport. Rome was warm and sunny and just about perfect. Having been there many times before, it was great to have no agenda. After a few days there, we headed down to Sorrento to hook up with Paul and Chris and we all stayed in a really cool villa right on the water with views of Naples and Vesuvius. Truly impressive, it was built in 1920 and had innumerable terraces. It was a real Gay and Away holiday with the boys, who were delightful, and who managed to rearrange the entire contents of the villa within an hour of our arrival! Flower arrangements were made, offending knickknacks removed….it was nothing less than a hoot.

We had truly awful weather for all but one day, but we managed to enjoy ourselves and see some great stuff, including visit Pompeii, a place I have wanted to visit since I was a kid. Pompeii did not disappoint. It was everything I expected it to be and more. Vesuvius just literally looms over the place. We also spent a few days in Naples, which I absolutely thought was terrific. I had read all sorts of dire stuff about the place, and in fact, a gun war between members of the mafia occurred there in the streets during the week we visited, which resulted in three dead, but I found a lot to love about the place. You just cannot go into certain neighborhoods. It would be akin to foreigners visiting Philly and ending up in North Philly. There is no reason for a tourist to go into these neighborhoods. But Naples is real and alive and thumping with humanity. The streets are so tiny in parts that the sun can’t even penetrate to the ground. The buildings are festooned with laundry and people are selling everything from hand made nativity scenes to fish to vegetables and fresh snails. Everyone is gesticulating wildly and speaking in a dialect so thick it is impossible to ferret out much meaning at all. There aren’t many tourists at all, which, for Italy, is refreshing. It’s the first place I have visited there that somehow seems to operate independent of tourism. It’s hardscrabble, and not easy, but wonderful. There are Roman ruins beneath baroque churches, Bourbon palaces, archeological wonders in their museum which is one of the most amazing I have ever seen, palms trees everywhere, traffic completely and utterly out of control with horns blowing continually. It’s a love or hate place and I loved it. Chris and I spent an afternoon in the Capodimonte Museum viewing a once in a lifetime special exhibition of twenty four Caravaggio paintings from the last four years of his life. The exhibit is in Naples for two more months and then has a run in London before the paintings are returned to their rightful positions in museums and collections allover the world. Some of them are from private collections so it was a great opportunity for me to see some things for the first and last time ever. I was thrilled. Another great thing about Naples is the pizza. We had three lunches there and every time we had pizza cooked in a brick oven, each better than the last. Cooked in a brick oven, with tomato sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes from the slopes of Vesuvius, and buffalo mozzarella, these pizzas are an absolute revelation. Simple, wonderful, perfect!

All of the food in Italy was amazing in its simplicity. I ate many plates of sautéed clams and grilled fish. One day I had a huge mixed grill platter of all sorts of seafood, which was just seasoned with extra olive oil and lemon. Add a great glass of local white wine and life just doesn’t get any better.

We had a great day on the Amalfi Coast, the only really sunny day of the trip! We hired two taxi drivers who were brothers and sat back as they showed us all the good spots. We had a blast with them. Driving the coast is treacherous and not to undertaken lightly and we all were happy and willing to be Luigi and Mariano’s passengers. The Amalfi Coast is, without doubt, the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Dramatic drops, beautiful villas perched precariously seemingly atop one another, Moorish looking churches, tiny fishing villages, great ristorantes, wonderful pastry shops, everywhere was something beautiful to see, smell, or eat.

We arrived home on Saturday night to nasty Munich weather and collapsed. I read my e-mail and was saddened to find out a few people in my life had lost family members who were close to them. One of them was the father of my old boss, Bob. His dad, Izzy, worked beside me for about thirteen years and I had become extremely fond of him. You cannot work that closely with someone and not come to care about them. We all became close there. I still consider Marty one of my closest friends. He’s one of the few people who has unflinchingly told me the truth if he thought I needed to hear it. We laughed together everyday, argued politics, and agreed at times as well, and shared life and death experiences. We don’t see too much of each other (but he did come to my going away party!), but I know I could count on him for anything, anytime. Another friend’s brother died, and she sounds devastated. Words ring so hollow when someone is so wracked with pain. But on a happier note, after I’d read those sad e-mails, I opened another from Jason announcing the birth of his and Jen’s second son! Perfect timing for a photo of Jason and his two boys. It warmed my heart. And this morning at seven a.m. Munich time, the telephone rang and initially it scared me because of the earliness of the hour. But it was Todd bearing more happy news that Pam had delivered, apparently alarmingly quickly, a new baby girl! Todd sounded exuberant and slyly told me that he had been hoping for a third girl. It brought tears to my eyes. I cannot wait to see the new baby as well as Abby and Katie.

Of all the trips I have made these past ten or fifteen years, there is no trip I have anticipated more than coming back to New Jersey for a short visit. I am really excited!
found this today on Crisps, etc. and thought I would give it a whirl.

15 years ago today, I was…
1. 30 years old
2. working for Jim Shilliday and in love with him
3. living in a tiny apartment in Laurel Springs

10 years ago today, I was…
1. thinking I had all the time in the world to settle down and have children
2. just becoming obsessed with travel
3. working for Bob, along side Marty, who is now one of my best friends

5 years ago today, I was…
1. in love with A and thinking I could never love anyone again like I loved him
2. beginning to realize the window of opportunity for having children was closing
3. living in an apartment I absolutely loved in Haddonfield

3 years ago today, I was…
1. a mess because I was working for a total psychotic after Bob had to let his Philadelphia staff go
2. breaking up with A, who I finally realized wasn’t and never would be, the life partner I needed him to be
3. constantly envisioning the plane going into the second tower on that awful Tuesday in September

1 year ago today, I was…
1. in love with Chris
2. preparing for a move to Munich
3. as happy as I have ever been

So far this year, I have…
1. changed my entire life by moving to Europe to be with Chris
2. leaned an entirely new method of knitting
3. been completely enraged by the failure of my fellow Americans to oust our pig of a president

Yesterday, I…
1. watched a bunch of tv shows about buying property in France and Italy
2. had brunch at Faun with Lise, Jen, Mason, Daniel, Joanna and Chris
3. talked to Christina on the phone for a really long time

Today, I…
1. got a phone call from Todd at 7 a.m. telling me that Pam had had their third daughter just hours before
2. picked Henry up at the kennel
3. started our mountains of laundry from Italy

Tomorrow, I…
1. will go downtown to find some advent calendars to bring back to the States on Friday
2. will iron like a crazy woman
3. am happy because in three days I will be back in New Jersey

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I am leaving for ten days in Italy tomorrow and cannot wait. Jen and I are flying down to Rome to meet Jo, Tom, John and their friend Bill. Bill’s partner Vincent is flying in on Saturday as are Paul and Chris and we are all traveling down to the Amalfi coast where John is treating us all to a free week in a villa to celebrate Tom’s fortieth birthday. John is extremely generous, as well as very kind, and we are all bowled over by this gesture! I have known Tom since he went to junior high school with my sister Gina. He’s impossible not to love. He is funny as hell and really nice. Whenever he talks about my father, he mentions how much of a feeling person he was, and how Tom always felt accepted and never judged by him. It is so sweet of him to say that. It means a lot when my friends talk about my dad. He was special and full of empathy and everyone could see that. Anyway, my very good friend and partner in crime, Kathy Coburn and I took Tom to our twentieth high school reunion (ouch) and he met John there and they became a couple. Kathy and I had known John forever but had lost touch so it was funny to have him back in our orbit again.

So Rome will be fun with us on the loose without Paul and Chris. Not that anyone will be doing anything untoward, but we all like to look at the Italian men. Should be lots of wine drinking, laughter and irreverence. I haven’t seen Tom, John or Joanna since April and am getting really excited about the prospect of hanging out together. Tom makes me laugh so hard that my sides hurt and I just can’t wait to be near him again! As for Jo, I think everyone knows how I feel about her. John is a love too. I don’t know the other guys but I am sure they are cool if the boys are friends with them.

This morning when Chris and I were having our coffee and watching the news, I told him that the outcome of the election could make all the difference between a great trip and a REALLY GREAT trip!

Monday, November 01, 2004

AIGA Poster
John Reisner sent me a link to the American Institute of Graphic Artists web page and some really cool and interestingly designed posters encouraging people to use their right to vote. Take a peek at them.