Month: February 2013

Time is of the Essence

Throughout my life, I have been giving my time up like charity. You need me to come in and work an extra shift? Not a problem. You need someone to put the project together for class? I’m in. You need help with your article? I’m on it.

Doing this gave me some great opportunities. I met a lot of cool people, had a lot of great experiences, did a lot of neat stuff. But the thing is… I never enjoyed it. I never took it in, appreciated it, breathed it. I never had the time to.

In Italy, you don’t do this. If you’re going to dinner, you’re not going to be on your iPhone doing work when you’re supposed to be chatting- and not catching up, either, because you don’t need to catch up if you had the time to be already caught up in the first place. Everything you do, you do it because you enjoy it, because time is of the essence, but in a slightly different way.

In America, we do use our time wisely, always; if we at stopped at a traffic light, we’re emailing. If we’re waiting in a restaurant, we’re making a phone call. If we’re at our shitty part-time jobs, we’re doing homework.

In Italy, the Italians also use their time wisely; in the fact that if they’re going to do something, they’re going to do it. If someone is cooking your meal, it’s not going to half-assed and rushed, it’s going to be beautiful and perfect. If someone is going to talk with you, they’re gonna talk with you, not shove you out of the room because they have another meeting like right now. 

Now it may just be senioritis, but this year, I use my time… for myself. Instead of blindly giving it away, I think about what else I could be doing that will make me happy. I don’t want to rush anymore. I don’t want to look at my days and think Yeah, I made it through. I want to look back on my days and say it was a great day not just because it was productive, but because it was fun. 

In America, we are looked at as the worker-bee nation, which has made us into a superpower… but has also made us super worked. For the first time, I’m wondering how great of a thing this actually is.

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Don’t Forget Me!

So now that, even though I hate to admit it, I’m pretty settled back home in New Jersey, I guess I should start blogging about something other than how much I wish I was in Italy…

I’ve seen a lot of pretty extensive packing lists that are supposed to “help” us on our journeys across the pond, but in reality, I’m not going to forget to bring socks and who’s who to tell me how many pairs of underwear I need to bring?! Which is why I am putting together this short packing list that will hopefully help you out no matter who you are or where you’re going. DON’T FORGET THESE THINGS!

1. Guidebook and map. Can you buy a guidebook and a map in basically any place that you are going? Yes, yes you can. Will it be a quality guidebook? Yes, it probably will. Will it be cheap? No, no it will not. Which is why I’m telling you now that you should probably order your guidebook online (I like Amazon.com) because you’ll get it for like five bucks versus like twenty and you’ll get your pick of the litter. You can read some reviews, sample the pages, the works. Personally, Frommer’s are usually a solid pick. Also, if 2013 is $20 cheapest and 2012 is $5, just friggin get 2012. How much do you really think Florence-or anywhere else-has really changed in the past year.

2. Ear plugs and eye mask. When traveling, sometimes you don’t know where you’ll be staying, what it will be like, (or who you will be sleeping with). It’s always wise to pack an eye mask for those window-facing beds and ear plugs for those baby-ridden planes. And you also never know who of your supposed “best friends” snores. Seriously you’ll be glad you did.

3. Travel pillow. And I don’t mean one of those stupid neck pillows- what if you have an extra seat and you wanna lay on your side? What if you’re in a hostel and the bed feels like your best friend’s futon? Save yourself (another) $20 and steal the surprisingly soft plane pillow.

4. Refillable water bottle. I absolutely LOVE my Water Bobble, a plastic water bottle with a built-in filter you change every two months (the 34.5 ounce is a good choice). These bottles will save you money and possibly your life on one of the many unbearably hot summer travel days. With these, you can fill up your water from any sink and feel safe knowing you’re not going to contract some rare disease. You can get these from any department store really and they go for like $20 but are worth it. I know Brita makes them too but they kind of have a weird taste to them.

5. Flip flops. Your shoes break. The shower is nasty. Somebody finds a pool with an unlocked gate. The possibilities are endless for why you need a grimy pair of flip flops.

6. Hand sanitizer, lotion, and a chapstick. These are all tiny things that fit into your purse but come in handy when you get sunburned unexpectedly (whoops fell asleep on the beach again) or the airport is making you feel especially nasty.

7. A book. Even though I hate buying books (because I know I’m only going to read them once and that’s what the library is for) having them while traveling tight is not a bad idea because you never know how long it’s gonna take to stand in that line or how boring the tour is gonna be. It’s always kinda nice to leave your book behind for the next curious traveler that comes your way. Plus this way, you have less stuff coming home than you did leaving! Now how cool is that!

8. EXTRA Converter/ Charger. No, NOT one. Seriously just don’t. Especially when abroad, these babies burn out like it’s nobody’s business and then you are up the creek without a paddle. Just bring an extra they go for like $5 on eBay! SERIOUSLY HOW CHEAP ARE YOU 

I wanted to get to ten but this is all I got for now. CIAO!

Il Dolce Far Niente

I remember my final days in Florence. I remember how as the weeks added up, how I missed more and more having responsibilities, jobs, basically just being accountable for more than just getting on a plane on time. I missed being important to someone, to something.

Well now, here I am. It’s 4:45 on a Tuesday and I have been up since 7:30 am, and after this too-short hour I have off, I will work until 9:00 pm (then I’ll probably go to the bar, which is besides the point).

I miss the days when if I felt like it, I could linger in a cafe for an hour. I miss when I could walk into a museum, just because. I miss when I could meet a stranger and just chat with them for a little, not trying to occupy my mind with what else I had to do that day. At the time, I missed serving a purpose. Now here I am, trying to fit in when the hell I can possibly eat breakfast (which usually ends up being a piece of fruit I eat while I’m sitting at the traffic light on Ocean Ave).

What the hell was I thinking? Yes, having things to do is great. I’m not saying I want to be unemployed, or the worst sin of them all, bored. But with more longing than I have ever felt for any person, I miss being able to be. I miss thinking about the taste of the food that I am eating and thinking about the conversation I am having. I miss the sweetness of doing nothing. Il dolce far niente. 

In America, we hustle, hustle, hustle. We work three jobs and we try to get the kids to soccer, lacrosse, and track and we get to the gym at 6:30 am and we eat lunch at the drive-thru and we take long hours because we really need the money but what is it for, really? What are we working for, honestly? When is the payoff going to come?

You let me know when you find out. In the meantime, I’ll be looking up one-way flights back to Italy.

Nothing.