It was somewhat of an impulse vacation, when I realized that if I didn’t take some time off soon, I wasn’t going to get a break until the end of the year because of the way some work projects were shaking out, so I put in for some time and decided, rather impassively based on some good deal opportunities on Expedia, to go to Venice for the week. I got back last weekend, but with the jet lag and the catching up with work and other stuff, I finally got to sit down and sort through photos this weekend.

The way the trip worked out, I really only spent four full days in Venice. I landed on Sunday mid-day, and flew out again on Friday afternoon, leaving Monday through Thursday as the days to truly wander around and soak in the atmosphere. I largely avoided the whole Clooney wedding kerfuffle (arriving after the main event, and yes, I planned my trip before that whole mess was even announced), but the tourist crowds in general were not avoidable.

By day then… (if you click on the thumbnails, you can click through all of the photos from the trip without having to exit)

Sunday and Monday: Some arrival shots, my hotel was situated right on the Grand Canal on the Dorsoduro side across from San Marco, so you could sit in the front lounge/bar and just drink cocktails and soak in the view. I did this a lot. On Monday, my original plan was to go to the architecture biennale, but apparently it’s closed on Mondays, so I recalculated and spent Monday at San Marco, visiting the museums (Museo Correr and the Doge’s Palace) and generally wandering around the area.

Tuesday: Second and more successful attempt to head over to the architecture biennale, curated by Rem Koolhas and held at the Venice Arsenale. It was mostly video installations, which doesn’t really lend itself to photography, and I didn’t spend a lot of time in the country pavilions at the end, choosing instead to grab some lunch and then head up the grand canal via vaporetto (where I got a coveted seat on the back deck of the boat) to the jewish ghetto for a late afternoon tour of the synagogues – again, no pictures allowed inside, but the tiny synagogues built secretly into the top floors of the houses here are a marked contrast from the luxury of San Marco. A definite must-see if you’re ever in Venice. The word “ghetto” actually derives from this tiny island, which was originally an italian “gheto”, or foundry, and which is where the original jews of venice were segregated because they could be walled off and locked in at night during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Wednesday: it was pouring rain on Wednesday, so I decided to make this my lazy day. I slept in and then headed over to the Peggy Guggenheim collection, which was near my hotel. Not a lot of pictures, because I generally don’t think photographs of art do any justice to the art itself.

Thursday: My last full day, which was beautiful again, I decided to just take a lengthy walk, starting in San Marco and heading back up towards and past the Rialto Bridge, wandering in and out of side streets and canals and basically getting lost (although you can never get really lost in venice, because you’re never that far from the Grand Canal). Made my way back for a late afternoon lunch near L’Accademia Bridge, the “other” bridge that crosses the Grand Canal, and then finally went back to San Marco for the ultimate in tourist trap dinners, but had a total blast listening to the band and just generally enjoying the piazza, wine, and atmosphere.

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Milan photos


So I’ve finally gotten around to posting some of the photos I took in Milan during my last few days there (and on the return trip over Easter), and Here they are. They’re mostly from the top of the Duomo, which I climbed with a friend on my last day of work (talk about a long lunch break), but there are a few thrown in of the Castello (which looks cool but was completely rebuilt, so it’s kind of fake), and some other random stuff.

[Update 2015] In an effort to reduce the number of holdover pages on the blog, I am slowly (very slowly) integrating these albums into the appropriate historical posts on the blog itself. As such, photos are now directly below.

1465 1466 1467 1468 1469 1470 1471 1472 1473 1474 1475 1476 1477 1478 1479 1480 1481 1482 1483 1484 1485 1486 1487 1488 1489 1494 1495 1497 1498 1499 1500 1501 1501 1502 1503 1504 1505 1506 1507

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Doing coffee right…


While I didn’t do much blogging myself when I was in Milan, one of the blogs that I read religiously was Ms. Adventures in Italy. An American expat living in the Milan area,there were a lot of good tips and pictures. But the best post so far is How to Order an Italian Coffee in Italy. I’ll admit that I picked up most of these tips through trial and error, but it’s a handy guide nonetheless. I, personally, am a big fan of the Marocchino, in no small part because it’s always served in a glass. There’s just something so civilized about a society that has a special glass for each and every coffee drink (and forget about paper cups – you drink at the bar, always). Plus, since it’s completely gauche and an immediate indicator of your touristy-ness to order a cappuccino after 10am (something I learned the hard way on my first day in Rome two years ago), it’s a good, Italian way to get your frothy milk after lunch.

I finally found a good coffee place here in NY – there’s a tiny little shop on 6th avenue between 56th and 57th, called Zibetto, that is modelled after an Italian coffee bar, and that serves authentic Italian coffee. It’s the only place I’ve found that serves a marocchino, and it’s only a few blocks from my office, so I sometimes stop off in the morning on my way to work, or wander up after lunch. In a pinch, I’ll get an espresso at Starbucks (we have one in our office), but it’s just not the same.

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Checking in…


Man o man. Things have been a little bit crazy around here. Got home all of two and a half weeks ago, suffered jetlag to the extreme (kept waking up at 4 in the morning), and then got dragged into a crazy urgent work situation that involved staying until 2 or 3 in the morning almost every night last week (from Sunday to Sunday, I billed 101 hours!).

Needless to say, blogging (yet again) has been pretty near the bottom of my list of things to do. I haven’t even gotten around to downloading the last photos I took in Milan (one of my colleagues and I took a long lunch my last day there and climbed (Ok, took the elevator) to the top of the Duomo).

Other annoying things since I got home? I ordered some cabinets from Ikea to fit in a space that was exactly 26 inches wide. The website and my receipt both say that they’re 26 inches wide. Then the boxes came, and the labels said they were 26 and a half inches wide. Argh. Now I’m trying to figure out how to return them, because the only room that they even matched was the bathroom, and the only open space was the one I had ordered them for. So that was annoying. Not just because of the hassle, but because I really wanted some cabinets in that space.

Hmm. what else. Oh, my dad and my stepmom both got some flu/virus bug going around, so I’ve seen them all of once since I’ve been home, and that was the day I got home.

In better news though, I’m going to see Lucinda Williams at Radio City tomorrow night, so that’ll be fun (and convenient, as I work all of a block from RCMH). And I actually have plans on Saturday with friends. And I just got a save the date for a friend who is getting married in the Canary Islands. So that’s a good excuse for a trip (and here I thought the wedding I was going to in Florida next month was going to be the most exotic one this year!).

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The more you travel, the more you learn.


Like, for instance, that the really nice terminals at most international airports are saved for flights and/or airlines that are truly international. Upon leaving Paris, I decided to come to Charles de Gaulle airport a bit early, both because I needed to leave the city in the middle of evening rush hour and because, from my past experience flying through CDG, it has some pretty good shopping.

Well, apparently it’s some other terminal that has really good shopping (like, perhaps the one I transferred through when flying home from Prague a few years ago), because the extent of shopping at Terminal 3 consists of one duty free shop that consists of nothing but perfume, cigarettes and alcohol, and a bar. So that’ll teach me to get to the airport three hours early. Even though this is technically an international flight, it’s pretty much treated as domestic. I don’t go through customs, I don’t get my passport stamped, and we get to wait at the terminal that’s less sophisticated than Teterboro.

OK, so…the trip. The trip was awesome. I didn’t get to see everything I wanted, because I was only really in town for three days, one of which was Christmas (when everything was, obviously, closed), but I have finally fallen in love with Paris. It only took ten years and three trips, but I finally get it. I finally understand what other people had been saying all of these years. Paris is just…beautiful. Even when everything is closed, I could just walk for miles (and I did) admiring the outsides of buildings. This trip has all but erased for me the bad memories of that trip ten years ago. I haven’t even left yet, and I want to come back again. Maybe when it’s a little warmer, but definitely, I need to come back again. And again.

When I get back to Milan, I’ll post some pictures (and also this entry, as I’m not paying for wifi at the airport).

I’m really glad I took this trip though. I had been debating maybe going to London instead, because I know London, but then I thought I should give Paris another chance. And it was well worth it (even though my feet have pretty much rebelled at this point).

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Home for the holidays.


First, obviously, let me apologize for not updating for the past two months. Keeping up with a blog can be a bit difficult when the home internet access you insisted on as a condition of moving to another friggin’ country has yet to be installed.

Oh, they’ve been trying. Poor Alessandro, the IT guy in our Milan office, has quietly been losing his mind while trying to deal with the amount of red tape involved in getting internet into someone’s apartment. First, we had a contract with provider A, and we were told that it could take “up to a month” for the activation and the equipment. Now, a month seems a ridiculously long time to wait for me, but I was told by several people that this was pretty standard over there. So, a month goes by, and provider A never activates anything, and when Alessandro tries to find out where the modem is, it turns out that “they never ordered it.”

Needless to say, he cancelled the service contract. So then we decide to go with provider B. Now, provider B is actually a subsidiary of the incumbent telephone operator, so activation shouldn’t be a problem (cable TV infrastructure doesn’t exist in italy – everything is either run through satellite or the phone lines). Except, provider B screws up the contract, so they need to start over. Unfortunately, it takes at least a week to “cancel” the old contract and enter into a new one, even though the mistake was basically some data-entry lackey’s typo. So, we finally got the right “contract” about two weeks ago, meaning that activation should happen any day now. Alessandro was actually trying to get it done before I left, but that was probably wishful thinking on his part, so maybe (maybe!) when I get back it’ll be ready to hook up.

In the meantime I have some very funny e-mails from Alessandro, in broken english, that consist of him just not understanding why they don’t want to take our money.

Of course, I can’t actually deal with anything myself, because you need a codice fiscale to enter into any sort of agreement in Italy (it’s basically the Italian equivalent of a social security number, but it’s used for everything), and since I’m only technically a tourist, I can’t really qualify to get one.


I actually wrote a bunch of posts on my computer, even knowing that I couldn’t post them, just to keep myself a bit current. But since they all basically consist of me bitching about the fact that I have no internet, and that I haven’t really done a whole lot other than work, I’ll try to summarize a bit.

I have no internet. I’ve been working too much. Milan is quite beautiful. The food is good. I’m really happy about the US election. I’ll be home for Thanksgiving.

So. The election. Needless to say I did a little dance in my chair at work on Wednesday morning. My dad (my dad!) sent me an e-mail that was practically giddy with excitement.

I actually wrote an entire post about this one right in the aftermath, so I’ll try to get that one up later, but I will say it’s been really interesting to see the reaction from an international perspective in particular. People in Italy normally don’t talk about politics. It’s considered rude. But I went to a meeting with a client on the Friday after the election, and when I mentioned that I was coming home for two weeks, he said, with a smile, “it’s like you’re going home to a different country now!” And I think that captures it pretty darn well. People here in the US can argue back and forth about the “meaning” of this election, but overseas, they all just think that we’ve finally come to our senses and given GWB the giant “fuck you” that he’s deserved for so long. More later.

But back to me…

I’m still jetlagged. I woke up yesterday to go to the airport at 5:30 in the morning, Italian time. then spent over 9 hours on a plane, with a crazy woman sitting behind me. No joke – she didn’t like her seat, so she threatened to get off the plane unless the stewardess forced someone else to move so that she could have the seat she wanted. Someone from ground crew and the pilot had to get involved. They were apparently about three seconds away from just letting her get off the plane when the girl behind me agreed to move. This woman tried to claim that they wouldn’t let her pick her seat when she booked the ticket, which is complete bullshit because everyone else pointed out, we all check the internet seat locater thing obsessively. Which means that she either booked her ticket at the last minute, or on something like priceline, where she thought she could have it both ways – book a super cheapskate restricted fare and then throw a fit until she got a premium economy seat.

(now, premium economy is exactly the same seat/same legroom as regular economy, except that it’s at the very front behind business class, meaning that you can get off the plane faster – you have to either pay a bit extra or be be a premium/elite flyer to get one).

So. that was self-absorbed bitch number one. The couple across the aisle from myself and I spent the entire flight pretty much making fun of her. really quietly. The flight attendants, needless to say, loved us (I’m not being sarcastic there – they actually gave us additional gossip about the whole situation when they got the chance).

Ordinarily, I would have been perfectly happy to see her get escorted off the flight, but these days, with the stepped up security, that would have meant also digging her bags out and getting them off the plane. Since we were about 10 minutes from our scheduled departure when this all started happening, it would have caused some pretty serious delays.

Self-absorbed bitch number two showed up when I arrived home and decided to go to the grocery store. At this point, I’ve been awake for at least 20 hours. I have a freshdirect delivery coming Sunday morning, but I still needed some real basics, like milk. So I dragged myself to the food emporium, bought the six things I needed, and got on the express line. where I waited patiently, and put my stuff on the conveyor belt when I got the chance. Then (and only then), the woman behind me on line, who is clutching a bag of goldfish crackers, pipes up in this super sweet voice to “request” that I let her go in front of me, seeing as she only has the one item. Now, on any other day, I probably would have let her without thinking about it, but I was pretty damn tired. and I thought for a second, and finally said back “you know, I don’t understand why you can’t just wait in line like everyone else.” It’s not like I had 100 items to ring up and she would have to wait very long, but she then starts responding, in this totally faux-sweet voice, about how she “really appreciates my kindness.” You know, trying to make me feel guilty because I wouldn’t let her cut the fucking line. I just ignored her at that point, but what I wanted to do was turn around and tell her to go fuck herself. Did I mention that I had been awake for, like, 20 hours at that point, and most of those had been spent in an airplane or Newark, New Jersey?

She didn’t know who I was, or whether I was actually in a hurry to get anywhere, or whether I was exhausted. She just assumed that her needs were somehow superior to mine and entitled her to special treatment, where she didn’t need to behave like everyone else at the damn supermarket. Now, if she had been holding, say, baby formula, or tampons, I might have assumed that she had some sort of emergency situation, but she could damn well wait 30 more seconds for her crackers (and don’t anyone tell me that maybe she was going into diabetic shock – if that were the case, no one would have objected to her eating some damn crackers in line and then paying for them after).

I know this pissed me off more than it should have, and I certainly have my own moments of selfishness, but yesterday I just seemed to encounter more than my usual share of people who seemed to think that the rules that apply to everyone else don’t apply to them. Maybe exhaustion and jet lag give me some sort of 6th sense for these things.

OK. A real entry later. I promise. Plus, I’ve read about 10 new books!

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I guess I’m going to have to check my brass knuckles.


I didn’t even realize I was stressed out about this whole “moving to a foreign country” thing until I started waking up progressively earlier beginning on Saturday. This morning? I woke up at 2. And haven’t been able to fall asleep since.

So, in an attempt to be at least a bit productive, I decided to peruse the TSA’s prohibited items list in anticipation of my flight.

I’m going to be quite lovely after nine hours on a redeye flight with no toothpaste, lip balm, hand lotion, or deodorant.

Now look, I know the recent threats, and that’s all fine. But what really got me was the stuff I apparently still can bring on the plane, including:

  • cigar cutters (so that apparently you can pre-snip that cigar you’re not allowed to bring or smoke on the plane)
  • corkscrews (if you’ve ever seen me attempt to open a bottle of wine, you know just how dangerous these can actually be)
  • knitting needles
  • scissors with sharp/pointed edges as long as they’re less than 4-inches long
  • screwdrivers

And yeah, I get that nowadays, people aren’t just going to sit still and let someone with a pair of scissors take over the plane, but how in the hell are these considered less dangerous than a pudding cup?

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At least I’m relaxed now…


…because the next two weeks are (I think) going to be out of control.

Let’s start with last week though. I finally had jury duty on Wednesday (which was really convenient given the two deals I had closing on Friday). But it turned out to be quite easy. Apparently none of the judges want to start scheduling big trials and such the week before Labor Day, so there was no need for any juries all day, and they let us go completely after the first day (which is virtually unheard of in Manhattan). So, all in all, it was probably the best timing possible from a “I really don’t have time to actually serve on a criminal trial jury” perspective.

Of course, this still left the partner who was on vacation and the partner who was filling in because the other partner was on vacation dealing with some issues on Wednesday that I was obviously not available for. Oh well. I guess one of the good things about being a lawyer though, is that the bosses are always pretty understanding of the whole jury duty thing.

Now, as is usual, I’m in the Berkshires with my family…my dad’s birthday is the 5th, so I always try to make it up here for this holiday weekend even if I have other stuff going on…

Which, of course, leads me to the next two weeks…

I finally got my start date for Italy, and I booked plane tickets on Friday. I’m leaving on Friday the 15th, so that I can have the weekend to recuperate from jetlag before I start working in Milan on Monday the 18th. of September.

So. That’s, like, 11 days from now.

And I decided that it would be a really brilliant idea to have a going away party next Saturday night. Because apparently I’m a masochist. Maybe nobody will show up (actually, given the number of people I know will still be out of town on extended labor day holidays and such? It’s probably going to end up being more like 5 friends coming over to finally see my apartment).

I did decide to take off starting on Wednesday the 13th, so that, at the very least, I’d have two days of just packing and turning stuff off.

Guys, I’m moving to Italy in 11 days.

I’m totally freaking out!

Everyone that finds out has had the first reaction of “aren’t you totally excited?!” Well yeah, but the initial excitement (back in friggin’ June!) has given way to the overwhelmingly not-done-ness of all the stuff I need to do before I leave.

But I’ve already decided that when I get back? I’m totally getting a swissy.

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Random update


It’s too damn hot outside. It finally seemed to cool off a bit last night after a freak thunderstorm that came through the region (on the radio at about 4:30 yesterday afternoon, we had a "wind and hail" warning. Hail! in July!), and went down to the 70s. But today, it was in the 90s again. Which is nothing compared, to say, the southwest right now, but it still makes it really difficult to get anything done.

I’ve finished my first week of Italian classes, and I’m certainly starting to get the hang of it. I certainly won’t be fluent by the end, but I think that after four more weeks, I’ll definitely be functional. Now I just need to square away the rest of the aspects of this trip (there’s nothing quite like the bureaucratic black hole that is non-attorney staff at a law firm). I still don’t have a departure date, a visa, a place to live…you know, the essentials. But I can’t stress about it, because it’s not like I can go apartment hunting in Milan.

I should, however, start making a list of all of the stuff that I’m going to need to bring, arrange, etc. I’ll definitely need to forward my mail, stop my paper, turn off the cable, and do a whole bunch of other stuff that I haven’t even thought of yet. Oh, and clearly I need to go shopping (not that I ever need an excuse for that!).

I think my anxiety about this trip is manifesting itself in other ways though. For instance, today, I rearranged my hall closet so that it was roomier and more organized. Last weekend I replaced the toilet seat and handle on my toilet (they had previously been completely functional but boring white plastic), with a retro black seat to match the bathroom and a shiny chrome handle that (sort of) matches the rest of my bathroom fixtures. Oh, and I also spend last Saturday trying to figure out a better spot for my bicycle. After I took it out for a ride, I realized that the spot that I had it in made it really inconvenient to use frequently. Particularly since the prior setup required taking the front tire off so that it didn’t block a doorway. It’s basically in the same spot, but turned around and it seems to work. This was after significant trial and error, and the realization that the only way the bike was ever going to fit in the foyer would be if I mounted it on the ceiling. Damn you, doors that allow me to move from room to room.

Oh, and I finally called the reupholster to come and pick up my ottoman and chair. I only bought the fabric about 8 months ago!! It had become so bad that every time I saw my dad and stepmom, they’d harangue me incessantly about it. My dad would call me randomly just to ask if I had called the guy. I should point out that the ottoman was stained and the cushion had actually split on the chair, so this wasn’t just a cosmetic, oh, I’ll get to it sometime thing. It’s been needing to get done pretty much since I moved in. My apartment does feel mighty empty though.

I’m off to go do some italian homework. while sitting directly in front of my air conditioner.


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Just a little bit crazy.


I know, I know, I’ve been terribly lax about updating. Things have been a little…nuts around these parts. I managed to catch a cold last week, so I was a bit under the weather, and lots of random little stuff has been going on that has distracted me and kept me away from my computer (shocking!).

So, last Friday, I have my regular mid-year evaluation. All was normal, people apparently like me, but the kicker was the end. When the partner giving me my review says, “so, I’ve got this proposition for you.”

The proposition?

That I move to Milan, Italy for six months starting in the fall to “help out” our office there.

How crazy is that?

I told them on Monday that I’d do it. We still need to work out the logistical stuff (and of course, with the holiday, no one’s around to actually deal with any of it), so it’s not 100% definite, but it looks like I may move to Italy for a while starting in September.

It will be different from last fall’s Rome fiasco for a few reasons – first, it’s not a two week trip for a specific client that keeps getting extended, while I’m stuck living out of one suitcase, in a tiny hotel room. I’d have an apartment, and an office, and a variety of work. Plus, my stepmother used to live in Milan, and still knows a bunch of people in the region, so I’d have a bit of a safety net.

Also, it’s Milan. While not the touristy center that Rome is, it’s much more…cosmopolitan. Every description that I’ve read of Milan as compared to the rest of Italy sounds like I’m reading about New York as compared to the rest of the US. Extremely modern, business-oriented, fast-paced, wealthy…you get the idea.

And because of its location it’s really easy to get to a bunch of other places – The train line that runs straight down from Austria goes to Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome…

It’s easy to get to Switzerland, Venice, and a whole bunch of other places.

I should probably also mention that the complete extent of my prior experience in Milan consists of flying there, taking a bus from Malpensa airport to the train station, and taking a train to Brig, Switzerland. Needless to say, I’m a little freaked out about moving to an entirely new city that I’ve never even (really) been to before. But our office appears to be right in the center of a nice part of town. Near lots of ridiculous shopping.

Ooh boy.

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