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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I know, I know, it’s about friggin’ time.


We had a four-day weekend last weekend, thanks to it being Milan’s patron saint’s day (Saint Ambrose, for those of you who were wondering). I, however, did manage to go to work for three out of four of those days. Of course, just coming off of a two-week vacation back in the US, I couldn’t really complain. I also realized that if I had planned a bit better, I could have gotten my work done in about a day, but rolling out of bed at 11 or noon, then going to lunch, and only then going to the office certainly shortens the available work hours!


I did actually manage to remember to bring my camera with me when I left my apartment. Since my office is in the center of town, it’s a pretty easy walk to see some of the more photo-worthy sights in Milan. Compared to the rest of Italy, Milan is probably a bit less…photogenic (I’m sure you all want to see tons of photos of banks).

So on Thursday, when I went to the office, I took the bus to the Duomo instead, figuring I’d walk through. (Fun fact: next to the Duomo is the entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Now, VEII was the guy who unified all of the disparate nation-states on the Italian peninsula into what we currently think of as “Italy”. He’s basically the Italian George Washington. In Rome, this rather officious looking structure, planted smack in the middle of the forum, is the monument to VEII. In Milan? Well, in Milan, they built a mall…). Of course, it was raining the first day (as it does on many days), so things are a bit grey…

I promise to have more exciting stuff soon. I’m thinking about booking a last-minute trip to Paris for the four-day christmas weekend, so I’ll be sure to take some photos there!

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I’m baaaack!


Woohoo! working internet access. it only took 2 and a half months!

Flew back to Milan Sunday night. I was really sad to be leaving NY again, but when I got into the city yesterday morning, it felt pretty comfortable – like I recognized things and knew where we were going. So that was a nice feeling. The flight back was, of course, immensely annoying, most likely because I needed to go to work yesterday. The guy sitting next to me (he was in the window seat) spent most of the flight trying to elbow my arm off of the armrest in some pathetic attempt at dominance (given that he was really skinny, it’s not like he needed the room. Plus, given that all of the controls for my seat were contained on that armrest, I definitely considered it “mine”). The best part though, was in the middle of the night, after I had managed to fall asleep, he starts poking me so that he can get up to use the restroom. This is normally fine to me – it’s the price I pay for sitting in the aisle seat. But then, after I had finally managed to fall asleep again, his FRIEND, from somewhere else on the plane, comes over to have a conversation, and does this by LEANING ON THE BACK OF MY SEAT. It’s 3 o’clock in the friggin’ morning, I’m clearly attempting to sleep, and this asshole is basically rocking my seat back and forth while speaking in normal voice (read: not whispering) right over my head. I actually, after reorienting myself and realizing why I had been woken up, grabbed his arm and pushed him away from my seat. I think he got the hint.

Oh, I should also point out that the guy sitting next to me was the very last person on the plane before they closed the doors. I hate those people even when they’re not sitting near me. And then, he starts moving shit around in the overhead bins because his bag won’t fit. And instead of looking for an empty bin, or asking for help, he just starts literally crushing my bag. with my computer in it. It was so over-the-top that the guy sitting in front of me, who is watching this as well, pointedly said to me “I certainly hope you didn’t have anything breakable in there,” as a relatively polite attempt to point out to window guy that he was maybe not doing the right thing. Nevermind that he completely blocked my ability to actually reach my bag by doing this (the only reason why I didn’t get up as soon as the seatbelt light was off to make a big show out of needing something from my bag, like my computer, was that I was actually trying to SLEEP!).

The better part was that I actually made a friend – the guy sitting across the aisle from me and I had intermittent conversations through out the flight, where we discovered that (i) we were both americans from the NYC area, (ii) we were both lawyers working in Milan, and (iii) we were both named Sam. which was actually the funniest part. We had this whole conversation about our lives and had never introduced ourselves, but when I gave him my business card he did a double-take, and asked if I went by the name “sam”, when I said yes, he stuck out his hand and said, “hi, I’m Sam.” So that was funny.

Oh, but the best part was when I went to the grocery store last night after work (completely zonked out from the no-sleep flight), yet again, I’m buying, like, six things to tide me over until the weekend, and the person behind me (this time in Italian) asks to cut in line! This time I just played dumb, even though I knew what she was asking (it’s a lot easier to do when you don’t speak the language well). Is there something about me that makes me look like a pushover?

I think I’ve written about this before, but I think there’s something about my appearance that gives people a certain impression of me. I am constantly stopped on the street, both in NY and Milan, and asked for directions (I’m obviously a lot less useful in Milan). But I think it’s because I’m somehow non-threatening looking. So then, when I snap, or refuse to give in (in the case of supermarket checkout lines), people somehow become even more offended than they would from someone else. I’m apparently a bitch in sheep’s clothing.

So. I’m back in Milan, I’ll be here until March. I’ll (seriously now) try to get out this weekend and take some pictures, and I’m hoping to go somewhere interesting for the four-day Christmas weekend we get here. Ciao!

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The blogging imperative.


I keep trying to come up with something to blog about and then deciding that it’s stupid. random topics include…

  • how lazy I’ve been so far on my vacation
  • tv that I’ve tried to catch up on (seriously – heroes? is awesome)
  • the fact that they’re powerwashing the outside of my building.

ugh. I’ve got bloggers block. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been away from it for some time, but I tried to keep up the stream of consciousness at least through the use of a written journal (I know, how archaic!). But that I tend to save for the stuff that I actually don’t want published on the internet. I can’t believe that it’s already Tuesday – that I’m going back in only a few days. Working in a foreign country is certainly a neat thing to do, but ultimately, I miss my home. What can I say. turns out that I’m a homebody. Granted, my home happens to be in one of the largest, most bustlingest, exciting cities in the world, but yeah…I’m a bit provincial at heart. Or maybe I just miss sushi. And convenient home goods stores. and same-day dry cleaners. and american TV. and internet access. (and my family and friends, of course).

My apartment in Italy is very nice. Size-wise, it’s actually about the same size as my apartment in NY. My only problem is aesthetic. Everything is white. If you’ve seen pictures of my apartment in NY, you’ll notice that nothing is white except for the kitchen and bathroom, and even those are because they’re subway tiled. In Italy, the walls are white, the couch is white, the chairs are white…it’s like living in a sanitarium. I can’t very well object to the arrangements, because objectively? it’s a perfectly nice one bedroom apartment in a very nice palazzo. Convenient to work, nice neighbors, helpful porter. But the whiteness is, to say the least, not my style. When I got home though, I all of a sudden felt like my apartment in NY was much smaller, and I realized that it’s because I’ve got, like, 10 foot ceilings in Italy, so when I walked in here, all of a sudden the ceilings felt very…low. So I guess I had adapted more than I thought.

And if I’ve got to pick one thing I’m missing about Italy? definitely the coffee. I have always hated American coffee and never go near the stuff except in overwhelming caffeine emergencies. But espresso? is like a little cup of heaven. I have to limit myself to 2 cups a day, otherwise I’ll end up never going to sleep. Sure, I have an espresso machine here in NY, but it’s not the same. I’ve heard that there’s a seriously high calcium content in the water in Italy, which is what makes their coffee and pasta taste so much better than it does here. Of course, I also end up with a mineral deposit at the bottom of the pot every time I cook dinner, so I’m guessing it’s true.

OK. it’s now after noon, and I’m still in my pajamas. It’s time to get motivated for the day. Especially since I have to go into the office this afternoon for my end-of-year evaluation. What fun. no wonder I’m procrastinating.

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The trip so far.


Since I’m still full of jet lag insomnia, just thought I’d catch y’all up on the trip so far, by wading through some of the things I essentially journaled in the past two months.

The arrival:

Arrived on September 17th, my building porter, Luigi, helped me find a place to buy a cellphone, I found the grocery store, and discovered that all of the stuff that I had shipped was stuck in Italian customs. It would remain that way for two full weeks, thanks to some inadequate labeling on the part of the mailroom in New York. But the best part? The anxiety dream that I had that afternoon. I dreamt that I was looking for the Milan office, and it was dark out (even though I obviously go to work during daylight hours). When I finally found the place, the entrance consisted of some tiny willy wonka-esque door that you needed to crawl through after climbing some sort of ladder or narrow stairs. Of course the office looks nothing like this. Of course we don’t make our clients go through an obstacle course to attend meetings. But you don’t need to be a licensed psychiatrist to figure out that I was worried about fitting in at the new place! So that was weird. Needless to say, the next day I went and found the office to make sure that it had an actual human-sized door.

My stuff finally got out of customs on September 29th. I really wonder what they were thinking when they went through all of my boxes to find such scintillating items as…extra anti-perspirant, 7 pairs of clearly worn shoes, a shoebox full of socks, 3 coats, 4 purses, an alarm clock, an odd assortment of power converts, my bathrobe, a down blanket and my tempurpedic pillow. And an entire box of paperback books. Sure, I had gone out an bought replacement pillows and sheets (which took forever!), but I was a bit irrationally happy when everything arrived. My first friday in the office, I went out with a bunch of people from work, got to ride on the back of a scooter, and generally got drunk and danced too much.

I’ve generally been working too much – almost every weekend since I got there – but that’s the job. They obviously didn’t send me over to be a tourist. I totally miss New York while I’m over there. The biggest think that I miss about NY (aside from my family, and my friends, and the fact that it’s my home) is the convenience. In Italy, everything is slow. Everything is closed on Sundays, making that day completely useless for trying to run errands. and when you do try to run errands, they take ten times as long. For example, in NYC, I drop my dry cleaning off on saturday. when I get home from work on Monday, it’s been delivered to my apartment and my doorman just hands it to me when I get home. In Italy, I drop my dry cleaning off on Saturday, and have a conversation in broken italian with the proprietress (who is missing at least one finger), who tells me that it’ll be ready “after the weekend”. meaning the following weekend. So I wait 8 days, and stop by the following Monday morning before work. Where all of my stuff is still sitting on a pile on the floor and she tells me to come back tomorrow. So. nine days to get my stuff. And because they don’t deliver, I have to go over in the morning (because they’re certainly not open when I get home from work at 9 in the evening). And then when it’s finally ready, I have to stand there for 20 minutes while she wraps everything up. Seriously – it all gets taken off of the hangars and wrapped in pretty paper like a present. I do love the fact that she’s utterly confused by my 3-letter last name, and just labels all of my stuff with a “D”.

That’s just one example, but it pretty much epitomizes all customer service interactions. It drives me crazy.

Now I’m tired again, so I’m going to try to go back to sleep.

Damn jet lag.

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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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New category


Not that I have anything to post here yet, but I thought it made sense to not pile everything I blog from living in Milan into the “travel” category.

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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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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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