Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nothing Good Ever Comes Easy

I don't know what it is about New York that brings out the introspective aspect of my personality- maybe its the sense of longing I get while I'm here- being that I miss it. I miss the life I had, and part of me (yes, I admit it) is scared for YET ANOTHER new phase... Maybe I just have too much time to think while I'm here. Or maybe it's because my time is limited- it's impermanent- so I'm forced to cram everything in, meanwhile- thinking about what came before and everything that is coming after...who I was then and who I am now and who I may be when I come back the next time- if and when I do come back.

As always, I've loved every second of being here. It's rainy and grey and the only boots I brought are ruined but I wake up happy. I wonder if I'll feel this at peace during the next chapter of my life- if I will wake up in Barcelona, surrounded by friends who challenge me and make me laugh, ready for whatever the day will bring. I hope so. I hope that Barcelona becomes my home and not just a city that I'll live in. I think it's rare to find a home. I've lived in many cities and few have actually felt as good to me as New York did...and still does.

Last night I caught up with an old friend of mine- over excessive wine and backgammon.
At one point during the ebb and flow of our conversation, the question was raised as to why I do the things I do. I mean, there I was- with a great friend- engrossed in fabulous conversation in a fabulous apartment in a fabulous city- and I left! I left all of this- one of my first true homes, New York, and the life I had made for myself here. And now? Well, now I'm leaving again- heading off into more unfamiliar territory...doing an MBA in Spain of all places. My friend brought up a great point. He said that I never make it easy for myself. And he was right.
My reply was; I only do the things I'm most terrified of, their return is always the greatest. The more I have thought about this statement of mine, the more I realize how true it is. I know it's been said before- and I'm not claiming to be any wiser than I am- but I do seem to consistently choose the more formidable routes...never making it easy.

I know (very well) what it feels like to get off of a plane in a new country, with overweight luggage and only a smudged address scrawled on a scrap piece of paper. It feels like it was only yesterday that I went through it- and it's hard. It's lonely and its scary but It's worth it. VERY WORTH IT. I just have to remind myself of this when my heart starts beating fast in the departures terminal as I am going over the few phrases I can pronounce in Catalan. I'll think back to New York and when I moved here at 23- And then two years later- sad to leave because it HAD become my home and I loved it here and knew it like the back of my hand. And now, almost four years later- coming back just to visit- and still knowing it like the back of my hand- as if New York has become a piece of me.

I can only hope that four years from now, I will go back to Barcelona- to visit- and walk the streets I'll know well, eat at the restaurants that will have become my regular haunts- meeting up with friends that although strangers today, will one day remind me of who I was, keeping me grounded, and recalling the priceless moments we shared.

So enough introspection for one day- I'm off to dodge rogue taxi drivers, ruin another pair of shoes on the damp streets, shop in overpriced boutiques for new ones I don't need, and eat my favorite lunch in my favorite SOHO restaurant while planning a massive party for Saturday night...
See? I NEVER make it easy!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Manhattan's Little Reminders

Halfway through my time in New York, I've come to a few realizations. Not only have I had the opportunity to rekindle friendships, I've also reignited some of my old flames...
pizza and nightlife.
Now, being a tad older and wiser, I've extinguished a few flames as well...

I forgot how good New York pizza is. I've heard it's the local water that makes the dough unlike any other dough (as with the bagels), but I'm not sure. Anyway- I have never had pizza as good as New York's...there's just something about it and anyone who has ever had a late-night, post-party slice in a noisy pizzeria with only standing room will agree.
I'm still in search of the "best" New York pizza and will post once I figure it out. Thus far, Brooklyn seems to have the primo slice but if it's not in Manhattan, it doesn't count in my book. No bridges or tunnels for this chick.

Also, when did 27 become old??
I venture out now, still feeble enough to strut in my stilettos- and I'm easily one of the oldest women in the place- save the man at the end of the bar that's been sipping the same martini since the 70's, checking out the "new meat." Maybe it's time to resign myself to enjoying long dinners with friends and going to bed at reasonable hours. I'm officially an adult now, I suppose. I wish I had realized that my youth would pass as quickly as it has so that I could have appreciated it more- and stayed out a bit later when I had the chance.

The art of loneliness. This is something I learned while living in New York, forgetting once I left, and am now being brutally reminded of. It's interesting, some would say- that in one of the most vibrant and crowded cities in the world, one can find themselves feeling utterly alone. I believe its the anonymity of this city...no one cares who you are or what you do. We all rush around, self-involved, as if we are in a race with ourselves just to arrive at the next location amidst yet another group of busy strangers.
I was sitting in a coffee shop this morning and as I was ordering, a "friendly" bystander sidled up to me with a warning not to sit next to the "crazy in the corner." So, of course, I heeded his advice- only to sit and watch the "crazy guy in the corner" from afar. I expected true insanity- after all, this is New York. Instead, the "nut job" just happened to be trying a little too hard to engage surrounding patrons in conversation. Since when does the desire for a bit of friendly banter make a person crazy?
I think he was just lonely.
And unfortunately, this being Manhattan, he was CRAZY to even attempt to speak with a stranger.
Needless to say, I didn't speak with him either.

Lastly, and I have always believed this to be true about New York- time seems to exist in a vacuum here. The days creep by without warning and although the minutes seem long- the daylight hours pass into darkness and back to light without any real indication of the passage of time. In my case, I've been here nearly a week and a half and have done about 1/4 of what I wanted to do and seen about 1/8 of the people I planned to see. The worst part of all- is that if you asked- I couldn't tell you what I've been occupying myself with- besides the usual: Worrying about my Spanish VISA, oscillating between PC and MAC decisions, and coordinating extravagant plans that I will most likely cancel anyhow.

Although, I did eat at the newly opened restaurant, Ago, in Tribeca the other night and had some of the best Burrata I've had in a while.
I suppose by New York standards (MY New York standards) that's quite an accomplishment.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I've spent the last two days hanging curtains, rearranging furniture, and drilling holes in walls.
I promised my best friend, Dana that once I arrived in NY- I would decorate her new apartment for her. Dana recently moved from Nolita (North of Little Italy) to the West Village and as if the move weren't traumatizing enough- she is the worst decorator in the world.
So here I am. Decorating again.
And I'm seriously enjoying it.
One of the best parts about moving homes so often is the constant opportunity to redecorate. Past color combination mistakes, and excessive holes pocking the walls as signifiers of miscalculations can all be eradicated.
Redecorating is therapeutic.
To me, it's a way to fuse the past and the future:
I can hang the photos of my past- to remind me of my most cherished memories. And all the new colors and pieces? Well, they are the objects that will accompany me into my new life....the very things that I will remember when I'm looking back at all the places I've occupied.

So today, I'm decorating Dana's future- with reminders of HER past thrown in here and there. And of course, she'll have the pleasure of looking at a number of photos with me just so my presence is known when I'm gone and in another home, in a new country, decorating my own future.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


There are a few things I consider to be quintessentially "New York." One being walking. My best times in New York were never standing amidst tourists in Times Square or packed into an overflowing theater watching a Broadway show that's been running ten years too long.

Walking was my passion- from the moment I moved to New York until the day I left. And now, when I come back...even before I let anyone know that I've arrived- I walk. I reacquaint myself with the city- as if its an old friend. I say hello to the many corners I know well and I introduce myself to the new establishments...promising that I'll be seeing them again.

I know of many individuals who feel trapped by the concrete jungle that is NY- they feel claustrophobic.
I, on the other hand, feel free- as if I could walk forever.

During my first period in NY, Dana came into my life and shared my love of walking. We would meet up after work- and walk wherever the streets took us. Sometimes we would walk to the river- other times over the bridges and out of Manhattan. We would walk from downtown to uptown and East side to West. We would stop for dinner if our feet got tired, or we would just keep going, as if we had all the time in the world. And during our walks, nothing else mattered- not work, or relationships, or the fact that the rent was overdue. New York took us into the crooks of its arms and we swayed with it. I haven't yet found another city in the world that welcomes the clicking of feet on it's pavement- walking.

On my 25th birthday, Dana gave me a collection of Thoreau. One piece, aptly chosen, was "Walking."

From Henry David Thoreau, Walking;

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understands the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering; which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the middle ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going a la sainte terre"-- to the holy land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a sainte- terrer," a saunterer- a holy-lander. They who never go to the holy land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds, but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the god sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course of the sea. But I prefer the first, which indeed is the most probably derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this holy land from the hands of the Infidels.

I love New York. I love Thoreau.

Friday, April 18, 2008

They Said It Better...

I've always loved quotes. I was one of those geeks who had a diary AND a quote book...I simply felt (and still agree) that some of the best things have already been said.
There is always room for originality, but many times- I'll come across a quote that puts my thoughts succinctly into the exact terms that I have been searching for, with the words I am unable to find. I found one of my old quote books and would like to share a few of my favorite quotes from different times in my life:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed with the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw of the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

"Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe." -Anatole France

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." -CS Lewis

"Doubt thou that the stars are fire;
Doubt thou that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt that I love." -William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." -John Lennon

"It's better to burn out than to fade away."- Neil Young

"I'm not a tourist, I'm a traveler. A tourist thinks about going home the moment they arrive, whereas a traveler might not come back at all." -?

"You risk tears if you let yourself be tamed." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"There is no passion to be found in playing small- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." -Nelson Mandela

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The East Coast

I’m leaving Miami for New York this afternoon. FINALLY. (Who knew that to get things done at the consulate, all I had to do was speak Spanish??)

Although, It’s a bittersweet departure. Somehow, this time around, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for my hometown- possibly, seeing it through further removed eyes.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to be going to NY for a while and simultaneously, looking forward to my return to Miami come May.

My recent top 10 favorite things about Miami:
1. Peacocks in my front yard
2. The Beach (the sandy one, not South Beach, although that’s not too bad either…)
3. My mom (and shopping with her…)
4. My closet (I’ve been somewhat of a nomad for the past few years)
5. Fresh Market and cooking in a fully equipped kitchen
6. The pool at the Delano
7. Le Bouchon Du Grove
8. Boating
9. Lincoln Road
10. The weather

Top ten things I’m looking forward to in NY this time around;
1. Sunday Brunch in the West Village
2. Cooking for Dana
3. The Hamptons (South and East)
4. Pinkberry
5. The Gruyère omelet from Pastis with a side of pommes frites
6. Lisa Bass (Goldman)
7. Central Park, if it’s warm enough
8. Soho shopping
9. Movies at the Angelika
10. Night time

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Year in my Life- Italy 2004

When people ask me what my first job experience out of college was like, they don’t expect to hear what I have to say. I’ve always wanted to live fully- to make every moment count – to live an extraordinary life. Unfortunately, I felt as though I was on the path to ordinary. It was the culmination of my senior year, 2003, I had taken the LSAT’s, applied to law schools, sent my deposits in, and was gearing up for another three years of higher education. A week before my departure for New York, I freaked out. I packed my bags, bought a one way ticket to Italy, and hopped on a plane to fly across the ocean. I was completely alone. My parents scoffed at my imprudence, my friends admired my courage, and I closed my eyes and blindly walked into the unknown. Eight hours later, I found myself, a 22 year old graduate of the George Washington University, at Milano Malpensa airport with a couple thousand dollars to my name and an Italian phone book flipped to the “English Language Schools” section.
Amidst my hunt, I stumbled across “British Institutes” who boasted a 2-week TEFL certification course and guaranteed placement in one of their 230 schools anywhere in Italy. After a quick nap at “Albergo Imperial” in central Milan, a much needed and deserved glass of Barolo, and a quick peek at the famed Duomo, I made my way to the British Institutes offices. Lucky me, the course was to start the next day in Saronno, a small rural village 30 minutes south of Milan.
Two weeks later, along with 15 other “lost souls,” I had earned a Teaching English as a foreign language certificate and was placed in a school. I had made a friend in the program. Marissa, from Chicago. Luckily enough, after much pleading, we were placed together in the town of Lodi. Lodi, was yet another desolate town in Northern Italy. The next four months of my life were as follows; Marissa and I had horrific hours Monday through Saturday, our students hated us for speaking American English. Hence the name; “British Institutes,” and we had made no friends. Our tiny apartment was constantly freezing despite our attempts at rigging the heater, and about a 45 minute walk outside the city center. We had no mode of transportation save our feet. We were living on 800 Euro a month sans benefits and were, for all intents and purposes, miserable. When I had studied abroad in Florence two years prior, I had created this idealistic view of what the country should be like. I was madly in love with Italy and held it as my utopia. Lodi had ruined that fantasy for me. I had ruined that fantasy for myself. At that point, I had a choice. I could give up and quit- return to America- defeated. Or I could persevere and accomplish what I had originally intended.
I was a dreamer. I had always been a dreamer. I’m still a dreamer. And when I look back on those days of my life, I can’t help but feel that it was a dream. I don’t know if this is a result of my wanderlust or my insatiable appetite for life. I grew up with a sign over my door saying “Carpe Diem” and every morning, regardless or where I was going or what I was doing, I made a promise to myself to do exactly that- Seize the Day. So in turn, I seized my luggage and stored it in the Milan train station. I then embarked on a one month solo backpacking stint through Eastern Europe to clear my head and get my priorities in order. Somewhere between Vienna and Budapest and amongst my new motley crew of travelers and the consumption of legalized absinthe, I made the decision to move to Rome. Italy had failed me once; I wasn’t going to let it get the best of me.
Through the right contacts (i.e. cute Italian stallions who had crushes on me) and sheer luck, I found a headhunter in Rome. Within a few days of being back in Italy, I had a job and apartment set up in this ancient city. I had been offered a position translating web copies from Italian to English at a small graphic design firm in Piazza Cavour. The company wanted me to speak fluent business Italian and therefore enrolled me in courses at a local language school. Fortunately for me, the language school was host to many expatriates and consequently worked with their students to find them housing. I arrived in Rome on January 5, 2004. The train ride down was exciting and sad all at the same time. It was a new beginning but I was fearful of what was to come. I hated the thought that my initial attempt at life in Italy was unsuccessful, which put even more pressure on me this time around. It was now or never.
I got to a potential apartment in Piazza Bologna by metro at about midnight. Giorgio, my new Greek roommate opened the door for me and thus began my new life.
The two of us sat down in the kitchen and I lit a cigarette as Giorgio made espresso with a caffeteria, the little silver kettle-type contraption used for centuries in the Mediterranean to brew espresso. We chatted about his experiences as a med. student in Rome and I described the past year to him as best I could in my intermediate Italian. I didn’t know Greek and Giorgio didn’t know English, so we settled on Italian even though I was at a disadvantage. Before we knew it, three hours had past and with an empty bottle of Chianti and a full ash tray to boot; I got up, bid my new friend farewell, and went back to my hotel. We decide that I will move in the following Friday.
I finally felt as if my experience in Italy- the Italy that I had known and loved- had begun. I was living in a charming little apartment in a central Piazza in Rome with a tremendous roommate. I was attending a school with language and culture classes full of students who spoke all different languages and came from diverse cultures. Every so often in the middle of the days I tried to take a step back and really appreciate the whimsical quality of my life. The weeks flew by and moment by moment, I let my former self go and becoming the "doer," and not the talker. I found myself sitting in Piazza Navona with Sandra from Spain and Vlatka from Croatia. We walked to the famous square with Bernini fountains and the enshrined shrunken head of Saint Agnes to grow drunk in gelato and caffe macchiatto’s. After watching a finger puppet show by the same man that mesmerized my history class 3 years ago in the same piazza, we walked over to watch an old man with shaky hands render an oil on canvas of the famous fountain of the four rivers. At sunset, we find ourselves on the Vittorio Emmanuelle bridge and my breath left me- it was that sensation when you are about to cry and you are trying to hold it in yet at the same time, you know how good it would feel to simply let it all out. Excitement and sadness were caught in my throat and I was choking on all the life filling up inside of me. I don’t really know how these two emotions exist at the same time but there is something about the enigma that felt warm- like I should have been feeling that right then. I was facing (south?) and the top of Michelangelo’s masterful dome on St. Peters was lit with the last of the day’s sun. The Tiber was a purple and orange reflection of the sky and the relief sculpture on the bridge reflected my mood perfectly. It was obscure yet calm- like it was sculpted specifically for me on that January evening. It was then that I learn the Italian word for sunset- Tramonto. I will never forget it.
I was ready for whatever life had in store for me and I was facing the world head on. Classes were going well. I was meeting some interesting people and learning a fair amount of business grammar. My job was interesting. I was gaining experience in web design, corporate ID, and marketing while improving my language skills. I was living in Rome. The days were flying by and before I knew it- I had a life, I had friends, I had my favorite restaurant where the waiters knew me, I had my local bar where the server didn’t have to ask what kind of beer I preferred. I had actually done it and I was happy. Happier than I thought I could be. Che bella vita che stavo vivendo.
My days were light and happy and every so often I would have to remind myself that I had actually done it. Despite the obstacles and inner doubt, I had made it. I had passed. I took the metro with the rest of the Romans to work in the mornings; I would lunch with my coworkers at Napolitano pizzerias and little out of the way trattorias while sipping Proseco. I would sometimes walk home through the forum or pass by the coliseum before returning home where if we didn’t go out, Giorgio and I would spend the evening cooking (yes, I had learned to cook!) and listening to music, drinking Chianti and playing backgammon. We were great friends with the girls next door and would frequently have parties with them that involved excessive tiramisu and tequila.
I spent my 23rd birthday at four in the morning at the Trevi Fountain. Two of Giorgio’s friends came over after my party and brought me presents, got me drunk, and took me to the fontanta. It was amazing. I had been to the Trevi fountain multiple times and although each time is as incredible as the last, it is constantly filled with tourists, gypsies, and street vendors. Generally, it was hard to walk through and damn near impossible to appreciate to its full capacity. That time it was different. It was four in the morning- virtually empty and the lights behind the splashing water seemed to be the only lights in the world- as if all life started there- with us. It was the best present ever. Giorgio then took me by himself to Gianicolo, a point at the top of Rome where the entire city shines beneath you. He kissed me. And that was when I fell in love with him.
Life was progressing as normal until my career stumbled upon a change in direction. I, before I had any time to process the events at hand, was a translator for one of the largest and most prominent secret societies in the world. This is how it went down; Giorgio’s father was a Knight of Malta. One of the top members of the Knights lived in Rome and therefore, when Giorgio left Greece for university in Rome, his father called upon the Count to watch after him. At one of our typical weekly dinners with the Count- amidst royalty, the rich and famous of Italy, and abundant, delectable cuisine, the Count offered me a job. That was when I became a personal assistant to royalty as well as a translator for the Knights of Malta.
The next year of my life was a whirlwind of events once can only hope to experience. I was flying through Europe, attending conventions of Knights in the most paradisiacal of destinations, and cavorting with dignitaries and celebrities from all over the world. As I stated before, I am a dreamer. Looking back on my life at that point, I feel like it was a dream. Sometimes it is hard for me to grasp the fact that it was all a reality- my reality. I was in a relationship with the most wonderful man I had ever met- my sweet and gentle Giorgio. I had a job most people train their entire lives to take on. And I had seen and done things I only thought happened in the movies.
Unfortunately, as abruptly as it had started- Rome came to a screeching halt. My castle in the sky crumbled away right under my feet and there was nothing I could do to stop the demise of the life I had always dreamed of living. I’m going to leave out the details of the multiple reasons it was decided that it was in my best interests to leave Italy, but suffice it to say that I wasn’t ready for the departure.
Shortly after I packed my bags, I was back at home. Sitting amongst my family, on American soil, and completely alone. I don’t think I spoke a word for a good week. I couldn’t. I couldn’t bear the idea of even attempting to put into words how broken and lost I felt. There was nothing to say. Life, as I had known it, ended abruptly and without warning. I had lost a great love. To this day, it is hard to look back with fondness on that full year and a half of my life. I believe that my subconscious partially turned it into a story. Simply a story to be told- not a real part of my life. I had lost everything- at least everything and anything that meant something to me back then.
The concept of “home” had always intrigued me. I was always testing the limits as to what I could make my home and what I couldn’t. I don’t think for my four years at college, I ever felt like I was at home. However- I was at home in my little apartment off of Via Sambuccucio d’Alando in Rome with Giorgio. The smell of that place was home, the curves of Giorgio’s face were home. I even had a turtle; Tarti. Back in America, I was essentially homeless. I had to start over. And that’s what I did.
Life is filled with inconsequential moments that we let pass us by without notice. Once in a while- a certain person and experience come together and there is this magical connection where everything makes sense- where there is a concrete purpose to it all. My time in Italy was exactly that. I didn’t know who I was to become, what I was to do, or where I would be- but I knew it would be something spectacular. That was ultimately what that year had shown me- my life can be spectacular. Every moment can be meaningful and every moment can be life-altering. It is what we make of it.
This is all we have. This one short life. The fleeting moment in which we can decide whether to simply exist or to grab it by the horns and ride. I want to ride it until I expire. Most people tire out, fall off, or never get on in the first place. I plan to ride it forever. Otherwise, what’s it all for? I feel lucky. I can go back to any experience in Italy and desire to do it all over again. The thing that makes me different is that I wouldn’t change a thing. I would take everyday- the happiness, the misery- and do it all again if given the change. No hindsight, no knowledge in piu. Just as it was. And I am excited to do the same with the rest of my life. I know some of what is out there now... It’s like listening to your favorite song with the ocean at your feet, the infinite stars above, and your best friend holding your hand. It can’t get any better. That’s what the future is to me. The more I live, the more I grow and the better each day gets. Of course we all have our weak moments but what’s the light without the dark?
Everything in life is cyclical. What has a beginning, must have an end. That which lives, will inevitably die. These are the only universal truths that continue to not only plague me, but have a recurring theme in my daily life. Looking back, over four years later, I know that my experience then formed part of who I am now, like everything else we do in life. I accomplished what I went there to do and in later months and years, had full faith in myself and anything I chose to do. I had loved deeply, failed undertakings, succeeded in enterprises, met some of the most fantastic and interesting characters I would never have known existed, and opened my eyes to boundless possibilities. I didn’t know what the next step was to be or where I would end up once back in the states but there was one fact I understood that I still hold true; whatever Italy meant to me and however short lived it was- it wasn’t the end of my voyage; it was merely a piece of the magnificent puzzle that one day, a long time from then and a long time from now, I would proudly call my life.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Okay. So there are worse places to be trapped than America, The Beautiful, but because my entire life is on another continent, it’s hard to accept the fact that I cannot leave U.S. soil. I think the worst part is the principal; I have never liked anyone dictating to me where I can and cannot be. This may be one of the largest reasons I started “living internationally” in the first place. Furthermore, I had misgauged the Spanish Visa process and made travel plans that I have now had to cancel. Therefore, once all my superfluous paperwork is finally accepted by the consulate, my passport will be held hostage for another 6-10 weeks until this damn Visa of mine is finally issued.

Now comes the question at hand; what to do? Where to go? Miami is out of the question- I believe I’ve already overstayed my welcome and all my friends are either married or gone. New York works, and I will be there within the week, but it’s old news- been there, done that. New York is like going home, which is fine. The Big Apple is fabulous, and one of my favorite cities in the world- but these next few months are for me- to do things I would otherwise be unable to do. When am I going to have another time in my life with the freedom to go…and do…and explore- The freedom to be anywhere I want to be, with anyone, for any period of time. And the Spaniards are keeping me at home.
Other options: California? Could work. Road trip? The cost of petrol is too high. Alaska? There’s a thought. Summer solstice is in June…could be interesting. Hawaii? Hmmm.

I understand that I’m lucky to even be contemplating these options and I’m sure someone is reading this post and cringing. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful- but domestic travel simply isn’t appealing to me right now. I hate to admit it, but I’m actually angry.

I know that there will come a time in my life- where the mere notion of international flights and inexhaustible immigrations lines will send me into a panic. I also fear that the world is getting smaller- more globalization is occurring, which is wonderful in certain aspects, but the remote areas of the world that are completely foreign and new and exotic will be sprouting McDonalds’ and building superhighways. I want to see it all before it changes- I want to live it and take it in and make it all a part of me.

I hope to visit Cuba before I’m actually allowed in, I want to see Bhutan before it has a Starbuck’s, and I would like to dive the Great Barrier Reef before pollution and global warming take their tolls. I’m already fearful of the limited amount of time I have on this earth- and even more limited amount of time I have to travel it- but now? When I actually have a few months to fulfill some of my greatest desires- SPAIN IS KEEPING ME IN AMERICA! I’m going to get this MBA to make the world a better place- to learn how to somehow leave my mark- but how am I to do that if I don’t understand the world? If I am to remain in America- doing American things - spending American dollars- and only wondering about everything that is out there, what good will that do??

So there’s my rant for the day…I’m off to the consulate.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Little Life Lesson

I’m in Miami, a veritable tropical paradise. The sun shines brightly everyday- it’s an absolutely perfect time of year.

And what am I doing? Camping outside the Spanish Consulate’s office…harassing the State Department to send me some unnecessary notarized forms stating that I am not a criminal so that Spain will accept me...and driving myself crazy going back and forth between Best Buy and Apple since I absolutely cannot decide what type of computer I should get for b-school. In a nutshell, preparing for this MBA is like a full time job; I’m worried about actually starting it.

In between my hysterical outbursts in the Consul’s office and laptop decisions, I decided to spend some quality time with my grandmother, Nana, who lives on Miami Beach. Nana parades me around her apartment complex as if I’m a prize to be had and then kicks my ass at scrabble and feeds me preposterous amounts of food. In return, I took her to the gym and put her on the bike. When I looked around to make sure she was still breathing (a common act when I’m around the old bird), I saw her flying on the treadmill- which was quite a shock considering she can’t even cross a room without her walker.

A bit later, I saw flashes of light as I was on an elliptical machine (or “epileptical,” as Nana calls it) and I thought I was going mad. Turns out- Nana was taking photos of me in all my sweaty glory. If I ever doubted that she was my biggest fan, this sneaky little photo shoot confirmed her unconditional love.

At one point during our afternoon together, I grabbed a hold of Nana’s wrist and instead of a normal pulse, I felt something I was not expecting at all- her pacemaker was electronically driving blood through her veins and what I felt was a bizarre continuous buzz- a stream that was anything but natural. I would like to say that it was funny or at least interesting, but it was terrible. Although I’ve always believed my Nana to be somewhat bionic, it scared me to think that it is essentially a machine keeping her alive. (Maybe I shouldn’t have taken her to the gym after all…)

The marvels of modern medicine are extraordinary however, what about quality of life? Spending time with my grandma, time I can never get back, is priceless. Priceless but depressing… and if anything, it serves as a reminder that life is short- its fragile- and maybe I should stop complaining about the damn consulate and appreciate the fact that I’m about to move to Spain for two years.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Weep Not For The Memories"

One of my favorite parts of being in Miami is the opportunity to look through all my old boxes and albums and whatever else it is that I have left for my mother to deal with. Every so often, she implores me to clean out my closet and leaves me bins in which I am meant to put my things in order to be brought to external storage units. However, during the first big move after le divorce, I put vestiges of my youth into these “supposed” storage units and I haven’t seen them since- not even a trace. Personally, I believe that these units exist along similar lines of the “farm” that my bunny, Herman went to when I was at school one day in 5th grade…I never heard from him again either.

Needless to say, none of my snow-globes or dried out corsages, however tragically comical they are, will be seeing the insides of the removal bins.
Instead, each time I come home, my room becomes a war-zone strewn with dresses I’ve owned for 10 years and will never wear, and faded notes on lined paper passed to me by friends resulting in after-school detention for bad behavior.

Any way you look at it, I’m undoubtedly a packrat…and proud of it.
Who else can say that they have an entire bookshelf dedicated purely to the handwritten journals chronicling their life from the age of 7 and on? I love this sh*t!

As writing has always been a big part of my life, so has music. Therefore, I took the liberty of pulling out one of my first booklets of C.D.’s and had a little reunion with myself on the way to the dentist.
I found the collection absolutely hilarious and I thought I would share it.

Today’s afternoon playlist was as follows:

1. Under the Bridge, Red Hot Chili Peppers
2. The One To Be With You, Mr. Big
3. Always, Bon Jovi
4. Three Little Pigs, Green Jelly
5. From a Distance, Bette Midler (this was my first ever CD!!)
6. Loser, Beck
7. Weak, SWV
8. Again, Janet Jackson
9. We Didn’t Start The Fire, Billy Joel (I actually wrote out every word of this song so I could learn it. I can still recite it beginning to end…)
10. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
11. Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls
12. Jack and Diane, John Mellencamp
13. I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Whitney Houston (crack head)
14. Straight Up, Paula Abdul
15. Let’s Talk About Sex, Salt-n-Pepa
16. Jump, Kriss Kross
17. Come As You Are, Nirvana
18. Informer, Mr. Snow
19. Waterfalls, TLC
20. To Zion, Lauryn Hill
21. Crazy, Aerosmith
22. What if God Was One of Us, Joan Osbourne
23. Wonderwall, Oasis
24. End of the Road, Boys II Men
25. Life Goes On, 2pac
26. I’ll Be Missing You, Puff Daddy
27. I Will Remember You, Sarah McLachlan

p.s. my most treasured mixes could not be played due to the fact that the tape is now obsolete- and my many painstaking hours of recording songs directly from the radio are now worthless. I demand a revival!

Friday, April 4, 2008


I’ve been “home” in Miami for exactly a week. Between bridesmaid duties and fighting with the Spanish Embassy (who by the way- is doing everything in their power to keep me from attaining a visa for my MBA in Barcelona), I have finally had a chance to sit down and reflect.

“Home” is an interesting concept. I’ve always called Miami home because this is where I was born, where I was raised, and where I spent my entire youth until I was released into the wide world at the ripe old age of 18. But to be honest, Miami has never really felt like home to me. If I were to be direct, rather than refer to Miami as “home,” it would the “the place where I learned my first few life-lessons (awful and awkward)” and “it’s the city where my parents live.” That’s pretty much the extent of it. Although, I always love coming home. In theory.

Early on, I had quite the propensity for identity crises. Later, I pretty much figured out who I was and have remained relatively constant for the last decade. However, as soon as I arrive in South Florida, I always seem to wonder who I am supposed to be. To my family, I am one Morgan. To my childhood friends, I am another Morgan. And really- each time I come back- whether it be after a month or after a year…I’m always a different, generally improved, “Morgan.”
One should stay true to themselves, right? Well, its not that easy. “Home” is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I come to Miami, being that it was home from 0 years of age to 18, I regress into that old ME- a Morgan that I didn’t actually like so much- a Morgan who was never truly sure of where she belonged or who she was- a Morgan who one year would wear Tiffany silver and inject numerous “likes” into her vocabulary and whose sentences always curved up at the end with invisible question marks when she spoke. The next year, I would be sitting on a street corner in Coconut Grove, smoking hand rolled cigarettes- in black makeup and chains, listening to Nine Inch Nails and cursing the world. The following year, instead of cursing the world, I would decide that I wanted to change the world and wear only hemp clothing, Krishna beads, and march with “Meat is Murder, Abortion Isn’t” banners outside of city hall.
And beyond any actions I took or clubs I frequented, I was a disaster inside- the epitome of an internally conflicted teenager. I’m not going to blame my parents’ messy divorce or my raging hormones- there really is no point. It is what it is; at least that’s what my therapist told me. All I truly know and remember is that wherever I was- I believed I belonged somewhere else. It’s not all bad though. I had a loving family and looking back through my many meticulously organized photo albums; I can say that I did have some good times. (Where there is darkness, there will always be light. No?)
But I was conflicted. As I am now- at “home.”

I walk down the street and I see the people I grew up with- hanging out with the same groups they were hanging out with when I left, frequenting the same restaurants, having the same conversations- the only difference is that this time, they are all wearing wedding bands on their fingers and have babies in their laps. And I know them- But they don’t know me. Most of them don’t care to. And I wonder, maybe they are happier remembering me as I was. Maybe they aren’t ready for change- within themselves or others around them. And then again, its also possible that I have it all wrong and they are my insecurities that are disallowing me to make a place for new Morgan in old Morgan’s territory…almost like I am trying to preserve that tender spot as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

Yet without “The Miami Years,” I would not be who I am now. And I’m pretty pleased with her.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

My best friend, Brianna, is now a married woman. The wedding was fantastic: It was beautiful. It was fun. It was incredibly emotional. I cried watching my best friend walk down the isle, I cried when they signed the Ketubah, and I cried when she danced with her father. Luckily, I didn’t cry as I was giving my speech as I feared I would- one glass of wine less, and I definitely would have been bawling.
I’m still recovering from the three-day celebration and it’s just sinking in that yet another one of my “partners in crime” now has another (more permanent type-of) partner. Below is my bridesmaid speech- it says it all. It says goodbye.

“I’ve known and loved Brianna since we were two years old. I’m actually connected with the Bernstein’s as well, as Brian’s mom was one of my first and favorite pre-school teachers. Little did I know, that 25 years later, Lynne’s son would be marrying my best friend. I cannot remember any phase of my life without Bree in it. She has been a fixture - a constant- and a rock. We saw each other through many “firsts,” and have continued to explore and discover together regardless of where we are in our lives or in the world…

Brianna was always the “cool kid.” It’s one of those universally inherent things- she was just born cool. She knew all the words to the Indigo Girls before I ever even owned a CD player- and when boys still had koodies in my mind, Bree was on to her second boyfriend. Needless to say, I wanted to be around Brianna from the beginning. Brianna and I were 14 years old when we went to camp in West Virginia together. One day, Brianna pulled me aside and told me that I could be her “CBFF”- camp best friend forever…I didn’t yet qualify as a best friend back in Miami.
We got past that though.

I basically lived at Bree’s house while I was growing up. Not only were Karen and Larry the warmest and most loving family, but they never failed to leave out a massive bowl of m&m’s in the living room. I probably still owe them a fair share for the grocery bills. Still, The Michaels’ house was always like a second home to me- a haven…where some nights Brianna and I would sit up talking until the sun came out. As most of you know first-hand, Brianna possesses numerous remarkable qualities. She is a loyal and enduring friend to those she cares about. She is creative, beautiful, and has the ability to bring warmth to any situation. Brianna has a heart of gold and is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. It is these characteristics, plus so many more, that has not only made Brianna an extraordinary friend and ally to me, but will no doubt make her an amazing addition to the Bernstein family.

Who would have thought that one of the Bernstein boys- Brian, this handsome and intelligent man- and the son of one of your mom’s best friends- would one day be your husband? Although it is clear to anyone who knows you as a couple that you and Brianna bring out the best in each other. Brianna, there is no one like you in the world- you’re unique, your company is priceless and you’re irreplaceable. Hell, I would have married you if I could.

I feel blessed to have grown up so close to you. Through the years, we have shared in each others lives…good and bad- sane and insane- in innocence and maturity…and to be here now celebrating another significant moment in her life- I couldn’t be happier.

Tonight, on the eve of your wedding- I am reminded of another “first” and “last” for us. We were 18 years old and it was the night before we separately left for college- you to Syracuse and me to GW; we sat in the front seats of your Jeep for hours and listened to Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say goodbye” over and over and over- with tears streaming down our faces. I remember that we promised each other that we would always remain friends. That night, I feared that I was losing you- a huge part of me-
But we kept that promise.

Tomorrow you will be getting married and you will have someone else to sit up until dawn talking with, and trying new things, and exploring with, and sharing your life with- so again, I feel like it’s “time to say goodbye” although- there is no one in the world that I would rather lose you to than Brian.
The two of you were made for each other and there is no doubt in my mind that your marriage will be full of joy and laughter and love. So…Here’s to you two, Brianna and Brian- wishing you all the happiness in the world. I love you.”