A shameful confession (more or less)

Bari Room--sm
My gorgeous workspace in Bari, Puglia, Italy.

Anyone ever read Postsecret?   I have only read excerpts here and there.  The secret I would put on a postcard to mail to a stranger is that I want to be a writer.  Why is this a secret?  Mostly out of anxiety, I think.  If I say it out loud to people who know me, I risk becoming a cliche, the amateur who has a manuscript in the closet somewhere.  Or the narcissist who believes she may actually have talent.

Then, a number of years ago, someone I spoke to while blogging challenged me to do NaNoWriMo, the month-long writing marathon.  So I did it and wrote a 50,000 word novel.  And the next year I wrote the sequel.  Then I procrastinated.  And became the cliche writer with the manuscript moldering in the metaphorical closet.

I workshopped the novel once at a conference and got good feedback but not the feedback of my fantasies.  And I procrastinated again.

During this time, I had one fan, my younger son.  He was proud of me.  So proud he nagged me for years to finish my novel.  He had it all figured out.  It would be published by Scholastic books, of course, since I had written a Middle Grade novel.  He even took a draft to his 8th grade classroom and the teacher read it out loud.  The kids loved it and wanted more.

And still I procrastinated.  Until last year.  My son had spent the past years nagging me to get back to it, so I did.  Last summer, I workshopped the book again.  And the instructor, a successful children’s author, suggested I look for an agent.  I resolved to complete one more revision and made a plan.  I would create a sabbatical, a month-long leave, revise, and start the query process.

I rented an apartment in Bari, Italy, for the month of February.  To do this I needed to be away.  Otherwise I might not ever start.  And if taking a winter month off, why not do it somewhere warm.  A month in Italy turns out to be about the same cost as a month in Florida or California and much tastier.

My month is now over and I’m home again. The procratination disease has flared up what with work and a very sick cat I am taking care of. Since this post is getting long, I’ll finish here and recount what I did accomplish next post. Unless I procrastinate on that too.

Yellow Mums and Reflections

Yellow Mums and Reflections--sm

For Cee’s Flower of the Day prompt I had to dig a little deep in my files.  I saw my first snowdrops of the year yesterday but for that I would have to go outside and take a picture.  So autumn’s remains, it is.   This is a picture of the exterior of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Unfortunately, I did not make it in to view the art that day.  A lot of famous flowers growing in there.

I’m sure we’re all looking forward to spring–at least those of us in the northern hemisphere.  Spring seems early this year.  Climate change in action is my belief.  Robins showed up in January this year.

Happy Wednesday and don’t forget today is International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day

Silk bird 4by6.jpgI changed the avatar on my social media sites to this image of a Chinese red silk jacket I bought at a yard sale for a dollar.  I will be wearing it today in honor of the International Women’s Day and because I am not able to strike in honor of women’s rights.  This is not a major statement is it?  Wear a jacket even if it isn’t my best color?

Many women who might believe in the Day without Women walkout will make the same choice, to go to work.  So I am trying to make it a less than ordinary work day.  I will tell people (as in this post) why I am wearing red and why I am still working.

I am a physician.  If I walked out of work today after being gone in Italy for the past 5 weeks, I would be letting down people who really need me, some of them women and children.  This does not seem to be responsible, even for a good cause.  I considered working but not charging for my services.  Selfish reasons aside, all I would be doing is donating my services to the insurance companies.  Why would I want to do that?  At best, I consider them part of the problem.

This highlights one of the problems with striking in general.  People with major responsibilities including doctors find it hard to strike.  People who do not have similar obligations often need the money far more or worry about losing their jobs.  This mutes the statement of the strike and may lead to an underestimation of the number of people who are invested in the cause.  As for me, I’ll attend mostly the marches and protests that happen on weekends or evenings or, rarely, take a well-planned day off.

We Stand Together

This morning before work I will try to find a phone call to make, a letter to write or an e-mail to send.  I will donate to a cause that is women-friendly.  I will continue to look for ways to protest, resist and advocate.  Then I will go to work and help some women!

A day on the Amalfi Coast

I am still blogging from my phone which limits my verbal and photographic eloquence.   I drove along the coast today.  Amalfi is as beautiful as they say.  Like driving Highway one in California only more dangerous and with crazier drivers.  I cannot imagine driving there in the summer. This marred the experience to a degree as did the lack of parking.  Maybe it needs to be like Yosemite is now.  Limited car access and many shuttles.  I don’t know but lack of parking prevented accessing some lovely sites.  I am just glad I survived the day.

I leave Italy in two days.  If all goes well, tomorrow will be a visit to Pompeii.  I am currently “parked” in a pleasant restaurant sipping red wine and eating seafood.

Download speeds are slow so my photo may never get published.  (Update, obviously it did).


Dinner out

I always feel a bit weird eating on my own but this month it has been eat at home alone or out alone.  I hated not to have tried on one of my last two nights here in Bari.  I ordered a seafood pasta and red wine.  Typing seems antisocial but so is staring into space.  Many of the other diners have their phones out too.  

One amusing detail is that I can watch the chefs at work.  Kind of fun, that. I’m still not sure if I will have room for dessert, la dolce.

Ah, but I did and it was amazing.  It had chocolate and pistachio and was frozen.  Otherwise words fail me.  

La Passeggiata

Kors IGsm.jpg

Rain or shine, it seems everyone is out taking a walk here in Bari in the late afternoon. The streets weren’t quite as crowded today as on a sunny day but I certainly was not alone wandering the streets and peering into the designer shop windows. There were shoppers too but the evening stroll seems to be more about being outside than it is about shopping.  The Passeggiata is a family affair.  I can’t imagine my two sons agreeing to a nightly stroll through town when they lived at home!  I could not have torn them away from their electronics.  No wonder kids here are generally thinner!
I have been nearly a month here in Bari and I too have my daily routines. I have been writing most weekday mornings but as the day progresses I hasten to the Lungomare (waterfront) to catch the last of the sun. Since Bari is on the eastern side of Italy the sun sets over the land and ducks behind the buildings fairly early in the day. I didn’t run all the way to Italy to escape winter only to never see the sun. Even here it is winter, though. We’ve only had around two rainy days since I arrived but it is chilly many days and the sun sets early. I can only imagine what the long summer days must be like here! I would love to be able to linger in the squares eating gelato at 9 or 10 PM but it is currently too dark and cold for that to appeal.
I have had a myriad of minor and major difficulties that have interfered with my blogging this month. The hard drive on my computer died and needed to be replaced. The process went very smoothly which was a delight given that I find locating the proper store to buy toilet paper to be a challenge here. The shop owner even saved all my data. After that, I had to reload all my software. I still have not bothered with Photoshop which further hampers my photography because after downloading Windows updates and virus protection (at glacially slow download speeds), I discovered that I had used up all the internet allocation of the place I am staying. Three days later my host was able to buy more internet data for me but I am now more cautious about downloads. Life has been further complicated by tendinitis in my right elbow but who’s complaining? This was a long-winded explanation of why I have been neglecting this blog. I hope to get back to it more regularly soon.
I have less than a week more here in Italy. The month has flown by and I will miss Bari and the south of Italy.  I’ll likely have months of processing photos when I return home to keep the memories alive.