On the road again

It’s Saturday, February 2, 2019, and I am pleased to say that I had the privilege to sleep in my own bed for two whole nights before leaving town again. In the past 3 weeks, I’ve been to Baltimore and back home, then to Rome and back home, and now I am on the final leg of my monthlong journey to New Jersey for a staff retreat in Jersey City. I am heading to my parent’s place first to see my folks.

With her 2nd to last chemo treatment behind her, mom is very weak these days again. She apparently didn’t eat yesterday and she slept most of the day. I spoke with Dad a few times, who sounded like he was glad I would be coming, even if it was a short period of time. Mom has one more round of chemo this month, and then she is done…hopefully forever, but at least we know it is for now. No one can predict the future, right?

Rome was a blast, despite the blustery, rainy weather. I arrived to Rome via London on Sunday, January 27 and went to my hotel called Hotel Artemide, which is located at 22 Via Nazionale. I mention that because it was excellent and I highly recommend it! Very clean, comfortable, and excellent staff. The best parts were threefold: 1) location, 2) spa and 3) free minibar. I didn’t use the spa, but it looked really nice! It would have been great to have brought a bathing suit and taken advantage of the sauna, pools, salt room, etc. I will have to go back – I told Ted we need to stay there together!

1.jpgOn Monday, I booked a trip through Viator (owned by Trip Advisor) via Greenline Tours to Orvieto and Assisi. It was a great day trip. We ultimately traveled about 12 hours, but it was worth it. I had a lovely experience getting to know a Japanese-American couple from San Francisco and a Mormon couple from Salt Lake City, who were visiting Rome for the dedication of a new Mormon Temple (near Ikea, they told me). When they learned I worked for a university in Israel, they said I was doing “God’s work” and the husband said that I “must be a supporter of walls since I work for an Israeli university.” When I told him I was, in fact, not a believer in walls, he said, “Well, then you think people should be able to roam freely.” Um, look at the name of this blog?? The answer is YES! I politely told him that one of the best things about the university that I work for is “apolitical” and that they make a point of focusing on technology & science rather than politics. In fact, I told them, 22% of the student population are Arab. That seemed to shut him up.

2.jpgI spent Tuesday and Wednesday “wandering” around Rome. When I calculated how much I walked between Sunday and Thursday (when I flew home), I realized I had walked nearly 20 miles. I told my dad that apparently the key to me moving more is to be in Rome. Clearly, it motivates me to walk and see the city. My friend asked me if I’d ever move back there. The answer is likely yes, but only if Ted comes with me (big smile).

For those of you keeping track, I have now lost 54 pounds. A few posts ago, I talked about the joy I felt sitting on a plane, and having room between my legs and the seat rest is bliss. Traveling to Boston—->London—>Rome, and then the reverse was cake. I wasn’t stuck in the seat the way I have been in the past. I was more comfortable and didn’t feel as self conscious. This is one metric that I can check off – flying gets a thumbs up! And now, as I write this post, I am sitting on am Amtrak train, again comfortably.

That’s about all for now. See you all again soon!

 

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Curves

It’s finally #thecurvycon!

The Curvy Con is a 2-day fashion show, body positive conference, and shopping extravaganza. Hundreds of women & men (maybe?) gather during NYFW to express power to our curves. Of course, I’m going to be losing weight post-surgery but no doubt I’ll be curvy. I’ve been curvy even when thin!

I’ll be blogging during the con and will post videos & pix too!

Day Off

Wow, I really needed today! Our offices were closed so I had time to catch up on things. I got my car inspected and detailed (it’s glistening!). I also went to the gym and met with the head trainer. He’s definitely a kindred spirit. Very smart and patient so he will be a good workout partner.

My bags are packed and in the morning, Mr T & I leave for our adventure in VT. We have dinner reservations at my fave restaurant there, and I’m even squeezing in a massage on Sunday. We have access to a nice spa with our hotel reservation, so I look forward to R&R along with our hike at Emerald Lake. Boots are packed!

In the meanwhile I’m also planning my trip to NYC for CurvyCon! Should be a very fun experience.

I also managed to schedule about 5 donor visits in 2 days next week!

Today was another good day.

Mom is hanging in. She’s been getting IV drips to hydrate her in between chemo visits so I think that helps. But she’s very tired. I seem to catch her when she’s in bed, resting. She keeps herself entertained with “Madame Secretary” on her iPad on Netflix. She’s been sleeping through her visitors. But she gets a full report from Dad. And their lovely friends bring them dinner almost every night. It’s wonderful. Today mom had challah with melted Munster cheese for dinner. Sounds good to me! One day at a time for mom.

 

October 22

I found out today that my surgery is likely going to be on October 22, as I requested. It’s after my big work event on October 8 and my family birthday party on October 20. Mom’s chemo runs through December so the hope is by Thanksgiving, I can at least travel by car if need be. I did my part in working it around work & family – two things I ❤️!

When I found out the date, a huge emotional wave came across me. It wasn’t nerves or stress. To the contrary, it was pure excitement. The thought of feeling better – be it with my knees or sleep or stomach – was nearly overwhelming to process.

Don’t get me wrong – as I consumed a large glass of delicious Brunello last night, I realized it was one of the last drinks I will have in at least a year. But when I think about sacrificing wine for health, there is no question what outweighs the other.

Mom is doing ok these days. She’s now had 3 rounds of chemo – out of 18 – and she’s eating a bit more as her nausea is subsiding a bit. I bought her some new clothes today for my next visit to her, in about a week and a half. Between now and then, Mr T & I are heading to one of my childhood haunts – Manchester, VT – this weekend, and then I’m off to the Big Apple for CurvyCon!

So, it’s a good day.

PS Thank you to those of you who reach out after reading my posts. I’m not always great at getting right back to you, but trust me when I say your outreach is invaluable.

BC/AC

I told my dad I feel like our lives are divided: BC (before cancer) and AC (after cancer). He totally got it.

Today is mom’s first round of chemo. As luck would have it, I am here in NJ so I’ll be able to accompany her. It takes 3 hours – she said, “You don’t have to sit with me,” but I’ll bring my laptop and work from the hospital. It isn’t like I haven’t done it before. Again, grateful to my amazing boss and job that I have this flexibility.

This was today’s FB post:

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Sharing it here in case you missed it. Mom is barely eating – she is enjoying protein shakes, eggs, and a few other favorite foods. But I doubt she is even consuming 500 calories a day. But Dad is enjoying the food deliveries, although he said he has lost 10 pounds too (which delights him).

Speaking of weight loss, dad and I had a big heart-to-heart on Saturday night about my bariatric surgery, which is still full steam ahead. He and mom said they want me to hire someone to help me post-surgery since they can’t be there to help me. I said I would consider it but I’m not really sure what help I’ll need. Maybe laundry – but my cleaners do it for me – and errands – Amazon, anyone? I have Mr T, Ken, and Marina, and some friends who can help, so we’ll see if it is needed. I’m hoping to have the surgery towards the end of October, after my 2 big work events. #priorities

More later about the chemo.

So, it’s 10:22 pm. Chemo day #1 went very smoothly!

We arrived at the doctor’s office at 12:45, and mom’s chemo went from about 1:30-5:30pm. It was an extended day but it should run about 3 hours now on Mondays.

I worked through most of the chemo as mom & dad chatted with the nurses and other patients. Of course, they knew other people getting treatment. Small town.

Mom had energy and more of an appetite tonight. Amazing what some drugs can do! I ran out and got her pills, more snacks, etc. We all settled into College Jeopardy. I killed it tonight. I’m seriously the smartest 43 year old college student. Ok, I’m obviously kidding but it’s always nice to win in fake Jeopardy.

We then watched the most painful show to watch – it’s called “escape to the continent” or something like that. Brits go to their favorite places in Europe, look at tons of homes, and never end up purchasing one! So frustrating. Bring on House Hunters International – in 30 minutes, they’ve sold all of their earthy possessions, looked at tons of houses, rented one, and moved in. Yes, all in 30 minutes. Bring me that instant gratification, please and thank you.

But I digress.

Mom did great today.

I’m off tomorrow for a work event in NYC. Ciao!

#2018

woman-girl-freedom-happy-39853.jpegI haven’t written in ages. Here’s the life update in hashtags:

  1. I have a new job that I really, really like! #enoughsaid
  2. I turned 43 years old a few weeks ago. #yikes
  3. It’s now 2018. My resolution: drink more H20. #snazzynewwaterbottle
  4. I am still sans boyfriend, but I don’t really care very much because my life is pretty fulfilling. #singlesassy
  5. I have a fantastic vacation on the books for December 2018 which includes a trip to Spain, Portugal, and the Canary Islands. #singlescruise
  6. I finally was diagnosed with sleep apnea and I am working on getting used to a CPAP. When I use it, I feel way more rested so I am incredibly motivated to make that happen. #sleepisgood
  7. I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. In the words of Alec Baldwin impersonating Donald Trump on SNL: #huuuuuggggge
  8. I’ve taken significant social media breaks. #cathartic
  9. I am not currently living paycheck-to-paycheck. I am saving money. #incrediblemilestone
  10. I really need to visit Rome again. #romeishome

Patterns

Have you ever taken the time to look for patterns in your life? You know what I mean. We all do things by habitually and the reality is, sometimes you don’t notice the patterns unless you write about them on a blog. When I’ve gone back and looked at posts from SingleSassy.com, my old dating blog, I’ve noticed a downward spiral in my mood sometime in early January each year. This is definitely due to the weather, the lack of natural sunlight, the depreciation of vitamin D, and anything else that is negatively related to the New England winter. Because I’ve noticed these trends, I’ve worked really hard to try to battle some of these challenges that I face year after year. 

A few years ago, I went to visit my parents in March, who were staying in Florida, and I was ready to pack my bags and move there after a few days of sun and relaxation. But a few hours after I landed back in Boston, I called my mom and said that I did not want to leave my home. As much as I enjoyed being in the sun, I didn’t want to leave my life back in Boston. But it was good for me to have a short break and to get some sunshine. This winter and spring are very busy at work. Unfortunately, because of the timing of our annual gala, I am not able to go visit my parents in Florida. So this afternoon, after spending a significant amount of time looking for good prices, I booked an excursion to the happiest place on earth…for me… Rome, Italy!

Listen, I got an amazing deal, but it isn’t as if I’m rolling in the dough. I rationalized booking this trip as an investment in my mental health. I think I may have written in an earlier post that I said to a few people in the last six months, that I truly believe that if I keep going the way I am in my life that I will die young from a heart attack or stress. I don’t want that to happen. So I am really trying to be more mindful and take care of myself. I’ve chosen a line of work that doesn’t allow for any moment of pause or relaxation when you’re in the throes of it, so it’s up to me to carve out time where I can focus on the things that I love. And for me, since 1996, the one thing that gives me absolute joy is spending time in Rome. Throw in a Caravaggio painting or sculpture by Bernini, and I’m in heaven.

But, really, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I can be sitting on the stoop in a random Piazza. Or, I can grab a piece of pizza at a local Italian bar. Or, I can be sipping espresso while watching people walk by. It doesn’t really matter. The pure joy of being in Rome is enough.

When I was in Rome earlier this year, I felt no depression or anxiety. I just walked and walked and walked throughout the city, and enjoyed every moment.

Is it April yet?

Photos from Europe, September 2016

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Espresso and Croissant at Paris Airport
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View from Barcelona apartment
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Positano, Italy
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Shoemaker in Sorrento, Italy
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Amalfi Coast, Italy
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Jimmy Choo window display in Rome
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Henri Matisse painted from the balcony above in Nice.
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View from Casa Batllo, Gaudi in Barcelona

Europe: September 2013

Oh, where do I begin?

The last time I wrote, I was embarking on a journey to Europe and was sipping on a cup of espresso in France, waiting for my connecting flight to Barcelona.

I’m going to share the tale of my adventures in Europe through words and pictures. The words are excerpts from emails I sent to my family and friends while abroad. I think it does a good job of capturing my feelings at those very moments.

Paris, September 9: Email to mom

img_5798Chilling at airport in Paris.  My flight doesn’t leave for 3 hours – slight delay – so having an espresso & croissant.  And yes, I could taste the butter!

I don’t think it has officially sunk in yet that I’m in Europe!  Looking forward to a nice shower tho!

 

 

 

Barcelona, September 9 (later that day): Email to parents and brother

IMG_5845.JPGAt my “apartment” that I rented for a couple days. It is really nice!

And the most random thing happened at the Paris airport. I was chatting with a girl from New York online – – she randomly got online behind me – – and we got to talking and it turns out that she is from Lincroft and went to Middletown South!   She is 32 so we wouldn’t of known each other, but we thought it was really funny that we had to go all the way to Paris to meet someone from the same hometown.

I am going to shower and get some food and rest. Today is my reading  day.  Will hit the town tomorrow!

 

Rome, September 14: Email to close friends and family
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Greetings from my happy place – Rome. I haven’t felt this content and at peace in years.  The people in my cruise group are fabulous & I’ve  made a lot of friends.

You guys are going to laugh but the first night, I got propositioned by a 67 year old man from north Carolina.  Yes, “propositioned.” Everyone keeps making fun of me for it!  No, I did not accept the offer.  He said “no strings attached.” He could be my father!

Yesterday we spent the day in Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii.  Since I’d seen Pompeii before, I sat and had a coffee with an 85-year-old man from my group.  I hope I’m on a European cruise when I’m his age!  He is an attorney – still working – and we talked politics (he’s a republican for Hillary), socialized medicine, you name it. The tour guide gave me a big kiss for taking care of John.  I enjoyed it!IMG_5888.JPG

Today I’m wandering Rome.  I walked my 10,000 steps in 2 hours!  Now I’m relaxing at a cafe near Piazza del Popolo on my way to St. Peter’s.

Tomorrow I’m going with the group to Pisa and Florence.  I haven’t been to Florence in a long time so it’ll be nice to see it again & experience it through my new friends’ eyes – many of the people in my group have never been.

After Italy we head to southern France.  I booked a trip to Nice & Eze upon the recommendation of my colleague.  Then onto Marseille and back to Barcelona.  Now I’ll have people to hang out with in Barcelona.

Somehow I got a free drink package on the cruise so I’ve been enjoying a lot of free wine!  There is a Cirque de Soleil tent on the ship so a group of us plan to do that one night.

That’s pretty much it.  Off to stroll some more!  Ciao.

 

Cannes, September 16: Email to close friends and family

Hello from France.  Traveled from port in Cannes to Nice & Eze today.

In the last few days I’ve walked about 30  miles!  Not looking forward to sitting behind a desk again. Ate a crepe with Nutella today.  Ok…maybe 2 of them 😄

 

Marseilles, September 17: Email to college friend Jen after spending the day with her longtime pen pal, Lucille

IMG_6120.JPGIt’s like we’ve known each other for years!!  I think Lucille & I both know you so well.  I filled her in on your life!
Lucille, please come visit us.

 

Barcelona, September 18: Email to mom

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Sad to come home (followed by many sad-face emoticons)

 

Pitstop in Paris

Well, who would have guessed that I’d be hanging out in the Paris airport for a few hours today?  I’m transferring to Barcelona from here, and my flight is a bit delayed. Thank goodness I found some wifi and a place to charge my phone. It doesn’t take much, really.

Truthfully, what I really need is sleep….and a shower.  Really hoping that my “48-hour” deodorant is kicking in about now. But hey.  I’m in France. It’s all relative really.  See you soon!

European Vacation

europe

I’ll admit it. It’s been really hard watching all of my friends go on vacation this summer while I worked long hours. But what kept me going was my “eyes on the prize” or the cherry on top: my upcoming trip to Europe. As a self-described Europhile, I love going overseas to Europe, namely Italy, France, & Spain. As luck would have it, a company called Vacations-to-Go was offering a reasonably priced fall cruise – and the bonus is that I was able to get a single cabin without paying extra. While I’m writing this post, I should be packing, but I’ve got my list ready to go! See you when I get back.

Debt-Free Roma

i-can-t-keep-calm-because-i-love-romeAs I just said to my friend in email, “This is really happening!”  Because of some consulting work I’ve been doing that put a few extra bucks in my pocket, I had some vacation money to spend on a fall trip to Europe.  I’ve paid for my Mediterannean cruise, and now my plane tickets to Barcelona are booked!  All paid in cash – no credit!  No turning back now.

Yes, yes, I’ve been to Europe many times yet it’s still so incredibly special when a trip is booked.  I like to do them in advance so I can pay for the flight, hotels, etc off over time and have plenty of time to savor the “before a vacation” joy and excitement!  I’m especially proud to be paying off the trip in full via cash, which wasn’t always the case with past vacations.  Debt-free vacations from now on!

The best part of this trip is that I will be spending several days in Italy.  Florence, Rome, and Naples are all part of the itinerary.  Italy is my happy place.  I feel at home there – I lived in Rome in 1996 & it’s never left my heart.

Here, here to relishing the longing for the trip!

Amtrak

6904444852_209dd55d64It’s Thursday, and Passover begins tomorrow evening.  It’s our family tradition.  My brother and I travel to my parent’s place in NJ, and we gather about 25 friends & family for our abbreviated seder.

I’m taking the train.  I was planning on driving, but I was getting very drowsy on the road this week after working many hours, many days in preparation for our big gala at work (broke records, by the way!).  So happy to have this option.  I’m listening to music/podcasts, responding to work emails, and – most importantly – not worrying if I doze off.

Worth every penny.

 

NYC, I’m about to be in you!

It’s Friday night, nearly 9pm, and I’m finally packed and ready to hunker down with a bottle of lavender polish and the next episode of the Gilmore Girls in my Netflix queue.  Honestly, this is a glorious way to spend this particular Friday night.  Why, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you!  I’m heading out tomorrow morning on a train to NYC!  First, I’ll spend some time with my cousin and some old friends, and then on Sunday, I’m meeting with my Brandeis girls!  When I was a college student, I lived with the same 6 girls all 4 years of college.  It’s been almost 20 years and we’re still close friends.  One of my old roommates lives in New Zealand, so when she comes to the east coast, we all gather wherever she is since it’s not often that we get to see her!

I love my NYC weekends, especially in the middle of work craziness, because it pushes me to take a break and just enjoy my surroundings.  As much I adore living in Boston, I equally adore going for weekends in NYC.  My cousin lives in the Upper West Side amongst a lot of hubbub, but once we get into her apartment, it’s extremely zen-like.  I sleep well, I enjoy the sounds of the city, and most importantly, I get to spend time with my cousin.

So, I’m going to wrap this post up so I can go paint my nails!