Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What About Mike?

It is very difficult to generalise. 
Everyone’s adventure is original. 
– Bernard Pivot

"What is Mike going to do if you're gone so long?" my dear friend, Bob, asked me recently. He's not the only one. Almost everyone is worried about how Mike, and I constantly hear,  "What about Mike?" and "What's Mike going to do?"

No offense, people, but Mike is a big boy. He's older than I am.  He's so involved in HOA and OLLI business that he probably won't notice I'm gone until dinner time.

"Are you going to cook and freeze enough meals for me?" my loving husband queried the other day.

See what I mean?

I'll be honest. I'm partially to blame for this because I've spoiled the man.  He never learned to cook (That's his mother's fault.), although he can do a mean heat-up in the microwave. Anytime I travel for a few days, I cook and freeze food for him so all he has to do is nuke it. I will admit, though, that even microwaving has caused Mike a few, well, problems. Please allow me to explain.

Whenever I travel without him, I cook and freeze meals that always include some kind of roast, soup, and lasagna.  They are not only easy to freeze but also easy to heat.  No matter how many times I've done this, however, he always calls me to ask how long to microwave something. "How long should I heat the soup?" he asks.  "Do I microwave the lasagna for two (three, four, five) minutes?"  He called me one time when I was sitting a cruise ship balcony to ask how long to heat a pork chop. That was not the worst, however.

When I was in graduate school at Murray State, he called me one night to let me know that he was on his way home from work. I was, at the time, on the way to a mandatory event. The writer that evening was reading a short story from a newly published book.

"I'll call you when I get back to the hotel," I told him.

About 15 minutes later, I was in the gallery listening to the program director introduce the speaker.  all of us in the audience applauded after the introduction, and the speaker walked to the podium. He greeted us, opened his book, and started to read.

"I WAS BORN IN THE USA.... I WAS BORN IN THE USA...."  I had forgotten to silence my cell phone.  Fortunately, I was able to quiet Bruce before he got beyond the second line. Unfortunately, I noticed that the number on the caller ID was my husband's.

Being as I'm a worrier, I immediately started to stress over why he was calling me again so soon after our previous conversation.  He knew I had to attend the reading and that I couldn't leave the gallery, I thought that there was an emergency. Maybe he'd had an accident. Maybe our son had had an accident. Maybe something happened to one of my dogs. Maybe my cousin (ill with cancer) had passed away. Maybe something happened to my brother or sister-in-law or a niece or nephew. Maybe our house burned down. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

I heard nothing that the writer read. I spent the entire hour fidgeting and worrying. When the event was over, I crawled over the people sitting between me and the door and ran to the lobby. I called my husband.

"What did you need?" I asked him as soon as he answered.  I was trying to stay calm. "Did something happen?"

"I just wanted to know how long to heat up the soup," he replied. "I figured it out." 

Bologna is nine hours ahead of Las Vegas. Anyone want to volunteer your phone number for emergency microwave calls?

PS  T-minus 35 days...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Taking Chances

"Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."
~ John Wayne 

I don't know that being scared to death of going off on a crazy journey by myself constitutes being courageous, but maybe it does.  All I know is that everything seemed to fall into place this week, and I'm suddenly going to live, study, and write in Italy for a few months.

While I'm not scared to death, I am a bit nervous.  Well, actually, I'm a lot nervous because people keep asking me if I'm sure I can do it (Yes.), if I'm sure I can be safe (Yes.), and, mostly, if I'm out of my mind (Hmmm.... Maybe.). 

As I said, though, the stars aligned at the right time last week.  The guy from whom we rented last year is giving me a phenomenal deal to stay in a one-bedroom apartment that has everything I need (including washing machine and internet). The Italian language school offered me two weeks in the intensive class for the price of one. My plane ticket (by far the most expensive part of this entire adventure) dropped $50 the other day. And, most importantly,  Mike will join me mid-September for a festival in Barcelona.

The great deals I'm getting helped me decide to stay in Bologna rather than my beloved Sulmona, but there was more involved in the decision. First, the train connections are much better in Bologna. While Sulmona does have a central train station, to get anywhere from there takes so much longer because of the transfers involved.  From Bologna, I can travel to Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice, Ferrara, Ravenna, Modena, Verona, Padova, Parma, and more in less than two hours. In addition, there is no language school in Sulmona, and while I can speak and understand a little Italian, I really want to learn the language.

Another consideration for me is the fact that Bologna, while larger than Sulmona, is not *that* big and is a very walkable city.  The apartment is in the historic center, and I can reach the university, Piazza Maggiore, mercato, shopping district, and museums in no more than 15 minutes.  My favorite piazza is two blocks down the street, and there are always people walking through, sitting, reading, playing music, and playing with dogs (You knew that would come out, didn't you?).  Getting away from distractions will be good for my personal writing.  I know I probably sound very selfish, but I do need the quiet.

Giovanni, owner of the apartment, told me that August in Bologna is hot. I investigated and found the average temperature is in the mid 80s. I think I'll be fine.

So, 48 days and counting.....