Friday, July 27, 2007

To the ladies at CSB...

I just mailed my final-final exam to my professor (he had to have a hard copy mailed to his house, it cost me $50...ahhh) and I shipped my books home (about $100)...but, I am over 20lbs lighter, and mentally a huge weight has been I can relax for the next couple weeks, enjoy my time with Paolo, and prepare myself for Ghana...(working on figuring out how to get a visa when I am in Spain)

We are headed to Florence in an hour or so. Italy has been amazing, I love the pace of life here. Tiff and I have had a good time together, as usual. I didn't take many pictures, but the few I did take I will try to post soon...and add captions to the ones I've put up most recently.

I wanted to say hi to all of my friends at Commercial Savings Bank, in Westerville. I've been thinking about you...Ladies (and Bob), I can't wait to fill you in on the REAL details... ;)

Baci mille.

Until Morocco...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Study break...

So sorry for the blogging deficiency, I am working like a crazy lady on these finals. I might be able to pull off an "A" in my theories class, so I am really, really trying. In Abnormal Psych, I think I'll probably get a "B"...ahhh well, I guess this experience is worth the depleating GPA. The good news is, I will be ALL DONE today! I finished a 15-pager yesterday, and the one I am writing today only has to be 6-10 pages. I've spent my entire time in Viareggio in the internet cafe. It's good that I am here...less distractions (specifically, the hot, Italian distraction that starts with a "P") It's tough though, because Viareggio is a beautiful town--think, an Italian version of Hilton Head; expansive beaches, lots and lots of shopping, restaraunts, gelato (!!), people, dogs--you get the picture. And it is becoming more crowded by the day, as it is a popular vacation destination for Italians and many of them have much of August off for a holiday.

So, my plans have changed slightly again. Surprised? The itinerary is basically the same but with a slight modification. The new plan...Tiff and I are meeting Paolo in Florence on the 28th (we are going on the 27th) and will spend 3 nights there, so Tiff gets to meet and hang out with him for a bit. I have to get a second opinion of this guy...maybe she can pull me back to the ground from the cloud I've been floating on. (But I have a feeling she'll be smitten too). He's really good--he called HER the other day just to say hello, he said "I've been talking to Maggie online all day, and felt bad that I haven't said ciao to you today"...Talk about earning some major brownie points. See? He's knows what to do, he's Italian. Watch out, mom...

Anyway, back to the schedule. Paolo and I fly to Casablanca from Rome on the 31st. We spend 2 nights in Casablanca, then go to a small coastal town in northern Morocco called Asilah...its going to be hosting a big international arts festival while we are there...should be cool. We will be there for 5 nights, and will probably spend a night in Tangier before we take the ferry over to Spain. We are planning on a few days in Valencia, then heading to Barcelona. We will stay with a friend of his in Barcelona.

On August 16th, I fly to Accra, Ghana. By myself.

No worries, though- I am soooo excited....I have found a volunteer program based out of the UK where I will be working at a refugee camp in Ghana counseling children with HIV/AIDS. They will pick me up at the airport, provide me with housing and all of my meals, give me an introduciton to Ghana, and take me back to the airport on Sept 4th. Here is the link to their site:

It is a very reputable organization, I will be with other volunteers from all over the world, and hopefully it will be good experience for the new career I am pursuing. I have been talking about doing something like this in Africa for a while now, so the fact that I've found this organization and I can set up all of the details in such short notice tells me that this was meant to happen. I'm not sure what I want to do with my degree when I graduate, but working for an organization like this is definitely on the list, so this will give me a real taste of what it is like.

Tiffany is no longer keen on going to Africa, but I am determined...and I've learned something about myself on this trip...when I set my mind on something (like having a "travel buddy" in Rome) I will do everything in my power to make it happen :)

I also booked my ticket from New Jersey to Columbus on September 9th. I can't believe it. I can't believe the end is in sight. I can't think about it yet. What am I gonna do when I return to reality?!?! (Literally--I have NO IDEA what my next steps will be).

That will be a blog all of it's own. Written from Columbus after I have had time to process the last 4 months...all I know thus far, is that I would not trade a second of this experience for anything. And I still have 6 weeks left, so aside from booking the ticket and this small paragraph, it is getting no more thought. Things will work out as they should. They always do...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mamma Mia!

One thing I wrestle with when writing this blog is how much personal stuff I feel comfortable disclosing. So far, I've pretty much laid it all out there. But with Paolo, for some reason it is different. Almost like if I talk about it too much I will break the spell. But, I've gotten some emails lately asking about my slacking on blogging, so I will do my best to report about my time in Lecce.

I think I left off after Paolo's birthday party. I began to feel better the following day, and it was a good thing because his great-aunt came over to the villa for a proper Italian lunch. The lunch began with pasta (a type that is specific to the region-Salento), which was fabulous. Then came the meat... they kept telling me was horse, but I still think it was beef and we were mixing up the translation (at least that is what I keep telling myself...because it tasted an awful lot like potroast, and I don't like thinking that I could have actually injested horse meat). Next was the fish that his brother had caught the day before. Then the fruit. Then the cake. Then the coffee and grappa. I thought he was going to need a wheelbarrow to roll me out of the dining room when we were finished. How are they all not morbidly obese? Lunch took close to 3 hours...which is necessary for that amount of food to digest. If someone had to return to work immediately after a lunch like that, productivity would be at an all time low. His aunt was adorable. She spoke as much English as I do Italiano (NONE) but I think she thought if she spoke louder and louder I would suddenly begin to understand. This unfortunately was not the case.

Most days, Paolo would go into work from 8 until about 1, and I would study, sleep (I was still feeling pretty crappy) and then he'd spend the rest of the day with me. Often we would go to the sea, where the biologist in him would come out. Instead of beaches, usually we would go to rocky (as in boulders) areas with crystal clear, very deep water. We'd be swimming and he would dive down, pick up some kind of sea creature and give me a lesson. At night we'd usually go to explore the nearby towns and cities and he would walk me around the squares, showing me beautiful old churches, castles, shops, restraunts, etc.

We had such a good time together. He really is a neat man. He is the type of guy that makes everyone smile. He talks to everyone...and althought I do not know what is being said, they always wind up laughing. I love that. He is interested in my studies and we have great conversations about the chapters I am reading. He is very in tune with how I am feeling (rare for a man) so if he could tell I was exhausted from being sick, or overwhelmed by being surrounded by people I cannot communicate with, he would change the situation to ensure I was comfortable. The language barrier was sometimes hard, because when we were both tired, it was hard to constantly focus on speaking. You do not realize how draining it can be to have to think about each word that comes out of your mouth. And I'm sure it was twice as exhausting for him becuas ea lot of the times he doesn't know the words he is looking for.

Once in a while I would get frustrated because I cannot communicate with anyone. For instance, I bought his mother a small gift to thank them for having me at their villa. I felt so silly when I gave it to her, because all I could do was hand it to her, smile, and say "grazie" while Paolo told her how appreciative I was. I wanted to be able to talk and joke with his friends without him having to stop the conversation to explain everything to me. But, he would always comment on how he appreciated how I handled the situation, so again, he recognized that it was difficult, and that alone meant the world to me.

I think sometimes in relationships we tend to over-talk (at least I do) and with this situation that is definitely not the case. It's really amazing what other type of connection you build when you do not solely rely on verbal communication but also body language and intuition. There are times when I feel like we were reading each others minds...

Watching him interact with his family, his little cousins, his friends, even waiters or the coffee shop workers made me like him even more. He is genuine, caring, funny, smart...I could keep going. But, like I mentioned earlier, some things I would rather keep to myself...and I don't want to jinx it.

As for the future...who knows. All we can do is take it step by step. Which is a big breakthrough for me. I used to NEED to know that everything was going to work out and be ok. Now, I know that no matter what I will be ok...and that gives me the ability to explore this situation wholeheartedly without fear taking over. He and I are going to Morocco by ourselves, and then to Spain for a week before I meet Tiffany in Ghana. I am really looking forward to traveling with him, because you learn a lot about a person when they are taken out of their comfort zone. It should be good...

But, before that I have 2 finals to finish by July 27th...ugh. So I apologize if I am not as good at blogging. I am spending so much time in front of the computer that its hard to motivate myself to stay any longer than absolutely necessary. I am now in Viareggio, a beautiful coastal town almost directly east of Florence. I'm here with Tiffany, and it's so great to see her again. I think I needed a break from the intensity of being with Paolo so much, and also to be able to speak English at a normal pace, using my full vocabulary. :)

Oh, and speaking of vocabularly, and Paolo thinks my thesis should be on why people retain "bad words" in other languages quicker than any other words. It is so true. I can barely remember how to say hello, but I can swear with the best of them. Why is that? Psychology friends-- thoughts?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

7 is NOT my lucky number...

I wrote the last blog from the airport in London, on 7/7/07, awaiting my flight to come to southern Italy to visit Paolo. I had gotten up at 3am for a 6:40 flight, had tons of time at the airport and my next flight was at 17:15. Ok...since we do not use the 24 hour clock in the states it confuses me sometimes, so the entire time I was thinking that my flight was at 7:15pm.

Wrong. My flight was a 5:15pm. guessed it. I was sitting in the damn airport and missed my flight. I was actually talking to Paolo on instant messenger, and he said "What time is your flight" I said don't worry it's not until 17:15...and thats when it dawned on me. I sprinted to the departures board and saw that it was 17:18. My flight had left 3 minutes before. I was in the airport for 6 hours before the flight and MISSED IT. How does that happen? So, after my two previous days of bad luck, this topped it all. Not only was I not getting to Italy that night, I could not get another flight until the following evening...for 185 pounds (or roughly $370). Then, I also had to find a place to stay. I could have tried to contact Tom again, but I didnt want to inconvienence him, plus to get into London and back to the airport would have cost me about the same as one night in a guesthouse. So I opted for a 70 pound guesthouse that was close to the airport. So $500 later and a missed day in Italy, I learned the hard way how to tell time like the rest of the world does...

Throughout all of it, Paolo was a saint. He was a little shocked when I told him--his response..."but Maggie, how do you lose your airplane?" So cute.

He picked me up at the airport after 2 of the longest days of my life. (A total of 17 hours in the airport) and brought me to his beautiful villa where we are staying. My first day here, I met a bazillion cousins, brothers, friends, uncles, etc...and I met his mom (nerve wracking). It is really hard meeting all of these people because I want to make a good impression, however this is difficult to do when I cannot speak to them aside from saying "hello, nice to meet you." He drove me around the area and we went to the beach--which was wonderful. We were also planning and preparing for his 30th birthday party the next day. We ate dinner on the roof of the villa with his friend Liza and her date, and then called it a night...

Until about 4am when I woke up feeling like total crap. I started getting sick at about 7am (as in vomiting, sick) and did not stop until the afternoon. I dont know if I have ever slept so much in a single day. I had no energy at all, I could barely lift myself out of bed to run to the bathroom. I felt soooo terrible, because he was running around trying to take care of last minute party stuff, and at the same time he wanted to take care of me. Yesterday was the first day that I really felt homesick--you know when you are sick and all you want is to be someplace you are comfortable and do not have to worry about anything? That is how I was feeling. I think the non-stop, India-Rome-London-Stockholm-London-2 days in an airport-Lecce, took a major toll on my body, and it all came to a head yesterday. Today I am feeling much better. Not 100%, but I managed to eat some pasta, and fruit, which is a vast improvement from yesterday when I choked down a couple crackers and an apple.

I did end up going to the party. Needless to say, I wasnt doing much partying. I did my best to appear really happy and to be having a great time, because I did not want Paolo to be worried about me, but all I really wanted was to be back in bed. It was nice to meet all of his friends, and had I been able to drink some of the sangria, then conversations might have been even better. (Its funny how when Italian people start drinking their english gets much better...opposite of us, our english gets worse!) There are very few people here that can speak english, and the ones that do are often nervous because they do not practice much, so they are embarrassed or worried about making mistakes. However, what they don't understand is that I appreciate any effort and totally admire the fact that they can speak another language--this is something that this trip has really inspired me to do...I feel bad about people always having to communicate with me in MY language. Although, realistically if I were to learn to speak another language, the most sensible would be Spanish. (plus, I've had 5 years of it in school) But, these days Italian is the most appealing...

Oh, I forgot to mention what else Paolo showed me on my first day here. As we were driving to the villa, we drove through the little town where his family lives and their business is located. As we approached one corner he said "my parents house starts here" and then we drove for 30 more seconds, and at the end of the block he said "and it ends here". Ahhhhh....ok. Your parents house spans an entire block. We make a stop at his office (where he works with his dad, brother and uncle) and after that he grabbed a garage door opener and led me to a large garage by the office...where they keep their 2 Maseratis, a Porsche, a Jaguar, some kind of old-fashioned car, and Paolo's very own Ferrari. Not to mention the Audi we were driving in and the other 2 or 3 street cars they have for "regular" driving. Uh, yeah. My cars have served one purpose--to get me from point A to point I did not know what to make of this. I asked him when I was going to get to see his airplane...

Aside from the constant shock I have been experiencing, we have had a really good time together. He is an absolute sweetheart, always worried about my well being. I really wish that we spoke the same language because I can tell when he is with his friends he is really funny--and dorky (which I love). But with us, the language barrier is still being worked on, so making sarcastic remarks or teasing, sometimes has to be explained. (not always, though.) There are certain things that he cannot seem to register no matter how many times we go over it, for instance, the words "say and tell." He will say "I will say him that we will meet at 5." And sometimes when he doesn't understand a word, I try to use another word to describe it and he doesn't understand that word either--so there is definitely a lot of charades going on. But, most of the time we communicate just fine. And I love that he still cannot figure out when to use he/she and will often refer to his mother or female friends as "him" or "he".

I think by tomorrow I should be back to normal--I am still exhausted, but I slept well, and I took a nap today. I should have figured this pace would eventually catch up with me, and carrying a huge backpack and my school books does not help the fatigue.

I am officially into the second half of my trip, and it has not been quite as smooth as the first half, but I was expecting days like the dreadful 7/7/07 to arise. (I didnt think it was going to be that expensive of a lesson to learn...) But, I have been able to keep my perspective, and realize that days like that happen, and I am very lucky to be able to be doing what I am doing.

Ok, back to homework, which I have been neglecting a bit. (oops...) Its hard to focus on homework when you are with prince charming at a villa in southern Italy...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It's been one of those days...

...and it just keeps getting better. I just wrote an entire blog, tried to copy it in case it did not post correctly, and it erased the entire thing...

It all began yesterday. The weather was kind of overcast, but it was still nice enough to walk through the city. I went shopping with the plan to buy something for Micaela as a thank you for letting me stay with her. I was in a very expensive department store--equivalent to Saks--and was looking at candles and gift-ish things. I opened one of the candle boxes to smell the candle, and the bottom of the box was facing sideways. It was like slow-motion, as I watched the candle slowly slide out of the box. All I could do was wait for the CRASH as it smashed into the ground...which was quite loud.

It was about a $60 candle that lay shattered at my feet. And to make things even better, I got a piece of glass stuck in my leg, so it was bleeding pretty badly (little cut, but lots of blood). I stood there with pink glass at my feet, blood dripping down my leg and watched everyone near me pretend they didn't see it happen and quickly scurry away, thinking "that poor, dumb America girl". Luckily, the woman who worked there was really nice. She brought me a cloth and a band-aid and told me not to worry about the candle, accidents happen. I of course offered to pay, and did end up buying Micaela a similar candle (not so big and expensive). I quickly paid for my guilt-purchase and hurried out of the store avoiding all eye-contact.

I was relieved to get back to Micaela's...but as I mentioned yesterday was one of those days, so nothing could be easy. I put the key in the door, turned it counter clockwise twice, like I was taught... and nothing. The door was completely stuck. I pulled, pushed, shook, twisted, pounded. My stuff was scattered all over the hallway, I had worked up a sweat...and nada. Normally, this would not have been that big of a deal...if I had a cell phone. But, I don't. The only way I had to get a hold of people was via the internet. And, you would have thought I'd keep Micaela's and Khari's phone numbers in my purse...but I didn't. On top of it all, Micaela was on a shoot in Norway (she was working on a documentary film) so I had no idea when she was getting home.

I had to find a computer. I walked down the street to a hair salon and asked if there were any internet cafes nearby. I explained my situation and again got the "that girl" look. They told me that there were no computer places close, and asked if I had a number to call...again, I got the look. Finally, they just allowed me to use their computer to get Micaela's number and send an emergency email to her friend Karin, letting her know about my dilemma and seeing if there was anything she could do. Then I had to ask the hair salon people if I can use their phone. I called Micaela, and immediately got a recording--in Swedish. So I had to call back and have the salon receptionist listen to it and translate for me. She said "Her phone is either off or you wrote down the wrong number."


I thanked them profusely for their help and decided to go back and try the dreaded door again. This time, I decided to try my burglary skills (I used to lock myself out pretty regularly in Salt Lake, so I got good at the credit card- pop-a- lock trick). I was sliding my passport up and down around the lock to see if it would catch. Thank God none of the neighbors were home, or the police definitely would have been called. Just as I was about to give up and head to a bar for a beer or five, I heard someone coming up the stairs. It was Micaela. She must have thought I really missed her when she saw how excited I was to see her. You see, there are 2 locks on Micaela's door. I only had a key to the bottom lock, and apparently when I left the top lock had somehow locked. So she opened the door and I ran in and emailed Karin telling her that no rescue units needed to be sent out. (Micaela had forgotten her phone charger on her trip, so no one was able to get a hold of her...)

After that ordeal, we decided to have a quiet night. I had to get up at 3am because I had a taxi to the train station to get a bus to the airport (1.5 hour ride) to make my 6:40 flight. And now I am in the airport for 9 hours before I fly to Italy. I am going to be a zombie by the time I see Paolo. And probably a pretty scary-looking one at that. We got home from dinner at midnight, so I thought I would get 3 hours of sleep. But, no such luck. It was one of those nights where I could not shut my brain off (I hate that), and I never fell asleep.

Micaela and I had a really nice time together. It was good to spend the last night with her--she is really an amazing woman. I sat and listened to her speak in 3 different languages effortlessly in a matter of 2 minutes. She is super talented, and just a ton of fun to be around. I hope it isn't too long before we get to spend time together again...I'd love to travel with her. South America, Micaela??!?

So, to keep yesterday's theme going, today I've lost one of my favorite earrings somewhere between Stockholm and London, and a little girl spilled her chocolate milk all over my WHITE pants. Like I said, I am going to look like a princess for Paolo...

Oh, and Tiff is changing the plans again. Actually it's her dad this time. He has booked a trip to Italy beginning on August 8th. She is planning on meeting him there meaning she is cutting her time in Morocco by a week. She said she will probably meet me in Ghana--which I really, really hope happens because I have been looking so foward to going to Africa, I'd hate to have to change it. It is just not somewhere I feel comfortable traveling by myself. I know I'd be fine, but I won't go alone.

Paolo and his cousin are planning on going to Morocco with us, so we'll see how it all plays out. I am hoping that Tiff comes to Morocco from July 31-Aug 8, then goes and hangs with her dad and meets me in Ghana as planned on Aug 16th. I am feeling a little bit frustrated because plans keep changing. But, I keep trying to remember how lucky I am to just be on this trip, and go with the flow--no point in crying over spilt milk. (ha! clever, Maggie--I am proud of that one considering my brain is in no way functioning on all cylinders right now)

Stockholm was great...and as per usual, I met a really nice guy--Lars (yes, he's Swedish...did the name give it away?) He was very smart, cute, funny...where do these guys come from??! (Europe obviously...oh, and Australia) Lars is getting his PhD right now in some kind of space (like outer space) physics stuff. So any rocket scientist jokes do not apply to him...cause he's like a real one. If there are any single women out there that feel like traveling, come join me--there seem to be plenty of eligible (and worthwhile) guys in this part of the world!

So I guess I'll go do some more duty free shopping now and try to pass the time...don't worry Paolo, I will stay out of the sunglasses store this time :) Which is probably a good idea anyways, with the way I'm moving these days I'd probably break a £500 pair of glasses...

Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

It was the 4th of July???

Odd, there were no fireworks or American flags and "God Bless America" wasn't being played on every radio station. could possibly be because the Swedes could care less about my independence.

I am in Stockholm now and actually spent the 4th of July at--get this--a Beastie Boys concert. And a really great one at that! We were so close to the stage. But, seeing that they are all starting to turn grey made me feel a bit old. I'm mean, hell, we started listening to them when we were 15. It was hilarious to be at a concert where they knew every word to the songs, yet english is not their first language. So when they kept cheering for "Intergalactic" it sounded very Swedish.

But, that was just yesterday. I have not been very good at blogging I have much to catch up on.

After leaving Paolo in Rome I flew to London where I stayed for 5 days with a friend of mine from OU, Tom. He could not have been a better host. I had my own room, down comforter, fluffy pillows, a washer and was heaven. It was also FREEZING. I was coming from Delhi and Rome, which were both insanely hot, so hitting London was a major shock. I had to shop (HAD to) because it was literally so cold that at night you could see your breath.

The city itself was amazing. Although, I arrived the day before the bomb scares took place. Actually, Tom and I were in the area where they found the bomb the night it was discovered. I had a sightseeing tour booked the next day--a bus tour and then a tour of the Tower of London (where the crown jewels are kept) and then a boat ride down the Thames. It was a total mess. Buses weren't running, parts of the city were shut down, subway stations were closed. But, the tour ended up still taking place, and although there were some minor inconveniences it was a really great way to see the city.

At night, Tom and I would usually go get something to eat and have a couple pints and hang out with a few of his friends. He is moving back to the states at the end of July so everyone wants to see him before he takes off. I also talked him into going to see the musical, Billy Elliot (I love the theater) and it was absolutely fantastic. It was one of the best shows I've ever seen--there are some of the most talented children imaginable in it. It is only playing in London (although, I'm guessing it will come to Broadway sometime in the near future) so if you are ever in London I would highly recommend it. My last day there, we walked all over the city. We went to Hyde Park, where they have this area called "Speakers Corner" where people go, stand on boxes, and discuss/preach about politics, religion, world events, global warming, the environment, etc. It was really interesting. It is actually where the phrase "get off your soapbox" comes from. Most of the topics were based on religion when we went--maybe because it was Sunday, or maybe because of the bomb threats. After that we went to Camden Road, which is a totally eclectic part of town. All kinds of gothic shops and different people. Certainly had a different feeling than South Kensington, where Tom lives (A super nice part of town). We went to Buckingham Palace (where of course my camera battery died right as I was getting read to take a picture of the guard with the big fuzzy hat), and then walked toward the Parliament and Big Ben.

I had imagined London having a big skyline like New York or Chicago, but it doesn't at all. Instead, like much of Europe it is such a mix of old and new. There are some of the most modern-looking buildings and next to them are churches and castles that are thousands of years old. I love that. It was strange to be in a country where English was the native language. I caught myself a few times talking really slow so the internet cafe lady, or a waiter could understand me. When I would finish they would look at me weird and say in perfect English "Ok, anything else?" and I'd feel like an idiot. But, it had been 2 months since I'd been in a country where English was the first language, so I guess it's kinda understandable.

I left London on July 2nd, the day the terrorists were apprehended. Security was pretty tight at the airport, as expected, but it really posed no problems in travel.

I brought the grossest weather to London, but apparently I left it there, because Stockholm has been absolutely perfect. Of all of the places I've been I think Stockholm is the most beautiful. And the And I thought the Italians were gorgeous. I think the Swedes have them beat.

Stockholm is such a cool city because it is comprised 14 islands connected by bridges. So everywhere you turn there is water. And beautiful boats and buildings on or near it. I am staying with my friend, Micaela, who is Swedish, but has spent the last 10 years living in the US. She has recently moved back home, so she is kind of re-exploring the city herself, and she has been a great host. My first day here, I finally downloaded all of my pictures (I've posted some, but haven't written any captions or anything yet) worked on another exam, and tried to sleep. When Micaela got home from work we headed out to an outside eating area--they are all over the place, and my friend Khari came to meet us for dinner. I met Khari in Salt Lake City when he came to try out of the MLS team that Leslie was playing for. He stayed with us for a week, and we have remained friends ever since. He had a game on Tuesday, and he got Micaela, a friend of hers, and me free tickets--great seats. I was a little nervous about going to a soccer game, since I haven't seen one in the last 6 years that did not include my husband. But, it was surprisingly easy...the only tough part was when one of the guys scored a goal, and then kissed his wedding ring and pointed at his wife. Les used to do that, and when I saw him do that a small lump formed in my throat. Aside from that, the game was good. AIK, Khari's team, won 2-0. AIK is one of the most popular teams here in Sweden, and the fans were crazy! And it was a Tuesday! They were jumping and singing for the entire game. It was easy to see why soccer is so popular here. The energy is contagious.

One of the funniest things I've seen in Stockholm, is that at night it still gets pretty cold. But the Swedes LOVE to sit outside. So every restaurant or bar has blankets on all of the chairs so you can stay outside even when its freezing cause you can cover up with a big thick blanket that they provide you.

Today, I am dragging Khari on a boat trip. As much as he pretends he doesn't want to do this touristy stuff, I know he's secretly excited...

So, more from Stockholm before I head back to Italy to spend Paolo's 30th birthday with him. We talk every day, either online or on the phone. I think my parent's are thinking: uh-oh, Maggie's going to come home, say hello, grab her clothes and her cat, and head straight back to Europe. Who knows. A lot can happen in 2 months (as I've learned!). But, he is really a great guy, so we shall see. I looked back on my entries, and I had just written about how I was by myself, and there were no prospects, and I was cool with that...ha. That lasted all of 48 hours...

Happy 4th of July.