Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Coming to America...and more

Friday is the big day. Watch out Columbus, (or Coloomboos, as it is pronounced in Eye-talian) here comes Senior Paolo...

This time around he is only staying for about 8 days, because his brother is having a baby (well, his brother's wife is having a baby) so he needs to be back to work when Antonio takes some time off to be with the bambino.

We have a lot planned while he is here including a friends 30th b-day party, some time in Hocking Hills, the Blue Jackets home opener, MY 30th birthday (eeek!!), meeting friends, family, and getting the official Maggie tour of Westerville and Columbus--"this is my middle school... this is my dance studio...this is where we would drink illegally before high-school football games..."I'll take him to the Short North, cause it's the coolest, possibly the zoo (I have free passes), Easton, etc, etc.

I will also force him to eat Chipotle, watch the OSU game on TV at a bar, drink Bud Light, go to Target, and sing the star-spangled banner (Ok, maybe not the last one).

I can't wait to see him, and I can't wait for him to see MY home. I've been looking at it so differently since I have been back. The other day I was in the car with my mom and blurted out "Wow, the trees here are SO big!" I got the "you are a freak" look, and have since learned to keep those types of epiphanies to myself.

I have been pretty busy since I've returned. School is back in full swing and I am taking 3 classes this semester, including statistics--which is like nuclear physics to me, so it's quite time consuming. I've also started all of the legal paperwork for a dissolution and have been in touch with Leslie, so emotionally, I am also pretty exhausted. I experience such an array of feelings on any given day, that sometimes I wish I could turn them off. In fact, sometimes I feel like I just go numb, because it is exhausting to go from one extreme emotion to another. I got lucky and found a yoga studio within walking distance from my parents house--which is convenient for me considering I live there right now, and I don't have a car (doesn't make sense to have a car payment when I am leaving again in January--oh yeah, and I am unemployed...) I have been talking to my friends at the bank and they are trying to work on a way to get my job back, so I am crossing my fingers. An income would be nice...and necessary.

Some differences I've noticed about myself since my trip...I walk A LOT more. It's funny, for example, here we will go to Target...and park in front of it. Then we want to go to Best Buy, which is 300 yards away. And what do we do? Get in the car and drive to it. Seriously. That's American insanity. Another thing I've noticed is the food. I saw a commercial the other day for Giant Eagle. It was advertising all of your "dinner favorites" and was highlighting a montage of popular dinner choices. ALL of which were in boxes!! Why does everything we eat come out of a box? Is anything fresh?

Things are so wonderfully organized and efficient here, there is a process for everything, therefore things generally run pretty seamlessly. Customer service is hands down the best in the world, and people are really, really friendly.

And fat. People in Columbus are fat (back to the food in a box theory). I've read that we have the 3rd heaviest city in the US, but you don't really notice it until you travel to other places and see that people are not overweight like they are here. I know this is something that is becoming more of a focus for us, so I hope that it's something that begins to change soon. Parents--FORCE your children to play outside. Run, kids, run!!!!

Back to myself, I know that I've changed a lot. But I can't really put my finger on how. It's just like things are different...I take things in differently and in turn, probably respond differently. I do no try to cram 300 things into one day. That's something I've learned. We tend to set unrealistic expectations of all of the things we want to accomplish in a day, and when we can't do it we feel bad about it. It's silly, and it takes so much of the joy out of each day, because we are flying through it, not really thinking about what we are doing because we are focused on what we have to do next.

Ok..so there is my current in-a-nutshell update. I think things are kinda coming to me in spurts, in regards to processing everything. I'm sure the visit from Mr. P will definitely be blog worthy. Otherwise, keep checking back...I'll continue to try to post, it just might be on a little more of an irregular basis.

Ciao, ciao.

Friday, September 14, 2007


This is what I did in the 72 hours it took me to get from Italy to New York. I am taking a statistics class this semester, so I figured I would get a head start...

A statistical breakdown of my trip:

3 Continents
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Africa
8 Countries
  • Japan
  • Thailand
  • India
  • Italy
  • England
  • Sweden
  • Morocco
  • Spain

26 Cities

  • Japan--Osaka, Kyoto, Toyko, Omi Nagaoka, Kamakurra
  • Thailand--Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Phagnan
  • India--Delhi, McLeod Ganj, Bagsu/Upper Bagsu
  • Italy--Rome, Lecce, Viareggio, Florence, Sternatia, Otranto, Santa Cesearia, Gallipoli
  • England--London
  • Sweden--Stockholm
  • Morocco--Casablanca, Asilah, Tangier
  • Spain--Barcelona, Girona

16 Flights (not including connecting flights--only starting destination to ending destination)

  • Ohio-Osaka
  • Osaka-Bangkok
  • Bangkok-Koh Samui
  • Koh Samui-Bangkok
  • Bangkok-Delhi
  • Delhi-Rome (when I met Paolo!)
  • Rome-London
  • London-Stockholm
  • Stockholm-London
  • London-Lecce
  • Rome-Casablanca
  • Tangier-Barcelona
  • Girona-Rome
  • Rome-Casablanca
  • Casablanca-NYC
  • NYC-Columbus

13 DIFFERENT types of transportation

  • taxis-in all 8 countries
  • trains-in 6 countries (including the Shinkensen in Japan and overnight trains in India and Italy)
  • subways-in 5 countries
  • cars-in 3 countries
  • buses- in 3 countries
  • Other--bicycles, ferry, motorbike, tuk-tuk, water taxi, rickshaw, horse-cart, tram

26 Hotels/Hostels/Places to stay

  • Japan- 2 (1 guesthouse and 1 hostel)
  • Thailand- 4 (Tiff's house, 2 hotels, 1 hostel)
  • India- 3 (2 hotels, 1 guesthouse)
  • Italy- 9 (2 hotels, 2 hostels, 4 friend's houses, 1 villa)
  • London- 2 (Tom's house, 1 guesthouse)
  • Sweden- 1 (Micaela's house)
  • Morocco- 3 (2 hotels, 1 guesthouse)
  • Spain- 2 (1 guesthouse, 1 friend's house)

Time spent in each place (approx)

  • Japan- 3 weeks
  • Thailand-2 weeks
  • India- 2.5 weeks
  • Italy-1 month, 1 week
  • England-5 days
  • Sweden-5 days
  • Morocco-10 days
  • Spain- 7 days


  • 2 toenail causalities due to mountain climbing
  • puncture wound in my heel from a sea creature
  • staph infection in my toe
  • kidney stone
  • sinus infection
  • dropped a marble slab on my big toe, and it took the first few layers of skin off (this was shortly before I left, at Paolo's house...I was cleaning his bathroom. From now on he cleans the bathroom...) **ALL toe problems happened on my left foot. It is a wonder I came back with 2 feet.


climbed a mountain...got scuba licensure...went in an Onsen with a bunch of naked Japanese people...prayed at the Dali Lamas temple...swam in 4 different seas...belly danced...ate ALL KINDS of ethnic cuisine...visited a hospital (as a patient)...slept in bedrooms with total strangers (who often became friends)...got lost (a lot)...got found...met amazing people...forgave...walked A LOT...studied...fell in love...

All in all, I think I accomplished what I set out to do. My goal was to come back changed...and after a trip like that there is no way I will ever be the same. My eyes see things differently now, and they can't seem to get enough. The world is so much smaller, the people are so much nicer, going to other countries is NOT difficult. It is nothing to be scared of or nervous about. If you are careful, open to differences and can adapt, seeing the world is the best thing anyone can do.

PS.I am slowly but surely getting all of my pictures posted and writing captions for all of them. It is a tedious and time consuming process. I have finished Morocco and am almost done with Spain. Then I will go back and caption the rest of them.

PPS. Ohio is really nice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Like many Americans, today is always a difficult day for me. I was in Columbus when it happened, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. For me, 9/11 shaped how the past 6 years of my life have turned out...

Tiffany lived in NYC when the buildings were hit. I was calling her all day, until finally I got a hold of her mom and she said Tiff was fine and she was on her way home. The ad agency in which I worked allowed all of us to go home that morning, and for the next 12 hours I could not rip myself away from the TV. It was at this point that I first thought "I have to be there."

Tiff got home that night. We had our 5 year high school class reunion on Sept 15th--which still took place. As my group of friends were talking, Tiff made the comment about how she didn't know how she was going to get back to NYC, since the airports were closed. She talked about taking the train, or a bus. I blurted out "I'll drive you." And my friend Michele, who was feeling much like I was, said, "I'll come too."

So on Sept. 16, the 3 of us packed my car and drove 10 hours back to New York. I took a week off work, not caring if they would fire me (my boss was so cool though...she understood this was something I HAD to do). My mom freaked out "Maggie they don't NEED you in New York, they have enough volunteers, you will be in the way." (In other words, "Maggie, I am scared to death about you going to New York.) My dad supported her publicly...but would secretly pull me aside and say he wished he could come with me.

We arrived to New Jersey, and had to park at the Newark Airport because all of the bridges into the city were still closed. It was in Jersey that we began to see the missing pictures of the people that were still not accounted for (a vast majority) that covered every wall in the city. At the point the buildings were still on fire, and the smell is something I will never forget. It was a combination of burning metal, paper...and people.

Over the next few days we did a lot of tough stuff. We went to the Armory, where families were waiting to hear any news (it is where they were bringing any bodies or remains) we went to candlelight vigils, a Marshall McClellan memorial service, and a hospital to donate stuff that people sent with us. We watched the fire fighters come out of the wreckage after their 12 hour shifts, covered in ashes, their faces telling the whole horrific story without them having to speak a word. It was easily the worst experience of my life, but at the same time one of the best. New York was a different city. People were looking each other in the eyes, they were helping one another, they slowed down to give each other hugs--perfect strangers. Everyone was so obviously thankful that they were alive, that the feeling of the city was surely one of fear and confusion, but above all it was compassion and love--for each other and for our country.

It was probably our 4th night there when Tiffany got a strong sense of New Yorker pride (after all she'd been living there for about a year by this point) and she said "We are going out tonight--we are not letting them control us, we are not letting them control our economy, we are going out in this city. THE BEST CITY IN THE WORLD."

So we did. And that is the night I met Leslie.

The rest of the story plays out with us falling in love, getting married, moving to Atlanta, then to Salt Lake--soccer being the focus of our lives. Then the marriage started falling apart, and I had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life...so I decide to start running far and fast around the world, which brings me to where I am today.

Tiffany has somehow been an anchor in every major change in my life. If she had not dragged us out that night, I would not have met Leslie, if I had not met Les, I would have not learned all that I have learned over the past 6 years, and would not have gone on my trip. (At least not in they way I did). Sometimes it takes major life changing events to serves as a catalyst for making the changes you want...or NEED to make.

The same goes for Tiff. She was flying through the ranks at Kate Spade. No one from OU gets a job at Kate Spade right out of college, it's all Fashion Institute people...but Tiffany did. She was on the fast track to high powered success. Then 9/11 happens. And when you are faced with your own mortality...when you see that it can all end in a split second, you begin to evaluate what is REALLY important. And like Tiffany, I think most of us would find that it isn't power, money, status, career, or any material things. She did some reevaluating of what she really wants out of life, and has since been studying yoga, traveling the world and trying to live each day with purpose.

So had 9/11 not happened, Tiff likely would not have been living in Thailand, or be on this big world tour. And if she wasn't I don't know if I would have made these plans by myself. I'd like to think I am that brave...but when I planned the trip, most of it was supposed to be with her.

Tiffany and I are just some of many, many stories about how September 11th has caused very direct or indirect changes in our lives. But there is one thing for sure--it has changed all of us in some way, because it has changed America forever. And each time you go through airport security you remember what happened, and why you have to strip down in public. We were attacked. On our own soil. In our most famous city. With our own airplanes.

9/11 has changed us forever. My prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims.

We will never forget.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I'm baaaaaack...

I'm in New Jersey now, at my residency at Seton Hall...so I am finally back on US soil...but getting here was no easy feat...

I left Lecce and Paolo :( on Monday night. I took an overnight train to Rome, and my flight from Rome to Milan was delayed by an hour. When I arrived in Milan, my flight to Casablanca was taking off. So I got on the next flight to Casablanca...which was also delayed. So, I missed my flight from Casablanca to New York. (I was flying from Morocco because I had already booked that ticket from the beginning, when I originally thought I was going to Ghana--so it was supposed to go Accra-Casa-NYC). That night I had to stay in Casablanca by myself. I was frustrated because at this point I just wanted to get to New York--I wanted to shop, cause my clothes were not exactly "business casual" for school, and I wanted to have a day to breathe before diving into school again. The plan now was I was flying out of Casablanca at 10:40 AM, arriving to NYC at 2:45pm on Wednesday, I was supposed to arrive to New York at 5PM on Tuesday.

But I was ok, I figured I still had much of the day to shop, relax, etc. when I arrived. However, when I got to the airport in the morning they tell us that our flight is delayed for 12 hours, and we will not be leaving until 10pm. I was ready to cry. I had been in the same clothes for 2 days, I didn't have hot water in my shower that morning so I took a "sink bath"... and I really just wanted to get back to the US.

The flight finally takes off at 11:30pm. I arrive to NYC at 3am. I get to my hotel, with absolutely nothing left in me, I could barely walk...and they tell me that the air-conditioning in my room broke, there were no more rooms in the hotel, and they had to move me to another hotel. So I FINALLY get to my new hotel and room at about 4:15am.

I left Lecce Monday night at 10pm (4pm EST) and arrived to New York on Thursday morning at 3AM. In the same damn clothes. Gross.

The next day I took a 7 hour shower and made my way to New Jersey where we had our first session of classes. I am loving be back in school, and like each new semester feel really energized for my classes (this usually wears off in a week or two...). It is really great to see all of my classmates and friends, and its REALLY nice to speak in English and have everyone understand me.

Leaving Paolo was tough, but he is coming to visit me soon, so it was easier to just say " I"ll see you soon!" and leave it at that. I haven't yet processed that I am back because I have been so busy since I've arrived. Plus, I am still sleeping in a hotel, so I am not really home yet.

When I get back I will post our pictures from Morocco and Spain, and write a few more blogs about the trip. I am debating about what to do with the blog in general...do I put it on hiatus for now? Do I keep writing? Is it done because I am done with the trip? Should I keep it going when I go back to Italy?

Stuff to think about...but right now my brain is focused on Psychology, internships, licensure, etc, etc...so I'll come back to that when I get home...

One more day, Thundercat!!!