As a writer I am constantly researching. If you looked through my Google history you would be appalled. And sometimes the subject matters writers research raise red flags. I’ve known peers and colleagues who have gotten a knock on their door from the FBI.
The great thing about Google is it has a whole bunch of hidden features. These features help maximize your search results. The first time I learned about them was in college, when I worked on a few investigative pieces.
I came across a handy little guide that I wanted to share so you too can find all your search engine needs.
Check out this page and have fun with the newfound tricks! You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy them! There are plenty more tricks you can learn beyond that, but we’ll start you on the basics.
I had been quite cryptic in my past few posts about a project I have been working on. Now that it has been published, I am sharing it with you here.
In December I attended a local comic convention and met a comic industry creator who I hit it off with. He was fantastic to talk to and gave me great advice. I emailed him after and the product of those emails is the work I will have on his comic creator news website.
My first article has been published – today actually. I interviewed Ram Devineni, the comic book creator of Priya’s Shakti. Priya’s Shakti is a comic book tackling the pervasive rape culture in India, but it’s anti-sexual assault message transcends borders and is a message for the whole world.
Please take your time to read this, I worked so hard and Mr. Devineni was an amazing person to interview!
It is November 1st which means it is NaNoWriMo season. I wrote a little over 300 words in the first hour and then went to bed. I just fired up my Word document to get started again. My personal goal is to reach 3,000 words today.
I’m also pantsing it. Pantsing is a term NaNoers use to describe when you didn’t pre-plan your novel. Last year I did extensive planning, and I won. This year I haven’t and I still hope to win. It looks like I will be going through a lot of coffee this month. If anyone has stocks in coffee you should look into a big payout at the end of the month.
I have spent my whole life looking at pictures hung up on walls or pasted into photo albums of the Isola di Ponza, the small volcano-created island located about 20 miles off the coast between Rome and Naples.
I have spent my whole life hearing stories of its beaches and how soothing its waters are.
And I finally got my chance to live inside the pictures and the stories. And now I have my own to share.
We woke up at 6 a.m. and were on the road by 7. Some traffic set us back and after we found parking, we sped-walked to the docks in Terra Cina (a city close to Sperlonga and Napoli). We quickly purchased our tickets for the ferry and scrambled to make it on board on time. The ferry undocked only five minutes later.
The ride was close to an hour long. It gave me plenty of time to reflect on what today would mean for me. I kept recalling a blog post I read the night before by my favorite musician Gerard Way. It’s entitled ‘The Happy-Sads’, and in it he discusses how his depression gave him a view on life that while he could experience happy occurrences, he still felt sad. I was happy because I had been dreaming about this day for so long, but I felt the sadness too. I was nervous that the island wouldn’t live up to the expectations I had for it. I was nervous that after seeing the island, would I still see my beloved Italy in the enchanting mysterious way I have always seen it? And, could I ever feel this happy again once I returned to New York? Italy has been completely amazing and I fear my life back at home will pale in comparison.
Overwhelmed with these thoughts I teared up a bit and I was very grateful to already have my sunglasses on.
I didn’t have much of a view from the windows of the ferry to see the island before we arrived. I had seen the neighboring uninhabited small islands, but not the lovely spread of Ponza. When I stepped down the plank, it felt like I had to twirl around to take in everything. On my right side were docks and a swimming area, on my left there were bright pastel-colored buildings and homes slowly ascending a hillside, and in front of me was a little bustling street filled with people and taxis and bursting with life.
I could have spent all day standing there and watching the world revolve around me, but my feet knew to follow my cousins along the street until we came about a little shop next to a pedestrian tunnel. There the four of us rented two scooters to easily move about the island. I have never been on a scooter before and I must have looked a little silly clutching the sidebars so tightly, but, my goodness were they so much fun.
We sped up an down the the curvy hilly streets with ease and finally stopped at a set of stairs. We parked the scooters at the side of the rode and then ventured down these stairs. Marked every so often in paint was the word ‘Piscine’ accompanied by an arrow. ‘Piscine’ means ‘pools’ in English, and we followed the arrows to Le Forna. It was quite a walk down all these steps, but it offered some fantastic views of the ocean and some glimpses into the lush wildlife and little lizards of the island.
Le Forna is a region of the island and this beach is just one of them in the area. We placed our towels on rocks, changed to our bathing suits, soaked up a little sun before taking a dive into the incredibly beautiful water. Is the water blue, or is the water green? I have no idea how to respond to that. But it’s clear and clean and the water felt unlike any other ocean I’ve dipped it. It was smooth and the water didn’t weigh you down.
We swam right by a grotto and some caves, but I didn’t go too close to them. In the water you could see little fish hanging about in schools and small crabs scuttling about the rocks. It looked so peaceful under the water.
We spent a few hours at this beach sun-bathing, taking short swims, and even ate our pre-packaged lunches.
My cousins asked what I so far thought about Ponza and I stammered in my rugged Italian that I didn’t have the words in either Italian or English to describe its beauty.
A little after midday we packed up our sets, walked up the insane amount of steps, and jumped on the scooters again. We drove to another beach, I believed called Achilles and Lucia. This beach was very rocky and rough but we did manage to find a spot to lay our towels down, although we were a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t go in the water here because there were sea urchins on the rocks and they were difficult to see so I didn’t want to accidentally step on one or brush up on one. We stayed here for about an hour and a half, enjoyed some fruit and then finally returned to our scooters once more.
After we left this beach we took our time driving and stopped intermittently to take pictures of the scenery. The flora and fauna of the island juxtaposed with the multi-colored ocean was unlike anything. Simply divine.
We returned to the port area, brought back our scooters and bought some gelato at a nearby gelateria. I had nocciola and frutta di bosco. A little weird considering nocciola is essentially Nutella and frutta di bosco is mixed fruits but it was delicious. The nocciola flavor was exceptionally savory. We didn’t have any time to look at the other shops before boarding the ferry and I was a little miffed I couldn’t buy any presents for anyone, but I guess my pictures will have to serve as the only tangible souvenirs from the island.
One day is not enough to experience the 2-mile Ponza. But on the other hand, I don’t believe a whole lifetime would fulfill it either. I made a mental note to scold my family later for ever leaving a place like this. I will be back one day Ponza, the island can be sure of it.
I wonder what it is about Rome that has me so mesmerized. Something inside me surges when I’m in Rome, and when I leave the Eternal City I am left feeling very barren.
Today my cousin and I took a day trip to Rome. We woke up at 7, which was a bit difficult to do since I was out after midnight playing billiards. We did manage to leave the house before 8, and drove to the train station in Frosinone. She had some business to attend to in the morning, but after that we spent the rest of the day free to explore Roma.
What’s interesting about this trip is that I got a chance to see lesser-known attractions in the city. We started at Circo Massimo, popping out from the subway station right next to it. After getting my fill of the ancient remains of the chariot-racing stadium, we had breakfast across the street. I had a perfect cappuccino and a croissant with Nutella filling. You know you’re jealous.
We visited St. Peter’s square, La Passeggiata del Gianicola, Parco Savello (Garden of the Orange Trees), San Bonifacio e Alessio, La Basilica di San Paolo Fuori Le Mure.
Across the street from San Bonifacio e Alessio there is a green door and you will mostly likely see a short line standing in front of it. The person at the front of the line is stooped over with their head leaning against the door, and maybe a hand or two cupping around their eyes. There is a small hole in the door, and when you look through it the first thing you’ll notice is something bright at the end of your vision. Surrounded by a garden of bushes, and far off into the view is the perfectly centered dome of Saint Peter’s. It’s no wonder why Rome is so well-suited for its modern-day life, it’s because it’s completely embraced its history and preserves it in these little ways. If you’re ever in that area, stop by that big green door and take a peak.
Also to note, one of my favorite things about today was a monument at La Passeggiata del Gianicola. While that area has amazing views of Rome, there is an inscription on the bottom of the monument for Giuseppe Garibaldi in the center that I became fixated on. It simply said ‘Roma o Morte.’ Rome or death. And I get it. I explained to my cousin that one day I want to live in Rome. Not wish to, not maybe, I made sure in my limited Italian to pound down it as a statement. One day I will live in Rome. I don’t think I’m ready to in my life, but I don’t see my future without it.
So, to wrap it up, today was another fantastic day. It was fun criss-crossing the city on the trains, walking around parts of the city that sanitized of tourists. It was nice buying lunch at a supermarket. Today almost felt like the antithesis of a day you’d expect to have in Rome. But for me, it was perfect, I did as the Romans did.
So I had another lovely weekend after my visit to Napoli. The only downtrodden thing was Italy losing their match against Costa Rica on Saturday. We’ll rebound against Uruguay tomorrow.
After the match, we had dinner, and then I showered. We took in a trip into Sora to see them setting up l’infiorata, which is a traditional festival before Corpus Christi (Corpus Domini). There were people creating street art with flowers and vegetables depicting biblical scenes. There was also a large stage set up in the piazza and they had little kids singing songs and it was really wonderful. I also got to try Italian frozen yogurt. I chose Nutella syrup and strawberries as toppings. Let me tell you how great of a decision that was.
On Sunday we headed back to the charming seaside town of Sperlonga. I bought a bathing suit right on the beach for 14 Euro. Not a bad price at all. The top fits perfect but the bottom is a little small. That’s okay because I like to mix and match my bathing suits anyway.
My time here is beginning to wind down. I feel it. I leave on July 3rd, so I still have plenty of time to soak in the local sights and culture. But, I already feel that sadness seeping into my mind. We were driving back from the beach and I was looking at the mountains against the sunset and I got a bit teary-eyed. These sights have become so precious to me and I know I will miss getting to stare and revel at their beauty. I am envious of this life.
On the 28th, my cousin and I are going to Ponza for three days. The island of Ponza is where my moms side of the family originated from. They all moved to New York in the early 1900’s. I’ve heard varied stories as to why but the one that interests me most is the one where they were targeted by the fascist party and left to avoid capture by Mussolini’s camp. The island of Ponza and the neighboring island Ventotene served as political prisons for opponents of fascism. Mussolini himself was imprisoned on the island for several weeks after he was overthrown in 1943. But that was much after my family had left.
I’m so excited for this trip. I won’t rush through the week though because I know how short my time is running.
I left for Italy from America on the States’ Memorial Day Holiday, a full week later and I am still here on an Italian holiday. Today was Festa della Repubblica in Italy. We celebrated by pretty much doing the same thing we did yesterday, so as far as recanting a magical experience in the bucolic countryside, well, none of that today. But as long as your concerned, it feels magical to be up here in the mountains, under the Azzurre sky, and enjoying the company of family and new friends.
I helped with chores, sat in the sun, changed my Facebook and phone language to Italian, and overall had another restful day.
One thing I really love about life here is the informality of it. A lot of Italian food is messy, and you know this if you’ve ever sat down to eat a bowl of spaghetti and slurped the strands of sauce covered yumminess so that half of it ended up on the corners of your mouth instead. No one judges you for using your hands to help grasp a piece of meat. It’s relaxing.
Anyway, that is all for tonight, I’m aiming to wake up at a decent time!
Before I start my recount on my second day in Italy, last night we went out for a pre-dinner cocktail, I forget the exact name of that what they call the cocktail before dinner, but it was really refreshing. Then we had dinner, showered and went to the feast I mentioned in my first post. It reminded me of our feasts back at home, which us Italian-Americans have done a pretty good job at preserving the traditions from here, now that I’ve seen it first-hand. Lots of food, knick-knacks, a band playing… the core elements of a good time.
So this morning we enjoyed croissants and cappuccinos for breakfast and drove to the train station where we hopped on board and rode it to the Spagna station, which us English speakers identify as the Spanish Steps.
We meandered our way through the crowds and cobbled streets to also visit the Trevi Fountain, La Piazza del Polpolo, the building where the politicians meets (forgot the name but I did take a picture of the name on my D-SLR), Altare della Patria, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, a few other piazzas and of course the Colosseum. Last time I didn’t get a chance to go inside the Pantheon or see Altare della Patria, so seeing those for the first time reminded me how magical Rome is. My cousin asked me if I prefer Rome or New York and not even having to think about it my answer is Rome. He thought I was crazy because he loves New York.
We had lunch at McDonald’s which was funny because I don’t even eat McDonald’s at home but wanted to see what it was like here. Pretty similar in standards. The large soda is the size of our American-sized small. I was a bit embarrassed over that. Also, Italians do not seem to put ketchup on their french fries (patatine fritte).
I can’t figure out how Italians walk. I tried my hardest to to walk as slow as they do, but still was walking ahead of our little group. But then at times they would end up halfway down the block from me moving still at their glacial pace. I do not know how that happens.
We hopped on the train during rush hour so it was crowded. The Italian trains tell you what side the door is opening prior to arriving, so you can already situate yourself to that side. I napped in the car on the drive back.
When we got back to the house we played with the kittens (one of them pictured below). Cats always make me smile. So let’s see what tonight and tomorrow brings.