Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pull Out

Finally the last piece from surgery has come out of my leg today. It's called a "pull-out" (Italians use this word in English) and the doctors literally pulled its 10 cm out of my leg during a visit at the hospital today. I got the green light to start putting slight weight on my left foot.

It's such a satisfying moment.

After 2 months of hopping, crawling and walking with crutches and the leg up, I can start to feel a bit more normal as I move through my world. I even walked up the steps to my condo today. Those two floors of stairs were always a marathon to do before: hopping and trying to pass up and down my spare crutch to myself as I navigated them using one crutch and one hand firmly holding onto the railing, the only safe way to do stairs I found other than on my bottom.

I will also be able to take a regular shower and get my leg wet for the first time in two months.

It's the small things that become so exciting to get back after surgery.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Beautiful Thing on September 11, 2001

Since I live abroad, I didn't get quite as much of the publicity blitz regarding the build up to the anniversary of September 11th like most Americans stateside. I may be making a comment quite late according to the calendar's date, but I didn't feel I had very much to say or offer on this blog before today.

This is the story how I found out about the tragic events:

I was in Italy the day of the horrible event and saw the smoking towers from 40 television sets that were on display in the appliance store where I was buying a cell phone in Venice that day at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. You see, I was living in that city then. It was surreal to see that "absurd" picture repeated so many times across so many screens. Then I overhead some comments by the local salesman speaking in dialect to each other and realized that the images were something that was really happening. I had already made a special Internet appointment that day at one of the city libraries offering free access. (In those days, I didn't have my own computer or personal Internet access.) I remember being so happy and horrified as I got about 30 minutes of a email conversation in almost real time with people living in the New York area. Then the lines went dead, even my internet access to them. But I knew they were safe.

I found this video documentary about a heroic underbelly of action on the part of Americans that day in 2001. Boatlift chronicles the efforts of hundreds of boatmen who spontaneously evacuated lower Manhattan Island as the twin towers were smoking and continued after they fell. The men simply wanted to help others in need.

Una riflessione sull'undici settembre

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Quest for a Non-Stick Shift

I am forced to find a car to rent with an automatic transmission because I can't put any weight or pressure on my left leg for another month or more. This rental purchase has been no small feat.

The reason why I need a special car is because buses won't get me where I need to go. Even though Europe is known for better public transportation than in the US, my area is not one of the best examples of how the system should work. The Veneto consists of several small, medium and large centers that have vast areas of development between them, including residential areas and industrial parks. When you are travelling, it is really difficult to see where one city district ends and another one begins, for this reason. The people of the Veneto decided to build out and not up (like New York or even Lombardia and the example of Milan).

The problem is connecting all the dots from all of this development. The individual cities have only drafted connections going from main outskirt areas, all toward the downtown area: example--from Noventa to downtown Padua. This is fine for students who all pool into the city center area, but not often for professionals like me. I need to get from my house to the industrial area and then out to another suburban area on the other side of Padua, all on a typical work day. To do so with public transportation, I would find myself on 2 different bus lines with 2 different fees and ticket offices to get to each destination. In total at least 4 buses a day. Travel times can reach one and a half hours to go 15 miles just to get to one of these destinations. Needless to say, I cannot consider public transportation to get to work these days. But I can't drive my car either because it is a stick shift. It requires two working legs.

So began the quest for a rental to get me through my recovery period.

And do you think it's easy and reasonable to be looking for this service around here? Well, of course not. We're in Italy and just about anything other than locating great wine gets complicated.

After phoning 10 rental car agencies, I found most places with time limits of no more than a 29-day rental period. Those must be designed only with tourists in mind. Or the ones that require a long-term rental of 2 years or more, designed for company business cars. And all of them didn't have any low-end cars available with an automatic transmission. Only luxury cars like Mercedes and Audi could possibly fit my request. "Davvero?" I replied. If only I was paid more to afford a luxury car....

Why is it so impossible to find a car with a non-stick shift? I always knew it wasn't very popular here in Italy. but NOTHING? Come on!

Well, in the end I finally found and settled on a SMART car. It's the best deal I could get, while still quite expensive. I'll be picking up a black two-seater called FORTWO just 2 days after my cast comes off. People say it's really fun to drive. Maybe like a very fancy and powerful go-kart? I will finally get the thrill of driving a truly tiny European car, yet I never really was interested in that, but that's OK.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Waning Summer

It's time to get the last walks in under big green canopies of leaves. The weather is going to turn soon. For now, "Goodbye" stifling heat. We shout a welcome Arrivederci to the worst of summer's humidity.

The leaves will soon change color and fall. The Veneto fog will envelop us all come November. Let's enjoy what we still have of the soft side of late summer.

This is a view of a section of Noventa Padovana's Via Roma with its grand old trees.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sugarpulp: Contemporary Writing Culture

Two years ago, Sugarpulp was founded in Padua by a former colleague of mine. Now it's got hundreds of people behind its mission.

It's a hip, young group with a passion for reading and writing.

They're going "a bomba" (like crazy) these days.

Lexus car company has recently supported their mission by presenting this viral commercial which,

"...[produced in collaboration with Current TV] profiles people that embody the unconfined spirit of the new Lexus CT200H, people who see things differently to escape convention without compromising.

The Sugarpulp commercial features Matteo Righetto, an up-and-coming Italian novelist who successfully created in his hometown of Padova, a literary movement called Sugarpulp."

Take a look at the viral commercial (with Matteo's great, thick Italian accent) that highlights not only the literary group's mission, but also the city and countryside around Padua:

I'll soon be posting about their upcoming literary festival scheduled for the end of the month and featuring an international (and rather American) roster of names.

Sugarpulp's website