HI FRIENDS, 2020 is here! Before jumping into future home renovation plans I can’t afford and new years resolutions I’ll never keep, I want to take a moment to reflect on my busy 2019. It has been QUITE A YEAR. I made a few big changes: I quit my job and said goodbye to graphic design (BYE ILLUSTRATOR) and hello to editing in the Spring, I bought a house I loved in the summer and I was even lucky enough to go on a few cute trips to feel a little Italian sunshine on my pale Canadian body. And I thought I should write about it. Not to rub my LAVISH ITALIAN LIFESTYLE IN YOUR FACE (because it’s anything but lavish and I’m sitting on the couch eating lettuce straight out of the bag as I write this) but because I want to focus on the good. I complain too much about who and what I’m missing when I should be grateful for everything I have. (P.S. If you had a bad year, I’ve been there, I know what it feels like and I hope 2020 is so much kinder to you.)
The New Job
I never thought I would be someone who cared about work. I often see a job as just that, a job. I don’t let it define me, it’s never been important to me. It lets me pay for food. It allows me to buy gifts for people I love. It helps me take care of my dog and buy overpriced solid shampoo at LUSH (I’M TRYING TO SAVE THE PLANET OK!). That’s what it’s for. But last December, my job was making me surprisingly miserable. I had a soul-crushing and sunshine-stealing boss and worked for what I could only describe as a modern day study abroad Jonestown. And it was heartbreaking. Management crushed my soul (as it does) and the words my Dad had been repeating to me since I was about 13 kept playing over and over in my head like a broken record. “Lili, don’t let people walk all over you. Never take shit from anybody.” And PERHAPS this advice wasn’t NECESSARILY meant to be used in a workplace context, but THAT’S NOT THE POINT. I knew I had to quit the cult and try something new. I didn’t expect the drama that followed from quitting my job unexpectedly, but that’s a story for another time.
I hadn’t even secured a new work contract when I quit. I was just promised a position, but I risked it anyway. To be completely transparent, choosing the job that seemed the most interesting to me was ONE OF THE WORST FINANCIAL MOVES I’VE EVER MADE in my entire life. Whatever you’re thinking I earn, girl it’s worse. I think I made more money working part-time as a bartender in Vancouver when I was 23. Damn, I miss those tips. BUT that’s beside the point. Liking my job has made my life easier, you know? And having enough money to treat myself to aperitivo and maybe go out with friends for pizza and wine once and a while is more than I need for now. It may take me a few extra years to pay off my house loans, but I don’t mind. AND NOT TO BRAG (if anyone starts a sentence like this, stop listening to them immediately), but I’m a 6-minute bike ride from my job. I leave the house at 8:48 and I’m at work for 9! I mean, it’s dreamy.
The New House
I’ve already written a little bit about my new house here.
I spent many long nights lying on the floor in front of my oversized salt lamp I bought to help with my anxiety, staring at my moldy walls and thinking about where I went wrong during my very dramatic Italian home buying process. Was I too nice? Where did I go wrong? I’m in over my head. WHY DID I THINK I DIDN’T NEED A LAWYER.
I could write pages and pages about every little thing that went wrong while buying my first home, but I’ll save everyone from the drama and share a quick summary. HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED.
I made an offer on a home I loved in February 2018. The offer was accepted right away. I did all of the paperwork at the speed of lightning and 15 minutes before the closing (after I had taken off work and moved around meetings), the sellers contacted me 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE APPOINTMENT to tell me everything was cancelled. I had gone to the bank that morning to get my “assegni bancari.” But one of the two sellers was sick, so the appointment was cancelled and I tried to not make a big deal out of it.
No big deal, right? Well, the sick seller ended up passing away a few months later, and what he failed to mention was his SECRET SUMMER WEDDING and HIS 16-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER. I’m obviously sorry about what happened, but I wish he would’ve let me know so we could’ve prepared the proper paperwork! Anyway, this meant the house was now passed down to his daughter. In Italy, bureaucracy involving minors can be extremely long and very painful. Months and months of waiting for paperwork is the norm. It took over a year to get all of the documents in order. Then, when everything was finally ready for the closing and I was ready to get everything signed, my notary’s secretary CASUALLY FORGOT to TELL ME (ME, THE BUYER) about the appointment so naturally, I DIDN’T SHOW UP BECAUSE NOBODY TOLD ME. They called me while I was at work and I had a baby panic attack, ran to the bank and ran to the notary, only to be told I had taken too long and my notary had a LUNCH APPOINTMENT so it needed to be moved AGAIN. But third time’s the charm, baby! A year and a half later, the house was mine. She’s flooded three times since I’ve owned her and I’m still waiting to start renovation work, but I love her. She has a tiny garden and needs some lovin’, but she’s all mine.
My Top 7 Favourite 2019 Memories
And now, a list of my favourite 2019 memories. I had a good year. I have a job, a roof over my head, my dog is okay and I was able to visit my family in Montreal for Christmas. Things are good. Okay, here we go.
- Late August. Colle Val d’Elsa. Cooking pasta in a tiny kitchen in a little country “house” while baby ants were dropping from the ceiling. Francesca was horrified, but my inner country girl swept them out the door and KEPT ON COOKING LIKE THE INDEPENDENT WOMAN I AM. We ended up leaving a day early because the situation got out of control and we found a HUGE grasshopper sitting on a bag of chips like it WASN’T A BIG DEAL, but Kiwi loved every minute of it.
2. Mid-September. Felciaio Beach. (Beginner) Cliff jumping in Elba. If I could move to Elba, I would. It’s my second favourite place in the entire world (first place being Florence OF COURSE). It took me around 45 minutes to find the courage to jump off this thing, but WHAT A FEELING. Never stop doing things that scare you. I know it sounds lame okay, but it’s true.
3. Early Spring. Running a half marathon with these beautiful beans. Night runs in late January and February made me fall in love with running. Sometimes, I would run an entire 10K around the same 2 blocks of my neighborhood. It’s weird I know, but it’s the best.
4. Watching Kiwi get better was the highlight of my year! I’ve spent the past decade with this tiny angel by my side, and I get emotional every time I notice her getting a little bit older. She had a bad knee, but she got operated on this year and now she’s doing SO GOOD! MY MOSCHINO ANGEL.
5. June 2019. Naples. The pizza, the noise, the 1 euro Spritz and the missing helmets. It’s exactly what I imagined Italy would be like before I moved here. I absolutely loved it. Take me back.
6. February. Venice for the first time! It made me a little bit anxious to be surrounded by that much water. I always felt like I was about to drop my phone/panino/shopping bags/purse/keys/dog into the water all the time. I’M AN EARTH SIGN, I NEED SOLID GROUND. But what a beautiful city. Wow.
7. Park dates with Kiwi. I don’t know if there’s anything better than going to the Cascine with my dog in Florence, having coffee and taking her for a two-hour walk. She only looks upset and annoyed because she has RBF (resting bitch face) and I was taking too long to finish. This is happiness.
-I’m (hopefully) moving into my new home in Florence! I’m so excited to put in new floors, paint the walls and read books in my garden.
-I’m turning 30. THIRTY YEARS ON THIS EARTH. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN. I remember thinking my teachers were SO OLD when they said they were 30. Now I’ll be one of them. Bring it on.
-Kiwi’s turning 10. My little lady is reaching double digits and we’ll be having a huge party to celebrate.
-I have to
deal with? cry about? acknowledge? celebrate 10 years since losing my Mom and my brother. It’s heavy and it scares me, but it’s also kind of comforting to be on the other side. I honestly never thought I would be a functioning human being. So like, HIGH FIVE TO ME?! Grief is a funny, ever-changing thing, but my relationship with it has gotten slightly more CHILL with time. Yeah, the tightness I still always feel in my chest is still there a lot of the time, but now, my thoughts are usually “Man, I must’ve really loved them if it still hurts this much.” But I’m okay with feeling like that.
P.S. If you’ve read until here, THANK YOU SO MUCH. Send me some ideas of places to visit in Europe for my 30th birthday! I think I want to go to Spain, Greece or Portugal! Or maybe Finland? Or Ireland?! Where should I go?! Send me your suggestions!
P.P.S. Please send some loving vibes from all over the world to my cousin Michael in Ontario. You got this, Mike!