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Yesterday the UN, and people all over the world, celebrated International Day of Happiness.

Given all the horrible things happening here on planet Earth, it would be very easy to shrug and think there’s nothing to be happy about.

Sometimes when I’m in a very good mood, I get a little freaked out.  Why am I in a good mood?  I should be cynical, depressed, and anxious.   It’s as if I have no right to be happy.   I meet a lot of expats in Rome.  Many are not happy and are suspicious of those who are.  Being happy is not “keeping it real.”  We end up fueling each others’ fire.

One of my dear friends said I should avoid miserable people.  Why get sucked into their constant negativity and pessimism?   True, we all have bad days, weeks, even months, but as I get older I find I have less patience for people who complain ALL the time but never do anything to change/improve their situation.

I tend to worry a lot, mostly about my future.  How will I pay my bills?  Will my business continue to grow?  Will I ever be fluent in Italian? Why is Drake so popular?   I lie awake at night and dwell on things I have no control over.  This is not healthy and I’m working on it.

When I’m happy it’s not because anything has really changed.  I still have the same bills, worries, and issues.  However, sometimes I do remember that I am extremely fortunate in ways that cannot be measured in dollars or euros.

It won’t be easy but I’m going to try my best to do the opposite of what I normally do, which is to worry and complain.

Another friend proclaimed that this was going to be a great year.  Based on what?  Nothing.  She believes it and therefore is going to do everything in her power to make it so.

I like the why she thinks.

Buon weekend!

(I adore this video.  I have to restrain myself from dancing when I hear this song while jogging.)

The holiday season is upon us.  Lights have just started to go up in my neighborhood and I saw a few festive window displays this morning on Via Condotti and Via Babuino.

I haven’t seen any panettone movie commercials.  Several friends have assured me they are coming.  Excellent.

One of my goals for 2014 is to entertain more.  Yes, I know it’s a little early to think about these things. I can’t help it.

My apartment is small but I had a friend, Susan, in New York City who lived in a studio that was smaller than my place and yet she had dinner parties, Oscar parties, cocktail parties, let me introduce you to my new spinning teacher parties, etc.

Her space had a different layout.  However, I can still be inspired by many of her fantastic ideas.

My mom, like Susan, has a great selection of serving trays and platters.  Some she received as wedding gifts fifty years ago.

I actually enjoyed setting the dining room table when my parents had dinner parties.  My mom was occupied with cooking, my dad was the bartender, and us kids were “in charge” of the table.

Okay, so my mom really had the last word about what was going on the table. When I was old enough, it was my job to iron the tablecloth and the napkins.  While I STRONGLY dislike ironing my sheets (it takes forever), this party prep was fine with me.

The last time I was in St. Martin, one of my friends (and former boss) was on the island and stopped by for a visit.  I looked through my parents’ collection to find the right tray for aperitivi and thought about all the fun holiday dinners and parties. I also realized that I need to step up my platter game.

This one is gorgeous.  It’s from Williams-Sonoma and made in Umbria.

This shade of blue is one of my favorites.

img85oThis platter is stylish simplicity.

My friend Taiye finally had a break during her international book tour and was making lunch at her place.  I wanted to pick up some flowers.

I went to my flower stand in Campo dei Fiori but none of the flowers I had in mind were in season.

Instead, I decided to go with some peperoncini.

IMG_4338So simple, including the presentation.

I love the burst of color they bring to a room on a cold fall day.   I plan to pick up some red ones later in the week.

If you haven’t read Taiye’s critically acclaimed book, Ghana Must Go (La Bellezza Delle Cose Fragili in Italian), get thee to a bookstore or online.  It’s fantastic.

Last Sunday, my friends Erica and Darius decided to take advantage of the great weather and organized a quick walk through EUR.

I still have problems pronouncing the area’s name correctly.  The second time I visited Rome, a friend from L.A. was in town.  She asked her lover (they met the year before) if he could show us around EUR.

L.A. Friend:  Marco, can you drive us to E.U.R.?  (spelling it out in English)

Marco: Dove? (Where?)

LAF: E.U.R.

Marco:  Non capisco.

LAF:  Big buildings, Mussolini.

Marco:  Oh, AY-oor.  Certo. 

That was a fun afternoon as my friend spoke no Italian and Marco spoke several languages but none of them were English.  However, they spoke the universal language of love lust, so it was all good.

On Sunday, I met up with the rest of the Twitter folks (aka Tweeps).  One of Darius and Erica’s friends was born in the area and still lives there.  He knows the area well and it was fascinating to hear his point of view.

If you have any interest in architecture or 20th century Roman history, EUR is definitely worth a visit. It’s a very unique neighborhood.

Here are a few snapshots from Sunday.

Darius jumps.  He landed safely.

Darius jumps. He landed safely.

Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro - aka "The Square Colosseum".

Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro – aka “The Square Colosseum.”

IMG_4241

A relief of Italian history.  Notice the large Mussolini at the bottom.

A relief of Italian history. Interesting portrait of Mussolini. What is he doing?  (center – bottom)

It's JFK.

It’s JFK.

This building reminds me of the late great old Penn Station in New York City designed by McKim, Mead & White.  The architects of that landmark were inspired by the Bath of Caracalla.

This building reminds me of the late great old Penn Station in New York City, designed by McKim, Mead & White. The architects of that landmark were inspired by the Baths of Caracalla and other buildings from ancient Rome.

We ended our walk with aperitivi at the famous Caffè Palombini.  There's outside seating.  Perfect during a warm evening.

We ended our walk with aperitivi at the famous Caffè Palombini. There’s outside seating. Perfect during a warm evening.

Roman cat enjoying the peace and quiet.

A Roman cat enjoying the peace and quiet. Those days are over.

I’m still not used to the rientro effect, even after five summers here.  It’s as if a giant light switch was turned on and BAM, the locals have returned.

There is traffic again on Lungotevere and Corso Vittorio Emanuele.  The woman who owns my local newsstand is very tan, relaxed, and tells us all about her vacation.

I’m excited that my butcher and my favorite baker at the Trionfale farmers’ market are back.  I’ve missed them.

There’s an electric energy in the air despite the fact that our government could collapse (again) at any moment.

Suddenly, my phone is ringing off the hook with vendors letting me know when furniture will be delivered, appointments to see clients, and friends wanting to meet up for post-rientro aperitivi.

I’m glad the rientro has begun.

Ostia Antica, the ancient port city founded in 620 BC, is a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.

So when I heard that Save Rome and Moscerina were organizing an Instagram meet up, I signed up right away.

It was fantastic.  We were very lucky to have archeologist Dr. Arya show us the sights.   If you have any interest in Ancient Rome, Ostia Antica is a must see.

Here are a few of my snapshots.

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