What road led you to Rome?
My straight line to Rome was via Warsaw. I wanted to see the world, and in Florence where I was studying, I discovered CRUEI, the university travel agency. Without telling my parents, I signed up for a trip to Poland and Russia during the Christmas break. I lived on a shoestring budget, but I felt like 007 travelling to the "forbidden" USSR. It was in Warsaw that I met Mr. Right, whom I married and he was an Italian living in Rome. I was 23 years old and interested in learning Italian. Having been to Italy three times and already speaking French and Spanish well, I figured that Italian would be easy to learn. I loved Fellini and Italian movies like "Brancaleone" which I’m amazed that I thought I understood! Italian was cool, although Tuscan Italian with its aspirated "c" did confuse me at first. Hosa? Il hontatore del rishadamento della hasa non funziona? That was in the famous year 1968, and I learned more than I was taught at the University of Florence where I was enrolled in “Lettere.” People say how Italy has changed since then, but I think that Italy was probably the same in Caesar's day, a nation of Extroverted Sensates, as Jung would label them. And I can recall back when Prime Minister Andreotti begged Italians not to go on strike anymore. The next day, there was a nationwide strike protesting his speech! I’ll never understand Italian politics, even though I’ve voted here for forty plus years.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
What might surprise AWAR members about me is that I'm half Puerto Rican, and that as a writer I mainly write in English. Technically Spanish was my mother tongue. I love Puerto Rico, and I'm surprised by how similar the Puerto Ricans are to Italians. I'm very comfortable in both places. I write stories for children, mainly because that means nobody expects me to write about the four forbidden (in my day) topics: sex, politics, religion, and money. Two of my children’s books are “Lindsey and the Jedgar,” and "Felisa and the Magic Coqui” and I have others in my head. I'm a very private person who can keep a secret. I talk a lot and say little. I spent most of my early life flying to Puerto Rico every vacation to my grandparents’ house, while my parents saw the world. And, yes, my grandparents spoiled my brother and me! We didn't know how lucky we were. And my family is still very close-knit. It's still my second home. (My parents went away each summer vacation leaving me and my brother to be spoiled by my Puerto Rican grandparents.)
What are some of your hobbies?
I play sports and also guitar and piano. I love languages, and I was proud to learn so many of them. I promised my father I would learn Chinese and German—he knew so many languages and this inspired me. He and my mother were extraordinary people.
How did you find AWAR?
I found AWAR back in the 1970's through a neighbor who was a member and noticed I spoke English so suggested I join. I was newly married and had no job so it was perfect timing. My husband's friends? Their wives were all busy during the day with jobs or children. AWAR gave me the chance to write, to take opera classes, and to follow Shakespeare—really to play! So I had fun.
Can you share a brief snippet of a moment you were the most proud of?
I was a secondary school English teacher in Luxembourg which I loved, but typical me, it was something that I fell into—pure luck. During that time I was proud to earn the title "Generalissima" when I decided that the director of my school didn't deserve to be fired. Anyway he had no contract, got terminated and I organized the protest to keep him on. I fought until the Board of Directors all resigned, and the American- style private school kept its feisty, irritable, opinionated director whom I respected.
Can you share people or things that inspire you?
My biggest inspiration here was probably Rory Stuart, whom I hope you all meet when this Coronavirus ends...some of you already know him. I thinks he's better than Harold Bloom! Or maybe you'll meet Joe Giardina, whom I admire to pieces. You can see him on Facebook. And I met both Rory and Joe because of AWAR! Joe Giardina and Rory Stuart are both geniuses, and I found a perfect fit in the Great Writers Series, which I invented and ran for years. And Joe's opera appreciation is special. I've been a member of both for about 25 years. They exist thanks to AWAR.
What word sums you up?
If I had to say one word, it is the opposite of impossible...what's that opposite? "Possible" isn't strong enough.
What has AWAR given you?
Having AWAR enriched my life; AWAR has given me more than I can repay. I have met wonderful friends and it has been an integral part of my exciting life here in Rome all these years.
What is your passion?
My passion is life itself, and that in itself provides me ample fun. In addition I would say that words are my passion. I'm more apt to notice what people say than what they wear or do. That's why I prefer opera to symphony, and I love poetry and prose and languages. My life is words. Words, WORDS!
What would you change if you could about Rome?
I would change nothing about Rome. Garibaldi was right: it's the world's capital city, and during the lockdown, I continued my touring and my writing. Rome is such a great place to live. It even has a Globe Theatre and certainly rivals my home town of Boston. It even rivals China, "the middle of the world" country.
What are you most grateful for?
I feel that I've been undeservedly lucky, and I'm thankful for having seen so much of the world—over a hundred countries. I’ve had a wonderful life and now I'm on YouTube and Facebook too. And I think that's pretty awesome.
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