I always carry a pen in my purse. I scribble my observations about virtually anything that crosses my radar on the back of receipts, bookmarks, and bar coasters. Moleskin notebooks and reporter pads hold my secrets. My purse’s lining dons ink blots. I forget to cap my Uni-ball pens that always explode on international flights.
For the past twenty-five years, while living outside of my homeland (America), I’ve been taking notes. On expat life. On moving around. On motherhood. On being married to an Italian. On representing a country (Italy) that has adopted me.
For most of my time overseas, I have felt “spaesata,” as they say in Italian, namely, out of sorts, outside my country. Both in the places I have lived -- Rome, Brussels, Tel Aviv and San Francisco -- and, in all the roles I have played -- as a journalist, a mother, a diplomat’s wife, and a dog owner.
My big news is that I am finally trying to make sense of what all this means by writing a book. Its working title, for the time being, is “I’ll Behave Later.”
I have accumulated countless scribblings of details of my life which now bubble in a cauldron of confusion, happiness, certainty, and uncertainty. Through writing, I am stirring the pot and reflecting on all the selves I have tried on, shed, and kept.
In this weekly newsletter which I am launching with this first missive, I will give you a preview of what’s to come in my book.
I’ll write about things I know and love: Italy, America, traveling, books, family, expathood, international moves, languages, motherhood, sisterhood, friendship, food, fashion and dogs.
I’ll write about how confusing it is to feel American when I live in Italy and Italian when I live in America. How some may think that statement sounds pretentious but how I’m simply confessing my occasional unease with leading two lives.
You might think it’s all glam to live on a foreign posting or at our home base in Rome. I’m here to write that it’s not.
There are certainly days where I meet fascinating people I’d never have access to if it weren’t for my husband’s job in the Italian foreign service.
But, on most days, I’m questioning why I’m always at the supermarket, why a rat won’t stop living under our kitchen sink, why the electricity always goes out moments before hosting a dinner party, why my kids are half-American and hate peanut butter, why I carry their vaccination cards in four different languages, and why I always have dog-hair caked all over my outfits.
I’m calling this newsletter Missives from a Metropolis because we will eventually move to another city in the future. We probably won’t know where we’ll be sent next until three or six months before the move. I vow to write from whichever city we call our next adopted home.
For now, Rome is home. You’ll read a great deal about it here as I stumble over its cobblestones and try to find my way. Again. It’s the fourth time I’ve moved back to Rome, after various postings overseas, and, it has become the defining city to my identity over the past twenty-five years.
Please become a reader of mine, subscribe to this newsletter for free, and encourage others to do so. Send me story ideas and I’ll happily pursue them. Feel free to read – and also subscribe! – to my blog, www.sheilapierce.com, on which I publish longer essays.
For the record, the name under which I write, my maiden name, is pronounced like a pocket-book. I’m not “Pierce” as in “pierce my heart.” I’m “Pierce,” as in “I always carry a pen in my purse.”
One day soon, I hope to find a publisher for my book, and finally have an excuse to autograph it with that pen in my purse. Please humor me, subscribe here, and help me do it!
Thanks for reading Missives from a Metropolis! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Well done, Sheila! I am in a very similar position: my book (a memoir of my childhood) will be published next month! Will send you a private message on FB…and will read your stories…
grazie ,Sheila, mi piace molto leggerti perchè scrivi davvero bene, è così piacevole e divertente la tua scrittura. Conoscendoti, mi sembra di vederti raccontare, e mi diverte molto il tuo sguardo ironico sulle cose. Leggerò di sicuro le tue newsletter e il tuo libro ! grazie e buon lavoro. Susanna