Well, it’s the end of the first month of 2020 already, and how things can change!
I skipped a December roundup post because I did my annual 2019 travel roundup instead, and I didn’t feel like you guys would have thanked me for an extra ‘me me me’ post, haha. Towards the end of that post, I talked about how I wanted to do all sorts of off the beaten path adventurous travel in 2020, and now, a month later, all of that has flipped on its head and my year is looking very very different indeed!
Allow me to explain.
What does 2020 have in store for me?
It was always part of my 5 year plan to buy property abroad, preferably in Italy. I have never wanted to live in the UK, and with property prices in Italy being so cheap and the rental potential seemingly infinite, it didn’t seem like a bad idea at all. After all, having a place where you can keep all your stuff that’s also making you money is ideal, right?
However, all of that was in my 5 year plan. Now, it’s in my 6 month plan. Argh!
The reason for this is good ol’ Brexit. My mum and dad are selling up their house in Manchester, England, and moving to Spain, where they already have an apartment. And they’re doing it this year, 2020.
While that’s great and all for them, the news left me in a bit of a quandary. For the last 4 years, I’ve spent about 3/4 months of every year at my parents’ house. This has allowed me to work from my bedroom and save money for my trips, keep all of my things in one place, and see all of my UK friends. Without a base in Manchester, my life suddenly gets a lot more difficult.
So, at 3am one night when I was panicking about not having a place to call ‘home’ and visualising myself renting a room in a dingy Salford apartment building and living with all manner of unsavoury characters, I figured ‘hey – why don’t you just buy somewhere?’
Here’s the deal: I have money in the bank. Property in Sicily is cheap. I like Sicily. I am entitled to Italian citizenship based on my ancestry (so Brexit is no issue for me). I need a place to keep all of my goddamn books.
So ummmmm, I GUESS I’M BUYING AN APARTMENT IN PALERMO.
At the end of February, I’m hopping on a flight back to Palermo. I’m going to catch up with all of my Palermitano friends, I’m going to get drunk and I’m going to view a few apartments. In March I’m attending a travel blogging conference on the other side of Sicily so I’m going to spend a week or so in Catania meeting blogger friends, schmoozing with tourism boards and hopefully securing some 2020 work opportunities. THEN, when the conference is over, it’s time to get serious about apartment hunting.
I’m going to view every goddamn apartment in Palermo, my momma is gonna fly out for a few days to help me with legal solicitor things, and then, uh, I’m gonna make an offer and buy a house?!
Because I’ll be a cash buyer without a mortgage, I’m hoping that the sale will go through pretty quickly (if I find the perfect place of course – I’m not buying anywhere just for the sake of it), and then for the second half of 2020, I can spend my time exploring the island of Sicily, jetting away for mini-breaks to wherever I can blag cheap flights to, and DECORATING MY HOUSE.
Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that I will be stressed. I’m sure that I will break down in tears that ‘everything is horrible’ and ‘I hate all of them’ and ‘I’m going to be homeless,’ and I’m sure that once I DO find a place, I’ll sit on the floor of my unfurnished home crying that I’ve made a huge mistake and that I’m lonely and that I miss my friends (guys, I am expecting visits, just so you are aware), but overall, I’m sure that I’m making the right decision.
At the end of the day, the money that I have is just sitting in the bank with a sh1tty interest rate gathering dust, and so even if I never want to LIVE in Sicily, it makes sense to have a nice passive income stream (because Sicily is going to be BIG for tourism in the next few years, you mark my words).
So, that’s what 2020 hopefully has in store for me, but what the hell have I been doing in January?!
January 2020 Monthly R0undup
Life in Manchester
2020 so far has not involved any travel whatsoever. I’ve spent the month taking advantage of the 50% off food at various Manchester restaurants (I highly recommend Dive Bar and The Foundry Project), I’ve frequented my local pub and enjoyed the £2 pints, and I’ve discovered a great city centre coffee shop to work in (Takk, Northern Quarter).
Due to the fact that I’m now saving for a house, the blog has had to take a little bit of a backseat as I focus on my freelance work, but I have some pocket money coming in from advertising, and I’ve sprinkled some affiliate links throughout my posts as well, so if you see any Amazon links or Get Your Guide activities then you know what’s up! I also got a feature article written about me in Serbia’s biggest print and online newspaper so, uh, that was nice.
I’ve also been forcing myself to practice some Italian every single day. I’ve been using a mix of Duolingo, a vocab app called Italian Words that incorporates flashcards with memory games, and a YouTube channel called Learn Italian With Lucrezia. I’ve also been watching Italian cartoons and fairytales on YouTube (don’t laugh, they work!) and listening to Italian music on Spotify. There’s also a podcast called Coffee Break Italian, which I listen to in the shower! As someone from the UK, learning a foreign language is super difficult because our schools do not place any importance on the importance of speaking a second language at all, and so picking up the skills aged 27 is certainly an experience!
However, despite all of my exciting plans and joy to be able to see all of my UK friends again, it hasn’t been all roses. While I am super excited about getting my own place, the thought of not having a base in England absolutely breaks my heart, and I’m still having difficulty coming to terms with it.
I’m also a few days away from having to undergo a procedure at the hospital that I’m absolutely dreading, and although I’ve known that this was a possibility for the last 2 years, it doesn’t make it any less scary. Usually I wouldn’t include something like that on this blog as health is a very personal thing, but this issue in particular is incredibly important so I am deciding to include it as a PSA – girls, DO NOT PUT OFF GETTING YOUR PAP TESTS. So many girls receive their doctor’s letter telling them that it’s time for a Pap, and SO MANY choose to skip it, figuring that it isn’t important, and let me say right now, on record, that it is. If I had chosen to skip my test, then these cells I have that are desperately trying to turn cancerous would have gone unnoticed, and I wouldn’t be having them blasted off, so ladies, LISTEN TO JEZEBEL.
TV, Podcasts and Books…
Just like everyone and his mother, I watched Don’t Fuck With Cats on Netflix and absolutely loved it. For those that have been living under a rock and haven’t heard of this show, it is a three-part documentary that focuses on how a team of web sleuths tracked down a man that was posting videos to the internet of himself killing cats, as well as murdering a person. It deals with very difficult subject matter but is gripping viewing, and I highly recommend watching it.
The Case Against Adnan Syed. This four-part documentary looks at the convicted killer Adnan Syed, and examines whether or not he really should be in jail for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. I first became aware of this case because of the Serial podcast, which I thought was fantastic, and while the documentary was nowhere near as good as the podcast, it is still a very interesting case and I still learnt some new things.
Surviving Life is a YouTube channel that I recently discovered and I CANNOT recommend it enough, although the content is highly disturbing so I would only advise checking it out if you have an incredibly strong disposition. Ron Swanson dives into the deep web and makes documentaries and live streams on internet delights such as hurtcore, red rooms and paedophile rings. As difficult as though his content is to watch, Swanson really delves deep and uncovers some internet nasties that everyone should be aware of.
Lastly on the television side of things is my absolute fave, Love Island. This is not even a guilty pleasure because let me tell you, I feel absolutely no guilt about watching this every night. Thoughts so far? Mike is a game player, Connor is a walking red flag, Siânnise is a dementor, Shaughna is the girl I want to be my best friend, and everyone needs to stop dismissing Nas on account of his height because he’s the cutest boy in there. The end.
I’ve been binging on the Up & Vanished season 2 podcast this month, which tells the story of Kristal Reisinger, who – you’ve guessed it – up and vanished from her home in Crestone, Colorado. There are so many sketchy characters and circumstances surrounding this case, and it’s one of those podcasts that I just can’t press pause on, even if I’m going to the loo or going downstairs to make a coffee – it comes with me everywhere!
The first book that I finished this month was a Christmas present called Honour on Trial: The Shafia Family Murders and the Culture of Honour Killings (my mum knows my morbid interests well). The book tells the story of the murders of Zainab, Sahar, Geeti and their Aunt Rona from the perspectives of those investigating it. We as readers are moving with the police and the jury as the investigation gets underway, and I felt as though this was a really interesting angle from which to write the book.
The second book I read was Honour Killing: Stories of Men Who Killed (look, when I say I care about women’s rights, I mean it okay? Allow it). Each chapter in this book tells a different woman’s story, conducted via prison interviews with the perpetrators. I feel as though this is an incredibly powerful approach as it humanises the killers, explaining why they did what they did without excusing it. This book really shines a light on the culture of honour, community pressure and shame, and shows that there are no winners in honour-based societies.
Next, and one that I am currently reading is What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed Reading People. I am super interested in body language, and a great number of the YouTube channels that I am subscribed to are body language analysis channels. I consider myself pretty good at reading body language, and so perhaps this is the reason why this book hasn’t taught me as much as I hoped it would thus far. While there are certainly valuable nuggets of information in there (and very interesting case studies), I feel as though the ten thousand hours that I’ve spent already studying this stuff have probably spoiled me a little! That said, it is a great read and I look forward to finishing it.