Around the age of six, I knew that I wanted to be a writer.

When I expressed this desire as a child, my mother told me it was because she read to me from the moment I was born. In a certain light, she’s correct; but there’s more to it. I was always fascinated about stories from real life, stories that were true – tales of my own history or from when my mom was a single career girl, and anecdotes about my grandmother growing up with Italian parents in America.

But those weren’t the kind of stories I read – or was read. I grew up reading fiction.

For as long as I could remember, I tried to write fiction, and I failed miserably. No matter how well constructed my words were, it dawned on me in my late twenties that fiction wasn’t the right venue. At the time when I gave up, I believed that I just wasn’t meant to be a writer.

And then, there was NIAUSI. And Astra.

The summer before I submitted my proposal, I heard stories about Astra Zarina from my friends, Stephen and Bonnie. On my walk home down First Avenue one sunny afternoon in July 2009, I wondered what it might be like to live a life like hers: one characterized by experience, passion, travel, food, design, conversation…and Italy. And what it might be like to write about it. Not fiction, but writing from real life.

A year later, on August 10, 2010, I left Seattle on a two-month fellowship journey, not knowing exactly what would happen. There was a lot riding on my project, including the full support of an organization that I was just beginning to know.

Since my return on October 10, 2010, I’ve been working to produce this magnum opus with the much-needed and very much appreciated assistance of Ellen Milne, my book designer, and Stephen Antupit, my editor. After three proofs, two and a half months longer than I thought it would take, and countless prayers to the universe, I am pleased to announce the publication of my first book, “CivitaVeritas, an Italian Fellowship Journey.”

Many of you have been with me from the beginning, reading these essays in their raw form on this blog. For your support, your comments, and your readership over the past year, I am exceedingly grateful. After six months of polishing, these essays now feel worthy of being printed, and I hope that you can discover them anew.

If you would like to purchase a copy, please visit my page on Create Space: (The Amazon launch is upcoming, likely within a week.)

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned during the past 30 years, it’s that life is so much more strange and beautiful than fiction. It’s weird, it’s painful, it’s ironic, and it’s messy. Life provides us with the stuff we just can’t make up.

If I only had one wish, it would be to experience every strange and beautiful thing this world has to offer — and to be afforded the opportunity to continue writing about it.

Thank you for your company on this long and twisty road; the best part is, I know there’s much more for us to discover.