Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

What I learned from writing my first book

what I learned from writing my first bookNever in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever write a book—let alone a memoir. However, when I moved alone to Rome, Italy many years ago, my instincts told me to keep a daily diary because one day I would use it in some form. So yes indeed: I wrote in my journal every day for the almost three years I lived abroad. When I decided to pursue my book I relied upon my diaries to supplement my memories and help transport me back to the various experiences I had living in Rome.

The key reason I attempted to write about my time living abroad, was largely due to my relationship with an octogenarian named Grace. She became one of the most important people in my life after the devastating death of my brother, and she not only urged me to write my memoir, but took an active part as my one woman “focus group.” From the outset Grace encouraged me to show her my writing. I was terrified she might think I was a terrible writer and to not continue writing. To my astonishment and joy, she really liked my writing samples that I showed her. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

The Challenges and Joys of a Woman Traveling Alone

woman traveling aloneWhen my last serious relationship ended, the first thing I did was to book a flight to Italy, using my points. I got a great deal on Alitalia and knew exactly what I needed to do: go hiking in Sicily with a group of like-minded people, and of course a wonderful experienced guide. Being in nature always helps me with whatever life challenges I am going through.

As the time got closer and I made my final payment, I was excited to hear who my other like- minded travelers would be. Then the news: “No one else has booked the trip for that particular week,” the company reported. I was offered a change of date but my tickets were already purchased with points and I had gotten a wonderful dog sitter to take care of my dog, Dea. No, I was not going to change my plan. Instead, I chose to view this as a new adventure and an opportunity to remain the independent woman I have always tried to be. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

A Life Without Caffeine, Even Temporarily, Slows Everything Way Down

A Place Called Grace by Alison RandLook, I know there are an infinite number of worst things to endure in life. However, allow me to vent a bit—you may even be able to relate if you too love your morning caffeine “fix.” Being ordered by my physician to lay off coffee was like losing my best friend—one who gets me up and feeling good every day of the year.

By doctors’ orders, due to a sudden stomach problem, I am now on day three out of a week without my one-and one-half cups of coffee. Yes, I am counting down the days and hours. Maybe seconds. I am also not permitted to drink my one glass of red wine either, but am not missing the red wine in the same way. It is a nice companion at the end of the day; however, this sudden involuntary withdrawal from my one- and one-half cups of my coffee-decaf mixture is causing a bit of a trauma in my life. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

Moving to Another Country Alone? Was I Crazy?

How a Bold Solo Move Led Me to A Place Called Grace

moving to another country aloneIt was 1995 and I recently celebrated my 38th birthday when I moved to Italy. I was frankly terrified, since I was moving to another country alone. But on what was perhaps an even deeper, more meaningful level, I was more afraid of the inertia and sadness in my life and acting career up to that point. Just nine months previously I had gone hiking in Italy with a group of fellow hiking enthusiasts from all over the world, and on that trip had fallen madly in love with the country.

The acting career I had envisioned for myself, after a short time as a junior copywriter in the ad business, had resulted in about 50 non-union commercials. However, I was never able to break into SAG or the Screen Actors Guild. I had hoped that one of my agents would be able to slip me into a SAG casting call but that was a rarity. My marriage had ended in a difficult divorce, and the man I had been seeing for some time decided he did not want any more children (I did) so, despondently, I broke up with him. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

Dating Woes

speed dating woesIt feels like I have been dating for more than one lifetime, having now tried it in two countries, at home in New York, USA and in Italy. After a serious relationship ended a few months ago – in late 2018 – I knew full well how difficult my dating life might be once again. It had taken me ten years to find the last one, and now there I was again, with an upcoming speed-dating event in my near future.

Speed Dating Woes

At my first speed-dating experience I was told that each “mini-date” would last 5-6 minutes and then a moderator would come by to tell the men to switch seats and go to the next woman… All I can say is the 5-6 minutes most often felt unending, like watching a kettle that never boils. The first guy, disheveled in a wrinkled button-down shirt, khaki slacks and sneakers, sat across from me and stared into space so I had to try to come up with some questions. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

Losing Alba and Finding Dea

Alba's smile.

Alba’s smile.

As a child, I grew up with poodles. My mother, a passionate dog lover, chose that breed for our family. Later in life, when I decided to get a puppy on my own, it was natural for me to get a poodle. That was when I opened my heart and soul to this gorgeous creature I named Alba: Her name means “dawn” in Italian.

Alba was not the kind of puppy who liked to cuddle with me or snuggle in my arms, so we didn’t have an easy beginning. She was distant and I was set in my ways, a bit anal retentive and not sure how to share my space with her. Thinking she didn’t like me I asked Michael, my boyfriend at the time, if he would help out. He offered to take her to his apartment for half the week–a joint custody kind of arrangement. This went on for about two months. Read more