Sunday, April 19, 2015

the one where it's spring in italy

sometimes you spend Saturday night going grocery shopping. at a store you can drive to because it has a parking lot which means you can by the 12 pack of toilet paper. and if the gods are with you, you will see more mexican food type products in one aisle than you have seen in the past three years. and you will weep tears of joy.

and then they will have pickles. can life get any better? Not until you turn the corner and they also have non-Peroni beer. Best.Saturday.Night.Ever.

the suspicious part is that this is written in english…just embrace it people. the italians look better than the rest of us. 

i love that all the street cleaning crews use these besom brooms that even the amish deem too old-fashioned.  that's right, besom brooms. google it.

parallel parking around these parts is not for the faint of heart.

sometimes being here is like living in disneyworld. 

i don't always wear 6 inch heels, but when i do, it's to work at the grocery store.

seeing these teeny cars never gets old

cascata delle marmore, world's tallest man-made waterfall

why did the little dog cross the road?

ponte delle torri

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The one where I go to Ireland

You know how in mainstream media Ireland is always filled with people who are dancing jigs and having red hair and wearing nice sweaters? Ireland is for reals just like that. Okay, maybe by mainstream media  I can only call to mind the chauffeur on Downtown Abbey who wasn't so much wearing a fishermen knit sweater as he was blowing stuff up with his pregnant wife or those  Leprechaun movies which were not so much about rainbow colored marshmallows as they were about…well, I don't know because I never actually watched any of them, but I  do know that they were horror movies. And that the leprechaun was a rapper in one of them?

But in real life, the people I encountered in Ireland were truly the friendliest people I've ever met. I've never experienced anything like it. And there were surprisingly few redheads, but that's neither here nor there.

As we traveled from the southwestern Irish countryside towards the city of Dublin, we had planned a stop to see the town from which our Irish ancestors hailed. Armed with extensive ancestry research compiled by my Uncle M. and continued by my Aunt E. , our first stop was the local Catholic graveyard to look for headstones containing the family  surname of …let's say it's O'Grady (I was also amazed by the sheer number of names that have turned out to be Irish. Because it's pretty much all surnames in the world. Even the ones that have those little Scandinavian symbols over them or are written in the Chinese alphabet? Irish in origin. Every single one. )

As we wandered through the grassy paths in the cemetery, our Irish driver Dermont "call-me-Dobs" hailed the lone man who was visiting the graveyard.

"Do you know any O'Gradys buried here, then?" Dobs asked the stranger as a conversation opener.

The man seemed to feel this a fair question and rather than give him a cold I'm-visiting-my-dead-loved-ones look or hurrying away from this crazy clocks, he crossed his arms and wrinkled his forehead. "O'Grady…hmm. No, not here. That's more of a name from County Clare then, innt? There was a lad couple years back…no, no his name was Gready and that's more of a Mayo name . Nope, nope. No O'Gradys here ."

"Oh well," said we, we being me, my sister and my Aunt E , "It was worth a shot!"

"Girls!" Dobs said in shock, "Ya can't give up now then, cannya? I thought (pronounced taught) you wanted to find your people ? We've got to go to the county priest then, don't we? Sure, the church'll have some records ."

"How would we find the county priest?" asked my aunt."Do you think the local parish will be open?"

"We'll just go to his house, won't we? That fella," Dobs gestured towards the man from the graveyard who was getting into his car,"thought the priest lived in one of those houses there." Dobs' outstretched arm encompassed four row houses.

My sister, my aunt and I looked sideways at each other but we dutifully got back in the car as Dobs drove us to the row of homes. "Right, then," he said, "I'll just go knock." He got out and headed to the first door.

"Can he do that?" I hissed in a panic,"we should stop him! He can't just go knock on people's doors asking if a priest lives there!"

But by this time Dobs was returning to the car, waving wildly."Sure, I found him!" he yelled. "He's on his way out so we've got to be quick!"

A quizzical priest, complete with bright blue eyes and wispy white hair ringing a mostly bald head, stood in the doorway holding a pad of paper and a pen. "I'm very sorry,"he said,"I'm just leaving but if you give me the information you have on your ancestors, the girl will be coming in this afternoon and she can look that up for you."

"Ah, that would be grand," Dobs said.

My aunt wrote out the information she had complied, thanking the priest profusely for his time and apologizing for disturbing him.

"Well then, there you go! Now off to the post office," Dobs announced as we three Americans marveled at the kindness of a man we didn't know taking the time to not only speak with us, but to take down our information for further research. In comparison, the priest of the American parish I had attended during my formative years did not spend his time helping strangers so much as he spent his time yelling at kids and driving around in a big blue Cadillac smoking cigars.

"The post office?"

"Sure, you never know what you'll find at the post office then, do you girls?"

Off Dobs went to the post office.

"They didn't know of any O'Gradys," the returning Dobs called out, "but they thought there was a lad
a couple miles away who mighta heard of someone who did. So we'll just drive over there and see what we can find."

I am not afraid to admit that I was becoming distinctly uncomfortable.

I am a person who lived in dread of elementary school fundraisers that required us to go door-to-door begging the neighbors to buy whatever junk we were selling. If you are of a certain age, you will never have heard of this phenomenon because you are fortunate enough to have grown-up during an era when walking around your neighborhood would have resulted in you being kidnapped and so instead your parents take all of your crappy school fundraiser pamphlets to the office and force their hapless coworkers to buy waxy chocolate or candles that smell like headaches.

And so, as an adult, my discomfort at interacting with strangers or people in general, has not only not subsided, but it has increased. Especially if I feel like I am being bothersome in any way shape or form.

Dobs drove us into a neighborhood where every single house looked the same.

"What house number are we looking for?" asked either my aunt or sister. I was a little bit starting to panic and could feel the telltale flutter that meant my heart was palpitating. I'm a high anxiety person. It is obviously not the Irish in me. Although it can't be the Italian in me either.

"They didn't have the house number," said Dobs, "but they thought he might drive a dark car." He looked around at the sea of dark cars. If it was an episode of Oprah , it would have been the one where she says, "And you get a dark car! And you get a dark car!"

"There's a dark car!" Dobs announced and away he went, marching up to the closest  house.

"I really am not okay with this," I said,"I don't think we should do this." Even though I always send handwritten thank-you notes, I'm not a Miss Manners person per se. But I am pretty sure it is never okay to knock on someone's door and start asking them wildly random questions like: "So, are you my relative?"  Y'know the children's book Are You My Mother? So. Uncomfortable.

No one answered the door on which Dobs was knocking. But hey! There was someone a couple of houses over emerging from their (dark) car with a bag of groceries, so following a brand of logic  my stick-up-the ..spine-ness couldn't process, Dobs walked over to the person and they had a chat.

Dobs came back and poked his head in the car window. "We've the luck of the fairies, girls! Said a fella of the name O'Grady live right there!"

My sister and my aunt were taken aback but were game. "Are you sure this is okay?" my aunt asked.

"Sure, sure,"Dobs assured her. "Perfectly normal."

"I'm staying in the car,"I said to my sister,"This is crazy. I really can't do this. My heart is palpitating."

"I'm going to go," she replied," I don't want Aunt E. to go by herself, but you can stay here." Having been my sister for 40 odd years, she was well-versed with my "quirks", and had made herself a small fortune over the years due to my constant bribes of money in exchange for her ability to make phone calls.

I saw the strangers'  door open in response to Dob's knock and a woman wrapped in a robe with messy hair and glasses stood there, listening to his spiel before ushering them into the house.

This is so not okay, I kept thinking. I wouldn't open my door to Girl Scouts selling cookies and I really like Girl Scout cookies. And if someone came to my door claiming we may be distant relatives and asking for information, I would be certain it was a scam akin to aiding a Nigerian prince.

It seemed an eternity, although I'm sure that it wasn't, and everyone was climbing (unscathed, amazed, and excited) back into the car.

I didn't even want to ask. Luckily Dobs cheerfully announced, "Sure, then, there's a lad who has a brother that may know something more about the O'Gradys!"

"Are we going to try and find the brother's house now?" I asked, praying that we weren't.

"No, no," said Dobs, "he's going to drive and we're going to follow him over then, aren't we?" He cheerfully waved to a man backing out of the driveway.

"They were so nice," my sister told me,"the wife apologized for being in her robe and for how the house was a mess but she wasn't feeling well, but her husband's family name was O'Grady and he might know something, so she went and got her husband from the garage."

"The husband, I think his name is Lee? He thinks his brother actually has an ancestry book about the O'Grady name," said my aunt.

"Didn't they think this was weird?" I whispered to them.

My sister and aunt shook their heads in disbelief. "They acted like this was completely normal. They couldn't have been nicer.  They invited us in right away!"

We followed Lee's car through beautiful country roads and into the driveway of a lovely home surrounded by the greenest of grass. An older man, his white mustache shaded by a baseball hat, sat on a John Deere tractor, clearly in the midst of  lawn work.

I did not want to let the part of me I most dislike put a damper on the adventure, so I pulled up my big girl panties and  joined my family we walked tentatively towards the tractor. Introductions were made all around.

"Niall (the man on the tractor)," said Lee (the man whose car we had followed to get here),"these ladies are looking for their ancestors, like? I thought you might still have that book about the O'Gradys then?"

Niall climbed off the tractor."Well then, I suppose I do. Come in, come in."

A small terrier jumped around our legs happily, gleefully accepting our scratches around her ears. I like dogs and I like people who like dogs.

"Birdie," Niall called out as he led us into an immaculate, sunlight flooded kitchen where a small woman was listening to the radio and ironing.

"Excuse the house!" she said cheerfully, seemingly not in the least surprised that her husband headed a parade of  perfect strangers (oxymoron, whatever), "I was just ironing! What a mess I am," she swatted at her crisp rhinestone studded shirt and pressed trousers, "And there's Lee!"she greeted her brother-in- law.

"These ladies are after their O'Grady ancestors," Niall said.

"Ah! Grand!" Birdie beamed,"can I get you some tea? Coffee?" She was twinkly and darling and her face was made for smiling.

We instantly declined with the utmost politeness, wanting desperately not to be any more of a bother than we felt we already were.

"I'd love a coffee,"Dobs piped up."Cream and sugar."

As Birdie bustled about fixing tea and coffee, Niall leaned over to us. He was solemn where his wife was smiles, but it turned out to be the perfect front for dead-panned humor. "Is he a bit daft ?" he asked softly, gesturing at Dobs,"chatting up my wife over there?" His face barely changed, save for his eyes crinkling up at the corners, pleased that he had made us laugh.

"Sit, sit!" Birdie ushered us to the kitchen table and brought out some cookies. "So how are you finding Ireland? Lovely weather we've been having!"She sat down across from my sister and me as we tripped over each other's words to share our appreciation for Birdie's lovely hospitality, all of which Birdie waved away.

Niall brought out a slim book and he, Lee and my aunt bent their heads together, pouring over the text.

"I can't imagine anyone in America ever opening their door like this!"said either my sister or I.

Birdie looked puzzled,"Isn't that funny? I've been told that before but I just can't imagine it. Sure, why wouldn't you invite someone in?"

"If someone you didn't know was at your door, it would be someone selling something or trying to convert you to their church or someone sketchy," we explained.

"Oh, we just invite them right in!" said Birdie,"We're Irish, that's just what we do."

Birdie settled in and told us how she had and Niall had lived in London and how she had loved it but they moved back to Ireland when they were ready to start a family and then when Niall retired he wanted to live in the countryside and they had always lived where she had wanted, so sure, wasn't it his turn, she thought and so here they were!

"Do you get to see your family often?"I asked.

"Oh sure," Birdie answered,"my sister lives in the house on one side and my brother lives down the road. And my son lives across the street and my other sister lives one house over. And my niece lives on the other side of my sister."

"Wow!That's really nice to get to live so close to your family!"

"Aye, well, you know how it is--family is family--sometimes it's nice to live near them, but sometimes you sure wish you didn't!"

Lee leaned across my aunt, "Pardon my being nosy" he said to me---because when random Americans shown up on your Irish doorstep asking questions about your family lineage, it's only natural that you would feel rude about asking your own questions--"but how in the world did you end up in Rome? Marry an Italian did you?"

So I explained how I had moved from Point A to Point B. "Italy's a nice country, but Rome's a bit dear I've heard," he said.

I agreed that it was indeed a very expensive place to live.

"Eight euro for a Heineken my friend paid!" Lee exclaimed. I again marveled that these charming people were treating us like we were friends with whom  they had all the time in the world to sit and chat.  Niall shook his head in sadness at the price of a beer in Rome while Birdie tsked over such a travesty.

Eventually my aunt stood, doing her best to ensure we didn't further encroach on their day or take advantage of their unbelievable generosity, thanking the trio profusely for their time and help and kindness. They seemed truly disappointed that we were leaving."Are you sure?" they kept asking, "Well, here, keep the O'Grady book!"Niall said, pressing it into my aunt's hands. "Even thought we didn't find your ancestors, it's still your family's name, so sure, you've got to have it!"

"Oh! I couldn't keep it!" my aunt protested as Lee and Birdie chimed in with what a good idea that was. "Maybe I could just copy the pages and send it back to you,"my aunt offered, "but I really couldn't keep it."

But in the face of three lovely people who were adamant that we couldn't leave without it, my aunt relented and took their address to let them know if we found anything.

The little terrier jumped on our legs as we left the house and I again scratched her little ears."She's really sweet," I said to Birdie.

"We've only had her from the rescue a couple months. Our Barney," she gestured to the large painting of a West Highland terrier just inside the kitchen door, "lived to be 15 and you never saw such a thing as Niall when we lost him. I didn't think he'd ever recover. But Barney was hardly a dog, you see! He had his programs that he liked to watch and when he would hear them come on the television he would jump on the couch and sit with his back against the cushions like he was a human!"

"Is that Barney then?" Lee piped in, "a lovely fella he was."

The trio followed us to the car, closing the doors for us and making sure we had on our seat belts like we were young relatives for whom they held great affection.

"If you find any O'Grady relatives and they've got any money, make sure they send some our way!" they laughed and they stood on the driveway waving until we couldn't see them anymore.

As well he should be, Dobs was proud of his sleuthing and undeniable luck. My sister urged him to buy a lottery ticket, an idea that Dobs quite liked.

My aunt was thumbing through the book, all of us again marveling over such loveliness as we had been shown when she suddenly stopped. The names of her great-great-grandparents and the start of our family line was written at the top of a page that had previously been overlooked. Our family lineage was indeed included in that O'Grady ancestry book, right down to the emigration of Aunt E.'s paternal grandparents. And so Birdie and Niall and Lee really were our long-lost relatives. And sure, nicer people you could never hope to meet.

Monday, February 02, 2015

The one that is like the other ones

Sometimes there are only so many times that I can tread the same ground and go back to the same well regarding my tales of life in Italy. Is it really all that novel anymore to tell the story of how we recently went five days without hot water and I had to heat up water on the stove like we were on Little House on The Prairie so that we could take baths and three different plumbers came on three different days and agreed that the hot water heater was broken before leaving without fixing it, never to return?

Does anyone really need to read about how our house alarm has gone off on two more occasions in which we were completely helpless to do anything to stop it?

Or how one of our anti-gypsy steel gates got all snagged and twisted and when the landlord sent repairmen to fix it, one stood outside on the balcony, the other stood inside our living room, they both pulled on the count of three, uno due, tre and it snapped in half, and the two men shrugged in the very Italian oh well, what can you do? gesture before not only leaving the broken pieces of gate on either side of the window, but leaving the apartment altogether, never to return?

Or how I was waiting in line at the grocery store  and a woman got out of line, leaving her basket of food near the very very very very long line (How long was it? Well my dear readers, it was so long that the cashier finished three espressos and took four phone calls before it was my turn in line) and then when it was finally my turn to check out, I looked around to see if the woman was anywhere nearby as I know Italians find a grocery basket an acceptable means of saving their place in line and I couldn't find her, so I went ahead and emptied my cart onto the conveyor belt and so did the the person behind me (who had, of course, tried to step in front of me in line by pretending I wasn't there per Italian line custom) at which time, of course, the woman whose grocery basket had been pushed aside returned and she then proceeded to berate me for not honoring her place in line and physically pushed past me and shoved my groceries back to the beginning of the conveyer belt and then unpacked her basket of groceries in front of mine? And how I was gaping like a fish out of water, all Italian indignities fleeing my mind like a snuffed out candle and so I was forced to sputter my fury in English and it was just like Frances McDormand in Friends With Money in that  I was freaking out and no one around us so much as raised an eyebrow because that is just how things are here?

In case you were wondering, my current use of cliches is at four.

And hey, here's some pictures:

sometimes the hanging laundry is charming beyond belief.
but sometimes it looks like this.

For realz? Worst idea since Segway tours over the cobblestones. 

So this guy pulled over, whipped out his laptop and two smart phones. "That's what I call a mobile office," said Mike. Ba Da Dum! 

Don't you love random finds?

Oh. Never mind. Clearly this is the reason for the above mangled action figure. Ain't no one  gonna stop a T-Rex.
flying into Italy looks like this. Aren't photos from airplanes right up there with pictures of people's dinners in the race for who cares?

The day of the Befana is January 5. So seeing a Befana on January 28 is the Italian equivalent of leaving your Christmas lights on year-round.

perhaps the best part of this graffiti is how it is written in proper Slayer  font

Most of the Most yo. Wrap your mind around that one.
hey, so that's pretty.
ditto. and again:

This is what separates people who live here from people who are visiting.  My son read that the bags from our flight wouldn't be available for 15 minutes and without even consulting me, grabbed our backpacks, sat down and opened a book. Because he knew that if we saw our luggage before 9:30 we could call it a post-Christmas miracle. 

this may look like we witnessed the second time it has snowed here in 30 some years, but it's not snow...
it's hail!

but it was almost like snow and therefore very, very exciting. Also exciting because the hail was setting off car alarms but it did not set off our house alarm!

I was riding the metro (no, no, not Line C, because even though the mayor claims to have ridden Line C, no one believes him because There Is No Such Thing As Line C), and out of the corner of my eye noticed a man wearing sunglasses. This in and of itself was not worth noting because everyone here wears sunglasses in the metro and the grocery store and during Mass. They hand out sunglasses when you purchase your obligatory black puffer jacket. (Wow, look at me dispensing all these amazing insider tips to looking like a native! Don't drive teeny golf carts covered in plastic, don't pretend your luggage is arriving at the baggae claim, wear a black puffer jacket and sunglasses…)

Anyway, so what made this man's sunglasses noteworthy was that they weren't the kind that the kids are currently wearing. In fact, the sunglasses were jogging a memory at the corner of my mind that I was trying desperately to catch… and then it came to me: Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus! That's where I had seen those sunglasses. Wow, that guy must really like The Matrix, thought I.

And then he and I both got off at the same metro stop. And naturally the escalators weren't working and so we had to take the stairs. And I was behind the guy with the Morpheus sunglasses. And he was wearing this coat:

Now THAT was a good day.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The one where we celebrate Halloween in Italy

 Italian children dress in costume and go to celebrations during Carnevale in February, so Halloween isn't really celebrated in Rome. I love Halloween and so this lack of Halloween stuff pretty much sucked our first year here. By our second year, however, we had discovered that the secret was to find other people who loved and celebrated Halloween and hook up with them.

  (But be forewarned about mean-spirited American women who are married to non-Americans: they may speak with fake European accents that they quickly try to lose and pretend that they were just coughing when they realize that you know they are from Ohio; and they may make disparaging remarks about what you have made and brought for the kids, such as sneering, "How very Martha Stewart of you." This would be the time to remind them that Martha learned how to shank a bitch when she was in prison.)

And we also learned that Halloween decorations and costumes were available in all of the many stores owned and operated by non-Italians. It sounds racist to put a nationality to the ownership of the stores--I don't know why, it just does, so I won't. But if you live here, you definitely frequent these shops because it's the closest thing there is to Walmart. Not that Walmart carries all the same items.

Our third year, this year, was the best Halloween thus far. We went to a good old-fashioned American-style Halloween party. Super super fun. And in between bobbing for apples and admiring the jack o'lanterns and hanging spider webs, we took the kids trick-or-treating. The mainly Italian neighborhood has a neighborhood association of sorts and residents had been told about trick-or-treating and had the option of whether or not they wished to participate. All the houses I saw were completely decorated with all things Halloween and all the Italians that opened the doors were as warm and excited as I imagine Americans must have been once upon a time when everyone was close-knit and knew their neighbors. People invited us into their homes; they gushed over the kiddos' costumes; they delighted in the children yelling, "Dolcetto o scherzetto!"; and they seemed to enjoy handing out the treats as much as the kids seemed to enjoy getting them. One lovely woman had actually baked and decorated cookies for the children's trick-or-treat bags.

I know that in America this would be akin to the creepy guy opening the door wearing a stained undershirt and handing out handfuls of pretzels straight from the bag and we would never allow our children to actually eat a homemade cookie because of the potential for razorblades and poison, but in Italy it was like having Mrs. Brady or Mrs. Cunningham or Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable distributing Halloween goodies.

But y'know, Halloween is still very very new here. At the last house, an elderly gentleman wearing a crisp white shirt and tie opened the door. He exclaimed over the costumes and made a big show of pretending he didn't know why all these kids were on his doorstep and seemed to be having a grand 'ol time. Eventually he produced a baseball hat from which he dropped a piece of candy into one of the boys' bags. "Grazie, signore!" exclaimed the little boy enthusiastically. The gentleman then acted as though he was dropping candy into the other children's bags...but he didn't actually give anyone else any candy. He was just pretending.  The kids looked at one another in confusion and the parents laughed nervously. The old man smiled brightly and bid us a good night. The older children murmured "thank you" and "good night" and walked away a bit perplexed. The youngest child, who was really very young and adorable, burst into tears. "But I didn't get any candy!" the little one cried, hugging his mother's knees in bewilderment. The old man laughed and laughed and waved good-bye.

To be fair, many things get lost in translation. But one thing is certain: that was a man who knew how to both trick and treat.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

the one where qualified electricians willing to work in a timely fashion need not apply

Given the decidedly positive slant towards Italy that my blog has ended up taking, one would think all the pesky little annoyances that so plagued me about Italy two or three years ago have become commonplace. Or trivial. Or amusing. Or viewed in the manner of a particularly cheeky but adorable child: Oh, Italy, you scamp, you!

Last night, however, after returning home from a lovely day at the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia, I found myself back in the throes of cursing Italy with some choice swears.

An electric socket in John's room blew. And by blew I mean sparks flew, the wall was scorched and the metal switch plate melted. The apartment went dark. Luckily Mike remembered where we had stashed the flashlights and he was able to reset the circuit breaker, restoring electricity to the house. "Whew!" said we. "That could have been ugly! All's well that ends well."

Oh, but dear readers, we all know that it didn't end there. Because it never does.

Several minutes later we heard a beeping noise. A persistent beeping. It was the panel for the house alarm. This had happened before when we had lost electricity. No big deal. I typed in the code and turned it off.

We went back to our previously scheduled program. We heard a particularly loud car alarm blaring, but we live in the city and unfortunately that's an every day occurrence. Sometimes it's even ours. Because someone has broken into our car.

"Is that a house alarm?" Mike asked as the alarm continued to wail. I opened the window and leaned out to look around, but all of our neighbors' alarms were dark and silent. Ours, however, was pulsing and screeching like nobody's business. "Holy *&^5!" I yelled, "it's ours!"

We typed in the code again to shut it off but nothing happened. Nothing happened the next time we did that either. Or the next time. One of our dogs ran under the bed to hide, the other started growling and snarling, mohawk bristling, ready to defend against an intruder. (In case you were wondering which was which, it's now 27 hours later and  Sookie is still under the bed.) I was leaning out of the window hitting our alarm with a broom, while inside, Mike hit the alarm panel. with a hammer. I could hear our neighbors' windows opening and the word "Americani" being bandied about. But then something the Americani did was successful and the alarm shut the f- off.

Our phone started ringing. It was the landlord LD. Because she wanted to let us know that the neighbors had called her to report that our alarm was shrieking. Mike explained in Italian that an electrical outlet in the house had blown and that somehow that had triggered the alarm. She assured us that she would come over tomorrow to check things out.

Upon awakening and being ready to face the day, we discovered that our coffee maker wasn't working.  Or our refrigerator. Or our oven. Or our hot water. Or our washing machine. Because as it turned out they were all operating on the same grid as the alarm and were negatively affected by the blown outlet in John's room.

We rounded up all of the extension cords and surge protector power strips that we could find and constructed an elaborate spider web of cords. It became Ninja Warrior elaborate as all of the outlets and plugs in the house are just like snowflakes: no two are alike. So we had to do a Sophie's Choice as to what we needed to work. The hot water and refrigerator won.

At this point, have you seen our rarely working hot water heater so many times that you could pick it out of a line-up?

We called the landlord, who had yet to show up to check on things as she had promised the night before, and da da da…her phone was shut off. So we texted her. And then we made bagels ( please don't get your hopes up and message me asking where in Rome one can buy bagels; I bring them from America.) in a pan on the stove and set off for the grocery store to replace all the food that went bad overnight in our not-working refrigerator.

We used to use the oven because we don't have a toaster. Now we use the stove because the oven doesn't work.

Meanwhile, Mike kept calling LD until she finally picked up and after listening to the list of all the appliances and outlets in our house that no longer worked, she assured us that she didn't think it was an electrical problem. Anyway, she couldn't come today to check because she was on a train. And not tomorrow. But maybe Tuesday. Which means that I will stay at home on Tuesday and the landlord will not show up until Thursday. Friday at the latest.

And if I have learned one thing while living in Italy (and no, it's not how to be an amazing cook and no, it's not how to speak Italian), it's that this will not be resolved for a very long time. Because LD will first show up alone to see if there is any possibility that she can announce there is no problem. When it turns out that that this is not the case, she will tell me she will come back to tomorrow with an electrician. When tomorrow turns into the following week, she will show up with her nephew who is in tenth grade and is really really good at playing World of Warcraft, thereby making him pretty much qualified to look around at our cobbled together network of extension cords and shrug his shoulders and agree that none of the electricity in the back half of our apartment works.

With my qualifications as a dog living here, I  agree that something is broken.

LD will then apologize profusely and promise me she will return the following day with an electrician. When she catches me unaware four days later as I am getting out of the shower, she will have her best friend's husband's brother-in-law with her who used to work at IKEA putting light bulbs in all the new lamps. He will also agree that not only do none of the outlets in the back half of the apartment work, neither does the oven. Or the washing machine.

LD will assure me she schedule an electrician to fix it. The electrician will not show up for the first scheduled appointment. The electrician will not show up for the second scheduled appointment. The electrician will show up at the third scheduled appointment but he will not be able to do anything because he doesn't have the parts he needs and it is lunchtime AND a Monday to boot, so everything is closed. He will assure me that (say it with me boys and girls) he will come back...tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the one where we go to Naples

seriously. the crust will make you weep with joy.

beneath the city 

the first Italian woman I have seen that needed assistance navigating the cobblestones in stilettos. This leads me to believe she wasn't actually Italian.

do you count three legs? That's because a little boy was riding shotgun. Or playing monkey in the middle. Or  filming an infomercial for seatbelt arms and imaginary helmet.

I was the only person who was concerned about her train dragging on the dirty ground but Mike thought it would be weird if I ran over and picked it up. But you know what? I'm a good bridesmaid. And hers were obviously terrible. Or secretly hated her and wanted to make her look bad. Like those horrible frenemies on Say Yes to the Dress.

creepy creepies. You know these will come alive at night and kill you in your sleep.


Girl in sneakers: "When I grow up, I want to be a doctor!"
Girl in not sneakers: "When I grow up, I want to drop out of middle school and be just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman!"

should I just caption this one "No, I don't love my kid. Why do you ask?"