Monday, April 14, 2014

A whole lot of nothing

I just realized that last year around this time I posted a rant about the influx of people wanting to enjoy a vacation in Rome. Which means that not only am I kind of an a*%hole, but also that I re-tell the same stories. Wait, is that redundant?

I have been sitting on our balcony a lot as of late because the weather has been lovely and there are no crowds on our balcony. Because I do not have the miracle gene possessed by Italians that allows them to retain their beautiful skin while smoking and tanning, I wear a big hat when I am in the sun. And I mention this because my big hat is currently on the floor because if I put it away I will have to go get it later and I can't put it on the table because it makes me think of that movie in which Matt Dillon was a drug addict? And maybe robbed pharmacies? And Heather Grahm wore a hat and put it on the bed and Matt Dillon freaked out because it was bad luck to put a hat on the bed and sure enough she ended up dying and they had to hide her body in the ceiling. Or maybe they had to hide the drugs in the ceiling. Either way, I just realized that means I can put my hat on the table because the bed was bad luck but no one said anything about a table!

And I think that maybe Heather Graham was also prostitute in that movie. And that makes me recall that when I am waiting for my son's school bus, people always slow down and gawk at me because I am just standing alone on the side of the road and I started worrying that maybe people think I'm a prostitute? Granted, I've never actually seen a prostitute in the city. They are always out on random stretches of highways of sorts and they are usually sitting on lawn chairs. Also, when I am waiting for the school bus, I am usually wearing non-fashion sneakers and non-fashion jeans and some type of poncho and my hair is in a very non-fashion braid and sometimes I even have my pull-along grocery carrier with me because I stopped at the market on the way and sometimes people stop to give me a couple of euro, so I have come to the conclusion that people probably just think I'm a gypsy.

*Disclaimer: No one has actually ever given me a couple of euro because change is an extremely precious commodity and if you have ever read this blog, you know darn well no one has any change.

Monday, April 07, 2014


Sometimes things that are tricksy for me may be city mouse verses country mouse. When the weather is beautiful, I want to dig in my garden and throw the ball for the dogs and go on nature hikes to try and spot emerging snakes.  Rome is a very green city by any standards, but I can't hear the cows and owls when my windows are open. I can, however, listen to Marco pleading with Alice (Ah-lee-chay) to give him another chance because he loves her! She is the only one for him! Why must she torment him this way? He will die from his love! and then the Italians who are passing by stop to watch the feuding couple and they eat gelato and smoke cigarettes and provide updates for those who have just tuned in. Marco screeches some wordless screams and pulls at his hair and then Alicia points out it's time for lunch and off they go, arm-in-arm. So there's that, because at my American home,the most exciting thing the cows did was to stop traffic as they crossed from one field to another.

The weather has been beautiful which means that I want to be outside but being outside means tourists.  I moved here because I was a tourist who fell in love with Italy, so to be clear, I do not dislike tourists. I smile broadly at every person taking a selfie in front of the Colisseum because I know exactly how they feel. I offer directions to people puzzling over maps. I demonstrate how to work the ticket stands in the metro. Visiting Italy is an amazing experience. However, as a country mouse, I don't like crowds. A population of almost 3 million is reasonable. Quadruple that amount and it is Too Many People. Driving becomes even more difficult because now you are battling tour buses and bicycle tours and scooter tours and Fiat tours and even at 8:00 a.m. when you need to call a cab to get to your son's orthodontist appointment in a part of town that has no public transportation, there are no cabs available. Anywhere. No matter where the dispatcher calls. So you have to hoof it 20 minutes to the metro where your feet won't touch the ground in the metro car because you are packed so tightly that you are held aloft by the crush of bodies. In hopes of breathing, your son will do his best to bend his head back so that his face is parallel to the ceiling, but it won't work so you will be forced to break out your emergency straw that you carry around to keep your teeth white while drinking coffee and use said straw as a snorkel for your son. You get off at the metro stop  closest to the orthodontist office and run the remaining two and a half miles and are 45 minutes late. Which works out perfectly because the office runs on the shrugging shoulders that passes for Italian time and hasn't yet opened. So all's well that ends well and you can freshen up and use the bidet in the bathroom of the orthodontist office and help yourself to the fizzy water kept in the water cooler.

Anyway, we decided to look for some open space that was filled with green foliage as far as the eye could see and we found our way to the Park of the Acqueducts (Parco degli Acquedotti) where people were having picnics and setting up volleyball nets and playing soccer and sunbathing and having birthday parties and putting together tables and chairs for their cook-outs. People rode horses and rode bicycles and there was even Live Action Role Play taking place. That's right: LARP was happening in a beautiful park in Rome. And if there are two things I would not have ever thought to put into the same sentence, it is LARP and Rome. Most unfortunately, I don't really have any pictures of the Italian LARPers because I did not want some imaginary magic potion thrown at me.

False Friends

For my 90th post, let's talk false friends. I know that sounds all juicy like we are delving into frenemy territory, but it refers to words in two different languages that look similar but have different meanings. Which is kind of like frenemies as the foreign words are pretending to be all familiar so that you trust them but they are really laughing at you behind your back.

 For instance, if I want to take a picture, I use my camera. But in Italian camera is a room.

A bar is where you get coffee, not booze.

Firma isn't firm so much as it is a signature.

A magazzino is a warehouse, not a magazine.

Crudo isn't crude, just raw (as in meat). Which could be another word for crude. Hmm.

Books aren't free at the libreria because it is a bookstore.

Rumoroso isn't rumors, it's noisy. Noioso is boring.

A pane of glass is transparent in America, but pane is bread in Italy.

Morbido isn't morbid, it's tender. Which still sounds yucky.

A fattoria isn't a factory, it's a farm.

If you order ananas, you will get pineapples, not bananas. Similarly, if you order a latte, you aren't ordering a type of coffee drink, you are ordering milk.

I am a straniero, not because I am a stranger, but because I am a foreigner.

And lastly, long before guido was an ethnic slur celebrated by D-list reality shows, it was the first person present tense of the verb to drive (guidare).