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June 30, 2011 in Ex-Patriate Games, spazarific

What happens sometimes is that – when you’re living in a foreign country, a country where you’re almost one of a kind – people want to pair you up with other stray members of your species. There’s another American who lives three towns over, they say. I’ll invite him over. You can chest bump about McDonald’s taking over the world. They think you must be lonely, that the call of your mother tongue will be music to your own ears; that being members of the same clade, you’ll be thrilled to sniff each other’s scent. I’m sure in some cases this is true; certainly, when Obama was elected, I itched for other Americans and every once in a while, I long for someone to back me up on the amazeballs virtues of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. When I was a new expat I needed other people like me. But I’ve been gone from home for a long time now. A strange thing happens when you’ve been gone a long time. If you’re like me, you become cat-like. That is to say, you don’t always like seeing other cats.

Now, look. I am a cat. I love being a cat. But the thing is that, even though cats are beautiful and weird and sleek and silly, sometimes cats scratch. And they crap where they’re not supposed to. And they throw up on your rug. And they talk really, really, really loud. In short, for all the great cats (like me and like you) out there, there are other cats that give cats a bad name. Especially when they’re out of their natural habitat; they get all wild and crazy, biting people’s ankles, running around in circles, shouting But honey why don’t this restaurant have Supersize?

It’s not their fault. That’s how they’re wired. But I don’t like it if other people associate me with random pee-spraying, thank you very much. Especially when I’ve worked so hard to remember that pee goes in the litter box.

So when Flora tells me: You, Mona, and Katarina come to my house Sunday night; my mom’s making a big dinner for my bosses and one of our favorite clients at the hotel. He’s from New York, like you the hair on my back lifts and rustles; hissssss. But then Flora says: He’s been living in Italy on and off since 1975. His name is Ted. And then it becomes a whole other jungle struggle; who’s the fitter feline? Because this happens, too, when you’ve been out of your habitat for a long time. You work hard to fit in. You get proud of yourself. And if you come across another of your species who’s on par with your level of fitness then, well, it becomes who’s assimilated better? Whose language skills are better? Who makes cats look better as a whole?  ME. I do. I know I do. Hissssss. Fffft. Fffffft. So, okay, then – bring it on. USA vs USA.

I’m ready.

Are you, homeslice?

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June 20, 2011 in spazarific

…. and something else I do when I’m not writing my novel or writing travel articles or hitting the gym or doing other stuff which I haven’t told you about yet is I go to the beach.

Terracina is like this now. Gone is the still, empty, beach of winter: here are the umbrellas, the sunshine, the weekend concerts and a fistful of Russian, German, and Italian tourists. Not August crowds yet; you can still drive through town and the line dancing hasn’t hit the beach, but there’s enough new blood to make this ol’ town churn with a bit of liveliness. Nighttime drinks at the usual spots, new clubs opening, dancing until the wee hours. And on weekend afternoons, it’s laying out under the sun. Watching the Maga Circe sit stately on the luscious waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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June 7, 2011 in spazarific

So something I do when I’m not stuffing my face with junk food writing my novel at the office is go to the gym and work out. Yes, you read that correctly; me, who won the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal for Ass-Sitting. Who would always, always, rather be asleep than be awake. Who has coasted on having a high metabolism her entire life because Oh, I never gain weight so I’m obviously healthy as a horse. Borderline high cholesterol and flabby spaghetti arms are normal, right? But I’m at the gym because I live on the beach now. Because I’m over 30. Because I wanted to meet people. Because the gym I’ve found happens to be chill, inviting,  affordable, and run by three wild and crazy guys; things that will make you actually look forward to working out. Apart from the whole living on the beach and high cholesterol thing. Can I tell you guys this? I love it. I. Love. Going. To. The. Gym.

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June 1, 2011 in spazarific

The office is where I am these days; that is, the 113 year-old bar in the Centro with my laptop and my cell phone and my glass of vibrant orange Crodino. I’ve officially become a great big ball of novel-writing momentum, which is why I’m there and not here with ye would be-pigeon eaters but honestly? A month and only one of you said “ahem.” Also? I blogged almost every day in April and, again, none of you came. Also still? I’m averaging a chapter a week and am so, so, so incredibly happy about it that I think y’all can sit down and just eat your grits already.  For the first time in years, talking about my novel doesn’t make my throat close up with panic. I’ll tell anyone about it, in any language I speak. This is confidence. This is full steam ahead. This is a straight tunnel instead of a forked road. My friend Piercarlo says: Will you publish it in Italy? And I say: No, because it’s in English. And I feel comfortable saying that – a strict yes or no – instead of, Let’s see if I even finish it, or If anyone even wants it. Pigeon got her groove and, anyway, this is where I am these days. At what has become my haunt.

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