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July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

In case anyone has been curious about the state of my novel – that thing which I came to Terracina nearly two years ago to write – I am pleased as punch to tell you that it is going very well. Very well indeed! I finished the rough draft a couple of months ago (huzzah!) and am now looking for agents (the opposite of huzzah!). Between teaching and travel writing, I’m deep into the revisions of said book; my routine at the bar still sacrosanct. For all intents and purposes, Caffè Girasole might as well be my second home, so deep is the imprint of my ass on the chair at “my” table. The staff tells my visiting parents that I’m “family” and routinely slip a gummy candy into my hand along with my receipt. My friends know that the bar is where they can find me, and they pop in regularly, unannounced, and when I’m not looking, pay for my Lemon Schweppes. My friend Andrea – prisoner in arms of the 7:30 A.M. commute to Rome – tells me, People see us together and they say, “We’ve seen that girl at the bar.” You have a reputation. Everyone knows you as that foreigner who writes at Caffè Girasole.

I can think of worse reputations.

And even as the summer heat wears on and I find myself stymied by revisions, even as I find myself fighting waves of icy fear – I’ll never find an agent. Nobody will like the book. This metaphor I thought I liked is derivative crap! – I can’t help but be proud of myself. Even if it’s true that nobody will like it, even if it’s true that I have only months of rejection ahead of me, I’ve still written a book. I made a commitment and saw it through. I created something. I kept a promise to my six year-old self.

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Things I Will Never Get Used to About Living in Italy. A Love Rant.

July 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

School is out, the rains have gone, and once again, the beach umbrellas are up along the curving beach. It’s officially my third summer on the Italian seashore. Lather up the sunscreen. Rinse off the sand. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I’m a pro at this Culonese beach life by now. The tourists are back, just as I knew they’d be. They are clogging up my parking spots and making noise at night once again. I’m not white like mozzarella anymore, but toasty beige like scamorza, yet the villagers continue to ask me: Aren’t you going to the beach? I no longer get annoyed; by now, I know it’s just Culonese small talk.

We have, once again, the weekend dithering:  Which city? Which outdoor concert? Which English-themed pub? Which summery dress?  and the boys are back to their Uh oh, here she comes – the foreigner with her foreigner hat! Seriously, you can just tell she’s a foreigner when she wears that hat. Could you BE any more American right now? Followed swiftly by – wait for it – Come on, let me try your hat on.

You all know you love it.

There’s a rhythm in this town and you’d think that after nearly almost 2 years here, I’d be integrated. You wouldn’t be wrong. There are lots of things I’ve gotten used to living away from the United States; living in Southern Italy. Celsius is slowly beginning to make sense – heck, I even voluntarily switched my Google weather reading from Fahrenheit the other day. I’m used to the bacetto. I’m used to the hand gestures (love it). Used to people crossing the street any time they damn well please, and I’m used to the fact that the police are useless and I’m not to count on them for anything. Ever.

I now have a guy for everything – my frizzed out hair, my worn down heels, my pergola fillets, my spicy local sausage, my rattly alternator, my leaky washing machine, my spotty polyester dresses.

I now can direct tourists on where to go (Temple of Minerva), what to see (the ancient quarter), and what to eat (bombe, boar sausage, muscatel grapes).

I now plan my meals based on what foodstuffs I am gifted on any particular week: eggs from Piero’s neighbor, a foil-wrapped wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano from Old Man Angelo, lemons or avocados from Flora’s garden, a surprise kilo of mussels from Maria.

I no longer have a problem with the “pausa di pranzo” – those 3 or 4 hours that Italians take for lunch. Plan around it, that’s all. Enjoy.

I now often think and dream in Italian.

I’m accustomed to the fact that if I turn on the radio, there is a 90% chance that I will encounter a Police song.

I’ve made peace with the existence of Fabri Fibra.

I agree that Terracina should be named a UNESCO heritage site and will be indeed signing that petition!

But even with all this assimilation goin’ on, there are some things I still cannot, simply cannot, get used to about life in Southern Italy. Namely: Read the rest of this entry →