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Eau du Thief

July 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

Don’t quote me on this because I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, but there was this study somewhere, at some time, done by some psychologists. Basically, these psychologists set up two rooms – Candy Shop A, and Candy Shop B. Both Candy Shop A and Candy Shop B were virtually identical; both were loaded with lots of tasty-looking sweets, and neither had a clerk at the till. There was one difference between the two candy shops, however; Candy Shop B had a large mirror behind the empty till, and on the mirror there were two large, angry eyes.

The subjects were let loose, allowed to roam freely between Candy Shop A and Candy Shop B. Kids in a candy store! And the psychologists were able to confirm their hypothesis: subjects happily pocketed candy in Candy Shop A, but kept their hands to themselves in Candy Shop B. While they were technically free to steal candy in both shops, the mere suggestion of a disapproving conscience was enough to reign in any impulses to commit the crime of theft.

This is a little bit what living in Italy is like.

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Eat Me

July 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

After six years of teaching English to Italians – themselves, byproducts of their culture; themselves, an intriguing blend of impatience and laziness – I have come to the succinct understanding that only 2% of their grammar questions are serious.

  • What’s the different to the past simple and the present perfect?
  • It is the same I use will and going to?
  • Why I must to use get?
  • I no understand the different to could, would, and should.

Apart from the fact that it’s all there, clear as crystal, in their books (really, the rule is there in front of you. What’s so hard to understand?). So, diagrams upon diagrams and metaphors upon metaphors to break it all down, dancing on my head, pulling rabbits out of my ass: PRAISE JESUS I HAVE SHOWN YOU THE LIGHT. Thinking, at the end, covered in sweat: My god, I am brilliant. My god, I wish I’d had a teacher like me.

And yet, the next day, no matter what I do, no matter how many rabbits I pull out of my ass, it’s the same exact mistakes, the same exact questions, from the same exact students. I no understand

Thus, after many years and many feverish impulses to fling myself off a balcony, it finally dawns on me that they’re just jerking my chain; they couldn’t give two craps about understanding English grammar or using it properly. Could, would, should, get, and the G-D present perfect are only red herrings for the real question, which is:

Why is English different than Italian? Why can’t I just use English exactly the same way I use Italian? Why can’t I just throw any verbs in any order I feel like, without any effort, and have it be perfect so I can write on my CV: “English skills, Excellent”?

Yeah. Pull the other one. I’m on to you, you lazy motherfuckers.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

July 31, 2017 in Ex-Patriate Games, Italia, politics

In the days since the election, reading my Facebook feed has become a lurid exercise, like picking the edges of a scab. Admittedly, reading Facebook posts and op-ed pieces might not be the best way to come to terms with what happened, but I simply can’t help myself; I’m an American expat who lives in Europe — for better or for worse, Facebook is the closest thing I get to standing in a square and soaking up the vibes of the townspeople.

So I peek through the windows to see what my family and countrymen are doing back home. I scroll through memes and comment wars and sign a petition or two. A theme has emerged: through the heartbroken high-road messages of love, the hypocritical gloating, the pleas to just “give him a chance!”, and the devastation, what I’m seeing is a lot of thinly veiled talk of a series of wars, fought on our own soil. Republican versus Democrat. Red versus blue. Urban versus elite. Christian versus everyone else; everyone else versus Islam. #allwomen against #allmen. Establishment versus newcomer; liberals versus white bigots; the unprivileged versus the privileged. Corrupt liar versus corrupt liar. Us versus Them.

As true as this might have been, I think it would be remiss not to suggest that as much as this election has been about Us against Them, this election has also been about Failure. The utter failure, specifically, of Political Correctness, which will, in the wake of this election, meet its death.

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The Living. The Dead. The Return.

July 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

It took them six years to find me but by golly, they sure did find me. “Can the Dead REALLY come back to life?” asks this flier, dropped lovingly into my mailbox by the Italian Christian Right. Or, rather, I assume it was from the Italian Christian Right, as I didn’t actually read the thing. Because I already know the answer; the metaphorical answer, and that answer is, YES. THE (METAPHORICAL) DEAD CAN RISE.

The ex who keeps popping up again, like a fresh case of herpes.

Equitalia – just when you think you’ve settled all your tax disputes, here they come again.

And me. Humble pigeon eater, erstwhile blogger. Less nouveau expat stars in her eyes, more into food, language, and photography. More crotchety than ever after six years living in Italy!

Stick around. Be the herpes of this story.