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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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America – It’s What’s For Lunch

November 30, 2011 in Ex-Patriate Games, Oishii, spazarific

This just happened.

Ohhhhh, mama.

America – I love us.

USA vs. USA

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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Life In These Here Hills

October 6, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games, spazarific

It’s 1 September, the night before I leave for Dublin. I’m having an arrivederci dinner with my upstairs neighbors – parents of the screaming Giada. Maria says it’s her mission to find me a man. She says this over spaghetti alle vongole, as Giada grabs fistfuls of table and kicks her feet towards the wine glasses. A glint comes into Maria’s eye. She says: “I have it. The perfect man for you. Stefano.”

“What? No. Not Stefano,” says Eugenio.

I’m not interested in a set up, not even in the slightest, but Eugenio’s note of alarm intrigues me.

“Why?” I ask. “Who is Stefano?”

“Never you mind,” says Maria. “I’ll take care of everything.”

So I go to Dublin and finish my thesis and get drunks lots. 20 September, I get back to Italy and listen to the crickets chirp; watch the waves lap at the sad, empty beach. I’m back a day when Maria invites me to dinner. Pizza night; Eugenio’s brothers are coming, too. At 8:30, I put on a clean shirt and follow the smell of melted mozzarella upstairs. I meet Eugenio’s brothers. Their names are Daniele and Stefano. Stefano. Stefano. We drink wine; Daniele and Stefano are both shocked that I’ve lived outside of my parents’ house for the past 12 years. At the end of the evening, Stefano says: It was nice meeting you. Maybe I can see you again one of these evenings. Stefano is in his late 50s. Goddammit, Maria.

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Why It’s Cool Having a Blog Name Like I Eat My Pigeon

September 24, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games

Because shots like this actually mean something. Roost, pigeon, roost. Roost while you can.

“Leone” Means Lion in Italian

September 22, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games, Italia, spazarific

Back in Italy. Twenty-one degrees and beautiful out. My pink oleander tree is dead. The gas man left great big muddy footprints in my kitchen when he replaced the tank. Giada screams through the ceiling. Cricket chirps instead of construction drills; back to speaking Italian instead of English; stores closed from one to four for siesta. The tourists are gone. The beach is empty and cold. Quiet. So much quiet, just as my cousin Flora said. Dublin’s Georgian doors and capital city bustle  – indeed, any of my past lives – couldn’t seem farther away.

Leone: You know, my name ish Leo, too, like you, but they call me Leone. Do you know why?

Leo: No. Why?

Leone: Becaush unce I went to the jungle. And in the jungle, I shaw a liun.

Leo: You went to the jungle? Well, then, why didn’t you bring us back any coconuts?

I really, really, really need to meet some people my own age.

Country Roads

September 20, 2010 in dublin, Ex-Patriate Games, Ireland

The landlords have a realtor called Patrick whose job it is now to troop prospective renters through my soon-to-be ex-bedsit. Sometimes he calls first, other times he doesn’t. I’m hungover one morning when I hear the timid knock on the door – hello? And then it’s all, dammit, because when falling into bed tipsy the night before, I only half undressed and am now in a bleary, disheveled, wanton state; scarcely fit to receive visitors. Two minutes! I shout through the walls. Patrick’s voice sounds hollow: We don’t have two minutes. And I’m, Well, I need two minutes! And he’s, Okay, grand. And I throw on last night’s pants and last night’s shirt and stick my face under the faucet and open the door. It’s himself, with two strangers in tow. I smile at them and tell them how much I love the bedsit, but I’m thinking Call first, jerk all the while I’m smiling but it doesn’t matter because the couple have decided at first glance of the flat – the living room, kitchen, and dining room crammed into one 10×10 space – that they’re not having it so they tell Patrick Thank you for your time and hustle themselves out, squeezing through the tiny door, but, whatever, that’s not my fault.

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Taxicab Duets

September 18, 2010 in dublin, Ex-Patriate Games, Ireland, Looking, spazarific, trinity college dublin

Drinks at Kennedy’s with my former classmates turns into a tipsy nighttime walk through City Centre turns into drinks and dancing at 4 Dame Lane. Untiss untiss untiss. Untiss untiss untiss. Talk of our novels, talk of our poetry, talk of our master’s portfolios; of marriage and children and Beckett and Hardy and confessional poets like Plath but not like Plath because Plath was all right, but screw Anne Sexton and her attention-seeking ilk. Untiss untiss untiss. Untiss untiss untiss. Girls in sequin dresses. Men in pointy shoes. A disco ball that spins leopard spot-shaped flecks of light onto the walls, the floor, our faces. And another thing about Hardy… *crash.* White wine and sparkly shards of glass all over the table. Ho, snap. Look what you did. We are drunken writers and we are beautiful.

And then, later, not sure when, I’m danced out – tapped out – and so I say my goodbyes. I weave past the crowds of city folk packed around the entrance of the club, past the neckers and the college boys yakking in shopfronts. My high heels clack on the sidewalk, threaten to stick between cobblestones as I head towards the relative calm of Exchequer Street. The lights shine soft on the buildings. For once, I’m more tired and tipsy than I am stingy. I hail a cab.

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Things I Won’t Miss About Dublin and Ireland

September 17, 2010 in dublin, Ex-Patriate Games, Ireland, spazarific

Before I left for Italy last July, I wrote a list of things I’d miss about Dublin and Ireland. I can’t look at it now; it’ll make me too sad, reignite my technicolor fantasies of chucking everything and staying right here in my little bedsit, drinking Barry’s tea and dreaming of swans. Instead, I try to cheer myself up; try to think of things I won’t miss about Dublin. I rack my brains. I rack my brains. I rack my brains. It’s no use. All I can think of is the things I love about this place.

But then I put on the big girl pants and I think of a few. I betray the beautiful things. I take one for the team.

Things I won’t miss about Dublin and Ireland:

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Roots

September 15, 2010 in Ex-Patriate Games

Four days left in Dublin. Can two weeks have passed already? I’ve picked up my dry cleaning. I’ve packed my books to ship to me in Italy via An post. I still have to take the ESB out of my name. Close my bank account. Shut down my internet. Get my deposit back from the landlord. The landlords were busy while I was in Italy, redecorating for new tenants and putting up the apartment on daft.ie. Potential renters have trooped through my studio day and night. Why are you moving out? they ask. They expect me to reply: Because it’s so darn small and the landlords should totally lower the rent. But instead I have to say: Because I’m leaving Dublin.

Saw this in my living room the day I got back:

At first I thought it was another decoration, put up by the landlords, like the new red lampshade. It took me a couple of days to realize that it was coming through the window:

Where are its roots? Where is it going? What’s it looking for?

Metaphors, metaphors.