Saturday, July 30, 2011


One great thing about being in Italy versus America for me was that everyone could pronounce my name correctly. Both my names: Ariana Crisafulli. For some reason, a lot of people in the states like to pronounce Ariana air-iana, turning my lovely Italian name into a southern drawl. Really it's supposed to be pronounced more like a pirate, arrrr-iana.
But my last name is worse. Americans trip and stumble all over my last name (and I suppose I can't blame them.) Their favorite thing to do is add a t after the s, making it cristafulli. Worse, many times my fellow Americans will think my last name is both my first and last as in Krista Fulli.
Example when interviewing for job:
Interviewer: Hi, what's your last name?
Me: Crisafulli.
Interviewer: Umm I said LAST name but okayyy (begins to look through list for last name Fulli.)
Me: That is my last name. *finishes sentence in head: you d-bag.*
But in Italy I did not have these problems. Italians would see my name and not only know how to pronounce and spell both my first and last, but they would get excited to see an Italian name. Not to mention the fact that they made both of my names sound beautiful and dignified. The syllables of my name were simply lyrics in the song that is the Italian language. Basically I was overjoyed.
Then one day I had a problem with a ticket I bought to Amsterdam. No confirmation showed up in my e-mail so I had to call customer service for the airline I bought it from. As it so happened, it was an Italian airline. No problem, I thought. They speak English.
The man had a thick Italian accent and with it he asked for my last name. Pff this is easy, I thought. He's Italian, he'll get it. Of course I forgot that I'm actually American so no matter how beautifully Italians say my name, I still say it with my native American accent.
He was confused.
"Say it again please," he asked politely. I said it again. He couldn't get it.
"Spell it please," he asked politely again. I tried to spell it but the Italian alphabet is different than the English one. is an i an e or an i? ahhh! this was turning into a nightmare of accents!
After a few minutes of this, I knew what had to be done.
I sucked in air, held it there, and exhaled it with the best imition of Italian accent I could do: CREEZAFOOOOOOLLEE!!! I bellowed (because Italians say everything loudly.) I even gestured with my hand as if conducting the orchestra of the Italian language itself. I knew he couldn't see but I was sure it would help with the accent.
"OHHH!" he shouted with the joy of recognition. "Okay I find you now."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To Eat or Not to Eat

The other day my mom's friend was over and we and my mom were discussing plans for lunch. I told them that I would have to be back at a certain time so I could go to the gym before work. My mom's friend looks at me and asks, "Oh, do you belong at the gym?"

I thought this was a very strange way to ask if I had a gym membership, so I thought about it. My mind travelled back to my four and a half months in Rome. Months spent eating chocolate croissants and capuccinos with mountains of sugar every morning. Months spent eating pizza and pasta every day. Months spent discovering new and tantalizing foods such as canollis (I know it's not new but I never liked them in the states. The ones in Italy were a whole other story.) There was also something called suppli which was my snack of choice most days. It consists of rice in ragu sauce with a chunk of mozzarella in the middle and then friend in bread crumbs. My mouth waters at the thought of it and my taste buds groan and reach toward Rome, toward Il Delfino where I used to buy them. The point is, I didn't exactly eat healthy while I was abroad. To compound it, I didn't do very much exercising unless you count the innumerous miles I walked going to and from school, pubs, clubs, and of course restaurants where I filled my gullet!

But I don't regret it. While in Rome I watched Eat, Pray, Love which partially takes place in Rome. The protoganist had much the same experience as I did with food and lack of exercise and her advice was to simply buy larger pants! Brilliant I say! This is some advice I actually took when it came time for it, and believe me, the time did come.

Part of the experience of being in Italy is the experience of the food. The food is as rich as their culture and they use it as a centerpiece around which family, business and social life take place. It is not something to be afraid of or picked at for there is absolutely no room for calorie counting in Italy as it clashes harshly with la dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing.) And to that I raised my glass (and my fork) a thousand times in Rome.

But of course it was not without consequence. And so to the question posed to me, I answered: "Yes, I definitely  belong at the gym."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Catharsis In a Hostel Bathroom, or Wherever You Like

Everyone has in them the desire for change. We all have the simple but urgent need to evolve, transcend, morph, and come out on the other side through a carthasis of freedom, freshly reborn and shining new, as if we had just shed our old skin. Each person has their own unique way of going about change. Some people like to move to a new place, some people like to change their appearance, some people like to change their friends, or take up new hobbies. Any way it's done, it all amounts to the same thing, a change of person.

I personally like to go new places AND change my appearance. I like to take a leaping dive off of a cliff and land somewhere I have imagined in my head. However, I always forget that falling leads to panic. Before I settle into someplace new, I like to freak out my friends, family and myself by becoming a little drama queen. This is what happened when I went to Rome. I freaked out and begged to go home. Within about a week and a half, I had finally landed in the place I had imagined in my head. And so goes my life. Leap, panic, land safely with style, and repeat. I have to do this so as to make sure my life does not get stagnant, that my heart is always working because of some new adventure I have in mind.

I also like to change my appearance. I do this spontaneously, whenever I feel I have worn out a certain look til it's ragged and filled with holes. That simply won't do. When I was in Berlin, I decided to cut my hair in a hostel sink. I was sick of my hair and broke, so I did it myself. I'm sure the people who walked in the bathroom and witnessed the self-designed hair were just as amused as I was by their expressions.

Studying abroad, and I'm sure anyone who has done it will say the same, is one of the greatest and most terrifying leaps. Terrifying because you are alone at first in an unknown country, far away from home, and great because it can change your life in so many ways. It's easy to be someone new, to shed your old skin and be reborn. I assume one day I will settle down, but for now I will keep making the leap and seeing where I land.

All I Have is Time

In our last night in Rome, my friends and I went out to dinner in Trastevere. It was a beautiful little place down a tiny side street with twinkling lights and bad service, like all great Italian restaurants. My friend Alex had pasta with rabbit (delicious) and I had a risotto with the entire ocean in it (also freaking delicious.) I learned that when you are given an extra side plate with a dish of seafood, you are supposed to put the shells on said side plate and that shrimp are deceiving little bastards because when you're done taking apart all the undesirables such as the shell, legs, eyeballs, and poop shoot, what's left is only a fraction of the monster they put on your plate.

But I also learned something more extraordinary than that. My friend Alex asked us all what was the most important thing we had taken away from the experience, what was the lesson that had changed us as human beings? We all thought and it occurred to me that the biggest lesson I had learned in Rome is that I don't have to do anything with my life. Just kidding! Okay kind of. What I realized is that when I graduate from college, I don't have to immediately get a career and settle down. I can still travel, meet new people, do exciting things, I don't have to choose what I want to do with the rest of my life right now. In the words of some old wise guy or another, the world is my oyster. In the words of Lady Gaga, I'm a free bitch baby. And so on.

I used to think that as soon as I graduated I would have to get a career and start paying off loans, stay in one place, start a life. But there are so many ways to live a life. I have not seen enough or done enough to start mine yet, and all I have is time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roses??? For Me??? Awww

Before going to Rome, I was warned about the gypsies. I was told they will beg, steal, and coerce you into giving them money any way they can. All in all, it turns out gypsies were lazy beggers that sat on their bums all day and rattled tin cans with what little money they made in the day. I never once saw any of them make an attempt to get off said bum and even attempt to pick my pocket.

What they don't warn you about is the Bangladeshis. For lack of a better word, we called them gypsies even though we knew they weren't. Bangladeshis try to sell you crap things instead of begging, which I would say is more commendable if they way they went about it wasn't so obnoxious.

Whilst eating dinner in a restaurant, a Bangladeshi will come up to you, mid mouthful or conversation and try to sell you a rose. Whilst sitting on the Spanish steps, drinking boxed wine and soaking in the Roman sun, a Bangladeshi will try to sell you cheap bracelets, and whilst drinking in the cobbled streets of Rome, a Bangladeshi will attempt to sell you light up bunny ears. You can say no all you want, even go away, no thanks, no grazie, no mi piace, but they will still stand there for ten minutes waving their toys in your face. In the face of this dilemma, my friends and I came up with a new tactic: we would pretend to take their wares.

"ROSES?!" we would exclaim, apparently thrilled. "THANK YOU!!!!" We would take the whole bouquet and thank them profusely for the gift while they stuttered. "twenty euro, twenty euro!" Then we would walk off and they would run after us and we would hand the bouquet or the flashing bunny ears or what have you. They seemed not to bother us after that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I Didn't Get the Joke...

Living in a country where you don't speak the language is difficult, but not impossible. You pick up a few words here, some grammar there, and your Italian professor meows at you when you get something wrong (that's another story.)

After a while you get used to the anonymity, the idea that no one around you can understand you and you can't understand them. It becomes less and less of a problem. Of course, it still would be easier if I did speak Italian. Often times, Italian culture and language clash very loudly and incoherently together in a cacophony of wild gestures, facial expressions and words (Italians are very expressive.)

One time I was in the grocery store, biding my time in line when the cashier and a customer started arguing. The arguing escalated and became very loud. Then the others in line started yelling too. Everyone was yelling and I was there, doe-eyed and afraid, not knowing what the argument was about or why everyone was getting involved. Should I leave? Was there about to be some sort of riot of which my American sensibilities had no part?

At the height of the argument and my anxiety, the crowd simultaneously broke into hysterical laughter. Something very amusing had just taken place, and I cursed myself for not speaking the language!

Hey Man, Where You Goin'?

Rome's got a great public transportation system. No matter where you want to go, you can get there by train, bus, or tram, or if you're really desperate, taxi. It's all rather cheap (except the taxi) and few Italians ever even pay. No one ever checks.

However, the buses and trams are crowded and smell like body odor, you can't put your feet up on the seats in the train, and taxi drivers will try to rip you off 100% of the time. However, these things are to be expected and are not of major consequence. They will not ruin your day or make it impossible to go about your daily business, quite the opposite in fact when they are saving you miles of walking on cobbled stones.

However, one day I encountered an incident with public transportation that had no precedent. As some friends and I were taking a bus from Villa Borghese (a large park in the center of Rome), the driver stopped the bus, put on his helmet, and took off on his vespa. My friends and I gaped at each other. We gaped at the other passengers and they gaped at us. No one knew what was happening. We waited. Perhaps he ran out to get a beer, or maybe a bite to eat. He'll come back.

We didn't really want to get off the bus because it was a long walk back home and we didn't know when another bus was coming. But it soon became apparent that the bus driver was not coming back. Perhaps he had simply had enough and we had just witnessed an oppressed man shrug a hateful occupation. Either way, we ended up walking miles of cobbledstones to get home. I hope that bus driver is out there somewhere fullfilling his dreams and that our aching feet were worth it.

I Never Saw the Trevi Fountain

It is said that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you will return to Rome. If you throw two coins in the Trevi Fountain, you will fall in love in Rome, and if you throw three coins into the Trevi Fountain, you will get married in Rome. I did none of these things because I never saw the Trevi Fountain.

I lived so close. In fact, I lived close to many famous Roman monuments. The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, the Colloseum, I lived right around the corner from the Pantheon, and I lived mere blocks away from the Trevi Fountain and even passed near to it in the streets I walked and the buses I took. But I never saw it.

I thought it mandatory to see the Trevi Fountain before I left so that I could throw one coin in and return to beautiful Roma, the eternal city of my dreams. Yes, I say one, not two or three. Falling in love in Rome would be too much of a hassle, having to decide where to live, or attempting a long distance relationship which I'm no good at anyways. Getting married in Rome would be even worse, as I'm sure none of my family would be there. No, I simply want to return one day.

I never saw the Trevi Fountain, but I want to one day. More than that, I want to return to Rome one day. I thought I was supposed to throw a coin into the fountain to bring me back but now I realize that me not seeing it will bring me back. I have to see the Trevi Fountain ahh!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chicken Burger?

I don't smoke weed. I don't. It makes me uncomfortable and anxious and altogether miserable.

Most people can't understand this. When I try to tell people that weed makes me paranoid, they have a variety of responses:

"You're just not smoking the right kind," or "You're not smoking with the right people," or "You're not smoking in the right setting." They always blame outside sources and never the weed itself and the fact that THC mixed with my particular brain chemistry often spells out disaster. I always refuse marijuana. And then, I went to Amsterdam...

Amsterdam is a place where nothing  matters. You have a job? Not here. You're a student? Not right now. You don't smoke weed? Oh yes you do.

I had been sitting in a park for hours with my roommate, two Australians we had met at our hostel, and a bunch of pub crawl promoters who bought crate after crate of beer and kept offering them to us. I was also completely deprived of sleep and coming down from a mushroom high. This whole park ordeal was a blissful, relaxing experience. I was enjoying the zing of the bright green grass, the rainbows in my eyelashes, and on the whole just in awe of life, wondering how I could be so lucky.

And then... someone whipped out a joint. It looked harmless enough. Just a plant rolled up in smooth white paper. I eyed it, looking for the terror lurking within. I saw nothing.

My roommate, who I had explained to a thousand times that I never smoked weed, casually offered me a puff, as if it wasn't a momentous decision. The Australians also agreed that I should have some. After all, we were in Amsterdam.

Fuck it I thought. I am at peace with the world, nothing can get me down now. After all, I am in Amsterdam.

Moments later I was in a spiraling downward avalanche of terrible thoughts and feelings, which is what usually happens after I smoke.

I couldn't speak. And even if I could, I didn't want to for fear that I would freak the other three out. Too late. Apparently my facial gestures were enough to tip my roommate off.

"She's freaking out," she said. Not the best thing in the world to say to someone who actually is freaking out.

The three started talking about chicken burgers, which for some reason was the strangest concept to me.

"CHICKEN BURGER?" I asked, astounded.

In my mind a chicken burger suddenly became a burger with a real live chicken on it, feathers and all. The two merged in my mind becoming a fusion of chicken-cow-feathers-aaand beaks. The chicken did not look happy about being merged with a burger.

"Chicken burger," I repeated and shook my head while the three gawked at my never having heard of a chicken burger.

My roommate changed the subject.

"I want a sucker," she said.

"What?" said the Australian girl.

I turned to her and discreetly whispered with a sly smile on my face

"She wants... a sucker..." as if I had just let out the world's biggest secret.

"You're right," said the Australian girl, "She's freaking out."

A few days later, while talking about the experience, my roommate told me she never wanted to smoke weed with me again. Well, I don't really blame her. I don't want to smoke weed with me ever again either.


A couple of days ago I flew to Villadossola in the Italian Alps to visit the love of my life. I had met him in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day and decided he was the love of my life that night. I think he had decided something similar as he often referred to me as "Ariana my love" in his texts. So of course I had to go see him.

On the second day of my visit in Villadossola with Marco, we were on our way out of his apartment to go to Switzerland (you can literally see Switzerland from his balcony). On the way down the hill, we were passed by another car that flagged him down. He told me to hold on, got out of the car and ran to talk to the person in the other car. When he came back he was apologizing profusely and told me that his grandfather was having heart problems and needed to be taken to the hospital. Of course I understood, and told him it was not even necessary to apologize.

He dropped me back off at his apartment, told me his home was my home, and that he would be back within the hour.

While I waited, I listened to his CD's: The Offspring, The Sex Pistols, Eric Clapton etc etc., and read my Chelsea Handler book. It had been longer than an hour and I figured we would not make it to Switzerland that day. But I would be damned if I didn't go out and explore the mountain. After all, the view was spectacular and the surrounding forest was extremely inviting. I decided to go for a walk.

I gathered my things, bundled up and headed for the door. It wouldn't open. "Am I locked in?" I thought. "Shit, I am."

I went back out to the deck and looked for a way down. I didn't find one. I briefly thought about climbing down the balcony but it was a treacherous climb and visions of me breaking my back filled my mind.

What to do, what to do? The guy had no food in his apartment so I couldn't do my usual idle activity, which was to eat. I then noticed a stack of beers in his fridge. Should I? Would he be mad? Hmm well, he did say his home was my home. I proceeded to open one beer, then two, then three. I made friends with his cat, Dobby, and took pictures with him. I also had a one person dance in his kitchen.

I was sitting on his balcony, drinking the last of my third beer and feeling sorry for myself. I felt like a fairy tale princess, the kind that's trapped up in a tower waiting to be rescued by prince charming. I breifly thought of Rapunzel and how she was able to get help out of the tower by throwing down her long hair. I had visions of me doing the same until I realized my hair was about as long as a boy's.

Mid Rapunzle fantasizing, I saw an adorable little old woman. She was trying to speak to me, but my knowledge of Italian is very limited and it quickly became clear to me that she didn't speak a word of English.
I figured this was Marco's grandmother as I knew his grandparents lived on the floor beneath him and also she kept saying his name. Besides that, the only thing I understood was caffe. I assumed she was offering me coffee so I said "Si." I then tried to explain that I couldn't get out. "Non posso... umm... uscire," I explained.

She then disappeared, which made me sad because I liked her and wanted to be her friend.

Moments later I heard a key in the lock and practically skipped to the door and followed her down the stairs to her apartment. She then proceeded to pour me cup after cup of coffee that was half sugar and feed me cookie after cookie. That, combined with my three beers made me feel a little delirious, but she was so sweet I just couldn't say no. Plus she kept gesturing for me to have more coffee and cookies any time it looked like I might stop. I liked her, and she reminded me of my late Sicilian grandmother, which I tried to tell her but I'm pretty sure she didn't understand. After a while, sick of attempting to communicate with me I'm sure, she sent me on my way with the entire bag of cookies and a newspaper.

I sat on the couch in Marco's kitchen, slightly buzzed and very hopped up on caffeine and sugar. What to do, what to do? Have another beer, naturally!

I popped open my fourth beer and danced around to Eric Clapton. Finally, Marco returned. He glanced at me drinking a beer, looked in the trash can and saw three empty beer bottles. He started laughing hysterically.

"You drank four beers?" he asked in his sexy Italian accent.

"Yes," I replied sheepishly.

"Good choice," he said.

Monday, April 4, 2011

And in that moment I swear we were infinite...

Do you ever have those moments that feel infinite? Not in the sense that time drags on, but that the moment will always be alive in your mind.The colors will never fade, the smells will always be strong, the scenery will always be vivid, but most of all, the feelings will never diminish. These moments become a part of you and shape you through experience.

That is what study abroad has been like.

To commemorate this incredible experience, I got a tattoo with two friends I met in Rome.

We didn't know what we would get to remind ourselves of this experience, but my friend wisely said "We'll know when we see it."

Near the end of spring break, these two friends and I were in Prague where we soon found our way to the John Lennon wall. It was a psychedelic mass of paintings, bright with color, quotes, names of fans scrawled in reverence to the great John Lennon. Among this mass, something jumped out at us, a quote: And in that moment I swear we were infinite...

It was perfect. It encapsulated everything we felt about the study abroad experience. In only nine words I saw myself singing in the streets of Dublin, sneaking into a hostel bathroom in Venice, getting ready on a bus and singing karaoke in Berlin, drinking beer in a piazza in Rome and so many more moments that are pieces of perfection and adventure in my life.

We immediately found a tattoo parlor and had it etched into us permanently. I could not think of a better way to remember this semester.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What the Fuck, Rome?

So there I am, sitting at a little cafe in front of the Pantheon, enjoying the sunshine and the warm weather, reading a great book, sipping a cappuccino, and letting my legs breath in a pair of cut off jean shorts... when I hear... wait, could it be? Thunder? Whaaat?

So it begins to drizzle. The pages of my book have splashes of rainwater running down the words. The waiters break out the umbrellas, and I do not worry because I believe it to be just a thing in passing. After all, it's still warm and the sun is still shining... when... wait, could it be? IS THAT HAIL? Yes. Hail begins to beat down on the umbrellas that have become more of a force field against the weather than anything else. I move further under the umbrella as my cappuccino gets attacked by small chunks of ice. I like my cappuccino hot damnit!

And yet, miraculously, the sun is still out! The hail then gives way to a brutal dousing of heavy rain. I briefly wonder how I will get home in my flats and shorts and lacking an umbrella.

Gypsies, seizing their chance, spring up like mushrooms in the piazza, carrying an arsonal of umbrellas. The one nearest me offers to sell me one. Five euro? No thanks, buddy, I've got one at home, not that it's doing much good now. Plus, the last one I bought from you gutted itself in the slightest of winds!

What to do, what to do? First step: pay for cappuccino. Second step: make a run for it. The waiter handed me the check. FOUR EURO FOR A CAPPUCCINO? Remind me to never get a cappuccino at a restaurant again, thankssss. I could have bought an umbrella for less than that and got more use for my money. In any case, the waiter offered me a plastic bag for my hair. I accepted graciously, said "Piacere Adam, grazie," and with an audience of the entire restaurant, put the plastic bag over my hair, and ran for home.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bed and I: The Reconciliation

I just got back to Rome a couple days ago, and nearly slept all of those two days. "Why" you may ask. And I would answer: traveling is not for the weak! Especially if you're a cheapo like me.

I had about a week long adventure roaming around Europe with some amazing people, seeing incredible things, learning about the world and myself, and meeting more amazing people. But to get to these places and have these experiences takes time, effort, loss of sleep, and hopefully not so much loss of money. To combat this last part, we had to get a little creative.

For example: sleeping in places I would normally not choose to sleep. Three nights of this journey were spent sleeping in airports. Two of those nights, in London, we had to sleep on the floor. Apparently this is not so unusual for people to do in London, as many people were fully prepared with blankets and pillows. These were the true travelers, the tramps, the ones that give the finger to society and say instead: I will see the world and on my own terms!

So we did as the Londoners did, found a free expanse of floor, used our suitcases as pillows, and tried to fall asleep as we jealously looked on at people sleeping on benches and others who had put together six chairs in order to keep off the floor.

Oh yes, did I mention the floor was stone and extremely cold? No matter how many layers you put on, the cold somehow sneaks its way into your bones and refuses to leave.

We attempted to ward it off by layering pants over pants, shirts over shirts over sweaters over jackets and coats, emptying out our suitcases in the hopes that we could make some sort of semblance of a bed out of our clothes but it was to no avail. The cold still snuck in and set up camp.

Other times we slept in buses while we traveled from here to there, getting as much shut eye as we could. Of course, we did have hostels and beds to sleep in, but the party lifestyle just won't allow for much sleep.

So here I find myself back in Rome, exhausted but happy, hugging my bed as in greeting of an old friend. Bed, I will never take you for granted again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How to Save Money, and then Fail

When traveling, it's important to have a financial plan. My friends and I, for example, have an excellent money-saving plan. We're going to starve.

The only problem with this is that we can't seem to keep our hands off of food. We're big fans. Only the other day, my roommate and I went out to get a bite of pizza and ended up eating our way across the piazza.

To practice our financial plan, however, we thought we would give it a go in Venice since we were going to be there overnight. By the end of the night, we were drunk, tired, and most of all, hungry. We followed some Venetian locals back to their apartment with promises of a couch to sleep on, since we didn't have a hostel (another brilliant money-saving plan), and promises of food.

When we arrived, we found the house to be curiously devoid of food. In my drunken state, I felt lied to, deceived, and scandalized. I put on my coat and declared that I was leaving. "FOOD IS THE ONLY REASON I CAME HERE" I explained... until my friends pointed out we had nowhere to stay.

So our gracious host offered up the only food available in the apartment: a loaf of frozen bread... which I proceeded to eat half of. Frozen. Between mouthfuls of icy bread, I inquired of my friends how we were going to starve ourselves during our travels. Clearly this was going to be impossible.

In the morning, I was quite sick. As soon as I stepped off the train, I ran to vomit up a half a loaf of bread into the trash (first checking to see which one was refuse, of course, as Italians are big on recycling). My friend stood by me and asked if I was alright.

"I'm fine," I said. "I just need some food." I think our plan will be a fail...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Curious Incident of the Keys in the Night-Time

First there were two sets of keys. Those belonging to my roommate, and those belonging to me. On Friday both sets were accounted for, and by Saturday, both were gone. This is the tale of lost and curiously recovered keys and the confusion that followed.

On Friday I wandered around Rome with some friends, hopped some fences, kicked around a soccer ball, you know, the usual. I got home around 6 o'clock pm and let myself in with my keys. Somewhere between that time and the time I left to go out that night, they had disappeared.

My roommate came home about an hour later, and let herself in with her own keys. These she set on the night stand between our two beds, and this is the set I grabbed that night before I went out. My roommate stayed in that night and I let myself in when I got home.

The next morning, my roommate woke me up saying that she thought I had taken her keys the night before and that she needed them now to go to meet up with a friend. I opened my junk drawer where I had tossed them before falling into bed, and handed them to her. I figured a quick search of pockets and table tops would reveal my keys in no time. I was wrong. They were nowhere to be found.

That day, I stayed in and cleaned. When my roommate returned home, she had some amusing news.

"I dropped my keys down the elevator shaft" she announced.

"Shit." I commented.

We wanted to go out that night but no longer could because we would have had to sleep in the streets, and the streets of Rome are no place for sweet dreams.

The next fews days were spent making sure at least one of us was home at all times so the other could get in. This worked out surprisingly well because my roommate has morning classes and I have night classes.

Then on Tuesday, the door man fished my roommate's keys out of the bottom of the elevator shaft. One set down, one to go!

Tuesday night I went out and took my roommate's keys with me. She told me to set them on the night stand when I got home so she could find them easily in the morning to go to class, so I did.

That night I had a dream aboout homeless people and a whale being stuck in the street, but more importantly, I dreamed I had found my keys.

The next day I was extremely hung over and slept in til about 3 pm. When I finally pulled my alcohol-soaked body from bed, I noticed something very peculiar. There were two sets of keys on the night-stand.

When I inquired my roommate about this curious reappearance, she said she had found them in the livingroom next to one of the potted plants. I have no idea how they got there, but we now have two sets of keys, where there were once none.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Purple Prostitute Phenomenon

Upon arrival in Rome, I was told by a fellow American that the color purple signified prostitute.

I took care to avoid all things purple. I abandoned my purple knit hat and secluded my new purple scarf to the bottom of my closet. No one was going to mistake me for a prostitute.

As the days wore on, any glimpse of purple caught my eye. I saw women with suede purple high-heeled boots, luscious dark purple scarves and hats, and even some with shameless purple dresses.


Then I had my first Italian class. My professor, a Tuscan woman looking good in her 50's, showed up to class clad all in purple. The next class was no different. She was decked from head to foot in all shades of purple imaginable. I was confused.

Did my professor have a side job turning tricks and refused to change before class? Or had I been misinformed?

One night I asked my Italian friend. After a few amusing minutes spent attempting to define a prostitute and their relation to the color purple, I could see a light bulb click on over his head.

"No, no, no," he laughed, looking bewildered. "This is not true."

"Oh good," I thought as I looked down in sudden horror. "Because this shirt would have made things really awkward."

Bruised Pride

My pillow was calling my name. I had been out all night drinking and dancing at Coyote Bar and finally made it home at 5:30am.

My bed was there, just how I had left it. The pillow fluffed up, the blankets and sheets in disarray, just how i like them. Tonight there was nothing on my bed, no laptop or books or papers. The way was cleared for me to leap and be consumed by everything bed-like. I knew my bed would not fail me, sleep would come quickly and I would dream of feathers and silk and my favorite bathrobe, and everything soft.

I kept the light off so as not to wake my roommate. I tip-toed to the edge of where I knew my bed was waiting for me and I leaped with a child-like grin, my arms held wide, ready to embrace sleep.

And I missed.

"What the fuck?" said my roommate.

"Uhhgghhhowww ehhhh," I replied.

I felt the bruises begin to bloom on my knee and my pride. It will be a while before I trust you again, bed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Royal Pick-Me-Up

The learning never ends here in Rome. Every day I learn new things about the culture, the people, the language etc. Just the other day in my Italian class, I learned about the origins of the Italian dessert tiramisu.

Long ago, the Duke of Tuscany took a trip to Sienna because, as legend has it, that is where the most beautiful women were. The Duke supposedly was a legendary lover and had lots of women but he wanted to check out the Sienna babes. So, to welcome him, the good people of Sienna made him a dessert.

The dessert consisted of fresh eggs, coffee, and rum, all good aphrodisiacs and energy boosters for the Duke's "enterprising" in Sienna.  The people of Sienna named it tiramisu, which in Italian translates literally to "pull me up." Basically, the good people of Sienna made the Duke a pick me up to help him spread his legendary loving around.

I love Italians.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

There's a flood in my bathroom!

I totally scored on my apartment. It's right in the center of Rome, close to campus and is absolutely beautiful. Even the bathroom is exquisite. However, there is a problem.

The Puddle. The constant, stagnant, leering puddle that has taken permanent residence in my beautiful marble bathroom. Every day when I go into the bathroom to fix my face or my hair or do whatever else I do when there's a mirror present, it's there, staring, making its presence known. I have no choice but to step around it.

I've tried different tactics to ignoring The Puddle while still trying to keep my feet dry.
Tactic #1: Spread eagle over the puddle. I keep each foot on either side of The Puddle so I can get close enough to the mirror to put on my face.
Tactic #2: Standing behind the puddle. If I stand behind it, I can lean into the sink in a sort of awkward slanting position, held up only by the fortitude of the marble counter.
Tactic #3: Say fuck it and wear my combat boots. That's right. I mean business. I walk through that Puddle with my steel toes kicking up trouble and meaning it.

So why go through all the trouble of spreading eagle and wearing steel toe boots to combat this Puddle? Why not just mop it up with a towel? Well, my roommate and I tried this quite obvious plan of action to no avail. We mopped it up with a blue towel, and left it there to prevent further puddling. But you see, The Puddle was too much for the towel and we were left with a mess of unraveled blue threads.

The worst was when the landlady and her cleaning crew came over to tidy up. They took one look at our bathroom, shook their heads and gestured wildly. I don't speak Italian but I can only assume that their gestures meant These American girls are pigs! 

Bathroom, will I ever win? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This is the last jar. I swear...

I’m walking down the alleyway to my apartment, clutching my jar of Nutella in both hands and grinning like a child when I realize… the previous jar of Nutella was supposed to be my last. Damn.

My roommate and I had an agreement. When she finished her bag of cookies and I finished my jar of Nutella, we wouldn’t by any more. Well, this new jar that was making me grin like a lunatic was even larger than the previous one. And the one before that and the one… well you get the point. I have a problem. A chocolatey, gooey, hazelnutty, delicious problem.

It’s funny though, I don’t normally eat Nutella at home. At least I don’t normally buy jars of the stuff and eat it like it was a compulsion. I was talking to somebody about this yesterday. It seems that people only get really into Nutella in Europe, even though it is quite available in the states.

Is it because there’s less processed food in Italy and Nutella is a remembrance of the highly processed sugar saturated foods of home? Is it some kind of comfort, some tiny piece of home that we can grasp onto? Something that our American stomachs can recognize and embrace? Who knows.

In any case, with my limited funds I should probably be buying something more substantial, something that will get me through the week perhaps. However, there I found myself in the supermarket, holding nothing but a large jar of Nutella and not feeling one twinge of guilt. Okay maybe a tiny twinge.

Anyways, this is the last jar. I swear…