Photo Friday: Wedding Photos Can Save Lives/Do You Need A Wedding Photographer In Italy That Speaks English?

I had a pretty solid idea of what I wanted in a wedding photographer when F and I tied the knot in Cassino, Italy, last year. I didn’t want those “I’m so in love on the beach even though my wedding took place in a garden” photos. I wanted something journalistic, a style that would capture what really happened so later on when I’m old and senile I can look at my wedding and see it happen. Or, on days where I fantasize about repeatedly stabbing my husband I can look at the photos and think, “I was super drunk right there, we’re in love, and it is awesome.” Wedding pictures save lives, people. Anyhow, I couldn’t find that style in an Italian photographer so I imported my own English speaking wedding photographer from ‘Merrrcaaa. Our wedding photographer, Alixann Loosle, loved Italy so much that she recently contacted me to ask if I know anyone who would be interested in an American photographer in Italy this year. She is offering a HUGE discount. If you know someone who is getting hitched this year, this is probably their lady, she’s amazing and super nice. Here’s what Alix had to say about Italy and her wedding package:

“Although I travel often to photograph weddings, no destination stands out to me more than Italy. Roaming the streets of Florence, catching trains to little century-old cities, and photographing the warm sunlight-light that seems to hit everything perfectly in Italy are my fondest memories of any trip I’ve taken. Because of this, I have decided to offer a massive discount on a wedding package that includes travel, if the wedding takes place in Italy this year. Please give me the chance to go back to Italy and photograph your wedding.”

Contact Alix if you’re interested. Seriously, this price is SO LOW it’s kind of making me cry right now.

Wedding Photographer Italy

 

 

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Italian Families: When Everyone Talks About Your Vagina

Something I admire about Italian culture is the sense of community within the family. In my husband’s part of Italy, Cassino, when someone passes away like a grandparent, the house is often sold and the money is generally set aside for the grandkids to buy a house in the future or the home is given to someone in the family who needs it. Money stays circulated within the family which is why even the working class can somehow manage to buy their children cars, expensive weddings, and help to purchase an apartment later down the road. It’s odd to see impoverished twenty-somethings whose parents are driving new cars and vacationing in Spain. Wealth is shared even among families with very little.

The downside to this is there can be a sense of entitlement within the family. Often, the controlling, attached, secretive, elements that can be downright terrifying, stem from the fact that family is an extension of oneself. It’s not separate. Kids are not simply cut loose with a “I hope I’ve taught them well,” mentality. I like this. There is an element of individualism and selfishness that I believe is toxic for Americans. We are famous world-wide for the stereotype of being “detached, terrible, selfish,” parents. If you can’t run to family, who can you run to? At the same time, if family is all up in your business all the time, how can you become autonomous and self sustaining? I was blessed with a nice mix. My mom is a classic middle-class American, “after 18 you’re not my problem,” but my father is Iranian and more like, “everything you do is my business, listen to my advice or I’ll murder you and I’ll believe that it’s legal because I’m unaware of the modern world.” I’m not really a good example of good parenting because I write a blog with titles that say, “vagina” in them but I never felt alone or suffocated. I’m definitely nuts but not alone or suffocated.

Families in Italy can sometimes be so close that it seems like parents are actually in love with their kids. Like, Bates Motel, stalk them like an ex-girlfriend, stare into their eyes during dinner, in love. When I married into an Italian family I knew what I was getting into but it didn’t make long conversations about my underwear choices, or having the entire family huddle around my pap-smear results, any less weird and uncomfortable. I’m not shy but having my father-in-law waive information about my cervix around the kitchen is a bit much.

Yes, it’s invasive, uncomfortable, and downright rude as fuck most of the time but there is also something about it that seems to work in many ways (when the balance is right, obviously). There are fewer homeless people in Italy than in the US and few starving people.  Humans are pack animals. We require groups to survive, to thrive, to avoid writing suicide letters on our blogs. The US is productive but it’s often too individualistic. “Sink or swim,” is a pretty common motto even when discussing children. I’m not a big fan of coddling but I think a group mentality, to care about others equally to ourselves, a “if everyone is doing good only then are we doing good” mentality could be good for us. I’ve seen it work wonders in the US on a small scale in a few different forms and it’s awesome. We should all feel more responsible for each other more often.

My friends are magical. Some of them make me homicidal now and again but for the most part, most of them are the easiest people in the world. And more than easy, they are caring, open-minded, and just overall fucking awesome. When I first started my design business I was lucky enough to have friends willing to invest in the form of loans (I have not forgotten!) or fund our Kickstarter account (which is the same idea of community helping on a larger, more organized, level). We were able to manufacture and print our first shirts because our loved ones were backing us up. For a start-up we are not doing too bad. Last year one of my friends was struggling financially right before Christmas, so we made it a community thing, and I asked a bunch of my random friends (some knew the friend in question, some did not) if they’d be into making a little “donation” to help out. They did and it helped. One person can’t do one-hundred-bucks but surely ten can do ten-bucks. This year one of my best friends has a father who is dying. In an effort to help him check things off of his bucket-list he raised a bucket-list fund where his friends could help out. We did and it’s going to make it so our friends dad can experience things he’s always wanted to do before he passes. Cool right?

Wouldn’t it be nice to see some of this community in more families, too? I don’t know about anyone else but I have family members who vacation in other countries every year while their brother or sister or kid is one paycheck away from homelessness. We don’t have to sit around examining each other’s genitalia or advising each other when to have sex or procreate (this is a thing right now, yes, seriously), but we could see family as a group effort and less of a, “too bad your genes are stupid and now you’ll fail at life,” mentality. I kind of feel like we should be a little more “burdened” with those we love. Sure, not sucked dry or abused, but a little more available and willing to give up small pieces of ourselves for the good of the others. Except for writing time. That’s mine and I’ll choke them.

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Sometimes People Yell At Me

A Person Wrote This Comment In Response To 18 Differences Between Italy And The US :

“I live in Italy part of the time and find truth and humor in a bit of this article but it is offensive on so many levels beginning with the grammar in point #2: “pent”: past tense in a present tense sentence; Misty seems to think using the “f” word adds emphasis and hilarity, she would do well to remember what her mother probably told her: people who have difficulty expressing themselves resort to gutter language – lest you think me simply an old prude, let me say this language does add emphasis and is often funny in private conversations but surely people of intelligence read these blogs also. in her “bonus” re freedom she really crosses the line: we do not live in a police state; if she really thinks so she should try writing this in Iran or any other of the true “police states”. if Misty is really so concerned about being “tracked and watched” perhaps she should apply for citizenship in another country where she can work and earn in complete freedom.”

Dearest Shirly (Lest-er),

I’d like to start out by thanking you.  I appreciate you taking the time to inform me of my grammar error in #2, it’s very sweet of you and must have taken precious time away from your preferred hobbies such as eating kittens or punching babies in the face. I take this blog seriously and would hate to let such a thing go unnoticed. I have to admit that I’m elated that there was only one error in that entire list! I’m really starting to get this writing thing! WINNING! Thank you for alerting my readers of my intended use of swear words, too. I DO think that swearing is funny. “Fuck” even sounds funny when you say it out loud. Did you know that “fuck” doesn’t actually mean anything? I recently read an article in Huffington Post about it and I was pretty disappointed.

My mother has given me a lot of advice over the years about the use of “gutter” words and how to use them appropriately. “Misty, if you eat pork, ya gotta cook the shit out of it,” or “you shouldn’t use the word “cunt” unless there’s good reason and someone really deserves it.” I actually didn’t think you were an “old prude” until you used the word “lest.”  Up until that point I just thought you were an asshole.

Also, thank you for noting that many of my readers are intelligent. They are also open-minded, fun, and understand that this is a humor blog. I think that’s why I love them so much! As for my “bonus” that you were so deeply offended by, I feel obligated to inform you that I already have citizenship in Iran, since my father is from that country. I also have citizenship in the United States AND Italy. I’m kind of an overachiever when it comes to citizenships. In my opinion I would have to say that the US is a lot more Big Brother than is Italy. Thankfully, the US  differs slightly from Medieval England and as a US citizen I have the ability to say whatever I want. It’s called “Democracy,” which allows its citizens to say whatever they want, talk shit, and still continue to live there. It’s kind of awesome! You should Google it because you sound patriotic and I think it’s something you’d really be into.

Kisses!

M.E.

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Conversations That Seem Normal But Probably Aren’t

A week before valentines day F and I were having coffee when he turned to me and said:

F: I don’t want to do anything for valentine’s day this year. It’s stupid.

Me: That’s pretty romantic.

F: Well it’s stupid.

Me: I know. It IS a fake holiday. That’s pretty true. However, it’s also a nice reminder.

F: Of?

Me: That you have to do stuff sometimes. You know, a woman’s vagina puts the same amount of effort into their relationship as their partners do. It’s an excellent reminder that you have to do things once in a while to keep my vagina engaged in our marriage.

F: Right. Noted.

Me: But I totally agree that valentine’s day is stupid. Wait, what’s that vagina? My vagina just told me that she doesn’t want to do anything for v-day either. It’s amazing that you’re both on the same page. Everyone wins!

F: Could we just have one normal conversation?

Me: Are you talking to me or my vagina?

F: Sigh.

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Most of you know that right now we’re moving between Italy and the US (you can watch my American life on DirtyFilthyThings, warning, it’s more sweary and graphic) because I’m working on a book etc. We’re looking for a temporary house to rent in Arizona and F found one with a garden and chickens. Built in chickens. Which reminds him of his childhood and murdering chickens with his grandma who I’m pretty sure was a witch.

F: Dis has CHICKENS!

Me: Cool. I’m not living there.

F: WHAT!? WHY!? I make the garden and have the chickens!

Me: I don’t trust you around farm animals. I’ll get attached to them and then I’ll worry constantly that you’ll eat them.

F: How will you get attached to chickens?

Me: Because I’ll name them and then build them a pool because AZ is hot and pretty soon they’ll have a convertible and I’ll be like GO PAULA ABDUL GO!

F: What the fuck does this have to do with Paula Abdul the singer?

Me: Paula Abdul is the name of the two chickens. Paula & Abdul. Paula Abdul. They will be divas. I shall love them.

F: Why does everything have to be WEIRD? Can’t we just have chickens like normal people?

Me: Yeah, because normal people own chickens and normal people force their five year old grandchildren to murder them. That’s why normal people are so well adjusted and marry people like me.

F: Good point.

Me: So, about Paula Abdul, I feel like they’ll need a guardian or something…

F: NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

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My husband yells at me a lot for being “annoying” with customer service people. I argue that people sitting at a computer all day dealing with angry customers are probably BORED and they probably just want to just hang out and talk about unicorns. So I’m helping to increase their quality of life because I’m NOT AN ASSHOLE, FRANCESCO.

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Valentines Day Post (A Day Late): My First Date With F In Florence, Italy

How I Met My Husband 

I met F at a bar, while drunk, standing on a table, so it’s probably a huge surprise to everyone that our first date was not super romantic, traditional, or normal by any standards.  As instructed, he called me on Thursday afternoon, five days after I met him. I was sitting in my bedroom at my Piazza Duomo apartment when my phone rang. I rocked in a rocking chair, stared at the ceiling and let my feet molest the dresser. When I answered I had almost forgotten that I’d given my number to a complete stranger because it all happened while I was self inflicting brain damage.  “Hello. This is-a Francesco, I do not know-a if-a you remember me but-a you told-a me to call-a you?” I panicked and shouted, “I need to call you back!” I think he said “okay” but it’s entirely possible that I just hung up on him.

I called a friend who was with me that night to ask if the dude I’d given my number to was ugly, creepy, or seemed homocidal. “He was cute. He seemed normal to me,” he said, “you don’t remember him?” I guess I kind of did. I vaguely remembered how he looked but it was more of a generic idea. I knew that he looked italian. I’m not big on blind dates or stranger-danger dates but I was curious and it seemed safe-ish so I decided to give it a go and called him back. “Hi. It’s me. So, uhm, yeah, we can go out. I live in Piazza Duomo. Do you want to meet me in a wine bar downstairs from my apartment?” Thinking back, he probably thought that I picked a place close to my house so I could make sweet love to him. In reality I just figured it was the safest place for me if he got all rapey or stabby. If shit got weird my roommate was just upstairs and she’d probably hear me screaming or throwing things. Anyway, he agreed to meet there so I hung up and spent the rest of the day putting little or no effort into our date.

Something weird had happened to me during that year. I’d never wanted to get married but I had also completely given up on the prospect of ever dating someone that I wouldn’t hate within a few months. It seemed pointless to even try. Everyone bugged the shit out of me. Once I went on a date where a guy wore a white tracksuit and all I could think the whole time was how ashamed he should be for being born. I don’t really believe in horoscopes, but I do like to blame my nit-picky, overly critical, irritating personality on the Zodiac. I’m not an asshole, I’m a Virgo, I cannot help to judge ones outfit or soul. The downside to quickly disliking men is the lack of decent sex. I’m kind of a hyper sexual person, yet, I do not do the one-night-stand thing. I’ve never done it. Can’t. It’s not that I’m morally against it because that would require morals, it’s just that I am not attracted to men quickly enough to want to sleep with them. If I see a hot guy my vagina is like, “brain, what do you think?” and my brain is all, “he’s probably a fucking idiot or he thinks I want him,” both which make me want to gag. Things have to build to a certain point before I’m interested because I’m a weirdo personality really is everything. I’ve never found a man to be so attractive that my panties just dropped. However, a sweet man who likes the same books as me, that gets me, that’s hot. You would think that “friends with benefits” would be a solution to this but I also have an issue with sleeping with friends. Once someone hits the friend zone they are trapped there until the end of time. They become sexless, weird brotherly creatures who I want to lecture and punch in the arm. The last thing I want to see or think about is their funny little elephant trunk. This seems like a digression but it somehow relates to my date with F. I think. Or maybe it doesn’t.

Around seven p.m. I got ready for our date which consisted of me pulling on black snakeskin leggings, black boots, a black sweater, not brushing my hair, and throwing on five minutes of makeup while dancing to the Yeah,Yeah,Yeahs. At seven-thirty my roommate walked me downstairs to the teeny-tiny, dark, restaurant next door and waited with me until he showed up just in case he was a serial killer (because we would totally be able to tell by his appearance). He was late so I drank wine without him and chatted with my roommate about our thesis projects (hint: Mine had the word “vagina” in it.). About ten minutes later F strolled in. He was wearing jeans and a purple hoodie. I  thought, “Oh thank god he’s hot,” as he shyly made his way over to me and sat down at my table. My roommate left, pausing at the door to give me a thumbs up. Since I’d given up on finding a dude that I didn’t want to punch to death I wasn’t nervous at all. Frankly, I just wanted to find out how bad he sucked as quickly as possible so I could go out with my friends. He ordered wine and I turned to face him.

“So. Francesco, right? Cool. So, do you live with your parents?” I asked. I was pretty sure he’d fail this one because he is Italian. Mamma por vida!

“No. I’ve lived in Florence for five years. I live with roommates.” By “roommates” I later found out that he actually meant, “ex-girlfriend.” Awesome (and babe, since I know you’ll read this, you’re kind of dick for omitting that…).

“Oh. Nice. Do you do your own laundry?” This was important because I’d went on a date (first and LAST) with another Italian guy a few weeks prior who was late because his mother was washing his clothes. He was 40. He did not live at home. I never talked with him again.

“Yes. Who else would do it?” He laughed.

“Do you have a job?”

“I do. I’m an Engineer. I finished my masters degree in the spring. I just started this job a few months ago.” Shit. He’s smart.

“Hmm. What’s your favorite book?”

“The Unbearable Lightness Of Being.” Mother fucker! That’s my favorite book too! sonofabitch!

“Do you believe in fate or soulmates?” I asked because my roommate asked me the exact same question that morning and I found it both interesting and peculiar. It happened to pop into my head.

“Sure. Plato‘s version,” He said.

It was right about then that I shit my pants. That was my exact answer word-for-word. HOLY SHIT! We both washed our own underwear and we both mentioned Plato in reference to fate and soulmates. I was already attracted to him physically but then I started thinking about getting down and dirty with him. I freaked out a little. I realized  that I’d possibly just had a date with someone I might actually like and I was totally NOT ready for that level of commitment. So I panicked, and told him that I needed to go to bed, but not in a sexy way, in a weirdly fast, running for my life kind of way.

“I’ll walk you out.” He said.

I paid for our wine before he walked me to my apartment which was about two feet from the entrance of the restaurant.

“Want to go for-a a walk-a?” He asked. I was pretty sure he was just trying to be sneaky.

“No. Can’t. Call me some time if you want to see me again.” I said.

I unlocked my door. Stepped inside. And slammed the door in his face. No shit. What is wrong with me?

But apparently that’s how you seal the deal ladies because he was totally into it! Freak.

I ran upstairs to my roommate and did a weird little epileptic dance.

“How’d it go roomie,” she asked.

“I could marry him. He’s kind of awesome so far.”

Then I went out and got totally shitfaced with my friends.

F calls our first date The Interrogation. He says it was the weirdest date he’s ever been on in his life and he thought that I hated him. The fact that I was so weird is also what made him, in his words, oddly attracted to me.

Yes, friends, I did go to art school. I should demand a refund. Surviving My Dates.

Yes, I did go to art school. I should demand a refund.

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Surviving In Italy Won Stuff! Thank You So Much For All Of Your Love And Support. We Are WINNING!

HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS! WE WON SOMETHING! I’d like to thank all of you who nominated Surviving In Italy for the Italy Blog Awards 2013. Thanks to all of your votes (and whichever one of you that paid someone in their office a hefty sum) Surviving In Italy WON the Best Single Post for How To Survive Being An Expat. I’m pretty glad that I won for one of my more inspirational posts and not for the one about me losing my hearing after being punched in the ear by a drunk man in Florence. My family wouldn’t have been nearly as proud of that. Anyways, thanks for supporting me here, for sharing me on your FB, personal Blogs, and Twitter accounts and for making this blog a little success and a lot of fun. I love you guys, you’re the best! To say thank you, as recommended by my fellow blogger and friend, Expat Eye, I’ll be giving you all a Valentine’s Day gift that keeps on giving. HINT: It’s not Chlamydia. 

Last but certainly not least: Congratulations fellow bloggers!!! You guys are amazing! 

Best Art & Culture Blog
Becoming Italian Word by Word

Best Single Art & Culture Post
Points & Travel: La Bottega Del Legno: The Wood Shop In The Forlì Region Of Italy

Best Fashion and Design Blog
Le Conqui

Best Food Blog
Italy On My Mind

Best Single Recipe from a Food Blog
The Bittersweet Gourmet: Bucatini in Artichoke, Anchovy & Saffron Sauce

Best Living in Italy Blog
Rick’s Rome

Best Single Living in Italy Blog Post
Surviving Italy: How to Survive Being an Expat

Best Italy Travel Blog
Florence For Free

Best Single Italy Travel Blog Post
Bella Bagni di Lucca – Lucchio

Best Overal Blog for Lovers of Italy
Mozzarella Mamma

– See more at: http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/italy-blog-awards-2013-winners#sthash.KZwtoUqA.dpuf

 

 

How I Met My Husband In Florence And Why I (Wrongly) Believed I Was Awesome

My Italian husband who I met while totally wasted at a bar. How am I ever going to convince our kids that binge drinking is bad when it totally led to their birth?

While I drank a lot less in Florence than I did when I lived in Salt lake, I still found myself out at least three nights per week. My favorite spot was a rock and roll pub called Angies that I’d discovered through my school’s nude model, Lorenzo, who posed weekly in my painting and drawing classes. Lorenzo DJ’d at a few hip clubs around the city a few nights per week. He took advantage of the fact that he worked with students by promoting his club nights while sitting awkwardly with his elephant truck resting nonchalantly on his leg. I’ve drawn or painted his penis at least two-hundred times. If asked, the one thing I learned in art school was to draw his penis from memory. I believe in sixty years I’ll still have this magical gift. 

I was at Angies one night in January having a drink with my roommates, and a Guy student from our program. The bar was its usual dingy and dark self, the kind of place that had a specific odor that was somewhere between a strippers thigh towards the end of a long shift and a men’s urinal. It was sexy in a heroin chic kind of way, with its red walls yet outlandishly cartoonish with the number of blue whale caricatures that decorated the wall spaces and ceiling. In the back room, where the DJ booth and makeshift dance area was located, hardcore porn played on a small T.V. that hung from the ceiling with a metal hanger. I liked Lorenzo for a DJ because he played the right mix of Lady Gaga and Fleetwood Mac. It was a home-away from home because it was dark and dingy like my soul. It was also awsome that the owners never charged me for drinks and let me dance on the bar when I had ten too many.

The bar was hit or miss. Some nights it was empty with maybe ten patrons, most who were Morroccan drug dealers. The other nights it was like a sorority hazing, of eighteen year old girls well over their alcohol limit, packed into the space like a beehive. It was nights like this that I often stood on top of one of the coffee tables to avoid human contact with the buzzing teens. That’s how I met my husband. I was standing on top of a booze soaked table, tapping my heels to the beat of music, splashing cigarette butts and hepatitis under my heels. The guy from the grad program and Anne were both standing next to me on top of the table. My South African Princess was in the mess of things twerking her peers into shame.  The Guy leaned over and said, “I’d really like to date an Italian girl while I’m here. At least one.” And I went on, in a totally unfounded cocky way, to explain that getting a date was simple. You had to ask. That’s it. “Easier said than done,” he added. At that exact moment an attractive Italian man walked into the back room wearing a black peacoat with his collar popped up. He had a drink in his hand and was obviously looking for someone. He crossed the sea of bodies and turned towards us. “Watch.” I told The Guy. I pointed, drunkenly, and like a total asshole, at the peacoat guy, and then in front of myself to communicate in chimpanzee language that I wanted him to walk his adorable ass from the wall to me. He started coming over to me but was interrupted by a student stopping him and then My South African Princess’ ass was somehow going up and down in front of him. The rest of My South African Princess was on the floor. He pointed to me, she laughed and nodded, and he ended up at my feet.

“Hi. What’s your name?” I asked.

“I’m Francesco.”

“Cool. Come and get my number before you leave.” I said. Then I stood back up and went about my business. He nodded and walked off.

About ten minutes later I snatched a pen and paper from DJ/Nude model Lorenzo and handed my number to Francesco who was simply standing around casually chatting with people he clearly didn’t know. “Here. Call me. But not until Thursday because I have class.” I said. He nodded again. Then, a few minutes later he left the bar.

“Are you fucking kidding me!?” The Guy said. I shrugged and felt smugly proud of myself as if I’d accomplished something amazing by drunkenly handing a drunk man my phone number at a bar. Alcohol clearly does weird things for my ego.

My husband told me a year later after we were engaged that his first thought was, “She’s too pretty for me,” and the second thought was, “but she’s totally going to be easy.” For the record I totally wasn’t. Sucker.

He called me exactly on Thursday one week later. That was our first date (which is another story and another blog post and another embarrassing chapter in my life).

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