Oh, Angelo: Possibly The Hottest Italian Man Living In Florence

A month ago some friends of mine from the AZ area joined me and Francesco in Florence for a week. For the first part of our trip we stayed in an Airbnb apartment near Santo Spirito. The apartment was sunny, newly renovated and modern. Well, mostly modern. It didn’t have air conditioning for reasons I’m still trying to work out in my mind. It was July, hot as hades, my boobs were sweaty and my makeup melted down my face the second I put it on so I looked like a whimpering mime most of the time. Since it was so hot in our apartment we mostly avoided it altogether, jetting out in the a.m. and wandering the streets like dried prunes till the evening. On one particular day the heat had become too much for me (since I’m apparently a delicate flower), and I started feeling dizzy. The last thing I wanted to do was faint in the middle of the street, something I’d witnessed a few years prior when a friend of ours from Brescia visited Florence and she dropped like a sack of potatoes on the Ponte Vecchio from heat exhaustion. She spent five hours hooked up to I.V.’s while a drunk man belted out tunes across from her. No thanks. So, not wanting to faint, we beelined it back to our hot ass apartment so I could take a cold shower.

When we walked into the apartment building we were hit by a gust of cool air. Turned out that the floor level was nice and cool, the sun hadn’t managed to work its way through the three meters of cement slabs. The main floor, the hallway, felt air conditioned and glorious so my friend Karen and I took a seat on the steps until my light-headedness passed. Francesco ran upstairs to our apartment on the fourth floor to grab some bottled waters from the fridge. Karen and I talked on the cold cement steps, enjoying a few wonderful minutes away from the hot air outside that felt like a blow-dryer on the nape of your neck. My face returned to its normal tone, my cheeks lost their bright red flush, and I felt fine again.

At about this time, the front door of the apartment building opened and a tall Italian man enters dressed in a navy blue suit. His head is shaved, he’s wearing D&G sunglasses and Italian leather shoes. He shuts the door behind him, pivots, and stops cold when he sees us on the steps in front of him. A smile slowly spreads across his face, a perfect smile, revealing an excellent set of the whitest pearly whites I’ve ever seen in Italy outside of a magazine ad. He pauses there for a moment just smiling, then walks with purpose directly up to Karen and I. Standing only a few inches from our feet he cocks his head to the side, the smile has only spread wider at this point,

“Hello,” he says in Italian, “what are you doing here?”

I respond, in Italian, “It’s hot outside and it’s much cooler here. We are renting an apartment upstairs. I’m just waiting for my husband.”

He nods, “but you’re not Italian. Why do you speak Italian?”

I smile, “because my husband is Italian.”

He bows slightly, “I understand. Well, enjoy your day,” he raises his sunglasses revealing one of the most attractive faces I’ve ever seen (aside from my own husband’s). I’m not easy to impress, neither is Karen, but we were both fucking impressed. “Ciao.” He walked passed us to the apartment located directly behind where we were sitting.

He took out his keys, “I lived in the US for a while,” he put his key into the hole, “it was wonderful.”

Francesco came walking down the stairs. He saw the man talking with us and flashed me a “are you getting hit on?” smile.

“Ciao,” he said to the handsome man going into his apartment.

“Ciao,” the handsome man replied, “I was just telling your friends that I lived in America for a while.”

Francesco stopped to talk with him, “really? Where?”

Turned out, the handsome man had lived in Florida for a while, partied a great deal, worked in a number of bars, had a marvelous time, and returned to his beloved Florence.

“But why do you speak Italian?” he asked Francesco.

Francesco laughed, “Uhm, because I’m Italian?” They both laughed.

The handsome guy said goodbye and disappeared into his apartment. Francesco walked over to me and Karen,

“Wow, that guy is hot.” He noted.

“Right? Wow.”

“I can see what all the fuss is about now with Italian men,” Karen laughed, “The confidence! He walked straight up to us with a determination I’ve never seen before.”

“Oh, welcome to Italy. That’s what makes them so damn attractive, the guys, they give zero fucks. That’s exactly how Francesco was when we started dating too. Insanity.”

“I like it.”

“He’s REALLY hot,” Francesco said, again.

“Yeah babe, I noticed. You gonna leave me for him?” I laughed, “Anyway,” I stood up, “I’m going to go change. Be right back.”

“I’m coming too,” Karen followed me upstairs to our sweltering apartment.

I threw on a cooler dress and more comfortable sandals. I was on my way to meet up with Georgette from Girl In Florence and I didn’t know how far I’d be walking. Plus, I didn’t want to show up a disgusting sweaty mess so the least I could do was put on a clean dress for her. I liked her, I didn’t want to knock her out with my potent b.o.

Karen and I ran downstairs to grab Francesco before heading to a bar to meet Georgette. Only, Francesco was nowhere to be found. Karen and I waited outside, and waited, and ten minutes went by and he was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the door popped open and F stuck his head out,

“Babe, I’m hanging out with Angelo*, that’s the hot guy’s name. Come hang out!”

“Francesco, I’m going to be late!”

“Just two minutes!” Francesco grinned.

Karen and I followed Francesco into Angelo’s apartment and out to his garden where Angelo was seated, practically naked. His six pack glistened in the afternoon sun, his biceps bounced as he stood up to shake our hand.

“This is my apartment,” he said, in English this time, “I amAngelo, I own a bar nearby.” He smiled, again.

“Can I get you guys a drink? Something, else?” He paused and flashed a smile.

Angelo proceeded to roll a special variety of cigarette.

Everyone smoked the cigarette except for me because I prefer vodka.

“You sure?”Angelo asked, flashing a crooked smile.

“Yes. I’m meeting a friend for drinks.”

He shrugged.

Angelo made small talk about Florida and his life in Florence. Sweat beads occasionally fell between his well-formed pecs.

A few minutes later we excused ourselves to run towards the bar to meet Georgette. As we exited his apartment, a little old Italian woman entered from the apartment next door.

“Oh, my jesus,  his mom lives next door.”

“Of course,” Francesco added, matter-of-factly.

————–

I’m fairly certain that he has a girlfriend because it’s impossible he doesn’t BUT  if you’re interested in seeing this majestic creature in the wild visit: LANGOLINO in Santa Spirito. I’ve heard that he can be found here often. Order drinks, and thank mother nature.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Happy (Late) New Year! What I’ve Learned

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Are you guys having the best time EVER!?

Happy New Years! Revisiting The 1920's, booze, guns, wine, and jazz!

Happy New Years! Revisiting The 1920’s, booze, guns, wine, and jazz! I HAVE A FEATHER!

This year has been crazy. I feel more like myself than I have in a long while. I’m hopeful and I feel like my goals, while scattered, are actually coming together. My book is quasi finished. It took me 6 months longer than planned but I guess that’s life, right? I’m okay with it (or at least I’m trying to be, if I say it over and over again I might be…).

For New Years we were going to stay home with the in-laws but decided around 11:30 p.m. to go out for a few hours. By then everyone was already drunk or asleep but we found a Gatspy party in Phoenix that F was totally determined to go to even though it was practically midnight. We only stayed for a short while but we saw friends, a few fire breathers, some samba dancers. Everyone decked out in their finest 1920’s attire. I was practically naked and totally freezing but that’s what champagne is for. 2015 started with us on a hotel roof, champagne in hand, me, clad in fishnets and black fringe, F wearing a mobster outfit and gun holster.

I think that this year is going to be a big year for us and hopefully it’s totally BADASS.

Resolutions: my entire life is a giant resolution. I make them daily, weekly, and monthly but I only accomplish them about 9% of the time. I usually skip the New Years resolution but I think this year I could use an extra boost. We have a lot of decision to make, we’re on the cusp of so many huge projects coming to fruition. Holy shit! It’s pretty scary. I want to finish my books, get more articles published, blog more, and do more things to make the world totally badass so we don’t die. The world needs a lot of help, guys. Did you guys make any resolutions this year?

What I’ve learned this year: The only way to accomplish goals is to take the steps necessary to accomplish them every, single, day. There is never a right time to do it. Don’t think about it, or talk about it, just get on it and get it done. Don’t try to do it all at once, just do it a little at a time. Put everything you have into everything you do. I wish I’d learned this earlier. What life lessons have you learned? Put it in the comments below. I’m a slow learner and could use any help I can get.

What else I’ve learned? Go to Hawaii for the holidays from now on.

The holidays have been insane and have taught me a number of hard lessons like this gem via my MIL, “You’ll die if the house is warm and you go outside. So, you have to keep the house cold or wear three puffy coats, a hat, scarf, and hypothermia prevention blankets to venture out into 60 degree weather.” I might be slightly exaggerating that one, but not by much.

I’ve also learned that if I want to have any kind of a future, I should quit writing to “learn how to give pedicures at the beauty school,” again, according to my MIL. I should also get pregnant, like tomorrow, so my in-laws can punch my kids because good parents “smack their children a lot.”

We’re getting closer to starting a family. This year could be that year if I can get over my Tokaphobia (it’s a real thing) and be cool with having a freeloading sea monkey in my stomach for 9 months followed by it ninja-killing my vagina. Mostly. Having my in-laws here is kind of like baby repellent for me.

Another thing I learned: Multi-cultural families are very, very difficult. Approach with caution. They can be amazing, enriching, and wonderful but they can also be exclusive, prejudice, and confusing. A lot of the American expats I know find everything Italy related to be blissfully perfect (including nationalism and bigotry mistaken for “pride”). I don’t. I think that every country has its pros and cons and an ideal situation would allow you to pick and choose the best cultural things to create a whole lot of awesome. For example, I like the “Go Get It!” culture in the US, but I dislike the individuality and selfishness that can come with it. I love how family-oriented Italian culture is, but I dislike that appreciation and respect can quickly become controlling and manipulative.

After I gestate our mini-us, it’s going to have to be a person (and given the way my dog turned out my mini-person is going to awesome and a total terror). Also, this person will be related to my husband’s family. They’re not the worst people in the world and they have a lot of good things to offer our kids if they could just chill out a little (or a lot). It’s not just that they were raised in a tiny town, it’s not abnormal that they are traditional, a little narrow-minded, and not at all accepting of anything that isn’t from small-town, Italy.  They are also type A personalities, Italian nationalists, and people who have been married for forty years and dislike each other a lot which is probably common and is sad but they’re a little bitter and have some insane arguments on the reg that I’d prefer my kids not to witness, ever.

In addition, everything we do is always up for family debate. We once had a 40 minute conversation about what color of underwear I was wearing with tan pants and another time they carried my pap-smear results around the house talking amongst themselves about my vagina. I don’t mind the intrusion when it’s because they are concerned or just want to help. I loathe it when it’s a, “this is how we do it so you must or the world will end,” thing aka, “you can’t drink coffee before you shower,” or, “real men don’t do dishes.”

This attitude will be problematic for me because my idea of child-rearing is a bit different from theirs. Their parenting sounds like an 80’s rap song, “Just hit it… preferably in the head. If you can’t reach it to punch it, then scream in its face in public.” It’s not that I was never spanked, I definitely was, but I’d like to do things a bit differently with the fruit of my loins. What I’ve learned from having a dog around them is this: Regardless of how much I’m against hitting dogs, if I’m not around they’ll go ahead and do it for me. This worries me because if someone take it upon themselves to “spank” one of my kids I’ll break their damn arm off and beat them to death with it. The real problem is that my husband has “perfect son,” syndrome and he has a hard time telling them, “no,” and standing up to them. It’s not that he’s scared, it’s that he doesn’t want to hurt their feelings. I get that. I love my parents, a lot, but I’m okay with yelling at him, when he says something homophobic. Same with my mom. Franny, on the other hand, tunes it out and goes to his happy place somewhere deep inside his weird/brilliant engineer brain. Which is okay, but it leaves me yelling things at his parents like, “STOP POINTING AT BROWN PEOPLE AND SCREAMING, “MEXICAN!” WE ARE NOT IN A ZOO!” It’s awkward and not something I want to deal with as a parent. I might explode the first time my three year old plays, “Spot the Morrocan,” with it’s grandparents. I feel helpless because I feel alone in dealing with it. I also feel like it’s not my place to yell at someone else’ parents because I was taught not to yell at old people.

Even talking about children in front of them gives me anxiety. They have this idea that our children will only belong to Francesco. They’ll be HIS kids, completely absent from myself or my people. “You cannot raise your children to be multicultural. They must be Italian! THEY MUST BE ITALIAN” They told my husband, hysterically, as he tried to explain to them that our kids will be Persian, American, and Italian. Their view that anything that isn’t Italian is inherently bad is just depressing and it makes me sad to think that our kids will be “tainted,” in their minds. How will my kids feel being told they are only half “good?” My husband and I are in love and we’re happy. You would think that that alone would be enough for any parent.

Other words of wisdom from my in-laws regarding kids, “Your dog would be better if you hit him! HIT HIM! You can’t do like this with children! You’ll have to hit them”

“We believe that if you don’t baptize babies, if they die, they’ll go to purgatory.”

“Pasta is not a carb.”

“It’s healthier to eat donuts for breakfast than eggs.”

What I’m Trying To Learn This Year: How to navigate difficult personalities in a loving way without ruining relationships or murdering anyone. Hopefully it will be on my list next year of “Things I’ve Learned. If you have advice, I’d love to hear it.

Family aside, I want this year to be a year of accomplishing things without bullshit. I’m a procrastinator. I self-sabotage and am probably more afraid of getting what I want more than anything else. I hope this year I can kick my own ass and accomplish things I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Such as, FINISH MY DAMN BOOKS, travel more, possibly bake a mini-us, paint and draw more, and train Oliver to walk on a leash. Also, to be more romantic with my husband (on days I don’t want to put forks in his eyes). By “romantic,” I don’t mean “have more sex.” I mean, like, surprise him with dates, buy him flowers, and stuff. You pervs.

Another thing I’ve learned this year: We don’t have that much time. Time goes so fast and before you know it you’re 90 and haven’t done shit that you set out to do.

I hope you guys have a wonderful new year filled with magic, love, and accomplishments. Thank you for all the support, for the fun stories, the great advice, and the new friendships. Tanti baci, from us to you!

THIS IS A VERY LATE COSI POST! CHECK OUT MY FAVORITE ITALY BLOGS AND THEIR ITALY NEW YEARS STORIES ON COSI!

 

 

Surviving Christmas With Italian In-Laws

I want to start out by wishing all of you a happy holiday! Thank you so much for all the support, for keeping me sane, and for contributing to my life by sharing your stories with me. I wish you all the best this month, and for all the months! You’re all such epic badasses! Please excuse my posts this week. I’ve had to write them on my phone.

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Awe, Christmas! That warm, happy, stressful time of year where you desperately want to feel warm and tingly but instead just on the brink of a heart attack. Buying gifts, coordinating family, dealing with in-laws!

And this brings us back to my three weeks of in-law mania. Today was more mild than the other days because it’s Christmas. People usually try to be a little bit nicer on Christmas. This isn’t to say that my in-laws are demons, they are just difficult, and often don’t realize that a whole world exists outside of themselves. This, obviously, is frustrating as hell. This holiday season we’re staying at my dad’s house (hail Persia!). My cousins from England flew in, I have three siblings living at home, plus my in-laws, Francesco, Oliver, my parent’s dog and myself. It’s a full house.

We woke up this morning to a foot of snow. The Christmas scenery was perfect. We drank coffee, then all 14 of us sat around the tree to open gifts. My dad gifted me a beautiful Persian recipe book with an inscription in Farsi. He couldn’t remember what he wrote, “something like, I hope you enjoy this season I love you.” My father isn’t much for gift-giving or sentiment, opting to leave these things to my step-mum so my sister and I were both very touched (he sent one to her as well). I did not get a capybara. Dwayne is obviously upset.

After gifts, my step-mum made breakfast, while my MIL observed, “pastries for breakfast are more healthy than eggs, I think.”

Around ten my MIL took over the kitchen to prepare dough for dinner. She wanted to make lasagna and tagliatelle for dinner. She makes everything from scratch, completely handmade, simple, and delicious. My MIL is hands down one of the best cooks I know. The ragu takes hours to simmer so we started that first.

“Misty, translate for me, please,” she waved me into the kitchen.

“What do you need?” My step-mom asked me to ask my MIL.

My MIL turned to me, “well, I need onions, carrots, tomatoes….and hlkutj.”

I asked her to repeat the last part because I couldn’t quit make it out.

She exhaled, gestured to my step-mum, “My God, even she speaks Italian better than you!” She doesn’t speak any Italian. That was my last draw with obnoxious comments on how much I suck at talking so I told her that if I sucked so bad she could fair just fine without me (with a big fat smile pasted to my exhausted face). I left to shower. Rule of thumb: Don’t be a jerk to your translator.

Last night while cooking dinner my step-mum tried to pay me a compliment, “We’re so proud of you! You speak Italian so well! Doesn’t she speak Italian well?” She asked my MIL. I, of course, had to translate this knowing full well that what was going to come. My MIL  glared at me, stirred the dough frying in the Olive oil in front of her, “No. She doesn’t speak well. She understand fine, I guess, but she should speak a lot better than she does.” She went back to her fried pizza.

My step-mum shot me a look that was a mix between confusion and disappointment, “oh…” she said.

I headed for the office with my glass of wine, wondering if I can really go fifty years like this. Marrying my husband always seems like the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, until we spend any significant time around his parents. It’s only then that I start wondering if just maybe we jumped into things. I feel like that’s how a lot of people feel during the holidays though.

While rolling out the pasta dough, the machine thingy broke. It was a gift from me and F to my parents last year. It breaking was a sign that we were epic failures and total assholes. My MIL totally lost her shit at F in the kitchen, while throwing a very visible fit, because “How dare you have bought a pasta roller thingy that broke?” We pretty much ruined Christmas with our bad purchasing choices. The fit was entertaining to all who are not used to it.

I went sledding with my brother, sister, father, and cousins. We flew down the hill near my baby sister’s school, three to a sled, giggling all the way. We crashed at the bottom. It was awesome. We came home covered in snow, freezing our asses off.

When I entered the kitchen my FIL gestured to the pasta dough drying in front of him, “Instead of going around doing things, why don’t you get in here and learn how to cook.” I shrugged, “I have no interest in learning how to make that.” Which is partially true but only because they think I “must” learn how to do it. I’m an obsessive learner; I love learning. I want to know everything that there is to know. I believe that knowledge is everything, it’s all we have, it’s all we can give to others that matters. However, there is something in my biology that rejects anything that is stuffed down my throat. My gag reflex is strong. Maybe it’s normal, maybe it’s not, but if someone tells me I “must learn Italian because you’re not allowed to speak English around me,” I’ll never fucking speak Italian around you ever again. Tell me I need to cook, and fuck you, it’s Spaghetti O’s from now on bitches and I won’t even microwave that shit first. It’s immature, I know. I’ve tried not to be that way with internal dialogues about how it doesn’t fix anything or solve any problems or prove anything. Doesn’t work. My brain is against me on this one.

My FIL keeps referring to everything as “goooood shits,” because my step-dad taught him that. He likes to use it to refer to people, too. “Bob is goooood shits!”

We ate dinner around 8:00. The salad, pasta, upside-down-pineapple cake, were amazing, as always. We applauded my MIL who spent all day on Christmas to prepare this meal. Six hours. I asked her if she was tired, “Have you seen the amount of work I do at home in Italy?” She had a point. I’ve never witnessed so much exhausting work in my life. I have no doubt that it slightly contributes to the crazy. “Can I clean the oven?” she asked, after. “What the hell? NO! Get out of the damn kitchen!” I said. She laughed, hugged me, then walked off. I drank twenty glasses of Prosecco. My family teased my FIL about how he needed to move to the US to learn how to assist in cleaning since in Italy he doesn’t help around the house at all. We laughed.

I’m in my little sister’s room right now. Listening to my massive family laugh downstairs. People are screaming in Persian, Italian, and two different dialects of English.

 

Day 2: When Good Intentions Fail Miserably

I wrote this on my phone. I apologize for errors or crazy formatting.

As you all know, my in-laws are in town for three weeks. It’s been interesting. If you haven’t had a chance to catch up you can see the two previous blog posts here:
5 Hours To Go
I’ll Be Sainted, Right?

The thing with my in-laws is that they’re not necessarily evil it’s just that they’re products of their environment, and their environment is that of tradition, ethnocentrism, tough childhoods, and perpetual nervousness. Their closed surroundings have produced bubble people who have been raised on their own planet: Cassino.

Pretty much all of their insanity stems from the fact that they honestly don’t know any better.

“People shouldn’t treat their dogs so well, dogs should be left outside to fend for themselves.”

“If one doesn’t buy an apartment before marriage, their children will be homeless and die.”

“Pizza and pasta are healthy.”

“Men are the boss of women.”

These are only a few “factual,” statements that I struggle with, given that they are total bullshit. But it gives you an idea of what we are dealing with here. It’s their way or the highway, everything they think is right, so the opposite is decidedly wrong. This has always been our struggle. They cannot understand diversity. It’s either scary and they’re pretty sure it’s life threatening or it’s fascinating, like they are observing creatures in a zoo.

Which brings us to the most embarrassing five minutes of my life. Yesterday Francesco had a work party at his boss’ house. Preparing for the party was bad enough. I had to take them to 3,000 stores to find the perfect bottle to hold Grappa, a gift for my husband’s boss. I had to take my MiL to get her hair done, and I had to buy Pannetone from Trader Joes. Every purchase, as usual, has been an argument along with three subsequent hours of bitching. So, I’ve just decided to pay for everything and hide the receipts (they ask for them and search for them for hours). I’m not rich, by any means, but I hate talking about money, especially for ten min in front of a confused cashier. Its so tacky.

I drove my in-laws the 1 hour drive to Francesco’s bosses home, located in the middle of the dessert, in coyote country (most of you know that we are temporarily in the US while I finish my books). The drive was scenic, accompanied by a cacophony of, “oh God! Watch out! Slow down! Mother Mary! Ew, I don’t like the way this looks. I prefer the sea. This is dry. Oh God! Watch out!” From my MIL and, “stop talking woman! Shut up!” From my FIL.

We met my husband at their home.
I was hellbent on getting wasted so I was off in the corner chugging Layer Cake with some of my husband’s younger colleagues. Yes, I’m the immature thirty-year-old that’s sitting with all the 22 year olds having the best time ever. We were right in the middle of a conversation about how Italy is amazing and irritating. My example, ironically, was that it lacked diversity. Almost as if on cue, my MIL walks over to pet the young girl who is directly across from me.
“You’re pretty,” she says in Italian, “misty, translate for me.”
Then she faces the girl, bends down, pulls her eyes taught, and says, “where are you from?!” To Francesco’s colleague who is Korean-American.
I coughed. Then stared at the table.
The girl smiled, “uhm, I’m American?” She took a long pull from her glass of beer.
“But how are you American,” my MIL pressed. She pulled her eyes taught again, “if your eyes are like this?”
The girl looked at me, since I was doing the translating “I was born in Korea but raised in the US.”
My MIL patted the girl’s head, “My niece has eyes kind of like yours,” she pulled her eyes back again.
“As I was saying, there is no diversity…” I surveyed the table of shell-shocked faces. I finished my entire glass of wine in one acidic gulp.

My FIL took photos of cactuses. My husband was in another room messing with the 80k amp he’d just designed.
My MIL sashayed through the kitchen where F’s boss rolled out pizza dough to cook in his industrial oven.
“In my opinion, the world adores pizza,” she said with her head held high, happy to bestow her gift of cuisine, as if she had personally brought flat dough to the United States.

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Day 1. I’ll Be Sainted, Right?

My in-laws arrived last night around 9:30 p.m. They were more awake than I thought they would be after such a long flight. “Look at that!” They pointed at various things in the Phoenix landscape. “Wow! A Cactus!” my MIL pressed her face against the window.

Back at our house it was all smiles. They went into their room to unpack their bags, unloading about sixty pounds of pecorino and parmasian cheese, “gifts for Misty’s family.” They also brought four bottles of grappa, coffee, and a new pair of pajamas for Francesco.

“That definitely has me thinking of sex” I shook my head at the plaid, blue, get-up.

He shrugged, “It’s normal in Italy.”

“Yeah,” I picked up Oliver to kiss him, “which explains your dramatically low birthrate.”

Or does it?

A few minutes later Francesco’s mother padded out into the living room, refreshed from her shower, wearing a head to toe pink pajama set. On her shoulder, in bedazzled lettering, there were words. I took a closer look because I was pretty sure I was reading it incorrectly. Nope. “SEX AND LOVE,” in English, in sparkling gems.
I whispered to Francesco, “She cannot wear that around my 10 year sister.”
I told her what Sex And Love meant in Italian. She shrugged, “I’m too old for sex or love.” I’ve always liked that Italians can be so relaxed about such things. My step mom would be horrified if she found out she was padding around the house, advertising certain services.

We showed them the house which they liked well enough. Then they moved on to inspecting us like cattle. I was able to check off a few of my list of anticipated feedback. She poked my butt, “You gained weight but only in your ass.” She caressed my cheek, “And is that a mole? You need to have that lasered off.” She moved my hair off of my shoulder, “at least with bangs I can see your face, but you know, that long hair,” she shook her head. For anyone that has lived in Italy, this kind of commentary is relatively normal. Believe it or not, she’s not trying to be mean. She just feels like it’s her duty to ensure that both Francesco and I are always in tip top breeding shape. “When are you guys going to have a baby?” She leaned against our granite top cabinet.

Around midnight I made everyone chamomile tea with honey. Then we all went to bed.

This morning Francesco went to work so it was my job to keep them entertained all day. We made coffee. They ate chocolate chip cookies; I had a banana. Francesco’s dad took Oliver for a walk but returned immediately when a neighbor tried to speak with him. I put a load of laundry in for my MIL who was amazed by the sheer size of the washing machine. “Wow! That’s incredible! Look at that! And a dryer! You have your own dryer!?” She opened and closed the door a dozen times. She found other things fascinating: The electric stove, central heating, and coconut sugar. The vacuume is by far her favorite. She’s hell bent on bringing two back home with her, “the technology!”

We went to Target to buy things they needed like after-shave, face-wash, and a new table runner for my table because, “Why don’t you have a table runner!?” They were giddy, walking up and down the aisles, examining all of the foreign goodies. My MIL was scaring mothers by petting their babies, and offending others by shoulder checking them out of her way so she could examine gift bags. We went to Starbucks where my FIL used a debit card for the first time. He giggled, “WOW! That’s so fast! How do you know it worked?” He demanded the receipt because otherwise how would he know what his balance was? I took photos of them in Starbucks, posing, with their coffee that was, “really gross.”

Then we went to Whole Foods, and this is where shit totally fell apart.

After about three minutes in Whole Foods my in-laws were yelling. How is it possible that apples are 2.99 per pound? Except they didn’t understand what a pound was so they wanted me to weight everything, figure out what it was in kilos, then convert the price to euros. Every.Single. Item. Apples, tomatoes, walnuts, was a fifteen minute discussion where in the end my MIL would throw her hands up, “This is just too expensive! NO! We’re not getting it!” and demand it be put back. We’re not talking about twenty dollars here, we’re talking about 3.00 dollars. Don’t get me wrong, produce is more expensive in the US and Whole Foods totally ass rapes you (I had to take them there, the quality in a normal grocery store would have given them an aneurysm) but it’s not so expensive that it could cause one to die. They’re not poor. After 45 minutes we settled on walnuts, tomatoes, flour, and apples.

After the shock at Whole Foods they were hungry. I gave them some options and my FIL chose mexican because he loves spicy food. My MIL was pissed because she didn’t want “to eat anything that wasn’t Italian. End of story!” This statement was accompanied by foot stomping, the way a toddler might when denied candy. She was in the US to spread her cooking goodwill around to others, damnit! We ended up going to a really great Mexican place. I ordered them tacos while my MIL talked shit about two old women drinking margaritas together. We had a glass of Malbec. When the food came my FIL liked it well enough. He ate two bowls of salsa and two baskets of chips, plus his tacos and all of his refried beans. Every time a brown person walked by my MIL would point and ask, “Is that a Mexican?” When her food arrive she tried it, decided it was disgusting, then went on a long-winded rant about Italian superiority. “I just think that people love Italy and Italians. Our food is just better. I can’t believe that people eat Mexican food. It’s disgusting. You know, I really should open a restaurant across the street…” followed by a long list of “delicious,” foods she would serve to save the people from having to eat other ethnic foods.

Our waitress came over, “What language are they speaking?”

“Italian.”

“Oh!” she smiled, “I like to eat spaghetti!” She said, in Italian, “I learned that and a few other phrases in school.”

My FIL was elated that our waitress knew a sentence of his mother-tongue. Since she had flattered him by gracing herself with the Italian language he wanted to repay her by joining her for life to one of his brethren, “You need a nice Italian man,” he told her.

“Oh? Find me one!” She cleared the table.

“I’ll find you a nice boy from Naples! You come to Italy, come find us, and I’ll find you one!” He laughed.

“Great!” She ran towards the kitchen.

He looked at us, “Should I give her our address?”

I taught them how to tip, which my FIL was intrigued by, my MIL was furious. “MORE MONEY!?” She exhaled loudly like a deflating balloon.

Back at my house my FIL went to work cleaning out my vacuum filter using one of our knives from a $200.00 set my sister gave us, jamming it into the depth of our dusty vacuum filter. Then he took to cleaning the air filter for our central air, after I’d vacuumed, tracking dust from one side of the house to the other. “I need to also clean the tiny air filters,” he said, pointing to the heat vent. I explained that it was a vent that produced either hot air or cold air. He wouldn’t find an air filter in each one in every room. This baffled him.

Finally, after I’d vacuumed sixty times, cleaned the stove 200, and fetched 9,000 things for them, the mom settled into the kitchen to make pizza (while mumbling to herself “thank God I can cook, unlike everybody else in this country.”

Around 7 PM I put on an Italian film in Netflix something with Sophia Loren. They settle down into the couch and were entertained until Francesco came home. Only 20 more days to go.

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5 Hours To Go: The In-Laws Cross The Atlantic

The next three weeks should be hell super fun. I’ve cleaned for a total of 12 hours in the past few days. I’ve washed every, single thing in the house. We dusted the baseboards, cleaned the fridge and freezer, the oven, and wrapped presents. You see, the Obamas  my in-laws are joining us in the US to spend Christmas with my parents.

My husband has been singing his usual Christmas song while I organize things. His version is terrifying because he only knows one line, “You better watch out,” which he warns over, and over again, threateningly. In his version, Santa is not only watching for naughty behavior, but is also a serial killer, ready for bloodshed.

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Maybe I can just hide in my hair.

 

At least it makes me giggle. Laughing breaks up the stress. I’m trying to focus on humor with all the cleaning, the planning, the preparing, the impending meltdown.

“What do you mean there’s no bidet!? We need at least a bucket or something!” My mother-in-law tells my husband on the phone last week.

I whispered, “What does she need a bucket for?”

Francesco cupped the phone, “You know, like a bucket to use as a bidet.”

I fluffed Oliver’s newly washed bed, “And how exactly will they lower their 60 year old asses into a small bucket?” I wondered.

We ended up buying the bucket, of course, which is now under my bathroom sink waiting. How they’ll use it, I have no idea. Frankly, I don’t want to know. I agree with them, the bidet is awesome but a bucket seems primative. It’s what poor people in those sad commercials-living in a foreign land in cardboard house-use for their weekly wash-up. It’s not really something you’d expect to find in bathroom in Arizona where they’ll be joining us for one week before we head to Utah for another week, then Vegas. They arrive in exactly 5 hours and 30 minutes. They’ve been to Germany but otherwise this is their first real trip outside of Italy. They’re main concern was not the plane exploding over the Atlantic or being eaten by sharks but whether or not we had an adequate butt washer.

They had other, more mild concerns, of course.  My MIL is worried that American lemons are not good enough to make cookies. What kind of food would they eat and who would be preparing it? Legally, how much food could they get away with bringing in their suitcases? What about Prosciutto? When my husband told my mother-in-law that she could not bring half of a pig with her she thought for a minute, “It’s okay, I’ll just tell the security guard that my daughter-in-law is pregnant.” I’m not pregnant and what pregnant woman requires four pounds of dried pork? What would I be birthing that would require that much medicated protein?

Don’t mind this leg. There’s a fetus in need of nourishment, officer.

 

“They’re going to show up naked,” I warned Francesco. I wouldn’t be surprised if they teetered off the plane with one change of clothes in order to make room for an entire ham, pasta, tomato sauce, lemons, grappa, and random greens my father-in-law harvested from a nearby field. If they were other people and not them it would be pretty cute (for those of you new to the blog, I’m not a monster, we’re dealing with some very special people here). It’s not that I hate them or even dislike them. I somehow even love them (stockholm syndrome). But they are impossibly difficult to deal with. Three weeks, 24 hours per day, with any in-laws is just insane. That amount of time with my in-laws is just asking for someone to self medicate or admit themselves to the loony bin.

In embracing humor we’ve also been making bets about the first round of shit talk they dish out. I voted on things that are typical and a sure win: “You’re hair is ugly, I don’t like your makeup, why do you dress that way, and you should get rid of your dog.” Francesco tried to be more optimistic, voting for: “The house isn’t clean enough, the food is all shit, your coffee is terrible, and why won’t you guys have a baby? Do you not understand how sex works?” Followed by a possible diagram situation or a series of uncomfortable jokes.

I’ll be keeping a roster in my office. Winner gets…something. What should the winner get? A cyanide tablet to escape to freedom.

Five more hours. I should shower. Or sweep. Or just cry into the bidet bucket so they can wash their asses in my tears. Wish me luck!

Please share your in-law horror stories with me. Or your insane holiday stories with me. Let’s all bond over other people’s insanity.

Making Mixed Babies: Ranting About The Obvious Difficulties Of Raising Multicultural Children

I don’t have children. If you would have asked me if I wanted them in my twenties I would hissed at you, covered my vagina, and ran screaming in the other direction. I would have basically done the exact same thing regarding marriage. I always like the idea of someone wanting to marry me but I never intended on actually sealing the deal. It was just nice to know that if I did want to actually get married someone would have done it, I guess. That’s what being twenty-something, somewhat insecure, and an asshole will do to a person. Anyhow, all of that changed when I met Francesco.

I knew in a very real way that we would be getting married. Sure, that waivered a little here and there with some of his bullshit but I worked through the problems with him instead of shooting him in his sleep which was huge for me. Not shooting your boyfriend is love. In a lot of ways Francesco has changed the way that I think about a lot of things. He’s changed the way I view the importance of family, how I approach and solve problems (I care to actually solve problems without hurting him or his feelings…so that’s new), and I actually want to have children. Well, let me rephrase that to be honest, I would like children in our lives who are of our genetic makeup. I don’t want to actually have babies. Being pregnant, sick, tired, and giving up wine sounds shitty. Then, squeezing some giant thing about of my vagina which is a lot smaller than a baby sounds like torture and something out of an Alien movie. I’d totally adopt but that’s too expensive and nobody would probably give me a baby. The point is that he’s made me want to have a family because I want us to be surrounded by loved ones and family for our entire lives. I want to be seventy and painting with my grandchildren. I’ve never believed that the point to living is breeding, or that women’s job on the planet is to have kids, so I’ve never been that inclined to have a family before. I’ve always seen child-rearing as a massive job of huge importance, of huge responsibility, and not something that people should “just do.” Having children to me is one of the biggest decisions of a person’s life and is therefore kind of terrifying. If you add the potential for cross-cultural, international problems to the mix.

Image: AnAmericanInRome.com (check out the blog, it's great).

Horse Baby Food In Italy. Image: AnAmericanInRome.com (check out the blog, it’s great).

And that’s what we’re fighting about right now. We’re trying to decide on which country we plan on raising our kids in. It doesn’t sound that pressing since we don’t have kids but it kind of is because we’ve been talking about starting a family this year or next year. So, where do we want to be? Which country would we like to be living? Where is the best place to raise children? I’ve talked with a bunch of other expats about this but the topic gets a little insane. People get surprisingly defensive and rabid about Italy when discussing children (certain psychos totally lose their shit. I hope you get an incurable yeast infection). I get it, nobody wants to think that the decision they’ve made was a bad decision and so people don’t want you questioning that decision by asking stupid questions about it. I get it. However, I need to ask and talk about it because it’s a big deal to me. As the child of mixed parents, I know what it’s like growing up with parents from two different planets. This weighs on me. My father immigrated to the US 35 years ago and yet my siblings, my father and I, have problems seeing eye-to-eye over a lot of things. The way we communicate is different, the meanings behind the things we say to each other is often misread or misinterpreted. My father feels like he lacks identity with us and therefore instead of having American kids he encourages us to hate that side of us. “You’re Persian, you don’t have the genetics of an American.” When we do things that he likes, we are Persian, when we make mistakes it’s because our mothers are American. He desperately seeks to have some kind of cultural connection with his children, it bothers him that he can’t understand many of the ways that we think or see the world. He doesn’t understand why I can’t Facetime him every day, or why I’m less than thrilled to Facetime my family in Iran for six hours on Sundays. I love them, they are my family, but I can’t speak on the phone for longer than one hour. What is there to say? “WHAT IS THERE TO SAY!? Just be in the conversation of love! Just laugh and love!” My father cannot understand how his daughter has become so “American,” in her priorities regarding family. My father listens to Iranian music on full blast on his Iphone, he encourages my sisters and I to dance to it while he laughs and claps enthusiastically. Last time I was home he videotaped it and then watched it over and over again. Seems creepy to Americans, but dancing for family is about as Persian as Persian can get, even at 33 years old. It’s not uncommon for expat parents to struggle to relate to their children culturally or for the kids to feel a slight disconnect as well. I’ve grown up with it for my entire life so telling me it doesn’t exist…well…it isn’t true.

And that scares me.

I feel like no matter where we raise our kids there will be a disconnect for either me or Francesco. It’s really about picking the place that is best for the kids but also the place where maybe the cultural impact will be less difficult for us as parents. Both countries have their good points, both have their bad. A lot of expats struggle with this aspect because they see Italy with rose-colored lenses but I simply can’t. I’ve read too many damn articles, too many studies. I have an education in Sociology, I study society, even when I’m not trying to. Nowhere is perfect. Which place will allow us to raise children that are diverse, open-minded, and will allow equal appreciation of Italian, American, and Persian culture? As a person, I’m most concerned with balance, mindfulness and an acceptance towards religion, an equality of the sexes, and the ability to live life without being swallowed by expectations. People say, “Your kids will be how you make them,” but I feel like they’re underestimating the power of social norms. Society shapes you even when you don’t realize you’re being shaped. It shapes how people interact, think, feel, even how they commit suicide. Nothing goes untouched.

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

When I announced that I’d fallen in love with an Italian man, my father said, “You don’t know what you’re doing. Cross-cultural relationships are more difficult than you can imagine.”

For once I have to say that my dad couldn’t have been more right. BAAAAAAAAH! I’m going to stab myself with a fork. Maybe you guys can help me with a pros and cons list?