Spoonful of Sugar By Lucy Williams

Hello, all! I’m happy to introduce this lovely guest post by Lucy Williams for you to enjoy. It’s a beautifully written piece of flash-memoir that I absolutely love. Don’t forget to comment below and share if you’re feeling fancy.

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Hung-over on the bed, but without having been to sleep yet, I force myself to check the time. It’s 3:57am. The side street below my window refuses to sleep either.

Rickety bikes rattle along below, carrying their intoxicated mounts to safety like trusty steeds, homeward bound. The youngsters flowing home along the cobbled river is a sight welcomed by the baker on the corner of Via Matteucci, who half an hour ago exhaustedly turned his key in the lock of his pasticceria door to start making the dough for the day ahead. It’s at this time of night, in his secluded stone doorway, that he hopes to make a little cash-in-hand profit from these students’ wine-induced craving for fresh strips of garlic and rosemary infused ciabatta, still soft and doughy in the middle and half the price of what they will cost them when they officially go on sale in a few hours.

Sleep is on its way, clouding my vision and thoughts until I succumb to its beautiful nothingness. After being awake for this many hours it must surely arrive soon.

It has been one of those days for making list upon list, mistake upon mistake, and handing over more and more money. A day of wearing lots of layers and not having the warmth of someone else’s knowing eyes penetrating them. A day of free beer and telephone cards to reach those who really know me. A day of blurred photographs and of folding paper. A day of looking ten years ahead. A day of putting an extra spoonful of sugar on the foam of my cappuccino, while looking at my watch to work out how long I need to wait before I’ll be dissolving a sugar cube over my absinthe with Federico, when I will be able to lose track of time in the mesmeric cloud of whiteness swirling through the liquid below. A day of playing music too quietly, and of piling boxes high against the wall, filling them with packets of snapped willow charcoal. A day of imagining material on every surface, and of wanting to stop pretending that I know how they feel. Of being the last to go to bed again.

In this gap before the night closes and the day begins, it feels as though it can only be me and the baker who are still awake. The sound of him opening the door to let the heat out of his floury prison floats up to my window, followed shortly by the smell of fresh pizza dough, and I realise that I don’t have to be asleep to have my sogni d’oro here in Italy.

An hour soon gets swallowed up in my thoughts, and the air is now so still that I can hear the baker rest his sweaty weight against the stone wall outside, methodically wiping his forehead before he lights the first cigarette of his shift.

When he resumes his work after this first break the sound of the trays scraping against the oven is my cue to give in to sleep, as it won’t be long before the first customers will be leaning on his counter and I will have stayed awake into a new day. He will greet me tomorrow as I cycle passed and he will be thinking about how lucky I am to have had a full night’s sleep, utterly unaware of how many hours we have spent awake together at night.

As the North Italian sun starts to trickle into the bedroom, I am pleasantly surprised to notice that today the view of the neat orange terracotta rooftops through the mess of curtains has become as familiar and comforting to me now as one of the green hills back home. Every day, as I witness the darkness turn into dawn, I momentarily expect to see Welsh countryside appear but the usual disappointment is less today.

After my time in this special country, I am going to go home and know what I am going to do in the morning. I won’t confuse day and night. I won’t have unpacked bags in the corner of my room. I’ll answer my calls and be outside ready to meet them. I will see doing nothing as a worthwhile thing to do with you. I’ll have just one book in my bag. I’ll redo what I tried to do when I was continually drunk, and start to know what happened and when. My earring will not hurt after a day in the wind. I will be happy doing all the things that they think I’ve done. I will close the back cover and let someone else write their name now.

Author Bio:

Lucy lives in Wales and spends her time as an Italian Translator, Technical author, and Creative Writer. She is particular interested in the translation of culturally-bound humour, crossing boundaries through literature, subtitling, and writing for therapeutic purposes. She has poetry published by The Emma Press, and Hysteria, and was recently a judge for the Hysteria Short Story competition.

She is a freelance travel writer for Looking for Italy where she gets to spout off about how amazing Italy is. Here is an article about why you should shut your computer down and book a flight to Naples right now. She also documents her own travels on her creative writing site: www.lucyrosewilliams.com. She is currently working on getting the courage to move to Italy and live off arancini, views, and calzedonia tights.

Total Tuscany Interviews M.E.: How Many Inappropriate Things Can I Say In One Podcast?

The awesome guys from Total Tuscany asked me to do a podcast and I gladly accepted because I love their stuff and really enjoy embarrassing myself publicly after having a cocktail (or ten) for lunch. I’m pretty sure that I’ll win an award for saying so many captivating things during one interview. You can find the podcast with M.E. on their website Total Tuscany. We cover a lot of ground during this podcast like my favorite things about Italy, what drives me insane, and threatening public masturbation. Let’s make this a drinking game. Take a sip (or a shot) of something every time I swear, say “camel-toe, unicorn, Capybara, or baptism,” or anytime Travis or Pat are audibly regretting their decision to interview me. In all honesty, it was so much fun, I love these guys and their awesome website. They do great podcasts that are fun and informative with expats I absolutely love. If you enjoy the podcast go ahead and share it with your friends (or use it as an opportunity to talk with your kids about the dangerous of drinking).

As with everything on my site, this isn’t kid-friendly so put on some headphones before you give a listen if you have little ones around. And also? Be happy that you’re not me, or not married to me (Francesco will be sainted, I’m pretty sure).

9 Differences Between The North, Central, And South Of Italy

This list is the second part of another post. I’d recommend reading that one first: Northern Italians Versus Southern Italians: Are They Really That Different?

This isn’t an exhaustive list of differences and a lot of this is from my perspective as a foreign human. If you agree, disagree, or if I’ve forgotten something add it in the comments below! I’d love to hear your personal experiences as an Italian or an expat.

1. Religion. Most of the people we know in the south are religious as fuck. My mother-in-law is a bible teacher, one of our friends had an exorcism (not joking), and a lot of the people we know from the south wear a cross around their necks, do the church thing, and get really emotional when they see the Madonna (not that Madonna, guys). However, some of our friends in the south are also atheists. Our priest in the south scared the shit out of our dog with his intense energy, and refused to marry us unless I lied on a form and said I wanted babies (if you think I’m lying, ask my husband, he was sitting next to me). Also, once in Sicily they refused to give us the Morning After Pill because we were “old enough to have children.” Yep. In Florence it’s easy as shit to get the Morning After Pill. Our priest for our marriage classes (we married in Cassino but did our classes in Florence) was super progressive as far as priests go. He glared and shook his head at the super religious Florentines in our class. He told them that Francesco was exactly what Jesus would want (now THAT is scary) and that our relationship was what God intended for a good marriage (Yep, not even joking. ME and FRANCESCO). He was very open-minded and totally fine with the fact that I’m agnostic. However, there are still a lot of reaaally religious Florentines. Some of them were in our marriage class and they were very interesting, others were my former professors or friends. A lot of the Florentines I know are serious about Catholicism and they will cut a bitch. CUT. A. Bitch. Everyone that I know in the North from the Milan/Brescia area says they’re “not Catholic” but they were all baptized and some of them wear crosses. So I don’t know. Statistically, pretty much F-ing everyone in Italy is Catholic with a TEENY TINY percent of Jews, muslims and Christians and like 5 buddhists that the population ceremoniously sacrifices on good friday or something. I may or may not have made that up. Continue reading

Finding Common Ground With Italian In-Laws

This isn’t a real post. It’s more of a follow-up post to a series of posts that I wrote a long time ago. I felt that I  should  update everyone because I never did for some reason. I don’t want everyone to think I’m still in a war zone. It’s more like a zoo at this point. An angry zoo, not a petting zoo.

Most of you, my badass readers, know about my tumultuous relationship with my in-laws. I’ve written about it a fair amount. Clearly, I’m not bitter. I’ve mentioned it a few times in stories like, “In Italy Leaving The Table Is Like Announcing You’ve Eaten A Child,” and, “Things Have To Be Destroyed Before They Can Be Rebuilt,” and, due to the many comments I receive from you guys sharing similar stories (thank you) or giving me much needed advice (thank you, too), I’ve realized that I have never written a post about any kind of resolution. It sort of existed in a weird way.

So, after Things Have To Be Destroyed Before They Can Be Rebuilt, where: My father-in-law went all bat-shit crazy and said some meeeeaaan shit, my husband punched the kitchen wall, then told his parents to essentially kiss his ass, and we sped towards Florence while he vowed to never speak to them again (but I encouraged him to go back and repair things because I’m nice). Anyway, so, that fight surprisingly fixed a lot of our bullshit. Let me explain. Continue reading

Studying In Italy: My First Day Of Graduate School

 

One Of My Sketches From Art School In Florence

One Of My Sketches From Art School In Florence (I cannot draw, I know, I’m sorry)

The following morning we had to meet our graduate professor. I’m not a morning person. I’ve never been a morning person and that’s probably why I’m not insanely famous or successful. I’ve read that only morning people are winners. So when all of us graduate students had to meet at the artist studio on Via Guelfa, I was late, groggy, and slightly ill. Luckily Amy was late, too, so we ran across the cobblestone through the leather market together. We ignored the “ciao belle” from the two-hundred men working that day. We stopped briefly at Bar Anna that seemed to be owned by a husband and wife. He was drinking a small shot of  alcohol at nine a.m., she was screaming at him over the espresso machine. This place would quickly become one of my favorite bars in the city. Amy and I entered and stared at each other for a moment to figure out who should order. We hadn’t started our classes yet, neither of us spoke any Italian at all. I knew, “where” and “I would like.” We stepped forward and the owner smiled. “CIAO!”

“CIAO!” Amy beamed back. I smiled and waved. 

“Dimmi!” He said. 

“Uhm.” I pointed to the brioche, “Vorrei? Cappuccino. Vorrei?” Which basically translated to, “I would like. Cappuccino, I would like?” 

“Me too!” Amy nodded and pointed to herself, flashing her perfectly aligned and bleached teeth. 

The barista laughed.  

We arrived to our studio space just upstairs a few moments later. We walked through a large industrial door into a carpeted room with plastic chairs and a few Mac computers. A man, who I assumed was the director of graduate studies stood in a corner talking with a young blonde woman. He was Italian, in his sixties, about six foot three, lean, and wildly gestured with his large thin arms and hands, his giant blue eyes framed by round red glasses and were fixed intensely on the woman in front of him. They spoke in rushed Italian. The seats filled up with other graduate students, some i’d seen around, others I hadn’t. There were only three men in the program, two who looked like they’d just won the lottery as they surveyed their chances, the other was only interested in his blackberry so I decided that he must be gay which made me happy because gay men are my favorite kinds of men. I would attach myself to him. 

I settled into a seat next to Amy as the older gentleman with the cool glasses made his way to the front of the group. “My name is Lorenzo, I have been here for many years but once I was like you, a student of art, well not in Italy, I was in the United States and married, but that’s a long story. I suppose we should start from the beginning.” He did start from the beginning. Two hours later he was wrapping up his entire biography. Lorenzo, as he explained, was born and raised in Florence. He spoke real Italian. In his youth he studied accounting. He fell in love with an American student studying in Florence, married her and moved to the United States to study art. They divorced, “tragically” and he remarried a wonderful Italian woman. In all of Europe, he was one of the only parents to have two children with down syndrome. He had been doing “filo” ever since his time in the US for more than a few decades. Filo means “string” in Italian. He uses red, yellow, and blue, to make string with dried acrylic paint, his world is wrapped in primary color acrylic string. There were pictures of performance pieces, paintings, installations, an endless resume of ideas, and a life wrapped in obsession. His enthusiasm for Filo was inspiring, adorable, admirable. I gathered, after two straight hours of “this is my art career” that there was also some deep-seeded narcissism going on there, too. I’d eventually get used to it and learn that it was normal and totally rampant in an art institution. The nucleus of an artist is self-loathing but the mitochondria is obsessive self love. 

“And-a now-a, I-a give deh floor to you all to talk about-a your work that led you all to us here at SACI,” Lorenzo concluded. 

The work that we did before coming to school here? Mother. Fucker. We were supposed to prepare a slideshow of our previous work but I’d somehow forgotten. I didn’t have previous work unless you considered “drunk craft time with Ty” previous work. Craft time consisted of me and one of my good friends, various paints and canvases, and me painting girls and animals in weird sexual positions that I claimed was inspired by Greek mythology but was probably just my inner perf coming out in a weird form. Hardly what I’d consider real art or art experience (this is before I discovered performance art and realized that pretty much anything with a clever artist statement can be art). The one painting class I’d taken in college, I had produced a load of shit (and received a C-) that was stored somewhere in my mother’s basement. I hadn’t seen any of that “art” for years and it certainly wasn’t with me in Italy. I watched as each of my peers took hold of the projector. They’d had real training, some had masters degrees from schools like Berkley and Brown. I went to school in Utah. I didn’t study art. I was way out of my league. What the fuck was I thinking? Where was the wine?

I went last. I had hoped that they would have forgotten about me but no such luck. I cleared my throat and slowly walked to the front of the room. 

“I, uh, so, I don’t have a slideshow because I lost my jump drive somewhere in between Utah and Florence. Actually, no, I didn’t make one, honestly. Before coming here I painted a lot of animals having sex. Like, animals having sex with humans. Leda and the swan, because literature. I’m interested in sexuality. And literature. I like to read a lot. about. stuff. Thank you.” 

Everyone was staring at me probably thinking who the fuck is this idiot? The director of the program, Lorenzo, seemed dumbfounded, his eyebrows in mountainous M’s across his forehead, his hands in a gesture of confusion that looked a lot like he’d went to catch a hot potato but someone froze him just before it reached him. I had officially established myself as the class idiot and probably a sexual predator. My first few weeks in Florence I was constantly making an ass out of myself. If I’m being honest even after the first few weeks. 

How To Survive Being An Expat

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1. Appreciate Your Life

Be thankful that you wake up alive each morning. Don’t take your situation for granted, most people never get the chance to live abroad and experience what you’re experiencing. Don’t sweat the small stuff like the fact that in Italy people have no concept of sidewalk space and they would rather throw you in front of a bus instead of stepping aside. So what! You stepped in dog shit and getting your residency is difficult, at least you’re not dying from terminal cancer.

2. Make Friends (It’s way better than sitting in front of FB all day crying)

Having good friends can make or break any experience. What do you love to do? Find a group of people who like the same thing and get to know them. Join a writer’s group, a painters group, a knitting circle. Friends will not come to your door magically. Leave. Your. Apartment. Surround yourself with people who have a great sense of humor. Friends that can help you accomplish what you set out abroad to do. They help you to feel good about yourself and they will totally understand all of your frustrations and complaints.

3. Be Considerate

Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. You did not move abroad to bring your motherland with you. This is how people are. Find their quirky things endearing, tease them, but don’t judge them. For example, try to see the incessant stares from the locals as adorable. Or pretend that you’re a movie star. This is what fame feels like. Roll with it.

4. Learn All The Stuff!

Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Go to events, and festivals. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, cooking, skiing, gardening, how to taste wine or find truffles. Being abroad doesn’t mean you should put “you” on pause. Learn about the country you’re in. Stay up to date on the one you came from. Take on an internship. Take an online class. Learn everything you can about what’s going on around you. Document it. Keep a daily journal with photos like the PROJECT LIFE project. See the place like you’re studying a new planet. Keep notes on the weird shit the locals do.

5. Whine Less, Take Action More.

Instead of being depressed over your situation, try to find a solution to your problems. Try to see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to write a funny blog post, journal entry, funny youtube clip, or put it in that life book you’re making about your travels. Turn everything terrible into comedic relief. It’s the only way to avoid becoming the “insane and bitter” expat. Nobody likes those dudes. They’re scary.

6. Do What You Love Even If You’re Abroad

Most people hate their jobs! Being abroad might give you a once in the lifetime chance to do something new. Try it! Go big! When I arrived I wanted to write. Competition for English speaking things is lower here so getting published was less of a challenge than at home. BAM! Instant awesome and my resume is pimped. What can you do abroad that you couldn’t do at home? Go for the dream! If you fail, you’re abroad and nobody will even know. WINNING!

7. Enjoy Your New Life (Even When It Makes You Crazy)

Go for long walks with your camera. Sit and watch people interact and talk. Do a random act of kindness. Sometimes I walk around with change and give it to the street vendors and my husband follows me screaming, “STOP DOING THAT!” Sit at the park with a bottle of wine, get wasted, embarrass yourself. Go to the theatre. Every single day try to ignore all of the irritating bullshit and remember at least ONE REASON why you fell in love with the place to begin with.

8. Laugh At Yourself And Everyone Around You

Don’t take yourself seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Honestly, this is the best advice for living abroad, living in general, working or being married in general. If you can’t laugh at things, you’ll struggle. SO LAUGH. Everything about being alive is ridiculous. For example, last night I told my husband (after we had church sanctioned relations), “You know, sex is kind of insane when you think about it. You’re always trying to put your mini leg into my guts. I mean, literally, it’s in there right near my intestines, nestled between the bladder and colon. That’s not sexy. That’s fucking ridiculous.” He stared at me for a second, said, “wow,” then rolled over and had nightmares. Try to unlearn that, my friends.

9. Forgive

It’s exhausting walking around with pent up anger and frustration. Take responsibility for the times when you’re being close-minded and ethnocentric, and forgive others for being the same. Like when people say, “But you don’t look American, you’re not fat!” take that as the perfect time to take a deep breathe, forgive them, and then launch into detail about how you underwent 200,000 dollars of corrective surgery to make you more “european.” Or, forgive temporarily until you can hire someone to kill them. That works too.

10. Try To Remember That Everyone Doesn’t Get To Be An Expat

Be grateful that you get to have the experience that 99% of people in the world wish they could have. Yes, it’s annoying that your friends and family misunderstand the frustration and struggles of being an expat but at least you get to experience those struggles while they are at home eating mac n cheese and being lame. So, just smile when they tell you that you’re lucky, and then write a journal entry later about how annoying they are.

11. Invest in Real Relationships

Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. This can be hard if you’re dating cross-culturally because your partner will DRIVE YOU CRAZY, but try anyways. In regards to family, this one is hard to do abroad but you CAN do it. Write at least two friends a lengthy email every week. Include pictures. OR, at this is a great one, sign up to MailChimp. Create a newsletter, send it to your friends and family every week so they can see what you’re up to and you can stay connected. Creating a new life doesn’t mean severing the old one.

12. Be Honest With Yourself And Others

Being honest is the easiest route every time. I don’t lie simply because I’m lazy. I don’t have the energy to keep up with my own bullshit. Tell people how you feel and let them get mad. Tell them the truth and let them get mad. It’s not the end of the world but losing someones trust is. If someone loses that, it’s over.  Also, being out of your native land does not mean you can regress as a person. In fact, take this chance to be the most honest you’ve ever been. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Be the YOU that expectations at home made impossible.

13. Work Out, Do Yoga, Or Meditate

Meditate and do Yoga every morning. Even for 15 minutes with a YouTube video will totally change the level of frustration boiling over inside of you. When I feel homicidal rage I do this and it melts away and the population in Italy gets to live another day. Everyone wins!

14. Who Gives A Shit About What Others Are Doing

Concentrate on being the best you that you can be and stop worrying about what everyone is doing, thinking, or saying.

15. Try To Be Optimistic (With or Without Multiple Glasses Of Wine In Hand)

You get to choose how you feel about things. Try to find positive things even on the worst days (like the days you have to deal with international bureaucracy.)

16. Love Unconditionally. This is the hardest one for me. We can do it together (with Wine!)

Love everyone in spite of themselves. That opera singer upstairs that never shuts up! How charming, free music! Your mother-in-law who wants to iron your panties, no, hell no, but I love you for trying. Now give me back my undergarments.

17. Tenacity!

Don’t give up. Closing yourself inside of your house is giving up. Get out, make an ass of yourself, and more than anything stop caring about everything so much. If you keep trying things will turn out as planned but living abroad means you have to try three times harder than you’re used to.

18. Get Er Done!

Accept that you can’t change things. Don’t spend hours complaining about things that are out of your control. Change the things you can. You can’t make your new home like your old one. Accept that (but still make fun of it regularly).

19. Be The Best You That You Can Be

Eat healthy, workout (YouTube has ten billion free videos), drink water, take your vitamins, DO SO MANY PUSH-UPS!

20. Self Confidence

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t try to blend in with your new surroundings. For a long time I thought that everyone wanted me to be Italian (and some did) but it turns out that people like my “weird” and “different” way of thinking, acting and being. The more you like yourself and keep being you the more others will get on the “you” train. But you’ll never impress anyone by trying to fit in. You can’t. Don’t bother.

21. Take Responsibility

In every irritating scenario try to ask yourself, “how much of this could be me?” Own what part you played in the situation, learn from it, grow from it. Being alive isn’t about being right, it’s about being a better person at the end of the day. If you keep blaming your unhappiness on everyone else 100% you’ll never grow into anything but a delusional “ren fair.” A ren fair is a term coined by my friend Josh, which means, renaissance fair expat, the completely antisocial, bitter expats who suck the happiness and life from any room they walk into. Even if things are really bad because of someone else, take it as a chance to grow up. Is your in-laws calling you fat? Take it as an opportunity to learn how to fire back witty remarks, stand up for yourself, or calmly problem solve in a positive way. It’s a chance to do something besides crying yourself to sleep. You’ll come out tougher in the end. When my in-laws were being total fuckfaces, I cried, a lot. Then I realized that I was being weird around them too because I was scared of them. I started being me, completely, openly and honestly, and when they irritated me I would say, “Let me be dudes, I got this.” And eventually they backed off. Also, making fun of them helps.

Sucking At Life And Soccer In Italy

Moving to another country long-term changes you. In some ways you grow and improve and in other ways you start to suck horribly bad. Since living in Italy I’ve sucked at life so epically bad that most days I am embarassed to admit that I know me. It’s not Italy’s fault, we just have a lot of bad days together. I’ll admit, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, in a non-medicated way (and maybe that’s the problem), but I’ve always had enough positive experiences around me to kind of pull me up and dust me off. Here, not so much.I’m not a show my emotions on the outside person. I’m not. I don’t do vulnerable. Instead I do wine, cigarettes and jokes. So, living in a place away from everyone I’ve ever loved and known, and exposing myself in ways I never have before is hard. Exposing in the sense of letting myself look like an idiot all the time. I haven’t taken up the habit of flashing my vagina around town. Yet. Wait…art school. Maybe. (That’s another story. You guys have to hear that story because you will die.)

An example of this would be soccer. I played soccer growing up. I watch soccer pretty regularly. I know the game. So when I was asked to join a team for the Coppa at the EI I thought, why not? Of course I was nervous and out of practice but I like to think I’m fairly smart (denial) and athletic (lying to myself) and I assumed (wrongly) that I would pick it up fast enough. The question here is: Why? Why would I assume that?

I showed up to the pitch in my black running leggins, white cleats, and blue “dolphin” jersey with my husband who was so excited to be playing soccer with his wife. Honestly, in some ways I’m starting to wonder what is wrong with him. He maintains this naive confidence in me despite the fact that I always, without exception, let him down. We warmed up by hopping about before heading into the field to start the game. The game started. The only other girl on the team played first. After about ten minutes we switched. I was fine for about ten minutes and then suddenly something happened. My hands and face went numb, I was dizzy, and I couldn’t think straight. I remembered that I didn’t eat before the game, a fairly stupid move considering I’m kind of diabetic. When I’m at home and my sugar is low I’ll stare at the computer without moving, practically drooling on myself and hoping that someone else will put food in my body because I can’t think clearly enough to do it. This effect on a football field looked something like me, running aimlessly in circles, unable to remember who was on my team and who wasn’t, and incapable of focusing on the ball. Panicked I thought, “just play defense,” which didn’t make any sense when we were attacking since I was playing the striker position. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I couldn’t stop it.

This is basically what it looked like:

Afterwards everyone was avoiding eye contact with me, naturally, so I bought alcohol and tried to remind myself that my whole life is basically a series of humiliating moments so I shouldn’t be bothered by a small edition to it. But, it’s not easy for me to not care when it impacts him. I’ve never given a fuck before. Not one. But it’s really changed recently. My weirdness has had an impressive impact on Francesco. He’s lost friends over me, nearly lost his family because of me, his co-workers think I’m a fucking wreck. He went from looking kind of awesome to looking like a crazy person who married “that socially retarded and wholly uneducated American dipshit.” Once again I made him look bad. Does it ever end? I was determined to make it up to him at all costs. I WILL PREVAIL! I thought.

The next day there was another game and I was ready. I made sure to eat as much food as I could fit into my body. My mind was clear and I was actually feeling pretty okay. We arrived at the pitch, stretched, I wasn’t nervous or bothered because I was determined to make it better even if I had to actually kill someone from the other team. Game started. Game ended. I was not allowed to play. Which, was a very smart move because it was an important game and I fucked up royally the day before. If I were them I would have done the exact same thing (and I would have also beat me with a soap-filled sock). It was the right decision, only, I never got a chance to make up for what happened. Kind of a bummer that nobody felt comfortable to talk to me about how much I sucked. At home, my friends would have yelled at me, told me what to fix, and held me accountable (possibly with a beating) if I didn’t “man,” er, “lady-up” the next time. Here though, nobody wanted to criticize me, and it was easier to just prevent me from making any further mistakes. However, now I have to feel the burden of disappointing other people for like the next decade. I try to laugh it off because it’s kind of hilarious (only I could get myself into something so stupid.) Currently the only solution I have is to never leave my apartment again, avoid human contact and hope that Francesco will divorce me and find another wife immediately (at least he could find someone who cleans).

This is how living in Italy has changed me: I’m more subdued and self-conscious. As my friend Ryan asked, “Since when do you give a shit? I’ve known you for a long time and you’ve never cared what other people thought of you. You’re the same girl who used to tell everyone during puberty that something was medically wrong with them because all of their nipples were too pink because they didn’t have tan nipples like you. Seriously. Where is THAT girl? Where is my super bitchy friend!?”

She’s embarrassed and hiding from M.E.