Wednesday, December 31, 2014


I can't believe I still have this stomach virus.

Maybe that's why I came across this little tidbit of information that I can't help but share with you. This place exists:
Wikipedia has this to say about it: "It is believed that the settlement was founded in the 6th century by Focko, a Bavarian nobleman. The existence of the village was documented for the first time in 1070, and historical records show that some twenty years later, the lord was Adalpertus de Fucingin. The spelling of the name has evolved over the years; it is first recorded in historical sources with the spelling as Vucchingen in 1070, Fukching in 1303,[7] Fugkhing in 1532, and in the modern spelling Fucking in the 18th century,[8] which is pronounced with the vowel oo as in book.[2] The ending -ing is an old Germanic suffix indicating the people belonging to the root word to which it is attached, thus Fucking means "(place of) Focko's people."[9]

Some days I have the sense of humor of a fourth grade boy. Today is one such day.

Speaking of curse words, I watched all of these student made youtube videos about Denmark with my basically fluent High School girl because she is going there at the end of the month on a school trip where English will be the common language between the international students. F was horrified to hear all of the curse words in the videos, but studying with me is never boring. I also talked to her about important guests of Oprah over the years and healing bioenergy. T said it is not clear if she likes me or if she is just terrified of me. I guess time will tell.

And yet as exciting as I am, I can also be a pushover. I had to have a long talk with hip hop boy's mother today about how F has to take over for me because when Andrea fakes fainting spells, spends fifteen minutes doing god knows what in my bathroom and then starts chatting to me in Italian, I never manage to become very stern with him and that is why his English kind of sucks. But I did succeed in the fact that he has great potential and that he thinks English is fun. His mom was cool about it. She said that she understood me when I said that F is the right person to create the grammatical foundation and that when had a good base he could then come and have fun conversations with me. I told her that our marriage works for exactly this division of talents and that got her to laugh. It was a ha ha, I pay you twenty euros an hour and my son is barely passing English, kind of laugh, but it was a joyful sound nonetheless.

 One thing that is disappointing about living in Italy is that internet shopping is all but impossible. We had to order T a new wardrobe because she is now 5'6" and doesn't fit in anything she owns so I got her things from H&M's new website because it seemed like they wouldn't be too hard to return. Most of the things were perfect, but there were the inevitable one or two misses. Of couse this is Italy, so nothing is easy. There was a whole SAT test of multiple choice questions about our personal identifiying financial information to fill out in order to get the delivery service to come pick up the reject items. It is the official sales week here so the stores and streets are teeming with people who only shop twice a year, once in January and once in June because sales don't exist for the most part outside of that.

Hey, I like that sweater. Let's keep it for ourselves.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Social Networking 
 F really played a huge trick on me and T this year. A while back I convinced him that it would be okay if I bought the last jacket in my size that was on sale and that I fell in lust with in Pisa about two months ago. I told him that it could be my Christmas present. Of couse, I didn't mean it. So when T asked him what he had gotten me for Christmas he told her nothing, knowing that she would run and relay the story to me. She convinced him that he got it all wrong and that I was a big baby about Christmas (true) and would be disappointed not to find anything under the tree.  He insisted that we had had an agreement. The evening of my birthday he gave me a knock out present -- this wristlet bag from the Italian artisanal company Campomaggi that I have admired for a long time, and he had a big laugh at how worried we had been. He really got me. And also he gets me.

I asked for homemade Hostess cupcakes. Nailed it.
T and F made this for me with their very own giant hands.
T made a really cool DIY photo project for me. This is the photo that helped us get our visa almost five years ago.

I have had a kind of annoying stomach virus this whole week that has made me slightly nauseous and achey and so I have been trapped in the house. I like hybernating at this time of year, but it has been a lot of indoor time even for me. I got it into my head to look up my whole high school class and some college people on FB and it really blew my mind. Most of them ended up being exactly what they said they wanted to be or what you would have imagined.

This one girl who looks exactly the same as she did back then and loved animals and always said she was going to grow up to be a veterinarian did just that. She is the sole reason I passed a big science project one time so I wish her a world of goodness. Here she is:

This is the really jerky guy that I was a door mat for and who loved Bugs Bunny cartoons. I didn't friend him or anything because even the thought of that makes me ill, but his photos were satisfying enough. He grew up to be a (cough) cartoon character. One photo is a fluke, but two??

Two of the girls in my class who said they were going to be opera singers grew up to be, lo and behold, opera singers, and the actor/dancer girl grew up to be an actor/dancer and even has a photo of herself with Joan Rivers on FB. A bunch of people aged terribly, which I may or may not have taken a little bit of glee in, and some people look great, but not the ones I would have expected. A lot of them who I thought were kind of mean-hearted  have really sweet looking families. I mean some people change, right? I have. On a dare to myself I "friended" a few that I would have been friends with if I had had the slightest inkling of self knowledge and/or a voice. I fantasize about myself in a trashy Drew Barrymore-like comedy role in that kind of film in which you relive everything or go back in time undercover or some such nonsense and could say the things you really were thinking at the time. Things that aren't actually so scary to say, but felt terrifying in the moment. I have no secrets really anymore, as you well know, and I am nothing if not brave, so we'll see if anything comes out of it. I expect the major part of them won't have any idea who I am or why I looked them up.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Birthday Happiness
Happiness is a warm video by my genius friend Ian:
(guest starring F&T, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracy Anderson)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Underwater Swedish Christmas Pageants (in Tuscany)
Last night we went to T's friend Natasha's Christmas show. She played the role of Sharpay in a scene from High School Musical. Let it be known that Natasha was the only real talent of the evening apart from one little girl who swallowed Jennifer Hudson and a woman who wore a reindeer sweater and sang like Laura Pausini.

We had to wait for half an hour before they started the show late. At least we got seats. Not everyone was so lucky. Area 23 is to organization what North Korea is to the Internet, if you get my drift.

At least there were cute puppies and children in the waiting area:

We managed not to get once decent picture of Natasha so here is Ashley Tisdale.
The head singing teacher started out the night by introducing the (drunk?) Santa Claus and saying that the number of Italian Christmas songs in existence can be counted on one hand. This was great because it also meant that everyone would be singing mostly in English. Good Times! Most of the people singing in English didn't speak English so it came out as a cross between ferocious Hollywood DUI level of intoxication . . .

Underwater speech like that in the Chicken of the Sea commercials circa 1979 . .

and the Swedish Chef muppet.

OH drunk Italian Santa!

F laughed so hard that he started crying and could only look down.

The boy who played the romantic lead was both heat flushed and blushing.

YOU'RE WELCOME! Merry Happiness on you wherever you are!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Now it's christmas
It only feels like Christmas after the man at the Ortafrutta says, "She does this every year."

Yesterday was intense. The Pinterest video link made this project look sooooo easy. It didn't help that our pastry bag broke and I had to push each leaf out with a ziplock bag and my thumb. F ran out and got us more butter and green food coloring when times got rough, God bless him. It took about six hours. I opted not to use tweezers to put the silver balls on the tree because that smiley lady in the video may have been a robot with OCD.

I love how they came out though. The cupcakes have upside down ice cream cones on them that are covered with frosting.

Look close and you can see the little ornaments.

My hair is not red except in photographs. I don't know how to fix it. I look like Pippi Longstocking and Raggedy Ann had a love child.
We dropped them off at the pharmacies and with the florists and the magazine seller so far. . .

I love this guy . . I have no idea what his name is.

The ortafrutta people are the best.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

La Festa di Santa Lucia
When I realized that Patrizia's party was on the festa di Santa Lucia I started to have fantasies about

 a scenario in which Americans go to a traditional Italian holiday dinner and are forced to stuff themselves until they turn into some kind of expat turducken.

This time we were prepared: We requested a vegetarian option that we know our hostess prepares to perfection and we brought a minimal dessert (marshamallows for roasting in the fireplace), wine, and whole wheat bread.

Of course, in this scenario, our hostess was much more of this type than the other:

Nevertheless, I think the pictures speak for themselves:

Hey active little boy, the Americans say you can stick your arm in a fireplace.
 F is tall.
Patrizia's daughter and son-in-law are beyond adorable. She's a nurse. He just got a job in human resources at Gucci where the perks are awesome.

You got a 2500 euro bag for 250???? Tell me more!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

This blogpost is brought to you by and Hyperbol and a Half (because I couldn't deal today).

This is how beautiful Angelina Jolie looks with chicken pox. If that is not motivation not to scratch . . . well, I don't know what is!
Angelina is talking to me.

Look up!

 Especially in Lucca,

sometimes when you're feeling down,