Winging It

I have been silent.   I have  been living like an extrovert and it has had a toll on me. Much has happened yet it feels so minuscule in the grand scheme of things. 

I left Italy. So I thought. I quit my job packed my things and came back to America. Only to have remorse. I wasn’t super upset just afraid of how I would manage in a country I haven’t lived and work in 2 years .  I started writing a plan of what my possibilities could be…..however travel is a part of me. 

I decided to work in South Korea. I ordered what documents I needed and apostilled everything. I just needed hand written  reference letters -sounds easy and yet slow. I was ready mentally to take the leap. I passed all the requirements and interviews so far. I started reading up on the lifestyle and culture of the country. I started following bloggers full of experience there. I was ready  just needed the letters from my last employer. 

I received one reference by snail mail, the other two would have to come from Italy.   No problem, I thought . I knew I was returning to Italy for the last of my things..  yet they are now my new starter kit. 

I know that my ex -boss doesn’t move st a useful pace.  I figured I would have to physically pick  up the letters.  I called her and made the arrangements. Everything   seemed on track. 

My ex -boss decided she wouldn’t honor the request for reference at the last minute whether out of sheer laziness or selfishness I cannot say.  She left me hanging which halted the possibility of working in Asia for now. 

All of these events happened literally two days after returning to Italy.   I was nervous about what to do next. Then it happened..friends came to my rescue; people I have met and bonded with over the past two years. They helped me brainstorm, gave me room and board and helped me find employment while I tried to figure out my next course of action. 

I can go back to Usa and create a life and I probably will when the time is right.  I don’t know if its just fate or my selfish desire to be in Europe.   I just know I am here-in Rome Italy , once again. Romeing the streets ,  drinking the vino, fighting with the metro, kissing a Roman, working a stereotypical expat job all while sipping on a caffè macchiato. The only question is where will I grow from here?

I spy

At Termini  station in Rome I just came off the metro and made my way to the ground level when a skinny, tall, lanky, big eyed Italian approached me. This guy -Fabio looked like Ichabod Crane Disney version not Johnny Depp. He asked me if i was a model. I told him nope just a Jamaican.  I continued to walk and he continued to talk to me. He asked me about Jamaica.

Side Note: Many Italians have no clue where Jamaica is. They do know where Dominican Republic , Brasil and Cuba are located , however for other reasons that I will share on another occasion. Anyway this is how the conversation usually goes except in an Italian accent.

Italian person named Fabio: Where are you from?

Me: Jamaica

Fabio: Jamaica! I love Jamaica

Me: Cool!

 Fabio: Where is Jamaica?

Imagine having this same conversation for six months. I decided to have a file saved on my phone and did the quick spread sheet  with a map , showing location, population, food, flag, where I am from exactly , agriculture .etc.

So after I get the routine   out of  the way, he told me he had been to England and saw  the Caribbean carnival  and thought it was wonderful! He was there learning English and asked if I could have a coffee with him.  So I did. We sat up stairs where there is a lovely view of train schedules and Armani ads.  I got a cappuccino and I sat and enjoyed it slowly. Fabio asked me many questions about Jamaica and the Unites States and I gave him answers to the best of my ability.

Then we came to the occupation part. He asked me what I do, I told him: an educator. I asked him the same : private investigator. Now the conversation became interesting. So I asked what type of cases he gets. Fabio said sometimes criminal and most of the time infidelity. Oh Italia! He told me this is where the big bucks are, watching  cheating spouses and naughty girlfriends and boyfriends. Apparently, money is no object when it’s about following a cheating lover. He told  he once followed a “subject” to this station and boarded a Trenitalia train to Salerno without a ticket. He had to hide most of the trip in the restroom to avoid the train agents.  I asked was it worth it? He told me yes she went to see her lover and spent the weekend.

Then to really get me going he told me he was following a “subject ” who was to arrive at the station for a 1:20 pm train. I said okay , well good luck. Then he went there….do you want to watch me work. I said no. He began to be persistent and pushy.

Why youdon’t want to wait with me ?  You have a boyfriend ?

 I said yes , he is from Napoli.

I learned that mentioning a boyfriend from Campagna region especially  Napoli makes unwanted advances diminish.  My friend’s nonna from Napoli taught me this. She said if a man is a man he will not be afraid of strong man from Naples.

Poor Naples has the worst reputation for no reason. It’s an older city. Some say the first state of Italy. It has it problems but so does NYC; people still live there.  Anyway when I tell people from the north of Italy I am going to Napoli the reaction is something like this…” You be careful there, people die there. Because only bad people live there. et …YES! people do say this.

Back to Fabio. Fabio’s big  eyes got quite bigger then he asked is  he is a very jealous man then?

Yes , I say VERY. You know how they are.

After these words left my lips , Fabio decided to leave me be. I thanked him for the coffee and continued on my way. I did look over my shoulder just in case he was following me…after all he is a detective.

Fairy Tales

It’s hot in Roma. It is so hot the choices are 1) stay at home in your underwear and drink everything cold in the house, never  use the stove because that will make heat  2) go away –far away from  Roma  3) go to the beach daily if you cannot afford to travel or  you have time to use before your vacation 4) Stand still.  I chose option 3- the beach is what i did for a week or so , more or less. I spend my days burning my already brown skin ( with SPF 30) until was completely even.

Ostia is easily accessible by train. The station is Piramide in Ostiense. It’s about 40 minutes from beginning to end . Then a 10-15 minute  bus ride, depending on what type of beach you fancy. My fancy is the free beaches that are closer to the end. Ostia doesn’t have picturesque beaches. Its a usable beach that works.

I went for a few days to pass the time sometimes solo or with friends. I am so tan right now my mother is going to have many words for me when I see her in a few days. Anyway, I was at the beach, trying to practice my weak swimming in peace when a man decided he should invade my space. Like a true shark he swam around me for about 2 minutes getting closer and closer  and then  creating dialogue.  He ask formalities and I answered with short answers. Then he decided to talk about the beach. “This beach is used also by nudist:”

Me:  I know I see them.

Man: I usually am too

Me: Good for you

Man: Would you like to try to?

Me: Why are you so uninviting?

Man: it is perfectly normal,….in fact i will do it now…( HE took off his shorts in the water) ………He was standing there feeling proud in his unclothing .

I turned and swam away. On the sand my friend asked me if she just saw what I witnessed..I shook my head yes.  We sat in silence.   The man comes out the water , puts on his pants and disappears for some time. When we are settled and relaxed , like a shadow, the man appeared.  I was getting ready  to responded when the couple beside us jumped in and told him to go away. He left for good. This is Roma.

I am a woman of color. I have many experiences of highs and lows of living here.  This is just one encounter that was UBER extreme. Overall, my experiences have been graceful and respectful. This guy was the first to just disgust me and I am sharing it.  When men ask if I am Brazilian , it’s more due to what they know of black culture. Despite watching all modern programs , music artists and pop culture…a large group of Italians are still un-evolved on foreign women. It is not only dark skin women in this boat. I am only mentioning my experience.

I have met normal guys here , yet as in all things the asinine encounters really stick with me.I don’t let them become my personality  I just don’t forget. I have on many occasions confront them , which makes them run. Having a strong character is a must here.  I have a great love for Italy in a whole . I love the feel of living in this ancient slightly modern world. I just have no desire for romance, which many women find here , as the Italians call it EAT PRAY LOVE moment.  I would love to have such a moment even a temporary one. This would  require a brave guy to rise from the non-commitment, mammoni , bubbled culture.  It sounds impossible …however I still believe in unicorns.

varco 3

life moment: Dating

I am really sorry but I don’t know how to date or cross paths with a decent guy. I have met a guy here that is adorable to me, he is tall, slightly funny and we like barely anything the same. We connected in a strange , social media way with our common love of parks here in Rome.  I know it  seems hard to believe with my magnificent wit and sarcastic charm that I prefer quiet solitary activities (and met a guy on social media). I function better with quiet moments. I have been flooded with social activities that at times I make up  excuses  just to be alone. Rome has nice parks and some that look like a dump yet there are parks everywhere.

Back to the guy;  we  met , we talked, actually he loves talking and talking and is heavily opinionated without considering the alternative of what others think or feel. He is religious and very critical of others, very Christ- like, I know.  He sees life in black and white, HIS version of black and white.   I see silver grey, fuchsia, teal and  mahogany. We were not a match made in heaven, he was adorable though. Open dialog  with him always ended with him running away every time I said something he felt was insensitive or disagreeable. It was not only me he acted like this with; no the whole world received this treatment. At times I wonder if he was bipolar. Anyway, he always came back. I would still  be lost on what I said that was so wrong. I felt like the man and him the woman. He is older than me yet he was a bit like a newborn baby not childlike which I think we all have inside of us. No he was a big baby. The biggest problem with letting go of the big baby was  me being new here still (my excuse).

Half a year had past and I was holding on to a big baby because making friends was a bit hard at first.  As well, I was feeling homesick and down, he was beccoming familiar in a bad way.  It’s  barely mentioned when you relocate to another country and maybe even a new city, with 10,000 miles between you and what was home, fear and doubts devour a person especially at night.  Thus the cry baby felt like nothing and I tolerated. Then one day , maybe by magic we faded out.  I was still grasping my homesickness  yet I survived. Every now and then big baby messages , wanting to fix our situation at times because he is adorable I start to think yes then I think and realize no is better.

I met another guy, he was a more accepting of my personality.  It always works that way the guy I really want to be into disapprove of my personality or I down play my true self out of fear he will dislike the real me. Stupid! I know. Dove should do a campaign about that. Anyway, guy two saw the real me, liked it and took me to amazing places , concerts, met dignitaries, embassy parties,  Hollywood people of Italy. He was a great friend, however, he hoped I would love him or want more than his friendship and I wanted to wait. He hated my answer and the outing continued.  I was hoping that maybe I could feel what he felt , I felt bad that I didn’t have a chemical attraction to him.  He is an awesome friend yet I never felt excited about him in that way, SHE never wanted him  and so nothing. He thinks I am being too “American” and not letting myself go with  nature. I never told him about the lack of chemical attraction just I treasure our friendship and  I didn’t want it to end. I even said lets wait let time happen with us, but nope, he wanted us to be in love. We had a rough patch yet we are friends again, I think.

Now i just date. I am pretty clear that a friendship is my goal.  The responses have varied from silence to feelings of outrage  because of my friendship request. Few actually respect this. I want a man who is a friend on some level not just my boyfriend. On my dating adventurous, I  have been  kissed on the cheek by a strange guy at a party. He was like a lion in the Serengeti,  he would pop up and kiss my face and disappear.

By his third try I caught him and punched him, then I was called “American”  They think calling me American will make me upset.  Go Figure.

I went out with the quiet professional guy , who is highly routine and attached to his mother, who he visits every weekend  and calls three times a day. We went out three times, we had the same conversation three times.

Another professional guy, who only believes in labels and designers, took me out. Now I teach him English.

and now my dates are with girlfriends and group events. This works for now.  I don’t have a romantic ending,  I have no ending…..I  just continue living my story.  Ciao!

Feed ME, per favore!

I grew up watching Cheers. I have always like the idea of having a bar that was similiar to home. Although, if home is like a bar that is still very questionable, possible troubling yet …it could be nice….. maybe.  Back to the bar. I want a bar to call my own, the people know me, telepathically know my drink order and is a chill place. I am not a big drinker just have  my own bar, where everybody knows my name and their always glad I came…most of the time at least. When I think like this I always rememeber when Norm steps into the bar and they all say “NORM”!! , that to me is kudos yet again troubling  yet it rocks.  In the States I frequent some bars and I was getting the Cheers feel.  It was nice , just not frequent enough. 

Now, I live in Roma, Garbatella to be exact. I have a bar!  Bars here are not just for night life, but all times of the day life. In the morning, they have fresh cornettos , slightly warm and delicious. Here a cornetto is more than just a croissant looking pastry, but a variety of pastries filled with all kinds of surprise yummy goodness or without; sprinkled with cocoa, glazed or not. They have variety, I have big eyes so I have tried just about everything. Note: there is also Cornetto the ice cream, very popular on-the-go treat about a one euro and fifty. My bar  is lovely. I walk in they know my morning drink ; caffè macchiato. It is ready by the time I reach the counter. I am then greeted with a smile and chocolates by my lovely bald headed  bartender ,who wants to date me.  By midday the cornettos disappear and are replaced with cold and colorful gelati and little pastries.  They  also  serve simple and tasty lunchtime choices. Then to end the day its a free for all of choices including aperitivo.  I like my bar they know my name, they know my drinks, they are always happy to see me despite my horrible Italian. 

When people ask me about appetizers in the states , I say peanuts and hot wings on a good day, but a full on meal is reserved for all you can eat buffets. They find interesting that a bar in the States is not like here. The bar is  the foundation of every neighborhood here. practically every corner has a bar. The bar is natural. It took my family a bit to understand when I said I was at the bar , I wasn’t just drinking myself into a stupor. My mom was getting nerve, now  she has eased up on the idea of me always being in a bar.  ( Love you MOM) !!

I must say America is slacking when it comes to aperitivo; appertizers.  In many different bars, you pay maybe 9-12 euros ( 12-15 USA) depending on the zone( area) and it’s an amazing feast of food from 7-9pm, all you have to do is buy a drink. The food choices also depend on the type of bar. For instance, some bars only serve bruschetta ( bru-sKe- ta), Americans we say it wrong ( bru-She-ta)  with tomatoes, olives, and chips. While others give you mini sandwiches, olives, brushcetta with different topping, fresh meats, cheese and fruit. And the ultiimate places to do aperitivo serve you dinner. At Caffe Letteriario they cook you a full on meal, you name it , it is there and it’s all you can eat plus desert and all the others foods I listed. It ‘s a great way to eat on a budget or when you want to eat a massive mix of foods without going home to cook after a long day. They place nice music and the place has a mellow atmosphere to it. Caffe Letterario is located in Ostiense, which a trendy area with out-the-box street art, contemporary style and lively night life. 

Naurally, you will be in the center  where all the sites are.  There are a places that are good to have a meal on a budget  without forgoing the European feeling. Now people say that  places  in the center are  expensive. They are. When you walk in at random times that are not lunch or dinner , they charge you big.  The key to eating is to go in during the lunch time or dinner time so that you can get the affordable rate. Tourist forget that by being in the center everything cost more and is outrageous. Restaurants and bars charge crazy prices because they know tourist don’t know about the lunch , dinner buffet. So, if you go in before 1pm and order a cappuccino it  will cost you close to 5 euros, it’s business not personal. However, if you went during the lunch time special the same cappuccino comes with an endless meal.

  Bulldog Inn, it’s English friendly and pub style. A hot spot to watch sports. They have an amazing variety of choices for lunch and dinner. At  lunch you pay 9 euros  all you can eat and the drink is extra , evening time the drink is included in the price. 

Another place that is worth visiting is La. Vi Latteria & Vino off via del Corso , it  have a hip, posh atmosphere yet it is very laid back place in the heart of the city. They serve a very nice buffet style lunch that is affordable, otherwise it can be expensive.  Another place to eat in the center is near the Spanish Steps, is Il Pastificio on via del Croce. this place is far from fancy -it’s simple and clean. No chairs no fancy anything, in fact  it’s plastic plates and cups , eat on a shelf enjoying amazing pasta for 4 euros  including house vino (upon request ) and water. This place gives you a hearty helping of pasta that at a fancy restaurant would cost maybe 10-16 euros. Pastifico usually has a long line between 1-3 pm because this where many Romans go on their lunch break. I have been told they do this also around 5-7 but I haven’t tried in the evening, so I cannot verify.  To make life easier at Pastifico bring exact change. 

 

There you have it. Some tips on place to go when in Rome and you are hungry. If you want to do the Bella Notte moment from  Lady and the Tramp,  don’t act a fool when the conto(bill) arrives and you feel that’s it’s too much, pay it and take a stroll, look into your lovers eyes and if no lover eat a gelato.  

The Don

I was trying to act all interested with talk shows and programs this morning and started to reminisce on Italian television.  In particular in Salerno, I was hangout with a friend -Tony ( I now know about twelve Tony’s  all  in one country, Hey Antonios!) Since almost every fourth male is named Antonio I have resorted to giving them all non-Italian nicknames. This Tony I call Jersey, why? Because he lived in New Jersey for about four years of his infantile life and has held on to the dream thirty-something years later; ” I love America, especially New Jersey!” Since his parents immigrated there on a boat( yes a boat) way back when to live the American dream. Long story short he was a Jersey boy,  learning jersey things fugetaboutit – he does say this often (smh) , his father however didn’t like life in America. He told me Americans work too much and are too stressed out for him,  so he told his brother;who stayed, arrivederci and took his family back on a boat  to Italia. In the end I think this was a good choice,Tony  has a love for PYT , which is great in Italy in United States =rap-sheet. Tony recently  changed his view of the United States last year when he returned to the good ol’ US of A and realized he is more Italian than ever. That is another story, yet he still loves Jersey.

Anyway at  Tony aka Jersey I saw a program called Don Matteo, it was a cross between Murder She Wrote and Matlock only with a priest  on a bike. And I must say  Don Matteo’s dismount was always flawless even in a high stakes scene. I on the other hand would have broken something and everything. I have spent many a day in Italy and Jamaica on a bike, especially sitting side-rail ,which truly hurts . Thank God for cars and motorbikes where at least have more cushion for my tush. 

Back to the Don, his program was so “the more you know” type deal . It was always pleasant, the criminal always confessed to the crime , possible because the Don has piercing blue eyes with his on- point Italian tan who wouldn’t confess-Really who??.  In the episodes I saw the victims had minor injuries yet everyone  always looked very grime as if death was near for a sprained ankle.  Many of the incidents were a crime of passion aka infidelity- Shocker!. They did have parts where the carabinieri ;police that are made fun of a lot not by me but Italians;  chased down a  drug dealer and they always caught their man the first time, have commentary at the prescient about their family life and the case at hand, a joke here and there and a flash mob scene. It was great television .I learned some Italian thanks to Don Matteo-Grazie Papa!