October 30, 2009

Pausing for Beauty

print by labokoff

It's out of season, and it separates my Halloween post from the actual holiday, but I couldn't help pausing for this little moment of beauty.

People have asked my why I like poppies so much. They don't survive long enough to make it from the field to a vase, and even if they did, they would probably look kind of stupid with all of their skinny little stems bunched together. But that's exactly why they're so beautiful. They don't need to be all "arranged" Martha Stewart style to look good. Each flower is lovely alone, and it's most beautiful where it's meant to be seen. In nature. In France, when we were little, Lucas and I would pop open the buds to find the soft, velvety, wrinkly petals all curled up inside their fuzzy little green pod. Most of them were they same red they would be as bloomed flowers, but every once in a while we would find an un-pigmented albino poppy, with the same soft petals, but all white and translucent. So fragile and delicate, but strong enough to last a whole season of wind and rain - and produce the entire world's supply of opiates (legal and not) - which is no small feat. And, I assure you, is totally irrelevant to why I find them so pretty :)

Enjoy the pretty picture. And I wish everyone a safe, happy Halloween. Boo.

October 29, 2009

Hoods Off to Me

some jack-o-lanterns from around the interweb

Halloween is in the air.

I was having a long-overdue chat (gmail, not real, unfortunately) with my good friend Barbara the other day, and among other things (she also convinced me to send in a grad school app to Columbia, even though I hadn't considered it before), she reminded me of our Halloween good old days. After my own costumes, Barbara's are probably those which I remember best, probably because I helped her make a lot of them. From the apron for the French Maid (when I was a playmate), the baby blue blouse and black slippers for Alice in Wonderland (when I was Mia Wallace), to the hood for Little Red Riding Hood (when I was a "senior" from Dazed and Confused) -  we made our costumes and then we took them out on the town! We didn't always end up celebrating all Halloween festivities together, but we certainly had great times when we did.

[Barb - this is where I would have put that ridiculous picture of maid you, bunny me, and "hugh hefner", but I followed my better judgment and decided the memory was enough :) ]

This isn't to say that I had Halloween fun only with Barabara - Kate and I went off on a last-minute PoliSci/Halloween adventure in DC one year, and mustarded  up a bunch of frying piggies the next with Becca (if you don't get it, watch Dazed and Confused), along with countless other Halloween adventures with plenty of memorable people.

[Kate - this is where I would have put that ridiculous picture of you, as Buffy, wearing that guy's afro in DC, but I followed my better judgment and decided the memory was enough :) ]

But I mention Barbara in particular because our little stroll down memory lane the other night, along with my current lack of originality/time/a Halloween budget, inspired me to use one of her old Halloween ideas as a new one for myself this year, and go as Little Red Riding Hood. This was probably also influenced by the fact that I had an old, mismatched red sheet lying around waiting to be cut up, and the 1 euro sewing kit I bought to sew up the hood and apron (assembled out of two old white scarves) definitely cost me a lot less than anything else I could have bought to make a good last minute costume.

This brings me to my next point. I actually sewed. Using a pattern. And created something that looks like it was supposed to. Don't get me wrong, Barb's hood a few years ago wasn't all bad, but I hadn't thought of using an online pattern, and it definitely took us a long time to figure out how to make it. I was done with this in a couple of hours, all measuring, cutting and sewing included. And it actually looks good. The apron isn't all bad either. Paired with some snazzy polka dot tights and mary janes, I think my last-minute costume disaster won't be so disastrous after all!

For all you impatient folk, here's a sneak peak at my handiwork (although you won't get to actually see it on me until after Halloween):

Now all I'm missing is a little wooden basket...

Ok, so the picture isn't great - the hanger wasn't a great mannequin either, and stockings without legs in them are always sort of creepy - but you get the picture. Pretty cute, eh?

At least it's an effort. I was afraid that this year Halloween would fall victim to the GRE studying, the grad school apps, the moving, etc, and that I'd have to face the fact that I was growing up and needed to put these childish games behind me. But apparently I can have my Halloween candy and eat it too! (Although I probably won't actually be having any Halloween candy - they don't really get that part of Halloween here in Italy). Maybe I'll have a cocktail instead. Il Circolo Degli Artisti is having its annual Halloween party - pretty much the only place in Rome where Italian Halloweenophiles get to congregate - and I'm planning on revving up some enthusiasm in Valerio and his friends so we can get a little entourage together and try to do justice to the memory of Halloweens past.

And who knows, maybe next year Barb and I will get to do Halloween together again... in New York! :)

October 28, 2009

Blogging over Soup

That isn't to say that I would choose blogging over soup. It means that I am, literally, blogging over a hot bowl of soup - to be specific, a hot, steamy bowl of chunky vegetable minestrone, with bits of gooey melted camembert mixed in, topped with grated parmiggiano reggiano, and with a side of crusty french baguette. It's the perfect lunch. And now it's gone. Dang. I wish delicious food would last longer. So I'll stretch out the memory of my yummy lunch by waxing lyrical over soup.

My Lunch

And speaking of cheese in soup, I think it's high time I make my favorite cheese soup again - to be specific, Apple and Brie Soup. I was a little skeptical the first time I considered making it, but my curiosity immediately won over my skepticism, plus I happened to have a wedge of brie sitting in the fridge, and a stack of pretty green apples in the pantry, so I couldn't not try it. It was actually very good. Even Valerio, who is a wannabe finicky eater (but will actually try anything with a little coaxing) loved it. Being a dyed-in-the-wool Italian, at first he was all, "apples? in soup? blech!" but he managed to finish off his entire bowl and a bit of mine! What's not to love?

Yummy apples...

Plus yummy brie...

Equals yummy soup!

And I got this amazing recipe thanks to the LA Times' Culinary SOS. If you eat at a restaurant (I'm guessing only in the LA area) and you eat something you reeeeally love, but can't figure out how to make it yourself, you can email Culinary SOS and ask them to try to find the original restaurant recipe, and usually they do! (Excellent for unusual baked goods) And, they post them online, so anyone can get the recipe. Sometimes I really hate technology, but this is one of those times when I really don't.

I can't wait to make pumpkin soup, chock full ginger (the way Maman makes it, which I used to hate, but have grown to love), with a little drizzle of cream. But every time I go grocery shopping looking for pumpkin, it's all finished! Damn Italian mamas doing their grocery shopping in the morning and clearing out the store.

Man I love soup.

October 26, 2009

I Occasionally Like to Make Lists: 10 Ways to Get Over Post-Exam Withdrawal - Part II

and the list goes on...

6. Laugh a lot. Not that my life isn't funny enough  - god knows Valerio and I are always laughing about something - but there's something to be said for laughing out loud when you're all alone. Whatever you're looking at has to be pretty damn funny. For me, this has recently included online hilarities such as Cake Wrecks and the newly discovered "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. Allow me to illustrate my point:

A Classic Cake Wreck
(where the baker writes what the person asked to be drawn)

"Mrs" ... Or so she says

If anyone can add to my growing collection of funny online stuff to look at, let me know. I'm always looking for new things to crack me up.

7. Spend more time outside. Not necessarily to be active (I already covered that), but to walk around and seeing new/old things. I feel like I'm always at home, at UNICEF, giving lessons, or on my scooter going to or coming from one of these three places. I know the weather is starting to change and now with daylight savings (yesterday) the sun is setting around 6 pm, so there isn't much daylight left over at the end of the day. Rome, even in the chilly fall, is such a pretty place to just walk around and look at. Saturday afternoon Valerio and I took a walk around the center and walked up to the Pinicio (a sort of balcony in the park that looks over Piazza del Popolo), which I had never been to before.

And that's just the ridiculously overcrowded and mobbed by tourists city center. I can't even imagine all the hidden treasures there are to discover around my new neighborhood.

8. Plan a Halloween costume. You know you're growing up when a mere three years ago Halloween preparations began in September, and now you don't even start to think about it until five days before. Granted, I've had other more important things to worry about as of late, and I sort of already celebrated a dress-up holiday this year (Carnevale, in February), but still... Halloween used to be one of the favorite "holidays" and I think it deserves a minimum of recognition. Therefore I will dedicate the next few days to trying to find a creative yet not obscene Halloween costume. I'm thinking someone from a movie (although I'll never be able to match the genius of my Mia Wallace costume). Any suggestions?

9. Make a new English Teacher friend. Ok, this isn't really a "fun thing" I want to do, but rather something I have to do. I currently have a few English lessons that would like to continue with English after I leave in December, but they don't want to have to find a replacement on their own. So I have to take care of trying to find someone to replace me. But it can't be anyone. Not to toot my own horn, but in the two and a half years I've been teaching kids, I've developed a sort of method to working with them (which includes a lot of fun creative activities and crafts, which require a lot of pre-planning on my part) and most of the moms would hate to see me replaced by some dull bore who doesn't plan anything. So I not only have to find a replacement teacher, but someone who has experience working with kids creatively. Unfortunately for me, all of my native-speaking English-teaching friends have gone back to North America, so I have about zero leads. Oh yeah, this will be fun.

10. Just relax. I've run out of creative ideas, so my last thing to do is pretty simple. I want to spend a week not stressing about anything I have to do (I'll have plenty of time in November and December), and taking the time to do all the other things I mentioned on my list.

October 25, 2009

I Occasionally Like to Make Lists: 10 Ways to Get Over Post-Exam Withdrawal - Part I

Since I finished the exam yesterday (yay!) I've had this nagging feeling that I should be doing something, even though I don't actually have anything to do. It's pretty normal since all I've been doing in the last two weeks is studying, so I guess I'm going through classic post-exam withdrawal  - lingering feelings, after a period of constant intense work, that whenever you aren't actively being productive you should be doing something productive (I experienced a lot of it at university, especially after finals). Since I'll have to be back in "productive mode" by November (writing essays for grad school apps), I figured I'd take advantage of this in-between week I have off to have some relaxing fun (including any Halloween festivities, although I have no plans yet), and I can't have any post-exam withdrawal hindering my worry-free week. So I figured I would think of  things I've been wanting to do, but haven't had the time, all of which will hopefully also be a way to get over this nagging feeling and get to enjoy my free time:

1. Go running more. Everyone says exercise is a great way to get rid of stress and feel better in general, but it's just so hard to get motivated. Once I'm outside running, it's not that bad, but it's making the time psychologically, especially when I could be doing something much lazier, like reading in bed. But all that changes when you have a beautiful park to run it. Before, I just ran on the bike path next to four lanes of traffic. Here I have two beautiful, green parks surrounding beautiful mansions (including Villa Torlonia - Mussolini's former home), where the city and its smog seem so far away. And I have to say, it is pretty relaxing.
Mussolini's Digs
(courtesy of achimagazine)

2. Start cooking again. I feel like every meal I've had in the last two weeks has come out of my freezer. I'm sick of it. I can't wait to make a stop at the farmer's market, pick up some delicious freshly harvested autumn veggies (read: pumpkin) and get cracking in the kitchen again. My efforts will be severely limited by the fact that I don't have a working oven (cheap landlady), but that just means I'll have to get creative with the stove top. Hm, maybe something like...

3. Read a book. I spent all summer reading. After I came back from Boston in June, I must have gone through something like twelve novels in the two months after (at the beach house, I was going through a book in a day and a half). And then September came I just stopped. Maybe because I started working again, maybe because I had finished all the interesting looking books and nothing inspired me. But the fact is I need to get reading again. Any suggestions? One of my summer favorites was Julie&Julia, and I can't wait to see the movie!

4. Go the see Alexander Calder show in Rome. I just saw it on the side of a bus, so I don't know where or when it is, but I can't wait to go see all the mobiles and the little circus if they have it!

5. Go back to Fata Morgana, It's an amazing gelato shop that's right near my new apartment (within walking distance actually, so I can burn off the calories of all the ice cream I'm going to be eating there) and they have the most amazing and original flavors, that change on a regular basis. Flavors include tobacco chocolate (kentucky blend) and wasabi chocolate, which I haven't tried, and pumpkin, which I obviously have tried, and a bunch of others I can't remember, but will update you on once I go again! I'll also be making comparisons to Gelato San Crispino, the other best gelato place in Rome, that features original flavors such as bergamot, honey, and caramel meringue. yum.

I'll stop at five things for now, mostly because it's almost 2 am and I need to get some shut eye before work tomorrow morning, and because my creative juices are ebbing, so I'll probably have some better ideas in the morning. Feel free to suggest fun things for me to do this week! In the mean time, good night, and stay tuned for Part II!

October 23, 2009


So tomorrow morning is the big day that the last month of my life has been leading up to. I finally get to take the damn GRE, again, and get it over with, again, so I can finally move on to other important and pressing issues in my life. I spent all of yesterday practicing math and verbal, doing over 300 multiple choice questions - I filled in so many of those little answer bubbles that they invaded my dreams last night - and a few essay outlines. Today is essay practice day, and this morning I did two full-length, timed essays, one of each, neither of which were half bad, if I do say so myself, and with time to spare for both! This afternoon I'll probably do another round of timed essays, after another full-length, timed exam. But I've worked hard all morning, and the test prep material says cramming too much on the day before can actually be detrimental (and who am I to contradict a reputable source that tells me I should study less?), so I thought I'd take a well-deserved break.

I thought I'd go for a little run (my second this season - yeah, I'm taking my time getting into the habit), then make a light lunch, and then eventually get back on the books. But before all this, I thought I also deserved a little bit of real down time - which is why I'm sitting here telling you about all of this. I actually wish I could take a little nap, but I'm pretty sure waking up sleepy would throw me off my game. Thanks to the rhino-sized (or at least rhino-weight) lady whose bedroom is directly above mine - and who I swear, wears heels to bed just so she can wake up at 1:30 am and stomp around in them above me (although she pretty much stomps around in them all day too) - my last few nights of sleep have been less than satisfactory. I've actually had vivid night-time fantasies about going upstairs and duct-taping padded slippers to her feet, or stealing all her shoes, or even cutting off her feet so she can never walk again (after a particularly irritating 10 minutes of her apparently running laps around her room). And in more lucid day time moments, I've seriously considered going up there and giving her an earful, but apparently no rhyme or reason works with her or her elderly employer, the crazy lady she takes care of - my roommates have tried everything to no avail. Ah well.

Anyhoo, enough of my annoyed ramblings. It's 2:20 already, and by 3:00 I'd like to be back at my desk studying, having run, showered and eaten - a long shot, I know.

More titillating news about my life after the exam tomorrow, I know you can't wait!

October 21, 2009

Weekly Photo Essay: Beautiful Things I've Seen (aka pictures I took this summer)


the actual color of the water in calabria
(filmed on our pedal boat tour)

I was sitting at my desk, thinking about how much I don't want to be writing outlines for practice essays, reminiscing about the beautiful vacation Valerio and I took to Calabria and Sicilia in August. Then I was thinking about how I could liven up this drab-looking bog with a few pictures. And then it came to me: what better way to liven it up than with some snazzy snapshots from said vacation. So here they are, the pretty things I've seen...

delicious cipolle di tropea

a lonely little boat

a pedestrian street marker

the secret entrance to a beautiful restaurant

ceramic garden birds

olives in the greek theatre

you can't even see where the sea ends and the sky begins

i went swimming here in this little bay
and yes, that is a house on that little rock island
(it had a secret passage for the boat and everything)

this was on the front of a church... a pirate church, arrr!

detail of a decorated cart used for traditional ceremonies

and this next one, well...

...it has nothing to do with anything - it was taken in Rome -
but I thought it was funny that Sgt. Pepper was hanging out in the bidet.

p.s. oh yeah, I guess I'm thinking of starting a "weekly photo essay" type thing, otherwise the title of this post would be a little stupid. Stay tuned for more pretty pictures!

all photos © Julia Ritz Toffoli

October 20, 2009

The Elusive Art of Procrastinating Productively

It is now 2:30 pm. I have been doing GRE math since 1 pm. If I have to look at another data interpretation question (and I know I'll eventually have to) I think I'll scream, so I'm taking a little sanity break, and distracting myself with frivolous issues, i.e. figure out what the hell am I doing with my life. Yeah yeah, this GRE nonsense is the priority... but then what? I know, I know, I'm going to Spain. Well, that would be all fine and dandy if I actually had a job. So far all I have is a couch to crash on, with the distant promise of possibly renting a room in an Auberge-Espagnole-style mad house. I don't even have the financial liquidity to survive there for a week without a job lined up. But that's not my priority right now. I need to be studying for the GREs.

Which leads me to my point, if I'm going to be taking sanity breaks from the GREs, I might as well spend that time productively looking for a job in Spain. This is going to be tough though, because I've already tried and been totally shot down (and by totally shot down I mean that after sending out something like fifteen resumes to language schools all over Madrid, the only answer I got back was from the London office of a school saying I had accidentally emailed them, but that they would be happy to forward my c.v. to their Madrid office - which of course, never answered me, along with the fourteen other schools I contacted). Granted, the financial crisis seems to have hit Spain a little harder than the rest of Europe. Maybe Spanish people have no money for luxuries like language classes. But that doesn't mean their language schools have to be rude and never even write back to say they aren't hiring. So I'm going to be pushy and email them all again. Because sadly, short of calling them and verbally harassing the HR managers there, I'm not really sure how else to keep looking. Anyone have any Madrid connections I could take advantage of?

Well, my twenty minute sanity break is over, back to GRE hell (although I'll probably take pity on myself and work a little on verbal instead of tackling pages of statistics again).

October 19, 2009

Amazing Dessert Claymation Video

I was checking out Cake Wrecks (my new favorite place to judge people - click here for an excellent example of why I judge people) and I came across this amazing claymation video. It's not a cake wreck, but rather quite the opposite: three minutes of dessert-themed claymation wonder. And don't forget to watch through to the very end for the big finale!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. (I especially like the way the little yellow guys expand and contract when they walk, like real little blobs of cream filling!)

October 18, 2009

I Occasionally Like to Make Lists: Top Ten Things I Like (Or Think I Would Like) To Eat When The Weather Gets Cold

Between the end of September, when summer is still flirting with you, and the end of October, when Halloween is barely over and the Christmas decorations are already all over the stores, a sort of change starts to take place - the days get shorter, the weather gets colder, the leaves turn brown and crispy, back-to-school/back-to-work glee turns to crap-it's-monday-again gloom. Some call it Fall, or Autumn. I like to call it "Get ready for winter people! Eat! Eat!" And in that spirit (which completely goes against the spirit of my current get-back-into-shape routine), here are some of my favorite ways to "get ready for winter":

1. All Things Pumpkin (take your pick), but especially Heidi Swanson's Spice-Kissed Pumpkin Pie With Hazelnut Lined Crust, which I like to make the mini version of.
2.Award Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies warm and gooey from the oven.
3. Vichyssoise, the hot wintery version.
4. Oven Roasted Pork Ribs with my special Rosemary Potatoes (no link to this one, it's in my head!)
5. Classic Italian Minestrone, with big beans and lots and lots of grated Parmiggiano Reggiano.
6.  Minty Chocolate Chip Christmas Cookies, which I haven't tried yet, but only because my oven doesn't work - I'm dying to try these cute little babies.
7. Baby Lima Bean Soup with Chipotle Broth, although I didn't have baby lima beans, so I made it with cannelini, and it was just as good.
8. Tom Yum Green Curry Coconut Chicken Soup (also just in my head, although you can probably find a recipe somewhere)
(these last two spicy numbers are great on the days when the cold is particularly penetrating, and if you have a cold they'll just clear up all the congestion - great for fall flu) 
9. Poached Pears in Red Wine, delicious and aromatic, perfect to end a romantic dinner on a cold winter evening.
10. Maple-Roasted Acorn and/or Butternut Squash, so simple yet so yummy

October 16, 2009

Mental Health Morning

 watercolor by vivstrauss

So I guess I kind of got my wish from the other day: I finagled a sort of mental health morning. It hasn't really been a morning off, since I've been planning lessons, but it did involve streamed videos - back episodes of Boston Legal (oh, how I'll miss you Alan Shore) - and steamy hot beverages (although I made do with tea instead of Ovaltine). The upside is that it's almost 1 pm and I'm still in my pyjamas. I do have to work at 3, but until I have to leave the house, I can dilly dally all I want.

So of course the first place I go when I want to get distracted is the vintage section of etsy. It's sort of like virtual retail therapy. I get to see all the pretty things, and think about what I would do with them, but I never buy them. Aside from the fact that I'm very aware that I could never afford all of the beautiful things I want, I'm further impeded by the fact that it's all online, and given my horrible experience with shipping things to Italy, I've come to learn the hard way that sometimes it's better to just window shop.

So I look at this delicious 1950s apron:

click here for listing

And the beautiful Roman Holiday dress:

(sold - boo)

And this sweet 1960s pitcher:

click here for listing

And think, Ah, so many pretty things, so much wishing.

And so many delicious things, like earl grey white chocolate cookies:

click here for listing

And pumpkin fudge:

 click here for listing

 What fun it is, wasting time in the bottomless hole of procrastination, that is the interweb. It almost makes me want to forget about grad school and starting working from home, selling baked goods and found vintage items online. Although I'm pretty sure that would get old after about a minute. Perhaps it's better if I stick to my original plan and just call today what it really is, a mental health morning. Now back to the real world.

October 15, 2009

A Nascent Web Designing Genius

Maybe genius is going a little too far... but I think I deserve it anyway. See this beautiful new design? The green dots, the fonts, the colors, the little pearl bullets? I did it allll myself. Granted, there was more trial and error than actual html scripting involved, but I did figure out what elements of my old template I needed to keep, and how to integrate them with the new elements I collected from all over the internet, modifying margins, image sizes, and text until it all fit just right. And I don't think the final result is all that shabby, if I do say so myself.

And now it's time to go to sleep, since apparently web design is exhausting and time consuming. Nighty night.

Begrudgingly Welcoming Winter

It first dawned on me this morning when my alarm went off at 8:30 but I didn't get out of bed until 9:20 - it's damn cold! At first it didn't seem logical. It's only October 15. Even in Montreal, where record low temperatures reached -59° C (that's -77° F!) the first winter I was there, October was still considered neutral territory between summer and winter. Granted it started snowing on Halloween that year, but (with a little liquid courage) it was still warm enough for a skimpy halloween costume. Here in Rome I probably won't see any snow this winter - although I've seen more hail in the last 2 years than in the whole 22 previous years of my life - but it's still damn cold for the middle of October!

OK, maybe not that cold. But this morning it took me a good hour to gather up the courage to take off my pyjamas and get into my clothes. And then even with stockings under pants, and a tank top under a cashmere sweater, and everything topped off with a wool coat and a pashmina, I was still cold! It isn't the cold per se which irks me, but the fact that I'm not psychologically prepared for it. Last year in October I was still doing beach weekends, and now I'm wearing scarves and gloves? What the hell is going on, atmosphere? It doesn't help that my scooter doesn't have a windshield, a fact which makes even the warmest summer breeze seem like a siberian windstorm when I exceed 40 km/h. I  set up my Toucano (a sort of rain-proof wind-blocking lap blanket for scooters) a couple of days ago. But the first winter I was here I recieved it as a Christmas gift, and didn't set it up until the last week of December. And I don't even want to think about how I survived November and December without it. Either I've been majorly pussyfied by Rome's mild climate over the past two years, or old Mother Nature is up to some nasty tricks. I guess I just have to resign myself to the fact that summer is officially over, and there are no more beach weekends in store for me this year.

October 2007 Beach Weekend

Either way, the last thing I want to be doing right now is scootering around the city to and from lessons. I'd much rather be taking a mental health day, curled up in bed in my flannel jammies with a steamy mug of Ovaltine (oh, childhood!) streaming episode after episode of Desperate Housewives, which I've recently discovered is shamefully addictive (I know, I know, I'm waay late to get on the bandwagon). Luckily the weekend is near, and Saturday I've made plans to not be cold. And if that means never getting out of bed, so be it.

October 13, 2009

I Occasionally Like to Make Lists: Top Ten Pet Peeves I Thought of While Stuck in Traffic Today

Top ten Pet Peeves I Thought Of While Stuck In Traffic

1. When girls wear hoop earring, glasses, and a sparkly nose ring - it just looks trashy and cluttered.
2. When drivers straddle lanes and block the whole street - alas, it's the classic roman driving style.
3. When people match everything they're wearing - I get that purple is in season, but it does not look cool when you wear purple suede boots (ew, even by themselves), purple jeans, a purple sweater, purple pleather gloves and a purple scarf, all on the same day.
4. Gridlocking - when there's traffic and the light turns yellow, it means stop before the intersection, it doesn't mean drive into the middle of the intersection and get stuck there with a helpless look on your face blocking oncoming traffic when it turns green for the cross street.

Typical Rome Traffic Jam

5. When people walk reeeally slowly on the sidewalk and sort of sway from side to side making it impossible for you to walk past them.
6. When people fail to use their blinkers and then inevitably cut you off - its a half an inch movement with one hand, how hard can that be?
7. And speaking of blinkers, when people put on their blinkers, and then turn in the other direction.
8. Or when people leave their blinkers on, without ever turning, for a couple of kilometers - so you never know if or when they're actually going to turn.(Apparently they forgot to include blinker day in roman driver's ed!)
9. People who talk on the phone in the car while blocking the whole driver's side window with the elbow they're leaning on to talk on the phone, and then sort of drift into your lane because they forget that a world exists outside of their little conversation.
10. Women who wear stockings with open toed shoes. If it's cold enough to wear stocking, its too cold for open toed shoes, and if its warm enough for open toed shoes, you don't need stockings! Plus it looks stupid.

Yeah, so apparently when I've been stuck in traffic for 45 minutes (a ridiculously long time on a scooter, considering it can dart in and out of traffic jams in a jiffy) and start to get a little annoyed, the things that really tick me off are bad drivers and people who don't know how to dress.

October 12, 2009

GREs and Earl Grey

So I'm finally all settled in my new apartment... lovely neighborhood, lovely roommates, lovely room... everything is just peachy! But now that I'm all moved in and unpacked (pretty much) I have no excuse to not be studying (which I have been doing all morning, I'm just taking a break now) and that's no fun.

Unfortunately for me, the part I enjoy studying the most (verbal) is the part I don't need to study at all! I was in the 99th percentile of verbal last time I took the GREs so this time around I really have to focus on quantitative and writing... boring boring boring... and hard! Geometry is one thing - finding the area of a circle isn't so hard - but standard deviations? Who has time to do all that with 90 seconds per question?! And don't even get me started on the writing section - planning and writing a Issue Essay in 30 minutes, with the vague statements they give you to debate? It's no fun. But I must...

So I made a cup of Earl Grey and hunkered down with some vocab review (exactly what I don't need to be doing) to make it easier to eventually ease into the data interpretations exercises and the essay outlines I'm not looking forward to one bit.

Luckily I have a lesson in 45 minutes, so I have an excuse to put everything off 'til tonight....

October 1, 2009

Updates! Updates! Read all about 'em!

I have news! I have a working, legally mine scooter AND an awesome apartment with (I hope) awesome roommates. The room is the same price as the other one I was looking at, but probably at least 3 times as big, and instead of living with two stuffy old swedish prudes, I get to have three fun-loving (I hope) Italian girl roommates. Plus the neighborhood is beautiful and close to my work. All in all, I think I lucked out (after only 3 agonizing, hair-pulling, full-of-disappointment weeks of looking for a place). At the moment I'm waiting for my cousin Lorenzo to come over and help me start moving my stuff over there. Then between tomorrow and Sunday I'll get the rest of the stuff over there somehow.

No moving on Saturday because Valerio, Lorenzo and I are going to Viterbo to see Angela (my dad's cousin) and help her with the Vendemmia (the grape harvesting party where you get to walk on grapes with your feet and make wine! although I'm pretty sure there are no feet involved anymore... boo). I thought it was just a bunch of grape crushing and wine drinking, which sounded like fun, so obviously I said count me it. Man was I wrong. Apparently, we'll have to actually harvest the grapes, like off the vines, in giant heavy buckets. I just hope that at the end of the day, there'll be enough wine left over from last year's harvest to make up for all the heavy lifting.