Thursday, November 23, 2006


This is my second Thanksgiving in Rome. The first was a very gourmet dinner with a few friends that included stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, wine, dessert, the whole shebang. This year I am on my own. Meaning the chef of the house is working and he's not really interested in this holiday anyway (why would any Italian care about Thanksgiving?) so I am dining da solo, fending for myself.
I used to hate Thanksgiving thinking it was such a hypocritical holiday where everyone sat around stuffing their faces and watching American football. How boring, so lame. But since I've moved abroad I have come to miss sharing the holidays with my family. This year they are in Dallas and my little sister (she's actually 23...not so little anymore) is presiding over the menu. She has decided she wants to venture into the culinary world as a profession so Brava! to her and I wish I could be there to sample her holiday fare.
As for me? I have decide to make a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Yes, popcorn and jellybeans to get in the true spirit. Woohoo! If you haven't guessed by now I'm not much of a cook. I try I really do, however my artistic talents lie in other areas besides the kitchen. But I have very fond memories of Charlie Brown and the gang during the holidays. My older sister whom I idolized was a huge Snoopy fan. She had several Snoopys big and small with possibly every Snoopy outfit that was ever designed from Joe Cool to Flying Ace. She had Belle (Snoopy's amore) with a pink heart dress and I think there was also a snoopy jr. And Woodstock too.

I too became a huge Snoopy fan because I wanted to be just like my older sister. However I only had one Snoopy and Belle so I would have sneak into her room and borrow Woodstock and the clothes whenever I wanted to play. We would sit glued to the tv throughout the entire hour of whichever special was showing (there are also Charlie Brown Halloween and Christmas specials). Yet the Thanksgiving special was extra special for me because it first aired in 1973, the same year I was born, and it was also aired on the network ABC which just happens to be my initials. How cool is that? For those of you who don't know the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving I'll give a brief recap.

Peppermint Patty invites herself and some friends over to Chuck's place for Thanksgiving. Snoopy and Woodstock take over as caterers and whip up a very untraditional Thanksgiving that includes popcorn, buttered toast, pretzels, jellybeans, and ice cream sundaes. In the eyes of a five year old this was the ultimate Thanksgiving consisting of yummy "snacks". No turkey with tryptophan to make you sleepy, no cranberry sauce that's a bit too bitter for a five year old's palette. Of course Peppermint Patty complains and is a b****. Poor Charlie Brown. But there is always a lesson to be learned. Something like be thankful for what you've got, share the peace love happiness, etc. etc.

So where am I going with this???? I'm not really sure. I've already cracked open the bottle of wine and downed a couple of glasses so I kinda lost track. I guess the moral of my story is even if I only have one Snoopy and Belle it's still a lot. It's still something to be thankful for along with all the memories and time we spent together. Even if I can't be there in person to share the mountains and mountains of food, I am there in spirit. Wolfing down popcorn and jellybeans. Appreciating this fine holiday from abroad.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm on Italian time

Since I've been riding my bike - correction: my husband's bike, I haven't bought a new one yet after mine was stolen - I have noticed lots of clocks in the center of Rome. There is probably a clock on every block from Porta Pia to Piazza Cavour. Now you might think this is a great idea. That's what I thought at first because I am not really a watch person and it's sometimes annoying having to fish my cellphone from the depths of my purse to figure out the time. Well, in Rome, there are hundreds of clocks on the street but no two tell the same time. I kid you not.
On my way to work this morning I passed a clock that said 10 minutes to ten. I freaked out thinking "I'm gonna be late! I'm gonna be late!" peddalling furiously only to pass another clock that said 3:15. The next one said 10 minutes to 9 and the one after that read 9:35.
Go figure.
I wish I would have taken a video camera with me this morning because I felt a little like I was in a Fellini movie.
That's when I realized "ah ha!" This is the essence of Italy.
Rome transcends time.
It is after all the capital of western civilization's greatest empire. I am riding my bike on the same streets that Ceasar and Pompeo walked through. Nero and Ottaviano and Leonardo and Michaelangelo. Totti for crying out loud (teehee! that was a joke). The city is brimming with history. And thousands and thousands of years of millions of people. Rome doesn't need to keep the clocks in order and up to date because the city is timeless. And that's the reason the busses and trains are NEVER on time. I used to think it was because they were probably taking a caffe or they just preferred to take their own sweet time driving through the streets but now I realize it's because they transcend time.
Okay enough of my soapbox.
here's a few photos I took on my way home from work today. I especially like the subtley of the yellow flowers growing amongst these massive marble sculptures.

Friday, November 10, 2006


*Sigh* My blue bike is missing in action.
I left the house this morning on my way to work when I realized my baby was gone. I knew where I parked her and she wasn't there yet I vainly scoured the street thinking perhaps I left it further down?
I knew it would happen eventually but I ignored all the warning signs. The fact that my lock was a cheap version and I made a mental note to get a better one soon. The fact that I diligently locked the easily removable tire to the bike body fearing someone might steal it. (This happened to me once in new york and I never made the same mistake twice). The fact that the first week I had her I would bring the seat with me inside for fear that someone would steal that. Everyone laughed at me saying, "silly girl, no one in Rome is interested in taking bicycle parts. It's motorinos they're after." Wrong. And I would always laugh oh, well, I lived in nyc where people steal anything and everything so it's just a habit for me.
Apparently my paranoia attracted the theives because last night they singled her out. There were only five other bikes parked near mine, including my husband's which is a twin copy of mine only male and yellow but same lock and style. And to top it off there was a red bike with those super heavy industrial thick "nobody can touch me" chains that was parked EXACTLY where I left my bike last night. Talk about adding salt to the wound. It was if it were mocking me for being so careless as to leave a cheapie old lock on my bike. "ha ha! if you would have bought this earlier you would still have a bike!" it smirked at me.
So I took the autobus this morning and of course I was late to work. And by the way, every autobus I've ever been on in Rome stinks really bad. Like a dirty diaper.
I am hopefully going to go to Porta Portese this Sunday which is a famous outdoor market in Rome that happens every Domenica. My other baby, Toni, told me I could probably find a cheap (probably stolen) bike there...not as nice as my lost one but a working one anyhow. Wish me luck in finding a sturdy replacement.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What is going on in Napoli?

Supposedly Mafia gangs in Naples are out of control.
There have been several news reports on recent murders and crime in Naples this past week citing that the city has become a virtual battleground. Rival Mafia gangs are being blamed as the main culprit for the precarious state of the streets. There have been seven deaths in five days and the escalation of violence has provoked calls for the national guard to be deployed on the streets of the city. Not all the crimes are Mafia related but there is enough blood being shed to make me want to stay planted right here in Rome. And Rome has it's fair share of theft and crime. I mean seven deaths in five days? That's crazy. There have been 130,000 crimes in the last year in Naples which is five times the national average.
See here and here for more.
But what I really wanted to talk about is Sopranos season 6. We have diligently been watching the series and I can't get enough. Toni, Paulie, Camilla, Chris...they are so American Mafia. Well, I've never actually met anyone from the Mafia in the U.S. (or Italy for that matter) but they are the epitomy of what I would imagine it to be like. And Meadow has grown into such a beautiful young woman. Toni gets fatter and fatter with each episode. And it's just so ridiculous as to what lengths these guys will go to. They do however try to avoid an all out mafia war between the two sides. Retribution is a necessity so if they can avoid it all the better. But the ironic thing is they hire two guys from Napoli to fly over to nj for the night to "clip" a captain of the rival gang (as retribution for that gang "clipping" one of their captains). These guys spoke Naples slang and Toni and I had to rewind it 4 times to understand what they were saying. It was so hard to understand the dialect. But the show is so hilarious.
Don't get me wrong. I am not in any way trying to trivialize the violence happening in Naples right now. It just reminds me a little of nyc and the insane violence that became a kind of everyday normalcy. I was mugged only once and most of my friends were too, but one girl I knew was even mugged three times! It just seemed like everyday the newspaper was reporting a new murder on the LES or Harlem or Queens. I was really surprised when I moved here that I felt pretty safe at any hour of the day /night. I don't know if the military is the answer for the situation in Naples but obviously something must be done to stop the violence.