Wednesday, June 30, 2004

You Do the Herky Jerky:
It is Research Wednesday everyone! Come join me on my musical bus ride to Florence!!

Holy shit are you kidding me?? This morning’s bus ride was the most insane thing I have done in a long time (at least done unknowingly). I had a bus driver, I use this term lightly, but only for lack of better definitive vocabulary skills, I can’t pinpoint the word I want to use. He was honking the horn the whole way there and talking up a blue streak- to himself. The last time I rode this musical of a freak bus, I was in Egypt.

I think he thought this trip was a game. You jerk head on forward, you jerk your head on back, you jerk your head on forward and you shake it all about. You do the Herky Jerky and you turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about!

Yeah, I wasn’t creative enough to fill in the whole song- but you get the idea. Add in the Swervy-Swervy dance too and you have the driving "style." Harder than all hell on the brakes (the bus will need new pads) and jiggering the damn steering wheel; the whole 1.5 hour ride.

If I haven’t told you as I have gotten older I have become more prone to motion sickness. Never fazed me riding in busses or passenger seats as a kid; but now should I not be in the front or should you move the shit around my stomach says, "Hey you want to see what you ate again?" So the hard breaking jerks, the swerving and ridding the middle of the road well- I came *THIS CLOSE* to blowing chunks.

The other point of reference is that these are not wide roads we are driving down, they barely hold two lanes, and in some places when they are resurfacing they hold one lane in each direction. I could kiss the railing if I wanted for most of the ride. Thus the swervy-swervy makes you hold on to the handles white knuckled.

In addition drivers often straddle the middle and then play chicken with each other usually at about 120km per hour. I know that’s only 60 miles an hour but really its a lot faster than you think when you are in a big bus on a little road with turns and curves. It is harrowing. You just don’t want to look. And when I told this to a local friend, his comment was "why not?" My comment why the fuck paint the lines in the first place then?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Happy Birthday ME:
I am one whole year older today. The birfday fairy has arrived, against my better wishes and well I'm old-ER. Actually I am more tired than anything, packing does that to me. It seems that for the past two years my birthday just falls on the WRONG day.

Last year I was landing in Italy arriving at about 5pm local time after 22 hours of air travel, with a serious frisking at the Frankfurt Airport. They are serious about security those Germans. Followed by 3 hours of ground transport to somewhere I hoped my directions were going to take me. Into the hot baking sun.

It was the start of the new adventure. I was starting the fellowship that lead me into this year's graduate school "adventure." A journey which has brought me one year of travels, research, debts, frustrations, joy, growth and shedding. A process of questioning, learning and questioning again. A process of coming to war and peace with myself and time. I watched the grapes at my house that summer change. And I changed with them. There is no denying for every paranoia and insecurity I have, I've grown.

I have shed the dead weight people in my life. The ones I picked up when I was a bitter and unhappy soul (they still are, but I thankfully am not). I have replaced them with some phenomenal, genuine and sincere people. The kind who care, listen, are happy for me and well make me laugh. The kind I should be surrounded and supported by. I shed some of the weight I gained after going through my medical hell. And I have shed some of the emotional baggage I have been carrying around (but of course not all- I wouldnt be me if I wasnt Neurotic now would I?)

This past year has definitely brought me the ups and the downs, and I wouldnt trade a single one of them for the moon. Not always an easy road, but its my road. I normally dont like to ride the emotional rollercoaster, it often makes me shut down. And I am not good at turning back on my emotions. Some of the downs were dramaticized for no good reason, and therefore not really as far down as I thought. And most of the ups well they have been pretty UP there. I have learned to ride the rollercoaster a bit more. And you know what I have learned that I might as well scream WHEEEEEEE whether I am going up or down and be true to myself.

This year on my birthday I am in Italy again, a place that will forever have a special place in my heart. Realizing that I am walking one hell of a long walk back to me. But I am willing to keep walking, I want to keep walking. That sign I thought I saw saying "You- 2km" seemed to be a trick and "Me" is a bit further off in the distance. But as the Taoists say it's all about the Journey. And in the end I have to agree. It might be frustrating but its an honest truth.

I am getting ready to start another voyage as this birthday comes around. A journey to places, both inside and outside me if I have anything to judge by. This time the journey is a bit into unknown. I am going to places with out concrete things, I am also in the midst of the dissertation process. I keep muttering that which doesnt kill me makes me stronger. And you know what it does, and sometimes afterwards it doesnt even seem that bad. Sometimes it even seem like what was best.

As for life after this birthday, I am bouncing around quite a bit for the next 3 months. Its about to become a veritable "Where in the World is Tink game" soon. I am not doing anything dramatically special for the "big day," that will come later. But I am enjoying the Tuscan Sun today and I am going to start believing in what others seem quite sure they are seeing in me.

Happy Birthday ME!
Hit It Harder:
So I am currently left wondering the following question. Why is it that when the computer goes wonky our first instinct (after trying repitition a few time) is to hit it, and that the amount of force with which we hit it is related to the result we get?

I for example was just using my Hotmail account (come on I used to work for them and I have had it for 4+ years- I have a Yahoo too). I had sent a message but it wasnt going through. Some can't reach server shit excuse. So I hit back and then send again. Same message. Hey fucker send my mail! I say going back to the message to hit send again. Same bloody message. Then I forcefully click my touchpad mouse and say a few more expletives... and guess what. VOILA! Email is sent.

The power of the word and brute physical force- never underestimate it or a redhead in a crabby mood :) Thats right dont mess with me computer!

Monday, June 28, 2004

Completely and Utterly Breathless:
When I got home from the conference, I sent out my follow up emails of thanks. Kind of a hang over from when I was in the "real world." But I really wanted to this time, mostly due to the support that was extended and what I felt was like tolerance. In particular to the two "friendlies" and I just got a response that takes the breath right out of me. Breath couldnt be more knocked out of my body if a Linebacker took me flat out on my back.

Here I was thinking that I might need to be embarassed for prattering and expressing frustration etc. I dont always know how to "restrain" or censor myself. It is well documented that not all neurons in my brain connect. I was quite sure I might have made myself look a bit on the well ummm nope not got a polite word for it... dippy the shit stick side.

And then I got this email, that seriously, almost brought me to tears. It hit it home that one more bit, chiseling at me like I am some piece of sculpture. He is one of the big guys in the field, I have to take what he says seriously right? I actually had to walk outside to the patio to take it in. I well up everytime I review this entry or look at the email. I am so utterly speechless.

He wrote:
"I enjoyed our time together very much. Talking to you was like breathing fresh air. I am sure that next time we meet you will have come up with your own puzzle and research design. It is taking you a little while because you have set high standards and you are intellectually honest. All this bodes well for the future, although in the short term it can be frustrating."

Everyone else can see what I seemingly cannot. I think its time to open my eyes.
Why Do You Try To Be Like Other People? You Aren’t Even Good At Being Yourself Again?
I am having all sorts of self revalation. I am sure that some of that is tied to the fact that TOMORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY. Which reminds me where the fuck did that come from? It was supposed to be way off in the distance and now it is here?? I think I might have ask if I can copy Sphinxy's letter to the Birfday Fairy.

But on other points… Why is that when I become insecure I shut off? I get all quiet, which anyone who knows me knows is a signal. I always talk, make some kind of noise, something. But somewhere in being with other people that do what I do and looking at their presentations, the question fount (yes I am always full of questions) turns its spout to "no-go" mode and my mouth staples shut internally.

I am so afraid of being me. Of looking like I don’t know what I am talking about. And in my knee jerk reaction that is exactly what I create- a me that looks like I know nothing. I confess I am scared shitless of looking stupid, particularly in front of people that seriously know their shit. Not I know on a decent level I know my shit, but what I need to do is let it out.

I am going to have to go through this awkward phase sooner or later and the quicker I get through it the more I can get to me. I think that realization has finally come through. Hopefully I will realize at the end of it that I am not just some poser. And hopefully that I am a researcher.
Hit and Run or Name and Shame:
Well I think I may have shamed my advisor into a response. Ha, Ha; deserves the quirky French freak right. I managed to find Paolo at the conference. My scruffy, cute Italian who is all disheveled. What is it with me finding these two cute Italians? Both have beards which are usually a "no-no" for me. Anyways more accurately I was found, accosted and squeezed by Paolo, even given a sign of respect as he started talking to me in Italian not English! We chatted while he picked up his information and then we went up to his panel.

As we went up the stairs he asked how things were going. I said well I had been trashed by "adjusting myself" professor (otherwise known and "him the non-communicative"), but not heard a thing from "Mr. Hot and Cold" advisor (otherwise known as "him who was caught staring at my chest" or "him who stares and scares") who has had my proposal and meeting request for at least 3 weeks. Actually I really hadn’t heard much from him since I got back from France.

Paolo said that was odd as my advisor is usually pretty on top of email. I said I know, and it doesn’t help to add to my paranoia either. I personally kind of think "him who stares but scares" is taking his "duties" (that he gets dosh for) a bit on the light side. He’s going to get a bit of a rude awakening when I get back to Paris... but I wouldn’t say that to Paolo, him and "he who stares but scares" are close like this *crosses fingers*.

So I leave it at that and up the stairs we go (I catch him looking at my legs I think as I am hiking the skirt to keep up going up the stairs side by side chatting- what is this look and no compliment shit with these two?). He presented some really interesting research. I really should have brought up some points, but as I was later told in Un-PC terms by a very hysterical Irish man, I was being girly. Guys wouldn’t be afraid of looking like an ass because they hadn’t been able to read the research first. They’d make shit up and be embarrassed at the shit they tried to pedal, if at all, maybe a few years down the road.

Anyways, I had hoped Paolo would stay in town but the crazy, scattered, scruffy and cute Italian headed back to Milan (not with out setting our "Milan Date"). Now Paolo had seen me talking with another big wig, who I made friends with (one of the two "friendlies" at the conference) and us joking during the presentations and afterwards. And I think that interaction and my "he has vanished comments" might have been relayed to "him who stares but scares."

Why would I think that?? Well literally the next morning who do you think I get an email from? Wouldn’t coincidence have it! And the shit is going on vacation (Fucker! I would have come to Paris before you left if I had known that- what is up with not telling me. Me fait chier- chien!). So I am stuck without a meeting with him next month until I get back from the UK, i.e. the last day of the month. And probably no email access either. Yeah that is SOOOO not going over well with me, if you couldn’t guess. I am just going to have to fly it alone and hope well that I don’t look like an ass, that or stop caring if I do anymore (if only there wasn’t so much resting on it...).

We’ll see what "Mr. Hot and Cold" does now though, at least it might entertain me. I can use all the entertainment I can get. I am supposed to get proposal comment next week and confirmation of a meeting when I get back. I might forgive him if I get some really good comments or a question that I can research.

God I love my life...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I Have THOSE Kinds of Days And Then There Are THOSE Kinds:
Today is one of those "click" days. Unfortunately no it was not on my thesis. Well not completely but I am hopefully clicking a bit more than I was previously- and clicking on something that my advisor will say yes to. I have research that I got for CHEAP from the publishers at the conference!

But I am clicking with music and movement today. I was feeling a bit off, so I played some music to dance with. And then I heard one song and I listened to it on repeat for the next couple of hours. I can do that. I can listen to one song for 5 hours and if I like it I simply don’t bore of it. It of course needs to be of my own volition, being subjected to things like Mmmm-Bop songs incessantly on the radio while driving to work is NOT what I am talking about. I do mean though that when I am in the library, I can play a song and bop my way through my research to the same song looping. I know not something many can do but I can.

Sometimes when I do this certain songs pop out. I don’t choose them for any particular reason; they just suit my fancy at that moment. And then for what ever reason they start speaking to me. I was dancing around the room taking a break from my dense reading program and the avoidance of packing (as that would mean acknowledging that I move out of this flat in 3 days and that I leave town in 14 days). And then sat and listened to some of my comedy (I LOVE John Leguizamo, and need to get his one man shows on DVD!) after which while writing out some emails to send tomorrow I listened to Liz Phair- Extraordinary.

The song spoke to me in so many ways. I love the lyrics, even though they made me think of Nasty Ex. But even more so because I identified with them, and sang them bouncing around to the fun beat. It meant something to me and clicked in my head. I am extraordinary, and I love the song now.

That is all. Yes it is a boring day, it was this or I could tell you about the chapters I read today about soft and hard law or better yet bitch about the Contradini. I do that every Sunday as it is. So I am sparing you- consider yourself lucky :)
So I am home after many tears as I left on a bus from Bologna. I wanted to stay but there was no way I could justify it. It would have been nice but there were no guarantees about spending time with people (many were disbursing pretty quick) and well I have too much shit to do. So what am I doing you ask? I am packing and reading to avoid packing and thinking of all the things I need to do, but don’t want to.


I can’t believe how much time is going to fly by and I just want to sit doing nothing and not have it move at all. I have so much to pack into the next two weeks that I am not sure how I will survive these next two weeks, let alone the next two and a half months when I am bouncing like crazy. Things are a bit hesitant right now but I am hopeful that I can make it through.

I have things to pick up, packing to do, preparations for Paris to make, friends to see, papers to write, research to follow up on, people to scold and flirt with, avoidance tactics to employ, research trips to take, meetings with other academics and well sleep to try and squeeze in there- somewhere.

Some days I feel like asking if some one is holding my head in the toilet while running a swirly on me. And then I realize if I ask that question I have to accept that I am doing it to myself. So we just won’t go there. We will just return to the "just when I am starting to enjoy being somewhere it is time to run and go somewhere else" fad. If nothing else the trends and patterns in my life are constant and predictable. That’s got to be worth something right?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Bologna Here I Come. Grassa I Become:
I can’t wait to go back to be honest. Hopefully while people are still there. While JHUBC would not academically have been the place for me, I am seriously jealous of it socially. They seem to have a fairly decent sized program with a diversity of people, and with quality people. Maybe I met the best of them, but I am guessing not. They were people I could connect with. I don’t know why I don’t connect with the people from our sister program but I really don’t. And I had such a wonderful time. I didn’t want to leave. I had a nice flat I was staying at, nice people to hang out with (unfortunately most of them leaving next week though), and I had things to do, stores I could go to and really good food to eat.

I am sure if I had lived in Bologna I would have gained at least 5 kilos/10 lbs. I haven’t eaten this well in sooooo long. Well since my phenomenal meal in Rome at least. The people in town are so damn friendly and will speak Italian with me. There is just a great vibe to the place.

Even better impression for me was that I came for the conference. And in working the conference I get paid for doing nothing. I know I should take it and run, but I do feel a bit guilty, so I really have been trying to actually do things. I got so lucky on this conference to be able to stay at a fellow colleagues place in Bologna (no accommodations costs) then to have the conference provide food and a fellow academic take me out to dinner (almost no food costs), my conference fee waved, and to get freaking paid. This is beyond the research points, meeting really nice people, making network contacts and some pretty nice weather. I mean I don’t know how I luck into these things but wow was it my turn.

I met so many really good contacts and some of them are REALLY nice. They provided me with just the ego boost that I needed, enough emotional support to get me to the point that I was ready to face the research again and break me to the point that I will be willing to make an ass of myself (i.e. ask questions etc) at the next conference. And that little bit that tells me that while I of course have not chosen the easy path- Do I EVER?? But that the path isn’t necessarily the wrong one for me.

Even better I was given the compliment that I needed to be introduced to someone else who might be looking for someone to write something. Umm Yeah…. Not so sure I am that person but what kind of a compliment! I have been on this same kind of up down rollercoaster, and I normally DESPISE it. It can spin me like nothing else. But this time fate has intervened and made sure I have just the right things to buoy me back up at the exact second that they are needed. Maybe life is going right after all.

Friday, June 25, 2004

The Kindest Words And Putting Myself Out There:
I have decided that I really like going to conferences. First of all you get to see some research from books before it is published, then you get to get a bunch of research- some of which you hope will fan the flames of the sparks that feel like they might be starting, and you even get to put a personal face to these people who you are citing. This in its own way starts to make you feel like you are a part of that community after all, especially when you are going out to drink together. But even better you find out how incredibly nice some of them are. And really nice- it makes my day.

I might just be at the breaking point, if not I can see the sign for it, I think. You know how they say you meet the right people at the right times. Well since Monday’s "I will not be constructive but will trash" event I have been a bit on the shaky side. Now I know that this is not unusual, actually it is to be expected and the process will make me a stronger candidate in the end. However, during the process (i.e. NOW) it is making me frustrated as all HELL (and I am already a frustrated lady). I feel beaten up and of course I am placing more pressure on me than I should. I needed to meet these people to be honest.

Just on cue, every single person I am coming into contact with is helping me that one little step more. Even with simple things, like kindness and listening. I have met two people at this conference who have helped more than I think they know.

They listened to paranoid me, told me it is normal, and pushed me to realize that I need to get past the fear. I need to just do it (yeah, yeah Nike whatever). Claudio told me that the process I was describing and my responses were just what was to be looked for in my development, and that my responses are what you look for in candidates. And then he comforted me telling me it would continue :) But that I had a good grasp on things and he was confident I would make it. I mean if people that know their shit believe in me well why shouldn’t I?

But Brendan is the one who I have accrued a serious debt to. I went up to him to thank him after a panel for being constructively critical and as he called it "deviant." To me he was a wonderfully insightful discussant and at the same time a spiky Irish man who perked the afternoon up. The Norwegian panelist might not have appreciated it, but I did. And I ended up talking with him for a while and let out my keeping quiet as a result of my fears of being an ass in front of others. And he told me that what from what I said and asked if I were a panelist I would have wanted to hear it. You just have to get past being an ass, and quit caring. If you are wrong you are wrong- Oh well, you say I guess you are right- I am wrong and you go on. And you know what that sounded like the me I remember, but have been struggling to get back in touch with.

And then he made about as accurate of a comment as there is. When you don’t put yourself out there, when you sell yourself short, when you aren’t you... well you won’t go forward. I have been percolating all week; I am slowly but surely getting back in touch with my critical self. I am starting slowly to think that way, but more importantly I am on the "cliff" ready to jump. Ready to jump on taking the risk of making a fool of myself. I am close to getting past the fear of looking like a fool, accepting the fact that all I need to do is say it, if it’s wrong well its wrong. I can keep going on. But I need to say it. I need to come up with things to ask. I needed one more panel in there...

I may be stumbling but I think if I keep it up I will be able to actually walk here soon. Over all however, this conference has been one of the better things that could have happened right now. And well I am grateful to the Goddess of Fates, even when she sometimes annoys me.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Oh I Am In Trouble:
Do you know what Bologna has in town? Do you know? They have a LUSH. Freaking LUSH!!! Like I needed any more reasons to wish my program was in Bologna or ways to spend the money I don’t have. Good food, gorgeous places, a vibrant feeling of life, a nice university life and community, and SHOPPING!!!! With LUSH.

Now it’s a tiny one and doesn’t have every kind of thing that you can find at some of the huge ones but I made the mistake and I went in… oh was that a bad idea. I restrained myself slightly, but let me tell you I want me a Mango massage oil bar soooo bad, and I like the After 8:30 one too. But I have some products and I like that they are labeled in Italian. My lip balm is now called Baciami. And I like to think it makes me look kissable like it says.
Ok I Need To Know:
You know Bologna, much more my style than Siena. I love Red in all its forms in this city. I love the political red, I love the red buildings and I love the red hot men. It seems the trend to like it better somewhere else than where I am. But I have been having such a great time, how could I not. But WHY oh WHY is it all the sweet hotter than HELL, flirty and really nice Italians are all always taken?

I had a lovely first day. Since I had been to a conference before and I was going to know at least 2-4 people there I was a bit more relaxed. I was also working the conference so I met the JHUBC grad students, and met even more people. There was a funny and angry British guy, a Hotter than All HELL Italian Guy, a very funny British girl, and a reserved but nice Irish girl. We spent the day working together and me attending panels occasionally, and then went to a pub and watched the Portugal v. England game at the end of the day.

At least I got one of my wishes (I wish it was the other one too). I got me one OFFENSIVE game! It was a great high intensity and FUN game. I had a blast, didn’t mind when I got beer spilt on me (I was already sticky from the heat so what was that going to change?) from a guy jumping up yelling GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL. It was that great. Even better as I wasnt invested in who won and so I just people watched and wanted who ever was being active to score.

The pub was filled with both parties and it was an exciting and fun filled game. I loved that it went into sudden death. And I can say for the record that Portugal has some cute footie players and well I think Beckham looks stupid with that tattoo on the back of his neck. I even got to drink beers on the Publishing representative that came out with us too. And well then there was making friends with hotter than all HELL Italian man. What is it if you cant have em be friends till you can? He really is so nice that I am just sad he has a girlfriend, but I will settle for friends- he’s that smart and that nice. Oh yeah and THAT HOT.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

So I have been trying to make the reservations for my travel to the UK. I am sooo going!!!!! Conference, London and Scotland here I come!

Note to Self: Must make flight reservation for Scotland-London.

Back to Programming:
To do this I have spent two days BATTLING with the freaking Air France web site (it was the cheapest- who would have thunk it!). All I wanted it to let me do was buy the bloody ticket.

I was about to break and say fine fly Easy Jet to the funky airport (Luton) and just get a damn ticket! I didnt want to get hit with out of control prices. That is what the 21 day advance is all about- cause if not I would so rather wait and see if the the exchange rate went down. Quite seriously though, I went through the reservations process about 15 times (not exaggerating) yesterday alone and 10 more times this morning. But I tried one more time on another computer and. WHEEEEE I win. I got my ticket. 91 euros later and a completed process. I made it my bitch.

Yeah Baby I am broke and I have a ticket!!!
Dont Try That Shit:
Last night we had a dinner with a variety of people, I love dinner gatherings but they can be problematic for me. I love gathering and being with others around a table. I LOVE making foods that make others happy, and having close gatherings with food and happiness. I HATE the eating part of it, as I usually have an issue or two with this part, especially if I havent planned the menu.

I brought salad. In general I am not a salad person, but that is what they asked for. One of the girls (the bitchy whiny old one) in the program kept pushing me to eat more, and said I HAD to eat salad putting some on my plate with out asking. I made a salad for them- not a kind of salad I would have eaten. And that action is BEYOND rude to me.

(If you are a friend I dont really mean you but I do mean her!) Listen chunky people, just because you like to eat more than your body likes to or should hold does NOT mean I do. Nor do I want to be your size with out an alien being growing in me. Way one and two to piss me off is to shove food at me and then try to make me feel guilty for not eating "enough." Or to force me.

Have I told you how I have many issues with food? I would be DSM II Eating Disorder walking straight at you if it werent for the fact that NONE of it has anything to do with my weight. I have all the prerequisites you could ask for (I was a competitive gymnast and even was a cheerleading freak for a while- no reason I shouldnt have fallen into it with my teenage desire to fit in while also being seperate- yeah I like to be at both extremes at the same time- your point?). I have the accompanying paranoias too- I made a psychatrist actually assess me at one point, because I wanted the confirmation of what I knew and was tired of other asshats trying to pin on me.

But for me it all has to do with my family trying to force me into shit. I am and always have been a stubborn little git, and if you try to coerce or force me into doing anything it is a sure fire way to make me turn face and do the opposite simply to spite you. I am an OBC control-freak, surprising I know.

My family had serious issues with this. Especially as most of them are obese and seem to want everyone else to be too. Their approach instead of being moderate was to attempt to break my will. To give an example, I actually have a SERIOUS issue with Chick Peas/Garbanzo beans. Which is sad as many people seem to like them. But tell me it has garbanzos and I will RUN. Why? Because my "aunt and uncle/ godparents" the "loving" authority figures they were decided when I was staying with them that they would put them on my plate. When I refused to eat them my uncle thought it would be cute to put more on my plate- like that would convince me.

I was 5 or 6 and I said I wasnt going to eat them, and I meant it. In general I mean shit I say in life, and I have since I was little. Rather than saying take a bite and if you dont like it you can spit it out or any other such strategy they said I couldnt leave the table till I finished them. I promptly asked if I should piss and shit at the table. They said I could go to the restroom but that was it- the kind people.

So for 3 days I sat at the table ALL day long and I slept there too (with a cousin sneeking me a pillow at night). That is right- 3 days, and you wonder where the issues come from? I got nothing new to eat either, though I did get milk. I have subsisted on milk only for almost my entire life. I was diagnosed with anemia as a child and it was called Milk Anemia because of this. I come from the Cow family (owning a Cattle Ranch and Dairy- how much more in tune with Cows could someone be??). But I didnt eat anything except for gallons of milk for 3 days. They offered bread but I was insistent, I wasnt supposed to eat since I wasnt willing to eat the Garbanzo beans. Yeah I like to throw that shit back at your face, blame it on my Simean heritage.

After three days I broke my Uncle and he let me up off the table, throwing the now dry and skanky looking plate of food away. That is what you get when you try to make me do something against my will. That was also the start of my "you cant make me" relationship with food. Wherein I would sniff at it, look at it etc and make pronouncements about its acceptability. I decided I didnt like red foods- so I stopped eating them. I randomly quit eating things I had previously liked. I became about as fickle and finicky as they come and I wasnt going to let anyone change it. I wore it like a badge of pride.

Yes I admit it, I have issues with food. Not about eating them but about trying them. They are not life breaking, but if you push the wrong button vitriol and resistance will flow your way.(Ie do not push a fork full of food in my face it you dont want it slapped back up your nose) Things in life need to be for the large part at my choice when they can. And while I have made MAJOR strides in trying foods and working through these "issues" such that I am a bit more inclusive, should you try to guilt me I get PISSY.

"Oh you have to have more than that" comments make me want to point a fire hose at you and blast full force. I have very healthy eating habits in the respect that I know my bodies limit and I am in tune with it. I know when I am hungry (and I eat then or slightly before it as I can anticipate it). I also eat only until I am full and then I stop. I even eat what I want (no calorie restriction here. Bring on the BUTTER and the BREAD!). But I also have major issues with waste.

I had the mother who pulled the Children in Africa route. I actually asked her one night for a box, she gave it not understanding and I tried to mail them my dinner. Yup I was one SMARTASS kid. But quite seriously one of my family's other mechanisms at large meals was to damn me either way. If I put to much on my plate, I couldnt finsih it and was wasteful. In a family that was raised by parents who lived in Rural Spain and through the depression this is tantamount to murder. However should I put enough on my plate that I could finish it, I hadnt eaten enough and on went more to the plate. I tried so hard to get my plate away from them that I once sat on it.

I used to think I was the freak child as I was the only one that was this way. In general I am from the black sheep lineage of the family. But my Abuela made me feel normal. If all I wanted was Mac and Cheese for lunch she made it and made no fuss. I would try her food when no one was looking. But I am still the odd one out in my state-side family. I went to university. Why? I went to graduate school. A bigger why! I broke it off with my fiance- what the fuck was I thinking (that I wanted to be the family spinster and at 27 next week I am). I came back to Europe. Why they ask? I want to recuperate my Spanish citizenship (to which I am entitled). Again they ask why? They simply dont get me. And I honestly as much as I am like them in some ways, would be hard not to be spending my life around them, dont get them. We part ways like the Red Sea when it comes to eating (and a few other million things too).

The family in Spain is MUCH better. They are similar in that they want me to eat more (too skinny is the constant chant) but they dont care what I eat as long as I am eating with them. This is so much more enjoyable for me. I can have a plate full of rice and as long as I am eating and not wasting ALL is good. If I dont want food they push desserts at me (they know that will get me 90% of the time). They dont care. It is about sharing food and being together, not force-feeding. That logic I got from my Abuela and I can deal with, that is what I bring to my gatherings.

I have since found out though that my father (who passed away when I was two months) was similar to me in respect to food. I have his silouhette too. But the best was asking a cousin of his what he said about family meals- she said his exact words were TOO much food and TOO pushy about it. And I have started to feel a lot more "normal."

I have a tiny tummy. That doesnt mean I dont eat a lot. My friend Sarah is quite keen on telling people that I eat more than a horse. And quite often she is right, I am just deceptive. I am a muncher and grazing I can do with the best of them. Eating in one large meal- not so much. Particularly as I DESPISE the leaden feeling that comes with eating a large meal for me.

But you are going to only piss me off more than normal with your bitch weird self if you try to make me feel like shit for actually doing what is a step forward for me. Trying a Red food (red couscous- which wasnt bad).

So what is the point of that post... I dont know, but it had to come out. I am always irritated when people push the programmed triggers that I am sincerely trying to de-program.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Anyone Think Its A Bad Idea to Kill My Advisor?:
I am having a shitty ass Monday morning. I hate this morning with a vivid passion. It does NOT make my day to see you sun.

French advisor has yet to respond to my proposal, great right... So what does this all do to a paranoid and JitteryGirl? It makes her freak even MORE. Probably doesn’t matter any more anyways, not after this morning. Today even better, I get an email from my US advisor. I swear the man is brilliant but seemingly unable to string more than 3 words together in a sentence or a response. This is one guy that working with over emails is completely unproductive. This is really not going to be fun. Yeah cause my ass is so going to be grass on this one.

I send my proposal, saying I am sure it is too big and could use your help trying to narrow it, or at least some directions on narrowing it. And his response to my email and proposal you ask? He says yes you are right its too big and that is IT.

HI I said that I need HELP narrowing it, your confirmation that it is too large does NOT HELP me to narrow my topic. Can you maybe bounce me some ideas here. I mean come on- throw a girl a freaking bone. Not having anyone in a 500 mile radius that I can bounce ideas off is making me cry. I need to have sounding boards to try and get my ideas to gel. I need to have someone banter back and forth with me who can point shit out to me so I can get my argument together.

GAH, so now I am basically back to the drawing board such as it is, and ready to break in half myself. I am paranoid enough as it is. Really all I needed was some kind of positive comment and then a critique with possible other options. YOu could tell me what does or doesnt work in what I proposed. You could even tell me that my area of interest is fine but I need to tune the research design. Go ahead and say something like- ok I can see your interests and it might be interesting to look at X, Y, Z instead. I don’t want to research it by maybe Question F would interest you. For the fucking love of GOD SOMETHING.

I don’t know, I know that I am now questioning everything- which always makes it all better. What a way to start the week No? And now I have to go get my brain thinking... cause I have a meeting in less than 3 weeks with a Big Wig, and I dont want to look like an ass to him too.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

I Will Break You Like A Stick:
YES I have won the battle. For those of you following the "Where in the World is Tink?" game- you might think I am in Italy. Well I am not really; I live in a small part of the country that is Senese, not Italian. These Senese are the most closed in little Italian people that I have ever met. They contradict everything I know about Italy and Italian people. They want nothing to do with any outsider. Some what it makes sense, they are inundated with tourists. (If I see another lady with a head set on talking through a megaphone I am going to go ballistic- 5 on the 3 minute walk to the Laundromat is TOO much!). Even more it is a large university town. So it makes sense that they are a bit cautious I guess. But it is just weird to me.

I have been here for 2.5 months saying hello to people like is NORMAL in the rest of Italy. It is my own Social Experiment, I walk down the street and if you look at me I say Buongiorno/Buona Sera etc. I get looks back at me like ummmm... "why are you talking to me?" about 90% of the time. But today I WON, I broke the grocer and he said Buongiorno to ME! My fruit and grocery vendor has been quite the oddity to me since I got here. I don’t think he knows what to do with me, which isn’t uncommon in reality. I go in I am friendly I speak Italian in my funked up accent and I go in every day and do the same thing. Half the time he ignores me grunts takes my money and on to the next old Italian lady in line...

However I have finally gotten him to the point that this morning as I walked down the street to the Facolta he said Buongiorno to me with out me prompting (erm… guilting) him into it. Even better after I bought my fruit and lemon cake he said Ciao Bella to me. HAHAHAHAHA I win I win I win!!!

On another side note I ran into Christy Turlington on the main street of Siena today. I think she might have had a baby, she didnt look as svelte, or tall for that matter, as I expected. It is starting to get to be random sighting series I think... oh well, not like I care- takes more than that to get my attention. It was only well after the fact that I realized I should have looked to see if the guy with her was Ed Burns. In stead all I noticed was a cute baby girl.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Italian Phenomenon:
I watch Italian movies and think Stefano Accorsi is HOT! He also has odd choice in women. Giovanna Mezzogiorno I can understand. Sorry, but Latetia Casta does NOTHING for me. Especially after seeing her in some of the most horrid outfits for Galleries Lafayette publicites.

In another position of the "I love Italian movies" here is one more reason. Tonight we watched Le Fate Ignorante- The Ignorant Fairies. It’s a film by a pretty famous Italian director F. Ozpetek. He is known for a specific type of film and is kind of quirky, but I enjoy them. Particularly I enjoy Stefano Accorsi. I have seen him in the Ulitmo Bacio and Santa Maradona (don’t think you can get them in the States- sorry).

He is a great actor and delicious to look at. I usually dont go for the actors "look." He is the first in a long time actually. But there (especially pic# 1 and 21, though 13 and 14 are cute too) is the Italian man of my dreams. Perfetto!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Anyone Notice??:
Nope my week disappearance makes no difference. Oh well I will find some other way to feel noticed and loved :) I had a lovely time. I will post below some of the minors and today’s wow minutes. Enjoy!

My life feels so damn surreal right now, I am sitting down with my agenda and trying to plan the next three months out, nothing like a calendar and travel to make you say- is this what I am doing? An atom in fusion has NOTHING on me. Bouncing is not the accurate adjective to describe my next three months.

The bad nomad (i.e. me) at the end of this is going to be soooo drained. But hopefully happy too. I have on my plate the following "itinerary" Orvieto-Siena-Florence-Siena-Bologna-Siena-(Birthday)-Florence-Siena-Trieste-Siena-Florence-Milan-Paris-London to Warwick-Bath-Cambridge-Edinburgh-London-Paris (Dear God, Thank Buddha, I will stay put for 6 weeks with a short trip here there maybe) after which I have no clue.

Uncertainty sure is not my friend, she never has been actually. She makes me nervous, and I am not a nervous person, jittery yes- nervous no. I like the concept of knowing where I will oh I don’t know live, what I will be doing, or at least pretending like I do. I want things to be in order, but my life is not that way anymore. Accepting that means I HAVE to live day to day, and be here in the moment, something I am not always talented at. But still… I am guessing after that hit and run of Europe I most likely will then be off to Brussels or Spain with a trip back to pick up my shit and try to stash it somewhere. There are three conferences in there (Bologna, Cambridge, and Paris) and a thesis to write too.

I don’t know if I have the time management skills for this to be honest! But with people leaving last night (a nice Scottish lad :) and a very good friend saying some extremely kind and supportive words, I realized that holy shit this is my life. I am doing it, I am living it. I am happy, sitting here dancing to my music as I type getting ready to go do some reading in the sun. Is this really my life? Am I really as my friend Jeff said an Itinerant Academic?

I don’t always know. I am still not getting all analytical with my critical self but I am feeling slowly a bit better. I constantly confront the "am I making the most of everything everyday?" question. Am living up to my potential that others can see in me but I often struggle to see myself? What did I ever do in a previous life to have this much luck bestowed on me?

When I think back to a year ago, I was unemployed coming from a NASTY and BITTER situation with that last employer and I was sliding by as low as I could. I was slightly hermit kermit the depressed. I wasn’t sure where my life was going to go and I was still only emerging from being a contestant on "Whack You with a Bat," game show. And then through all of my panicking, and with out any warning plop 1-2-3 all together with no time to think it comes together. Bang- I get into graduate school. Bang- I get a fellowship. Bang- I start bouncing and off my life goes.

I might even make the money scrape till the next disbursement and I get to go to the UK! London people freaking LONDON!!! With out my lovely mother, I love her but I can not travel with her. She is the one who doesn’t like to walk, the one who will only stay in Knightsbridge (physically behind Harrods actually), the one who when we only have two days in town gets a migraine for 1.5 of them. Should I resolve to actually try and see something with out her, she is also the same one who will nail one of her hands to the crucifix like the good martyr she can be and says no I will go with you. Two blocks later the woman has broken my steel strong resolve to see the city and I dissolve to the point wherein my only objective is to get back to the hotel as fast as humanly is possible.

So short of that is previous trips have meant all I have seen of London has been from a nice Red Double Decker bus. I get to go to the Tate people! Buckingham palace my friends, I don’t want a picture poking a guard or anything I just want to see more than its hedge. The London Eye, big ferris wheels WHEEEEEE. Oh the things I will see. I get to see friends! I get to go to LONDON.

I see London I see France I’m not… you get the point of my excitement. I was hoping to go to Ireland too (you know the fatherland and all) but it is not looking like that will work out. Instead I am shooting for Edinburgh and maybe Glasgow. It will be fun, I will be broke and well I’ll be there.

And the long and short of it, that is my life. I am no longer a contestant on "Whack You with a Bat." I am now applying for a spot on "Ripley’s Believe It or Not."

Thursday, June 17, 2004

EW EW EW And Boring:
Ok people I am getting annoyed. Not skived or anything but pissed. Really how fucking hard is it to flush a god damn toilet? All you do is hold the big button on the wall. I do not want to see toilet paper- let alone dirty toilet paper. Today the toilet was so SKANK I can't even begin to describe it to you. Really it was that bad.

So I have constructed this little letter:
To all the Italian women who do not flush the toilet,

I am telling you now, you are disgusting and I wish to break you in half like a little stick. You do not want to cross my path, ever. Pray very hard that I am not waiting outside a stall cause the next time I go and you haven’t flushed I am going to be waiting to make you feel like an ass.

Much love,

As for the rest of my day… well I researched some. I lie; I emailed a bunch and got myself caught up on paranoia. Mostly a dull day. We went out to dinner and I got to meet a cool British guy from the program who is in Berlin. Seems all the really cool (come on he knew about the freaking Raccoon’s cartoon! He could sing Chipmunk songs. He rocks he is my age :) We sat out on the Piazza after a nice dinner and said by to Ali and then came home at 2 am.

Burning both ends of the candles I am aren’t I? Hopefully I will survive somehow. At least I sleep sound.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

EUI Day:
Today has now and forever forward (or at least till I leave Siena) been declared in the hellish after life that is in front of me. Wednesday’s are now to be hence forth known as Florence Research Days (more accurately Fiesole Research Days actually).

Since getting in at around 10:30 pm last night wasn’t enough to keep me tired I woke up early this morning and hopped my pretty skirt onto a bus to Florence. I helped out some Kiwi/Canadian older couples on the way over and pointed them to the duomo before catching my second bus to the library.

This library is the *insert phrase du jour for cooler than all hell*. Now I know this is going to sound odd especially to the Yanks but there are things I once took for granted that now nearly make me wet myself. The books at this library are on the FUCKING SHELVES people! OH good and great Roman Gods, the librarian smiled at me the first time I came when I looked at her in disbelief saying in French that Books on Shelves? She confirmed that I have perfected the French look of Quoi? Not only that ANY book I wanted to look at they have. They have a fair amount of online journal subscriptions and that which they don’t the do have in hard copy.

I am with out internet for most of the day so I am pretty focused and I love it. I even have my own little desk area! And it has a window with a view of the Tuscan country side towards the Duomo in the distance. Very posh and nice distraction I tell you. In addition to this they have a Mensa (Cafeteria) which for 4 euros makes you grilled meat platters that are really good with a side, dessert and drink.

But best of all at about 6:30 pm every Wednesday the institute hosts a string quartet who start warming up at about 5pm. So for the last two hours of my research I have warm sun falling in through the window which I can open and get a fresh wave of the Loggia’s jasmine while looking at a gorgeous rolling Tuscan hill and listen to live classical string music.

Is this real?? It is so bloody amazing. However after 12 hours in a library, with a very nice lunch break getting to eat with a friend who is doing a post-doc at the institute, and a Rapide bus in Ritardo I do come home again one tired pixie. This jittery girl is jittering a lot, and well doing the jitter bug takes more out of you than you think.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Parting Is So Sweet And Sorrowful:
Today is a kind of sad day. Cec and I leave. But before we can leave we must wander. We decided to wander over towards the Spanish Steps, and then the other side of the Tiber by the Villa Borghese. Then stupid me realized that I left the telefonino at the hostel and needed it to get in touch with Enrico to see about maybe meeting up before I bussed back up North.

We wandered into a few stores. Nothing piqued my interest. We went to la Fontana di Trevi. It’s obligatory. You throw your change over your shoulder to ensure you will come back. Yeah I am sooooo there doing it. Get the hell out of my way you hawker.

After that we wandered some more. My feet have honestly been begging to be amputated for two days now. My legs aren’t too happy either (320 stairs up the dome, walking for over 12 hours a day and some other actions will do that). But I will continue in my pain as I know I will be in my own bed tonight, and really I don’t want the time to end.

We went to the world’s BEST Spaghetteria. I know I am sounding all over effusive but seriously I am not. They had over 60 different pasta sauces you could get, and all were très chi-chi, all were HEAVENLY. I had one with kalamata olives, capers, cream and cheese. I was in orgasmia it was that good. We then went back to the gelateria from last night and pigged out there too. I mean come on you just have to go back for Pine Nut Gelato!

And then the bloating set in. I have been full, but I had never been bloated before. I am the girl other girls hate. I don’t get PMS-y; I am naturally bitchy like that all the time. I don’t get bloated; or I should say I didn’t. My stomach was distended and I couldn’t help staring at it in every window I walked past for the whole day. Completely conscious of feeling like a fat beached whale. I have felt like I was a water retaining sea cow before but this was different. My stomach stuck out and was firm out there. Sucking it up made no difference. Ohhhh this is sooooo no good. This is so very foreign. I do not like this shit.

I was torn. By the end of the day I was so tired. That food and wine combined with the bloating set in the inertia and I was grateful, though seriously depressed to be sending Cec to the airport and sitting at the hostel, doing nothing, blissful nothing. My feet were especially thankful. I even ran into some Norwegian kids and TOTALLY freaked them out by saying a few words to them. Weird lady in crazy country knows our language was plastered all over their faces.

But I am sooo going to miss being able to walk down a street with someone just minding to ourselves, see something and turn to each other and say at the same time- yeah so like the fact that you are flying at me at the speed of light, that you are in a bright blue car with swirling lights wasn’t going to get my attention- you REALLY need the second in the passenger side waving a paddle (you know like the "Hi I am the Tour-Guide FIND ME "paddle with a number on it) so that I will see you. WTF??

As our last event of the day though we did get to brush the frays of celebrity and fame. Turns out Ocean 12 was filming at a hotel on the way to our hostel. So that hand you see in that scene, that is my hand. Great way to end the trip. We said our byes and then headed home. Both of us to CRASH.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Roma, Roma, Roma:
Today is great. The weather is gorgeous; I am awake early in the morning. This is how mornings are supposed to start you off. My hair is CURLY again today (its been doing this half ass thing for a few years now, makes me appreciate that curly I spent so long trying to make straight).

What could go wrong? Nothing. I spent all the day wandering town and again enjoying time with Cec. We went over to Vatican Land, where you too can buy any kind of Pope Paraphernalia you can imagine. Trust me there is an Indian vendor with it for you- you want a rosary container with an alternating hologram of the Pope-Virgin Mary, Pope-Virgin Mary, Pope-Virgin Mary- I know where to tell you to go.

We went to the Sistine Chapel, it’s my second time and while I think its great I just doesn’t impress upon me like Michelangelo’s Davide or other sculptures. I tend to burn out pretty quick on the whole religious inundation or art work that is often in paintings. Only so many ways you can make Jesus look different on a cross with a crown of thorns. Only so many pictures of a guy (someone from the bible I dunno who) who is smiling looking at clouds with arrows in his quad, his rib cage and arm. I do NOT think he was smiling in reality people. There is some gorgeous stuff there but me I was looking forward to the evening.

That evening we met up with my friend Enrico. Enrico and I lived in Norway together. He is great, sweet, and a bit "traditional" but smart and a big heart that is lots of fun. I met his family when they came to visit and I got to surprise him as since the last time we spoke he didn’t know I could speak Italian. The lovely man he is he put up with my Italian while we waited for Cec to meet up with us and off we went to a Scottish Pub (cause this is what the Italian proposed) and watched the Italy-Denmark European Cup game. Was a somewhat dull game, Italy is a defensive team. There were a few intense spurts of activity otherwise it wasn’t the most exciting of footie games I have watched.

After the game we went to wander Trastavere and the Jewish Ghetto. Made our way to a great restaurant and talked politics. Cause what else do political science geeks do? And then to one of the world’s BEST gelateria. They had some of the most amazing options, me I got a tame one but it was SOOOOO good- Fragoline di Bosco and Straciatella. Alpine strawberry and well Straciatella :)

Unfortunately at this point my dear friend who is now a full fledged technocrat needed to get heading home. It was a work night and we were working on 1am time frames. He did play the chivalry card and walk us back to the station. He is soooo cute, and now single :) It was sooooo good to see him. I am hoping to go back and visit Roma again, and maybe I will get to see him in Bologna (family lives near there).

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Roman Holiday:
I was up till the wee hours of the night last evening. There was this great sounding festa going on in the neighborhood. Siena is finally starting to sound a bit better, they had Salsa Music going. And me I needed to get to bed as I woke up at Ass-Crack O’clock to get on a bus to see Cecily and go to Rome.

Can I tell you it was so worth it waking up early to go somewhere and spend a day with out the Contradini?? It was bliss. I got on the bus rode my way down the AutoStrada and got me to Rome. Dropped my things and got to be with someone who GETS me. You take it for granted when they are there and when they aren’t, lordy does it show.

I met up with Cecily and we completely wandered around. Can I tell you how much of a city girl I am? I LOVE Roma, L-O-V-E IT! I am wandering, I am talking like crazy with her and I am going to the Colloseum. Every other time I have been to Roma it has been closed (once with the Pope giving some speech in it. Seeing the Pope’s face on the Jumbotron in all its "Glory" if his policies didn’t scream the fact that his time iw well past, that well that will convince you quick.) We ate a great lunch. We walked. We walked so much and everywhere.

This trip was EXACTLY what I needed, right when I needed it too. I left behind the people of the group who make me feel odd; I left behind my paranoia insecurity attacks about my dissertation. I didn’t even bring any reading. I left it all behind and went with my friend and relaxed.

Excited doesn’t even begin to describe it. I want to live in Rome now too, one more to add to the list for me. Dinner was a bit unnerving though. We had a pretty damn mediocre dinner. To be honest the place had a nice waiter and we decided to eat at Piazza Navona for the atmosphere. We sat out on the piazza, not exactly the Italian hang out but just a nice place to sit and people watch with some beautiful fountains. Then the red wine came out chilled. That was a bad sign, my carbonara was pretty twiggy and well the clincher for time to leave was seeing a rat come out of the sewer and run for the next restaurant. Roman rats are like NYC rats and well I don’t like rats. I have seen two today and that was enough for me to call it a day.

A glorious day in which I the pasty albino child got enough sun to have lines from where my shoes were, and one in which my feet were thrilled to get out of the shoes. We even had a really nice roommate. A Harvard MPA who had lived in Jerusalem for the past year and was going back to Boston. Life is pretty decent today, yeah it’s more than that.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Movie Time:
I love watching movies in Italian, ok I love foreign films in general, but lately I have really had a thing for Italian ones. I know it’s weird. But I love Italian films, and even though I only catch about 70% I am still pulled in. Yes some of them are stupid shake your Ta-Ta’s movies but still there are some REALLY good ones out there.

I have a great appreciation for films in general. I may not always know all the details of it but I do know enough to know what I like. Sounds like I am a film buff huh? Well not exactly but I am someone who is appreciative and open. Two of my better qualities if I do say so myself. Come on people I have few virtues, patience sure as hell isn’t one of them; so that is what I bring to the table.

And it’s always nice when Cannes agrees with me. I went to see what I am going to guess in English is Diaries of Motorcycle. It is the story of Che Guevara riding up South America. Now I know V.O. is in Spanish but we got it dubbed in Italian. Given that I am not using my Italian much I am thrilled I could understand as much as I did. They did a good dubbing job and it is a really interesting film. Not to mention a gorgeous certain actor as Che Guevara, yes I drooled through out the movie too.

Two Thumbs Up and the suggestion that you go see it too!

Friday, June 11, 2004

Sorrow and the Blues:
A great has passed on, and I sure as hell am not talking about Reagan.

Ray Charles has passed away at the youthful age of 73 and I miss him and his piano already. He made me smile, he made me feel music in my soul and he was an influential bridge to so many other musicians.

It is a true loss in the music field of a special man. Man am I bummed. I am going to go listen to him croon the blues.
NYT Article

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Waiting For It:
I am still waiting for it. What is it you might ask? Well there are lots of it’s- however today the it in particular is my brain. To be more precise for the switch in it to flip. I don’t mean just to think. I mean to get to the point where instead of being the happy sponge I currently am with all this literature and research, I actually get feisty and critically analytical with my legal self. When I get past my current stage of regurgitation or what feels like regurgitation and start coming up with questions that don’t sound like they could encompass the entire universe.

I have sent in my thesis proposal and I am hyper paranoid about it, I haven’t said much about it because I want to focus on the positives and not sound paranoid. Cause really I am not miserable or down in despair or anything. I also don’t want to think anymore about how if I don’t get over this first insecurity bump I am going to have to do some steadfast prayers for the Sinead O’Connor look to come back in fashion, or join a Buddhist Convent.

I sat in over-analysis paralysis on the thing for days. I am putting the pressure of the world on my shoulders and if I continue to do so I am going to need to take a side trip to Africa and learn from the women there how to carry all of it more graciously, cause I am currently feeling like a buffoon.

I know that I need to relax. I know that there is potential in what I have proposed for something interesting, even if it is just for myself. And if I do it right I know that I can make it into something that will take me to the next step. I am so set up for success that it is not even funny. I also know I am a perfectionist and the next couple of months working on it are going to be hell.

I am sitting here in the EUI library trying to get my act and proposal together, trying to suck up every piece of research hoping that through reading that one more article I will finally hit that criticall mass necessary and the bloody switch will flip. Why am I doing this still since I have already met my deadline on time you ask?? Well because I am supposed to meet with one SERIOUS big wig here this month and I will not go into that battle unprepared. I want to milk him for everything I can get on ideas direction, feedback and critiques.

I also do not want to look like an ass. Especially as at this point to fail means I am a real ass. I have already gone through the crack me to the core and break the house of cards failure. I am not ready again to have that happen once more on something I think is so right for me. I am not ready to be completely wrong about the direction of my life etc, all over again.

I really want to get back to that point in my life where I had no fear of making mistakes, that I wasn’t so damn risk averse. That I did with out thinking and if something went wrong well I cleaned up and moved on, with out a major hit to the core. I am getting there on some battles (I am speaking Italian whether I sound like an ass or not damnit) but I am failing miserably on others (this bloody dissertation).

If nothing is risked than little is ever gained. And while I theoretically know I need to put myself out there on the shooting line, I haven’t gotten the gumption up yet to do so. I don’t know what it is going to take, but I am ready for that switch to flip over too.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Tube Top Fairy Has Arrived:
And man has she come with a vengance. Holy hell from comfortable to hot as Hades in 0.03 seconds. Out of nowhere here comes the blast of summery goodness (or what will be once I have my summery clothes), the sun and of course the heat and humidity have all decended.

Along with my fondness and memories for waterbottles. Yup I sound insane again dont I? But I have vivid memories from last year. Memories of water bottles between my thighs, water bottles on my poochy stomach, water bottles in my clevage. Ahhhhhhh water bottles.

The heat comes out, my internal air conditioning goes on the fritz or strike, and my love affair with cold water bottles starts again.

Water bottle oh water bottle let me count the ways in which I love thee... Heat oh heat let me count the ways I curse thee... and the things I forget. Like skirt plus sweating like a pig equals chafing. Oh yes people summer is here, I just wish there was a bit more of transition (not rain just those pleasant sunny but not sizzling days).
Again my friends I bring you another trademark "No Tink ONLY YOU" day.

Ok I dont know what is up with Italian women and toilets. I swear to BUDDHA this is out of control. First the clothes and now this. I have known men with the if its brown flush it down if its yellow let it mellow philospophy but never women. Never in public toilets.

Because I am a graduate student here I get to use the "Reserved" bathrooms. They are nicer and close to the reading room so it all works out. Riiiiiight???

Usually no one is ever in them. And every time I get to one there is toilet paper in the toilet and it has not been flushed. Now I am not the prissy person. This doesnt make me itch, twitch, run in fear of germs or anything. I go and I flush, ok what ever; but today is a whole other issue.

Today there was someone else in the bathroom before me. So me having just burst out laughing from an email giving me some perspective, was waiting for a stall, slightly doing the "I got to go Pee Pee yeah you know me," dance *sung to the Naughty by Nature OPP theme.* (Which by the way side note- in both French and Italian adults with out any hint of it sounding like it might be for children say they must "make" the pee pee, as the catch phrase for I need to go to the bathroom. Just some linguistic information for you- cause any reader I might have is special...)

So out comes the lady, looking like nothing is wrong. She is dressed all fancy in a suit. And walks past me. I walk into the stall and.... you guessed it she hadnt flushed.

Holy hell... I mean it could have been worse with skid marks or something but still, Shit! No way in hell I could walk past someone, looking normal, when I hadnt flushed the toilet. Sure we all forget but, I would turn ten shades of red (and I dont embarass easily) over that. Make me walk topless through the mall sure, not flush the toilet with someone waiting??? This is weird shit (sure ok, pun intended)!!!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Ok I am so over this cliquish shit, really it is more entertaining than annoying. Especially with evenings like last night.

There are 6 of us girls living in one building. I am sure they are nice and one or two of them seem like they could be cool, but I am not "in" their group. I am the outsider, and I am not that clingy. I draw the line at spending every waking minute in their flat, cause I have one of my own and other things to do. I made friends with the Turkish couple in my flat and also the PhD crowd, and as evidenced by this weekend, trust me it was a PHENOMENAL decision. I mean they are people I would come back to Siena to visit. The girls nice as they are I am not going to go out of my way for either. At the end of the day I simply find the cliquish shit to be lame and so middle school. I am sure they think I am lame because I dont enjoy drinking cheap wine topped up with Coke, or playing drinking games at the neighborhood bar with shitty beer. Anyways... No tears here!

Last Thursday there was a visitor in town so we all went out for drinks. Up pops one of the girls about maybe going to Perugia on Sunday anyone wnat to go. I say I'd go, why not. Oh shit face appears. Start the back pedalling George- there arent any firm plans yet I am told, but she will of course tell me if they make any. WHATEVER. I'll go with Davide when I visit Orvieto, it will be more fun with him anyways. Everytime I go out with most of these people I feel old and I want to go home early. Contrast this with last night where I felt "young" and in my element and well you can guess what I choose. Notice how I am so not crying anyone a river over this...

I try to be nice to the group and I dont intentionally try to exclude myself from them. But I sure as hell dont go out of my way to be with them either. So I see my "roomate" on Saturday and ask if anything was planned. She said nothing really. Look at me Ma- no crying. I have better things to do like knit, read the news in the sun, have lunch with the Turkish couple before we all disperse, groceries- you get the picture.

I didnt see the "roomate" on Sunday but asked her if they did anything Monday morning. Just trying to be nice, show feigned interest, you know that deal. And she says nope. Ok whatever, like I said my fragile ego has survived to this date trough all the tribulations I think I'll make it another day. Said "roomate" is also leaving tomorrow, and so she invited me to a "group" dinner at the same time. No romping event but a decent dinner of the six girls, ok sure- maybe it wont be lame this time. Riiiiight.

Anyways we get to dinner and one of the girls is well.... erm.... searching for polite phrase.... young. I am not talkking about intellect she seems intelligent enough. I mean it in terms of age, life experience, the way she composes herself. Its not a bad thing, really. I dont think she is dumb or anything. I am just older and I see it from a different perspective. Unfortunately she has the attention span of a gnat and is SOOO not the person to trust with a secret. As soon as the food arrives she starts talking about their trip yesterday.

Cue the "roomate's" face of Terror. The " OH SHIT. Shut the hell up- Oh FUCK we have been caught" faces, contortions from "roomate" to kick dizzy-galore and two of the other girls start in on the cover up mission. Way to draw attention to yourselves girls. Seriously Dippy the Shit Stick- this is a tiny town, we are in a tiny program, trust me people there are no secrets. Best to live your life unapologetically as if everyone will know everything- cause they will.

So at this point I am really pinching myself to keep myself from giggling over their OBVIOUS uncomfortableness with the whole situation. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Do you really think I give a damn?? But they were caught. OH NO! I want to fall into peals of laughter. I dont care if they went somewhere with out me. Trust me- I havent got any red eyes over it. I will survive. See??

It really is entertaining to watch people- that I dont really care that much about SCRAMBLE over themselves and becoming uncomfortable, because they think I want into their little group, like a desperate lonely one-r. I was a single child, I can make up imaginary friends if I need company that bad. I am sure they like their group, but its not me. That's not good or bad it just is. I dont offend easily and this whole dance and game just makes me laugh.

But I do seiously want to sometimes turn around with a bitchslap from Shiva and say: GET A GRIP. I DONT GIVE A FLYING RATS ASS. YOU ARE NOT ALL THAT NOR ANY KIND OF CHERRY. OH YEAH AND SERIOUSLY GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF!

Instead I am laughing my ass off about it. I know I am a bad person but really, does it get more childish or lame?

Saturday, June 05, 2004

World's Best Weekend:
Really I have to say if you meet REAL Italians you can have a GRAND time. This weekend was one of those instances.

Most of the PhD students are heading out of town so there was a big gathering at one of their houses. It was this gorgeous "vacation" retreat that Francesco uses while he is studying here.

So we take the adventure fourty minutes out of town from the Autostrada to the dirt roads into the woods and countryside of the Tuscan Valley. A beautiful drive should you ever have the chance. Get to this GINORMOUS "vacation" house with a view to a castle- Welcome. This is a house that could and did house 12+ people for a spntaneous sleep over!

We drank sangria and wine, played with cute little month old kitties, the goofy dog, and helped to make pizza on an out door oven and grill meats. Everyone agrees for a "foreigner" I make one KILLER pizza bianca! This is my kind of night out!! But it got better!!! Yeah I am into exclamation points, it was that GOOD!!!!

The music played the weather was FINALLY warm and there were about 25 of us there. Granted the two southerners (Calabria- these men give Italian men a bad name) were pigno nel cullo (pain in the ass in Italian. Or literally translated pinecone in the ass- which I think sounds quite painful having accidentally sat on them in my childhood). Bush was meeting the Pope of Friday and they though themselves cute by a. telling me all day and night "George go Home!" took me a while to figure out what the fuck they were going on about, and b. calling me George. Yeah that is a PRIME way to piss me off. I am only half-American and I didnt vote for the ass so bugger off. By the end of the evening I snapped and made their eyes pop out of their head with the rest of the Italians dying in laughter and amazement that I could and did tell them not only to leave me the FUCK alone but to go FUCK themselves. What dont you know that is the first phrase you must learn in every langauage, I currently know it in 8 of them with aspirations of 3 more now that I have Turkish, Polish and Romanian friends.

But besides the twats, it was so utterly wonderful. Just perfect. Lots of fun, but not like I am a teenager anymore. Being in Siena and having my birthday at the end of the month has reminded me that I have gone through certain stages in my life and some of them are behind me now, unfortunately not many of the people in my program are at that point.

Turns out Francesco has the makings for a discoteca out at the Villa too, and Michaele has the software and music collection of an aspiring DJ. So the rest of the evening was spent dancing with Davide (who can dance pretty damn well) and Cerani when none of the other guys would dance with us cause they were lame, ducking the two Southerners who kept trying to "apologize" to me- I wanted none of that shit!, and being swung around and saved by Chris and Krzysztof.

Then out came desert, REAL Turkish delights and Torta della Nonna with Grappa (the serious shit) and rum for the weaklings. I got to surprise another person in the program who had NO clue that I spoke Italian. Lina was hysterical, for the rest of the evening everything was FANTASTICO about my Italian and later in the evening while drunk my feet were gorgeous too. Dont ask me I havent a clue.

Thank the gods we sent the two drunk twats home and the rest of us who stayed danced outside until about two almost three in the morning. Whew the work out- I'll be feeling it for days. Well all ended up crashing at Francesco's. He is not only a most gracious host but holy hell have I mentioned that he has a HUGE place. Fourteen of us in total slept there with no problems!

Woke up in the morning to a sunshiny bird on the windowsill, Lina or Michaele still sleeping and snoring for that matter and Davide being nice. More amazingly he was talking to me in Italian. That was a bit out of the ordinary as he usually makes fun of my Italian, but I spent all of the previous night trying to get through those first day frustrations of actually transitioning a language, so he must have decided I actually can speak the language. Went out to the garden for "breakfast" at 11 am, and then it was decided that we would eat lunch at the villa too. Ok I am game it is gorgeous and relaxing- why go back to the lame people?? Davide and I went for a walk with Cisco, our trust goofy dog guide. Came back and helped Davide and Francesco cook. Not all Italian men are Mamone! I have photographic proof. These two can fold sheets, cook mean fare and even sweep!

Ebruh and I cleaned up inside while the boys checked the email and hosed down the dog who found some food in the embers from last nights grill. Then we checked email (thank good for technology). We all chipped in and made lunch once Michaele and Chris brought back the groceries. Bread, Salad, Cheese, Prosciutto, Pasta, Wine; it all tastes better in the Italian countryside with good company. Really sounds cheesy but its true. Finally after "lunch" (at 4:30 pm) which lasted a few hours and involved soaking up some of the sun that has come out- it was time to go home. Back to the city and disbanding... the sorrow.

End of the deal though is that real Italians are my kind of people, the quasi ones tie my tits in a knot and grate them. I am so glad that I am ending my time here spending time with the real ones. I get to go visit two of them in their "locales" before I leave and I CANT WAIT!!!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

In general I do not like bugs. Some of them are just stupid, others bite and there is no better way to piss me off than to bite me (we are not talking love bites here people).

I grew up with an intense hatred for ants and flies. I grew up in Arizona with the nastiest ants you could meet. As a child I searched for the ant hills and took distinct pleasure in doing a stomping dance on them and any ants I could see. I am sure that I was reported in the news of the massacre in some ant newspaper. But the bite and bites hurt!

Even worse were the flies at the dairy. No matter how many you swat there are more. And they always wanted to fly in my hair. I wanted nothing to do with them. To this day the sight of a bug makes me itch and I am not necessarily fond of sitting in grass with out a decent sized blanket, I twitch each time the grass moves thinking it might be an ant.

And today I am sitting here trying to finalize the last bits of my dissertation proposal, and get past my inadequacies and insecurities about it. Who do you think siddles up to me? The dumbest Horsefly (HUGE ASS fly) I have seen in a while.

He keeps making figure eights by the chair. Stops and lands somewhere and then figure eights again. I keep waving my bits about to make him go do it elsewhere. But stay he does and figure eight he does. I can only guess he keep looking at the terra cotta tiles circling about to try and find his death spot. (You know flies only have a three day lifespan- gives new meaning to the life every day as if it were the last in your life)

I don’t have the heart or attention to try and kill the stupid bug today but well since I am brain dead this is what I blog about...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

For the first time tonight I let it in, I let it loose, I let. I have been here a month and a half and simply not been here. Well tonight I was in Italy and I was soaking in every glorious minute.

I spent most of the day cooped up in the flat working like a dog on my dissertation proposal. I nearly pulled every last hair out and have bald spots to prove it trying to get this thing to gel. I was pissy too as the day started with the fucking drummers. My roommate got a chuckle out of my- eyes half opening and commenting “fuckers it’s not Sunday.” No its not Sunday, its Wednesday and it is a national holiday so this time the drummers come with trumpeters and a brass band- complete with feathers on their heads. I would have thought I was in Germany if I didn’t know better. Wonder why I have so many pictures from my window- Too fucking lazy to get out of my pajamas to go down and see that shit.

Piss, Fuck, Bugger, Moan, Groan- everything will be shut since it’s a holiday, including the university. Great. I wanted to work somewhere I could focus, use the internet… and yet somehow here at the flat I managed to gather things together. The proposal is more than what the deadline requests, its somewhere in between this deadline and the next and it is definitely beyond the scope of what I can do in the dissertation- but I can work to narrow it down some and that is what is up next. All this means though that by some miracle of providence, I am ahead of the game! Me the one who is always a day late and a dollar short. I am beside myself with what to do.

Note to self though… wait till Monday or Tuesday to send it or else French Advisor will continue to flip you shit about being on time. If only he knew the truth.

And at about 9:30 pm I realize I must get out of the flat. And I am willing to get out of the flat. This is not the normal path... hmm... I am delusionally thinking one of the two internet places might be open, but I figure even if they aren’t I need to get out, I want to get out. I can’t stay in all the time, it just is not right. So I will walk some and move and get some fresh air. I will get a gelato.

As you can guess the internet places weren’t open, but instead an amazing thing happened, I was in Italy. I finally let down my annoyances and barriers with Siena and I enjoyed the evening. I got a scrumptious and drippy gelato that I happily slurped to the last bit of the cone. I wandered to take advantage of the night time shots and played with taking some night time photography.

I enjoyed the fact that there were little to no people and those I did see weren’t all tourists. I sat in front of the church, having it all to myself. I walked through the park, enveloped by a deliciously heady scent of cut grass with dew and sweet jasmine permeating everything green. I listened to some great Latin music that was being sung live somewhere over the hill and I felt the cool breeze go through my hair. Each single hair. I looked at the moon, which was ripe full and there for the munching by clouds. I got to watch some of a lightning fest, and I love lightning.

But most importantly I was there. Thank god I was there, sucked in and present in the moment, not wishing to be anywhere else. Just doing my own passegiata and being in Italy. Couldn’t have come a moment too soon.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

People ask why I study politics, really I have all sorts of reasons but this this tops them all.

European Parliament elections are coming up. Sure I have to deal with Berlusconi (the one who made Italy a European laughing stock last summer and pissed the Commission off as much as the Poles have) all over but with the expansion of the EU to include new member states on May 1st I get this kind of entertainment....


These candidates are almost as good as the California gubernatorial run offs.

First there is an Estonian 25 year old supermodel who wants to give something back to Estonia. Then there are the Polish athletes; hey going to the Olympics is good political qualifications you know. There is an astronaut or two thrown in for good measure. Long time Italian journalist for RAI who reported from Iraq recently until she resigned in protest against Berlusconi and his media influence- Lilli Gruber is another option. And on a more intellectual note there are two Nobel Laureates on the ballots too. Shame that the Portuguese are short sheeting Jose Saramago, who is running as a Communist (the party is not dead yet, though Mr. Saramago is getting there himself). Actually shame he is short sheeting himself. Asking to be put low on the ballot so he wont win- why the fuck be on the ballot in the first place then?? (For those who dont know about European elections, its not like the US. You vote for a party and you have a listing from which you can only choose a certain amount, thus the placement of the people on the ballot is a strategic political manoeuvre)

But the all time best- especially after seeing the picture sheesh she is scary is Katerina Bochnickova, otherwise known as Dolly Buster- the Czech Porn Star. She is running under the party previously known as the Independent Erotic Initiative.

Come on that is some funny shit!
And The Winner Is:
Hide if you have sensitive sensibilities or are prudish. Because if you havent guessed it yet I am not.

Well when I wasnt able to make an appointment with Isabelle at the Yves Rocher while in Paris, I knew I would have to test out the Italian options.

Yes I went in for the bikini wax this morning and really it doesnt even compare. The French they have won with out a doubt. I had the worlds longest bikini wax this morning. Really 40 minutes (never had one before that took over 10 minutes, maybe 15 with Isabelle) with a parade of people walking in and out and the lady answering the phone. It was odd and a bit disconcerting as each time they opened the door I felt like I was flashing the whole lobby. I am not modest but I am sure they didnt want to see a flash at 9 am either. She wasnt near as meticulous and damn it I am not walking around like a porn star today. It was actually mediocre, at least it was cheap.

I however am now planning my appointments with Isabelle and scheduling my trips accordingly.

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