Thursday, May 31, 2007

Liking the Lull

So what kind of work day works best for you?
I'm trying to figure this out right now.
Obviously right now I am having a lull.  It's that time just before lunch when things slow to a crawl and people don't really want to start anything new because, well, HELLO, it's almost lunchtime!  15 minutes prior to this, of course, I was racing against time to answer 5 different emails and be in 3 different places at once and was so busy I didn't get my morning break which is why, hi!  I'm taking it just before lunch!  Aaauuuummm.
I keep thinking that as crazy as things get around here, anything (ANYTHING) is better than having NOTHING to do and not being "allowed" to go anywhere and/or "do" anything that would seem out of place for the front desk...yep still a bit miffed about playing receptionist for so very long and wasting so much time and energy at a place that was sucking my will to live (ah 20/20 hindsight again), I guess I'm still better off with "crazy busy" than with "twiddle my thumbs and toes" and "look professional" while trying to stay awake.  It must be part of some deep set "Calvinistic" work ethic I keep trying to shake off, or something.
Having something to do all day at a constant pace might be nice too, though.  Maybe some day I'll get an assignment that runs in that direction?  Lately I've been called in to umm, would it be called a "pinch hit"?  Basically there is too much to be done and not enough people around to do it with a deadline looming, or people leaving, or a business ending, or, well, you name it.  So I come in and hit the ground running.  I never knew how good I was at that before I started temping.
The things you learn.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bizarre Love Triangle

So my one white strand of hair and I are having issues today.

Well, actually I should just say my entire head of hair and I are having issues today. As I noted to Andy the other morning, for some bizarre reason, my hair has decided to start growing straight instead of it's wavy-going-on-curly usual state of being. I generally just kinda shrug my shoulders and um shoulder on.

My hair and I have never seen eye to eye and it does not surprise me that as soon as I'm fine and dandy with it being as big as it wanted to be (think Rome, think humidity, I shudder to think about just how big and curly my hair got on those last days...) it is now so straight that the only body I have left on the top of my head is coming from that one lone white strand of hair I discovered a ways back.

I'm learning to be okay with the white hair. I mean, well, it's still only the one, that I know of. But really and truly, why does it have to be so obviously there now that the rest of my hair has gone lank?

I am obviously far too vain.

In honor of this vanity I shall share one of my favorite versions of Aphrodite:

This is from the National Museum in Naples. The statue was originally meant to be in the middle/at the edge of a fountain so that Aphrodite/Venus could check her um junk/trunk/boootie out in the reflection!
I LOVE that! Wacky Romans.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Of All the Things I've Lost...

...I miss my mind the most."
-Mark Twain

Andy tells me that he, in fact, did not eat my "ghetto sock blockers."

I guess I have to take that as truth...but honestly, they must have developed space flight and taken off to lands unknown. I HAD three sets going...(10 wire hangers for 50 cents, if I remember correctly) now they are MIA! Along with all the wire hangers I had not converted yet. Did the ghost of Joan "no wire hangers" Crawford come and clean up my room while I was out of town? (If so, she forgot to dust and vacuum.)

The hangers are not the only thing I was running around looking for this past week. I simply cannot piece together a whole lotta things that I thought I'd "put in a safe place" before I left. I'm thinking of my checkbooks. If they didn't make my skin crawl, I'd love the idea of tracking devices for all your stuff. You know, kinda like being registered at Target or somesuch fancy place and going shelf to shelf scanning all the junk you want? Do the same at home! Then your BladeRunner-esque computer tracking system can tell you exactly what happened to that pen you JUST had in your hand!

I think I know just which brain cells died between my pre and post Italy trip. Who says drugs are the only things to damage your brain? I laugh heartily at them! Stress, travel, and information overload are just as deadly to those scorpion shaped neurons (they really are, look)!

Now, add to that what was supposed to be the dental appointment to deal with Phase 2/finish that little root canal thing I had BEFORE the trip...yep, my brain is puddy. Did I fail to mention this little bit?

Right, so last Tuesday, instead of making money, I spent some at my wonderful dentist's office. (He really is very nice and gentle, and not out to cause me physical pain...mental? Well, you'll see.) I was supposed to get my "bling" put in...the gold crown that I was still trying to figure out how I could afford after spending so much on the root canal itself. Dental insurance is a beautiful thing, I hear. I wouldn't know of such things personally.

Well ladies and gents, the tooth is so gone that there is not enough above the gumline to provide sufficient anchoring space for any crown. Right. Well. What this means is that I get to meet YET ANOTHER SPECIALIST! A gum surgeon. They are going to "lengthen" my #18 molar.

Did I already mention I was given permission by my previous dentist's wife to blame this whole debacle on my X? Have I already relayed to you all that if it hadn't been for him and his running off with his campaign manager and her two kids and making my life extraordinarily unpleasant on the Big Island of Hawai'i that I would have kept my next dental appointment and regular cleaning schedule and maybe, just MAYBE all this would have been caught before it all, literally, EXPLODED in my mouth?

AAAaaauuummm, big exhale, big inhale...

So, where was I? Yes, the gum specialist tacks on another $1400 to the current "how am I going to pay for this" neuron that is slowly growing and destroying weaker and happier cells in my overcrowded cranium, like where the hell I put those stupid sock blockers, check books, and maybe a secret chocolate stash... Not to mention that whole "oh my god they are going to cut out pieces of me" nightmare that is beginning to really freak me out.

At least my allergies are settling down...before I forget the memory, here's another Italy picture:
I am such a snot...we traveled to the medieval city of Erice to see a medieval castle and have lunch at a park from which, on a clear day, you could actually see Tunisia, Africa. This would be the view MJ and I had from our park bench. See everyone, Africa is right in front of you!

Friday, May 25, 2007

All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets Run Over...

Maybe "bowled over" is a better phrase.
Not quite overwhelmed, yet.
My sleep schedule is now back to PST and I've even started a new temp gig (that I actually kinda like after day 2...we shall see). So what's wrong? My sinuses are playing catch up. I missed out on the first round of pollen around here didn't I? Well, rest assured, it found me. That yellow awful sticky stuff was all over my car...and apparently in the vents. I turned them on yesterday morning for a full face blast and spent the rest of the day snifflie and FEELING my sinuses actually SWELL to unusual sizes.

Lovely pictures I paint, no?

So this morning I feel like how the above juggler from Palermo might when his act goes longer than the light. Italian drivers are not exactly known for their patience. Sicilians? Well, anyone from the island can chirp up if you like, but the autobahn experts have nothing on you, seriously.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Terminal 8

JFK's Terminal 8 is the terminal that time (and the renovators/decorators) forgot.

Seriously, there is money to be made by turning this idea into a TV show or something. I'll have to iron it out with the writing team, but I'm thinking a darker "Wings" with nuances of "It's a Living"/"Alice"/whatever other 70s/80s situational comedies we can throw in--without a laugh track.

The main characters HAVE to be the two obviously overworked, yet wonderfully sweet "counter attendants." I would definitely keep the rude and too-cool-to-talk-to-you stewardess who flashes nasty looks at waiting passengers when they come up to try to ask a question. "I am not a counter attendant!" That would definitely have to be her catch-phrase. The effeminate steward with the suitcase whose wheels light up different colors as it roles? Also a keeper. I could not make this up if I tried. As I never saw him, he must be a "first class" steward. Or all they all called flight attendants now? Whatever. The pilot? I don't know about him. He was a little too apologetic during the flight. HE APOLOGIZED FOR THE TURBULENCE. Not as in, "I'm sorry we had to fly through the turbulence," but, "I'm sorry for the turbulence." Ummm what? Maybe his ego is too big...that's it. So I guess we do need him.

How is it I got to know this terminal so well on Saturday?

Well, after arriving at 2 ish New York time, dealing with customs, and saying goodbye to Mary Jane at the very swank terminal 9...I still had about 2 hours to kill before my flight. As it only took getting lost 4 times before finding the correct terminal, I figured this would go fast.

As soon as I stepped through security, I changed my mind. It was like stepping from clean crisp newly painted outside of a house into the haunted mansion. Old, black gum all over the carpets, lights that need new bulbs, arcade games in the hallway with dark/broken screens, no water fountains or working bathrooms within 7 gates or so (I was gate 53, if you've been there, you know what I mean).

When the flight was announced, the counter attendant was yelling to be heard over the wimpy PA. It couldn't have gotten any worse.

And then it did.

After boarding First, Business, Children, and Groups 1 and 2, they had to empty the plane. Grounded, mechanical problems. We would get the next plane coming in, could we all move to gate 55? Thanks.

At 5:55 PM, my original boarding time, my brain already told me it was 11 PM (Italy time).
We didn't take off until after 8:30 PM...there were 6 hours to go to get to body hated me so very much for insisting it do all this horrible traveling when all it wanted was to be fast asleep. Did I mention the babies and turbulence? 4 babies.

We arrived at 10ish Seattle time...or 7 AM in Rome.

Yesterday was a blur. I remember drinking coffee with Andy...and watching multiple episodes of "Lost" while tending the washer and dryer...but man it was hard to deal. I'm told I ate breakfast...and I remember sharing the last of my Italian dark chocolate with Andy when I should have been hungry for dinner, but wasn't...and not much more.

And now it's Monday...instead of flaking it off or even starting a new assignment with the temp office...I get to jump into finding a new place to live. The landlord let us know he wants to sell (while I was in Italy), so I have a lease termination form to sign and a new place to live to find.

Nothing like jumping into real world problems to shake off the jet lag...

Friday, May 18, 2007

When You're a Boy...

Do you all remember that little-played David Bowie song about how everything is easy when you're a boy?

I don't think he ever lived in Italy.

Sure, boys are prized possessions and mama's love their bambinos and are more than happy to have them at home for the rest of their lives...but if they ever want to actually get out and live their own, there are some challenges, especially in the "amore" department.  Girls here are great at playing the boy-girl games.  They seem to be the ones in charge...or so the guys I've spoken with tell me.

Here's the secret to getting things done/making things happen, if you are female and are dealing with a guy: be cute.  I don't mean you have to look like Punky Brewster or anything, more like: smile, giggle, play the girl.  Really.  The guys seem to be trained to respond to that.  They might snap out of it if the interaction goes on too long, but when you are trying to get directions, find a good restaurant, cross the street, buy stamps (or even shoes) it puts the ball in your court.

Girls 'round these parts do not make things easy for the guys, ever.  If they are "interested" in a guy they used subtle hints not understood by this here tactless wonder.  Use your blatant American smiles, winks, and jokes to your advantage.  Girls are trained early on to push the boys' buttons to the limits and then somehow in some secret Italian girl way, not take it too far.  I am unschooled in such teachings.  I very squarely fit into the role of unsubtle American woman.

Yes, there is such a role.  The Sicilian tour guide we had even said he has given up on Italian girls and will wait for an American girl to hit on him.  See, in Italy, it is expected for the guy to put himself out there for all the rejection and/or wine and dine and win the girl.  Apparently, in his Sicilio/Italian opinion, American girls are the ones who are trying to catch the attention of American boys and do most of the work in the relationship.

Don't be offended, that was just one man's opinion.  He has obviously not observed ALL American relationships, but popular movies, TV, and his short observations in the states have made him come to that conclusion.  Let's face it ladies, in this day and age of empowered females, we aren't exactly taught to sit around 'til the boys call us.

And before you all drop all your boyfriends and husbands to go find an Italian boyfriend to buy you chocolates and flowers? Remember this: (as told to me by the Canadian guide who has lived in Italy for 9+ years)
     The "Latin lovers" are in for the chase.  Once he as you, the chase is over, and they get bored very quickly.
A con to every pro...turn, turn, turn.

So, it is Friday, my last night in Rome.  I am not displeased.  Rome is a very big city with more big city problems than I want to deal with.  I avoided getting "accosted" by "this" much; was involved with helping MJ and a busload of us NOT get pick pocketed; observed what a purse snatching looks like in real life; but had loads of fun nonetheless.  I really hope I can come back and revisit some day, there is far too much to see in just 7 days.

Most of you are just waking Andy said not too long ago, I am on the wrong side of the world right now, but will soon be traveling back in time to be nearer you all once again.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Italy's Weight Loss Program

I only have a minute as the Rome City Tour began yesterday and so we're back to being on someone else's schedule.

If last night was a taste of what I am to endure these next five days?  I am so going to be losing all the weight the guys on the last tour made sure we gained.  A "casual strole" for this guide is more like you and my idea of what a "power walk" is.

Hmm, the guide this time is a cutie named Stephanie.  I wonder if the guy/girl theory I am thinking up applies to non-Italian guides who have lived for too long in Italy???  If it does...I really am in for an experience.

My guy/girl theory will be posted later, but for your perusal, some advice on shoe buying:
If you want to buy something out of the norm, say really really wide yet not too long shoes...FIND A GUY to sell them to you.
If you do not heed my advice there will be stares and sneers and really awful tones of "Those are MENS shoes!" and lies "Of course we carry your size!"
If the woman cannot find something IMMEDIATELY, she will say they don't have it and start helping the next customer without even saying good bye.
You must hunt down the girl to ask any questions.
Guys will walk around all the displays with you to at least get an idea of what styles you like and then take as much time as necessary to find something that might fit AND that you might like.
If there is nothing at their store, a guy will suggest somewhere else to go, cuz you know the ladies?  Apparently THEIR store is the only shoe store in all of Italy, or something.

More later.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Blue Suede Shoes

So (and I will be misspelling this, possibly on purpose as it is still kinda early in Italialandia)...the Borghesie Incident.

Our first full day by ourselves in Rome, MJ and I trekked up to the B-Gardens to waste time until our room was ready.  Once there, aside from sitting in the shade hoping for some relief from the sun and the is rather hot and humid in Rome, especially when you have gotten much too used to Seattle weather (my farmer's tan is doing excellently, thanks).

Across the path from us was this "bicycle" rental place.  As I snoozed MJ was planning...And once she saw the three groups of people come in and rent these "car-bikes" (four wheeled, pedal powered, electric motor helped vehicles) her mind was set that we too should join the masses and ride one.

The teacher in me saw all the problems right off the bat--no seat belts, hand powered brake that only kinda worked, a half-stroke of the peddle shot people forward about 5 feet...hoo baby, what fun! Not.

But it was her dime, so I said I would come along, as a passenger.  I would not be responsible for crashing the thing...I did not say this out loud, but maybe I should have.  Either way I was jinxed and I knew it.

All went well as we zoomed around the park and went places I am 99 % sure we should not have been, but this is Italy, we were no less maniacal drivers than all the people in real cars out on the street!  Crazy!  Then came the phallic symbols.  They are everywhere.  I joked during our tour of Pompeii and again at the National Museum in Naples that "I came to Italy and all I saw was penises!"  They really are everywhere and are "jinx breakers" and good luck charms, I'm told.  Maybe it was me making fun of these things that aided in the bad juju?  Quien sabe.

Anyhow, MJ was maneuvering around one of these things when she cut it a bit too close...and my side of the bike slammed into the 3 foot penis-thing in the path (probably there to keep these bike-cars out, I would think...but everyone else was doing it, so MJ insisted we could go there too...whatever).  All I knew was that all of a sudden my foot REALLY hurt.

Instinctively I'd pulled in my knee...the busted one of course, but there wasn't the time, energy or instinct to pull in my foot, apparently.  We surveyed the damage to the bike and saw that the peddle was mangled...that meant...right.  My foot was already starting to strain against my Keen Mary Jane strap.

Of course the very first thing we (I) did was slam on the peddle (with my other foot) until it looked sorta okay still worked, it's good, right? (so going to hell) And we got the bike going again.  Only half helping we got the bike back and the guy actually did a look over and nothing seemed amiss and MJ got her passport back (cuz you had to leave a "document" with them) and SLOWLY we got ourselves away...(so going to hell).  Limping back all the way to the hotel was an experience I don't feel like repeating any time soon.  We picked up ice and I sat and iced and not iced and iced most of the night.

It's not that bad.  I was already swollen from too much salt and carbs, so a little bruising was not going to kill me...we just had to make sure my foot wasn't, you know, Mary Janes are not fitting too well...the strap is cutting into my right instead of a trip to the emergency room....we went shoe shopping.

That has to be another story in itself...(I'm good with these cliff-hanger-type endings eh?)  Suffice to say I am now the proud owner of a pair of real Italian blue suede shoes...ka-pow, I feel so very cool...especially as they look an awful lot like bowling shoes.

Friday, May 11, 2007

When In Rome...

...have a Guinness

So do you all remember those times in high school when you felt the outcast?
Maybe your shoes were out of fashion or your hairstyle too uncool or maybe even your sweater was just the wrong color or somesuch similar nonsense?


That would describe the feelings the "Single Ladies Club" had about me on the Sicily/Southern Italy tour.  While calling home to make sure Andy had mailed off my mom's Mother's Day card (it's not that I don't trust you, just you know, being my paranoid self, sorry), I mentioned to Andy, and now I mention to the world at large, that I was so very happy to finally be one dinner shy of being done with the high school shenanigans.  I was not invited to any of these ladies' reindeer games.  Neither was MJ for that matter.  We were not cool enough, it would seem.

Or maybe some jealousy?

I was the youngest person on the tour.  No two ways about it.  The fact that I got along famously with both the guide and the assistant did not help matters, especially as the aforementioned SLCs were after them.  (Both males, in their 40s/50s, resembling actors, really.)  Rumors started:  I had two boyfriends, I was in trouble with the law, I had had an affair and that would be why I was traveling with my ex mom-in-law...or something was all so very strange.  I think there was something about the mafia as well, I was obviously persona non grata.

Funny thing?  Unlike those SLCs, I left high school 15 years ago. 

So I had a blast the last night.  After dinner?  After watching all the ladies throwing themselves at the guides?  Buahahaha!  I was one of the select few that was invited out to the Irish pub, not them.  Okay, I may have left high school, but I am still 12 years old. Naany nanny na!

No, I did not sleep with the tour guides to earn my place at the table, thankyouverymuch.  Though I am quite sure if the tour had gone on a few more days, that would have been the next story on the bus to travel down to me.  SIGH...

Anyhow, I am now in Rome, one day away from joining up with the city tour with MJ.  I would be wandering around like a mad woman, but there was this thing with a rented electric motor bike/car, MJ driving, one of the ten thousand phallic symbols in the Borghesie (sp) gardens and my ankle that I will recount at a later date as there is a line for this computer (free internet at the Hotel Italia!).


Wednesday, May 09, 2007


So....what day is it?
Okay, we are in lovely, overcrowded, tourist trapped Positano.  A beach resort town...or something.  I will try to get down the the beach to verify with a picture some day, but "beach" is not a word I can use to describe the small bit of sand that the non mega-bucked turistas can use to sit on and access the water.
The hotel is lovely.  Really.  I have decided to take the day off today to rest and maybe give my swollen feet a break...cuz they are, VERY swollen.  I need to use my overpriced internet time (three Euro for half an hour) to find a quick cure.  I would ask for suggestions but I know that I will not get a chance to check back before we take off again. 
Did I mention tours go too fast for me?  Though I did get to see Pompeii.  Wow. to find a post card...

Friday, May 04, 2007


Bon Giorno!
- Okay, so I do not know where the apostrophe is on this keyboard; I have not gone all formal on you all, more like I am making the best of it.
- Not all of the keys have anything marked on them.  If they are not traditional letters, I am making due.
Okay, so, day 6, 7?  What day is it anyway? Saturday? Friday?
To say we have been moving non-stop since the tour began would be an understatement.  I do not work this fast.  I am exhausted but happy.  This is more work than work...and the trip is only one third over....or something.
I am writing to you all from Taormina...if that is spelled wrong, sorry, I am working on very little sleep and 1/4th a liter of wine from dinner.  I dunno if I mentioned that I drinking has not been my "thing" lately.  When in Rome...or um Sicily at any rate.
I kinda feel like I am doing something naughty by being on the Internet.  MJ is not a "interwebs" kinda girl.  She kinda scoffs at it all.  She is also much older and did not grow up with it the way I did, so I do not blame her.  As she is doing her laundry, however, I feel I can ditch out for 15 minutes to get caught up at least with you all.
I have taken 346 pictures according to the camera which belongs to Andy (who said apostrophes were not useful!).  I need to go through and cull some...but not the Greek ruins...yes, in Sicily.  ALL OVER Sicily.  Tomorrow I get to see yet another...
My feet hurt.
I am not complaining, honest, just stating a fact.

More as time permits.