Home Sweet Rome

There’s no way around it, I love my city. I have now lived in four cities in three different countries, and I have spent considerable time in others, but as far as I am concerned none can compare. Sure it’s chaotic, full of tourists and a parking nightmare, but the second I arrive something in me says home.

I love that, for such a big city, it’s so green. I love that, in no time at all, you can be either in the country or at the seaside. I love that it is the mixture of big city stimulation and small town everybody knows each other how’s your mother sure I’ll send the local plumber your way when I see him.

I love the weather, and do we even have to mention the food.

And yet, when I come back now, my love is tinged with a profound sadness, because I don’t think that I will ever be able to live here again as a working adult. My job, my boyfriend’s job, and our ambition has brought us elsewhere, and I don’t see us being able to come back any time soon. A part of me weeps for the fact that it has to be so, another tells me that I’m lucky, and should be grateful that I could have ever lived here at all, and to get over my #FirstWorldProblems.

Soon, the sadness will pass as I fall back into a Roman routine, forgetting that I no longer live here permanently. Then I will have to leave again, and I will become homesick before I even make it to the car. Then I will be back in my German routine, and Rome will be like a warm memory of a wonderful dream, distant and not quite real. I’ve done this dance many times, it’s par for the course by now.

For now, I have ten days to make the most of my favorite place in the world. Let’s do this, Roma sono tua.

Legalizing Topless Sunbathing and Invisible Women

There are certain conversations that I have with people which I find extremely aggravating. The reason for this is because they always go in exactly the same way. The reactions of people I talk to in these conversations is so predictable, so certain, and at the same time so insulting, that I want to shed a tear for how prevalent this mentality is. One of these is talking to heterosexual men about whether or not topless sunbathing should be made legal. I have had this discussion four different times, with four different groups of men, and it has gone the exact same way, every time.

Topless sunbathing has been legal in Italy for a very long time. It is so normalized that I had no idea that it was not also legal in the majority of Western countries. This is the primary reason why I get dragged into these conversations, because people who want to discuss whether or not it should be legalized in their own countries are curious about the perspective of someone who already lives in such a country. Every time, the conversation goes like this:

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Holidays With Crys: Orvieto

Some of you have asked me what it is about Civita di Bagnoregio that my mother loves most. Despite the loneliness during the winter and the masses of tourists (and thus the popping up of tourist shops) in the summer, what my mother loves about the place is, well, all of it and its surroundings. There is just something real, something honest about living in that kind of countryside. Like simply going to get wine. Let’s stop by Le Velette

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Cultural Differences: On Shop Keeper Parenting

In order to illustrate what I mean by this, I need to fill you all in on the magical, wonderful myth of the congestione, which has been floating around Italy for as long as anyone can remember.

Italy is not the only country in the world in which children are advised not to go swimming immediately after lunch. In some countries you are supposed to wait 20-30 minutes, in others a few hours. The idea is that if you swim (or do any strenuous exercise, for that matter) immediately after eating a big meal you can get a cramp, and it is generally not good for you. While most of us can agree on this point, the myth of the congestione takes this to a whole other level.

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This Week in Zoology: Hyenas

Which are better, cats or dogs?

This rivalry between canines and felines is probably as old as the domestication of the two animals itself. The internet seems to be firmly in the feline camp, if my facebook feed is any indication. Felines include not just domestic cats, but lions, tigers, cougars, pumas, lynxes and leopards. Canines, on the other hand, include dogs, wolves, dingos, foxes, coyotes hyaenas….

Woop! Back up. One of these things is not like the other…

Hyaenas are not, actually in the canine category. They belong to the suborder Feliformia, which means that they are more closely related to cats than they are to dogs, despite having this face.

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image taken by Annette Naude

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Woop! I made it

It’s been a 13 hour car ride, and we’ve made it to central Italy. The highlights

  • My mother complained frequently about the music, as expected
  • We only caught a tiny bit of traffic around southern Germany… driving on Sunday FTW!
  • We decided to pass through Austria, because Switzerland is a pain in the ass with its borders and questions and speed limits…. and its only a couple hundred extra km… let’s do it!
  • I tried to snap a few pictures of the alps… they’re not great.

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  • Woop! We’re in Italy, that means it’s my turn to drive. Well, as long as it’s windy mountain roads and my boyfriend wants a nap. Then he’s up and poking me because I’m only going 10-20km over the speed limit. We change places around Carpi.
  • My mother starts to get passive aggressive about the speed around Bologna. Instead of asking my boyfriend directly, in Italian, to slow down, she speaks to the ether in English: “I would be a lot more comfortable at a slower speed”, so that I have to turn to my boyfriend and say, in Italian, “My mother says slow down”. That was fun for a few hours.
  • We made it! A beer and bed. More pictures and updates to follow!

 

Ciao Guys! I’m Off

Today I am off for a two week holiday, and I am very excited about it. “Hang on Crys”, I can hear you saying, “You just started here! What do you mean you’re on holidays?”

Well, the fact of the matter is, I have had two weeks off in the past year and a half, none of which was spent with my boyfriend. I’ve been busting my butt in this lab, and now I’m taking a little time for a break. Woop!

Unfortunately I’m not jet setting around the world or anything like that. I’ll be driving down to Rome with my boyfriend, visiting my Grandmother and taking care of some bureaucratic business. However, my mother’s cousin will also be arriving from the States with her son, and to my knowledge she has never been outside of the country before. This should be fun! Who knows, perhaps more stories of cultural differences will be on the horizon.

Anyway, I’m letting you know because my internet connection will be patchy in the next couple of weeks. I will try to check in as often as possible, but if you are first time commenters please accept my apologies if I am a little late in approving your comments.

Well, Ci vediamo dopo ragazzi! I’m off to my hometown.

Yea… Well… You’re Mom Is A Poopyhead!

Note: old post, but still relevant
It seems as though it is only when I am at my busiest that people start pestering me with the silliest things, this time it was a friend of a friend on facebook that was trying to make the losing argument that FOX News is an excellent news source with well researched stories.
It all started with my friend quoting an article from The Blaze, when I told him how terribly he had hurt my feelings that he had stooped so low. He told me that he still loved me despite us being political worlds apart, to which I responded
We don’t have to agree politically, I just wished you respected facts and journalistic integrity, neither of which can be found on the blaze or Fox News. 
At this point one of his friends decided to bogart the conversation, among other things accusing me of having a warped definition of journalistic integrity, which was funny, since I had never given one. I didn’t think he could possibly be serious, so I simply stated that Fox is not defensible, not if you’re literate. This sent him on a tirade of “NBC and MSNBC suck you know! You’re telling me they’re better?!”
“No,” I said, “I’m not commenting on other news sources, I’m commenting on FOX, which is terrible, systemically biased, and a great source for ridiculous outbursts like “Amsterdam is a cesspool of corruption!”; “Tide goes in, tide goes out, you can’t explain that!”; “Now we all know that Jon Stewart is going to Hell” and so many more.” He fired back with the same argument: “Other news sources are bad you know! You’re not aware that one time Chris Matthews told Hilary Clinton he’d help her?!”
 It didn’t matter how many times I tried to explain to him that the “well, other people suck too!” is not a valid argument he went back to it four times, after which I abandoned the conversation. While there was no point in letting the facebook flame wars we were having devolve any further as he was getting less and less coherent as time went on (at one point he accused me of having made a race-based argument, though making clear that he was not calling me a racist o.O), I felt the need to address this.
If someone criticizes something that you like or respect, is your automatic reaction to
A. Use that criticism to make assumptions about what that person likes or respects, and
B. Use “well, what you like SUCKS!” as an argument?
If you do, please stop, it’s a very silly argument.
Leaving out the weird rambling racist analogy that my facebook rival was trying to formulate to address this issue, let me give you an analogy myself.
I walk in to your apartment building, and immediately I notice that something is off. There’s a musty smell in the lobby, I can clearly see water damage on one side of the building, the security camera monitoring the front door is broken and the elevator door jams a lot. I tell you “damn, you’re apartment building really sucks!”
You respond “yea, well, other apartment buildings on this block suck too you know! I saw paint peeling in the bathroom of number 8! And the doorman at number 5 is really rude! You can’t prove that my apartment building is the worst!”
You’re right, I can’t, because to do so would require me investigating every inch of every apartment building on the block, which would honestly take far more time and effort than I am willing to put into this. I can say that I suspect your apartment building is the worst, given what I have seen so far, but for all I know the building next door has a devil’s gate to Hell hidden in the basement that I don’t know about. Also, you have to define what you mean by “worst”, worst in structure? Damage? Security? Aesthetically? Anyway it doesn’t matter if you’re the worst, the second worst or the best. I never accused your building of being the worst, I simply told you there are some major problems with it.
Unperturbed, you pursue the argument “Oh yea?! Well, number 6 over there had a fire in one of the apartments once! And number 10 only has seven floors instead of nine!”
I start to get frustrated, because I’m not talking about the other buildings, I’m talking about yours. If there are other apartment buildings that also have problems that sucks, but it has no bearing on the horrible conditions of yours. The conditions of your building are no better if it is surrounded by worse buildings and no worse if it is surrounded by better buildings. The problems in your place stand on their own and I am criticizing them objectively, not comparatively. If there are problems along the entire block that might be indicative of another problem, perhaps the people that built them are corrupt and need investigating, but that is not the issue here. The issue is there are problems that you and everyone else who lives in this crap apartment building need to address, regardless of what others do in other buildings.
Still unperturbed, you continue “You can’t be objective because you love all the other buildings and want to hate mine no matter what! Did you know that number 3 had a rat in the basement? I saw it! And number 9 has squeaky doors!”
And this is where I abandon the conversation, because there is no argument to be made with a brick wall of stubborn.
If someone takes issue with something that you like or respect, you need to address the specific criticisms that that person has. If they are right, take a good look at them and see if they have a point. Screaming at everyone else around you in order to deflect negative attention from yourself not only is a losing argument, it makes you look like a child having a tantrum.
Extra brownie points to anyone who feels like turning the above exchange into a webcomic, we’ll call it “talking to Fox viewers” 🙂

The Dog Video Everyone Needs to See

I am a fan of the YouTube series Adam Ruins Everything. It’s clever, it’s funny, and generally it is accurate. However, with the distressing news that flat-faced dogs are becoming ever more popular, I think that this video in particular is of particular importance.

I agree that pugs are adorable, but continuing to breed them is just cruel. They can’t breathe, they can’t lay down to sleep, and many of them can’t even blink properly, leading to eye infections and pain. Humans fucked up royally when it comes to purebreed dogs, and we need to start repairing some of the damage we’ve done.

Don’t buy, just adopt.