Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rocky terrain

So I hauled myself out of biscuit-induced stupor in order to accept a date. "A date?" I hear you cry! "This one doesn't hang around!" Before you start giving me old-fashioned disapproving looks let me explain myself.

A large part of the reason E and I are on a break is that I'm not sure I can marry him because I still feel young and want more experiences. This includes romantic experiences. This particular experience was offered to me on a plate so I decided to grab it with both hands, hoping that it could help me understand my feeling for E a bit more, or at the very least that I could have an interesting evening.

This was the kind of date everyone expected me to have when I arrived in Italy, when I flummoxed them all by hooking up with an Albanian pizza maker instead. Fabio is tall, good-looking, well-dressed and speaks passionately on a wide range of subjects from philosophy to architecture to Beethoven. He asked me many questions about myself and was charm personified. He made me a beautiful dinner and got me a bit tipsy on good wine.

Almost perfect. Almost. But (and you knew there had to be one) the thing was, he expected me to have an opinion on everything. And while I am not stupid, I am most definitely lazy and tend to acquire knowledge only if it finds its way to my white matter by accident. I knew I was in trouble from the start ("so Francesca, which is your favourite Renaissance city"? Errr..). I tried to blag it but the questions just got more and more specific and more ridiculous so that in the end when he asked me what my favourite Germanic names were, things came to a head. I couldn't contain myself any more and burst out laughing.

Fabio looked confused and hurt. "What's so funny? Are you making fun of me?"
"Yes!" at the sight of his outraged face I laughed even harder "I'm sorry Fabio, but you can't ask a girl out on a date and then interrogate her on which are the most rocky landscapes in England or if she prefers Germanic or Latin names"
Fabio looked put out "Well, I find it interesting".

So that was my first date in 3 years. I haven't seen Fabio since although he's been in touch. Only time will tell if my lack of knowledge of Britain's rocky landscapes is an unimpeachable barrier between us or if it is the start of something beautiful.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On pause

Sorry I've not been writing too frequently, the thing is the above-mentioned Albanian and I have decided to take a 'pausa'. Yes, we're going on the famous 'break'. During the break I need to decide whether I'm going to make an honest man of him. Because that's what they do you see, in Albania-land. They get married young, have babies, and the women make cheese by draining socks of yogurt over the sink for 2 days. Whilst I'm not sure I'd be capable of making sock-cheese from scratch, the other two I have to at least consider as possibilities if I love E as much as I claim to. But this is a decision I want to make da sola, with lots of English objectivity and a fair bit of Italian heart-following thrown in too.

So, back to the pausa. So far I haven't had any life-changing revelations. It's gone something like this:

Day 1: Got out of bed only for two reasons: unfortunate necessity of work, get packet of biscuits to eat in bed.
Day 2: Moped into work. Went for dinner with friends, got horribly drunk before the meal was put on the table and couldn't eat any of it.
Day 3: General moping and squalidness. Trying to sleep on top of two inches of biscuit crumbs becoming uncomfortable.
Day 4: Today. Pro-activeness! Blog! Lesson-planning! Room-blitz coming up!

I'm hoping the pro-activeness will continue (although maybe with a bit less mania. I'm quite scared I'll give myself a heart-attack). I'll keep you updated and if you don't hear anything please send out a rescue squad to come and dig me out of my biscuity hovel!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In famiglia

It's been a busy and emotional time here at casa mia. I live in a house which belongs to a Puglian family. There are an Aunt and Uncle who live in the mini-appartment below, whilst their two nephews live in the house above, along with me and another housemate, Yasar.

I've been here since October, and we've all ticked along well together. Occasionally the aunt would offer me a homemade goody in passing, or the uncle would come upstairs to deliver fresh milk for the youngest nephew (apparently 21-year-old males aren't capable of keeping themselves in milk). I'd often hear voices raised in argument from down below or the aunt shouting up to her nephew Michele to come and get a nice hot plate of pasta.

Then one day a couple of weeks ago the boys' mamma Maria arrived from the South, along with various bags of produce, 3 different varieties of homemade cake...and a suitcase. Yes, it turned out Maria was planning on staying a few days. Never having had a controlling Italian-style mamma I groaned inwardly at the thought of the inevitable interference that would ensue. In fact it started immediately, with Maria taking issue with Michele's new girlfriend and banning her from the house while she was staying on Michele's floor (quite rightly too). This immediately caused a rift between son and mother, and Maria was left to the company of me and my Syrian housemate Yasar.

However despite my reservations, she turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to the house! If there was a problem, she'd sort it, if there was an old tomato, she'd make it into a pizza, if we were sad or stressed she'd sit us down for a chat over a limoncello.

While she was here the downstairs bathroom was being repaired and the boiler broke, leaving us with only one bathroom and no hot water for the whole easter break. What could've turned into a disaster zone with hysterics and a full-scale war against the aunt and uncle who refused to call the emergency plumber, was neatly averted by Maria who played mediator and even got us invited to easter lunch downstairs. After a few moments of tension all was fine and we happily stuffed ourselves, shouted along with the rest of them (it turned out the shouting wasn't arguing, it was just normal conversation at top volume), and admired the family photo albums.

Now Maria's gone back to Puglia, Michele's girlfriend is firmly re-instated in his room, and me and Yasar feel just a little bit lost without out Italian mamma. On the plus side, we're left feeling much more in famiglia than before, with the aunt bringing us some fresh jam tart, or even popping up for a quick chat. And mamma Maria has promised to come back soon to help us reorganise the kitchen and make some homemade jam. Now to work on those conversational shouting skills...