So we got back from our second trip to London on Sunday.  I’m quite grateful that Francy loves London and is not your stereotypical Italian.  Were he to be like most of our acquaintances he’d talk smack about the food and basically blather out any weird and half-assed statements which make Italy superior to all other civilizations.  Instead, he loves people who wait in line properly, follow rules in generaland are friendly. He enjoys trying new foods (although I was told that Lebanese was good, but not his fave-fine whatever, and noted quickly that Londoners are 200 times more stylish than Italians.

I also noticed that as time passes, he’s starting to think like me.  Is this a good thing? Hell yeah it is!  The only thing is that, as usual, I never get credit for being the first person to have stated such opinions.

In the past (most likely in an argument about his mother) he’d claimed that older folks became difficult or stubborn in their old age.  I pointed out that despite not knowing a lot of seniors I could guarantee that most older folks who are difficult at 70, were most likely difficult at 25, 35, 45, and so on.

So what does he say one day when he’d started to accept that his mother was bonkers?  You guessed it, and if not just read what I said:)

A few months back I’d suggested that maybe part of the problem with his so-called friends was that he had nothing in common with them.  I was quickly given the rebuttal that one doesn’t have to have anything in common with their friends.

Yeah, you just go ahead and scratch your heads on that one for a minute.

Again, one afternoon while we’re strolling/shopping merrily in London and chit chatting about the bitchy, unsupportive and just plain weird comments his “friends” make, what does the big guy say?  10 bonus points for the person who guessed “Exactly what you said earlier about Francy having nothing in  with his friends”.

I mean don’t get me wrong in all of this.  I’m happy that Francy and I are starting to think alike.  I just want credit where credit is due.

I probably would’ve made a fuss about it all had I not been high on several cups of American style coffee, 3 trips to the Gap and reduced blood flow thanks to fish and chips and 2 Cadbury cream eggs (Oh God no, not in the same meal!!!).

And to end it all on a high note…

the sign of a truly civilized society…a giant “gold” Freddy Mercury.

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All seemed too good to be true.  2010 and the job offer Francy had been waiting for came through.  We were both suspicious because in a country where unemployment is ridiculous and those who do work aren’t offered a contratto a tempo indeterminato*. Despite this, we attempted to remain positive and hopeful.  What have we discovered?

1.  2 bosses-one is powerless as he doesn’t hold the majority of the company and the other is shagging the secretary.  I enjoyed the story when the 2nd boss pointed out that Francy needed to address him as “sir” and then when no one thinks you’re looking the secretary sticks her tongue out flirtatiously at said boss.

2.  A company which makes hearing aids where the majority of the people other than the technicians DON’T know the laws and safety codes of the business.

3.  Telling Francy to do something illegal…what you ask?  A form which lists the numbers for a safety test which must be routinely performed and Francy was instructed to simply copy last year’s form.

Which is why THANK GOD I’m so happy I married a man of high moral standard.  If he grows his beard out he looks like a bad ass, but honestly, he’s too pretty and too sweet for the joint.

The part that sucks about all of this is the fact that here in Italy, or my crazy sister would say “what do you care? it’s a job, just do it”. As lucky as I am in having married Francy, I married a guy with the same s*** luck as me.

We’ll see.  He’s going in today to basically tell them that he’s NOT quitting (firing someone with a contratto tempo indeterminato isn’t easy) and they have a week to decide to do things the legal way.  Strange, it’s not going to work.  Clearly a company who has been doing things illegally for years in a country where 80-95% of all crimes go unpunished won’t feel threatened.  I told Francy that with the exception of not using vulgar language (there has to be a polite way to let the secretary know she’s a stank whore) he was in no way obligated to be a gentleman.

Vediamo.

*contratto a tempo indeterminato-it’s a long and complicated explanation, but it essentially means you are hired by a company full-time with all the benefits of a job.  This also means the company pays all the taxes associated with employing someone.  Most companies here don’t want to do this.

*Italians don’t have an equivalent of “bring home the bacon”, but they do have something similar to the breadwinner concept of portare a casa la pagnotta, a.k.a. bring the bread home.  This idea is especially appropriate today as I am home sick and after seriously struggling with the issue, I cancelled all my lessons for today.

and it is driving me CRAZY!

It shouldn’t be.  One of the issues I need to improve on in my life as Signora Sgaramella is that I’m not single anymore and we’re a 2 income family.  The idea of not working freaks me out.  I feel lazy and unproductive and assume Francy will be disgusted by the fact that I stayed home sick.  It’s all so stupid I can’t believe that I think this.

UGH!!!

In four years I’ve learned that I need to let Francy take care of me.  It’s not easy.  If we had a kid (well, if we had a kid I’d be miserable because you don’t get sick days with kids), I’d feel less guilty about doing nothing.  For today I have to suck it up, stop using my Sex and the City way of thinking and let Francy portare a casa la pagnotta♥.

So, a small victory has been won.  I convinced Francy to let a professional or after today’s fiasco, a semi-trained professional cut his hair.  He’d been cutting it himself for more than 10 years.  I’ve seen old pictures of Francy and like most southern Italians he had rich luscious dark brown and semi curly hair.  There’s a photo of him when he was about 21 or 22 and it’s better than porn.  Seriously, look at him.

I don’t expect anyone else to think he’s gorgeous.  He’s my hairy beast and, well as usual I digress.  As I was saying, at some point in his life he became convinced he was capable of cutting his own hair.  His gorgeous locks were tampered with long before my arrival.  I am however determined to bring back some of their former glory.  I had begged him to go to a barber  for several months.  I cleverly (or so I thought) hid his implements of destruction (I cannot provide photos of them as they are well-hidden and Francy is home) and he found them.  I woke up one morning and sweet Moses, he’d shaved thin almost bald spots in some parts.  He was essentially using a razor comb.  I had to take drastic actions.

1) pull the “you promised” card-and indeed he had promised to stop.  This however was most likely a “shut my wife up” tactic.

2) hide both hacking er I mean cutting tools in a pair of old shoes.

Be careful what you ask for.

Francy went to the barber today. Obviously the laziest and most unprepared barber in the city.  The problem with barbers is that most of them still think it’s 1955.  They either shave it down to nothing and you risk getting this.

(You’d think the barber would realize that most men aren’t on active duty and cutting off so much means more time between visits-idiots!)

Or you get what Francy got which is a combo fade/high and tight.  I wept.  I wept for his hair, I wept for the cruelty of the barber who felt the need to recklessly take scissors to what I consider a masterpiece.

Thankfully, Francy also realized that he may have made a poor choice and pointed out that he told the guy “not too short”.

Thank God!

We’ve already agreed that next time we’ll be going to my hairdresser. And yes, specific instructions will be given well in advance.

The big guy and I really do get along about almost everything.  Worst case scenario we’ve mastered the “agree to disagree” philosophy.  I’ll never convince him that dingy white ≠ beige or that The Simpsons are hysterical.  Fine.

Today I thought I’d just mention a few of the things we agree on.

1.  His mother is crazy.  It took a long time.  It was 3+ years (I assume he did the same before I got here) of defending her actions as “that’s how older folks are”.  Uh huh, yeah.

2. Jack Black is a good actor,sexy in a strange way (ok, that’s just me and not Francy’s idea) and one funny mother…. Francy was hesitant to watch School of Rock, however it’s enough to point out that any film features one of his favorite themes, the victorious underdog and he’s a captive audience.  When he suggested we watch The Holiday (possibly knowing well in advance that it was a chick flick) color me floored.

3.  Pizza.  Each person’s pizza choice must be approved by the other and shall be consumed in the following manner:
1.  Both pizzas will be sliced in a 60/40% division.

2. Francy will pass me his 40% and I will pass him my 60%.

There’s more, but you get the idea.  I thought in closing that I’d include a photo of my m-i-l and her sisters*.  Keep in mind that this photo is from my wedding and the joyous enthusiasm displayed below was maintained throughout the entire ceremony and reception.

Can you feel the love?

That’s mamma on the left, Anna, Antonietta and Rosaria on the right.  There’s 2 more sisters (they have however been shunned by this quartet of charm and delight).

*I figure I can post the picture as the likelihood that anyone other than us will ever see it♥.

See you Thursday!

So today is Francy first “official” day at his new job. I say official because he’ll sign the contract and start getting paid.  Cross your fingers people.  Cross your fingers that it’s not another company looking for some patsy who will sign his name to company documents for a company which is most likely laundering money.  Cross your fingers that it’s not another company that says they need an engineer and then they make him work as a mechanic.  Cross your fingers that Francy’s co-workers are semi-normal with social skills and that “hey new guy, let me show you around” spirit.  Francy is one of the sweetest, gentlest people I know and seeing him unemployed and going crazy made me sad.

and…

YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY SUPER YAY OHHHHHH YEAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

There’s a little more and a little less pressure on yours truly now.  Less pressure because THANK YOU GOD there is only 1 meal to prepare.  No, actually Francy does more than his fair share of cooking, but 1)I hate washing dishes and 2)I’ve blown back up to former robustness thanks to peer-pressure.

Is that all you’re going to eat?

Eat some fruit.  Why don’t you want pasta?

Vegetarian????? That’s not natural!

Less pressure because I can plan the day as I’d like to.  Less pressure because the place Francy is at now has a break room with a microwave and packing a Tupperware container the night before is easier than making a sandwich at 7 in the morning.

More pressure because the daily odds-n-ends we usually share have become all mine again.  Today I had the task of emptying 25 litres of olive oil from the oxidized and hopefully not toxic container mamma sent (before the final meltdown between she and Francy) to the clean and very well-maintained container we have at home.

It’s a time-consuming process which involves a ladle, a funnel and a lot of bottles.  As usual and despite my best efforts otherwise, oil droplets soaked through the newspaper under the containers and I got to spend another 30 minutes scrubbing the floor in vain.  This stuff never comes out-EVER.  Yes the oil is fresh-pressed.  Yes the oil is deeeelish.  However, my m-i-l still sucks and I’d rather buy my olive oil than let her think she was the only game in town.

and there's still another 15 litres to bottle...

The best of the day so far has been my trip to Lidl, everyone’s favourite discount supermarket based out of Germany.  Ok, ok, I hated the place at first, but they have no concept of merchandising.  Why are a 3-pack of men’s underpants next to a set of wrenches? Why are a set of wrenches next to jars of salsa?  Exactly.  Despite my initial snobbery and thanks to Francy, I have grown to L-O-V-E this place.  Today’s find:

mini pan...big satisfaction

A mini pizza pan!!! I had to mull this purchase over for 3 weeks because I was worried that I would be expected to make mini focaccias in addition to all my other duties.  I’ve learned how to clean fresh anchovies, gut fish and cook a wide variety of Francy’s faves 1) it helped to cut the apron strings 2) to make it understood to mamma that I know what I’m doing.  When I saw that the pan was still there today and realized it was the solution to Francy’s “why do you always make such huge cakes?” problem (Um, because a cake has layers and isn’t 5cm high like here).

Ok people, that’s it for today.  There’s still more to do and I need to do it before 6 when my supervisor gets home.

There’s an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” where Andy explains to Opie that it’s always a good idea to give a woman a compliment.  Keeping this in mind, the next time Opie sees a girl playing outside he says,

“You know, you sure don’t sweat much for a fat girl”

Every-so-often Francy will say something and I remember this scene instantly and I wonder if one is born with the ability to give and take a compliment or if it’s something we learn.

I was thinking about some of the stranger “compliments” Francy has given me recently.

The blush:

F: When did you start putting the “pink stuff” on your face again?

M: Why do you ask?

F: Oh it’s nice, you’re usually just so pallid.

The Frittata:

M: Wow babe, I don’t know how you do it, but your frittatas are the best!

F: Yours was good, it’s just that the potatoes were still hard because you’re so impatient when you cook.

* In the past I would’ve gotten angry because 1)accept the kudos and S.T.F.U. 2) the “yours was good” was quickly replaced by the one-two kidney punch delivery of the “you’re impatient” crap.  However, in the same way we disagree about what beige is (note: beige to me is a pale khaki color not unlike a Dunkin’ Donuts light coffee, a pair of Dockers or some bad spray-on tans.  Dingy old whites are not beige, but that’s another argument altogether).

The Hairdresser:

M: Ok, actually like any normal woman when I come home from the hairdresser’s I don’t say anything.  I just wait for the compliment.

F: Wow!  (kiss)

M: Do you like my hair?

F: You look great, but why do you have him make it so flat and straight?

Note:  “flat and straight” are delivered with a tone as if I’d come home with a mohawk or dreads.

Bless his heart.  I don’t blame Francy.  As always I blame his mother and her messed-up family.  He grew up in an atmosphere where direct and overly harsh comments about someone’s physical appearance, cooking and so on were the norm.  He’s learned little by little that it’s not polite and utterly unnecessary.

It’s all in the delivery people.  Trust me.


In all honesty, I don’t know if it matters.  I think I am just on a tirade of annoyance and when I see that someone literally just posted a link to a msn article and gets front-page space on WordPress it makes me think “I know I’m not the best, but really???”

Anyhoo.

Holiday time with Francy has been different this year.  We’re testing a new shipment of random computer parts he’ll sell on the Internet and yell about every time he opens an email and sees that someone misread the ad.  No, the explicitly stated as “USED” track suit isn’t new.  And while I’m at it…

Would someone please buy this scary ceramic doll-please!!!!  This was given to “the lady”-that’d be me-when we bought our wedding bands.  Italy is the home of free gifts with purchase.  The free gift is usually something junky, strange or age inappropriate.  Francy seemed highly confused as to why I didn’t like dolls.  I like dolls.  Dolls are adorable.  I don’t however feel the need to have a scary ceramic doll posed on my bed*.  *The man at the jewelry store did indeed show me how the doll could be posed elegantly on my bed.  It’s currently stuffed in a bag which I made Francy put in the highest cabinet of the wardrobe, thus eliminating any chances of surviving the fall when it comes to life and tries to kill me.

Ok, as always I’ve digressed.  This year the holiday season has been calm.  I honestly expected there to be some sort of menacing text message from my sister-in-law or some sort of  “But it’s Christmas, can’t you make peace with your mother?” phone calls to Francy.  I mean, it’s kind of unfortunate since I’ve been making a list of evil-shut your pie hole-comebacks to spew at Francy’s family and I probably won’t ever get to use any of them.

Ok really 58% of you said family was the best part of Christmas?  Really?  Really? Ok, wait you’re not related to my m-i-l.

This year was especially challenging because my m-i-l and all of her cantankerous family have not contacted us even once.  I thought after (despite the Italian law that your mother can bully you, treat you like ass, humiliate you and insult you with lightning fast speed) everything she wrote in a 6-page letter that Francy wouldn’t want to hear from her.  However, you could see the stress in his eyes and the sadness in his realization that while she gave birth to you, but she’s still a bitch (and a big fat crazy liar).  We did however get past all this.

Kind of.

We planned the days carefully and what we’d do.  We got our supplies well in advance and thus avoided the kill or be killed atmosphere at the grocery store.  Francy even hugged his new friend Ahmed the fish monger.

Cousin Mario who at first scared the hell out of me when he mentioned to Francy that he and his family might stop by on Christmas Eve-Really?  Giving your wife the ice-age cold shoulder at a party and Francy telling you that he didn’t want to see her in his house didn’t clue you in to anything?-had the good sense to change his mind.

Christmas Day had it’s usual family surprise.  Normally you are invited to someone’s house and when you get there it’s either a)you discover that 18 other relatives and their 23 screaming kids are there or b) you learn that you’ll be getting in the car and going to another relative’s house.  This year it was b.  However, it was cousin Daniele and it’s the kinder and gentler side of the family.  They are sweet people and while they express some strange ideas and the usual “you love living here because Italian food is the best in the world, isn’t it?”, they don’t have a mean bone in their bodies.  I even found myself captivated by cousin Daniele’s 5-year-old son Simone who taught me all about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and gave me several hugs.

I started to get nervous during the walk home when we and by we I mean Francy had to start bitching about every last thing we saw/heard.  It makes me nervous because these Festivus type rantings are exactly what I hate about being around Francy’s mother.  Listing your grievances about everyone and everything isn’t the positivity one needs as the old year ends and the new one is about to begin.

Thankfully this was just a brief tirade and we seem to have relaxed a little.  Francy even liked his gift this year.  He didn’t ask how much I spent, he didn’t look at it and ask “Why did you buy me this”-well ok, it was a 30 euro bottle of grappa.  Normally I’d have refused to give booze as a gift, but I thought he’d like it since he normally wouldn’t spend more than 4 euros for a bottle of anything.

Yes people, in the end it was a good Christmas.

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