Thursday, April 26, 2007

This one might get filed under TMI--Too Much Information

Going to a doctor in a foreign country is always a bit of a challenge. Even if you speak the same language. Jack likes to tell the story of my embarrassing misunderstanding in an Irish hospital.

About 8 hours after Nora was born, a nurse was doing her rounds in my ward. She went from bed to bed asking all of the moms a series of questions. When she got to my bed she asked me "Have you piddled yourself yet?" I had never heard the term "piddle" before, and I was still not used to the way the Irish throw that reflexive pronoun around. (e.g., They might say "Has himself come by today?" Instead of "Has he come by today?")
Anyway...I didn't know what piddle meant, but it was obviously a euphemism for something...something...something that a nurse wouldn't want to say in a room full of people...something embarrassing...or naughty...piddle myself?.. piddle myself? what is something embarrassing or naughty that I do to myself?
Why would the nurse ask about that? I wondered as I whispered and sputtered"n-n-No. No I haven't piddled myself today." To which she replied, "Well you really should try." It was at about this point that my brain registered the second possible (and in retrospect, only sensible) meaning for "piddle."
"Oh right. Pee. Yes, actually I have peed today."

And that was all in English. You can imagine the problems one might have at the doctor's office when one doesn't speak the language at all. Luckily in this country, you can go to the farmacia and tell them what you need, and (for the most part) they'll give it to you without a prescription.
No--I haven't tried asking for any of THOSE medicines. And obviously I wouldn't go in and prescribe myself an antibiotic for symptoms I didn't recognize, but there are some things that you know you have when you have 'em, and you don't need a doctor to tell you that you need antibiotics.

Recently I was able to get a prescription for Augmentin at my local farmacia with no problem. But often happens when I take body's chemistry got all out of whack, and I had to make another trip to the farmacia. Unfortunately, while prescription items are relatively easy to get, over the counter items are literally behind the counter, and are physically impossible to reach without asking. (Even Band-Aids are kept safe back there.)

This story ends with me peeking out from under my hands saying "ok ok. Ho capito. Ho capito." (I understand. I understand.) As the man behind the counter is demonstrating for me (and the rest of the farmacia) how to operate a vaginal suppository.

Mortifying. When are we coming home?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

We're Coming Home

Nora goes to Mexico July 4th with Jack's father.
Jack and I join her on July 26th.
We head to the brown beaches of Texas on August 5th.
We all come to Austin somewhere around the 11th of August.
Nora and I go back to Rome on the 21st of August.
One (or all) of these dates may be a little wrong...but they're close.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Ladies

There are obvious questions people ask when someone moves to certain locations. Knee jerk responses based on media and stereotypes. Iconography that exists's typically true.
Ireland--Drink any Guiness lately?
Texas--Have you learned to ride a horse?
New York--Been mugged yet?

"I live in Italy" brings on an onslaught.
How's the pizza? Is the food really good? Are you eating lots of gelato? The appropriate answer to each of these being "duh." Italy is known for its fantastic cuisine and wine, and for good reason. It's every bit as amazing as you might imagine.
The other obligatory questions are Is the fashion great? and Are the people really beautiful? My answer to these is Yes. Irritatingly so. Complex-inducingly so.

The concept of La Bella Figura in Italy powerfully shapes the image of all its people. This concept could not be more foreign to an Austinite. In Austin going to the store with no makeup, bedhead, and jeans and a t-shirt that narrowly passed the sniff test is not only acceptable but might even be regarded by some as confident. A statement that you don't care what other people think of how you look (or smell) because you've got intelligence and character and substance. The image is not important.

I'd now like to call your attention to the policeman at the right. This image was found by googling "la bella figura." The policemen here are all about it. Look at his white cuffs, gloves, and (rumor has it) Armani designed uniform. Traffic cops here stand on a raised platform in the middle of the street and proudly motion their white-gloved hands at the frenetic motorini and Fiats as they whiz by. A noble profession here--to be in the public eye looking good all day long. (The reason that police have nothing to do but sit around looking good all day can also be explained by la bella figura. Committing a crime would make a brutta figura. And we can't have that.)
I enjoy watching the police looking regal on their raised platforms or leaning on cars in the piazza. Just as I'm sure Jack enjoys watching the much more beautiful and manicured Italian women maintaining their La Bella Figuras all over the place.

Polished beautiful women strut in their stilettos down the cobblestone streets. Fancy outfits, fancy shoes, perfect makeup. All. The. Time. Just out to get your morning coffee? Not until you've showered and picked out your perfect Prada for the occasion. And they're truly beautiful...all of them.

Part of the reason I'm posting about this is because someone should, and Jack probably feels like he can't without facing physical retribution. And I don't have the energy right now to be vague and employ double entendre for comedic effect, so forgive my bluntness. I'd just like to know why everyone talks about the Roman Nose--which doesn't really stand out over here--but nobody ever talks about the Italian butts--which stand out quite well.

Seriously...grandmothers in stilettos and skinny jeans with gravity-defying butts. All the brash and offensive things you've ever heard guys say, I THINK THESE THINGS. Not to objectify of course; I'm just awe-inspired. I tried googling Italian Butt, Italian Ass, Italian Rear, etc. to show you what I mean, but apparently nobody else thinks archiving a good ass in jeans a worthy project. (Thongs, yes. Jeans, no.)

So there you have it. What has Italy done for me lately? Given me a complex about my backside. I'm just hoping that the nature vs. nurture debate comes down on the side of nurture in this case, and that by the time I come home, all this Italian food and cobblestone streets will have nurtured my rear into an Italian form, and that the Italian butt is not all in the genes. (pun begrudgingly left due to lack of caffeine and creativity)

Thursday, April 05, 2007


We finally took a big family trip: a long weekend trip to Barcelona. The weather was lovely and the food and drink were divine. Barcelona won some big soccer championship that weekend and Ronaldinho was deified by Barcelona.

The beach was windy (hence the jacket) but that won't stop Nora.

Nora scaling a light post in front of the Arch de Triomf. I think that's how it's spelled in Catalan.

They like bikes in Spain.


Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia church reflected in a pond.

Another, this one has the real one and the reflection.

Such a good traveler:

Munching on tapas, sipping wine and Cola Cao (hot cocoa) for Nora.

Pointing out the million kinds of fish tapas.

One of Gaudi's apartment buildings. He did not like straight lines, since there aren't any in nature.

A Gaudi apartment and office building.

Nora and Jack from the Parc Guel, overlooking the city.

Another view from the top.

The columns aren't even in straight lines.

Brandy's favorite part of the trip: the Labyrinth. It was so cool. The walls were about 12 feet high and it was quite a maze. We were all happy to find the middle and one another. I was dreading having to explain to everyone how we lost Nora.

Yeah, Labyrinth!

Groovy, baby...

Homeward bound.