Friday, May 30, 2008

Entertainment galore

Saturday night in ENGLISH. Oh yeah!!!!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

LOST junkie

I cannot wait for the big season finale of LOST!!!!

***UPDATE: Here are a few great links for fellow Lost junkies. Only click on them if you're up-to-date on the episodes, I wouldn't want to spoil the fun for you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things that go bump, smack, shout in the night

Since I got back from USA, I've been woken up about 3-4 times in the middle of the night. And this time not by a howling dog. There was howling all right, but from a woman... 

Yep, the always awkward topic of loud-sex neighbors. Normally it wouldn't bother me but trust me when I say this is some freaky shit. It starts with banging (not THAT kind of banging!), as if someone or something is being thrown against the wall, accompanied by shrill cries and "No, no, basta!". It then progresses into moans, groans, and some serious ass-smacking which is so loud and painful-sounding (judging by her screams), that I think it's performed with a belt or whip. This goes on for quite some time, and by the end I always wonder if she's dead or alive. Seriously.
I'm not the only one who noticed it- the person who sublet my place while I was gone emailed me asking if she should call the Police because she was convinced the woman was being beaten.

I wasn't sure where the noise was coming from but I suspected it was my neighbor, a lovely lady who doesn't seem like that type. But hey- you never know what goes on behind closed doors, right? After being woken up again at 3:00AM, I decided enough was enough... The next day I wrote a diplomatic yet decisive note and left it in her box. She came by later that day to talk, and guess what? She's not the noise-maker, it's actually coming from the apartment above hers and she's fed up with it too. We had a good laugh over the fact that I thought it was her, luckily she was amused and not offended!

Later that night they were at it again so I got out of bed at 2:00AM and marched downstairs to the portone and rang their buzzer (now that I knew for sure they were the culprits)... by the time I got back to bed, the noise had stopped. I also left a note in their mailbox and since then I haven't heard a peep out of them. 

What I found odd was that everyone in the building was annoyed by this racket but didn't do anything about it. I realize it's an awkward topic for most people, but leaving an anonymous note is a pretty painless solution. Why do Italians feel they have to suffer silently? 

I ran into my neighbor this morning and she smiled at me and said "Thank you so much". 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


In November I got a cryptic letter from the Comune di Roma about a new property tax revision law. Since I have a hard time understanding bureaucratic Italian language, I had my accountant look it over... Apparently, the city of Rome decided it was time to review the status of certain buildings that had been classified as low-income housing (case popolari) many, many years ago but were no longer in any way, shape, or form, low-income homes. This inevitably meant the property tax would be increased- which seemed legit to me because many apartments in places like Campo dei Fiori, Monti, Trastevere were once low-incomes homes, but as we all know, nowadays they're inhabited by people who are well-off.
So it seemed fair to me for the city to increase the property tax (which is called ICI here). Plus, property tax in Italy ridiculously low compared to other big cities. I pay something like 200 euro a year in property taxes here, whereas in NYC I'd surely pay about $1,400 for a place like mine.

Being the stickler that I am, I immediately followed the procedures listed in the letter even though there was talk of a possible extension of the deadline from November to March. A law's a law, so I figured I'd get it out of the way instead of waiting. The whole process took about two weeks and cost me 600 euro plus I had to pay the difference between my old tax and my newly revised tax for the past 5 years. As painful as it was, I did it because I strongly believe in obeying the law and paying taxes- if we don't pay our taxes the city can't function, it's as simple as that. Duh!

Enter the new Berlusconi/Allemano government. With promises of abolishing property tax, they manage to sway the people. Now I'm sitting here thinking "Not only did I spend 600 euro to abide by this law, but I also back paid for 5 year's worth of undervalued property tax... and NOW they want to abolish property tax all together?!?!?".

What pisses me off even more is that people fall for this trick. HELLO- if they abolish the property tax, they're just going to have to find another way to get that money from us. The city's already in debt, there's no way they can cut that tax and still function. Property tax is a normal part of life, why don't Italians understand that?? Can you name one city that doesn't have property tax??

I'm amazed that people can be so stupid and easily conned. And I'm also annoyed that those of us who choose to follow the law in this country always end up getting shafted. Maybe I should ask the city to reimburse me for the money I spent to abide by the law?!? Hahhahha, fat chance.

I might have to call Le Iene about this one!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Must see movies

This is a continuation of my list of must-see Italian movies.

Il Divo
I'd recommend seeing anything and everything by Sorrentino, LOVE him.

Tutta la vita davanti
Virzi is another brilliant young Italian director.

Grande, grosso e Verdone
Verdone always delivers...

La ragazza del lago
Worth it.

and lastly Gomorra
I'm not 100% sold on this film, I read the book (most of it) and I'm not sure this was the best approach for the subject matter BUT it's definitely worth seeing. I would also highly suggest seeing some of Garrone's other films, he's got serious talent.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A stroll through Trastevere

Has anybody else seen this?
A couple of homeless people have decided to inhabit the facade of the ancient church of San Cosimato- complete with potted plants and a bookshelf. WTF?!?!
The city just spent millllllllllions renovating the piazza (and don't even get me started on that subject) because they wanted to lower the street level in order to expose the entire facade of this important church and NOW this is what happens?

These people are there day & night, it is literally their home. It's pretty much impossible to go near the church now, also due to the stench of urine- a corner has become a makeshift urinal for all the neighborhood's homeless & junkies. At least these two church residents aren't aggressive or annoying but enough is enough, come on!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The perks of living in Italy

Bet you never thought I'd type out those words!

Despite my bitching & moaning, there are lots of things I do like about living in Italy. One of them is the fact that I'm a foreigner. Yep, being straniera comes with many many perks, my friends. Perks that I became aware of only after I'd settled here and been living here for a few years. Such as:

1) I can wear whatever the fuck I want.
When I starting sporting my red birkis outside of the house, I was getting some intense stares. Not "Those are so cute where'd you get them?" stares. More like "Are you on crack going outside with red plastic clogs on?". Though I do notice the stares, I couldn't care less. I've always been rather immune to these things all my life. The funny thing is, some of my Italian friends justify my quirky choices by saying "Well, you know... she's American" as if that gives me the freedom to walk around wearing a garbage bag if I wanted to. For the record, I also sport Dansko clogs and know they aren't particularly pretty but they're ridiculously comfy- so who cares!
A few years back I was working more or less full time for a subtitling company in their office. I'm allergic to suits and dress-up clothes, so I wore what I'd normally wear: jeans, T-shirts, etc. Not sloppy, but definitely not business attire. I can safely say I was the most under-dressed person there. One day I get a call from the boss lady asking me to come in the next day for a meeting with a BIG client she was trying to snag. I normally didn't deal with securing clients but I agreed to attend. Before she hung up she said "Careful about what you wear tomorrow". I automatically thought- Hell no, I'm not getting dressed up to do something that's not even my duty. But before I had a chance to protest she went on to say "Make sure you dress like you always do, all American with your weird T-shirts and sneakers". Whatchutalkinboutwillis? Apparently she wanted to assure these big clients that she had a real, live American working for her who would translate their films into perfect American English. So not only did I not have to dress up, I was begged to come to work in casual gear- right on!

2) I can say whatever the fuck I want
This perk comes into action once you're fluent. If you're still fumbling with the language, you might not fully enjoy the power of this one. I get away with murder- I can say just about anything to anybody. I'm well aware that I don't have this impunity in my homeland, in fact I rarely (almost never) mouth off to people in NYC because I know better. Here in Italy though, I mouth off with no fear. At times people will snap back, but no bodily harm is inflicted. And lots of times they merely shrug it off saying "Oh well, she's American".
Same holds true in the workplace. Being straniera gives me the liberty to say stuff I probably wouldn't in the American workplace- I protest, complain, curse, criticize their procedures and they actually seem to LOVE it. One of my "employers" (I'm freelance so he's not really my boss), after witnessing one of my tirades, decided it would be beneficial for him to sit down and have occasional meetings with me to pick my brain and get my input on how he can tighten up his business. And I give it to him--- straight up.

3) I can do whatever the fuck I want
Many years ago, when I was the first female to step foot in a testosterone-filled raunchy kickboxing gym, they all stared at me with hostility as if I were an intruder. Once they realized I was American, they were more willing to accept me as one of "the boys". I got a glimpse of that hostile stare again when I showed up at the gym wearing flip flops in the summer... Mind you, this was before flip flops were trendy & acceptable as outside footwear in any place other than the beach in Italy. After they all harassed and mocked me for about 20 minutes, they brushed it off with the usual "that crazy American girl!" and all was well.

4) I'm always "interesting"
Even if I'm feeling sluggish and anti-social at an event, I'm automatically considered "interesting" because I'm a foreigner. It's pretty sweet, I must admit. I can utter 2 words and people will be fascinated with me because I'm a foreigner who's lived in Rome for so long. This also has a downside though- being bombarded with the same ol' questions about America, about why I'm in Italy and what I think of it, even if I'm not in the mood to play that game.

For the most part, being foreign here is fun, for me at least. I know several expats who ended up leaving Rome because they were tired of not fitting in, tired of being seen as an outsider, tired of being foreign... But that doesn't bother me much, maybe because I've always been a bit of an outsider by choice.

There is another side to the coin, of course. There are some VERY annoying disadvantages that come with being a foreigner here too. I'll get into that next time.