Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ciao For Now

I hope my plane looks something like this!
As I write, I'm trying so hard not to cry and ruin my computer by the river of tears flowing down my cheeks... My hands are shaking and my vision is blurry from all the tears welling up in my eyes. My head's a mess and I don't know where to begin because this is just too dramatic for me. I'm really losing it right now, my heart has never felt so heavy and my brain is exhausted from how hard I've been thinking about how to go about this... Not really - just kidding! But I am sad that this is my last post to you all until after the New Year! Tomorrow is the day I thought would never come... Finally, I'm going to Germany!
Hopefully my opening paragraph didn't have you all worried about me. But I really am sad about not being able to blog for two weeks! I hope you've all been satisfied with December's updates and I promise that the New Year will bring lot's more! Today I finished everything I had to do. I ironed my clothes, packing everything in my suitcase, charged my phone, my camera, my iPod... I set my clothes out ready for tomorrow morning and am totally prepared to go. As you can see, being organized is one of my greatest traits. Tomorrow I have to get the kids ready in the morning, and then off to the airport I go.
How many of you are making New Years resolutions? I never really believed in this kind of thing, because most people make one and forget about it two weeks later. To some people, New Year's is a fresh beginning, a new start to be and do whatever you want. To others, its just the flip of a calendar. Last year, I made a New Year's resolution that I actually stuck to and I must say - it worked out pretty well. I spent New Year's Eve with my boyfriend at the time and he asked me what my resolution was going to be. I forget what his was, but I certainly remember mine. After giving it some thought I said that in 2011, I wanted to travel to a country where I've never been. He said that it was a nice idea and all, but how was I going to afford it when I had to pay for university? Oh, no, I thought. He's right! I've already been to the United States dozens of times, and the closest place after that would be Mexico. But I've already been there several times, too. So evidently,
Tuition fees - start saving now so
that you can retire by age 100!
I would have to go back to Europe to make my resolution happen. My ex was being totally logical. He was right, and I couldn't argue it. Because how would I be able to afford to travel halfway across the world with the dark cloud of tuition hanging over me...? 
I love proving people wrong. I made my resolution happen after all, and in fact, I even topped it. I said I wanted to visit one new country this year. And it happened - Italy! But tomorrow I will add two more to the list, and their names are Germany and Austria. And not too long after, just before New Year's Eve, I will even add another - Czech Republic. So I quadrupled my dream, really. What are your New Year's resolutions if you have any? Write to me on facebook and tell me or send me an e-mail to let me know! Whether its to lose weight, quit smoking, spend more time with your grandparents or fulfil your dreams of becoming an alter server, I want to know! I made a 'European Bucket List' in my October post Benedictus XVI & I. I guess my resolution is to be able to cross all those things off. Or to drink more wine. Another is to get myself over to New York City, but we'll see what happens.
Glenny from the Block.
I cannot publish this without mentioning the conversation I had with my friend Glen the other day. Glen and I fell in love with each other (not romantically) when we both took our grades World Issues course. We had the same ideas and opinions about political problems, world news, and Stephen Harper (don't even get us started on the Conservative Party). We became close friends over the past year and he is now one of my favourite people in the whole entire world. He's currently studying at the University of Toronto for the honours in Law, Ethics, and Society program. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing our conversation with the world.
Glen: omg i'm reading it right now. you fly to germany? that's beautiful. why?
Me: why not? i decided flying home at christmas is too expensive and i wanted to travel anyway. so i'm going to munich, which is in the south of germany. i have a friend who lives in salzburg, which is in austria. where mozart was born, actually! so she's picking me up at the airport in munich and then we drive back to salzburg for christmas. after that, we go to vienna, and then we're spending new years in prague. i get back to rome on jan 4th.
Glen: michelle. you are literally astounding me. i am so fucking proud of you, you are so amazing. the connections you have built, the experiences you are having... BABE, your blog is SO amazingly written and that is so INCREDIBLE!  you are truly living life on the fuckin' edge. your writing style. your humour. your liveliness. i could see it becoming very popular.
Me: YOU are incredible. thank you, thank you, thank you for just making my day. my WEEK.
Glen: no seriously michelle, you planned this out. you worked for a year, you are seeing the world, all on your own accord. growing up so fast, independent chiiiiick.
Me: Oh baby!!! Get over here!
Glen: i feel like you're famous now. how can you afford all of this? why is your blog amazing? OMG LOL i'm on a picture in your blog.
Me: guess you're famous now, too!
I'm very seriously considering basing a novel off of my experience here. But until then... I have some exploring to do. Everyone - this is it for two weeks. I love you all, thank you for being so loyal to me in 2011. Its really amazing for me to look back on my first blog posts and see how far I've come in my writing, my independence, and most importantly, myself. Its taken me a little while to get to where I want to, but as the saying goes... Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither was my blog. I promise to be loyal back again in 2012. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and that you all have fun and love your life this coming year. Spend time with your family and friends, tell them how much you adore them and enjoy every single minute of it. Remember that if you want it badly enough, you can have the world in the palm of your hands. Wish me a safe flight and I will talk to you all again before you know it. You're all incredible and this two week goodbye feels so long. Until next time...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Good Morning, Charlie

Holy cannoli!
One of my reader's e-mailed me with a great question that I thought I should share on my blog. He asked, "What are you going to miss about Italy for two weeks?" So much, my friend, so much... But let me first say that I'm not actually going to be thinking about Italy while I'm trekking around Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Two weeks isn't a long time and I have a feeling that my trip is going to fly by from all the fun I'm in for. But nevertheless, I'm going to answer your question and also tell you what I'm not going to miss. 
The first and foremost thing I'm going to miss most of all is of course the food. Mmmm... There are just some things Italians do better than the rest of the world, and food is by far one of them. I'm probably going to go into gelato withdrawal once I leave, but its going 
Disappointed because at first I thought this was
spaghetti, but the girl with the chopsticks reveals
that this is, in fact, noodles. Not very Italian like I
first thought, but oh well.
to be too cold where I'm going to have gelato anyway, which brings me to my next point. I'm going to miss the weather! Because December in Rome is like October in Canada. I haven't really needed to wear my coat around the city except at night, and even then it isn't so bad. But I really love the weather here and know that once I step off the plane, I'll be slapped in the face with the cold German wind. My friend Magda jokingly asked me if I'm going to be ok with the cold weather since I'm used to tropical Rome. I told her she forgot who she was talking to - I'm a Canadian. I don't fear the cold, the cold fears me! But not really. I hate cold weather, and I am, indeed, going to miss the climate.
Another thing I'm going to miss about Rome is blogging, but I've already mentioned that. I really will miss writing and know that once I get back, I'm going to be so excited to write to you all. I'm also going to miss my big beautiful house and my comfortable bedroom. When I'm here I actually feel at home, and so I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss the city itself, which I love to pieces. But I have new cities to explore.
Don't even think about it.
The biggest thing I'm NOT going to miss about Italy is the men. I hate Italian men, because they take it upon themselves to catcall and harass women, even one in modest clothing, as though she were really a hooker and they the construction workers in New York City. Its just donned on me that I want to move to New York City next year, and that I might be harassed by the construction workers as well. Not that I plan on hanging out at any construction sites, but still... Italian men are notoriously the biggest pigs in the entire world. I hate these men with a passion, and joked with my friends that 'the biggest thing about an Italian man is his ego', except that it wasn't really a joke. Its the truth. It doesn't matter if they're young, very very old, single, married, have children, grandchildren, great grandchildren... Nope. Pigs. That's pretty much the only thing I'm not going to miss.
I'm worried for my sister, Nicole, who's coming to Rome in May. Nicole is almost three years older than me and about three inches shorter. She's naturally tanned with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. She can definitely pass for an Italian here, except maybe for her fashion 
Ladies and gentlemen - my sister.
Will work for food.
sense. (This is not to say she doesn't have great style, because she definitely does. I just mean she isn't the high heeled leather boot wearing kind of fashionista). When she arrives it will be hot hot hot, which of course means skirts, shorts, tank tops, etc. She's been a competitive cheerleader for the past seven years or so, and is in great shape. She also inherited my nana Pressé's large breasts, which means she's really going to get it from the Italian's once she comes here. And, as a young woman with taste who expects to be respected by men, she's going to hate that about Italy, too. Even my Italian host mom told me once before that she despises Italian men. I didn't remind her that she was married to one, but then again, that may be why she said it in the first place.
Last night, the parents had a ridiculous dinner party with all their other fabulous Italian friends. Looking at the women in their fancy designer outfits made me feel like a kid in a candy store. I just wanted to try them all on! I socialized a bit with them while the kids played in the kitchen. There were 10 kids in total over at the house who belonged to some of the parents at the party. So I got to drink expensive champagne, eat olives, and converse with some of Rome's wealthiest people. I only ventured into the party room to look at the outfits again and steal some crackers, but this woman in a beautiful purple wrap dress came up beside me, squeezed my hip, and demanded something in Italian. I shook my head and said, "Inglese e Franchese", and of course she speaks fluent English. Everyone does. She asked me again in English, "How do you stay so thin?"
Now, this woman was the same size as me. I just shrugged my shoulders and said thank you. But this woman wanted the dirt. "Do you throw up?" She asked me. Umm, no?! I tried to remain as composed as I could, but how inappropriate of her. I just laughed and excused myself to the kitchen, where it turns out the real party was. I left the adults to continue smoking their cigarettes, spill wine down their clothes, and laugh about how beautiful everyone is and how wonderful it is to have such large paychecks.
The kids were having a burping contest and the cook, Veronica, was telling me stories about her life. I'm telling you, this woman knows how to cook a pan. She made so many different things from lasagna to pasta to goat's cheese salad to smoked salmon. She also made the best rice that a person could possibly dream of. It was a sticky kind of rice dressed in pesto sauce, and had these impossibly juicy little tomatoes cooked in with them. I probably ate a pound of it. Then for dessert, we had that weird Italian Christmas cake and a delicious coffee mocca chocolate cake with walnuts. I left the house feeling so satisfied.
Afterwards I went out with some other au pairs girls and we went to Piazza Navona where the carnival was and rode the carousel. I felt like I was in Port Dalhousie where the big beautiful carousel is. This one definitely wasn't as big or as cheap to ride (10 cents a ticket in Port Dalhouse!), but it was still beautiful and lit up with twinkling gold lights. Apparently Italians really love the carnival, because it was still up and running 
Love of my life - nutella.
when we arrived at 12. After that, we went out for pizza, and headed to a club nearby. There's this guy Alfredo my Danish friend Clara knows personally who always gets us into clubs, for free, without waiting. Kelsey and I were really excited to finally meet Alfredo because his life story sounds completely like a movie. Unfortunately for us, Alfredo was sick, so we never had the chance to meet him. Clara was telling us everything she knew about him, and every time she told us a new piece of information, Kelsey and I would just burst out laughing because everything sounded so unreal. 
First of all, his name is Alfredo. We think that maybe this is just code to get into all the clubs around the world. If you say 'I'm on Alfredo's list', you will automatically get in for free and skip the line. Anyway, Alfredo is one of the biggest club promoter's in Rome. But he used to live in Los Angeles while working as a dancer. OF COURSE... Why wouldn't he? I'm beginning to think he's a bit like Charlie and that these foreign au pair girls are his angels.
I so call being Cameron Diaz.
We know he exists and he's really powerful... We just can't see him. Maybe we should just call him 'God' instead, since we all feel his presence and he does wonderful things for us, we just never see him. After Kelsey and I were finished our sequence of snorting, Clara says, "But he had to stop. It's actually a sad story." Cue laughter for the umpteenth time, because there would absolutely be a sad story to why he doesn't dance anymore. "He has a bad back now and he gained a lot of weight, so he isn't able to dance anymore." I laughed because this is both ironic and seriously sad. He can't dance anymore, so instead, he let's all his pretty little girlfriends get into clubs for free and watches people dance? What? It would be like a person without feet becoming a shoe salesman. And what's more depressing than that? Nothing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Buon Compleanno

Oh you fancy, huh?
The other night, I had to accompany the little girls to their friend Mia's 5th birthday party. This is why I love my job. I got paid to admire a beautiful home in Piazza Venezia while gawking at the high designer clothes all the mom's were wearing while gossipping with each other. There wasn't a single couch or corner that didn't have a couple middle aged women whispering to each other, laughing, and smoking cigarette's. At the same time, there were about 30 children running around, staining their fancy dresses and trousers with the abundance of food. I found myself chatting with one of the maid's and she said, "Isn't it too bad? Her favourite colour is blue, but the mom insisted the colour theme to be white." When I was younger, my birthday party themes were things like "pizza", "rented movies", and "pool party". Not "white."
But this was no ordinary birthday party. It looked more like a wedding, just without the groom. There were tables filled with trays of finger food, two stands for crepes and cotton candy, and a coca cola fountain. There was also a live puppet show performance in the living room, which featured an overly excited man with a ponytail and a woman wearing a tight white shirt who very obviously had never heard the word 'bra' before. I just walked around the house stuffing my face with delicious food and observing all the beautiful people I was surrounded by. I ventured onto the wrap around terrace which had, as my host mom told me, "one of the best views of the whole city." It really did. 
I will never forget the sad images of the house workers running about to make sure this party had gone off without problems. The three of them, dressed in formal maid uniforms, were constantly speed walking all over the place cleaning up spilled drinks, readjusting crooked paintings, and making sure everyone had enough to eat. I saw the male cook who could've very easily been someone's grandfather, and I have never seen someone look so tired in my life. I wanted to give him a hug and tell him how sorry I am that this was his life, catering to greedy rich Italians. He brought the cake out which was a delicious vino cake. As in wine cake. What 5 year old gets a cake made with wine for their birthday? I must say, it was so 
delicious, with little chocolate chips baked inside and icing so sugary that I think I left with diabetes. If I never eat cake again in my life, I think I'll be ok with that. The whole time I was there I was wishing I had someone else to share it with. It was too outrageous for me to witness on my own, and the whole night was... Overwhelming. When I have kids one day I can never imagine myself spoiling them like that. Its just too much.
Besides this, I don't have anything significant to write about. I'm trying to write as much as I can for you guys because I leave next Wednesday for my flight to Munich, where I won't be able to update my blog for at least two whole weeks. I'm really sad about it and I hope I don't go insane without writing for so long. But I don't want to bring my laptop with me, and I'm going to be so busy that I won't have the time to sit down and pour out my adventures to you all. I promise that after this post I'll try to update it a couple more times to tide you over, wish you all a Merry Christmas, and say arrivederci until early January. So... When will I publish my next blog post after the holidays? Stay tuned to find out! But I arrive back in Rome on January 4th so it won't be any time before that.
In the meantime I have a long list of things to do before next Wednesday, including 
organizing my travel documents. I have to make sure I have the extra copies of my passport, visa, birth certificate, driver's license... I have to have my medical health insurance documents and my flight intinirary and boarding pass and pack and weigh and measure my 
Not mine.
bags... Who knew that travelling could be so stressful? Ok, so everyone knows its stressful. I miss the days where my mom would take care of all my airline business, but I suppose I better get used to this. I have to admit that I'm really anxious about all my documents and making sure that they are all correct. I'm so nervous I'm going to show up late at the airport, or that something won't be right and they won't allow me to travel, my luggage will get lost or that the flight is delayed. My Christmas Wish is for everything to go smoothly. 
Deep down, I know everything will be ok. I've flown alone before. I may have been in panic mode the entire time, but I managed to make it out alright, didn't I? What I'm going to do is take care of all my travel documents tonight so that I can push them aside and have a still mind. I'm going to organize my clothes and pack as much as I can and make sure that I'm not over the weight limit. And then I'm going to have a green tea and tell myself that everything will be ok.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Every Day Is Lingerie Day!

My beautiful lunch.
I suck at goodbyes. I had to do it yesterday with my British friend Zoe. Some other au pairs and I met up with her at Piazza Navona and spent a few hours walking around Rome together for the last time. It brought me to a great sadness because it made me realize that my life here in Rome is only temporary, and that in less than six months, I'll be the one saying goodbye. I don't even want to think about leaving this place. Later on, I went to Scholar's by myself because none of the other au pairs could go out. I figured I'd run into someone I know or at least sit at the bar for a bit and listen to people drunkenly sing Christmas songs since it was karaoke night. I didn't see anyone I
knew, but it didn't really matter. I just hungout at the bar and talked to the bartender and every other drink I got he gave me for free, so it was actually a pretty big success, I'd say.
This morning, I met up with Jeanny, who I haven't seen in what feels like forever. We exchanged Christmas presents and went out for lunch at an outdoor restaurant in front of the Pantheon. It amazes me that even in December, I can have a meal outside in just a sweater and be comfotable. She had to go home early, which gave me several hours to spare before I had to be home to take are of the little
I didn't purposely order my gelato to make it Canadian
colours. I just like rasberry and coconut together!
Italian devils. I was still sad about Zoe leaving, so I did the best thing to cheer myself up - I took myself shopping. Oh, what fun I had! I got myself a hot chocolate (and gelato, of course), and let me tell you... Italians know how to do hot chocolate. Canada - we're doing it all wrong. They're very literal. Basically, this is how you make hot chocolate in Italy.
Step 1: Turn on the stove.
Step 2: Find some chocolate. When you do, put it in a tiny pot and put it over the fire.
Step 3: Once chocolate is completely melted and forms a liquid substance, pour into cup.
Step 4: Drink.
I don't think my taste buds have ever been so satisfied. Then I went to Yamamay, which is like the Victoria's Secret of Europe. Lingerie is my guilty little pleasure, and I haven't bought myself anything sexy in a while (unless melted chocolate in a cup counts). I only bought 
three thongs, and you don't even want to know how much it cost me. Normally, I don't like salespeople. When I shop I know what I'm looking for and I don't want to be pushed by some loafer-wearing woman who wears too much red lipstick. But I was treated like a queen by these people. I was the only person in the shop at the time, and I was fussed over by two impossibly skinny Italian women. I ventured over to the section that beckoned me and the one woman comes up to me and asks for my size.
I didn't know my European butt size, so I just said 'small'. She looked me up and down and said, "You're a one. You have such tiny hips." Goodness! That's the best compliment I've gotten all day! Until the other woman at the counter behind me said, "But she has a round butt, so I think she's a two." Double goodness! Just to be sure they got their measuring tape out, measured my hips, ass width, and south of
Just me modeling my new gear.
my border... And I am, in fact, a two. BY THE WAY: for my Italian male readers who have an affection for me and don't know what to send me this holiday season, here's your hint... Lingerie. Size two for bottoms.
Because I'm in the spirit for good conversation about lingerie, I think its only appropriate to share a page from my favourite book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert:
Over the last months in Italy, my word has largely been PLEASURE, but that word doesn't match every single part of me, or I wouldn't be so eager to get myself to India. My word might be DEVOTION, though this makes me sound like more of a goody-goody than I am and doesn't take into account how much wine I've been drinking. I don't know the answer, and I suppose that's what this year of journeying is about. Finding my word. But one thing I can say with all assurance - it ain't SEX.
Or so I claim, anyhow. You tell me, then, why today my feet led me almost on their own accord to a discreet boutique off of the Via Condotti, where - under the expert tutelage of the silky young Italian shop girl - I spent a few dreamy hours (and a transcontinental airline ticket's worth of money) buying enough lingerie to keep a sultan's consort outfitted for 1,001 nights.

I bought bras of every shape and formation. I bought filmy, flimsy camisoles and 
The infamous pearl thong sold
exclusively at La Petite Coquette
sassy bits of panty in every colour of the Easter basket, and slips that came in creamy satins and hush-now-baby silks, and handmade little bits of strings and things and basically just one velvety, lacy, crazy valentine after another.
I have this book at home about a famous lingerie shop in New York City called La Petite Coquette (French for The Little Flirt). It describes the history of lingerie, the do's and dont's, the trends, and everything one would ever want to know about bras, thongs, G strings, boy shorts, garters, bustiers, baby doll's, corsets and slips. One thing this book taught me was a very valuable lesson that I haven't let go of. It posed the question, "Why save lingerie for special occasions?" Huh. A real toughie, isn't it? Why should you save a few hot pieces for things like Valentine's Day, or your (and his) birthday, anniversary, or whatever date big enough to circle on the calendar? Why don't you toss out your 
colourless and shapeless underthings and replace them with sexy, shiny, sparkly, lacy, silky, leathery, sheer, naughty bits that you can wear all the time? After reading this book, I did!
I hit up La Senza and bought myself pretty much everything that Liz Gilbert wrote bolded above. And I wear it all the time, because I deserve to feel sexy. When I was wore the same uniform as a thousand other people in my uptight Catholic school, what do you think I was wearing underneath it? A cream coloured bra and underwear set from Sears? Noooo! And I must say - there's something that makes even the dullest days brighter knowing that you're secretly wearing something hot underneath. Even on days when I just feel like wearing jeans and a plain T Shirt, I can assure you that I'm wearing pretty lingerie underneath it. I don't own ugly underthings, and neither should you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Love Me Like The World Is Ending

Last night, I was had a conversation with a friend of mine that led her to say something both flattering and depressing. My friend has some self confidence issues and she was referring to my body. She asked what I did yesterday, and I told her I went for a jog because I'm preparing for a marathon in the spring. She said, "But didn't it pour rain yesterday?" I confirmed that yes, it did, but that didn't stop me from jogging. This also might of had something to do with the fact that I was locked outside of my house and had a lot of time to kill and no money. She asked me why I cared so much, joking if I've been trying to keep in shape from all the carbs I'm eating. I told her about the marathon and that I just like to run. I've always loved it, and I also told her that luckily I have good genes and a high metabolism. No one in my family is overweight and I've always been able to eat whatever I want without really gaining anything. So I'm not too concerned about the carbs. And then she said it. "I wish I could be more like you."
I know I should take it as a compliment, but it was the look on her face when she said it. It was more of a sad desire than an actual compliment. She is, in my eyes, absolutely 
beautiful. One of the prettiest girls I know. She's also super intelligent, artistic, and one of the kindest people I have ever met in my entire life. She has a huge heart, and I wouldn't change her for the world. I don't know why what she said hit me so hard. Maybe its because I'm overly sensitive or maybe I just love her so much that I felt guilty for her sadness. But I remember just days ago looking at a photo of Blake Lively and thinking, God... I wish I could look more like her! Everyone, especially women, aspire to be something different from what they are. But why can't we be comfortable with ourselves? What's wrong with being different? 
I remember especially in elementary school when everyone tried so hard to fit in with each other and just blend in. I was part of a clique at my school and we all wore the same brands and listened to the same music and even talked  the same. The only individual thing about us was our names, but we even eliminated that by identifying ourselves with the same name. In grade eight I bought this really cool pair of brown Keds. They were the coolest shoes, and I spent $40 of my saved up babysitting money to buy them. My friends called them my 'grandpa shoes'. I don't know what made them 'grandpa shoes', but what I do remember is that they weren't the same as everyone else's, and I guess that made them a target. I still wore them every single day because I loved them, and eventually everyone let it go. But I shouldn't have been put down for trying to stand out.

Actually, I wasn't even trying to stand out. I just wore a pair of shoes that I liked. Damn it, if the soles weren't worn out from wearing them so much, I would still wear them today. But anyway, my point is, people should celebrate themselves. If you don't like something about yourself, change it. If you can't change it, learn to love it and live with it. Its nothing out of the ordinary to say that as a young girl I had moments of unprettiness. I still have these moments today, too. I broke out, had fights with my friends, my boyfriends, my family members. I had 
Little Miss Ugly Duckling
bad hair days, braces for two years of my life, and even wore a head gear in grade seven. YES. My big childhood secret is out. I only had to wear it while I slept, but as you can imagine, it was not an attractive image. I would brush my teeth and then put it on shamefully, much like a dog with a cone around its head. Can you imagine being 12 years old and being told that you have to wear a metal thing around your head for several hours a day? When my dentist first broke the news, I thought my life was over. But, of course, it wasn't.
The reason why I'm sharing this with you is to tell you that no one is perfect. No matter who you want to be like, that person has flaws, too. That person that you aspire to be is probably aspiring to be someone else, too. So I'm telling you all to stop wasting your time hating yourself, because trust me - you aren't doing yourself any favours. 
Now, in honour of my friend who inspired this blog post to be written, I decided to compile a list of the things I don't like about myself, and the things that I love about myself and life. I 
Not the only body type in the world, people.
suggest that everyone else should also makes a list of things you love about yourself, and look at it when you're having a bad day. I do not advise you to make a list of things you don't like about yourself. In fact, I'm only doing it because a) I want to show my friend and fellow reader's that I am nowhere near perfect and b) because I don't really care about the things I don't like about myself. They don't ruin my day, and I don't mind putting my greatest flaws out there on the internet, for the whole world to see because there are more things on the list of things I love about myself than the things that I don't love. And most importantly, the things I don't love don't measure up to the things I do love about myself. So here we go...
MichElle's Flaws:
1. When its my time of the month, I take PMS to a whole new level.
2. I wish I was taller.
3. I have big feet. When I was younger, my feet grew before anything else, which crowned me with the nickname Rabbits Foot. They're more proportionate to my body now, but still on the larger side.

4. I sometimes break out. It happens. At least once a week.
5. My nail beds suck (Karen Smith and I have something in common).
6. My vision is worse than a bats. I literally stumble around first thing in the morning without my glasses/contact lenses.

7. I don't have a cute ski-jump nose. Its just kind of there. From the side it looks like a little tortilla chip with freckles.
8. My hair. It refuses to grow any longer. It gets major static and a little dandruff in the winter. I have to wash it every day so that it doesn't get oily. And no matter how simple its supposed to be, I just cant put it in a messy bun. Depressing.
9. I can lay in the sun for hours and just burn. I'm pretty pale. No tan. Just burn, baby, burn.
10. I'm OCD about germs, organization, and my teeth.
11. I crack my bones way too much. Notice how I didn't just say knuckles? Head and shoulders knees and toes. And back. And neck.

12. I trip in public. A lot.
13. When I workout, I sweat like a pig in July (I hope this made you laugh, because I'm pouring my guts out to you people).
14. My feet stink right now.
15. I failed my G2 the first time around. 
16. I've been broken up with once before. Over an e-mail. In the seventh grade.
17. When I was four I had ear surgery because they stuck out. The operation had them stitched back. I wore a super cute white cast around my head for several weeks after.
18. The first time I got my period was at cheer camp (not while stunting, thank God).
19. I over think things that don't always matter.
20. I'm hungry right now.
21. I hate body hair so much. I think its gross, and completely unsexy, and I hate when my legs, armpits, other areas aren't smooth. But its true - sometimes I have it. Just like everyone else in the world.

22. My knee caps stick out too much. Probably from all that cracking.
23. I get morning breath.
24. I'm obsessed with doing my eyebrows. I even keep my tweezers in my purse just in case I notice a hair where it shouldn't be. 
Its ok, Milhouse. I know how you feel.
25. I sometimes get ditched by my friends (see Even The Best Fall Down Somtimes).
26. Like everyone else, I have bad moments and bad days.
27. Sometimes I get lonely over here.
28. My parents genuinely favour my sister, even if I'm the only one who sees it.
29. I always get wedgies in the most public places.
30. I do stupid things like drop my phone in the snow, get locked out of my house, and sleep in on important days.
31. I've liked guys who haven't liked me back.
32. I'm so lazy when it comes to doing laundry.
33. I use too much toilet paper. (Another thing to put on this list is that I over share, but then again, I don't really give a damn.)

34. I've had poison ivy, the chicken pox, lice... At the same time.
35. I sometimes care about people too much.
36. I'm a messy eater. I should still be wearing bibs, really. 
37. Someone once compared me to Heidi Montag. Probably the most unfortunate thing on this list.

Things I Love About Myself & Life:
1. My blue eyes (thank you papa!)
2. I can pick up languages the same way some people pick up infectious diseases.
3. My loud laugh.
4. I'm probably the best friend and greatest girlfriend anyone could ever have.
5. I graduated with honours.
6. I know how to trust my gut.
7. I'm spontaneous, outrageous, just loving life. More people should try it.

8. Fearless is my middle name. I'll go skinny dipping, sing karaoke, and not worry about embarrassing myself. I know how to have a good time.
9. My muscles! Drink milk, love life.

10. I can recognize my mistakes. I know how to appologize when I need to and I think that's really valuable.
11. My legs. They go on for miles.
12. Optimism. Its gotten me a long way (literally).

13. My boobs. They're big enough to say pay attention to me, but not so big that they're cartoonish. Round and soft and perky (I hope my dad stopped reading my blog like he promised).
14. I know how to take care of myself. I eat healthy, exercise and stretch every day, and I read and write every day. Because mental health is important too, you know.
15. Adventure-seeker. Two words that greatly describe me.

16. I treat people the way I want to be treated.
17. My freckles! There aren't many of them but they sprinkle across my nose enough for me to say that I have them.
18. I'm not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, even if I'm standing alone.
19. I'm really good at massages.
20. I can fall asleep within 10 minutes of hitting the bed.
21. My many talents (from being double jointed to having a super flexible back to writing).
22. The fact that I'm the only person in the world who my cat, Cleo, can hold without my eyes being scratched out. If you don't believe me, just ask my old ex boyfriend who ones tried to pick her up...
23. I can write about my most embarrassing moments and flaws on the internet, encourage people to read it, and not be ashamed.
24. When a friend calls for help, I'm the first one there.
25. I've been told I'm like a golden retriever - happy, loyal, and a good swimmer (all good things, in my opinion).
26. I'm a great teacher, from teaching foreign children how to speak a new language to teaching myself how to speak Italian, play the harmonica, and cook.

27. I'm open minded and always willing to try new things.
28. My family is wonderful and so accepting of the choices I make, from the very simple to the very spontaneous.
29. I've learned how to be happy with who I am and love myself no matter what.
30. I can admit that I still love Arthur. And miss it terribly since it doesn't exist in Italy.
31. I have a to-die for collection of lingerie.
32. My eye lashes. I'm giving Kim Kardashian a run for her undeserved money.
33. My creativity. I can make something out of nothing.
34. I don't have any cavities :D
35. I posses a citzenship from one of the most economically stable, well respected, naturally beautiful, and fairest countries in the world.
36. Thank you for making me laugh, thank you for making me think differently, thank you for inspiring me. The things my readers write to me makes the world of a difference.
37. Babies, dogs and old people love me. And everyone knows that's a good thing.
38. I have a nice butt and I cannot lie.
39. I'm always myself. No artificialness guaranteed.

40. I don't let the haters stop me from doing my thang.
So there you have it. Like everyone else in the world, I have good and bad qualities. I hope this is a lesson to all my readers that no matter how put together a person looks on the outside, they still have their own insecurities and flaws on the inside. I'm not going to lecture you anymore on this because I think my lists speak for itself. I hope you learned something from it and that my friends and family still love me even though I'm pale and hate doing the laundry. Even people with big feet need love, too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What's It Like In New York City?

So. I have something on my brain that I need to share. I mentioned in my previous post that Nathan and I were going out for dinner in Trastevere Wednesday night. Well, that didn't happen. He likes to cook and when we met up in our usual spot in Campo, we agreed to just go back to his apartment, eat pasta, and watch a movie. One of the reasons I was excited to see Nathan is because he's leaving in a week now, so I don't have much time left to spend with him. It might seem selfish, but there was a bigger reason than that... Did I mention that he grew up in New York City? And that I kinda wanna sorta move there next...? He moved to Boston when he was around 13 years old, but he spent most of his life living there. Nathan suggested that I actually visit the city before living there, but why visit when I can just... Move there? Besides, I moved to France without ever visiting. And of
course, the same thing happened with Italy. I didn't wander around wondering if it was right for me. I just packed my suitcases and went for it. Personally, I think I turned out just fine by doing that.
I've been giving a lot of thought lately to what I want to do next year, and The Big Apple is looking more and more appetizing to me. I've never been there, except to the JFK airport where I connected flights on my way to sunny Florida. But seriously. When I close my eyes and ask myself, "Where do I see myself in one year?" I see myself wearing an I Heart NY T-shirt underneath my clothes so that I can secretly proclaim my love for the city without looking like a tourist. I see me jogging in Central Park, running past hot guys wearing NYU sweaters and offering me a hot dog from the 
vendor. Of course I'll politely say no because I'm a vegetarian, and they'll appologize and take me to Little Italy instead. I can see myself bustling through Queens, Brooklyn, and Chinatown. I can see myself drinking martinis and going to cool parties in Chelsea and admiring the beautiful townhouses in Greenwich Village. I can see myself walking down Madison Avenue and shopping at Barney's and singing on Broadway. 
Ok, so maybe not singing on Broadway, but that isn't the point. I've been doing a lot of research about the pros and cons, and the only cons I can find is "lot's of traffic, expensive, high unemployment rate, rude people..." That's ok because:
1. I won't be driving there.
2. I admit, this is a problem.
3. Its not like I'm looking for a job on Wall Street. I'd au pair there, which would take care of my food and boarding, so maybe #2 isn't a problem after all.
4. I lived in France, the country of rudeness. And DO NOT get me started on the rudeness of Italian men again. I can handle Yankees. By the way... Is it ok to call them that, or do they get offended?
Its still so much to think about, but can't you see me sticking my head out of a yellow taxi cab and being happy there? I can. But its still a lot to think about, just as I gave Italy a lot of thought before coming here. But talking to Nathan got me so hyped up, because really - how lucky am I to know someone who grew up there? My only true issue is that even though I turn 19 this July, I won't be of age in the U.S. You have to be 21. But luckily... I have my sister's old driving licence who is already 21. So really - I'm technically of age there. What do I have to lose?! The really nice thing is that I would be on the same time zone as my family, and the distance between my hometown and New York City is a mere one hour plane ride. That feels like practically nothing compared to being a nine hour flight from home as I am right now. I would definitely come home for Christmas, and the best part is that I already speak English. So I can go there already understanding everyone. In a city with a population of over 8 million, do you think they'd make room for me?
I know what some of you guys are probably thinking right now... I'm in Rome, and I should be enjoying myself here. I definitely am enjoying myself here, and I absolutely love Rome. But lately I've been having to think about my future, too, and what I'm going to do next fall. Since the deadline for applications is coming up and I don't know what to do, I want to move to another world capital city. And theres so many reasons why New York would be right for me. I don't know what's going to happen, but all I can tell you is that earlier today I had my iPod on shuffle and Empire State Of Mind came on, and I had it on replay for the rest of my jog home to Campo Dei Fiori.
If you've ever been to New York City, or lived there, or know anything interesting that might appeal to me, please please please send me a facebook message or an e-mail and let me know what its like. My e-mail address is michelle_presse@hotmail.com. Don't disappoint me, people!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Italy, Ireland, Same Thing

Family village
I had the greatest few days of my life thanks to a little unexpected adventure. The family I'm working for took me to the countryside where they have a house just one hour outside of Rome. Its located in the Lazio region, and the mom's side of the family owns a small village perched comfortably atop a huge piece of land overlooking herds of sheep and mountains. It was literally like a small village, with houses only owned by those related to the grandparents. All of the houses were made of stone and covered in ivy and English roses. The family even owns their own Catholic church that sits proudly among the dozens of beautiful homes. I felt that I had left Italy for the weekend and landed in Ireland. When I I went for a walk through the countryside, I felt like I fell into a scene from PS I love you
I spent the entire time drinking homemade red wine, horseback riding through the mountains, and doing my best to stay on the good side of the strict grandparents. As you can imagine, their jaws dropped when they found out that I didn't eat meat. Its easier to tell Italians that I'm allergic to meat rather than explaining that I'm a vegetarian based on moral, environmental and health related reasons. Clemi, the eldest daughter, took me aside later and assured me not to worry about them, because "nonna is impossible." This made me feel much better, and I could see it was true every time we sat down for a meal when the grandmother would boss everyone else at the table around. Get your elbows off the table. You cannot sit at the table with messy hair, you must tie it back with a pony tail. Sit up straight. Speak more clearly. It never ended, but it didn't ruin my weekend. I even got the chance to go to Bracciano, the town where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married. As it turns out, the mom is close friends with the woman who owns the 15th century castle where they got married, and I got to go there! I was completely wonder struck and have never seen 
anything so extravagant in my life. I asked the woman how the wedding happened. My first question was how they approached her. Did TomKat send an e-mail saying, Excuse me, but we hear you have a lovely castle, and would like to have our wedding there? She laughed and said no, and explained that Tom is a close friend of the Italian fashion designer Gorgio Armani (I think I've heard of him before...) and they have connections and BAM - they had the wedding there. The castle is now the marriage hot spot for rich Russian couples.
Now I'm back in Rome sweet Rome, and missed the city oh-so much during the past few days. The family is still in Bracciano and comes home tomorrow, giving me some time to do whatever my little heart desires. I drove home with the Filipino workers, and it was definitely the most... memorable car ride of my life. There I was, trapped in a clown-sized car with four Filipinos who sang out of tune country songs for over one hour. trapped in a car with 4 Filipinos, who sang out of tune country songs for an hour straight. I will forever cherish that moment in my life because I impressed myself at being able to hold in my laughter. When I got back to Rome, I ran around the whole city saying bonjourno to all my favourite shop keepers and pizza makers. I went to Fridgidarium (my favourite gelato shop) to say hi, and they asked me what happened to me. I told them I was in the countryside for a past few days and they said they were worried about me because they've been waiting to give me my Christmas card. Oh, dear... You know you're really an addict to gelato when the gelato shop gives you a CHRISTMAS CARD. What have I become?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Dear John...

I had a really interesting conversation with someone from back home the other day. I'm going to twist the story a bit to protect his identity since he still claims to be enlisting in the Canadian army, but we'll call him John. You see, John and I have some history from high school. John was older by a couple of years, and I don't know why I was attracted to him, but it certainly had nothing to do with his ambition. John is 20 years old now and still
lives with his parents in the same house, in the same city. He's been working at the same job that he hates and is only doing it for the money, but... He isn't doing anything with the money. He's living at home and not going to school, because he keeps changing his mind. Ok... Doesn't seem so bad, right? A lot of young people live with their parents after high school because its cheaper, which makes sense. And people change their career paths all the time, and "John" has been especially close to his mother since he was considered the man of the family when his father had left at an early age. But I moved out for a short while when I was 16 to study in France, and even though I was only gone for 3 months, I learned so much about independence. 
What would you pick - THIS, or university?
Then, at 18, I moved to Italy. To enjoy life. To learn a beautiful new language, to meet new people, to try delicious food, and to be happy - something that I feel I lacked during high school. I thought, you know what? I deserve to have more beauty in my life. I'm going to go to Italy. And it was the best decision I ever made. 
Anyway, I asked John how things were. He told me he was alright. I asked him if anything changed with his life since he left in terms of his job, his family, and no - nothing different. I realized how lucky I was to escape from John who very obviously has different dreams than I do. Dreams that if I went along with, I woudn't be satisfied with. I realized that the most important thing in John's life is making money, even if he doesn't do anything wise or pleasurable with it. I, on the other hand, define riches by happiness and 
experience (although I admit to being somewhat high maintenance... What can I say, I like my French perfume). Even though John may have a lot more in his bank account, I still feel that I'm the richer person. 
What this also taught me was that John was, in so so so many ways, very wrong for me. I knew this from the beginning, but isn't that what dating is about? Finding out what you like, what you don't like, what you need, what you want, and what kind of person you find yourself most in-love with? Years ago, John had promised that he'd be out of our small town, and that he'd be studying in a big city. He promised he'd get away from his family and start a life of his own. I, more than anyone in this entire world, know that John was never any good at keeping his promises.
Reflecting on my conversation with John has helped my plans for next year become a bit more clear. My friend Carlie gave me a piece of advice that I will cherish and carry with me forever: "A rushed decision is the worst decision." Even though I'm stubborn and do what I want, I've come to terms with the fact that sometimes its ok to ask for help. Its ok to admit that sometimes, I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going, and sometimes, I need to see things from a friends' perspective.
My European friends think its silly for me to be so worried about school, because most of them just travel for a couple years before settling down. One of my friends put it best when she said, "How can you commit to something as big as a career at such a young age? You aren't exposed to anything. There's nothing wrong with taking 1, 3, or even 5 years off to celebrate you and have experience so that when you finally decide to sit down and hit the books, you love the books you're hitting."
I bet the people reading from back home are thinking, Oh no, she's not doing anything with her life, she's never going to go to school... But actually, I'm doing something amazing with my life. And I'm really happy with it. It doesn't matter how anyone else feels about my life, because it isn't a monument to anyone. It belongs to me, and I love it. I promise that I won't spend my whole life floating around the world without a stable bank account, a home, and a degree. I won't wind up living the same old boring life hoping to one day move up and make some money and go to school. I'll do it. Because unlike John, this girl knows how to keep a promise. Especially one that she makes to herself.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Love Affair

Please don't kill me.
One of my blog readers recently asked: "When you go away for Christmas, will you update your blog?" I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but... no. I'm actually not bringing my laptop at all, in fear of it being lost, damaged, or stolen. I'm going to be far too busy having fun, sight seeing, clubbing and spending time with Magda to be able to sit down and spew out all the details of my trip. Besides - if I really need to use a computer, I'll just borrow someone else's. So if you have me on facebook, then you might get a few status updates here and there. I'm going to be gone from December 21st to January 4th, which means that you will have to suffer two whole weeks without my blog. I'm so sorry, loyal readers.
I'm going to bring my little brown leather diary with me and will scribble something important in it each day so that I can be sure to tell you guys everything that happens while I'm travelling - where I am, what I eat, what I see, what kind of trouble I get into, who I meet... I don't want to miss any important details, and feel that bringing my diary will be the easiest way to remember everything so that I can share my whole experience with you all. I don't
know where I'm most excited to see - the gingerbread-looking houses in traditional Munich, the classiness and organized Salzburg, the drunkenness of Upper Austria, the oh-so beautiful Vienna, or artsy Prague. I'm excited to see everything. I'm mostly excited to meet Magda though, who I've been friends with since this past May. She's become a really close friend of mine and she's so sweet for inviting me over for the holidays. I need to pick up a few German courtesy words so that I can tell her parents how thankful I am for allowing them to let me stay at their house. Her parents don't speak any English, and I can count all the German words I know on one hand. Luckily, Magda is completely fluent in both languages, so I'm not worried. I don't know what to expect, but I know that this will definitely be one of the most memorable Christmases ever. 
I'm already trying to figure out how I want to fashion my blog when I return from my adventures. At first I thought I would just post one giant spread about my trip, but I feel that it might be too overwhelming. So I might just do a separate blog post for each city I visit so that I'm able to elaborate on everything, rather than skip important details and just serve you little tidbits instead of giving you all the dirt. I promise that for the month of December, I will try to update my blog as much as possible to tide you all over.
Free bitch, baby.
One of my friends here asked me if I'm planning on hooking up with any guys, and the fact that she'd even ask that question shows how little she knows me. Nathan will be going home in the middle of December, so he won't even be on the same continent anymore. But this isn't a bad thing. I like my freedom. I wouldn't want to feel obligated to be a good little girl on my trip in order not to feel guilty. When we go to Vienna, we're staying at Magda's friends' flat. Magda told me that some of her guy friends from Belgium and Holland are staying over the same weekend as us, so... If I wasn't excited before, I am now! 
Luckily for me, my mom stuffed my suitcase with every kind of medicine known to humankind. Every few hours I've been having to take an Advil because I have a pounding headache and sore muscles. I don't know why I'm feeling this way, but thank goodness for my mom. Its times like this when I miss home, because when I'm sick, that's the one place I want to be. Laying on my living room couch with the fan above me turned on high, a ginger ale beside me, an ice pack on my forehead, Oprah on the TV, my cat on my lap, and my mom's vegetarian chicken noodle soup bubbling on the stove.
Speaking of my mom, she sent me an e-mail last night with the subject line: "We're coming to Italy :)". UMM... YES! My parents are travelling all the way to Rome to visit me, and I'm beyond excited to see their cute little faces. We're going to do a bit of travelling around Italy while we're here, and we're thinking of going to Florence and Venice. They arrive early in the morning on February 27th and leave March 7th. I'm actually lucky to have so many people coming to visit me! In fact, its best for me to just make a list below of who's visiting me and when.
October: my cousin Erica, her boyfriend Derrell, and their best friend Liz.
January: my friend Adam is moving to Milan and plans on visiting me in Rome for a few days (and maybe vice versa!)
Glen and I, looking fine.
Mid February: my family friend Bill, who's just a couple years older than me. My parents are his God parents so we've been close since before I can even remember.
Late February/Early March: my parents!
Mid March: students from my old high school. Every year, they take a trip during the March Break to somewhere in Europe, and this year they're going to ROME!
Early May: my sister. I am beyond excited to show her how well her baby sister is doing in gigantic Rome.
Early May: my close friend and good-doing partner in crime Glen Stratton. He's flying to Rome first but I'm hoping we can go to Sicily together as well.
My friend Taylor is currently living in France and my friend Carlie is planning on moving to England in the spring, so they both might come here as well. How lucky am I? And in between all this, I'm going to be with Magda for two weeks at Christmas, and perhaps again at Easter. So I can always look forward to seeing someone I knew before I arrived here, which makes me one very happy girl. I might not have so many visitors if I decided to move somewhere like Bratislava or Minsk, so Rome, graze mille - for your delicious food, life changing wine, stray animals, historical crumbling sights, church bells, crazy traffic, and last but not least - for being so damn appealing that you forced some of the people I love dearly to come see me. Its almost as though I have a love affair with the city itself. Ohhhhh, Rome...You're the best city I've ever had.