Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You, Me & Yaya

I sincerely feel that someone should be taping a reality TV show about the family I live with. They are all such characters, a couple of which I'm going to further introduce you to today. One of my best friends in the house is a Filipino woman named Veronica. Now remember - there's 10 of us living here. The 6 Italians, 3 Filipino's, and me. There's also this Romanian
Yaya (photo courtesy of Shayna Dwor)
woman, Marcheeka, who comes over twice a week to help with the laundry and ironing. The 3 Filipino's all share a bedroom connected to the kitchen. There's Rio, the driver/errand boy who is always playing funny tricks on me. He's the son of Veronica and her husband, whose name I still don't know. He never speaks, and ignores everyone when they try to speak to him. I guess he's just shy, but this man here is in his 50's. My sister used to be shy, and she got over that once she hit high school. He's always doing odd jobs around the house and vacuuming with his giant scary hands. I imagine they compare to the size of Shrek's hands. Veronica is the wildest thing I have ever seen before in my life. She's always talking about her money problems and how hard life is in the Philippines. The Italian kids call her Yaya and she has five children of her own. Rio lives with us, but she has another named Roldon who also works here in Rome. Rio and Roldon are twins, and her four other children's names also
begin with the letter R. I asked if Roldon was a typical Filipino name and she told me that she named him Roldon because Ronald Reagan was elected as president of the United States that year. I guess she didn't like the name Ronald very much, because she put her own Filipino spin on it. She was forced into an arranged marriage by her grandfather as a teenager, when really she had dreams of becoming a nun. The only reason why I know this is actually because of my friend Shayna. I try to speak slowly and as clearly as possible with Yaya because English is her second language, but sometimes she still doesn't understand my questions. For example, I tried to fish out these details myself by asking, "How did you and your husband meet?" She responded by nodding her head and whispering, "Yeah..." Uh... what? That doesn't answer my question, Yaya. This happens a lot, including when I ask simple things like, "What's for dinner?" 
One morning while eating a banana in the kitchen, she took it upon herself to tell me how her children were born. I don't know what made her want to tell me this, but I sat there and listened to her stories anyway. She didn't have any of her children in the hospital. She popped every single one of them out in the kitchen. Except for her second set of twins. That's right - 4 out of the 6 children she has are TWINS. She stared by telling me it was just after midnight in the Philippines, and that she had to use the bathroom. "I had to urinate," she told me. She called out to her husband because she could feel a baby coming, and that it was coming fast. She gave birth to the first child, but was under the impression that she 
Goodbye, old friend.
was only having one when there was really a second baby up there. WELL... After baby # 1 was born, she held her stomach and looked down at herself and told her husband that she thought there was another on the way. They both started screaming and freaking out because they couldn't afford another. The whole time I was sitting there in silence with my half-eaten banana in my hand, because the image of Yaya giving birth to surprise twins over the toilet obviously ruined my appetite. Forever.
Another little friend of mine in the house is Manfredi. Manfredi is the 12 year old boy here who I adore so so much. He loves watching game shows in the kitchen with Veronica and loves the Montréal-based show Just For Laughs. My favourite thing about Manfredi is that he loves to sing. I can often find him belting out songs
in his bedroom and messing up the lyrics because of his poor English, which of course makes it even more adorable. Just last night I could hear him singing Love Song by Sara Bareilles in the shower. Full-on screaming the song with such passion that I wondered if someone was in the shower with him. His new favourite song is Coldplay's Paradise, and I printed off the lyrics for him to practice. He also is an avid fan of Lady Gaga (all the kids here are) and loves LMFAO's song Sexy And I Know It. If I had a little brother, I would want him to be exactly like Manfredi.
Although this next tidbit of information has nothing to do with anyone in the family, it does have to do with my favourite gelato shop, Fridgidarium. I ventured over there yesterday and thought I went at a good time because there wasn't a line up like there usually is. I came face to face with a closed door and a sign 
Heaven in a cup.
that said, in Italian, "Be open February 15th." I stood there for about five minutes, waiting for the staff members to open the doors and tell me it was a practical joke on their favourite customer, but nothing happened. I really do have to go three weeks without my favourite gelato shop down the street. It wasn't as bad as I thought. In fact, it was great. This one was a lot cheaper than Fridgy and had flavours that they didn't have. I got a sample of the orange and kiwi, but opted for a full cup of strawberry and sour green apple. Yes. I repeat - sour green apple. I went backagain today to get more of this delicious fruity sensation of Italian goodness. It was obviously sour and tasted like green apple, but what I didn't expect was the actual chunks of green apple in it.
Later on yesterday, Lodo's little friend Nina came over, and they wanted to make crepes. Basically, what this meant is that they wanted me to make the crepes while they watched 
Teen Mom at the kitchen table. Which is totally fine, because I love making crepes. They're really similar to pancakes, but were invented in France and much more flat.
Because there wasn't any Nutella in the house (I thought this was an Italian staple?) we melted dark chocolate on the stove and added fruit to it. Speaking of fruit, have you heard of the Sicilian fruit crisis? Apparently its affecting the prices and transportation of fruit all over Italy, and we have to be very careful about what fruit we buy at the grocery store. This doesn't worry me so much, because there is always something going wrong in Italy. I'm sure once the fruit crisis is cleared up, there will be a wine crisis, or maybe even follow in Norway's footsteps and have our very own butter crisis. On another very important note, one of my blog reader's emailed me a fantastic suggestion. Its so good, in fact, that not only am I going to share what it is, but I'm going to take her suggestion and do it. She wrote to me telling me that she loved my latest blog post, that my pictures are great, and asked me timidly, "Are you really as confident in your blog as you seem?" I think she was trying to be polite and ask if I'm really as cocky as I seem. First, to answer her question, absolutely not. When I talk about myself and say things like I want to become a paid muse and all that, I'm totally kidding. Well, it is a dream, but I don't actually think that highly of myself. A lot of the things I say about myself are jokes and hopefully they make you laugh. I don't take myself that seriously. 
Now, to reveal her great idea. She said, "Have you ever considered writing an advice column?" NO! I have not, and I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this first. I'm going to allow you reader's to ask me ANYTHING you want, and when I collect a few I'll post your questions along with my witty and hopefully helpful answer below it. I might not answer the questions
every day, but eventually it will appear at the bottom of my post. Nothing is too taboo or off limits for Q&A. Ask. Me. ANYTHING! You can message me through facebook (MichElle Pressé), e-mail ( or comment through my blog and I won't reveal your name. If you ask me questions through my facebook or e-mail, obviously I will know who you are, but you can choose a user name or I will protect your identity by making one up myself so that no one knows who asked what. Of course if you decide to ask your questions at the end of a post in the comment section, its totally anonymous and you're more than welcome to do that as well. So, start thinking about what you want to ask me. I can't wait to see what you all have to say! And please don't be shy. Actually ask me question, I want to have fun with this. Got it?

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