Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From Tuscany to the USA

We often become our surroundings-I'm like a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil, as we are adaptive by nature. So that when I escape from Tuscany and land in the USA, I need a minute to grasp reality.
First of all, after sweating for twenty straight days in Tuscany, I thank the man/woman who invented air conditioning on a daily basis. My friends are still dying in Tuscany.
Strange things have been happening. Two straight days my mom has slammed on her car brakes upon spotting the UPS man, who knows her, stops his truck in the middle of Reisterstown Rd and hands her her packages.
I finished a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby.
I began reading the book "Eat, Pray, Love", have sent love messages to at least three friends and have decided to work on my marriage that officially ended on June 30th, but which unofficially never really ended.
A lot has changed in the past three years, including me.
Yet, throughout the changes in me, I've found two consistent elements- my kids.
I have spent the past six nights in my little girl bedroom, ruminating over the good, the bad, the ugly and the miraculous.
My mind keeps returning to the night I took the wrong train, was heading for Lucca and got lost in Porcari (Shitville), where I spent two hours trying to convince a lost, runaway kid to return home.
At a certain point he reminded me a lot of me.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Emerald Green

Raising my kids in Tuscany, especially my deaf son, took me away from the competitive American way of living school and kids. The fact that I had no idea what the people surrounding me were saying contributed to this feeling, meaning that if they were competitive amongst themselves- I had no idea- I just smiled as an American mom in Tuscany. And my son grew. Then, along came my daughter...and with her my total acquisition of the language. Still minimal competition among children.

A family friend who is currently sweltering through a writing class in Florence came to stay with me this past weekend. I took her and my kids to a traditional town festival held at the soccer court surrounded by emerald green fields near my house. My kids disappeared for the entire time we were there, returning only to request money for ice-cream. She looked at me and asked, "They occupy themselves? They play outside freely with other kids?"
I replied, "Sure".
She said, "American kids don't know how to occupy themselves, they go from indoor activity or outdoor sport to indoor activity- always organized and room for creativity."

I chose to live just outside of the main town in a residential area because I wanted my kids to be able to play tag and hide-and-go-seek just like I did as a kid. It's summer in Tuscany, they're free and out playing until midnight every single night. I chat with my neighbor- a 70 year old widow and her other neighbor who comes to talk to her to keep her company every night- from my terrace. I tell her about Jordan's accomplishments and Sofia's 7 year old escapades with my mascara and heels.

Strangely, we don't gossip, we communicate and complain about the unbearable heat suffocating us...yet, somehow, it never seems to bother my kids.

The other day I went to visit a friend of mine in his office and at a certain point he told me he wanted to give a girlfriend of his a ring. He had never given her a ring and he had this spontaneous desire to give her a ring. So, I said, "Okay, it's 7,30 and the shops close at 8- move it and we can make it in time".
He grabbed his things and we were out the door in a flash.

We walked a block and a half and he said it had to be an emerald. Even better! He told me to pretend he was shopping for me and to request to see emerald rings as we were approaching the door. I said, "No problem, Sweetheart".

We walk in as the man is about to close and I request to see his selection of emerald rings. The storeowner replies that the emeralds are in the other store, but he may have had one in the safe. He opens the safe and pulls out this beautiful emerald surrounded by diamonds set in 18 kt gold. My friend says, "Try it on."

The only problem was that I had wrapped a silver ankle bracelet with dangling hearts around my middle finger and as I pulled it off, we all couldn't help but notice that my finger had turned green.
I cleaned it and slipped the ring on my wedding finger.
Oh God....
It fit me perfectly, the most beautiful ring that looked amazing on my finger.
Must have because my friend said, "I'll take it!"
I said, "Shit!!!"
Damn that was a nice ring that will be on the finger of another woman...
I looked at him and said, "Sweetheart, the only reason I'm not going to get violent is because this was one of the coolest, most spontaneous things ever...and I am happy for that woman."
I slipped my ankle bracelet back on my finger and went home to my kids.

Emerald green is my favorite color.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Golfing in Tuscany: Heads Up Retired Folk in Florida

A luxury resort located in Monte Argentario, it has 56 junior suites including private balconies. The Club Junior Suite is the jewel of the resort. It is characterized by an ethnic style. The Tuscany Junior Suites and the Gallery Junior Suites are characterized by a medieval Tuscan style. The interior decoration is enhanced by an elegant and refined style. It is completely immersed in nature.
The aesthetics center called Espace is the ideal place to relax and regenerate your body, it includes a Finnish sauna, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool and gym.

Just when you thought the most life had to offer was retirement in some residence in Florida, I hand you Golfing in Tuscany.

It could be the beginning of your own golfing world tour.

Click here for details.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Adventures in Hair

Today I took my daughter to the hairdresser's. I went blonder and she straightened her hair. She has the most beautiful curly hair, but dreams of straight hair..and so, for a day, I made her happy. At a certain point she complained she was hungry, so she flipped her straight hair and said, "Mommy, can we go to Simona's to get a sandwich, please?" I looked at her helplessly, base smeared on roots and tinfoil wrapped on highlighted hair pieces, shrugged my shoulders and said, "Let's go!"

As we walked down the street of our small town, people stared at my foil-wrapped head. I smiled back at them and held Sofia's hand. We walked into the "Alimentari" and a woman flat out looked at me and started laughing. She said, "What happened to you?" I replied, "Highlights and a hungry daughter."

I'll sacrifice my vain self to satisfy a few hunger pains.

Every now and then, the American in Tuscany in me begs to be let out of the cage. If my seven year old daughter can walk around in one ponytail and one braid and feel beautiful...what's a couple of pieces of tinfoil and base?

Friday, June 18, 2010


I collapsed on my daughter's bed...really long day. I looked up and saw it. There it was- the same flying buglike thingy in the same place below the lamp...flying. Not the type of free flying that we would all love to be able to do to escape from the boring-two-legged-daily-strut, but a flight pattern in the form of a square.

Now I've seen the suicidal dive-bombing into the windshield bugs, but never have I ever seen this type of bug-like phenomenon. I sat observing this unidentifiable flying bug for five minutes and not once did it deviate from the square-shaped flight pattern. Over and over and over again it flew in a square. The same pattern. THE SAME PATTERN!

Like men, some bugs just never change.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I arrived in Tuscany as a 25 year old newlywed, new Mamma- your typical American in dirty sneakers and sweats, hair in a ponytail. I went from playgroups with my other teacher friends, we all delivered within six weeks of each other, to strolling my child alone down the streets of Tuscany.

I found that old Italians are a lot friendlier with babies than old people living in Floridian residences.

Growing up, I read fashion magazines filled with Christie Brinkley, Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss. Since Kate Moss was just so not an option considering my ass was bigger than her entire body, my only other woman choices were Cindy and Cindy. I remember sweating to the Cindy Crawford work out tape in college with my other sorority sisters and I must say that it worked. Then I got pregnant and 50 pounds later, I shelved Cindy.

I don't know how I managed to ignore Italian fashion for twelve years, maybe the fact that I was too big to fit into the clothes helped. And then it happened. The great wake up, and I will never forget the day I stood looking around the Corso of Grosseto thinking, "Where the hell am I?" As if for the first time in a long time, I actually realized I was living in another country. At that precise moment I craved America, because I could not identify with anything in my immediate surroundings and it scared me. I flipped my ipod back on and retreated.

Slowly, I assimilated. I observed as an outsider wondering what it would take to pull me back in, while at the same time I rejected being pulled in.

For example, I dated a man who insists that women wear high heels. Never, ever in my life have I worn high heels, I'm already tall. Because I had never even considered wearing heels, I had limited my shoe-shopping to flat. Now, a whole new experience in shoe-shopping has appeared before my eyes. Sounds superficial, but apply that to your daily encounters. I didn't wear the heels to satisfy him, I wore them to try something different for me. I felt sexy. *Smile* Until I almost tripped and broke my ankle...but then I laughed because even when playing dress up, I am still me.

My skin changed.
So did my wardrobe.
And my hair.

People started whistling and seeking conversation with me. And I had no idea how to react or act. Old habits began mixing with new- my time spent as a cocktail waitress learning to diplomatically send obnoxious people away - mixed - with me realizing that the new me is international and even stylish...compared to sweats and sneakers. The best way I can describe the experience of being newly single is that of a 38 year old woman fresh out of high school, thrown into a sea of sharks carrying luggage.

I'm not interested in planning a future, settling down, having a family- I've already done that and my kids have an exceptional father, I'm just trying to fill my new heels and to see how far I can get without breaking an ankle.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mother-in-Law Lipstick

Yesterday, Jordan decided to stay home with a friend and Sofia transferred to my mother-in-law's house- she says for a week.

I met a friend of mine who's a flight instructor in Brussels. We updated ourselves on our lives and soaked up some June sun...until it got really windy.

Then, we headed to the top of the beach establishment, grabbed a table and she went to get us two cups of iced coffee. As I'm sitting there, a crowd rushes to the beach and I follow. Apparently there was some type of beach mini-tornado warning. As I'm observing the crowd, my eye glimpses this adorable little girl on the jungle gym. I look again and think, wow, she really looks like Sofia. But I'd never seen the bathing suit and her hair was in a braid- I never put her hair in a braid. I return to my seat as the drama ends, but that little girl thing bothered me, so I went for a closer look.

Suddenly, I got a glimpse of the little girl's lips...smothered in mother-in-law salmon lipstick. And then I knew.
THAT little girl was my daughter!
I yelled, "Sofia!"
She turned her head, smiled that horrifying salmon smile and yelled, "Mommy!"

Some things, my friends, whether you're from the USA or Tuscany, are as universal as the choice of mother-in-law lipstick pink.