Friday, June 29, 2012

Annoying People Friday: Tourists

As a tourist myself, I can tell you, those people are freaking annoying.  They are never sure of where they are and walk about as slow as a pile of dog crap on the sidewalk.  As fun as Italy has been, I'm really excited to move back to Blacksburg where I live in the woods, 10 miles from the nearest sign of civilization.  Here are some of the most annoying tourists I encounter on the daily.

Tour Groups
I've been living in the middle of Tourist Central for about 2 months and I'll be damned if there's not a day that goes by that I'm not swept up in a swarm of fat Americans taking pictures with their iPads or Asians waving umbrellas in the air or Germans wandering around cluelessly plugged into their audio tours (you can always tell the Germans because they have weirdly dyed hair, and they sound like they spit everywhere when they talk).  Please, stop dead in the middle of the sidewalk, because I don't live here or anything, and it's always ME that's in the way.  My freaking apologies.

This is stupid and not clever.

People With Nice Cameras
If you're toting around some DSLR with 3 different lenses and taking decent pictures then by all means, don't let me stop you on your aperture adventures.  But too many people are taking picture after picture on the automatic setting.  Someone PLEASE tell me why you're going to have a $1500 camera and not know the first thing about shutter speed or ISOs.  That is a waste, and you need to hand that over right now.  Having a nice camera doesn't make you a photographer, it just means that you have more megapixels than the rest of us and know how to twist a lens, so congratulations and welcome to 10th grade photo class.

People Under the Age of 15
If you bring your toddler to Italy, then you are stupid.  No one wins in this situation.  First of all, he's not going to remember any of it, secondly your life sucks because you have to haul around a stroller, and most offensively his screaming is ruining my peaceful steak dinner.  The same goes for elementary schoolers, and if I had a Euro for every time I saw a middle school boy kick a pigeon I'd be eating a lot MORE steak dinners and would also be attacked by birds 100% less.

I love complaining just as much as the next person (what do you think I keep a blog for?), but if you look around and everybody else is sweating, I'm pretty sure they know it's 95 degrees and don't need your bitching to remind them.  Also, you're probably in a beautiful country so shut the hell up, take your dumb picture and enjoy it in silence.

So next time you're traveling around a foreign country, remember to not get pick-pocketed and to not be annoying.  Bon voyage!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Deal With Creepy Italian Men

I can't say I wasn't warned about the lady-loving Italian men before I got here, but that doesn't make them any less creepy.  Here's an excerpt from the information booklet we got before the trip that was under the Culture Shock section:
"If you are female, you will grow accustomed to persistent and often irritating advances made by Italian men.  CAUTION: These advances may be eloquently and romantically expressed, but they are rarely sincere -- flirting with foreign girls is something of a national sport in Italy."
And let me tell you, that is accurate (although some "advances" are less eloquent and romantic than others).  I'm by no means a dime piece but walking down the street in Italy is what I imagine being a goddess is like, if you like being slurped at by lumpy and weirdly foreign-looking guys.  After the first few weeks of constantly being called "bella" (or mela, if you're me), the novelty wears off and you get kind of annoyed at being elevator-eyed from sunrise to well past sunset.  Luckily I've developed a few strategies to ward off the unwanted attention (note: these methods can also be applied to creepy Mexican men if you happen to be a biddie in Harrisonburg, Virginia).

I'm always a fan of preventative measures -- stopping a problem before it starts certainly saves energy.  This is why I've started dressing like a lesbian in Italy.  If I look like I like girls, maybe it'll make me less of a target than the next American girl on the sidewalk.  Unfortunately my Birkenstocks and [insert name of overtly stereotypical lesbian clothing here] don't always do the trick, and the inappropriate sexual comments are never far behind.  At first I tried the ignorance-is-bliss strategy and walked everywhere listening to my iPod...maybe if I don't hear anything old men won't stare at my butt.  But recently I realized what goes around comes around, and if these men are going to be aggressive then I will too.  No, the Jenna Marbles face doesn't cut it here, but burping at them does.  Other options include responding in a manly voice, wearing a gorilla mask, or mace.  Whatever you do, it's important to be forward and disgusting if you ever want to send the right message.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Day in Florence

You may be wondering what the glamorous life of Sallie Drumheller is like, now that I'm Italian.  The good news is that it's gotten no less weird and random.  The bad news is that Europe is really hot.

When people sweat in Italy, it smells like wine because that's all they drink here.
Today I went to a palace with a butt-ton of art in Florence, then I tried to go to a church, then a museum, then I gave up and went to H&M and dropped paper (so you see I'm really get a full cultural experience).  But my day was hardly normal.  Let me tell you about some of the things I witnessed.

After a couple hours of playing Princess Sallie in the palace I stumbled upon a farmer's market in a square near our school.  It was awesome possum because it was very local and Italian, a rare feat in the tourist trap that Florence seems to be at times...oh, except for the Ke$ha blasting through the historic piazza.  I don't know what it is about that girl and Italians, but Tik Tok, it's always Ke$ha o'clock over here whether you're in the grocery store at the bar.

Then I headed toward the train station.  I've been trying to see these frescoes in a church near there all weekend but something is always wrong; on Friday they didn't have change for a fiddy which was all I had, they always close the 596th Saturday of each century, and Sunday there was apparently a reenactment of a Napoleonic battle.  Suddenly I turned around and about 100 men dressed in 16th century military garb had taken over the piazza and were wheeling around fake cannons.  Shame on me for not sticking around to watch.

They look so happy for soldiers heading into battle...

After that, I sauntered around a little more because I was in a new part of Florence and enjoy getting lost as a young, alone American girl.  Before I knew it I was waiting with a crowd in front of some swanky looking hotel.  I don't know what they were doing there but I assumed waiting for some celebrity.  Anyway, I decided to dip out because I realized all my companions were very Italian and I probably wouldn't have recognized the celebrity in any case.  Also, did I mention it's freaking hot here?

Wrapping up my tour de Firenze I decided to check out the famous leather market.  I know, I've been here 6 weeks and I haven't been yet, but that's because I knew it would be a downward spiral.  You know how Abercrombie pumps their cologne through the air conditioning system?  I think the leather market does this too, because it smelled of wonderful skinned cow (I'm not big into animal rights).  I walked around there for a solid half an hour, warming up my bargaining skills and scoping out what I will eventually buy.  After all, this is going to be my one big Italian purchase and I need to train for it.

As I was leaving I passed by a group of real Southern jovial black ladies.  Now I love this situation in the States, so you can only imagine witnessing it in Italy.  They had surrounded an Italian man and were interrogating him about how to pronounce Florence in Italian (Firenze).  He looked terrified, and they just kept saying "Fray-unz?!" at top volume.

All in all, it was a great day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fat Girl Problems

Easily my sole joy in life is eating, as it should be for anything you spend 90% of your day thinking about.  But for all the great things food gives us – happiness, solace, deliciousness, nutrients – it ain’t easy being a lardo (some people call it “foodies,” but let’s be real…you’re gross and I’m gross and let’s just go eat our feelings over it).  We all have our problems in life, so let's take a minute to talk about fat girl problems before we go hit the gym for a 3 hour workout (yeah....right).
  • Ending up with food in your hair or on your face at least once a day.
  • Finding crumbs in your bed.
  • Knowing the difference between white chocolate and regular chocolate (regular chocolate melts faster, in case you were curious).
  • Doing Google image searches for things like “cheese and bread” or “Dairy Queen Blizzards.”
  • Pictures of food you eat constitute a large portion of your study abroad Facebook album.
  • Carrying twin food term.
  • Going back for fourths.
  • Looking forward to PMSing because it’s more acceptable to eat everything in sight.
  • Unfollowing “Eat This, Not That” on Twitter after they publicly announce your favorite Arby’s sandwich has 3,000 calories. #Didn’tNeedToKnowThat
  • Insert name of food here is my new boyfriend.”
  • Fruit-flavored ice cream is a nutritious meal because it contains both the "fruits and vegetables" and "dairy" section of the food pyramid.
  • Determining how much you like someone by asking them to name their Cookout Tray.
  • Dreaming about pizza.
Whatever, food brings you life, and no food brings you death, so you see it's really a matter of life and death.

For the record, all of these things come directly from personal experience.  Let me tell you, the pizzas in my dreams are DELICIOUS.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Get Over a Breakup

Eventually, everyone I date realizes I'm crazy and breaks up with me (unless prior to that point the boyfriend in question does something to lose my affection like run into their ex-girlfriend at the grocery store on accident or sucks at back massages).  Everyone deals with their pain differently, but I've come up with a fool-proof method for getting over a man, and trust me, it's not hard.  In the words of my best friend and mentor Beyonce, "I can have another you in a minute so don't you ever for a second get to thinking you're irreplaceable."

On that note (pun intended), the first thing you need to do is turn to man's great healer and outlet of angst: shitty music.  Every breakup has a designated breakup song, but it's important that you not choose a song you like because it will forever be ruined.  After all, why taint a perfectly good Celine Dion album with the memory of some douchebag?  I much prefer to listen to Indigo Girls or Hinder on repeat for two weeks straight.

Next, you need to find something to replace the hole in your life.  Keep a positive outlook.  You can now dedicate that daily 30 minute conversation during which you had to pretend to care about what he ate and did that day to something much more fulfilling and productive, like drinking wine or taking bubble baths.  You can stop shaving your legs so much and buy a cat.  You are a free woman.

Do NOT, I repeat, do not throw away everything he gives you.  Hollywood tells us we need to have pagan burnings of all the photos you took together and all the gifts he hopefully showered you with, but it's just not true.  Sell the jewelry and clothes.  One biddie's trash[y, deceptively expensive-looking rings and necklaces] are another's treasure.  Also, don't try to get revenge, especially publicly.  Keep the angsty lyrics off your Facebook.  I know it's tempting to stalk his new girlfriend and warn her about him or slash his tires, but it's much better to be the mature one.

After you've spent the appropriate amount of time* finding solace in online shopping or scrapbooking, you can transform yourself into the "new you."  This is essentially when you get to buy an entirely new, glittered-out wardrobe and go out, dance on tables, and flirt unabashedly with anyone you see because you are just doing you.

*Don't listen to any of those rules about how long you should spend getting over someone based on how long you've dated.  The amount of time dedicated to getting over a breakup is solely related to the amount of meals he paid for on a weekly basis.  For example, if he bought you Chili's once a month he deserves a day, maybe.  If you had sushi dates once a week followed by a movie of your choice and ice cream afterward, by all means, take your time.

Let me leave you with this nugget of wisdom: Breakups may seem like low points in your life, but they are actually the best times because it is all about you, and honestly I'm the best person I know.  Breakups are the only times it's acceptable to eat a whole box of cookies in one sitting or force your friends to watch The O.C. with you as they scratch your back.

And remember, everything you own, in a box to the left.  Get it girl.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Maybe She's Born With It, Maybe It's Facebook

Behind every biddie is an immaculate, carefully gleaned Facebook profile picture.  We all know the Internet is full of people pretending to be someone they're not, and biddies are no exception.  Biddies are never as pretty as they look, but with the help of Maybelline and the iPhoto Enhance tool any grenade off the street can become a dime piece.

Let me fill you in on a few secrets for how to become someone you're not, complete with pictures of me and some of my favorite biddies, because I'm obsessed with myself and my hot friends.

The Skinny Arm
It's pretty self-explanatory, it's when your arm looks skinny. Pop that hand right on your hip, get your sass-face on and say goodbye to your bat wing.*

You can never skinny arm too much, as I always say.

*Works only when posing in pairs of two or if you're positioned on either end of a line of biddies.

The Leg Pop
Similar to the skinny arm, this feminine poses accentuates one leg, hiding both thunder thighs and your awkwardly rectangular torso.

This is a prime example of both the leg pop and the skinny arm.  So you see you can barely tell I'm 200 pounds in real life.
Your Good Side
A girl can have a bangin' bod but if she's busted in the face then you might as well forget it.  We all have a good side, and if you say both sides of your face are good then you are either living in Fantasy Land or my long lost identical twin.  If you're trying to sabotage one of your frenemies, just take a few clicks through her Profile Picture album, figure out which way she always turns her head and then when you take pictures with her insist you be on your good side (which is always her bad side).  Not that I've done that.  

The Best Friends Pose
If you want to emphasize how good of friends you and your bestie are, there are literally infinite options.  I find kissing each other's cheeks, an ironic-hardly-funny-but-cute prom pose, or close embraces (awkward but good results) work really well.

Clearly we're in love.

The Boyfriend Pose
You've got a boyfriend and now it's time to let the world know it.  Every time a girl takes a picture with her manslice, she puts her hand protectively over his stomach, saying "He's pregnant" and "I own him" all in one adorable gesture.  If you are a boy and a girl puts her hand on your stomach in a picture and you're not dating, you need to run away before you fall victim like so many before you.

If all else fails, you can just do what I do.  Hide the bleak reality that you are severely unphotogenic (read: ugly) by making weird faces on purpose.  Turn the picture into a memento of how hilarious and goofy you are by sticking your tongue out or closing one eye (just make sure it's obvious that it's on purpose and that's not just how your face is).  Your friends like it because it makes them look pretty, just be warned that you will now have the identity of that "weird, vaguely funny girl" that always makes double chins in pictures.

My roommates have perfected this one.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Airing Out My Dirty Laundry

Aside from my normal embarrassing escapades I've experienced while in Italy -- most involving getting defecated on by pigeons -- I've been getting along quite nicely and blending in as smoothly as possible.  I'm learning that if you wear shorts you WILL get slurped at and Italian hipsters look exactly the same as the ones in America.

But no amount of cultural acclimation could have prepared me for the events of today.  Today, no longer avoidable after days of putting it off and becoming increasingly smellier, was laundry day.  I stuffed three weeks worth of laundry in a reusable grocery bag and lugged it down the street to a laundromat, then unstuffed it from the bag and restuffed it into a washing machine.  Naturally, the door wouldn't close and after 5 awkward minutes of pushing my butt up against the machine in an effort to close it while attempting to look nonchalant to passers-by on the street, I turned around in anger, slammed it shut, and the door latched nicely closed.  Go figure.

Then I successfully purchased one token and a cup of soap and began my wash, sitting down to relax and read, very pleased with my accomplishment.

BUT NOTHING IS EVER THAT SIMPLE. Wet clothes need to be dried, and alas, laundromat driers require a token to operate. Each token is €3, but I had used my €5 bill on the first load. All I had was a €20 bill, and instead of giving me one token and change the machine gave me 20 EURO WORTH OF TOKENS.  They came spilling out of the machine like the freaking wildebeest stampede in The Lion King.  So now I'm 20 precious Euro short and an unnecessarily amount of laundromat tokens richer, and I plan to carry them around with me and solicit people to buy them every time I pass the laundromat (which is every day).  I guess it's the gift that will keep on giving.  What is "I'm stupid, pity me, buy a token" in Italian?

Luckily I was able to pawn one token off on a nice couple that came in to move their sheets into the dryer.  They left as I was folding my clothes with my back turned toward the dryer.  Just my luck, out pops a TENNIS BALL from their dryer load and hits me in the back.  I wish I was kidding.  Firstly, is it even normal to dry tennis balls, and secondly what are the odds that the force of them would open the door (which took me a solid 4 minutes to close) and hit me, the only object in the room?

Finally I was all packed up and ready to go, sauntering my way back down the street.  Now you should know there's a convenience store across from my house that I frequent.  I've only ever bought apples there, a) because they're delicious and b) it's what I eat for lunch every day.  The man who owns the store is quite nice and sometimes gives me candy with my purchases, but apparently has designated a nickname for me.  As I pass by, he says "Ciao mela!"  Not "Ciao bella," like normal Italian men say, no no..."mela" means apple in Italian.  I joked a few weeks ago about how people would start calling me Apple Girl because it's all I eat.  I guess it was just a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I can't say I'm not flattered...I guess.

At least I once again have clean clothes I can sweat through in 4.2 seconds.  Ciao, mela!

Friday, June 1, 2012

More Money More Biddies

Not to beat a dead horse, but I'M POOR.  Also, what a weird saying.  Anyway, in the spirit of having no money I usually live vicariously through other people's purchases, mostly by eyeing their ice cream and licking my lips creepily until they offer me a bite (it just so happens that one bite for them means five for me...I go by the metric system, or something...).

One of the biggest traits of a biddie is having too much money given to her by her parents, and seeing as I'm constantly surrounded by them I've seen the kind of things on which they spend their money.  I'm all for dropping $200 on Bare Minerals or taking full advantage of the Semi-Annual sale because that stuff is necessary for everyday life.  But what happens when biddies have too much money?

They buy weird accessories for their cars, like eyelashes or disco balls.

And things like rhinestone passport covers or cases with bunny ears for their iPhones.

They buy over-priced advice from people whose professions shouldn't actually be professions, like travel agents or wedding planners (that's what the Internet and Pinterest is for).  Also buying massages?  Get a boyfriend, duh.

They purchase DVDs of TV series that never should have completed a season in the first place, like Newlyweds or Newport Beach (but don't get me wrong, I swear by both those shows).  They buy cute baby clothes, when no one they know owns a baby.  And why waste money on one of those clips that connects your bra straps in the back?  Isn't that what zip ties are for?

I know I'm not one to judge, but you should know I always do.  As much as I angrily envy their ability to buy such frivolities, I hope that one day I have a rich biddie roommate to buy cute decorative touches for our house, like antique wooden signs that let one know that the kitchen is where love is baked or knife holders with my initials on it.  One day...