The – why couldn’t I keep my mouth shut – Monday Listicle

Hi! This week the Listicle subject is my fault. Thanks Stasha for picking my suggestion! But you should really learn to ignore me, because this week, the listicle is just too damn hard, what the hell was I thinking??!!

I’ll tell you what I was thinking, a few listicles ago Ducky suggested we write ten amazing memories and it felt wonderful to remember some of the great things that have happened to me and to just generally look at the positive, so on the resulting high I tweeted this suggestion to Stasha: @NorthWestMommy Hey Stasha, how about 10 reasons why I’m great, just to get us in a positive mood before the Christmas insanity.

GAWD! Now what do I write? Cause I can’t very well ignore my own Listicle suggestion now can I? Note to self: next time write out the list before suggesting it to others. Why am I making such a big deal of this, you ask? Because what I hadn’t thought of is how to actually write this list without sounding like a gigantic self-important ass, or being falsely modest.

Anyway… here goes ten reasons why I’m wonderful (without being an ass or falsely modest.)

1. I can throw a pretty great party. Of course, I’m a nervous wreck by the time the party starts and don’t enjoy myself at all, but everyone else is happy and that’s what counts.

2. I worked for my husband for two years (as in he was my boss, I answered directly to him, I was managing a company that belonged to his family, so no pressure at all) and I managed not to kill him.

3. I generally learn from my mistakes (I’ll never work for my husband again, no matter how enticing the offer).

4. I get stuff done (when I’m not procrastinating).

5. I speak five languages (four fluently, one passably, I made no effort to learn any of them, it just happened when I was a kid).

6. I can out argue almost anyone.

7. I can also annoy almost anyone to the brink of suicide, which means I usually get what I set after.

8. I read really, really fast.

9. I can usually bake or cook myself out of any conflict (unless my mother is around, in which case I can’t cook at all for some reason).

10. I’m a really good mother. I know, I shouldn’t say it, but I am. I’m not the best mother out there, I’m not the most patient, I’m not the most fun, I’m not perfect, obviously, but my kids are well-mannered, they’re nice to everyone, they’re happy 99% of the time, they know right from wrong, and they’re very, very loved. This is actually the one that lifts my spirits up when I’m down, or when I’m wondering if I’m doing anything right, I look at them and they’re happy, so yeah, I’m doing a good job.

I’m going to be looking over this list often in the next month or so, when the holiday blues hit, when I’m overloading on too much family time, too many obligations, when I inevitably forget to mail Christmas cards, or buy someone important a present, when I’m fighting with my husband or my kids because that’s what too much holiday togetherness and too much holiday sugar does to us. And I’ll be looking over all of your lists too, because it’s important to remember how wonderful each of us is, but it’s also important to remember how much wonderfulness surrounds us.

Thanks Stasha for coming up with Monday Listicles, and for picking mine this week!

By the way… I got sucked back into the black hole for bloggers that is twitter, so please be nice and follow me. If only for my self-esteem… and yes, I will soon (soonish) set up the easy and practical sidebar button for just this here purpose, for now click on the link or search for thebonnybard or follow the smoke signals… please and thank you.

Girls’ night out – a post where I prove once again I have no concept of brevity

So I’m trying to organize a night out with the girls. I’ve mentioned before that I have a great group of friends here. In fact, I’ve found I’m pretty lucky in the friendship department. I still have a few good friends (some even amazing friends) in Houston though I haven’t lived there in many years now, I have some great friends in Milan, and now I have some awesome friends here. Even though when I came to this tiny rural town seven years ago (my God has it been that long?!?) I thought I would never again make friends like the ones I was leaving behind. In fact, I remember clearly stating to my  best friend in Milan that I would never find such good friends again, that at thirty, working full-time, in a company where, for all intents and purposes I was, not only the boss, but also the owner’s wife, I would never find the time to make friends and I couldn’t befriend my co-workers.
And instead, here I am, seven years later, two kids, no longer working full-time, and with some fantastic friends. As I said, lucky.

Amazingly, most of my girlfriends here are from English-speaking countries. I don’t know if I can fully convey how incredible (literally as in hard to believe) this is, we live in a mountainous area of northwest  Italy specifically known for how closed off the general population is and yet I’ve managed to find a group of girls my age (take or leave a few years) from the US, England, Australia, Canada, South Africa… and this fact, isn’t just surprising from a statistical point of view, it’s actually been a lifesaver for all of us. It’s hard living away from home, it’s hard always being a little bit foreign no matter how integrated you are. I’m Italian, but all of my childhood experiences, all the things that speak of “home” to me, many of my best and oldest memories are “American”, and even though I speak perfect Italian my first language is English.  Being around other people who feel just as foreign, who gripe about the same things, with whom I can, jokingly, rag on Italians without fear of offending anyone is liberating, it gives me a feeling of belonging.

Anyway, getting back on track (it’s astounding how I always manage to take off on a tangent for half an hour), we try to organize an evening out a month (it doesn’t seem like much, but just try organizing ten to fifteen women almost all of whom have kids and/or husbands, it’s like  trying to organize scattering ants) and at least one coffee a week. This week we’ve decided to ditch our husbands home with the kids on Friday night, right at dinner/bath-time so we can go out to the movies and possibly grab a quick bite first.

We need these girly nights, in fact we deserve these girly nights. We usually go out to eat somewhere nice, where the wine flows freely, or we (rather more rarely) go out for drinks, or dancing, but we’ve never all gone to the movies together. It should be fun, and er… funny… most likely. And now that I’ve hopefully got your curiosity a little bit peaked I wonder if you can guess what could possibly grab a group of thirty something women’s attention away from the wonderful dinner with free-flowing wine we normally would be having, diverting it instead to an evening of candy-smacking and popcorn-crunching at the movies.

Those who guess will be named my new super-duper best friends on the internet!

Of grandfather-y things and such.

The premise: Sometimes my brain complicates things way more than is necessary

My mom and her husband are visiting from Houston and every time I see them together it feels a little uncomfortable, it raises a few issues for me. They had a whirlwind and rather disconcerting romance, they met and married within about four months. When they got married I hadn’t met him and I couldn’t attend their completely secret (as in only my brother and his daughter were present and nobody but a few very close people even knew they were getting married) wedding as I had just given birth to the Girl.  I finally met him a couple of months later, but by then the Husband had been diagnosed with leukemia and was spending his days in a sterile room in the hospital and frankly my mom’s new husband wasn’t very high on my list of priorities. Also, he’s very reserved, so despite the fact that we spent two months in Houston at the beginning of the year I still don’t know him very well. Or at all really.

I’m still very unsettled about the whole situation, even though they’ve been together for three years now. Actually, one could say it’s rather unsettling to even be unsettled by a widowed parent’s remarriage as an adult.

Of course, on the one hand I’m thrilled that my mother has found someone, I never would have wanted her to be alone, but on the other hand, I didn’t expect her and my relationship with her to change quite so much.

Also, and rather more to the point, I’m not quite sure how to handle his relationship with my children. They don’t have a maternal grandfather figure. Or rather, he’s their maternal grandfather figure. And he really likes them, he actually acts like a grandfather, he plays with them and talks to them and watches over them when we’re at the park. He’s more grandparent-y than my mother is, as she’s not all that comfortable around, nor interested in, children.

Although, on a side note, she did manage to spend all of yesterday morning on the beach playing with them in the sand, which is probably the most she’s played with them this year.

But all this grandfatherish behavior makes me very uncomfortable. My kids, especially the boy, seek him out, they ask about him, he gets naturally paired with Nana when they ask about her and Houston. Of course, I get their perspective, he’s the guy they associate with a grandfather on my side of their family. He gets paired with Nana cause that’s all they know and an abstract grandpa who’s “in Heaven with the angels” looking over them just doesn’t make much real sense to them.

I guess I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that they’re so comfortable with a person with whom I’m so uncomfortable. He’s a virtual stranger to me, but he’s their grandfather figure.

I am happy that they have him, because it’s one extra person to love them, because they won’t miss out on having a full set of grandparents, because he’s a good guy and their lives will be the better for having him in them. But it still breaks my heart a little.

Right now they call him by his first name, but pretty soon, I’m sure, they’re going to start calling him grandpa or pappy or whatever they decide, and it breaks my heart that that person, that grandfather-y person in their hearts, won’t be my dad. It’s some guy my mother married and none of us really know.

My dad was such a huge catalyst force in my family, so many of our customs and traditions come from him, from his side of the family, that it feels like a betrayal of who we are, of who I am, of what my family is.

It’s so strange to have such conflicting and contrasting feelings. On the one hand I’m happy my mother isn’t alone, I’m glad my kids have two grandfather figures, I like him and his children, but I’m sad that my dad isn’t here to fulfill his role, I have a hard time adjusting to the meshing of the families.

I’m going to have to find a way to make it work, to not make my kids feel guilty for loving him, while keeping the memory of my father alive. I’m sure I’ll slowly become more comfortable around him, I’ll get to know him better, but it will never, it can never, be the same again so I guess in a way I’m happy for them, but I’m sad for me and what could have been.

Linking up today with Shell for Pour your heart out at Things I can’t say.

If home is where the heart is, what the hell is this?


It’s a little weird being here… this isn’t my usual spot, you see, I had another blog, a blog which I loved, but that I had to shut down for a variety of reasons. The reasons aren’t really all that important in fact, it was the classic case of deciding whether I should censure my writing, what I choose to share on my blog or potentially hurting, embarrassing or angering the people I love. It basically comes to my reasons for blogging, I blog to share things about myself, to vent, to say what I really feel and think and rarely do we get to do this in the “real world”. The internet is my escape, my alter-ego, or rather, my actual-ego, I get to be myself here, without needing to worry about how what I write will be perceived.

Also, I can openly write the word “fuck” as many times as I want without getting a call from my mother.

I’m trying to get used to this new space, I’m trying to stop grieving about my old cyber-home, all the words, all the emotions, all the (please forgive me for being dramatic) blood, sweat, and tears that I left over there. All the friends. Although some of you have followed me here, so thank you! And if you like what you read, please share this blog with your friends, I’m feeling a wee bit lonely over here for now!

After this, hopefully discreet, call to arms, I’d just like to add that I’m starting to get excited about this new endeavor, and I’m wondering how really writing for myself, without the added incentive/disincentive of knowing many of my readers will affect what I put on here. Profanity aside, of course. I’m hoping it’ll be fun… for all of us.

Toodles, M.