Thursday, July 3, 2014

The download

I just recently completed a three-week stint in general and gastrointestinal surgery, during which two notable things occurred:

1. While performing my first mini surgery, I got squirted in the face with a creamy immunologic substance that had been previously surrounding the sebaceous cyst underlying my patient's scalp.

2. I made a new Italian language connection on the verb "scaricare". 

Let me just rewind for a second to preface this anecdote by saying that my classmates and I use the online storage network Dropbox to share notes and other school documents. It was here that I first became acquainted with the word "scarica", which through trial-and-error taught me its significance as the present tense, third-person conjugation of the verb "scaricare" which means "to download". (stay with me)

Back to the surgical ward, while doing the rounds one morning, I noticed a surfacing trend in the physician-patient dialogue, hinging on the question "Si é scaricato?"- which effectively begs the question: "Have you had a bowel movement?" In a moment when everything became illuminated, I realized "scaricato" was derived from the same great grandfather "scaricare" I had previously encountered on Dropbox, only this time it was being used to communicate an entirely different message. I have read before that the english language has something like 250,000 words (even if Southern Californians use but five: "awesome", "rad" "like" (as a filler), "burrito", and "totally") whereas the romance languages have something closer to 100,000. I don't know how accurate these kinds of estimations are, but I do know what a relief I experience every time I get lexical permission to recycle a word, particularly in the face of the daily funerals I attend for my rapidly expiring neurons. Now my favorite phrase of the month is to replace "have you pooped/defecated/crapped/taken a dump today?" with: "Have you downloaded today?" 

Which reminds me of another new word I learned and love: "GUARDONE." It's the equivalent of "lurker", "voyeur", "creeper" "skulker", and I love it for all its literality. "Guardare" in Italian means to look or watch, and when you add "one" (pronounced O-NAY) to the end of something it implies the bigger version of it. For instance. "bacio" means "kiss", "bacione" means "big kiss". GUARDONE --> big watcher. 

Speaking of creepers/guardones, I received this scandal-precipitating text from a certain curly-haired nose-pierced, shark-loving girlfriend of mine who shall remain nameless:

Today (while seated intentionally far away from the front row of our lecture hall), our opthalmology professor captured my attention by staring me down as a prelude to the life bomb I could tell he was about to drop on me (he hasn't the foggiest what my name could be and has even addressed me as "Ciao California" in passing). This morning he seemed to take a sinister pleasure in publicly inquiring whether or not I knew "I had an exotropia of my left eye."

First of all, I had drifted off into thoughts of something else and had no idea what exo-whatever was. Thankfully my computer was already open so I did a quick google image search for "exotropia". Basically what he was saying to me was:

"YO, CALIFORNIA. Your left eye is so damn googly, it makes Paris Hilton's look legit."

My friends immediately came to the rescue by generously petting my hair and lavishing me with any kind of desperation-fueled compliment. It was like they knew I was premenstrual and I could spontaneously burst into tears at any moment. But I held it together until I came home that afternoon, at which point I started my frantic iPhoto search for evidence of my rogue left eye. I'm sorry to say, that he was right:

So it seems as if I share more in common than just a locust-like avidity for cookies with this other freak of an apparently shared gene pool: 

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got an eyepatch to buy and something important to download. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Last night was agony. 

Last night I fell asleep at 10:30pm while watching Tiny Furniture, only to wake an hour later and be faced with the task of trying to mitigate my hot flashes, nightmares, and maldigestion. I'm sure the culprit was the particle of garlic that landed on my dinner plate hours before, which always manages to poison me in spite of my (clearly unrequited) fondness for it. I suppose this mirrors the paradox of most things in life.  

I go off and on with insomnia. Thankfully, my friends on the other side of the world do too and so there's relative comfort found in the fact that there's always someone in another time zone willing to talk during those otherwise lonely hours of the night. 

Last night as I lay awake, I thought about how I'm going to be thirty this summer and how I have less self-earned money in my bank account than when I was 15, answering phones in a pizza shop:

"Thanks for calling, will this be pick up or delivery?" 
"oh you want double sausage on that?" 
"Right now we have a special on a one-topping large for $14.99 plus tax." 

Fifteen years have passed and while my current days may be somewhat more intellectually seasoned than the marinara sauce at Pazzo's Pizza, I'm not convinced this to be sufficient compensation for the fact that I now reckon myself a bottom-feeding insomniac with generalized anxiety, more wrinkles, and NO MONEY. When a friend (on the other side of the world) posted on facebook this morning that he was hiring hostesses for his new restaurant, I actually considered. When I lamented my frustration to my fiancé, he recommended I consider selling my engagement ring. I'm not sure what to do.

Which at 3am brought me to the thought of all the stuff I have to do, from minor things like shopping lists, to more onerous ones like getting an Italian driver's license. Some things have been stagnating on my to-do list for years because they somehow provoke the feeling of insurmountability within me. At least once a week I walk into my kitchen with socks and step into a puddle of water. Do you know how horrible a feeling this is? My fridge has a leak and has had a leak for over three years, but the task of calling a plumber feels so Sisyphean that I'm willing to endure the suffering met with having wet socks.

Thankfully at 4am my mind switched to some of the more enjoyable events that have occurred of late. My friend Milla came to visit. Milla is hands-down the most energetic person I have ever come across who doesn't abuse illegal stimulants. She has a predilection for wine and quality people, so we did our best to provide her with the wine.

she is also the best selfie-taker I have ever seen. 

Here is her "Serious" selfie:

... And her "Look how much fun I'm having" selfie:

Anyway, she left us and made her way back to 'merica just in time to squeeze in her medical school graduation, and I immediately went back to studying for my own exams. In spite of this, we managed a hike up to the hills overlooking Lake Como, reaping the reward of not only a brilliant view shared with friends, but a bottle of Prosecco for mimosas and two big bags of fresh brioche. The bubbly made the trip down exponentially more fun, and made peeing in the woods that much less an obstacle, not that we did that. 

Naturally, my alarm clock sounded about fifteen minutes after I'd finally fallen back asleep, the only consolation for which came from the fact that it signaled it was CEREAL AND MILK TIME!! A bowl of cereal and milk coupled with a literary piece of questionable caliber has stood the test of time as being one of the most decadent of life's pleasures. So in spite of the insomnia, the financial disillusionment, and the fact that I was gifted a herpes outbreak in my right nostril this week, I still woke up happy.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

a mild & exotic zeitgeist

We have a Sinhalese housekeeper named Dennis who I adore. 

Actually, Dennis is kind of like a legend in my eyes (though I still have doubts whether "Dennis" is in fact his true name).

Dennis the Legend is even part of the reason why Giulio and I decided to go to Sri Lanka last year. He also knows I am obsessed with spicy food. One day I came home to find the house sparkling, and this precious gift:

Living Legend!!
I am obsessed with the imperative phrase: "TRY IT". 
(Although, I have yet to do so.)
I also love the "BYE". 
(And the fact that it's sweet and sour chicken in a can.) 

Moving on, this is a pretty typical conversation I have with one of my friends in Italy. Sometimes I worry we might be regressing in our mutual mental fortitude/time spent engaged in meaningful discourse, but then I just eat some carbohydrates and forget about it.

Lately I have been working around the house trying to break in my new high heels.

I was also recently the recipient of some particularly illuminating advice, which I would be negligent to not share with the rest of my small social community: 

My future in-laws (!!) just came back from Cuba bearing American embargoed flammable goods. Bless them. 

Giulio also made a new BFF with whom he now coordinates outfits as a mechanism of publicizing their mutual obsession with each other. I fear I may have been replaced by someone not only more handsome, but who also (finally) boasts a much more wholesome mustache than my own.

(To which I responded with several public necking sessions with my old high school sweetheart, the least gratuitous photo of which can be seen here.) 

The weather has been nice lately. 

Also, my Hungarian side of the family came to visit. 

They are mythical creatures, aren't they? Particularly my enchanting grandmother who I only now realized eats gelato with an enthusiasm I've never experienced for anything in my life, EVER. Just look at her face:

Grandma, This is for you. 
(it's mild and exotic)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The faces of my fiancé

We are on a mission to prove that two wrongs really do make a right.

Yes, it's true. Giulio and I are engaged. 

This past weekend, Giulio took me to one of his favorite family spots on the Italian Riviera to propose that I devote the rest of my life to washing his underwear we formalize our love story via holy matrimony. He distracted me with a shiny object in effort to manipulate the situation in his favor, and being the magpie that I evidently am, I surrendered. I have to admit that as a young girl, I never imagined myself engaged nor married... but now that I am, I am totally looking forward to eating bonbons on the sofa and working on really letting myself go!

Now enough about me because what I actually want to make the point to do is devote some cyberspace to celebrating the faces of my fiancé who's got enough charisma to last a lifetime.

Here is Giulio just after having devoured a Bistecca alla Fiorentina in Tuscany. It's a face quite similar to his usual look of disillusionment. 

Here he is in Sri Lanka moments before he began suffering from Shigellosis. What a sport!

Most men don't like cupcakes, but Giulio is avid for sweets and crappy television, just like me. It's important to share common interests, 'specially if you're gonnna get married.

Giulio looking dispossessed of the mustache he never had. (Except for the frothy kind.) 

Giulio fearing the outcome of the water hitting his hair, and being without a blowdryer and product.

Giulio's puerile behavior, a blight on a towel swan, and a moment that will ruin his future career in politics forever.  

Giulio with his best friend, who shares his passion for fine whiskey and apathy.

Giulio honing his kitchen skills with the same fervor he devotes to honing mine. (imperative)

Giulio pretending he's not absolutely terrified of bugs.

And finally, my favorite face of my fiancé, for all the intelligible reasons. 

I believe that I'm a lucky girl, though my social circle might contest I've been given exactly what I deserve- a man wearing a hat that advertises "quality semen".  

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Today the highlight of my day was using a tweezer to pull a dissevered earplug out from the depths of my boyfriend's ear. Half of it had broken off, leaving him frustrated to the point of apathy as he sat with hemispheric deafness until I could save him. It made me feel important.

As much as I love extractions, the ear plug debacle was the most celebrated part of my day because today was miserable. Today I cried. Today in the face of stress, I suffered a momentary lapse of judgement and cried big, ugly, Kim Kardashian-sized tears. 

genius image courtesy of

It really doesn't happen often that I "voluntarily" secrete bodily fluids, but I confess, the incredulity of feeling my own warm, salty secretions run down my cheeks made me cry even more. So first I sought the comfort of my boyfriend, and then spent a month's salary to use my cell phone to call my mom who is 6000 miles away. But it was worth it. 

I actually did have a few isolated anecdotes to share from the last two months- most of which pivoted around spending time in the mountains with friends. 

But nevermind that, because I'd rather emphasize how stressed and stifled and miserable I am.

School-wise, the last two months have been brutal, and the forecast predicts a progressive worsening until July, at which point gray skies may or may not clear up. I've been (bloggingly-speaking) absent because I've been working my ass off and suffering a consequential abandonment of my own creative spirit. I didn't have time to write, and have frankly been feeling more desperate than I have inspired. 

But as an enterprise to combat the creative void, I initiated a thirty-day Instagram challenge, aimed at capturing an image of something beautiful, interesting, funny, alluring, etc. each day for thirty days. It sort of worked, but mostly didn't. But at least I tried. You can see the photo montage here.

Presently I'm facing what is rumored to be the most punishing two months of medical school -Neuro. Every day in class you have to be superlatively prepared with notions fit for making you a neuro-scientist/ologist/surgeon, OR be prepared to be publicly humiliated by a professor intolerant of your ineptitude. Each day is outfitted with a cause for unrivaled anxiety, though I admit there's nothing like the threat of social indignity to incite one's motivation to read a textbook.

So unfortunately that's all I've really got for you. I just needed to vent, and I also needed to make a confession regarding my boyfriend's breakfast cereal. My dear Giulio, it is time I told you that the reason why there's never any chocolate chunks or hazelnuts in your "chocolate chunk hazelnut granola" is not because you are repeatedly made a sucker of false advertising, but because every afternoon when I come home from neuro, I pick out all the good stuff. It assuages my pain... Please forgive me.  

PS. Here is a really disgusting worm that came out of someone's poop.


Friday, January 24, 2014


When I think of France I cannot help but recall my defunct childhood in cahoots with a young Macaulay Culkin.

"You're what the French call, "les incompétents"

We've just returned from Paris where I guess I would say, it was colder than it was unaffordable. Nevertheless, Giulio accommodated my interminable complaints about the wind as much as he did my demands to indulge in everything that could incite a good froth from my salivary glands- from the best french onion soup in Le Marai, to a browse around the Christian Louboutin boutique, to being the last two patrons standing at the terminal end of visiting hours at the Louvre. 

He is a very, very good man. 

The last time I was in Paris I skipped the Louvre in favor of clearing out every boulangerie of its pain au chocolat. But this time, I was on a mission to see some of my longtime favorite masterpieces, including the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which has been on my to do list since before I was legally emancipated.

Unfortunately this time, Paris had other plans for me: 

en cours de restauration.


But rather than sulking, I decided to focus my attention on all the other inspirational pieces  SELFIES represented in the artwork, practically everywhere I looked. I have always appreciated delicate symbolism and foreshadowing depicted in literature and art, but what patent an example as these projections of smartphone-fueled vanity from long Before Christ!

"fresh out of the salon" selfie

"look I'm doing yoga" selfie

"pensive" selfie 

"group sufferance" selfie

(There's more, but I guess you get the point.)

So we satisfied our penchant for body-sized baguettes of pickles and pâté and are now back to being cozily nestled into our manic Milanese life, (naturally) already missing the exalted Paris Fashion Week and 15 euro cocktails. So I guess for now it's au revoir to Jean-Marc Ayrault, (and in the meanwhile, see what you can do about turning the pinnacle of Paris into the discotheque it was obviously meant to be). 

Oh! oh! and just to get the very last word...