Two days ago, it was my daughter's biological one year birthday. She
is so big now but she's still my baby doll. When I carry her around,
it reminds me of when I used to carry baby dolls around under my arm.
She doesn't really like for me to dress her anymore so every diaper
change etc is one big wrestling match. Sometimes, I lose it and snap
at her and then I have to remember that these are the days, etc. and I
remember myself.

Things are better. I'm feeling more confident about the driving test.
I take online and practice exams every day and more often than not I
do pass them. That's giving me more confidence. I don't know Italian
at all but I know the language of the drivers exam with razor-sharp
clarity. I have to learn it somehow. Giovanni and his family are
chomping at the bit to get me into drivers school. I'm getting
lukewarm to it--or I'm warming up. I was very afraid before because I
didn't understand the language and I wasn't doing very well on the
practice exams; now I'm doing better on the practice exams and the
book makes a lot more sense. I'm also getting wise to the trick

Yesterday, Aunt Verena came to visit. The baby had a late nap so it
was almost four o'clock when she and I went down. Everyone was already
waiting for us at the kitchen table. I was surprised! Aunt Verena
offered to take me somewhere, so I suggested Largo Grande in
Avigliana. In retrospect, I don't think that's what she meant. Maybe
she meant I was supposed to choose the Auchan if I needed a carton of
milk. Whatever. She drove me to Largo Grande and we walked around. She
speaks very clearly and I understand her mostly. I like her but it's
easy to like someone you don't live with. We walked around the lake
with all the other Sunday tourists. It was beautiful but it got cold
as soon as the sun set.

Giovanni left for Brindisi yesterday. I don't know what it is, however, the baby
ALWAYS gives me grief when it's just her and me alone. She hasn't
woken in the night in a long time and she woke up in the night last
night. I was able to stave off full-on disaster, though. Now that I'm
weaning Anna, I can drink caffeine in the afternoon. I had a cup of
tea yesterday and regretted it when I was staring at the ceiling for
over three hours in the night.

I was up in bed listening to Thicht Naht Hahn giving a speech on
"letting go." It was difficult to understand his thick accent. Funny,
yesterday, Verena had a difficult time understanding me when I said
something in a way that I thought was clear, loud, and slow. I'm
understanding a lot more than I used to. Instead of things taking 15
seconds to make sense, it now takes more like 5 seconds. It's by no
means instantaneous, however. I don't know if that will ever happen.  It's like a switch.
I do have to turn it on and off. If I turn it on, I can understand.
But if the switch is off, it's just noise. Same with reading. I have
to parse everything out.

I need to work on my grammar. Right now, I'm working on basic
memorization. I need to learn the tricks and ways of the language in
order to process novel words and phrases.

I spent the morning studying drivers ed and then went downstairs to
collect Anna after two hours. She was out in the garden and now
they're feeding her so I'm going to go get her in 20 minutes.

A Letter to My Daughter on Her First Birthday

January 29, 2015

Dear Anna,

On January 28th, 2014, I had an early morning doctors appointment before going to work at Intermix. It was a cold day and I wore my black parka and my purple scarf; I had a big breakfast of oatmeal. I got to the obstetrician's office in Union Square, New York, and waited my turn. First, they made me step on the scale and at that point in my pregnancy I no longer looked at the numbers. Then, they checked my blood pressure. The nurse was very startled by the number and checked it again to make sure. She made a note on my chart.

I met with a doctor I'd never met with before; she very pleasantly told me she was sending me over to Labor and Delivery (on another campus) to run some more tests. She assured me that everything was fine but she just wanted to make sure (etc.). On the walk over to the First Avenue hospital, I called your Grammy in alarm and she told me it was probably nothing. I also texted my manager, Luis, at Intermix to tell him I'd be late. I did not text or call your father because I didn't want to alarm him at work unnecessarily.

I found Labor & Delivery and filled out some paperwork; they sent me to wait and I waited and waited and waited at least 45 minutes to an hour before I had to remind them again that I was there. They'd forgotten about me but then they put me in a room, told me to get into a hospital gown and pee in a cup, and then they stuck an iv in my hand. I figured I wasn't going anywhere soon. I texted my manager and told him that I wasn't coming in that day.

The tests didn't go so well so they decided to induce. I called your father on his cell at work but he wasn't answering. I texted him CALL ME and then called your Grammy in Portland (where she was vacationing) to google his workplace to get the workplace number. She didn't have wifi in the Portland condo, so she called her sister to google it. I finally got through to your father at the same time your grammy did on the landline. She called the reception at Avio and said that it was an emergency and she needed to speak with Giovanni right away and it was his mother-in-law!

I told your father not to hurry and that it was going to be a long while before the baby came. We learned that from the prenatal classes. I didn't have a bag packed. I told him to bring some clothes for me and definitely all the chargers for all the electronics and the list of baby names! We still hadn't picked a name!

It wasn't a pleasant time for me. I was glad that I'd had the huge bowl of oatmeal because that was the last food I saw for days; they hooked me up to every sort of drip and machine. Yadda yadda yadda I'll spare you. Hot and cold running doctors and nurses; never seemed to see the same one twice. Finally, your dad showed but there wasn't much for him to do. I wasn't going to give birth anytime soon.

He came and went; he went to starbucks and the dunkin donuts and walked around the neighborhood. The nurses and doctors kept me plenty company. They were all very nice and friendly. Then, it was night and your father had to sit by my bedside in a hard-backed chair because there was nothing else for him. I wasn't very comfortable in my bed because I was hooked up to so many machines. If I rolled over, I'd unhook something and the nurses would come running in to cluck their tongues.

Close to dawn, they upped the pitocin and my contractions (which I hadn't felt up to this point) began in earnest. Still, the doctor said it was going to be a long time, so I told Giovanni he could go home and take a shower if he needed, etc. After the first big contraction, I told a nurse I wanted an epidural. Your father left but then came back because there was a big snowstorm outside. He was afraid that if he left the island of Manhattan, they'd close the George Washington Bridge and he wouldn't be able to get back in.

Soon, no more than an hour or two, many doctors and nurses came in and said that the baby was in distress and that they wanted to do an emergency C-Section--what your father and I feared the most! But I said okay because it needed to be done. They wheeled me into surgery and started to work on me (it seemed) before the epidural started. I could still feel some sensation and I was worried about that but not for long. They knocked me out. When I awoke, I was angry that I'd "slept" through the whole thing! I was angry at myself! Of course, I didn't know that they'd knocked me out deliberately. The nurse came over and asked me if I wanted to see my baby. "Of course!" She held you sideways because I was lying down. You looked like a baby to me, but I was so glad that there was nothing wrong with you! You were swaddled and had a little hat on. Then, I probably fell asleep.

They wheeled me into a Recovery room on another floor where for 24 hours I was watched over. I had the bed next to the window so I could look out. The nurses were so nice to me; I was hooked up to a magnesium drip and blood pressure machines that took my blood pressure every half hour (more or less). I couldn't eat anything but I wasn't hungry. Your father came to visit me a little bit, but, once again, there was little he could do. They wheeled you in a couple times to try to nurse, but I was out of it and unable to take care of you. I pumped regularly but I also let them give you formula. I drifted in and out of sleep and chewed the same gum.

You were taken to the nursery and put under the light because you had jaundice. You were a tiny little thing. Later, I would go visit you. You had a tiny little sunshade over your eyes. You were so tiny I had the nurse put the little visor back on you.

The next day, I was put in my own room--even though I didn't pay more for a private room. It was huge but cold! For some reason, the heat didn't work properly. It was fine for me, but it was a little chilly for the baby. For four or five days, I stayed in that room. Every three hours, I'd shuffle to the nursery to sit and try to nurse you. I tried to sleep but the nurses kept waking me up to take my blood pressure. Every morning, I parked you at the nurses station and then went to go get my own breakfast at the breakfast buffet. Loved that!

I watched the 24 hour baby channel and looked on Facebook. Cindy Cravenho came to visit and soon Grammy showed up; she came immediately and stayed with her friend Wendy in Manhattan.

I had to stay an extra day because my blood pressure was still really high: it stayed high for more than a few weeks until one day it just returned to normal.

We still debated the name for you; our original name for you was "Anna" but your father thought we agreed on that name too quickly. He thought we should take more time naming you--even though we both liked "Anna." Finally, after much machinations, we chose "Kate" and even filled out the paperwork with "Kate." But then thought some more and decided on Anna after all. So we scratched out "Kate" on the paperwork and wrote "Anna." I thought of you as Kate for a good long while, though, after you were born. The road not traveled!

Your dad went to the Babies R'Us in Union Square and bought a little fleece outfit that you came home from the hospital in. Grammy, you, me and dad all drove to Englewood NJ where we lived at the Towne Center--a luxury apartment building. It was still very cold and snowy and those two first weeks that Grammy stayed with us were some of the best of my life. At night, we'd watch the winter Olympics in Socchi. In the morning, Grammy, you and I would watch The Daily Show.

Today, your first birthday, you and I got up around 8:00 am and I fed you and put some clothes on you. These days, I then put you in your highchair where you play with your toys or I put you in the l'ingresso where you can play with your toys and not be watched so much. The ingresso is baby proofed!

You are my delight and my joy. It's true that children open up new rooms in your heart. The first time you smiled at me, it was like the sun shining from behind clouds and the Angel Gabriel blowing his horn! And now, you're just starting to use words. Of course, the only two words you really know are "Mama" and "caca." But you use them all the time. The first time you used the word "Mama" around me, I teared up. I can't believe you're mine!

Right now, you tend to spend a lot of the mornings with your Nonni if I'm studying or if I have to go to school. Then, I bring you upstairs where I nurse you to sleep. You tend to nap for at least two hours. Afterwards, I diaper you and try to feed you (some protein and some pureed minestrone soup) and then put you back on the floor with your toys or  in your walker. You like the walker and tool around the apartment--going from room to room. You like to go into your room and pull all the books off the shelf; then, when you're not looking, I go in there and put them all back. You'd love to be in the kitchen more but I've put the baby gate up because there's just too much in there I don't want  you into yet.

You are a very healthy, normal baby. You've got four teeth (and sometimes use them on me!) and can stand by yourself assisted by a couch or chair. You can crawl very fast and are very curious about everything.

In the late afternoon, you go back downstairs for a couple hours while I do studying. Then, I retrieve you, give you some dinner in your highchair, give you a little bath in the tub, and then nurse you to sleep--if I'm lucky! Seems like you never want to go to bed anymore. Oh well, this, too, shall pass!

While I love you being my little (BIG) baby, I do want you to grow. I want to read stories with you and talk with you. I want to explore things with you. You and I will be good friends in the upcoming year. I know it.

I love you very much. I don't know what I'd do without you.



Husband slept in this morning but I did not. The baby slept well through the night, so we were both awake around 6:30. I fed her and put her  back to bed. I decided to just get up and study a bit of Italian drivers ed. I'm studying the chapter on speed and safety distance. How fast everyone can go on certain roads if they're towing trailers or whether they're driving mopeds or whether they're over the age of 85 or have a provisional license. Because I will have a provisional license, I'm not allowed to drive a powerful car or drive too fast on the autostrade. Meh. Who cares?

Yesterday, we just took boxes and opened them up. My MIL is taking it upon herself to wash everything in the boxes: baby clothes and blankets, husband's clothes and my own clothes. I think this is too much: especially for a woman without a dryer and rainy weather. All the clothes get hung in the basement; they dry within 24 hours but still. I'm not minding so much hanging the clothes in the basement. I almost enjoy it. Well, it's not the worst chore. I'd rather hang clothes all day in the basement than wash floors.

The baby is out in the ingresso playing with the pink IKEA tray we brought all the way from Jersey with. She was attracted to it this morning while Giovanni ate, so I let her play with it. Before, she was playing with old keys on a keychain with the plastic shopping cards/fobs.

Anyway, so we slowly started to integrate our crap with our new apartment. All my spices showed up but I don't really have a place to put them yet. And Giovanni and I are often at odds over where to put things. I'm trying not to be a bitch and I'm surprised at how relatively well I'm doing. I've had some bitchy moments, but I forget. Trying to clean when my husband is home is like trying to shovel the walk during a snowstorm. Best to just wait it out until Monday morning when he goes to work. That's when I can go to work.

The weather is terrible so we've been staying home. Yesterday, Giovanni tried the GPS system again; I thought it was a fool's errand but he got it to work!! I threw all my powers at it and wasn't able to get it to work. He did it and made it work fine. We're now in Europe and Rosta and we can find ourselves. Now, we'll probably have to use a different voice. We have Michelle, the American chick telling us where to go and what to do. She'll butcher the street names, that's for sure. But at least I'll be able to understand her. That's the important thing. I hope she understands Roundabouts!

The plumber showed up around 2:00 pm. "My" shower was shitty and had a tiny spray; I idly mentioned I'd like a super deluxe shower head someday. Well, it happened!! The plumber was called (I later found out that they'd had some leakage problems anyway so it was time). He waterproofed the bathroom and installed it. I'm not supposed to use it for 24 hours so no super shower today. So be it. I can wait. I've waited for many things in my life.

At 8:00 pm, Giovanni and I headed to our favorite local pizza place (ha! it's the only local pizza place we can walk to) for beer, l'acqua gasata?, and pizza. We got shown to the upstairs room. It's warmer than downstairs because it's next to the pizza ovens. Delightful on a cold November evening but I'm sure it's bitching hot on summer nights. Good luck to us trying to find a table in the summer; there's outdoor seating and, once again, the only game in town.

Today, more of the same. Just puttering and putting things away. I've got food enough for both lunch and dinner. I need to lower my standards about cleaning. Now that I have the cleaning lady, that's one thing to let go of. I got home last night to TWO letters from my sister and one more letter from my father about changing my address for Schwab.


For some reason, I'm in a nasty mood. Which doesn't make any sense. I've had a full night's sleep, I've had caffeine, I've had breakfast. Just ruminating and gnashing my mental teeth, though. Must keep my mouth shut.


The Nonverbal Mediation of Self-fulfilling Prophecies in Interracial Interaction

    The concern and issue of this article is stated in the title and the abstract--Self-fulfilling prophecy. It's that positive or negative thoughts will lead to positive or negative behaviors; these behaviors will trigger behavior in others. Others will react, which will reinforce the initial subject to continue to act in that negative or positive way. In the end, the subject reaps the exact rewards or punishments that he or she expects. In the paper, the researchers call it a "false definition," however, I believe that it can be positive behaviors as well. If someone acts and thinks and behaves in a positive way, others may behave accordingly, reinforcing the positive behavior.
    Self-Fulfilling prophecy is similar to demand characteristics. Researchers may subconsciously shape subject behavior through words and reactions--eliciting the hoped-for results. If researchers know or expect certain behaviors, or to look for behaviors in their test subjects, they may subconsciously positively reward or punish the behaviors they do or don't want. Double-blind studies, where research administrators don't know which variable is being studied, are useful to combat demand characteristics.  Self-fulfilling prophecy takes it one step further--instead of just acting accordingly, the subject thinks accordingly. When the subject thinks a certain way, he or she acts a certain way. The subjects subconsciously pick up on these cues. In the end, the test results may be skewed and inaccurate.
    Studying self-fulfilling prophecy is important because the concept of self-esteem is so important. Those with higher self-esteem perform better in work, school, and in relationships. They're more productive members of society.  It behooves a society to enable its citizens to work, act, and produce at the best of their ability. Low self-esteem can lead to depression, addiction, unemployment, incarceration, and divorce.  A worker who is employed and happy contributes to the greater societal good. Studying something as basic as human resources and interviewing techniques is fundamental in both western and eastern societies.
    This study was performed in 1974--almost 40 years ago and only 10 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Those who participated (college and high school students) were a little young to remember how it had been before the passage, but their parents remembered. The students may have heard or experienced deep prejudice in their homes and schools.  Even though laws may change overnight, it takes a little longer for culture to catch up. It takes three generations for a society to shed a trauma; the first generation lives through the crisis (i.e. the great depression), the second generation is reared by the first who lived through it, but the third generation is not stymied by the experience.
The researcher writes on page 111, "It has been demonstrated time and again that white Americans have generalized negative evaluations (e.g., stereotypes) of black Americans." Times have changed since this article was written; however, contemporary researchers would probably garner similar results using similar populations. There are different groups all over the country (and the world) who are in conflict with each other. There is still rampant sexism, racism and homophobia. Disabled and overweight people are regularly treated with disrespect.  For example, we could probably recreate these findings here in America using overweight people, or people with visible deformities. We could replicate these findings in England possibly using Irish applicants or in India with its rigid caste system.
The researchers claim that others found similar results using different populations. Kleck (page 110) found that "normal interactants were found to terminate interviews sooner...with a handicapped person...and employ greater interaction distances with an epileptic stranger (Kleck et al., 1968)." Instead of prejudice, it could be anxiety which causes people to act inappropriately. Interviewers may have had many negative stereotypes built up around minorities, but didn't have as many around disabled. Therefore, the anxiety caused by an unknown situation and unknown proper etiquette could have caused them to terminate the interview early--not racism.
This study was done with privileged, male, white, ivy-league students. It's probable that researchers would garner a different result with this study in the 21st century due to better education and increased sensitivity in schools to race. I would be curious to see how "white guilt" could play a part. White guilt, or the over compensating by the dominant class for perceived potential racism, could even out the interview interactions and perhaps even skew the results in the opposite direction. The white interviewers would spend more time with the black students in the first interview.
It would be interesting to see if these results hold true with women interviewers; women are more stereotypically in tune with their own and the behavior of others. Women are shaped to be more sensitive to social cues and female subjects/interviewees would definitely read more into interviewer behavior--thereby perhaps showing more varied or stronger results.
In the first study, the independent variable is race...yet even within race there are shades of grey. There are African Americans who were born in the south and who were born in the north; there are Africans who are immigrants to this country. All could be initially assessed and therefore treated differently by the research subjects.

Not electronics duster but keyboard blower


The baby is in the ingresso and it's raining outside. It's Seattle weather again; and it's never going to let up. I'm going to have to come to terms with this weather. It really is depressing. Yesterday, husband requested Mexican lasagna which meant I had to go out in the weather and go to the store. And I'll probably have to go back again. I can't do it all in one fell swoop like I used to at the Shop Rite. Well, I can't make a meal plan other than hamburgers. When they have cheap hamburgers (2 for 1 euro) I tend to stock up. They're so easy.

So yesterday I went out in the brutal weather and went to the Auchan. First, I put 20 euro in the tank. You can't fill up your tank here; you have to prepay and it's all done on machine. So if you put in more money than your tank can hold, you're fucked or have to ask for money back from the clerk and it's a pain in the ass so it's just easier to put in finite amounts one at a time. Bleah. But, it's relatively quick and easy. There must be a benefit somewhere, but I've yet to find it.

I have to make a list of all the things that are better in Italy versus better in the states. Of course, an Italian could make the list and it would tilt the other way.

Yesterday, the whole family got up early because we had to go to the Questura in Turin for my paperwork. Well, to submit my paperwork. Husband drove me in and my FIL took his car. We got into town with too much time to spare and ended up sitting around the Questura longer than we had to. Oh well. Better that way than missing our appointment window. FIL read his La Stampa and I read a copy of "All I need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." It kept making me tear up and kiss husband. After husband and I went to the sportello and submitted all the paperwork, he went to work and FIL and I waited with a billion other people for me to be fingerprinted. It's not a well-oiled machine, but it seems to work. I'd say it's better in the states, but probably not.

Finally, we got out of there. Husband called while we were on our way home to tell me he wanted Mexican Lasagna for dinner. I didn't think I could find taco seasonings (I was right) but I was able to find a packet of German chili con carne seasonings which worked just fine. I was also able to find beans, corn, tortillas (most expensive item!), and I even had a pan at home that worked!! It worked even better than my 8x8 which I may or may not have packed.

I ran out of my prescription mom vitamins so bought a jar of 90 maternity vitamins for 45 euro!! Ouch! Oh well, Anna is worth it. I guess she gets all her vitamins from me. It's very important we both are able to grow.

She and I are growing the same; she's learning a language (two!) and I'm learning a language. She's learning how to crawl and move and I'm learning how to drive my dumb car. We're both getting situated to Italy but this will all seem normal and regular to her and it will always seem foreign to me.

Every morning I get my news from the New York Times and I wonder if that's a good idea. It doesn't make me homesick much, but it can happen. If they've got a lot of pictures. I guess Facebook can do the same thing. Yesterday, everyone posted pictures of their Thanksgiving dinners. That was nice to see. We had Mexican lasagna. I had husband print out a whole bunch of measurements and conversions for my kitchen--also oven temperatures. I posted on Facebook that my old recipe in my new kitchen required more math than I'd like. I did have to do math!

I found an elf onesie at the Auchan and put Anna in it this morning. I tried to take pictures, but she refused to lie on her back but insisted on flipping over onto her stomach. Funny how times change. She used to hate tummy time and lament and complain if you put her on her stomach. This, too, shall pass. Can't believe that's she supposed to be crawling, cruising and speaking a few words! Those things aren't happening. But they're about to.

Self Pity

Feeling some self pity and anger today; even the coffee, a bowl of cereal and cookies, and the sun on the mountains doesn't seem to help. I'm cranky sourpuss even though my life is pretty good. Everyone is nice to me and I don't have to work; not that I ever really minded working. It's not like, "OMG thank god I never have to go anywhere and do something I don't like for 8 hours and talk to my co-workers and walk around Manhattan on my lunch hour!" Most of my jobs I've liked well enough or tolerated. The few I didn't like, I got rid of pretty quickly.

The baby is sleeping. I put her in her crib and she got the picture. This morning, I went through the closets in order to find new bedding. I haven't changed the sheets on any bed in over three weeks. Gross. So, there's bedding in the closets. We're supposed to take off the bumpers now because the baby could feasibly crawl out.

I need to start writing like this again. It's good for the soul. I have to keep reminding myself that the first year is a year of transition. I just feel a lot of fear and anxiety. Some of it is probably maternal hormones. I'm still nursing so still feel like a frayed nerve sometimes. It's gotten better. It was really bad for the first several months coming home from the hospital. I could look at the news or read anything disturbing. I'd get disturbing news stories or thoughts stuck in my head and they'd run through a lot. It's like, "Why the hell do I keep thinking about Ariel Castro?!!!" But I think about him and those girls all the time! It's like, "What kind of a shitty world do we live in?! My aunt is right to be a shut in and watch old movies checked out from the library." I'd do that too.

The baby is asleep and I'm showered and coffeed and breakfasted. There was class this morning, but husband and inlaws had to go into the city in order to do some paperwork nonsense. It was just me and the baby. She wants to crawl but doesn't know how to do that yet. She either just gets down on her belly and scootches backwards or sits on her butt and bounces around the room. She'll never get it. She'll be the only bald, scootching 18-year-old in college. ;)

I have two showers in my bathroom; a standing one and a hand-held one in the bath. I've taken to using the bathtub hand-held shower. It's more thorough and has a stronger spray. The stand in shower is almost worthless. The spray is too scattered and weak. My face and hair get clean, but everything else just gets damp.

Today, there was class in the morning but I couldn't go because I had to watch my own baby. I'm doing laundry; thank god I have a dryer. I put things out to dry on the terrace two days ago and they're still damp. I have no idea how things are down in the basement. I put a table cloth down there. I'll put the duvet cover down there later. I'm doing a big laundry. In my tiny washing machine. It's okay.

I just need to relax and remind myself that I have a bed to sleep in and food in the larder. I knew I'd have mixed feelings when I got here and I have them. I'm not really homesick, but I wouldn't say I'm ecstatic to be here, either. It's not really under my terms. I'm in an apartment where I'm not allowed to do anything. I'm not allowed to use the dryer because it takes too much energy. I'm not allowed to take a bath because it uses too much water. I'm not allowed to turn on lights because they use too much electricity. The garbage is downstairs, out the gate, and down the street! That's a big fucking drag.

Thank god the grocery store isn't too far away. I'm scared to drive my car because I keep stalling out in the driveway. I'm a nervous wreck. I can't speak Italian and can barely understand when someone talks to me.

Eureka moment

Woke up at five a.m. and dozed on my back until six.

I feel great! I'm not hating life at all. I'm wondering if that's the key to waking up on the right side of the bed.

I will have to work that into my morning routine again.


My new apartment is large and beautiful but it was outfitted in the 70s so every socket has 20 transformers attached to it. It's a lot of concrete and tile so the acoustics are bonkers and it's colder than your place in Montara. I like that. My last two apartments were warm-to-hot and it always felt odd to walk around in shorts and flip flops all the time. I know cold.
We're also in a northern latitude? so it's darker longer in the morning.

Every day my Italian improves slightly. I'm also trying to study for the drivers test. They whisk the baby away downstairs so I just do my own thing unless Anna needs nursing. She doesn't seem to miss me at all. Now I know how people can abandon their children.

I drove a stick car around Italy a little; I still stall sometimes at the incline in the driveway. That leads to some tension, but not bad. I live in a very small town (think Kenilworth) with very few businesses. I can walk to the post office and the bank and a couple other stores but that's it. Everything else I'll need the car. I hope to get a little car soon.

I try to be gentle with myself and not get on my case too much. The apartment is too big to be a wreck yet, but we're going to get our stuff sometime within the next month. There's a lot of space so I hope it won't stress me out.

Food here is very expensive. Paid 3,99 euro for a small jar of peanut butter that was in the "Ethnic" section. That's why everyone is so thin. It's jarring. Also, the men are all fashion plates. There's the garbage man who has a haircut from Milan!

Not only do they NOT pick up garbage here, but you have to physically take all the recycling and garbage down the street to these huge bins that are already full of everyone else's garbage.  I almost bought a plane ticket "home."

There's low violent crime in Italy, but a lot of burglaries so everyone has these ugly metal shutters on their windows. We have to put them all down at night and open them every morning. The good thing about them is they block light so the baby is still asleep at 7:38 am. Maybe she's still jet lagged.

Self Pity

Feeling down today. For many reasons. I don't understand the language. It's cold in my apartment. It's grey outside. I'm out of my comfort zone in so many ways. My friends and family are all continents away. I'm full of dread and loathing for a test I have to take soon (the Italian drivers exam in Italian).

I study and do okay but no where near passing.

I've been here 12 days.  I have to just keep reminding myself of that. I have nowhere to walk to. I want to put the baby in the stroller, but there are few sidewalks and the in-laws will probably give me shit for taking the baby out in the rain. They already think I'm a terrible mother. They bought vegetables to make baby food for her without even asking me. I guess I have to take or leave everything.

I just looked out the window and there's snow on the mountains.

Everything takes forever to do. I just want to lie in bed and do nothing for awhile but there's just so much to do and nothing I can do.

Tomorrow, I go back for more Italian lessons at the school for Stranieri.

New Jersey Jury Focus

Just moved to Jersey and got an official-looking letter from Paul E. Newell, Esq. asking if I'd like to participate in a jury focus group. I'd get $100, a continental breakfast, and a buffet lunch at the local Hasbrouck Heights Hilton if I accept.

It sounds like a scam to me, but a quick google netted nothing.

Has anyone else ever been phished like this?