Monday, May 18, 2015

The X-Files...again!

Like many other Xphiles, I was ecstatic to hear the recent announcement by Fox, Chris Carter, and everyone else under the sun that the X-Files were going to come back for a limited 6-episode run. Along with this much-expected elation over the news, came a dose of stress. Stress, you say? Yes, stress. As an avid fan of the groundbreaking (a term I hate using because it has been seriously overused in the last few weeks regarding this show, but what better term is there?) program, a convention goer, an original shipper, a video game player, and a collector of all things X-file-ish; I was unduly stressed out by the need to re-watch all the episodes and both movies before the airing of the new show, which is now rumored to being in January 2016. Phew! At least a have a little time.
Why rewatch all 206 hours? Because I cannot not rewatch them. I need to remember how and where it all began. I need to put the puzzle pieces back on the table and try to arrange them in the correct manner. But, most of all, because I need to re-live it. 

This is not unusual behavior for me. Every time a new Harry Potter book came out, I diligently re-read each of its predecessors. (This was great fun, but it also means I've read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone far more than any of the other books. Hmmm...perhaps there might have been a better way.) Naturally, I took part in the Great Lost Rewatch of 2014 (Hahaha), as well. I would say that it's not uncommon for fans of the X-Files and of Lost to crossover...especially when the great Terry O'Quinn appeared in both!

However, my own neurosis aside, rewatching the X-Files for me, is so much more. As my sister recently reminded me, she was originally forced to watch it by me and my "dramatic friends." I can only assume she was talking about the amazing group of people with whom I went to college more than 20 years ago. 

I remember sitting in the second Brockport apartment that Lorie and I shared, watching the X-Files for the first time. Though I can't remember which episode it was, or whether we watched from the very beginning, I do remember it was the show that we all shared as we were beginning to graduate and go our separate ways. Our little family, for better or worse was breaking up.

The X-Files first aired in the fall of 1993 and I (along with several others from our department) graduated in the spring of 1994. The X-Files appeared grainy (a perfect addition to the already creepy theme) on our crappy non-cable-ready television. I don't remember specifics of this time together, only that it happened and that we shared it all together, me and my dramatic friends.

From there, I went on to the Goodspeed Opera House to work as an intern. Thank god, my boss, DF, also shared my passion for the X-Files, as did many of the other employees. Monday mornings before work and during breaks were often spent discussing the nuances of each episode (as we would later do with Lost). It was like nothing else on television. The X-Files either grossed us out, scared us to death, or left us scratching our heads weekly about the conspiracy plot line, the future of Mulder and Scully (thank god this was well before the advent of Brangelina and Bennifer...who knows what M and S would have been called!), or the latest scary monster!

After the Goodspeed, I lived in many different states and worked in several theaters, but the X-Files was always with me. To reference Lost, the X-Files was my constant, and so too were my "dramatic friends".  

Through my love for the X-Files, I made new friends, such as Josh and Lisa G. and I always had something to discuss with my high school friends: Joe and Brad!

And then there was the day that The Smoking Man came to Cornell (where I was working at the time) and took me up on my offer of coffee, donuts, and a tour of our theatre facilities. In all, I went on to meet Scully, Krycek, X, and the Lone Gunman, but sadly, never Mulder.

In any case, two decades have passed since I first watched the X-Files with my dramatic friends. In that time, I have lost all four grandparents, one cousin, and just last year, a very dear "dramatic" friend. Others have gotten married, had children, and almost all of us have left the theatre. With each and every episode I rewatch, I think about all that has changed in 20 years and all that has thankfully, stayed the same. Those dramatic friends with whom I watched the X-Files are still with me in one way or another and for that alone, it's worth the time to rewatch the show!

For obvious reasons, this blog post is dedicated to all my Brockport peeps, including my sister! I love you all, near and far!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I just met a rat on the street!

So, I know that it was bound to happen at some point this year. I know that they exist in every big city and then eventually, everyone gets to see one. This year though, I have been extremely lucky, that is until this morning. Today, I was up early, since I am trying to prepare for the arrivals of Tim, my mom, and my sister and finish paperwork for this school year. So, I'm in that "getting things done" mode that seems to overcome me every six months or so! After working a couple of hours this morning, I decided to take a break and go get a cappuccino and a pastry (the breakfast of champions here in Italy) at my local bar.

It's actually a nice morning outside, considering how rainy it's been lately. It's one of those overcast mornings in Florence, when you can tell it could be really warm and sunny later, if only the rain would hold off. Instead, it will probably be humid, then wet and gross. Perfect weather for the breeding and populating of rodents! So, as I was walking to the bar (only a block away) and considering the possibilities of today's weather, I saw IT. THE RAT. It looked me straight in the eyes and immediately the hair on my head began to reach new heights. It didn't move, but just kept looking at me...straight in the eyes. The situation seemed odd, given that the sun was already up. A rat shouldn't be on the street at that time. They are creatures that should always be left in the dark. I know they exist. I accept that fact as part of "city life", but I do not EVER want to see them! As soon as I could, I broke off eye contact with the damned thing, crossed the street, and practically ran to the bar.

It was all I could do not to shriek out loud on the street, as that is my normal reaction when confronted with any type of rodent, gross bug, or snake. Once I reached the bar, I wanted to tell the barista immediately of my discovery, but there were other clients inside and I thought it best to wait. So, patiently, I ate my pastry trying to forget the look of THOSE eyes and the knowledge that THAT thing was out there on the sidewalk!

As soon as the other customers were gone, I was able to share my encounter with the barista and thus began a conversation on creatures you don't want in or near your house/workplace...EVER! We talked of mice, rats, birds, and bats. What wonderful morning conversation!

As I was leaving, an older Signora entered the bar, begging the men inside for help. She spoke with a thick accent and she wasn't exactly enunciating, but I understood the following words perfectly: Mi aiutate? = Help me?; la mia bottega = my shop; ferito = hurt; alla mia porta = at my door; and TOPONE = giant rat! hahahah

Apparently, this rat was hurt and lying in front of the door to her shop. I listened further as she explained that the rat had an injury and was bleeding. She thought it was still alive, but was afraid to open up her shop because it might attack her in the process. She was probably right. In Italy, most shops, including hers, have a big metal garage door in front of the glass fronts. The garage doors close all the way to the ground and have to be locked with a padlock either where the door hits the sidewalk or on the side of the building. Her lock was sadly, on the ground. These locks must be unlocked with a key. Frankly, I wouldn't have put my hand near that THING either!

Here's the funny thing. In the bar, there were only a bunch of guys and me. This old woman needed help. None of the guys would help her. (Well I wasn't going to help either...I have to draw the line at rats.) It was unbelievable. They weren't saying no to be jerks; they were saying no because they were genuinely afraid of the rat. I have actually never seen anything like that. They all scattered as soon as she explained the situation. The barista though, realizing her dilemma, made it his business to find someone from the city - the garbage people or vigili or someone - to come help her. When I left, they were still searching for proper someone. Knowing how things go in Italy though, her shop will probably remain closed half of the day while somebody does something to remedy the situation...which could take hours...all because of the rat on the street!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Yesterday, I ate raw sausage. Yes, I said RAW! It was the most delicious sausage that I have ever eaten. I was of course skeptical to give it a try, but in the past, I have eaten cured and almost raw sausage, so I decided to give this new option a try.

My friend Alessio purchased the sausage from a guy who he deemed to be knowledgeable on the subject because he was a very large man, who had wrists three times the normal size. He was selling his wares at the same fair where Alessio and I were selling chocolate and sweets. So, what you must understand is that all these products are "artiginale" or homemade, for lack of a better translation. In this case, the sausage would be considered "fresh of the farm."

Another thing you must understand is that in Italy, there are much stricter regulations than in the United States about food products, especially those labeled artiginale. When making sausage, one cannot just stuff anything that wasn't used for meat processing into the casing. Here, everything is regulated and that's a good thing. Food here is infinitely more healthy, hygenic, as well as unfiltered and fresh. Most foods in Italy can be eaten raw, including all sorts of meat.

I am now inclined to believe that in some cases, such as the raw sausage from yesterday that cooking may actually ruin the flavor of food. The sausage was flavored with just the basics: salt, pepper, and I think some garlic. It was fantastic.

Today, sadly, I am sick with a cold, otherwise I would go back to the fair and buy some sausage for tomorrow! In any case...I think I need to take another look at uncooked food, at least in Italy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why I love Trattoria Anita so much!

It is not surprising that I love food. I always have. Much of my love for food comes from being raised in a family where my Sicilian-American grandmother specialized in typical old-country dishes. My non-Italian side of the family was also known for making good old-fashioned comfort food. And of course, my mom makes some dishes that I cannot live without: cheesecake and chicken croquettes being two of my favorites.
However, it was always my Grandma Melita's Italian food that brought with it a strong emotional attachment and has left me with memories that I am sure will stay with me forever.

So, what does this have to do with Trattoria Anita? Everything. Here in Florence I have found a place that feels like home. In this restaurant the food is cooked and served with love, much in the same way that my grandmother prepared her own food. The highest compliment that I can give Trattoria Anita is this: the food there reminds me of my grandmother's.

When I eat there, I am transported back to a time in my life when everything was easy and my biggest dilemma in a day was usually trying to avoid the Super-Soaker that one or the other of my cousins had brought with them to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Yes, the food at Trattoria Anita is so close to what I ate as a child that I am eternally grateful for this place!

My grandmother has been gone now for 5 years. I think of her often, but I might think of her food even more, especially now while living in Italy. Every so often, a smell will waft down the street or I will taste something that just brings those memories flooding back and I have to take a moment and think of her. She was always so concerned that we all ate well. She would actually count the number of meatballs that we ate, to make sure we had eaten enough, according to her standards!

Growing up, Sundays were always so boring. This I remember distinctly. First, we had to go to church and second we had to do homework. The only thing that ever made a Sunday afternoon bearable were those special ones when we went to my Italian grandparents' house to eat ziti with Grandma's sauce and meatballs. On occasion we might even have been lucky enough to have bracciole.

Today, at Trattoria Anita, it was the meatballs that sent me into sensory overload. They were so close to my grandmother's that I wanted to run into the kitchen and see if by some miracle, she was in there making them. What makes Trattoria Anita doubly-special for me is not just the quality of the food, but the quality and the personalities of the people that work there.

Nicola, Gianni, and Maurizio truly embody the spirit of Italy and Italian tradition that was so much of my own grandmother's personality and cooking! They always tell me that the trattoria is "casa mia" (my house). Honestly, they don't know how true that statement is for me, because when I'm there, I feel surrounded by the same love that I felt from my grandmother growing up!

RIP: Annie Melita - April 2, 2005

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

Oh, I know, it has been months since I have written. I have no good excuse other than I have been thoroughly enjoying myself in Italy. Last time I wrote, I was in Slovenia. Then it was Thanksgiving and after that, Tim came here for Christmas, as well as our good friend Sydney. In January, I went home to the States for three weeks. After I returned, Tim's lovely mother come to visit for two more weeks and somehow, now, it's March. Last week was Spring Break here and I celebrated by staying in Florence! It was wonderful to just be here with no pressures, no agenda, and such a beautiful apartment to call home!

So much has happened since last I wrote. First, my friend Andriana and her husband welcomed their first child, a son, a couple of weeks ago. As well, 3 other couples I know are now expecting their first child, including Joe and Donna who are hopefully reading this! My friend Doug was married in November and my friends in Pozzo are soon to be married (May 8th). Congratulations to everyone! What a year!

The weather and the food continue to get better with every day that passes. (Not that either were bad to begin with.) And each day here, I still find something that is new to me or just makes me smile and be thankful for this experience!

So, why am I writing today? Because spring has sprung in Florence and I just feel like doing a dance or something and sharing it with all of you. It is only 8:30 a.m. here and I've already been up for almost three hours. In that time I have scrubbed the bathroom floor, put the laundry in, done the dishes, gone to the market, and made what could be considered my best omelet yet! It was very simple, but using only the freshest ingredients from the market: eggs, pecorino cheese, and scallions; it was also incredible. I topped it off with slices of tomatoes (uncooked!) and some fresh Tuscan (unsalted) bread. YUMMY! Today I was also fortunate enough to find strawberries ready to eat! I am saving these babies for later on today though, when I need a break from work. Boy, I love the food here!

If you have never been to a European market of any kind, you are really missing out. It is a place full of action, tantalizing smells and a world of color! I usually go late in the day, but thanks to whatever is going on with my sleep cycle, I was able to get there very early this morning and what a difference it made. Instead of being a frantic atmosphere where all the farmers are trying to get you to buy something, while all the clients are pushing their way to the front of the stands; this morning it was a pleasant place to stroll through. Before 8 am, the market at S. Ambrogio (and maybe also at S. Lorenzo) is just for those with a plan. It is for residents and citizens, not tourists. You could tell the difference. Those of us there this morning, knew what we wanted and from which vendor we wanted it. It was the time that folks come to chat with their favorite vendors, who have somehow also become friends. It is also the time to get what you need and peek at the those items that you might consider for tomorrow's meals. After this morning's experience I am now hoping that I can get myself up and out early from now, just so I can take advantage of the market as much as possible before I find myself on a plane back to the states in August, which I am sure will be here before I know it. :(

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh the places she'll go!

I am writing to you once again from Hostel Celica, the former prison turned Slovenian budget getaway. In realty, this hostel should be number one on any vacationer's list. Ok, hostels aren't for everyone, but this place is an experience on its own. I've noticed that it's also a destination within itself and the guests that are staying here now, range in age from 20 something to 80 something. In fact, last night, my roommate was my new friend Michiko, whom I met while traveling in Lake Bled yesterday. She is a phenomenal woman, by any and all standards.

Michiko was born in Tokyo almost 80 years ago and speaks very broken English. Her home is now, and has been for the past 18 years in Honolulu. She has LITERALLY traveled the world on her own. Most notable is the fact that she did not travel at all until she retired at the age of almost 55. She has never married and I believe, from what I have seen that she does not regret this fact. She told me and another person that we met yesterday, Paul from San Fransisco, that she used to take photos of all her travels and now they all sit in a box and in albums at her home. She no longer takes more photos because she believes that not having children or grandchildren, means that no one would be interested in her stories or photos, but boy is she wrong!

Her stories entranced Paul and I all day yesterday! Today she and I traveled together, while Paul went hiking in the Alps. It turns out that Michiko was 12 years old during WWII and at that time, 12 year olds in Japan stopped going to school and started working in the factories, building guns, airplanes, bombs, etc. for the war. Michiko was one of these children. As well, at 2 years old, she was kidnapped by a man who was known for selling children into slavery in Singapore. Luckily, a neighbor saw the man grab her and called for help. Michiko remembers no more after she was grabbed, until she returned home. She has been to every habitable continent at least twice! Tomorrow, she is off to Croatia, because she has never been there. When I asked her why she came to Ljubljana she said that she just wanted to see it. I also asked her if she ever read up on places before going there and she said no. She just goes and whatever happens happens. She believes that she has a guardian angel on her shoulder and I'm inclined to agree.

So, if any of you out there ever thinks about traveling to a new place, but fears it, I encourage you to think of Michiko, because she puts even me to shame. I can only hope to travel to half the places she has been to.

Ok, that's all for now. I will update you all on the rest of my trip...the more scenic elements and touristic delights; such as the best soup I have ever had in my life, when I return to Florence tomorrow!

For now, goodnight from Slovenia!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So far, so fabulous!

Ok, I have to make this quick, because I do not know how much internet time I have left! I have made it to Slovenia, Ljubljana to be exact. The bus ride was actually quite nice and relaxing. I made sure I did not sleep on the bus though, so I could sleep at the hostel.

Though the location of Hostel Celica leaves a bit to be desired; there are graffiti covered walls all around and not great lighting at night; the hostel itself is incredible. Last night there was an Irish band performing and they played everything from traditional drinking songs to Johnny Cash. Other folks who had brought instruments with them, even jumped in and jammed. There was also a local wine tasting, which was very nice and very cheap. So, I drank two glasses of the red, before I realized that the guidebooks said not to miss out on the white...maybe tonight.

My roommate last night, was a very quiet and timid Japanese guy from Japan...who was here only to sleep. This morning he got up at 5 am and raced out to see the castle in town. Then he came back, checked out and went to rent a car to drive to Croatia. I hope I get a good roommate again tonight! The only other problem with this hostel is that folks are up at all hours. I am so glad that I brought ear plugs with me though!!!

Well I am off to see the city now and will do my best to keep you posted! Sorry, no pics from the road this time is too difficult to manage the uploading at internet cafes! Ciao for now!!!