February 28, 2007

Still Here

Well, I moved out of the hostel (thankfully) after paying the landlord one month's rent plus two months' rent as deposit. Let me tell you, it's hard to come up with 1250€ in cash on short notice, and Western Union wants a fortune to wire money. But I moved in, and the apartment is lovely, and I have pictures (plus a special edition of Cribz in Rome)... which will have to wait until I get internet to my apartment. The modem came on Friday, the landlord installed it Saturday, and... well, the internet company won't tell him when they will activate it. They keep telling him "A couple of days." Which is kind of annoying when you're working on reading and vetting abstracts for an AIA deadline in less than two weeks and attempting to come up with your own abstract to boot.

So when I get real internet access, I will tell harrowing tales of life in the hostel, finding an apartment, riding public transportation, and being spotted as a weird foreigner despite my best attempts to fit in. And I will post pics of bone pathology as well, for those who care. Nothing terribly exciting so far - a bunch of arthritis, some osteomyelitis, and one hip dislocation. Whee!

February 20, 2007


Well, I played with a skeleton today. Just one, since the skeletons from this particular cemetery have never been cleaned. Not a big deal, but it meant I did have to dry-brush all the elements. The toes of the right foot were all in one big clump - which was actually useful, since once the little phalanges are jumbled, it's nearly impossible to tell side. I can go to the storage area/laboratory every day between 8am and 4pm, which seems reasonable. This Italian guy is already making me repeat random slogans for his soccer team, Roma. Which is distinct from Lazio. Apparently a big rivalry. Everyone was aghast that I had never heard of the most famous footballer in all of Italy.

The hostel last night was miserable. I thought I had a cold, but in the morning I realized it was just an allergy to mold and mildew. Ew. I am not staying in that room again tonight. But the good news is tonight is my last night in the hostel. Tomorrow at 6:30pm, I get to move into my new place. And meet Mrs. Landlord. I hope I have enough time to run the heat. Apparently, in Rome you can only run the heat from 8-10am and from 5pm-9pm. Or maybe that's just my weird landlord. After March 15, no heat. I hope there are no cold spells.

That's about all from here for now. It seems things are looking up. The only thing I have left to do is figure out whom to call to get a ride to the casale to pick up my large suitcase. You know, the one with all my clothes, books, tools, etc. I thought I would be working at the casale on bones, but it seems one set of skeletons is there, and one is at the place I was working at today. Which is much closer to Rome proper.

February 18, 2007

Do as the Romans do

I really need to learn to chill out. Just when I was despairing of finding a place to live and getting to look at skeletons, it seems that everything is coming together.

I have a meeting tomorrow with the anthropologist, so I hope we will get something worked out concerning access to the skeletons.

And I looked at a really nice apartment today. I can't stress how unbelieveably nice it is. It's recently renovated into a rental. The guy and his wife lived there for 20 years. I can see why. It's in a picturesque area of Rome that's kind of like a suburb, called Colli Aniene. This particular apartment building looks out over a park with running trails and a Medieval castle. No joke. Here's a link to his website. He is renting out three single rooms on a more-or-less permanent basis to students, professionals, etc., and the master bedroom as a short-term (one week) rental. The place has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a nice kitchen, a big living room with a dining area, and a beautiful balcony that overlooks the park/running trails/castle. Also, there's a bus just feet from the apartment that will take me to within a mile of the place I'll be working. Sweet!

Now this is more like it. Living in a hostel sucks. But living in this place... now that's living in Rome.

More later, including snail-mail address. But he'll have internet (ADSL, wifi) in March, so I can use my laptop and upload pictures and talk to everyone on Skype and IM again! Woo hoo!

February 17, 2007

Bloggin' from the Lavanderia

So I decided to pay 8 euros and have my clothes washed and dried. That seemed a reasonable price to me. And it comes with 15 minutes of internet too. Yee haw. I just ate dinner at an Indian takeaway place. It was kinda bland, but the chickpeas and lentils were a welcome respite from pasta and bread. Now I will have clean clothes again and don't have to wear the groddy, gross-smelling jeans I have been wearing for at least 5 days now. Ugh. Handwashing underwear is one thing, but attempting to wash and dry jeans is another thing entirely.

Here's hoping that tomorrow I will have a new place to live. Check that - an actual place to live. I wonder if there's a word in Italian for someone who lives in a hostel. Ostelleria? Ostellabita?

On another note, whereas in the US drycleaners are run by Chinese, in Italy, apparently they are all run by Indians.


I am a terrible anthropologist. In desperate need of some comfort food, after two weeks of catered, hot Italian lunches and dinners cooked by my flatmate, I was sick of Italian food. Of course, it's the cheapest food you can buy in Italy, so I did end up eating pizza and salad, in spite of the fact that I didn't want pizza. But afterwards, I decided to go to McDonald's for a McFlurry. But only because they have Baci flavored McFlurries. And it was so good, plus only 2€. Don't judge me.

February 16, 2007

Two Conversations with Elvira

I got rides a couple of times from an Italian archaeologist named Elvira. She is really nice, but she doesn't speak any English. We had some amusing conversations, however.

... on Americans...
Elvira: Where are you from?
Me: America.
Elvira: Yes, but which city?
Me: It's a small town in New York state.
Elvira [calls her friend on the phone]: Hey! Guess what? I am driving an American around! Yes, she's American. She's from New York. Not from Arkansas. She's stylish! [explains to me] We once met an American at a disco. And he was from Arkansas. Ar-kan-saw. But it's spelled like Ar-kan-zas. Are you from Arkansas? Hahahahaha.

Even in Italy, Arkansas has a reputation as being the boonies.

...on American music (which she constantly made me explain the lyrics to):
Elvira: What's Madonna in English?
Me: Madonna.
Elvira: No, I mean, what does the word translate as?
Me: Madonna.
Elvira: No, in Italian, Madonna is the mother of Jesus.
Me: Seriously. It's the same word.
Elvira: But when you translate Madonna...
Everyone else in the car: The same word!
Fiorella: You don't translate it. It's a name.
Elvira: So you have Madonna and child? In church?
Me: Yes. Sometimes Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
Elvira: Aha! Madonna equals Mary!
Me: No, we have Mary, Maria, and Madonna.
Barbara: And Magdalena?
Me: Sure.
Elvira: No no no. Madonna is not Magdalena!

It was honestly an Italian version of who's on first. But not as funny. Guess you had to be there... 5 people and 3 suitcases crammed into a tiny little Ford Ka.

February 11, 2007

International House of Archaeologists

Patrick made me a graph of the languages spoken in my apartment at the moment. It's pretty amusing.

Dopo abbiamo perduto il cavatappi

After we lost the corkscrew (which we didn't actually lose, we mistakenly had stolen one from the catering company that was using our apartment to cook food, oddly enough, and they took it back), we were desperately attempting to open a bottle of wine. When you only have knives, a screwdriver, and a Leatherman, this is harder than you would think. The following exchange occurred.

French professor (to me): You are Magivay.
Me: Che cosa?
French prof: American television.
Me: Che cosa? What?
Italian prof: Like the American TV show. Mac-ee-fer. You've seen it?
Me: Um. No.
Italian prof: With all the... como se dice in inglese... the tools?
Me: Oooohhhh! MacGyver!
French prof: Oui! Ma-gee-vay!
Me: Si, vero. Semper parati.

Honestly, living at the casale is an international party 24/7. One day in class, I diagrammed the languages spoken. There is one person who speaks English, Italian, French, and German. The rest of us mostly speak only one language. My roommate Fiorella speaks Italian and French; the French professors speak only French, with a little English, but understand Italian; the Italian professor speaks a little English but no French. And then there's me. By day three of the French course - which is completely, utterly, and entirely in French - I could understand most of what was going on. Fortunately, some of the Italians don't know what's going on either, so I am not the only one.

OK, more later.

February 4, 2007

Sono a Roma!

Well, I'm in Rome. And attempting to use a weird Italian keyboard at an internet cafe. Here are some highlights of the trip so far:
  • Metric System. Lufthansa told me that their baggage limit was only 23kg, when I swear I read online that it was 32kg. Both bags were over the limit, although one was just barely. The skinny German kid at the desk told me I'd have to pay $50 for the overage. There was nothing I could do, so I agreed. Somewhere along the line, he forgot to charge me for it and told me I was lucky to get away with it. Later, he was the one taking tickets at the gate and said in his cute German staccato, "You were very lucky not to be charged. Be careful next time!"
  • Essen und Trinken. Unlike US airlines, Lufthansa gives you real metal implements to eat with. There's a spoon, a knife, and a spork. How do you say spork in German? I was going to steal it, but I figured I'd wait for my return flight. But at least Lufthansa was liberal with the wine. They kept refilling my little plastic cup, and I was tipsy by the time I hit Canada.
  • Entertainment. The easy-listening channel on the airline amused me for a while - it was like Michael Bolton in a loogie-hocking contest. There are no in-seat movies on Lufthansa, which really sucks. The bulkhead row under the TV was full of Indian children jumping around and crying the whole flight. Also sucky: the one movie they played, Marie Antoinette. I think watching the annoying kids was better than the movie.
I got to Rome finally, hauled my heavy-ass bags (50 and 70lbs) onto the train to Termini, and decided after that to get a taxi to the hotel. After a 20€ taxi fare (yikes), I got to the hotel, checked in (largely in Italian), and hauled my bags up to my room (which is, actually, quite nice, except for the fact that the smoke from someone in another room leaks into my bathroom, waking me up). I showered, found the metro stop, and went to Termini to buy a SIM card and some food.

I do have a cell phone. If you want to call, the number is: +39 340 450 8167. I also have a new Skype account, and you can search for me or add Porsena to your Skype list.

Anyway, so far so good. Only the people at the post office have been mean to me. I didn't understand her because she mumbled. This kind of sucks, though, since I have to go buy insurance at the post office and apply for my permit to stay.

I am off to figure out how I'm going to get to the casale tomorrow morning for class. I can take a taxi the whole way (50€ or so), I can take a taxi to the metro stop where we are meeting (20€ or so), or I can take the metro five stops (1€, but I have to haul bags 1/4 mile, then down the stairs, through the turnstiles, onto the metro, and back off and up some stairs).

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