What can I tell you about myself? Well, first thing, I was born in northern Illinois, lived there until the age of ten, then moved to southern New Mexico, lived there until the age of almost 20, then through a series of circumstances and a lot of youthful lack of fear, arrived in Bologna, Italy and eventually made it my permanent home.
I was only supposed to stay for the summer, way back in 1987, but I just felt so at home and in love with this little corner of Italy that I sent back my return ticket and stayed on.
When I arrived I had been studying French for two years, not that I was very good at it, but that was enough to give me some basis for learning Italian. My first Italian boyfriend gave me an Italian grammar and language book that was used by the US students who were studying at the Bologna branch of John’s Hopkins University, and so I took that, a little notebook, an English-Italian dictionary and a book in Italian; La Strega Innamorata, and began to learn this wonderful language. I have to admit that I am self-taught, so my spoken Italian is liberally peppered with local dialect and my pronunciation is definitely Anglo-Bolognese. I think that my saving grace is that I am a perfectionist, so I really worked hard on learning the basic grammar until speaking in the “regular” tenses became almost second nature, I worked on my pronunciation as well. My Anglo accent becomes more pronounced when I am tired or upset, and sometimes I will automatically respond to people in the wrong language, but altogether I think that I have done pretty well. Mind you, I wasn’t able to follow and participate in a conversation of more than two people for about a year, that first summer, between the incredible sticky, humid heat and only hearing Italian and trying to understand everything, at the end of the day I would feel as if my head had expanded several feet and I was exhausted from the combination.
My first jobs, which were under the table, had to do with cleaning, first I cleaned a small business, then I was hired to clean a well to do accountant’s home in the hills on the outskirts of Bologna. She was a widow, with a cat, two dogs, a 16 year old son and an older daughter who was living on her own and working as an accountant in her mother’s office. I later worked for the daughter for awhile, while she was pregnant, cleaning her house as well. Then I was able to get my work permission and moved on to a large cleaning company that had personnel in hospitals and local government offices and areas. I worked for about two years with this company, off and on, in the meantime taking typing and computer classes, as well as an accounting class that I understood very little of (maths is not my jam). A friend of my then boyfriend told me that a person he knew was looking for a secretary, so I got my first secretary job and stayed with that company for I think seven years.
I then moved on to secretarial front desk work for a Architectural/Civil Engineering studio for nine years and finally school secretary for a private school in 2007.
I have also had a few translation gigs and worked as a nanny here and there.
I am married to an Italian and we have an Italian teenage son, who will soon be a legal adult. We have our own home and a cat.
I’m 53 years old, have long hair, but I want it to grow so long I can sit on it. Lately I am finding white hairs here and there on my head more and more often and went into menopause without really noticing it. Lucky me, I guess?
I’m a voracious reader, especially of novels. I like eating Asian dishes much more than Italian food (real Italian, not Italo-Americano) and real bbq. Growing up in New Mexico also gave me the gusto for spicy food, I’ve floored Calabresi by my enjoyment of what they called “really hot” sardella sauce and by asking if they had anything spicier for me.
I also knit, sew, crochet and embroider, though not that often, and I have about 400 bottles of nail polish and an inordinate amount of colored pens and bujos. Lots of glitter pens.
I’m not crazy about cleaning the house, especially since everyone else messes it up straight away. I am messy and tend to pile things, especially clothes, all over the place.