Trail of Crumbs

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There are some arguments that will consume you. They will take over your entire mind and body, so that you find yourself shaking with rage, unable to think of anything else. Your hands clench into fists, your teeth gnash together, and you are filled with anger and the conviction that DEAR GOD YOU ARE RIGHT AND THEY ARE SO, SO WRONG.

This is a story about one such argument.

I don’t remember how it began. Few great battles in history have marked beginnings. We say it was the assassination of Ferdinand, we suggest that it may have been the killing of Crispus Attucks and four others on a chilly night in Boston, but we are only guessing – trying to add sense and order to a situation where there likely isn’t one. Where there is only chaos and conflict.

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We're not in hell, I promise. Hell's flags are different.

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You know that old joke about heaven and hell? How in heaven, the police are British, the engineers are German, the cooks are Italian, the lovers are French? And how in hell, the roles are jumbled up? The police are German, the cooks are British, and, perhaps most cruelly of all, the bureaucrats are Italian.

And while the more culturally sensitive of you are rolling your eyes at the broad brush with which that joke paints Europeans, a few of you, like me, are knowingly nodding your head. If you’ve traveled at all, you know that the police in the U.K. are generally lovely, and you know the feeling of pure relaxation that comes after hearing your airplane pilot speak to the cabin in German-accented English. And if you are truly unfortunate, you know the hell of any organizational, governmental, or bureaucratic system in Italy.

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We are sitting in a restaurant in Rome. The Peroni Brewery Restaurant, to be exact. Shockingly, it is neither touristy, nor overpriced, nor terrible, but it is overrun with locals and the staff is gruff and rushed. My aunt, uncle, and cousin have come to meet us for a day in Rome, and my aunt suggested we eat there as it was on the way. Rand and I were hesitant, anticipating the Italian equivalent of Gordon Biersch, but once inside, we see that’s not the case. It’s locked in time in the 60s, serving an occasional kitschy German dish alongside traditional Italian ones.

The waiter comes by with the haughtiness and exasperation of someone who knows that the gratuity is included in the bill. My uncle will remind me that this isn’t just because we’re in Italy, but also because we’re in Rome. It’s somewhat like New York – people are rushed, people are busy, people are yelling. It isn’t because they are angry at you (or if they are, it isn’t because it’s personal). It’s simply what life in the city is like. As we rattle off our orders in Italian (yes, Rand included), our waiter seems less disgusted with our table. My uncle’s Roman accent surely helps, as do, I suspect, my cousin’s big green eyes.

My family laughs at my reaction to the service, but I tell them I’m just glad I haven’t been yelled at. It seems that I’m always getting yelled at in Italy … or by Italians (that is another post. I promise you).

I order cacio e pepe pasta – a dish so absurdly simple, I’m wondering why I’ve never ordered it, much less made it. Butter, pecorino, a tiny bit of pepper swirled over fresh pasta.

Carciofi romani in the background.

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Recently, my home has come to resemble a slumber party full of middle school girls. There’s been lots of giggling, and excitement, and jumping around, and yes, it’s because of a boy.

Specifically, this one:

I don't know what they were doing here.

Adorable, ain’t he? Ignore the hair. It just … well, it just is.

The lovely gentleman pictured with my husband is Tom. I have, on occasion, ridiculed his brother on this site, as well as his colleagues, but there’s been sad little mention of Tom himself. Which I intend to rectify. Because this past weekend, Tom arrived in Seattle for the work-equivalent of a foreign exchange program. He’s going to be putting in some time stateside, and, as Rand put it, “making everything better.” Hence the giggling. And the running around. And the general behaving like 12-year-old girls who’ve inhaled a pack of pixie sticks and watched the entire Twilight canon. In short, we are excited.

This cultural exchange of sorts will also mark the longest time Tom has spent in the United States. And since he is a dear and well-behaved lad, I feel that there are a few terms which he, as a Brit, may want to avoid while he’s here. It’s not that they’ll get him into trouble. It’s that no one will understand what he’s talking about. And also, they might get him into trouble.

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Recently, I posted something to Facebook. Despite appearances to the contrary, I really was thinking in general terms, and not a specific person. Here was my status:

Don't ask me why I insist on blacking out my name, when you all know everything about me.

Okay, fine, maybe, just maybe, I was referring to someone I know. Still, I regret nothing. I am resentful and vindictive. This should not come as a surprise. Anyhoodle, my friend Skye, who is talented and wise, quickly chimed in:

My logic seems to imply that a state of shared douchebaggery lowers the rate of divorce.

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A few weeks back Rand and I were having a conversation with our friend Rob, who happens to be from England. The exchange went something like this:

Rob: Bob’s your uncle! Codswallup! Bangers and mash! BLAH BLAH BLAH HOGWARTS.

Me: I have no idea what you’re talking about. Speak American, please.

Rob: Ahem … Did you know that up until the 1950s or 60s, the U.K. had non-decimal money? So we’d have coins for seemingly random amounts.

Me: (open-handedly slapping Rob across the face) Don’t lie to me, boy.

I swear, it happened just like that. Except for the parts that didn’t. Anyway, the important part is that Rob claimed the U.K. had non-decimal currency. Meaning that the values of coins weren’t based on the pound being divided into 100 equal parts. Instead, he explained, the pound had been divided into 240 pence.

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Note: My legal team has advised me to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this blog post, so here it is – this entry is in no way an admission of guilt, nor can it be admissible in court, because, um … it’s heresy or something. No, that’s not it. Oh, yeah, I remember – it’s a work of fiction. Yup. If anyone asks, this is fiction. Also, those counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags? I’m totally NOT planning on selling them on eBay. That is all.)

Have I mentioned how good I am?

I mean, technically good?

As in, I rarely ever, every break the law? In that respect, I’m an angel. By all other definitions, I’m basically on par with people who eat puppies and talk during movies (Quiz time: guess which of those activities I do regularly!). But that’s beside the point – as far as the state of Washington is concerned, I’m hardly evil at all.

At least, I was. Until tonight. Because tonight, in my very own home, a law was broken.

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I love cake.

More than anything in the world, really (with one glaring exception). I am obsessed with it, in a way that few people will understand. Occasionally, I will rifle through old pictures, and find photos of cakes I made long ago. I remember them fondly, like old lovers.

I long for them in the middle of the night. When I daydream, my thoughts fall to them. And I must make a conscious decision, every time I am at the grocery store, to buy groceries and not an entire sheet cake or three.

Recently, a friend of mine got married, and I started dancing around in anticipation of the cake, and other numerous goodies that were on the dessert table. And after standing an excruciating few minutes in line (DEAR GOD THE HUMANITY) I was finally able to get to the front, where I might have piled an obscene number of sweets onto my plate.

Later, I sat amongst my friends, frosting smudged across my lips, drool dripping from my mouth, and slowly slipped into a mild diabetic coma. It was glorious.

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