I know these pictures are terrible, but here they are! My first art projects here in Rome. As with the last introductory drawing course I took, we started with blind contour drawing, I guess to build up hand-eye coordination, or to make me hate myself.
My teacher’s biggest issue was that they were too small and too light. Weird.
I bought a bus ticket! It was amazing! Actually it was probably boring for everyone except me. But I was walking along the main avenue after class, thinking about calling my bank, when I saw the tobacco shop. I went inside. You see, they sell bus tickets at tobacco shops. None of the English-speaking websites that I’ve read understand why bus tickets are sold at tobacco shops. One site guessed it’s “a public service.” At the end of the month, they sell the monthly bus tickets, but monthly bus tickets are the best deal, so they sell out fast, so you have to buy them as soon as you can.
“Ciao,” said the clerk. (Hi)
“Ciao,” I said. “Biglietto…crap, what’s the word for month? …per guigno.” (Hi. A ticket…for June.)
“Trenticinque,” he said. (Thirty-five [euro])
I was counting money and hadn’t heard him. “Scusa?” (Pardon?)
“Trenticinque,” he repeated, pointing at the month-long bus ticket he had already gotten out.
I paid with a 50€. He gave me 15€ back.
“Grazie,” I said.
“Ciao,” he said.
“Ciao,” I called as I left the store.
I was just so low-key. I was so proud of myself.
Then I called my bank, then got the email telling me that my luggage was in, so I trudged back to school, wondering why my ankle was starting to hurt. My ankle got worse and worse as I retrieved the luggage, so I took the bus, then the tram, back to my apartment. It takes longer to take public transportation; it’s a twenty-minute walk, and the busses are really inconsistent about showing up. But my ankle was killing me, so I opted to take public transportation.
Everyone on the Italian public transportation system was super nice. They saw that I was bogged down with luggage. One man helped me get my luggage off the bus. On the tram, an older gentleman offered me his seat because he saw I was struggling. After two stops on the tram, I started to look around, realizing that I might miss my bus.
The little old lady standing next to me tapped my shoulder. “Quali?” (which one?)
I told her what street I live on. It’s right off of the main thoroughfare that the tram was on, so I could use it as a landmark easily, but there’s a lot of apartments on the street, so I didn’t have to worry about someone breaking into my apartment just because they knew what street I live on.
“Questi,” she said. (this one)
“Oh!” I said. “Grazie!”
Italian people are so nice.
When I got home that evening, my ankle was straight-up murdering me, so I stepped into the kitchen where I had put the painkillers earlier. Nicole was cooking pasta.
“I’m making that kind of pasta,” she gestured at a bag of pasta sitting on the counter, “And alfredo sauce.”
“Are you making the alfredo from scratch?” I asked. I was genuinely curious. I’ve heard of people making alfredo from scratch, but it’s in the realm of mythology.
She laughed. “Nope! I’m a terrible cook. We bought some alfredo sauce at the supermarket.” She nodded towards the fridge and continued to stare at the water, which was refusing to boil. I swallowed the painkillers and investigated the pasta. They appeared to be just flour and water. I approved.
After a moment she complained that the water wasn’t boiling fast enough. I put a top on the pot to contain the energy and get it to boil sooner. I sat with my leg up to rest my ankle. We chatted for a bit about the day’s classes and learning Italian. She, Deanna, and Sarah are all taking an Italian language course.
Once the water was boiling and the pasta in the water, she took out two containers of alfredo sauce. We struggled to open the containers, before we finally resorted to stabbing them. It made her laugh.
“This alfredo sauce is awfully hard,” she said. “Should I cook it? Maybe just on low heat, so it melts a little?”
“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea,” I said, settling back into my chair and putting my foot back up.
After a few minutes of chatting, she said, “It looks weird. Come look.”
I looked. It looked like white rice sitting in canola oil.
“Turn the heat off and whisk it for a bit,” I said. “It should reconfigure again.”
She did. But I got curious, and checked out the containers in the trash. Crema al formaggio. I looked up the translation online.
“That’s cream cheese,” I said. “Not alfredo sauce.”
We looked at each other and laughed.
“We’ll serve it to them anyway,” Nicole said. “They won’t know the difference, right?”
“I guess not,” I said. We laughed a bit more about how obvious it should have been. It was so hard in the container, after all!
Sarah wandered into the kitchen to get some wine. “How’s it going guys?”
“Great,” said Nicole.
Then we laughed histerically. Sarah gave us a look and left.
Then after a moment I looked up cream cheese and alfredo sauce and discovered that cream cheese can actually be a base for really cheap alfredo sauce. All we needed was milk, butter, parmesan, garlic powder, and pepper. I grabbed the garlic powder and pepper that Sarah and I had bought yesterday. Nicole shook some into the cream cheese.
“Do we have milk and butter and parmesan?”
I looked. We were already out of milk. “We have mozzarella,” I said.
“Can we use that?”
“Sure,” I said, although I wasn’t sure. “It’ll just act as a thickening agent.”
I cut a slice of the mozzarella and tossed it in the pot. Nicole and I watched it boil.
The concoction was ultimately thin, but pretty tasty. Deanna made a salad as a side. It was a pretty good dinner overall.