Which Way do you Open a Door that Says Push?

Before I left for Italy, my parents said they wanted me to show them all around my favorite places. They bought tickets for after spring break so that I’d know the city well enough to feel like it was my own. After two months in the city, however, I’m guessing they would change their minds. I’ve started a new type of walk. Instead of walking to Piazza Michelangelo or the Duomo or any of the other, obviously beautiful, places, I’ve been walking toward the train station. The further you go in that direction, the worse the city gets, and I love it. The streets aren’t trying to be anything, they’re not forcing you to acknowledge their cultural significance or their beauty, they’re just there. I don’t feel bad just listening to music when I walk there and if I find something that I think is beautiful it feels more my own because it’s not the sort of thing that people come halfway across the world to see.

One street in particular, reminds me of a street in New York City. It’s near the train station with the fastest moving cars and the most sound pollution and it’s my favorite. To get there I have to walk through a square of dead grass and around several construction sites and I love that too.

When I first got to Florence I mocked the Americans that searched for bits of the USA here. There is an American Diner that Owen and I pass sometimes and we used to laugh about how stupid it is for someone to come here and get American pancakes or American food. But now I get it. I’m not homesick, exactly. I’m still not entirely sure what the concept of home means to me. But I do miss things about the United States. I miss feeling aware of everything that’s going on around me. I miss being able to understand subtleties in conversation or behavior.

Not most of all, but at least equally, I miss being able to open doors. The “big dumb American stereotype” has to be at least partially based on observation because it seems like no Americans can figure out Italian doors. Maybe, I’m projecting. I’ll just say, can’t figure out Italian doors. They never open the direction I expect them too. While out to dinner with a couple of friends, we started laughing about the fact that the door had “PUSH” on the door, written only in English, because only an American wouldn’t be able to figure out the door. Then, on the way out, we saw a woman who couldn’t get the door open and had to help her out. I think part of the problem is that there isn’t a lot of consistency in the way different cafes and restaurants operate. There is clearly the way that Italians have typically done things, but Florence is a touristic city and some of the places have switched to a more American way of doing things, and others are somewhere in between, so it’s difficult to know what you’re supposed to do in one place or another.

The Antichrist of Snow White

As you can probably tell by the title, it’s been a little loud in the house recently. It’s a strange complaint coming from a twenty year old, I know, but this is the sort of household where if you took the sound level down a couple decibels Helen Keller would say, “oh, that’s loud.” If I had one wish I would ask that from the hours of midnight and six in the morning nobody answered the phone (Donatella takes every phone call from six inches away at a shout), nobody turned the television up to the max volume while cleaning the kitchen, nobody came home screaming their hello to the dogs and nobody came in my room for a box of stamps, or credit cards, or clothing. On a week day the hours of 1-5 am are usually safe and on a weekend it’s usually quiet from 3 in the morning until 8.

Most of this comes from being in the house – Donatella and Enzo don’t seem to care at all about waking each other up, so I suppose I’m not surprised they don’t care about waking me. But there are difficulties for Owen, living outside the house as well. His shelter house is a gateway to another patch of yard. I don’t think he’d mind that Enzo has to go through it sometimes if he didn’t also let the dogs into his room. Also, Camilla performs a ritual barking routine right outside of his door for half an hour every morning. Camilla makes me feel like whatever the Antichrist version of Snow White is. She barks all through dinner, causing Donatella to shout her stories even louder into my ear. Two nights ago she accidentally spat a piece of chicken onto my leg, which bounced off and onto the floor, where Paldo immediately snatched it up. I haven’t been spattered with dog food yet (she feeds them by fork during dinner), but it’s less because of what she’s doing and more because of my reflexes. Say what you want about me, but after getting spit in the face five or six times, I really start to learn my lesson.

My ability to cope with all of this and to take it with good humor comes and goes, as does my ability to cope with everything else. Most nights it’s fine. Some nights it’s really funny. For example, last night, a movie about a female journalist captured in Afghanistan came on the television and Donatella – instead of translating the words into English, shouted translations of the action, which we could obviously all see. In one moment where the taliban are killing one of the French soldiers Donatella announced, “They poison!” “They cut throat!” as Owen and I watched the soldier flail around on the screen and then announced in a voice of quiet shock and dawning comprehension, “Ah, they kill” which sent me and Owen into almost hysterical laughter because what did she think was going to happen when they cut the guy’s throat?

And truly, Donatella is an incredibly loving person. She seems to be happy all of the time and only wants the people around her to be happy as well. Living in this house has taught me that there is a maximum to how loud you can listen to white noise before the sound actually hurts your chances of going to sleep, in addition to slowly discovering which of my shirts work better to shield my face from the light outside my door. But it’s okay. I’m learning quick forgiveness and working on the ability to feel irritation without letting it affect my day or my experience. The second of these two things, I believe, is extremely important, not just for traveling, but for life in general. It’s a good thing too, because before Europe, I think I pretty much sucked at it.

For example, yesterday Donatella locked me out of the house. It wasn’t that I didn’t have my key, I didn’t have a key to the inside door (there are two front doors). Donatella broke the outside lock and locked the inside one because she thought her walk with the dog would only be ten minutes. It was actually something closer to an hour and a half. But today it’s mostly funny and it taught me that I can’t text international phone numbers, so hey, at least we’re going somewhere. Not being able to fall sleep will be funny too, as soon as I get more than five hours. It feels as though this has been a particularly loud week so the hope is that that’ll be sometime between now and when I get to Rochester.

The Leaning Tower of Nutella

It’s interesting seeing the ways in which living with a Florentine family has impacted my view of Italy. From dinner conversations, I have unconsciously began to pick up some of Donatella and Enzo’s prejudices about the other parts of Italy. The stereotype of the south (which I don’t believe, but am just sharing) is that is dirty, full of crime, and full of disease. We watched a comedy about that in my Italian class. They also have a lot of prejudice against Pisa. When Owen and I told them we were going there for a class trip Enzo said, “You really don’t have to go there.” And when we told him we would only be spending a couple hours in the morning he said, “That’s more than enough” which is in stark contrast to what he told us about Rome – that you could spend a full week there and not see everything that there is to see.

Our trip began, middled and ended in the rain. I would’ve been more upset if not for Owen’s umbrella, which is fast becoming my favorite thing in Italy. He bought it for 4 euros (maybe less, he’s pretty proud of his haggling on this particular item so he might protest that he got it for 3.50 instead) and it’s in worse shape than my dumpster jeans. In actuality, I think he gets more wet using it than he would without one because the ends flap down like the sides of a bonnet and splash water everywhere like the ends of a free hanging tarp.

From the leaning tower of Pisa, we took a bus to Carrara, which was introduced to us by the guide as the place which defied all Italian stereotypes of having “good food, friendly people and altogether nice things”. Despite his lukewarm introduction, the trip was actually pretty cool – not because of the town, which people pretty much only care about because it’s Italy’s (and maybe the worlds?) biggest exporter of marble. All of the great Renaissance sculptors came up to the quarries to select their marble, including Michelangelo.

We split into smaller groups and got into Land Rovers, with guides that drove us up the mountain and down into the quarry. It was a crazy ride. We were slammed from side to side over the bumps, with the bumper of the car sometimes dipping over the edge of the cliff as we went around turns, so that the driver had to back up just to keep moving forward. The ground was slick with mud and it was pouring down rain, giving the impression that we were driving into the clouds.

Soaking wet and covered in mud, our group bonded more than we had in any classroom setting, huddling together under the few umbrellas our group had (no, not Owen’s) in a futile attempt to stay dry.

After another hour and a half drive home and the walk to our house, Owen and I couldn’t handle going out for dinner, so we bought Nutella and had that for dinner in our rooms. I think Enzo secretly likes us more because we don’t go out. It makes it seem like we’re ‘on his team’ instead of Donatella’s. Also, it sounds like all of their other students went out a lot – Donatella said they went clubbing 4 or 5 times a week, which only sounded terrible for me and Owen, who will probably go to a club once in our whole time abroad.

They say the leaning tower is leaning 4 1/2 degrees, which seems like a wild understatement

This is the passageway up to the top of the baptistery in Pisa

“Hell is a Place in Which you are Constantly in Fear of Running out of Toilet Paper” – Pope Francis

It’s been a weird day. The morning started with Enzo’s mother hitting on Owen. She spent the night at the house. “Bello. Bello. Bello,” she said the moment she saw him, the meaning made unmistakable by Donatella who helpfully put in, “She thinks you’re handsome.” In case it wasn’t clear, she called him “bello” a couple more times and then started trying to set him up with her seventeen year old niece. According to Owen, the most awkward part of the whole ordeal wasn’t the sheer number of times she called him handsome, but was the way she watched him eat his morning cereal.

It also appears that I’m being haunted by the ghost of toilet paper rolls past. For anybody that hasn’t heard about my Statia experience by now, I spent a summer on a very small island panicking over dwindling toilet paper supplies. I’d be lying if I said toilet paper security wasn’t at least part of the reason why I’d chosen to come to Italy over some other place. But it appears you’re never safe. I assumed Donatella noticed the dwindling supply of toilet paper in the cabinet so it wasn’t until the last roll was used up that I asked her if there was any more stored somewhere in the house. Not realizing that the cabinet was empty, she thought that I just hadn’t been changing the roll. It wasn’t until we were both standing in front of the empty cabinet that she understood. “Oh, Enzo will have to go out tomorrow,” she said.

But he didn’t go out tomorrow. He went out two days later. In the interim time we rationed napkins from the dinner table and I fulfilled one of my early predictions and had to use the bidet. It wasn’t great. Even more confusing for me, is why Donatella keeps her clothes in it.

I really like my host family. I think I don’t say that enough. It’s true that today Donatella knocked on my door and when I said “one second” she came in anyway and had a conversation with me while I was shirtless. But the imposed familiarity isn’t all bad. She talks to me sometimes the way my real mom does. “Did you get in a fight?” she asked, a few days back, when she looked into my bedroom which was strewn with floors and a tangle of blankets from where I’d fallen out of bed. “Yeah,” I replied. “The clothes won.”

She also likes to joke about me being “Queen of the House” whenever they go. Her and Enzo went out tonight and she knocked to tell me they were leaving. “You can throw a party now,” she said. “Go crazy!”

Behind her, Enzo put in, “But don’t forget we’re coming back” which seemed a lot like what my actual dad would say in that situation as well.

Owen and I went to Bologna yesterday. It was exhausting. Mostly because we’re still refusing to pay for a bus. So we left the house around 7 and walked an hour to the train station before taking an hour and a half train into Bologna. Again, the train ride was probably my favorite part. Bologna was nice, bigger than I was expecting, but my favorite part of visiting the city was by far the market, where I bought ten items of clothing for as many euros. One is a pair of jeans that feels like actual torture against my skin, but the other things aren’t bad. I got a couple new shirts out of it anyway and a lucky pair of jeans that fits – though it is mildly bedazzled.

My time management skills when walking continue to be poor. As our time in Bologna came to an end, I took out my phone to see how far I’d wandered from the train station (having walked to it already to make sure I could find it, before wandering off again) and google maps said I was 35 minutes away, which was deeply unfortunate given the fact that our train left in 20 minutes. So I sprinted the rest of the way back, with two bags of clothing flopping wildly in my arms.

These pictures are all from a beautiful walk I found in Fiesole that leads me to an actual forest/park.

Just because I have a mild concern that you’ll forget my face.

Time Permanence

I know I haven’t written in a while. It’s not because there isn’t very much to say. It’s almost that there’s too much to say and I don’t really know where to begin. Every day feels like an activity here – not in a bad way, just in the sense that I feel like I’m doing so much. The components of my days are nearly always the same, but the pieces are always different. Running days are my favorite. I’m still running up to Fiesole every other day.  On those days I wake up early in the morning so that I can run and shower before class. Often those are the most tiring days because, even though I don’t go looking for it, I often end up walking another ten or so miles just from getting around and having breaks from class and from classes that meet outside the SU building. On other days, I go walking for a couple hours after school. I’ve started to resent the Duomo a little bit (I know that’s a strange thing to say, but it’s true). It’s just everywhere that I look and it’s the cut off of new and exciting territory to a 40 minute walk home down very familiar streets. When I’m tired I both look forward to and hate the sight of the Duomo.

So I’ve started taking less popular roads, finding my way down less nice, but different streets, which I prefer. Yesterday, I walked about two hours the opposite way down the Arno, which started off as a pretty nasty street walk and turned into one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Florence yet.

Technically, I think this was one town out of Florence, but it counts. The sign said “Girone.”

I wish the WiFi worked better here. Sometimes it’ll hold steady for an hour or two and other times it’ll flicker about 30 times in a ten minute period, often deciding that it has no connection after all. I had a call with one of the editors from Tor (my summer job), which I thankfully took over the phone instead of the WiFi because both the internet and the power cut out halfway through, leaving me to take down notes sitting on my bed in the dark.

I’m very comfortable here. In fact, both Owen and I have noted the way in which we’ve adjusted the the Italians’ late dinners. Neither one of us needs more than one lunch now, to make it until 8 or 9 for dinner. I usually have a bagel and egg sandwich from the SU store sometime around 1 or 2 and then an apple around 4 or 5 and I’m hungry, but still very much alive, by the time dinner rolls around a couple hours later.

What’s been strange for me lately is the idea of permanence. Although I’m very much enjoying my day to day life here, I’m also very aware that there isn’t very much time before it ends. (Okay, there’s a fair bit of time, but it doesn’t feel like it. Spring Break is in two weeks, and I’m pretty much not counting the entire month of March because Owen and I will be traveling for 2 weeks and then my parents will be here for the next two. After that it’s just April and then Owen and I start traveling again). In case, I haven’t mentioned this already, Owen and I have planned our post-school trip through Spain, Belgium and Paris for just under two weeks. Then I’ll fly home and he’ll come back to Italy to show his family around.

Although I really like it here and think it’s super cool that I get to live in Italy for a semester, I’m happy about how quickly it’s going by. It’s hard, I think, to fully be in the moment when you know something is coming to the end. I realized that nothing’s been permanent since I got to college. Every semester has breaks and every summer job ends when schools come back around. For the past three years everything has been moving at an incredible pace and I think it’s hard sometimes to really experience the moment when in the back of your mind you’re always aware that it’s going to end. It feels to me like an empty box just waiting to be checked. You might not want to finish what you’re doing, but because you know that you’re going to have to check the box at some point, you want to do it now to be finished and onto the next thing. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for a time when the only person who gets to decide when things end is me.

These pictures are from another walk I took up through Fiesole.

Not a Classy, but a Fat Dog

Enzo and Donatella are in a fight over how much she feeds the dogs. At first, I thought they were arguing about me. I knew just enough to know that the pronouns they were using for “eating all the time” and “going to get fat” were feminine and I was like “HEY I’M DOING A LOT OF WALKING” and then I was like, “Oh. They’re talking about Camilla.” Which is both a relief and kind of hilarious, given that they have taken to sleeping in separate bedrooms.

Everything is funnier with Owen around. This is amazing 92% of the time. The other 8% is when we’re in class. At least once a day something happens that has us both struggling to keep straight faces. Then there are days were it happens every five minutes. This happened the other day in Italian class. Two women came in to talk to the class about Italian conversation group. They explained when it’d be happening, where it was, and how we would get to talk to Italian students by going there. There was a pause and then the girl beside them asked, “This is for a movie?” which set the whole class off. Then, after re-explaining that they were here for conversation group, the women gave the girl a sign up sheet, which she promptly took, signed her name too, and then handed back to the two women without even pausing to think about handing it around to the rest of the class.

Everyone thought this was funny. Owen and I just thought it was funny the longest. We sat with our eyes down, hands over our mouths, shaking with laughter, until our teacher turned around and exclaimed how red our faces were which I at least, took as an invitation to burst out laughing – dragging Owen, unfortunately, down with me.

Something else that set us off that day, was the video we watched in Arts and Antiquities about a method of sculpting used in ancient Rome. It’s called Direct Something or Other and is hilarious because it’s the least direct thing ever. I have no idea how somebody created this or why they thought this was a good idea. There are about seventy five steps, one of which is simply “bury the sculpture in sand.” Our teacher and everybody else nodded and acted like this all made sense while Owen and I were trying hard not to have to excuse ourselves from another class.

I’ve been taking a lot of walks out into the countryside. My new favorite walk is up past the fort of Belvedere and then just away from the city. Yesterday I took a similar walk out beyond Fiesole. Unfortunately, it seems like all green space here is privately owned. I tried to enter a park yesterday only to be told by the guy at the little office by the gate that it wasn’t open to the public – I mean he only spoke Italian, so he could also have said “sorry, no gingers allowed” but I’m pretty sure it was the first thing.

The countryside out beyond Fiesole.

My skin has been really dry here so I borrowed one of Donatella’s moisturizers (not hand lotion this time, I’m pretty sure). The translation of what it did was, “fix all errors.” I figured dry skin would probably fall under the category of an “error” but I put it on and stared into the mirror for about fifteen minutes to make sure my nose wasn’t about to fall off. I’m not entirely sure how watching my nose would fall off would be better than having it plop off onto my Italian book, but at least in the mirror I felt like I had some control. I went to the grocery store a few days later to buy my own moisturizer. It’s 5 in I of something and, in addition to not understanding what that means, I have to use it extremely sparingly because it’s tinted for dark skin and gives me black face if I use too much of it. Grocery shopping can be kind of a struggle here.

View of Florence across the Arno River.


The Limit

Do you know all those times that I was like, “yeah, mamma mia’s kind of a character, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been able to take it all without irritation”. Well, I found my Mamma Mia limit this morning.

To set the scene, I’m exhausted. Both Owen and I have been sick enough to not be getting more than a couple hours of sleep. On top of this, it’s been raining, and I haven’t stopped my rather insane habit of running up mountains and walking fifteen more miles in the same day. So that got me to tired. To hit exhausted, you have to add in our most recent trip to Rome. To be at the train station at 7 (such a lie, by the way, the train didn’t leave until 7:40, they were just trying to force us to be there on time- and still a couple people missed it because they were still out partying from the night before), Owen and I had to leave the house at 6. I woke up at 5:26 when Camilla came screaming across the house to fling herself down at the door. Somehow she hasn’t figured out that Owen isn’t a serial killer yet. Also, she’s less than a foot tall and is composed entirely of fat, so I’m pretty sure Owen could take her.

It was pouring rain outside so, in addition to taking my umbrella, I also cut arm and neck holes into a large trash bag and wore that to the station. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I am aware that my dressing abilities are degrading alarmingly fast. Really the only question left in my mind is how long it’s going to take me to start going in it nothing but the trash bag). On the positive side, I’ve now officially given Florence my blood, sweat and tears, which in my mind is an unofficial requirement for having lived anywhere. I hit it in Statia in about the first thirty seconds.

Both coming and returning to Florence, I hit what I like to call my ‘giggle meter’ in which I’m so exhausted/starved/disoriented that I start to laugh…and don’t typically stop until I’ve eaten/slept/gotten my life together. On the way to Rome Owen (and the rest of the train car) side-eyed me with mild concern. On the way home, Owen joined me, and we made a mild scene of ourselves, giggling more or less nonstop for the entirety of the trip home.

They pulled out all the stops for this Rome trip. We started with a tour of the Colosseum. (Unpopular opinion, the Colosseum is really freaking cool. It may be the coolest building ever built). As a general update for my life, I now plan to become a gladiator, so I’ll keep all of you posted on that. I wrestled Pauldino to the floor when I got home so (dusts off shoulders) I think I’ve got a promising future up ahead. From there we went into the Roman Forum and then to the Pantheon.

At lunch, Owen and I went off on our own – no we didn’t get drunk this time – we got pizza and gelato and walked to the Palatine Hill. We accidentally walked around the Tiber River too, which was on our list of things we wanted to do, but just not in that order. Also, this morning in my sleep-deprived state I thought I was such a cool and savvy traveler for only bringing 10 euros to Rome with me. Turns out I was so cool and savvy that Owen had to buy my lunch.

At the Palatine Hill, Owen and I split up. I met up with a friend from Whitman and we walked around the more modern part of the city for a while. We bumped into two of the leaders from my Rome trip while we were walking and they both gave me mildly concerned looks as they wondered whether or not they should do/say something about the fact that I’d traded Owen in for the tall black guy I was now wandering around the city with.

I got lost on the way to the train station, but it didn’t matter very much because they’d asked us to get to the station almost a full hour before our train was even going to consider arriving. Also, I really like Rome. It’s much more like New York City than Florence and, although I think it’s probably a good experience for me to live in a different style of place, I think I would also do really well in Rome. I like the size and the energy.

From the train station, Owen and I had to walk another 45 minutes to our house, where we ate dinner and then (I, at least) collapsed into bed. This gets me to this morning. I woke up around 11 and got out of bed, sore, tired, and with a large bruise forming on my forehead – that’s another story. Only vaguely conscious, I stumbled into the kitchen and started to eat breakfast. Donatella was already sitting there, with the TV on full blast. But the truly annoying part was Camilla. Camilla sits at Donatella’s feet and barks every time she wants a biscuit (spoiler alert: it’s always). Donatella goes “Ay, ay, ay, you fat dog. Grossa.” and then feeds her a biscuit, so the barking and Donatella’s shouted exclamations go in an infinite loop. Normally I have a better sense of humor about their interactions. (Enzo does not). But today I gazed into my cereal bowl and contemplated punting Camilla out into the hall.

Inside the Colosseum

The Empire State Building

The Pantheon

Piazza Venezia in Rome

Half-Drownings and Neti Pots

Sometimes I think Donatella is a little scatter-brained. Yesterday she took my towel and replaced it with a bathmat. I didn’t know what to do, so I showered with it. Also, it turns out there was no secret message behind her leaving clothes on my bed. She just got her shirts, sweatshirts, and a few pairs of Enzo’s pants confused with my running clothes. Mostly this is funny. At breakfast, sometimes it can be a little sad. Italian breakfasts are typically smaller, more sugary and less hearty than American breakfasts. For us that usually means we eat cereal and/or some mildly stale bread. We hit a three day drought where we ran out of cereal and had nothing to eat but stale bread. I tried mixing sugar with milk and drinking that for breakfast instead and dry-heaved the whole way up the mountain.

I got to see Donatella and Enzo all dressed up for a dance, which was really fun. Enzo put on a tuxedo and Donatella was in and out of my room all night, getting dresses and trying on different shoes. When I say “in and out of my room” I mean that my room is actually a closet. There’s a bed and everything, but yeah, it’s a closet. The wall across from my bed is wall to wall closets so at least once a day Enzo or Donatella will knock and come into my room to get pants, or shoes or whatever. They were out so late that when I came home the next day at 3 in the afternoon Donatella was still in bed, fast asleep.

There are two other quirks about Donatella that I haven’t fit in yet anywhere. The first, is that she answers every phone call on speaker phone at a shout. The second is that at dinner she explains what’s going on to me and Owen by saying things like, “that’s the fat, dumb ugly man.” So I have a very strange perspective of what’s happening in Italian politics right now. This is also interesting in relation to what’s happening in the United States. It’s interesting finding out the things that reach foreign countries about America. As far as I can tell it’s music (nearly all of their songs are English songs from the states), every stupid thing that Trump says, and Meryl Streep. A few days ago she interrupted dinner to shout, “it’s the stupid man!” and Owen and I looked up to see George Bush saying something on the television.

I did a bad thing. Yesterday night I fed Camilla (the dog) a piece of lemon off the dinner table. She circles beneath the legs like a shark, barking at us to feed her. I swear I wasn’t trying to be mean. I’ve never had a dog. I just thought, “I wonder what will happen if I…” and now she’s too afraid to eat off of the yellow fork that Donatella feeds her on. She spent all dinner barking to get food and then backing away quickly when Donatella held the fork out to her. So that’s my bad. I’d feel worse if she wasn’t already kind of fat. A few days without food might actually be good for her even if I feel bad that I’m the cause.

While we’re listing bad/dumb things I’ve done lately, I’d like to add to the list walking into a mirror (I came out of a store, saw movement out of the corner of my eye and jumped sideways and forward to avoid banging into whoever was coming around the corner and ended up slamming face first into myself), half-drowning in the shower (I saw on a televison show once something called a “neti pot” where you pour saline solution in one nostril to clear your sinuses. Whatever reaction I should’ve had to that, mine was “I bet I can do that with the shower head!” Spoiler alert: I couldn’t), and got stuck in a Groundhog’s Day sort of moment, in which I got stuck half a block from the school building because I kept turning down the same wrong street and circling back to the same spot.

But, all in all, things are going really well. I had a weird adjustment week where I didn’t feel very happy. I felt like I didn’t have very much to do as I’d already walked through the vast majority of city streets. But I’ve started writing, and made some new friends and started Skyping with friends from back home, all of which have had a marked improvement on my personal well being. I’m also starting to feel better. My nose is still pretty stuffed up and I have trouble breathing when I run up Fiesole, but I’m almost back to my normal energy levels.

The dogs are keeping a close eye on me now. I think they’re waiting to extract their revenge.