>Dr. P and FDH felt that I should mention that on Tuesday night, we witnessed a crazy scuffle of sorts. (This is the third semi-brawl I have witnessed in the past month or so, which is odd because I pretty much never otherwise see fights going on randomly.) We were in the back of a little grocery when a group of teenagers approached the counter at the front of the store. We are not quite sure what happened, but all of a sudden, the young woman in the group flung a roll of toilet paper at the cashier. The cashier began screaming and grabbed a wine bottle opener. She moved toward the group in a threatening manner. A young man in the group appeared to counter-threaten her with the orange he was holding. Much yelling ensued, and they group left as the cashier semi-chased them away, screaming “Fancula! Fancula!”

Dr. P, whose father is of Argentine-Italian descent recognized that fanculo was a very offensive word, but she was not sure what it meant. When we arrived back at the hotel, we looked it up online, and that is when we discovered it meant “go get fucked up the ass.” Sadly, this is about the full extent of Italian that I picked up on this trip.

On Friday afternoon, we visited the Vatican. We were sitting in Piazza San Pietro, the enormous round plaza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, when it was time for me to take my birth control pill. I happen to take the pill for two reasons. One reasons, of course, is birth control, as I have no interest in being a parent at this particular point in my life. The second reason is sort of ironic, given the first reason: I need to take the pill so that I get my period. I have not had my period without medicinal assistance since I was 18. I have seen several doctors about it, but no one knows if I ovulate or not or why this has happened to me, but they do know that if a woman does not get her period at least four times per year, she is at a very increased risk for uterine cancer. Thus I take the pill because I probably can’t have children anyway, but on the off chance that I could get pregnant, I won’t.

I mention all this because the Vatican and other fundamentalist religious authorities do not seem to find the prevention of uterine cancer and thus the saving of my life to be worthwhile if it might prevent conception. I took an especially subversive delight in taking my pill in Piazza San Pietro. Dr. P wanted a picture of my act of defiance, and we joked that as I took the pill out of the pack that it would burst into flames in my hand given our location. Of course, nothing of the sort happened, except that a few minutes after I ingested my potential life saving/conception preventing medicine, a felt a big plop on my back. I thought it would be a funny act of “divine” retribution if a pigeon shit on me in Piazza San Pietro immediately following my so-called “murder of a potential innocent life.” Slowly, I (stupidly) touched my back. (Stupidly because why would I want to touch bird shit if that is indeed what happened?) Fortunately, it was only a drip of water from the colonnade above us. We all had a good laugh. If any divine intervention had been involved, the drop of water would have fallen onto my outstretched hand and dissolved the pill in it before my eyes. (And maybe then burst into flames.) I’ll take the whole thing as a tiny victory for reproductive rights.

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