What is A Little Bit Contrary?

A Little Bit Contrary is a weekly newsletter created by me, Mary Gray. Taking its name from the Mother Goose nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,” the newsletter offers a mix of cultural commentary, travel dispatches, humor, Florentine and Italian deep dives, profiles of fascinating people, reading recommendations, and personal riffs from the perspective of a thirty-something “Magnolia Viola”. That’s a term I just made up for someone who didn’t quite fit in in Mississippi and doesn’t in Florence, either, but loves both nonetheless.

Who are you, Mary Gray?

I am a Mississippi-born, Italy-based writer, journalist, writing/media studies instructor, and editorial consultant; co-host of the podcast Spritz and Grits; and an insufferable poster of outfit selfies and existential spirals over at @VeryMaryGray on Instagram. My work has appeared in The Washington Post, Forbes Travel Guide, Time Out and numerous other outlets. An avowed aesthete with the occasional basic b*tch tendency, I’ve taught courses in travel writing and the fashion media landscape for university programs in Florence, in addition to running my own virtual courses on the art of the personal essay (#ThanksCorona).

During my time as an editor at the monthly magazine The Florentine, I drew from my daily experiences as a transplant to Tuscany to create the breezy "Rental Diaries" column, the first 30 volumes of which were recently compiled into a book, Rental Diaries: Thoughts from my four walls in Florence. Predictably, Nora Ephron is one of my idols. Less predictably, I tend to think I don’t like mayonnaise, but deviled eggs and Caesar salad with homemade dressing are actually two of my favorite things to eat.

“Grazie” feels inadequate

If you’ve found your way here, it likely means you’ve discovered my writing somewhere else, or taken a course with me at some point, or stumbled upon my podcast, or maybe you’re just deep into a Wikipedia dive that led you to look up a ton of different Florence-related links, or you scrolled through the entirety of someone-you-have-a-crush-on’s Instagram profile and saw that I commented in 2013 and you Googled me like, who is this chick? (Perhaps I’m projecting). However you ended up here, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read, and for showing support for this labor-of-love in any way that you can.

[To find out more about my work, visit VeryMaryGray.com; to find out about the company that provides the tech for this newsletter, visit Substack.com.]