Tuesday, August 07, 2012

I'm melting, melting! Oh, what a world!

Okay, I have to hurry and write this before it gets too hot (I should have approximately 23 minutes) and Rome isn't quite so charmingly quirky.I have been having a difficult time here because I am unwilling to let go of my American expectations of efficiency and instant gratification( I love you America. I love your instant gratification and efficiency. I promise I will never again take you for granted.)

 I want to do things and/or I want things to be done and it just doesn't happen that way here. Things happen when people get around to it and they get around to it when they feel like it.

Even a simple thing like walking is a cultural struggle. I am used to walking fast. I have things to get done. I am usually squeezing in errands between other things and so I walk fast, I eat fast, I grocery shop fast. I don't stroll, I walk at an Olympic pace. People walk very slowly here. It is not just because it is so unbelievably hot; it is because it doesn't matter when they get to where they are going. Where is there to go that one needs to rush, rush, rush? Things in the city are thousands of years old. Does time really matter so much? What is the real difference between 8:15 and 9:30?

It is an endeavour for me to adapt to this way of thinking. But if I do think about it, where was I rushing to in the States? It is one thing to be on time to pick-up John, but rushing through grocery shopping just to hurry and get home to....put away the groceries?

I have been assured that if I do not approach Roman life with a sense of humor, I will go insane.

So today I am trying to focus on the small things that have been unusual and/or amusing: the giant bin at the grocery store where patrons may scoop up the tentacles of an octopus as though it is a bins of candy or dried fruit; the whole fish and squid and other creatures of the sea that I like to view through glass at an aquarium and not behind the glass in my grocer's aisle (but which made John and I struggle to hide our horror and laughter behind our hands while people looked at us with annoyance); the way people walk their dogs in a way that they are at one end of the street and the dog is at the other(see below);

the fact that our freezer has a diagram of possible food choices one may place into the freezer; that all the workman we have encountered like to be paid in cash; that we asked directions from a girl who promptly held out her hand for money (my first gypsy encounter); that people who are driving feel free to literally come to a screeching halt in the middle of the street to croon and blow kisses at our dog Sookie; that I cannot use a bank or the post office or even exist until I get certain paperwork and I cannot get said paperwork because it is August and the lone person in all of Rome who does this paperwork is not in the office---because it is August; that we cannot buy a car and drive it home that same day even if it is sitting on the lot and we have all the money in cash because of the amount of paperwork necessary to purchase a car in Rome --a coworker of Mike's bought a Fiat(an Italian car that is made in Italy) in May. She has yet to receive it.

But I suspect I may eventually make peace with the Roman approach to life. For example, one of the bathroom drains in our apartment was completely clogged. After several hours of work, it is now only sort-of clogged. And I felt like reaching an only sort-of clogged drain status was a true achievement. And I haven't bothered to work on it again.


  1. I love your blog! My sister used to work with mike. Just how hot is it in Italy?

  2. Hi Jennifer--I hope you received my response. I didn't realize I could reply on here!

  3. Well I guess this answers my 'did you decide on/buy a car yet' question.

    can you help me get cable in my upstairs?

  4. I can not help you if you have not rented a Comcast box for additional television sets. If you have rented such a box and it is not working, remove all the connecting wires between the box and the television set. Randomly stick the wires into any hole you can see in various combinations until the cable works. You're welcome.