I was yapping with my sister Shawna over IM the other day and she mentioned that my blog, while historically interesting, was much funnier earlier on. So, that got me thinking - why is it that I'm just posting pictures and not writing down my thoughts?
I've boiled it down to the fact that I was raised by a foreign-born mother. You see, my mother is Egyptian and was raised in Cairo. She attended an all-girls school run by nuns and was taught in English. Well, she hasn't told me any stories of the nuns rapping her knuckes with a ruler, but I'd be willing to bet $20 that those nuns were big on proverbs.
My mother is the queen of proverbs - "A stitch in time saves nine." "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." I'm not kidding. No native-born American says these things. However, when my mother says these things, while completely annoying, they don't sound weird. The other two things she used to say (not strictly proverbs, but in the same genre) were, "We don't talk about money at the dinner table" and "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
I think it is this last tidbit that has been hanging me up in my writing. It's not that I don't have nice things to say about Italy, they just aren't amusing, funny, witty or interesting, IMO. I mean, how many posts can I do expounding on the virtues of gelato or the amazing architecture?
I've tried identifying where I am on the U-Curve of Cultural Adaptation (see post titled, "Sliding up the U-Curve of Cultural Adaptation" at http://roxanne-rr.blogspot.com/2007/07/sliding-up-u-curve-of-cultural.html). It's hard to pin down. I'm definitely out of the honeymoon phase. The remaining three phases are Hostility, Humor, At Home. I would say that I swing through these last three phases - sometimes all within a three minute span of time. (grin.)
I'm "at home" with traveling in Europe, can find my way around, can order what I want from a shop, can even bargain for a better deal with vendors at the market. However, I don't think I'll ever truly be "at home" in Italy (at least not "southern Italy"). Rick Steves says to travel from the north to the South - and if you're irritated in Rome with the Italian culture to avoid going further south as it just gets worse. I'm not quite clear how it could possibly get worse, but I'm not interested in finding out. I think I'd rather see the Mediterranean from France or Greece.
I wouldn't say I spend a long time in the "hostility" phase, mostly because I know that this is an opportunity I may not get again for a long time. This phase tends to occur in short bursts. For example, I went to the Sunday open-air market at the Porta Portese this morning to do some final shopping for presents for my girlfriends and sisters. It was so crowded, which would normally get me on edge. Added to that were people who stop in the middle of the "walkways" to look at the booths, without moving to the edge, various men hawking stolen goods, faux-brand purses, or cigarettes from the middle of the walkways, and your occasional Italian male who feels the need to stop in the middle of the flow to look pouty and georgous as only Italian men can do without setting off the gay-dar. I wanted to mow them over.
That only leaves "humor" as a phase, but to be honest. I don't find much funny these days (Well, the bus driver we had for our trip to Tivoli was a RIOT - post coming soon). To be honest. I feel a little worn out.
I've received requests for photos of myself in the scenery of Rome. I'm thinking, "You've GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!" My scant amount of travel clothes (I didn't bring much to keep my luggage light for my easyjet flight) are looking worn out due to heavy use and frequent washing. I haven't been to my hairdresser in two and a half months. I need a manicure and pedicure more than a Hummer needs gasoline. I'm falling apart.
If I were living in Italy, I'm sure I'd find a new hairdresser, a department store I like for clothes, and a salon with reasonably priced manicures/pedicures. However, considering I only end up with what I really want about 3/4 of the time when I go into a shop due to the language barrier, I'm not really willing to risk a 25% chance of having a miscommunication about my hair on this trip.
If you've read this post this far, you can now see why mother's advice to keep silent if you've got nothing to say is good advice. But who knows, maybe you'll find the sorry state of my appearance amusing instead of depressing. If so, let me know and I'll send you a photo (not).
Per Jamie's request below, I added the link to the Cultural Adaptation Post above. For convenience, you can cut and paste this into your browswer: http://roxanne-rr.blogspot.com/2007/07/sliding-up-u-curve-of-cultural.html