24 June 2009

How To Make Someone's Day

One of the frustrations of the last 10 weeks has been the sporadic, spotty and slow internet connection we've had (or not had!). Well today that got fixed and what a difference! Everything had been taking great hunks of time to do. But we now have both a home phone and ADSL. I jumped on AOL and was on and off in minutes- same with Facebook and now the blog. What a joy to have it quickly and surely available. How fabulous to have an idea and execute it immediately. Made my whole day.
The nicest man from the telecom company was at our neighbors, had a tight time schedule but was willing to come over and look at ours (which wasn't working despite having been installed 2 days ago). Well he walked in, saw and remedied the problem in minutes and showed me what to do to register with the internet server. I told him he was my hero and how grateful I was. He smiled and even gave me a high 5! He also told me how to register John's laptop on his return from CA. He then refused any compensation. And he was able to do that because an electrician who was at our other neighbors came and set up a second live phone jack in our home office (which the original installers hadn't done). He did it willingly and wouldn't take an offer of payment. Have I told you how generous and willing to help these Italians are? Just two more examples.
Made me also realize how important we are to each other in this complex world. How the act of reaching out, both by neighbors and workman, and doing a little extra for someone can make such a huge difference in their quality of life. What a great example. What an important teaching.

23 June 2009


Things did improve at school. A couple of days later, another student was talking about something funny that happened and we were all laughing and talking and I was understanding most of it. Gave me hope.
Now that school is over I still set aside time to study since I have so much to learn. Today I set a hair appointment over the phone and went to the bank to pay a bill all by myself. It felt really good! I couldn't go much further than what I rehearsed but I got the job done both times.
People are very forgiving and try to help when they see I'm not a native speaker. There's this certain oh- I -get- it- you- don't- speak- the- language look usually accompanied by a smile that comes over their face. They get so kind at that point. It touches my heart and it helps.
I'm reading the newspaper (dictionary in hand) and listening to the radio. There's a classical station where the announcers speak more slowly and clearly. Very useful for me- plus I love the music! Movies are next.

16 June 2009

Scuola di italiano

For the last 2 1/2 weeks I've been taking language lessons at an Italian language school in the historic district of Lanciano, a lovely city not too far from where we live. The 2 teachers are terrific and very patient with me. I'm not as patient with me and it's slow going at best. I feel discouraged when I forget today the lessons learned last week. Some days are better than others but if I'm tired, like today, it's a disaster! I want to communicate with those around me but I get so frustrated when I don't have the words to give voice to my thoughts.
Today I struggled with the word londra the teacher was using. Is it a verb I don't know, a noun not in my vocabulary yet or one of those impossible prepositions? I asked her and she said it's the word for london and she was really emphasizing another point altogether! We all had a good laugh but you can see how it goes sometimes. Everyone says:"Just talk with people and you'll improve." But that's the point- I don't know how to say what I want to say so how do I converse! I want to shout: "I can speak well in my native language, really I can!"
I sometimes think there must be some basic thing I'm missing that is the key somehow to having it all click into place. Meanwhile I slog on and do my homework faithfully. And now I'm panic stricken when I realize school is over for me the end of this week. I thought I'd be doing better by now! If this is one of the life lessons I need to learn- I don't want to learn it!
Maybe I'm trying too hard and I need to relax, keep talking and believe it will come. I look at others who have done it - if they can I can...I hope.

09 June 2009


Our italian neighbors have a wonderful custom called the passeggiata, the public walk or stroll. Each evening, or most of them, individuals, couples or families go to their town center, or the beach promenade, and stroll along. They greet one another, chat and catch up with neighbors and friends. It gets folks out and walking, it takes time, it slows the day down for the coming night, it renews bonds. They're is really no other agenda. How lovely.

03 June 2009

How To Do Business

I'm not sure how to adequately describe the first meeting of our homeowners association. Since I don't yet grasp all of the language, it leaves me free to watch the process and this process left me flabbergasted! I said that italians like to argue but this was remarkable. At any one time there were always multiple conversations going and usually heated exchanges. If someone wanted to argue a point with someone else, they would just get up and walk over to them and argue it out. At one point, someone got up to show something outside and took 3 others with him! The moderator seemed nonplussed by the whole process and never called for any particular order.
I don't know how anyone heard anyone else but every once in awhile a vote was taken and people raised their hands pro or con as if they heard it all. Decisions got made, people seemed to still be friends, the moderator was voted in for another stint and people stayed and chatted more at the meetings end.
John and I just looked at each other wondering what on earth just happened laughed! We obviously have a lot to learn about italian culture that makes such a process the way to do business.