God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Meet Stefania e Pietro

I am Stefania and Ken is Pietro--at least for 6 hours every week. Together we are Stefania and Pietro. Italian lessons have begun!

Perhaps our new identities mean that we will soon be italiano fluent. But--if the first lesson experience is any indication, I will go to the grave being monolingual--Ken may do better but you will need to ask him.

Maybe if my history of language learning were less dismal, I would not now be wallowing in great pessimism. In the past I have tried French and Spanish--expending vast amounts of time and energy on the efforts--I was not a slackard at all. In fact, when working on Spanish, I had a Mexican secretary who faithfully would make me practice--or nothing got done as she, who was flawlessly bilingual, would speak to me only in Spanish. This was good because three-fourths of my parents spoke only Spanish.

Eventually I was able to carry on very rudimentary conversations with these parents who had such hopes and dreams for their children. But--after leaving that environment, I soon lost the language except for vocabulary--which sort of stays with you (much like never forgetting how to ride a bike once having learned.) This is quite helpful when in Spanish speaking countries as it is really quite important to be able to say donde baño when in desperation. Now I can also say dove è il bagno, per favore or per piacere--I actually have a choice! Truthfully, though, I did know how to ask this already--survival language, it is called.

Anyway, seriously, I am quite worried about this phase of our move because being able to communicate is so ultra important and the responsibility for this clearly rests on the shoulders of we immigrants. I know how incompetent I feel when just traveling in Italy (or another country) and so can not even conceive of what happens to self-concept when living there and being a perpetual tourist. This is not a nice thought--at all. Of course, the other alternative is always relying on our 8 year old for interpretation --another not nice thought. Thus---I am going to try very, very hard so that when August comes I will be able to communicate in the most basic of terms--which I am sure will cause heaps of inward laughter in the hearts of my listeners! But if they can understand that I want apples and not dish soap, I'll be somewhat successful. And I am told that Italians are very patient and kind to those who try to speak the language--except for the staff in the questura and other offices where one must, in all humility, get the necessary paper work to live there--legally.

That will be another story on another day--beginning with our experiences in March on our preparatory visit. And--that is assuming that we get our visas. Actually, this entry was going to be an update on where we stand on that--which is really no where. Or the entry was going to be on non-sequitors such as Cars, Dryers and Tacos--which, too, will wait until another day. Now, I am off to buy some clothes at Nordstroms.

Ciao e A Presto

Update: Back from Nordstroms--almost empty handed other than a pair of boots for Italy in March. But--I did finally understand why I am always wearing jeans and pants--that is all that is sold here in San Diego! No wonder I don't own skirts anymore--they just don't exist--unless you count those little skimpy, no material things that teen-agers wear.

I had decided that I needed a couple of classic, stylish long skirts--with nice slits for walking comfort--that look stunning with boots. Surely, I thought, this will be an easy task--but, no! I went to a multitude of stores and not one had anything remotely resembling what I was picturing. Maybe in Fireneze there will be something but the sales will be over and long skirts may be out of season. If I could sew--then voila!--resolved; however, I don't and so pants it will be.


Valerie said...

Jane- Bryan and I understand your fears! We're desperately trying to learn Italian, too. You may want to read my blog entry Swimming the Linguistic Seas!

Mary Beth said...

Good for you that you are doing this. you are a real inspiration to me.

I have a dream of moving to Ravenna (for only a few months in the fall '06)- I have 3 young kids and a husband and a full time job. But my cousin is there with her young family and I desperately want adventure and family nearby, too! (I live in NYC!)

good luck with the language. we are thinking of enrolling our kids in school too - my cousin says no problem-o. best of luck, mary beth

Judith in Umbria said...

Jane, your best friends will be those who correct you quietly and without making fun of you. Avoid talking to the rest!
Alberta says hello. She came over yesterday to get a translation done for a sale she is having during the spring.
If I were you, I'd make it a policy to speak Italian at home just about all the time! Dictionary in hand. Meantime, the plural of amico is amici, said: ah-MEE-chee.
No matter how long or how seriously you studied, the larger part of your language still comes from living here, but obviously with only one year, you need to be fairly prepared when you land. In bocca al lupo!