Sunday, October 31, 2010

something italian

P1030728, originally uploaded by akblaine.

Do something Italian

Several days after my birthday, I was able to check my facebook page where several of you had suggested that I “do something Italian” for my birthday.

And that is exactly what I did.

Here is my story.

Remember the beautiful Italian, Daniela, I told you about?

She is the one who started the private English school. The one I said, “yes” to when she asked me to teach there? Okay. You remember, now?

Well, as destiny would have it, my first classes to teach were on my birthday. My birthday. Which happened to be two days after we moved into our gigantic house. Which happened to be one day after we bought a second car that takes the entire day to accomplish. My birthday. Which happened to fall at a time that we still had (have) no school or childcare arranged for Graham, so we had to ask a friend to take care of him.

My birthday.

What. A. Day.

It all started when I took 20 extra minutes to find our friend/childcare-for-a-day-for-Graham’s house. No, I take that back. It all started the night before when I was preparing for my birthday and put the coordinates for the metro station into our trusty GPS. My plan was to drive to a metro station, park, and ride the train into the heart of the most chaotic city in the world where I was scheduled to teach some people some English.

Anyway, after dropping off Graham, I drove straight to the metro station, which was supposed to only be about 10 minutes away from our friend/child-care-for-a-day-for-Graham’s house. I just listened to the GPS instruct me to “turn right and then turn left,” until I realized that it had taken me the wrong way.

I wasn’t lost.

I knew exactly where I was.

I just wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

I also knew I was definitely going to be late for my first class, so I called Daniela to let her know. In true strong, Italian woman form, she exclaimed, “Oh no! Your class is supposed to start at 10!! Where are you? How can I help? I will send someone to come get you!” I calmly told her that that was completely unnecessary and that I would simply put the address of the school into my GPS and drive there and pay a million Euros for parking. She agreed that would be the faster approach and wished me luck.

And so, once again, I followed the lovely voice of the GPS and ended up in the craziest traffic I have ever experienced. I stopped. And then I went. And then a man came and washed my windshield and wouldn’t leave my window until I gave him some money. And then I stopped again. And then I tried not to hit the fruit truck parked on the side of the road. And then I tried not to get hit by a motorcycle/scooter/moped. And then I tried to keep calm when I looked at the clock and it said “10” and I knew I was late and was not even close to my “final destination.” And then I tried not to get frustrated at Daniela when she called me screaming, “Where are you?” “I can’t help you unless I know where you are?” “Tell me some stores or anything that is around you!” “Oh, this is why I wanted someone to come pick you up!” And then I tried to dodge the doubled-parked cars while not getting hit by oncoming traffic. All the time, thinking, “I don’t need this job. I could just quit right now and go home. This is not worth the stress. I don’t need this. It’s too hard. I want my mommy!”

Then, a voice said to me, “Katherine. You are 28 years old. You can do this. You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And, dog gone it, people like you.” And, before I knew it, the GPS was telling me that I had arrived at my final destination and I was parking my car in an extremely expensive garage surrounded by Louis Vuitton and Guess Jeans.

I took a deep breath and went inside to teach some English, which, as it turned out, I really enjoyed. I’m not sure I could have done it, though, without the sweet cappuccino that Claudia brought to me. God bless Claudia. A beautiful, helpful, kind, and laid-back, person. She even ended up paying for my parking.

Eventually, somehow, I returned to our villa where Tony had a magnificent birthday dinner planned, followed by molten chocolate cakes. He had to go get some ingredients, and while he was out, our landlord appeared at our gate with some fresh fish he had just caught. They were still alive. They flopped all over the driveway. We wanted to tell him about some of the problems we were having in our house after only two days, like ants, but we don’t speak Italian, so he didn’t understand us. We called someone to translate, and he said he would take care of the ants right way. He spoke to us in Italian, and we understood him to say that he wanted Tony to go with him to his house to get something for the ants. So, off Tony went.

In the mean time, it was getting dark and I was getting hungry.

Finally, after being gone for several hours and driven to a farm, a home, and a hardware store, Tony arrived with some fresh produce from our landlord’s farm and began gutting the fish so we could have them for dinner. I don’t think he had anything to take care of the ants because they are still crawling around our house. Maybe we misunderstood.

The day did not go as planned. I never made it to the train station. I missed my first class. Tony didn’t cook the dinner he had planned, and he ended up having no time for the chocolate cakes, so I didn’t get a birthday cake. But, as I sipped my locally- made wine and dined on fresh fish while looking on to the Med from my patio, I breathed deeply and thought to myself, “This is quite possibly going to be the best year of my life.”

***Quick updates: 1) we finally got our camera battery charger in the mail, but it was the wrong one, so still no new pictures. 2) internet is finally at our house (obviously). 3) I stopped teaching English. Mainly on account of the awful commute and the fact that I was actually spending more than I was making to get to work. Not worth it.****


  1. What a day! Sorry it was so chaotic! I do believe it's going to be a WONDERFUL year. Hope things have calmed down and your household goods have arrived. I'm excited to see pictures of your villa!

  2. Bless your heart. Sounds like you were tested, and passed. That job was not meant to be. After you have settled in, recovered from your gps-disstress, dealt with the ants, and had your cake, I think a job that is meant to be will fall in your lap. A job that doesn't involve a helter-skelter commute. A job that does include an excellant daycare situation for my Grahmbo. A job that utilizes your masters degree. I know you are not a quitter and you hated to have to bow out on Daniela, but you absolutely did the right thing. I love and miss YOU!, Dad ps Tracy turned a shade of envy-green when she read the "sipping wine...patio view...Med. Sea" ha ha, ho ho, hee hee