Monday, January 31, 2011
And since we've been talking about fears, I figure now's a good time to reveal another of mine to you. I am very afraid to ski down steep mountains. I do not like to go fast. I prefer lolly-gagging and enjoying the scenery.
The weather was much warmer on Saturday than on our previous ski experience, so Graham was hanging in much better. He got to the point where he could ski on his own, but he couldn't turn without crashing. He saw the gondola and said he wanted to go to the top. Tony studied the map and found there were easy runs the whole way down, so we decided to do it. We went to the top of a snowy mountain with our 3 year old who has only been skiing one other time in his life. Smart.
As we ascended the mountain, we started to notice more fog. It wasn't long before fog was all we could see. So, when we started our decent, we thought we were going on an easy run, but quickly discovered that it was a "black" track. "Black" on a mountain equals "scary" in my mind. Before I knew it, Tony had a hold of Graham and zoomed down the mountain so fast I didn't even see which direction he went. I looked and looked but could only see fog. Now, I've stated that I am afraid of going down steep mountains. Add complete blindness-due-to-fog, and some loneliness to this scenario and suddenly I am a paranoid freak. I panicked. I just started going down as slowly as possible cursing and trying to catch my breath until I came upon my two boys sitting on the mountain waiting for me. I threw my poles in the air and exclaimed to Tony that I DO NOT LIKE SKIING AND I WANT TO GO HOME!
After struggling all morning with Graham, I could see in Tony's eyes that he was at his wit's end, but he remained calm. I declared that I DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO, because I was NOT GOING DOWN THE STEEP PART ANYMORE. All Tony could do was tell me to listen to his advice and get back up on my skis. I held my breath this time as I watched Tony zoom down with Graham in his arms and watched his short life flash before my eyes until suddenly we were at the bottom of the mountain. I don't remember how it happened because I blocked it out of my mind. I did not go to the top again that day, so it is hard for me to say that I actually conquered a fear. But, at least I am not still frozen up there on that mountain.
As you can see from the photo of the morning after, we were completely exhausted when we got home. We just threw our stuff on the floor and went to bed. The next day, when I asked Graham what his favorite part of skiing was, he said, "I liked going fast down the steep part."
Glad he didn't get all my traits.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I guess I'm a bigger nerd than we thought, because I sure enjoy being back in a classroom with a notebook and pencil in hand. A crazy thought occurred to me as I was driving to class today. I don't have to get an "A." Grades don't matter. It's just for fun. I can't tell you how much this excites me!
See, told you I was a nerd...
In other news, we're heading to the mountains tomorrow afternoon to spend the night and then go skiing on Saturday. We rented some gear from the base here, and Graham really likes wearing the helmet.
Wish us luck for a better day on the slopes!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Have a wonderful day!
Monday, January 24, 2011
It sounded like passing trollies and fado music.
It felt sacred. Especially in Fatima, where it is believed by many that Mary appeared to three small shepherd children. We even got to see the homes where these kids lived.
It smelled like burning prayer candles and ocean breezes.
It looked like a place proud of its heritage and committed to holding onto its ancient roots.
You wanna know a fun fact about Lisbon? You do? Okay.
It was spared in World War II. It was not even scratched by a bomb. Around 1950 or so, the Catholic Bishops wanted to find a way to thank God for this fortune. So, they did what Lisboners seem to do best. They erected a statue. Apparently, one of the bishops saw the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) down in Brazil and decided he really liked it, so they made a copy.
Enjoy your day!
Sunday, January 23, 2011
More than likely, it has to do with the fact that I grew up in a small town with one main street. It was impossible to get lost, and if, for some reason, you did, all you had to do was look up and see the Twin Peaks and know you were looking East and you could find your way from there. This is the only logical explanation I can conjure for why I am terrified of getting lost in big cities, especially when I have to use public transportation without my trusty navigator Tony by my side. I worry that I am going to get swallowed by a swarm of people, or get stuck on some street and have no idea which way to turn, or get on the wrong train and end up in a completely different town and then have to stay there forever and start a new life because I'll never be able to find my way back home. Fear can make your mind do crazy things. It is because of these fears that I avoid being in cities all by myself.
That is, until this last week in Lisbon.
My James Bond husband did all the planning for this trip. When he approached me with the itinerary involving Graham and me taking a bus from the airport, getting dropped in the middle of the city, and finding our apartment (not a labeled and easy-to-find hotel), and then taking a train from Rome to Naples and getting on a bus in Naples for our return trip, I crawled under a blanket and said. "No. I'm not doing that. I'm not going."
You see, 007 had to take a special flight to Lisbon since he would be working there. His flight involved wining and dining and arrived at a different time than ours...
After much convincing and coaching on google maps, I decided it was time to conquer my fear. I, along with my 3 1/2 year old son who asks endless distracting questions, got on a plane, then another plane, landed in Lisbon, found the bus, and got off at the correct stop. It was dark, and as I went around the corner to the street I was supposed to take, it got darker and scarier. I let my fears take over my brain for a bit and started imaging the worst, but then something happened. I got really terrified of a group of guys huddled around smoking together. They definitely had their eyes on me as I must have been quite the sight pushing my jogging stroller up a very steep hill, sweating like crazy and trying not to cry. But they all just said, "Boa tarde" and let me go about my way. Not even a heckle. And certainly no reason to be afraid.
After we found the apartment, except for all the sweat, I felt good. Very good. Good enough to take some trips involving more trains and buses during the week with just Graham.
You know what I learned this week? That cities are not so scary after all. You know why? Because they have these wonderful things called signs. And maps. And goodhearted people willing to help me lift my giant stroller when needed and point me in the right direction.
We are home safe and sound, now. I have lots of exciting things to tell you about Lisbon. I missed ya'll last week. It was too long without writing. I hope that won't happen again.
For now, though, you'll have to excuse me, because writing about all this got me scared again,so I am going to go crawl under that blanket and talk to my mommy for awhile.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Contrast. It's beautiful. And annoying.
Being unemployed in Italy is no different. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it's just so-so. For example. Yesterday, I had another melt down while mopping the mold off my ceiling. Have you ever tried mopping a ceiling? It is not easy. I just kept thinking that counseling a person with depression or schizophrenia would be much easier than cleaning mold. Then I got sad because I can't get a job in the counseling field over here, which made me cry. This is one of the pulls, the downs, the backs, the that's.
Tonight, I am packing to leave for a one-week trip to Lisbon, Portugal. If I had a job, I would not be able to take time off and follow my James Bond husband to the places where he has to work. This is a push, an up, a forth... I think you get what I mean.
That said, I may not have internet access for a week. Heartbreaking for my faithful readers, I know (hi Dad, and Grandma). Don't you worry, though. I'll be back in full force as soon as possible.
Oh, and please don't judge me for having mold on the ceiling. It is unavoidable here. It has to do with the climate and the way the houses are built. Another down... Viva l'Napoli!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Every pacifist mother dreads the day her child starts playing with guns. I've heard several stories about parents who try very hard not to introduce guns to their home and hope their kids never see the things. Inevitably, these stories end with the parents finding their kids pointing sticks and saying, "Bang!"
At first, I avoided the topic with Graham. I called the squirt guns he encountered, "squirters" and didn't answer his questions when he saw one on TV or at the store. I wanted to wait and approach the topic with knowledge and sensitivity.
Especially in light of the recent tragedy in Arizona.
I'm afraid the time to stop avoiding it is drawing nearer. Last night, Graham pointed a long stick toy thing at me and said, "Bang! I'm going to shoot you and kill you!" Ah, music to my ears. Not really. So, I said to him, "Do not shoot people. Guns are not for shooting people." Of course, his response was, "Then what are guns for?" Out of nowhere came Papa Tony who exclaimed, "They're for hunting!"
Hunting? Good answer, but, I mean, well, I don't exactly love the idea of shooting animals, either. I even sort of put a curse on one of my friends back in middle school when he got his first hunting license. He stated his opinion on hunting: that he liked hiking and being outside, that it made him feel one with nature, and that the animal population needs to be thinned out from time to time, that it's natural. I stated my opinion: killing is killing is killing and I don't like it and I could never do it and I just like to look at deer, not shoot them. I said some sort of mumbo jumbo to him like, "I am going to hope and pray that you never, ever have to go through the experience of killing anything." We stayed friends, and all through high school he hunted like crazy and never did kill anything. He blamed the curse.
I haven't talked to him in awhile, now. I wonder if he ever did catch a deer...
"It's when people go out in the wilderness and shoot animals, like deer, and then eat them. Sometimes the people camp, too."
"Oh! Let's go hunting and roast some marshmallows!"
The rest of the evening I listened to my boys pretend to shoot animals.
Perhaps I need to whip out my magical cursing powers once again?
And no, you don't need to point it out to me that I successfully avoided talking about guns with Graham, yet again. I realize this. Right now, he is young. His main prerogative in life is to play and to pretend and sometimes that involves pretending to play with guns. The time will come when he will want a bb gun and Tony will have to reveal his top secret experience with bb guns and I will have to ramble something about shooting his eye out.
For now, we'll just pretend to hunt.
Just one more thing to add to the list of things I never thought I'd do as a parent.
Monday, January 10, 2011
And so, once again, the point of my story is that you need to get yourself to Naples as soon as possible. It will heal all your aches and pains.
We won't make you hike to the free pools. We'll take you to the resorts if that's what you like.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Here in Naples, there are produce stands galore. At first, I thought, "Yay! Now, I am equipped and ready to start saving the world by purchasing local produce!"
Then, something happened. I went to grocery markets and always bought produce there. It was right there. So convenient! But, more costly. Today, after living here for nearly six months, I finally stopped at a stand I've had my eye on. It's right on the side of the road on our way home, but there is nowhere to park. Nowhere to even stop. So, every time I've driven past it over the last couples of months, I've slowed down to plot my plan of attack. I found a tiny road thing where I stopped the car, threw on the flashers, grabbed the kid, dodged the oncoming traffic, and grabbed my loot. Unfortunately, my plan of attack did not involve a plan for getting out of my makeshift parking spot, so I daringly had to back out into that oncoming traffic and zoom away. It was scary.
But, oh, was it worth it. I got apples, pears, eggplant, lettuce, onion, mushrooms, broccoli, and fresh basil for only 5 Euro. And, who knows, maybe one less trace of carbon is in the air since my apples didn't have to get shipped all the way from Mexico!
We just won't talk about all the exhaust from the cars going by, the trash on the street, and the harmful chemicals that are supposedly in the soil here...
Nor will we talk about the fact that I paid for the food, which technically means it is not a loot. Just an expression. Sorry of any confusion.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Fact number 2: Our kid took that picture, and he always asks us to "make a funny face."
Fact number 3: This is officially my 100'th post. Thanks for reading and here's hoping for another great 100 posts!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
I did, however, manage to take a couple of shots of my hors d'oeurves display. As an unemployed stay at home mom with a kid who is really good at entertaining himself, I find myself reading food blogs more than I care to admit. And I really don't care to admit how often I drool over recipes at How Sweet It Is, which is where all these tasty treats came from. If you do nothing else in 2011, please try the cookie dough dip. You won't regret it.
Before this story can end, I also must tell you about the supper we had on New Year's Day with our landlord's family. I don't know why I was only expecting one plate of food. I should have known better. They served antipasti, primi, secondi, secondi, dolce, dolce, and cafe (Translation: a plate of appetizers big enough to be a meal followed by a plate of pasta, then a plate of meat and eggplant parmesan, then a plate of lamb, potatoes, and peas, then a plate of fruit, then a plate of cake with a shot of espresso). Think five times the amount of food you eat at Thanksgiving. All of it rich and delicious. I kept telling myself to just take one bite to taste everything so I didn't explode. As soon as the taste hit my tongue, though, I would reach for my next bite, and before I knew it, my plate was cleared. We sat for three and a half hours just eating and eating, watching a Naples concert on TV and trying to converse with each other. Apparently, it is something a lot of families do every Sunday over here. Again, you had to be there to believe it.
Moral of the story? Come to Naples, Italy as soon as you possibly can.
You won't leave hungry.