Friday, September 30, 2011

The World Around Me.....

So here is a small poem I wrote in Latin class today. I don't usually write poems, i'm more of a story girl. But the inspiration hit and i wrote it down. Please exscuse any bad grammer or unsmooth parts, like i siad i'm not a poet by any standard. I tried to work it out as best as I could. Enjoy.

You wake up,
You sit up.
You look across the room.
There lay your host sorella still a’snooze.
Your ready before eight,
And ride the bus to school.
It’s no car or horse, but it’s still pretty cool.
You sit in class and strain to listen,
But often end up doodling with precision.
You leave school at one, one day a week at two.
It’s not as cool as you’d think ;because Saturday thiers school too.
Cowhearded onto a bus, grouped and pushed and shoved,
Stumbling off finally, trying to refrain from shoving back your “bud”.
On the short walk home a smile spreads across down turned lips.
Your host family can make everything better,
Because at the end of the day family is what matters.
And for a year they are your family.
Their laughter, their chatting, their banter,
Even the slight annoyance when at night your Facebook is full of your host sisters links about the newest Mad Hatter.
Then thiers the message from mom,
Counting down the seconds until your home.
The e-mail from dad always signed “camp champs”.
You wonder if you’ll ever get the letter he sent,
The one in a bottle, not with a stamp.
You and your host mother agree to disagree,
She thinks her cooking is no good,
And you eat until you feel a little green.
Bedtime rolls around and as you prepare,
You remember to keep stockings on your feet and their shall be no water in your hair.
You’ve been here a month,
and have had those mothering lectures quit enough.
You fall asleep after prayers; clutching your stuffed piece of home,
And dream sweet dreams about that giant gelato cone.
But sometimes those dreams aren’t so sweet,
Because you know way to soon….
You’ll wake up,
You’ll sit up,
You’ll look across the room….
And their in your bedroom mirrior.
Will be your first home reflected back at you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Non my piace Gym....

                Gym, in any country, or language, also means sweat. Now I’m not opposed to sweating, and in fact I do like exercise and being active. But I do not like sweating, putting on clothes while still sweating and then sitting in them through the rest of the school day. Or sweating when I’m in non sweating clothes( you know not work out clothes).  Now this is not why I don’t like gym…. It’s a main fact about me that ties into the reason why I totally disagree with having gym second period of the day. Though is was a nice breaking from sitting in class for three hours straight and did make the day go by faster.
                So we went to gym, or I should say my class went to gym, since classes literally rotate together here. And the teachers comes to us. So I guess you could say it’s not the teachers classroom, it’s class 4D’s classroom. (I feel like I should have t-shirts made and be proud over that fact...)
                But we went into the changing rooms, the girls and guys right across from each other and their wasn’t a superiser sitting out in the hall way thinking at any moment us teenagers weren’t going to fly into the opposite room and start doing everything inappropriate under the sun. It’s so great to be treated like the young adult  I know I am ,inside and outside of school. Seriously.
                Because I had been in athletics before the thought of stripping practically naked in front of strangerz no longer phased me. Though I will admit I won’t ever go streaking I’m way to body conscious especially in Italy when every corner you turn you run into some leggy skinny woman dressed to the nines. Most of my classmates, boys and girls, could quit possibly make Abercrombie models look like they sprouted from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. No joke.
                So we changed, hiked some more stairs (their all over Italy. It’s why everyone has killer legs. If I don’t have a pair by the time I get back I want a refund…J) And ended up in this small gym.
                At first the teacher had us warm up you know run a  few laps and a few other exercises, thought not any flat out on the floor stretching. I was proud of myself, apparently my twenty minute hike to and from school is helping me get into shape because when a few of the other girls were huffing, I was surprisingly not killing over wondering why I left my inhaler in the States.
                During this time I started talking to a few of the girls from the beach that first day that were in my class. I kind of wondered if it would be one of those “your so cool” thing outside of school and then after the initial meeting and being around me everyday they would be like “whatever” because besides one of the guys always saying “ciao” and an occasional, if I did first, smile they hadn’t really said anything more to me.
                Our warm up stretched were stopped when the teacher say dirt on the floor, she apperantly is very picky about that and checked all of ours shoes, after giving us a lecture. I never knew who the culprit was, but the whole class kind of rolled their eyes at her. I had a feeling that “coach” attitude many atheletic teachers possessed was an international thing as well… so I understood having my share of those coaches.
                Then came to the gym part. She had us line up in a line and had four low hurdles set up, two high hurdles, a cone and then these wooden juggling pins set up side down. It was a snaked obstacle course and I was sitting there thinking gym in Italy is so easy.
                And then the coach brings out the tennis balls. She wants us to jogged through the hurdles throwing the ball between our hands, dribbling it (yes a tennis ball on this foam, impact this asorbent floor), we had to dribble to the high hurdles jump up and throw the ball and catch it as we landed. Then we had to dribble it to the pins and dribbling it through there like you would a basketball. Through it over the volleyball net as we ducked under and catch it on the other side.
                Now for some of you, you might think this is easy. But not for me. Like I said before I can be athletic. I’ve done many sports, but I’m not one of those girls that if you put any type of sports equipment in my hand I’ll immedinatly become a start at it. And the most important fact for this blog is I have no hand coordination at all when it comes to balls. Hence why every sport I’ve ever played has involed feet, no throwing or the simple swinging of a golf club. And why when I played little league baseball they stuck in the outfield.
                Most of my class goes in front of me, many of the girls are dropping the balls, the boys are showing off and having fun. It gets to my turn. I nearly fall over the hurdle and land on the others trying to just make sure I catch the ball in my hand that five inches away. She makes me start over. After about five tries she tell me to move onto the high hurdles. I picked up the dropped tennis ball and attempt to dribbling it to the hurdles. Yeah that doesn’t work.
                So I get to the high hurdles. Never being one for much vertical height I kind of over jumped the first hurdle and threw the ball in the opposite direction. Oops. So  nail the second one after one of my class mates hands me the ball and attempts not to laugh. I dribble the ball to the bowling pins. And as the coach is literally breathing down my neck I can’t dribble the stupid yellow ball to save my life. So I say the one thing that every kid jokes about when your handed a basketball and can’t dribble to save your life. “White kids don’t play basketball!”
                My coach not realizing I was talking to myself nor understanding me agrees fully. My ball went flying across the gym because it hit a pin when I jerkily hit it on the up bound as I busted out laughing….
                She made me start over.
                So it was disastrous but not over yet. She got rid of the hurdles fixed the juggling pins set out more cones and brought out a medium height balance beams. Now I can do balance beams. For someone who is always tripping over their own feet I have an amazing sense of balance on these things and could probably skip across one without blinking an eye.
                But not with a tennis ball….
                 I nearly fall off and break my neck. Luckily my quick reflexes save me, I think it was more to keep me from embarrassing myself in front of my classmates anymore than I already had than the sense of self preservation.  So I make it across the balance beam, dignity still partially in tack and make it ot the cones. We have to “bowl” the tennis ball though the foot wide set area between the bowling pins. I suck at bowling, I get gutter balls ever with the lane lines in… seriously.
                So of course I miss. I try again. Miss. Finally in the midst of flying tennis balls and the teacher turning her back I tan back into the line.
                We had to do it a second time. Except this time instead of throwing the tennis ball up and catching it as we walked across the balance we had to throw it back and forth between out hands. I did it, until the last three feet I was watching for the end so I would falling off and miss catching the ball in my hand.
                I got to the bowling part again and this time you had to lay on your stomach and roll the ball across the gym through the set area. I don’t know if it was my background in gold, or having shoot guns before so I kind of knew how to aim or if God finally decided he had his fill of Paige humour for the day and sprinkled down some good luck. But the first time for the next three times I did this the ball not only went seamlessly through but sometimes I read the curve of the floor or nitch and the ball would curve straight through the targets. All the while my classmates balls are missing repeatedly.  It was my sense of pride in gym and my redeeming moment I should say.
                So gym was over we went to change, suprisnly it was not rushed like you would think, and there aren’t that many girls, in fact I didn’t realize it until today but there are definitely more boys in the classroom. So it wasn’t crowded at all.
                I put my folded cloths back in my bag (I have formed a bit of OCD since being here when it comes to organization and cleanliness of things… I’m sure my parents will be so please.) and head out of the changing room with the other girls.
                On the way back up the stairs they tell me across the street they have a “camp”. (think, track soccer field complex thing some small high schools have so everything is in one field). And that usually they play soccer. I mentioned I loved soccer, I secretly think all the boys that heard me cringed. And one of the girls informed that the girls play volleyball while the guys play soccer.
                So I’ll probably come back a volleyball pro, and I might just have to dust off my goalie skills and show these Italians boys that Texan girls don’t mind getting dirty when it comes to sports and that were not all completely uncoordinated.
                Gym was a nice break and fanning myself to get my red face back to a normal color took my attention for thirty minutes of philosophy while the teacher was lecturing. And then came our mid morning break. Usually I went out with the two girls sitting beside me who befriended me the first day.
                But today the girl from gym(and the beach) asked me if I wanted to go with them. I didn’t want to blow the other two girls off who were so kind to take on the lost and wide eyed American girl in the first place. But these girls were also friends with my host sister who was in Texas and my host sister had nothing but nice things so about them. And they were nice girls, but the whole not acting like I’m there thing kind of soured my outlook on them. But after gym and them being nice and actually helping me I thought my host sister was kind enough and smart enough she wouldn’t be friend with such hypocritical people. So I said yes and joined them. I’m glad I’m did because they were very nice and one of the girls form the beach upon seeing me actually gave me a cheek kiss. I think I grinned and yes blushed because I knew they only did this to true friends, and well it was still of kind of awkward.
                So they were very nice and I asked me if I had an Italian teacher. I told them no and that my host mother was helping me as I taught myself and often my host sister helped as well. Though she usually laughed and it ended up with us eating chocolate as she fixed my Italian pronunciations. When I told them this they both laughed.
                They also asked me why I didn’t eat. Because usually kids at least eat crackers if not a foccicia sandwich and maybe a small box of fruit juice. Well at eleven in the morning after eating three pieces of amazing bread each morning (small pieces) with strawberry jam, I wasn’t usually hungry and with school eating at 1 and eating around 1:30 the amazing lunch Toni always has ready for me, I know that if get a bit puckish I won’t go starving soon.  So I told them I just wasn’t hungry. They looked at me weird and even said. “Well that’s good”. I just laughed. (I did a lot of that today). They tried out English idioms or I should say American Idioms in there conversation and got so excited when they got it right. Much like I did when I said something right in Italian. I think having them as friends and spending the break time with them will be a good way to help me on my to Italian. Because right now it’s like my brains rebelling all of it. The more I try to learn, the more it pushes out. But none the less a usually boring, foot dragging, mind numbing school day was turning out to be great.
                But I did have chemistry. Yeah…. Yeah remember the wood stock teacher. Well she gave me an assignment of doing the conversion chart. Well she asked me five times if it was correct to each time I answered yes… (Because I wouldn’t be using it in the first place. It’s not like the metric symbols she was writing on the board would be foreign to me. And I double checked the calculations.) So then she wanted it bigger so she could hang up on he wall. I tried to explain to her that that wouldn’t be necessary. I only needed to the small right corner of the chart which was the words translated…. And I that the rest of the class didn’t need to be staring at my horrendous hand writing. Though compared to how everyone writes here my handwriting could possibly be considered calligraphy… no joke.
                So I’m sure when she ask for the big chart I’ll explain that the chart isn’t necessary and she can just let me keep my small one. Because for one thing I may not be in that class once the school get my set in stone timetable figured out. And if she wants a chart wait until my parents ship me my chemistry quaderno I asked for… she’ll be mine blown… and possible want to copy and translate the whole thing at how amazing the notes are. (Thank you Ms. Jones J  you were an awesome chemistry teacher).
                So besides her still being slightly dull it seems, the rest of the day went good.
                I guess you could say that you have bad days, and good days and then you have those rare days that are amazing and you smile your way through them… yeah today was one of those days.

Oh and I forgot to add that the friends I weren't sure about, turned out are really great , funny, and sweet people. I guess it's one of those things  were they were as unsure of me as I was of them things....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I gotta...I gotta pocketful of sunshine....

This blogs title is dedicated to my host sister... she fell in love with this song after hearing it on my Itunes, and was singing it when I started writing it today. It fit my cheery mood and made me think of "Easy A" the movie.....
 …..Because she carries Texas in her heart.
(written Saturday Sept. 17, 2011)
                In the past few days I realized many things. One, which was pointed out to me, is that my English grammar is already on the decline. (like it was amazing in the first place). That Rotary is truly a family, a great one to have at that. I owe my exchange not only to my YEO who told me he refused to give up on me, when I told him how I was feeling down, but mostly a great friend from outbound camp that sent me an e-mail. He reminded me that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and to remember when times get tough and homesick rears it ugly head that it’s not a year long. So thank you (I’m not naming names), but you know who you are. And if you are reading this, I hope you are doing better as well       I also realized that people who go out of their way to say “good morning” to you in English are actually, in your head, considered more your friends  than people who seemed to fawn over you in the beginning. I thank God for those people as well.
                                So what have I been up too….
School. That’s about it. All my teacher’s now seemed notified that I speak no Italian, and by speak that means, reading, comprehension. None of it. The last to be on board was my Science teacher and she still doesn’t understand that I don’t know any Italian, atleast not to the level she needs. And then she went to tell m that I needed to make a conversion chart for American Units to metric units so I know what she’s talking about. I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling here that as “Americans” were not stupid. We do use the S.I. system in Science (Chemisty) and math. In fact that’s mostly all it is unless it’s a practice problem. And that you can’t convert American to Metric without a whole bunch of decimals. And the reason I don’t understand the chart you just showed. BECAUSE IT’S IN ITALIAN!.   
                Yeah I’m convinced she’s may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but hey I was never accused of being that either. She also looks like she never left Woodstock……
                Friday my host mother drove up in the mountains on a whim after seeing the view from the grocery store in town. The roads were winding and we ddin’t get to actually go to the quarries but we went up high enough that I about got a nose bleed and passed out from lack of oxygen. We stopped at one point to show me Carrara. The older part. It’s nestled beautifully between two green mountains. And I know it’s a sight most don’t get to see Carrara from, but they should. Because it was breath taking. And then of course my historic thinking mind went back to World History when we were talking about towns and why they were built in certain locations. Such as transportation, trade, protection. I smiled remembering that even back then I did my report about it on Roma. While I may be a good ways away from Roma ,all of Italy is breath-taking and enchanting. Anywho on the way down, it was more frightening that the twist and turns going up. Think two cars passing one car wide road that it’s dangerously twisted and on a mountains.
                And while I was praying Toni was telling me a little about Carrara marble. Like how most of the well known, actually any statue ( I don’t know if she meant Italy or really anywhere during a certain time period) were most likely made of Carraran(?) marble. Also how Michelangelo used to go up into the quaries themselves (that man must have had a good set of horses or he was really in shape) to pick out the marble. One time he picked out a piece so expensive that the Pope had to say now. Because it was between buying Michangelo the marble, or paying for a much needed war. You get the picture…..
                So the past couple of days haven’t been busy physically but emotionally great hurdles have been jumped. I believe I’m gradually moving out of the second phase of homesickness and culture shock and moving into embracing it all.  Which is good, because it’s the uphill side for a while then. Learning Italian, the culture, slowly becoming less of “The Texas  American” and more of myself, as I learn to express who I am. You know those kind of things. I was also informed yesterday that my would have been host mother might/will be giving me Italian lessons. Thank God… because flying solo I’m scared to death I’m going to teach myself completely wrong and insult someone. I don’t want to start a war, or you know make this Rotary district never want a kid from American again.
                I counted today I have nine weeks until I turn 17. Around 19 weeks till Christmas and they say after that first stint your exchange passes so fast days feel like second. So like I said sometimes when the big picture get to overwhelming you have to make of small goals. Of course since the flip switched a fews days ago after nearly packing my bags and going to Pisa myself  small goals aren’t really needed. I’m enjoying the moments. Like how the weather is slowly getting colder and I can’t wait for Winter ( I learned my host mother gets very festive for Christmas), or the happy fact that I’m an anomaly at this point with loosing weight (knock on wood that I don’t start gaining), how every which way you turn looks likes it could be on a postcard. Those sort of moments. 

 Men are Complicated, Especially THE MAN
                Today was a great day. Not only did I get to sleep in, but I didn’t have to go to school…  Instead I got to go to Massa with my host mother for the first part of my Temporary residence card. As we drove into Massa we got to drive through the mountains and it was beautiful as always.  I also got to see a castle in Massa. The castles here are usually built on the side of the mountains outside of town. And their not royal castles like they have in France but more like forts. Lookout post.  But like anything historic I was rubber necking out the window to see it until the last possible second.
                I also realized me and my host mother are very similar. We get lost easily. She even told me that her kids always complain about how lost she gets. I just sit there and smile and try to help her remember. I’m sure if there had been a camera following us they would have died of laughter.  So we get to the building and the office is actually on the outside of the building or the waiting are is. But it was nice outside this morning. Cool but not cold if you dressed right. We were next in line and ready to go when my host mother read that we needed four photos for the paperwork. She asked me if I had them and I looked at her wide eyed. The piece of paper was in Italian. I had all the other paperwork, plus more, but of course the one thing I wouldn’t care to translate told of something we needed.
                But it turned out to be a good thing. First of all my change problem is solved, I now have 1 value Euros, thought not many.  Second is in Italy, I don’t know if it’s because so many government and non government documents require pictures. They have booths similar to what you find the picture booths in the mall to be like. You sit there pick the sheet of picture you need and take a picture. It tells your picture is approved for government paperwork and you have three tries to get it right. It wasn’t the best picture in the world but at least it hadn’t been frizzy that morning so my already misbehaving hair was having an outright fit and my bangs were somewhat straight. The only good thing about the picture is that my eyes looked blue.  So we left the picture booth which was actually in a “Subway” (think of walks ways below busy streets so you don’t actually have to cross them.) We found our way back to the building and a woman who Toni actually knew from the gym was there. She talked to her across the area( she was younger) and Toni filled me in she was from Cuba. She was there at the office with her mother. She also talked about how learning a language was so easy for her because she loved to talk. Something that became very obviouse and have me smiling. I was also very pleased because I could start to pick out a few words here and there and comprehend simple sentences. 
                The fact was sitting there next to my host mother listening to this women speak Italian and just the moment was very nice and content and happy.  So much better than the massive head I knew I’d have if I was in school. We went into the office when it was out turn and the women was very nice who helped us. I had everything I needed, though we didn’t have to pay anything besides four euros for the photos, and it confused me a bit because that morning Toni told me to bring the money that was sent with me  for this type of stuff, because the government always had you pay for something. Yet as we were walking out of the office later she also mentioned some years the prices go up, other the prices go down and some years you don’t pay anything at all. So she didn’t know. Like I said THE MAN is complicated.
                As the women was revewing all the paperwork  I looked across the wall and saw a map of the world. I startled myself  when I saw the distance between Italy and America. Just that morning Toni and me were discussing the damage done to Italy by World War 2 and how American comes to the wars and they never seem to be on American soil. I now understood exactly why. That’s a long way to send troops and supplies. I know understood just how wars can get so expensive so quickly.
                It also shocked me that I flew over that ocean and I would be flying over it again on the way back. Both times on emotional roller coasters. Tylenol PM never sounded like a better friend with that thought. But the point is, I am a long ways from home and it’s small things like that, that kind of freak you out and amaze you at the same time.
                So we got the first part of my residence liscense done. I return at the end of November to pick it up, hopefully.
                And then of course on the way pack to the car my host mother pulls me into a bread shop. It smelled awesome and I kept eyeing this massive Italian equivalent to donut except three times the size and fatter and from what I read it was stuffed with chocolate cream. For those of you who are not following me on facebook, I have a new love of Nutella. It not only cures homesickness, but everything else. It’s kind of like icecream(And I found out they do have Nutella icecream here. Italian’s are genius when it comes to food.) but it’s like icecream. Because you eat it to celebrate, eat it to eat, or eat it when your down. It hands down beats eating icing.
                We also ran other errands this morning including getting my year long bus pass. That was a funny ordeal because at first the people told me that because I was not a true residence of Carrara I could not get a year long bus pass. But the lady at the office said yes I could one and she made it sound like it was because I was a student that I could. Like is said THE MAN is complicated.  So now I have year long but pass, long story short. We also swung by my school, for many different reasons, and my principle practically gave me the assignment of watching T.V. to learn Italian. My host mother swears that this is the secret to learning any language and I think she might be onto something. But the principle said I was aloud to watch anything but the news.  Apperantly they don’t like what going on right now ( I asked what and couldn’t get a straight answer.)

                Professor Paige….. Wiat… What?!

                So my host mother teaches math lessons, she like a genius, and so are all of her friends. But one of her students isn’t very good at English, which all schools teach here. Said student is going to a private teacher for that but told his mother he just wanted to go to Toni for both math lessons and English. Toni told him she has speaking level but not teaching level and then she thought of me.
                I first of all was excited…. This was my chance to give and take. Teach a little English learn a little Italian, and make a friend. This kid from what my host mother told me is an awesome kid and an amazing artist, he attends the beautiful art school in town… so he would be a good friend to have.
                My second thought was, I’ve never taught anyone anything before, were in the world do I start… and my grammer which was never up to par in the first place is slowly on the decline if you can’t tell. (I give up on editing this post. You can guess and do it yourself. Love you! J)
                How many Italains does it take to change a lightbulb….
  Well it takes two plus a Texan. And the lamp still didn’t work, but it turns out it’s how many it takes to MAKE a light build, because the lightbulb was the problem. But still it was pretty funny because this was no typical lightbulb. In fact I think it might have been in France and it looked more like one of those leveler tubes you use when building something and the way it went into this lamp was completely riduculouse….. just saying….
And to round off of the blog in what seems like whats becoming my style, is the emotional, what I’ve learned part. One is Monday’s every where no matter if their in another language stink, school can sometimes feel like a form of torture, and bad days still exist they just seem so much worse when added upon culture shock and homesickness. I believe my exact words to one of my friends were  “sometimes I just embrace the day and life and it kicks me in the metaphorical balls.” I know it’s not the classiest saying, but it pretty true. Yet I’m starting a life for myself here, and now I’m starting to realize why it’s hard to come home when you’ve been away for a year. Sometimes I take comfort in the fact that I have set return to Texas, I know I’m coming home in a year. Yet as I make a life here, and true friends down the road, I bond with my host family…some moments the thought of leaving them without a set return, never knowing when I’m going to hear my host brother or sister bicker. Or my host mother lecture my host brother because he’s being a typical teenage boy (even sometimes I want to throttle him). See Micia my spastic, hellan, trouble-making, dignified host cat. Or just see them all again in person after I return home, well I thought about that today, and I nearly started crying.
                Maybe it’s the mood swings that comes along with whatever is that our brain goes through ( I know other kids have them as well, they were a discussion one night on our facebook group… and exchange student munchies)  or  I may just be adjusting, I’m pretty sure when it comes times to get on that plane to go home, I might be thinking Italy is home, and why aren’t they letting me stay…..
                Ciao. Bouna Notte.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Can't take the girl out Texas......

(This was written on Tuesday. I was just too lazy until now to revise it.)
                I read a book once in which one of the characters commented on how when on your back all skies look the same. By ‘”being on your back”, he did not mean when times got tough. But simply that. Everywhere skies look all exactly alike. What changes them is what lies on the ground and the people underneath. And while Texas may be known for its wide open blue skies, the skies in Italy are just as blue. But there still not Texas…
                Last time I updated I had just regaled about the homesick blues, getting the start of the paperwork for my temporary residence license.  Well the residence license is now scheduled for a meeting in Massa (that town that is beaucratically the same as Carrara) later in September. Seems weird to think that it’s already September and getting into the later part at that. I’ve never truly thought about how short a month actually is despite the length that it feels at times. Any who... since the government run-around (fitting name I believe) I have gone many places. The first day it rained in Italy my host sister walked into our room and informed me that we were going to Lucca.
                The rain was beautiful and we waited for it to abate (SAT word right there) a bit before going to Lucca but it stilled stormed and yes we only brought one umbrella. But for a Texas girl whose been living in one of the worst Texas a drought in a while, rain was a blessing to feel upon my skin and the mist hanging in the air. So like the tourist I was. I ran from the cover of the umbrella with my camera snapping photos of anything and everything. It was all so beautiful. Now Lucca is obviously a town in Italy, but it is one of the few towns in Europe that still has its walls. Downtown Lucca is within the walls and the newer part is outside them. The whole place was beautiful and the whole way around the wall is about 8 km. I would love to walk all the around it one day. As the day went on the skies brightened and we one of the most memorable moments is when we stopped to rest on a bench.
                I was still fooling with my camera and taking picks from the bench of the mountains in the distance when a beautiful pigeon came strutting towards us. It passed closed by and I raised my camera to take a picture of it. Not two seconds after I lowered my camera Toni bluntly and dead-panned. “Paige kill it?” and looked like she was going to hand me the handle end of the umbrella. I gave her a wide eyed look and once I figured out she was joking a second later I laughed.
                So Lucca was beautiful and one of the prettiest thing of the downtown that I saw, well it was all beautiful but this definitely stood out was the Duomo (the name for the main cathedral of a town or city). It had three stories of just pillars sitting onto the actually church like a crown. Each pillar was different in carving, as well texture, and color. It was absolutely beautiful but add in the painting and carving into the stone around the door and the room it was a breath taking sight.
                We headed home around three in the afternoon. (P.S. nobody warned me that Europe runs on a 24 hour clock. For someone who is dyslexic with math it’s the most tripped up thing I the world. The first time I saw the clock in the kitchen I thought maybe it was a giant timer to match the giant calculator Toni has in the house). The car ride to Lucca was fun.
                Before I explain why I want all of you to either get something that records your voice or go get someone to listen to you very carefully. I want you to say the word “water”.  Go ahead do it….

                Okay. Well I don’t know about the rest of my fellow English Americans but I do know I tested this on my mother and nanny just a few days ago when they Skyped me and I definitely think it’s for sure all true Texans. But we don’t say “water” with a‘t’ we put a‘d’ there. So it sounds like “wader”.  My host sister feel in love with this on the car ride she will randomly just say come to me know and say “dice acqua”.  The first time she said that in front of her friends I scrunched my eyebrows and said “acqua”, confused as to why she wanted me to say water. But now when she smiles at me and says it I roll my eyes and say “water”.  We usually both end up laughing. And if anything she’ll never be able to hear the water again after I leave without hopefully thinking of me. Atleast it will be a happy and funny thing to be remembered for.
                So we returned from Lucca and we had to go down these winding roads to get to Carrara. I thought we were literally about to drive off the edge the only thing I could compare it to. Would be when I was younger and my family took one of those jeep rides in the Colorado mountains. And my dad was driving. For those of you who either know my dad or have done the jeep thing you know that, that is really all that needs to be said.
                A few days later we went to go get my national I.D. number. It’s not like social security because you could go screaming it down the street and it wouldn’t hurt you. It’s just like you are such and such. And if you were to be hit by one of these scooters and got to the hospital you wouldn’t have to pay anything because Italian healthcare is practically free. You pay about 150 Euros a year and all hospital visits, most prescribed medicines and I believe doctor visits are all paid for by the government.
                Afterwards we went back by near the house and picked up Ludo and Dodi and we went to what I could only call a Sam’s Club squished together with a mall. I believe Toni might have called it an outlet but I couldn’t be sure as it was several days ago. But what I did learn is that when it comes to shoes my host brother takes twice as long as a girl to decide and I’m talking nearly an hour. I was ready to cry.
                But I found out later maybe crying would have been for another reason. I suddenly seemed to hit a depression that day and I think it might have started the night before. But when we got home I had to hold of bursting out in tears several times. I wasn’t homesick, Italy was great, but it was like I just had a mood swing that ran me straight into a hole of the worst kind of depression ever. Trying to calm myself down and for some normalcy, hoping maybe to get my mind off something I downloaded a movie off of ITunes and watched it. But it still didn’t help so I sent my Rotex a message. (Thank God for Rotex’s). Soon after I was called to dinner and we had this pasta with pesto but it wasn’t pasta per se. More like a thinly rolled crepe pasta that was cut into squares. It’s amazing by itself to just as I alter discovered. But sitting at the table I choking back tears and at one point I raised my head and put my hand on my stomach thinking I was about to get sick when Ludo looked up and said. “mama”. Toni whipped around and on the spot I said I was fine and just had a stomach ache. To cover the tears I sneezed a few seconds later, so they thought my allergies might be the cause. That day had been cooler and I had still went out in a tank top and in shorts, so Toni thought I might be getting a cold. I finished eating and she sent me to bed and I was elated and horrible guilty about lying to her but I just needed to be away. But when you share a room and live in an apartment that’s pretty open you can’t really openly cry anywhere. But then I remembered at outbound camp on of the Rotarians said if you feel like you need to cry wait until you’re the shower and just bawl. (Thank you Jaci). So that’s what I did and it helped some to just cry. Like it was cleansing. So crawling into bed very early that night I pulled the covers over my head and messages my mom on Facebook hoping talking to her would help. It did. I also got a message back from my Rotex who helped a lot too and gave me confidence and a bunch to consider. That night I fell asleep with red rimmed eyes, memories of my erased ultimatum, doubts and a prayer for God to grant me strength.
                A few days passed and I pulled out of my depression it seemed  and during that time I went with my host sister and two of her friends to a towns name I could not remember for the life of me. But a bunch of artist live there and it was my first train ride. I saved the ticket to put on my jacket. J.
                And then greatest thing happened. I went to Pisa….
                It was an adventure from the start. That night Ludo looked up the train time and I bought my first ticket. And got slightly annoyed when no body understood that I just got my exchange the door before from the small amount of Euros I got at the currency exchange in New York. So I didn’t have any change and yes that meant 1 value Euros. (I’m convinced everywhere has traded in there in their one dollar bills for coins. Because Dodi found one in his room while cleaning it and Toni asked me if they still had them in circulation, she thought they had gotten rid of them. I was really tempted to drag her into my room and show the twenty one dollar bills I forgot I had in my wallet from home to show just how much they still are in circulation.) So we bought the ticket get to the platform one train comes and then they realized that they missed the train. But luckily in Italy there are Trains all the time so catched the next one. Except this one had first class and second class and first class is like the little areas you see on Harry Potter with the six seats three facing each other with the sliding glass door to close you off. Minus the candy cart of course. We weren’t supposed to be there but we rose the whole way to Pisa and it was awesome to watch everything out the window.
                So we arrived in Pisa and quickly walked to the main street, we into some shops and I couldn’t wait until I knew weather my weight was going to go up or down (it’s still deciding because I put my skinny jeans on for school this morning and they weren’t so skinny anymore. I had to dig out my belt and even that didn’t seem to help.) Because the second it decided for sure I was going on a shopping spree. If Italian fashion is any indication of American fashion right now I do believe for once in history everyone just might be dressed adorably. J
                So we shopped around some and the cool thing about being with natives is that instead of eating at the touristy places on the street like I was expecting they lead me down an alley to this literally hole in the wall little shop that smelled amazing. I had no clue what I was given to me but it was some type of egg hash brown patty (maybe?) between two foccia buns (that’s what making me gain weight, the bread is only in the Tuscan area and is to die for). I ate it and as always thought about how much self control these people had when it came to great food because even with how much they walk they could literally be like America and the “Obese country.”
                After that we walked to the leaning tower of Pisa. It was amazing to see up close and it was really the driving stake that “oh my god I’m in Italy”. I mean sure I had the language around and had been here for two weeks now and just a little under then but it was just… amazing. Of course like all Americans (The Italain's words not mine) I had to take a picture leaning against the tower.
                Now when you someone comes back from Pisa and they see the picture it looks so cool and you want one. Well what you don’t realize is that to that photo you’re literally standing hundred yards away with your hands in the air surrounded by a million other tourists doing the same thing. You like a bunch of dorks that don’t the difference between “left or right” (“Which right your or mine?”). Of course I was a cool idiot because I had Italian natives directing. Legit right? And we got the picture taken. But what most people fail to forget is that the Leaning tower of Pisa is not just some random leaning tower in the middle of a grassy field. It’s a bell tower to an equally beautiful and grand church and this other dome thing that nobody could tell me what it was.
                The most uncanny part though was as we working our way to the shade given off by the walls they had near the church, tower and dome thing an American Family spoke nearby with a young child. The sound of American English (because Brits are walking around everywhere and I still can’t understand what they say. I’d rather converse with my religions teacher who thinks I’m stupid and can’t even speak English so she speaks it slowly. But more on her later). Anyways the sound of American English actually made me jump and turn around shocked. It was a bit uncanny.
                So we made it to the shade by the wall and sat down. We had been sitting there for a few minutes when these two guys walked out into the middle of the grass in the sun whipped of their shirts laid down towels and sat back and suntanned. And they were not ugly, yet I still don’t know what nationality they were.
                Now I knew why so many more women were enthuastic about the Leaning tower of Pisa than mean. I snapped a picture because I knew someone body wouldn’t believe me and I needed proof. Okay maybe it was just for me… but still it’s proof.
                We worked our way back to the main street we walked earlier that morning after they took me by a school that is for the prestigious geniuses of Italy. It was a beautiful school and I saw my first Rotary sign. The English translation underneath talked about how the Rotary group of Pisa made this handicap assessable which is really nice because there are so many stairs and thing in Italy. And you see the old people working there up them, it breaks my heart. So thank you Rotary of Pisa.
                We sat on the wall that bordered the river and stayed there for a bit enjoying the view. I didn’t turn all the way around with my back to the street because I didn’t trust anybody not to come and push me into the river.
                As we headed back to Carrara on the train I saw nun in their black outfits with their habbits, hobbits? Whatever their called.  That was on Saturday.
                Sunday was a day of relaxation and I talked to my mother and nanny.
                Monday was school. Because it was the first day school started at nine and ended at twelve. Usually it goes eight to one.  I dressed up cut and curled my hair. My bangs were immaculately straight and I was ready for my first day of Italian school. Armed with my Italian to English dictionary and a picture to keep traditions my mother started for the first day of school, me and Toni headed off to school.
                As we walked she instructed me to always go straight because that leads straight to the school. Halfway there I was sweating from the humidity I could hear my hair frizzing and I suddenly wondering why I didn’t picked some more northern country where it was always cloudy, rainy and cold. I would rather be drenched and have my hair curl naturally than be sweating and frizzing from humidity. And as we continue to walk I was about to tell Toni that this twenty (she swears by that time but it definitely longer) minute walk to school is more of a hike. As we reached the school my once straight bangs were curled and looked horrible my eye-make up was gone if not running and my face was red. Great first impressions right?
                Toni had me introduced to the principal and then the principal introduced me to some teacher. I got to meet my school counselor which wasn’t really a counselor but more of the guy in charge of exchange students. He was very nice.
                I was lead into my class after everyone was already in their seats and if I hadn’t been sweating, red-faced and frizzy hair I probably would have hammed it up a bit when they applauded. Instead I slowly walked into the class room as the teacher directed me to a seat right in the freaking front and center. Of course. But he turned out to be very nice and he was my Philosophy and History teacher. He even stopped a few times and translated a few of the notes he had written on the board. (They still use chalk boards, it’s legit). Then after his hour was up my Religion teacher came in. She has absolutely no control of the class and said a few things before walking over to me and asking me where I was from. I don’t even say America because I learned in Italy if you are from Texas you claim that first. It’s internationally known so take that you states that didn’t want us in the Union so long ago. (Okay not really but it’s a very proud thing when people automatically know that Texas is an America and there is no further explanation. I will admit I am a Texan by birth and therefore first and then an American. Sad but true. Southern pride right there. ) After she publically announced to the class that I was from Texas a boy from the back yelled “Yeeehaww” that made me laugh. Then she asked me why I was in Italy. Actually she asked me why is “Descended in Italy”. It made me feel like an Alien and I seriously thought about telling her I came here for the marble as it was rare on my planet. But I figured since her English seemed to be basic it wouldn’t be funny and only continue to confuse her more. So I answered Rotary Youth exchange. I had to eventually right it down and then she shook her head huffed and said why I was in Italy again. I stared at her for a minute and then got it. Why did I pick Italy out of all the other million places in the world I could have gone? Well let’s think about this. Thiers the food which hands down smashes Olive Garden to dirt and Starbucks as well. And the coffee and food is so much simpler. Then there’s the beauty, which attracts from all over the world. And finally to a history buff like me there’s all the History. I mean in Carrara you have buildings from the renaissance if not earlier right next to building built after World War 2 when Carrara was one of the cities bombed (a sad fact my host mother told me about when we on the government run around adventure). So finally I decided the easier thing to say would be. “I love Italy” And you know earn brownie points in the process.
                She translated it to the class because I “like” Italy. There goes my brownie points. But one of the boys from the back (I believed the one that yelled yee-haw) replied “I like America”.  After her hour was up the first teacher came back in and I learned when It came to history many words were the same or nearly identical and if not I could figure it out in a second. School was dismissed and I worked my way out of the building to the bus stop my host mother told me my host brother would wait for me at.
                He left me. I was leaning against the back wall when all of a sudden I saw him and was walking towards him when a huge crowd surged in front of me and then they cleared and I saw the bus door closing with him behind them.  I scowled after the bus for a second and then pulled out my cell phone navigated my way through the Italian to “last called” (Thank you Toni for making sure my phone worked that morning you’re an amazing host mother) and called Toni. I informed her that I ‘lost Dodi” and that I wouldn’t mind walking home.
                It was a really nice walk and it was the first time I had honestly had just any alone time since being here. I even found a quaint little creek hidden under a bridge that nobody but the old men I passed by and me took notice in. (a side note I love the way the old men in Italy walk. With their hands behind their back slightly forward and a leisurely pace like they have all the time in the world left and are taking the time to just see everything. It’s such a contrast to the traffic speeding by just meters away).
                I made it to the house and saw Dodi setting the table. Toni turned to look at him and then me and said. “I’m sorry for my son”. I just laughed and said it was fine. Because really it was I enjoyed it. She asked me about school and I answered her questions. Then I went into the room dropped my backpack and pulled out an Italian verb workbook to fan myself with. It was a hot hike uphill.
                I went to bed early that night (yesterday) and had already planned on wearing my “Keep Austin Weird” t-shirt.  I set my alarm for six since school started at eight and we had to leave the house by 7:30.
                I woke up this morning to the alarm on my IPod (since the guy down at the electronics shop is still trying to unlock it so I can use it with an Italian sims card. The Phone Toni is letting me borrow now terrorizes me and I swear does it on purpose. I have threatened it a few times to chunk it in the ocean and I’m sure my host family thinks I’m completely technologically illiterate as well as a bull in a China shop. Because I feel like I’m always bumping into and dropping things here. I broke a shelf in the shower the other day and I was so frustrated that I walked out of the bathroom after getting dressed to Toni carrying the shelf and near tears telling Toni how sorry I was. Thankfully the shelf was already broken and had just been glued before. Otherwise I might had just sat on the floor and bawled.  These mood swings at times kill me. I don’t know whether their self induced or part of culture shock or whatever but they need to leave). Anyways I woke up to my IPod alarm and it was church bells. I had no clue how it got set to that and when you live in a place where you can’t throw a stick without hitting a church or something slightly holy, I think I muttered to my host sister to close the window because of the bells. But when no response came I looked up and saw Ludo’s bed empty I thought maybe I had just fallen asleep for a little bit but upon finding my phone and realizing it was my alarm I realized it was in fact the next morning and that Ludo had most likely bunked with Toni that night.
                I got up and got ready and then remember my cow print bandana I had. I rolled it up so I looked like a head band and thought I could wear under my bangs on my forehead to keep them curling from the sweat. It kind of worked but I’m sure I looked like some weird biker, gang chick.
                Any who I was ready a lot faster than I expected to be and that was with me moving a bit sluggishly. I sat in the living room waiting for Dodi as we were walking to school together that morning. 7:35 rolled around and I was worried we would be late remembering how long the walk seemed but when Toni said we had enough time and that an Italian student was never early I chilled.             
                So I and my host brother set out for our walk to school. It was a quiet but not awkward walk. We kept a fast paced and sometimes with me leading, sometimes him and other times us side by side. I hoped it would give us bonding time alter on because it feels like sometimes he doesn’t really want to be around me, or for better just doesn’t care. I’ve been determined to break that.
                So we got to school and the first class of the day was Italian. The teacher upon hearing that I didn’t speak any Italian and didn’t understand much either looked straight at me and went into a lecture about how she doesn’t speak English and so on in ITALIAN! After I just told her I didn’t understand nor speak it. Which made a lot of sense! Not. And the only reason I caught what she said was because the girl that sits right beside me is so sweet and told me kindly that “She doesn’t speak English” when I looked over at her for translation.
                The second hour was my English teacher. She was excited to have me in her class and asked if when they let me make my own time table if I wanted to be moved out. I shook my head no and told her I would very much like to stay, if not just for something to look forward to in the week. She was crazy and bangs books on desk scaring me half to death to get people to listen. She made me get up and try to explain the American high school system, which I never thought was complicated but to Italian it must be so mind boggling because they looked like me when I’m math class. Confused as all get out and nowhere near the light of comprehension. Then they asked me about if I ever ridden a bull. And if Lucrezia (my host sister in Lubbock, TX) would get to ride one. I said no, because of safety reasons. And then I ruined the illusion that we “cowboys” ride wild bulls by telling them that most of the bulls are actually fairly tamed and that what makes them buck and kick is the saddle that’s used.
                The third class of the day was chemistry and after asking how to say my name she didn’t say anything else. I don’t even think she knew I was an exchange student and didn’t speak any Italian.
                The day before they had informed school me was out at eleven the next day so today and even this morning talking to my friend the minute I showed up before the bell rang they informed me the days were shorts because school was just starting. So I went down stairs to leave and saw that no one was leaving like yesterday and that some kids were walking around with sandwiches. But everyone had their bags on like they were leaving.  So I went back upstairs and found a group of my friend from class and asked them if school was over. It was passed 11 when the bell actually rang, so people should have been leaving.  The girl that spoke the best English nodded and said. “Yes school is over for today and that tomorrow school was from 8 to 1.” I was going to go back down the stairs when one of the guys told me I could go out the front. I saw a group of girls head that way with their helmets for their scooters and said thanks and followed after them. I turned to go home and noticed no one else was leaving and almost turned back when I saw kids hanging around the school talking. So I figured they were talking a bit before going home since during the schooldays you didn’t really do anything because they have so much homework. (If my class had any I wasn’t informed so I just translate my notes from class. Actually if I do any this year it might be mind boggling.)
                So I walked home and noticed nobody else was out. I made it home and told Toni that I didn’t know where Dodi was and kind of what happened at school. Her and her sister-in-law looks at each other and Toni seemed to get upset that Dodi wasn’t home and called him. After no answer she got real frustrated and I felt bad that I may have gotten him in trouble. Well after she finally gotten a hold of him he informed her he had school until one (he’s in the grade below me, but the same school). Toni looked at me and I told her I was just going by what they told me at school and that I was sorry.
                So we still don’t know if my class got out early or if the second day of school I just accidently ditched school for the first time in my life. I’m still laughing to myself. At least tomorrow I know that school last until one. So worst case scenario I’ll just sit in the classroom (since the teachers come to us) and work on Italian.
                And that has been a brief description of my time since I last posted but I am sad to say that even thought I love Italy and my host family and always keep my head high. I don’t honestly know if I can do this (but I refuse to give up!). Because I have learned several things so far.  One is if you didn’t profusely sweat and your cloths don’t smell you can hang them back up and not have to wash them. To relish air conditioning because it really is something we take for granted. (I found one in a store in Carrara the other day and stood there for ten minute pretending to translate a bottle of shampoo just to relish it.) Hairy legs won’t kill you (Actually the jury is still out on this one). That as much as you say you want to get up and leave your hometown and never come back you don’t mean it. Family and friends once suffocating are prayed for so that way they can suffocate you some more when you get back. The only Christmas gift I want this year is a hug from my mom and dad and bad of pretezel m&m’s. Leaving without talking with my sister and not ending this stupid fight was one regret I’ll always carry. My room door will never again be closed unless necessary. I will always cherish hug and kisses from my parents and family and not take them for granted. I will never take my friend for granted or complain about them again. I know that while the grass maybe greener on the other side it’s not worth being jealous over and to cherish what you have. A small town is not bad town. Simplicity is an amazing thing. And that you can take the girl out Texas , but she’s not home and she’s not happy without it.
                Any who off the dark notes….
                I love all of you! And I hope you are all taking care. Sorry what took so long to update but sometimes It takes me a while to filter enough to write it down.
                Again as my dad would say.
                Ciao baby.
Also. (Regarding the bidet I mentioned to him in the bathroom.) “That’s a funny place to put a water fountain.”…. My dad’s joke. Like I said, I won’t ever take  my family for granted again. J
   Sorry I just had to share that.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Marble, Marble Everywhere....

                It’s here and there. The floors, the sinks, the shower, the window seals, the sidewalk, bases of building. Buildings!! ,big ones made of it. It’s the statues, and the fountains, there are benches made of marble. Square blocks in the street. Mosaic marble sidewalks. Carrara marble. It’s bellisimo!!
                And for those of you who don’t know it’s not because Italia is rich, in fact today my host mother said Italy is a very poor country. But it’s because in the mountains are marble. It’s has been excavated since the Roman Empire and even Michelangelo’s David was carved out it! It’s just amazing.
                You can see the mountains from the beach, it looks like there photshopped into me, because I’ve never been anywhere were this close to the beach you have towering, cloud piercing( literally) mountains.
                And speaking of beach. For my second day, or I should say my first full day in Carrara. Was amazing. But before I get into it I want to share something. Mostly because I shared it with my nanny who shared it with my mom and now she’s freaking out and hopefully posting it on my blog will help her fell better that I’m being sincere and I only cried because I miss her hugs and smile and just her.
                When I first got here I was embarrassed. My bag was big, well no bigger than what I saw other students with, but it was a snug fit in the car trunk. Most of it I do need, so I don’t feel like I over packed. If anything I feel like maybe I should have crammed just a few more things and prepared more.
But after arriving at the apartment. I was sick. My stomach heart and I was tired and I really had to go to the bathroom, but I was scared to. I wanted to immediately go home. But I realize now it was a very large panic attack without the tears (though those would come later,) because I was in a place so foreign. I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know the language. And when they asked I kind of felt like a failure because I didn’t know it. (I’m very hard on myself)
                Because my arrival was delayed a few days my welcome was not as big as what it was going to be. But they did have a get together at the house with food. I snacked on some cantaloupe to be nice, but every bite I was scared I was going to be sick. And then they gave me some authentic lasagna. It was good, albeit a bit rich with parmesan, and if I hadn’t been worried about getting sick I probably would have eaten it all and the rest of the pan. Instead I took small bits and forced it down and then took the excuse of answering questions to set it to the side and “forget about it”. I felt really bad, literally and figuratively.
                By the night and unpacking, I was a bit better, it was like seeing my things they’re kind of calmed me down. My host brother and sister showed me around Carrara. While it is a small town it seems big to me, because you do have many shops, and banks, and lot of things to do. And to me those things are only found in the bigger cities. So to me Carrara is big, that really surprised them. They probably think I’m now from a hick town of two hundred….
                Once we came home, we ate dinner. It was some left over from the lunch. Now that I had my appetite I tried some. Bruschetta, love it. But my host mother, Toni, made this soup. Bean soup with wheat. It kind of reminded me of Mexican beans but not mashed. Anyways it was awesome and come to find out it’s my host brother favorite, hopefully it earned me points. Also there were these tomatoes with bread crumbs and garlic and cheese. They were good but would have been amazing warm.
                Like a good Rotary Exchange student, I asked the first night questions. Most had already been answered, but there were still a few left to cover. I found out that my host mother birthday is two days before mine, and that she thought I was already seventeen. And just other things hat were assumed with both parties were asked. It helped, a lot.
                I went to bed that night, I was about dead. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep. But with the window and the air cool. The sound of Italian being shouted from the streets below was comforting. I feel asleep almost immediately.
                Waking up the next morning was weird. I woke up to my host sister, Ludo, closing the window because the streets below were too loud. It only took me half a second to realize who she was and where I was. I got up and walked out of the room toward the kitchen, still in my pajamas. They asked m if I wanted caffé. But my stomach was still kind of upset. So I turned back to the room after a tired and mumbled, “Boun giorno” and got ready for the day.
                As I came out to wait for Ludo and Dodi, My host brother, to get ready I sat in the chair and worked on my Italian verbs. Sitting there I felt better than last night and after asking my host sister how to flush the toilet in the restroom I felt a bit more comfortable asking questions. I realized then that I would be more a burden in the long run if I didn’t know how to do anything, so ask questions now. Like they taught us at outbound camp. Don’t assume, ask.
                So I did. About nearly everything. But it helps the parroting thing, you know watch and mirror.
                But I still wasn’t feeling how I thought I should. Or how they put it at outbound  camp the “honeymoon” phase. I made an ultimatum with myself then that I would stay a month, and if by then after grasping the language and the culture a bit if I still was just miserable then I would beg and plead and cry to go home.
                So they took me to Marini di Carrara, a port and beach. We walked the markets which were amazing and spanned streets and blocks. There was everything needed and imagined there. I relaxed a bit more.
                An interesting thing was as I arrived in Italy things reminded me of home funny enough. There were tall pine trees lining the road, west Texas and Louisiana. A beach like Florida, and mountains like Colorado. But there was nothing of Texas here. Until I saw a small cactus at the market and I nearly pulled a Bella off of Twilight so just I could have a little piece of home with me.
                As we headed to the beach Dodi went home and it was just me and Luda. We went and sat on the beach which is beautiful, and touched the sea, which was nicely chilled. Freddo=cold.
                We sat on the beach for a while and it was an awkward silence. I was tired and wanted to sleep but I didn’t want to mess up my schedule nor did I know how long we were staying.
                We ate falcalta (?) a type of bread that is amazing, and brucshetta sandwiches. They were very good but I still wasn’t Hungary so I didn’t eat one.
                A little while later we went down the beach to a little I don’t know patio place with a store next to it where you could sandwiches and pasta, as well as ice cream, slushes and drinks. A little snack bar or beach hut you could say. Luda asked me if I wanted anything and water sounded great, but I wasn’t sure of the currency yet and I still had half a bottle of water that I had refilled at the house. So I said no. We went and sat at this small table. Luda said her friends were coming and we waited a while.
                Once they showed up and started talking, asking me questions, joking, teaching me Italian words and even making a pact that “You teach use American cuss words, we’ll teach you Italian.” It cracked me up, especially when they started saying the basic ones. A little girl who was probably younger preteens in eh group said “shit” and I about died laughing.
                At that point I was having fun, I felt included in the group and after learning some words and talking, in both English and attempting Italian. I realized that I was just being stubborn and hard on myself. I had just landed yesterday and I shouldn’t be scared to try Italian. So I started asking questions and they helped with pronunciation. I was having fun, and for the first time I took a deep breath and relaxed. And my thoughts of the ultimatum disappeared. I was staying for the whole year, and they were going to have to drag me out of Italy when the time came to leave.
                We went and sat down at the beach, Luda, her cousin, a friend and me. Then Lucrezia (my host sister that is in Lubbock, TX) that I “exchanged” with friends came down. I talking to them and we went to what they called a “gazebo”. It was really like a tent or sun cover, shade thing. There were chairs and they all sat around. They asked twice as many questions and I smiled and laughed.
                Especially when for the second time that day they said. “He is pork”. They meant pig. I cracked up.
                The day at the beach was fun and relaxing and it made me feel better. In fact right now I’m very optimistic about this exchange. Albeit still a little home sick, just a little.
                The bus ride was something new to me too. It has a lot of load shifts and at times can get packed it took a minute or two, okay maybe five minutes, to get my balance and to learn the tighter you grip the pole the more your hands sweat and the more you slip.
                I also learned that Italians don’t really know the word for sunburn, in English. Because they don’t get it. Well most don’t, they just tan. So when they gave me some sunscreen that was SPF 30 I think that was the highest they had. I’m defiantly going to have to ask my mom to send me some SPF 50. I’m very fair skinned and albino white is actually tanned for me.
                Dinner that night was good. It was this green pasta, with ham and cream sauce. I loved it. And then after dinner they always have fruit. Watermelon, cantaloupe, which they call melon in English, (I smiled at that one), and grapes, even better Tuscan grapes.
                Going to bed again was easy and I slept hard until my alarm this morning. I had to wake up early so we could go to the police station to get my temporary residence card. That, like anything government, anywhere, took us all over town looking for the right thing. Finally we got it.
                After coming home I got on Facebook. And finally, finally Skype with my mom. But she couldn’t here me so I wrote and she talked it was good to hear her voice. And then my dad tried to Skype me but he couldn’t get it to work. It’s hard to catch them because of the time zone difference and I don’t really have a schedule yet. So it was nice to at least talk to them without e-mail.
                I got to finally sit down and rest and I found my favorite chair in the house. It’s a low wing back chair that it literally 180 degrees around and is placed right in front of the window. With the light and cool breeze I about took a nap. But I’m still hesitant to sleep outside of bedtime so that I don’t mess up my schedule.
                At around 5 we went back to Marini di Carrara to mail the packet for my temporary residence card to Massa. Massa and Carrara are technically the same town. This is how my host mother explained it. They are bureaucratically (?) the same but geographically different. I just nodded.
                We took the car instead of the bus and it was a different car than the one they picked me up in it was literally the “town car” because it was smaller.
                And while I’m on the subject of cars and driving, Italians are experts at parallel parking, like that is the only parking there is. And those scooters, don’t follow the rules of traffic unless it’s stop and sometimes to turn. Otherwise I saw them weave in and out of cars and one nearly face planted into the back end of one.
                Driving here isn’t as crazy as most people thing. But when my host mother, Toni, told me that there two type of police, one from the army, one for traffic I thought “Thiers traffic cops?!”. They stop when there’s a red light sure, but as for jaywalking, I don’t think it exist as a crime here, but they do have crosswalks and most people use them in the town. They don’t honk their horn excessivly; at least I haven’t seen it yet. And Toni told me that in Napoli unless you are from there you can’t drive there because they make their own laws. Also today while getting the paperwork for the residency card she picked me up a foreign driver’s pamphlet they had out in English for me to read. I’ve only read the first page so far.
                Oh and I just remembered while going to the post office in Marini di Carrara, the lady behind the counter help us said “Momma mia”. I thought “Oh lord, its true.”J. I chuckled to myself. And then she expressed how beautiful she thought the American passports were because in Italy the pages are just plane. Also while in Marini di Carrara we went to Italy’s version of a Wal-mart called Super store. And grocery stores here are two stories, with elevators. I thought it was just the one in town because it was smaller, but turns on even the bigger one do as well. They also had special check-out lanes for the disabled and pregnant.
                I am going to go work on my Italian verbs. Which everyone keeps telling me how hard they are and that they spend eight years in school working on them. I’m crash coursing these babies in one.
                Update on the language front, I read one of those “do not use elevator in case of fire” signs today in Italian. I was so proud of myself. Small victories right now seem huge.
                Take care all.