March 20, 2008

Nice little thoughts

I have been a bad blogger of late and I do apologize, just a bit too much going on elsewhere in my life and I needed a mental break.


I am off to the States just after a quick hop to Trento for Easter, and I am SURE that I will have lots of re-entry cultural moments to stimulate my blogging fingers. So be patient and stop by next week.

Today, I finished my long list of pre-departure "things to do" in time for a bit of shopping to pick up pensierini (or little thoughts) for the trip. My first days will be in the Boston area house-hopping among friends, then there are few sisters with birthdays coming up and my Mom....

So I stopped by my favorite little stock-out shop in Monteverde and picked up about 10 small items while chatting with the owner (we, of course, have a "relationship"). Then, she individually wrapped each one with paper, ribbon, little flowers and other ornaments tied on here and there. She even used a special kind of two sided tape so that it doesn't show. Each package is wrapped differently, depending on the size, and her fancy as she debated between the red glossy ribbon or the coarse-grain yellow one.

It took forever! But what can you do but stand by in awe of the care and dedication to all that makes life "nice".

Sometimes it just takes a pensierino to remind us to think nice little thoughts.

I hope that customs doesn't open up my suitcase and trash them all!!

a domani,

March 17, 2008

Warm fuzzies

Just a quick "share". I found this entry in my "google alert" last week with a list of Italian blogs. clic here. A nice review of this blog too!

a domani,

March 8, 2008

Tell it like it is

I had a cross-cultural moment yesterday. Actually a reverse one. An American woman I had recently met at an event called specifically to inform me that I had done something the other day she didn't appreciate. She was very American about the whole thing by reflecting for 48 hours before calling, speaking very calmly and without a trace of emotion while being studiously assertive and precise about what she needed to express and finally telling me that she had called me for my own good so that I would be more aware in the future. I am sure that she felt good when she got off the phone -- she had gotten something off her chest in an appropriate, unemotional, rational way.

The problem is, I felt bad! I had been hastily judged by someone who doesn't know me or anything about me on the basis of her perspective and I wasn't put in a position to be able to think it through for 48 hours and respond appropriately!

Gotta love the Italian obsession with la Bella Figura, which goes hand in hand with other cultures' need to "give face". All that American individualism can foster an excessive need to express yourself in a very direct, clear and assertive way with little consideration of the person on the other side. Other cultures allow for getting the point across through context, while gracefully allowing for giving and receiving "face".

Italians will certainly tell you like it is, in your face, even in a very animated and very emotional way, at exactly the moment that it happens. You respond, they respond....and then it is over, poof, and you can go get an espresso together. Otherwise they will do whatever it takes to enhance your role in making the world a beautiful and elegant place, worthy of their effort at upholding belief in the Bella Figura.

I'll go lick my wounds and be back...
a domani,

March 4, 2008

Eat, drink and be merry

I have been knocked out with a fever for a few days. The good news is I happened to pick up Elizabeth Gilbert's book, "Eat, Pray, Love" just before I went down and read the whole thing between my bed and the couch as I dozed off and on.

About ten people had told me, "you must read this book" which usually puts me off immediately, especially when it has a section on Italy -- there is only so much gaggling over plunging necklines and pizza one can take. But this book is different.

Her first destination for a year of "one woman's search for everything" was Rome, where she arrived with no agenda other than spending four months discovering "pleasure" (while remaining celibate). So, what is left? Food, beauty and learning to roll a beautiful new language off your tongue. To her credit, she appreciates pleasure in all three, calling on her new Italian friends to help her understand that, "the beauty of doing nothing is the goal for all your hard work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life's achievement."

In Italy she was able to give herself permission to fully explore the question, "How do I define pleasure?" To discover what she likes to do, what gives her soul-satisfying pleasure. At the end of her stay, while traveling in Sicily, she discoveres that "the same thing which has helped generations of Sicilians hold their dignity has helped me begin to recover mine -- namely, the idea that the appreciation of pleasure can be an anchor of one's humanity." Creating and enjoying beauty can be serious business, a way to hold onto reality in the midst of physical and moral decay and chaos.

A wonderful way to describe Italy's gift to the world -- permission to explore the fundamental role beauty and pleasure play in our lives, without shame and guilt, because they define what makes us both human and divine.

a domani,