The bittersweet symphony entry

Trip Start Aug 28, 2009
Trip End Nov 24, 2009

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Flag of Italy  , Lombardy,
Friday, October 9, 2009

Ha, I bet you all have that song stuck in your head now huh.  Mission accomplished.  I chose that title because 1. I really like that song, and 2. the past week has been extremely bittersweet.  Let's recap, shall we?

Monday:  I didn't end up going to Brescia, instead, I was lazy all day.  The cold I got was bad that day, I could hardly talk my throat was so closed up.  The grand total of family members that showed up that day- 4.  Grandma, an aunt, Daniele, and Luisa's sister Anna.  Sometimes they show up for a few minutes then leave.  I don't get it.  Maybe if I spoke the language I'd understand.

Tuesday:  My first Italian/English lesson swap.  The woman, Daniela, is a kindergarten teacher, and trying to pass a test in English.  She is reading a book, so she would read a paragraph, I would correct any pronunciation mistakes, then she would translate it into Italian.  We weren't sure what to do for me, so I wrote down words I hear a lot and she told me what they meant.  Then to practice writing and speaking, I wrote about Ben and talked about him.  So I can't buy groceries, but at least I can tell them about my boyfriend! :) We set another date for next Tuesday to have another lesson.  I made lunch...that's right, Allison the non-chef actually made a meal in Italy.  I can't brag too much since it really only consisted of pushing buttons (this thing called the Bimby-look it up, it's an amazing tool), but still.  I made polenta, which is a delicious, sponge-cake consistency substitution for bread.  Enrico and I played a duet of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on the piano and I drew Halloween pictures for him.  I think Luisa's going to buy pumpkins to make their very first jack-o-lanterns!  I want to get candy corn, to really show the Italians what this great holiday's all about.  I went to the doctor with Angelo, and it was ridiculous.  We sat in a little room with other people, no one talking, staring a door that lead to the doctor.  The doc himself was sitting behind his computer in an office that barely had room for a hospital bed.  He was wearing street clothes and spent about 10 minutes listening to me breath, looking at my throat, and talking to Angelo before prescribing me antibiotics, then that was that.  Italy has free health care, so going to the doctor and getting antibiotics cost a total of 3 euros.  Not bad.  For dinner, Luisa's mom had brought over chestnuts and boiled them til they were soft.  It took me a couple tries to figure out how to peel them without destroying the inside, but OH MY GOD.  They are the most delicious things EVER.  I wish I could have them all the time, and have someone to peel them for me.  Wow.  So good.

Wednesday:  I decided to go to Brescia, and told that girl who I was supposed to meet up with the other night I'd be there.  I walked around by myself, stopping in shops here and there, and ended up buying a nice jacket for only 20 euros, a sweater, and a new purse.  I wanted to get shoes, but it was almost lunch time so I called her and asked if she wanted to get some food.  After meeting and talking, I found out that 1. she's not actually Italian, she's Russian who just married an Italian.  2. when I called her the other day I was so sick she couldn't understand me so we agreed to meet in Brescia when we actually both live in Dello, about 10 minutes from each other! and 3. we had been on the same bus this morning.  It was pretty funny.  We ate then walked around, she took me to shoe stores, but my feet are so freakin gigantic the tiny Italians don't have my size.  We got on the bus back to Brescia and said goodbye, agreeing to meet up again.   I was so excited to finally have a friend, and a really cool one at that!  Luisa came home with the news that my work permit was denied and she can't host me once my tourist visa expires, on November 29.  That's when "Bittersweet Symphony" started playing in my head.  Part of me is ready to come home, and the other part wants to take advantage of the fact I'm out here.  That night we went to Angelo's dad's house for Daniele's birthday.  There was the grandpa, Luisa, Angelo and the boys, Angelo's sister and her family, Daniele, then another brother showed up with his son.  All the cousins (4 boys and 1 girl) started playing and were loud and having a blast, and the parents were all shouting at each other over the noise, and the grandpa and I sat back with smiles on our faces, watching it all.  They had a plate of desserts from the other shop in town that Luisa said was better than the one she had taken me to, and I have to agree.  I had a tiny cup of tiramisu, and my tongue did a little dance.  I'm definitely gaining weight now!  It was fun to be a part of this happy family's life though, I have no clue what was talked about, but I love just watching it all.  Italians are very loving.  Everyone's welcomed me with open arms.  Sometimes I'm treated like a (really big) kid, they push candy on me and tell me "bravo!" when I say something in Italian, but it's nice.

Thursday:  I woke up in a horrible mood.  My parents sent me a package that has still not arrived, and I am really upset because my teddy bear I've had since my birth is in it.  It makes me sick to think I may have lost him.  (Notice I say "him" and not "it"-yeah, I'm not ashamed of how much I love my teddy.)  Homesickness weighed on me heavier than usual.  Luisa had told me of a shoe shop in town so I hopped on Angelo's bike, intending on riding the couple blocks to get there.  She called me while I was riding, so I, feeling falsely confident, decided to take the call while still riding.  You'd think I know by now that I am not a bike person.  I went through the only traffic light in town, starting out ok, but there was a car behind me and another guy on his bike passed me, and I just about ate it.  I decided I better pull over before I broke another wrist or got more stitches in my chin.  I safely made it to the store and went in, tenatively asking if they had my size.  They said no, but they did have the size below, so I decided to look anyway.  The lady I had asked stood to the side and watched as I searched the shoes.  Her stare made me uneasy so I moved to the next row.  She followed.  I got slightly ticked off.  I moved to the purses.  Guess who came with?  She watched me like she thought I was going to steal something.  I was so furious.  In Brescia when I was going through the stores, the salespeople would follow me upstairs, which made me uncomfortable, but they didn't glare at me like this woman.  It felt like that time I was falsely accused of shoplifting, and I was so pissed off I left, biting my lip from telling her to back off, knowing she probably wouldn't understand the words but could recognize the tone.  I bought bread for lunch then got home, in a worse mood than before I left.  I told Luisa about the shoe lady, so she said we would go together when she was off work.  We brought the boys with, and "I'm going to stare at you to make sure you don't steal my too small for you shoes" lady wasn't there but I wasn't in the mood to try anything on.  We left after a couple minutes, Luisa telling me it was rude to not try stuff on, even if it's too small or you don't like anything, you're basically obligated to do it here.  I guess it's rude in the States too, but I don't feel obligated.  If I don't like anything, or they don't have my size, I say thank you and move on.  So then, on top of my homesickness and anger from earlier, I felt embarassed.  It just kept getting worse and worse.  She went back to work and I took the boys for a walk around the neighborhood with Francesco in the stroller and Enrico standing on the back.  Out of nowhere Enrico hopped off, landing on my toes and I thought I lost a toenail.  I stopped, took a big breath, and told myself not to cry.  I felt pretty hopeless though, and wanted nothing more than to come home.  Coming back home, they wanted to play football outside, which started out ok, but Francesco kept missing and Enrico kept scoring, so Franci had one of his screaming crying fits.  Enrico was patient at first, but then even he couldn't take it, and threw the ball at Franci's head.  They then began to scream at each other in Italian, Enrico shaking his brother by the shoulders, neither of them listening to me or paying attention to my attempts to separate them.  The little patience and energy I had left snapped.  I brought them inside, turned on the TV, and sat down, taking deep breaths as they became mesmorized by the cartoons.  Luckily, the night was saved by delicious Italian food.  Luisa's dad was having a party for his golfing friends, so we went to a restaurant (where the waitress was not only Enrico's teacher, but, shocker, Luisa's cousin!) and oh my goodness, the food was incredible.  I sat in silence, slowly enjoying the pasta, vegetables so soft I could cut them with my fork, and some sort of meat that melted in my mouth.  I was in my own little world, only coming back occassionally to listen to all the happy Italian golfers enjoying their own dinners.  It's a good thing food can bring me out of a funk, and that I'm in Italy where the food is always delicious.

Friday:  I woke up feeling much better (not physically-I thought I was going to cough up a lung, but emotionally) and bought round-trip tickets to Spain for under $100!  Zach is meeting me there from Ireland, we're going to Barcelona for a weekend, and I am so excited.  I will finally see Sagrada Familia, the church I did my big History of Architecture paper on, and one of the only buildings I really, really want to see while in Europe.  Tomorrow I'm meeting two of my friends from class in Milan, so I'm sure that will be fun as well.  I feel ridiculous that I'm homesick when I'm in the country of my dreams, living an easy life filled with food and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.  And now that I have no guarantee of a place to live after November, I need to take advantage of the short time I am here. 

So anyway, now you are caught up on the life of Allison.  I hope you all are doing well, I miss you all!
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