News of the Technology Boom has now reached all of the farthest corners of the world, including Italy. Yes, it is now possible to have Internet access at home. Ergo, I am indeed writing this from my lovely flat. Who said Rome wasn't built in a day?

Another marvelous week last week. Our Italian class had our midterm exams. Now, for me, it's completely irrelevant, of course, since I'm not doing any of this for university credit. For my classmates, however, this particular test instilled rather significant fear. In times of stress, of course, native language patterns become more pronounced. Thus, in the school library, I heard the following:

Tiffany from Jersey (as in New, not the islands): "Oh my Gawd. My friend, who's like, really really good in Italian, she said this test is, like, wicked hard."

Heather 1: "Oh my Gawd, I'm gonna fail. Like, I just don't know, like, the pronoun thing-ys, ya know? Like, I THINK you're supposed to ----"

Heather 2: "Oh my Gawd, the pronouns are the WORST." (Hair twirling begins.) "What's a verb, anyway?"

Jersey Tiff (from above): "I dunno. I think it's, like, ya know, the thing in the middle of the sentence that, like, makes it all happen?" (NB: From this point forward, all sentences are ending with a question mark indicating the use of the famous Passaic inflection.)

Heather 2: "Oh my Gawd. I'm gonna flunk so bad?"

Here's the reality. These kids are not stupid. They probably did just fine on their exams. One can only hope that their next four months on European soil will not only improve their knowledge of Italian but might also help them begin to understand the "language" they, too, speak. AND LOSE THAT FRIGGIN’ "LIKE." YA KNOW????

(I did fine on the test. Forgot that the word for hair is masculine, but picked up extra points with my "essay" on the political prisoner and the gnome. Little did they know that much of my writing is based on memoir...)

In all truth, what the test actually showed me is that my Italian is definitely coming on. I now speak Italian in all of the shops and I've made a hair appointment in the madrelingua, so to speak (if I end up looking like Sinead O'Connor circa 1995 I'll know I'm not ready for Level 3, of course). So, good news there.

Had a marvelous 6-hour walking tour yesterday. With a trained archeologist and an Italian art historian, our little merry band of pranksters (we were three) headed up the Palatine Hill to the vast remains of Domitian's palace, with views to St. Peter's and the Forum in its entirety. A quick romp through the 1st Century and then down to the Forum. At this point, the temperature suddenly took a nose dive and the sky turned a gentle shade of ebony. Still, we pressed on, intrepid travelers that we were.

(Actually, my fellow tourists were a mother-daughter act from the suburbs of Detroit. They did not speak a single word during the 6-hour stretch until, at the very end of this incredible experience, the archeologist asked if there were any further questions. Before I could even utter the name Hadrian, the daughter bellowed, "Any decent place around here to get some lunch?" Not only was it slightly disappointing but, from a cultural standpoint it was highly embarrassing, to say the least. )

Once the walking tour was over, I made the decision to walk home. Bad call. After a solid week of beautiful, warm, sunny days, Rome suddenly experienced its first hail storm of the year. Protected by my handy mini-Totes umbrella, I weathered a rather significant pelting, then decided to stop at the next hostaria or trattoria I found and do what any sensible soul with aching legs, sore feet and a face full of hail: have a drink. I also managed to inhale a very nice panino with smoked swordfish, arugula and fresh tomato. Followed by a magnificent cioccolato which, for the uninitiated, comprises a pure, unadulterated cup of thick chocolate the consistency of, say, base petroleum. It's heavenly. Guaranteed to induce a nap of considerable noteworthiness. Which it did. Spent the waning hours of the afternoon snoozing away under the down duvet, Italian grammar book on one side and The Lives of the Twelve Cesars (a FAB book for those who want to know what the emperors were really like) on the other. I awoke to the bells tolling and darkness descending over the winding streets of this ancient street.

I still wrestle a bit with guilty feelings. (Oh my Gawd, like, ya know, like, what did I ever do to deserve this, like, sojourn?) However, I am nearly to the other side of that particularly Calvinist line of thought, and I am truly beginning to believe that there's a big turn in this life about to come my way. What or where or even when that will be I have no idea. I had a vague notion of maybe becoming a Medievalist then thought, hm, maybe that's not the best way to pay a mortgage. Ditto the history of architecture route. It's a bit like working out or going to the gym; i.e., when you first start, it's agony, and then, slowly, you begin to feel those muscles developing. Well, my intellectual synapses, many of which had fallen off into a cruise-controlled stupor, are back with a vengeance.

More next week.

Un bacio,



© Copyright Amy Selwyn 2004