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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

My Olympic Dream

One of the reasons Demetrio is insisting on me taking intensive classes to learn Italian right away, is for me to have something to look forward to in the day so I am not home alone with nothing to do. He worries about me being bored, being homesick and just plain sad.

The first week I got here, he was giddy with excitement about us exploring Turin together and in a real moment of tenderness told me, “I am so glad you are here.” I looked at him with bewilderment and understanding. The surprise came from the realization that he actually thought I might not come. After all we have been through this past summer, after packing and moving the 350 boxes, after I gave away my garden, my cars, my car, my earning power, his words really shocked me. We have discussed so many things but he never let me in on this fear/worry. After about 5 seconds, the understanding hit me like a ton of bricks; I had a real “light bulb” moment.

When Deme got his first job with Microsoft about 14 years ago, he moved along with the job to Ireland. He was either planning to marry or had just recently married his first wife Anna. To make a long story short, she never moved to Ireland to join her husband as she had promised. Was he having déjà vu with me? I gave him a tight hug and we have not talked about it since. ***Deme keeps warning me about putting personal information about him on my blog, this maybe the only time I let the public (well, my family and friends) in on the inner workings of my secretive husband.*** Remember that many people actually thought I was either hallucinating about having an Italian boyfriend or he was just an apparition.

Back to the second reason I am being pushed to start lessons; if I want to get a job I will have to learn the language. I went to a sample class today and I don’t have much trouble understanding Italian but responding in a non-delayed manner is still a problem. The class had two other women, both Germans here with their boyfriends and both boyfriends worked for BMW. One was ethnic German and the other was Vietnamese. Both spoke three languages and were on their forth, Italian. I am in no hurry to get a job. I’ve been reading, taking walks to the city center, shopping, cooking, looking at apartments and getting some much needed shut-eye. For once in my life, I feel no pressure to work and meet other peoples’ needs. This state is doing wonders for my blood pressure.

So because of my many chances to nap, rest and relax I have been having very vivid dreams about family, friends, Italy and lately the Olympics in Turin 2006. Deme’s co-worker Jonas’ girlfriend Linda found an opportunity to work with the Olympic as a volunteer. Deme thinks I may be able to find a hospitality job associated with the Olympics. He keeps putting the idea into my head and a few nights ago it sneaked into my subconscious. In my dream, I had been hired as a consultant to the Hospitality Branch of the Olympic Committee. They wanted me to roam the city of Turin and look around for ways to improve the surroundings to U.S. foreigners. It was a huge job but with the event only a year away, they wanted me to start right away. Being a resident of Turin for only three weeks and a frequent bus rider, I had immediate ideas.

1. Street signs are often hard to read because they are too small, covered with soot, and bent. All these needed to be remedied. The bus system is good with free bus maps at every tobacco store. They also have postcards, stamps and other odds and ends.
2. The most antiquated and stately buildings in Turin all have terrible graffiti all over then. I had scientists invent a new kind of paint solvent that when sprayed on existing graffiti dissolved the old paint and prevent additional spray paint from adhering. An additional additive was added to regular paint that was used to paint and restore buildings so it would be able to affix itself properly.
3. Many shops in Turin are beautiful. For the ones that were not so elegantly maintained I proposed a “Clean-Up your Doorstep” program. All doorsteps, homes, rental buildings, bars, restaurants, were to be cleaned of dog pee, bird droppings, cigarette butts, dirt, and garbage; all in the prospect of attracting more paying customers when the Olympics arrived.
4. Each family with a dog had to pick up their dogs poop along retroactive dog poop. If you had two dogs then two family members had to pitch in. I think this was the hardest part of my plan to enact but with a bit of extra money from the city, we placed bag outposts in all public parks, piazzas and large gathering places with garbage cans for poop as well as sign all over; which there are none now. Our committee encouraged the beautification of the city and when we began to see citizens finger waving at violators, we smiled. We also fined violators a minimal fee and used the money to further fund the project. In two months time, I saw the citizens of Turin, handing their neighbors a bag if they did not have one and I saw bags tied to every leash just like in Seattle. The best part of the dream was when dog poop was picked up in city parks and grassy strips, little crocus and buttercups bloomed instantaneously. This brought delight to all good doers and everyone was happy. (I maybe be stretching it here but I really dreamt it and I dream in Technicolor.)
5. One the streets and sidewalks to Turin, there are large garbage dumpers parked everywhere, like 30 meters from the front door of our hotel, on corners, in alleys, all over. My committee had covers made for all the dumpsters. People could still throw trash in them but they looked a bit nicer. When the dumpers were picked up by the garbage trucks, they either took the covers off or tightened the covers so they did not fall off and impede the collection of garbage.
6. The infrastructure and decorating committees hired an army of new but temporary workers to improve flower beds, prune trees, sweep leaves, cut grass, water the new flower baskets that now hang from light posts.
7. By the end of six months and with the Olympics fast approaching, Turin gleamed. The only thing left for the Torinese (Tor-in-nay-say) people to do was to learn how to greet their new guests and make them feel welcome. Several times a day, there were short installment programs on TV and on the radio that taught people how to say “Hello/good day/welcome to Turin/Are you lost? /Do you need help?” in a variety of languages. All that dreaming in one night and when I woke up the next morning I felt refreshed about my new life in Turin.


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