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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Torre Del Greco revisited

Yesterday I went to visit my ancestral home of Torre Del Greco (TDG) to redo my Italian ID card which had been damaged. It was cool that I had an excuse to go back and see it. It was also nice that my friend Paolo drove me there; he works with my gf and he's from a town near Napoli so he was generous to take me there. He also appreciates the same things I do in that town which are also some of the simplest things such as observing the fresh fish in an outdoor market and even observing the quality of the cigarettes some old man was selling! We also enjoyed observing the town's history via the old buildings, some of which were evidence of past grandeur and elegance and the view of the town from the pier at the port.

What I like most about going there is knowing that my roots and my last name are from there. Living here amongst things, people and places which are not directly related to me is fine but going to TDG gives me a small sense of belonging even though they left a century ago and we don't have any immediate family there anymore. Then there is the bureaucratic side of it as I am registered at the town hall as a Torre citizen living abroad. But nonetheless, I am member of that town and I believe I can vote there. It was nice to be able to get my new ID card with no problems, as if to say "Oh good, they remember me!"

Another perk of TDG is that it's right under the Vesuvius volcano and it's an impressive view although a bit scary as vesuvio is a sleeping giant and I do believe that eventually it will explode and wipe TDG right off the map. This is one reason I don't live there as well as fears of other natural disasters. To this people react with disbelief and that I am overreacting, but the fear is justified. Still, with that idea aside, it is tempting to live there although perhaps I am a bit naive as I believe living there on a daily basis would be hard. Not only that but I have a job and a steady relationship here in Rome so I am content to stay here and Rome is not far at all from Campania.

As I said before, Paolo and I appreciated the same things in Torre Del Greco whereas other people might call it an urban dump as the buildings are old and apparently falling apart. It definitely has a stigma to it, not to mention the organized crime aspect to it. Nonetheless, for us it's a piece of history and it's nice to be in a place where tourists don't usually go so we can observe how the average person lives and the original flavor of the place is preserved. That to me is more interesting than tourist traps which as a result make a place lose its authenticity (this may happen in Cuba).

A Torr, ce verrimm n'ata vot, si semp dint' o cor!(My rusty napoletano!)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cultural arguing.

I frequently mention cultural differences between Italian and American culture here, naturally as this is my background. I participated in one recently via social media which left me quite disturbed and analyzing the whole thing afterwards, even now. It started with a video of a racist white lady who wanted to see a white doctor at a Canadian hospital. I agreed with everyone else that she's ridiculous in making this request and that such behavior is wrong; I think most rational people would agree. Where we differed was our approach to the problem. Living in this country has made me a bit indifferent to these kinds of public tantrums, but only because I think along the lines of that I can't solve the problems of an idiot by voicing my opinion, especially if it's someone I don't know.

The question of what the moral thing to do in these types of situations is not an easy question. The opposing view that I encountered is that we have the moral obligation to do something, but I don't 100% share that opinion as people are going to be jackasses no matter how much we morally intervene and it will continue in the future no matter how many "Dude, did you just say.....that's not cool and you shouldn't say that" moral deputies we create in the future. I have an issue with the idea that someone deems themselves morally qualified to tell someone what is right and what is wrong and I believe that in the long run this could lead to fanaticism in other issues. My continual response is that these matters are subjective; I may not always step in and say something because in fact that is not my nature. I will admit however, that the woman in the video was very belligerent and her behaviour was unacceptable on the basis that she wasn't being reasonable. The fact that she is a racist is not my concern (others would disagree with me, but I don't care) and I have no business telling her what views are right and which are wrong no matter how fucked up hers are. I'd have told her that she's holding up the line and forcing other sick people to wait, people with sick children. Telling her that vs "you're a racist" I think is more effective. She's obviously already accepted herself and that her behaviour, in her eyes, is ok. In fact in the video she was told repeatedly by everyone to go to a hospital to which she refused. Thus she was very unreasonable and in my opinion THAT warranted public intervention.

Here's where the culture aspect comes in. I can't stand the way some Americans argue. A family member once told me that what Americans don't like is when someone doesn't agree with them (quite right) as they are often arrogant enough to believe that their view is the right one, we should all agree and everyone else is wrong. This I say from numerous observations with my own countrymen but granted this is only one man's experience, take it for what it's worth. What is most irritating is when people become condescending, patronizing and downright insulting. The American approach to many arguments is just this and quite often people are immature and most importantly, they are not objective. I am not saying this is local to only Americans, but that is the focus of this entry. In this I am more comfy arguing with an Italian as they are in fact objectively minded when they argue and can tell the difference between a matter of different opinion and it doesn't bother them. Not the case in the USA as an American feels insulted when you don't agree with them.

What is particularly dangerous (and irritating) is when you combine intelligence with being condescending. I am not admitting defeat in the video in question (the Canadian bigot) as intervening isn't 100% wrong, but where one loses credibility is when you mix child-like tactics (memes) in an otherwise serious discussion. This is important: you claim to be morally advanced in your approaches to society's social problems yet you resort to patronizing when faced with a view contrary to your own. If you're really more advanced with your ideas you wouldn't need to be insulting; how you can take someone serious with all this considered?? How can you be vulgar and insulting, yet still preach morality? I can be vulgar myself (note the F bomb before) but there is a time and place for it and at times it helps to vent. I am of the view that this is an imbalance of intelligence in the sense that someone can be well informed and present a good case, yet you lack the ability to operate with tact which is another form of intelligence in and of itself. This discussion obviously went beyond the video but it was necessary as it opened the door to a wider more profound discussion.

I haven't said anything here that I wouldn't repeat in person. I've only posted this content here as this is my blog and a place where I vent and process my thoughts. Besides I had already said all that I needed to say on fb.

This is the video:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Survived high school teaching!

The school year is finished and I am so happy! It was definitely a learning experience, a test of will and patience and I learned a lot. For example, how to be flexible. There are constant interruptions and unexpected elements when you teach and lots of little things that come up that you have to deal with instead of teaching. The clearest example that comes to mind happened just about a month ago. There were 6 girls who were downstairs in the bar having a snack instead of being in class and we were already 10 mins late. I suspected they were downstairs, so there I went! I found then, give them the "no no" finger and left. When we got back I proceeded to give them a disciplinary note. "But prof, it's only the first time it's happened!" Would you listen to that logic? These kids have no concept of being responsible for their actions. I said "and if I shot you in the leg would you wave punishment with the logic of it being "only the first time"? Please. As a result, all 6 got a lower grade for their behavior mark on their report card.

I am optimistic about the future. I am going to try and take advantage of the fact that we are in Rome and that there are plenty of jobs in my field. My goal is to finally be able to save up some cash instead of just living paycheck to paycheck. What is nice is that I have a job and that my current employer wants me back. This is good to know as others aren't so fortunate. I will however choose to reduce my high school hours and ask to continue my work in companies like I am doing now. Then I have my summer gig in England which is stressful but necessary and every year I wonder if it'll be my last. Ideally I'd love to just work 2 weeks there so for some extra cushion money. Who knows, maybe it'll be possible next year. Lastly, I am happy with my relationship with Valeria. She is a wonderful person and we have a possible future together. I still need time to be totally convinced but like the alcoholics say, one day at a time".

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Post 37

I don't want to say this is a sad blog as a lot my posts are somewhat melancholy, but as I think about it, I write when I am a bit down. Today has been a rather negative day. I have a cold again for the 3rd time since Xmas and I'd like to know why. I am a hypochondriac so I never like feeling unwell but I think my cold is due to three things: The cold weather has returned, I live a big city where germs are everywhere and I work around teens. Lucky me. What also sucked about today was that I think I made one of my teachers mad. I took forever to grade tests and give them back to her and I think she also might have the impression that I haven't really explored the exam I am supposedly preparing my students for. It's true unfortunately, and it's true as nothing to me is more boring than reading something (or anything!) academic in my free time! But if I want to stay in good standing at my job I'll have to do as she says. I am also cat sitting till tomorrow and this is the last time! Honestly, I would never keep an animal in a small apartment.

I am 37. The older I get the more I try not to look at the number. Whatever. I am getting older and I look at it this way: we're all in this ride together and some of us get off too soon. I do like it how people always think I am younger and I think I will age gracefully. But to be honest, this is not really the life I want for myself at my age. At my age, I want a quiet house all to myself (for the time being) and a CAR for fucks sake! This is something I have dearly missed. I also have mixed feelings about where I work; I like my job as it is a great experience and I feel important to the kids who some of them love me. Yet, the pay is still just typical Italian pay and I am living pay check to pay check and it provides such little stability for the future. Thus I will be forced to go back to England this summer to make up lost wages and the practical thing to do is stay the whole damn summer and then rest here in Rome! I think I will look for more work in Rome and maybe leave Darby as the only reason I'd stay is because I hate always jumping jobs. But when I am going to stop saying maybe and make up my damn mind?!? This is my achilles heel in life and I pray for the courage to make a change. I think what keeps me here is this inner desire to be Italian. That's the bane of my problem if we want to call it that. I feel as if I move back to the States or even elsewhere, I will lose part of my identity even though that really isn't true. Like the alcoholics say, one day at a time.

I am also dating one of my students, Valeria who is a lawyer my age from Sicily. I adore her and we're a great couple and although she has many good qualities I need time to fall in love and to see if I am going to make more definite plans with her. I like her as she is Catholic, sensibile, intelligent and has a beautiful smile. She's also a kind and warm person which are traits I look for in women. Physically she isn't my first choice but I am trying to figure out where my priorities lie and what I consider important. Needless to say she will be part of my influence to stay in this country any further.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

First post 2017.

I have just got back from the USA and my Xmas vacations. They were quick, that's for sure but I am happier to be back this year than in past years. I like my life better this year than the previous one as I live in a better place, I make a bit more cash and I don't have as much stress like that I did in Ostia last year although Ostia was a constructive year, as painful as it was. It went fine this year in Connecticut. I didn't get into as many arguments with my parents although they were difficult as to be expected. I suppose you just need to pick your battles but at times its hard to avoid arguing with them. Although I must admit, what they call an argument for me is a simple disagreement or difference of opinion. I do hate seeing them age but then again I am ageing too!

Some of the highlights: For some reason, one of the first things that comes to mind is hockey. I went to see a Umass Amherst college hockey game and it was nice as there wasn't a lot of people and it was a chance to be with my dad. He criticized my driving on the way up, but he drives defensively and so anyone in comparison is a maniac! Anyway, they lost but it was a simple night. Then I went ice skating at Bolton Ice Palace and it was great. It made me wish I was still playing hockey as quite honestly it is one of the few sports that stimulate my senses and satisfy my need for, well, speed! But it was also emotional as I started playing there when I was 14 and I stopped 15 years ago. I'd def play again if I lived in the area and I think I'd play better as I am in better shape now. Seeing Tim's kids was nice as they are adorabile and full of energy. Tim remains one of my best friends and it's obvious why: he's a no bullshit guy, direct, honest and doesn't give a rats ass about being PC. Also he is a great mentor in the Catholic faith.

My parents rented me a car and it was a pretty sweet ride, a 2016 Dodge Charger. It was like I had my own car again and it's also something that I have dearly missed. Although you don't need a car per say here in Rome. New Year's was fine as I went to the old Rookie's in Cromwell and I didn't get drunk at all! I spent it with Rodrigo and it's always nice seeing him. I got to see Santos twice, Kim for a coffee and a round at Margherita's and I even saw Brianne this time and got to meet her fiancé, although I already knew him from high school. Xmas was fine except my allergies got the best of me. I must be allergic to the USA or more specifically, carpeting! I detest it and I find it useless. I was kinda sick at Xmas and the combination of jet lag didnt help! Yeah, it was fine this trip back and I got to spend plenty of time relaxing at home. I also took pics of Tolland as if I was a tourist. I visited the Benton Homestead, the cemetery near Crandalls park where I found 18th century gravestones and one who was at Lexington and Concord, and I took some shots of the town green.

Do I want to move back? Not right now and I say that every year. For now I am going to work till the end of the school year and then decide if my current job is worth another year here in Roma. As I get older moving back to the USA does appeal even more. Kim and AJ (my niece's husband) gave me some good career advice, alternatives to teaching which would be recruiting or working at a university but not as a teacher. For example, I could be an academic advisor. It's definitely something to think about. I just worry that moving back I'd regret it and I'd miss being Italian and soaking up the culture here. But I am getting to the point where I would and might choose a better paying job in the US over treading water here. I think each year that passes I think about it more. I enjoy my life here as Italy is my second home and I feel very Italianized. Just before I boarded the bus to the airport my dad said "It never gets any easier" and I was surprised he said that. I am guessing (hell I know) that the more time passes the more he wants me back. I understand his and my mom's thoughts, but I need to do what is best for me. I will in the end, I have made numerous changes in my life as I eventually leave bad situations when I feel it's in my best interest. Whether it's a bad idea to stay here I cannot say, but I will need to find more stability. I'd like for it be here but I can't make a single man's salary forever, especially if the good Lord blesses me with a wife and kids.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Yes, walking. I subscribe to a certain logic when I walk and that is the rules of the road. Quite simply, I wish people would think about how they drive when they walk. What does that mean: when you drive what side of the road do you stick to? In most countries, the right side and since I grew up in America and live in Italy where the driving is the same, this will be my base of reference. I get so annoyed when I am on a sidewalk, metro, grocery store or some public place and I am constantly bumping into people. I can't tell you how many times I approach a corner, or an area where I have to turn and I almost butt heads with someone. In the grocery store you need to stop and look before you exist an aisle and keep the cart to the right side! Park it when you need to look for an item.

What also irritates me is how some people just have no sense of space. This also includes personal space, although this might be a key difference between US and Italian society as Italians' personal space is smaller than Americans'. What I mean is when people don't realize who are what are around them. One of the biggest frustrations here are Italians who stand in the middle of an area where people walk (such as the entrance to a store) and don't realize they are there till someone says excuse me.

I am not saying this is a rule that must be strictly adhered to as there are situations in which it is difficult to maintain order in public places, but I think this general logic can help to make walking, moving and getting to places much easier. I suppose though I will always find much frustration here in Italy as people don't seem to get this logic 100%. Furthermore, I walk much faster than people here, even when I have my arms full of groceries. One thing you'll never catch me doing is standing in the middle where people walk to get organised or worse, to look at a map!! Finally, I don't want to sound inhumane so I of course realize when someone has a disability or is elderly. In that case I won't rush up behind them. However, if you are slow walker, be you elderly, disabled or simply have a slower pace, I think you should think of the road once again. Slow moving vehicles on the right and the left lane is the passion lane!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ok. Let's continue with this Rome thing!

Back in Rome. After much deliberation, I have returned. Why? Well, I had found two teaching jobs in Boston, but I cant afford to live in the Boston area and I didn’t want to stay at home any longer as my parents and I don’t see eye to eye on certain things. But that’s natural. Anyway, I wanted to give Rome and Italy another chance. This is my second home and I have a new teaching job which is vastly different than the gig in Ostia. I’ll be teaching in public schools, morning hours and I get to select the hours I want to work. The pay seems like it’s going to be a lot more than Ostia. Lets hope so! I move into my new flat on the 1st of Oct and it’s a shared flat like in the past. So, lets hope these dudes believe in cleaning and mutual respect!

I had hoped for a monolocale (studio apartment) but the damn things are expensive and far away. This new apartment was a stroke of luck. I live right behind the Vatican with a Brazilian guy who didnt ask for a deposit or a contract. He's a simple clean person who has been very kind to me. He also has an adorable pit bull mix named Lilly. It's so nice to live with a dog again! My morning commute to work takes me right across the Vatican to the metro and it's easier than I thought to get to my high school. Its a good thing I took this place as the other room in Garbatella cancelled on me at the last minute. It's funny how life works out, I get more entertainment from it than TV!