FIRST BREAKDOWN

Well, I am already lying to you. I would consider the first day (paint issue/apartment anxiety/I want my Mommy) freak out a semi-breakdown as it did involve a few hours of excessive sweating and some hyperventilating. I have also had a few weeping sessions here and there (like when I realized that there is no oven in my apartment – meaning NO pizza making, NO baked chicken, NO lasagna… oh I can’t start thinking about this again…) but nothing too over the top or that different from my pre-abroad life tears. But what went down this past Wednesday takes the cake as FIRST MAJOR BREAKDOWN. As always, let’s start from the beginning.

As worst-days-ever-sometimes go, this past Wednesday started out GREAT. I made (deliciously fresh) eggs for breakfast, felt awake for my 8 am Italian class, had to present on a historical topic in New York in class and everyone seemed to be able to kind of follow what I was rambling about (basically about how at the end of the 19th century many immigrants from Europe came to the ports of New York looking for work and because of such big influxes of immigrants through the turn of the century, NYC is one of the most multi-cultural places on earth!… what? I don’t know how I came up with that complicated story when the assignment was to simply tell the class a little background about where we are from but you know how it is when learning a foreign language. I think I was trying to use some words I already knew and one thing led to another and Bam! The story of immigration!).

Anyway, the morning rounded out with a successful interview for a part-time babysitting position. The woman (an American who married an Italian she met while studying abroad during her undergraduate years 10 years ago…I’m telling you, the general theme around here is that people come and never leave… just saying) I met has a two-year old daughter, they live 5 minutes from my apartment in a great part of town, she and I hit it off right away and as always with babysitting, it will be nice to get out of the apartment and hang out in some one’s real house for a few hours a week.

Then I spent a few hours at the British Institute Library, a fabulously stuffy and intimate library that I think will become my new study spot as it lacks (loud) Americans, and who doesn’t love hearing a nice British accent through tall rows of books in rooms topped with chandeliers? The afternoon rounded out with a class and then the 4 other girls in my program and I headed out for some aperitivo and a glass of wine. I took them to a spot I discovered a week or so ago in Piazza Santo Spirito. The place is called Pop Cafe and it serves a vegetarian aperitivo in the evening. So for 3-4 euros each, we enjoyed a nice glass of wine and some healthy finger foods. Can’t beat that. And the ambiance is perfect. Santo Spirito in general is a little sketchy with hobos and bird ladies, but is also filled with students – both Italian and American – so it’s a great place to people watch and spend a few hours in the evening.

So allllll that being said, wouldn’t you agree that this day sounds pretty great?? After our drink we were all pretty tired and parted our separate ways. You’re not going to believe me but on the way home, across Ponte Santa Trinita, there was a beautiful, fire-red and pink sunset that even the Italians were stopping to snap a pic of. Looking out over the Arno at this intense sky is one of those (cheesy) moments when you just have to feel so f-ing lucky… like, can life get any better??!

I’m not sure about that… but boy did it get worse pretty quickly. So I get home, feeling great, in a good mood from my vino rosso and the day in general. I was in such a good mood I decided, ‘Hey! why don’t I sweep the apartment?!’ My thought process I guess was that I may as well do this tedious task while in a swell mood, right?? So I get going, lift all the chairs onto the table and futon, pick up the rugs and hang them over the window, pick up all the cords off the floor and ready, set, go! I sweep the place in a few minutes (as I had mentioned in an earlier post, the whole place is the size of a walk-in closet – I have this fun game I play where I stand in the center of the room, turn 45° I’m in the kitchen, turn another 45° I’m in the living room, and another I’m in the bedroom! Woo hoo! I know I know, I must get a hobby or a gay best friend to avoid such poor use of my time.) ANYWAY, here comes the climax of this ridiculously anti-climactic post: As I start putting things back in place, I – a little too forcefully – swing down a chair from the table and then hear a loud crash and swerve around to see my laptop FACE FIRST, SPREAD EAGLE on the floor!!! I SCREAM! DIVE TOWARDS IT! OH MY GOD! THE MONITOR IS NOT STANDING UP ON IT’S OWN! HOW COULD I DO THIS TO THIS INNOCENT CREATURE?!? I COLLAPSE ONTO THE FUTON WITH THIS POOR, LIFELESS, SOUL IN MY ARMS! I’M HELPLESS! LOST! ALL ALONE IN THIS WORLD!

Alright, I’ll stop with the caps lock. But really, an overwhelming feeling of loss and helplessness overtook me. What does one do in a foreign country when their laptop breaks?? I know a computer tech repairman in ITALY will charge me a fortune for repairs! Can this poor guy even be repaired? I can’t buy a European laptop! All the plugs will be different when I get home! How will I do my school work? The library closes at 8 pm during the week and is completely closed on the weekends!! How will I skype?? How will I write emails!? Watch American TV shows online?!  HOW WILL I BLOGGGGG?!?! NOOOOOO!!!!!!

Ughhhhh such devastation. I obviously immediately called my father, and you can guess what his response was. No wait really guess. Yea, you’re right: WHATTAYAGONNADO?? Ah, usually that works to help calm me down but in this scenario the feeling of helplessness and woe-is-me overshadowed any rational thought. This self-inflicted, royal pain in the ass situation with no feasible solution had me thrown on my bed with grief, tears streaming, snot flying, the works. Who I really needed at this moment were Spikey and Spikey Jr, my two stuffed animals from childhood (don’t get confused though, they are brothers, not father and son. I know, it’s complicated). They would let me freak the f-out without judgment and wouldn’t mind being suffocated in the nook of my neck as I squeezed the life out of them in frustration.

Since they weren’t available, the next phone call went to Robert. More than my father, I succumbed Robert to a complete major freak out of every thought I just wrote about and most especially, HOW WAS I SUCH AN IDIOT?? Of course his response was that ‘Babe, these things happen,’ but as I am a person so meticulous with taking care of things and having to know where everything is and ah just in general so Type A, making this kind of mistake is nearly IMPOSSIBLE for me to deal with, especially because the only person to blame is myself! So after a few more minutes of sheer insanity, like a child tired from her own tears, I started to calm down.

Robert came up with the following facts for me to think about: A. Yes, you’re right, they will charge you a lot for a repair B. I just googled your model laptop and it is only worth $150 U.S. dollars so don’t feel that bad (who knew 6 year old laptops depreciated in value so much?!) C. I can send you my old laptop, no worries babe.

And you know what my response was? ‘Really???? But the Z and Y buttons will be backwards…’ If you stop following this blog forever in disgust of my actions, I will not hold it against you. I actually completely concur.

I mean, I don’t have that much more to say on the topic besides I am hoping this event was a build up of stresses in general that come with moving to another country – broken electronics, trying to learn a new language, simple everyday tasks that if you’re not in the mood seem to take up more energy than you can imagine, running home at night because I don’t feel 100% comfortable with the streets yet, wishing that biotch at the caffe would stop ignoring me because she knows I’m American and seems to bothered by my national identity, AH, just everything. Life. Life in transition. New places, spaces, people, languages, everything. It’s all intoxicating and wonderful and magical and also lonely and frustrating and tiresome.

I know, I know, how can I complain about ANTHING?! I’m living in Italia baby! And please understand, I RARELY feel this way but, when I do, I really do. But I guess I was right, in reference to my first post, there are moments (usually after a long fulfilling day of looking at art, trying to learn and practice a new language, avoiding getting lost, trying to find goat cheese at the market (becuase it’s easier to digest – obviously), etc ,etc) when I’m alone at night sometimes all I really do want is a bag of Stacy’s chips and salsa, Bravo TV and my Mom to laugh at my jokes.

I guess that’s what this experience is all about though, right? Acknowledging and dealing with these dark, lonely moments and then moving on, hopefully growing and seeing a new side to yourself. In the case of the laptop melt down, I saw a side of me that was quite disturbing and I will now actively work on trying not to be so overwhelmed when faced with technological malfunctions.  Thankfully, the laptop fiasco has been resolved, Robert’s old laptop is on its way from Germany (again and again, God Bless his soul), and I am again back to getting chills walking these streets knowing that this place is home for the next year.

Sorry, no pics in this post but hope to be back in the rhythm soon.

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About Lauren Raffaela

Ciao ragazzi, mi chiamo Lauren. I am writing from Florence, Italy where I am in school for a Masters in Museum Studies. When not in school I spend my days strolling the streets, trying to look like a local. I love to people watch, go jogging before the city is awake, have small talk with old ladies and am constantly stopping to read menus in restaurant and cafe windows just to see what they're up to. My favorite gelato flavor is noccioloso and I try to control my intake to one (or two...) a week. My blog focuses on my adventures and discoveries - both about this beautiful city (and country) and about myself. If you would like to touch base or have any questions please feel free to leave a comment on my posts and I'll be sure to get in touch. Grazie and ciao!
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3 Responses to FIRST BREAKDOWN

  1. Fran says:

    I swear, if you don’t compile these blogs into a book at the end of this journey, I’m going to be mad. No wonder you like naps, you exhaust yourself.

  2. Ar says:

    I can only imagine the snot running down your face after this type of freakout, Laur, and the one thing to remember is: you’re not alone. Remember that time I lost my watch in my purse for 2 weeks and cried about it and posted fliers in the gym and yada yada… when, end of story, it turned out A-ok? Such is life, they say, but in the moment, WHOA. At least be pleasantly surprised the finger food didn’t decide at that moment to wreak havoc on your tummy and cause a major date with Ed in the middle of another traumatic event. Right? BRIGHT SIDE. Anyhoo, I miss you, we all miss you, and I’m so happy Robert was able to come to the rescue. xoxo

  3. Ali says:

    Guess who’s reading this blog? Juuuust guess.

    I miss you, babe! Just got back from Europe myself (last week!) and we must talk! I love you.

    -Ali

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