Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“Workin’ for the weekend”–thank you, Loverboy

Always seems to be so much to say. Last Friday, I was sitting in my chiropractor’s office waiting for my appointment. I was a little early so I did some writing and working on my promotion and my article for Portrait of an Adoption.

And I came to an ugly realization as I sat there. I’m not adopting the Italian ethic or lifestyle the way I should. Everyone is casually sitting here chatting with each other. I’m working. PUHLEEEZE.

Couldn’t I even loosen up for a few minutes in a doctor’s office? Did I have to keep working, achieving, producing? Granted, I’ve only been in Italy for two weeks (as of last Friday). As I keep saying, I can’t expect behavior patterns ingrained in my frontal lobes to heal overnight. But, come on!

I cut myself some slack in recognizing that the work I was doing was for my promotion starting on Friday and lasting through the holiday weekend. I was getting a crash course in online promotion and social media. I had to work.

I recently had a marketing push on Amazon.com offering copies of This is My Lemonade—An Adoption Story as a free e-book throughout this weekend. This promotion was in concert with the publication of an article I’d written for a blog called Portrait of an Adoption. Just as a quick recap, the owner of this blog (with a pure demographic in the hundreds of thousands) moved another article to make room for mine. When I realized it was on Black Friday, I opted for a marketing push to get maximum exposure.

Well, it was more than just filling out a few forms on Amazon and letting Amazon do the work by placing a zero on the price. I had to market this promotion on my personal and Lemonade Facebook pages with the proper verbiage for the demographic. I had to market this book on LinkedIn with the proper verbiage for the demographic. I had to market this book on Twitter with the proper verbiage for the demographic, which was not easy considering there’s a one hundred forty character limit. I had to market this book on my blog with the proper verbiage for this demographic.

I also had emails to personally send to those who follow my blog or have “liked” it. Many had made their email addresses available. Some hadn’t. I figured if someone liked my blog or followed it, then I wanted to offer them the book gratis so they would know more about this circumstances surrounding all this Lemonade stuff.

Then there was the article. I had to market it on Twitter, my personal and Lemonade Facebook pages, LinkedIn and my blog, again with the proper verbiage for the demographic. And again, I had the adoption websites. All this stuff is more involved than you know. I was up until 11:00 p.m. some nights last week. Fortunately, my wine lubricated the experience.

This is why I say that I gave myself a bit of leeway in continuing to work as I sat in the doctor’s office. After I left there I once again again parked my pasta-influenced, ever-expanding fanny at my favorite restaurant to get this work done. My saving grace is that I’m nine hours ahead of the West Coast of North America so I’ve got some breathing space.

My behavior underscored the differences that I notice here in Italy with America. Why, just today, as I was walking to Café Duca for my morning coffee, a female (of course J) driver drove right in front of me into the crosswalk so she could get across a busy street.

I visited Italy eleven times prior to this move and I’ve experienced firsthand driver attitudes toward pedestrians. We are merely annoyances. Perhaps human bowling pins to be mowed down. I couldn’t help but equate the walking experience here with that of Oregon where, even in Portland, motorists will gladly wait for a pedestrian. Of course, I also recall how Los Angelenos also see pedestrians as an obstacle course. Guess it’s just an Oregon phenomenon, not really an American one. But one adapts.

But with each passing day I notice small things that underscore the lifestyle differences. The toilet in Café Duca has no toilet seat. Now let that sink in for a bit. A toilet with no sink after drinking a strong diuretic. The implications are not pretty.

Then there’s the throwaway mentality that is not ingrained in culture as I mentioned before. I find this to be terribly refreshing. In cafes it lends an aura of class and sophistication as opposed to the massive waste at Dutch Brothers or Starbucks. Everyone sipping an espresso or a cappuccino with a small cream-filled pastry out of ceramic cups. It also plays in to the Italian desire to have a moment, a break during the day. By the way, one never drinks cappuccinos or lattes after noon in Italy. It’s considered bad form and, while you will be served, brows will furrow and lips will curl in distaste.

Customer service:  a couple of days ago I finally got my mailbox key and the electric company employee finally arrived to fix my thermostat. My mailbox has no label with my name on it (still). I have to provide it, I’ve found out. The intercom address for my apartment also has no name label. Made me wonder what the apartment manager does!

I’ve found Italian society is not convenience-based as it is in America. Sometimes I find that maddening. It truly is a la dolce vita attitude. Sometimes it drives me nuts. But then I come back down to earth and I wonder, what’s the problem?

Why do we need so much convenience in America? We are constantly looking at ways to shave a few minutes or seconds off our day, whether it’s a work day, vacation day or weekend. Why do we do that?

What do we use those puny minutes or seconds for? So we can finish our “To Do” list of yard and household chores on the weekend? So we can have a few extra minutes of sleep because we stayed up too late watching shit like “The Kardashians”? Because we decided that we need to churn out one more line of a business letter written for our job? Because our companies or bosses put the pressure on us to churn out that one more line written for our job?

Why are we not using those extra minutes to say “Screw the Kardashians”? Screw yard work, office work, it’s the weekend? Screw housework, I want to be with my spouse, kids, parents, friends (fill in the blank)?

What are these extra precious minutes and seconds for? And why are we stressing out to squeeze more time out of the day the way we foolishly try to squeeze blood out of a turnip? Is convenience truly making life more convenient or is it making life more stressful? Is it making life more complicated?

I would argue that it is. People here are not rushing down the street to get to their appointment. At least I don’t see it. They walk with a leisurely gait. I was sweating like a pig as I carried my groceries home because I had things to do. What the hell for?

I see shopkeepers standing in their doorways casually waiting for a customer. A friend walks by and they chat for half an hour. No angst.

That’s not to say that Italians are not in a hurry in other ways–like when they drive. Maybe there’s something about horsepower that causes Italians to drive like a bat out of hell. Personally, the freeways here terrify me.

OK, so once again my pontoon of pontification has set sail. I should have been workin’ for the weekend. Instead, I worked the whole weekend. Guess America is in my blood!

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3 thoughts on “Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–“Workin’ for the weekend”–thank you, Loverboy

  1. I have read some of your blogs. It was good to see you this Summer as you prepared for this adventure. May God’s blessing be on you today, my three-legged-race friend!

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