Friday, September 16, 2011

It's our anniversary

Dear Readers,

Today marks three years of blogging for me here at Letters from Florence. And while I'm definitely a bit older, I'm not sure I'm any the wiser--though writing about Italy helps me wrap my head around the place and indulge in some admittedly wicked fun at times. Blogging is a strange occupation in that there's no immediate pay-off other than perhaps the satisfaction of giving voice to one's thoughts and opinions--and then sending them off into the vast, virtual ocean like tiny messages in bottles, never really knowing if they will reach far-flung shores and tickle someone's fancy, whet their appetite, incite their rage or indignation, or whatever. Writing is by its very nature an exercise of the ego, and though it seems I expend an awful lot of energy in my personal life trying to eradicate--or at least subdue--my balky, mulish ego (the domineering diva to my seething id), my belabored psyche remains stubbornly vulnerable to the suspicion that I have absolutely nothing to say about life in Italy that is worthwhile.

While I was off for two months' vacation in the U.S., I admit I considered discontinuing my endeavors, buffeted back and forth by the self-critical urgings of the aforementioned Ego ("Why bother anymore, you fatuous, gnat-brained interloper--what can your insignificant musings possibly matter in the larger scheme of things? Shouldn't you be working out instead?"), and the giddy insistence of my Id ("But it is fun debunking the myths of la dolce vita and stringing strange necklaces of words, isn't it? You have loads more to say about living in Italy so keep at it--there's a good girl!").

In the end what decided things for me was you, my dear, intrepid Readers.

Over these three years, a number of you have contacted me or left comments on posts, and this has meant more to this peripatetic blogger than you probably imagine. To put it succintly--it's what has kept me going. Sure, I have friends that compliment and laugh at my sallies (they would, wouldn't they? god bless 'em), but it's you strangers, you who don't know me from Adam, whose input is of immeasurable value because you help me feel engaged, connected. I've also been fortunate enough to have met, via this blog, some wonderful lady bloggers and have struck up friendships that are very enriching--and for this I am pleased and grateful.

I can see by my handy spy tool that there are readers out there who prefer, for whatever reason, to remain silent and anonymous--and that's okay--I'm glad you're out there and knowing that is a kind of inspiration as well.


Perhaps this is also the occasion on which to make an announcement of sorts--bear in mind one made with not a little trepidation: I've decided to write a book about the ups and downs--or sturm und drang, better yet--of my experiences in Italy. It is with Pantagruelian difficulty that I confess this to anyone, for I possess such a warped sense of superstition and doom that to admit to stumbling forth upon such a path is to court the Wrath of the Fates--who will surely crush my efforts faster than you can say gli agenti delle Poste Italiane sono i bastardi scervellati di Satana. You see, I had hoped that blogging would miraculously bring the publishers to my doorstep and result in a free-for-all of six-figure advances and first-class plane tickets. This has most resoundingly not happened. So I've decided to take the buffalo by the horns and make my own mozzarella.

Reader's Choice

Since we have reached a milestone of sorts together and I intend to forge ahead in this curious landscape that is the blogosphere, I thought I'd ask you, dear Readers, what Italy-related topics you'd like me to tackle in the coming months (I'd be willing to hold forth on sundry other topics as well, but I warn you that my personal knowledge of the mating habits of the baboon or, say, the workings of fuel injectors or covalent bonding and molecular structure is limited)--and I'll try to expound on them to the best of my ability. Because here at Letters from Florence, we aim to please. Or something.

My heartfelt thanks, again, to all of you who read the virtual scribblings herein,


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday night special

Dear Readers,

A hearty hello from yours, truly! Had a lovely, decidedly omnivorous time in the stunning Pacific Northwest. It struck me that the more time I spent away from Florence, the more the city and my odd little life here seemed to melt into the muggy, turgid horizon, leaving me blissfully unaware of--for example--the fact that my in-laws exist. Various other annoying Italian metaphysical mosquitos also left me unmolested in the face of so many majestic Douglas firs and giant Sequoias; and cool breezes smelling of pines and roses and stuffed enchiladas lulled me into a slumber of forgetfulness....

Well, it took only a couple of days after arriving from Shangri-La for Florence to slap me silly with her merciless insistence that I look at the oft-warped reality show that is my life in the Bel Paese. To wit, this green towel:

The sacred relic, left to dry
  Every Saturday evening around 6 p.m., this towel appears on the chair in front of my in-laws' lair--you could set a Swiss cuckoo clock by it. It's the sign that my flea-brained (and quite possibly flea-ridden) father-in-law has taken his weekly shower. No matter that it's summer and the temps tend to hover around 90-100 degrees--with humidity levels that would give Satan pause--and that my FIL spends all day in his vast garden doing things like vigorously chopping wood for winter, hitching himself to a plow and playing giddyup among his rows of beloved dirt, and building illegal shacks out of urban detritus. The man sweats and stinks so evilly he merits a Canto in Dante's Inferno.

Notwithstanding all this, he manages to go six days a week without bathing. And to aim a vicious arrow at the truth and shoot, I'd say he'd eschew bathing completely if it weren't for the fact that he's a God-fearing soul who goes to Mass every Sunday*--come hell or after-shave--and feels he must present a scrubbed body (if not a clean conscience) to the Lord.

So, yes, the towel (which, by the way, he's been using since 1978 and is obscenely transparent in parts--I suspect it's being held together by God's will) appeared yesterday evening as usual and I sighed heavily, knowing that vacation had unequivocally ended and I was home. Home sweat sweet home.

Oh, and while I was gone my mother-in-law saw fit to offload some of her ancient victuals on us, so I came home to a rambunctious group of larvaceous food moths having a proper rave in my pantry.

Yours as usual,


*I've written more on this delectable theme here, should you be interested in the horror genre.