October 25, 2012

Back in the US of A.

There are the elections, of course.

And the cold supermarkets with their tinny music.

Tasteless tomatoes fill me with gloom.

On the roads, the space between cars seems far too wide, and at the post office, the get-in-line folks do not know the joys of shoving, shouting, and huddling together like walruses. And where are the octogenarians? I feel a pang of acute nostalgia. Why aren’t they yakking it up in tight clumps all over town?

At the coffee shop, the barista does not sing buon giorno! as we enter and exit. He barely makes eye contact.

Life feels flat.

And why is everyone proudly claiming (with too-white teeth) that they are slammed?  When did this word pop up like evil choke-weed? The fundamental difference between these slammed people and the ones lolling around Italy is not lost on me. Americans seem to conduct their lives on a high-speed conveyor belt; have we lost the will to stop and see?

Sicilian Men Playing Cards Outside, copyright Jann Huizenga

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53 comments to Slammed…

  • Charlie

    Assume you are in New Mexico area, but if you find yourself in the San Diego area, I know the best place for coffee (if you can’t be in Sicily)…

    As far as airfare goes, having watched it closely, Alitalia has had some 24 to 48 hour sales where they’ve had a promo code that’s gotten airfare a tad under 1K — you need to sign up for their email notifications. Also check Air Berlin as they have had some sales that have been less than 1K.

    • Jann

      Ah, you’re sweet Charlie–no plans at the moment for San Diego, but I’m glad you can find some Italian-style coffee where you are (and I hope the baristas sing Buon giorgno!!! as you enter and exit). OK, I’m signing up for Alitalia notifications. And Air Berlin? Never even heard of them!!!! So happy to get these tips, Charlie, thanks, and I hope Loretta sees this too.

  • Jann, I confess that after being in Europe for a prolonged period of time, it would be hard for most people to go back to the political correctness that Americans seem to care for so much. Not that I don’t enjoy it, I do, I just don’t make such a big deal over the little things that seem to set others off in a tizzy. Slammed. Oh my. It’s almost as bad as “awesome.” Even typing the word makes me gag. Tell me you’ll soon be back in Italy, my friend. In the meantime, I send you happy thoughts and hugs! 🙂

    • Jann

      Another month and I’ll be back for the tourist-less winter, which is my favorite season in Sicily, I think. Hugs back to you, Bella!

  • What would I do without you Jann? You just Italy and live it with such passion and love… Thank you! x

  • We are heading full speed in the opposite direction of ‘slammed’ and all the horrors it holds. Arrive in Italy in March and yes longing for food that tastes like food. Australia is unfortunatley following closely behind America xxx

    • Jann

      Ha ha, Lisa–“all the horrors it holds.” Ok, there are a few “horrors” in store for anyone who moves to Italy, let’s not mince words, but somehow, they are so worth it! Good luck with your planning & packing…

  • I feel a bit like a hypocrite after saying all that stuff about having to bloom where we’re planted. Every time I come back to this place where I live, after visiting other cities or countries, I feel so depressed and wonder what the heck am I still doing here. When we got back from our visit to Italy it was the worst coming home ever. Eventually things settle back into a comfort zone…which should perhaps be more alarming than anything else. I do understand what you’re saying, Jann. Slammed by culture shock, big time.

    • Jann

      What luck that you are able to get away, louciao, to all those wonderful places–Vancouver, Italy, Alaska… so I’m sure that keeps you going to some extent, but it’s so important to inhabit a corner of the world that you love.

  • Also forgot to mention that the Cheesecake Factory has a great outdoor cafe which I took advantage of all summer and into early Fall and lots of people were relaxing. A fast train would be our Acela from Boston to Washington, D.C. We just recently took a local Amtrak to New York City and it was delightful. Right to Penn Station. Mostly yu would find these men in the Boston and suburbs in bar lounges watching sports and drinking bee.

  • Hi, just read these comments and I have been to Sicily twice on our own (my California childhood schoolmate) on our own in a rental car and loved it so much. She wants to visit Campania specifically Squillani where her grandparents lived. We have aleady visited San Donato Val di Comino in Lazio where my father grew up before he came to the US before WWII. A side trip to Sicily would be great but these airline tickets ae killing us. Anyone know where to get a ticked for less than $1K??

    • Jann

      Ciao Loretta–I know what you mean about airline tickets… I’ve basically stopped shopping for ANYTHING in order to save money for Italy tickets. If anyone knows how to get tickets from the US to Italy for under $1K, I’d love to know, too!

  • Ugh, I can feel the “slammed” from here. Horrible how we’re hurting ourselves societies like the US and mine, Australia, with this awful “success” thing. Thank you for the wonderful photo of a very different society.

  • I agree…break out the cards, plant a few tasty tomatoes and RELAX Italian style life is too short to be too ‘slammed’ (such an awful word)
    Carla x

  • “Slammed” hasn’t hit here yet, as far as I know, but the maritimes are generally a bit behind the times which makes things a little more laid back here, which is pleasant. People stop to chat in our new small grocery store and it’s a general rule to make eye contact and say hello when passing someone in the street (not in town, but in our village). When I first moved here 20 years ago I was so impatient with clerks chatting with their customers. Now I have slowed to this pace of life…this degree of nosiness, really. Thanks for making me appreciate it. I often forget to do so. Still, the “rustico” here lacks the Italian/Sicilian charm and warmth. But we must do our best to bloom where we’re planted, even when bristling like a desert cactus that’s been transplanted to a highway divider.

    • Jann

      Oh, ouch! You ARE blooming, Lynne, at least virtually– Making eye contact in today’s world is a big PLUS, so savor it!

  • when you are in the USA and need residence….seriously come to stay w/ us in the Republic of San Francisco…its a little better here…but still enough to drive us to Sicilia every chance we get…….

  • What exactly does slammed mean? People do say silly things.

  • dennis berry

    Ad ogni ucello il suo nido e bello.

  • Because of this photo and all the comments, I will dedicate this afternoon to grabbing my Mom (93, Father born in Sicily) and we will relax with a cup of coffee and watch people walk by at a local outside cafe. The cleaning can wait!

    Thanks for the reminder to STOP and leave the hardness behind.

  • cemal karahan

    We got on a train whose stations we will never ever see unless we leave these man-swallowing enormous cities, Jann….!

  • TORNA PRESTO…..and we’ll talk, sitting in a lovely cafè about YOUR elections and OUR elections here in Sicily…or maybe about more interesting things than politics..

    Reading your post today you help me in forgetting my all days running and running…BUT, when is possible, ready to find a break to “taste real life”

    thank Jann

    a presto

    • Jann

      Yes, Lucia, we will sit and sip Campari and compare elections–it will be hard to decide which country’s are worse.

  • Exactly how I feel, too. I miss everything about Sicily, but especially the pace and the people.

  • ~~~Love the photo of those cute guys!
    I almost expect to see Tony Soprano sitting w/ them.
    I have a request: Can you do post w/ more Italian pets! 🙂
    Kitty Kats, Please.
    LOVE. Xxx

    • Jann

      Just because it’s YOU who made the request, Kim, I WILL do a post on kitty kats. Within the month, maybe??? It shouldn’t be too hard–I think I’ve got some pix deep in the bowels of my computer…xxxxxxx

  • Sam

    That’s a wonderful photo, but I gotta ask – do women ever hang out on the streets in packs like that, “yakking it up”?

  • Jeannie Hardie

    Oh, Jann you have said it all, “What is life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare……..” and the tomatoes are utterly tasteless even in Santa Fe and while it is so very sad, you have just endorsed my decision to retire to Abruzzo. Thank you so much.

    • Jann

      Jeannie! Wow!!! Abruzzo! Great place–from the little I know about it. You live in SantaFe????? Email me!

  • Oooh, talk about culture shock! I guess we Americans get used to the hustle and bustle of life, no time for sitting and chatting, precious few meaningful interactions. Your world seems tamer, I think. Kinder, calmer. And I sure would like sitting and watching/listening to this group of men with their cards, men who might know (or BE!) some of my kin!

  • Me again. Can’t stop looking at the photo. Though I spend so much time in Rome, I need to hang out more in Sicily. They LOOK like my family. I am just second generation American – both sets of grandparents were born in Sicily. The more time I spend in Italy, the more I realize that Sicily is truly unique and individual. I see my grandfather in 3 or 4 of the gentlemen in your photo. Sicily ….. where my 4’11”, somewhat squatty body with a 5 o’clock shadow on my legs will fit right in!!

    • Jann

      That’s cool that you can see your family in the faces, Rosann… You’d be considered downright TALL compared to some of the folks in Sicily–though they’re growing the young generation big!

  • Well spoken, Jann. Life in Italy feels REAL to me, while Florida seems sterile. Beautiful, but dull and lifeless. I love the grit……… the passion……… the intimacy………. of Italy….. AND the tomatoes and clementines!

    • Jann

      Yes, yes, there is the grit in Italy–sometimes it’s downright UGLY–especially the southern places, but there’s such LIFE….

  • christine

    You got it nailed. Life here is flat just like the tomatoes.
    “Re-entry” is soooo difficult!

    • Jann

      Ha, ha–I love that word “re-entry, cuz it’s really just like re-entering Earth from Mars or something…or vice versa…

  • emalene

    oh so true. It seems no matter what
    the situation is in Italy, they still find the time to
    smile and enjoy each other.

  • all too true. sigh. bentornata! hai già prenotato per il ritorno?

  • Jill Iacopelli

    Oh how very true!!!! Exactly how I feel when I am not in Sicily!!!

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