NOTE TO READERS: The Rome 2014 trip begins with post #30. Posts #10—29 were Rome 2013. Posts 1–9 were Florence 2011. If you'd like to be notified of new postings by email, let me know at

Monday, March 18, 2013

#16—Power Outage...and No Oregon Storm!

Good Morning, All,
I forget what title I promised...but we must pause, as I have had to do, for the particulars of living.
It's 7:35 a.m., and I'm waiting for Anna and the plumber, Marco, who was supposed to come last night. Fortunately the smell that was like an open sewage pit emanating from every opening in the bathroom has subsided.
Marco was supposed to do something about this, the something feeling terrifyingly nebulous on Sunday. I stuffed plastic wrap into the holes where the washer pipes came through and put a plastic baggie over the shower drain. Did I tell you all of this? I am finally on Rome time, but am still a bit foggy in the memory.
Anna is coming to tell me about what to do with the garbage. It was all very Kafkaesque. When I arrived, Signora Stella was most welcoming and told me she would show me everything. What she actually showed me was everything by saying, "This is the washer. I don't know how to do it. The instructions are here." (in Italian, of course)..."We how do you call it...put things in bags...plastico, vetro, carte..." me- "Recycle." S.S.: "Yes, thank you. I do not know what to do with it. You may call Anna." (who does not, I learned yesterday, speak any English whatsoever.)

So Anna is coming to reveal the mystical movement of garbage. In Florence, they just dumped it in bins on the street.

Signora Stella said of Marco, "He is a very good plumber. But he is very big. Do not be afraid. He is very good man. And a very good plumber. Now I am going on the train to see my mother. Anna will also come with the plumber to show you the garbage and answer all your questions. Both will be there right at 8 because you must go to school by 9."

It's 10 to 8. I tried not to drink a lot of coffee, which I could really have used.

Okay, so I live on the Oregon coast. Power outages are routine. However, when it happens in my Rome apartment and Signora Stella does not answer her phone and the fuse box instructions are in Italian...well, OMG.

So I go across the tiny hall and knock. "Chi?" who? Well, I know the word for neighbor but the words across the hall suddenly vanish into the dark of my open door. I repeat the word neighbor. A very small, old, and round woman with no teeth opens the door. Now you must know that a grumpy man from this apartment has twice yelled at me. Why?

The locks in the place are ancient and noisy. The key to my apartment looks like a stage version of any key used by jailers in any Italian opera with jailers. The iron gate at the top of the steps is opened with a small key but locks by itself. The trick, the grumpy man showed me on day one is that you can't close the gate by closing it. You must allow it to close itself by simply letting it go. On the other hand, the door to the street must be slammed but not too hard because it wakes the grumpy old man from his nap and he will come out and yell at you like he did with regard to the iron gate.

So now I am talking to the old woman..."Non C'e' corrente." There is no power. The old woman yells what I have said into her lighted apartment. The grumpy old man appears with his nose now wrapped in a bandage. Did he have it out with another apartment dweller over the noisy doors? "Non c'e' corrente," he says to me as if I have deliberately cut the wires.

He then walks by me, goes to the fuse box inside the door, and with a flourish of the hand reminiscent of David Copperfield flicks a switch. C'e' corrente! I couldn't have been was as if God had spoken on the first was the first day, wasn't it?

Anyhow, it's now 8:08. Rome time is like what we call ocean time. People get there when they arrive. I will apparently have more time to practice my Italian for...the terrible odor came from here and here and here. The worst was here. It was like an open sewage pit. I do not know how to say that it's like cars in America. The noise never happens when you get to the mechanic...and I am really feeling stupid because I know you don't believe me when I say it was like an open sewage pit. I really feel stupid. You probably think I'm the renter from hell. But honestly it was making me sick to my stomach and dizzy.

Non c'e' corrente.

Perhaps I will be better at the particulars after my two weeks of school. My teacher Marta is very good—young, hip, and patient. My Italian is very bad. I am trying not to feel discouraged and give myself credit for teaching myself over the last two years.

Next we finally begin our tour of the grandeur that is still Roma.

The bells are now ringing like crazy. Today is the Pope's inauguration. I would like to have gone, but I have school. There will be plenty more Pope Happenings.

Oh, yeah, now I sort of remember what today's title was suppose to be My First Day and the Pope's. Stay tuned.

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