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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

#21—Going With the Flow

The first time I used the washer in this apartment, I thought the clothes came out wet because I took them out too soon.

My first hint should have been that on the first day Signora Stella said, Be sure to hang the clothes in the bathroom. Or put a towel under them on the wood floor.

You see, in Italia, people do not use dryers. I got used to clothes hanging all over my Florence apartment. But at least the washer would wring them dry.
This washer...the first time my violet jersey was wet on only one side. Same time this go round. I only hope it was the other side.

The bottom half of my cranberry jersey is totally dry; the top is sopping.

The bath towel: sopping. beyond sopping.

My black cotton slacks: sopping.

I have only two bath towels, and I didn't want to wring out anything the remaining dry one. So okay, I'll use the blanket on my bed. I mean, if I don't get some of the water out, they'll never dry. I'll figure out what to do with the wet blanket later. Except. And I do not exaggerate. The blanket did not absorb any moisture whatsoever. whatthehell??? The blanket, after I wrapped dripping jerseys and slacks in it, is still totally dry. The clothes will perhaps be dry tomorrow. It took 29 hours for underwear and the sopping half of the violet jersey to dry.

I got a quote this morning from one devoted reader recalling Galieo's thoughts on reason. I think that even this master of truth would be stumped by all of this.

Stai calmo...sei a Roma.
Yes, I am in Rome and calm. I used an extra sheet to remove some excess water. But even the sheet was pretty non absorbent.

With both traffic and water in Rome: you must go with the flow.
And the traffic like the Tiber is full of history. Not the facts of what happened but the currents.

The cars move fast. Most drive those small Smart cars and motorcycles because there's really no place to park. They go fast. I mean really fast. The only time any Roman appears to obey rules is when red lights turn green. Little as the vehicles are, the drive big like the ruins...with the attitude of Empire. If someone is lingering in a crosswalk, there is an immediate cacophony of horns and epithets filling the air.

The day after I arrived, I was terrified to cross a busy street so I followed a man with a baby in a stroller and a baby in his arms. It was at a crosswalk where cars are supposed to yield to pedestrians. But even the man with babies and a stroller had to swerve. But in a way, it was like a dance.

I mean, it all moves here like molecules in the sea. For all the speed and craziness, I have seen not even a single fender bender. I have read that in the cosmic mathematical mind, every particle of water in the sea knows what every other particle is doing. The Butterfly Effect, I believe it's called. That's Rome. No one ever stops. They may slow a bit or swerve. But unless there's a red light, no one stops. Even if there's a red light, the drivers seem to keep moving. The readiness is all. Like cats waiting to pounce. Like Hamlet awaiting providence in the the fall of a sparrow.

Everything keeps moving as it has moved for over 2500 years. The traffic is like the Tiber, full of the currents of history, changing, the same...I love the story of a political race for a top job in Ancient Rome. The race got so hot, the candidates were afraid to go out in public. When one candidate tried to speak on the rostrum, now part of the ruins, those favoring his opponent went up on the stage and pulled him off.

The rostrum is where Marc Antony roused the crowd against Caesar's assassins. Beware. The flow never stops, but the currents are alive with a mind of their own. I really do hope the washer got the other side of the violet jersey.

Yesterday, there was a bus strike. A million Romans had no way to get to work or school or wherever. Nothing, however, seemed to slow down.

My teacher was a big late. She was in favor of the strike.
Potere al Popolo, we said raising our socialist fists. It was a nice bonding moment across age and cultures. (She's probably in her late 20s)

The conversazione led from one thing to another. How could Romans be so crazy. No one got a majority in the last elections because so many Romans were crazy enough to vote for Berlusconi, who promised to pay back people's taxes, and a whacky blogger. Bersani, the man of intelligence, will now have to work with the idiot factions.

I commented on the i politici pazzi...crazy politicians negli Stati Uniti.

Perche'? we asked...Why?

You know what we both thought about our countries?
The root of the problem, we agreed, lies in our education systems.
Young people for too many years have not been educated to think critically and for the greater good.

So, it appears that I may have come to meet the Italian Cousin of America's Ghost of Christmas Future here in the place where the first grand Empire came and went. The currents, it would seem, flow only in one direction.

In the short term, if I'm lucky: the washer hit the armpit it missed last go-round, Congress won't slash Medicare, and I won't be so eager for the next gluten-free pizza that I will rush too carelessly across that busy crosswalk.

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