Alla fine, durante della pausa

A month ago, April the 11th, was the final lesson–for a few months–with my Italian tutor Marina. The day before was our one year anniversary.

My reason for taking a break is just to… well, take a break. I’ve loved these classes and Marina and I have great rapport, but it’s oddly exhausting to spend two hours a week on video calls and to (attempt to) speak only Italian. She speak little English so it’s been an immersive adventure. When we started, five weeks before the family trip to Fasano, I was taking three lessons a week–Monday, Wednesday, and Friday–at 7:30 PM with very little knowledge of the language; I dropped to twice a week after the trip, and at the beginning of this year, after an end-of-year holiday break where I spent time reading some easy Italian stories, I was able to begin having conversations with her. It was immeasurably satisfying.

Armadillo bumper sticker from Strappare lungo i bordi, an hilarious and moving animated series from a fumetti writer, Zerocalcare, that Marina recommended. Very, very good.

While taking lessons I would spend much of my interstitial down-time studying: walking to the coffee shop, microwaving popcorn, daily walks through the neighborhood. I’m old (not old old but old-ish) and so the learning needed more reinforcement than maybe at other times in a life. One aspect of La Pausa was to have been that I get a break from that alway-on study brain. People need a break. But several days after the start of the pause I felt fidgety and empty. It was weird.

(In college, I had friends that deeply involved in protests against South Africa (yeah, I know, old) and at one point there was a notable conflagration of protesters who built a shanty town of wood and tarp huts on the campus quad where they would live and protest. A local company, the local company, was doing business with South Africa and it needed to end. The result was successful (though I’m not sure whether I’m rose coloring my memories of it) and when the town was dismantled, one of my friends who was principally involved talked about how rudderless he felt. For months he had a goal; he now has no goal.)

Cover of the Carmen Consoli album Stato di Necessità

Marina and I have common interests so it’s/was both encouraging and discouraging to know that we have common interests that could facilitate my understanding of Italian. Our discussion of just-having-seen Dune Part 2 was particularly frustrating: nuance in the face of my limited vocabulary checkmated any discussion. She was very teacherly in her patience.

I learned of the history of fascism of Italy (jeez, it’s bad but apparently accepted, but known to be bad, but yet not addressed fully in society). They are fertile fascist ground with both Mussolini and Berlusconi. I was talking to her about the US’s lurch towards fascism and asked with cautious politeness whether Italy today is kindof fascist and she laughed at me: kind of?!

She clued me in to some cinema (Roberto Rossellini‘s Roma, città aperta) and music (Carmen Consoli, who is very pop/alternative but I’m absolutely loving, especially after I saw a video of her performing with Elvis Costello) and general Italianisms and I attempted to do the same on reverse. Since il matrimonio di mia nipote magiore was going to be on May the 4th, she cracked up when i explained the Star Wars connection and then told me about a friend of hers that had a sci-fi cosplay wedding. lol.

I didn’t expect to become an Italiophile but fulmine a ciel sereno, è successo.