Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Five Things I Miss About Gli Stati Uniti

I've been sort of quasi-tagged for a meme by Mr. Diego, a "just over thirty-something" Roman journalist with a blog that, IMHO, would be worth learning Italian for, because it is just plain hilarious. Mr. Diego, being a journalist, has a real way with words. His intelligent and quirky outlook on things includes an occasional glance and questioning look at daily life in Rome. In fact, I made his virtual acquaintance when I bumped into him while doing some research for my knife-sharpener post. Definitely one of our quirkier aspects of life here. And in terms of his keen eye for the strange (hence the "Dr. StranoWeb" name): I mean, people, one of his most recent posts was part of his running series on "strange jobs," profiling the profession, if we can even call it that, of "armpit smellers." And yes, much to your dismay, there is photographic evidence. Comic gold, no?

But I digress. Mr. Diego has abandoned his faithful Italian-language readers for just one post by writing about this meme in English. He spent considerable time in the US as an expat and as such decided to share the five things he misses most about his time in the States. Not one to shy away from a friendly invitation, I now bring you mine. I invite any and all other expats to participate as well, and feel free to shamelessly promote your posts for this meme in the comments section.

So, let's begin, shall we?

In position number 1, we have the faithful Kenmore dryer.

Oh, how I miss you, Mr. Kenmore! You do realize that the lack of your presence in my Roman life means I am reduced to draping my thicker clothing items over the radiators in my house? Disgraceful. And I have also been forced to become much more calculated in my clothes laundering habits. I.e., need those jeans for Friday night? Ok, must wash them on Tuesday. Aarrgh. I'll never forget when I was learning Italian and I asked Ale something about a dryer. Probably never having actually seen one, or perhaps even heard about one, he didn't know the word for it off-hand in Italian. I had to describe the appliance in my pidgin Italian. "You know, like a big box that blows hot air, like a hair dryer, but for clothes?" Mystery solved: asciugatrice. It's a luxury item. How you measure when you've "arrived." Expensive electricity.

Taking up spot number 2, we have the phenomenon of 24/7.

I'll admit, this one is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the lack of being able to get almost any retail item at any hour is part of the charm of Italy. Less consumeristic culture means more of a focus on the "important things in life." Or does it? I miss being able to just hop in my car and run to the store whenever I need something, instead of having permanent anxiety about planning my shopping so it doesn't coincide with the hours of about noon to 4 pm. I'll admit it, I do miss super stores with everything under one roof. I miss convenience, yes, indeedy I do. But, I have learned the virtue of patience and weened myself off the credit cards, so it has been a positive trade-off.

Numero tres, cocina mexicana:

I love me some Mexican food. There are a couple Mexican restaurants I know of here in Rome, but they are mucho expensive and just not the same as the mammoth-sized plates you see here, that, let's be honest, are really the hallmark of all US cuisine nowadays, not just Mexican. More chips and salsa? Yes, please! Did you know that here in Italy it is none other than Uncle Ben who produces salsa and tortillas? That's right, Mr. Rice King himself. And of course I would be amiss if I didn't add 3a., like many fellow expats: cheddar cheese. I tried making a taco dinner here once and when I said I needed cheddar cheese (before I knew it doesn't really exist in Italy unless you find a rare specialty shop), and described what it was like, I was accosted by the response: "Orange-colored cheese cannot POSSIBLY be found in nature." So? It's good.

Numero quattro, the bird:
Thanksgiving was definitely a holiday I took for granted when I lived in the States. Once I realized that my move away from the States had become more or less permanent for the time being, Thanksgiving became a symbol for all my family and friends that I missed. When I used to work with US university study abroad students here in Rome, we would organize an authentic-as-possible Thanksgiving Dinner each year. Can't tell you the looks we used to get from the waiters when they'd bring out "the bird" (complimenti, by the way, to the Italians for humoring us on this one) and all the students broke out their cameras and started taking pictures. With all those flashbulbs going off on Tom the Turkey, I was thinking I should be saying something to him, like, "Work it, work it... good! Now, show me ANGER! You've been cooked for Thanksgiving dinner, you're mad... fabulous! Now, give me sexy!" It was really too much, but I had to smile because it's one of those traditions that is truly American.

And, of course number 5, last but certainly not least, is obviously for me my friends and family! Don't really have any blogging relatives that I can steer you towards, but I hope you have all checked in on African Kelli and Finny Knits, my best gal pals who I miss dearly but thanks to technology am able to keep up with.

Well folks, there it is, I did it. It was inevitable, sooner or later you're asked to share these things.

What do you miss about your home country, if you're an expat? If you're not, what things from your home country do you think you couldn't live without if you moved to another country?

11 comments:

Mr. Diego said...

Great, Shelley, didn't expect you would take it up so quickly! ;-)

sognatrice said...

I doubled the fun and did 10 things I miss from the States a while back. I didn't list any of yours specifically (I said "ethnic food," Mexican included), but I do agree on all of them. I recreated Thanksgiving here this past year, and although the food was great, it's the family that's missing. Anyway, I then flipped it and wrote about 10 things that Italy has that the U.S. lacks. Much fun :)

Mr. Diego said...

...er, forgot to thank you for your nice words about my blog! :-D

Ebony and Ivory said...

Well, I'm not an expat, but sometimes it feels like we live in Canada...we're so close! I miss In N' Out!! And Jamba Juice...the beach...my family...and the Mexican bakeries!! Yum!
Sorry it took me a while to get back to you, but I would love to do your make-up for your wedding if we are in Rome when you get married! We will arrive on the 13th of March, stay one night, then off on our cruise, then back on the 26th and we will stay in Rome until the 29th. Let me know!

Dixie said...

I ran with it and listed on my blog the five things I'm missing.

Tracie B. said...

you are so cruel with the mex and all.

i definitely miss my live music-filled austin.

and besides my family, i def miss having my girlfriends to confide in!

Carole D said...

Ciao Shelley,

I thought you'd never talk about the asciugatrice.
I would definitelly miss that if I left the Stati Uniti. I feel so guilty, I use mine all the time.

I rather wash dishes by hand (which I do) but, hang the clothes, non posso.

Grazie for keeping me intertained.

Preya said...

Oh my goodness! I agree with 24-hour convenience stores and the clothes drier! I wrote my own "upsides to repatriation" a while back, which you can read here: http://www.preyanka.com/2006/01/upside-of-repatriation-sort-of.html

Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Ack, dare I go down this road? I'll join you in a bit. :)

Anonymous said...

oh, love this post!! here's my list (in no particular order):
1) 24-7 everything
2) convenience
3) people who know how to ride public transportation
4) good public transportation (shout out to NYC!)
5) good & cheap mexican food
6) japanese food
7) finding everything inclusing vegetarian products & ethnic foods under one roof known as the American supermarket
8) sales all year round, not just twice a year
9) sales that actually ARE sales!
10) being able to buy and return things without being hassled
11) driving on streets with lanes people actually follow
12) american coffee (don't get me wrong, i love the italian brew but sometimes i just crave a nice BIG cup of java)
13) Wi-fi in cafes, bookstores, and everywhere
14)orderly lines
15) banks with regular hours, including saturday!

rebecca f said...

hi shelley,

i love your blog! my gf and i are leaving in 10 days for a month-long trip to italy. first up is 12 days in rome. we're staying near the campo dei fiori. we'd be happy to bring you some yummy orange cheddar cheese. just let me know! (e-mail is reblf at yahoo)