Tuesday, July 24, 2012


After a month traipsing Europe, here's the big takeaway for me. I'm a fan of competence. I prefer order with my exquisite beauty and can only tolerate the occasional surprise. Sobering, that. I mean, all this time I thought I was more whimsical. More, la-di-da. But, sadly, nope. Turns out, I find whimsy and mash-up and spontaneous plan B's disturbing. I have a stick up my ass, in other words.

I far preferred the regimented German-speaking territories to the devil-may-care Italian ones. I didn't like that the Internet was spotty, that the road rules weren't clear, and that it took so fucking long to get your check in Italian restaurants. Oh yeah, and, by the way, the bread sucks in Italy. And mostly the pizza is crappy, burnt flatbread with flavorless sauce.

That said.

All my kinks got unkinked in Italy. My gray hairs turned ungray. My body and brain and spine were overcooked macaroni as I zoned out to the white noise of the ever-present cicadas. It was a dream, my time in Italy. A sensory dep chamber. The womb, maybe? Less come to Jesus than here's your mommy's boob. If Germany, Austria and Slovenia are the fatherland, Italy is the mother ship.

Consider: My grandmother (who just turned 100) left WWII Austria with my one-year-old father in tow. They got on the last ship out, fleeing the Nazis on a boat full of Jews out of Genoa--Italy coming to the rescue again.

Like my father and grandparents, I was born in Vienna. My formative years were an immersion in the structure and cadence of assertion and order. For holidays, we went to Italy and swam in the sea. My godfather, who still lives in Vienna, does the same. The flat in Vienna, the villa in Trieste.

Is it any wonder I'm forever Daddy's little girl?

We have a little of that going on here in the States. I mean, there's blue states and red states. Yankee pot roast and gumbo. Fir trees and birds of paradise. But the divisions are not archetypal the way they are in Europe. Here in Oregon, there's a mixture of mother/father energy. We have mountains and sea. Desert and valley. It's a bit of a mess, frankly. A beautiful mess, but a mess.

So, dear bloggers, where do you live? Mom's house or Dad's? Do you keep your room tidy, or are you a fan of the beautiful mess?


  1. I have a stick up my ass too. Spontaneity upsets me. I like everything planned so I can wring the last drop of fretful anticipation from the smallest event.

    I'm not really that tidy, though. I'm surface-tidy, but behind the cupboard doors . . . madness.

    1. Stick Up the Ass Portland Girls unite!!

  2. mom's house or dad's house?

    that question raised my anxiety to pint of Ben and Jerry's vanilla health bar levels. (forcing me to choose = ice cream; forcing me to go = AA meeting)

    i am a mess--until i can't think b/c it's too messy, and then i realize how very much i appreciate a tidy, well put together, vacummed and dusted room.

    1. The perfect storm to be reading Lidia's new book, Josephine! Thank god for cleaning supplies and ice cream. I think.

  3. I read this with particular interest because I've become a little Italy obsessed after reading The Shoemaker's Wife. So what the hell happened to their bread? Did all the good bakers immigrate to America?

    I'm mostly a neat and tidy freak with the stick up the ass. I don't mind spontaneity if someone I trust is in charge of it. Okay, that sounds ridiculous. I hope you understand what I mean.

    Living in Georgia gives me new perspective on cultural mommy/daddy energies. This is definitely a sloppy place. Ordinances about how much crap you can have on your lawn either don't exist or aren't enforced. Buildings are simply left to wither away. A friend describes it as a "zoning Wild West." It's true. You should see the mishmash of any community.

    And for an incredibly macho culture, it's very much mama-centered. Very much.

  4. And that Mama's bosom's swing lo sweet chariot, am I right? And she has a fierce mommy grip on the younguns? The steamy South and her cicadas. That's as close as you get to Italy. Although nobody in Italy has saggy tits. Well, until you're 80, I suppose.

    I totally know what you mean re: the releasing control only to those you trust in the spontaneity dept. Hence, my insisting Kirk drive the entire trip and the occasional begging him to "surprise me with where we're going for cocktails."

    The bread is a mystery. Serious bakers go to France, I've heard.


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