Venerdì diciassette


In Italy, Friday the 13th is meaningless. Well, they know what it means from all the American movies and books and TV shows, but it has no weight for Italians. For them, the cursed day is Friday the 17th. Today. And apparently, I've brought a little bit of Italy with me, because I can't remember a worse day since I moved here.

Most of the reasons are trite, the kind of thing that make for "normal" bad days. Cramps and general hormonal badness, suddenly feeling the weight of everything I need to do before I leave Wednesday, annoyance with a client who is slow to pay and is thus making it hard for me to plan my expenses at the moment. Lots of running around, schlepping bags home and up the stairs and then out again because you can only carry so much at a time.

By the time I was ready to start my baking marathon, I was already exhausted.

I sat down in front of the computer to rest for a moment, and the timing was just right to catch Dario, who gave me a few pieces of very ugly news. Friday the 17th news.

It could definitely be worse. None of our loved ones have suddenly taken ill or died (although a friend is in radiation treatment for a tumor, and not doing too well, but that has been going on for a little while now). No one has lost their job or burned their house down, had all their dearest family heirlooms stolen, suffered any kind of physical or emotional violence. No one was in a terrible (or even mundane) accident. No one has a life-or-death decision to make for a loved one, no relatives are forced into a nursing home or hospice. None of our presumably happily paired-off friends have suddenly announced their imminent separation. Everyone is more or less healthy, sane, clothed and housed.

Writing it all out that way helps to put things in perspective. As bad news goes, this news isn't even near the "horrible" end of the spectrum. Traumatic as it feels, it could be so much worse.

Another bright side: no matter how much I am looking forward to my trip, moments like these remind me why I really don't think I want to live in Italy again. I should probably give it a few years before making any definitive pronouncements, but so far I am confirmed in my long-standing conviction that life there is simply more exhausting than elsewhere. They wear you down with the bureaucracy and the millions of laws and taxes and regulations and bills and it's all very confusing. I find it kind of amusing to listen to my classmates complain about the impenetrable labyrinth of university bureaucracy stifling everything from stipends to registration to billing. It's all so familiar to me, and no wonder, since after all the Western-style university system started right in my own adopted city back in 1088. The rest of the world can peek into what everyday Italian life is like by looking at its universities modeled on the same system.

If you have any experience with this sort of thing, you'll know what I mean. If not, well, count yourself lucky.

So, yeah, crappy news that is going to make my life exponentially more difficult for the next... well, for the foreseeable future, really. It's going to force me to reconsider a few plans and evaluate a few options. But it's not the end of the world. It's just venerdì diciassette.