Un Po

His words come at me rapidly. I only understand half of them — if it is a lucky day. He likes me. He wants to get coffee together. I am a beautiful. He wants to give me a belt.

italianoThis is what I love about “my boots guy.” Guiseppe continues to speak itlaian to me even though I’m sure he knows that I don’t really comprehend. The thrust gets through — certainly the bevy of baci do — but much of the meaning is lost.

I confess that after 9 months living in Italy, I am still very much an english speaker.

How I failed to learn italian

Sure, there are lots of excuses to be given: I don’t really have the ear for the language; I am around english speakers 80% of the time; Florence is a very english-friendly city and most shop owners and restaurant servers are willing if not looking for chances to speak english.

The simple fact is I didn’t put in the time to learn and practice.

Rosetta Stone went unopened on my laptop. Podcasts went unlistened. Books gathered dust on the shelves and tables of my apartment.

Coffee Breack?

It is all especially unforgivable as I was given the opportunity to sit-in/take italian class with the students. Again the excuses of the dentist visits and illness, but the truth is I often didn’t do my homework and I didn’t practice.

I didn’t make it a priority. All the resources are there but as they all say: you have to do the work. I didn’t.

I had the best of intentions to return stateside fluent with pitch-perfect Tuscan accent. My “ideal self” would have taken more advantage of all of the opportunities given.

The reality of course is ideals and intentions don’t about to bubkus unless your make them a reality.

Wishing doesn’t make it so.

Nor do regrets turn magically into results.

Much as I sometimes internally — and sometimes verbally — complain about my lack of community here, at heart I know it is my own fault. I invested my time and attentions in people and activities elsewhere. And, you know, in english. So it is entirely unsurprising that my community now is also elsewhere.

Many suggested — actually still suggest — I get an italian “companion.” There are two months left so I guess it is not to late to find a ragazzo. It is also not too late to crack those books, listen to podcasts, open Rosetta Stone, find a conversation partner, and put in the time and practice.

Sad Dante

Do I really think I will?


Alas, there is my confession. I could end this with some grand promise to change, but it would be half-hearted at best.

Parlo un po d’italiano. I can bluff my way through a simple conversation and that, for me, is enough.

I’ve avoided doing the hard work for this long — even going so far as to walk a few blocks out of my way to avoid my beloved boots guy on more than one occasion because simply I didn’t want to expend the energy to try — and it is almost assured that I will continue.

My “ideal self” can continue to imagine discussing art and history in lilting beautiful italian while sipping chianti overlooking sunset upon verdant hills… my real self, in the meantime, will crack open her laptop and engage with english speakers across the globe.


C’e pecato?


E vero?

Veramente si.


Sempre Avanti,

PS – Noticed it has been a little quiet around here? I’ve been putting my attentions towards a new collaborative site: Being Unbound. I’ll still be posting here with life stuff every once in a while, but for more active communication check out my A Photo A Day Project or Being Unbound! 


  1. Jo! You have probably been developing and acting on several other good habits. We can only squeeze so many into our days. I realize that I could do more of everything, but where would that get me? Stressed, that’s where. I love your honesty is clearly saying that you will not increase your efforts at learning Italian because it is simply not at the top of your list. I’d love to learn languages too, but I know it is very unlikely I will. I can barely speak English. Oh, and I have music if I can count that;) Guitar, writing and fitness are just about all I want to have with a good measure of fun. If I am ever granted another life time, perhaps I can learn another language. What a thoroughly enjoyable read this was! Off to check out Being Unbound!!!

    • Thank you CJ! You are absolutely right about setting priorities (and leaving room for fun). I think music totally counts! (another talent I wish I had but never practiced) While I really admire people who can speak many languages, I just don’t see it in the cards for me. “Never say never” and all that, perhaps I will have cause to make the effort, but it is not a priority for me right now. Thanks for checking out BeingUnbound! Hope you are putting your intentions towards something you enjoy today!

  2. Oh Jo – I totally get it. And it’s a big lesson I’m learning right now too. People like us have all these lofty goals, and they’re great goals to have, but then we have this other side of us that just is so happy living in the moment that we can’t always get to these great goals… and you know what? I think that’s just fine. I’d rather half-ass my goals and 100% my moments… we can always get back to the goals.

    Will be missing you big time this week in Portland. But I know we’ll meet again (in person) and looking forward to the day!

    Ciao! 🙂

    • Thanks Dani! I love “half-ass by goals and 100% my moments!” I think it is all about getting to where we want to be in life and I find that often if it is a truly important goal of mine, even if it is effort and takes a lot of time, working on it isn’t so much a struggle. Learning italian just wasn’t one of those things obviously.
      I’m missing you all too! Excited for everyone attending WDS. And yes, I fully intend to make a trip out your way sometime in the next year. Keep living your moments!

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