Thursday, June 21, 2007

I've been gone a long time

Living away from my homeand for so many years, especially since my homeland is the US, has always made returning a challenge, and sometimes downright funny. I remember a few years back when I went to the supermarket and wanted to pay with my credit card, the girl looked at me suspiciously when I held my card out to her her.

"You have to swipe it," she said.

"Wipe it?" Well, maybe my card was dirty? Maybe she was an obsessive compulsive clean freak?

I wiped it off (on my jeans) and tried to hand it to her again.


She let out a big what an idiot sigh and took the card, swiping it herself in the thingamajig in front of me. You don't even want to know what happened when she told me to sign it... right on the thingamajig!


Then there's television. When I left the US, television meant that if you were lucky, you had cable. If you wanted to pay a little more, you got HBO and Cinemax. I was always one of the poor slobs with an antenna... that's right, an antenna. I remember being excited about getting Fox for free.


For the past several years, watching television when I went home was a major source of anxiety. I mean, I'm usually dying to go home and watch American television- people speaking English! And their mouth movements actually match the words! Not to mention Oprah. But the series of remote controls on the coffee table is so daunting, so scary, that I often renounce this one simple pleasure. There's the satellite and the cable and the DVD and the Pay per View and the (scariest of all) TiVo! I'll watch the television only if another more clued-in member of my family has turned it on, and no way am I going to mess with the channels. The last few times I've ventured to touch one of the remotes, I have totally fucked up the whole thing, and no one got to watch any TV at all. Thanks alot Mom!



This, my friends, is one scary picture!


And last but not least, there's American Idol. I have absolutely no idea who or what American Idol is, and don't know why anyone cares. There are entire blogs devoted to this vitally important piece of American culture, and I am in the dark.


So here I am, one week away from returning to the the land of a thousand remotes and card swiper thingamajigs, and I already feel like I'm faking it! Then again, if I could fake it through the minotaur's maze that is Italy, remote controls should be a piece of cake...

16 comments:

cathouse teri said...

Well I hope you have a lovely time and be sure to stop by and see us!

If it's any consolation, I haven't left the homeland since 1987, and I still won't watch tv in some homes because of the remote control anxiety! AND, I certainly... most certainly... do NOT fucking watch American Idol!

Jennifer said...

LOL the card-swiping thingy always gets me too. Every time we go back. You think I'd learn. And also the "Do you want your receipt in the bag?" They always ask you that. I am never sure.

I think going back is harder than coming here. Going back you assume you are going home and expect to fit in somewhat, but fifteen years is a long time to be away. When people ask you where you're from, you'll feel like saying "Italy". I don't know if I could do it, and I haven't been here ten years yet. Then again, I could hit the fifteen year mark and decide I've had enough of the ex-pat life.

Good luck! I am so excited for you and I hope you'll keep blogging about being on the verge of life back in the US.

Romerican said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Romerican said...

(oops erased my comment by accident!)
Fantastic post! Oh how I understand you… as much as I love going back home for my yearly visit, I always feel like I come from another planet. In America things change so quickly, whereas here in Italy it’s rare to find anything that has been modernized, improved, or changed. So it’s harder to go back there than it is to come here after years of absence. I had the same problem at the supermarket with the credit card, the lady just kept saying swipe it, press the green button, sign… and I just stood there until she did it for me!
I also recall a conversation I had with some random people I met while at a New Year’s party in NYC several years ago. I joined their conversation a few minutes after it had started but it went something like this “Did you see the rat race? It was sooo funny. I have to see it.” At this point I’m confused but excited and say “They have rat races in the city now? How exciting! Glad they’re putting those rodents to good use”. They all stopped and stared at me as if I were an alien. They kindly explained that Rat Race was a big movie (I’d heard NOTHING about it in Italy of course). I chucked and said “Sorry, I’ve been out of the country for a loooong time”. Thank goodness for the Internet, now I can attempt to keep myself updated on what’s happening- even Youtube is a GREAT source of pop culture information.
It’s like we’re foreigners but we’re not- we have no accent, we look and sound like we belong, we know how to get around, so there seems to be no apparent explanation for our cluelessness. At times I feel like “Encino Man” (remember that horrible flick?), we’re all Encino women!!!

Carol said...

If it's any help at all, I'm completely clueless about American Idol myself -- and one of the final three lives about 5 miles from me. Big deal...

Keep blogging when you get back! I'm curious about your re-adjustment.

Carol

Caroline in Rome said...

Every time the Frenchman and I visit North America, we find ourselves yearning for food back "home" (i.e. in Europe) after about one week. I must be too used to the diet here. I don't know if it is that the food in Canada and the States has too much fat, is too processed, lacks freshness or all of the above. but I just need one week back across the pond and my stomach is telling me to return to Europe.

As for television, we buy DVDs of television series made in the USA: West Wing, Prison Break, Six Feet Under, for example. Watching these series on Italian or French TV is generally out of the question, as I abhor dubbed television and cinema. I simply will not watch it. As for watching TV back in North American, I don't think that I could bear having to sit through commercials every 10 minutes anymore...

Jenn in Holland said...

Wow, you've done loads to the blog Jenn. It looks great. I especially like the new sidebar feature, you and MacGyver. Very cool!

And, I have to tell you I giggled all the way through this post! Like the others who've commented I am dying to read about the readjustment to America and all that it entails. What an odd place we come from, huh? I can't wait to hear all about the re-patriating adventures.
Oh, and can't help you with the TV remote thing. I always take the same option on visits home: NO TV unless someone else is in the room to help me decipher the remote maze!

Rebecca said...

aaah! I know how you feel regarding the remote controls....it can get very intimidating!! I don't even know what TiVo is?? I wonder if we even have it down under

WE have Australian Idol... (I don't think you're missing much)

anno said...

Even if you return to the same place, you can never really go back--at least that's my experience.

It's not just the technological and cultural references that have shifted. The gaping hole you left when you moved gets knit over with new connections: some landmarks (and relationships, unfortunately) disappear, you'll find familiar ones in strange new contexts, and you'll discover astonishing and unexpected experiences.

As for the technology/tv thing, there are a few of us Luddites around. You could join us: Just say No!

anno said...

P.S. I loved your blog before, but I really love the recent changes. It's like stumbling onto one of those gorgeous sepia-toned 17th century paintings that staggers you with its lights and darks. It always takes me a moment to catch my breath and get to the post. Beautiful!

cathouse teri said...

Who are you people, who are going "back" every year? Hehehe. ;)

Don't you know that going "forward" is what we're after?

No, seriously, I've spent a number of years as a military dependent. I've done a little bit of going "back" but I don't believe as much as you all have!

I will say, though, that when they ask if I want my receipt in the bag, it confuses me too. It's so hard to decide!

I have learned that it's easy to choose when they ask if I want help out to the car. I now say, "Yes! I need all the help I can get!"

Cate said...

Oh, I can't wait until you actually get back here. I don't know what you will notice, but I'm sure you'll make me laugh. Happy travels!

jennifer said...

Glad I'm not alone in the remote control anxiety thing...
anno and jenn, thanks for your lovely compliments. In case you haden't noticed, I'm quite into imagery, so I'm glad you like it. And thanks to Jennifer for telling me to use Bonnie and Clyde on my homepage!

Brillig said...

Hahaha. So funny. If these are your greatest concerns about moving back, then you really have nothing to worry about! And, if you wanna know the truth, we're ALL faking it! I haven't watched American Idol in ages, I just BARELY acquired TiVo, but I don't know anyone else who actually has it, and I STILL get all messed up on the swiper machines, because every single one is different. So, yeah. You'll fit right in with all of us fakers!

One week? I can't believe it! Good luck with everything!!!!

Brillig said...

Oh, and again, I'm LOVING all the changes on your site! And as for emailing me when I have strep, you feel free to email me ANYTIME. I can't promise to know the answers, but I can certainly try--not that you need me or anyone else! It looks so great here! (And I too love the Bonnie and Clyde. hahaha)

Marloes said...

You'll soon enough get the hang of it and by that time you sometimes wish you could return to the simple life..:)

 

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