What We Know So Far
Getting a cell phone at the TIM store yesterday was a piece of cake, which made me very suspicious. When I couldn’t turn it on this morning, I was certain the curse of Italian electronics had come back to get me, but it turns out that I just needed to read the instructions. I don’t really read instructions, even in English, and in another language they’re truly maddening. But the “on” button was clearly indicated—well, I say “clearly” as a figure of speech. It was clear if you still have the eyes of a 20-year-old and can see tiny tiny tiny icons printed in barely contrasting colors in a hectic little pamphlet produced by the folks at TIM. Anyway, the phone works, even if no one is calling me—except for TIM, which seems rather desperate for attention. They’ve begun sending me my daily horoscope, which isn’t unwelcome. Today’s says:
“Avrai voglia di concederti più tempo. Evita di scoraggiarti troppo presto. Evita i bagni in acqua troppo fredda.” Or: “You’ll want to give yourself more time. Try not to get discouraged too quickly. Stay out of water that’s too cold.”
Who can argue with nice, sensible advice like that?
I realized that I’ve somehow spent five euro getting the phone set up again—I think I was accidentally connected to the internet for a while before I figured out how to turn it off. Actually, it was right about then that I gave up and switched the directions on the phone from Italian to English. I felt disappointed in myself, but only briefly. Still, the Italian Curse isn’t quite done with me—something bad is happening with my RCA current converter, which gets very hot and shuts itself off after about 20 minutes. Which means I’ve yet to get the laptop fully charged.
I can’t worry about that today. I have “administrative” errands to run at the university and at the housing service that has found me an apartment for August, and I’m steeling myself. I took a walk last night and found the apartment, which is located in a building with an Indian restaurant (the Taj Mahal) right downstairs, but I worry that the all-uphill-all-the-time walk from the Sant’Ercolano to via Vermiglioli with my bags may kill me. I wonder if it’s possible to do it at midnight.
Then there’s the issue of finding the box and getting my mailing done. I did find wrapping paper without incident, just next door to an internet point that has (dulcis in fondo) air conditioning! I’d so much rather be here than at the Posta.
The Museo Archeologico yesterday was a nice diversion, though, in typical Italian fashion, it’s full of beautiful things that are unmarked and unexplained. There was a wonderful small display of amulets through the centuries—animal bones and teeth; snakes and forked-tail lizards in various states of desiccation; shells; pieces carved in agate, metals, ivory, and wood—a testament to hundreds of years of preoccupation with the changing of one’s luck. There was also an exhibition on food preservation and transport over the last couple of thousand years, where I learned that (a) virtually all the wine grapes that grow in the Mediterranean today originated in Iran; (b) legend has it that wine was the drink of the gods and that the recipe was given to humans on the condition that they dilute the wine with water so they could drink it safely; and (c) consecration with wine (and the pouring of libations) is an ancient practice that (proto) Christians exploited for their own uses. No wonder Christ changed water into wine. A miracle, indeed, no matter what channel you’re tuned to.