Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Giving Tree and the 5 Magic Plums


I closed the door and locked it.

I took off on my morning jog and entered the running deep thoughts phase.

Some people sit behind a desk from 9 to 5, five days a week, collect a paycheck, go to Happy Hour on Fridays, wash their cars on Saturdays and mow the lawn on Sunday mornings for a lifetime.
Other people work four unstable jobs, travel from country to country and call home a knapsack with a loaf of bread and a bottle of still water.
The drama comes when the person behind the desk has the soul of the wanderer.
The drama comes when the 9 to 5 lifestyle contributes to the inner dying process of a soul that no longer dreams.

While on my road, I heard a voice calling me. I turned around and a man on a ladder was waving to me to approach. I went up to the fence and he handed me some freshly picked plums from his tree. He smiled.
I smiled.
I proceeded to eat the five most delicious plums of my life.
I got somewhat choked up.
I didn't even know the man, and he proudly shared his plums.

I grew up with the terror of eating any fruit straight from the tree.
Don't eat those berries, you could DIE!!!
I grew up with fruit-from-tree-fear.
Living in Tuscany has changed that, I now eat plums from trees.
And as the sweet juice leaves my fingers sticky, I breathe and smile.

He gave me five plums.
And I ate them.
Afterwards, the next 15 hours went something like this...

I  received an email notifying me that my abstract had been accepted for a Congress in September.
Another beyond incredible telephone call gave me the confirmation of something huge,  that I will blog about when it happens

Then, this happened...

Once upon a time on this blog, I told the story of a friend I met on facebook. Let's say about three years ago. He lives in New York and has a private jet. He fueled up the jet, called for his woman and flew her to Maine for a fresh lobster lunch. They were back in New York for dinner.

I received a group message from this man in the evening. The group message went out to 28 people, including myself.

This man wrote:
Everyone is guessing' why I'm doing this ok........let 's face realty......each and everyone of us has gone through a lot this past year....some with major issues while others with less. including ME.........whatever it is .......and I know each and everyone of your past hardships ..........and we've honestly always stuck with each other........we've been friends for years I say..........and all wanting to get together meet......enjoy I thought what better way than to take an opportunity with a Gala and a cruise...........Luckily I have the opportunity to offer this ..... and I want to share it with everyone........I care for ....we are friends...we are family........we must enjoy the benefits of being a family........ THANK YOU GIFT...
He is flying everyone, from different parts of the world, to New York City, and then he's taking us on a 7 day cruise to the Bahamas on Carnival Cruiseline.
Reading that message, I went through a series of emotions, one of them being similar to fruit-from-tree-fear.
Then, I thought of a 9 to 5 job behind a desk and reminded myself that I have the soul of an adventurer.
I believe.
I don't know if I will go, it depends on my job, my kids...many things.
But for the past couple of days, I have been drifting in and out of la-la-land.
I went running again today, with a smile on my face and dreamy thoughts of lying on the beach in the Bahamas in my head.
That voice called to me again as I was running my road. 
This time he handed me an enormous bag of plums.
He smiled.
I smiled.
And I took those plums home to share with my kids.
They love plums-fresh-from-the-tree.

Hmmm...Who's the one with the bilaterale Cis?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

From the mouth of a ten year old

We were lying in bed, cuddling.
My little girl
holding hands and suffering from jetlag.
I tried scratching her back, but she couldn't fall asleep.
We tried just sitting in silence, but the fan's monotonous blow blew on, along with the trucks slamming the bump in the street outside our terrace.
It was impossible to close the windows and unthinkable to switch off the fan.
So there we cuddled in silence.
At a certain point, her little Sofia voice cut through the darkness with an,
"I love you, Mom. Family power. Love power. Amen."
She closed her eyes and fell asleep.
I laid there listening to the whirling fan, the slamming trucks and my daughter breathing.
Home is where the heart beats the loudest....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Taking the Word "NO" for an Answer

When I was a little girl, more often than "Yes", I heard the word "No".
Can I get an Atari??? Please, please, I know it costs a lot, but I study hard, I do well in school, can I please have an Atari?
"No, if you want an Atari, you'll have to pay for it yourself. I work hard to support you and your sister, and I don't have spare money lying around to pay for extras." My mom said.
I really wanted that damn Atari.
Everyone played Pac-man, Caterpillar, Frogger and Asteroids and I was the only one without an Atari.
So, at the age of 13 I started working for that Atari.
I babysat for the neighbors across the street. I saved my birthday money and slowly I reached a total of 80 dollars.
My stepfather took me to the store. While we were there, he asked me if I wanted to buy my stepbrother's used Atari, it was just as good as a new one for half the price, but I said No. I wanted a new Atari. I had worked hard to earn it, and I wanted it to be my own.
I bought the Atari and fell in love with Frogger.
Six months later these really cool sweaters were in style and everyone in my school had one. I babysat every weekend and earned enough money to buy one.
When I was sixteen, my father agreed to buy me a new car if I paid for the insurance every six months. I said, "Thank you so much, ok!"
I got myself a job at a fast food restaurant in the mall, continued babysitting and made those insurance payments every six months.
The only way to protect yourself from a "NO", is to put yourself to work to make it a "YES."
I just started reading a book that talks about how the new generation entering the workforce lived a color-coated existence. Their parents gave them so much positive reinforcement and so many "Good Trys" that they believe themselves to be infallible; when the reality of failure and the word "NO" hits them in their perfect faces and touches their perfect lives, they go into depression. There are egomaniacs running around and they quickly turn into depressed individuals.

I heard "You CAN'T teach English to your son."
I heard "Your son is NOT a candidate for a cochlear implant."
I heard "I give you six months in Italy and then you'll be home."
I heard "You will NEVER survive without my help."
I actually even heard, "You are HELPLESS without me."

Thank you to my Mom, my Dad, my Stepfather, my Grandparents and any other person who told me "NO" as I was growing up.
I learned the value of creating my own strong, "YES".

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Pop's Boxer Shorts

I wasn't at my Pop's funeral, he died on the May 9th just after Jordan's CI surgery the previous December.  I was having panic attacks during that time, because it was the calm after the storm that was Jordan's surgery and activation. Jordan had finally taken off in his new hearing journey and just when I could finally relax, the weight crashed down as it so often does when you are strong for too long. Jordan was able to talk on the phone and hear my Pop before he passed away, thanks to that ci. When I came back home that summer, I rummaged through my Pop's things and took his sweatshirt with his grandkids' names on it and five pairs of his boxer shorts.
My fondest memories of my Pop, aside from when he used to take me to Dunkin' Donuts for a hot chocolate and a chocolate chip muffin with melted butter every Saturday before my Wally Saunders Ballet lessons, were of him sitting on the blue velvet couch, eating a tub of Cookies and Cream ice-cream with a spoon, watching golf on tv, while wearing his boxers.

I sleep in those boxers during the hot Tuscan summer nights.
They don't exactly fit, but they're really comfortable.

My Pop taught me right from wrong. He taught me to respect my Mother even when we fought. He never said a bad word about my father during my parents' divorce, and made a damn good tunafish salad.
He used to make his arm muscles go up and down to show us how strong he was, and always gave me his stubbly cheek when I went to kiss him goodnight on the weekly Friday night that we slept over his house.
Every softball game I played, he cheered in the crowd with pride.
Sometimes when growing up certain people are larger than life to your little girl eyes, the miracle comes when they remain larger than life even when you see them through adult eyes.
When I made mistakes, he told me.
When I did something good, he told me.
He loved my children and all of us unconditionally.
He told me, "Jodi, your family will always be there for you. When you have a problem, ask your family for help."

My Pop taught me strength.
And I returned to my family, to find some of that strength I had lost.
The thing about taking- yourself- back family strength, as opposed to seeking-for-temporary-strength in other random people is that the process requires real love.
And it is love that truly makes us strong in those moments where you feel empty and drained.
I'm back in Tuscany, just a little stronger than when I left.
And I'm wearing my Pop's boxers.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Making the Call in the Clutch

Last Sunday my motorcycle broke down, and stranded, I was forced to call Emergency Roadside Assistance. For a minute, I had thought to ask for help from another pedestrian in the area, but that time, I decided to try to do it on my own. Throughout my life as a Deaf individual I had always had phone fear- when the phone rang, I froze; thoughts tormented me like "What if I don't understand what they're saying, what do I do?", "I won't recognize the voice", "What if he/she speaks too quickly?", "I don't want to make a fool out of myself!" 

So there I was in an emergency situation and I kicked all of those negative thoughts straight to the curb. I mustered up some courage and dialed the number. I was ready to make that emergency call by myself: to ask the person on the other line to please speak more slowly without becoming agitated. And as you are speaking on the phone, you realize that-

... They ask you what happened... 
...They ask you for your name and surname... 
...They ask you for the license plate number of the motorcycle...
... They ask you the warranty number...
... And they inform you that the pick-up truck will arrive in 45 minutes...

From then on, without having foreseen the outcome of that call, you understand that you have just done something enormous...something that up until a couple of years ago would have been impossible for you. These are the incredible satisfactions in life, and they must be appreciated for all of the hard work and effort, physically and psychologically that contributed to finally achieving them!!! 
I would like to preface that before becoming confident with my cell phone, I had to wait at least 3 years after my ci surgery, and it required a great amount of willpower and motivation to find the courage to respond to and make telephone calls. 
One step at a time....making a phone call in an emergency situation...who would have ever thought I'd overcome that obstacle!!! 
Eng. Nicola Battista