Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Confusion, Crisis, and Disillusionment: A Preface, Part 3 (the Conclusion)

Picking up where I left off, Erin and I finally left the states for Italy. The first 2 weeks were vacation, and it was amazing. Erin wrote about this time on her blog, so if you're interested peruse her August and September archives. After this relaxing period we finally settled into our apartment in Florence. Of course this turned out to be a considerably more difficult process than we had anticipated, and again Erin documented it quite well.

So life began carrying on almost how we had planned. Our Italian classes started at 9am and ended at 1pm, and from 2pm to 8pm I worked from home for the company at which I had started as a contractor. On the Italian side, life was good. We made friends quickly through school and some outside. Our school itself was (and still is) excellent. The teachers are very qualified and passionate both about the language and teaching it. On the US side, well, things were turning for worse. Due to the abysmal conditions of the real estate market (and the US economy in general), as well as "other internal issues", the company began making cutbacks. At first it was the developer hired to work alongside me - his time was reduced from almost part-time to considerably less-than, to no time. Some other parts of the team also parted as time went on, and the general direction of the project now seemed quite lost to me. As of this writing, the conditions of the project are the same.

At this point, assuming you were able to digest my last posts, you can probably imagine where my head is regarding my professional path thus far. Let me summarize: I'm burned out, tired, confused, unmotivated, unsatisfied, and uncertain. How does one cope? I'm good at what I do and I enjoy it, but after these experiences I'm left wanting.

Amidst this spinning of my head, we moved to a foreign country with the decisive goal of learning a foreign language: Italy. Why Italian? That is an excellent question, an answer for which I hope to clarify in my own mind through these writings. As far as I know, I don't have the slightest trace of Latin blood in my history. I've been led to believe that I'm a fairly classic mix of Scottish and Irish, a bit of English, and a dash of native North American. My wife is probably of similar descent, consisting of Irish and English heritage.

So why Italian then? Boh. I do actually enjoy the mathematics behind language, and I find the evolution, dispersal, amalgamation and cultural assimilation of them very interesting. I studied a bit of Latin and ancient Greek in high school and college, and for whatever reason found them both fascinating. So I do possess a general nerdy attraction to language, but why study Italian above all others? I think it's part chance and part choice. Chance because I wanted simply to experience the shock of a new culture. I wanted to assimilate; I wanted to learn how others live first hand. What better way to do that than diving in? The specific choice of Italy has to have something to do with the rich cultural history and the juxtaposition of that with modern Italian life. I find it beautifully contradictory; something like oil and water and at the same time like melody and harmony. If you take a walk in the part of Rome that leads up to the colosseum, where you emerge from modern urban buildings into its ancient and seemingly monolithic presence, you will know what I mean.

I think that's all for my "preface." If you managed to read it all, thanks. I'll continue with posts in this category in the present, as I experience things that lead me one way or the other, bringing with them clarity or otherwise taking it away.