Natalie Medved
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Arrivederci Colorado, Ciao Sicilia (Part UNO)

August 31, 2010 @ 8:23 PM | Permalink

Blog Post 2
Arrivederci Colorado. Ciao Sicilia.
     I am not sure how I did it; really I have no idea at this point, but I have arrived in Roma with Deb Medved, my luggage, and believe it or not my sanity still intact. This was not what Italians call “un compito simplice” (a simple task); therefore, making our recent arrival such an unexpected victory!   But first Sicilia…
     For those of you who do not know, I am both Slovakian and Italian. Let me clarify this; I am American with both Italian and Slovakian roots.   This is a much more accurate statement in that it is very obvious now (to both the locals and myself) that I am neither Italian nor Slovakian, but a tourist; obviously a perception I am still working to alter.   I am not one hundred percent clear what it is that’s giving me away. I don’t think it’s my clothes (I nailed that situation…TO THE WALL), and my physical characteristics are “very European; with olive skin, and dark features like the lava rock of Mount Etna” or so says Sebastian and Luca - two Italian men my mom and I met in Sicilia. Therefore, I am inclined to believe that it is Debi Medved’s token screech (a high-pitched combination of verbal abuse, and “whatevers”) which is usually brought on by lack of Virginia Slims or Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte in her life, and used as an intentional form of torture. Or it could just be that she responds to everything, even when asked in English, with “Bella, Bella, Bella” or “Manja, Manja, Manja”.   Whether it is the outrageously, fantastic Deb Medved who is giving us away or my less-then-polished Italian, who can say; what really matters is that we are Americans attempting to reunite with our Italian heritage, hence us being in Sicily – or as they Italians say it, Sicilia.
       This “trip to the homeland” began with a bang, which is the only way a Medved pilgrimage can begin.    I am sure you are wondering what exactly I mean by, “Bang.” Well, to summarize it for you; Murphy’s Law was kind of the theme of our departure- “If anything can go wrong, it will.” As much as I would love to leave it at that (my friends would argue otherwise…), I wouldn’t have much of a blog if I did.  
        As I mentioned in my first post, I tend to pack more then I need. For this trip I did well though; I managed (with the guidance of my sister, Whitney, a habitual under-packer) not to lose my mind and stow too many unnecessary items into my duffels. Or so was the case until about five seconds before I left my house for six months. I began feeling the emotions that only leaving home for an extended period of time can trigger.   My mom had given me a two hour, one hour, thirty minute, and as if that was not enough a fifteen minute warning till departure. Remember that screech I mentioned before? Well, multiply that by five, increase the pitch by ten octaves, and now add that sound to a headache that was simultaneously making my head throb like the base in bad rave music.  Yep, not the best time to be hearing that, (oh, dry and dehydrating Colorado, how I love you); nevertheless it was time to go.   I decided to spare myself any more pain and submit to her torture. I gathered up my computer and double-checked to see if I had collected all the necessary chords I would need while abroad. By the end of what should have been a simple task, I had so many computer chords in the gallon-sizes zip block it looked like I was totting around a giant bag of spaghetti! I am pretty sure it was at this time the “hoarding trigger” was pulled and resulted in me reverting back to my old ways. Leaving home is not ever an easy thing; even when you say “ah I cant wait to leave,” that little heart string gets caught on some corner of comfort, pulled gently, and then yanked at. Before you know it your coming undone, like a sweater (Weezer can expand upon this) and all those hidden emotions are uncovered.
      For the sake of maintaining clarity, let me give a quick recap: my mom’s screeching, clock is ticking, headache, heartstrings pulled, emotions flooding my sense of judgment. As I am sure you already know, I relapsed.    On my way down stairs I stopped in various rooms, including my little sisters (don’t worry Alex, there was no good loot left. You are getting smarterJ,) to collect some last minute goods that I truly believed I could not leave without. Nothing was enough, well, actually it was all enough but when you’re being a “stuff” glutton you don’t regret your binge until later after the emotions have leveled off and clarity sets in. You know your thinking straight again when that uncomfortable feeling overtakes you – like the heavy weight of an overstuffed bag on my back. This usually sets in at the wrong time, like ten minutes after the time you should have already left. Basically, due to my relapse we were running late. But don’t worry, I came to my senses and ditched a bunch of the unnecessary bits and pieces of home I tried to jam into my duffels. Nevertheless, Deb Medved was a hot cookie and I heard about it all the way to DIA. 
     Thirty minutes later (thanks to Debi V’s. expert maneuvering of the vehicle down I-70) we are back on track. We check in at United and of course my mom knows the ladies manning the counter and immediately dives into a conversation with them. I am never surprised when this happens though. My mom could find a friend anywhere; the lady has no problem talking to anyone or about anything. Seriously, she could befriend a lamp and discuss where it gets its various shades. That is one of the things I love about her, and am happy to report that I too am a bit of a social butterfly (another hereditary trait I suppose.) While my mom is chatting away she somehow manages to get me an upgrade (fo’ free) to economy plus.   Maybe those “six inches of extra legroom” (as though the three they do give you are sufficient, ha) don’t sound like something to get excited about at first, but when you have ADD, and are on a nine hour flight every inch is as precious as a new born pup.    So here I am, all jazzed about my half a foot of legroom and then I hear, “Ms. Medved, would you like to have a window seat in business or isle?” Ohhhhh-ho-ho-haa, now I get what is going on here.   My mom buttered me up with a six-inch stick of legroom-margarine, brand name; Sneaky Sicilian. You can imagine my face, but if you cant just Google “shocking or stunned faces” and I am sure any of those will suffice (I know they will, cause I just did it.) As we proceeded through security I sat there thinking, “well played mom…well played.”
      An hour later we board the plane, and then proceeded to sit on the tarmac for another hour (This is where Murphy’s law starts kicking in) due to a case of, not even kidding, runway-rage. Apparently Southwest was in line to take off but then a Frontier aircraft cut him off, entering his six hundred foot “space cushion.” I think the equivalent of this would be the “car length” or three-feet-of-cement rule. It was a pretty lame move on Frontier’s part, and apparently Griswold the Grizzly Bear couldn’t smooth the tension out with cheeky jokes (hoping you have seen the Frontier commercials and get my bad humor) and those big brown bear eyes!   As a result the whole air-craft lineup had to be rerouted to other tarmacs and wait for the new line up to be arranged by air control, or so our Pilot informed us. Usually waiting a bit wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but the problem was I had an international connection an hour after my Chicago flight ended…and that was before this aircraft altercation.   So, I sat there quietly and waited to see how things would work out. I somewhat expected this though so I was not stressing out…too badly. Besides, I enjoy a good people-watching session, and what better time is there to people-watch then on a stuffy plane, with stressed out humans?! 
     I pretended to play with my phone and text (note: this is the ultimate people-watching tool to avoid getting caught staring) but would sneak glances at the many personalities surrounding me. While in the midst of my session, I noticed an aggravated man starting to shift in his seat in a very abrupt and agitated manner. He was a business like fellow; he wore a silk tie, which had a blatant and awkward crease in it, a white button down with a stain on the left breast – I think it may have been ketchup (THE WORST)- and he had a pair of broken glasses sitting on his table-tray. I concluded from these observations that he had been having a rough day and was not a guy to mess with, in fear that anything could set him off. But naturally someone had to, and that someone was the woman sitting to his left. This lady was loud in every way one can be; her hair big, red and teased, her clothes – a bright yellow pant suit, her jewelry -jingled like bells on a slay, and her voice – she had a thick ascent, from the south which could be heard from either end of the plane, in the bathrooms, and with the doors shut.   I soon realized why this man was so agitated; she was not only throwing herself around her seat and yelling into her bejeweled cell phone, but was hogging the armrest between them. When I say hogging, I mean that half her body weight was leaning onto that thing, shifting her whole upper-body into his space, and completely disregarding this man’s personal “space cushion.” I sat there thinking two things; one, if I were him I would have been escorted off the plane already for having stapled her mouth shut and duck taping her to the seat, and two, if an air-craft gets a space cushion, shouldn’t people? 
 For most people who have travel by plane there has been a time when they were faced with an uncomfortable situation involving a complete stranger. It is during these times that a certain amount of airplane diplomacy should be employed by either, or both, patrons to defuse the situation. 
Airplane Diplomacy may sound like a fabricated concept but it is a completely authentic social statute. It should be implemented by airline patrons to placate chaos that could and has risen from the smallest of incidents, such as the armrest situation. Not convinced? Then imagine this; your on a plane, a standard aircraft equipped with the little laminated what-to-do-in-case-we-crash handouts, flight attendance with the little ribbons tied around their uniformed collard shirts (like brownies or girl scouts), and of course those little cups they serve the one free beverage in; which is a rip off and annoys people even more. Next, think of any maneuver you make while getting on the aircraft or while situating yourself, got it? Ok, now multiply that scenario by a hundred or so people and add a stuffy and hot environment into the equation; statistical, someone is going to get annoyed and start some kind of commotion – just like the situation with the armrest, the business man, and the loud woman. Not all people practice this edict but we all have the option too, and by doing so we play our part in providing the other passengers, and the air-craft staff with a more enjoyable flight.   I am not sure how the situation ended with the perturbed man and the woman. Honestly the sky-mall magazine sucked me into its shiny pages filled with the neatest (but most unnecessary) gadgets; and our captain had informed us we were now (after an hour) going to take-off, oh and I am pretty sure they saw me staring. But, I did take away from my session of people-watching an important lesson; next time you are in the air, and involved in an armrest situation be a diplomat and practice some of that airplane edict. If you don’t need the armrest, and you are not having a terrible day offer it to your fellow passenger. I promise you, the expression on their face will be one of thanks, and who knows you may make a good friend in the process.
So I know I was going to tell you more about Sicilia, but I must go to bed. Let this satiate your hunger for now and I promise I will post again soon.


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