Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Unreliable narration

All of the above are photos of confetti I took in Sulmona during my summer in Italy 2008. Confetti are Jordan almonds, dyed and wired together to make flowers. The streets were lined with baskets of them. I wish I took more photos. Aside from the confetti, the town was very pretty surrounded by high mountains.

Sulmona turns out to be the furthest east I ever had been. I was thinking that Venice being on the Adriatic would have been further but Italy's boot sways way east, more east that most of Croatia and Slovenia. I had wanted to take a bus to Pescara, even further east, but I was unable to make that happen. Furthest north? York, England. Furthest south? Bridgetown, Barbados. Furthest west? Neah Bay at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula WA. I haven't been to Asia or even Hawaii. Someday.

None of this has anything to do with the title. I recently read Gone Girl and watched about half of The Affair. Both the book and the show rely on the same set of events being recounted by 2 people and there are many, many discrepancies between the 2 narrators. In Gone Girl, the events retold by the woman are clearly twisted for her nefarious and psychotic ends. In The Affair, it isn't clear if the discrepancies are purposeful deceptions or not. Maybe if I were to watch the remaining episodes, that would be clear.

I have listening to This American Life podcasts in the middle of the night. I was hoping that being able to do this in the dark might be less disruptive to my sleep. And the voices lull me to sleep. I often awake when the hour long show long since ended and discover I only listened to the first 10 minutes. But I am finding that concentrating on the story lines are preferable to obsessing about this or that. The theme of one of them was would your life narration stand up to fact checking? One of the stories was about a Bosnia immigrant who escaped death by seconds and luck several times before he made his way to the US as a teenager. His family was settled in a low income housing project and the school associated with it was very poor. But a substitute English teacher had him write an essay. He was learning English on his own by translating the one book he was able to take with him from Bosnia. His essay consisted of  part of this translation. As the book had not been translated into English before, there was little chance of it being recognized as plagiarism. The teacher was so impressed that she used it to get him a scholarship into a prestigious private school, where he excelled leading to scholarships to ivy league colleges and to the successful life he leads today. This American Life decided to do some  fact checking. It was very hard to track down this substitute teacher but they eventually did. He had said that the teacher was there for only a week but she was there for an entire semester. That one essay had nothing to do with her recommending him to the private school. It was obvious to her he was a diamond in the rough. He had said he was the only white kid in the entire school aside from a fellow Bosnian immigrant who was not rescued by a nice teacher and ended up in jail later in life. It turned out he exaggerated his minority status. As it turned out, this teacher had to change careers due to her helping him escape public schools. This fact delighted him as it added a new dimension to the  'how lucky he was' narration that described his life. The kid was not a liar but he perceived things differently than what later was found to be the truth.

How would your version of your life stand up to fact checking? My father insisted he made great financial sacrifices for me and would tell anyone within earshot, that if it weren't for him, I'd be a complete failure. This is not how I see it. Would your kids remember what a great mother you were?
There are four different narratives on that alone. And the biggie, marriage. Does your narrative match your husband's?

Yesterday we were commiserating with the sellers on the difficulty of culling through possessions. Steve actually said he HAD NO TROUBLE THROWING THINGS AWAY.  I stared in amazement. Is he kidding me? I just need to drag out the list of stupid things he insists on keeping, which is very long, trust me...or not. He is not a liar but he clearly sees things differently than me. The story he tells about the house we have lived in almost 32 years is this: there is no attachment whatsoever just an investment property we are currently flipping. We weigh  the return on investment of each improvement we make. Meanwhile I am leaving all my gardens, my own private Vegas patio, my decorations, the people who greet me as I run, I am sad. I can tell myself how much happier I will be with space and working bathrooms but I don't quite believe it.

The closing took only 10 minutes. Mainly we were trying to co-ordinate utility transfers with the sellers. We do have keys. At some point this weekend or maybe even Friday, we will get a text to say that they are gone and we can come over without them trailing us. The house is now ours. Still the house was full of so much stuff and they are moving to the South where there are no basements. Their lower level will be a 6 or 8 car garage, I forget.

The closing place wasn't far from Josh and Julie's so we went there afterwards to go out to eat with them at a not very good Mexican restaurant.


Today's task is to collect once and for all, everything going to the charity people coming Saturday. As it turned out, Steve was not appreciative of me emptying ten sample shampoo bottles into his big shampoo container. Given his lack of sense of smell, I thought I'd get away with it and I did mix it up thoroughly.

The temp will rise 20 degrees in just a few hours and then I will be out running before our miniblizzard tomorrow.


Elephant's Child said...

Not confetti as I have ever seen it. This is very, very pretty.
I read The Gone Girl and found it psychologically very nasty indeed. And disliked both of the major protagonists.
I hear you on different perceptions though. If you ask me or my brothers to tell the same story from our childhood there is almost no overlap.
Which makes me pity the police sorting through witness statements.
I suspect I would be with you on the moving home front. I know I would be with you. Losing some things hurts.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Confetti came from the Italian for 'little sweet things' and were served at weddings. For Shanna's wedding, Syrian almonds were served. Somehow the word confetti morphed into colored paper pieces for all celebrations.

They had several confetti factories in Sulmona with tastings. They also used hazelnuts for some of their candies. I hadn't heard of Sulmona before going there.


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