This week I’m trying to learn patience. It’s a virtue and all that. Mum told me all those years ago. And mums are the bomb, so it’s gotta be true.
Both Italy and Africa are currently giving me some patience lessons lately (translation: driving me absolutely bonkers).
Basically, the Vikster and I have been trying to organise a bit before all hell breaks loose. In less than two months I’ll pack up my house, finish my postdoc, and drag a poor unsuspecting Italian fella off to the land of spiders and meat pies. It’d be super if our Ethiopian adventure was even vaguely sorted before all that happens.
But I’m starting to think that my glorious organisational plan was just a silly pipe-dream of a nerd that’s never dealt with Africa before.
It’s been a few months now. A few months in which Viks and I have been asking our Ethiopian contact (Peter) some details. Like y’know, if we’re getting paid, and what we’re going to do during the workday. Basic stuff.
We ask him a question and get either nothing in return, or we receive the standard response: “Yes, yes, we will discuss your questions and respond soonest”.
This apparently means never.
Viks said to me the other day that I seem so chilled out about it all. That made me LOL, as the kids say. Appearances are deceptive! I’m not really a ‘relax and see what happens’ person, I’m a planning nut. I LOVE PLANS. I plan LITERALLY EVERYTHING. Every time I start a new list, I do it with near orgasmic glee.
Man, if I could make a list of all the lists I want to make, I’d be in heaven.
But Italy has taught me to fly a bit more free.
Slowly but surely, I’ve learnt to let go. Like at work, for instance… In my old Aussie life, deciding a time that we have lab meeting meant ‘It’s once a week, so plan your freaking life and get there 5 mins early because I’ll murder you if you come in late’. In Italy, lab meeting times mean ‘Eh, probably it’ll be half an hour late or maybe we’ll just reschedule’.
These days the lessons have gotten harder, because I’ve been up to my tonsils in Italian immigration shite. AGAIN. As a scientist on a repeating yearly contract (hello absolute lack of job security!), I have to do this rubbish every single year. But this recent round of immigration was a little different. Instead of a whole year, I got a mini four-month contract to allow me to finish up 2015, write my papers, and generally sort out the mountain of crap that accumulates during a research placement.
So it was a different contract, with different rules, and that blew everyone’s minds.
This time, immigration became a horrendous process of mystery and intrigue, which had me running down a rabbit warren, exhausted and bleeding, thinking that the future held only darkness and probably dragons. It was just missing the witty repartee of a chain-smoking detective or the angst of a teenage wizard to make it a truly kickass tale.
Everything was a bureaucratic drama. Old forms had expired, renewals were complicated, and I often went to offices that demanded things that were waaaaay different to the documents I held. One office dude ended up yelling at another, each old man calling the other a ‘stronzo that doesn’t know what he’s talking about’.
It was like those annoying treasure hunt games. You know the ones? Where you search for mysterious items, strain your brain with riddles, and tackle opponents in the frantic hunt for the next clue, which then only leads you to another chase across the countryside for yet another freaking clue. Is there an end? Eh, you won’t know until you get there! Yay, what fun!
The escapades peaked this week with a big appointment at Questura – the main police station – to finalise my immigration. Four hours of waiting only to be rejected. REJECTED.
Initiate fetial position and thumb-sucking.
After wasting the rest of the day trying to figure out a solution, I was suddenly and miraculously approved. Hoorah! The problem? They didn’t actually read the documents I sent. The documents that were literally on his desk while he interrogated me. Once someone called and made them check everything properly, it was all A-OK.
And you know what? All this has taught me to chillax. No…actually I take that back. It’s taught me to pretend I’m chillaxed while internally I’m combusting and imagining rather violent scenarios involving bodily harm via weapons crafted out of immigration forms.
But I’m learning. Each country has a different way. A different flow. A different process of doing life.
And you really, really have to respect it.
Italy definitely taught me that. Italy and a slew of international buddies that, through their wonderful friendship and stories, helped me understand the different mindsets of people from all over the globe.
That’s why, I’m pseudo-chillaxing. I’m waiting for these emails from our Ethiopian contact. I’m waiting patiently, because I know Africa has a different modus operandi. It’s not Italy, and it’s definitely not Australia. I can’t force anything to happen, and I know that if I try, it will backfire.
I’d do a happy dance if I knew details. I’d backflip moonwalk all the way to the store for a fresh to-do list notebook. But for now, I’m taking a coffee break.