mercoledì 20 gennaio 2010

The Characters

A compelling story without compelling characters is a rare thing. My story may not be compelling, it might be kinda normal, but I can at least include some kinda normal characters as well. (My roommates, I can say for certain, are less than normal).

RACHEL: 22 years old, native tongue assistant, teacher, tutor, English language gigolo (gigola?). Intrepid bike-rider, book-reader, and Italian-speaker. A little fuzzy about the next step, or The Future.


GIOVANNA: Generous and sweet professor who guides Rachel through the delights of the Italian school system and its bureaucracy (speaking of which, when will Rachel ever get paid?). Before class, a little scattered and tends to drop things, but during class she's totally in gear. Frequently talks about her son, who apparently has little passion for English.

ANGELA: In gamba professor with a beautiful British accent. She doesn't yell or scold the students, and together they do their best to encourage and teach them. Gave Rachel bedsheets and one day even took her to the Virgin Fitness Center (fashamancy) to try out their vibrating pedestals and sauna. Oddly insists on translating simple Italian phrases into English for Rachel.

ELENA: The second of the two blonde, in gamba professors. Sweet and confiding, bonds with Rachel because they are both southerners (Elena from Ischia, near Napoli). Invited Rachel to lunch at her house, where she taught her a delicious fresh zucchini recipe, and frequently heaps advice upon her (which pesto to buy, which alleyway to take to school, where to get a mattress/umbrella/pastries/mozzarella di bufala). Has an adorable and embarrassed son in one of Rachel's former classes, plus two other boys. Is frequently exhausted.

LUCA: Passionate and intelligent literature teacher. Needs to discuss all lesson plans at length, but in the end they usually come up with nifty ideas together. For example: Everything Rachel --> the South --> Civil Rights and Obama's victory speech --> American ideals --> Romantic ideals --> Whitman --> Emerson --> Dead Poet's Society. Now that they are working together in the 4th year, he seems a little less enthusiastic.

MS. B (first name unknown): warm and competent professor, with the philosophy that a little bit of strictness at the beginning doesn't hurt. Laughs a lot. Rachel would be really happy to be in her classes more, if she ever let her, but there always seems to be an exam or grade to prepare for. Still, when they are together they make a cheerful team. Rachel misses her 3rd year class with Ms. B.

ROBERTA: Über competent teacher big on intimate discussion. Rachel is working on "the open road" as a concept in her class.

MS. R: Very strict but very curious about the United States. Gives Rachel a candy after every class because she has to "talk so much".

MS. G: Called her class "donkeys" on the Rachel's first day. This has colored their relationship ever since.

FABRIZIO: Former Alitalia employee now teaches. Suave and tall. Happy for Rachel to teach pretty much anything, and to teach that anything to both his second-year classes.

MARINA: Professor at the fancy classics high school who hired Rachel. Small and sweet, refers to herself as a nanna, gnome. Candid about her personal life. Thought Rachel was English, almost kissed her when she found out she was, in fact, American. She loves Americans.

Then there are the professors I am getting to know little by little, mostly by smiling and speaking Italian competently. There is the Siciliana that confided in me how incredibly difficult teaching can be, especially when a student tells you to your face she doesn't give a fuck. There is the gym teacher that starts awkward conversations while I am working. There are my wonderful "students" of my conversations class: the French teacher who considers herself timid but says her personality is red, the scientist who declared the life of the punctual man (his life) a lonely one, the hyperactive vice principal who invited me to her house for dinner and introduced me to her lovely daughter (female friend! working on it...), the professor who brought in Pink Floyd to learn from the lyrics...

Other characters to follow...

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