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It’s here – Day 98 and I’ve been sitting here looking at a blank page and really have nothing to say – not even a funny way out of really writing. I’d say a 98-day streak is pretty good though.

I thought about writing about New Zealand today and the more I researched, the more I was passionate about it and then I realized that emotions overflowed and now it’s all over the place and I can’t mop up all those thoughts right now so that’s not happening. (It was about the use of a specific poem in a certain terrible document, then the English major in me got sidetracked and I started a whole thing with analyzing the poem and then found out that it was written by Dylan Thomas while he was staying in a villa just outside of Florence and so it’s a whole thing we aren’t going to go into.

Then I thought through my day and it was incredibly ordinary, and I missed a glorious sunset (check any hashtag of Florence on Instagram to see it) because I was giving a mud-caked Luna a bath. Thankfully that is a hilarious task and not an issue. I don’t want to write sad, but I’m not in the mood to write at all, really. All the ideas in my head are mush – not to be confused with mishmush, which for those that hadn’t tuned in yesterday, is my new favorite word in Arabic for apricot.

Someday my goal is to understand fluent Arabic. My dream is to speak it fluently…or at all, but that is going to take some total immersion and a speech therapist because some of those sounds, I just cannot do right now. I need to understand it more than speak it. I think it’s important to learn as many languages fluently as possible and that means someday, our kids will grow up with three languages (at least) and there is no way I am not knowing one of them – especially if they would be able to chatter to their father in it without a problem. Not gonna happen. So mishmush and a few other words and phrases is my starting point. I have a long way to go.

In the meantime, I’m still working on my second language skills. The latest Italian word that has stuck in my head is the word “guess” – indovinare. It was on a commercial and the actress asks the actor to guess what is baking in the oven. I am also learning Elmer the Elephant song in Italian for the joy of a two-year-old. It just proves that learning naturally is really something that happens – yes, it’s a slow process, and most should speed it up with lessons and studying, etc. But immersion is really the only real way to learn a language. The culture is hidden between the syllables of those words that you want so desperately to roll off your tongue. If you only learn a language from a book, it’ll sound like it.

Yesterday I was reminded of my declaration I always respond with when people talk about my Italian fluency. I believe that I will call myself fluent when I can properly stand up for myself in an altercation. Which, here either means an insult apparently pulled out of a Shakespeare play, or the complete opposite with rapid-fire swears and over-talking yet also listening and responding and trying to get the last word, etc. When I can do that. When I can properly state my opinion and defend myself, then, yeah, I’m fluent.

That doesn’t mean I need that type of power on a daily basis. I feel safer here and have fewer conflicts than in the US. But, when I say that’s my level, I mean that when I am at my most nervous (I don’t like uncomfortable situations – even in English) I can sound intelligent.

I’ve already even written about the definition of intelligence and education. What’s funny, is that some of those writing tricks you learn early on in that education, really do work. Like when you don’t know what to write about, and the teacher says to just keep on writing. Don’t think, write. Write everything, even if you’re thinking nothing, write nothing, and somehow, it’s like the rails on the train tracks click into place and the train starts moving again and an idea starts. Then a paragraph appears, and suddenly, You’re almost 750 words in. Does it mean it’s good?

No, not at all. It’s a first draft.

But if you don’t write the first one, you’ll never be able to write the second.