Friday, September 15, 2017

Fits and starts
I am sad to report that Gabry's wife Diana is really not feeling well. She is malnourished and her teeth are disintegrating due to a lack of calcium, so that Gabry has to return home to take care of little Paol while she is in the hospital. I have two bags of winter clothing ready for her because she is the same height of T (1.7 meters or 5 ft. 7 in.). Unfortunately, Gabry reports that she weighs only 39 kg (which is like 86 lbs). The whole thing is very sad, and we haven't heard of any job opportunities for him. 

In brighter news, I got to drop off some donations from Marina, a nice woman who is friend of a student of mine who has a daughter just a little bigger than Peace. She told me that she has set up a donation drive at her daughter's school, which is really wonderful. Peace was just waking up from her nap when I got there. She was in a great mood. Also there were some friends of Tina, a woman who does her hair and her daughter. I was surprised to see that Peace was thumping the very well behaved daughter, a lovely 7-year-old who was just playing on her own. Job explained to me that another little girl named Divine like to beat up Peace and so he taught her to defend herself. Unfortunately, now Peace has the wrong idea and thinks it is great fun to thump every big kid she can get her hands on. They will sort it out. 

I also saw Jennifer and Wisdom. Jennifer gave me the awkward task of calling to set up an appointment for Wisdom's circumcision. It is not standard procedure in Italy and is only free of cost if a doctor prescribes it for medical reasons. T is ashamed of me because I found this out by getting one of my students to call the hospital for me during the lesson. I feel okay about it, though, because what took her ten minutes to find out would have taken me five hours. We brought Jennifer a bag of clothing for herself and some toys and books for Wisdom. Come to find out that Wisdom is terrified of new toys. Hopefully, with time, he will come to love the little, batter-operated, biker dude who zooms around his house.

Today was T's first day of her last year in high school. She has been dreading it because she has to ask three professors for letters to support her college applications. Since it is a very unusual request in Italy, she has to request them in a very particular way. The deadlines are coming up, and the recommendations are obligatory. It is rare for professors here to write flattering things about their students or to have to brag about their schools in writing, and then there is also the issue of translating it all into English.

Last week we were invited to my student Mario's from the Very Much class a few years ago for a pizza dinner. As per usual here, he neglected to mention that not just his girlfriend, but his whole family would be there, that there would be a cooking demonstration and that we would be sampling eight kinds of pizza and focacccia that would make Rocky himself go into a carb coma. It was very sweet of them, and they gave us leftovers, which we in turn passed on to a very appreciative Gabry. This Saturday we will have another abbuffata of a feast at a dinner with the girls from the Ischia Vacation at one of T's friends' mothers. F and I will probably have to watch at least three Italian Fiction series just to have enough vocabulary to get through the appetizers. Wish us luck!

Friday, September 08, 2017

Into the Swing
We probably should have sent Gabry to the restaurant instead of Khadim. At the time we thought he was on his way to becoming the best taxi driver in Romania, but then even the mayor of his small town got in on shaking him down for more and more blackmail money for the bureaucratic part of his business. To top it off, some right wing journalist for the newspaper La Nazione put a full on photo of him on the cover to lead a story about street beggars. I wrote the chef, but I got no response.

Actually, I am wrong about the mayor. The mayor is now helping Gabry, but it is some police corporal that he has against him. Anyway, he just told me that his wife, who is as tall as T, only weighs 39 kilo and is in such frail health that he has to go back to care for his son while she goes into the hospital. It is terrible. 

Everybody in the group, aside from Paul, is still unemployed. Cool had no luck in Malta. And Jennifer is really sick of their house, which is still crawling with mosquitoes and has no hot working hot water heater for the winter. On the other hand, they definitely should have took the work offer I found for them at the beginning of the summer. It is till rough to see them and know that their life is so tenuous. They are used to it. That is the crazy thing. I have a lot to learn from them about enjoying all the good moments of life because they really seize them and they laugh, and they don't give up or lose hope.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Happy First Birthday, Peace!
We brought Peace her first cake and her first tricycle. She is already walking and talking up a storm. She has a mouthful of teeth, and is eating real food. None of us can imagine how we survived in a world without her in it. She has already made everything we know so much better.

Job was out trying to make some money because the weather was nicer than expected, but Uncle Emmanuel was there with us. They loved looking at the photos of New York and the keychains I brought back for them. The tricycle was also a massive hit.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

a wonky international time machine
Our trip to America was not for a vacation, but due to a huge bureaucratic cluster-f$ck against kids with diabetes when it comes for registering to take the SAT exam for college entrance. That said, it was a good time for us to come back and test our footing back on our old stomping grounds. I apologize to all our friends that we didn't call because we didn't call anyone. The actual plane trip and jet lag  went as planned, yet devastated me. It was a good thing we had planned time before the test for T to get her inner clock reset. I just wanted to concentrate on our daughter and keeping her sane and distracted before the exam. It turns out international cuisine, the best museums in the world, and, most of all, some revolutionary book stores are all our girl needs to be happy. It didn't hurt that we got to crash at our friends Thom and Ellen's amazing loft in Williamsburg, where Ellen also has her art studio. 

We had a few days with family that included some prize winning restaurant dining, an epic boggle championship, and some interesting stories from the authors in my family -- my mom and brother. 

Riding the subway in Manhattan and Brooklyn, I saw some really beautiful, moving examples of a sense of community, resistence, and empathy in action. I didn't expect it. And I was happy and proud to see it. I am proud to be a New Yorker, but it is clear that I couldn't be happy living big city life. I would rather be an outsider in Italy than an insider in America. I am grateful because, out of all the flavors of outsider, I like the New York flavor best. When we got on the plane, I could not have predicted how I would feel. I guess given the last seven years of my life, it is a relief.

Highlights of the trip would be the Eclipse at the Met, dinner with the family at Nix, the Strand and its many wonderful political buttons, the fashion gurus at Shishi who dressed us and took all the work out of getting a new wardrobe, Harold at Tip Top shoes -- who salsa danced for us -- and looping the park with my best Ian.
This is what 25 dollar almond butter looks like. I said 25. Dollar.

Television has become a thing that you need a degree to operate. After you figure it out, there is still nothing worth watching except for shows with sound tracks that have 90s R&B like Sex and the City. The commercials are epic and have no connection to the products for sale. I am so lost. Help me make sense of it all, Maria di Filippi, ti prego.

 Yeah, we couldn't believe we got to stay here either.

This is a real cool lady at Whole Foods, the supermarket the size of a football field, also known, due to the prices, as the food museum. We also saw her at the cool salad chain lunch spot, Sweet Green.

Here is the sun eclipsing.

 This little girl was saying, I kid you not, "So when I was a baby, we used to hang out?" And the Uncle guy said, "Yeah, but we hang out now, too, right?" Sooo New York. I died.

 I made T take a trip down memory lane to the tot lot in Prospect Park.

Post-SAT mandatory Van Leeuwen artisan ice cream extravaganza!

T got a celebratory second ear piercing. We felt very cool of ourselves, but F said I probably should not have bought her a doll named Scorpio Vixen for her when she was young. 

Full circle to Chelsea Market where it all began.