Thursday, March 31, 2011

Play both videos at the same time ;)

Coals to Newcastle
For about a decade now, I (F) have been on a kind of crazy bread binge. I have a mad-scientist bubbling jar growing in the fridge (in Italian they call it la madre) made originally from the grapes up at Fattoria Colleverde. Then on Sundays when the panificio/bakery is closed, or whenever we have a dinner party where we want to blow the guests away, I bust out la madre and people generally swoon.

A few weeks ago, when I was feeling perhaps a little overly confident, I made a loaf of bread for my favorite baker, Luca, at Panificio Giusti. I got all nervous and forgot all my Italian, but managed to convey that I had made this, myself. I then proceeded to worry over the weekend, but finally when I went back . He said that it was very different because they never would put cheese in a bread, but that his favorite cheese is Gorgonzola and so he and couple of friends made short work of it. Traditional Tuscan bread is made without salt and you use it especially when you want to fare la scarpetta or eat up the sauce with it. I tried to explain that when they had been closed for a week for some refurbishing, I had given foccaccia baking a try for T's sake. It is her favorite standby when she needs a metabolism boost. She was not having it. It was fine bread she said, but it was not really foccaccia. Then he asked me if there was a word in English spelled b-o-s-i and I said that we had the word "bossy." Apparently the women in his life are also high maintenance. We will probably invite him to dinner.

Hi. K here. I just wanted to say that F has a total advantage at the bakery because he is over six feet tall. I am fine with waiting in lines, but I hate not knowing where they start or finish or whether to push ahead or hang back.  It is so amorphous and foreign like. You have to pick one of two or three bakers and then stand in a tangled mop of a line that extends vaguely from the counter back a couple of feet or a meter to the wall. The three lines seem like they are connected, but they are not. People know what baker they want. They're all nice, but one white haired guy has a rhythm and if you mess it up, he gets growly. Like the time I tried to hand him money, for example, was bad. F later explained that the bakers put on gloves to handle money so you have to put the bills on the counter and let them touch it and take your change away after they are done.  And plus I'm really short. I would rather have to stand in the NY subway on the 6 train at rush hour on the way to an early morning gynecologist's appointment than have to buy bread without F standing next to me. Truly.

I should probably write somewhere in this blog how I came to experience Bioenergy so some of the things I write make more sense. I had a hypothyroid condition/Hashimoto's so I started to take Synthroid medication. On Synthroid I experienced cystic acne and tendon pain that led to frequent tears and inflammation. My energy did not improve with the medication and I had to nap every day just to make it through. When I wasn't teaching at Body Reserve gym in Brooklyn, NY, I was in bed reading or watching television. It was really getting to be a "mife" -- mock life.

So when after seven years of training, it finally it came to be the night for T's black belt test in tae kwon do, a night we had all been looking forward to for years -- my back was completely out. I didn't know how to walk the five blocks to the tae kwon do school or how to sit there for several hours so I called my mother, crying.  My stepfather who suffers from a neurological disease that is similar to Parkinson's told me about Bioenergy.  I think he had been reluctant to talk about it before because let's face it -- it's a weird thing. He sent my photo to this man Zoran Hochstatter who was taught by Sdenko Domancic. Although Zoran was in Slovenia at the time, he said he would treat me and that  I should just sit with my palms up and hang up the phone and he would call me back in about ten minutes when it was over. I was super sceptical, but also desperate. I sat there and felt a tremendous heat through my spine and in my palms. I was able to go the the test, although after several hours of standing, leaning against the brick walls and watching my baby break through boards with her hands and jump over three people and break through a plank of solid wood with her side kick I was shaking with pain and my teeth were chattering.  The next day I had another treatment and I felt much less pain. On the third day, Zoran had a problem with skype and lost my number. I sat in the same place at the usual time and felt the same healing heat but this time I saw a circular ray of light between my palms and saw a series of images that came to me like the solutions to a bunch of questions that had been plaguing me. Afterwards when Zoran told me that he had lost my number I thought he was kidding. I told him it had been some of the most memorable moments of my life and that I would not be the same person afterwards.

And I wasn't. As a chronic list maker, anxious, neurotic and somewhat paranoid New Yorker, I had never ever been able to meditate. For the first time I was able to sit still and be in the moment that I was in without being stuck in the past or panicked about the future. I found these pockets of relaxing inbetween thought times.  After the fourth day my back was better than it had been in years and Zoran said he thought he could also help me with my thyroid.  In fact, after two series of treatments, I was able to get off of Synthroid medication. Jim Sparandeo's assistance with nutrition and supplements in that period was also crucial. Before I moved to Italy I studied with Zoran to learn how to give bioenergy treatments. For me, bioenergy has solidified the idea that people need each other to heal and that healing is not an individual sport. It is not pallavolo either, ha ha (see blog entry below.) Zoran is big on not adding a lot of bullshit to the healing, there is a Slovenian word he uses for bullshit that sounds more polite, but anyway . . . No imagery, you don't have to believe in it or click your heels three times.  You just do the protocols with your hands and at the maximum listen to some tunes.  Basta cosi. You can learn about it at or in italy there is in italian.

Out of the seventeen people that I've treated thus far in Italy in recent weeks, no one hasn't had at least some improvement. And about twelve have had total success stories. There is empirical proof to be had in that people feel heat or move when they don't choose to move, but the most important thing is that they get better. It is weird having this thing that feels like a heavy secret because if you blab on about it people think you are super weird and you can't ever convince anybody. Plus you can't bring clients in; they find you. The right people always find us when it is the right time for them. I happen to believe in God, and I believe that both energy and God are all about love, but nobody else has to believe that.  It's cool.

I could tell you lots more weird stuff that has happened with the Bioenergy, but now it is sort of part and parcel of our new lives in Italy and so we will just see -- accada quel che accada, vero?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Well, why not
Well, why not? Via! I'll tell you the truth about how weird my life is:

This morning after T rode to school on her bike solo with her backpack/baby elephant in the basket.  I say solo, but I mean sola, and even though that is more grammatically correct it would still be wrong because F tailed her, riding half a block behind to make sure she was really fine.

Then I got washed and dressed and spoke on the phone to an eighty plus year old woman who had, I believe, a cancerous tumor of the vulva (which she refers to as her "natura") that was operated on.  Since the bioenergy treatment she feels great because the knot of swelling from her lymph nodes is gone from her groin/upper thigh, but she called because her daughters want her to continue treatment because they fear the cancer will come back. I don't have a protocol for treating the fears of a third person so I told her that it would be better if she could tell me specifically what she needs help with and then I'd be glad to help her again. This in rusty Italian on the phone for Lord's sake. Plus she asked me if I was religious and asked me if I wanted to listen to something Maria something on the radio. I don't have the vocabulary to say that the energy work is strictly secular and that I'm spiritual rather than religious so I just smile loudly in Italian and hope for the best.

Then a woman who I met for five minutes in the herb store shows up because she has thyroid issues and a nodule on her vocal chords and some nerve pain on the right side of her body. She wants to tell me all about her deepest emotional issues because she believes that I can see inside her and find what is blocked even though I have explained several times that bioenergy has to do with people using their own energy to cure themselves with just a little help from their therapist "friends" and that she really doesn't need to tell me anything personal. But she does anyway. And I do the protocol for the thyroid and she swoons all over the place and there is a lot of heat and then she says, "wow what did you feel?" And I say, "what did you feel?" And she says she feels different than when she came in. And I say that change is good. She'll come back tomorrow.

Then I get my hair done and dish with Federica and Sonia about driving in Italy and the photos in the gossip magazines and then I stop and find out how my clients at the dry cleaner are feeling and then I come home. I talk to Jim on skype and he tells me I should eat pineapples and spinach today with spirulina and then we go pick up T from school. After lunch, I do bioenergy on T's friend Chiara's shoulder which she injured in gymnastics yesterday and her grandmother who fell last week and has a hematoma. Her grandmother tells me that when I work on her she feels pins in her hands and asks if that is normal and I say, "Well, for us it's normal." And she laughs. Which is good because she had a crap day involving a huge leak in her house and an upcoming visit from the Comune di Lucca to whom it has to be proven that there is a leak in her house.

And then Greta comes and T does homework with her (allegedly) and we go shopping and I buy a big chocolate hen we don't need from the chocolate lady because I want to know if her mom who woke up out of the coma is doing better, but she doesn't give me a clear signal that she wants me to work on her mom so I decide to stop because now that the mom is awake it seems like she should decide if she wants bioenergy or not. Then I get pulled into Max & Co. by Greta and T who leave me there with a super-enthusiastic saleslady who convinces me to try on eight different outfits and, in the end, I buy a pair of cool shorts that look like a skirt and will probably come in very handy this summer. And then I curl into bed with T and we watch The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and when F gets home from Autoscuola he gets in with us, and I think what  a totally normal day --I have nothing to blog about, unless I tell what really happens in a normal day.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Girl stuff, dai!

Today we got invited to have lunch at Gabriella's.  They live inside the walls, too.  They have a cool apartment near the anfiteatro. Her daughter Adriana is in a different section at school than T and so we were interested in getting to know them better.  The moms in that section mostly work and so they have a sort of cooperative in which every weekday a different mom stays home to make lunch for all of the children (today there were at least 10).  Genius! Since Gabriella's two boys were home sick, she said she could use a hand with serving up the meal. Plus I made more of the nestle tollhouse cookies and brought them with me to share. I had fun playing Bob the Builder with the littlest boy who I understood perfectly when he wasn't speaking through the pacifier in his mouth.  I got to use all the vocabulary words for tools that I thought I would never have any use for.

The girls were shy to include T at first, but after lunch they went off on their own.  T helped them with their english homework and they seemed to have fun joking around after that.  I offered to do a fill in lunch at our place when they need it since all of the kids seemed really polite and relaxed.  T is hoping that she'll get to maybe hang out with Adriana and her pal Francesca during the summer vacation. These girls seemed perfect in that they were not too sheltered, but not too much in a hurry to get into trouble either, (delicate, knowing cough).

What else? Ah yes, ladies who care about skincare, this part is for you: I forgot to follow up and tell you that after charging for 24 hours, that Mia Clarisonic brush was really worth the price, the wait, and all that craziness with the Poste Italiane. I love that little brush. My face feels so clean afterwards and glowy. I found it on ebay, but probably it would have gotten to Lucca faster if I had used That is my expat tip of the month. Now that we found the umeboshi paste at the Sri Lankan market, all that I miss --aside from people, obviously-- is internet shopping.

Biking & babysitting, che bella!
F & I have come to realize that we are cramping T's style as we are among the few parents who accompany their kid to and from school every day, but that darn backpack weighs so much that it has been hard for her to carry it any further than from the classroom to the parking lot.  Many kids bike, but then you have to master the balancing act of supporting that baby elephant in your bike basket.  T practiced this weekend and is now ready to fly solo.  (Please, please, powers that be, keep your eyes open for my girl when I'm not there.) I understand why T wishes we were like ALL of the Italian parents who let their kids ride without helmets, but there are occasional cars and motorcycles here, even if it is a walking city, and the street IS made of cobblestones, people! Parents are such a drag!

T and Greta also typed up some babysitting cards on Saturday complete with graphics and have been out being pied pipers of i piccoli while trying to look old and responsible.  I think they could definitely be great mother's helpers.  I started at that age with a three year old whose parents were playing tennis at the courts in Central Park. But I understand that some parents wouldn't want her to care for a little one by herself at this point. Of course I could help out in that instance.  But we are always saying the usual parental stuff about blah blah blah responsibility, blah blah blah earn your own money, blah blah blah buy us a villa, so we support this endeavor 100%.

Today T found a sweet little three year-old girl in Piazza Napoleone that had a younger brother and twin babies in her family, as well.  Perhaps that is why she developed a unique ball throwing technique that renders her the center of the universe as she spins on her own orbit and then launches the ball backwards and overhead, fully expecting that T would go and fetch it and bring it back to her each time. Which she did. (see video.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Totally embarrassing silence and the lack thereof
There is a very fancy clothing store on Via Fillungo called Umberto Musetti where children are not allowed to touch the 700 euro designer dresses, obviously.  Somehow T and her friend Greta are exceptions to this rule and have made friends with the patriarch and owner.  The girls wanted to introduce me to their new friend, but unfortunately, due to some sleep issues I've been working on, I had just ingested this very powerful pepper tea and reacted as though I had just downed a quadruple espresso.  Therefore, when the italian came out of my mouth all scrambled-like, instead of giving up I gave an oral exam on bioenergy, life in italy and T's love of fashion. Afterwards, they shook their heads and seemed to feel very sorry for T, having such a nutball for a mother and all.  Still, I was very touched by their kindness to T and so asked F if we could give him a loaf of his bread that he was making for our dinner party.  At first when we showed up with the bread, the man seemed surprised and happy.  He kind of pawned me off on his wife, who was very lovely and kind.  But then  as I was leaving he said "you really shouldn't have," which would have been nice except for the tone which made it sound more like "you really SHOULD NOT have EVER EVER done that." And so now I'm confused. Greta said tone is hard to interpret because old people are sometimes constipated. I think I'll just let them visit without me from now on.

Then we had the dinner party with my two friends from the hair parlour, Federica and her boyfriend have been to dinner before, but Sonia couldn't make it last time because her boyfriend had the long version of the stomach virus that has been haunting the city this winter.  I also invited Alessandro the designer and Tiziana, my friend that works at Luisa Spagnoli and her boyfriend Cristiano.  As a strategy inviting four people who know each other really well and two people who you want to meet for the first time (Alessandro and Tiziana) because they have a lot in common, and other people who you really don't know is a chancey endeavor. I hope people had a good time. The food turned out really well. F's zucchini pasta was sweet with the promise of spring and decorated with a crispy zucchini flower for garnish.  The artichokes, which had been braised in broth, lemon, and white wine tinged with pepperoncino and baked with cheese and bread crumbs, were really comforting and sophisticated at the same time.  There were awkward silences that Alessandro was able to fill as the hour grew later, but at the beginning of the night I did a little of the one worman K show in which I acted out the dreadful scene with the principal, played several members of the recent vollyball game, and taught them about the game of dodgeball, which in my youth scarred me in a post traumatic way so that if someone jokingly throws a ball at/towards me - I duck and roll.  Sometimes awkward dinner party moments bring out the class clown in me, what can I say. I hope we see those folks again.

Plus in name, at least, we joined a meet up group for expats in Lucca that claims to have a hundred members.  Hopefully fun times lie ahead.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pallavolo, volente o nolente/ Volleyball, like it or not

(T has 2 braids and is number 7)

We promised you an update on the volleyball and we are fulfilling it with great reluctance.  If you ever had anything ugly happen to you in middle school, and if you didn't --really you can't be our friend, then you would have just wanted to die during this match. Let me premise all of this by saying that we are awed by T's bravery in just showing up to this dreadful thing, for practicing beforehand, and for taking her turn on the field even though she would rather have been anywhere else.

That said, T's class comes on to the field wearing their fancy black matching T-shirts. Several of the girls are fully formed and are quite tall and curvy for sixth graders, even for sixth graders who have been left back a time or two.  Whereas the three boys who they dragged in to participate, despite that fact that boys are not supposed to play on the girls' volleyball team, were all fairly tiny.  Except if you count the big belly on the loudest mouthed boy who was supposed to take T's place on the team up until yesterday.

The tough girl group who come off like the pink ladies from GREASE entered with their cronies aka cheerleaders in matching baby blue t-shirts and with very sad, floppy pom-poms.  The other team was composed of miniature girls all sporting little girl pastels. They made T look like a giant. The pastel team are terrified of T's team, but during warm up when they practiced their cute little drills and slapped each other five you could see that they were going to beat the crap out of T's team. And T's team/class deserved to lose. They never called for the ball; they argued amongst themselves, they cursed, and they had terrible attitudes.  Plus also the big kids who were supposed to be good, totally sucked. They let T play one quick minute where she never was anywhere near the ball. Only once when the ball finally in T's peripheral vision and she tried to hit it, she hit it more horizontally than vertically, but at least she tried.

The bully girl who I will call "Rizzo" who has a marijuana-smoking, thuggish boyfriend three years ahead of her, called the team captain before the match to say she wasn't coming because she had her period.  None of the teachers call her on this all though she is the only female on earth to have her period as an excuse practically every day of the year. She showed up anyhow and hit one fairly fierce serve over the net, but that is all she did.  The girl who told T she couldn't play two days ago was not that great a player either and she took offense when the cheerleaders didn't call her name out the way they did for the rest of their clique and stamped around pouting for the rest of the time. The little tiny pastel team celebrated and as they left the court it sounded like they were singing that song that the mice sing in the middle of Cinderella when they bring her all the sewing shit. I'm so mad.

First of all, what's up with the gym teacher who only trains the boys and lets the big mouthed girls be in charge of volleyball and making team decisions? He didn't even come to the game. The pastel girls' teacher was there, of course. And how can these kids who aren't even any good make my kid feel terrible for not knowing how to play when she has all the tools to be able to learn how to play if someone just gave her a chance?

Anyway, next time we are going to have Lucia or Gabrielle go and cheer for T and make sure any mean Italian things that need to get said, get said. I suffered in near silence, relived my own middle school traumas, and wished  I could go up and punch a couple of kids in the nose.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spenga la luce/ Turn out the light
Last night we finished reading David Lebovitz's book the Sweet Life in Paris and so F decided to read aloud from another expat Parisian blog called Kung Fu Dana. In it is the most moving, horrible, wonderful, birth story ever in which the woman gets robbed not once, but twice of a cab during a snow storm when she is in full on labor and needs to get to her birthing center across town.  For this reason we went to sleep one hour later than usual and before I could relax and get my pillows right I had to wipe F's eyes because that tall, big hearted man was gently weeping.

What made me weep on the other hand, was finding out that we had missed another lettera registrata and this one turned out to be from the electric company ENEL which said that even though we pay automatically through our bank, we had missed a payment in February and that if we didn't get it straightened out yesterday, our lights would be turned off and we would have to pay and wait to have them turned back on. We think the crisis is averted, but if you don't hear from us for a while after this, you know what happened.

Somehow we invited like ten people for dinner Saturday night. I may have one of those psychological disorder's that involve fugue states where you do a lot of stuff without being all there when you do them 'cause I don't even think we have ten chairs. What do you think about artichokes baked with breadcrumbs and parmigiano and either a pasta with asparagus and Gorgonzola sauce or a pasta with a tender zucchini sauce and F's cheese bread with spreads as a starter? I just hope Alessandro can make it because he has the best stories about his interior design clients and I can't get enough of that great decorating dish.

The other thing that made me shed tears of gratitude was that the girls in T's class backed her up after she was tossed off the volleyball team yesterday by this older girl who is repeating the year.  Today all the other girls of 1-H who were watching poor T whose water bottle exploded in her backpack run back and forth with the bidella/school helper lady to dry her books on the radiator, asked her if it was true that she was thrown off the team. She answered affirmatively and they all defended her and said that she could be back on for tomorrow's match against the overconfident girls of 1-F.

When T realized that some of her books were soaked she said, "My parents are going to kill me."  This class clown type boy in her section who has alternately harassed and defended her as a fellow underdog replied, "What are you talking about? Your parents are American; you're fine."

Stay tuned for the wrap up report of the gara/Misty Treanor beat-down tomorrow. After all of the drama with this gym class stuff, F mentions on the way home something to the effect of did I know he was captain of his school volleyball team back in the day? What/ma che cavolo dici !!?? A lot of good that does us now. He's off taking his Italian class at the library and I am begging Lucia to stay extra to teach T to lob the ball over the net. Per carita'.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cantar Vittoria/ We are victorious!
It turns out that Tommaso from last night used to be the City Manager of Lucca so when we took the threatening letter from the Commune di Lucca back to the guy at the anagrafe and dropped Tomasso's name, we got results.  The man we met with last time looked completely spooked that we were mentioning names and he took us directly upstairs to the author of the letter's office where we waited for one hour outside her door.  There were no chairs or anything. I kept telling F to look tall at them. When the responsabile finally emerged and we dropped Tommaso's name again she immediately went to the data entry lady's computer and they both apologized for the computer error! Victory! Cue the video with the cute children singing the Italian anthem.

High on our success at the anagrafe office, we went on to the Motor Vehicles Office where they told us to go to a nearby Auto School as step one in the process of getting an Italian drivers' license.  The very nice bleached blond lady with the terrible smoker's cough led us through all of the steps and said that she has helped people who understand less Italian than F does and not to worry.  This was very reassuring. First step is a physical for F from Dr. Di Dio and then to the Post Office to pay for the official stamps and then back for an evening class on the rules of the road.  Pray for him, friends.

Then when we got home F received an email from Tommaso's friend offering to consider him for a job teaching english to business people which F could maybe then parlay into website development classes or services. So this guy is like the Jay Z of Lucca, go on with your bad bureaucratic self, Hova. And also Yay F! Cooking really is the way to people's hearts. And that is a good thing.

Oh Wait. F wants me to tell you that the frati-doughnuts don't taste as good the second day. Wanna know how he knows that? Because he ate seven of them after breakfast this morning.

This just in. We hereby declare the 21st of March Victory over Bureaucracy Day because not only did we file our US tax returns, we also got Webkinz to withdraw automatic payment for deluxe membership. C'mon people, on your feet.
Good Sunday/Buona Domenica
We had such a great Sunday. First I got to take a walk with Massimo which is always very good and makes me feel like everything is right with the world.  Then F made his now famous bread and his almost as famous lemon pie with homemade whipped cream and we had the fiorai/florists over.  The couple who sell flowers downstairs from us always seem so nice so we finally convinced them to come up for a visit.

They are from Viareggio not Lucca, so they understand what it is like to come from outside the walls, too. Giuliano the husband was very warm and told lots of good stories. Giuliano had a good tip for us about the car license issue. He said  that you can pay a driving school to do most of the many steps in the process, apart from the eye doctor vIsit, on your behalf.  It turns out that Anna Laura who I thought was their daughter is really one of their sons' girlfriend.  The wife who I like the best of all never told me her name so I still don't know what it is or how I am now going to get around that problem. I also don't know if now she is a tu or a still a Lei as far as addressing her in Italian goes, so I will probably mumble a lot and smile in a real goofy way.  But they stayed for two hours which was more that I had hoped for because it went so well but that meant Tatia and I had to run for our lives to meet Gabriella, the mom from the parent-teacher conferences with the mom's group and the daughter in T's year at school.

Gabriella's daughter, we came to find out, has a best friend already and so we don't know how open she will be to having a new friend.  But I loved the mom's dark sense of humor so I'll definitely see her again while her three kids are at school.

Then we ran back home to meet Silvia and Tommaso who were the parents that were the nicest to us when school first started.  I never got to hang out with Silvia because she was always at work, but now she has maternity leave. They both speak a little english and their son is in T's class.  Now he shares a desk with her because of a teacher decree that boys had to sit with girls. They have a younger son who is a great kid and now they have just adopted a little girl named Rediet from Ethiopia.  We gave them some chocolates before they left to pick her up because I couldn't think of a better stress reliever that was legal to take on the plane.  Rediet was in a pretty horrible institution where she did not have enough to eat or drink and did not get enough exercise.  She is super observant and great at mimicking.  When I fake laughed (in the annoying way parents do) to show her my amusement at something she would fake-fake laugh back at me as if to say I'm on to you, lady.  Also when we gave her a toy dog that wags it's tail when you push a button she quickly ripped off it's fake fur covering and showed me triumphantly where the battery case was in case I was under the false impression that it was a real puppy. Take that Fur Reel Pet company! You got a love a truth crusader who is a tiny six year old with tons of spirit.  On her way out at the end of the night she winked at me and chirped, Ciao Bella! Mighty impressive for someone who spoke no English or Italian a week ago, isn't it?

Before dinner we went to Piazza Napoleone where everyone except Silvia and Rediet played pallamano which is handball/ultimate/soccer. After a rousing effort, in which I ripped the lining of my leather jacket and accidentally freed myself from both bra straps simultaneously, I bowed out of the game.  Then the boys attempted to train T in pallavolo/volleyball for an upcoming school tournament, while I dragged Silvia and Rediet to the gelateria because I was under the wrong impression that Alessandrina's mother Lillia desperately needed to tell me something when in fact she just wanted me to know that she's working weekends if I ever want to stop by to say hello. Perhaps I should keep on studying Italian for those oh so important subtleties. Anyway to T's horror, I encouraged the boys to watch T's black belt test video on youtube which made up for any lack of star quality in these lame team sports. Lorenzo exclaimed several times, "Is that wood? That's wood that she's breaking! So that's wood, right?"

OH and let's not forget that for dessert they brought us a big pink box of delicious fried doughnut-y things filled with vanilla and chocolate cream that melt in your mouth and are called frittelle o frati. As if I didn't love these people enough before dessert. . . yum.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Buon Compleanno/Happy Birthday Italy

It rained on Italy's birthday and so we went out with our giant umbrellas to hear the elementary school children sing the national anthem while everyone pushed and shoved to get under the stone archways. That is one long anthem, amici, or perhaps it repeats a lot for emphasis. We couldn't see any children due to the crowd and the shortness of the kiddies, but we could see the red, white and green balloons they were holding and the ones that  got away from their slippery little fists and became stuck on the stone ceiling far above our heads. Tatia had a crappy day where her plans fell through and we both decided we hate middle school more than life and made Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and watched the ladies of The View on the internet, who come to think about it, seemed to be having a fairly crappy day, as well.

Speaking of theme repetition, let me bring up some of the ghosts of blog entries past.  My Mia Clarisonic brush finally arrived today! Or rather F went and got it out of its prison cell of a post office after paying the exorbitant custom fees. YAY! The bad news is that it was accompanied by three threatening registered letters telling us that we have to get some kind of certificate we didn't apply for within 30 days when our Permessi to stay here will be EXPIRED. Say what? Our Permessi are not supposed to expire for another five months! We went to the anagrafe office like the letter said to do, but there was a huge line and the ticket machine was broken again, so we went to the Patronato office that helps immigrants and they said that we had to go to the anagrafe office. I was so dismayed that F said we should just act Italian and march into the office of the man who helped us last time. That crazy plan worked. Can you believe it? He told us not to worry about it. I don't believe him so we are going to take the letter to Tatia's classmate's father whose wife works at the police station and who issued us the Permessi in the first place. She'll know what to do.

We are having intense times with the bioenergy clients. And the motorcycle accident guy who was mad that we couldn't heal his broken tibia fast enough is now happy at us because we helped significantly cure his son's messed up stomach valve. The old lady who I was treating for varicose veins turned out to really need help with cancer of the vulva and she also has had relief with pain in her lymph nodes. The lady that was in the coma had an operation to replace a bone in her head that they thought she wouldn't need because they didn't expect her to wake up and she continues to make a little progress. The friend with the frozen shoulder now has regained a good deal of movement and went off her pain pills.  The friend with the bursitis is also better. So this is all good stuff. Check out if you haven't seen the videos there and want to know what the heck I'm talking about.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Ricevimenti
Today's parent-teacher meetings were DElightFUL.  The art professor was so wonderful. Such an M&M of a man, what with his crunchy shell, but sweet, melt-y insides.  I don't know what I wrote the first time around when other parents told us how strict he was and how once he had an idea of your kid it was impossible to change it and how unreasonable his expectations were, etc. I mean this is the same man who marked T down for not having the trees in her landscape drawn perfectly perpendicular and who expects sixth graders to be able to execute college level color gradient charts. Well, I can't tell you how little all of this matters if your kid is the one that the professor does like. Yay favoratism! I know, I know, you're asking, "where did our little social worker, fight- fo'- justice type friend go? Well, to Italy, the land of nepotism, that's where. I also loved this meeting because F had bragged that I didn't even have to join him because he and the art professor had such an amazing rapport.  I can only tell you based on this dear man's palpable relief that I spoke halfway decent italian, that F must have interpreted the exchange of awkward overly-enthusiastic nods and polite smiles as a deep manly bond between men. And that is cute. But also fodder for me to tease him incessantly.

F's Italian is getting better. I know that if I had to read English all day on the computer, it would mess me up, too. But being from Los Angeles, he speaks way slower than I do even in English, let alone in
Italian. And that said, he is a man of few words anyway. Or maybe he would be a man of more words if I were more patient and could wait more than 240 seconds between the time I ask a question and the time he answers it. Yup I've counted.  We argue all the time about whether we should speak English at home. T says after 5 hours of school she is in no way speaking Italian at home. If I challenge her, it leads right  into the dreaded pre-teen It wasn't my idea to pack up and move to a non-English speaking country speech.  But if she speaks to me in English then it makes it hard for me to remember to speak to her in Italian.  I try some days and other days we just watch bootlegged America's Next Top Model and pretend we're back in Brooklyn, but with Puccini blaring in through the windows from the piazza.  If I speak to F in Italian, he will pretend to understand me, even when he doesn't, and then has a great built-in excuse for why he didn't bring home the milk. He's all I didn't know you asked for milk and whatnot. So in the end T is going to be fluent, I'm going to be chronically frustrated, and F will continue to be F: tall, sweet, and forgetful.

We were also loving the meeting with the tecnica professor. We knew we had it good because she loves T's tutor Gabrielle who got ten after ten after ten in her subject back when she was in middle school.  It is rather heady, esoteric stuff anyway since the whole course is dedicated to how finished products are created from raw materials like wood and paper and cloth. She nodded sagely when she read what Gabrielle had written in the letter we brought her explaining that she was assisting T with her studies and suggesting that perhaps T needed extra guidance on what exactly to study. The professor then asked for Gabrielle's cell number and said she'll be giving her a call. Hopefully, Gabrielle will be expecting the call by that point and not think that it is her boyfriend or her friend Lucia trying to punk her!

Also one of the moms waiting in line gave me her phone number. Talk about speed dating! She has a daughter in the first year in a different class and a son in the second year. She said two enticing things: first she has a tight mothers' group that does stuff like go to museums in Firenze (!), and, secondly, they have an extra car if we need to borrow one. Hmmmn. She also said she doesn't even drive. Maybe we can get her to sell it to us cheap if nothing major is broken on it. That's like a bunch of friends and a vehicle in one shot. I'm not likely to lose her number.  She was sort of enamored with our American-ness more than our witty, charming personalities, but who cares?  I mean you have to start somewhere, right?

Today I had also several bioenergy clients. It was rewarding to see that after only one session our friend Claudia's frozen shoulder was mildly improved. One lady we treated last week came out of a coma, but of course there is no proof that we played a part in that miracle. Proof, shmoof, the important thing is that our friend's mom woke up and was able to communicate a bit with her family. The nice thing about energy work is the whole good intentions part of it. How many doctors have bedside manners that make you wonder whether they really even care if you ever get well? At least my clients know. I want them well.

Of course while we were out at the school, my long awaited Clarisonic Mia brush tried to find me. Don't worry, not even the Italian post office can not keep us part, tesoro. Ever wonder why Italians go in person to the Post Office to pay their bills? It's cause they don't trust the post office to actually get anything delivered through the mail system, that's why! Upon seeing those long awaited tan slips of paper from the poste, we ran to the post office only to be told that it was still on the truck and that we would have to pay the extra 31 euro fee for getting them released from customs two days from now due to Italy's 150 year anniversary tomorrow.  Foiled again! But at least my dear Mia is sitting cradled in bubble wrap in my same neighborhood now instead of hanging out with the other lost souls at the Milan airport.  My pharmacist Amelia told me that time is running out for my skin, if I want to use acid based products to remove my melasma, (curse you, you hormones, you!) because in six weeks or so the Tuscan sun will be so overpowering that we will all wrinkle and any of us using kojic or glycolic acid based beauty products might as well just smother ourselves in johnson's baby oil and throw the wrinkles and sun spots a welcome party. Good to know, Amelia. Grazie mille.

I am spotty. Argh!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I ricevementi di oggi

Otherwise known as parent-teacher meetings, these are more like speed dating than what we were used to in America.  You line up outside the door of a classroom where several professors or professoressa(s) are sitting at individual desks.  They are like the bachelors or bachelorettes from that reality show waiting for all of the contestants to arrive who want to date them. Then it is time to play a quick round of "chi e' l'ultima"  or "who's next" where the parents interview one another to find out the order in which they have signed up to enter the room, and then when it's your turn you have five minutes or so to find out how your kid is doing this term and/or whether or not you want to date the teacher.  Just kidding, sort of.

We are doing a second set of these bad boys for the year, but this time we brought letters written in Italian by our genius tutors Gabrielle and Lucia who speak four languages apiece and attend the most prestigious high school in the area.  The letter was to let the professors know that T now has tutors and asks if the professors have any specific areas in which they hope to see  improvement before the end of the term. I thank my friend Ian for this idea of the letters, but he is a teacher himself so he comes up with smart ideas all the time. It's his job, people.

Last time around you will remember that the professors used adjectives such as  pretty, sweet, and delicate to describe T and did not really give us any hard core critiques, suggestions on things to improve, or even really what they expected to see from T before the year ends on June 11. Today we were due to meet with the music teacher and the teacher of geography, history, grammar, and anthology all rolled into one.

The music teacher is very passionate about her subject and she quickly dismissed our letter, taking issue with our reference to the fact that music "may not be T's strong suit " and saying that it is actually an advantage that unlike the other children she has not studied music for five years in elementary school because this makes T a nice lump of clay for her to sculpt. Or she might have said that T was a lump of clay, my italian is still not perfect. Anyway, she is sculptable and that is a positive. I only meant that she was held back by the fact that her mother is tone deaf and only mouths "Happy Birthday" and wouldn't know a high C from an orange drink. But this lady wasn't buying it. She would like T to relax each day by practicing on her recorder for at least five minutes. This is not relaxing for anyone, I assure you. Least of all T. But that's fine. We can do that. We may even ask this teacher out for a night cap.

The second meeting of the day was with bachelor number two or as I like to call him the Italian Italian teacher. He was in ritardo/ or really late which meant that he would be more nervous and curt than usual because of his ever growing fear that the hoard of parents outside would tear him limb from limb if he took too long with any individual meeting. And who can blame him for that really? But still, given that we were first in line, he was super nervous to get rid of us. He said that he finds T to be more tired and distracted that she was last term, but that on a social level she is fitting in well and that her grades are excellent. Confused anyone? So I took this to mean that T needs to get more sleep and give him more eye contact during class. T took it to mean that he was pissed that she couldn't find the Ural mountains on the map yesterday. At least he was happy with our letter and said that if he has specific notes for Tatia's tutors he will put them in the little blue libretto used for this purpose. That guy has a firm handshake. Ouch.

We have two more of these tomorrow.
Basta cosi.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ti Sbagli, or little, teensy-weensy mistakes I've made in Italian

I was so overjoyed at having lost weight when I very first got here that I wanted everyone to know. It seems you can stuff yourself with the best food on earth and still shed poundage due to a lack of preservatives in the food.

Sadly, what I repeated to several folks was "Mi sono anche dimagrita da quando sono arrivata in Italia a causa della mancanza dei preservativi nel cibo. . ." Unfortunately, preservativi means condoms so what I was saying was, "I even lost weight since I arrived in Italy due to the lack of condoms in the food." Yes, I really said that. Conservativi, for those of you who want to know, means preservatives. At any rate, I've gained it all back.

The other doozy was when I tried to communicate to the man at the art store that we had a friend in common. I wanted to say that they didn't know each other by name but by face; so I said, "Non vi conoscete di nome, ma di vizzo."  In Italian this makes no sense, but means something like, "You don't know each other by name, but by your withered (face)." The poor man might have thought I said vizio which isn't much better because it means vice, but I hope he heard viso because that is the real word for face.

I'm going to out F here about how he keeps saying that he worked with the senzatette instead of the senzatetto which is sensitive work in either instance, but one means that he worked with the homeless and the other means that he worked with people who don't have tits. Take that as you will.

Other than that we make no mistakes at all. Yeah, right. If you believe that, I have a bridge or a withered condom for flat-chested people I could sell you. 

P.S. Did you know that if you look up "people looking confused" on Google you get an inordinate number of pictures of "Bella" from Twilight?

I'm here all week. Every week. Each year. Expat for life, yo.

P.P.S Neither the underwear store lady or the candy store lady showed up for dinner as invited (see March 9).  Both sent urgent SMS texts implying that their need to see their boyfriends on a Saturday night was greater than their need to have dinner with  us. I, of course, didn't know to invite their boyfriends since we are total strangers and I was going to work up to asking them personal love life questions during said canceled dinner. Note to self: Find new way to make friends. Sigh.

P.P.P.S. DId you see this story?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The PFM Concert
K's best friend Massimo does not always pick up his telefonino as he is a very private tipo who is Dalai Lama-esque in his peaceful quietness. So when he invited K last minute to a concert he had an extra ticket to, K did an un-K like thing and agreed to go out of the house on a Friday night without T or F, thus missing an important bootlegged episode of Survivor and her early bird special bed time.

F was convinced that the concert, which was to take place in the beautiful Teatro Giglio and seats about 500, was probably going to be opera or classical -- and for a hip hop girl like K  that is alright, but not super exciting.  Nope, nothing doing. It was an eighties band called PFM. I don't know what these guys looked like in the eighties, but last night its electric guitar player looked like Chevy Chase with long flowing white edge hair doing an SNL skit about aging eighties band members;  the lead singer was a dead ringer for Steven Spielberg in desperate need of a haircut; and the french guy on bass resembled an escapee from the Grateful Dead. They were wheezing inbetween sets and I thought the lead guy was going to jig himself off the stage at two different points. The show had three encore numbers, much to my dismay, as well as audience participation on the choruses. The big nerd on my other side had a pretty good voice, but whenever he stamped his foot, which was every other second, my chair shook. There were psychedelic videos for several numbers with images of Venice flooding, a boy who wanted to be a bird and an old man who had cumbersome man-made wings jumping off a cliff.

Teatro Giglio
I spent the last hour preparing myself for the question of whether I had enjoyed myself; and because the lead singer wore his drum sticks, bird whistles, and tambourines on his grandpa jeans I answered in very slow Italian: "I enjoyed myself so much that I am going to wear drumsticks in my pants tomorrow." This made our group smile and so mission accomplished.

I'm so tired today. So tired.

PFM 1972

Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting an Italian Driver's License

We live in a walking city, yes. And we did that on purpose. But we did move to Europe all with the hopes of seeing more than 3 km of it and so probably in the end we will need to buy a used car and have the right documents.

Converting your International Driver's Permit into an Italian Driver's License as is required within one year of getting residency here is a process which makes getting a tattoo on your face look easy.

Here are the steps:
1. Go to the tobacco store and buy a stamp for €10,33. And get 3 photocopies of your passport photos.
2. Go to the motor vehicles office outside the city, get two other kinds of stamps, and an application form
3. Go to the post office and pay three different payments
4. Fill out the application and glue two of the photos in the right places
5. Go to the eye doctor and get a letter that you see well enough to drive
6. Go to the ASL medical office with the eye doctor letter and find the medico legale?? and pay €14,66 for a certification letter saying you are in good enough health to drive that you take back to the medico legale with the last stamp and photo for the health certificate.
7. Go back to the motor vehicles office with a copy of the health certificate and get a number? (PS the question mark is because these instructions are written in Italian so we can only read every other word.)
8. Buy a book to study for the test which as of this year is only offered in Italian and download a quiz for your computer
9. Bring to the test your identity card, your stamped application and your stamped medical certificate
10. There are either 10? or  40? questions and you can only get 4 wrong and in the end you pay over 100 euros for this license

Seriously, getting a pretty tattoo of a Panda or Fiat down one side of your neck sounds good about right now, doesn't it?

No vibrator jokes please...
Mamma Mia, Clarisonic Brush
If you haven't read or any major fashion magazine this year, then you don't know how highly recommended the Clarisonic Mia brush which cleans six times better than soap and water without a brush is.  The point here is that I WANT one. It prevents pimples and wrinkles. Both! And I ordered one on from a lady in America and when we got the letter from the poste saying that they needed my codice fiscale as ransom for the face brush I was fine with it. F made copies of our scanned documents and we filled out the forms and sent it back registered mail.  But then nothing. Not even acknowlegement that we paid a fistful of euro to send the letter registered mail.  If you are a middle aged woman, and I'm not saying you are, having a brush hailed as a facial in a box, an age reducer, and the best beauty investment of this century for those of us who can't afford La Mer or for whom even La Mer would produce pimples with wrinkles in between them, you understand the immense happiness such a brush could bring. And how every ring of the door bell leads to excited puppy tail wagging, minus the dog, and then ends in profound disappointment.

Three months pass. Finally a signora at the Milano airport called and said we enclosed the wrong kind of evidence of our codice fiscale number, so we emailed her the right one.  Then nothing. Two more weeks pass and we go to the post office to see what's up.

We go into the main room of the post office to get a ticket our of the machine with a number on it to direct you to the right window. Then we decide while we are waiting for our number to be called to see if the package receiving lady can help us, but she can't.  Just as we re-enter the main room I see our number flash on the electronic digital screen.  Homer Simpson flashes through my brain and I hear loud as day, "Doh!" And by the time I make my way across the expanse of hospital blue carpet, the the next number comes up. I hold out my ticket to cut in front of the lady with the new number and say something nonsensical in italenglish to which the lady at the window replies "You are a person who makes no sense." Ouch. F comes running up.  But does he help? No! He says hey K you have the wrong number, what are you doing? By which time I lose my place in line and have no proof that what I saw was not a post office mirage after all. And the Italians think I am a rude American line cutter. Or a nut job. And I leave brush-less.

Then we go hunt down the important looking harried guy who has his own office in the post office with a glass door and everything and who has already made phone calls for us about this package two weeks ago.  We know he is back from vacation from the day before when we hunted him down and found out the scoop and he is completely wigged out that we know enough to say welcome back.  We re-give him all the package info and he says he'll call me later.  He calls me later and speaks so fast that I have no idea what e-mail address he is spelling out using the Italian city code of E-Empoli, F-Firenze, etc. and I think I actually have to make up an email address filled with Italian cities! So I call back three times, thanks to my telefonino's caller ID, and you can practically hear him cursing in his head whoever made caller ID, and he finally gets me to understand the new e-mail address to inquire about the package which I do. And then nothing.

Quite possibly - The end.
Welcome to Italy, tootsie roll.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One Sad Dad o Democrazia in Action
We missed the meeting of the year at school! . . . And that's a good thing.

There was a cryptic notice that went out last week saying that there would be a meeting on Saturday afternoon to discuss changing the schools hours, but because this was the Saturday before a three day school vacation and we had dinner guests, including our friend Paola, a-coming we decided, like many others, not to venture out. Paola was fired up on the proposed topic for the meeting and was determined to attend.

It all started with this one dad who got himself elected the head of the parent committee and had proposed not having school on Saturdays. GASP! Hooray! Right? No, that would be wrong, very wrong. It seems that to make up the hours of no school, the kids would then have to show up a half an hour earlier at 8 AM and stay half an hour later until 2 PM. Therein lies the rub, because the kids only get one ten minute break the whole day as it is and don't get to eat lunch until they get home and someone cooks them an extraordinary something from scratch (we love you F). With this new system the kids would get two ten minute breaks to stuff some foccaccia into their faces which would ruin their appetites and the family meal and any chance of seeing many of their fathers at home for the intervallo and also screw up their chances to getting to any after school lessons or events. Paola whose son is elementary school-aged was up in arms because this system would be particularly impossible for parents of two.

At one point Paola, who had figured out both that the form that the Bad Dad wanted everyone to sign off on was not just to affirm their presence at the meeting, as he had indicated, but to vote in favor of his proposal and that Bad Dad really had gone to an awful lot of trouble to make sure that he could take his kid skiing every Saturday without missing school, had steam coming out of her ears. This dude had the nerve to tell a pack of Italian parents not to think like a herd, and to think for themselves so that his proposal could get the respect it deserved. That did it. Paola grabbed the mike and  made some hand gesture that I have never seen before or since involving the fingers on the left hand all touching at the tips and then a strong downward thrust which I have to guess is the genteel way of saying, "and but who the %$#$^ do you think you are?" Then she asked if her daughter and all the rest of the children should starve and wreck the integrity of their family meal just because this guy had lift tickets.  Apparently at that point all the rest of the 25 or so in attendance leapt to their feet in howls of applause. Dad is sad. Very, very sad. He had a bad day. What a day Dad had. -- Dr. Seuss.

I was particularly glad not to be in attendance when I heard that the mom from Ireland with the three gorgeous red haired girls who have lived here for 8 years now and started speaking fluently ages ago made the comment that lots of other places in the world survive quite nicely not having school on Saturdays.  Well, along with being stunningly unflappable and having the admirable midsection of a lady who teaches belly-dancing (she really does) for a living, that took some balls, my friends.  The Italians were quick and kind in striking her down by making an awkward us vs. them type argument about how expats are so silly because they don't understand that the schools they are probably referring to are "ben organizzata"/well organized and so have no business in a discussion of the Italian school system. This is the kind of bitch slapping slash complimenting that makes me mega uncomfortable, but the upshot was that there is about as much chance of us getting to turn the alarm clock off on Saturday mornings or watching Italian cartoons in our underwear while drinking chilled designer beers as there is that the pope will come to our place for one of F's vegetarian extravaganzas.

Ahh, Satuday. Enjoy it, if you still have one.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Teachers are crazy/pazzi!

Hey it's T and Greta describing our (psycho) teachers!

The social studies teacher: Well, she told me on my first day that it wasn't her fault I didn't speak the language. She's not my favorite teacher. She has a wart, a slight beard and a mustache. Now I am sure there are woman with warts/beards/mustaches that are quite nice. My teacher is not one of them. Her class is more uncomfortable than "health" class. She teaches about stuff we have no desire to know. If you know what I mean......

The art teacher: He's a good artist but he never wanted to be a teacher as far as I can tell. My class may dislike him because he's very strict, but he hates us infinitely more. Once we had him substitute for the entire day. Looooongest day ever! When we paint he talks a lot about pasta and polenta (grits). Ex: "There's too much water and not enough pasta in your colors!" "Don't stir so hard!" "You're not making polenta!"

People should take a mental health exam before becoming teachers!

If you need to make friends in Lucca, Italy and you are an American this is what I recommend: Go around to all your favorite stores and talk up the nicest employees and then invite them to dinner. They will accept. You will make menu 1 or menu 2 (both of which feature pane fatto a casa) which are fool-proof-even-the-italians-will-think-it-is-decent, both of which all three of us are sick to death of, and then you will be friends.

A lot of the time our new friends live in the province of Lucca and not the city of Lucca and some have never actually ever been in one of the city apartments before. Then we find out their best stories and what they like and sometimes what their dreams are and then find out if we can make any new connections between the people we like. I am spoiled rotten because F does all the cooking and I do all the inviting, but I do clean the bathrooms for lord's sake and also polish the table, and dust. T gets into a cute outfit and does the house tour and occasionally tidies her room. They ask us what the heck we are doing here and why we moved and if I got more sleep I would make up new and exciting answers, but usually I just tell the truth.

This past weekend we had the manager of a snazzy dress store and her long time boyfriend. Right after we had dinner with her, T read in People magazine online that Prince William's fiance Kate Middleton just wore a dress from her store's line and that now we hope she will get loads of great opportunities. T showed her the Shoes of Prey website and, two of our favorites, and she invited us to do some weekend exploring together, which would be too good to have a generic adjective (insert here) as sometimes Lucca is super small.

Two of my energy clients this week are the very cool interior designer guy who gifted us a beautiful piece of fabric that we loved so much that it took the place of our television set. And the other is the son of the fabulous man who runs the dry cleaner and who fixed my treadmill with a kitchen knife. 

Next week we hope to have the young ladies who work at the candy store and the underwear store come over because K likes their cheeriness and quirky charms. They are way younger than us, but maybe that means they know where the secret fun places are.

When all else fails I tell the story of how my 93-year-old grandmother wanted me to take her to see the movie Sex and the City and how when I looked over in the dark theater to see how she was enjoying herself -- her head was cocked to the side, her mouth was hanging open, and her eyes were closed. Then I explain the various prayers I recited that she had not made her final adieu at that particular moment during that particular film and how afterward she had no idea she had dozed off and has a completely different idea of the plot line than I do. If that doesn't get them, I relate to them how she said the movie made her rather blue about something to do with my grandfather and how, when I inquired further, she replied, "I had no idea there were so many positions!"

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

An International Incident . . . or two
In Brooklyn, a sleepover is dinner through breakfast and may, or may not, involve sleep. In Italy, a sleepover is a marathon twenty-eight hour lunch, dinner, three cakes, breakfast, lunch, a snack, and a huge amount of commitment on everyone's part.  We always felt that if we threw pizza in the general direction of T's sleepover guests and then provided pancakes the morning after we were well within our rights to demand that all parents come to collect their charges immediately after swallowing above mentioned pancakes so that we could all get over the trauma of the sleepless night whilst bickering amongst ourselves and staggering our naps while maybe also perusing the Sunday Times. So imagine our surprise when the following happened . . .

First we had a dinner planned for K's new friend who is also her hairdresser, Federica. Federica and her boyfriend Marco have horses and K wanted to share with them the clip from the documentary Horse Boy (thanks Ian) about how horses were used by this Australian family to help their child with autism.  Federica and K have a friend in common whose child is autistic and they are both interested in helping in some way.  Luckily the film which has not been given italian subtitles as of yet has been translated by the giant editing house Rizzoli and so K ordered copies for each of them. Dinner was lovely.

During dinner K received many texts/SMS messages and T seemed liked she'd rather come home sooner than later.  So K, honored to have the inside track, started trying to figure out how we could pick up T from the party given the fact that she was deposited in the country by our friend somewhere outside the walls of our city and that we don't have a car to pick her up. Sunday morning K's brain made some quick calculations: Invitation number one to visit Federica's horses is canceled on account of the rain and the mud; Invitation number two to take a walk with Massimo is canceled on account of his sore throat and great tremendous dislike of getting wet; Invitation number three to have lunch with Monica. . . wait a minute, this could be perfect! Monica invited us knowing we don't have a car so she must want to pick us up so we can just ask her to pick up T as well. Yes, except her car is a two-seater. So she will have to send her husband in his car. Except he has a soccer game after lunch and it is his one day to himself. Monica seems strangely exasperated by the request and K can't figure out why it would be a problem considering that they live practically next door to where T is sequestered at the slumber party.  We agree to meet outside the walls at noon. Monica's husband Luca picks us up and he wants to see the map and seems not to know the area where we are gong. Strange! Then we get slightly lost and the mother of the party girl guides him around to the house.  She has pleaded with K not to pick up early, but K has written that up as one of those "ye who protesteth too much" moments as there are  for the sake of politeness people say the opposite of what they mean and so this could be one of those instances. We hope.

When we arrive with Luca, our driver, in tow at the birthday girl's house, the festeggiante/party girl burst into tears and explains that we have ruined her party.  It seems she had a treasure hunt game planned that they have waited until hour 24 to play and yet another cake to devour. Now we feel truly horrible. This is the last thing we wanted. Did I forget to mention the part a day earlier where K, too embarrassed about having to on top of everything else get the party girl's momma to give T her antibiotics from this weeks' strep throat after her meals, neglects to mention that T is also a vegetarian which turns out to be bad since lunch is the party girl's father's specialty--meat sauce on pasta.  Anyway, T is mortified. K tries to backtrack and say maybe we'll come back later but the party girl's mother says it's too late.  We run out and get back in the car where K suddenly remembers that after Monica's wedding she moved really pretty far away from where she used to live and that is why this was too big  a favor to reasonably ask someone who is preparing lunch for your entire family in the rain.  Is there a UN delegation assigned to such matters? There should be, there really should.