Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ninja pigeon killers, hustling, and time travel
T says that lots of kids in her class are complaining about how much harder second year of middle school is compared to the first. For her it is just the opposite. Of course last year she was doing almost six hours of homework with me a day, three in English and three in Italian. Now she gets the job done by herself in one or two hours and life is good. It is mind blowing that I was begging her to try to speak in complete sentences in Italian this time last year and now the only help she wants from me for her history essay is to help her recopy it into nicer script for her bella copia.

Plus Natasha and T got to live out their babysitting dreams. They hit the motherload in the form of thirty kids whose parents were attending a meeting at the Foro on homeschooling. Up drove the VW vans and out came their surely-braver-than-I parents. The girls, apparently, did a magnificent job.

Some things, however, don't change. Last year we begged the office building next to our house not to use the electric pigeon killer because, among other things, whenever it rains it makes a constant electrical shocking sound every time a rain drop rolls down the gutters of the roof. They fixed the problem. Then this year as soon as we got our first big rain, the pinging noise was back. Anyway, as annoying as the pigeons can be, I think zapping them to death is perhaps a bit harsh.

Last year I wasn't working. (If you call doing six hours of homework a day with a furious eleven year old not working.) This year, I am always hustling. "Giuseppe" asked me to give private exercise classes to his wife, despite the fact that she payed the membership already for the fancy Ego gym.  I don't have time to take the bus out to where they live, but if she is willing to come to me and pay me 25 euro for a private lesson, then I will carve out the time for her. I am still waiting to find out how the negotiations go. After his Bioenergy treatments, he can now move his finger that was not mobile due to a motorcycle accident which broke a bone and shortened a tendon in his hand. But he still doesn't believe that his results came from the treatments.  He doesn't want to believe I helped him even though he was in full back spasm when he came to me and he left showing me all kinds of moves to demonstrate how athletic he is. He's a hoot, that Giuseppe.

I am also now teaching English once a week to my friend Claudia and she insists on paying me. I am making her read Eat, Pray, Love in both languages at once and she is just thrilled. It is the easiest money I've ever made, although during the course of an hour I have to ask her about seven hundred times to speak in English. I love her but she is una donna testarda.

Another example of how change is good is T's new hair color that came just in time for the Comics and Games festival (which attracts over 135 thousand manga outfitted teenagers to Lucca) and also Halloween (which does not really exist here). Check out the photo. So cool, right? She said the kids in her class asked what I did when I found out. They didn't wrap their brains around the fact that she had my full permission to dye some strands of her hair shocking pink. In many ways living in Lucca is like going back in time to the 1950s with 1980s fashion choices. Imagine Weird Al Yankovic on Happy Days. Or people who color coordinate their sweat suits with their hair ribbons, leg warmers and earrings. T is not amused.

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