Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Car trouble & Gastronomy
Nice to know that while we can't drive our car which is filthy and sitting in Santa Anna alone, we can still get tickets on it and a some damage too! It turns out Paco had a bit of a joy ride during the car exchange portion of our summer swap, but we didn't figure that out until after F had biked all the way back to the concessario to see if the car had tickets on it before we bought it. Then F noticed that the car was dented and scratched. There was a note on the car with a phone number. But that would be too easy. And this is Italy. It turns out that the guy who lives in the giant house next to the parking spot saw the whole thing and got the license plate number of the guilty party who dented and dtiched us. The eyewitness on the phone told me to stop by and that he'd give me the number.  Why on god's green earth wouldn't he just message or tell me the number over the phone? If we had to meet in person, couldn't he give me a precise time? So I texted him to ask when we should come and have our little visit. It was a good thing I checked because he was away on business in Pisa and wasn't coming back for two days. Today F and I kept our appointment with him and he came out and told us everything very cheerfully. He was young and looked like an actor from my other favorite telenovella that was called Agrodolce. But this guy was less tortured and more helpful overall. He didn't even seemed phased by the overall drecktitude of our car having been covered in grime in this last month of disuse.

Wham bam, thank you slam!

Luckily tonight we are making a Moroccan & Indian combo feast (ala Jamie Oliver) for our friends Anna Maria (the police officer!) and Fabio and their girls who will eat plain pasta and potatoes up in T's room because they like nothing except pizza, pasta, and potatoes as far as I can tell. The littlest girl is allergic to a pork by-product and that is how we found out that Nutella is not vegetarian. Yikes! We will buying the organic version at the biologico store.
Ecco le ragazze!

Wine in the foreground. Thus explains our facial expressions.
Give it to Mikey. He'll eat anything. (Life cereal commercial reference from 1970s.)
Anyway, Fabio and Anna Maria like to travel and are adventurous eaters so we made --I say we in all honesty this time because I helped -- curried veggies with improvised Indian bread -- crispy focaccia with paprika on it, yogurt harissa dipping sauce, citrusy spicy cous cous and pickled lemon garnish. The drink is an iced pomegranate refresher with mint.

It was fun and we were all drunk with sleepiness afterwards. And we remembered that we are lucky and that things like dents and insurance and tickets aren't worth getting too worked up over. That's Anna Maria's torta di ricotta e ciccolato talking. My snarky self shall return tomorrow.

Oh and when Anna Maria was leaving she said to me that if I ever ever needed her she would be there. She would run to me, she said. It was a much sexier version of the James Taylor lyric and also she meant it. I know it because her exact words translated into English were: I may be stressed out and a mess when I get there, but I will come. And I could never wish for more. Grazie
This was our zucca pie for Thanksgiving. I picked at the crust which was prettier beforehand. Scusatemi!
Tonight it was useful to not speak Italian fluently because I could pretend I had no idea what was happening. A woman in my class kept stopping during the cardio dance segment to put her hand on her hips and look perturbed because she didn't feel like trying to get the steps. I repeat the same things over and over since I am not good at counting or picking up steps either, I know that the moves I do are all within grasp of anyone who tries, but she was not in the mood to try. Ladies older and equally dignified were having no problems. So I ignored her. Then it was time for mat work and the woman asked the student fairly far behind her to move back and give her more space. The student complied. Over the next little while the woman stopped two other times to ask my friend Laura who was on the mat in front of her to move. Laura knew better than to run any risks and moved to the other side of the room entirely. Then this woman moved her mat a little to the right, a little to the left, up and down several other times fighting off this invisible crowd that was bothering her. In reality, there was an ever widening space around where she was situated. The only other student within a stone's throw from her got yelled at next. During the dispute which was distracting everyone and was broadcasting over my spoken directions, I eventually made eye contact with her in the mirror and said that I was sorry but I didn't understand anything that was going on. When she tried to explain it to me slowly I cocked my head to the side like a bewildered puppy and looked at her blankly. Finally the woman got up and left. For the rest of the class everyone was chatting and giggling about her, but I said nothing.  Later during the massage at the end of the class , I said to the ladies, "my mamma didn't raise no fool now"-- translated "io conosco i miei polli"-- and they all started laughing because ignorance, in this case, was bliss Italian style.

T & friends

Other people's parents are less embarrassing

At the train crossing before class, the train actually came and the little barriers came down so I had to stand there with all of the cars. I was listening to my ipod and it was very hard for me not to bop up and down with the music so I did a modified little bop which was very constrained of me since I considered bursting into a number from Footloose and entertaining the troops while we were all stuck there together. But then I thought of how it embarrasses my daughter that I wore a hoodie to pick her up from school and changed my mind.

Try not to embarrass me, mom. (All that nonsensical existing etc.)
Today I had my first personal training client who is the daughter of one of my students and she is probably seventeen years old or so. We danced like maniacs to the music from glee and talked about Nicole Ritchie's tumultuous life and association with Tracy Anderson. By the end of the hour she was completely red in the face and sweating so i felt like I did my job. We'll see if she comes back on Thursday.

Then i got a call at work from my friend who wanted English homework help for her daughter. Does anyone know the names of our toes, individually, and in English? I went with the ordinal numbers, but I had a perverse and strong desire to make up a lot of crazy sh$t. Like oh in America we call them piggies or the big one we call the pimp or the middle one is the helltotheno. But I had a fit of decency. I hate when that happens.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cain and Abel--- Remix
We spent our Thanksgiving eating zucca pie and stuffing with red wine sauce and talking turkey with T. She showed us this SNL video parodying the Republic debates which was followed by our own SNL skit, but ours is, thankfully, not available on video. (  During dinner, T told us this hilarious story that -- should I be worried? -- the vice principal told her while he was in charge of her class. Take it away, T. . .

T here to recount the story our vice principal told us during Study Hall. It's a parody on the bible he found on the Internet. To get the joke you guys need to know Adam = Adamo, Eve = Eva, Cain = Caino, Abel = Abele and Satan = Satana. Oh and that most--not all-- but MOST, Italian boys names end in "o" and most girls names end in "a" or "e."

When Adamo and Eva had children they had two boys, Caino and Abele. Abele was always very calm and thoughtful but Caino was always quite high energy and agitated. When they became young men Caino decided he wanted to find a girlfriend. One night he tells his mother, Eva, "I'm going to go out tonight. I will either be back late or in the morning." So Caino goes to look for a girl, but he finds no one after hours of searching. He repeats this for many weeks until an idea finally comes to him. He goes up to Abele, his brother, and says "Look, Mom's name ends with an "a," me and dad's names end with an "o" but your name ends with an "e". So you aren't my brother you are my sister and since you are the only woman on this earth we shall marry." Abele responds "Um, no, actually I AM your brother and I don't want to marry you." Then Caino, frustrated, hits him over the head and kills him. He shouts up, "What have I done? I killed my sister!" Now God comes down from heaven and sends  Caino to hell. Caino knocks on the door of hell and then Satana opens it up. Caino says "Hello, my name is Caino." Satana responds "My name is Satana." Caino looks happily at Satana and says "Ends with an "a" right?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lots of brand names & getting bitten in the face
For whatever reason, we still have the worst thing about summer here with us in late November: MOSQUITOES/ LE ZANZARE. A handful of times I have woken up in the middle of the night to find a buzzing right in my ear and then even if we kill the sucker, I still can't get back to sleep for hours.

In other news, the Guess girls have abandoned ship and feel that their work load is too heavy to continue exercising with me in the evenings. Several of them tended to cheat a bit and not do the thirty repetitions or do the exercises full out, but I always found that a good challenge and really kind of funny. There were fewer and fewer of them and they usually trickled in as a threesome instead of in a pack of eight which meant that I was really not earning much of anything anyhow. T did not love being banished to her mansardo to eat her dinner and I really do not like getting started with the jumping up and down just at the dinner hour, so I think it is all for the best. Meanwhile a girl in my LIFE class asked me for personal training which is I think the better, more profitable, direction in which to head.

I went to see my friend Alessandro Menichini's open house for the Herm├Ęs home collection and, yet again, I felt a little teary to see so much beauty in one place. There was one cashmere fabric that was so rich that it made me both itchy and sad to think about the artificial cheapo fabrics that I lay my little worried head on at night. It is so cool to see the prints as they translate from paper to fabric. This particular collection is very historical and filled with horses and old world characters and one of the prints is even block printed using an 18th century technique where you make the design onto at least 20 blocks of wood and then apply it to the paper. Despite the nods to the past, the chain link prints and famous interconnected H's look modern, masculine, and very George Clooney's bachelor pad, or so I've been told. I wouldn't dare show you any photos of it because there is a whole branch of people who get paid to hunt down mishandlers of the Hermes logo and/or their images and poor Alessandro had to sign a contract that was thicker than my arm.

This is a random picture of my friend and professional pharmacist Amelia from Farmacia Centrale. I didn't know she had a terrified dog named Oliver or that she shopped at the fancy pink pet store where I got the golden poop bag holder. But she is a mystery that I will never unravel. I invite her to lots of stuff that she never comes to, but I am very Lucy and Charlie Brown with the football about the whole thing. Ever hopeful, always a blockhead.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No caption necessary.
Italian pooper scoopers (literally) 
I have been a naughty little blogger because I finally let the call of the blog allow me to go a little cuckoo crazy yesterday. Let me just say that, being me, I did move all the way across the world only to end up having a ton of familal social obligations -- even though they are not for my actual family. We are really and truly honored and feel blessed to be included in our friends' gatherings.  But in all dysfunctional extended expat families there is always one super special relative; and, in this case, it is the sister-in-law who is obsessed with her bulldog Romeo.

This guy has a nicer winter coat than I do.

This dog understands  baby talk . . . or is he just faking?
He looks cute-- until he ruins your good Italian leather boots.

She carries him around like a baby and he has a wardrobe that is nicer than mine. The big fat slobbery doo-doo head, drooled a puddle on and then scratched my good boots. (You know I'm talking about the dog, right?) Plus my little fidanzato doesn't like Romeo because he bites his feet and we lovebirds prefer to sit with out legs extended while we watch our cartoons, so there. So knowing it might be blog worthy, and because I was a little drunk with exhaustion after T's birthday party, I did go out of my way to get the sister-in-law a joke gift from the overly expensive and extravagant, completely pink pet store near Piazza Grande. I could have gone to the ordinary pet store with the thousand cages of birds and hamsters and baby bunnies whose floor is littered with bird seeds and is noisy and dirty and has a rather unhappy, elderly couple in charge, but that would not have been as good of  a blog post.
She is holding the golden wallet. I am hiding under the coffee table.

Where's K? I don't know she disappeared when we brought out the cake . . .

"I hate when my feet get bitten for no good reason." Don't worry, honey, K is on the case.

I love this grandma's cookies! She is my Angelina Jolie.

All bad ass bloggers have tractors  .. . See the pink pet store bag: snazzy!
Instead, I purposely went to the hoity toity pink pet store and  soon realized that, as much as I love you readers, I was not going to spend eighty five euro on a leather bomber jacket for Romeo.  So based on the advice of the nice man, whose wife we came to find out is pregnant, we chose to give the sister-in-law a golden, leather, wallet that holds the bags for picking up the poop/ ca-ca. I lost steam in the actual moment of gift giving and did not give the party girl a double-cheeked kiss or ask her how she liked it, as I had planned. Instead I sort of slunk off to the other side of the house. But first I forced F to take a ton of pictures! I've got your back, blog readers.

Arrivederci, Brooklyn!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Here is the portrait we made for her birthday card!
La festa di compleanno di T
Today we got up at the crack of crack to get T to school early for a class trip. They are going to a paper mill to see how paper is made. It is a very Lucchese thing to do. Trust me on this. (And good news: she came back with five rolls of toilet paper, a ten pack of facial tissue and a carton of napkins!)

I am forever grateful to Melissa and Stefano who agreed to drive us all to the ice skating rink after we all have lunch at the pizzeria everybody goes to for their birthday parties -- Marameo. In fact, three of the girls, T included, are going back there for dinner for somebody else's party.  Aside from being really happy that F doesn't have to drive without a license, I am also thanking my lucky Italian f'n stars that T never got this flu and that the four girls, two Italian, one Irish and one Canadian, that we really needed to come celebrate with us are coming. Now I am just hoping against hope that the ice skating rink I found online really exists, you never know, and that they are open, still not sure, and that it will not cost a lot more than expected, unlikely, and that we all get there at a reasonable time in one piece and get all of their rental skates on. After that, I'm planning to have a carafe of wine and let nature take its course. I'll let you know shortly.

Well, not shortly. But here we are, longly, after. The lunch went well except that there was another simultaneous party of older teenagers who got served first. Looking at that crew as they exited I have to say as a waitress I would have done the same.  When we first arrived at the skating rink, T and I were dismayed to find out that although the Omniacenter is the size of a huge football stadium, the skating rink is proportionately the size of a postage stamp with snow on it. They hadn't cleared the ice for quite sometime, let me tell you. Nevertheless, the girls had a great time. They had these push-a-penguins which were for beginning skaters to use like training wheels for the ice, if you will. I don't recall ever seeing those at Skyrink. Take that you big city slickers, you. When the girls were exhausted enough they came back and had a hot chocolate and the chocolate cupcakes we brought with us. It was so chocolatey that at one point T's friend Natasha heard herself say, "It's too much chocolate for me," and then corrected herself saying, "did I just say that? I must have really taken a lot of falls."

At the moment T is back at Marameo and I expect she will come home and sleep the sleep of the righteous or the really zonked, whichever comes first.

Stefano is a fun guy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Today was pretty much what I have been dreading since mid-summer when I started auditioning for gym jobs.  I like to worry in advance so that none of my problems take me by surprise. What? Don't tell me you think that is neurotic. If you're from New York there is roughly a seventy-five percent chance that, if you're being honest, this is competely normal to you.  It is really a massive mistake as a life philosophy and I urge you not to do it. But once in a while it does come in handy.

Today was the day where my cold turned flu-like, but since we had the flu shot--there is the up side right there to the advance worrying, so take note-- it shouldn't last too long.  After re-reading the Tracy Anderson 30 Day Bootcamp book for the millionth time and making myself do thirty five minutes of cardio and then teaching my two friends at my house, I started getting chills and a sore throat. In the book, Tracy says one day," maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow" I should be guaranteed a Sunday (why Sunday?) in which I can eat cupcakes all day long and it will not affect my thighs even an iota. Does anyone else think this is a weird assertion? For a health book? Anyway, I can't eat normal cupcakes because I have had to give up dairy products this month since I figured out that my lack of magnesium means that the calcium deposits from any yummy dairy I consume come out my face like little salt rocks making me look like a pimply faced adolescent with much more psychic and physical pain than what one usually endures from an ordinary blemish.

Back to this delightful tale of rainbows and unicorns. . .I took a nap only to be awakened by a delivery guy who rang not once but twelve times and stayed put until I padded down the stone steps in my slippers and sweats and a wrinkle on my face from where the pillow had been. The one good thing that I can say is that it was not raining. That is about it. About half way to the gym I started freezing and wheezing, but in Italy, we do not take sick days. We  shield ourselves with our magic scarves. How's that working out?  Based on today, I'd say not swimmingly.  I piped the music from Glee through my headphones since Mary J. Blige's album and the Michael Jackson remixed concert music don't come out until next week. I had less umph in my step in my pre-class warm up which at that time of day and after having worked out in the morning, and factoring in my fibromialgia takes about an hour to an hour and a half. Then I teach for an hour and then I give thirty people neck massages, making sure to douse my hands in disinfectant. Thankfully one of my students gave me a ride half-way home and F bought my favorite onion focaccia for dinner which goes very nicely with lemon hot pepper broth .For the roughly four and a half hours of working out I did today, not including the lesson and music preparation which took two hours, I earned exactly 23 euro. We'll talk aobut that later, when I'm not sick.

Meanwhile T spent the day accompanying her friend from school to the dentist. This was funny because the dentists are her Uncle and her Grandpa and because her friend was terrified. They both are very pessimistic and argued humorlessly about whether they would have to drill or do an emergency root canal.  Every single thing they did and every implement they touched had to be explained to the patient's satisfaction, a feat which was next to impossible. For her services T got a decadent lunch with a homemade chocolate tart and a very much appreciated early birthday present of fingerless gloves.

The only joy about today, aside from the lack of rain, is this song by the winner of reality show Amici singing Sitting on the Dock of the Bay with Craig David. I love the grit in her voice and the fact that she clearly has no idea what the F**k she is saying.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Paola's Birthday & Mio Fidanzato Ne Sa di Computer
Today was our luncheon in honor of my friend Paola's birthday with her parents and brother and sister-in-law. F made Paola's favorite farro with fried stuffed zucchini blossoms and for dessert T helped make a red wine chocolate cake with a dark chocolate glaze and red wine reduction for the plates. I made the hearts on the plates. Don't laugh. I also cleaned the whole house, 'kay?

My friend is also the mother of "my fidanzato" Lorenzo, the little boy who we give Bioenergy treatments to for autism. In addition to the fact that he has decreased his yelling and covering his ears since receiving the ear protocol, he has since learned how to use the computer.  He is incredibly gentle when he touches the keyboard, and for that, all the credit goes to his teachers at the Capannori school. The fact that this boy who was nonverbal and very hyperactive and uncommunicative when I met him is now able to type in searches into youtube, double click on the videos he wants to see and change the volume and screen size using the mouse is pretty astounding. Yay Bioenergy!