Monday, July 30, 2012

An exchange or so
Last night while we listened to Tony Bennett rocking out with Giorgia at the summer music festival from our front windows, we made a list of the zillion things that have to get done before we exchange apartments with the family of ex New Yorkers from Paris. This extensive list includes painting, cleaning the windows, cleaning the fans, filling in plaster cracks, clearing out the closets and drawers, organizing our documents, getting our valuables over to Anna Maria's safe where she also keeps her police pistol, getting the gunk out of shower doors and various other delightful tasks.

Most of my Italian friends think that we are nuts to do these home exchanges, but since I am on the cusp of being germaphobic and think hotels are really gross, I can deal with it as long as I render the house as impersonal and impenetrable as possible and then wipe everything down with Lysol once I get home.

If you imagine me sitting cross legged in the shower using bleach based bathroom detergent and q-tips to get the brown rusty gunk out of the crevices of the shower doors and between the tiles while only half asphyxiating myself, you get the picture of how insane this week can be.

To relax we went back to Al Foionco, the agriturismo of my ex student Marco -- who I nicknamed 007. His belly dancing wife Alma invited us to come have a swim in their salt water pool. They served us a really filling, albeit yummy, lunch of curried rice, eggs, potatoes with some melanzane parmagiana made with dutch cheese and then I had to both don a bikini and go teach my exercise class. F took a bunch of photos because he is going to redo their website and make one for Alma who is a painter. T and I splashed about and made too much noise giggling, thus annoying the super blond German family who had rented out the guest place. They all looked more or less like Jessica Tuck (see below.)

Meanwhile, T seems to be doing well on the new insulin called Levemir and is less hungry, therefore less grumpy.  She did a tae kwon do style workout while I did my metamorfosi workout and started on a new supplement called SAMe that helps to bring down some of her high blood glucose values.

One of my students of my free outdoor class on the walls of Lucca looks exactly like someone I used to watch on television. I racked my brains and the Internet to find out who it was. It turned out to be Jessica Tuck from the soap opera One Life To Live circa 1990. I printed out a page of photos for this woman who is actually called Patrizia just to prove I'm not crazy. Waste of Time. Seriously though, everyone does have a twin somewhere in the world. I saw an absolute body double for this annoying twit that was active in the PTA at PS 321 n Park Slope and ducked under a medieval arch to avoid her until it dawned on me: Wrong country.

Jessica Tuck, that's who.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Schianto (stunning beauty)
Last night my foursome went out for drinks.  Well, I was too tired to even buy a bottle of water to bring to the table and Bianca had a salad, but the concept you have grasped. At the table we caught up on each other's good and bad news and were enjoying each other's company. If you look at the photo below you can tell that the americana is the pale one on the left lacking in vitamin D, heels, and also hairspray.

(Thanks for taking this photo, Aden. And for returning my Ipod. And for the cheek smooch.)
We were also celebrating the fact that Bianca has not just one suitor at the moment, but two. And what was behind door number two kept texting her and asking her to come out tonight. The problem was that she hated what she was wearing. At a certain point Serena and Bianca came out of the ladies room with a plan involving taking advantage of the fact that the stores were open until midnight to promote their sales. So off we went to find her a dress.

We had no luck at the first store, but the second, a Massimo Rebecchi outlet, was a homerun. Bianca kept saying the strapless blue number that brought out her eyes to perfection was too elegant, but the price was right and, really, is there such a thing as too elegant?

Off we went to the lingerie store to pick her up a strapless bra/un reggiseno a fascia and a thong/un perizoma; but when it came time to pay -- Bianca's wallet was missing. She had the kind of shoulder bag that stays open at the top and some karma challenged thief got away with her identity card and a hundred euros. At least she kept her driver's license and bancomat card in a separate purse. I was devastated, but she was unsinkable. So we went to Giusy's house to get her dressed.

E' uno schianto, no?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Land of Levemir
Today we got up and got moving early, remembering all of the things we forgot yesterday: sunglasses, books, medicines, snacks and off we went to the children's hospital. The allergy doctor was really sweet and gave us her stamp of approval to change brands of insulin. T's extensive research on the diabetes forums for kids gave a lot of anecdotal evidence of people who do better on this brand than on the Lantus even though the doctors say there are no great chemical differences between the two. We really hope that her stomach distension and her swelling will go away and that her blood sugars will lower, especially early in the morning and late evening.

We felt like we won the lottery when they gave us the go ahead to make the switch to Levemir. I guess I can be kind of kooky and convincing in more than just English now. Yesterday we were the last to leave the waiting room along with this one lone gentleman that was waiting for his appointment. I told him not to despair because there is a reality show in America called Survivor in which the last one to leave is actually the winner. Yeah, he thought that was really weird too and moved as far away from me as he could in the limited space of the waiting area. I have to have some fun. Meanwhile, I sent F & T to sneak down the corridor in front of the head doctor's door to "casually" bump into him so we could get him on the same page with us for switching medicines. All that money for social work school never stops paying off.

After NOT

sleeping Much,

these WEiRD sculptures at the children's hospital

of hallucinogenic bulls

give new meaning to the term "che palle!"
T has decided to rename us Lady Levemir, Duke Levemir and the dark princess of Levemir. So welcome to our land, people.

Lady Levemir reminds me of Lady Aberlin from the Mister Rogers children's tv program.

We celebrated by going shopping in Firenze at H&M for T and finding me a great leather jacket for Fall. Out of all of the people promoting their jackets, the couple at the What's Up store won me over. The owner did more super selling than a carpet salesman in Morocco, but we got him down a hundred euros from his starting price.

I have no sense of direction. So I follow along behind.

So Nine by Design. . . T & I love a good vintage store.

Our F is a great bag holder.

This lady was kind enough to show us the Pucci. Pucci is costly. Bye-bye Pucci.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Italian Diabetes Adventures

Yesterday T went to a friend's house and called home after ten minutes to say that her vision was all blurry. It happened seven more times for thirty seconds at a time and was absolutely terrifying. She also had a headache and some swelling. We got an appointment to see the allergist and the eye doctor at the children's hospital in Florence and it turned out that she just had sugar in her tears that led to inflammation and is not necessarily allergic to the insulin although she may not be able to tolerate it. This is why you have to choose your words carefully in the factory that is the traditional health system. I have zero chance of getting them to change her brand of insulin from Lantus to Levimeer if I use the word allergic but I have a slight chance of begging the doctor when go back tomorrow to get the definitive 24 hour allergy test results if I use the word intolerance. Just exhausting. Worst migraine ever and we are all three grumpy after a five hour stay at the hospital and three hours in the car. But as far as trips to the hospital go it was pretty successful and it did not cost us a cent.

See the telling symbol on the tee shirt of the giant rat.

When we first got to the hospital we were greeted by clowns dressed as doctors. No really, they were clowns dressed as doctors and they explained that they were doing an "experiment" on this young man with dreadlocks who was accompanied by his dreadlocked mother. (Actually it turned out just to be a card trick.) His dreads were pointing sky high and I thought it was a result of their so-called experiment, but it turned out that his dreads always do the happy dance. From there it was all down hill. In the office of the oculista we found that they were doing experiments on rats to determine the benefits of marijuana use. See the attached photo.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Try this at home!
T's new way of making her own earrings:

The Reality show gets Real

Sorry not to have written in a while. Here's what you missed on the Reality Show Arrivedercibklyn where a family of three moves to Italy, gets fleas, gets rid of fleas, gets diabetes, works to get rid of diabetes, and has more understandings than misunderstandings -- which is saying a lot.

T has been through the mill. Or as F says . . . the milk. It has been a hard time. She has had handfulls of her hair fall out on the floor. She has inflated and deflated with this weird allergic type reaction where her hands, feet and face fill up with fluid. She has had headaches and low energy and bad moods, and, amazingly enough, good moods. The doctor thought that I was a superficial exercise teacher who was overly concerned with her swelling stomach. That was a low point. Then through twists of fate I got a fellow patient who is friends with both the doctor and my friend the police officer (Lucca is a microcosm)  to explain that I was actually concerned about these strange sporadic bouts of edema. The doctor at the hospital of Lucca called the children's hospital in Florence and we now have an appointment to go to an allergist because T may be allergic to the brand of insulin she is taking. I have continued to do bioenergy treatments for her and she has continued to have crazy ups and downs in her blood glucose numbers that we can't talk about to the regular doctors or they would think we were weird energy healing people. Go figure.

We had to go to this dermatologist at the hospital about her hair and it turned out to be a creepy building and before I could stop F he stepped on the largest dead spider I have ever seen. I think it was possibly a tarantula. When he stepped down it made a crunching sound like he had gone to the chiropractor. Gross. (No accompanying photo.) We all got back into the car and had a panic attack after that.
poor swollen footie

Here's what has transpired with my obsessive decorating thanks to having watched the show Novogratz by Design on sidereel, I made us all go bright and early to the mercatino which is a huge indoor vintage clothes and used furniture store in the San Marco area. There I found a chandelier for only 60 euros for the livingroom. It turned out to be the Charlie Brown's Christmas chandelier in that it was filthy and missing six crystals and probably we will stick candles in it, rather than trying to get the wiring to work, but I love it just the same. It embodies the true spirit of . . . well HGTV. And also a great, gold framed mirror.  I also got a turquoise Indian lantern for the office/workoutroom/guest room and a whole bunch of plain border-less frames. The frames are for T's artwork from age kindergarten and up that is going to go on the wall of the bathroom.

This week I had some luck treating a man with MS whose hands starting moving better after the treatments and a woman with a stiff neck and a broken heart, but Bioenergy healers know how much helping other people in this way gives you back in your own life. It translates at the very least as awesome Karma.

We love Giusy. Here we are reading each other's lips even though she is bilingual.

Super ugly sculpture of a an upside down pineapple head.
Yes, that is indeed a skeleton earring.
In the random acts of kindness segment of our show: Serena took me for a walk around the walls. Then she saved the day by getting us reactive strips for the blood glucose meter from her hospital. Since they were not the right brand for our machine she found us a new meter to get us through the last few days of the month. We were bartering against the monthly amount of free supplies we get from the Italian government at the pharmacy and ended up short so I went to Serena's pilates class last night and she gave me the goods. My boss Fabio, who was teaching the class, was afraid to ask me how I was because last time he did, with a knowing look and in English, I burst into tears. I also did that tear drying gesture that does not translate here so he thought I was frantically waving him away. Giusy called her cousin who is a doctor to talk to me on the phone and got contacts from coworkers who know people who know people who have diabetes. So sweet. Then Bianca's ex sister-in-law Claudia, who turns out to be an internist, explained other medical stuff to me in nice, slow Italian and offered to cook us all a vegetarian dinner at her house. Patrizia, from Happy gym, calls me every five days to check in on T and is continually lovely to me. This nice expat lady who I think reads the blog offered us some used text books so we could save money on the new ones. Another student of mine knows exactly which Charlie Brown's chandelier I bought at the mercatino and thinks she has some of the missing crystals that she wants to give me for free.

Just when I thought I had beat my own stress related symptoms I got a huge acne cyst on the side of my nose that makes me want to hide under the bed for about ten days, but that's not going to happen because I have to teach the class on the walls tonight at six.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Divorce, Italian Style
Yesterday was meant to be a reunion of my Sex & the City Lucca girlfriends, but Giusy got stuck without a place on the train back from Pescara. Serena made it by the rotta della cuffia because she was up all night at a colleague's wedding in Pisa. She forced herself into her cute little outfit out of sheer devotion to Bianca and only thanks to a great deal of help from her moka machine. Bianca had it set in her mind that July 15 was not going to be a day she dreaded for the rest of her life just because it was the day that marked the end of her married life after twelve years. I'll leave out the ugly details. She booked the terrace of a bar on the beach called, fittingly enough, Carpe Diem. She got herself a red lace dress and called a couple dozen friends to come out and drink to new beginnings. If my computer chiavetta had worked and the hip hop music had poured out, and Giusy and her unstoppable party persona had shown up, it would have been a wild night. Instead it was a quiet, but moving show of support that was more about showing up than anything else. Bianca looked spectacular. Also she wrote out lovely quotations from her favorite writers for each guest to take home with them that night. I have no idea what mine says, but it is on a lime green card and the handwriting is staggeringly loopy and gorgeous. 

Carpe Diem!

Serena and I started out the night by her dramatic reenactment of the last week's events leading up to the soap opera wedding of her colleagues. Right in the middle of that, we got utterly lost because it turns out that her Iphone is not really a navigatore and you should probably not hold it in one hand while you read it and try to drive at the same time while telling an emotionally exhausting account of events. At least she is a doctor with doctor friends and hospital street cred. But it wouldn't matter anyway because there turned out to be two Viale Europas in Viagreggio and we picked the wrong one. We ended up at a bar called Stupid! The best part about Stupid! was that directly to the left of it was a little terrace bar called Stupid! The GAY Area where some drunk men in Hawaiian shirts were  looking at me like they might kill me if I outed them and dared to take their picture up close. That is why I was so far away that you can't see anything in this shot.

Stupid! The bar. It's not Cheers. And nobody knows your name.

We then went down a long drag of road surrounded by tall pine trees that leads up from the beach and where surveillance cameras make sure that hungover doctors don't drive more than 40 miles an hour. When we got there I met Jacopo who I gather has down syndrome and is a huge flirt, but very chivalrous and charming. He wants to book some massage appointments with me. His mom was really sweet, too.

The alcohol analyzer is next to the slot machines. You're gambling if you drink more than 2 glasses of vino.

July 15th is now a lovely day to be welcomed by all.

Jacopo, that charmer.

Me & Jacopo

Serena rallied, god bless her.

Sparkling hats make everyone happy.
I bought the four of us friendship bracelets in different colors and came home and slept so deeply that I didn't even feel the mosquito who bit each of my knuckles in turn.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Punches of Color
As history has shown us, when things get rough, I get obsessive. So far we've added these vibrant place-mats/tovagliette for the table, a new cover for the bed (that F sewed together with his new sewing machine), a few punchy pillows for the couch, and this sculpted wood piece from Bali. Last night the lady that works at the Indonesian store Gong let us wander around her storage space that is tucked around the corner to look through the wooden furniture, the Buddhas, and the frocks. Personally, if I didn't live in Italy, I'd have a house full of Buddhas, but F says that the mural on the wall and the little tiny face in the stairway are enough. We don't want to freak people out, he says. I was intimidated to mess around with the terracotta color scheme that comes with the house, but now that I have visited a lot of friends with the same color restrictions, I have stolen some ideas for how even blues and reds can be introduced without clashing. You just have to be good about find the right tones. I want to find a chandelier and a mirror for living room from one of the antique markets next weekend. It is my way of distracting myself from other things, I guess.

I love this pillow. This pillow is a tiramisu of fabric.

Decided not to get these, but they are pretty.

This was too dark, but also pretty.

Our new cover!

Since I can't keep plants alive, it is the next best thing.

Now that's cool. I'm like that interior designer and mother of seven on Nine by Design. Ish.

If you get joy from a place mat. Go for it, I say.

I got up at an hour bestiale to go to the ASL/health office in order to make sure that our health card/tessera will work in France. It will. So that was pointless. F is going to have to go to the hospital to get us more of the blood glucose measuring strips because we test more often than they expected us to and we won't make it until the end of the month when we get our new supply. The good news is that T needs less and less insulin. She started out taking as much as 16/19/22 of the rapid insulin and 24 of the full day one and now she takes 6/7/6 and only 16 of the full day one. They say it's the honeymoon period. But I, being stubborn, insist in my head that she will never have to go back up.

I am so tired that I can't decide whether I love Nina Zilli or not. She is the Italian Amy Winehouse, a quanto pare.