Saturday, September 29, 2012

Magic Mike, part due
It turned out that the bootleg version of the film had a really bad audio track. I turned up the volume, but the words were blurry. Or that is the story I'm going with. There is always the possibility that we were blurry. At any rate there were a lot of filler scenes about the relationship between this girl whose brother gets drawn into the world of stripping and who falls in love with one of his crew. I think. I had several moments where I realized in a panic that I still really don't speak Italian. The good news is that as far as this evening went  it didn't matter. Everyone chatted over the film and made hilarious jokes, most of which were so funny that I had to laugh even though I didn't know what they were saying.

The film went blah, blah, blah -STRIPPING-! blah, blah, blah - STRIPPING!
 F made killer brownies and Parmesan popcorn and then went out for a drink with his friend Simon. The ladies brought some great food in the door with them. Tanya brought Sabrina who brought the last best tomatoes of the season drizzled with olive oil and drenched in garlic on toast, Patrizia made vegetarian calzone in a pastry dough pie, and Laura made crepes filled with nutella. It was good timing for a good old fashioned, hormone induced pig out. And there was plenty of wine thanks to Adonella
Who needs to be stuck in a cramped movie theater?
Not us!
At one point Laura got down on all fours and imitated me teaching our Metamorfosi exercise class and being all proud of myself for learning some rarely used Italian word for tap that I found in the dictionary and making them tap out the foot nearest to their left ears. She also lamented that someone spilled the beans and taught me how to say belly button correctly. She said her favorite part of the class for the last two years was hearing me say hambillica instead of ombelico and now it was the end of an era.

When we were all so exhausted that we couldn't see straight and the refrain of the evening was sono cotta/I'm cooked we went out for a walk and ended up listening to live music outside the ever popular bar barino on the other side of San Michele. It was the best thing ever that the Astra movie theater decided to show the kids flick Ice Age instead of Magic Mike because I saved everyone seven euro and we didn't once have to worry about making too much noise during the film. Something about the long hours everyone works in Lucca makes time off with friends feel so much more satisfying. Plus also STRIPPING.

My shirt says Tomorrow I'll be Good (maybe). I had to trade T a necklace and a scarf for it.
 Even T was working last night since she was booked for a babysitting gig. While I was hooting and hollering she was stressing that baby Vivi would wake up before her parents got home. But the little angel didn't make a peep and T came home relieved and richer than her wildest allowance dreams.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Magic Mike goes Underground
Sometimes I think God makes things happen just because I have a blog. Is that wrong? After the jewelry gala event I decided to keep my social life a bit more simple. No more massive sms text drives with thirty and forty people events at my house. But this didn't stop me from inviting all my exercise students and a bunch of other ladies to meet outside the Astra theater, where I am now a conosciente of the manager Riccardo, to see Magic Mike. If there is one thing that the ladies of Lucca need, trust me, it is a little Magic Mike, a movie about male strippers. I invited many a lady because, aside from bringing some gourmet New York style popcorn, it was going to be easy. I do the inviting and let Riccardo do the rest, right? Uh, that would be a no.

I got a phone call from my witty student Laura saying that her aunt had been to the Astra the other night and she heard that they were pulling the movie after less than a week for being a little too something something for the Lucchese. At first I thought I was being punk'd. Laura is witty, I thought, maybe she is just messing with me. But, sadly, she meant what she said. We had to think of something to save the night. We could drive to Viareggio, but that is an extra thirty minutes away and we would surely lose a bunch of ladies that way. In Lucca almost everyone works on Saturday. Then I got my New York on and let F have his way with the internet. Sure enough he found me a bootleg copy in Italian, mind you, that we can hook up to my otherwise unused television set and everyone will just come here. I spent my day off texting everyone back to let them know of the change in plans. Thank goodness for the inoltra button on my cell phone. Stay tuned for this one.
The Really Big Show
There was a cartoon Tasmanian Devil like activity going on in our house about ten minutes before T had to leave for her performance at the dedication of the library of Tabucchi. She decided in the final stretch that both her hair had to be washed and blow dried and oh-by-the-way-mom-I-need-a-white-t-shirt-for-the-performance-and-I-don't-have-one. Of course her blood sugar values were getting way up there.

 I ran to the OVS store and got on line behind twelve German tourists. There were three cashiers, but two were involved with a 30 minute long transaction in which someone actually wanted to return something. Our cashier moved along at a nice clip so when I finally used up all of the Italian curses I know under my breath and got to the front of the line ten minutes later, I complimented her on her work ethic. She explained cheerily that they need witnesses for certain transactions on the cash register. I told her about T's performance and thus my sudden decision to buy three different kinds of white shirts and she just laughed and said she has a girl the same age.

There she is third from the left.

In the center is T's friend from class Ginevra.

Yay, it's over.

Aw shucks.

She even got a certificate.

T's Italian professor told some of his friends that T is one of his best students. Word.

Why is it that once a totally intimidating professor compliments your kid, they all of the sudden seem so cutie?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So Italian
I wanted to buy my student who just graduated in film a graduation present. I thought to get her a coupon to the movie theater. I went to the movie theater. An official man who reminded me of Danny DeVito (crossed with Telly Savalas) named Riccardo told me that I had to go to the movie office which is around the corner from the movie theater and ask for this particular guy on a weekday morning between the hours of 9 AM and 11 AM. I forgot exactly how to find the building so a guy at the edicola told me to ring on a doorbell that ended up being the wrong place. I found the right place and the guy in charge of movie coupons told me to come back tomorrow with the exact change and in the meantime he would draw me up a coupon book. In total this exchange will have cost me about an hour and fifteen minutes. In New York getting a movie theater coupon would take all of about two seconds on-line or two minutes in person. So Italian.

There are a lot of people who have succumbed to my relentless wooing here in Lucca just because I am a nutball. There are several people including my pharmacist, my chocolate seller, and the crazy abdominal exercise lady at the gym who never ever accept any of my invitations. Today I gave up on the crazy abdominal exercise lady because anyone who does a half an hour a day of straight sit ups is probably someone who is not going to like me and because this is the eleventh time she has not even politely declined as much as smirked when I invited her somewhere. So Italian.

My darling private client drove me home from the gym today. She was both smoking and not wearing a seat belt. I had to cajole her into wearing the seat belt. She had a whole long explanation for why she doesn't wear a seat belt which involved the fact that she has huge fake boobs, but she did it for me. I bet she took the belt off about fourteen seconds after I left the car, but still. So Italian.

We had a huge debate at the dinner tables as to whether T had to attend the bazillionth rehearsal for a play that she did during the school year last year that they are going to perform once again for the dedication of the Library of Antonio Tabucchi. F wanted her to go because he thought it would put her in good standing to get a lead role next time. He didn't know that the professor doesn't plan on doing any more theater this year and that even if he were going to do more he would never choose T because he doesn't like her accent. Did I mention that T does not have a speaking role. Only two kids have speaking roles and they are narrators reading from a sheet the whole time. Why in the world they need more than one rehearsal for this event is beyond a mystery any way. So Italian. Maybe we are becoming Italian because it took us like an hour to come to a decision which was to pass on the rehearsal. And I still feel anxious about this decision. Maybe there is a secret Italian reason for everything and no one wants to tell me what it is. The good thing about being American is that even if there is, I kind of still don't really care. That is so expat.

Before the last rehearsal

there were a lot of instructions.

T in charge Or if a baby wants to eat a shoe she's gonna eat a shoe 
This is the little love of T's life: Vivienne. We have trained F to say on cue: "She's so cute, right?" in a valley girlesque accent.

This is T's first solo outing with Vivienne.

At first T did not know that Vivi liked to eat her shoe.

T was busy organizing the baby stuff.
But then she caught a girl in action.

Distraction is a babysitter's best friend.

Are you hungry by chance?

Ahhhh. No shoe chewing here.
Occasionally, Vivi is in charge.

She's so cute, right?

No paparazzi right now please.

DId you hear me?


Just kidding :)

They were watching rhythmic gymnastics, btw.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Festa di gioielli 
 Don't ask me how I finally got a good turnout to come to this jewelry party to feature Rebecca Cherry's work (check out, but somehow Adonella, F and I pulled it off. It took a lot of phone messages or sms and being a little bit crafty to convince everyone to put it on their calendars for this Saturday, but in the end I stopped freaking out that it would just be the three of us on an enormous terrace, glaring at each other.

Basically the essence of this event is that I convinced everyone individually that they should just come and spend the evening with me and that we would manage to make it a good time. It was an hour before I was ready to leave that I realized accipicchia! I have twenty different ladies who think I am going to be hanging out exclusively with them and there is in no way, space, or time going to be enough of me to go around. And that was pretty much how the night went. I grabbed someone's cup with the excuse of getting a refill for them so that I could move on to the next while simultaneously finding a common bond between two other ladies to get them talking to each other. About five hours later I realized I had not eaten or drank anything and, even worse, I was totally sober.

 Also we had to convince like Zeus, Hera, and all the weather spirits to suck back the rain for just one more day. I owe you big time, Mount Olympus.

It helped that T's friends came to lend a hand.

Here is Rebecca and F talking shop.

F made some fantastic stuzzichini.
 At the last minute we got these cool centerpieces together of divas, almost all of whom do the Metamorfosi style workouts, and who were wearing dresses to match the gems on display.  Geniale!

Luckily Monica Bellucci looks great in green.

 Adonella's house is the party house of all time. Not only does it have cool furniture . . .

 but it has an awesome terrazzo that is huge and happening.

 Thank goodness T and Giusy helped me out when we needed to translate Rebecca's presentations on the chakras and their color harmonies into Italian.

I even hit it off really well with this fancy Lucca lady who runs the knitwear shop that does the fashionshows for my gym. I was really intimidated when I met her and then by the end of the night we were buddies. And I was sober. There is no end to the mysteries of this crazy evening.
Plus we suprised Megan who came solo with a song for her birthday.
Remind me, please, that dinner parties are fine, but I have to stop doing these gala events. BTW, did I mention that Laura and I are organizing a ladies' night to see the stripper film Magic Mike in Italian on Friday night. Oh and I said I'd bring the popcorn . . .

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just a day in the life
Last night I got up when F got up to check T and she had a high blood sugar value. It turns out that burritos, which are T's favorite food, are not a good idea because the cheese makes it take longer for the rice to register or --I don't know but she gets high numbers and then no one can sleep. After waking up with a start to hear F heading up the stairs to T's room, I had weird nightmares and woke up with a stiff neck. I stretched out and did a bioenergy treatment for my friend with tennis elbow. Then I started off to work, but half way there I got a call from T saying that when my friend registered T for school (because we were in the hospital and couldn't go ourselves) she didn't specifically note that T did not want to be signed up for religion class. T called me saying that she needed a parent to come down to the school right then to state that she didn't have to take religion and that she could get out of school for the last hour. It took me a minute to figure out that this was not a health emergency or any kind of emergency but just the usual bull sh*t that they make us go through at her middle school.

I called F who was out bicycle shopping with his new best friend who just moved here two days ago named Stephen. Stephen is the husband of Meagan whose baby Vivian has already changed the life of T for the better. I had invited this American real estate agent who has lived in Italy for many years and who I met on the LIFE gym walk through the villas last year to the jewelry party we are having tomorrow. Is anyone following this? Does this sound like the blathering of a deranged expat? Bare with me. Bear with me. Hang in there. We just switched posters from the smoky the bear one to the one with kittens stuck up in the tree. Remember that poster? Where was I?

Anyway, Tanya the real estate agent said she would come to the apertivo, which I spelled as apetivo on all of the text invitations - managgia me, and that she knew an American couple who was looking for a babysitter. Well, they were in luck, because I knew a babysitter who was looking for a baby. They are from Wyoming, but they lived in Park Slope at some point. Meagan was a teacher and a modern dancer which means she is super cool. Oh and the baby is divine. Just learned to walk and she looks like a peaches and cream baby food commercial baby. She loves to share and love love loves T.

I took T for a job interview and Vivian pretty much tore up the other resumes and gave T the job right there on the spot.

Back to today.

I went to work. Danced my butt off and taught my class which involved elastic bands tied to both elbows and teaching these ladies who have never punched anyone ever how to actually throw down. Last night I had four teenage girls take a trial class. I won them over but by the end of the class they were so badly bitten by the mosquitoes in the room, who were apparently also taking the trial class, that I am not sure they will ever come back. Anyhoo, I got back and F prepared for his first lesson with Andrea, the teenage son of my friend Gabriella with the bad elbow. Andrea is bored by his regular English class so he wants F to teach him some computer programming in English.

I came home to find out that T had forgotten to give herself the insulin injection before lunch. Play the haunting and foreboding, foreshadowing music now.

At some point I got a call from T with Vivian screaming in the background. Vivi, as we call her, had decided not to take her nap and Meagan and Stephen had left instructions for her to not let Vivi cry for more than 15 seconds. New parents anyone? So she called me and I came over to find a really over tired baby who wanted to play with T more than she wanted to sleep. T changed her mind about wanting me to help before I could get Vivi to sleep so I left and she just cuddled with T happy and tired as could be. I then got an emergency message from Alessandro the interior designer guy.

I had been giving him bioenergy treatments on his neck so I was afraid he had hurt it worse in the interim. I raced to his store and found him greeting me all happy like. He took me for the bar and insisted on buying me an aranciata. It turned out that he had his shoulder that I had treated with bioenergy xrayed again and the doctors were in shock. The bone spur and the bursitis were gone. They demanded an explanation so he made up a story about having received laser treatments, but they said that even that could not have cured him to such an extent. That was satisfying. I visited wtih Laura the erborista at her store and then went to my other friend Laura's boyfriend's wing tzu exhibition with the gym Qubo in Piazza Grande. We are going to have a lady's night movie to see Magic Mike in Italian. Lord have mercy. Accipicchia!

I got home to find T with Meagan, Stephen and Vivi at our doorstep so they came in for a moment. We realized T has a blood sugar value of 350 so I called the hospital and the lady understood me to say she had a blood value of 150 so she gave me crappy advice.  I drank a glass of wine and ate like seven extra biscotti and we watched X factor and when I came to I realized that you all had no idea what has been going on here this week and that you need to catch up, people.

Enjoy these photos of our dietitian who says that all Americans are fat, no one should get up to pee during dinner, and that all meals should be eaten in courses.

P.S. T Is now supposed to get her insulin pump on OCTOBER 8.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Santa Croce
I had plans with two girlfriends on the night of the luminaria di Santa Croce when all of the buildings get lit up with candles and the church people sing and pray during a procession through the city.  Luckily both of them decided to play the nonnina and get some shut eye instead. I slept heavy even though there were fireworks and singing way into the night. It has been an exhausting back to work and school time, and not just for us. F & T went out with friends to take some nice photos for you lucky folks, though.

Check out T's cool backpack that she got in New York. The security man at the airport came over to me when he saw it on the conveyor belt to ask if it belonged to me. When I, filled with trepidation, accepted ownership of the bag, he just looked me square and the eyes and said, "Cool bag."

This week may culminate with a crazy party. It is crazy because it will involve the amount of planning that a city wide flash mob would necessitate. It is crazy because I have to teach an absurd number of exercise classes before then, because they are predicting very harsh storms for two weeks starting this weekend, and because the party is supposed to take place on our friends' terrace. It will take a lot of guts to host it because my acne is terrible and my hair is falling out and I don't feel like being seen. I think that I'm being pretty zen and handling the stress of T's diabetic highs and lows really well, but my hormones say otherwise. hmmn.

One of the most annoying things that happened was that some deranged professoressa threatened T's class that if they failed a design quiz they could be in danger of not passing for the year and put their high school plans in jeopardy. The quiz is hard to study for as you have to control your ruler and triangle perfectly then and there to come up with the precise geometric designs that the professoressa desires. This oldest-trick-in-the book for getting kids in gear during the first weak of school kind caused T to have 48 hours of the most wild blood sugar numbers you can imagine. I'd like to give that woman a castor oil treatment she would never forget, but I am too ZEN, accipicchiaAccipicchia is something everyone in Lucca says as an exclamation. I have no cavolo of an idea what it means.

Now we can say that middle school stinks all over the world.

 Grandpa Jack these photos are for you. T took them with her new camera. Not bad, huh?

F as a lollipop.
Recognize that shadowy photographer?
T on a hill. (F took that one.)