Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Love Lycra (so much!)
This was a day. I woke up and did a bioenergy treatment for my friend's knee. I canceled my client who lives out in Capannori because I needed to get my hair done for the photo shoot today at the fancy gym. F took photos of me in all four of my workout outfits that were not in the wash and we picked one. Then I tried to stretch out and realize that my right butt cheek and the back of my right thigh were absolutely torn up from the bare core class I took with Elisa under advisement of my new boss. If only I had known that under that darling smile of hers beat the cruel, dark heart of a dominatrix. I ate some frantoiana soup and my personal training client canceled. I stretched some more. The crunchy noise that was happening in my right flank was slowly becoming more of a crackle than a pop. It was a huge process to get all fixed up (again) for these fancy gym people and I asked myself for the millionth time what would happen when I don't have six hours to get ready to go over there. Would they mock my frizzy post exercise hair and my spotty face sans makeup? F drove me over.

 Here I am being freaked out and trying on outfits:

I hung up my coat in the scary women's locker room and schlepped T's vintage Dolce bag stuffed with other outfit choices and hair products up to the main floor. My boss looked perplexed when I asked if I had time to warm up, but he showed me where to go. I saw an old man using a long broom stick like baton thing to stretch his back and asked where I could get one. He said there was only one, but he let me have it when he was done. I did some show-off-y things that I can do with a baton and a leg to pass the time because a bunch of my new colleagues were checking me out on the sly. At the moment when the photographer arrived, I had my leg up on a window ledge to stretch. I had nowhere to put my sweatshirt so I hung it on my leg and did an about face so I could stretch my hands down towards my standing leg. When I raised myself back up and retrieved my sweatshirt from my leg I saw the gym owner, my boss, and the photographer staring at me. I got startled and quickly went up to them to shake hands and get the show on the road. They decided to put two steps on top of each other in the spin room where a few folks were peddling while watching a weird 80s film that looked like Perfect on a projection screen. I guess that is what they mean by Cardio Cinema. Anyway, it was intimidating that the owner stayed there to hold the lights for the photographer. The first shots to test the light were not so flattering so I tried to stand up straighter and readjust. Finally, I asked if I could hold some of the positions from my class, which would be why I warmed up, and those seemed to go better. I tried to remember all the wacky advice Tyra Banks has ever given on all 19 seasons of America's Next Top Model. I won't say that it is harder than it looks because that always makes me throw up in my mouth a little when models say that. I'll just say smiling naturally is not something I do when a bunch of guys are frowning at me and looking at me skeptically.

The photographer showed me what he got at the end. He was a sweetheart. There were of course some horrendous shots where my upper arm looked like a ham hock or my eyes were closed, but the ones in the dance poses had a great shadow on the white wall behind me that look like there are two dancers and I hope they pick one of those. Then my boss guy Giacomo said that on Friday I will do a lesson for Elisa and some other teachers and then if the Master goes well, he will give me five lessons a week to start. I laid in bed with my eyes wide open and my heart beating for an hour and a half, but it was worth it.

Here are some bonus shots of my gorgeous daughter buying things that contain little or no Lycra as she prefers natural fibers, god bless her tiny little thighs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Audition Zone: An American Horror Story

I blame the earthquake. We had a 4.8 on Friday afternoon when we were all home under two different doorways with T upstairs and us downstairs. I had a good view of the chandelier swinging wildly.  School got canceled the next day and that part made T happy, at least. Italy is considering extending school for 11 months of the year and T just informed me that if that happens, she will be moving back to the USA. The three of us seem to be trying to cram every day filled with as many disparate activities as one family can and the house looks like a tornado blew threw it, but I don't have the energy to clean it. Somehow since I last wrote I had a disastrous dinner party, took T to the orthodontist and the diabetes specialist, taught twenty two exercise sessions, and couldn't come up with one interesting thing to write about. I hate not knowing what my schedule is going to be and knowing that it is about to blow up in an impossible way.

I am trying to stay zen, but it's not working at all. Men look away, because this blog is about to get very female and I can't help it. My German Barbie skin doctor with the perfect skin told me that she really couldn't help me with the acne cysts if the problem is a hormonal imbalance so that maybe I need to go back on the pill even though I went through all the stages of inferno to get off of it before we moved here because I didn't like the idea of being dependent on it. The ones she recommended don't seem to be the brands that they use here and I am worried about the side effect of weight gain because I am still in the audition process for the fancy gym. As a last ditch effort, I decided to start eating 30 grams a day of crushed flax seeds because that is supposed to lower testosterone in women by 80 %. Unfortunately it is really gross and mushy in a muffin or pancake so F has been grounding it into peanut butter for me which I eat with granola for breakfast. It seems to be having some effect, but the effect is that my cycle is off by five days and so I am really uncomfortable. Then one of my clients told me as she was walking out the door that she was coming down with something. Unfortunately she didn't tell me that it was the flu before she blew into my mouth as I was massaging her neck after the lesson. I have had a red throat and exhaustion ever since.

They hated this picture. That is sad because my photo-shopped self looks better than my real self by a long shot.
They also hated this picture. I'm not sure what they are looking for.
 Yesterday I couldn't get out of bed due to this virus, so going back to the gym to follow up on the boss' proposal to take some of the other classes was out of the question. Today I woke up less sick, but full of fear and with a new acne cyst. Nevertheless, I decided that I might as well go to take that class and get it over with. Then my cell rang. It was the boss. He wants me to teach a demo class on Sunday, February 10th and also send him some photos they can use for the announcements. F made me two which were the best we could do on extremely short notice. He didn't like either of them. My swollen tendon didn't like the bare core workout (I think they meant barre core) and it was very stressful forcing myself to go and make another appearance when I am feeling so down and out. Bare core was mostly doing plies and releves in a rhythmic manner and then some stretching and glute lifts. The teacher I had was very sweet. She smiled through the whole class although there was never really anything to smile about, and so this made me a bit wary. She didn't use a microphone but she spoke really loudly and constantly and it made me wonder if I will be able to do that in Italian with my own material. But dai! she was sweet and she asked me to come and show her what I do on Friday. I agreed because maybe she will be an ally and I doubt she can steal my stuff after just one session without it being really obvious. But I will give her a really difficult lesson just in case.

As soon as I got home, I hopped in a hot shower and stared at my bloat and my cyst and the phone rang. It was the boss. He wants me to come tomorrow for a photo shoot. I bet Tracy Anderson never has days like this. I had to put him off while I tried to move everything around for tomorrow and came up with a solution that will be almost humanly impossible unless I can bend time. I ended up getting his voice mail and he got mine and after four tries I had lost any hope of being seen as cool. To make matters worse I overused the word perfetto in a markedly geeky way. I wish I could stand to see myself in the mirror without foundation covering up my scars. I am scared to sweat too much which is not a great quality in a fitness instructor, and I am worried about my swollen tendon.  I am supposed to go to an osteopath in two days from now who is doing an exchange with me for a bioenergy treatment. If all else fails, I'll channel Jamie Lee Curtis in the 80s flick Perfect where she portrayed a fitness instructor. Here's the math so far: I have quit three and been fired from one out of the six gyms I know about in this region of Italy. One of the remaining two will probably not survive the year and the other one is really far away. I wonder if Jamie Lee was on the pill?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Um, uh-oh
I have no idea what I did yesterday. It is all a blur. I had plenty of time to get ready for part two of my interview at the fancy, fancy gym. This was good because it took me six times to get the stockings on. Now I remember why I never wear them: one false twist of the fabric and instead of a covering for your legs you get a handy dandy tourniquet. Then I had to face the heels. I knew I couldn't make it to the car over all of the cobblestones wearing them so once we got to the car (in the rain, of course) I put one foot up on the dashboard at a time and prayed while I slowly inched up the zippers of my boots. I was wearing the same short dress, but I changed the belt and took off the jacket so that I only had short sleeves, even though it was freezing. I left my bag and my umbrella in the car and I tied the belt of my mini trench behind my back because if I was going to stink it up and the interview, I wanted at least not to trip or drop stuff repeatedly.

 I met Giacomo from the day before and he took me to the cafe' again, but this time I had a sip of water because I was too scared to pee all morning because of having to lower those stockings and by this point my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth. I did dazzle him with my wit, but I did remember to ask how his appointment at the university had gone yesterday and then we went to meet with the owner and big cheese, Sig. Malfatti. I had to pass by a glass cubicle with this model boy from my penultimate gym Olympia who was now a salesman of memberships at the Ego. I waved goofily at him and he ignored me. I told myself it was because I looked so great that he didn't recognize me at all. I didn't believe myself, but it was a nice effort.

The one thing I did prepare was my first sentence to Sig. Malfatti after we exchanged Piaceres which means nice to meet you. I said I learned from Giacomo yesterday that we have a lot in common. I knew that if he didn't bite and ask how's that I would say because . . . I am also persistent and, like you, I love a full classroom. When they lit up and chuckled appreciatively I had to pinch myself. This was going really well. I explained how innovative my method was and that I was from New York. He told me I looked thirteen years younger than I am and asked Giacomo why he hadn't found me earlier. GIacomo stammered and explained that I had not accepted their policy of exclusivity last time. He explained that now that I had an offer from another gym I had called to alert them because, even though the season had started and they don't have many spaces open, I wanted to respect their policy. I kept saying these bold things and the more I said them the more I thought I was this alter ego other me. I eased off my trench, I flirted, I challenged, I proposed. They even complimented me on my accent. Here's where the up-oh comes in.

I somehow woke up after 40 minutes and realized that I was wearing very tight panty control stockings over my foot braces hidden in my high heeled boots and that I had no idea what I had said or why I was still in Sig. Malftatti's office. Last time, he just came by to give a glance at me (I was wearing workout clothes) and then left with an unimpressed look on his face. They told me that they would give me a series of tests starting with my providing a lesson or show for all the instructor's at their pizza party. Then I would do some master classes for the students to see if they like me. If all that went well, they would give me five hours a week to start to see how I work. If all that goes well, next year my metamorfosi class could, and I quote, explode like a bomb. I could have a piece about my work in their advertisment flyer that gets plastered all over the city. I could work thirty hours a week and earn over time their most prized time slots. I gave them the impression that my husband was rich and that I could afford to take me time. This was important because ALLEGEDLY I already have a full schedule of private clients. Sig. Malfatti was so delighted that he walked me out of his office and I was so not myself that I didn't trip or take one misstep. I did that model walk where you cross your feet in front of each other ever so slightly. Then I got back to F in the car and died. Or that person who did this interview died. I am just here scared out of my mind.

Next week they want me to start taking other instructor's classes. Other instructor's enjoy this as much as a colonoscopy unless they are sadistic and make the visiting instructor suffer and do impossible things. Out of the four classes, two would be impossible for me because they are yoga and step both of which always injure me. I am going to have to find a way to skip those and try bare core (I think the e was supposed to be silent) and aloha. I have no idea what they are. I am terrified of the Stepford wives dressing room where the women make your junior high locker room look like child's play. What happens when I don't have my hair done and my nails done and my skin is all broken out and I have to go there (which is far from my house) every day? But wouldn't it be cool, if it somehow worked out?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

L'Ego revisited, pt.1

Today I went for my interview at the Ego Wellness center and it took a lot of work to get ready. I have been watching what I eat, working out constantly and trying to take care of my complexion, even though that is sort of beyond my control. For today I went to the hair salon first thing in the morning and then raced home to change into my tightest, shortest, black dress. It is the first time in over fifteen years that I have worn a full face of foundation and then I painted a "natural" gym appropriate look over that. I wasn't sure if I would have to dance so I brought my workout gear and my music just in case. The good news is that Giacomo, the capo of the teachers, remembered me. He took me to the Ego cafè -- that's right they have a cafè, and we had a conversation. It seems that my fate rests in the hands of the clients. If they like me I can have limitless opportunities and up to thirty hours of work a week; and, if they don't, I can find my own way out. He doesn't care about much else. I may have insinuated that I can also teach burlesque and hip hop for children; that is burlesque for adult women, and hip hop for children, neither of which I have actually ever done. I may have also worn stockings with the seams down the back, but you will never know because they ripped as soon as I got home and unzipped my boots.

Tomorrow I will have to wear a similar (that is the exact same) outfit, but with my spare pair of stockings and some higher heels because it was clear that I miscalculated on the health versus beauty debate and that my tendinitis will have to be put on the back burner until Mamma assures herself a paycheck. Tomorrow I am gong to meet the owner Sig. Malfatti and he is going to decide if I look the part. After that, the adventure should continue provided I don't get a huge zit on my nose tonight or eat a meal based on soy sauce and bloat up like a hot air balloon. I was raised by possibly the strongest feminist on earth to believe that I theoretically have value no matter what I look like, but, at the Ego, it is pretty clear that it will be an involuntary contestant in a constant beauty contest and that someone may at any moment put super glue in my metaphorical false eyelashes. I still have no idea of the salary, the schedule, or how much they take out in taxes. The only thing I really understood today is that the job audition is going to go on for quite a while even after I start, if I start, and that Giacomo prefers his girls to wear heels.

In other news, we tried to enroll T in high school yesterday on-line. This year Italy has gone high tech if we want it or not. Unfortunately, the site couldn't handle the number of families trying to fill out the registration forms and it stopped working. I had already registered and filled out one page, but every time I tried to get back on to fill out the rest of the pages it said that I had already done what I had to do and could not continue. Even if they fix the on-line form, they may not let me back on and then we will be last to register at the in-person event for people who can't access the Internet and don't understand probably even half of my reality TV references, poor things. Aside from the necessity of wearing heels no matter what, the other lesson Italy tries to teach you is that there is no point whatsoever in trying to do things in a timely manner. 

Woman whose ass I will probably have to kiss smoking outside the Ego.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Not to steal Kathy Griffin's catch phrase, but there is a lot of stuff that I need to tell you that I can't prove. For example, I may or may not be thrilled to have gotten a lot of phone calls last week and find myself doing a ton of personal training at my house on the sly. This may have rendered me exhausted and gratified at the same time. But I can't tell you that for sure.

What I can tell you for sure is that I got a call from an ex-student who has moved on to the new gym that is named something that rhymes with Maroon. The owner of that gym may be reopening as a gym for the third time without having repaid the clients their subscription money from the last time they close the doors for back payments in rent. That is how I heard the story, but I could have heard it wrong, mind you. I don't want to work for Maroon because I already know that the boss is allegedly a crook. Nevertheless, when I heard that this student bragged about me and got me this guys' cell number I had an idea. I could now have an excuse to call the big, fancy Ego gym and tell them that Maroon wanted me. This landed me an interview for next week with Ego, which is good. But now I have, allegedly, all these commitments for personal training, and as an employee of the Ego gym I would have no say in my work schedule as they decide everything. Before getting myself in trouble for a second, or is it the third time by signing a contract I don't understand, I made an appointment with our commercialista/accountant. At this meeting he agreed to review the Ego contract before I sign it and he told me in no uncertain terms (wink wink) that I should not do personal training at my house without a partita IVA so that I can give almost a third of what I make to the Italian government for taxes. He lost a little bit of ground authority wise with us when at the end of our meeting, he told F that if F paid him with a check he would have to use his partita IVA and so we would have to pay an extra sum towards taxes, but that if he paid him in cash he would fudge the amount that he got paid and say it was only fifty thus saving us from having to pay more than necessary. ALLEGEDLY.

Other issues with the Ego gym are that the bus which does, in fact, stop right in front of the gym, does not run often enough to be any use to me and so I will be dependent on F driving me or I will have to walk 52 minutes to get there through streets with no sidewalks and over a bridge. They are fancy and snobby and they demand exclusivity so that you don't work teaching exercise for anyone else while you are employed by them, which I fear includes doing illegal personal training out of your home. ALLEGEDLY. Last time I interviewed with them I wasn't in a position to give them an exclusive agreement and the big boss man came down and looked at me to see if I was pretty enough to work for them. My life is planning for me to be bloated and filled with pimples on Tuesday morning so I have to both avoid all salt and sugar except for puttanesca (don't look up what this word means if you don't already know) sauce and go visit the German Barbie skin doctor this weekend as a preventative measure.
I stole this photo off the internet. (ALLEGEDLY)
It may be the case that one of T's friend's mothers said she would like to start an exercise business with me, but after we investigated possible spaces we realized that the best idea would be to find someone with a room in their home large enough to host us because the insurance rates otherwise are astronomical. ALLEGEDLY So this other ex-student of mine who is also kind of a stalker typer, but you didn't hear it from me, offered me her place in exchange for free personal training which I am not of course in the practice of providing to anyone, let alone in my place of residence. But I can't make any decisions on that until I know if I have to leggo my ego or if Ego wants to have me. It is very Indecent Proposal like, if you get my drift.

Today we went to the hospital for a check up on T's insulin pump data and it showed that she has too many highs and lows even though her average number is excellent. It was very frustrating, as we are all doing the best we can, but this week we have to try to make fewer corrections so that the doctors and technical guys can analyze her data better and help us to have more consistent glycemic values.

This is T telling me that
the boy in the doctor's office
was scratching his
In other news, I am doing that stupid, reckless thing of setting my friend up with a guy at a dinner party on Sunday night at my house and since he is the brother of one of my VIP clients and she is one of my best friends, I am going to get screwed on this front unless they get married and have a baby immediately and live happily ever after. BUT I CAN'T HELP MYSELF because they would look so cute together and I have a good bride's maid speech all ready. In the meantime, I am making the one thing I know how to cook by myself which is a killer puttanesca sauce. It has to be made two days in advance and I am going to go out on a ledge and say it is a love potion because I made it for F at a surprise birthday party I threw for him before we got married. The last guy I introduced this friend to was allegedly a stalker type with the maturity level of a tadpole and so I am going into this with my name somewhat soiled. She is the most fabulous human being you could ever want to meet, but her last relationship was with the Italian equivalent of Lance Armstrong. Furthermore, the guy I am fixing her up with  has a tae kwon do tournament to attend that night and will be arriving either very late or in many pieces.

This just in: The other couple who would even everything out and make it seem less weird can't make it that night. Why me?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

K in Wonderland
There are some super weird things about being in Italy. I went to the gynecologist's office the other day. I was pretty proud of myself for having found the punto donna which is the right department of the hospital, but once I got in the door I quickly lost steam. Even to get a cup of coffee sometimes it behooves you to grab a number. Generally if there is a line of people you have to utter those four famous words Chi e' l'ultimo? Who is last? Or you have to quickly grab a number or else you can find yourself watching your day disappear at the end of a long line of sniffling, coughing unhappy people with nicer shoes than you. Even though no one else had a number, I grabbed a number so this made me loser number UNO right off the bat. I didn't know what else to do as there was no one sitting at the secretary's desk. I waited around pretending to know I was in the right place for about fifteen minutes until I couldn't take it anymore and I caved. I ended up asking two ladies who I suspected were adult mother and daughter to ask how things worked around here. They told me that every so often a nurse would poke her head out of the exam room on the far right and call someone's name. I still have tendinitis and had to wear sneakers to the appointment so was loser to the second degree. I knew when that time come because this nurse was, and there is no nice way to put this, a door slammer. It made me jump every single time she entered or exited wielding her clipboard as a weapon. She refused to tell me if my name was on the list when I asked, and after half an hour when the room had pretty much emptied out for the night I found out that I was in the right place, but that if I hadn't spoken up they were planning on going home for the night.

The other thing that is not so easy is navigating the bus system. I live near where most of the buses depart at piazzale verdi, but after I bought my ticket I forgot to ask which number bus stop to go stand by. It didn't help that the website had said number 8 and the ticket lady said 10 that is 13, and the driver of the bus to Firenze told me to go stand at number 5. Once I figured out that I should go to stop 13 at the far end of the piazza, I found my bus was there waiting for me, but, unfortunately, the driver wasn't. The website was kind enough to let me know that a bus strike was going to get started that night and apparently my driver wanted to chat with his friends about it just long enough to make me late. Luckily, there was an elderly couple that adopted me and let me know when to ring the bell at my stop and told me not to expect that the bus stop for the return trip would be anywhere near where he let me off for this leg of the trip. They also taught me where the machine was to validate my ticket. I hope they are there again next week as I still don't know where to get off for Capannori.

Speaking of Capannori, F and I made a kind of business lunch today for my personal training client in Capannori named Jessica and her husband Simone and brother William. F made bagels and I made a fool of myself. I didn't get that William wasn't fluent in English the way Simone is and so I held court at the table like I was teaching bilingual business 101 for third graders. Simone is this awesome Marvel comics artist and he speaks English fluently. Jessica doesn't speak English at all, but I had to mostly leave her and her adorable baby Sebastien to their own devices because I was hoping that William who is a great tech guy and can repair computers and get the viruses out of them would be a fantastic match for F and his website creation and they could refer each other clients and broaden both of their horizons. The conversation went something like this: Hi there William, would you like to tell us what you do? F would you like to tell William what you do? How do you think you guys could become partners and work together? It was that painful. Also the bagels came out more than a little on the dense side. And looking back on it we don't even know what we could do differently other than work on our subtle communication as a couple. F admitted afterwards that for the first 20 minutes he wasn't sure which guy was Simone and which was William!

Friday, January 11, 2013

We Don't Know
Today T went to the High School/Liceo Classico for the three hour sample class and has decided that she wants to enroll there for next year. There were a bunch of snobby girls there wearing all different colored versions of the same super expensive coat, but one nice girl sat with her and the lessons captured her interest overall, even the English lesson. We think it is a very brave and admirable choice so we are going to give her as much support as we possibly can. I guess the other choice would be to try to distract her with video games and candy while she tries in vain to study Latin and Greek.

I have already found more people who want to do personal training with me than I ever had working at the getta LIFE gym. Every day I have students calling me to complain that the new teacher is trying to increase the size of their asses by making them do squats. I taught them well.  I don't know what I will do if the EGO gym ever calls me for the interview because I haven't figured out how to get there by bus and I don't know if it makes sense to sign a contract that says they have full control of my schedule. On the other hand, I might feel more secure if I had a base so I am going to keep all the options open for now. Drawbacks of working at home include forgetting that we moved the couch to make room for exercise mats and falling smack on my butt; having people constantly contacting me to confirm things that we already confirmed and then canceling at the last minute; having to keep the bathroom cleaner than a holiday inn; and never wearing any decent outfits. Of course there are many positives like spending more time with T, having a cleaner bathroom, and never wearing any decent outfits.

I never thought I would move to Tuscany and miss the lingerie chain store Victoria's Secret.  But now that I desperately want a pair of silk men's style pajamas, rather than the ever popular Disney flannel nightshirts and  transparent, mesh nighties that are in abundance here; I find myself cursing Victoria and very close to outing her scandalous secret.

Just to confuse you here are some of the last photos from our trip to Rome. The animated gentleman at the cafe with us is a journalist and film festival director named Corrado who helped us to get our visas and for this he has earned himself a bit of bromantical attention from F. I was beyond exhausted and on the verge of the flu so I have no idea why I have those weird facial expressions or why he is pointing at me.

This is a video of me after F told me to try on his jeans. He was going to sew me the pair of boyfriend jeans I wanted for Christmas. To save money he went to the mercatino to buy some old man's jeans because I wanted old, worn, soft ones. Something about the fit brought out the weight watcher's commercial hillbilly in me.