Friday, May 31, 2013

The straw that broke . . .
I hate to compare myself to a camel's back, but that's how are story begins. Basically, I was pretty irritated before I got to work. Then I was minding my business when Ricky walked by me and playfully and softly kicked me from behind. He does this to everyone and it was probably only his way of actually including me, unlike everyone else, but I could not deal with being kicked on top of everything else. Also I was worried that since he accidentally hurts people all the time he could do something to my bad back that would take me out for months.

Everyone was gathered together and Ricky was standing in front of the group telling us to get back to work. I growled his name a few times and he ignored me so I did what I told F I would do if he ever touched me again. I spoke to him in English. This is where we can all have a good laugh because it turns out only Lisa, his girlfriend, speaks English and nobody else, including Ricky, seems to have had any clue what I said. On the one hand, that is a good thing. I was so mad that my first attempt came out like this, "Ricky if you ever ever touch me again, I'll . . . I'll --wait for it-- Smooth you down." That's okay, that's okay, I told myself. For all they know that is a New York expression said by the baddest, bad asses of Brooklyn. I shook it off. His look of total incomprehension gave me a new chance. I started again, "Ricky, mi hai capito? No? Allora ,se mi calci un'altra volta, I will F--K you up." No one moved. No one said anything. No one looked at me. We went back to work. I was so furious that I was shaking.

 We had spent and hour and a half not doing anything to finish this stupid dance and now La Ginetta and the Zumba girl were having at it to invent two eight counts of hip hop. I'm the only hip hop dancer there, but no one asked me. La Ginetta could have come up with this shit on her own, if she had had the music, sitting on her toilet about a month ago and I could be home with my family. That was the only thing I could think. Then I had to pretend to skip joyfully around to those two eight counts until it was over. At the end they started talking about the stupid Reebok fashion show that I can't be in because of the horribly embarrassing clothes. Sara, the Zumba girl, brought up how she did not have 120 euro to spend out of pocket on a costume like they did last year. What???!!! Then Ricky flashed a photo on his Iphone of what he thought the female instructors could wear which is the kind of lingerie I could only imagine myself in if I kept one eye closed and it was very dark and there were not five thousand people staring at me. So I stormed out cursing at the top of my voice in English. Before I left, Lisa told me that I shouldn't get mad with Ricky who is just a joker. I said only, no one touches me.

 Later I got a call from Giacomo asking me why I wasn't my usual sunny self who is such a well integrated part of the group. What crack has he been smoking? I told him that the head lock Ricky put me in yesterday caused me about 12 hours of searing pain (true story) and that I needed to be firm tonight so that it didn't happen again. He said he missed the whole exchange. He was standing less than six feet away when it happened so I guess everyone is so used to tuning out when I speak that he really did miss it. He said he understood and apologized for calling me so late at night. I ate some cookies. Rehearsals were canceled for the weekend.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A font of negativity

Let's see if I can catch you up and what you missed by not going to rehearsal with me last night. For one thing, I spent a little time preparing some choreography to propose to Ricky aka Jerry Lewis because no one can stand this thing with the tubes and the fairy farting music any more. I put a transition on the end of the magic forest song that went right into's Bang Bang because even non-dancers can do a hip hop style Charleston. I knew I would make a fool of myself, but it was worth a chance if we could just finish the dance and get home. He said he hated the music. Gasp. But later he had me do it for my colleagues who also hated the music and had nothing nice to say. Double gasp. Plus also they hated my idea and my choreography. Instead they want us all to erupt into the harlem shake. Again. It was that or gangnam style so it is hard to say which prospect is more horrible to me. Here's a funny true story. This beloved ex-teacher named Rosanna came in and told us she wanted us to sign up to model the Reebok clothes. She was referring to the outfit that I buried somewhere with its tags still attached because it is so horrendous. I would rather walk yell obscenities, naked, on my roof than do a fashion show wearing those pants. Remember this fabulous look?

I got into a martial arts battle with Ricky because he kicked me in the ass again to get me to move, and I had promised myself that I wouldn't let all of those months of tae kwon do go to waste if he did it again. He was a little surprised when I kicked him back so they he put me in a head lock that was truly painful. That's what you get for playing with Ricky, the swim teacher said to me. Um, I wasn't playing. At one point I sweetly touched her hand to get her attention and she shook it off as though I had cooties. The other memorable moment is when they all huddled around in a circle discussing something and l wasn't even part of the circle. It's exhausting. I am getting a tougher skin than Abbie Lee Miller. Also we never get anything done. Even my boss Giacomo took a tube and started playing baseball indoors in the mirrored room with all the other instable, massive columns around us. When your boss is wasting time acting like a moron, there is really nothing you can do but wait it out. I don't think Oprah herself would know what to make of it if she got treated like this in a rehearsal. But she has Gail. Gail would show up at some point and kick some ass.

Giacomo asked me why I never get a ride with him afterwards and wait there forever until F decides to pick me up. Well, it could be because he often leaves early, leaves with his girlfriend, or because he has declined to give me a ride other times I have asked him. I just said it was because I didn't want to bother him. Tonight I may try to get a ride with him because F has a cold. Speaking of cold, it is a really cold, rainy spring here in Tuscany and everyone is furious because they have already swapped out their winter wardrobes and desperately want to be tan. I asked Pierpaolo why everybody was so grumpy last night and he started to tell me and then stopped. I shouldn't say anything he said. Every time I get close to the truth, the mystery gets drawn out. It looks like we get to do even more rehearsals over the weekend. I have no idea what the cues are when we are not in front of the mirror so my anxiety level is skyrocketing. Off to rehearsal. Arrivederci Brooklyn!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Ominous Email
The fancy gym sent out this ominous email this week. It was to everyone on staff, not just me. Paranoid much? You would be too, if you got this email:

"The company, the direction, the intersectorial group fancy gym, want to confront in the best way these last weeks of fit fiesta and the last part of the season. It will be an important period that weighs heavily on the future of all of us . . . Many of us are in the positive operative flow of the growth of the event, others are not able to interpret this historic phase that involves all of us. For this we ask you this very simple exercise of reciprocal support: we ask you in fact to send a simple message, your message, to the rest of the team, in such a ways as to share in the here and now, this thought, trusting in the power of support to help above all those who maybe unconsciously are emanating an annoying and dangerous negativity. We are all aware of the various difficulties, but the fancy gym can and therefore will do well to obtain the best for everyone. In order to do this the fancy gym wants to avail itself of proactive, responsible, positive people with the will to do well like, thank God, most of us are. We ask therefore that you express this thought of reciprocal encouragement and to send it by tomorrow. It will be surely a nice and useful exercise of shared emotion. You can respond directly or send it to (that awful woman who always talks down to you). Happy (Spring) Fiesta!"

I was not surprised to get a call from my friend the Argentinian  Zumba instructor who after this who read me some Kipling quote she had prepared in an angry and tremulous voice. She had opted out of the rehearsals for the big show after convincing me to do it. This did not sit well with me when I asked around and one or two of my coworkers told me that it was because she lived too far away. Didn't she know where she lived when we started rehearsals, I asked myself. Apparently this lack of faith in her makes me one of the fools Kipling was talking about in her carefully selected quotation about truth. She told me that since they only pay her sixty euro a week for two hours, including, I think, some toll money in there, she can't very well pay 100 euro to come in for all those extra hours in addition to the 500 euro she had to pay for training to be a Bokwa and Zumba instructor.  Shame on me for ever doubting her. She asked me to spread the truth about this at the next rehearsal so I figure it's cool if I write the truth here as well. I called Giusy in Rome to get her to edit my gem of a response which was a very earnest pair of sentences based on a true story. This lady came out of the pool in an ecstatic state and pulled the gym owner over to say that he had the best swim instructors on the planet. Even though none of that had anything to do with me and most of the swim instructors don't answer me when I wish them a good morning, I still felt very proud there for a second. Obviously, I left certain parts of that out in my final draft.

Monday, May 27, 2013

T and the 100 peluche/stuffed animals

 T had this incredibly generous impulse to mark the anniversary of her diagnosis by giving back to the children's hospital Ospedale Meyer in Florence. She collected over a hundred stuffed animals as a donation. We got up at dawn for her three month check and she got an almost perfect score again on her glicata of 6.2 with 6.0 being perfect and better than most people without diabetes. All the doctors were thrilled. We waited around forever, and found out that her eyesight thus far has been unaffected.

T in front of the weird mural in the doctor's office.

Thanks to all our friends who donated peluche and helped out (especially Natasha!)
The Metamorfosi party

We did pretty well. We had about 38 people, including us, and it seemed like almost everybody had a good time. They all brought super caloric food offerings or wine, except this one guy Giuseppe who brought me Channel firming body lotion. Sigh.

Some people who came had never even taken my class and some people just came for the bread. T and Natasha did a great job babysitting a seven-year old who was in the mix and taking people's coats and giving out cups. F was heroic in that I was obsessively cleaning every tiny bit of rust and water deposit from our bathroom while he was baking ten loaves of bread and a huge chocolate, red wine cake in the shape of a butterfly. The invitation said from six until nine, but people stayed late and we were exhausted when we got up at dawn to go to the children's hospital for T's three month check up. I found out some gossip at the party like which of my colleagues are sleeping together which is always useful.

Apparently, I have the hand gesture thing down.

Unfortunately, I appear to be talking to myself again. I may be saying, "Why do I invite 30 people over at a time when we don't have enough chairs?"

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Being Punked by Accident
Just to recap for you. I've been sick and achy and  in rehearsal all week, except Thursday night when they canceled it (after I was all dressed and ready to go out the door) because there weren't enough of us. I was so tired on Friday afternoon that in the car on the way to the gym I started laugh-crying hysterically thinking of having to throw my leg over the flex bar as if I were pole dancing for yet another time this week. I turned to F and said, "I feel like an old stripper. I know how Cher feels on any given Thursday night." Then I cracked myself up.

Today in the emergency special Saturday afternoon rehearsal we got monkey butt nothing done yet again. For a piece of music that lasts five minutes and twenty seven seconds I have now spent twelve full hours watching people who could have choreographed this whole shebang ahead of time debating ridiculous things, playing pranks on one another, slapping each other's rears, and sporadically yelling things like "sotto maiorca" which is a way of talking about people's nether regions. Today, for example, we all had to learn a sequence of jerky head and arm movements that each one of us is supposed to begin randomly doing on a given count. If I start with 4, I then should do moves 1, 2, & 3. I was pretty proud of myself for figuring this out in Italian until la Ginetta started yelling at me about being off the rhythm. I felt badly for a moment until it occurred to me that there is no f-ing rhythm to this song which is from what I can tell a bunch of elves and fairies farting in a forest.

The one ray of hope was when Pierpaolo told me to run into the other sala and get the last tube for our rehearsal. I ran in there where there were some muscle head guys working out, but I could not find the tube thing -- which is enormous and should be hard to miss. The men shrugged and then Pierpaolo and Ricky fell out of the doorway laughing and pointing at me. They already had all the tubes obviously. That Pierpaolo is such a joker. It was almost like I fit in for a second. And then things went back to normal.

Tomorrow I have invited between five and two hundred people over (I don't get how to do an RSVP in Italian and I am almost sure they don't exist) for a cocktail/aperitivo at my home. It has been expressly forbidden by the fancy gym and I am doing it anyway to try and create bonds between myself and the clients. The following morning we are supposed to get up at dawn to take T to the children's hospital and then I have to go to work.

In a masochistic stupor I chose to do a version of this for my opening number and at the slow part I run off the stage to the back of the classroom and do theatrical arm movements and then run back. I don't know why. I may be one of the only human beings who still watches Smash and I don't even live in America.

 Here are the fairies and elves doing their thing in the wild. I dare anyone who is not associated with Momix to count this out and pair it with accompanying dance movements:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

T has an art project where she has to photograph and draw or paint images of the walls of Lucca illustrating a realist or precisionist point of view. I'll let you see it when it's done. Meanwhile, F did an art project of his own.

Giorgia modeling a daisy chain.

T is inserting a pitchfork in this photo of reluctant British tourists to make it a celebration of American Gothic. Little Genius.
Here is more rehearsal footage from the fancy gym. As it stands they published an album of 100 photos from fitness night and I do not appear in any of them. I have taken to counting how many times I greet someone and they don't bother to answer me. One girl is up to six. I'd love to talk back to them in English, but then I'd run the risk that some of them might understand. My friend Ian has come up with a brilliant solution in which I read them Ru Paul style in pig latin.  I could, for example, say to them "Ood-ga orning-may aters-hay." "Ee-say, ow-hway ude-ray ou-ya an-ca eb-ay oday-tay?"which of course means, "Good morning, haters. Let's see how rude can you be today." I have bigger problems because Alessandra and Daniela keep dropping their poles and have almost assassinated me twice. One time it came so close to clocking me on the head that the trainer Andrea said, "Oops there goes Metamorfosi from the schedule."

I am sure that when there is no mirror in front of us it will be physically impossible for us to stay in sync and I won't know what to do when so we will all bump into each other even more than we are now. Sigh.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Birthday Boy
The funny thing about F is that even though he speaks very little and he speaks very slowly, he loves himself a big birthday party. He also likes crowds and people and togetherness. I talk too much and to everybody and one time when we were at Coney Island on a crowded summer day I got so freaked out that I couldn't move while F smiled and hummed the Coca Cola jingle "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony . . ." The point is, we had a mesmerizing combination of food and people for F's big day.

Usually the focus of our get togethers is food, so it was a fun challenge to have the Hilfiger twins be the first to arrive with their mother. The first thing you need to know is that their mother does not speak Italian or English and we don't speak any German. The second thing is that the twins are now crudists which means they are vegans who only eat raw foods. The third is that they are working themselves up to being only solar powered and living off the "light" as they call it. Wonder twins: Activate.Their mother is a great baker and does not know what to do with them. F was prepared with a pepper crudite' served with a spicy tahini. He also served them fennel and zucchini with different spices on them. They could not resist and ate a few pieces which made their mother smile. She was happy to eat F's gorgonzola bread and paid the twins no mind when they clucked their tongues and shook their heads at her.

Next to arrive was T's friend Giorgia's dad Simon. He brought homemade scones, homemade jam and clotted cream. The twins' mother was in heaven. Then a funny conversation took place when Simon proudly presented the twins with the scones and they told him their current dietary restrictions. Simon, being very English, was mega polite about the whole thing and said something like, "Ah, light, you say? How illuminated of you both. I should put myself on such a diet and lose a few hee hee. So, no scones at all then? Right. Just so. As you wish, of course."

Then came Elena and Angelo, Simonetta and Davide and their little girls who eventually discovered that T and her friends Giorgia and Natasha were hiding upstairs and convinced them to play hide and seek, monster tickle style. Chaos and girl shrieks and thunder down the stairs. Last to arrive were Giorgia's mom Cristina and our friend Nick who explained how to windsurf  in pantomime and with sketches of wind flow to the delight of all the guys who are determined to give it a try this summer which will be truly blog worthy.

Our backyard that we don't have to mow - thank goodness.
T with Giorgia's doggie.

Our present to F was tartufo/truffle pasta, the special gourmet, very exotic tartufo butter which will make your head spin off it is so good, and lovely green pistacchio butter. And also a lot of LIGHT.