Saturday, June 29, 2013

T in front of her new high school!
Scuola Media is Over!

After a bit of tossing and turning, T finally got to sleep the night before her oral exams to graduate middle school. Then she made it through until about half past three in the afternoon the following day, when she walked over to school with Natasha to give some emotional support to her classmate Ginevra whose exam was scheduled third for the afternoon session. And then she waited, and waited, and waited until almost eight at night for her turn to arrive. She had expected to be called at least an hour earlier. They had told her to come for five o'clock and she was fourth in line. When she finally got called she wasn't really nervous anymore, as it is hard to hold on to the butterflies for five hours. She was calm, cool, and collected even though they made her play Beethoven's Ode to Joy on her flauto/recorder. All of the professors loved her power point presentations. They didn't get what an amazing job she did with the gifs because they thought they didn't understand the difference between gifs and videos, but they appreciated the imagery all the same. Her Spanish professor refused to let her speak any Spanish, even though T had prepared the given text thoroughly. It turned out that the professor had brought her eight year old son with his adorable pug nose and bowl haircut to the exams after the babysitter couldn't make it, and she had promised him that the girl from New York would speak English for him.

Yesterday before work, I dropped off a present I have been wanting to give the math professor all year, but couldn't because it would have looked like a bribe. But now that the grades were all in, I gave her a lovely over sized journal and we dropped off F's famous Gorgonzola bread for the rest of the professors. T's math professor had gone out of her way to make sure there was a line of communication between the school and T's doctors. We appreciated that she also made sure that T didn't get any special treatment, yet was treated fairly throughout the year and took into account T's blood sugar levels when it was necessary. Plus she really is a great teacher of math, which is a great quality to have in that line of work.

During her oral exam, the professors told T that she did more than sufficient work on all of her written exams. They told her she did molto bene in Italian and in English and bene in math and Spanish and that her state exams went well. I was ecstatic and she was very relieved.

This morning a mother of one of T's classmates called me to say that she, poor thing, had to go to her daughter's high school to learn the policy because she was, sigh, rather certain that he daughter had received a high grade of nine or ten and she didn't want to have to pay the full admission price of 72 euro if she could profit from the policy that high ranking children only have to pay 45 euro for the admission fee. Insert eye roll here. T's dream grade and goal this whole year was to end up with an eight. Eight is great.

 T went over to the school bulletin board where they post the numeric grades and the overall grade on a scale from one to ten with ten being the highest. This overall score is necessary for admission to high school. Wait for it . . . T got a NINE! That is a 9 out of 10. Did you hear? A NINE! Did I mention that this whole middle school is in ITALIAN? It was the fifth highest grade in the class. Four people got tens and T was the only nine. And the best news of all? She never has to do middle school ever, ever again in this lifetime. (Except if you count living through it vicariously over again with your children which is only slightly better, but at least you don't have to wear the braces or do the homework.)

That's a nove!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Awww C'mon
Today I went to the fancy gym and my boss Giacomo said good morning to me. Then he went into my classroom and got on a yellow surfboard that was curved up at both ends. Some of my fellow instructors were also in the class balancing on their own boards. No one had breathed a word about the class or the schedule changes to me or to my clients. Nicolas saw my confusion and said that he was also taken off guard and that I should go in and ask Giacomo if my class should go into the other room. Giacomo shot me a mean look and grunted yes. I started my class in studio numero due when scary Stefania from the office came in. I just want to give K a kiss she said. Yeah right, I thought. She kissed me and whispered in my ear: you need to be out of here in forty five minutes so Nicolas can teach. It was like I was reliving some scene from the Tom Cruise thriller The Firm.  I said that was fine. Then I forgot all about it until I was overtime and Nicolas and all his macho students (male and female) were glaring at me.

That's Nicolas.
I stumbled all over myself and stretched out my ladies in the corner and went home in a rage. I was so mad that I walked half way down the road in the glaring sun because I didn't even want to stand in front of the gym. F looked confused when he saw me with a thumb out on the side of the car lane. I can't wait for when I get the lecture about how I need to be more flexible and more of a team player.
I wonder if his momma thinks he's a good communicator?

It was a cross between this and the one below, but in yellow plastic. It made my ankles hurt just looking at it.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Aperitivo at the fancy gym
I convinced T to come along with us to the fancy gym so that I could show her off to everybody. I gave her the tour and then we went out to the pool garden to have something to eat and drink. I had two really excellent supportive groups of students there and they were on opposite sides of the lawn. It didn't occur to me to bring them together as one was a little family and the other were a group of ladies on their own for the evening who wanted to gossip and knock back a drink. I split myself in two and had a mini panic attack. I was not speaking Italian very well and I said several things that, when I come to think about it, made no sense at all. I hope everyone drunk a lot.
I just got a love note text from one older gentleman who said that he wished the moment of his greeting me had never come to an end. Weird reaction, since I was there with my husband and daughter. Obviously I have given him completely the mistaken idea that in exchange for being one of the only men to take my class, I will sneak off with him to the casbah. Cazzarola.
T, me, Sharon and her mamma Michela.
Me with group 2, including Alessandra and Monica.

My boss on the phone with his mother. Awww.
T got up early to go be the witness for more of her friends' oral exams. If that sounds like dentistry to you, let me assure you that it is a harrowing interrogation of  each student by all of their professors at one time on a myriad of subjects. Each students needs two people as witnesses and they never ever choose their parents. My friend Gabriella went and stood outside her daughter's doorway during her exam even though she wasn't a chosen witness and left only after she had eavesdropped long enough to feel that her daughter had passed. Since there were a series of earthquakes yesterday and the kids have to do their exams in the courtyard for safety reasons, some of her classmates can't use the school computer as planned for their presentations so T asked F to bring her newly fixed one to share. Such a sweet girl!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shaken Not Stirred, part 5
We just had another earthquake here. It was a 5.2. T went to hear Giorgia's oral exams with Caoimhe and there is no phone service so F has gone to go check on the girls. Just got news -they're absolutely fine. Giorgia did very well. T has to wait her turn until next Thursday.

In other news, I was given one day notice to come to a meeting with my managers, Giacomo and Chiara - a swim instructor who also assists Giacomo- at the fancy gym. Chiara was visibly nervous at the beginning. We had a strange energy between us in that I got more nervous as the meeting went on and she got less nervous. That's management for you. When I got there they said that they were not going to talk. That's a new one. I felt like I was on a weird Italian game show. Silently I heard the buzzer signaling a wrong answer every time I opened my mouth. They asked me to describe my experiences and thoughts about my lessons and my colleagues. I said not one word about my colleagues which was in the best interest of everyone.

 Giacomo got tired of letting me talk and told me it was time for me to receive a critique. He said several people had complained of back pain after my class, but Giacomo recognized that it was just glute pain due to the fact that we burn our love handles off doing these intense leg lifts. Nevertheless, he said I had to start preparing people for the day after effects of a hard workout. He also said that he was appalled by my inability to count musically while teaching the exercises. He cautioned me to choose music that goes with the exercises instead of the other way around and told me that he wants to see unison and fluidity when he peeks in from the window instead of legs flying in the air at all different times. At the very least you should be on the beat, he told me. This flustered me enough that I forgot among other things how to count to eight and last night's lesson was a disaster. Today I came in determined to make it work and it was a good thing I did as two cute eighteen-year-old boy apprentices came to check out my method. It was satisfying that they were sweating buckets and one had to drop his weights because it was too hard. Hee hee, I love it.

I won't know about my hours for the fall season until August which makes my life impossible to schedule as everything is completely up in the air. I am so burnt out that I can't work up the will to care. Also we had to move our dinner party until Saturday because the fancy gym expects me to go to an aperitivo to celebrate the grand opening of the garden area by the pool. Sigh.

I on an impulse had my hair cut shorter for the summer. It is just past my shoulders. This is not even noteworthy except for the fact that people have freaked out about it at the fancy gym. I apparently needed to consult everybody before making such a drastic change. Some people like it, but some people feel that it would have been less shocking if I had had a hand or two cut off instead. It is very 80s around here and lots of older women still wear pigtails or have cascading locks. But I tell you, it is too hot for all that right now.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Exam Time part 2
T: Why do you think I'm fixated on this?
K: 1. You're out to destroy me.
2. You're psychotic.
3. You're obsessive compulsive.
4. You didn't write your name on the text.
T: I'm hoping for 2 or 3. Is that bad?

T: Dad you're wearing a belt and your pants are falling down.
F: Welcome to my world.
Exam Time (sigh)x3
I don't think I wrote my name on my math test.
What if I didn't write my name on my math test?
What if I didn't write my name on my math test?
What if I didn't write my name on my math test?
What if I didn't write my name on my math test? (x 1000)
What if they make me take the test over because I didn't write my name?
What if I fail because I didn't write my name on the math test?
I can't write the teacher. I can't disturb her.
I'm going to go google what happens if you don't write your name on the math exam.
What if the grader isn't my nice teacher?
K: T, I have a good idea.
T: What?
K:Go google venereal diseases. 
T: Why?
K:You don't have one.
T: So?
K: It will make you feel better. 
(pause) T: What if I didn't write my name on my math test?
F: I have an air-tight reason why they won't make you re-take the math test. 
F: If they made people re-do tests for not putting their name on the paper, no one would put their name on the paper so that they could re-take their math tests.
T: That's right. Can we pretend this never happened and I never freaked out about not writing my name on the math test?
K: Not really.
T: Why?
K: Cause I blogged about it.
T: Except for that?
K: Sure.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This just in
Fancy gym Fruit party photos:

Alessandra holding one of the pipes.
The fab pants! (just kidding) I'm there, but I'm invisible.

Still invisible. Why did I do all of those rehearsals again?

This happened.

I don't know why either.
Here I am doing someone's make-up.
I'm actually in this photo with everyone else.  It is the rehearsal in the burning sun when the pipes crashed on us.
1000 pardons
If you ever see sparks coming out of your computer charger that is BAD. I'm so sorry for the long absence, but my computer died. Then a day later T's computer died with all of her final projects on it for school. Luckily, there is an apple computer repair place in Lucca and so a week, two new mother boards, and 500 euros later, it is good to be back. T is going to be able to get her work in on time and we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Here are some crazy random facts about T's middle school exams:

1. Ever sheet of paper to every subject's exam have to be signed and stamped by the presidente della commissione who is not a part of the school. T says he looks like John Travolta in the 80s, but with a stained t-shirt and gray hair.

2. Witeout or cancellina is not allowed. All math work must be done in pen.

3. All the work has to be done in a draft and in a final version or a brutta and a bella copia.

4. The professors keep track of how many pieces of paper each student takes and they are not allowed to use their own paper so as to discourage cheating, yet they let them walk around school and go to the bathroom.

5. Professors are not allowed to be in a room with just one student so that they are not tempted to give kids the answers. T had to wait for a full hour so that a classmate could finish her exam, yet several professors have whispered answers to the kids so far anyway.

6. To do the state math exam you are given an hour and fifteen minutes to answer 30 questions, some of which have two parts. To do the regular math exam you have three hours to do four problems, some of which are five parts each.

7. The Spanish professoressa held up a student's exam to illustrate to the class where their personal data should be entered, but failed to notice that the student had already answered the true or false questions on that page. Everyone in the class copied the answers because that student had a reputation for getting good grades.

8. T's parents went to the beach on the day of her English exam and even though she got another parent to sign her out so that she could go home without a parent escort, she forgot to bring her keys and had to wait for us to get home. (Bad, parents!)

9. So far T has done her written exams which were Italian, Math, English, and Spanish and her state exams which were in Italian and Math and now she has to prepare for her oral exams on the 27th which will last half an hour include all subjects and can include any topic from the whole year even though she prepared certain topics with power point presentations for history, science, tecnica, music, and Italian.
Pre-exam power breakfast.

Pre-exam shoe tying exercise.

Pre-exam T waiting for a friend and destroying what is left of her nails.

The seconds felt like hours

Father-daughter pre exam melt down stress reliever.

There was a Fiat 500 Club car show at the fancy gym the other day. Today I got a text saying that I have to invite all my clients to an aperitivo/cocktail party Friday night even though we had invited people to a dinner that night at our house. Now we are trying to reschedule. The fancy gym is molto impegnativa and sucks up a lot of time. I have half as many clients now, but so do everyone one else because all of the Italians are making up for lost time now that summer weather has arrived and are frying their faces off in a who can get the most sun damage contest that would make the Jersey Shore cast look pale in comparison.

This guy was flirty.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Drink the Kool-aid

Find Waldo (me) at 1:22. 1:26 and 5:29.

 Don't you love the owner's hip hop salute?

Staff fashion show where I was a no show.

 In other news, last night at T's class dinner the professors all approached when F showed up to take T home. F said we thank you from our hearts and they said "no, we thank you for your daughter who is a gift you have given us. She has such creativity and complexity and structure within herself. She is really determined." Wowie.

Monday, June 10, 2013

T's final middle school report card!
This is the only report card that has ever made me cry. With joy. Not speaking a word of Italian three years ago, this courageous kid has earned top grades. She still has to pass all of the exams in order to move on to high school, but no one can ever take away from her that she received these grades.

(Out of a maximum 10 points) : On the cover of her report card she has a 9 which is her bumped up average due to excellent and respectful behavior. The 9 plus whatever she gets on her exams is what will matter to the high school that she is to attend in the Fall.

Italian 8
English 10 (well, duh.)
Spanish 8
History 9
Geography 9
Math 8
Science 8
Technology/ technological drawing 7
Music/ recorder 7
Art/ art history 9
Gym 8
Behavior 10

Bear with me, I have to say it again. She did this IN ITALIAN. Don't get me started . . . (sniff)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Fruit Party play by play
Bikini Lady
The first thing I had to do was change my shoes. I found out that the staff fashion show was first on the program and that the staff dance was the last thing at a quarter to midnight, but for some unfathomable reason Giacomo wanted us all there at seven. No worries about what to wear just jeans and the theme tee shirt that I managed to get one day earlier and one month later than everybody else. I decided to wear converse sneakers for the night,  because I knew that I would have to walk up and down the sloped lawns and catwalks shlepping heavy boxes or some other manual labor and running around before I could get the dance part over with. Cue bikini lady stepping out of the front door of the fancy gym wearing stilettos/tacchi alti a spillo 12 and making me look like a junior camp counselor who ended up at the grown up party by mistake. Feet on the dashboard, sneakers thrown into the backseat, I apologized to my feet and went to work. Welcome to Italy, people.

At the beginning I spent  a lot of time hiding from Stefania P who is the lady that gives out the shitty jobs.

Stefania P.
Instead I offered to be Nadia's makeup assistant for the girls in the fashion show. I just copied what she did and it worked out pretty well except for the liquid foundation that I got all over the tee shirt. When that was done I managed to squeeze myself some gym steppers next to the lighting truck along side a group with good stage side seats for a bit. Afterwards I checked in with some colleagues who assured me that they were not going to change into their costumes for ages, but I wanted to stretch and be prepared so I went backstage where transparent straw huts were arranged as changing areas. It was tits and ass cheeks everywhere, but between the threat of being thrown into the pool, exposing my thighs to the world, and having giant heavy pipes fall on my head I reached a level of calm surrender. I changed into the least sexy, most unflattering clothing items including a mock turtleneck white polyester top and hid behind the pool house with some professional dancers who were stretching out.

Oh yeah and here is a fun fact. While I was doing the makeup, Ginetta came and asked me to look under the stage stairs where there were pots of sand. Then Lisa explained to me that we had to each carry our metal pipe  and a bucket of sand on the stage at the beginning of the dance. We then had 40 seconds to shove the pipe into the sand bucket and grind it in until it stuck. After some shouting back and forth between Ricky and myself, don't worry that is just his way of answering my questions, I came to understand that we were to leave the pipes in the sand pots for the first half of the dance and just sway them back and forth and then pick them up for the second half. I'm glad I asked.

Included in the three hour program of entertainment were a dozen fashion shows including underwear and bathing suits and even a big bridal conclusion at the the end. There was a comic, a hip hop group, a contemporary group, and a singer. The MC was a stage and screen actress from our region and it was all very professional,. There was even a  fireworks display.

Right before the dance I realized that everyone else was wearing black socks. Ironically, I had just spent two day's salary on white and gray socks because I was always running out. Anyway, I was barefoot and even though it wasn't raining they had to keep mopping the stage because the black plastic covering was slick and slippery. Giacomo told me I had to go on barefoot. Then he told us all to put our hands in a circle and shout merda/shit three times for good luck. I have never felt so close to a group of people in my life. Anyway, then I grabbed my super heavy pot of sand and my unwieldy plumbing pipe and climbed up the steps to the stage where a video was being played of staff photos. Don't die of shock, but there was one of me and also the staff one that included me. That made me smile until Lisa grabbed my pole and told me that I was putting it into the pot upside down and we only had ten seconds left. She got it in.

The dance went fine, except for the hip hop part. A pipe missed falling on my bare foot, thanks Ricky, by a hair and then when I went to grab my sneakers and hoodie for the costume change somebody frantically blocked me because they wanted to give Pierpaolo his pants. I missed the cue and the first eight counts of the 32 for the big hip hop finish, but so did most people and you can't tell on the video. At the time, though, I thought I was the only one. Then when the whole thing was finished instead of just taking a bow and leaving, this zumba music came on and everybody spontaneously burst out into a dance everyone knew except me. I got through that one and then came gangnam style and ae se eu te puego  and people drifted in and out of groups. It was bizarre and uncomfortable, almost as uncomfortable as the fact that Ricky made Giacomo put him on a leash and walk him down the catwalk while grunting and making monkey noises. Very Eyes Wide Shut and Scientology and anything having to do with Tom Cruise . . you get my point.

If you look very closely during gangnam style you see that Giacomo gave me a big hug and it was a real hug and I thought that under the official party line facade and smarmy work smile there is a man with a heart in there. It was nice. Just as I was hiding a bikini under my jeans and third outfit dressy tee for my eventual baptism in the pool,  a message arrived on my cell phone from T who was home alone who had had high blood sugar earlier in the evening so F got me out of there before anyone noticed that they weren't going to be able to throw me in the pool. Here are my personal videos, but I'll put in the professional, and, sadly, sharper, videos as they arrive on their FB page.