Sunday, June 29, 2014

The skin I'm In
So far this is what I've tried to do to clear up my cystic acne which when I was younger made me miss out on many a fun party, date, rainstorm, and kiss:

I have tried ANTIBIOTICS, DIFFERIN, VITAMIN A (I'M ALLERGIC TO IT, AS IT TURNS OUT), ACCUTANE (IT WAS THE WORST YEAR OF MY LIFE AND THEN AFTER A FEW YEARS THE ACNE RETURNED), LASER TREATMENTS (LEFT ME WITH SOME HYPERPIGMENTATION), TEA TREE OIL, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, THYME OIL, BENZOL PEROXIDE, SALICYLIC ACID (THE HOME PEEL SCARRED ME), BIRTH CONTROL PILLS (AFTER 20 YEARS SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME I WOULD BE PUTTING MY ADRENAL SYSTEM AT RISK), PEELS FROM DERMATOLOGISTS THAT SENT ME HOME IN TAXIS WITH MY FACE WRAPPED IN SCARVES, FACIALS, MASKS, AND EVERY LOTION AND POTION EVER, PLUS SAW PALMETTO and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few horrible phases inbetween.



Then as you know the other day I discovered that I had hyperpigmentation on my gums.

(I forgot to tell you the part where my dear, dear student Micol kept me company for hours at the family doctor's office so that I could get a prescription for my blood test. We had our English lesson there and then when the hour was up we checked with my peeps at the pharmacy to see if I had understood the schedule correctly. It turned out that they were an hour off and then that the doctor got held up in traffic. He is very sweet, although he looks to be in terrible health himself. He looks more like Santa Claus/Babbo Natale every time I see him and this time his belly button was peeking out between a gap in his shirt. Anyway, Micol kept me calm and we got the magic ticket.)

We woke up at the crack of dawn and went to the hospital in order to get me the blood tests. When we got there a dozen people were already on line in front of us. The lady at the reception desk who I remember seeing four years ago there and who looks like a crazy flamingo of some kind with her plume like hair, beak like nose, and bulging eyes told me that I was slated for riposo/rest which led me to believe that they were going to take so much blood that they were afraid I would faint afterwards. I filled out the modulo/form and the nice (!) lady at the window told me to go pay and then come back to her. F and I went to the bank/slot machine looking computerized pay centers to try to pay, but it was a time sensitive operation and we had about eight goes at that scary robot before we were able to make a payment successfully. At one point instead of paying 76 euro we were about to pay 7,776 euro and the other times the operation timed out before we could make out the directions in Italian. The line behind us was getting antsy so in order to make the people laugh, when the machine finally spit out the long tongue like paper receipt that is called a scontrino, I grabbed it and jumped up and down shouting, "I won, I won/ Ho vinto, Ho vinto!" One lady had to chuckle.

Then we went to the waiting area where a bunch of people who weren't allowed to eat that morning were grimly playing Italian Bingo, that is, waiting for their ticket numbers to be called on the overhead television screens. A cute girl next to me asked her boyrfriend playfully if she should worry because all of the tickets being called started with the letter C and hers started with the letter P. I told her not to worry because mine started with the letter O, but she told me that I was in the wrong place. The Riposo ticket people had to go to lie down in the lie down room for twenty minutes before anyone would take your blood. GOOD TO KNOW. So I laid down and the lady next to me said she would check the time if she were me because the nurse was a bit disorganized. As soon as I lay down, my head started to spin. Only the hilarity of the situation of the four of us reclining ladies waiting for this crazy nurse of a certain age and her Marilyn Monroe hair style helped me get through it. Luckily Marilyn was enamored of New York and when I complimented her on her quick vein finding abilities she all but turned pink with pleasure. My roommates enjoyed our banter and everyone said arrivederci to me like they meant it. Now I have to wait two weeks to find out if I'm in hormonal purgatory or not. Meanwhile my face is looking ever more pizza like.

I bought these new bandaids from Asia that suck the gross stuff out of the acne for you so you don't have to pop your pimples. You've got to laugh, if you don't want to cry.


Tracy, from the Love Vitamin blog, you better be right about this estroblock sh*t, honey . . . .

These cute twins have a health blog and have acne spotted pasts. Hang in there, twinnies.
Meanwhile we spent more money on ebay Italy for what is supposed to be a more effective brand of the supplement DIM which is called Estroblock and has been the winning move for lots of women in my shoes. Fingers crossed.


Festivities & Furniture/Feste e Mobili
So, we made this for my student Tommaso's mother and auntie and his girlfriend Sylvia's auntie when they came to dinner:
http://aromasfromapartment5.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/goat-cheese-sweet-pea-stuffed-beet-raviolis-with-mint-walnut-pesto/

Photos from aromasfromapartment5.wordpress.com

But F's version looked identical to this and it was a huge hit with our guests!
 Tommaso's family are the ones who sold us our NEW COUCH:

I LOVE it.

The kids wanted their own party so the next night we did this:

We made vegetable sushi, summer rolls, bread and tapenade and lemon souffles baked in the lemon peels.


I love my students so much.

This is Tommaso and Silvia on his birthday having their first taste of S'mores birthday cake which is chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownie, and marshmallow filling smothered in chocolate.




Silvia is gorgeous. Get over it.
They totally freaked out over it.

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


= A really crap day.
Giornataccia :(
Last night as I was flossing my teeth, I realized that I had dark spots all over my gums. I dreamt about them. I woke up depressed. I went to an emergency appointment at the dentist.

But wait. First F told me that the city plumber people who are called G.E.A.L were working outside our house and that they wanted to have access to turn off our water for twenty minutes. I told him that I didn't trust them and not to let them go away without checking that we had water. He brought them into the house where they told me that now that they had done their job and left me with no water their job was done. I blockaded the door and called the building owner. His son told me that the water valve was where the television used to be. Fantastic. I have no idea where they kept their television five years ago. I called the plumber. He said he would call and talk to the owner and then come by and see if he could take whatever filth G.E.A.L allowed to come up into our plumbing out so we could have water again.

I had to leave to go to the dentist so we left T with instructions and money, but while I was waiting for the dentist she called to say the water was back on so I had to call back the plumber who now hates me. I think he hated me before, but now he hates me more. I always pray that I never have to bother him again. Anyway, we went to the car. On the way to the car I called my doctor friend because I knew that I was going to need blood tests and I don't know the procedure for how to get them. She yelled at me to calm down. With love. Usually I find this Italian mannerism rather charming, but not today. I noticed during our phone conversation that I was following F around in circles. I was just about to ask why he had chosen this particular moment to engage me in a spirited game of duck, duck, goose! when he explained that our car had been towed away for no explicable reason. We borrowed his student's car and went to the dentist.

When we got home we realized that the expensive computer batteries we ordered had been delivered. The important one we need for T's dying battery is the wrong size.

My dentist has a brother who is an endocrinolygist in Florence. She took pictures of my mouth and offered to send him the photos and to send this important professor who wrote a book on mouth diseases the photo. She also offered to call my family doctor to persuade him to prescribe the blood tests for me because, as she explained, if I went to the family doctor with a list of tests recommended by an American doctor, he would be mortally offended and unhelpful.

My only joy today has been watching the inmates on Orange is the New Black who seem to take their misfortune in better stride than I do even though they are in prison and don't have working toilets.

Monday, June 23, 2014


We/ITALY lost against Costa Rica. IT was VERY depressing. (But, on the bright side, at least I didn't have to stay up for three extra hours to enjoy the post-win honking.)

And so . . . Karma

This has been a weird way to start off the summer. After posting a desperate plea for people's used wine corks on Facebook so I could try to make something that looks like this --

 -- I received a message from a cool, new friend who happened to have 50 wine corks just lying around. During our coffee date we got to talking about Karma.


I couldn't help thinking about my drum playing, meat-loving, barbecue addicted, nudist neighbors who have really put a damper on my favorite time of day: MEAL TIME. Their enormous terrace and their extreme selfishness has really challenged my patience and ethical limits.

 I have evil thoughts about them. I have to admit it in order to move on. Sometimes I think . . . .

 And other times I think:




 It doesn't help my mood that every kind of medicina, herb, tea/tisana, lotion or substance that I come into contact with seems out to get me.





Plus ever since I found that giant beetle in bed with me (F was in the bathroom at the time), I spend every night with a creepy crawly feeling and wake up restless and upset. No offense to my ex- coworker pictured in the photo below, but at least, I'm not in bed with that cockroach on her left.



 And no matter what, I did get out of the cult of egoistic bullies that make up the fitness department at a place they couldn't help but call the Ego Wellness Resort; and when I take a look at this year's fruit party photos, I can't help but be drenched in an unsweaty wave of thankfulness. It is so good not to work THERE anymore.

Seriously?
No, really?

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Saggio
I had asked my lovely student Sylvia to pick up a ticket to my other student Andrea's hip hop saggio/recital because she goes to the same school for guitar lessons. She tried her best, but they didn't have the ticket available for some reason. She tried FIVE times to be exact. In the end she handed me a receipt for something that would take the place of the real ticket temporarily and then a minute later decided that it was inacceptable and went back again to get me a real ticket.
The fake ticket and the real one. Oh Italy!
Andrea's mother Lucia offered to give me a ride to the show because it was not at the school which is walking distance from our apartment, but at a theater in another town a good distance away. In the car were two of his best buddies from his middle school, the same one T attended, and one of Andrea's grandmothers. It was very cute.

When we got to the theater and took out our tickets, Lucia noticed that while I was sitting in the same row that she had reserved for their family, they had given us both the same seat number. We went to investigate. The dude, the same one that had given me the director's phone number when I had tried to organize a hip hop party a few weeks ago, told me that I didn't have a real ticket. He tried to dismiss me right then and there. It took FIVE more tries for him to resolve the situation. He gave me a real ticket with the same number on it; a real ticket witha different seat number, but one that Lucia also had; he gave me a seat number that didn't exist; and then finally he gave me a real ticket with a real seat. The whole time he glared at me like I was a troublemaker. He didn't apologize once.
The people in the front our the two grandmas. I wish I had got the not calm ones face, but she never stayed still.


Andrea has a second grandmother who got a ride to the theater in his father's car. They call one the calm grandmother and one the not calm grandmother. The not calm grandmother talked to me throughout the entire three hour performance which displayed every student from three years old to twenty three years old in the genres of ballet, modern, hip hop and breakdancing. The show was held together by a story that recounted the phases of growing up from kindergarten to the old age home. The not-calm grandmother made outrageous statements about the overweight dancers and the "natural" talent of the dances of color and I had to keep politely disagreeing with her. She cheerfully recounted how the other grandmother's cooking is favored by Andrea, but she didn't seem to worried about it.

Here is Andrea's cheering section of friends and family.


Andrea, you star you.
 Andrea was really the star of his group. I can't believe he only started two years ago. He really does have a gift and I hope he sticks with it. He is the kid in front wearing the white hat:


 I gave him a copy of the Divergent book in Italian so that next year we can read it in English and he asked me to pick up some Diary of a Wimpy Kid books in English for him when we are in New York.

So proud.






The Relay Language Olympics
On Saturday night we went to my student and friend Anna's house for a dinner in honor of the homecoming of her daughter Chiara who had spent a year attending a high school in Wyoming and living with a host family and in honor of her boyfriend Chris who came to Italy for the first time to visit her. Chris doesn't speak Italian. My student Sylvia who is also Anna's niece and her brother Giorgio were invited, as well. Giorgio has also taken lessons from Fraser some time ago. They both speak English so I didn't worry too much about preparing for a difficult table discussion because I figured we would just focus on Chris and making sure he had a nice time with some English speaking folks.
Anna and Chiara
When we walked in I was surprised to see a girl the same age as Chiara. Her name was Giulia. She was glowering at me in that way that 17 year old girls do when they feel a little uncomfortable. Instead of greeting her immediately the way I did with Chris, my inner scared high school girl came out and I closed my eyes and took a step backwards. No, I mean it. I literally closed my eyes and waited for one of us to disappear. When I opened my eyes she was -- wait for it -- still there. Yup, so that happened.


This is the pie that F made in Chris's honor.

It turned out that the only person brave enought to speak English was Anna. And poor Chris had no idea what anyone was talking about for most of the night. I tried to translate here and there and I felt like a traitor everytime I succumbed to speaking Italian with all the English speaking Italian people, but what choice did I have? In my famous exhaustion-fueled, people-pleasing mode, I tried to have conversations with everyone. one at a time in the language of their choice. By the time I got home I felt like I had aged at least five years. I hope I got at least the Bronze medal.

P.S. The pie was DElicious.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Excuses, blackouts, and other disasters
Excuse my absence from the blogosphere, but we lost all internet connection when our Infostrada service collapsed in all of Italy. At first T was so devastated that you would have thought that the internet was her personal source of oxygen, but I couldn't even silently mock her dependence because after a day and a half without internet I started to have trouble breathing freely, as well, and the panic set in. My day two or so I was scarcely gasping from my Pinterest and So You THink You Can Dance withdrawal, but now all is right with the world.

T went to school and braved the elbows of the gazillion kids who were all summoned to school to read the bulletin board with their fates posted on it. I woke up early and got dressed to the nines to accompany her because there was the possibility of a teacher meeting, but half way there we met a classmate who was parent free and so T disentangled herself from us. It turned out only the parents of kids who have to do extra work this summer or take an exam in September to reunite with their class next year had to meet with the professor. T apparently was pushed and shoved by the crowd and found out that she passed with a glorious 7.5 when her face was smooshed up against the glass of the bulletin board and her peers pushed and shoved their way forwards in an attempt to memorize not only their own grades but to check out what everyone else got. An older girl stepped in on T's behalf and freed her from the press of the crowd saying, "It's kind of intense the first time, isn't it?" And T said she felt just like a first year getting a hand from a more experienced Gryffindor at Hogwarts. In total six of her classmates failed the first year and nine of them will have to do extra work if they want to come back next year so her class has probably already shrunk from 28 kids to about 20.

It has been a humid 90 degrees here all week and the White Party organizers refused to back down from their preparations even though the weather report called for more freaky thunderstorms like the one that two days ago involved a tromba d'aria and a hail storm with hail as big as the polka dots on Minnie Mouse's skirt. I bowed out of that because of having been poisoned. My alternative medicine guy gave me too big a dose of vitamin B6 and I have spent the last week being excessively thirsty and having the kind of nerve pain that is so severe that at one point one of my legs went completely numb. I was just about to go to the emergency room when F's online research revealed that I am so sensitive that even a little vitamin can take me out. I can't tell if the DIM supplement that I am praying will end my cystic acne is starting to work because it takes two months to build up in your system and in the meantime I had that weird reaction to the sulphates in the mineral water that made me break out, and, now I learn that B6 can cause acne, too. Last night I woke up for the fourth night in  a row having to drink liters of water to flush this crap out of my body and I had a huge crevice in my leg that bruised me to the bone and was due to sleeping on a creased blanket. That is how sensitive I am. I am getting knocked off my feet by water, vitamins, and my blankie. I give up.

Here's what I missed. Based on these photos, it looks absolutely adorable:







Anyway, the White party managed to go on despite a brief thunderstorm at around two in the afternoon  because the real sky shattering storm didn't arrive until eleven at night when all of the bleached outfits were probably in the laundry pile of the over five hundred people who had RSVP'd. I disappointed a core group of my friends and swarms of hungry mosquitoes by not going to the White Party, but at least I didn't disappoint Patrizia who was counting on me to celebrate her 52nd birthday with her at her favorite ice cream place outside of town. I shlumped along and it was worth the total dehydration I faced last night to have at least met and possibly exceeded her expectations.



T's end of school party outfit.
Eye ROLL



Having not slept a lick last night, I am writing this instead of taking a nap because everytime I close my eyes, this crazy band which may or may not be dressed in medieval costumes as they love to do here starts blasting. Right now they are playing that military funeral song, "Taps," but earlier they were going at it to "When the Saints Coming Marching In." I hate tourist season. Ah, it turns out that Italy beat England in the World Cup Soccer tournament last night. I will probably never sleep again.

Which leads me to my final piece of news which is that my neighbors who have been patently and almost psychopathically rude to us since day one, not only have a drum set and no sense of common decency, but they also are nudists. I caught up with the elderly couple who I believe are brother and sister (weird) who live downstairs from the extended family of socially menacing people who live across from us and whose terrace is arm's reach from our kitchen/dining room windows. I asked the lady what she thought about the new precussion section that has been recently added to our lives and she said that it was the least of her worries. It seems that not only is the head of the family who I have seen in his underwear many a time on the terrace now going commando, but his wife has also been spotted in her birthday suit in front of the children, no less. I was reassured that if they continue to cause noise pollution we will all get together and try to get them to stop. The night after the drum "concert" they let their youngest daughter listen to the Italian equivalent of Barney the
dinosour videos in which children sing annoying overly sweet and repetitive camp songs over and over and over again at top volume while we were trying to eat dinner. It made me almost miss the drumming. Stay tuned because my next move is to photograph those nudie mean people.

On a positive note, I found a cool table for the living room at the antique fair and we got some washable fabric to replace the food absorbing velvet seat cushions on our dining room chairs. Also I may have forgotten to mention that F's football team the Broken Grandpas won the last game of the season in a resounding and spectatcular way and he was proclaimed by a unanimous vote the MVP.


I know it's not everyone's taste. But I LOVE it.