Sunday, August 30, 2015

1. This week a new prospective employer told me that I had to go to the anagrafe/city hall to get a document saying that I am not a pedophile (or a paedophile for that matter). It is called an atto di notorieta' of all things. And when she told me that, my one and only thought was: To get into Italy I had to provide my FBI file showing that I have no criminal history soooo. . when in the last five years would I ever have possibly had time to become a pedophile??

2. The new English school that we are probably going to work at is all operated by a computerized system with codified numbered lessons so that the teachers really don't have to think that much. My first thought was: What if the computer system breaks down? And I just found out that IT JUST DID.

3. I did an English homework session with my 12 year old twin students where I taught them to remove their Itanglish accent by pronouncing all their grammar exercises aloud in the breathy voice of a sexy Marilyn Monroe. And they did great. Except now they think that's how we speak and they say everything like that. It is all very Happy Birthday, Mr. President; the pencil is on the desk.

Also, instead of complimenting them by calling them geniuses: aquile! I called them aquilone: kites! Perfect. Sigh.
Porca miseria!

I wasn't even in a bad mood when T and I went to meet F at the ufficio postale/post office. F was already there waiting for us with the newly filled-out long term residency applications. We still don't really know how to fill them out ourselves, but luckily for us there is this fabulous lawyer named Artan who works at the patronato INAC, a free legal advice place for immigrants and others, and he helped us do all the hard parts.

Of all the things that I will probably get arrested or fined for because of this blog, this one will be the most. That said, here are the photos of the lady who I most fear seeing when I'm in a rush and my number is called out at the post office, and this is who we got:

She has been there since year one.
 At least, she has been kind to us and seemingly good-hearted. But in the last five years of experience filling out the exact same forms and putting them into the system it is safe to say that she hasn't sped up at all.
Forty-five minutes later . . .

This is the part (insert theme song from the movie JAWS here) where the computer generated date for our appointment to appear at the questura/police station came out of the printer showing that (insert drum roll) we have the Italian test on the same morning that we have the permit evaluation which might mean that the powers that be want us to be in two places at once.

I wrote Artan an embarrassing email in which I attempted to say that I had the curse of bad luck and loser-ness on me, but lord only knows what I really said. I can only say for sure that it took me three times after I had already pushed send, which is the equivalent of leaving loser messages for boys you like on their answering machines in the 1990's, which, obviously, I know nothing about from personal experience of any kind.

The next day F had a training at an English language school where we both might get some work. While he was out I decided to take a look that our documents for the appointments were in order. Imagine my surprise when I found out that every night when I asked him to put documents into the high up cabinet, it turns out that he has just been shoving piles of paper up there with no regard for the dewey decimal system or any other system. To put it in perspective, an ex-client  of mine from my social worker days who was an almost blind, amputee, D-day survivor and who had a room where cockroaches were literally coating the walls and dropping down on us from the ceilings had a better system of organization for his documents. Anyway, while we sorted through pages and pages of documents, it became clear that the giant Oxford Dictionary size book of documents that we cart around with us to even the most banal appointments could have been half the size and that all of the color coded tabs that I had organized it with originally had been disregarded by F for approximately the last three years.

An hour after getting everything to have a place that made sense, I turned to F and asked him why I hadn't seen the official document that will serve as our invitation and entrance ticket to the ever so important Italian exam. He opened his mouth, but no sounds came out. Bad sign. It turned out that he had given them to yellow dervish lady from the post office who had packed them off in envelopes to the police station.

It's wedding time in Lucca. The couples are all over waiting for their photographers to get the winning shot.
In the midst of all of these revelations, it came out that although T had accepted the children's hospital's invitaiton to participate in a mini summer camp in the mountains, she had done so only due to social pressure and had no real interest in it. It wasn't to happen for many months and the details were few and far between. It was like 'let's have coffee sometime three months from now -- you're invited!" But in really fast Italian. We all feel beholden to the hospital that literally makes T's life possible and for free.

 I received a startling phone call about it while we were in Amsterdam from the secretary in charge of making the arrangements for the camp. It was startling because I got a phone call from an unknown number in Milan after not having spoken Italian for over a week and the lady acted like I should know her and that we were old friends. Plus we had a really bad phone connection. She told me that an email with all of the details about the camp would follow. When I mentioned the call to T, she was relaxed about it and said it would all be fine. I didn't trust that the secretary lady whose name is Arianna could understand our email address over the phone so when the email didn't arrive, I sent her a text the next day and asked her to check that what she had written down was correct. She said okay, but obviously didn't do it. This left us in an uncomfortable position because the more time that passed, the more we really didn't want the e-mail to arrive so that T wouldn't have to go after all, and none of us would have to say no outright. So the e-mails arrived with documents that had to be signed and the bad news that the camp is far away and that she has to leave early Sunday morning and won't be back for five days. There will be hiking involved and teams and a hotel and some swimming. T doesn't know anyone except the head doctor.

Tonight is the notte bianca in Lucca when the stores stay open late and there are surprises and bad music everywhere. So when we took our evening stroll, we got our tarot cards read. It seems that T is a genius who will go to a prestigious college in America and find a great job. And it only cost me 20 euros.

"The cards say you are a smarty pants . .  .

p.s. I asked T like twenty thousand times if I should make up an excuse to cancel the camp, but she said no because she can't imagine going back to the hospital if she cancels. It seems from the schedule that it is a way for Medtronic, the company that makes her insulin pump, to extract data off the kids, but, hopefully it is a fair trade and the kids get to have a nice time, too. Otherwise, I'll be that crazy mother driving five hours or whatever it takes to come pick her up early because as brave as she is, you all know that one thing I'm not afraid of is looking crazy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

L'ospite e' . . .
My mother came to see us in Italy for the past three days. According to my friend Patrizia, three days is the perfect amount of time to have guests. More about that later.

The wait at the airport was tense because we knew that her plane had been delayed for several hours. All the other New Yorkers who got off the plane and made it through custom before my mother were grumbling and complaining.
There's no tension like an Italian who is waiting for something's tension.
This is F's shot from over my head at the arrivals gate. We stood there like that for 30 minutes. I lost about 2 chili in sweat.

 But she got here all spry and chipper.
And did some drop by mothering. . .

and in person back to school shopping . . .

 Then my mother met my friend Patrizia who was thrilled that she wasn't fat as she had unexplicably feared she might be. She said she thought all American mothers were obese. She had heard something about that on the news.

Guarda! Una mamma american ma snella come un giunco!

 They had a really long conversation for people who do not, in effect, speak the same language or have anything in common except for the fact that they both don't speak each other's language.

The above shows the actual amount of food my mother consumes in a day.
Charlie's Angels: It's never too late

Friday, August 21, 2015

Makeover, Bologna Style
This just in!
Natasha and Giorgia gave T a wowza makeover and straightened her hair. This is how it came out:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ah, the sweet violins!

And . . . we're back! F and I got an annoying summer virus and have been spending time downloading ESL lessons from the internet trying to get organized for the Fall English Lesson Panic or -- as some call it  -- FELP. Just kidding. No one calls it that.

Anyway, T got invited to go to see her New York sister from another mister: Savana. She was staying in Pesaro which is just around the corner from here -- about four hours away by car if you hit traffic, which you will. This is Italy.

It was a sweet reunion:

Savana & T

Kim, Savana's mom getting photos of Savana, & T.

Then T went to visit Natasha in Bologna with Giorgia for a few days. They had a great time swimming and shopping, and came back on their own on the train. (Pictures to follow. . if the girls release them to me.)

While our figlia was away, F and I tooke the drive to Cala Violina finally! I've been obsessed with going there even though everyone says that it is a mobbed in July and August, especially on the weekends. I really wanted to get an early start. We left late because F decided at the last minute that he needed to shave. By the time we got there, the parking lot was full and we had to walk a stretch of highway and through a wooded area where I peed standing up like a professional. Or a boy. Or a professional boy. To be fair, that lot had probably been full for hours.

Our beach tale is quintessentially Italian in that there were three beaches right next to each other and each one was  populated based on people's values: the materialisti, the chissenefregas that dance to their own drums, and the la grande bellezza party people who have to be where everyone else is.

From where we left the car,  the closest beach is called Punta Ala. It is for fancy people who want cabana chairs and to have their hair braided and a choice of woven baskets and beaded jewelry and other assorted wares to buy along with a kind of beach side restaurant bar.

It was super crowded at Punta Ala so we walked down the entire length of the beach until we got to the cliff at the end. We had to climb down sharp, slippery rocks and walk through a channel of water that arrived at my hips and F's knees until we made it around the bend to a second beach where the sand was ever so slightly less white and soft, but that was relatively deserted and tranquil. Some lady felt so badly for us that she helped F carry the bags across.

 Not content with this perfectly fine beach, we decided that we wanted to hear the sounds of mythical violins as the water washed on the shores at Cala Violina, our original destination; so we took a hike uphill through a steep and dusty trail over to the next beach.

Hi. My name is F. We were late due to my shaving and inefficiency and therefore we couldn't park at the right beach, and then I left all of K's stuff including sunscreen and hairbrush on the floor of the car.
Hi. I'm F and I think this cute pose and my dogged optimism will somehow get me off the hook, even though later I can't find where I parked the car and misplace K's cellphone.
I was so mad at one point that things got black and white like the Wizard of Oz.
Nice view, though, huh?

I eventually forgave him.
 This is the deserted beach being even more deserted because, charmingly enough, none of the Italians will go back into the water until half an hour after they have eaten their panini.

Thanks cutie Italians! The water is all ours!
I love this beach.

ME: You said it would only be up to my hips! This is my neck, dude.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

F's (coconut) bacon and egg ramen dinner
Food Network served as a little inspiration as did Food52's non vegetarian version.
 Just because we're in Italy, doesn't mean we eat Italian food every night!

Coconut Bacon is one of the best discoveries of 2015 other than thermal funk (see previous post.)

Anyway, this bad boy has ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, perfectly fried eggs, noodles, broth, and white wine. The bacon is cured coconut chips and it comes out with just the right amount of crispy chewiness and salty flavor. It was the best after beach meal we could dream up  for the girls; and it was scarfed down gleefully.