Friday, September 11, 2015

the merda show (a two parter)

Sidenote: if you look up this terminology in Italian on Google you get images of Merkel eating a hot dog wurstel.
Anyway, part one
I bumped into our next door neighbors, the ones we can't hear through the walls, and my brain tripped on itself and brought me back to that time when I meant to invite them over for drinks. Before I knew it, and despite the fact that this is the crappiest week of all time, I invited them. Whenever you want, I said. Tomorrow/Domani? they asked. Um, not free tomorrow, I had to admit. So we settled on a Saturday evening at 6:00 PM for coffee. F and I have had a cold of one type or another for the past six weeks and we aren't able to drink wine lately without becoming so dehydrated that I wake up with foot cramps and he snores monstrously. The coffee date was way intense because after two hours of them chatting away with us, they clearly, and not without reason, thought they were getting dinner. It might have confused them when I gave F the signal to put the pasta on. I only did that because I was out of Italian words to use or topics to bring up and because T's friend was over and the girls were hungry. We had served Martha Stewart's lemon souffles  served in the lemons and they brought a million pastries.

The whole interaction was validating in that they confirmed that we had made a horrible life choice by choosing this building which does have the thinnest walls in all of Italy. They have survived here in the tiniest unit in the building with the worst position in that it overlooks the noisy parking lot. In fact they are soon to be throwing in the towel. That's when I proposed that they take our apartment that I had just complained about for a good long time. They seem to be lovely people. Thank god they can't hear what goes on in our apartment. I have given up hope on ever having future interactions with the people above or below us that are not extremely awkward. Just to recap: we went through hell moving out of an apartment with noise problems into a different, smaller, but less buggy apartment with different noise problems.

The bottom line is that sooner or later, but probably sooner, we will have to move again.

I did my first lesson with a mother-daughter duo. The mother, who is a friend of my friend, speaks English well and the daughter is seven years old. None of my material worked. Even the bread dough that F made for the little girl to make alphabet letters out of was too sticky. She also stuck some in her mouth and that didn't work out well either. I have to go back to the drawing board on that one. As hard as I try to turn children away -- and by hard, I mean yelling I don't want your money at their parents -- they seem to be determined to have me as a teacher anyway.

Speaking of daughters, mine hurt her tendon by from what I can only assume was a weird jump for joy at the end of a long run. She was devestated at the thought of not being able to keep to her exercise schedule and if there was ever a need for a hashtag, which by now we can all agree that  there isn't, it would say something incredulous about that. Anyway, she developed a weird coping mechanism while she healed that involves biking in high heels. The bottom line is that her ankle no longer hurts, but her bottom does.

After accumulating more and more bumps, I now have some of the worst acne and scarring I've ever had in my more adult life and in desperation I returned to the German Barbie dermatologist who had burned a hole in my face and then blamed my being allergic to the vitamin A in the magic healing cream she had been planning to give me as the reason why it took two years for me to heal instead of just the promised four weeks. But in Italy, and we are still in Italy until we fail the Italian test on Friday, sometimes the evil you know is better than the people who you don't know with the less than modern machinery and the crowded waiting rooms in Florence or Pisa.

One day you will be jailed for your blog posting, if now worse/vorse.
In case you were wondering, German Barbie's legs are still really shapely and her face is still without nary a wrinkle, but I don't know what to think about the fact that she wouldn't see me before 5 pm because she has to absolutely bake herself at her beach club during the summertime before she starts work and before what I can only presume is German cocktail hour. I asked her for the ipl/intensive pulsed light treatments, but when she saw my face she was appalled at the damage I have accrued in her absence. She aimed the burning hot lights at every square inch of facial skin.

I had a memory, confirmed by this very blog, of being able to return to work immediately the last time around, so I was surprised to see that I would not be able to leave the house this week. At all. I have melanin patches that make me look like I was in a terrible and disfiguring accident. It is not easy to remind myself that it won't be this way forever.  I have also had the lurking fear, after reading the internet by mistake, that I might also go blind momentarily because German Barbie didn't do a great job with the protective eye goggles. You know how that is when your fingers just slip and you find that you have looked up something on Google? And then the magic google eightball give you horrible news?

In fact my computerized calendar that exists because F cannot remember after five minutes where he was going or why has become nothing but a digital reminder of the ways my social and professional life is going down the toilet. Ironically it also says CLEAN TOILET on the digital calendar. That was a little embarrassing when the reminder flashed just as my news student was trying to decide on a weekly schedule. Dinner with friends. Didn't go. Walk around the walls with someone who used to be my friend. Didn't go. Response to coffee invitation from someone who might have become a friend. Didn't go. Visit with old friend in town for one day. You get the picture:
Self Portrait
Thoughts about how I look after ipl:
1. I look so terrible that I have thoughts like: if the house were on fire, I would have to burn.
2. If some weird man says something inappropriate to T while she's jogging and I had to go out there, he would really get what he deserved.
3. In the event of a zombie apocolypse, I would save the world and those losers would hightail it back to the graveyard from whence they came. Lurching and sobbing. Lurching and sobbing. It's a zombie thing.

Imagine not just brown crusts that are uniform but smeared and dotted across the still pizza-like acne covered face with tiny pink holes where some of the skin wiped away. And then add the fact that I haven't colored my gray roots this week. Oh and and and also I'm using a drawing salve to encourage the white gunk to emerge from the acne and it is a product called Prid which you smear on your face and it looks and smells like newborn baby poop. My inner beauty is afraid to look in the mirror, that's how bad it is.

Please look out for my new makeup line with my partner Jessica Alba. We're calling it the Brutally Honest Company. The makeup won't conceal your flaws, but it will emphasize them. In the name of honesty. You understand.

Of course I then got a terrible stomach virus that has made me had to cancel all dinner plans, social engagements, important contracted work lessons, and the like. You do the math. And then with that excuse at the ready, the universe had a laugh, as I did actually get extremely nauseous to the point where it wasn't an excuse anymore.

I had hoped that by some miracle I would heal from force of will and when I put a moistened cotton pad to my face a little chunk of flesh came off so I had to put on what I hope is antibiotic cream that F procured from someone who doesn't know me at not our usual pharmacy and now I am just waiting for everything else to heal.

Then F rolled over my foot with the vacuum cleaner.

About an hour later I asked him if I could check that our documents were in order for the next day. They were, but only if F scanning them into our home computer counts as the documents being in order because he neglected to print any of them out.

I can't think of a better way to await our residency permit appointments and Italian language test on September 11th, a horrible day in the best of times then waiting to see if I will have to do Kardashian level make up that day or if the gross dark spots will drop off of their own volition.

On a positive note, I know someone who knows someone again and in a good way. My friend who works at the comune knows someone who works at the prefettura who is stationed at the school where the Italian test is being given and that person has my phone number and who told me that basically because I am not African and because I used the subjunctive correctly in a sentence she is pretty darn sure that I will pass, if you know what she means. I do. And it makes me sad for the world. But at least I have friends. Did I really start out this paragraph on a positive note. Sorry. It's been a shitty week.

the merda show, PART TWO

Today I got up at 3 AM to look in the mirror. The joke was on me because the crust things were still not coming off my face post-treatment. The things I read on-line said that while this procedure is painful and uncomfortable it is a gift that women give themselves after a summer of sunning to remove the telltale signs. It literally said "a gift you give yourself." I laughed and laughed when I read that little guy.

Clearly they did not intend for hormonal women of a certain age who wake up at 3 AM and scrub their faces in desperation until they are pink and oozing. I put on a very white mask of sunscreen and antibiotic cream and some liquid foundation that I think I had brought from NY five years ago. I looked like Frankenstein's mother from Park Slope -- K-Stein. Hysterical, I woke up T and she got me to look like a reasonable proximale of someone who won't scare the Bangladeshi children at the Italian permesso test.

Outside the school where the Italian test was supposed to take place we met this nice guy named Ugo from Nigeria. He has some relatives in New York. A brother or cousin of his just graduated medical school so a shout out to you if you're reading this and you have a brother cousin in Lucca. Ugo was a little worried about the written portion of the test but his spoken English and his Italian were both not too shabby. I really hope that he passed.

The lady that I thought was my friend of a friend wasn't there. This blond lady who supervised the test giving was the kind of blond, tan, smoker who would have really have been horrified if she had seen me before my morning makeover. She was nice in that she really loved how much better she spoke Italian than all of us. She spoke slowly and delighted in giving us important hints that really did make all of the difference. Like I would have said that the little boy in the story whose teacher said that he was intelligent but needed to try harder had been putting in molto work but not moltissimo when in fact she pretty much told us straight out that the answer was poco because in Italy if you don't turn in your homework and memorize a bunch of things that frown upon creative reasoning you are considered a super slacker regardless. Grazie to you, blondie. I say she was nice because she was, but I had my doubts at the beginning when she handed out the test and then then someone made a casual observation. It wasn't F. It wasn't me. But thank goodness that one of the Eastern European ladies was on the ball and caught that our names weren't printed on the front page of the tests but other people's. At that point Blondie wanted all of the tests back and we got ones that didn't have names full of Ws and Ys in them that I have never seen before but ones with our regular old, boring names on them. She then went on to scold us, the immigrants, for not reading the first page attentively. I gasped. I had been up for six hours by then and had to pee for the last two of those and was already stressed to the max. How dare she!

We lucked out and so did Ugo because while last year's writing section was a formal letter to the Prefettura asking which documents we needed to have for our citizenship, this year's was just an old form to fill in with your personal data including name, address, nationality etc.  Phew! That didn't stop F and I from making mistakes in our checking the boxes and necessitating our writing the word no above the answer we did not intend to submit. I'm not going to name any names but a certain tall person may have also peeked at a short person's paper and vice versa at different points. But that really just proves how Italian we have become!

Then we went to meet T at the police station where we saw a little hyperactive girl swing from all of the marble window counters as though they were chandeliers and narrowly escape hitting her chin and biting her tongue off at least twice. She had a sixth finger that was facing the wrong way. Her mother was alternatively charmed and angered by her giggling and shennanigans and once pulled her hair by the roots of her bangs to get her out from under a table. Her husband isn't in Italy at this time and I think she had had enough. Finally it was our turn and we were all so caffeined up that all of us shook like crack addicts while our fingerprints were taken. The police officer agent that we had was at the end of a fourteen hour shift and she was more than a little annoyed that she had to repeat the prints on all of us, one after the other. We charmed her the best we could, but we were still missing some tax documents and a graduation certificate from T's middleschool that no one told us we had to ask for apart from just looking at the passing grades on the bulletin board in the school lobby. I actually got sleepy agent to crack a smile about that one. So we look to be in good shape if we get that stuff into them within a month. An officer who had boogers oozing out of his nose that he wiped with his fingers than laid his paws all over T to retake her fingerprints on a special machine in the back in a CSI Italia looking place that they made her go five years ago. I covered that child with ammucchina/liquid germ killer the second we got to the car.

oh pipedown copywright people. Eloise can afford this.
This day really sucked and we didn't get accomplished what we set out to in one shot, which in Italy, means hooray you may get a long term residence permit that allows you to move to Finland eventually when you can't take it here anymore. So there's that.

p.s. This was a lot of complaining for september 11th, which is a much harder day for a whole lot of our New York brothers and sisters of the heart and I push "publish" with the hope that it entertains and takes your minds off real and bigger problems for a moment.

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