Saturday, November 28, 2015

Stanca morta and the seven dwarves
This week:

I staged a zombie apocalypse to teach my class of diplomati/apprendisti how to use English prepositions. I forced them to create an obstacle course that they, in turn, had to lead team members through while blindfolded. What do you mean they're in the building??? We have to get out of here. Class, begin working on prepositions . . . now!

I met a really cool woman from Texas named Vanessa who had tried to help us find a place to live. She is a singer and musician who tours with her husband and I have a sense that when she returns to Lucca after a brief stay for studio time in the U.S.,  we will be good friends. She likes her food as spicy, as Texans must, according to state law, so she can hang with us.

F negotiated with window makers and got prices that ranged from 1,000 euros a window to 50 euros a window. We figure that if we are going to climb a mountain of stairs to live in our dream apartment, we shouldn't have to freeze or hear any unwanted noises from some of our neighbors who have a rather stereotypical flair for the dramatic, I'm sorry to say. Hopefully the 50 euro ones have the air channels in them that are necessary to insulate the house. Try not to be too impressed with my DYI fai-da-te super star knowhow.

Painters came to spruce up the building hall and stairways and to fill the giant spider condominium sized cracks in our walls and ceilings. I played the schizophrenic good and bad cop because F wasn't around. We usually divide and conquer, but, in his absence, I gave out compliments and wheedled them to do a better job than they wanted to in equal measures.

I had an awkward mid-drive phone conversation with our old landlord in which we both seemed relieved that the other wasn't yelling at us. He was relieved that I left the deposit and didn't cry about the black mould/muffa situation that may or may not have poisoned us for the last six months and I was relieved that he didn't yell at me about painting all the walls and rental furniture white and running away leaving it all white and mouldy. Addio!

We are fixing and fluffing the apartment for a giant holiday housewarming party that we plan to give the week before Christmas that will feature Indian pizza and a surprise cake that will knock your socks off.

I have been reaching out to the Red Cross of Lucca to try to figure a way to go back to my roots and return to social work in the world with the African immigrants who are bravely facing winter for the first time in a drafty tent not far from our dream house. On-line it looks like I would have to wait for a certification course and to take a test in Italian for the right to even volunteer, but I have students in high places such as the local newspaper and city government so I have made several wild attempts to get my resume into the right hands. Meanwhile I am going to take a new acquaintance of ours from Nigeria to meet our lawyer friend at the patronato, free legal help place, so we we can both get more informed about his legal rights. His name is Paul.

Those motherfu*kers at Vodafone seem to have given my phone number to someone who wanted to scam me, but I managed not to fall into their identity thieving hands because the Brooklyn didn't just fall off me when I landed in Tuscany, that's why. Their Internet service is supposed to come with a free year of cable television service on Sky, but since they won't accept our foreign codici fiscali, we have had to spend hours not getting enrolled in the program. Five years in and I understand zero. I mean it.
Looking out from my Tuscan Barbie dream house window. Seriously . . .

The week ended with F and I going to the Brooks sneaker company to assess the young and, dare I say it, hip, and athletic workers within. It was how I imagine it is to work at Google where the smell of parental leave and coworker admiration is in the air. It was fun times; and it would have been even more fun if I hadn't been so tired during the interviews that my face hurt to talk. Nevertheless, fueled by their new coffee machine, we got more than a dozen high level English speakers sorted out and assuaged their fears about being judged by people, who they will soon find out have just as many problems acquiring a second language as they do. With any luck, new sneakers will fall into our clutches in no time.

We are giving English "tests" to people over the phone while they are driving. . . Here I am  not being convinced it is a good idea.
This lovely and perky signora on the left is our boss Debora.

Using the present perfect, can you recommend the best model running shoe for a tall man with high arches and a penchant for good grammar?

Sizes 37 & 47, per favore!

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