Friday, February 12, 2016


Last Friday I got a message after 10:00 pm from my gynecologist saying that I had to come into the office on Monday to have the results of my pap test. Last time she gave me good news in a text message so I spent the next 48 hours convinced that I had cancer. Then on Sunday I couldn't wait anymore so I texted her and just ten excruciating hours later she told me that I had a lot of inflammation and she would see me after the summer. Since I also had a completely inflamed left ear and a gigantically swollen, fractured, baby toe on my right foot, I figured a little more inflammation wouldn't kill me. I texted her back that I was literally too inflamed to actually make it to her office. Meanwhile I called Patrizia about eleven times to vent to her about how sane American gynecologists are in comparison and how there are some universal rules that should always be enforced.

Universal law #1: if you go through the trauma of moving, you get two weeks of bliss once the boxes are unpacked.

Universal law #2: If a child does something wrong, they have until the count of three to adjust their behavior. You never lose your sh$t on two. That is just wrong. This law is tied to the other law of three which is that you get three cookies. Not one, not six. This applies to Oreos, Chips A'Hoy, and all other cookies that you may find the world over.

Universal law #3: I don't care how long a work day you've had, if you're a doctor you should never, but never, text someone after 10pm on a Friday night to talk about their test results. Period. Or lack thereof. (MEnopause humor, it is sporadic).

You are not going to believe the insanity happening in my work to help the Nigerian immigrants. In the group of five it turns out we are at least seven people. I feel we should count Tina's baby, Jennifer, who is Cool's wife to be and their baby who is due in just over two months, and also Job (whose name I thought was Joseph) who is the agressive chap that I talked badly to Tina about and who turns out to be a lovely man and . . . also Tina's boyfriend and the father of her baby. So Job is in the group. We had a big laugh over the terrible first impression he made on me. It's all good. 

The lady from the Catholic charity wrote a long report on the immigration history of each of the members of my group which explained that it is basically completely legal to pay people up to 500 euros to leave their camps and that they are then considered to have left the Italian protection net and are on their own. She suggested then that they get official housing and try to get social services in Montecatini to help them. From this I deduced that she would be of no help and understood nothing, but then I came to understand that she was just giving me the politic answer and not suggesting that I give up on them. I wrote her back to thank her and to ask for her contacts in Montecatini. 

In the meanwhile, Emmanuel got himself in trouble with the police. He is banned from Lucca. Another African guy caused a disturbance of the peace and resisted arrest. Emmanuel was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did not understand the police request for his documents. They wrote down that he refused to show his papers and that he refused a lawyer. The Catholic charity lady sent me a newspaper article saying that he had a previous offense on his record and would be labeled pregiudicato and possibly held for one to six months. I called the contact I had from the Kennedy Justice and Human Rights organization in Florence who knows his public defender to try to get him help. 

Today I finally met the guy from Odissea the work training program for immigrants. His name is Daniele. Unfortunately he had to meet me when I was very frustrated about the lack of good results I am getting and he reiterated that my group, language problems not withstanding, under Italian law are no longer considered in the net of Italian protection. He suggested that they learn Italian in their spare time when they are not desperately begging for money to stay in their squallid, overcrowded, unofficial apartments. Then he asked me if I would teach an English course for his staff. I agreed because I still need job contacts for my group and my mamma didn't raise no fool. I spoke crappy Italian to him because I had just taught six half hour lessons on skype, facetime, and whatsapp to Brooks shoes employees. It was very much like phone sex in that there was a lot of wild gesticulating and I got paid for it. I don't know that it is the kind of exchange that would ever have as a result better grammar. But that remains to be heard. I do know a fricking ton about footbeds now. It almost makes me miss the guys who made the maxi pads.

After the meeting with Daniele, I stalk walked him back to his car about seven hundred kilometers from my house with my broken foot in the rain in the vain hope that he would say something useful and that he would offer some kind of concrete assistance to my group members who were strategically waiting for him outside my house. Tina had to wait around and she was mad about it so she gave me a hard time, but if I were pregnant, tired, and had to pee, I would have done the same. 

Speaking of making bad impressions:

1. I didn't want to make a bad impression at the Brooks running shoes company, but the only shoes my broken toe fits into are T's bright orange Nikes so I made F write Brooks on two pieces of masking tape to cover the logo on the shoes. By the end of the first class I had already scored a pair of free sneakers, but I went around town scandalizing the Lucchese with my mismatched foot apparel for four days since my broken toe didn't care to cooperate. A boy who seemed to be about ten years old asked his mother if I was crazy. It took all of my restraint not to explain that while I was crazy, there was a fairly solid reason for me to wear different kinds of shoes on each foot. I wonder what they would have thought if they knew that I was also going commando. I mean, good deductions, bad reasoning. C+

2. We met our neigbors who share our strange private entrance way. We all live on the top floor and the ten months a year that they are not here we spend blissfully not caring about door slamming, shouting, or safety locks. Our Italian downstairs neighboors had us over for the most delicious pizza I have ever eaten. I am actually mad at how good it was because all other pizza will no longer withstand the comparison. They figured they would invite this other couple since they had suffered some logistical issues like a broken oven and an unforeseen illness last time that had ruined their night. He is German and does not speak Italian and she is Irish and understands a lot more than she can say. It was an exhausting night of translating and trying to please everyone which ended in our host Luca entertaining us on his guitar. Luca also felt the strain of having to perform for a virtual UN of foreigners and proceeded to forget all the words to four different of his favorite songs.

Subsequently the Irish lady told me to move the costly antique bench we had put in the shared antechamber because she had an agreement with our landlords not to put furniture there. I thought she meant just while she had her couch delivered, but no. I thought she meant, at least, just while they are here for the month, but no. So rude, right? But then the German man said that we could donate the dresser they have in the hallway to the Africans and put our bench just outside. Today I introduced them to the people I wanted to give the bench to and she told her husband that she agreed to give it to someone else. This is what you call getting off on the wrong foot and I suspect it is just the beginning.

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