Sunday, September 30, 2012

hoagies and grinders, hoagies and grinders

I know my last post wasn't the best, but I've had a lot on my plate. I really shouldn't have written at all, but I was being so heavily pressured(you all know who you are) that I felt like I needed to get something out there. I've been dealing with hair issues, I've been sick, I dropped a big brass doorknob on my foot and broke my toe, and then I've had this whole insane schedule thing: I get up, John gets up, Mike is up and we are all out the door by 7:05. We walk to the bus stop and John eats his breakfast on the way (needless to say, it pretty much sucks when he's eating pancakes with syrup because the syrup attracts flies and it's so sticky and I never remember to bring a washcloth to clean off John's face---JUST KIDDING! They don't have maple syrup in this country.) and the bus arrives at 7:20.

Then Mike and I walk home, I get ready for the day(contacts, teeth brushed, nothing to wear), leave again by 8:50 and walk a bit over a mile to my 4 hours of Italian class. And that sounds a lot like four hours of people speaking Italian and seven minutes of me catching stray words and waiting in line for the restroom and/or espresso machine and trying to dodge the smokers. And then it's time to walk home. If it had been about 80 degrees on the walk there, it is now about 90 and I pass by the same group of Italian teenagers waiting for the auto bus and metro and they all wear the kind of puffy, leather, unlaced high-top sneakers that we wore in sixth grade when Hulk-a-mania was hitting its stride and I marvel at the boys who have flat-ironed random sections of their asymmetrical hair because who knew boys and flat-irons had any type of even passing relationship? I am desperate to take a picture, but kids are so much bigger than me nowadays and who wants to be the mom whose phone is broken by a boy with flat-ironed hair?

 Then it's time to hang out the laundry, start my homework, do the dishes, take the dogs out, and go meet John at the bus. Come home, make John a snack, see if the laundry is yet dry (it's not), feed the dogs, work on homework, check the laundry again, Mike comes home and it's time for dinner, showers, checking the laundry, and bed.

New Topic: There has been some very loosely organized dog-training happening on my walk to and from the bus stop. It involves people sitting down and occasionally yelling at their  unleashed dogs and then going back to talking amongst themselves. I decided to walk Stella and Sookie to the bus stop with me, which was fine, but on the way home, the entire group of dogs decided to head over to check us out.  John and I and our two dogs that weigh a combined total of 20 pounds were surrounded by two German shepherds, one lab, one German shepherd/mastiff mix, and a mutt whose head stood taller than my ribcage. Sookie's approach to life is that there are two groups in the world: those who are already friends and those who are friends she has yet to meet, so she was happy and trying to let each dog know how special they were and dance rainbows and stars around them. Stella's approach to life is: I like 3 things and none of them are you. So she was bristling and growling and I was looking over at the dog owners who were paying no mind to this scene and calling out, "SCUZI!" but they pretended not to notice  and finally I had to untangle Sookie's leash from nine or 100 legs and stop Stella from attacking the GermanShepherd /mastiff mix because I know she believed with all her heart that she could totally take him, but who wants to watch their dog get eaten in front of their kid? Not me. Because I'm a good mom.

So we started walking being followed by this herd of dogs and still not one owner called them back and I was so annoyed that I was wearing flip-flops because of my still swollen toe which meant I couldn't even deliver a good kick if need be, but I could at least swing a Pokemon backpack. And then a little tiny messy dog ran up and started humping the significantly larger lab. Which seized the attention of all the other dogs and my son, although my properly spayed girls only glanced over their respective shoulders and were like, Yeah, you wish Long Duck Dong (Stella) and I hope you make beautiful puppies together! (Sookie).

New topic: I have been unable to volunteer at John's school the way I had assumed I would because of my whole schedule and the fact that the metro has two lines and neither of them goes towards that part of Rome. However, there was an International Family Picnic on Saturday and they needed volunteers to work the tables handing out food and pouring drinks and although I love being a part of John's school, I was already in food services in high school (Long John Silvers and Bob's Big Boy) and I   never want to do that again. However, the call went out for volunteers to set-up tables. Okay, that I can do. Mike was picking up some friends from the airport, so John and I set off for his school.

This was my first time driving through Rome without Mike to instruct me to drive over the median or swerve at the last second so that I didn't hit the motorcycle in my blind spot, or to go ahead and drive into oncoming traffic in order to pass the bus. But I never want to become one of those people who are scared to drive or need someone to accompany them everywhere, so I was going to make this happen. Plus, I don't want John to grow up and marry a girl who is helpless and dependant so it's important that he sees his mom get in car accidents all by herself.

John's school is literally 9 miles from our home. It takes 45-50 minutes to drive there. That is Rome traffic in a nutshell. I was execllent up until the roundabout. (No need to make a Clark Griswald joke, I know you are all already thinking of one.) There were four exits on the roundabout. I successfully got off at three of them ,none of them being the correct one. But I did finally exit the only one I hadn't tried and John said, "Oh! This is where my bus driver stops to smoke!" so I knew we were headed in the right direction.

At the school, I carted around some Fanta (you can't believe how popular Fanta is over here) and used masking tape to tape down the tablecloths. And then I was instructed to head over to the food table and serve the guests. Which I really really really did not want to do and I considered hiding behind the large wine and beer display (hey, the PTO has to make money somehow, and what better way than selling liquor at at school picnic?) but by then John had found a bunch of friends and they were running around and I didn't want to make him leave and I didn't want to be the lazy American mom who brought store-bought cookies. Because I already had brought store-bought cookies. So I donned a pair of blue plastic gloves and awaited my fate. Luckily, the other moms were equally befuddled and reluctant to wear the gloves and many jokes quickly ensued. Unbelievavbly, there was no coffee station at the picnic. In Italy, you may as well not even have a gathering if you aren't going to offer coffee. It's just bad manners.  People of every age and nationality came up to us at the food service table asking where the coffee was. They tried speaking in multiple langueages. They tried offering us bribes. Truly, it was a gross oversight on the part of the organizers. The  school cafeteria has a coffee bar for goodness sake! Although it was closed for the day.While the picnic was taking place, the school's volleyball and basketball teams were playing against the teams from Florence. Some of the coaches from Florence discovered our lack of coffee and felt so sorry for us that they went into town and brought epresso back for those of us working the food table. We knew that if anyone caught a whiff of our coffee, a stampede or riot would ensue, so we took turns ducking behind the table to hurriedly drink our espresso. And at the end of our FIVE hour shift, we all left each other with a flurry of double cheek kisses and hope to work the next event together.

I was not so lucky with the women running the booth where one could purchase a variety of items with the school logo. I wanted a t-shirt and held up an adult small only to realize that it was a unisex small which meant it would have fit Mike. So I carefully refolded it and put it back in its place. One of the women joked, "Hey! Are you messing up my display?" and I said, "No worries, I worked at Benneton, I am a certified professional folder and have even taught classes on proper t-shirt folding." She stared at me blankly and then she said, "I was just kidding." Alrighty then! They had only children's sizes 7-8 so I asked if they had any larger children's sizes. They hunted around in the boxes and came up with an 11-12. I held it up to me and it was a little large (which is very strange because people are not exactly overweight here) but definitely do-able. I tried to pay and not unlike the couches, they didn't want to sell it to me.

"That won't fit you," one of the women said.
"Yes it will," I replied.
"No, it won't."
"Yes, it will."
"No, it won't."
"Trust me, it really will. It's fine."
"There's no way it will fit you. Half the teenagers in this school have tried to buy that size and it doesn't fit any of them." (I don't believe that because the teenagers at the school are of the so beautiful-they-had-to-have-been-hired-to-be-on-the-brochure-variety and if it doesn't fit them, it's only because they are six feet tall.
Finally I pulled the shirt over the shirt I was already wearing and as suspected, it fit.
There was silence in the booth.
"Well, that's because you're too skinny," one of the women said.
"Plus, it's going to shrink," pointed out another one.
"Oh, we don't have a dryer,"I replied,"so, no worries on that front."
I was the grown-up and dind't point out that like all unisex t-shirts, the shirts are oversized. It's a universal fact. They finally accepted my 5 euro and I moved onto the next booth where  a representative from the American embassy was helping Americans obtain their absentee ballots.

I sat down, I filled out paperwork, I talked to the Americans, I was very excited.
Meanwhile, a man that I swear was Kato Kaelin plopped down beside me. He was drinking a beer and had a large single hoop earring and sunglasses with a blue tint. "Awesome," he said. "I didn't want to do this until I was drinking a beer because what's more Italian than registering to vote while drinking a beer?"

There were so many things wrong with that sentence that it took a minute for one of the absintee ballot helpers to finally say, "Well! Okay! You just need to fill out your social security number and your last address in the United States where you were registered to vote."

Kato was nodding slowly."Well, yeah, I don't know what my social security number is."

"Okay, how about your driver's license number?"

"Oh, yeah, well, I haven't had a license...yeah I don't even know when I had a license."

"Do you have the address of your last residence in which you were registered to vote?"

"No...yeah, I don't."

"Do you know in what state you lived?" By this time I could feel the representatives kicking each other under the table. I was done with my paperwork, but there was no way I was leaving until I saw this through.

"Ahhhh. Hmmm. It might have been California." I told you it was Kato Kaelin! "Actually, it wasn't really my house, but my mail was delivered  there." (!!!!!) "But yeah, I don't know the address."

So the next time I saw Kato, he was standing on a brick wall in front of the food table and he was holding a guitar. He started yelling, "Hey! All you kids follow me, we're going to do some singing!"

Apparently this was not a planned part of the picnic as there was a DJ already playing music.

Later Kato announced it was time to put his guitar back in the car and have a beer. And then Kato disappeared into the night. Okay, afternoon.

And I managed to successfully handle the roundabout on the way home; I got us lost only twice; I fended off a man knocking on car windows at a red light and trying to solicit money; and from the dessert table at the picnic, I managed to smuggle home a plate of pumpkin pie, apple pie, brownies, and cannoli for Mike. And there were fireworks over the city because Roma had a home game. And there was a thunderstorm last night so all the yelling due to Roma's loss didn't even wake us. A good day indeed.

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