Monday, June 19, 2006

Gatta nel lavandio

Saturday, June 17, 2006

In a previous life...

I was thinking about the various jobs I've worked in my previous life in the U.S. One of the most interesting yet most difficult was waiting tables in New York City. I remember how much I hated it at the time - gruelling hours (during summers I would work a 14 hour day), physically demanding, so-so money (this is what I thought at the time, before I moved to Rome when I realized I was living like a Queen in nyc.... in Rome it's virtually impossible to make a living), and all the horribly rotten people that treated me like the dirt on the soles of their shoes.
But now that I look back on it, I really had an exciting job. I did meet completely rude customers and those that didn't know that they should tip, but I also met people from all walks of life and some that ended up being very dear friends. In fact some of the most interesting people I've ever met were through the restauant business. Plus I waited on numerous celebrities that included Lou Reed (he was really lovely and so ultra cool even if he was wearing a loud hawaiian print shirt), Bill Murray, Willem Defoe, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ethan Hawke, Isabella Rosellini, Shirin Nesrat (one of my favorite video artists), Billy Corgan and his jerk of a girlfriend, Forest Witaker, Salman Rushdie and his model girlfriend (i forget her name), I.M. Pei, Sebastian Junger, Danny Glover, Seymore Cassal, and that's all I can think of.
I remember how the staff would all ooooh and ahhhh when someone handed us a black American Express card, and we would all hope that he (unfortunately I didn't come across any women who handed me a black Amex) would leave a handsome tip. But I think the best part was when I would meet someone who was truly living their dream. A few artists I met who actually sold their artwork and made a living, a jewelry designer who lived across the street from one restaurant I worked at who lived in this fantastic loft and made jewelry all day long, architects, musicians, even start up business men who had an idea and turned it into reality. It was really inspiring in many ways. Not that I haven't met inspiring people here in Rome, I certainly have. But there is an energy that vibrates around nyc that gets people moving and invigorated that I really miss. Plus I met my husband in nyc when we were working at the same restaraunt. He was a chef, I was a waitress, he spoke Italian, I spoke English, and as they say That's Amore!

Friday, June 16, 2006

I work in this neighborhood

I work in this neighborhood.
Everyday I walk here and everyday I look around the piazza
in awe. It is really unique and amazingly beautiful. Tucked away in its own little corner it's like walking into a fairytale. Of course you have to be of noble heritage or a millionare to live here but at least I have the pleasure of visiting.
The fountain is designed by Gino Coppede (and I think the buildings as well?).

One thing I have noticed around this neighborhood is the presence of spiders on the buildings or gates of the buildings. I've only noticed it a few different places but I wonder what the significance of arachnids means.

Friday, June 09, 2006

f@*#!*#@ bureaucracy!

I hate bureaucracy. And Italian bureaucracy has got to be the worst of the worst.
I have been waiting for my permesso di soggiorno (legal work papers but also a preliminary step before I can apply for residency) for over 6 months now. Just this week did I make any headway as to finding out why it's taken so long.
But let me start from the beginning.
In November we went to enquire about the paperwork for my permesso. We were advised to go to the anagrapher to translate our American wedding document into Italian. After filling out all the paperwork for the translation, there was a discrepancy with my middle name because it is on my passport but not on our marriage certificate. I was told to go to the American Embassy and get a notarized letter saying basically that I am the same person. Besides an absurd amount of money just for a stamp, I had to organize myself as the embassy is only open on t-th between 2 and 4.
We took the notarized letter back to the anagrapher, paid her a fee as well, and proceeded to wait. A month went by and we hadn't heard anything so we went back and asked what was the hold up. She looked through a stack of papers and found mine on the bottom. She said we have to wait. It might take another week.
So we waited.
And nothing.
We went back later in December and told her that there was a medical emergency as I just found out I had a thyroid condition and I needed to get my sanitation card (kind of like medical insurance) as soon as possible. Since she realized the urgency she finally did what she had to do and I received our translated document after the holidays around the second/third week of January.
Next we received my codice fiscale (social security number). This was actually the most pleasant experience yet as we only had to wait about 3 hours and were issued the document that day.
The sanitaion card was also a bit of a nightmare as our permanent address is different from the address where we are actually living. This required a lot of going back and forth between the medical ASL in our permanent address and the medical ASL in our actual neighborhood. But it was completed by about the middle of February.
Now after we received the anagropher's document in January we went immediately to the polizia to apply for my permesso di soggiorno. This required yet more money (about 20euro stamp and 6 passport size photos) and some more paperwork. We submitted the documents and proceeded to wait.
Well, we waited until march. I went to the polizia to enquire what was wrong (it had been 3 months at this point and I know others who have received their permessos within a month...maybe they had good connections, maybe they got lucky, maybe they paid extra $ on the side??? I'm willing to believe anything at this point). The polizia told me I had to wait.
I waited.
And I waited.
In May I went back and asked again why it's taking so long. I didn't mean to harass them but c'mon this is ridiculous. So I bravely ask the man "Lei parla Inglese?" because my Italian really is not very good and it would be so much easier to explain it in English. The silly little man behind the counter scoffed at me "Magari!" as in ha ha , it would be nice but you've got to be kidding,...
And in the end he laughed and told me I had to wait. Yet again.
So I have been completely fed up and this week I took DH's aunt with me to the polizia to try and figure out this mystery. Well, she argued with them for about ten minutes (at least to me it sounded like they were yelling at each other) and at the end she politely said thank you, you have been very nice. Good day.
So what happened???? Well, it turns out because we have a temporary address and a permanent address we must go to the police station in the neighborhood where we are actually living. We had been going to the polizia at our permanent address thinking that would be the correct thing to do as all our documents have that address. Agghhhhhh!
Well, I am hoping that this is the last step as I am so tired of waiting. and waiting. But I have to confess I am not entirely convinced that this process is going to get any easier.
I feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall and they are all just watching me, enjoying it. Why oh why does EVERYTHING have to be so difficult in Italy? Believe me there are things I LOVE about this country but then when a simple application process becomes a magnum opus I just want to... *sigh*
And I know things like this happen in the United States (and everywhere else) all the time but for some reason it just seems easier there. I guess because I am fluent in English and I know all the laws and how things work whereas here I feel totally lost sometimes. Um, okay, all the time.
I must say though I am grateful for such good friends/family and a loving husband (and aunt!) that I am able to put things into perspective. And a double gelato is in order once I complete this hurdle. I think I deserve it after playing the wait game.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cimitero dei Cappuccini

I'm in a bit of a funk these days. Worried about finances, family, work, life, et al. I will spare you the details. So when DH asked me if I wanted to see a cemetary full of bones I didn't hesitate to mutter "sure. okay." That's the kinda mood I've been feeling these days. Yeah, fine, whatever, it doesn't matter, there's not much I can do to rectify things, it's hopeless anyway. It was fitting then that he took me to the center on Via Vento to see the Cimitero dei Cappuccini (Cemetery of the Capuchins). It certainly was not what I was expecting.

The crypt is located just under Santa Maria della Concezione, a church commissioned by Pope Urban XIII in 1626. The crypt supposedly contains the remains of 4,000 monks buried between 1500-1870, during which time the Papal States permitted burial in and under churches. The underground crypt is divided into five chapels lit only by dim natural light seeping in through cracks, and small fluorescent lamps which cast strange shadows.
It is really creepy. If you look closely in these pictures you will notice that indeed those are human skulls and bones that
decorate the cavernous walls. The ceilings are embellished in floral patterns as if emulating a Ravenna mosaic (with a touch of Baroque chiaroscuro and morose color palettes and a bit of Rococo flamboyancy thrown in as well) . And those monks standing against the skulls and lounging in the arch are skeletons as well.

As we passed through each chapel I realized that the monks were not buried underneath us but it was their bones indeed that adorned the walls. I am blaming this slow realization on my shock at seeing so many skulls at one time in person and this being the closest in proximity I think I have ever been to human bones. I could literally breathe on them, just reach over the small iron gate and touch them. In fact, I noticed there were some initials carved into a few. Even the lamps were made out of some woven design of bones. Creepy, really creepy. I suppose the message was supposed to suggest the ephemerality of life, how we must live to our fullest and make every moment count. Don't dwell on the negative, enjoy life now (wait that sounds like a Vodafone commercial), well, you get the idea.