Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back in the US

Out trip home was without incident, thankfully.  I really hate the process of travel, the security screens, getting your lap top out, your shoes off, trying to keep up in line and not get irritated with others who don't keep up.  Being on the plane itself is another type of torture, small seats, poor service disgusting food.  It has turned into a hectic, stressful experience.  I suppose this is why extremely wealthy people have their own planes so they can avoid all of this.  For me I would rather have my own plane than 7 news houses that is for sure.

It didn't take long to get back into the grove here, but I have been having anxiety dreams about not being prepared.  The last dream I was in a play, and I had forgotten to memorize my lines.  I kept saying can't I just make it ups as I go along, and the answer was what about the other people. Feeling unprepared is not a new sensation for me, and yet I seem to lack the personal will to get prepared.  I did throw out my notebooks from classes I took 10 years ago.  I was exhausted with the effort.

Still no final news from Italy.  Manuele said the date would be by the end of this month, but it would be really nice to have an actual date.

My life in Italy and here are so different in most ways.  What we eat, when we eat is totally different.  I can't imagine starting to eat here at 9:00 at night but I can't imagine eating at 7:00 when I am in Italy.  My two lives are not only different in miles but in time.  Literally it feels like I am a time traveller when I go to Umbria.  Life is simpler, and more complicated to do the little things.  In California we are able to do so many things at one time that we are zooming around all the time, and it does seem like we get a lot done, but I am not so sure.

People ask me if I have doubts about this transfer.  Of course I do.  Only the Stoic One doesn't have doubts.  I have doubts and I really want to get going with that next chapter of my life.  Alas, I have a lot of things here to do.

Will check in when we get the second year and counting....

Sunday, July 8, 2012


As an only in Italy story, yesterday our dear friend Matteo called and said he had finally tracked down the mother of Max.  All of my connections were false.  She wants to sell to us, the grandmother wants to sell, it was the attorney who was just being irresponsible.  What was Shakespeare's quote about lawyers?

So, we leave here knowing that we will buy the apartments.  Luckily everything is in place for a stand in for us to be at the Rogito, and to transfer the money.  I have the feeling no matter how long we would have stayed here, we would have found out about this the day we were leaving.  Viva Italia!

Ambiguity is not my home

This has been a strange trip for me.  The weather here has been so hot (between 90 and 100) that it has impacted our ability to go out, walk, see things.  The best time of day here is 10:00 at night!  We do have air conditioning, which is a blessing, but we are kind of cooped up here during the day, which has caused me to feel at sixes and at sevens as my friend Linda says.  The heat is very difficult for me.  I just wilt and my cognitive functioning seems to go off line (god is that still an expression anyone uses?) So the heat has been the first problem.

The second problem with this visit has been the continuing farce of trying to buy the apartment next door.  The latest on that score is this...we have the notaio, Ms. Cherubini, who is the most assertive, driven Italian woman I have met, trying to contact the lawyer of the mother of Max who has suddenly not answered our calls or emails.  Ms. Cherubini was very incensed that the lawyer has not responded to us.  Matteo's lawyer has also sent an email to their lawyer basically saying WTF.  On Tuesday Manuele is going to Perugia to check the records to make sure that the estate of Max has been closed. If at the end of this coming week (things always happen the week after we leave) we confirm that the estate has been closed, we will demand they show up for the close as required by law.  If we then get no response, we will demand our money back, and double for the penalty.  This is our right by Italian law.  It is all so confusing to me.  We thought the problem would be the grandmother, but she is totally ready to sell, even saying she would sign the papers in the hospital.  The problem is the mother, whose attorney now has suddenly gone MIA.  We don't know if she is on vacation, busy, or stalling. Weird.  In the mean time, we will look at another apartment today, and see if there is a possibility we would buy that.  If we do buy it, we would need to sell our current apartment, which makes both Gary and me sad because the view is so great, we have restored exactly to American tastes.  Oh, well we will see.

So I begin to pack up here with an  overwhelming feeling of incompletion.  We have been in this state for over a year.  I know I should just "be" here now, but it is really hard for me.  The Stoic One is doing much better at playing the wait and see game. I feel discouraged and slightly depressed.  Manuele has picked up on this and has told me that he can tell I am down in the dumps...wonder what the Italian expression is for that? They have such a view of the long term in Italy.  If things don't happen in this generation, then you look to the next generation of your children, and see that it will happen for them. Needless to say, this is not my point of view.

Ambiguity has never been a place where I reside with ease.  Better a bad answer now than a good answer another year from now.  We could of course just keep this little apartment and live here, but it is too small, we have no storage for a full time life here.  This apartment is great as a vacation home, but to think of retiring here permanently, with no additional space, just won't work.  

With this uncertainty hanging over my head, it is difficult to set a routine on how our life will be here.  We are always "on vacation" either with guests coming and going, or with our own sense of impermanence.  It is hard for me to vision my life here without my life in California as a balance. It sometimes seems as if I get right to the brink of a commitment to moving to Italy permanently, and then I get scared, and think what if we move here and I am unhappy here, etc. etc.  The Stoic One of course says if we aren't happy we will change. Ambiguity gives me time to brood and worry.  I suppose this is true of others as well, but I am a worrier by nature, and busyness and action helps overcome some of that anxiety.  So the fact is I am both looking forward to going back to California and not wanting to leave here with the story still not ended.  I look forward to the weather in Oakland, seeing crazy Luca, being on the same time zone as my friends and seeing my sister in August.  In addition Manuele and family will come to California to see us the first of September, which I will write about for sure.

They say most expats go into a depression after a year in the new country.  I wonder if I am going into mine now, and will avert it in the upcoming years.  Now that is a happy thought. If we like the apartment today, I will post pictures.  

More from Gubbio

Couldn't leave Gubbio unless I shared some of our delicious lunch.

This was the house antipasti dish.  Very different than anything we had eaten.  Bean soup in the middle.  Starting at the top of the dial, at 12:00 position is prosciutto cheese, crostini with mushrooms, poletna cubes, egg quiche on bread, potatoes, and fried rosemary and flour which sounds disgusting but was delicious.

Now we are back at the piazza in front of the church. What do you think this crowd is waiting for?

Who would come to an elegant wedding like this in a VW Bug? Remember the guests in the beautiful dresses?

It was the bride!  Did you really think Dorothee and I would have left without seeing the bride?  It was hilarious that she showed up in a VW Bug.  Am not sure the crowd appreciated the irony but we did.

Note the wedding planner tending to the veil.  In Italy when you see the bride for the first time, you applaud.  Very entertaining.

Besides beautiful weddings, Gubbio is also known for its wrought iron and doors.  Here is my favorite.

Ciao Gubbio.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Italian fashion in Gubbio

Gubbio is our favorite hill town in Umbria.  It's a bit of a pain to get to, over a windy, narrow road, but once there, it is magnificent.  When you look up at the town and see it built into the hill, it is hard to imagine the vision, labor, and money that it cost to build the town right into the mountains.  People from Gubbio are independent minded.  They created the largest Christmas tree lights in the world on the mountain behind them, without spending any public money.

We were taking our friends Dorothee and Mike to visit Gubbio when we happened upon a wedding. In Italy it is considered good luck to see the bride, so there were many people gathering around as the wedding guests got out of vans from local hotels.  If you are not interested in fashion or beautiful people just skip to the bottom of the blog.  I must tell you I have seen many beautiful people, but other than on TV watching the red carpet at the Oscars, I have never seen so many beautiful, thin, women in such beautiful clothes in my life.  The Stoic One had a lot of fun pretending to be a paparazzi.
One of my favorite dresses, perfect hair and shoes

Only think about this dress if you are tall and pencil thin. A beautiful silk print. Cost? If you have to ask...:

She looks a little bit like Clare Danes.  Look at the old guys watching them.  The policeman looks bored.

Do you think she is a University of Tennessee fan?  Probably not.

Love the hat, the shawl and the sunglasses.  The little girls were so cute.

This is an Italian pose.  Love the shoes.

Speaking of you think he knows the Elvis Pressley song?

Love the handbag.

Life is soooo boring when you are rich and beautiful and one day dying of lung cancer!!!!

Even the little girls had beautiful shoes and dresses.  Note the wedding planner on the phone. Orange and navy seemed to be the colors of the day.

I told him to focus on the SHOES!
Ok.  Which dress did you like the best?
1.  The chiffon tiered?
2.  The long orange print?
3.  The red dress?
4.  The beige dress with the cell phone talker?
5.  The beige dress with the smoker?
6.  The striped dress above?

Well, that's it.  Oh, the bride?  We gave up.  Off for a meal...
We did wonder what would her dress be like?  How would she arrive?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Geodes Italian Style

When the Stoic One and I were in Arizona, we picked up to geodes to bring to Italy for our young friends.  A geode is a rock that is hollow inside but will often have an interesting crystal formation.  The boys are always in trouble for breaking things, so I thought this was a great opportunity for them to take a hammer and whack something.  It was hilarious and caused quite a stir.  The nuns who live in the building next to Antonietta had to come out and see what we were doing.

Barbara, the mama, finally took over and cracked the rocks open.  I can only imagine the blogs the Italians could write about crazy American presents!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Update on apartment number two/three

I have delayed writing this, hoping that I would have something of substance to say, but alas, I am still waiting.  Here is the Italian soap opera script in which I am caught up.  Last June we wrote a "compromesso" a legal binding agreement in Italy to buy the apartment next door.  We exchanged money, signed documents, etc.  Approximately two weeks later, one of the co owners, Max,  committed suicide in his apartment in Rome.  His half of the apartment went to his mother.  Here are the complications I am dealing with:
1.  The compromesso was to be completed by October of 2011. This did not happen due to the death.
2.  The apartment was held in common with Max and his grandmother.
3.  There needed to be a complete inventory of all of the belongings of Max in order to complete the estate.  This took over a year because of all of the foreign accounts and property in Italy.
4.  By law his estate was inherited by his mother.  This means the apartment is now owned by the grandmother and mother who are actually mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.
5.  The women have not spoken in 14 years, and this has not improved with the death of the only son, only grandson.
6.  The women both want to sell at the agreed price.
7.  I want to buy at the agreed price.
8.  The women do not want to be in any meeting where they will have to be with one another.  This means one of them will have to have a "procura" or power of attorney so someone can sign for them so that they can be in the meeting with the other.
9. The grandmother is near 90 and is now in the hospital.
10.  No one has any real motivation except us to make this happen.  They buyers are wealthy and grief stricken.  One is very ill and the other one is willing to do anything to get out the arrangement with her mother-in-law including giving all of her property to charity.

No, I don't know what happens if the grandmother expires before the documents are signed.
Yes, we are going to look at other property.....

The documents are being prepared.  We hope to have a signing this week.  If we don't get the signing this week, we will continue to wait and look at other property.  Sigh....
If any of you out there have any ideas, I am all ears.