Sometimes you can’t see the mountain for all the horse shit coming at you.

I’m in a ranty mood today, just thought I’d put that out there as a warning of sorts. The past few months haven’t been bad, per say, but they certainly haven’t been anywhere near the spectrum of good. I’ve been fine and the kids have been good and we’ve been going about our daily lives quite well, thank you very much, but the Husband, well, he could justifiably complain for a while.

He had problems with his eyes all summer. The industrial amounts of cortisone and other drugs he’s been taking in the last three years since the transplant have, amongst all the other side effects, given him cataracts in both eyes. Cataracts aren’t a huge deal, young and old people get operated all the time with few adverse effects. But, for whatever reason, his eyesight, which had been giving him problems off and on for a while went on a permanent vacation in July. He had to hire a PA from one day to the next to read him emails and drive him around. He became, for all intents and purposes, blind overnight. He called his doctor and threw a fit to have the operation on the first eye in the middle of August (unheard of in Italy, where August is considered the “vacation month”). He saw the light, literally and figuratively, for less than a week and then started having problems again – I had a mini meltdown on his one and only week  of vacation because I was feeling sorry for myself as I was having to shoulder all the responsibilities on my own again (boohoo). His doctor finally realized that he still couldn’t see because he had developed an infection from the cataract operation because… oh, yeah, his immune system’s suppressed. Surprise, surprise.

To make a very long, boring, and occasionally sad, story short, the past few months have been challenging. But that’s ok. Challenging is fine, challenging is not catastrophic.

We’ve also been having a long list of problems with the money pit that has become the house renovation, aka, the worse financial investment we’ve ever made in our lives, which, incidentally, is why I’ve never mentioned it again on here.

Apparently, renovating a house is what Italians do to atone for all past, future, and hypothetical sins. I’m starting to think we’ll be sinning a lot in the next few years due to all the atoning we’re doing right now (our past sins can’t possibly justify the hellishness we’re going through with the fucking house). I’m hoping we get over hating the stupid house by the time we move into it, if that ever happens.

 

But what I really wanted to talk to you about today is my friend. Because, I swear to God, I have no idea how she hasn’t yet snapped and started randomly yelling incoherently at people in the street.

This friend of mine, she is getting divorced. Divorce is a gigantic pile of horse shit, we know that, but looking at her I’ve come to the conclusion that in Italy there is no point in divorce, better just to kill the effing asshole and be done with it.

But let me give you some background. Last year, she finds out that rat faced bastard (rfb from now on, he doesn’t even warrant capital letters) is cheating on her, so in a fit of anger she kicks him out of the house. He moves to France and shacks up with the other woman. A few months later my friend finds out that rfb has gone bankrupt, she finds out because she has people knocking at her door and calling her house at all hours demanding money. Money she doesn’t have because rfb is MIA. So she sucks it up, sells all her horses (she bred mini horses), which she loved and hoped to find some sort of financial agreement with him. His family is loaded, with a capital L, loaded and shrewd as he has nothing in his name. Between insulting her wifely abilities, telling her she should have just sucked it up cause all men have lovers, and spreading lies about her in town, her in laws helped her pay the bills (after her car got repossessed and all her utilities, including electricity, had been shut off because he went bankrupt and hadn’t paid anyone in a while). Did I mention she’s got two kids? Both of which, hurtful rumors aside, are rfb’s. So between one breakdown and the next my friend gets herself a lawyer (paid by the state, because she can’t afford one, and won’t take money from her friends many of whom offered) and tries to put her life back together.

Unfortunately, she finds herself with a (female) judge who is really misogynistic or (likely) has been bought off by her in laws that gives her the most ridiculously absurd settlement offer ever granted in all the lands and then tells her to buck up and get a job to support herself and her two – school age, not independent – children. In a country where the unemployment rate is the highest it’s been in the past thirty years and only expected to get worse. Meanwhile, rfb is living in the next country over, which isn’t allowed after filing for bankruptcy in Italy, has opened another company under someone else’s name and is merrily working again full-time as can be evidenced by his girlfriend’s new car, house, and expensive toys and clothes for his kids.

But no matter, my friend she plods along, has started working part-time and teaching English to make ends meet. Did I mention she’s not Italian? She’s British. But she doesn’t have the option of moving to England, closer to her family where she could have some help (and quite possibly a better chance of finding a job), because rfb has joint custody of the kids.

But why am I sharing this tedious story? Because my friend, she came over tonight to catch up on the past couple of weeks, during which time she’s had to have her eight-year old dog, who she loves dearly, operated on (again), and has had herself several visits with her own doctor, as she hadn’t been feeling well lately. Her doctor tactfully (and I’m totally being sarcastic here) informed her that her thyroid is quite enlarged and along with the other symptoms she’s having, quite likely she has throat cancer.

Fantastic. Just fanfuckingtastic. Because, really, with the year she’s had what other news could she possibly have expected?

I’m in a really raving bad mood tonight, because life, it can be wonderful, but lately it really seems like a gigantic pile of shit. And the worse of it is that my friend, she sat there and told me this laughing and joking because the truth is if she cried I don’t think she’d be able to stop. And that just breaks my heart.

Just call me Grumpy

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I’m in a phenomenally bad mood today. Likely, this is due to the fact that I’ve been stuck in this stupid hospital for almost a week now. You want to know what the biggest difference between a hospital in Italy and a hospital in Texas is? Everyone here is polite. And you have to be polite back. The entire day is punctuated with Hi, how are yous, you have a good day nows, cheery alrights and thank yous.

 

You’re constantly greeting people, and smiling at people, and no, no go on aheading at people. Yesterday, during the attending’s visit she was saying how the infection that the husband has is very severe, that it could lead to a rupture in the gut, which is why they’re keeping him under such strict control, that he does have a little GVHD but it’s just a level 1 out of 4, so not worrisome at all, and one of the fellows, I swear to God, clapped her hands excitedly and said Yaaaaay! Seriously, stop being so flippin’ cheery.

In Italy, everyone is much less polite. You don’t aknowledge people in the elevator, you pretend you’re in there alone. Despite the fact that most of the time you’re packed in like sardines. The doctors and the nurses don’t give a shit how you’re doing, unless you’re the patient and are answering specific questions. And no one, no one, would ever get excited about a diagnosis or prognosis or whatever. I used to hate that about Italy. Everybody’s so grumpy. But this morning I kind of get it, I’m tired, I’ve got cabin fever from being stuck in this room for so long, I’m running out of ways to entertain the husband, and I really, really, miss my kids, so I kind of resent having to expend even the minimal energy required to enquire about the nurse’s well being today. I don’t care. Just leave  me alone and let me sulk in peace.

Unfortunately, I grew up here, and apparently it is physically impossible for me to enter an elevator, or get in line, or walk into a waiting room, and refrain from asking everyone around me how they’re doing and talking about the weather. It’s a little like having Tourette’s, I imagine, but without the satisfaction of pissing off everyone around me.

It has finally stopped raining, the sun is out and instead of lifting my mood it’s actually made it worse cause now I really want to be outside! So just call me Grumpy today, and when I ask how everything’s going, keep your answers short and to the point, cause I don’t really want to know. Harrumph!

How am I feeling, facebook? You really want to know?

I’ve been on Facebook for years now, can’t even really remember how many. I’ve never gone off it, I have no strong feelings about it either way. I don’t feel like it’s invading my privacy, or that it’s covering a broader, hidden, conspiracy to deprive me of my civil rights. I just enjoy seeing what my friends and acquaintances are up to, being nosy about their lives. Plus it’s a fast and effective way to communicate what’s going on with me. I used to like the original third-person prompt for the status update “Bonny is….” it was kind of fun talking about myself impersonally and it made for some hilarious reading what with everyone screwing up their personal pronouns (myself included). Lately though, Facebook has started getting a little too touchy feely for my taste, a little too new agey bullshit…. The prompts now are “How are you feeling, Bonny?”, “How are you doing, Bonny?” “What’s going on…:”.

How am I feeling, Facebook? Do you really want to know? Cause that’s going to make for some pretty disconcerting status updates.

But since you ask, I’m pretty fucking tired, Facebook. The Husband is still in the hospital, we’re getting some more tests done, we’re not really sure what’s wrong with him. My kids, they’re pretty upset. The day before yesterday I left the Husband in the late afternoon, so I could spend some time with the kids, and the Boy had a massive meltdown. “Why is my daddy sick, no one else’s daddy is sick”, that broke my heart. I’m also pretty pissed off at the universe right now, Facebook. And yes, I know, things could be worse, they could be harder, we are pretty lucky, but I’m going to be pissed for just a little while longer ok? I’m going to throw a small, internal, tantrum, and shake my fist at fate, because I am sick and fucking tired of this. I’m tired of having to manage everyone, the kids, my mom, the Husband, his mom… I’m tired of having to be apparently calm and level-headed, of making decisions, of reassuring people, I’m tired of running around from hospital to home, and home to hospital, eating a bite here, taking a quick shower there, dispensing hugs and kisses, playing, entertaining, feeding, hand-holding and coddling, constantly in my practical, comfortable, t-shirt and yoga pants, so I can sleep in my clothes and not look like a complete fucking mess all the time.

 

I want to be able to relax, for just five minutes, I don’t want to worry about the husband, or the kids, or the state of the world economy, for five freaking minutes. That’s my goal this year, five minutes of just absolute peace and contentment.

And also, I need half an hour to wash and dry my hair. How’s that for a status update, Facebook?

My gun or yours?

I love the US. I grew up there. It’s my home. I love Texas. It’s the best state in the union. (or so we think.) Up to a few years ago I would’ve given anything to be able to move back. And then I had kids, and though I would love nothing more than to have them grow up there, because there are many, many wonderful things about the United States of America, I simply cannot imagine taking them voluntarily to a place where 27 people in an elementary school can be randomly gunned down by an idiot. (And also, healthcare is unacceptable, but that’s another post).

I live in Italy, there are hunters here too, people have guns in Italy too, one in six families, in fact, keep a firearm in the home. But to get a gun you have to jump through a thousand and one hoops, you are not allowed to walk around with a gun, you are not allowed to carry a concealed weapon, you are not allowed to walk into a public space with a gun, and, you are certainly not allowed to shoot a gun. Yes, you read that right. No shooting. Unless you’re in a shooting range, or aiming at ducks. You’re not even allowed to shoot someone invading your home unless they’ve shot a gun at you (although I personally don’t agree with this exaggerated interpretation of proportional force). What all this means is that Italians don’t take the use of guns in the same excessively cavalier, I done gone and shot him dead, way that Americans do.

Because guns here are scary, they’re seen as frightening, which frankly is the way it should be, because guns actually do shoot one dead. And sure, you can kill someone with a knife, or with a rope, or with your bare hands, in fact, but all these other ways of killing people take a certain degree of skill, whereas you barely need basic motor skills to kill someone with a gun. Guns are too damn easy to use, which is why they need to be regulated. I absolutely believe in the right to bear arms, but every right should be accompanied by obligations, by responsibilities and by limitations. Because it is absolutely unacceptable, in an evolved society, that small children be gunned down in the middle of the school day. We are not barbarians, we need to stop behaving that way. Guns have to be regulated, because we simply cannot count on every person toting a gun to be responsible, and the alternative is too horrifying to be left up to chance, we’ve had proof enough of that.

I’m guest posting over at my friend Bridget’s wonderful blog Twinisms later today, as she’s off enjoying a much deserved Hawaiian vacation. Please stop by and visit me there too!

Because TV and cancer just don’t go hand in hand

Let me just start off by saying that I don’t have high hopes of this post actually making sense to everyone, but bear with me because I’m pretty pissed off. But first a quick tangent to get the new readers up to speed: my husband had leukemia, he was diagnosed at the end of 2009, he had chemo, radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant in 2010. And we thought he had beat it. In February 2011 he was re-diagnosed, he had more chemo and another bone marrow transplant. He’s been in remission since. And now back to the point of this post.

I’ve just recently found a way to watch Netflix in Italy (not available here) so I’ve been doing a LOT of the watching of tv shows. In fact, I’ve started watching Brothers and Sisters. It’s a decent show, funny at times, sad at times, Rob Lowe is in it… I’m about half way through season 4, and if I wasn’t so late to the party (it aired a couple of years ago, I think) I would contact the writers and tell them to go screw themselves. Or, you know, to do some research before writing stuff. Now, I’m not an idiot (most of the time), I know that tv shows aren’t real and much of the stuff they portray does not reflect reality, I also get that most of us watch tv to get away from reality not get slapped in the face with it. But still.

One of the characters, Kitty, has lymphoma, she has chemo, she loses her hair, she doesn’t seem to be getting better, the second round of chemo doesn’t work, so she has a bone marrow transplant. Three weeks later: she’s fine! In remission! In fact, she’s home with her baby! Her blood white cell count is up! And OMG a few months later she’s considering running for office. WOW!

To be honest I’m not sure why this pissed me off so much, I don’t think we’re actually going to have a zombie apocalypse nor do I believe that the vampires are among us, but these episodes hit a little too close to home.

The Husband had his second BM transplant over a year and a half ago, and he still hasn’t recuperated his energy. When you get a BM transplant you’re in a sterile room for weeks afterwards, once you get to go home your immune system is still so suppressed you have to wear a mask everywhere, even in your own home, your child gets a cold and you have to stay away from them, and you’re certainly not hugging and kissing all your family members with tears and soulful music moments before a transplant.

A year and a half later, and the Husband still has to take a crap load of meds to keep his immune system suppressed, because if he doesn’t his immune system will attack his body. He’s got scars all over his torso from GVHD (graft versus host disease) which happens when they adjust his meds, because his liver or his kidneys are overloaded, and he gets these horrible red splotches all over his skin, because his immune system, the transplanted bone marrow, doesn’t recognize the rest of his body. He gets tired, easily. His heart is stressed, as are his lungs, from the radiation therapy.

He’s better, of course, every day that passes he gets a little better, but he’s not fine. Not by any stretch of the imagination. His hair hasn’t even grown back. The first time around it was all back after six months, but the meds he’s taking now are keeping his hair from growing back, and he hates it. He hates being bald, because he didn’t become bald “naturally” he’s bald because of the disease, so every time he looks in the mirror he remembers how sick he was, and how unwell he still is.

A few months ago, he had some very bad stomach pains and he was nauseous, there was a stomach flu going around. He felt horrible for twenty-four hours, we had to call the doctor in the middle of the night. The doc gave him two shots but told him that if he wasn’t feeling better by morning he had to go to the hospital, that he should have, in fact, gone straight to the hospital. I have never seen anyone more terrified of anything in his life. He was shaking, not from the pain, but from the fear of having to go back in.

This is what it’s like a year and a half after a bone marrow transplant. You get better, slowly. You go on with your life, partially. You get stronger, hopefully. But you certainly aren’t back to normal. In fact, you can’t even see normal off out on the horizon. And you absolutely aren’t off running for office.

Linking up today with Shell from Things I can’t say

I have no concept of brevity, and also, I don’t have my passport.

Yesterday I was in Milan with the husband, I had to go to the Brazilian Consulate to get my passport and register the kids’ birth and get a few other documents. For those of you as confused as I am on my heritage, I was born in Italy, I grew up in Texas, my Dad was Italian and my Mom is Brazilian, when I lived in the US none of the responsible adults got their act together enough to get American citizenship, although my Mother is now married to an American and merrily on her way to being naturalized. So, though I may well go about my life feeling American and wanting to go “home” to Houston, I do not have American citizenship, I do, however, have Italian citizenship and Brazilian citizenship, I foresee the latter soon becoming the bane of my existence.

The reason for my distress, which, though not overtly apparent, is pronounced and far-reaching, is due to the fact that I’ve come to the realization that all government workers are actually sadistic assholes who basically get their kicks making the rest of us jump through hoops of burning fire. (I know, redundant, but effective imagery. I’m referring to “burning fire” here, not “sadistic assholes”, though that qualifies as redundant as well.)

About a month and a half ago I called a friend of a friend at the Brazilian consulate, cause I had a lot of things to get done there and wanted to go about it in the most efficient way possible. This very nice gentleman kindly walked me through all the steps of all of the things I needed to get done: get a crapload of documents from a variety of offices in Italy, many of which are not commonly used in Italy, but hey, no surprise there. Make the relevant appointments through the consular website, send them the forms they need ahead of time, get pictures taken, I then divided up all my documents in neat little folders, got in the car and drove two and a half hours to Milan and spend the night in a hotel so I could be there bright and early (and most importantly, on time) for my appointment. I got to the consulate fifteen minutes early and waited outside with two hundred other people for them to open their doors (ten minutes late).

All this to say, I was fucking ready to get my passport.

When I finally sat in front of the lady who was effectively holding my life and my sanity in her hands, I found myself helplessly going through the governmental equivalent of “who’s on third” with many rounds of: ma’am, you need a valid Brazilian ID to get your passport, oh, well, I’ve brought you 33 documents that state me to be who I am, including, but not limited to, my Brazilian birth certificate, both the one issued to me by the embassy in Rome in 1975 when I was born, and the transcription (from 2008, when I happened to be in Brazil) of my birth certificate in some Brazilian government office that does this just so they know I actually exist in case the embassy’s birth certificate and the myriad of passports I’ve had since my birth weren’t enough, the police report that states that my old passport was lost or stolen (my old passport that expired fifteen years ago, so no, no one has likely stolen my identity in the meantime), and no less than three (3!) valid Italian picture IDs, that, considering this is the Brazilian consulate IN ITALY, should have some sort of, if not legal, at least demonstrative value. The only way I could possibly have further proven my identity was getting her to google me, and befriended her on facebook, but, going back to my point, I don’t have any valid Brazilian picture ID because my passport was lost and I’ve never lived in Brazil. I understand ma’am, but you need to get an ID from Brazil, Yes, sure I get it, but you see, I tried, but I’ve never, not one day in my life, lived in Brazil, I have no proof of residence, they won’t give me an ID until I bring them a fucking passport (which is what the consulate it there for, incidentally).

So basically, I need an ID to get a passport, yet I need a passport to get an ID. Oh and, by the way, who’s on third?? When I finally managed to get through to her, that I needed to get the stupid passport FIRST, she comes up with excuse number… honestly, I’ve lost count… that the transcript from the Brazilian government office registering my birth was too old (2008), that person with my name, (I don’t have a common name, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the only person in the world with my name – as far as google is concerned, in fact, I am – and no, it’s not Bonny Bard) could have died in the meantime and I could be trying to steal her identity.

This excuse, the one that made me get up and leave in frustration and defeat, is so ridiculous that I swear to you I had no comeback (right then, I came up with plenty later, but isn’t that what always happens?). I mean for the love of God and all that is holy! I must be a genius in identity theft because I had already apparently swindled the Italian government, since I had a driver’s licence, identity card AND A PASSPORT with my name and picture on it. I had birth certificates for my kids, a marriage certificate with my husband, copies of my Mother’s Brazilian passport and ID, and by God I was set on swindling the Brazilian consulate too! What next? World domination? Am I… could I possibly be a spy? Or a drug dealer? And rather than buying fake documents of the black market, like any respectable criminal would, I wanted to up the ante by getting an official passport from the Brazilian Consulate in Milan. I’m an evil genius, Bwahahahaha!

Are they fucking kidding me?

No seriously. Are they?

I left, unable to comprehend that I hadn’t gotten anything done. And now I’m pissed, mostly at myself, as usual, because I should have thrown the mother of all hissy fits right there in the consulate. It may not have helped me get what I wanted, though frankly I’ve seen it work lots of times, but I would’ve at least vented directly there and you wouldn’t be reading what amounts to practically the complete, unabridged, works of William Shakespeare, if not in style, at least in length.

Monday Listicles – Shut up, just shut that shit up already!

It’s Monday once again and time for listicling. Amazingly last week I managed to post more than just the listicle, despite all the busy vacationing that I’m doing, but I’ve got to admit that Stasha’s lists are my favorite posting “assignments” of the week.  This week she asked us to list 10 sounds that drive us bonkers, this was pretty easy for me tonight, as we had a really annoying dinner experience and I’m still rankled from it. The restaurant was hot, as in Dante’s inferno, as in I ordered a soda just so I could rub the cold can on my neck, face, and cleavage in what could have been a very seductive move had I not had sweat running down my temples, as in invest in some fucking fans already. I’m sure you get the picture. Plus the service was abysmal, the restaurant was crowded, and when I say crowded I don’t mean like American restaurants get crowded I mean the waiters kept jostling our chairs as they passed, I could have easily reached over and picked food from my neighbors plate, I could have actively participated in their conversation, and at one point the person closest to me was almost sitting in my lap. Italian – we have no sense of personal space – crowded. This is why I don’t spend time at the beach in Italy in August, because from here on out it can only get worse. The cities on the other hand are wonderfully empty, there’s hardly any traffic, parking is plentiful and unlike the days of yore when one couldn’t even buy milk in cities in August, all services are available and all the people who are still around and working are surprisingly polite and unstressed. Which is why I’m going home on Tuesday. Anywaaaay, I should probably get off this tangent and back to my list of:

10 sounds that make me want to stab someone, then choke them, then throw their limp lifeless body down a ravine

1. clocks ticking

2. hands, fingers, feet, tapping

3. teeth grinding

4. or air being sucked through teeth

5. snoring

6. heavy breathing that almost qualifies as snoring

7. cuticle or nail picking

8. nose sniffling

9. tongue clucking

10. oh, and did I mention clocks ticking

Also, any noise at all when I’m trying to sleep.

I’m not sure, but I may, possibly, be a little high-strung. Just a thought.

p.s. also, yappy dogs, yappy dogs yapping away, make me want to kill myself.

The end.

Because paying 50% taxes on our income is money well spent they say.

Can I just say that the fact that the inhabitants of the Italian peninsula have been here for well over two thousand years is a complete and utter aberration of all that is logical and just, and also, that the ancient Romans, if they were still around today would kick modern Italians on their completely irrational and frankly, lazy, asses.

Can you tell, by my opening paragraph, that I’ve been once again banging my head against that play-doh-like wall that is Italian bureaucracy?

We’re buying a house. The husband and I decided upon marrying that we would assume the “separation of assets” state because it suited our own particular needs. This basically means that everything that was ours prior to the marriage (not much) remains the sole asset of the original owner, if we inherit our inheritances are our own, and we can buy property with our own money in our own name without having to be co-signatories.

And yet, for reasons that defy our understanding, despite the fact that we’re buying the house together, in both our names, the notary overseeing the purchase needs a document that states that we have in fact decided on the separation regime. This shouldn’t be too hard, there’s an office that gives you these documents. The problem arises because, well, I can’t really explain why without being unnecessarily rude to Italians, so let’s just say that the bureaucracy here has the sole purpose of driving otherwise normal and calm people completely bat shit crazy.

The husband and I were married in Rome, when we were married we resided in Milan, we now reside in Cuneo. I can get this document in Rome, I can get it in Milan, however I cannot get it in Cuneo. How is that possible? If I could only get it in Rome it would be insane but it would be completely within the boundaries of what is considered normal in Italy in 2012 where we haven’t yet fully realized that this is, in fact, the age of computers and the internet, but if I can in fact get it in Milan, where I no longer live, but where apparently they can communicate the necessary information from Rome why can’t I get it here?

They can do a whole host of other documents online, but not these… why? WHY?

It is a miracle, that as a people, Italians have been around for as long as they have, it makes me want to challenge all of Darwin’s theories regarding evolution because if it really was a question of survival of the fittest they would have become extinct sometime right after the Renaissance.