A little optimism this way comes…

There seems to be a lot going on extended family wise lately.  Birthdays, pregnancies, drama… All families have drama, I know, but my tolerance for it is getting shorter and shorter as the years go by. I’ve probably simply just had my fill of it, between the Girl’s birth, the Husband’s illness, the in-laws’ health and financial insanity, the nanny leaving us, we’ve had drama up the wazoo. And now, well, now, I just try to live my life as drama free as possible, if only other people’s drama would quit encroaching on my oasis of level-headed beatitude (or so I wish it were).

My Grandma turned one hundred and four years old yesterday. 104. Every birthday that goes by is more amazing than the last. Obviously, we went down to Sao Paulo (Brazil) for the celebration.

For the first time ever the Husband managed to join us. We were supposed to be there two weeks, one of which would have been at the beach but of course the Husband’s entirely too short umbilical cord with the office started tugging at him and we had to change our plans and only stay one week (office drama). It was fantastic, though, to spend a week in the sweltering heat of the Brazilian summer coming from the dead of the most annoying winter we’ve had here. We haven’t had much snow (other than, typically, on the day before we left for and the day we returned from Brazil) but everyone’s been crazy sick, for months, just one thing after the other. I was sick literally from January 1st until halfway through the trip, so a little over a month, with everything under the sun, from laryngitis to bronchitis to sinusitis with and without the sniffles, fever, etc,etc, and the kids right along with me. The only healthy member of the family, shockingly and happily, was the husband. God only knows how that happened.

Suffice it to say, I was thoroughly enjoying being healthy and in flip-flops, I had absolutely no desire to come back to the crappy weather we’ve been having in Italy, I even briefly considered mutinously (and passive-aggressively) “losing” our passports.

So back to my Grandma or Vovo as we call her in Portuguese, her birthday went by without a hitch, she had a great week, she was very lucid and communicative. We don’t really understand her much when she speaks, which is tied to her age, but she’s perfectly capable of making herself understood. She spent a fair amount of time sitting in the living room watching the kids playing and going through the picture albums I take her every year, she had fun at her party and had her fill of champagne. What more can we ask for?

And now we’re back, hoping that “The Money Pit”, i.e. the stupid stable we’re still renovating, will soon be finished (and by soon I mean before retirement), settling back into our routine of school, skiing, and surviving the winter blues. The days are finally getting longer, if not warmer, there’s still some sunlight when we leave the house at 5.30 for soccer, which makes a gigantic difference, as you really feel like you’re finally on the better side of winter (the one closest to the end).

I have a weird excitement this year of good things to come, I can almost smell spring, I can almost see the end of the money pit sucking away at all our money, I can see better health, better weather, better moods just beyond my fingertips, but so close, so close, I just need to stretch a little bit more.

I guess that’s the best part of our trip to Brazil, all it takes is a few days with family, with nice weather, with good food, with love and just like that a little optimism this way comes…


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.

Passport, ticket, bags, and a crap load of emotional baggage

I’m writing this on a Tam airlines flight from Milan to Sao Paulo, watching the Big Bang Theory, feeling guilty.Whenever I fly with the kids I dream about the days when I flew alone, just me and my backpack. Apparently, after you have kids you become physically incapable of flying light.

I’m on my way to visit my 102 year old grandmother in Sao Paulo (Brazil), I haven’t seen her in a year, and since she’s not doing as well as she was I decided to take an impromptu trip to visit her. I’m only going to be gone for six days (two of which are travel days), and yet I managed to board the flight with a suitcase (well, two in fact, but one is just a suitcase containing another suitcase that I borrowed from my Mom when I was in Houston) and a carry on trolley along with my purse. Jesus.

Also, along with the physical baggage, there’s an entire Louis Vuitton trunk of emotional baggage. I carry classy emotional baggage.

I feel guilty for leaving the kids. I feel guilty both for the physical act of leaving and the fact that part of me was happy and excited to do it. I get to fly alone! No wrestling toddlers and strollers and enough luggage to invade Germany through the airport, no dirty looks at security checks that take an hour and a half of stripping myself and two screaming kids practically down to our underwear, no singing and playing games and bribing and trying to make over-excited, tired, whiners go to sleep without incurring death glares from all those who surround me.

I get to spend time with my Grandma and my Mom (who’s meeting me there, hence the returned luggage) like an adult, I can drink, go out to dinner, and go shopping at a moments notice. I am responsible for no one and nothing. And that makes me happy. Ah the wracking guilt, though. For the first time in years I packed the day I was leaving, I forgot half the stuff that I wanted to bring, and I didn’t care. Lately, a trip down the road entails the organizational preparation of a military incursion into hostile territory. It was just so liberating to not give a damn that I forgot my jacket.

I’ll only be gone a few days, the kids have their Dad, the Nanny and their Grandma will move in on Thursday, when they’ll probably really start to miss me, as an added distraction. I’ve even got an aunt on standby in case they get hit by the blues; plus the Husband has fun activities planned for the weekend. I’m positive they’ll be fine. And yet I feel guilty. Guilty that I didn’t take them with me, guilty because I didn’t want the expense and the hassle, guilty because they’re so little and I remember missing my parents when they were gone, guilty because I’m not doing my job. I’m basically taking a vacation from my family. And yes, I know in my mind that I’ll come back more relaxed, more patient, more fun, but in my heart I feel a little bit like a traitor.

Linking up with Shell today at Things I can’t say for Pour your heart out.