This is f*cking weird.
Please excuse all typos. I'm in a cafe using their WiFi (my temporary apartment doesn't have Internet). The Internet here is free but you have to buy a drink or something. I am chilling with a glass of red wine while I look out at the remains of the walls that used to guard the city (Porta Pia). My feet are killing me. I got lost countless times today. I tried to find my permanent apartment but instead walked around the Piazza Farnese. Trying to get back to Termini area, got lost, saw the Trevi fountain. Finally found the station which is a 20 minute walk from my aparment, got lost. Well, at least I walked off the piece of piazza I had for lunch and the gelato.
The last 48 hours in Los Angeles were just crazy. I didn't have enough luggage for all my stuff. I ended up checking in four bags at an additional cost of $250. I connected in Chicago. As the plane started to descend I had a complete freak out (quietly). It's as if I finally realized that I quit a job I loved and was moving to a foreign country...not just going on vacation. I starting crying (and was embarassed and try to hide it) as I felt completely overwhelmed. What irrational thing to do at my age. I'm a middle age lady (yes my friends if you are over 35 you are middle aged) trying to get a writing career off the ground...in Hollywood. A place where if you are not an "it boy" by 30 your chances of working are slim.
I thought about my family and all my friends I had to say good-bye to, my questionable Italian speaking skills, where whould I find a hairdresser who knows how to work with natural black hair, and how I don't know the metric system. The Chicago to Rome leg I tried to sleep and had the pleasure of a screaming toddler sitting behind me for almost eight hours. The good news...none of my bags were lost.
I had some jet lag and crashed at 6:30 p.m. I was up at 12:30 a.m. and tossed and turned all night until I got up at 4:00 a.m. I knew today was going to be my first dealing with the infamous Italian red tape. My stomach was in knots. I did have a my first good writing day in about two weeks (I'm working on a romantic comedy script). Feeling good about that, I went down to Trastevere to get my Codice Fiscale (kind of like a Social Security Number, you need it to open a bank account, work, pay utilities etc.). As I walked past the area where I have rented apartments for the last two years I felt like I was back home.
I got to the office just as they were opening and there was a line. I have to say I am SHOCKED at how organized it was. The older gentleman at the front desk couldn't be more helpful. He listened to my broken Italian and he chuckled when he saw my cheat sheet. That is how organized/anal I am. I wrote down in Italian what I wanted to say. In Italian he asked me where I was from, when did I arrived in Rome and then he said welcome and I could come back to him if I had any questions. I know he slowed down his normal speaking speed so I was able to understand most of what he said. I saw him later speaking to a colleague of his and seriously it sounded so lyrical but I had no idea what they were talking about they spoke so quickly.
The woman who processed my info spoke ZERO English, was super sweet and told me I had a "bel nome/beautiful name" (for some reason my middle name is spelled out on my French passport, so now all my Italian documents have my middle name). From the time I sat down at her desk I think it took less than 10 minutes for her to do the paperwork.
Next onto the bank. I spoke to the branch manager yesterday on the phone (he spoke no English). I got his name from through an affiliate branch in the States after my landlord gave me the number of the closest branch to the apartment. He had me work with a employee who knew some English. That was an overstatement. She said she studied it in school but she never speaks it. Similar to me and French. I studied it for 7 years and know maybe 6 sentences. Her younger colleague came over and she spoke as much English as I do Italian. We were able to work it out. We kept laughing because every other sentence was "come si dice" (how do you say?) Since I elected to go with the plan that is banking online I will avoid some the crazy high fees. I still have to pay a tax of about 32 Euros a year. It was so weird to open a checking account and receive no checks. Nobody uses them. My rent, bills will be taked out of my account.
I couldn't bring my bag into the bank. You have to go through these secure doors. After all the terrorist attacks in the 70s you can't just walk into a bank here. At first I was wondering why the inner door wouldn't open. I didn't understand what the automated voice was saying. The security guard pointed to the lockers. In English I said something like "I need my bag to open my account". He looked at me like, are you "molto stupida?" you would want to put your bag in the locker right now.
After 30 minutes or so I had my account after signing a million documents. It's interesting the things I read I would need and made sure I had, reference letter from my home back, tax return or proof of income, and only being able to open a "strainieri" (foriegner's account) never came up. The two women, patiently explained everything to me and also asked me a bunch of questions about L.A. As I was standing in line to desposit money, an American tourist next to me who was exchanging money was complaining that there were only two tellers and about all the security. The women in front of me was an American expat who has lived in Rome for 10 years. She told the tourist that she liked the security and thinks the energy in the States now is more paranoid (she went back for time in years). He then went on to say loudly " I guess customer service is not a priortity to these people." ouch.
I know getting residency will require a bunch of steps but I don't have to worry about that until after I move into my place. Thanks to reading all the negative threads on Expats in Italy I was prepared for the worst. Rude bureaucrats (like the ones I had to deal with at the DMV in Washington DC) disorganization and what not. Instead the people I dealt with today were great. I think by the summer my Italian will be much better. I am forced to used it now. I went to get a gelato near the Trevi fountain. The minute I walked in the lady behind the counter spoke English to me. In the areas near tourist destintations there are plenty of people who speak English.
Tomorrow I am going to write all morning and then if I feel like it go down to Telecom Italia to get a permanent cell phone. My manager is supposed to call me for our weekly conference call tonight at 7:00 p.m. my time. After my call I might go walk around my neighborhood or something. I have to get on Roman time.
Randomissia - The U.S. presidential election is getting major coverage on Italian television. Rihanna and the new Gnarls Barkley song are huge here. A British brother walking by me on the street asked me if I was Jamaican. I said no..he asked "where are you from" all loud. ha. Some Italian guy on a Vespa, stopped in the middle of traffic and blew me a kiss. At first I thought he was a friend of mine, that is the only reason I made eye contact. When I realized it wasn't him I was like get moving homeslice. I would like to state for the record, I was saying homeslice long before Diablo Cody.
Since I don't have Internet at my place postings will be sporadic.