Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I am moving but....

I won't have Internet/home phone for 12-14 business days. My landlord called Telecom Italia for me which was nice since my Italian is beyond trifling. A nice lady named Chiara, who speaks English, is calling me from Telecom to get all my information.

See, I can't even talk smack about Telecom Italia taking two weeks to hook up a telephone line since the mofos at AT&T have totally disrupted my life (see my last post).

Okay I have already moved two pieces of luggage from G.'s place only four to go. ha.

G. might be going out of town this weekend (as are most of my friends here). He said I could keep the keys and come over to use the Internet. phew.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Red tape, Spaghetti All'amatriciana, a nice tub

It is STUNNING out.

I just got back in. I was going to do some work but instead got sucked into reading the film trades online.

File this little tale under ironic. What has been the biggest pain in the butt since I arrived in Italy? An American company called AT&T. For the last two weeks my sister and I have tried to get to the bottom of a problem with my former account. The problem is on their end. My poor sister, who was trying to help me out, spent over two hours on the phone with them last week. Thanks to their incompetence I cannot access any of my emails on that account. My Flickr page is connect to that address, so I can't access that page either. I am beyond irritated. I've just sent them another email (number 25 I believe). Maybe they will get it right soon.

I went to dinner at G.'s girlfriend's house. Her ridiculously gorgeous friend let's call him GF, was making dinner. I saw him at a luncheon we went to a couple weeks ago. He made this delicious Spaghetti All'amatriciana. I chuckled when he and G. got into a very intense 15 minute conversation about how to make it and which style was really Roman. Unfortunately GF also smokes a lot. Everyone lit up after dinner except me. I don't think I could date a smoker. This might mean I will be single in Rome. haha. So far every single guy I have met here smokes.

One of G.'s friends also came over. She is the actress I met the first week I was here. I was the last person to finish my dinner. G. was teasing about me about eating so slowly. Defending me, she said:

"You eat slowly. That is good. It's means you make love slowly as well."
I said "no comment" and then said to G. "You eat very quickly. Your poor girlfriend"
He replied, "Yeah but I had two servings. I ate twice." The whole table busted out laughing.

I finally saw my apartment today. We are signing contacts next week. Both of the apartments I have stayed in here do not have tubs. I prefer showers and don't take baths often but when I saw that brand new tub, tears almost came to my eyes. :)

My landlord's granddaughter was there. She was born in America and speaks fluent English. She was able to translate everything. There are a few little things the contractors might need to finish up but I will be able to still move in.

The place is so freaking small, it's half the size of my L.A. apartment. I will have to get rid of more things when they arrive. Right now my crate is on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean heading toward the port of Naples. I can just imagine what drama awaits my shipment there. The apartment does get plenty of light and has a ton of character. The landlord did a great job with the renovation. The building is nice and very clean. The condo fees aren't too bad. There is no ac and because the building is so old (it's in the Historic Center) there will be no ac installed, ever. I better get some fans.

For such a small space, there is decent storage...it's well designed and laid out. My apartment in L.A. had zero character. I am glad to say good-bye to the beige wall-to-wall carpeting and popcorn ceilings. This place has hardwood floors, tiled flooring in the bathroom, very high wood beamed ceilings and huge windows with shutters on the outside.

My friend has been so patient letting me stay here. I promised to make him dinner once all my things arrive. I am not cooking Italian. I don't need that kind of pressure. G. doesn't play when it comes to food. God help you if the pasta is not al dente.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This ragazza is very tired.

Seriously, I didn't write a darn thing this morning. What did I do today? I went on a walk across the bridge to Trastevere, down to the Vatican, took some photos, watched the news, had a piece of pizza for lunch (again), walked around Piazza Farnese, came back to the apartment tried to write, instead I spent an hour online looking at home decor and fashion websites/blogs then fell asleep on the couch. Okay after this post I am going to get to work.

I am tired because last night G., his girlfriend and I went to a birthday party. The birthday girl's mom is American, Dad is Italian and she grew up in Florence and NYC. She was a fantastic host. Great party...the food was Lebanese and very, very good. I think it's the first time I have had that cuisine. However, we left said party after midnight. Hello, it's the middle of the week. By the time I went to bed, it had to be close to 1:00 and I woke up at 6:00 a.m. as usual.

I enjoyed talking to one of the birthday girl's friends who runs world wide press for a high end fashion house. She spends a lot of time in L.A. esp. during Oscar week. That job is not fun. ha.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Education in America...folks we have a problem.

So while the clip of that Miss Teen USA contestant sounding like an idiot was amusing, this article in today's New York Times is not.

This is mess. When you have 1/3 of high school students dropping out and another 1/3 not prepared for a job or college, the future is not looking good. If anything, the world is a lot more competitive than when our parents graduated from high school. There were great paying union jobs that would enable a one-income family of four to own a home, send kids to college and even take a vacation or two. Those days are over.

What is going to happen to America? We are the dumbest industrialized nation on the planet. Yes, several of our of colleges dominate the top 25 world wide (Havard, Yale, Stanford etc.) but this huge gap between those who go to college and those that do not cannot be a good thing. What can be done to fix education at the k-12 level? In Los Angeles over 50% of the students drop out. Who are employers going to hire if Jonny can't read?

On a related note there is a book "The Age of American Un-Reason" by Susan Jacoby that talks about the rise of anti-intellectualism in America. There has always been a strain of it but now we revel in it. 1/3 of Americans cannot name a basic right from the Bill of Rights. 25% of biology teachers think dinosaurs and humans shared the earth (maybe they should read instead of watching "Land of the Lost" re-runs). When I was younger I was so tired of hearing my West Indian relatives complain about American schools. I found it offensive and not true. I didn't realize I was growing up in a bubble. 97% of the kids from my graduating class went on to higher education. The rest had jobs. I thought that was the norm. It's not.

Jacoby puts the biggest blame for what is not going on in our culture on the over saturation of mass media and the rise of fundamentalist religion. She said this pride in knowing nothing important has dire consequences for our country, like in foreign policy for example. Jacoby argues Americans are not stupid as in we have less brain matter it's how we chose to use it. The avg American watches over 7 hours of TV in a 24 hour period. Let's think about that for a minute. That is an average number yikes.

I think balance is important. Hello, I make my living in pop culture (film/books) and also I need to know if Heidi and Spencer are really going to get their own show. Who would watch that? I don't blame L.C. for hating them. Audrina better watch her step, I don't trust Heidi. (for those not stateside...Heidi and Spencer want a spin off from the show "The Hills". I stumbled on a marathon one day when I was sick. Called my sister and said "Who the hell are these people and why are they on TV?" She ten years younger and knows what the young people are up too. She broke it down and then I got sucked in. Plus I used to see the "stars" in L.A. all the time)

Anyway, I hope as this cynical and nasty election in the U.S. wraps up, us voters can hear more about education and less about flag pins.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Randomissimo - Walker, Texas Ranger dubbed

G. does not have Sky TV. At night either it's the Italian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" , "Wheel of Fortune" (wtf is up with the Vanna White type chick and the host who is way over the top?), some show about men and women hosted by a woman who has the deepest voice I have ever heard, "CSI" /"House" dubbed or last night a special treat, "Walker, Texas Ranger", starring the one and only Chuck Norris.

Okay last night's episode, from what I understood, was about a young Latino kid who is in Walker's martial arts class. He's a good kid, loves his mama, but his older brother wants him to join the gang. No he says until his other brother/cousin (?) who works at a gas station, is shot in a drive by while taking a Christmas tree out of his pick-up. He believes the rival gang did it but we the audience know the truth. The brother in the gang shot the guy for trying to protect our young protagnonist. One day the kid does not show up for class and Walker finds out why. He looks pensive and the music builds to a climax.

This show had me on the floor cracking up when Walker would roll up in the Crips (blue) and Bloods (red) respective hangs out by himself to find out what was going on. Why the gang bangers didn't put a cap in his ass the minute he walked through the door made no sense to me. Maybe because it's small town?

In the final scence our young kid has his AK-47 and is ready to fight. The Crips didn't show up becaue Walker convinced them not to. Violence is not the answer folks! The head gang banger, the big mouth who started all the mess said yes to fighting Walker one on one without weapsons. Of coure this 50 plus guy whooped the 20 year-old's butt. The gang banger was on the ground all jacked up telling his homies to shoot Walker but none of them would. The cops came and arrested everyone. Our protagonist quits the gang. I have to say the Italian dubbing was quite good. I'm sure some of the slang the gang bangers were throwing around was not easy to translate.

Paul Haggis co-created this show. He would go on to be nominated two years in a row for a Best Orginal Screenplay Oscar(Crash, Million Dollar Baby) and co-wrote Casino Royale and wrote the next Bond movie. I found last night's show more entertaining than the dubbed "According to Jim". I don't think that show is funny in any language.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Food, Florence, fun

I am picking up a signal from somwhere so I'm back online for the moment. Still at G's apartment. I walked past my place earlier this morning on the way to the market. The windows and shutters were open and I could hear the men sanding or buffing the floors. The kitchen is supposed to go in on Thursday, Friday is a holiday-nothing is going on, so we are looking at the weekend. Fingers crossed.

I think I have been out with friends more the in last seven days, than the last seven months. On avg. dinner time was around 11:00 p.m. I still wake up 5:30/6:00. G. more like 9:00 or 10 if he's not shooting. By the time he's out the door to go to his "bar" for a espresso and the paper, I've written five or more pages.

I had to stay in one night last week because G. 's friend (who he just happened to bump into on the street that afternoon) called at 9:30 p.m. to give him the address for a dinner party. He returned home at 1:00 a.m. (on a "school night"). He said I should have come, the food was excellent and the villa was very nice. See when he received said call I was already in my pajamas. I am living out of a suitcase. I woud even know where to look for something fun to wear to a dinner like that.

I've had some good film meetings and getting alot of work done during the day. At night, mindful of my budget, I say yes to an aperitvo but then around 9:30 someone in the group always says "okay so where should we go for dinner?". I know once I move and can cook again I will not be eating lunch and dinner out so often. Phew.

Big thanks to Sara for organizing the Expat get together in Florence. I took the slower, cheaper, local train to Florence. It was a nice, pretty ride. I now know where the train stop for Cortona is.

The weather was great (original forecast called for rain). It was so much fun to reconnect with friends and meet some of my fellow expats. Everyone was very friendly and had great advice about making the move. The expats came from all over Italy.

Yesterday I went to a barbeque. Some of the people I had met earlier in the week. Yesterday was perfect out. Sunny and in the high 70s with a breeze. On the way back, a car almost clipped the scooter. G. was like, whaever, I was afraid. I don't do drugs but after that scooter ride (it was a long one. We were north of the Olympic Village) I wanted some valium or something to calm my nerves. ha.

One of the guests at the barbeque said May and June are the best months in Rome. Not too hot and there are so many things to do. Several people forwarded the following New York Times article from Sunday's travel section about Rome at night.

There was a moment yesterday as I was walking down Via Giulia that I realized I have been here three weeks and still haven't unpacked, I am burning through my money quicker than expected due to the dollar's weakness, I don't have a job and I can't really communicate, yet I am so freaking happy I could cry. Maybe there are drugs in the pizza.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Flashback Friday - Wham "Rap!"

This one is for my friend Robyn who for some reason knows all the words. I have to be honest. This fact scares me.



Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What's playing in Rome...Estelle feat. Kanye West

I hear this song everywhere and it's one of the top videos on MTV Italia.

I never heard of this singer until I moved here. She is London born, mom is African, dad is West Indian. The single is number one in the UK and she recently to moved to NYC.

I just love the melody. It reminds me of Swing out Sister, very British 80s pop vibe. I like her choice of models in her video. ha.

Also popular is Duffy's"Mercy" and the new Madonna/Justin Timberlake song. I went to buy gelato the other day and the women behind the counter was dancing to the latter. I have a feeling it is going to be a big club hit.

I plan to stay in tonight. I went to dinner at 10:30 (hello, that is the time I'm usually in bed). I met G and C at G's girlfriend's for an aperitivo. At some point some said let's go to dinner. Since I had not eaten since 1:00 I was starving. We went to a place nearby in Monti. Good food but the vibe was weird. We thought it was a little stuffy. Can't remember the name. I got into an arguement with G about the movie JUNO.

I work at up at six and got a lot of work done (needed to get onlint to do some research for the script). G thinks I'm weird waking up so early.

Here is the video. Ignore the the red arrow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My landlord.

It has been raining off and on today. When it rains, it's a hardcore downpour then the sun comes out. Bella.

I have moved. My friend's apt. is fantastic. Too bad he is on the top floor and I have five pieces of luggage.

I met my landlandy. She couldn't be sweeter. She gave me the floor plan of the apartment and told me the names of my neighbors (it's a small condo buidlding). She also gave a bus ticket (ha) and a big map/bus guide for the city.

As I suspected, the precious tenant was bananas. My landlord said she was very happy I was going to be renting her place. I know all about her family now. One of her grandchildren was born in Philly. She has a daughter around my age. She used to work at RAI and for an 80 year old, she is quite hip. I really don't know many people her age who have email.

I see living here the last two weeks have rubbed off a little bit. A expat friend here asked me when I might be moving into my apartment. I said it could be Sunday, Tuesday, who knows?

I took the bus back to the Center and went to the Forno in Campo de' Fiori. Last year I went there one morning for the pizza bianca (pizza dough with just olive oil and salt....very good). I noticed there was huge line last week around lunch time. They have other pizzas during the day. This place might cause me to gain a good 50lbs. It is that freaking good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lost in Translation, part two

Guest at a luncheon referring to the co-host: He is a prince.
Me: Yes, he is very nice.
Guest: No, I mean he is really a Prince.
Me: Oh.

It's election time in Italy. Voting started yesterday and ends today. On Saturday I went with G. and his girlfriend to a luncheon for a young candidate for one of seats. Of course I could not find the place at the first. Finally I saw G outside what looked like a museum to me. It was the Palazza Colonna. I understand the Colonna family is one of the oldest in Rome. The apartment was in the Palazzo. I can't even imagine what the rents are like. ha Anyway the food was excellent. Almost everyone there spoke fluent English but were instructed to only speak Italian to me.

One thing I think is interesting is they stop polling here two weeks before the election. The last poll had Berlusconi leading. It's great they do not say how the votes went yesterday. I can't imagine that happening in the States where news organizations battle to say who won first, even at the risk of getting it wrong while the polls are still open. No one should announce any results until the polls are closed in that state.

I spoke to my sister for the first time since moving here. I was talking to her about how the landlord wants us to meet to get to know each other. She told that when she and one of her college roommates rented their apartment in Brooklyn, the landlord wanted to meet both sets of parents. Our parents had to drive in from the 'burbs.

My sister said she didn't think it was a weird request because the landlord was from the Caribbean. Of course they would want to meet our parents. It's nice all the credit/paperwork was in order but so what? My siblings and I were born in the States and we do have a very American world view when it comes to things like this. Our parents were glad the landlords wanted to meet and they were happy to meet them as well.

I guess it does make sense. My landlord can't run a credit check on me. How does she know I'm not some crazy person who is going to ruin this apartment she has had in the family for years? I'm glad it was sunny today. The contractors were supposed to lay the floors in the apartment. Something they could not do if it was raining. Tomorrow I move to G.'s place. I will miss living three blocks from the Borghese Park but looking forward to being in the Historic Center.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lost in Translation?

I spoke to my friend in L.A. He said my landlord is over 80 and her English is not great. When she said "show the apartment" she meant show it to me. Hmmm okay.

Anyway she emailed me and said the contractors are working as fast as possible to get the floors down. She wants to meet next week so we can get to know each other. This should interesting. ha.

My friend in L.A. (he is from Rome and his mom is best friends with the landlord) told him if I needed a place to stay his mom said could stay with her. She also invited me to watch election results with their family (including said landlord) which is very sweet.

This morning I wrote from 6 - 9 and then went on a looooong walk. I cut through Borghese Park, walked down the Spanish Steps, on Via Condotti, to Piazza del Popolo, then back through the park.

It was good to talk to G. and C. yeserday. I met C. back in L.A. when she was working for the L.A. office of the Italian film company she works for. She told me to cut myself some slack. I haven't even been here two weeks yet. She is a native Italian and when she moved to Rome it was difficult.

She also suggested I rethink production work and focus on my writing. Film budgets here are much smaller and type of positions I'm thinking of are usually filled by the producer's assistant for no money. Also given that I was a producer on a movie with a budget more than 10 times the avg. Italian film, she said her boss would say I was overqualified and not hire me (plus there is that uhm, language issue).

She wants to read my book as a sample of my writing. They have a couple English speaking projects.

This morning I was thinking about our conversation. I know my move might seem to contradict this but I am a very pratical person. Sometimes too practical. I have looked at my budget for the rest of the year and I think...I have to get a job! Instead I should for the next couple of months just finish my script, let my manager keep shopping the book and know that things will work out.

I have had a few kick ass writing days since I arrived here. I finally "see" the script in my head and think about the characters and dialogue all the time.

Yesterday after lunch G. showed me the building Fellini lived in. That street is so gorgeous. Today we are meet at some political lunch thing then he is going to let me borrow a bunch of recent Italian language films.

I hope to finish the rough draft of the script by the end of the month. I'm feeling very motivated and inspired.

Friday, April 11, 2008

drama

I don't have time to write a long post as I am back at the Internet cafe/laundry place.

I am not moving next week. There are delays. Fine. I get that but she should have told me last week. Was very upset yesterday. Went to bed at 8:00 p.m. just so the day would be over.

G. said I could stay with him until my apt. is ready. Then today I receive an email from the landlord saying she never got my email last week telling her I was in Rome. She wants to show the apt. when it's done. Excuse me? WTF?

I have already emailed the guy in L.A. who told me about the apartment. I don't believe after months of emailing she would pull this shit.

G. said not to take it personally. It has nothing to be with being American. He haas his own landlord stories.

He and another friend made me meet them for lunch instead of stewing in my apartment. We went to this very nice place on Via Margutta (sp).

I hope by the weekend this will be resolved.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Small world

I'm back at the cafe.

Saturday night went to a party with G and his girlfriend. A film production company was having an open house for their new office/celebrating the opening weekend of their latest movie. There were lots of kids, food and my favorite...sweets.

Anyway, I was speaking my butchered Italian when I saw a women who looked familiar. She looked at me and said "You're back!" and proceeded to give me a big hug. She is the ex-girlfriend of the guy I rented a vaction rental from two years ago. Her ex is a good friend of a friend of mine.

G. was incredulous. How do you know V.? Of course he knows her well. Most of the people at the party spoke English but I am really trying to get my speaking comprehension up to the level of my reading. It's not easy. My ear can't quite keep up with the speed. It's very frustrating.

Several people at the party told G. to have me send my resume and they will help me but I will need to speak Italian fluently.

The Donatella awards are coming up (the Oscars of Italian films) and I met one actress at the party who is nominated. I totally recognized her from L'UTIMO BACIO/THE LAST KISS. She is very nice and is friends with G. (of course). She effortlessly alternated between English and Italian. For the rest of the night G. spoke to me only in Italian. ha. It was comedy.

I do think (hope!) by the summer it will be easier for me to comprehend spoken Italian. I am basically going from zero to sixty and it will take some time. Unfortunatley I am not the most patient person.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Campo de' Fiori + reggae music + aperitivos + a yummy dinner = a very good Friday night.

As I mentioned before, my Friday night routine was reading scripts for work then watching the American version of "What Not to Wear" on TLC at 9:00. I enjoyed watching Stacy (her shoes are beyond fierce) and Clinton but sometimes I would think perhaps I should not being doing this every freaking Friday.

Well my first Friday in Rome was a little different. I woke up yesterday with no plans at all. My friend Giampiero called around 1:00 asking what I was doing and if I wanted to meet for a aperitivo (drink) later at Campo de' Fiori. We went to Teste Matte (Crazy heads?) . Nice local spot a little off the square. I was thinking how nice to be listening to some great reggae and not the bad street musician around the corner. I spoke too soon. A mime showed up. G. said "Oh no! He is the worst mime in the world and very aggressive when he asks for money". My friend did not lie. This guy was bad and his music was loud. ha. G. introduced to one his friends who was there. She works in film and is a native Roman who's parents are Japanese. She was very nice and we'll bump into each other again since she lives not far from me. After two proseccos and few appetizers, G and I decided to go to dinner.

I don't remember the name of the place but it was small, no signage. G. said his girlfriend (who is a regular) took him there and the owner was like "hmm who is this guy?" It a family operation. His father opened the restaurant in the 30s. G. told the chef, the owner's wife, that I was moving to the area. I caught only a little of the conversation but said grazie when she said something about good luck. When she left G told me she said "Principessa (princess), if you need anything like some bread or pasta, you come over, that is how neighbors are."

The food was outstanding. They gave my friend a bowl of this pasta and chick pea soup. He didn't order it but it was the last of the night, so "here, have some." Ha. I had these meatballs (polette?) type dish for my secondo (second dish, usually meat or fish, comes after your pasta course..they are not served on the same plate. Per favore!) which were sooo good. We had a bottle of wine and G laughed because in L.A. I have a only one glass usually. I told him when I drive I keep the drinking to a minimum. However last night I was walking so bring it. I felt fine this morning. Sometimes in the States I would get a headache from just a glass....maybe the sulfites (I have no idea how to spell that world and have no dictionary here with me at the bar/cafe). I went to put down some money for dinner, esp. since G paid for drinks. He took the bill from my hand and said no. I have tried to argue with him about this in the past and failed so I said fine. Next time I'm going to pull one of his moves and pay on the way to the ladies room or something.

G and I met the first time I came to Rome through a friend of a friend. He was the one telling to move already and stop over thinking it. He used to live in New York then L.A. then moved back to Italy a few years. When he met up in the square he gave me big hug and kiss and said "Welcome home".

After dinner. I had some gelato and walked back to my apartment. I was going to cab it but the streets were full of people even at midnight. As I walked past, Piazza Navona, The Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain on the way home, I felt like I was being Punk'd. This cannot be real.

Okay I think I have been sitting outside at this cafe long enough. It's nice out. I'm going to the park.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Flashback Friday - It's a sign

Okay this not having Internet in my apartment is a pain. I have so many emails to return.

I finally found the street my apartment to be is on. I came to Rome for the first time three years ago this week. I took a picture of a friend. Guess what street sign was in the background? Really of all the streets in Rome?

Yesterday I went to 'Gusto Osteria and then cut through Borghese Park. It was gorgeous out. Hot jogger running with two friends waved and yelled "boun giorno"... I did not know him.

Still waiting to hear back from my landlord to be. I will be relieved once I can actually unpack and move into my place.

Today's Flashback is this post.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sono qui in Roma. (I am here in Rome)

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.