naturallypixie: (Default)
So as many of you know... I am not the busiest guy in the world. Oh there is tons of paperwork to do, appointments to keep, groceries to buy, D&D gaming group to play with on the weekends. Mostly you could say that for a guy who just moved to Italy with is wife 4 months ago, I am doing ok! But I have discovered that when one does not have a job -strike that- when I do not have a job, I feel less "important" No one is relying on me. Now I know my lovely wife will smack me for saying that since she has said many times that she relys on me. But, for me personally, ... having responsibilities out side of the house and family (in my case apartment and Brandie) is something that is important to me. I am not saying that some time off from working is not nice, and for any of you reading this who envey others who do not have a 9-5 grind to go to we can argue later. :-) But for now, my big news is that I GOT A JOB! Due to an intial push from our friend Melanie, followed up by a contact made in the womens group, I am now a substitute teacher at an english speaking elementary school, on the NATO base here in Napoli! Its not regular Mon-Fri work. I get a call in the morning if they need me to cover for someone, so I have yet to learn how often I will be called. But so far, the indicators are good. Further, the school is interested in starting some sort of drama program later this year, and I was asked to run that for them. (that might even move me to full time for that quarter of the year) Details are not yet available about this whole deal, as today was just my first day! Regardless about the quantity of work I recieve, I can now at least saw that I do something here in Italy. I some how contribute to the community, and I feel better already. (I didn't know I was feeling bad.. but I do know I feel better now)
That's all, just wanted to put it in print, and thank all those involved in getting me this job, and send happy energy back into the universe for letting things work out the way they have here for us.

Be Well, everyone, and Blessed Be.
naturallypixie: (Default)
Thanks to a bit of networking with the new english speaking women's group (which we finally found) and some help from our wonderful friend, Mel, I have a decent change of getting a job! Technically I don't get my permission to stay until the 20th (and only then if we get our apartment inspected before that date) And I am supposed to have my permission to stay before I can get employed.. but *crossing fingers* lets all hope for the best. If I get this job, I would gain base access to the particular base where the school is located. (I would be a teacher at an elementary school, where english is the biggest job requirement) Now I do not believe that the base access granted for this job would actually let me take classes at the military education center, but, I think it would be a huge step in the right direction! Even if I do not get access to the education center, the idea of having a job to go to is very exciting! The have even indicated that I may be involved in a school theater program. (I think they want the kids to do a musical) So once again, theater will be my paycheck.

My D&D gaming group is getting bigger. Due to an add placed in a military paper, we now have David, Damon, Brian, Adam, Nathan, Viola, and Jason. I play once a week over at David's house (though the location might move once the other players become more active) Brandie comes with me to the session and spends time with David's wife, Denise. In addition to all the gaming time we share with them, we even babysat their kids. They have a three year old named Amanda, and a 1 year old named Courtney. Both kids are great, but just the whole family scene has been enough for Brandie and I to contemplate having kids of our own. Seems the more we hang out with parents, the more we don't want to become parents. We both still have times where we want kids... wow.. this is just so wierd. If you had asked me 2 years ago if I wanted to be a father, I would have told you no. Now with Brandie, even that seems possible! None the less, its been great to spend some time with children. (while in Iowa, before moving here, we spent 3 months with my nieces)

Oh.. random question. Does anyone know where the KKK got the idea to wear white sheets over thier heads?? Well Brandie and I do! We visited Sorrento around Easter time, and saw huge pictures of men in white hoods, with holes cut out for eyes, carrying large crosses. Turns out the chatholic church approves of this behavior, and makes a parade out of it every Easter. We are still trying to figure out all the details... *shaking head* but I am scared to ask more questions.
naturallypixie: (Default)
So we have a french bed, and as romantic as that might sound, it is nothing but troubles. First when we moved in, the mattress on this French box spring had an odor that... well lets just say we were not gonna sleep on it. So the land lord (Livio) agreed to buy us a new mattress. But, he bought the wrong size. Turns out, there is no Italian mattress that fits a French box spring (an so our trouble begins) He chose to buy the mattress one size smaller than the box spring so the mattress would not hang over the edge. Thoughtful of him, right? (the one he choose was nearly 100 Euros cheaper than the size we wanted) Well, needless to say, we did not even take it out of its bag. We knew it was to small. So we began looking for a new mattress. I found the store from where Livio purchased the baby bear sized mattress, and asked if we could switch to a larger size and would they pick up the old one while delivering the new one? They agreed to do the switch, and credit us the amount paid for the little mattress, but would not deliver. Only after my lovely wife visited the same store did they agree to everything. They delivered a new mattress (of the proper size) we paid them the difference in price between the two sizes, and everyone was happy. BUT, I think I paid the delivery man twice what I should have. I was home that day to receive the delivery, and tried to convince the men to carry the mattress upstairs to the bedroom. When this did not work, and after I had made several trips up and down... talking and exchanging paperwork, it is quite possible that I paid the fellow twice. Which means we paid 100 Euro for our upgraded mattress instead of 50. *sigh* None the less, we had our new mattress. We plopped it down on the French speaking box spring, and it was too big. As Livio had predicted, it hung over each edge. Now the good news in all this is that it only hangs over 5cm on each side. Not enough to endanger us as we sleep.. so no worries right? Well, here is an interesting side note. The walls in our bedroom are not square, that is to say... the wall against which our french box spring lives, is crooked. So when aligning an over sized mattress on a french box spring against a crooked Italian wall, one has the choice between spacing the mattress evenly with 5cm overhanging on each side, thus creating a gap between the wall and mattress on the right side capable of swallowing pillows, or to fix the mattress against the wall smoothly, thus unbalancing the overhang so that sitting or rolling to the left side of the bed becomes equivalent to stepping on a tiger trap in the Amazon. Ah, the fun in our bed never stops! Personally I prefer the tiger trap. If one carefully sets the mattress in between the two positions I just mentioned.. then carefully stacks the pillows over the gap, and arranges the bed cover just right, you can create the illusion that not only our mattress fits its box spring properly, but our wall looks straight. This leads to even more excitement the next morning when Brandie has stolen 3/4 of the bed sheets, and I am sleeping naked, wedged between wall and mattress, shivering with no covers. OK Ok ok... I am exaggerating all this a bit.. sometimes I wear pajamas to bed, and Brandie only steals 1/2 the covers. Oh, and speaking of refrigerators... you know you own a short fridge when the coffee-maker machine, thing... (I don't know how to say it when it makes Italian coffee) is on TOP of the fridge, and Brandie can still reach it, and make coffee with it! I am not saying that we have a small fridge, we have plenty of space, its just that now I have no excuse not to clean it daily, since everyone can see on top of it.
naturallypixie: (Default)
So just a simple update: I finally heard back from the VA office. Seems the woman in DC is making things happen for me. That's the good news. The 'not so hot' news is that I would much rather have the case worker in Germany working on my file. The fact that the DC office is now contacting me, means that my file has not been transfered to Europe yet. But, concentrationg on the positive, I actually am in contact with someone who is in fact working on having my file transfered. So what does all this mean? Once my file gets to Europe, and I am assigned a case manager (who will be from Germany since there is no VA facility in Italy) I will be able to enrole at the University of Maryland located on the military base here in Naples. Until the VA has my file updated and transfered, I am not eligible to enrole. It all makes sense, and I understand things never happen as fast as you want them to, but I was hoping I was further along than it appears I am. No worries, this has given me time to get to know Naples. Brandie and I are still settling in... making our apartment feel more like home. We recently purchased a rug (thanks to a ride to Ikea from Mel and Donavan) It makes the living room warmer, and we can lounge on pillows near the heater. We have taken to calling our heater (her name is Bumbalina) our fireplace, since she does have an open flame (pilot light.. same thing, right?) Still a bit chilly, especially in the evenings. We are still hoping that the location of our apartment (not in direct sunlight) will in fact work to our favor in the summer. New Topic: We also found our missing boxes!! Two of our boxes with kitchen and office stuff had not arrived with all the other things. So we kind of counted them as gone for good. But then my mom sends an email from Iowa, saying that two boxes had been returned to sender! So, now they have been mailed to us again, one of them is already here. I feel like its a birthday gift, since I had counted on not getting these items. It will be cool to supplement our meager household supplies. New Topic: Brandie is now doing real science in the Lab. For the first month, she spent a lot of time reading journals, and getting used to how things run in Italy. But now she has her own project, which though she has explained to me several times, I will allow her to do so for you, since I would do a bad job of giving any details. Needless to say, she is happy to have some real work to do. She is so determined. I love that about her, very focused and driven, without being pushy or mean. How lucky am I to have her in my life every day? :-) New Topic: I joined up with my gaming group this past weekend. Two guys plus myself. I was going to play a character, but after the fist session, we decided to have me run the games. This is a role that I am more comfortable with anyway. Most of my gaming career has been running the games, not actually playing in them. So the real good news is the guys are very nice. Both are military, American, and are great about picking me up from the train station. New Topic: Brandie was invited to a "all girls, english speaking, social event" It is held not to far from our apartment and meets once a month. We have very few details about the group, but she will be attending this weekend, with one of our friends, so maybe she will have some details next week. New Topic: One of our friends is visiting Europe on a tour. She is part of a singing group that will be pereforming in several location in Italy. While touring she has 2 evenings free, and we are hoping to meet up with her. Brandie ordered some stuff, and asked that she deliver it to us, so at some point we will have to cross paths with her! I guess that is it for now, just wanted to say hello to anyone out there who is curious about what is happening in our lives. For any of my family reading this, you can email me directly also, I love getting "mail". Oh, and our US phone should be arriving soon, so we will be able to call you directly before the month is over. Ciao, Bart.
naturallypixie: (Default)
so I have traveled all over Naples now... well almost all over Naples, all UNDER Naples to be more precise. The metro here is wonderful. Where else can you be serenaded by gypsies playing the accordion, witness a conversation between italians that resembles a boxing match, watch teenagers 'make out', and pleasantly ignore the female voice over the loudspeaker (which always seems to be near the seat I choose no matter which seat I choose) ALL at the same time. I am very entertained by the particular people that I see on the metro. Often I recognize the commuters. But more and more I am learning the particular trains that the gypsy beggars use and what time they frequent what line. There is one particular boy, probably early 20's that works solo. Enters a the train at the Museo stop, line one toward the Policlinico (where Brandie works) As soon as the doors close he begins his speech about being from Yugoslavia, and how he can't get work... etc. I point him out for several reasons. First he is kinda cute. Second, he is from Yugoslavia, but speaks perfect Italian. And finally he works alone. The last point is the most interesting. All the other beggars work in, at least, pairs. One plays the accordion while the other walks around with a tambourine collecting coins. If not collecting with it, the second person is rattling their tambourine to the beat of the music. If the beggar is young, say... under 10, he or she is always accompanied by a guardian of some sort, often 2. There job is to watch out for the police, or more often, irritated commuters. I have witnessed several altercations between those that beg and those that are commuting to work. I even witnessed a "sting like" operation where one commuter sought out the police and identified the crew of beggars after which the cops waited until the music started and then promptly shut the operation down. (to the delight of most of the passengers) But back to my topic. Everyone works in pairs. Not only the beggars, but the Italians in general. Young girls walk arm and arm, older women walk arm and arm, boys men, everyone walks arm and arm with someone else. If not actually linked "wedding style" through the arms, then holding hands, and finally for the pure rebel, just hanging on to a piece of clothing, like a jacket or scarf. Regardless of how it is carried out, the buddy system is alive and well in Italy. You remember the buddy system from elementary school? Each student is given another student from the same grade to hold hands with, and watch out for while on field trips. If you were lucky, and it was a big field trip with more than one grade level going, you would get an older student as your buddy. That was great! (my last name being Wirth, and everything in school being set up in alphabetical order, I often did not have a buddy of my own grade level)

So I wonder... should I have a buddy while in Italy? Where do I find my buddy? Should someone have already assigned my buddy to me, and I was just absent that day? OR do I have to find my own buddy? Now the obvious answer to my questions, to all my questions is Brandie. She is always my first choice in all situations. But, she is working whilst I travel the metro tunnels. So, as of yet, I am buddy-less. Yet another thing that no one told us we needed before moving to Italy.

-Bart

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