Sunday, 21 December 2008

On the road

I packed my stuff thusly:
1 tube with my diploma
1 camera with gadgets
1 box of chocolates I bought in the adrenaline high after enrolling with no clear purpose
2 huge skeins of cashmere for a friend whom I bought for a Ravelry buddy from Back Home
1 huge skein of wool from Campolmi from Jean,another Ravelry buddy
2 huge skeins for finishing the sweater for my secret Etsy gift swatch and the mittens for Beth
1 huge pannettone for family to eat
5 bars of chocolate (big) for any handy purposes (mental note: get something for the librarians)
1 bag of cosmetics = gifts from grandma I got for me on my own
1 bag of hair polish and hair stuff for my dad (one has to love guys that use things up)
1 bag of various stuff for my mom
1 bottle of fresh olive oil
4 apples
1 bag of dirty stuff to prevent things rattling in the suitcase
some papers.

As the result, I dragged some 20 kilos of food. Could be worse.

I didn't have any tragic travel stories - it was a rare occurence when I didn't meet any idiots. The last time there were those two truck drivers who were truck drivers because they couldn't do anything else who hadn't showered for at least a week and who didn't guess that I might speak their language and talked in a sexually explicit manner about me and the other female traveller, a student from Vienna whom I translated all that stuff. We had a good laugh and the morale of the story is that you never know when Big Brother is listening. This time, I shared the compartment with three friendly and nice Australians and an Indian guy going to some conference to Vienna; the other co-travellers were two American girls going to Prague (or somewhere else en route of Vindobona express), two teenage girls who were teenage but nice, some indefinable folks and a girl who carried five heavy bags and a kitty carrier.
The kitty carrier held a baby ferret so I made some casual remark. I was shown the ferret and the girl was chatty so she explained that the bags suck but travelling with a cello and a saxophone is worse. I asked whether she's a musician and she said no, she was studying veterinary medicine... when a rat emerged from under her hair. Oh, you have a mousey, I said. No, it's a rat, replied the girl, adding And I have a python, too. I laughed, thinking it a good joke but meantime she opened one of the bags and took out a python in a mesh bag. The most interesting fellow traveller ever.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Epic win

On Monday, my papers arrived. Weren't it for the strike of state employees, they would have arrived on Friday and I could have signed up for the university on Friday or Monday, the 15th being the deadline for signing up with a minor fee. From Tuesday, the fine is 60 euros. On Tuesday, I wanted to get things done so I went to the general area, the main jobs being paying the school fees at the post office and signing up. And getting the codice fiscale, whatever it may be, if there's time enough. The post office at Via Cavour is open only until 1330, I discovered, around three. I went to the postal HQ of Quartiere 1, somewhere around Sta. Croce (across half of the centre), waited an hour in the queue and got to the students' office three minutes after they closed. In such things, the Italians are very punctual.
I cussed and went home to knit.
On Wednesday, I waited in one queue to get the codice fiscale, there was a line for it in the enrolment form and since the form was already messy enough, I wanted to get at least something right, then went to the students' office to hang there in the queue. I sat, knitted the sweater for my secret Etsy Christmas/New Year swap partner, cussed the system with other Italians when someone shouted at me You're the one who went with me to the Finnish course years ago. Carola. Now, there are around three more people whom I haven't met yet and admittedly, those whom I don't really wish to meet too badly. The world is smaller than expected. We chatted for a while, exchanged phone numbers, then my turn came.
I told the guy that I want to sign up. He took my passport, computered for a while and then said But you're already signed up. It's not possible, I replied. They had me in The System since I was there as an exchange student. Anyhow, the guy read very carefully the papers, stared, said nothing and then went to print my student card. Apparently, nothing missing, no problem, no need to get my tax declaration or parents' birth certificates or a presentation letter from my church minister. I asked how do I pay the fines for late enrollment. The guy gave me a blank look, like, what fines? then checked in the computer and said that The System says that I don't have to pay any. I asked whether for sure, he said For sure and then I ran away. Just in case. I wonder whether the fact that they had my name and stuff in the computer since Pleistocene caused that it thought no fines for me but whatever it was, I seem to have saved 160 euros for the accumulated late submissions of various forms.
I went for a walk and some gift shopping. I planned to get some kitschy Catholic Christmas cards with some nativity scene in way too many colours but I didn't find any such even in the San Paolo bookshop full of religious books and such. I believe such materials are sold only in church sisterhoods to people with a good security check. At least the good old expensive Tassoti had something with awful kitschy angels in more colours than it should be legal so I got a pack of the cheaper ones (they were expensive. The less cheap ones would be damn freaking expensive) for the Completely and Pointless Card exchange, I plan to get those with a penis (this is an insider joke. Don't try to understand) to get the right feeling.
I took a few pictures of Florence but I have to photoshop them later.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Revolutionary zeal

There's a strike at the university (yes, again) so I have to find out who is teaching and who is not. One way or another, I must kick my ass or something and go to the Riccardiana to check some stuff, I have the credential at hand and... and anyway. But the weather is oh-so-awful, and I feel much better sitting at my cold home and knitting.
I thought that the Italian enthusiasm for street protests will wane with colder weather. Nope, the fight for better future has to go on despite frost bites, cold feet, pneumonia and arthritis. Too bad that nobody cares anymore.
I managed to do three things lately. I trimmed my eyebrows, bought a ticket home and started the sleeve of my striped sweater. The ticket shopping required quite some stamina, my social phobia aggravates in this lousy weather and I just don't feel like talking and the sleeve attachment was a particularly complicated engineering feat of whose success I'm not sure yet. That's why I could use a day for sitting and knitting. I'll see in the morning. Maybe the library is closed on Fridays.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Doing the things backwards

A few months ago I decided that I needed new pointe shoes. after the accident when I washed the old pair at 60 degrees, some of the glue gave in and I needed to put the bits back. The ribbon got a weirdo indefinable grey shade which leads to the conclusion that the ribbon is nylon and the shoe satin is polyacryl, the former happily takes colour.

I ordered them at GM and got me a pair with suede tips – as a real dancing loser, I tend to brush them off somehow and, mainly, one size wider – so that the edge of the stiff thing doesn't try to eat a hole in my thumb and one size longer so that my right foot fits in. The old right shoe is torn in the seams because it just needed a few milimetres more.

Today The Day came. I tore the ribbon off the old shoe while trying to work out and I totally don't feel like sewing it back. I got the shoes ready, I have the mismatching ribbon. I'm not getting the ribbon from GM because the standard length is some 5cm short for my thick ankles and I use two ribbons. It's much cheaper to get five metres of generic pink ribbon at some sewing supplies place and some booze for the saved money although I decided to give it a try and use elastic, got some that seems promising. I don't have any idea why I use two ribbons – the elastic irked me so I got another ribbon instead. The inside shows the moulds left by my toes and a considerable amount of glue when I was trying to fix the peeling cushioning - in order to fit in, the foot was pushing it downwards which would leave the supporting plastic bare and make that hole on the upper side of my thumb.

The new pointes rock. but for one thing – wide enough for my left means too wide for my right, long enough for my right means too long for my left. Yes, when I'm getting shoes, the shop assistants do look weird at me.

Now, the only thing remaining is to get my knee fixed. I cannot bend it properly.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Winter is coming.

Obviously, the Italians do not have such things as cold and snow. It's not stylish enough, I suppose. Since the local folks take out their furs and woolens when it's 15 above zero and we Northerners still run around in light sweaters and Birks, I actually cannot imagine what the Florentines would do in real winter.
We have rains here. End-of-the-world rains when the water descends by buckets and changes the town into one big puddle. Shoes dissolve, too, unless one gets the point - you know, they don't have rubber boots in many colours at, for example, Fendi, which is a Florentine company, just for the heck of it.
Winter is also announced by the arrival of smog. For me, it meant to go back to corticoids which I hate because.... because.
Today it was sunny, though, so I was hanging around thinking of doing some shopping and the damn town is full of damn tourists. I know that tourists are keeping the economy going but why the hell they can't do it in a way that the normal folks do not have to knock over them? And, does the city council really really have to block via Calzaiuloi, that just accidentally goes from the Duomo to the piazza Signoria and is full of tourist traffic, with some decorative Christmas crap? We all are vaguely aware that the Christmas is coming and we all know how a conifer looks like. Grrrr.
I don't get another thing. I mean, I was sorta looking around with the vague idea of getting me some undies and I noticed that basically anywhere, they have Christmas themed underwear. Is there anyone who really wears bra and panties in 0C100M100Y0K (1) red with faux fur trim on Christmas day? And, no, I'm not sure that I want to know. I bought myself 500 euros worth of La Perla stuff on eBay instead. For 75.50. Black; I have architect's soul.
It's the feast of Immaculate Conception on Monday. Means two day weekend for me, the natives maybe celebrate something. Accidentally, in one of the odder corners of Ravelry, we're discussing the dogma of immaculate conception and the momentary conclusion is that the darn monk who invented that Virgin Mary remained a virgin before, during and after the birth, spent too much time between the walls of the convent. I'll find the book on women in Middle Ages, there's a cute chapter on medicine and female anatomy in the views of the scholars of the time most of them were clerics and had interesting ideas indeed. I don't recall Capitulare de villis mentioning some interesting herbs or crazy mushrooms (2).
Next week, I'm starting work on my next book. Woe upon me.

(1) geeky way of saying That icky screaming shade of red that you get in the basic six piece box of cheap crayons. You know what I mean, anyway. The numbers are for percents, the letters are for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. I did graphics for too long.
(2) Here. It's a document that, among others, declares that in monasteries' gardens be planted herbs (3)and trees that are listed.
(3) of which some are discussed at Gernot Katzer's spice web.