So this is a really long post and I am sorry but I’ve been swamped so I’m going to cram everything into one giant update. What you should do is just read it in parts. It’s not that long if you just read a paragraph or so in between something more productive like working or being a mom, or dad.
Between last friday and today has probably been one of the most frustrating weeks of my life. Really, part of me died inside when I realized I couldn’t strangle anyone. It started with our four-hour drive south to my in-laws home in the tiny village of Cassino. The lights on our car burnt out and Francesco had to pull over to fix them. Luckily, you can buy car bulbs at the gas station. Italy, good for you.
We arrive to the in-laws house and were immediately under fire before we even set our luggage down. The mom and dad demanded to see the seating chart I had worked twenty-plus hours to put together in the weeks prior. They hated it. The font was too small. The font was too gray. I used heirloom names for apples instead of the common grocery store types. The mother made a strange sound like air escaping a balloon when she saw the first table name was an apple in French, Calville Blanc d’Hiver.
She stepped back, pointed with one hand and rested the other on her forehead before she screamed at the top of her lungs.
“WHAT IS THAT!? IT IS IN ENGLISH! NOBODY CAN READ IN ENGLISH.”
“It’s not English, it’s French.” I smiled.
“I speak English, it is not English. It’s French.”
“We can’t have things IN ENGLISH.”
“But it’s not French, It’s English.”
“WE HAVE TO HAVE THE TABLES IN ITALIAN NAMES! LIKE GOLDEN DELICIOUS!”
“Golden Delicious is in English.” I turned to Francesco for help and he nodded in agreement that Golden Delicious is indeed an English name.
“No. It’s Italian. We have to have ITALIAN NAMES, like Golden Delicious or Fuji”
“Golden delicious is in English. I speak English. It is in English. Fuji is also not Italian”
“Golden Delcious IS AN ITALIAN WORD.”
No shit people this conversation went on for forty-five fucking minutes until the mom threw down her hands and demanded I throw away all thirty million hours of my work and redo all of it. Right then, in the middle of the night while they crowded over my shoulder and gestured wildly at the screen. They made me set the table text font to THIRTY TWO. My husband and I suggested we just put the fucking thing in braille also, just in case. They didn’t laugh.
One hour later…
The mother and father were still convinced that I didn’t understand the concept of increasing font size and adjusting to have only four names on a table instead of eight. So, the mom ran to get the table cards from Francesco’s sister’s wedding where she thrust the table arrangement in my face while pointing wildly to the name of Francesco’s ex girlfriend. We’re not going to talk about this but trust me when I say that something fucking traumatic as fuck happened in regards to that girl. No, he didn’t cheat on me with her, but let’s just say the thing was really shitty and we almost broke up over it. Understandably, I do not like seeing her name, seeing her face, or being reminded in any fashion of that incident or that she’s alive. Francesco looked horrified and screamed for her to put the card away and to stop. I could feel the tears building up so I tried to smile and choke everything back for another fifteen minutes until bedtime. We walked into the room and Francesco started apologizing immediately, “They are crazy, you don’t deserve this, you don’t deserve this, let’s just move away, I’m so sorry.” And then I cried hysterically like a huge wimp for an hour with my face in Francesco’s chest. I appreciate the fact that he at least understands that I put up with a lot, which is pretty nice since a lot of people don’t realize what they put their partners through. So, that’s nice at least.
The next day we awoke at seven a.m. and spent twelve hours doing wedding stuff with his parents. By that evening I was so exhausted that I could barely talk. My eyes were black and I was pale. Stress can cause really serious physical ailments and sometimes I think that their nagging is literally killing me. I don’t have a personality for being told what to do. Don’t you fucking know who I am!? Whenever we spend a lot of time with his parents I start hating Francesco. I know that it’s not his fault but I start wanting to hurt him. So I did what anyone in my position would do, I gave my sexy lingerie to his mother. I mean, I’d never worn them and they are technically made for wearing under gowns but Francesco likes them for other things. When his mom complained that she didn’t have the right undergarments for her gown I told her to buy a certain type but she contested saying that I was crazy because it didn’t exist. Tired of being told I’m dumb I brought mine out of my suitcase, the one I had brought to make sexy with her son (but again had never worn it yet) to show her that it did indeed exist. Then she asked if she could try it on and I told her sure because I am nice. But mostly because I had to. What else could I say? While this was happening I ran into the living room to tell Francesco that his mom was trying on my thingy. “The thingy you brought for se…oh dear god, NO!” And he looked sick. His mom came out in her gown and Francesco was thoroughly traumatized imagining his mom in my “sexy clothes.” So, that’s what you get for making me spend all day with your mom. I give her my lingerie. Oh, and yes, I did give it to her. “Oh no, really, I don’t need it, you keep it.”
The following day was Easter and we spent the day at a restaurant eating for the usual five hours.
I complain about this a lot but it is miserable for me. I’m not a foodie. I like food but I eat so that I don’t die. I’m not the kind of person who lives to eat. Unless it’s something expensive and delicate aka finger food. I’m one of those food snob assholes who likes to eat little jars of expensive truffle puree on tiny cracker thingies and I’ll just have that for dinner because IT IS AMAZING and I’ll eat enough of it to gain a solid five pounds in one sitting. If it’s not something ridiculous and over-priced, I’ll just let myself starve until my husband comes home and feeds me, like a chia pet. Point being: I am mentally five and can only eat finger foods because they entertain me, I am not grown up enough to sit at a table for that long shoveling food into my mouth. It could probably be fun with friends but at a table with twenty, sixty-year-old Italians, let’s just say I’d rather get a pap-smear.
Also they don’t let us do anything. My husband and I couldn’t even thumb wrestle without everyone yelling at us for being inappropriate which is irritating because Francesco’s dad was sitting on the floor at one point and the other men were throwing food. I think it’s because it’s like the 1950’s and you’re not supposed to hang out with your wife in public. All the dudes sit and talk together and all the women sit and talk together and me and Francesco sit together and talk the entire time which is a mind-fuck to these dinosaur people. Whatever dudes, you’re jealous.
But it’s not ALL bad. Sometimes people sing.
Then the next day on Monday we had to go to Naples for immigration and because Francesco is insane he invited both of his parents to come with us. No sleep and another twelve hour day with the parents. Suicide.
Immigration step 1:
Francesco had to be checked for STD’s because he’s Italian (just kidding, everyone has to do it, I think), have a lung x-ray, and have vaccinations. He had vaccinations when he was a kid but he decided to believe that he didn’t. So when I said, “oh but babe, just ask for your records.” He replied, “Uhm, I didn’t a have dem my mom she justa let me getta deh diseases to builda the anti-bodies.” I shook my head and said, “No dude, this isn’t Ethiopia, you had vaccinations.” Instead he ignored me and because he refused to listen he had to have three shots. And after, his mom smacked him and told him that he did in fact have them when he was a baby like every person from a “developed” country.
We had to go to the Embassy. They make you wait outside in the rain for about thirty minutes before they let you in. This paints a sad picture and makes your immigration stories to your grandkids more impactful. I think that’s the point. After they let you inside you go in a big room and sit for three hours while they call each person one at a time to give fingerprints. Done. Afterwards, Francesco’s mom bought a gorgeous black Valentino gown for the wedding and then we ate pizza. Pizza from Naples is the best in the world. Really.
Immigration Day 2
The second day we had to drive one hour from Cassino to Naples again to spend another twelve hour day in Naples. We arrived at seven a.m. and stood outside in the rain for one hour. A building nearby was falling down and Francesco was very interested in it. He kept saying, “Babe, seriously, it’s just falling down. LOOK AT IT!” And I was all, “Yeah, duh, cause we’re in the hood.Yawn.” The Italians were all screaming early in the morning and having huge fights in the street over traffic. So at least that gave us something to do while we waited.
Once we were inside we sat in the same stark, white, large, disinfectant-smelling room for three hours while one woman called every person up to submit their packets. Then we had to take a seat and wait another hour to be interviewed by an immigration officer.
The Immigration Officer: This Woman Probably Bites The Heads Off Of Kittens When She’s Bored
Our names were called and we approached the window cautiously where the young woman with a very strong sort of Wisconsin accent stood. She was mean. We had watched her yell at a number of old ladies already and were prepared for the worst. She screamed at the seventy year old woman before us for putting up both hands when she asked her to “raise her right hand.” She rolled her eyes and screamed, “YOU ONLY HAVE ONE RIGHT HAND!” As though the old Italian woman was disobeying on purpose. She looked at me first with her mean little eyes, “Are you the petitioner?”
I smiled, “Yes I am.”
She took a deep breathe, “What do you do in the United States?”
“I work as a writer. I’m an independent contractor I guess.”
“Where do you live?”
“Right now I am staying in Italy.”
She shoved our papers under the window towards us and said, “We’re declining your application because you are not domiciled in the United States. Go home without him and then eventually he can go over if he passes.
“I’m sorry. How long would I have to leave for?”
“Let’s just say a week would be a vacation.”
“Okay. But I read everything and I think I am technically domiciled, I mean, I still have all my American bank accounts, monthly bills, my mailing address and residency, I have a company the…”
She put her hand up to shut me up.
“Where are you standing RIGHT NOW?”
“EXACTLY! So no. You have to go home first then he can come back without you.”
And we left. I was so sad I didn’t even know what to do. 1000 euros, two twelve hour days, weeks of preparation, vaccinations, and in one minute she decided our fate. In one minute she attempted to throw out my case and separate me from my husband as though our marriage wasn’t as real as other marriages, more American marriages. It didn’t make sense. So I went to sit on a rock.
The next day I called an immigration lawyer who told me that the immigration officer didn’t understand the word, “domiciled,” nor did she give us a fair interview. Asking two questions then refusing to answer questions is not an interview and it’s not the treatment that I deserve as a taxpaying American citizen. She works FOR MY FAMILY, and all of us who pay taxes in the United States. It was completely unacceptable and I never expected to be treated that way in my own embassy, the fuck? Also, WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DEVIL WOMAN!? Anyways, the lawyer recommended that I call my congressman and ask him to call the embassy or write a letter on my behalf. My husband was fascinated by this on a level I can’t even describe. The idea of being able to contact a senator or congressman was completely incomprehensible to him. He was telling our friends at dinner about it as though he’d learned that I’m allowed to go to Dolly Parton’s house for afternoon tea. Oh, and after he read this blog he said, “Oh! Is Dolly Parton a congress person now?” So cute, right?
So, I wrote my congressman and I asked my parents to do the same. I’m hoping that our congress people can help us fix a fair interview. Nothing special, just fair, for 1000 euros I think fair is the least we could ask for.
Cross your fingers for us!