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Monday, May 28, 2018

Why, oh why, can't I?


The court denied our appeal and upheld the decision of the Consulate.  We were devastated.  Once the shock wore off, we were able to piece things together and now it all finally makes sense, including the adversarial attitude of the kid behind the counter on the day we applied.

It has occurred to us what may be going on.  Those with European Union passports who buy a home in Italy pay only a 2% property tax (if they choose to use it as their permanent residence.)  They do not need to apply to a Consulate for a visa because they can travel freely between all the countries in the Union any time that they want.  As Americans, we cannot.

We would, as residents, get the benefit of the 2% tax (as opposed to 9%) as long as we moved WITHIN 18 MONTHS of the purchase.  After 18 months, the 9% tax takes effect.

Since those people who do not require visas get this reduced rate all the time, is it possible we are being deliberately delayed so that we have to pay the higher tax rate?  It makes sense.  We were notified of the initial denial just one week ahead of the 90 day limit.  The court delayed the appeal the maximum of two times.  The Consulate did not respond to the court until one week before the last, final court date.  Everything has been dragged out to the maximum.  It appears we have to make up the shortfall in revenue due to the foreign residents who can move freely and take advantage of the 2% tax.  

So, we will wait.  It was never our intention to save or "get away with not paying" any taxes.  We simply found the perfect little place in the perfect little town where we wanted to live.  If the price of admission is to pay a higher tax, we will gladly do that.  If it would have helped, we would have paid it right away, but that is not how things work.

We will wait until we have back taxes that are not confusing and "steady and sufficient income recurring over time."  If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  **sigh**

Sunday, May 20, 2018

And if I were a princess....


Royal Wedding

Watching celebrities lost my interest many, many years ago.  Some events are difficult to ignore, regardless. There was one just yesterday – a royal wedding. A handsome prince, a beautiful bride.  A little twist- since she is a so-called “commoner” and an actor and omigod! not even British, but an American, and omigod!  half African-American, to boot! 

I confess I watched about 10 minutes, enjoying a break from the daily horrifying news, and I wanted to see THE dress…I am female, after all.
 
And I was recalling another American actor who married into a royal family – Grace Kelly.  Which got me to wondering how this marriage – this extraordinary match – was going to change this young woman. 

Can you imagine being under that sort of scrutiny day in and day out? Having to be your 100% number one best at all times, every day, all day?  Not only that, but the protocols, the rules and etiquette!  People snapping your picture every time you turn around.  I can barely stand being outside, a nobody, surrounded by other nobodies, but knowing that the nobodies may be making judgements and assumptions about me based on nothing more than my appearance.

How will it change her to give up the career she enjoyed?  How will it change her to bend and bow and play obsequious homage to a way of life few on earth ever know? Lots of people have difficulty merely adjusting to another culture, but this is so much more.  This is class distinction, this is historical precedent breathing into and butting into everyday life. Talk about culture shock! I wonder if, after a while, she will develop a trace of an English accent. 
 
On the other hand, perhaps she will change them.  She isn’t the only one who got married.  Will the groom be visiting the States more often?  Will a different vibe, a looser one, begin to emanate within palace walls? 

It is a rarefied world and though I only pay glancing attention, it will be interesting to see how the relationship unfolds.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.....


Snowflakes



On this first day of spring, I sit and watch the fat snowflakes fall outside my window.  It is a gray, cold, windy, dreary day.  I am no fan of snowflakes, to be sure.

However, while on social media, I am too often in conflict with complete strangers who begin, all too soon, to use the word “snowflake” against me, because somehow it has become a new insult.  There are so many.  Tide pod eating liberal. How did some thrill seeking, ignorant kids, stupid enough to swallow a detergent pod, become an insult to hurl specifically at those of us who identify as liberal?  I don’t have an answer for that.  But I do have an answer to all of those people – strangers – who accost me with their “insults.”

Call me what you will.  Call me a snowflake, a libtard (a most vile pejorative derived from the word “retard,” a word no child or parent EVER wants to hear, a word that has been relegated, most of the time, to history, where it belongs, as the “R” word, alongside the “N” word) a Tide pod eating liberal, a troll, and so many more that are too filthy and erroneous for me to list.

But go ahead, because I don’t care what you call me.  I know who I am, I know what my values are and I know why I hold them.  You, on the other hand, make it abundantly clear, by sinking immediately to childish bully tactics, that you have no moral compass, you have no values you can articulate in a rational argument.  Your baseless slurs only serve to highlight a lack of education in history, science, social studies, civics, and why our government was instituted in the first place and under what circumstances.   You lack any knowledge of how government works.

So I welcome the supposed insults.  It saves me a lot of time.  It gives me the shortcut I need so that I don’t waste a single word more. 

If there were a shred of hope that you were someone who could be enlightened, I would talk, explain and attempt to defend views and policies that I support.  But, sinking to the infantile methods of the schoolyard bully, you save me the trouble.  Thank you.  I now see clearly that you embrace your own ignorance, have no desire to expand your horizons and zealously defend your deeply held hatreds. 

Time and circumstance may change your views. (We used to call that “learning the hard way”)  It is not for me to say. 

I was the lucky recipient of an excellent public school education before the system was privatized and defunded.  Those who hurl their slights at me only prove that our system is failing and I cannot make up for that tremendous loss. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the smartest kid on the bus.  I pursued my higher education as an adult and I paid for every penny of it myself. And to this day I read.  I read articles from reliable sources.  I read books.  I never stop learning.  Learning is a joy.  I’m truly sorry you don’t know how rewarding it can be.

So, in summary, hurl away.  Please continue, it gives me much more time to read.

And besides, snowflakes are beautiful.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Starshine

The sky was bright blue and clear.  Although I could not see any frost, I could feel a slight crunch with each grassy footstep.  The air smelled clean.  As we walked toward the rising sun, the river was already twinkling in the early morning light.  Without any wind, the cold, crisp day felt pleasant, invigorating.  It was not even necessary to close my coat. Everything... the water, the leaves, the grass, even my dog's fur was lit up like so many shimmering, sparkling sequins.  Winter is near.



One more song about moving along the highway...

On October 20th - in a plain brown envelope, we received our passports back and a denial letter.  It was a standard form letter without a real explanation as to why.

Because they did not use the $50 Overnight Priority Mail envelopes that we provided by demand, we had already lost an entire week to start an appeal.  What happened to our envelopes?  Did they lose them?  If so, did they lose other documents, too?

We contacted an immigration attorney in Rome.  He got right back to us and has been in touch with us reliably ever since.

We also got hold of an expat neighbor in Italy who arranged to have our boiler checked for the winter and also had a new thermostat put in.  We have also arranged for our painter, Fabio, to be our "caretaker" for the winter.

Feeling as if we were going mad in the hotel, besides hemorrhaging money, we made a frantic internet search for a small, temporary apartment.  We found a place in Delaware that allows dogs Harry's size.  It is tiny, but clean and sunny and has a small (but separate!) bedroom and a kitchen with full appliances, including a dishwasher, much to my surprise.



These garden apartments have pretty grounds with magnificent old trees, some are probably six stories high.  The Delaware River is just outside, across the road.

I've rented a couple of pieces of furniture - a couch, a small dining table, 2 chairs and a bed.  The rest is courtesy of Target and TJ Maxx.  What my daughter calls "Tupperware furniture."

Having driven around to get a feel for the area, even though there initially seemed to be more greenery, as we hit the town proper, it is clear that this, like so many other places, is overpopulated, over paved, over built and polluted.  Strip malls, fast food, gas stations, huge malls, Lowe's, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Trader Joe's, Total Wine, basically "Anywhere USA."

Harry is having a tough time and is totally stressed out.  We will have to take him with us everywhere in the car because he clearly is not ready to be left alone here.  He even had an adverse reaction to meeting a puppy - although the puppy was actually larger than he.  It was very unusual behavior for  our little gentleman.

And so, we wait.  Even if the Consulate's decision is overturned, we can't fly Harry until it is warm enough.  I will try as best I can not to be depressed and disheartened.

Friday, September 22, 2017

So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you....

This seems a special kind of torture.  Nothing to do.  No word.  Days blur into one another.

The refrigerator in the room didn't work well, so we mentioned it at the desk.  Lickety split, they replaced it.  It only took twenty minutes.  I was pleasantly surprised and momentarily elated.

Then I got an email.  From the Consulate.  The title shows when I receive an email...and I saw the words "visa denial."  My heart sank to the floor and I felt a bit faint.

Upon reading it in its entirety....it said "Visa denial warning" because they are missing two items.  One was 3 months worth of bank statements showing our regular deposit history.  The other was the last 2 years of Federal tax returns.  We had ALL of this with us when we were there at the Consulate.  The young man behind the counter didn't want them.  In fact, he waved his hand and said, "No, no, no, I'm not looking at all that."  So....we kept them, thank goodness.

We were given ten days to respond.  We responded in less than 24 hours.

I am heartsick.  I did laundry and fought back tears.  I am so terrified.  The only home we own is in Italy.  I want to go home.  And a stranger at the Consolate holds our lives, our future in their hands. I feel paralyzed and now I am obsessively checking emails.

And so we wait.  This is excruciating.  That is the only word I can think of.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Do the limbo.....

The pack up and move was a nightmare.  Murphy's Law came into effect - everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  First, the company thought WE were packing everything!  Good thing they called a day in advance and were able to straighten that out - to the tune of 1400 dollars.  We packed as much as we could, but...mirrors, pictures, furniture..No.

Four guys arrived, more or less on time....within, just barely, the expected time.  They got it all done, though.  My husband went out and got them lunch.

It started raining and the rain got heavier as the day progressed.  Then the truck arrived, but it wasn't a truck...it was a container.  I was told that a container could not be stored and they would send a truck to transfer our things to a warehouse.  More frantic phone calls and emails.  This delayed everything by about 2 hours or more.  At last, a truck arrived.  Amazingly, they were all done by 5:30 pm.

I was exhausted and had hurt my back (which is fused in the neck and the lumber spine) rather badly because I had been doing far too much bending.  My husband was determined to get the place spotless for the new owner, since the closing was the next day.  I was done.  So, he drove me to the hotel with Harry.

We limped in like cripples.  The perky girl at check-in was describing "happy hour" and we were just in time!  Pulled chicken sandwiches and complimentary beer and wine!  I said, "I'm not feeling very sociable.  I'm in desperate need of a shower."  She got the hint and gave me a room key, while my husband continued the check-in process.

Harry took his first ride on an elevator and was not pleased at all.  He was pretty good in the room, though, as I took that nice, hot shower - leaving the door open, so he knew where I was.  Then I managed to open a can of tuna (we brought some food from home) and I made myself a wrap.  I even managed to sign on to the computer.  Yay.

My back was screaming, so I took a pain reliever and tried to sleep....fitfully, since I left a low light on, not knowing when my husband would drag himself in, which turned out to be 4 in the morning.

The next day, or should a say, several hours later, he cleaned himself up and got ready for the closing.  He did backflips for this woman who bought the house.  They said they had NEVER seen a house so immaculate.  I stayed at the hotel with Harry and to continue to nurse my aching back.



Well, we have been here a week and a half.  After ten days of searing pain, my back felt better. Things are getting boring, but I should not complain because we are not experiencing a natural disaster of any kind.  We have a shower, bed, sofa, TV, food, computers.  I can do my laundry downstairs.  Three happy hours a week.  Hot breakfast bar every morning.  Harry has become quite fond of the cuisine - he loves eggs...and I have been giving him bits of sausage here and there.  He has calmed down considerably, but we still do not leave him alone in the room, for fear he will bark incessantly.

I have started to also visit the tiny fitness room.  It isn't much, but it's better than nothing - I can do some weights for strength, and leg lifts and there is one treadmill.  I don't want my legs getting weak before moving to Italy!

I would have flown back this week, but we still have no word from the Consulate.  We just wait....and wait....and wait.....here in limbo.