"Well, Jane, It Just Goes to Show You, It's Always Something"
Remember how Gilda Radner used to play Roseanne Roseannadanna on Saturday Night Live? Even if you're too young to remember it, maybe you could humor me and use your incredibly taut and pert breasts to type out a comment of, "Yes, Jocelyn, I do remember Gilda Radner playing that character. She was very fubby." (see, you mis-type that final word because you have a rogue nipple that veered away from the "n" key; this is the same nipple that used to go out and play Knock-n-Run at night while you were sleeping...who knew a nipple could be so adept at ringing a door bell?)
Anyhow, remember how Roseanne Roseannadanna (or, er, the Radner character of Emily Litella--thanks, Geewits, for the correction!) would go on and on about something, only to get pulled up short by reality at the end of it all, after which she'd issue a semi-sheepish, "Nevermind"?
Well, I'm not quite in Rosannadanna territory right now, but part of me feels some identification with that character.
'Cause, Poodles? Since a few days ago, we've been in email talks with our Sicilian counterparts, and the subject line on those messages has been "visa snag."
Setting aside the fact that we still haven't heard back again from the Italian embassy about our own visas--we had the audacity to ask questions like, "Your Website indicates we will need to come to Chicago to get our visas, which we are quite willing to do; however, we also see that there are a few satellite consulates that have been set up, including one in Minneapolis, which is a mere two-and-a-half hours from our house, rather than eight. Could we go to the Minneapolis consulate to get our visas?"--you know, difficult questions like that, which could take weeks to answer (however, in the meantime, a nice Italian embassy man sent us a lengthy explanation about how I, under a student/sabbatical visa, would need to go to Italy first, declare residency by filing with a local police station, and then issue my husband an invitation for a 90-day tourist visa. I would be welcome to stay some months, really, but Groom would have to leave after 90 days...no mention of the children, so I assume the plan would be that we'd put bowls of water and food on the floor and be sure to lock up before leaving Duluth).
So, yes, setting all that aside, we're now trying to wend our way through things from the Italian side. Our potential exchange family has discovered that, with an F-1 visa, they cannot enroll their kids into the U.S. public school system without paying tuition (to cover the costs of their education). I've been fishing around, asking questions of local administrators and the district office, just to see if reality doesn't align with what the visa stipulates--that is, if hundreds of thousands of "undocumenteds" enroll their kids in the public schools every year, is it possible the relevant screening questions don't get asked? My sister, who has taught in areas with large "undocumented" populations, attests that there's a "don't ask; don't tell" policy in most schools. Okay, then. And a local principal had never heard of any of this visa stuff and basically said, "If a child lays his head on a pillow in our district, we'll enroll him." But today a quick conversation with the assistant superintendent's office revealed, "Oh, there might be I-20 issues. They might have to pay tuition. I'll get back to you." As of right now, we're waiting to hear more.
This is a distinct wrench, of course, which could result in the family saying they only want to do an exchange during the summer months (which would, of course, still be a huge experience and feel like a gift from the universe); or they might be able to pay tuition (there's also a parochial school locally, which could charge less for its tuition than the U.S. government would ask; between their having to buy a spendy short-term health insurance policy with a significant deductible and having to pay for their kids to go to school, I'm considering renaming this whole boondoggle "The Mortifications of Capitalism"); or, as I've suggested a few times, they could homeschool. However, homeschooling is technically illegal in Italy, so their attitude toward it varies a great deal from what we're used to thanks to the Good Old Homesteading/Religious Right/Crunchy Hippy groups that have made homeschooling widely accepted in the U.S.
At any rate, we're suspended right now, awaiting further information, but mostly I feel like whispering, about my last post, "Nevermind."
Having done that, I can also admit that I do think something will work out, somehow (thanks for the gift of that attitude in life, Mom!). Until then, though, I'm pretty much sitting in front of the computer muttering "Crap. Damn. Crap. Suck. Piss. Ass-hattery Up the Butthole" (don't read that last part, Mom!) and finding myself blogging about uncertainty when I'd had all good intentions today of writing about this one time I went and ordered a hamburger.
Never fear. In my life, heart, stomach, and storytelling, the hamburger always wins out. So I'll get to that story here in a few days. If the wait is going to be too much for you, I'll give away the ending now:
I ate the thing.
And, unlike the hamburger with a toenail in it that Roseanne Roseannadanna once ate, mine was actually relatively untainted,
featuring only the usual ick: rat hairs and cow nostrils and ground up embassy workers.
Chew on that.