Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ciao! Welcome to Italian bureaucracy.

I have a migrane. It started yesterday as I tried to figure out how to move my household goods.

Work was insane. I had to go to a screening of our movie at the last minute, which meant I was out all afternoon. The head of the studio and marketing were there. We had an hour long meeting afterwards with the director and other producers to go over our notes, preview schedule, possible release date, ratings etc. During the meeting I thought my head was going to explode. Then I had to go another meeting (more on that group some other time).

Last week I called several different international moving companies to get estimates. One, the price is a good $1000-$2000 more than what I budgeted, and two, the information required by Italian customs is completely confusing. All the movers said moving goods to Italy and dealing with the port of Naples is drama. One suggested I make my point of EU entry the UK but that would add almost another month to the arrival time. I don't want to wait 3-4 months to get my things. Plus, the more places this crate has to travel, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong.

I am not moving any furniture so I am getting a crate that is 1/4 the size of a 20ft. container. The movers will pack my stuff, get it to the warehouse, consolidate it in NYC and then it sails across the Atlantic.

I called the Italian consulate to get to the bottom of what I need to do. They told me to call the French consulate (I have a French passport). The lady at the consulate annoyed that French citizen was asking about moving to Italy in English, (zut allors!!) referred me to a website of the French Embassay which was of no help.

I had two moments of "what the hell am I doing?" yesterday. When I was sitting in the meeting I thought, I will really miss working with my colleagues and when I was looking for information on an Italian website regarding Codice Fiscale (similar to our social sercurity number), my eyes glazed over from trying to read the legalese Italian. It's one thing to read an occassional article in Italian Vogue or Vanity Fair, (which takes me forever) but this completely frustrated me. All my expat friends keep saying once I am there I will become fluent. I think about trying to open a bank account, sign up for health insurance, Internet etc. in a foriegn language and I start to panic.

Also, I am finally at a point in my career here in Hollywood when I'm not living check to check. Now I'm moving to where the dollar is so freaking weak and I am going to write for a living?! ha. Everyone and their mother is writing a script or a novel in Los Angeles. Most do not succeed.

Okay I need to freaking relax. The move seems more real now. I am starting to get calls from agents and execs as the word gets out that I'm leaving. Last week I began cancelling all my utilities, insurance, etc. It's a major pain in the butt and this process is in English!


erin said...

BENVENUTO indeed :) It makes me want to cry sometimes b/c it's so frustrating (especially in another language) but it's all worth it :) Is having an EU passport making things any easier? I'm always curious to know...and does this mean you can stay in Italy w/o a visa?

Chris said...

I'm assuming being an E.U. citizen has to help somewhat. Do you have an official date set for the move?

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Huge hugs! There are going to be days like this.

It's an adventure and you'll get through it. You're strong and creative and it will work.

And bureaucracy stinks.

Think of your vacation in Venice and how much you loved being back in Italia! ;-)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

erin - yes without the EU passport it would be almost impossible for me to move and/or work unless I was working for an American company in their Italian branch. Most Italian companies do not want to deal with the paperwork and hassle to hire an American when they could just hire someone from the EU.

Chris - see above. Yes, I am moving March 31st.

jen - I am not a patient person at all. I really need to work on that if I am to make it in Italy. :)

Kataroma said...

Unfortunately, inefficient/corrupt bureaucracy is as much an Italian reality as rolling Tuscan hills or good pizza. You have to find a way to live with it and lower your expectations in order to survive here.

When I first got here I used to end up in tears almost every time I had to deal with italian bureaucracy. Now I'm used to it so when something goes OK I'm euphoric. I've learnt that getting upset or shouting does not work. You have to be ultra respectful of the evil bureaucrat and maybe you'll get somewhere. Watch what Italians do.

All I can say is research your moving company carefully and go with recommendations - I've heard lots of horror stories about moving containers to Italy -it's kind of like dogana charges for mail - when they've got your stuff they can pretty much slap on any charge they want - you just want your stuff back! Personally, I've made a few trips back and forth and brought about 4-5 suitcases worth of stuff with me as checked in luggage on the plane. I didn't have any furniture to move and I left some stuff in my dad's basement. Much easier than trying to deal with the port of Naples (shudder!)

bleeding espresso said...

Oh do I hear you. I was lucky to have a parent's basement so I avoided much of the shipping issues. Anyway the codice fiscale is *easy* to get, I swear. If you really need it before you leave, you should be able to get this from the Italian consulate in LA--but read this first.

And yes, breathe in, breathe out. It'll all work out just fine :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

kataroma - Thanks for the advice. I am expecting the worse so maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. ha. I plan on checking in more than than two bags since I will in Italy for at least a month and a half before my things arrive.

bleeding espresso - grazie. I am feeling much better today. I think I will get a lot accomplished during the three day weekend.

Lisa said...

I don't have anything of real, practical value to offer here, just encouragement. Sometimes you have to just make a leap of faith to make your dreams come true.

The fact that most writers don't make it doesn't apply to you. Most people don't have the guts to move to a foreign country either.

I admire your courage and vision. After all, that's what it takes.

Los Angelista said...

Wow, that's a lot to think about. But like any complex puzzle, the pieces will start to fit together. And LOL about the French consulate! That's funny even if it's irritating.

I try to think about how many awful scripts get picked up and how many novels that seem like they were written by ten year-old get published. You can do it. Don't worry.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Lisa - thank you. I was reading some scripts I wrote a few years ago. Some of it was painful but the good thing is my writing has improve. I have to get back into the habit of writing every day.

Los Angelista - Thanks for the encouraging words. There is no rhyme or reason to this business. I have some writer friends who were ready to quit Hollywood, then boom, their next script sells.

I feel very creative when I am in Italy. We'll see what happens.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

that should be "improved".

wordtryst said...

This really brings back memories - except that I didn't have a foreign language thrown into the mix.

"what the hell am I doing?"

Those were the exact words I greeted my cousin with when he picked me up at the airport as I landed on foreign soil after quitting my job. I suspect you'll ask yourself that many times. I have to admit, the answer for me was "I don't have a clue, but I'm following my instincts and trusting you-know-who."

It's scary, but it's an adventure that will never bore you and will feed your writing. When you're on that Italian port pulling your hair out, try to remember that several of us would love to be in your place.

Good luck!

Claudia said...

sigh...I think the italian bureaucracy was designed to irritate people until they finally throw their hands up in despair and give up. Good luck.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

wordtyrst - Thank you for the pep talk! I am so glad to hear things are going well with your book. Looking forward to reading it.

claudia - grazie. Actually dealing with the logistics of my move is good practice. I will look at this phase of the move as pre-production.

Tina said...

Girl, I've been there... I've been there... We all have.

And the stress you're dealing with is most definitely part of the pre-moving expat package. It makes your arrival to Italy that much more sweet though. :-)

You'll be fine. You'll totally 100% be fine. :-)

Cherrye said...

Hey there...I "feel" you, girl! Like Tina said, we've been there. The codice fiscale is super easy. I got mine in like 5 minutes (after waiting for an hour, that is!) :-)

I also stored stuff in TX and moved it over bit by bit. The last time, I didn't use suitcases, but used 24 gallon storage bins. I fit a LOT more in those! Email me if you have questions about using them.

Good luck, girl!!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Grazie mille Tina and Cherrye! Both of you have lived to tell the tale so that is encouraging.

I need to relax and only worry about one thing at a time.

Tracie B. said...

it will be worth it when it is done. no matter how painful it is now, it will eventually be done.


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Ciao Tracie!

Thanks I know you can relate. Hope all is well with you.

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

I'm a bit late adding my two cents on this one, but these days of frustration and doubt are totally normal and you'll have them here too, but they always pass as you remind yourself of your overall goal. Sometimes it's even little things like asking for bags at the grocery store and having the rude clerk throw them at you that makes you lose it... because it's been a build up of little things along the way. For you now it's also the anxiety of the unknown, but remember trust is what will get you through.
I can second all the others... the codice fiscale is a joke. Don't even bother with it til you get here, it's not hard to get.
Good luck with the moving!!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Thanks Shelley. I went to the little pharmacy near St. Agata look for a small bottle of lotion. The saleslady did say "bouna sera" but her attitude was stank! Of course the price was ridiculous. I learned an important lesson that day, never buy at a pharmacy an item you can get at the supermarket. I was in a hurry and ended up paying almost 13 American dollars for some damn Nivea body lotion which costs $4.