Archive for 2006

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot

Hope you get a special kiss and sing a few rounds of Auld Lang Syne!

Felice Anno Nuovo!


[tags]happy new year, new year’s greetings[/tags]

Operation Sky TV: Completed!

This morning I watched Will & Grace.

In English.

For the first time in three years.

Then I watched The Gilmore Girls, or as they call it here, Una Mamma per Amica. And now I’m watching some Ben Affleck Christmas film.

I’m finding that the voices I used to find so familiar now sound a bit strange.

Must be…all that English! Woohoo!

Now, is it wrong that I’m rethinking our New Year’s Eve plans because I’d rather be home with my Sky TV?

I know this probably isn’t very exciting for non-expats, but for those who have been or are in my shoes, you know what I’m talking about. I don’t plan on abusing my Sky TV privileges (after at least a few days of gluttony), but it’s nice to have choices.

To put this in perspective, let me describe what my television experience was like only yesterday:

There are 6 main Italian channels, three owned by RAI and three owned by the Former Prime Arsehole Minister Silvio Berlusconi. To say that these channels are overrun with game shows featuring scantily clad “dancers” is just the sad, offensive truth. And to point out that both sets of channels have extremely political slants as to what is shown on the news and other journalistic programs is a gross understatement.

There are occasionally decent movies, but a good six times out of ten they are blacked out so we can’t see them anyway. And then there’s the fact that they showed Legends of the Fall on Christmas night. But we’ve been through that.

Other programming includes political and soccer/calcio debating shows–sometimes together in the same discussion, always loud and obnoxious. The art of letting one person speak at a time and then waiting for a response is not practiced on RAI, Canale 5, or Italia Uno. And then there’s all the soccer games, many of which are blacked out anyway.

On the other hand, I must be fair. I do give props to basic cable’s travel and nature programs. They aren’t National Geographic or Discovery, but they’re not bad. I’ve learned about many little-known Italian locations and a lot of Italian history because of these. And Canale 5 does a few “fiction” shows that I like, such as RIS, which I mentioned yesterday.

But the biggest benefit to having only 6 channels all in Italian was that it *really* helped improve my language skills. Without Italian personalities like Paolo Bonolis and Maria De Filippi (oh, I’ll still be watching C’è Posta Per Te and Amici even though Maria kinda scares me), I just might be speaking Italian like Paris Hilton.

And let’s not forget that by watching only Italian-language television, I was truly immersed in a major part of the culture; I wouldn’t even know who Paolo and Maria are if I wasn’t forced by RAI and Berlusconi to bring them into my world. That’d be like an American not knowing Rosie O’Donnell from Oprah. Unthinkable, I know.

Quite honestly, without this invaluable cultural knowledge, I don’t think I’d ever truly feel a part of what’s going on around here. For better or worse, television plays a big role in many cultures, and Italy is no exception. In fact, television is often one of the only things around which I can build a conversation–especially with those who would rather discuss how to clean my stove than whether gay marriages should be sanctioned by the government.

Ah, bridging the great cultural divide one satellite dish at a time.

So, in sum, I don’t regret that I’ve gone three years without hearing Larry King’s voice (which I did finally hear this morning as CNN reran his interview with the late President Gerald Ford) as it made me the expat I am today. No doubt about it–drowning in Italian television helped me grow. But now I’m ready for Animal Planet, The History Channel, all the Fox stations, and, oh, so much more.

Welcome to my world, Sky TV. Baby girl’s all grows up.


[tags]sky tv[/tags]

Looking Back on 2006

I completed the following meme because:

(1) I saw it on some of the blogs I read and love, and I’m a copycat at heart;

(2) Since I only started blogging in December, this can fill you in on the rest of my year in just 39 (!) simple questions;

(3) I don’t have anything else remotely interesting to say today (not to insinuate that this is interesting, but at least it’s something).

Like to hear it? Here it goes.

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before? Started a blog, got my first translating gig, made Thanksgiving dinner all by myself, jarred hot peppers stuffed with anchovies and capers, became an Italian citizen, watched Italy win the World Cup, improved my Italian immensely, and learned to follow along a conversation in Calabrian dialect.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I’ve never done resolutions, but maybe I will this year. Maybe I’ll make a resolution to do resolutions. Probably not though.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? In February, my favorite Wisconsinite (baby girl Dorothea) and, in June, P’s sister-in-law in Perugia (baby boy Matteo). Auguri!

4. Did anyone close to you die? Thank goodness, no. But holy crap, I’m really going to miss Peter Boyle, and not just because we shared a birthday. He reminded me so much of my own grandfather. Brilliant.

5. What countries did you visit? Only the one I’m in.

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006? More assignments.

7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Wow, this is kinda sad but July 9, the day of the World Cup win and Headbutt Heard ‘Round the World. Nothing else comes to mind.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Losing the weight I gained in law school.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not sending out my niece and nephew’s Christmas gift on time. We’re going to do a combination Christmas/Valentine’s Day package, I think.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing serious this year, no. Now that you mention, though, I do feel a sore throat coming on. Thanks meme.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My new laptop. I heart her. Hard.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My doggie Luna. She has taken extremely well to being kept on a leash except for our long runs. And she only barks and snaps at shady-looking men now, a trait of which I’m exceedingly proud.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Tie between most, if not all, members of the Bush administration. So tough to pick just one. And recently Donald Trump. What’s up the Comb Over’s bum anyway?

14. Where did most of your money go? Internet and phone bills (but so worth it).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My digital camera.

16. What song will always remind you of 2006? Sei nell’Anima by Gianna Nannini or Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie–everyone (except me and P) had this as their ring tone this summer.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? Well I’m thinner, but I’d say just about as happy and as economically challenged.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Walking with Luna.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying about the small stuff.

20. How will you be spending Christmas? P and I spent it together eating and watching inappropriate Christmas films.

21. Did you fall in love in 2006? With P and Luna over and over (blech), but definitely with I Filippi.

22. How many one-night stands? Of what?

23. What was your favorite TV program? Lost, Prison Break, Veronica Mars, and RIS: Delitti Imperfetti, like the Italian CSI.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone, just strongly disagree with many.

25. What was the best book you read? Nice Work by David Lodge.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Gianna Nannini. She’s like the Italian, oh, Stevie Nicks or Carly Simon or something. The woman’s got pipes and touching lyrics to boot.

27. What did you want and get? See number 15.

28. What did you want and not get? I’m still waiting for Sky TV (that’s a whole lotta channels in English for those who don’t know), but that just may happen later today. Fingers crossed.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? I didn’t see anything brand spanking new (the cinema is not a normal activity here), but, as I’ve mentioned, I really liked The Italian Job, which I only saw recently.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? P brought me breakfast in bed (cappuccino and cornetto) and then made me dinner (not immediately thereafter). And I turned, ahem, 30.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If someone in my family or close circle of friends would have visited or if I would’ve been able to go home.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006? Fully American, i.e., function over fashion (as opposed to the spike heel boots, skinny jeans, and cropped faux-fur collared jackets that many Italians around me wear). Although I do manage to keep the baseball cap wearing to a minimum.

33. What kept you sane? The Internet, fellow expats, blogs, emails, and frequent phone calls.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Oh geez, I think it was this guy from RIS, Lorenzo Flaherty. Purrrr.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Iraq. Don’t get me started.

36. Who did you miss? My family, and in particular yard-saling on Saturday mornings with my mom, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew.

37. Who was the best new person you met? It’s a tie between two lovely ladies that made their ways to Calabria—Susanna (and her lovely family) and Lisa. Online I’ve “met” many interesting people, especially those at Expats in Italy.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006. No matter where you go, there you are.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. Two choices. First, trusty Gianna as mentioned above (my loose translation):

Sei nell’anima
E lì ti lascio per sempre
Sei in ogni parte di me
Ti sento scendere
Fra respiro e battito

You’re in my soul
And there I’ll leave you forever
You’re in every part of me
I feel you go down inside of me
Between breath and heartbeat.

The second is more a forward-looking answer than a looking back, but it fits nonetheless: I’d like to think the best of me is still hiding up my sleeve.

And how was your year?

Word Association

Saw this on italian trivia a little while ago.

The rule is that you can type just one word–no explanations. I won’t tag anyone, but feel free to play along if you like.

1. Yourself: clever
2. Your partner: thoughtful
3. Your hair: manageable
4. Your Mother: telephone
5. Your Father: Blazer
6. Your Favorite Item: Internet
7. Your Dream Last Night: couch
8. Your Favorite Drink: cappuccino
9. Your Dream Car: hybrid
10. Your Dream Home: secluded
11. The Room You Are In: kitchen
12. Your Ex: niente
13. Your Fear: losing
14. Where You Want To Be In Ten Years? mommy
15. Who You Hung Out With Last Night: P
16. What You’re Not: flaky
17. Muffins: blueberry!
18. One of Your Wish List Items: SKY
19. Time: 3:42 p.m.
20. The Last Thing You Did: laundry
21. What You Are Wearing: sweater
22. Your Favorite Weather: autumnal
23. Your Favorite Book: many
24. Last Thing You Ate: chicory
25. Your Life: wow
26. Your Mood: up
27. Your Best Friends: American
28. What Are You Thinking About Right Now: dream
29. Your Car: Invisible
30. What Are You Doing At The Moment: breathing
31. Your Summer: uneventful
32. Relationship Status: engagedish
33. What Is On Your TV: nothing
34. What Is The Weather Like: sunshiny
35. When Is The Last Time You Laughed: “baby”

A Virtual Tour of Badolato, Calabria

Why yes I do happen to have some photos of my village. Thanks for asking!

From a photo-taking point in the piazza:

The main street, or as we say, Il Corso:

La piazza:

A cute building on the piazza that I think would be perfect for an Internet café:

Above the piazza:

More interesting photos to appear here periodically.

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake