a different kind of malocchio

I’ve written about the curse of malocchio, but yesterday at 4 a.m., I experienced a much different kind of “bad eye.” I woke up with a literal one that was tearing, burning, itching, and just being a big ole pain.

Needless to say, I couldn’t fall back asleep–did you notice that I posted at 5:30 a.m. yesterday? Yeah, you probably won’t be seeing that again unless the eye strikes back.

So after posting, I woke up P for work. He asked if I wanted to go down the mountain to the doctor. Nah, I said, we’ll see how it progresses.

I don’t like the doctor, but I really hate going here, where it can take hours of sitting among a bunch of sickies before I’m seen only to get news that I could’ve gotten at the pharmacy, where the pharmacist diagnoses you and sells you whatever he thinks you need. No thanks.

A few minutes after P left for work, he returned and told me that he had two different volunteers in the piazza that would take me to the doctor if I wanted. Again, no. Let’s just wait and see, I said.

So once I was sure the pharmacist had arrived in the village, I ventured out for some medical advice; he usually rolls in around 9:30, but to be safe I waited until 10. And wouldn’t you know? A line of people.

I, of course, kept my sunglasses on, so I got even more stares than I normally would, as oddly enough, young people don’t often hang out in the pharmacy in a village where the average age is somewhere around 65. After a few minutes and a gasp from the pharmacist at how bad my eye looked, I got some drops (the famous collirio for fellow expats) and was on my way.

And then more fun began.

First I ran into P’s sister-in-law who diagnosed me as having pink eye, which I had thought was a possibility as well, but she seemed particularly concerned because “My how your face is swollen! You look terrible!”

Then the clerk in the tobacco shop (needed to get tissues) seconded that emotion, and told me (in a speech that lasted no less than 15 minutes) that her two daughters had just gotten over pink eye.

Alrighty then. Moving on the grocery store, which is about a ten second walk down the street.

On the way, I was stopped by three different elderly women asking about my eye. I was wearing sunglasses, by the way, so they hadn’t actually seen a problem, but the word had clearly gotten out.

And then inside the grocery store, the clerk also diagnosed me with pink eye, although another customer thought I had just gotten something in it, like a mosquito, he said. I hadn’t thought of the mosquito angle, so I thanked him for his ingenuity.

The morning was rounded out by a phone call from P’s mom (who doesn’t live in the village, but rather down the mountain) asking me if I wanted to go to the doctor. Again, I resisted the invitation, and I didn’t even think it was strange that she knew I had an eye issue.

Instead, I squeezed some drops into my eye, causing ridiculous burning for a few seconds and finally some relief, and then called the school to tell them I wouldn’t be teaching today. They, incidentally, hadn’t heard of the Great Eye Debacle yet, so it was good I called.

More drops and many cold compresses later, the eye was mostly back to normal by yesterday evening–much to the relief of the village, which sent some representative questioners this morning when I took Luna for a walk.

As for the eye, I’m not sure if it was a quickly traveling virus or even, say, a mosquito, but it seems to have passed, and I am left with only photographic reminders of all the annoyance. Because of the horrible pain, I was up for the sunrise yesterday, and that didn’t turn out to be a bad consolation prize.*

Unfortunately the weather turned cloudy and rainy soon thereafter, but you wouldn’t know it from the way the day started.

This from the balcony:

And this from my kitchen window as the sun traveled through the sky:

*Excuse the crookedness factor please. I was only working with one good eye, you know, and even that wasn’t so good since I didn’t have my contacts in. I’m virtually blind with uncorrected vision.


[tags]eye problems, sunrises, calabria, life in calabria[/tags]

26 Beans of Wisdom to “a different kind of malocchio”
  1. Giulia

    Ha, gotta love the Italians (and give them credit) for their speed when it comes to spreading news, just like wildfire! Glad that the eye is better though. What a beautiful photo of the sunset!

  2. Giulia

    Ooops, I meant sunRISE! lol

  3. girlie

    Your town has a really impressive word-of-mouth chain! I’m glad to hear the eye is feeling better. I had pinkeye once, at summer camp, and the doctor didn’t read my chart that I was allergic to sulfa… he gave me sulfa drops which, oh, the burning. My eyes tear up 15 years later just thinking about it.

    Thanks for the memories. (And also for the link and the plug!)

  4. Wendy

    I’m glad your eye is feeling better. I can just picture the news spreading through the village. How funny but nice in a way that so many were concerned about you. Beautiful pictures by the way even with one eye.

  5. goodthomas

    What a wonderful story. I love the gentle (and not so gentle pushes) of concerned and wise realtives/townspeople. Makes me smile. Very glad you are feeling better and it was so relatively short-lived (considering).

    And you did very well on those images with just one good eye. Wow.

  6. Sharon

    Wonderful photos…we lucked out because of your ailment. Hope the eye mends quickly.

  7. Sharon

    Off topic ????

    Since you are a Nutella Diva, could Nutella be used in place of Marshmello Fluff in those Rice Krispy treats????

  8. sognatrice

    Giulia, I typed “sunset” the first time too! I figure that either makes us pessimists (thinking daylight is always going away) or optimists (we’ve made it through another day!). Or, you know, not paying attention πŸ˜‰

    Girlie, what an awful eye experience! I hate eye issues–so debilitating!

    Wendy and GT, yes, the concern is rather nice sometimes–good to know I could’ve have possibly let that thing fester another day.

    Sharon. oh, I’m no Nutella Diva, my friend–if you remember, I slapped some Nutella on a banana and cracker and called it a recipe! I’m not sure if Nutella would work or not; my gut says it lacks the air and stickiness that makes marshmallow work, but I certainly would never say never.

    Try a small batch and let me know–if I were closer, I’d be the taster πŸ™‚

  9. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    Belle foto (and taken with only one good eye!)

    Glad your eye is feeling better.

  10. Annika

    Hey, you’ve redesigned your blog! Looks good!!

    You have views to die for… and one good thing about being awake at an early hour (I know this from experience, trust me) is getting to see various sunrises.

    Then again, that’s probably the only good thing I can think of. Being awake before 7 am stinks.

  11. Cherrye

    I was laughing out loud at your post…not your hurt eye, of course, but the typical word-of-mouth thing…I think it is very sweet they offered to take you to the doctor, and everyone had an idea about what it was…mosquito, huh? Maybe that is why they have those mosquito net things everwhere??

  12. cheeky

    Glad you are better, poor thing. I’ve never had it but it always looks so irritating.
    I’m sure you stood out like a “sore thumb” in the pharmacy with the shades on. We know you were just in one of your celebrity modes, ha ha.
    Sunrise is gorgeous! I don’t often get up to see that either, and when I do it’s not because I planned it. So all the early risers can get “off their pedestal”! ha ha ha I loved that btw.
    love to luna moona . . .

  13. heather

    I am glad you’re feeling better, and also thanks for the AWESOME pictures! Just beautiful.

  14. Fran

    Isn’t it great to be loved? I am glad your eye is better!

  15. sarala

    I love the work of the grapevine. The U.S. is so anonymous. Somtimes this is a good thing, sometimes not. What if you had an embarrassing problem? Would the town have learned of your hemorrhoids or the equivalent?
    Like girlie, I’m allergic to sulfa. The last time I had pink eye (many years ago) the doctor had to leave to consult a textbook to find eye drops I could take.

  16. J.Doe

    Glad you’re feeling better. Those are beautiful photos.

  17. Delina

    Every cloud has a silver lining so they say – you got to see the beautiful sunrise!

    Glad you feel better.

  18. Sharon

    PS I should have asked first but I made reference to your blog on mine this morning. Hope it was OK.Sharon

  19. sognatrice

    Oh Sharon, you certainly don’t need to ask–thanks for the mention πŸ™‚

  20. Dan

    Wow! These photos are wonderful! You are very talented.

  21. Shan

    Oh the joys of living in a small community. We’re not quite as quick as that in our little village, but we try.

    Gorgeous pictures as always. So glad your eye is feeling better.

  22. avery

    The photos are beautiful. And my, how news travels fast. I’m surprised noone diagnosed you with the “cold-air from the north” thing. You know how every Italian gets sick from the wind that blows from the north? Maybe that’s what happened to your eye πŸ˜‰
    Glad you are feeling better and it’s nothing serious.

  23. Bongga Mom

    Great story! How nice that people are so concerned about a fellow neighbor, I wish it were more like that around here…

  24. 1lifelonglearner

    At first I felt very uncomfortable by your account of the quick verbal spread of your ailment. Then I realized it was because I currently live in a town that has gone from one similar to yours to a very scary place. A sad commentary on the deterioration of the American neighborhood. As the town elders die the slumlords swoop in and buy up their homesteads only to fill them with drug dealers and other criminals. It was heartwarming to remember how safe I felt growing up where everybody knew me. Thanks for the sweet memory. (Glad it all worked out for you with your eye.)

  25. Kimberly

    What an amazing village! I quite envy you the closeness, even as I smile at the lack of privacy.

    My husband is an eye doctor, and says it sounds like something just irritated your eye, making it tender and inflamed (cold compresses was the right way to go!). If the pinkness comes back though, get yourself to a doctor because it could be an infection.

    Ahh…nothing like unsolicited advice, is there?

  26. sognatrice

    Thanks for the well wishes everyone; as of Sunday morning, we appear to be back to normal–still scared to put in contacts, and when I do, yes, I’ll put in a fresh pair. Maybe Wednesday when I have to go teach.

    Dan, thanks for stopping by and for the compliments πŸ™‚

    Avery, yeah, I escaped the “air” assumption–a small miracle in itself. Thanks for commenting!

    Lifelong, you know, that’s kind of how I feel about my old neighborhood too, although it isn’t nearly as bad as you described. It’s just that as the older people are dying, newer strangers are taking their place, and many of them are letting even the physical houses deteriorate. It’s just not the same; so actually, in a lot of ways, where I am now is more like my hometown (when I was growing up) than my hometown is now. Odd, and probably worthy of an entire post πŸ˜‰

    Kimberly, thank you so much for the advice! It makes me feel better, and, um, to be clear…the mosquito guy was on to something, right?

    As many of you have hinted, it is a bit of a double-edged sword being in such a small place; lack of privacy is definitely an issue a lot of the time. We do pretty well with that for the most part, but this particular story was too indicative of the town grapevine to not share.

    Still, I’d take over-intrusive to cold and distant any day…well, many days at least πŸ˜‰

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