Finding Angelo: or how an American obtains Italian dual Citizenship

Here is a list of the documents required for me to become an Italian citizen: (please note these all need to be translated into Italian and have an apostille…whatever that is)

Your maternal great grandfather’s birth certificate from Italy 
Your maternal great grandmother’s birth certificate 
Your great grandparents’ marriage certificate 
Your maternal great grandfather’s certificate of naturalization OR statement of “No Records” 
Your maternal grandfather’s birth certificate
Your maternal grandmother’s birth certificate 
Your grandparents’ marriage certificate 
Your mother’s birth certificate 
Your father’s birth certificate 
Your parents’ marriage certificate 
Your birth certificate 
Death certificates for anyone listed above 

The fun part about having this list is that I’m really going to have to search and learn a lot about my family in order to acquire all of these documents, thus actually getting closer to my roots.  The hard part about this list is that the Meles are not the most organized species.  At the beginning of the search, we have only very slightly possibly the birth certificates of myself, my mother and my father. The caveat is that I have never actually seen these birth certificates and somewhat doubt that we actually have them.

Additionally, I have learned that my parents do not know where of if they have a marriage certificate.  Oy to the vey.

Next up, a trip to Grandma’s house!

I love this post from the new blog Finding Angelo. It’s a great motivation for historical discovery and a bit of detective work. Interesting that citizenship seems to be maternally passed down; what other countries are like that?

Looking forward to following this process through Ariel’s blog; you should follow it too!

Finding Angelo: or how an American obtains Italian dual Citizenship

“Grandma?” the man with the backpack said, crossing the street to get a better look at the elegant elderly woman walking down the sidewalk with a cane.

“Oh hello!” she said, turning, apparently surprised to see him. He hugged her in greeting.

“Happy birthday!” the man said, “I actually have a card for you up in my apartment.”

They continued to chat on the sidewalk for a few moments, as Jen and I stifled our delighted laughter. “SO CUTE,” we mouthed, and she discretely snapped a photo.

This was a really enjoyable serendipitous neighborhood moment to witness. Sometimes, Prospect Heights feels like “where I’m living”, but with a shorter-term feel because I don’t have deep roots there yet. But, seeing generations of a family both clearly from the neighborhood running into each other on my block makes it feel like more than just a pass-through community; it’s a home.

The perfect way to let #mom know you got there ok.

I can’t wait until the next time I travel or decide to let mom know where I am. Even if she reads about this awesome service called here first, the first call will undoubtedly result in lots of giggles and sighs of relief, followed by confusion and reasoning, followed by a call to my Grammy to relay the crazy phone call she just received. Let’s just say: #predictable.

If any of you readers sign up too, please share how it goes!

Resolutions: checking in and checking out

Here’s what I had from 2011, and what happened:

– enjoy my job transition and make the most of it

Definitely have learned a ton, so CHECK!

– learn to bake desserts

All year in my head, this resolution was to learn to like dessert and not to bake it, and I’ve recently enjoyed some decadent chocolate cakes, so CHECK!

– take more improv classes

Not only did I take the amazing Lady Party and Dynamic Duos classes, but I met some great people and also joined a quasi-regular practice group and started doing a weekly podcast with someone I met in our improv workshop at MaxFunCon. So I’d say CHECK!

– do awesome photo projects

I put some photos I had taken on canvases that came out really well, but I can’t say I did much more than that. Resolution TO BE CARRIED FORWARD!

– be sincere

Yes. There were many times when this was tested and I was maybe too honest, but I’d like to think I was successful and even diplomatic at times. This was a huge victory. CHECK!

– keep my room clean (LOL!)

It had its moments of clean, but I think my predictive LOL was telling. FAIL!

Anyway, that’s a wrap on 2011. Looking ahead to next year, my goals:

  • Do awesome photo projects
  • Maintain strong connections with important friends and family
  • Continue to explore professional and personal growth opportunities
  • Function better in unplanned, last-minute scenarios or blips in plans
  • Make this blog or another writing venture something more public, as long as I keep enjoy doing it
  • Wear makeup a little bit more, but never spend more than 120 seconds on it.
  • Take more improv classes, and continue to formulate what I want to do with it as it relates to longterm goals
  • Become a member of a nonprofit board
  • Cook more in cost effective, healthy, and fun ways
  • Work on building a sustainable skillshare of some sort among friends
  • Get Anderson Cooper to come for dinner

Good luck to me! 

A holiday tradition

Once again, I am hosting the family for Hanukkah* this year, and I wanted to share with you one of my favorite traditions that we have on my mom’s side of the family. Every person describes an organization that they care about and why, and then we pick one out of a hat that we all then donate to. To me, this is a great time to learn more about what is currently important to each person, and also to really appreciate the breadth of amazing work that is being done by so many different entities. Further, I like that we are all sincerely thrilled to get behind whatever cause is picked and to learn more about it. There’s also something wonderful about mixing in charitable giving with more ‘traditional’ gifts, and consequentially about thinking about gift giving from different angles.

I am having a hard time picking my organization this year – so much and yet so little has changed since last year’s selection – but it’s an interesting personal process to sort through what I want to bring to the table. It’s a fun opportunity to share one of the new organizations I’ve come into contact with or to remind everyone of an organization that has mattered to me in the longterm. It is also an opportunity to research an organization that might be doing work that I have placed added emphasis on this year. Deciding if I ultimately care more about the impact of our collective gift or about the experience of sharing is also a factor, because there are different goals accomplished and organizations represented with each framework. Sigh… so much (wonderfulness!) to think about! Inspired giving is always a good thing, so at least all of this thinking will probably spur some personal gifts, too!

Feel free to adapt this into your own family and/or share liberally, and if you do, I’d love to hear how it goes!

*my 2012 spelling

[Editor’s Note: We are donating to Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford, which is really awesome and does incredible social services work for all families regardless of background. My uncle has volunteered there for a few years now and has done tremendous work in the financial literacy and planning realm. I nominated StoryCorps because I ultimately wanted to switch it up and nominate an arts organization this year, and I love the unique role they play in capturing all sorts of accounts that would otherwise be lost with time.]

This photoset and post is from my friend Kate, who is currently traveling through parts of Africa. This post struck me as simultaneously sad and beautiful. 

One of my highlights last week was my trip to the Elephant orphanage in the Nairobi National Park. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a center where they take care of orphaned elephants. Many have been orphaned due to the illegal tusking industry that has killed their mothers. The center is an important place because baby elephants require a very specific kind of care from their mothers that is extremely hard to emulate. For example, they consume only their mother’s milk for the first 2 years of life. The milk content also changes over time to adapt to the baby’s different growing needs. So to rear baby elephants, the center has to make sure there is someone available to feed them milk every three hours of their first two years of life.

However, the problem is that elephants are emotional and get attached, even to humans. If the baby gets too attached to a human, then it will not be able to readjust to the wild. So, the elephant orphanage has a system in which there are 24/7 caretakers that rotate so that someone is around the elephants at all times, but it is always a different person. This means that even at night, a caretaker sleeps in the elephant’s stall so that he can feed the baby every three hours. In addition, the baby elephants are only open to public viewing for one hour each day, 11am-12pm, so that they do not get too accustomed to crowds of humans.

The one hour I got to spend watching them was utterly entertaining and adorable. Here is a taste of what it was like. 

I like the man-smell of a hardware store:
odors of old leather,
fresh cut lumber, oiled machines,
limey smell of plaster and new paint.

I like the men who come to hardware stores,
men with calloused hands
in dirty jeans and sweaty shirts,
men who work.

I remember times we came together
for shingles and to re-roof the shed,
cement for the outdoor barbecue,
bricks for the patio.

Now I come alone and pause a moment
just inside the door.
Almost I see you there
beyond the ray of dust motes in the aisle.

So strong the sense of deja vu
I have to catch my breath
As if these old familiar smells
could bring you back from death.

An untitled, unattributed poem hanging in the back of Moody’s Hardware Store in Montgomery, Alabama. The poem and story of Moody’s was really a gem to stumble upon, because Boston Hardware in Uncasville, Connecticut was our family’s pride for more than 40 years.

It’s amazing what gifts small-scale blogs by everyday folks like us can bring in unexpected ways.

Another NYC Park!

Anyone who knows me or is a loyal blog reader knows how much I love NYC Parks. A not-really-but-basically cousin is one of the voices behind an awesome effort to bring a park to Chelsea. 136 W. 20th St (between 6th and 7th aves.) is currently vacant (BORING!) and for people who live smack in the middle of Chelsea, it’s a decent walk over to the Highline or the other way over to Madison Square Park or down to Washington Square Park. There isn’t really other public space to sit outdoors (especially with kids) and enjoy the neighborhood. The lot is currently owned by the Department of Sanitation, but that’s not helping anything, and we know that NYC does nothing but amazing things with their parks. So why not bring a park here?

Clearly, I encourage you to learn more about the effort, and then get involved! And, maybe just maybe if you donate enough money or are a super respected public servant, the park could be named after you!