Monday, May 3, 2010

New blog

I am still here (in Italy and on planet Earth!), though I haven't updated this blog in a while. I have started a new blog project, which is called Viva la Pappa. Check it out here:

It's still in the early phases, but I'd love any feedback!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Thanks for the nice comments on my last post, though I think I was perhaps a bit inarticulate (majorly sleep deprived as my 23-month-old STILL wakes up many times a night....) making it seem as if I were saying that many bloggers have "sold out" and wondering if I should as well. Quite frankly, my confusion about what to do with this blog is less about them and more about me, though I have marveled recently at how professional many blogs have become and how many bloggers have moved in one direction or another (food blogging, mommy blogging, maintaining a travel guide, etc.). Over the years, my interests have shifted a bit, and I've often wondered if I shouldn't perhaps focus on one particular topic as well.

When I started the blog, I was not the happiest expat in Italy as I'd just lost my full-time job in very shady (very only-in-Italy) circumstances, and I felt that all the work I'd put into being here had been for naught. My earliest posts reflected that frustration, and then a stressful pregnancy here didn't help the situation. But now I'm at a different point in my life, and it's very possible that a year from now, I won't even be living in Italy.

The major point of my last post was that when I started the blog, I felt like posting was part of one long exchange with other expats or Italy lovers. I made some great friends and met many interesting people. Even people I've never met in person feel like great "virtual" friends to me. Now it seems like the conversation has gotten more one-sided. I get a lot of short emails, such as "I'm Australian and moving to Milan. What's life like there?" or "Know any good hospitals for giving birth near Como?" I always write back with detailed responses and most of the time, I don't even get a "thank you" in response.

I'm also feeling the need to be a little less "exposed" on the Internet now that I have a child. And now that I have a child, I'm out and about less and doing fewer things that are blog-worthy. In any case, a combination of factors has led me to question why I'm blogging, what I'd like to "offer" readers/the world, what I'd like to get out of it myself and how to make it happen in the limited time I have for personal projects. Tutto qui!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Innovate or....?

I did some thinking in the
mountains this past weekend...

A few years ago when I was covering the luxury goods industry, I went to a conference at a famous Italian business school. The conference had a badly translated title - something like "Innovate or be Exterminated." It was meant to be a wake-up call for those Italian companies that sold luxury accessories which hadn't yet realized that China and India were moving into the market with a vengeance. Experts warned that these two countries were full of young, motivated and creative workers churning out designer bags and jewels (the real deal - not fakes) that were almost as good as those for which Italy's artisans are famous.

The idea of all this was to nudge the industry out of its complacency and let it be known that the glory days of the 1980s and 1990s - where a family company made up of papĂ  (boss), mamma (secretary) and figlio (communications director) was the norm - were over. Where the average Italian luxury goods company had three employees (see above), the average Chinese or Indian company had something like 3,000. The experts went on to say that in Italy hiring was done within families whereas hiring was done in China and India based on who the right person for the job was. At the end, Italian executives filed out ashen-faced and too anxious to get festive at the post-conference cocktail hour.

I've been thinking about that "innovate or be exterminated" theme lately as it pertains to my blog. I've always seen this blog as kind of a public Web journal about my life in Italy, and I enjoyed the interaction with other bloggers who were more or less doing the same. In the last few years, the landscape has changed and suddenly I feel like one of the few who hasn't "innovated." I've never done book reviews, guest posts, advertorials, product plugs or the like. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above (for some people, their blogs are platforms for businesses they run, so it is absolutely understandable that they'd go that route) as long as bloggers give full disclosure. Nonetheless, suddenly I feel like I'm sitting at a long Italian lunch table yammering on about myself while everyone else is making business deals on their Blackberries. That leaves me feeling slightly uncomfortable.

Lately whenever I think about posting, I hesitate because I think "Oh, writing about that would be so 2006." Or if I see or do something cool, I just tweet it. Why write 300 words on that interesting art exhibit I saw when I can just tweet the link? Today, many expat blogs are slicker, more professional, more targeted, more focused and much less personal. So that is where I'm at right now. I'm thinking of ways I could innovate (or even start a new blog - I have a few ideas) while still being myself and not giving so much away that I feel like that girl - you know, the loquacious one at the lunch table who had too much vino rosso.

P.S. The fact that the publishing industry (as I've always known it) is dying does nothing to make me feel confident about a future where one can make a living writing. Career change suggestions?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buon appetito - or not

I'm sorry to return to blogging with such a lame little post here, but I've been quite busy with - among other things - the bureaucracy required for our move next year. I won't bore you with how I've spent weekends doing back taxes and tracking down and shifting documents among Naples, Rome, New York City and Montgomery County, Ohio in what I've endearingly termed "the paper chase." I'll soon be back with regular posts but, in the meantime, I leave you with some recent Italian food craziness.

This commercial cracks me up every time I see it. It features one of the chefs for Italy's national soccer team proposing "pane e Nutella" as the cornerstone of a healthy breakfast. Looks like they've got quite the gourmet operation there to feed Italy's campioni del mondo (world champions) yet they can't even whip up a proper breakfast?

Now I'll admit that I'm not a big fan of the highly processed hazelnut spread (the gourmet kinds with interesting flavors, such as chili pepper and ginger are another story, however), so you won't find me slathering it on bread in the mornings. But it seems that gazillions of Italian schoolchildren head off for a busy day of studies fueled on by the stuff. I'd hate to be the teacher in charge when they all start to come down from the collective sugar high.

Let me get this straight: we are meant to start the day with junk food and then (per the recommendation of one of the Italian government ministers) skip lunch altogether. I guess one is supposed to get by until dinner on caffè then?

Friday, November 6, 2009

"I'd leave Milan only to go to heaven..."

"...and even from there I'd probably miss my house on the Navigli." (The Navigli are Milan's canals - yes, Milan has canals!). Words of famous Milanese poetess Alda Merini who passed away this week at age 78. She struggled with mental illness throughout her life, and I actually got to know her work when I saw her read at a benefit concert held in the garden of the mental hospital where she was once a patient. Unfortunately, much of her work has not been translated into English but I found this description of her: "Charmingly perverse, cynically joyful, lustfully feminist, and bawdily philosophical...she remains one of Italy's best kept secrets." Below a YouTube video where you can hear (in Italian) one of her poems and then hear her speaking. It begins "I'm crazy, crazy, crazy...with love for you."

Here's an excerpt of one of her poems in English from the book "Unpaid Ballads:"

Don't give me long songs and don't say
that I am frigid
nor that I carry baskets of dense silence
on my fragile shoulders.
Don't say that I'm dreaming again of the wind,
don't say telltale words of love
or of reassurance.