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Taking a big step toward my Italian citizenship
An EU passport looms ever closer...
Howdy! Welcome back to Traipsing About, a newsletter about reclaiming creativity and ditching tired personal paradigms.
Revisiting last issue’s discussion of a yearly theme word, I landed on acceptance. (Stole it from my Buddhist mother.)
For me, the word encompasses many layers:
Acceptance of this phase of our lives with an elderly cat who limits our travel opportunities.
Acceptance of other people, their priorities, and stage of life. Don’t think I’m stopping with unsolicited advice though!
Acceptance that juuust about anything happening in the world is outside my circle of influence. Focusing on what I can control is one of the best happiness hacks I’ve found.
As someone wise said, everything good in life is just the gap between expectations and reality!
All this said, in no way does acceptance mean “be a doormat.” Boundary setting and clear communication around “this is acceptable behavior in this relationship” are intertwined with acceptance.
This week on Italianoing About, Edition #116:
Positive developments in my Italian citizenship quest
Why learn a foreign language?
Traipsing Tidbits: passwords, books, a yummy recipe, a sweet rant, and Cuba.
I’m gonna get an Italian passport someday
In fall 2020, COVID raged world-wide and forest fires burned on the west coast. Our air quality hovered between a pack of cigarettes a day and Chernobyling my face. It was…not awesome.
A breath of fresh air arrived via a second cousin who proclaimed, “I found the naturalization certificate for your great-grandpa. We can all become Italian citizens!”
Trigger enthusiasm. Research. Deep-diving into Ancestry.com. Trying to get an appointment at the consulate in San Francisco, a Herculean task in the overtaxed consulate system. After three months of trying, I snagged one in January 2021…for two years out. (These days, they are booking five years out!)
Here’s the original blog post from 2020 with more details. (Fun side note: a cousin from a side of the family I’d never heard of found that blog post, which reconnected us all. Go go internet magic!)
Not gonna lie: it was a solid effort to track down documents ranging from original Italian birth certificates from 1884 to modifying death certificates with incorrect info on them. But I got it done and kicked off the New Year by finally meeting with an consulate officer to discuss my citizenship quest. Luckily, the San Francisco consulate is still doing remote appointments, saving me a trip. We simply handled things on the phone.
Prior to that, I nervously mailed all the hard-won documents to the consulate via their requested method, flat rate mail with no signature confirmation. “Oh, it’s cool, just dozens of hours of efforts and a thousand dollars of documents floating around in holiday mail traffic. I’M NOT WORRIED.”
You better believe I ordered two certified copies of everything.
I used the appointment as a final exam of sorts for my Italian language study. I didn’t need to do the appointment in Italian, but since I’ve been studying it since I started this citizenship process, I wanted to. The consulate officer was quite surprised that I could actually speak the language—they always chide people for not being able to, but don’t expect it. Instead, she complimented me on my Italian, which felt validating given how hard I’ve worked.
We dove into the review of all the lineage documents and next steps went swimmingly. All the upfront corrections and fact checking I did apparently worked out because she gave me zero follow-up homework. My only guidance on timeline is that I’ll need to wait “dei mesi,” aka “some months” or “whenever we dig our way through the mile-high stack of applications.”
So, yeah, I’m not done, but my work and the “did I f this up somewhere?” question that hovered deep in the back of my mind is released. Now I just wait, living my life while the time passes anyway! Call it acceptance training.
Although we might have looked at some long-term rentals in Italy. You know, just checking…
The satisfaction of learning a foreign language
After the appointment, Chelsea asked me why I’ve felt so motivated to learn Italian. Now that we’re over a major hurdle with the consulate, she’s ramping up her efforts since she needs a B1 fluency level to get citizenship.
My best answer is that learning to speak Italian has fostered a deeper connection with my heritage, which I’d never cared about before. It’s something bigger than myself, a satisfaction I never felt while learning languages in the past. I also love the feeling of stretching my brain and the incremental progress that stacks up like floors in a skyscraper.
Beyond that, both my mother and brother studied abroad in Italy, so we’ll often speak Italian during phone calls. Even cooler, they’re both riding my coattails and getting their citizenship via all the documents I gathered. A family affair!
Overall, right now learning a language lights me up and I’m going to continue while the inspiration is there. Can’t wait to visit my great-grandfather’s hill town and track down some relatives!
Traipsing About Tidbits
Are you still writing (weak) passwords down or reusing the same one? Skip the headache of getting hacked or constantly resetting forgotten passwords and get a password manager that syncs between your phone and computer! I’ve had one for years and don’t know how I survived before. The Wirecutter has reviews for the best.
I learned even more about navigating boundaries and how it can strengthen relationships by reading The Book of Boundaries.
This winter I’m loving this Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.
Highly recommend this essay/rant about How Web Platforms Collapse: The Facebook Case Study by Ted Gioa. (If you want a fantastic newsletter to follow, his is wide-ranging and a fav of mine.)
This beautiful 4-min video further whet my appetite for bikepacking (or at least traveling!) in Cuba. I hear Italians can go there any time they want. :)
Quote of the Week
This line from my friend Jono’s excellen design newsletter made me chuckle:
“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar
Remember: there is no such thing as guilt-free boundary setting. If you want to minimize (not eliminate) guilt, change the way you think about the process. Stop thinking about boundaries as mean or wrong; start to believe that they’re a nonnegotiable part of healthy relationships, as well as a self-care and wellness practice.
You’ve reached the end of Traipsing About newsletter #116.
This week’s unsolicited advice: I’m accepting that it’s a new year and everyone has made enough resolutions to get them through January. I’ll harangue you next time!
Catch you on the flip side, Traipser.
P.S. Friendly reminder that grammar matters.
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