Gelataio/Gelateria in the United States

on Tuesday, December 12, 2006

About 2003 my husband and I came up with the idea of wanting to open a gelateria in the United States. For those of you who have not been to Italy, a gelateria is an Italian ice cream shop. Gelato is different from American ice cream, in that gelato has less air and fat compared to its American counterpart, therefore being healthier and having a creamier texture.

So I did a lot of research, and we had thought we had found someone who had experience running a gelateria and making gelato, a gelato artisian/gelataio. He could speak a pretty good English, lived in the area, plus had a brother living in the United States who had dual citizenship, so getting a visa for him wouldn’t be too much of a problem. In January 2005 the four of us; my husband and I and this guy with the experience (gelataio) and his wife went down to Rimini Italy for an expo of pastries and gelato.

After the expo, my husband asked this gentleman to get some additional information, since he has the experience and knows exactly what equipment is needed etc. This again was back in January 2005. He kept putting it off, basically telling us not interested now, without coming right out and telling us.

Now we’re basically back to almost where we started, except we do have the two years worth of research that I have done, market analysis, business plan almost done, but are in need of a gelataio/in-house gelato artisian. My husband has pretty much given up on this gelateria project because of this, but I am not giving up so easily. I have put so much work into this project to give up, and do feel it can over very well. I want to go forward with this project, I know there are long hours that would still be involved, from opening the gelateria to running it; also providing other products in addition to gelato, for example Italian style pannini (sandwiches) and also maybe coffee and soft drinks. I have experience working 12-15 hours a day, excellent customer service experience (12 years experience), plus 2 years supervisor experience. I feel this would be an excellent opportunity for me to enhance and learn new business skills, management, etc. I have a city already chosen. I am not going to list it here, but I will say this it is in the southern part of the United States, along the Gulf Coast, received a substantial amount of tourists every year, and a downtown that is growing. So opening a gelateria NOW would be getting in on the ground floor so to speak of an expanding downtown, getting in on the ground floor so to speak.

I am still searching for a gelataio/gelato artisian/someone who has experience making gelato. So please get in touch with me! Also, donations are more then welcome to get this project started, there is a make a donation button on the right hand side of this blog, underneath my profile.

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Fresh Breezes

*Author's note - Any resemblance to anyone in real life or real life situations is by sheer coincidence. This is a work of fiction. This is what I have saved, lost the first section.

Jim's time on this earth is now measured in minutes, hours and days. His heart is starting to slow, as is the rest of his body and soul. His movements are not of a man in his forties, but of a man of at least twice his age. His soul is tired of fighting to survive. Every breath is an effort. Jim is ready to cross to the other side. It is hard to see him
suffer like this, emotionally, physically and psychologically. He is my world, my everything. It is and will be hard to let him go, but I want him to be at peace, free of pain and suffering.

Yesterday Jim slept almost the entire day, he only woke to visit the bathroom and the occasional refrigerator raid. At least he still has a bit of an appetite, but as days go by his hunger grows less and less as if preparing itself for his next phase of life, death. His body is shutting down, bit by bit.

I just left his room, Jim's breathing is becoming very labored and shallow as is his blood pressure. His departure has come, his time has come to leave this world and pass to a wonderful paradise. The doctor is on her way, but I
doubt she will make it here before Jim passes on. Joining the doctor will be the funeral director, Alice and the visiting nurse that Alice had called. I phoned Alice to let her know that I would not be able to make our appointment, but she was already on her way to the café, so she will be coming here directly.

Evidently unbeknownst to me Jim had secretly had made funeral arrangements shortly after he discovered about his heart problems. He had also taken out a small life insurance policy, to pay bills until I am able to get on my feet. Jim was always a wonderful man, putting others first before himself. If someone asked him to jump, to save another
life, he would. He was the least selfish, self-centered person I know. He is a tender, sensitive man, at the same time a manly man. He has never been afraid to get his hands dirty. Who know how many hours he has lived in the
garage, tinkering on either the car, or his baby, his motorcycle. His Cagiva Elefant 900.

All I can do now is sit by Jim's side, make sure he is comfortable, caress him and hold his hand. Even though he is suffering, he still has such a beautiful smile on his face. He has never been one to complain, even when
in extreme pain. He tells me once he passes, that he wants to be cremated and his ashes scattered along the Rocky Mountains. He had always dreamed of when he retired getting a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, away from the crazy
European city life. Away from the rush, smog, the crowds. My dearest Jim, you are only moments away from your paradise. You will soon feel those fresh breezes that you so crave and desire.

Alice and the hospice nurse she called arrive after the doctor and funeral director leave. Alice is stunning and looking elegant as always. From her well-styled hair, which always looks like she's just walked out of
the salon, always wearing the current fashion or the trendsetter to her perfectly pedicured feet. She is naturally beautiful, the envy of all women, and is not in short supply of adoring men. She sends the nurse on her way, her services are no longer needed.

She leans towards me, in practically a whisper, "I need your assistance on a project in the States. I need information for an magazine article for some journals in Asia. They want information on some off the beaten path
resorts, in Middle America. The citizens have limited access to information from the Western Hemisphere. Please respect the fact that any information may or may not be censored."

My question to her "But my role in this? How, when, where and why me?"

"Because you are able to efficiently able to use the Internet to find any little detail you want. You are able to present this information straight to the point, without offending anyone from any culture or age group. You
are good at what you do and these Asian companies are willing to pay. Pay you a good chunk of change for your time, research and supplies.

"These companies first require information, then they will pay for your travels to these approved places that you have found to interview the owners. Check out the area, find places that are not world famous. These companies want local Mom and Pop joints. Places that take pride in what they do.

"Alice, my beloved Jim has just moments ago passed on and his body taken away." I reply. "His body hasn't even fully cooled yet, how can you think I can start such a project?!?! I haven't even started to grieve yet, and have JUST started the process of his funeral. This project is just going to have to wait for the time being."

Chapter Three

How dare Alice ask me to do such a thing at a time like this. I know she has the best of intentions, but her timing is a little off. This idea of hers is just going to have to sit on the back burner for a little while, at least until after arrangements for Jim have been taken care of. It sounds like a good idea, would give me something to do, cash which is always a good thing. Plus sounds like something I would truly enjoy, learning about off the wall/beaten path places, meet new people and above all traveling, especially traveling around my “neck of the woods”. At the same time I can take Jim to his finally resting-place, the Rocky Mountains.

Jim’s memorial service was yesterday and the funeral home had a light lunch catered in afterwards. The funeral home did an excellent job the way they handled things. They were sensitive, caring and empathetic. The funeral home was packed with friends and acquaintances of Jim, I never realized how many people he knew or lives he touched. Several of Jim’s friends spoke at the service, telling childhood stories or things that Jim had done that totally changed their lives for the better.

One young mad whom I had never seen before stood before the crowd. I had seen him drive up in a Mercedes but never paid much attention. He was very well dressed in an Armani suit, clean cut and professional. Roberto I believe his name was. Jim fell upon Roberto, quite literally while visiting Rome about fifteen years ago. Roberto was barely twenty years old, unemployed and homeless. His parents had passed away years earlier, and he was an only child. Roberto had dropped out of school to try to earn a living for himself, he had no other choice. He was a beggar. Jim had just come up the stairs from the subway and practically tripped over Roberto, who was sitting on a step begging for change. Jim befriended the young man, offering Roberto something no one had ever done for him before. Jim offered Roberto a place to stay, food in his belly and a hot shower, on the condition that he went back to school and make something of himself. Roberto’s dream was to become a stockbroker on Wall Street in New York. No one had ever believed in him as Jim did, nor made such an offer. He finished school, obtained his Master’s in Business Economics from Harvard and is now an important stockbroker on Wall Street. With tear filled eyes, “If it weren’t for Jim, I would not be where I am today. It is not about the money I am making, not at all. But my sense of self-worth and my outlook on life. Without Jim’s intervention, I honestly do not think I would not be standing here before you today. I was lost in the system so to speak, I existed but didn’t. I was lost and found. Jim was my savior so to speak. Thanks to Jim I was able to fulfill my dream and am now returning the favor, helping those that are in the same situation I was. I only get a small amount of satisfaction from my career, but no words can describe the feeling of accomplishment when someone I have helped comes to me and says ‘Thank You’. Now I can understand how Jim may have felt. I am sorry that I did not say those words to Jim earlier, but I hope he is looking down, and able to hear me know. No words can describe how grateful I am for Jim and what he did for me.”

There was not a dry seat in the house. This is only one story of countless that was told yesterday morning. My turn came around, I felt it was only right to say something. My stories about Jim did not compare to any that had already been told. Jim was an American expatriate living in the countryside of France, being originally from Boulder Colorado. His work had sent him to France, with a 7-year contract. He was barely there when we met online, started chatting, emailing then eventually meeting up in person in France. It was love at first site, and after a short “courtship” we decided we could not be without each other. So when he had some time off of work, he flew to the States, we met up in Las Vegas and eloped. A month later I was here in France. The rest they say is history. That was five years ago.

Chapter four

After the memorial service, Roberto came up to me, gave me a huge hug, and offered his condolences. “If you ever need ANYTHING Lynn, please do not hesitate to call me, night or day. I don’t care if it’s money, a place to crash or a shoulder to lean on.”

“Thank you Roberto, that is very kind of you. At the moment I don’t need anything, but thank you for the offer.”

“Lynn, please. I know you are a humble person. You are the least self-centered, unselfish person I know. I understand it is hard for you to ask for help, even if you are beyond dire need. Sometimes you can be a little too stubborn, but in this case I think it is a bit uncalled for. You need to stop putting everyone else before yourself for once. You also have needs that need to be taken care of. Needs, not wants, desires or otherwise. You are human after all, not some kind of goddess or superpower.”

“Thank you Roberto, I will consider it and get back to you either way sometime next week, after things have calmed down a bit.”

Roberto is such a kind-hearted man. He says I am a humble, unselfish person, well he’s my equal if not more so. But at the same time different, he is more strong headed and determined, is not afraid to go after something or if he feels someone is being mistreated in any way, he is the first person to say something. I admire him for that, I look up to him.

At home, there is a knock on the door. Who the hell can that be? I thought everyone had gone home after the service. Alice. She is such a bound and determined woman.

“Lynn, we need to talk, and talk NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week but NOW. This cannot be put off any longer. Here’s your airline ticket. You are flying out first thing tomorrow morning, first class, from Paris, spending a few days at Roberto’s place in New York City for a little much needed rest and relaxation. Then off to Boulder, Colorado for some days so you can fulfill Jim’s wish to have his ashes scattered in the Rocky Mountains. After Boulder, you will be traveling around Middle America, including some parts along Route 66, interviewing Mom & Pop places, whether it is a restaurant, resort, not so famous tourist attraction etc. This is an all-expense paid trip, with some minor variations so to speak. For the first part of your trip, you know where you are going, New York City and Boulder, Colorado. But, you do NOT know how long you are going to be in New York and Boulder. You will find out the night before, via courier you will receive your ticket and cash for your expenses for the next stop in your trip. You will have a pre-paid rental car for Boulder and the other places in the Midwest, but you will not need a car while in New York City. Hotel reservations have already been made and paid for. But again, you will not know your full itinerary at the beginning of this trip. Think of it as a “fly by the seat of your pants” trip.

“Remember when you do these interviews to take plenty of notes and photographs. A cameraman is going to be joining you after you are finished in Boulder. Of course be professional and cordial. When you arrive at your first hotel in Middle America, you will find some outfits to wear for these interviews. So remember when you are packing this evening to pack light. But the main things to remember when doing these interviews, first of course be polite and respectful, but also have fun, enjoy the interviews. Make the interviews fun and playful. If people wanted to see a serious documentary, they’d watch the news. Think of this as an adventure, not as a job. Enjoy the wide-open spaces that I know you love and miss so much. Relax in the fresh cool breezes blowing in your face.”

As quick as she arrived, Alice was gone. I wasn’t even able to get a word in edge wise. Looking at my airline ticket, my flight leaves tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., and it is now 4:30 p.m. So I better get my backside in gear and get packing. Alice was in and out so fast, talking faster than a speeding bullet that I think everything that she said didn’t have time to sink in. Then again, I have between now and when my plane touches down tomorrow afternoon in the JFK airport.

Chapter five

Flying first-class is something else. I’ve always flown coach, and when disembarking while walking through first class notice how messy first class is. Now I get to be one of those messy first-class flyers. Sitting next to me is a businessman from Finland flying to New York for business. The plane hasn’t even started to taxi and he’s already told me his life story. If he’s like this now, what are the next six hours going to be like?!?! In the last half-hour I’ve already discovered that he’s married, 4 kids and a mistress in New York. After his fourth child was born, his wife became rather despondent, barely taking care of the kids and house, and of course totally stopped taking care of herself, losing interest in everything, including sex. The Finnish man does not want to leave his wife for the sake of the children and still very much in love with his wife. Not wanting to pry into someone’s business, I just suggested why not therapy or maybe seeing a doctor. He fell silent for about ten minutes, pondering the idea.

“You know, that is the first time anyone has suggested such a thing. Everyone else is so wrapped up in his or her problems to even mention such a thing. We’ve been married for twenty years, and I do not want to lose her. I do not know if I could live without her.”

“But can you live without your mistress in New York?”

“You’re rather blunt and straight to the point. Much like my wife used to be before she fell into such a state. I admire that in a woman. Something my mistress is not. My mistress is for physical pleasure only, or so I thought. I am not looking for someone to replace my wife, just someone to help me physically release tension. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s just that I am scared and tired of being alone. I am going to be in New York for about a week. Once I get back to Finland, I am going to make an appointment to see a therapist, for both of us. I think it would help both of us, plus I do not want my wife to feel like she’s going through this period alone. I realize now I have not done enough for her. Thank you. I’m sorry I didn’t think to ask you earlier, I’ve been so wrapped up about telling you about my problems, and myself, what is your name? My name is Fredrik. Are you also staying in New York? Tell me about yourself.”

“Nice to meet you Fredrik, my name is Lynn. Yes I am going to be staying in New York for a few days, visiting a friend of my late husband. Then I’ll be going on to Boulder, Colorado then after that I will be travelling around a bit. Where yet I do not know, a friend of mine back in France has sent me on a mission so to speak. I do not know my next destination until the night before I leave. Basically a kind of a mystery tour.”

“I am so sorry to hear about your husband. That must be hard losing a loved one at such a young age. I think it’s a great idea that you’re getting out of the house, visiting a friend and travelling. You’ve probably been through a lot these last months so you deserve and need time for you. Sounds like you have an outstanding friend back in France. If I may say so, sounds like you are such a kind, giving person. Here’s my business card. Please, when you get back to France, let me know. You are more than welcome to come and visit my family and me. I would be honored to host you. Please do not think I am trying to come on to you, because I am not. My wife does not get out of the house and has no friends. I think it would do her a world of good to have such an outstanding person around. Someone other than the kids and I. Another woman that she can talk to. Also, if you ever need anything, please feel free to let me know.”

“Fredrik, you are such a kind man. I feel I can trust you with what I am about to tell you, and hope that you do not think the less of me, even though we’ve just met. This is something very few people know about me. While living in France life wasn’t always a bowl of cherries. Yes I was with the love of my life, but financially times were tough. Work wasn’t going very well for my late husband. He was self-employed and towards the end before he quite due to his failing health, work was slowly going down hill. So I started in the ‘adult entertainment’ business, to bring in some extra much needed cash. It was not easy at first, my French wasn’t the best, but was able to get a grasp of things and earn a few Euro. I met some interesting people along the way, of course the occasional freak, but otherwise everyone else was very cordial and polite. I am not ashamed of what I did but is not something I brag about either. My late husband had no problems with what I was doing since we needed the money and also because he knew he could not physically provide me what I needed sexually because of his illness. He was very supportive and encouraged me the entire time.”

Fredrik fell silent again for the second time since our conversation started. His silence was starting to get a bit eerie, since he seemed like the strong communicative type, the type that was hard to shock. He seemed to be in deep thought, as though I may have shocked him.

“Lynn you have not had an easy life, that is for sure. I have to talk to my lawyer this week while in New York. If I could please have your contact information, where your staying while in the States I would greatly appreciate it. I feel there is something I can do for you, to help you with your current situation and your future. I need to work out the details yet, and do not want to divulge anything now to get your hopes up but have an idea in mind. Either my lawyer or myself will be in touch with you while you are in the States.

“This is the address, phone number and email of my friend in New York that I will be staying with for the next few days. I do not know how long I will be staying with him before I go to Boulder, Colorado. As I know each destination, time frame I will be there and contact information, I will let him know. So if you need to contact me, contact me through my friend. He will know how to get a hold of me.”

The seat belt light has come on as our flight descends into JFK airport in New York. Where have the last six hours gone? At the beginning of the flight when Fredrik started talking a mile a minute I thought this was going to be a very long flight. But it turned out to be a very interesting conversation, I have found a new friend. Just goes to show one needs to keep an open mind always and about everything, you may meet someone special, even in a platonic sense, anywhere, even in the strangest of situations and places, where you least expect.

Fredrik and I said our good-byes and he promised that I would hear from him soon. I hope so, he seemed like such a nice man, and hope he fulfills his promise. I have put up with my fair share of smoke blowers and do not want to deal with any more, but I am not getting my hopes up. If he contacts me, great, if not fine life goes on.

Chapter six

After a six-hour flight and intense conversation with Fredrik, I am glad to be on solid ground. Went through the usual immigration and customs, and find Roberto and his permanently tattooed genuine smile waiting for me. This man may be worth literally billions, but his heart and mind are priceless. Roberto is such a common and easygoing person. When he’s not working on Wall Street, he can be seen wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt, driving his Toyota Corolla.

Roberto takes my bags and informs me we are having supper this evening with his family and a few close colleagues at a sheik Greek restaurant in Manhattan. Great, the last thing I want right now is to go to some fancy restaurant with a bunch of strangers. Why not a casual dinner at home? The last year or so I admit I have become a bit of a loner, since I have been mainly staying at home taking care of Jim, only going out to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor etc. Maybe it will do me some good to get out and have some human contact. It will be hard at first, but hopefully worth it in the end.

We arrive at Roberto’s penthouse on Park Avenue. He show’s me where my room and private bath is. The bathroom alone is huge, bigger than my two bedroom apartment back in France! My bedroom has huge floor-to-ceiling windows, and what a view of the city! It is absolutely stunning! Even though I am a bit tired after spending six hours in a plane and just want to lay down and sleep, I can’t. All I want to do is check out the magnificent panorama of New York City! I never thought I would enjoy such a view, to me New York was too big city for me. But after seeing this picture postcard view, I have definitely changed my mind! Now I can understand why so many Europeans are so fascinated by New York. Lying on the bed is a stunning black, blue and white sequin evening gown along with tickets to the musical The Producers at the St. James Theatre on 44th Street. Seems as if this evening will be better than I thought. God only knows I could use a good laugh. As the old saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.

Relaxing in the living room at Roberto’s fantastic penthouse, he informs me that like the rest of my trip in the United States, I am going to be informed of my itinerary in New York day-by-day.

“Lynn, it’s the best way to enjoy your trip here. Fly by the seat of your pants type of deal. You desperately need to relax and enjoy each day for what it is, and this is the best way to do it. Forget how much you hate living in France, get over the pain and suffering that you have had to endure over the last twelve months. Up until now you’ve been putting everyone else before yourself, in good times and bad. Now it’s time to think about you. With that said, go get ready for dinner.”

Dinner was absolutely scrumptious. Like the Italians, French tend to be a bit nationalistic when it comes to their cuisine. Anything other then French cuisine is nothing. It is hard to find any ethnic variety in restaurants, especially outside of Paris. So being overwhelmed with the variety of different ethnic cuisine available was to say the least awesome. Our amazing dinner started off with Spanakopita, an oven baked stuffed filo, fresh spinach, feta and leeks, followed by a huge Greek salad. My main course consisted of Brizola, a grilled 16-ounce dry aged Black Angus sirloin and grilled vegetables.

Roberto’s family and close colleagues are divine. He has such a great family, his wife is just as easy-going as Roberto, and two beautiful daughters who are as intelligent as beautiful. Who knows, they may be the next Nobel Peace Prize winners. Roberto’s colleagues from Wall Street. David, Mark and Michael, are basically carbon copies of Roberto, only all three are single. All three kept me in stitches for entire night. I don’t know if Roberto filled them in on my “past” as an escort, but that doesn’t matter now. The past is the past, I had to put up with a lot of hellish and unappreciative men in addition to taking care of my sick husband. David, Mark, Michael and Roberto were different from the clients I had back in France.

David is the most fascinating of the bunch, clear blue eyes, tall, thick head of fire engine red hair, and fair complexion and above all, sense of humor and intelligent. Ivy League intelligent, but not arrogant in the least, but a very common, down-to-earth person. The type of person you feel comfortable with immediately, you feel like you’ve known the person from the instant you meet them. I am not only drawn to David on an intellectual basis, but as much as I don’t want to admit to myself, but also on a sexual sense. The way he looks at me touches my arm or leg in a gentle yet slyly seductive way, with a certain gleam in his eye. When he touches my leg every so subtly, underneath the table, it sends shivers up and down my spine, like a jolt of electricity. I have never experienced such a feeling, not even with my dear late-husband Jim. On the way to The Producers Roberto whispers in my ear, “I don’t have any problems if you decide to go with David to his hotel room tonight”, winks and walks away.

Seemed like the musical drug on, even though I enjoyed it immensely. I couldn’t help but desire David. He was different then anyone I had met, he excited me, both physically and mentally. We couldn’t keep our eyes off of each other, not in a loving way, but lustful.

After the show, David immediately pulled me aside and asked me to accompany him to his hotel room. I hesitated at first, I didn’t want to appear too eager or easy. He noticed, took my hand and kissed it, looked me in my eyes, and gave me a long passionate kiss, again proving how much of a gentleman he is.

We no more than enter his penthouse suite at the hotel, and we are embraced in each other’s arms. It has been so long since I’ve felt a man’s passionate arms around me and no matter how slutty it may sound, it felt wonderful. Humans are animals also, with animal instincts. We were up until practically dawn bringing each other to countless orgasms, to the point of utter exhaustion. When we finally fell asleep, it was almost five in the morning.

When I awoke about eleven, David had already left for work. He left a note and thick envelope on the table.

“My dearest Lynn. I am sorry I could not be with you when you woke up this morning, but unfortunately I had to be in the office bright and early this morning for some very important business meetings. I hope I have not offended you in any way. I truly enjoyed last night, no words can describe how much. Seeing the joy in your eyes meant the world to me, for me your joy is my joy. I truly hope that we can repeat such a wonderful experience before you leave for Boulder. Remember always my dear Lynn, you are truly an amazing woman, not only in the bedroom, but also in everything that you do. During your visit here in the States, I have a feeling you will have many opportunities. First to touch lives, and second, opportunities to improve your life in a drastic way. Next to this letter you will find an attaché, with a small envelope taped to the outside. The envelope has the combination for the attaché that is NOT to be opened until you arrive at Roberto’s. Sorry but there are reasons for this. I am again so sorry I couldn’t be with you this morning Lynn I hope you can forgive me and we can meet again before you leave. Your humble servant, David.”

Chapter seven

I walked into Roberto’s penthouse that afternoon, exhausted but happy. I haven’t known such happiness in who knows long time, if at all. No, I am NOT in love with David. I am not the type of gal who gets emotionally attached after being intimate with them. For the first time in ages, I felt physically satisfied.

Roberto was sitting in his lounge chair, smoking a Cuban cigar and reading the Wall Street Journal when I walked in the door. He was not upset in the least for what happened the night before, which I was not expecting. Then again, I need to start doing things for my pleasure, not sacrificing myself on behalf of everyone else.

“Lynn, hop in the shower, change your clothes and be ready in less than hour. We are spending the afternoon painting New York red. On the agenda, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and shopping. You need some new clothes. Then dinner, and hitting a couple of trendy underground clubs in the area. I know underground clubs have always fascinated you Lynn, now you’ll get a chance to experience them first hand!”

While I was in my room getting ready to take a shower, I glanced at the attaché that David had given me. I had totally forgotten about it for a moment. I opened the enveloped attached to it, opened the attaché and stepped back in awe for what seemed to be forever. Enclosed was another note from David, along with $1 million.

“Lynn, I know you were struggling financially for the longest time, and I also know you’re not happy living in France. I think you are an outstanding and wonderful woman, please take this gift as my contribution for you to use towards your moving expenses back ‘home’. This is where you belong Lynn, you were never meant to be French or even European for that matter. You fit in here, no matter where you go in the U.S., you’ll always fit in and adjust to your surroundings. Europe is another story, a different mentality. I am not saying in Europe is better or worse than North America, but just different. Different way of thinking, different way of life then what you are used to nor will it ever become YOUR way of life.”

The first underground club was a bit shocking at first. When we first entered there was hardly a soul there, within half an hour the place was jamming. There were so many different types of people there, it was truly amazing, and that is what shocked me a bit at first. Call me the shy, reserved, Midwest gal. People ranging from let’s-go-out-cause-it’s-Friday-night, to the BDSM group, transgender, transvestite, and swingers. You name the group, they were there, with a little mixture of this and that in between. Roberto was right, the underground club scene had always fascinated me, and New York is the perfect place to experience it.

The first half an hour I sat at a dark corner table with Roberto, slowly sipping my fuzzy navel. The club is fairly big, I would estimate about 2,000 square feet including everything. The lighting was low and subtle, there were two bar areas, a huge dance floor with four cages elevated upon stages, along with three dance poles in the center. Booths were scattered around the club, some in very secluded areas, while others in the wide open. There are dungeon rooms for BDSM, rooms for those wishing to participate in group sex/swinging/orgies with smaller rooms next door with a small bed for those wanting the more intimate sexual scene. One would think at such a place would be dirty, with trashy type of people hanging out there. First the place was hospital clean, not even a drop of liquor on the floor, bedding changed after every sexual encounter and replaced with clean sheets. Second, from my understanding the clientele go through a screening process when applying for entrance to the club. Background, credit and health checks are done before evening getting a guest pass.

A beautiful transgender walks up to the table, asking me to dance. She introduces herself as Michele, she’s about 6’, long legs and gorgeous long blond hair. While we were dancing found out she is originally from Montana, has been living in New York for six years, working as an attorney. She was unable to find work in Montana, mainly due to her operative states, male-to-female. Michele seems to be a very intelligent lady, not only beautiful, well educated, has traveled the world. The type of person that has taken advantage of every situation given to her, in a positive sense. When life has given her lemons, she makes lemonade.

After the third song, Michele takes me back into one of the private rooms and starts to gentle and passionately kiss me. Our clothes start to come off, god what wonderful breasts she has. Normally I do not consider myself bisexual, but her body is so wonderful, a combination of masculinity and femininity, a true work of art. She puts a condom on and inserts her manliness inside of me, never ceasing to stop.

Another late night, another one night stand. Usually I tend to steer towards more of a stable relationship, but right now I really don’t care. Finally for once I am taking everyone’s advice and putting myself first, having a blast and enjoying life for the first time in who knows how long. Does sleeping with two different people on two different nights, in a row, make me a slut. If it is in your eyes, ok fine, then I am a slut, but frankly I do not care. I had safe, protected sex, everyone had a great time, and no one was hurt in the process.

The next morning Roberto hands me an envelope and informs me that morning I’m off to Boulder. My flight leaves at 10:21 a.m. on United Airlines from Newark Liberty International Airport and arrives in Denver at 12:34 p.m. So off to the airport we go. I’ll have a pre-paid rental car waiting for me in Denver, and will be staying at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa in Boulder.

Four hours and thirteen minutes cooped up in an airplane. Wonder who I’m going to meet on this flight, am flying first class again. Seriously, I don’t mind flying, but have met on occasion a fruit cake or two, but then again, that was in coach not first class. My last flight met Fredrik, and he ended up being pretty cool. I wonder how he’s doing, maybe when I get to Boulder I’ll send him an email.

The seat next to me was empty, and actually I was rather thankful. I was able to get some much-needed sleep after staying out so late the last couple of nights. I know, self-inflicted, but at the same time much deserved fun.

I find my rental car parked right out front of the airport, just waiting for my signature. How convenient! Talk about first class treatment. It’ll be 1 p.m. by the time I hit the road for Boulder. New York was great, don’t get me wrong, it was truly an experience, but man how I missed the open roads, even while in Europe. I missed having the ability just to get in the car and go, destination unknown. This time around, destination Boulder. I should be there in less than an hour, then relax for the rest of the day, hang out in the spa, swimming pool etc. Tomorrow’s plans, to fulfill Jim’s wishes by spreading his ashes at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I am going to do that at dawn, the most beautiful time of day, as the sun is just coming up over the mountains. Jim would have preferred it that way, he was always an earlier riser.

Chapter eight
As I predicted it is about 1:05pm and I am on the highway heading for Boulder, Colorado. Lunch hour traffic is next to nothing, set the cruise control at 65 miles per hour, pop in a Enya CD and basically sit back and enjoy the ride.

By the time I get to my room at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa it is two, and I am absolutely exhausted. Even so, I head for the hot tub and maybe order room service after that, who knows. This afternoon is for ME.

I no more than sit my achy bones into a Jacuzzi and I am joined by an obviously drunk man, who seems to be in his sixties accompanied by two young “working girls”. I have no disrespect for them, only when their john treats them like pieces of meat and no regard to the fact that they are human. I have full respect for the working girl, knowing all too well with the things they have to deal with.

This obnoxious old loud drunken male figure seems to think he is god’s gift to women, thinking his bank account contains the most cash, plus his Ferrari and two mansions in Beverly Hills are impressive. Wonder what his monthly car and mortgage payments are. From my first impression, seems like he has champagne tastes on a cheap beer budget. Maybe he’s trying to “compensate” for something that he is lacking in.

He brags to his “girls” of his work accomplishments. Starting out flat broke, no family, dropped out of school at the age of 16. Started a small software company out of the basement of a friend in Boulder, and is now a Fortune 500 Company. Being proud of such an accomplishment is one thing, but when a person is arrogant about their feats is where I have a problem.

“Hey baby, how much would it cost me to have you join us for this afternoon and evening” he asks me in a drunken slur.

“The last time I checked this is a hotel not a supermarket or butcher. I am not a piece of meat for sale.”

“Baby I can show you a good time. I’ve been around the world, including France. I know who you are and what you used to do for a living. Name your price honey, no amount is too high for your sugar daddy. Otherwise, I could turn you in for your former activities. So what’s your going rate?”

“You can’t afford me. I am no longer in the business nor do I intend to return, not for even all of the money in the world. Go ahead, try to turn me in, but would be hard to prove such a fact, plus happened on foreign soil where such activities are legal. If you tried, I could turn you in for blackmail, which happened on American soil, with two witnesses. Heaven forbid your stunning image would get tarnished. You are a worthless piece of shit and I refuse to associate with people that think they can buy everything, including companionship, friendship and love. Now if you’ll excuse me ladies, I have other things to attend to. I hope you have a good evening.” exiting the Jacuzzi, nodding to the girls and ignoring their pathetic john of the evening.

Such is the life of many rich and powerful, no matter the nationality. They think they can buy anything their heart desires. But where and what does it actually get them in the end? Absolutely nothing.

After a warm relaxing shower, and fresh change of clothes I feel almost like a new person. Even after putting up with the arrogant guy in the Jacuzzi. I had been thinking of ordering room service, but feel a bit sociable, so will head down to the restaurant, dressed in an elegant red evening gown.

As I approach the restaurant I immediately hear the drunkard I encountered in the Jacuzzi, this time with two different young ladies. He must have grown bored with the other two. He seems like the type that bores easily and that once he gets what he wants he throws it away like an old shoe.

I walk past his table, he immediately burst into laughter and whispers “What a cheap whore. I wouldn’t even pay $5 for her, not even for a lousy blowjob. She probably doesn’t even do that. What a nasty cunt.”

“What beautiful, eloquent and educated language you have sir. With such an attitude, I am shocked that your wife left you and took the majority of your holdings in your company, leaving you flat broke.” And walked away.

Evidently that was enough information to ruin his dinner with his hired girls. Finding out their supposed sugar daddy is actually flat broke would rain on anyone’s parade.

In his usual drunken stupor he approaches my table and proceeds to yell “You fucking bitch, how dare you embarrass me in front of my dinner guests. Now I am alone for the evening and probably for the rest of my trip. How the hell do you expect me to get any work done with a 24/7 hard on?”

“Stop thinking with the brain between your legs for once, which isn’t that big to begin with. Otherwise you would be able to concentrate on your work and know how to treat a lady. I have overheard you complain about the ladies you’ve hired, and also about your wife. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that with women, like a business, you have to invest time and effort if you want something in return, even if just for a one night stand.

Yes I worked as an escort in France. It is something I am not proud of, but I am not ashamed of what I had to do to earn a living. My late husband was sick and unable to work. Bills had to be paid, groceries bought. I needed to do something to bring in cash, and quickly. Plus be able to be at my late husband’s side as much as possible.

I had to put up with several types of men, from those who were in town on business and just wanted some company to those who had some fetish that their wife/partner could/would not fulfill for some reason. But the majority of the men where like you, they just wanted a hole to plug. I learned to become cold and callused. I’ve had men promise me the world then never come through with their promises. Then I’ve had men who have stole from me and threatened my life.

Yes the money was not bad, but a lonely job and sometimes brutal. The only thing I want you to think about, when you hire an escort is this. Think what it may be like in their shoes. Treat her like a human being, and you will get your efforts returned tenfold. Now if you will excuse me, I would like to finish my supper before I lose my appetite.”

“Would you care to join me for supper this evening? As you can tell, my company has left and I would not want to eat alone.”

“No thanks, I play second fiddle to no one, not for any amount. Plus I think it would do you some good to spend some time alone, sober up and think about your actions.”

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Switching back to Blogger

I knew there was a reason why I kept this blog, just in case something were to happen. Blogcharm has been down for a couple of days now, and no resolve in sight. So I am going to be switching back to Blogger, for awhile at least. Unfortunately I will not be able to salvage my posts from Blogcharm, since no one even has access to their previous posts, and I did not back anything up. So please bear with me while I bring this blog back up to speed.

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Blogcharm is down

on Monday, December 11, 2006

Since BlogCharm has been down since at least yesterday, I have decided to post on my "old" blog. I am seriously thinking of switching back to this blog, if BlogCharm continues to have issues.

Yesterday morning my husband and I got back from Marsa Alam, Egypt. We had a good time, even if we did stay at an Italian resort. I say this because we went on vacation, OUTSIDE of Italy, and stay at an ITALIAN resort, with other ITALIANS. Sorry but I want to hang out with my husband and the locals, not people from the country I left for a week. When I still living in the States, and when I went to Japan six years ago, I hung out with my Japanese friends for ten days, not Americans.

Now that we're pretty much back to "reality", laundry almost caught up, grocery store this afternoon sometime, English lessons prepared for the next two weeks, can now concentrate again on my attempt to continue writing Fresh Breezes, look for a job maybe up in the U.K., and continue to look for a gelataio/gelato artisian in the States.

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Dental Implants

on Monday, April 10, 2006

I broke one of my front bottom teeth over the weekend. That makes two in less than six months. The other was while I was in the States, one of my canine teeth started to crack, then when less than a month after returning to Italy, broke completely. This canine tooth I had a root canal done on two years ago, here in Italy. The dentist that did the root canal said I don’t know how many times how poor of a job American dentists do. Had the canine tooth pulled, went to a public dentist, so the public health care system paid for everything except for 10 Euro. Italy is a welfare country, meaning the health care system is public, everyone is covered. One can go to a private doctor/dentist but have to pay the full amount. If a person wants to go to a public dentist, there is usually a long waiting list to get in. Unless you know someone/have connections. My father-in-law is a retired cardiologist/director of one of the hospitals in the area, so if I need to get in to see the dentist like ASAP, not a problem.

Anyways, back to my now two broken teeth. Now I have to go to the dentist to get the second tooth pulled, then wait for my jaw and gums to heal, and have two dental implants put in. Getting the second tooth pulled, ok no problem, no fear as far as pain etc. I am kind of nervous about getting the dental implants put in though. The thought of having screws put into my jaw is kind of nerve wracking. But as long as the end result is I have two new “teeth” and am able to smile and eat with more confidence, then it’s worth the pain and effort of having the dental implants put in. My biggest stress/worry is the price tag. The current dentist I am going to, is a private dentist, so any work done is not covered by the health system. Each dental implant is going to cost about 1,400 Euro, so about $1,680. So not only a pain in the mouth, but also to the pocket book. I can pay part of the first dental implant, but the second one, need help. Please contribute using the button on the side marked Dental Implant Fund. Once both implants are done, which have read can take from 3-6 months from start to finish. Any help would be greatly appreciated, and will make sure to post a photo of my “new teeth” once completed, for those who contribute.

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Italian Elections

on Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tomorrow and Monday elections are being held here in Italy, for parliament and the next Prime Minister. Running is current Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his opponent from the Center-Left party is Romano Prodi. I am glad this political campaign is coming to an end. I am sick and tired of hearing the mud slinging. No matter where you go, there is going to be mud slinging, whether it is here in Italy, America or wherever else. But please people, grow up. The Italian economy is in a current state of disaster, and isn’t improved within the next two years, the E.U. is threatening to revoke Italy from using the Euro, and would be back to using the Lire. Have heard many people complaining that since the Euro was introduced, prices for everything have literally doubled, but wages stayed the same. That Italy was better off with the Lire. Seems neither Berlusconi nor Prodi have mentioned anything about trying to get Italy back on track about the economy. Neither one really mentioning what they can/plan to do for Italy and its people. But focusing on what the other person has or has not done. According to one of Italy’s top telephone lines, Italians in their thirties are less optimistic, especially when it comes to the work situation. Imagine living in Rome, making 1,000 Euro a month, and trying to put a roof over your head, put meat/pasta on the table for not only yourself, but maybe a family of three. Not gonna happen. Does Berlusconi or Prodi really care? Doesn’t seem that way. Especially since it doesn’t effect them, since their salaries are the highest in Europe, at about 12,435 A MONTH.

In my opinion, Italians are pretty good at all talk and no or very little action. They can talk the talk but have a hard time walking the talk. If they feel things are so bad here, either DO something about it or leave. If they can’t stand the heat of the oven, get out of the kitchen.

Thinking about this drives me crazy, now NEED to have a coffee and a cigarette.

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127' Crescent Tri-Deck Motoryacht

on Saturday, April 01, 2006

This beautiful 127' Crescent Tri-Deck Motoryacht is for sale, found on Yacht World. Yes I am a dreamer, wouldn't mind owning this beauty. I admit, I have champagne tastes on a cheap beer budget. Hey, it doesn't cost anything to dream now does it?!?!

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Murdo, South Dakota

on Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Both of these photos I took a few years ago just west of Murdo, South Dakota, along I-90.

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Teaching English as a Second Language

on Friday, March 24, 2006

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be, at least here in Italy. I recently read in a forum on My Space, that in Japan for example English Teachers are better paid, but what are the working conditions like? That is not the case here in Italy. At the moment I am only doing private lessons, not working for a school, and I am charging 15 Euro an hour, which would equal about $18 an hour. You may think, “That’s not bad at all, for working from home”. Hate to burst your bubble, but I bust my butt for that, there’s the time I spend planning the lessons, money spent on ink and paper for my printer/photocopier, putting advertisements on the internet offering private English lessons. Then private students are very unreliable, they tend to cancel their lesson at last minute, thus leaving an empty time slot that could have been filled by another student, and of course unpaid. That's IF they call to cancel, there are many a people who don't even have the respect to call or text message to say they're unable to make it.

Then there are the private schools/companies that offer English classes. Here in Italy, many schools/companies are run by the British, and tend to hire or prefer a person with a British accent to other accents. Then they also ask for a TEFL or CELTA certificate, which proves you have taken a course to teach English. CELTA stands for Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The British Council in Milan, Italy, charges 1,800 Euro, or about $2,160 for this course. Just for a certificate to say you can teach English, and it’s not even guaranteed you’ll be able to find a job. When you do find a job teaching English, don’t expect a lot of hour, at least not to be able to live off of, and be prepared to run your booty off, going from one company/school to the next. In the area I live in, near Milan, average teachers pay is about 12 Euro an hour, net.

Some companies/schools will compensate you for mileage if you have to drive to a company to teach a class, but that doesn’t happen too often, and if you are compensated, doesn’t amount to much. Especially considering here gas is so over taxed. Currently gas here is about $5.54 a GALLON.

Racism in hiring, does it happen here in Italy? You bet it does! If you’re from an English speaking country is always a plus. But if you’re anything other than Caucasian, you unfortunately will have a harder time finding a job teaching English, or anything else for that matter. English schools/companies tend to discriminate less as far as gender and marital status but does happen in other sectors/fields.

For more on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) here in Italy, here’s a good article by Sebastian Cresswell-Turner in The telegraph.

**July 17th 2008 Update - I'm STILL teaching English. Have been since 2003. Does it pay any better than it did over two years ago? No. I'm up to almost 20 hours a week and earn about the same pay as a full-time blue collar. You may think "Ok I could live like that, working part-time on full-time wages". I bust my butt for those wages and that's providing all my students show up. Check out my post from this year about teaching.

I mentioned in the original post that gas was $5.54 a gallon. As of today it is $9.11 a US gallon. That's an increase of $3.57 in a little over two years. Partly because of the price of oil and also in part due to the decline of the United States Dollar. Welcome to 2008.

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Male Dominated Society

on Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I am tired of living in such a male dominated society. I feel like I am stuck in the Dark Ages, or at least back in the ‘50’s, the days of Joan Clever. I actually miss being in a business/corporate environment. I want to be able to make something of myself, not be just a housewife or office clerk/paper pusher with no opportunity for advancement. Also, hate being discriminated against because I am married and am of “child bearing” age, so therefore I must be planning on taking time off to have a baby, when in actuality my husband and I are NOT planning on having any children. From what I have heard, this is common practice in Europe, as mentioned in a previous post.

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Business Plan Update

I am a little frustrated right now. Remember a few posts back I had mentioned in a previous post about our potential business partner was SUPPOSED to find out some information for our business plan? Well, found out over the weekend, in not so many words, actually no words, that he is backing out, not wanting to be a part of the project. I sent him two emails and received no response, and has not contacted my husband either. My husband thinks it has to do with this guy’s wife, that she is unwilling to move. She is comfortable right where she is, unwilling to step out of her comfort zone, not wanting to try something new and is too lazy to learn a new language. So now we’re back to square two, needing to find someone with experience in this field, which one would think shouldn’t be too hard here, but finding a person willing to move to the United States is another thing. Also still needing to find financing (don’t forget the Make a Donation Button!).

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Hell Beer

on Friday, March 17, 2006

Went to the store today to buy beer for my husband. Found a beer that is actually called Hell Beer, produced here in Italy for one of the big shopping centers, Auchan. Now why the name Hell was chosen is beyond me. One of my students was telling me yesterday that there is a snowboarding clothing line brand called Bastard. Their slogan, "Proudly made by those lazy Italians".

Who actually comes up with these product/brand names? Do they actually understand what their meanings are in English, or is it just something that is fashionable?

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Riot in Milan

on Wednesday, March 15, 2006

There was a riot in Milan on March 12th, in protest at a rally by the Fascist Tricolour Flame party, which is allied with the centre-right coalition, led by Silvio Berlusconi. The riot was on Corso Buenos Aires, which is one of the major streets in Milan, near Milano Centrale train station. The mob of 300 people vandalized shop windows, set fire to cars and mopeds detonated nail bombs.

What is this country coming to?!?!?!? Italian elections are less than a month away, on April 9th & 10th, so can imagine the political tensions between parties right now is running at an all-time high. An article in The Times called this the worst violence in Italy since the G8 Summit in Genoa in July 2001. Things like this just increase my NEED to get out of here. I know no country is perfect, but would rather live in a more peaceful English speaking country. IF you wish to contribute, don't forget about the Make a Donation button.

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Interesting articles in Newsweek

on Friday, March 10, 2006

Low-Cost Airlines Redrawing Europe's map
Food news blues

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Business Plan

Ok I have been kind of a slacker this week and haven't blogged anything. This week have had to catch up on some housework that I've been rather lazy in doing, working on a business plan for a project my husband and I hope to fulfill within the next year in the United States. Waiting for some numbers from a potential partner, then can put the final numbers together. I've been working on this project for two years now, and am tired of waiting for nothing. So I've started mentioning this to my husband, riding his back side, along with keeping tabs on the partner who's supposed to be getting information, asking if he needs any information, what he's been able to find out etc. I've also added a Make Donations button on the right hand side of my blog, if anyone wishes to make a donation towards this project, would be greatly appreciated. Right now, estimated costs for this project is at least $300,000, plus the expenses of moving to the United States. My husband and I both are sick of living in Italy, and believe this business we plan to open has great potential. There are several of these types of shops already open in the States, but the market is FAR from saturated. Actually many geographic areas of the States aren't even touched, which need to be. The other reasons we want to open this business in the States versus Italy is that first is easier to open a business there, the market for this type of business is far from saturated whereas here in Italy is just the opposite. Help us realize our dream project by clicking on the Make a Donation button on the right hand side! Any contribution amount would greatly be appreciated!

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Expats in Italy

on Saturday, March 04, 2006

I've started a new Expats in Italy group on My Space. For those that are here from somewhere else, or those that are planning or want to live in Italy.

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Abortion Ban BIll

on Thursday, February 23, 2006

The South Dakota Senate passed a bill yesterday banning nearly all abortions in the state. The bill has now gone to the House which passed a different version earlier. If passed, penalties would be up to five years in prison and would be a felony for doctors or others to perform abortions.

Abortions were legalized back in 1973 in the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision. I consider myself pretty much Pro-Choice. It is a woman's right to decide if she wishes to have an abortion or not. What if a woman is raped, or if the child is severely deformed and has no chance of even somewhat of a normal life?

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Italians don't like Italy anymore

on Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another article posted in the last couple of days, this time in the Corriere della Sera, about how one in three Italians want to move to another country, dissatisfied with their own country. Not only has it lost its lusture as a vacation destination, it's lost its appeal even for it's own citizens. The majority of the people wanting to leave are from the northeastern part and southern part of Italy. Whereas people from Sicily and Sardinia, where "roots" are stronger, only 34.4% had an interest of moving abroad.

If so many Italians want to leave the country, why isn't anything done to try to keep people here. I know that nothing can be done overnight, that would be expecting the impossible. Almost 55% of the repsondents of an Eurispes Survey were between the ages of 18 and 24. There just aren't the opportunities here anymore, compared to say twenty years ago. A career that is more suited to the individual and also better pay.

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Myth and Reality

In the most recent issue of Newsweek International Edition, there is an interesting article about gender equality here in Europe. That European women can have a job, but not a career. In the United States, women account for 45% of high-level decision makers, here in Italy, 18% hold power-jobs. Just a LITTLE difference. Why such a big difference you ask? Europe is "killing" its women with kindness, in luxurious welfare policies that were created to help them. Women are offered LONG maternity leaves, then pushing them to take the full amount with tax policies that discourage a second income, along with subsidies that serve to keep them at home. Few European corporations offer flextime that makes it easier for a woman to work AND take care of their family. So some women end up working part-time, which is less respected and poorly paid in a continent with laws favoring employers when it comes to discrimination. An example, when my sister-in-law had her daughter a little over a year ago, she took a ten month maternity leave, when she went back to work she wanted to go part-time, but was told no since if the company let her go part-time, they'd have to let all the other women also go from full-time to part-time if they wished. What a crock.

European women are less likely to fight back when discriminated against, since Europe doesn't allow class-action suits, and outside of the public sector, the burden of proof in a discrimination case falls on the individual, not the corporation, making it very difficult for a single person to initiate and win a case.

The system does not help women break out of this no-win situation. Most European countries base their tax structure around the idea of a single breadwinner, which makes it often in favor if the mother doesn't work and takes care of the family.

So basically here in Europe is still a MALE dominated society, where the woman is meant to stay at home and take care of the family and the husband brings home the bacon. Maybe fifty years ago this may have been acceptable, that women strove to be like Joan Clever. But not now. Things need to change. With the number of people retiring increasing, and jobs needing to be filled, immigrants cannot be expected to fill all of those jobs. Women need to be given equal opportunities as men, European countries need to exploit so to speak their natural resources and job pool. Some Americans see/view Europe as the Old/Mother World. An Old World that is stuck in an Old World mentality.

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Italians living abroad

on Tuesday, February 21, 2006

According to an article yesterday in the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, 37.8% of Italians are moving abroad, to the tune of about 4 million people. The majority are young people, 18 - 24 year olds, 54.1%, mainly for work purposes, and opportunities for their children. Other reasons given for Italians moving out of the country: more freedom of opinion and expression, more security, lower cost of living, better political climate, contact with nature. With all the political corruption in this country, no wonder people want to leave.

The current prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, isn't a stranger to corruption or bribing judges. In addition to being prime minister, Berlusconi also owns three television stations, and is first shareholder of the Italian football team, A.C. Milan. He is also founder and first shareholder of Fininvest, a large Italian company dealing with media and financial business. Silvio Berlusconi is Italy's richest man, and the world's 25th richest man, with assests worth $12 billion.

Italians are immigrating to:
Great Britain
United States

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Italian Courts

on Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Italian Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a man who forced his 14 year old step-daughter to have oral sex with him after she refused to have sexual intercourse with him. He's been sentenced to three years and four months jail time, has appealed saying that since she not a virgin and this should have been taken into consideration during his trial. Of course (sarcisim) the Supreme Court agreed, saying that the step-daughter's personality from a sexual point of view is much more developed.

It doesn't matter if she was a virgin or not, she was still violated, forced to do something she did not want to do. No means no. What kind of society is this? One that brags that "Women rule", when in fact seems that the men do, trying to control everything and that women are made to be second-class citizens, if that, and are here for the pleasure of men. Here also how one looks is oh so important, especially the women. For what reason, other than for a man to "show off" that he has a beautiful woman draped over his arm? What kind of logic/thinking is this?

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My 1991 Ford Thunderbird

on Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Front view of my 1991 Ford Thunderbird in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that is parked at a friend's house near Parker, South Dakota. Since I have returned to Italy, my friend's son took the car out and accidently hit a deer so there now is some front end damage, to what extent I do not know. If and when this car is totally fixed up, would be a good running car. For the three months I drove it, minus the tie rods, I had no real problems with it. Always started. The Check Engine, Door Ajar and Seat Belt lights are always on. I can imagine once the seat belts are fixed that the Seat Belt light would turn off. One day while at the grocery store, I ran into the previous owner, she said while she had the car, she was hit on the passenger side, between the door and front quarter panel. I will consider selling the car for the right price and to the right person. If you're into restoring cars, especially Ford Thunderbirds....
*** Update July 17th 2008 - My offer still stands if you are interested in buying my 1991 Ford Thunderbird. Post a comment with your email address and with your offer and I will respond back.

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1991 Ford Thunderbird

My 1991 Ford Thunderbird that I have in the United States. I paid $600 for it, ended up having to put in new tie rods and some other front end work that cost $750. I paid more for the front end work than I actually paid for the car. There are some small rust spots, needs covers for the front turn signals, needs a new serpentine belt, the mechanical seat belts do not work, nor does the cruise control, radio or antenna. Currently is parked at a friend's house near Parker, South Dakota.
*** Update July 17th 2008 - My offer still stands if you are interested in buying my 1991 Ford Thunderbird. Post a comment with your email address and with your offer and I will respond back.

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Ford Mondeo

My 1995 Ford Mondeo, my car that I have here in Italy. Yes, it's an automatic, not a stick!

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2006 Winter Olympics

on Friday, February 10, 2006

Today is the first day of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin (Torino) Italy. I don't personally know her, but Jana Lindsey is from my home state of South Dakota, will be participating in the Women's Aerials freestyle skiing competition. The women's Aerials qualifications will be on February 19th at 6:30pm local time in Italy with the finals on February 22nd at 6:45pm local time. I want to wish her the best of luck and hope she enjoys her stay in Italy.

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La Dolce Vita

on Wednesday, February 08, 2006

When I moved to Italy in May 2002, was told by many friends in the States oh that I am sooo lucky to be moving to Italy, and living near Milan, one of the fashion capitals of the world. Visiting and living are two different things. Yes here the food, scenery, history and fashion are all nice. Then there is the day-to-day living, working, paying bills, going to the grocery store etc. Little do they realize, life isn't as sweet here as they think, or as it's potrayed in the movies. Have read a couple of interesting articles, one in the Telegraph and another in The Independent. The "La Dolce Vita" or The Sweet Life does not exsist. Getting things done in a respectable or reasonable manner/time frame is nearly impossible. The wanting to actually get anything accomplished is a foreign thought. The talk shows or debate shows as I see them, the guests and host talk about oh how this and that needs to change, but is anything ever done about it, no. They turn the other cheek, expect someone else to do it, or ignore the problem(s) hoping the problems just disappear.

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Italian Health Care

With each doctor visit here in Italy, makes me more disgusted by the health care system here. The Italian health care system is a welfare system, meaning everyone is covered and doctor visits etc are covered by the State, or have a low co-pay. Ok that is all fine and dandy, but lacks in organization. For example, my orthodontist wanted a panoramic x-ray of my mouth. So he wrote a "prescription" which I had to take to my family doctor for him to write an actual prescription then I had to take that to the local hospital, make an appointment for the x-ray. Return for the appointment, go back to the hospital a few days later to pick up the x-ray and take it to my orthodontist. This is normal, even for a simple blood test.

Then there's the hospital itself. Thankfully I've never had to spend any amount of serious time there. Mainly just to visit a family member and the occasional test. I'd be horrified to be an actual patient in the hospital. The buildings themselves look like something out of a 1950's or 60's horror film. If hospitals looked like that in the States, they for sure would be either condemned or who know's what else. Once my Italian mother-in-law was in the hospital for a few days, she shared a room with three other patients, with no bathroom in the room, they had to go down the hall to use the restroom. When my sister-in-law had her daughter, the bedframe had rust on it, and she was in one of the "better" hospitals in Milan.

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Snow Fall in Northern Italy

on Saturday, January 28, 2006

This is the first substantial amount of snowfall since I moved here in May 2002. It snowed all day Thursday and yesterday, and today is raining.

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Quest for Italian Citizenship

on Thursday, January 26, 2006

Since I am married to an Italian citizen and have been living here in Italy for more than six months, I am eligible to apply for Italian citizenship. Documents I had to submit from the United States:
Birth Certificate
Criminal Record from the State of South Dakota
Criminal Record from the F.B.I.

Italian Documents:
Certificate of Family Status
Certificate of Residence
Copy of my Permit to Stay

Plus how knows how many photocopies of each document. After I got done photocopying everything, I literally had a stack of papers half an inch high. I turned everything in to the provincial preffetura on October 31, 2003 and was told I would have Italian citizenship by October 31, 2005.

In the mean time, I had to renew my Permit to Stay, which is basically the Italian equivalent of the Green Card. My Permit to Stay was set to expire May 2004 and was originally told to make an appointment to renew it two months prior to expiration. So in March my husband and I went to the police station to make the appointment. We were told the earliest would be in SEPTEMBER. My husband complained, and was able to get the appointment in August. So in August went back down to the police station with all required documents, and was told I would have my new permit to stay in February 2005. Excuse me people, but my permit is EXPIRED. Of course received the typical Italian response "No problem ma'am".

Then in October I had to go to the United States for my yearly visit, so my husband had stopped at the police station to see if by some odd chance my Permit to Stay was ready. Surprisingly it was, and my husband was told I just needed to come in with my passport to pick it up. So I went in, picked up my new Permit to Stay, and was told I needed to talk to the local Citizenship office. I had to have an interview, answering questions like how long I've been in Italy, do I rent or own our apartment, explain EVERY stamp in my passport, occupation and my level of the Italian language. Ok I am by no means fluent in Italian, but am able to go about day to day business in Italian no problem, and was able to understand and respond to this idiot's questions with no problems. After playing 20 questions and having my passport photocopied for the 5 millionth time, was again told I would have citizenship by October 31, 2005.

In October 2005 I was in the United States, and my husband stayed in Italy, so he made some phone calls on my behalf to find out what was going on as far as my citizenship. He was told my file was "stuck" in Rome, they were waiting and had been waiting since MAY 2004 for a copy of my Italian criminal record. I haven't even gotten as much as a parking ticket here, so they're not going to find anything criminal against me. My husband called again towards the end of November, and was told I had to call. So after I returned to Italy at the beginning of December, I called Rome to find out what the hell was going on. I was told the same thing as my husband. I told the gal, look my current Permit to Stay expires May 2006, and was told if I haven't heard anything by March to call again. Good ol' Italian bureacuracy.

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Exhibit in Rimini, Italy

Tuesday we went to an exhibit in Rimini, Italy for artisan production of gelato (Italian Ice cream), pastries and chocolate. This exhibit is an annual event held every January in Rimini, this year marking their 27th year. This was our first time attending, very interesting. The photo is of an old Fiat cinquecento (500) that one of the exhibitors had on display.

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Back in Italy

on Monday, January 23, 2006

I returned to Italy the beginning of December. Flew Aerlingus again, Chicago to Dublin, my husband and I spent three days in Dublin, then Dublin down to Bergamo. At least this time around my flights were pretty uneventful. Now life is somewhat back to normal, back to teaching English, private lessons. Tomorrow my husband and I are going to Rimini Italy for the day, to attend an expo.

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