Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eat! Eat!

In Italy everyone in the church wanted to have the pastor and his family over to their house on Sunday for a spectacular meal. That being my dad and subsequently me, I ended up spending my Sunday afternoons in the homes of the Italian congregation. This was either pretty cool, in the event that the family had kids my own age (who owned video games), or it was pretty boring if I ended up sitting around the living room for what seemed like years. There was always good food though! And lots of it!

Sunday dinner in Italy is nothing like Sunday dinner in the US. It's not like the kids are called down to eat roast chicken for a half hour and that's that. No, eating is an event! As soon as we walked through the door, we were led to the living room, offered a seat, and an appetizer or as they call it, an antipasto. Conversation would immediately begin about the family and the church. A little later someone would yell "a tavola" and we would all gather around the table. Where in America we often dish up for ourselves, the Italians serve their guests heaping piles of food... so you had better come hungry. We would then begin to enjoy the primo which was usually a big bowl of pasta. Now, if you are a beginner to the whole Italian culture thing, you may scarf down that delicious lasagna and think to yourself, "Ahhh that was delicious, and filling, but not too filling. I don't get why everyone makes such a huge deal out of Italian dinners." Now this is where you have gone wrong. First, because this is simply the first course (not even the main one) and there is much more to come! Second, you have eaten too quickly, which would cause the hostess to glance over at your empty bowl, smile, and immediately refill it. This is like an Iron Man race, you have to pace yourself. You can't shoot out of the start at a dead sprint! So after the pasta we were served some kind of meat dish which was technically the main course and called the secondo. Along with this would be the contorno, being a vegetable dish which complements the meat. This is all filled with lots of talking and can last for a few hours. When everyone has settled down slightly the dolce is served along with espresso. This is usually some kind of pastry and was my personal favorite part of the meal.

It seems to me that Italians really know how to live. Enough with all this super fast paced life style we strive for in the US. Its killing us. You've got to settle down and relax over some great food with family and friends.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Italian Passion and Pride

Italy shoots on goal
Italians seem to have a little more passion for the things they love than most other people I have met. Whether it is related to food, family, or national pride, Italians will not fail to be enthusiastic. National pride is a huge deal every four years when a little event called the World Cup is held. I remember this enthusiasm the best in the 1998 World Cup. Even though Italy didn't even make it to the finals, the people cheered like it was every single game they played. It does not even compare to what we do in America during the Super Bowl, or even the Olympics. The Italians were obsessive about their "football" team.

Italians Celebrate
I remember hanging out in front of my house in Naples playing with my friend and his cousin. We had a radio going so that we could hear the highlights of the game. No one was left out of the loop, not even us 9 and 10 year old kids. Then we paused, hearing the announcer getting excited we leaned closer to the radio set. He was speaking Italian faster than a country auctioneer! Then he suddenly said it! "GOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!" It was probably the best 15 seconds an Italian could possibly listen to. And in the middle of his elongated verbiage, all of Italy erupted into a joyous outcry of excitement and pride! I mean they let loose! If you had a voice, you cranked it to full volume, and if you were sitting in your car, you would stop and lay on the horn. People jumped, they cried, they fell over... and this wasn't even the finals.

I sure wish I could have seen the reaction in Italy when they won the 2006 World Cup. I'm sure that would have been a sight to remember. I doubt that anyone got any sleep the night after their 2006 victory... whether they wanted it or not.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Google Maps: A Nostalgic Trip

Google maps are so amazing! Whenever I'm feeling a little nostalgic about the places I've lived... guess what!? I can take a virtual tour of my old stomping grounds! Maybe its not as good as the real deal, but it sure beats the cost of a plane ticket every time I feel like visiting.

Just a few days ago I was missing my old home in Naples, with it's rolling hills, green vineyards, and lush orchards. So I decided to tromp down my old road. It ended up being harder than I thought, since it used to be called Via Pendine Casalanno, but now its just called Via Casalanno. Ahhh how the world changes... Well I did eventually find it and zoomed as close as I could to my old home. After I had had enough of staring at rooftops I wanted something more! So I used Google's greatest feature of all, Streetview! This is what actually allowed me to take a stroll down memory lane (aka Via Casalanno). I clicked by all of my friends houses, then past a house that housed some crazy dogs, then past the dumpsters that I would take the trash out to every day, and finally to the good ol' pizzeria where the family would go to eat. So if you ever feel like checking out an old memory, you have nowhere further to go than the internet... hmmm that's kinda pathetic.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Class is in Session

Did you know that I was homeschooled? I was, and I'm happy that I was. Wouldn't change a thing. My parents wanted to teach me what they believed what was important, not what the government believed was important. You know... slightly opposing beliefs and all. This was especially the case since Italy has a completely different culture. Mom and Dad wanted me to be American... go figure. Anyway, it educated me in more ways than one. It taught me a lot more than what a square root is, where Switzerland is located, or that a whale is in fact not a really big fish. I learned how to have a good work ethic, good time management, and think independently.

With my mom there was no getting by on shoddy work. Things had to be done right. And if they weren't, then they had to be redone. I didn't have the option of accepting the grade of an "F" or "D" and living with it. I remember many a time taking my work to Mom and asking, "is this good enough?" Then she would either explain what I did wrong and tell me to fix it or she would sign it with those coveted letters "DJ" (and no she did not mix beats in late night Italian clubs... those are her initials). Those two letters were like her seal of approval and I had to get them or else the work was not done.

In addition to getting my work done up to snuff, I also had to work quickly. When faced with completing a fixed amount of material by end of the year or else not get a summer break, studies started to get finished. Its funny how the prospect of being free from school over the summer can motivate a kid to do school work with such enthusiasm. Talk about the ultimate carrot and stick for a young boy. This was my time management in action. I had some major deadlines and the faster I did my work the more I had a surplus of summer time!

Over the years I was homeschooled, I learned how to get work done well and on time so I was given more and more freedom. By the time I was in high school I basically learned on my own. I would read through books or work through computer programs and complete the lessons assigned. My parents were more like supervisors at this point. The instructor's manual for my math books were even open to me! But my conscience was aways too loud and obnoxious for me to peek at the answers before I gave it a shot on my own. It was nice to be trusted by my parents. It taught me how to work on my own. It really prepared me for how to study in college.

I think that these life lessons that are learned through my process of learning have prepared me more than any set of facts ever could. These values are like the hammer that drives the factual nails into the wall of life!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Pastor's kids (PKs) are the celebrities of the churchgoing community. Everybody knows this kid and at least a little about his background. Why??? Because dad goes up to the podium every Sunday and has some incredible (or embarrassing) story to tell about his kids. You know, he's proud of us and wants to share, especially if it has a connection to what he will be speaking about over the next forty five minutes. Gotta get the audience connected. Other PKs can back me up here.

A couple years ago I walked into our church for the second service as people were leaving from the earlier 9:00 gathering. I strolled in through those double doors and promptly received a few high fives and a "nice job Eric!". So I was like... huh? What's going on? BUT NO ONE WOULD TELL ME! Sheesh, they knew more about my life than I did! Finally I figured it out when me dad began to speak and told about the time I had stopped a car from bouncing around a parking lot when it's E-brake failed. This is just one example but illustrates how pastor's kids live in a glass box! Anything I've done could be dad's next illustration, either good or bad. I've got to watch my back... make sure no one knows about my secret life of crime! Aaaah well maybe not. Dad's good about the stories he chooses anyway.

Being a PK presents other weird situations, such as the One-Sided Conversation. It goes like this... I walk to my seat when I bump into someone who looks vaguely familiar who then says, "Hey Eric, how's school going?"
I think, do I know this person? Think man think! I met him at that potluck last month! What was his name!? So my only choice is to awkwardly answer any and all questions in this very one-sided conversation,
"Schools good... yup graduating next year... uh huh college graduation."
Then it ends with, "It was good talking with ya Eric".
"Yeah uh... you too... sir."
Super weird! Everybody knows me, but I most certainly do not know everybody. And that is why I am a celebrity to the churchgoing community. Maybe a little stretch, but you get the idea. Oh well, I guess I've just got that many more opportunities to meet new people...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wake up and smell the espresso

After being back in the states for a while I realize how amazing my time in Italy really was. I never realized how lucky I was until I moved away. Now isn't that the truth... you never know what you've got until its gone.

I never found anything special about my living situation and I could not for the life of me understand why anyone would want to go see so many crumbly old buildings. My family would hosts guests from the US from time to time and we would always go out and show them the famous sites, such as the Colosseum, St. Peters, or the Catacombs. I however, would have much rather rode my bike around the apartment complexes than tour such a historical city. Its just like the chorus in that Steven Curtis Chapman song, See The Glory

I'm playing Gameboy sitting in the middle of the Grand Canyon
Or eating candy sitting at a gourmet feast
Or wading in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean
Tell me what's the deal with me
Wake up and see the glory

Hmm I wonder what is the deal with me... It seems like a lot of people settle for a weak little substitute when they could have the real thing. I mean what's the deal with Guitar Hero? Sure its fun and slightly more addicting than heroine, but why not go out and play a real musical instrument? We just don't realize what we could be experiencing. I personally have to take a look around and make the most of what I've got or else I'll look back on my life and think that I should have paid more attention or taken advantage of certain opportunities. I don't want to take for granted all the blessings that I've got.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What's all this about?

My upbringing was different... very different. Most Americans I know were born right here in their home country, but not me, I was born in a boot, floating in the Mediterranean. That’s right I was born in Italy! Now the title of this blog makes a little more sense doesn't it?

The first eleven years of my life were spent living as the son of two missionaries, while the next ten have been spent as a pastor's son here in the good old United States of America. Understandably, these unique circumstances have shaped me into the guy that sits here typing away at his laptop. I’ve had a lot of fun over the years and think that you may enjoy hearing about them.