Monday, September 6, 2010

Lost and Found

For reasons unknown to me, I have been experiencing a tremendous amount of good fortune. Perhaps it is random chance, or karma [1], or even my somewhat close proximity to those "fortuitous" Irish [2], but lately my luck has been truly remarkable. In three weeks I have found a fully loaded wallet, an unclaimed five pound note, and not one but TWO Blackberry cellphones. In another 3 weeks I'll have enough money and equipment to start my own psychic hotline service ("Call me now!"). I assume serendipty doesn't want to seven-out just yet because today has yielded another lucky breakthrough.

I've been considering the possibility of living and working abroad for the past few years now and while London certainly lives up to the hype, it is not the ex-pat experience I dreamed about in years past. I suppose my thoughts always gravitated towards somewhere more..."ethnic." You know, a country where it is mandatory to smoke tiny cigarettes and walk around with a loaf of bread tucked under your arm. A place where working in the afternoon is optional and eating four hour long dinners is a way of life. Don't get me wrong, London boasts a very diverse population, like how the cast of all-Indian baristas [3] at my local Starbuck's pronounce my order, "One Grand-ay wa-nee-la latte." In the end though, the British are still more Jets than Sharks (see photos A&B below for further evidence). Living in England, however, has certainly stoked my interest in extending my ex-pat experience to encompass a year or two of continental European-living. To that end, I have started looking into the process of obtaining my Italian citizenship.

Obtaining dual citizenship in a foreign country can be a hassle if not next to impossible, but obtaining Italian citizenship can be a relatively simple process pending the right conditions.My citizenship plan of attack sounds like something you'd find on the menu of a good steakhouse -- jure sanguis-- and I'll have the baked potato with that passport. Jure Sanguis literally translates to "through the blood," and is offered to anyone who can prove that they have legitimate rights to citizenship through their Italian heritage. Unfortunately, there are several frustrating conditions that must be met in order to obtain citizenship, and given some of the obstacles in my way, I can only do what most people reserve for their therapist's office -- blame my father.

Usually when most people ask me if my parents are Italian I simply say, "Yes." It is just easier that way. Sort of like when you say "Fine" when people ask how you are doing. It's just easier than explaining how miserable you actually are (unless of course you are a TRULY happy person, which would mean that we probably aren't friends). The fact of the matter is that only my father was born in Italy. My mother was actually born in Rhode Island, with her mother being born in Italy and her father being born in the United States. Of course none of this really matters in life, as it doesn't change the fact that I am still from a VERY Italian family. It does, however, matter in the game of "become that citizen!" The problem is when my father came to this country in 1956 at the tender age of 16, he did what most immigrants did, he became an American citizen. This may have been all well and good for him (maybe he even got a tiny flag pin out of it) but it leaves me, well, kind of screwed. See, when my father became a citizen he, in effect, renounced his rights to Italian citizenship and mine too...

Oh wait, this is a blog about "luck" isn't it? So when am I going to wrap this up and tell you why I'm just so friggin' lucky?A: Now.

With my father throwing up the red citizenship stop sign, I looked to my mother. Remember, Mama Mazzenga was born here and her Italian mother had, like my father, become an American citizen long before she was born, but what about Gramps? Well as mentioned, Grandpa was born in the US and died very young (when my mother was only 9) so I don't actually know a lot about my grandfather outside of the fact that I am the sole heir of his adorable dimples. So the question begs, was my Grandfather's father (my Great grandfather) an American citizen at the time of grandfather's birth? Tough question right? I mean this goes back a bit. This could take years of research, thousands of dollars, and require me to sleep with several high ranking government officials. It couldn't possibly be found on the internet, right?
Internet- 1
Millions of Years Before- Suck it

After having finally succumbed to the pressure of providing my credit card number (you need this for their free 14 day trial), I found Great grandad and family in a document from the 1930 census. It reads something like this:
Age: 40
Marital Status: Married
Place of Birth: Italy
Date of Immigration: 1907
Naturalization: AL

AL! AL! My pal AL! Italian government, start warming up that baked potato. For those of you who may not know "AL," allow me to introduce him. AL stands for alien. This means that in 1930, 18 years after my grandfather was born, my great grandfather was STILL an Italian citizen, which means my grandfather was entitled to that citizenship... which means my mother is also entitled... which means her children are also entitled.

The swell of excitement almost uncontainable, I rush to call the family and tell them, "Great grandpa was an alien! Now I can get citizenship au jus! I mean jure sanguis!"
There is, however, one issue remaining...
Which blackberry do I use?

[1] A few months ago I started saying "No thank you," to telemarketers before hanging up
[2] What the hell makes the Irish so lucky anyway? Horrible famine, years of civil war, one in ten people are estimated to be alcoholic, and Notre Dame football hasn't won a championship in 22 years.
[2] "cast/caste" pun intended.

Photo A: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair

Photo B: Former Jets' leader Riff

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