Crystal

I did a photo shoot of a close friend of mine, Crystal, and her brother, Jon, at the end of November. These pictures turned out so well that I thought I’d share them here.

A few days after this photo shoot, Crystal moved back to her home state of Washington to be closer to her family. We were saddened to see her go… things here in Phoenix have not been the same without her.

BUT she’s coming back for a visit in early February. So. excited.

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Change.

Change. I can sense it and I’m sure you can too. The air is thick with it, especially today.

The following are signs that 2009 is going to be an awesome year:

  • President Obama is officially our president. Wow, President Obama, isn’t that something? I watched part of the historical moment this morning and have never felt more inspired. He’s truly an amazing orator. I especially loved the part where he mentioned non-believers and four other major religions in the same breath.
  • I’m running away to Europe in 23 days.
  • I graduate this May. Finally.
  • I have a very possible summer internship in a place I hold very dear to my heart: Calitri. (More on that later!)
  • I will be a first-time uncle in August.
  • And most importantly, my family, friends and dog all are in good health.
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    Rough itinerary

    I met with Kim tonight to go over our upcoming trip to Europe this February. This is our itinerary so far. Click on the blue placemarks to view more information.

    If anyone has any suggestions for places to see or things to do, post them here!

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    I’m going to be an uncle.

    My sister just officially announced to the world that she is expecting now that she has passed the three month mark. I knew about it since the day she found out. I was asked to keep it on the down low but keeping it a secret was next to impossible…

    Anyway, I’ll be an uncle to either Stella Cruz or Mason in August. The due date is August 9th, the day before my birthday.

    Uncle Jason has a nice ring to it, methinks. 🙂

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    Remembering San Lupo

    Recently, three distant relatives of mine, siblings Vittorio, Mariapaola and Nicoletta Linfante friended me on Facebook. Their roots are in San Lupo where my great-grandmother’s family originated. This brought back memories of my spontaneous adventure to San Lupo.

    It was around this time in 2001 that my mom, sister and I made a last minute decision to stop in San Lupo on our way to Rome from Calitri. San Lupo is much more tiny than Calitri in terms of square kilometers and population. In fact, the 2001 census listed only 877 inhabitants.

    Getting there was quite a challenge. The village rests on a top of a mountain and the only way to get there was a devilishly narrow, wildly winding, one-way highway (or poorly paved trail, more like!) without a railing. Once we got on the highway, my mom and I glanced at each other warily as if we were saying, “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea….” But it was too late to turn back, besides the only way down was to drive backwards!

    When we finally reached the town in one piece, we were surprised to see how incredibly tiny it was! I recall maybe only four or five cobbled streets, all of which, except for the main street, were far too tiny for cars to pass through. Another thing we immediately noticed was how lifeless it seemed. All shutters were closed, not one soul walked about, everything was as quiet as death. What a drastic contrast to vibrant Calitri!

    San Lupo, photo by Lorenzo Ferrara

    San Lupo, photo by Lorenzo Ferrara

    Not knowing where else to go, we decided to go to the cemetery that we passed on our scary odyssey up the mountain. While my exhausted sister slept in the car, my mom and I strolled around the cemetery hoping to find any Linfante’s (the family name of her grandmother). We were disappointed to find none until we entered what seemed to be a tiny ossuary located near the entrance. On both sides of the ossuary, there were stacks of hundreds of shoeboxes with people’s names written on the front. Naively thinking that its contents were pictures or personal contents to remember the deceased by, I picked up a shoebox and opened it. Well, curiosity killed the cat. I shrieked and staggered backwards when I discovered nothing but decomposing human bones!

    After inspecting the ossuary some more, we discovered a good number of Linfante’s. A shoebox read, “LINFANTE FLORENZIO”, another “LINFANTE ELISA”, another “LINFANTE LUPO”, etc. I was dumbfounded and felt a pang of sadness. Here I was, thousands and thousands of miles away from home in a small, eldritch town in the middle of nowhere, looking at stacks of worn shoeboxes that housed our unknown relatives’ remains. What tough, impoverished lives they must have endured…not being able to afford the luxury of being properly buried.

    We decided to return to the town in hopes to find a Sanlupesi and see if our relatives still resided there. We drove around for a little bit until we found a man walking along the street. I pulled over then asked him if he knows of any Linfante’s. He cheerily introduced himself as Domenico Di Libero and said that his grandmother was a Linfante! He then said that there was only one Linfante left, an elderly lady named Antonietta who lived in a neighboring town, Cerreto Sannita. He graciously offered to telephone her and then guide us there.

    We followed Domenico out of San Lupo and into Cerreto Sannita to Antonietta Linfante’s flat. My mom and I greeted Antonietta and her husband, an university professor by the name of Daniele Biondi. They were very warm and hospitable, offering us espresso and le caramelle while Antonietta and I chatted, trying to figure out how we were related. It turned out that her grandfather, Lelio Linfante, was a first cousin to my great-great-great-grandfather, Emiddio. A bit distant, but a cousin nonetheless.

    We were able to stay for only half an hour as the sun was quickly descending and I did not want to brave the dimly lit A1 highway at night. They sent us off with boxes of le caramelle and a teary embrace.

    (By the way, Vittorio, Mariapaola and Nicoletta, who I mentioned in the beginning of this post, are Antonietta’s nephew and nieces.)

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    Filed under Europe, Genealogy

    zu Deutschland, los gehts!

    At 11:30 this morning, I received an email from Travelzoo which read:

    PHOENIX–JANUARY 16, 2009– We’ve just uncovered a last-minute fare sale on Orbitz for flights to Frankfurt, Germany, from Phoenix. Fly for just $385 roundtrip — including taxes! This fare normally sells for $600-$1000.

    My eyes bulged! I knew right there and then that I had to snatch it before it goes up or, worse, disappears. I asked my friend, Kim, if she wanted to go and the answer was, of course, yes! Within twenty minutes of receiving that notification via email, I purchased tickets for the both of us.

    We’ll land in Frankfurt the morning of February 14th where we will stay for a night or two. Then we’ll drive a rented car to Amsterdam for a couple of days before heading to Brussels where I have friends and relatives (many Calitrani emigrated to Belgium from Calitri). After that, we may head to Paris. We return from Frankfurt on the 22nd.

    I love spontaneous trips like this.

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    Update on Siena

    Siena (note the incision on her right side)

    Siena (note the incision on her right side)

    The staff at Scottsdale Veterinary Clinic are the nicest bunch of people you would ever want to meet. This morning, the nurse carefully and patiently went over what needed to be done and gave me an estimate of whopping $575 *whistle* for the excision of a cyst on Siena’s right side as well as teeth cleaning and a nail trim. When I walked in tonight to pick her up, the nurse told me she found a cluster of three masses that were cysts (none of which are malignant, thankfully) on her other side so she went ahead and surgically removed them. She also added that she cleaned her ears. “Oh boy, I hope this didn’t cost me more money,” I thought to myself.

    Then came a nice surprise… She smiled then said she managed to shave $300 off my final bill bringing my total to $285. I couldn’t believe it! It is incredibly gratifying to know that there are still kind people in this world. A heartfelt thanks to Scottsdale Veterinary Clinic and especially the nurse, Bethany!

    Siena is doing quite well, albeit a bit groggy from the anesthesia. She should be back to her perky self by tomorrow afternoon.

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