Out of thousands of contestants (actually three) forWhere is this church in Malta? we have a winner. It is Adrian. Adrian is right--the church is a model of the famous Dome in Mosta. This model was on display in Valletta last month, along with a lot of other building, car and train models (not a place to go with a guy).
The Mosta Church model is made of matchsticks, believe it or not, and took the man who built it 14 years!
Adrian, get in touch with me and I'll send you your prize. It's a (don't get mad) download of the book The Diary of an American Expatriate.
Kim Dalli, a native of Malta, is an actress in a cop show on Malta TV. But she can only do her acting, filming, etc., after her regular work hours are finished. Her primary occupation is that of a journalist with The Times of Malta--the main English-language newspaper on the island.
I met Kim not on the set of her show In which she plays the only female undercover cop, but at a cafe in Valletta in her role as journalist with the newspaper. Kim had read my book The Diary of an American Expatriate (Andrews AUK, London, 2012) and wanted some background information on it. A photographer was even there.
Kim Dalli, Journalist and Actress in Malta
Kim said she found a lot of the book funny which made me happy. She asked me if I had made any of it up, using my poetic license, but no I hadn't. The truth is more crazy than fiction.
We talked about the next book in my series--Hating the Natives--which will come out during the fall or winter of 2013. It's about what culture shock is really like from the point of view of someone who has experienced it and not someone who has just studied it.
At one point, Kim asked me, "Who is Ilene Springer?" Could I sum myself up in three words? I couldn't but that question managed to trigger a depersonalization experience that has lasted two weeks so far. Being famous has its drawbacks.
As for Kim, she is assigned all kinds of subjects but the one she enjoys writing about the most is the plight of disadvantaged people. She recalls one story she wrote about a female ex-con who faced job and social discrimination 20 years after being released from prison. After reading that story, one man contacted Kim with an offer of assistance for the woman she wrote about.
As an actress in Malta, Kim received an award several years ago for a leading actress in a drama. This award was similar to that of an Emmy, coveted by TV actors in the US.
I have to say I really enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame with Kim. I'd give her the leading journalist award if I could. I'll let you know when the feature comes out.
One of the hardest things about living in Malta with two adult daughters in the US is the phone and time-difference business.
One daughter lives in San Francisco which is 9 hours earlier than here (Malta/Rome) time. So when I get up at 6:30 am to get ready for work, B (at 9:30 PM) is getting ready to go to sleep in a couple of hours. That drives me crazy because I like going to sleep more than I like getting up.
My other daughter R lives in Boston. That’s six hours earlier than here. Somehow that’s even harder to manage. When she gets home from work at 6 pm, it’s midnight for me and I’m often too tired to talk much. So we’re left to SKYPE on weekends which we often don’t manage. It’s very frustrating.
The promise I made four years ago when I moved to Malta that we’ll speak every day doesn’t happen.
But when there’s something important going on, the calls get through somehow--often both girls on a conference call to me.
This was the What’s App message from last week that I saw at 7 am while rushing to get ready to teach an EFL student:
From B in San Francisco:
Mom, R just called. She got scratched and possibly bitten by a stray cat [in Boston]. Are you awake? Please call.
Me in Malta:
To Myself out loud: Great. A stray cat. The US is rampant with rabies. And that’s not including the Republicans.
What followed was a frantic call to both daughters, followed by a fight about what to do. R insisted that there was a little blood but she thought it was from a scratch, not the bite from the cat who was wandering around outside with no collar, etc.
R, go to the hospital. The cat could have rabies. Or you could get an infection from the scratch.
R, go to the hospital.
R (32 years old): I don’t want to go. I feel stupid. It’s a little scratch. I think the blood is from the scratch, not the bite. I’ll wait until the morning to call my doctor.
Me: The morning could be too late if the cat has rabies. Go to the hospital. I don’t care if you feel stupid.
R, go to the hospital.
I don’t feel feel like waiting 6 hours in the emergency room and paying $500. You really think I could get rabies from this cat? She didn’t look like she had rabies.
No animal looks like they have rabies at the beginning. But they could still have it. R, I think you should just go.
R, just go!
Would they just start giving me rabies shots? How do they know if the cat has rabies, anyway? I just don’t want to go to the hospital now.
Me: I don’t know if they would give you shots. But at the hospital they know what to tell you.
Mom, how do they know if the cat has rabies?
They have to catch the cat, chop its head off and open its brain and see if the rabies are in it.
That’s it. I’m getting off now. I’ll call the doctor in the morning.
I’m getting off now, too.
Why the f___ do you even call me if you’re not going to listen to me?
End of Story: R gets hold of an emergency nurse who tells her she needn’t rush in, what to look for in terms of infection, etc. B seems OK with this. R and B get off and go on with their lives. And I’m shaking while I try to put my mascara on.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, that a 27 and 32 year old have to call their mom across the Atlantic to find out what to do about a cat bite/scratch? I guess they still need their mom a little.
Mother's intuition. Last night, I was walking home at around 9 pm Malta time. It was 3 pm in Boston where my daughter lives. I remembered that this was the Boston Marathon day. I picked up my cell phone just to find out how it was.
While I lived in Boston (area) for 20 something years, the Marathon was an annual good day. It was the one day the usually cold Bostonians would actually talk to each other in the street as they watched the runners.
I noticed a message from my daughter. It said, "I'm OK. I wasn't at the finish line, but I heard that something happened."
Thank G-d I got her message before I got the news of the bombing. She was watching the marathon at the usual location we used to watch it--at Coolidge Corner--about two miles from the finish line. But if her friend M had been running as she had in previous years, R would have been at the finish line cheering her on.
I'm so grateful that she and others we know are safe. I'm thinking of the poor families of those young people killed and maimed by the terrorists. Thanks to all my students who knew I had a daughter in Boston and inquired about her safety.
This is a big thank you to Steven Amico, my financial adviser and young friend from the US. This is not one of those promotional tributes; this is telling you about a guy who I have trusted for the past dozen years with my money.
And let me tell you, I’m small potatoes for Steven. He handles the money of millionaires and people who have won the lottery. But he makes me feel like I’m a millionaire.
I already did my US taxes (they’re due in a few days, you know). But a few weeks ago while I was using one of those online tax programs which are supposed to make things easier, I ran into a section that asked me fifty questions about one little transaction. I was wondering what to do--when I got an email from Steven, asking if I needed any help with anything (! ?). I thought I had entered US-tax-doer Heaven.
We got in touch, despite the six hours difference between us, and Steven spent 40 minutes of his own free time going over every question with me. Now--I can’t guarantee that Steven will do this with everyone. We go back a long time.
I met Steven when he was very young and still at a big national US bank where I had an account. He started helping me plan for retirement when I had no idea where to start. At one point Steven told me he was leaving the bank because they were forcing their investment advisors to steer their clients only to the bank’s products. This went against Steven’s principles and he decided to start his own investment firm with his partner Bob (now sadly deceased).
I remember the day Steven sent me and his other clients a letter, telling us he was going independent and to consider joining his fledgling firm. He did one of the most gutsy things someone can do: ask you to trust them with your money.
So did many other clients and now Steven is a successful personal and investment advisor in the Greater Boston area (and father of three daughters). He saw everyone through the big downturn of 2008 and more recent financial fiascos.
Yes, I trust Steven with my money (inshallah). So does my brother and probably some other people I’ve sent his way.
If you decide to get in touch with him (I don’t know if he handles foreign investors), tell him Ilene says hi.
Steven J. Amico Partner/Investments Northeast Investment Advisors, LLC 40 Speen Street, Suite 202 Framingham, MA 01701 www.northeastia.com phone (508) 424-0686 fax (508) 424-0685