Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oscar the Grouch

It is literally howling outside. The wind is blowing over all of my neighbors’ potted plants, shattering the terracotta pots and scattering them across terraces. It was hailing earlier. The choppy sea prevented the ferries and hydrofoils from sailing, leaving stranded the natives and daytrippers of Capri, Ischia and Procida.

The Husband and I were once stranded on the little fishing island of Procida, two Christmases ago. We tried twice to take a ferry back to Naples only to wait in vain at one of the port bars, sipping espresso and eating cornetti in the morning, continuing through the afternoon prosecco-and-savory-snacks aperitivo, returning to the rented cottage. This was before the Baby, before my libido was placed on the dusty top shelf above the more easily accessible row of must-sleep-now tomes. Poor Husband.

And poor me. Still pity-partying a bit. I got out today at least. Did a little shopping at the casalinga (housewife) store: napkins, paper towels, garbage bags, i.e. things I had entirely ceased buying in California. I blew my nose exclusively in doo-rags back then. I even used doo-rags in lieu of maxipads. I used cloth napkins, real hand towels. I composted. There are recycling bins in Naples, but they are randomly and scarcely scattered across the city. The nearest one to my house is a 15 minute walk down 81 steps and across a city park. I am sorry to say that I will not be carrying the Baby in the Baby Bjorn, a knapsack full of diapers, toys, change of clothes, water, food, etc. on my back, AND my recycling down the hill and through the park.

Neapolitans create an inordinate amount of garbage and the powers that be don’t know what to do with it all, so it sits in enormous piles, long and high, creating a public health emergency one imagines exists only in Calcutta. There is a report on the garbage crisis on the news almost every day, the camera panning the various pile-ups, the plastic bags, broken open and spilling forth their putrid contents, clamoring for their close-up. Garbage is famous in Naples; the paparazzi can’t get enough of it.

I went to the bakery for bread, the pastry shop for sweets, and the supermarket for cereal. I came home and made spaghetti carbonara (pancetta, eggs, garlic, parsley, olive oil), a Roman dish, but the Husband still ate it. The Baby ate blended beef, carrots, zucchini, and broccoli, all organic I am shocked and proud to say.

The Baby was up from 3am to 5am last night and not in a good mood. Was it her teeth? Did she have the same headache her father and I had? Was it her tummy? She finally fell asleep snuggled up next to me. When I released her from my sweaty embrace, she fell open spread-eagle, taking up my side of the bed. She may weigh only around 25 pounds (who knows how much she weighs) and be around 2 feet tall (remember: it’s bad luck to measure a child – it will stunt their growth), but she can really hog the bed. I gently folded her little arm across her chest and fell asleep on my side, stiff as a board. Grumble, grumble.

The Baby is asleep. The Husband is at work. I am thinking about eating the other half of a canoli. Or maybe some ice cream. I finished Zadie Smith’s White Teeth yesterday and was sort of disappointed. Great writing, but somehow lacking heart. Shit, she was only 25 when she wrote it. I hear The Autograph Man is better. I’ll have to try that one. For now, I’ve got Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia on deck. I love a good travel memoir.

I should probably put a warning at the top of this post: may bore you to sleep; do not read while operating heavy machinery.

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