Thursday, April 26, 2007

Latin for "it does not follow"

We just got back from two less than relaxing nights in Procida. I learned that it is perhaps true that I would go stark raving mad if I lived on an island and that La Bimba needs her naps and to get to bed at a reasonable hour. She is a-changin'!

La Bimba's mega birthday bash was a success. I held it together for three parties, Neapolitan relatives who never leave (they are lovely, but I was so so tired) and a baby girl not willing to go to bed before 10pm. My parents arrived in tact, but without their luggage. It came the next day, giving my father just enough time to panic and pace and ask every 20 seconds, "Is it time to check with the airport again?" La Bimba smeared (or maybe schmeared) white and pink cake cream all over her face and I observed the effects of giving a baby (not mine!) coke in his bottle. Not pretty.

The other day at the park a bald father walked up to a trash can to throw out his empty Pall Mall cigarette pack. He tossed the pack and missed the can. He looked down at his debris, walked back to his wife, and scolded his kid for crying. I was sitting on a nearby bench feeding La Bimba, fuming and scheming, trying to figure out what to do. Littering is one disgusting thing; littering in the park where your own kid plays is another foul thing; littering in the park where your kid plays and where there is a trash can a wrist flick's distance from you is disgusting, foul and causes witnesses to have homicidal thoughts. I wiped La Bimba's face, picked up the empty pack of cigs, brought it over to the asshole and said, "Excuse me, but I believe this is yours." The wife immediately thanked me, not realizing it was her husband's trash, and as I walked away I overheard the husband say, "No, no, it's empty." I did not turn around to see if the pack made it into the can or rather fell like a coy damsel's hankie back to the earth.
I want to reflect on my first year as a mom. But as Totò said in one of his films that I catch parts of but never the whole on TV, "Voglio ma non posso." I am in a blogging holding pattern, catching moments like this one when my folks are out eating chinese (don't tell The Husband!). My aunt and uncle arrive on Saturday, German friends on Wednesday, California friends on Thursday, so it's going to be hard to get my blogger brain in order.
Writing "German friends" reminds me of a anti-prejudice ad that was on TV in the 70s (this was before we starting saying "racism"). There was a boy and his grandfather in a boat fishing. The grandfather was wearing one of those fishing hats, the one with holes in it to hold hooks and bait and stuff. The boy is talking about his friend and says, "Tommy's my Jewish friend." The grandfather kindly but sternly replies, "That's prejudice."
Does anyone else remember that ad? That ad really fucked me up. It left me thinking having a Jewish friend was a problem, maybe even a sin (I was watching "Davy and Goliath" too, you know). Had the boy said, "Tommy's my Jewish friend" and the grandfather said, "How do you know he's Jewish?" and the boy said, "Because he has a huge schnoz, is tight with his candy money, and his penis has no place to hide from the cold," that would be prejudice.
I was reminiscing about TV shows and commercials with a woman from Queens the other day. We sang the pill song ("This is serious, serious, we can make you delirious, delirious, you should have a healthy fear of us, fear of us, too much of us can be dangerous...) and waxed nostalgic over various Little House on the Prairie episodes. She still has a crush on Almanzo. I still get teary over the old Jew who died after scaring Nellie with his fake horns. Prejudice conquered on Little House! Who needs public service ads!
Wow, it's after 9pm. I should lie down with Yehoshua. "A Woman in Jerusalem." It took me a while to get into it, but now I'm hooked. "The Liberated Bride" is better. Good night!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ding Dong

Napoli, Napoli, how I have neglected dissing you! Yesterday, I was "in line" to order a cappuccino when this woman cut in front of me (I had La Bimba in the stroller and was politely, i.e. stupidly, trying to keep her out of the way of the counter sippers). I said, "Excuse me!" And she said, "Well, I have to order." I said, "So, do I" (subtext: what the fuck else am I doing here, studying to be a barista?), and she said, "I didn't see you." I got to order first, but I missed my chance to say, "What am I transparent?"

Then I went to by a coffee pot, una caffetiera, from the appliance-toiletrees-women's clothing-toy shop on the Corso. There was one in the window for 6.50 euro. I walked in and the old man behind the counter said, "Ask her," pointing to the woman sewing in the corner. This old man (he played one...) just the other day was "gentilissimo" with me, asking me if I lived in the neighborhood (yes) and saying he is at my service, anything I need, just ask. Now I get, "Ask her," grunted at me with no eye contact. So I ask the lady for the 6.50 caffetiera and she says, "Just a moment," and keeps sewing. A few minutes pass and then the man walks to the back and brings me the pot. He turns over the box and underneath is written 10 euro. Uh-oh. He starts snapping at the woman, "This pot costs 10 euro. This is better brand. We are out of the other one? We are so disorganized here! I could sell it to the lady for 8 or 9 euro but we'll lost money!" No eye contact, referring to me in the third person, talking a bunch of smack-ass bullshit. Before things get out of hand, I say, "I'll take it for 8 euro," knowing full well that it is the 6.50 pot and that these people are scum. He really wanted me to take it for 10, so I felt okay, though The Husband said I shouldn't have bought it. (He was right: it works, but I saw a Bialetti, the good brand, for just 13 euro in Piazza Carolina).

I don't think the couple were snickering behind my back once I left, joyful in the face of their semi-successful scam. I don't think they or any other similarly-minded Neapolitan-style capitalists think they are doing anything wrong. Just business.

Today The Husband, La Bimba and I had lunch with two friends, a Spanish woman living in Naples (happy birthday!) and an American man living in Berkeley. We ate at Trattoria San Ferdinando, where the waiter and busboy are dicks to all until they see La Bimba. Then they are nice-ish. I am amazed at how a person can flash a big smile at La Bimba and me, ask after her, say, "complimenti" and then turn dark and try to scam me. How do they do it? It's a skill, a talent. The American man told me that last time the waiter brought them smaller wine glasses than he had done for all the other tables that had ordered bottled wine (my friends ordered house wine), glasses so small La Spagnola bumped her nose in them and had to tip her head all the way back to drink, like taking a shot of cough syrup. Sure enough the same glasses came out this time and if you know me you know my nose is going to be barred from entry. So we asked for and received bigger glasses.

This trattoria, which is a bit upscale and quite good, has one of the best mistranslations I've seen in Italy. Italian menus and signs are notorious for side-splittingly funny English translations (spaghetti with octopussy is one of my favorites from a Roman restaurant...will James Bond be swinging from the strands?). Under the Italian for "ring the bell" (because this Trattoria buzzes its clients in...for fear of having their octopi robbed?), it said, "To Beat the Bell." Bussare means to knock but it is used for doors and bells. They don't say ring the bell. Next time I go to that place I am going to bring a baseball bat and beat the shit out of that bell.

I have been meaning to give my readers a heads up that today is Dance Anywhere. People around the world are going to dance at noon Pacific time (9pm here in Naples, 3pm in NYC), take a video or photograph, send it to my friend Beth, and she will make a multimedia presentation of the event. You have 37 minutes to get ready and shake that thang! The link for Dance Anywhere is on my sidebar. You should be dancing...yeah!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vanilla and "Chocolate"

The friend in Rome is doing better, miraculously. Thanks to all for your calls, emails, listening.

La Bimba has been a bit, shall we say, backed up. But as I type this I can hear her grunting in her crib. I am hoping to find a brown parcel waiting for me.

Ewwwww, poop talk...again.

Countdown to the first birthday bash, this Sunday. We are having a three-tiered event: morning with moms and babies, afternoon lunch with La Famiglia, evening with the party animals. My parents arrive in the midst of all this. They are bringing me vanilla, but I need vanilla NOW, so once La Bimba finishes her work in there, we are off on a vanilla-finding mission. I found some for 6 euro this morning, but I only had 5 euro in my pocket. Managgia. Porca La Miseria.

The vanilla I found was not like the vanilla I am familiar with. It was Euro Vanilla, bean flecks visible (like Breyer's ice cream!) and with added sugar. Double porca la miseria.

I think I paid 9 euro for a small jar of organic almond butter yesterday. I think I won't be doing that again, ever.

La Bimba had a wee allergic reaction to tomato sauce today. She was begging for the pizzetta I was eating, so I tore off a corner and even licked off the sauce (they say to wait until babies are one to give them tomato, so I was being diligent). Evidently, she got some on her sensitive little cheekies, however. It cleared right up, but as my friend C. said, it is vital to kick any tomato, white flour, and cheese allergy out of kids being raised in Naples. These are staple foods. C. asked if I've gone a day without eating all three of these things in some form or other. I have to say, I think not.

La Bimba is doing her Tarzan imitation -- the yodel, not the vine-swinging -- so I best be going. I've got some poop to scoop.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Leaving it blank

My blog is not my journal. It is not where I write about my most difficult times, most neurotic thoughts (I know, I know, you can't believe I get more neurotic, but I do!), saddest sadnesses. So, I am a little stuck on how to continue blogging when a tragedy befalls my little world. La Bimba, The Husband, and I, we are all fine. A friend in Rome is not. Let's just leave it at that for now.

Of course, there is plenty of tragedy to choose from in the big world out there. Virginia Tech. The Husband's response to that particular massacre was, "And they say Naples is violent." Iraq...

I don't need to go on. I can't go on. La Bimba will learn about these global messes soon enough. For now we put yogurt in our hair, play catch with the remote control, talk to pigeons, rock out to Neapolitan music.

I just downloaded some Daily Show and some Colbert Report, hoping to get caught up on fake news. I am happy to announce that I don't miss Mary-Louise and the rest of the Weeds crew. My subconscious efficiently knocked that obsession out in just two dreams. Subconscious or unconscious? How can I not know the difference?

It smelled like summer today. A little boy named Sergio fell off the jungle gym and sobbed at the bosom of his Peruvian nanny. La Bimba is getting a little temper replete with back flips and swatting. And she is getting new dance moves. She does the twist. She dances to everything. She dances to the sound of me peeing. Tinkle, tinkle, little... It is not gross! Sometimes I have to bring her to the bathroom with me, park her in her high chair in the doorway near the washing machine. She likes the spin cycle.

This post is evasive. It is dancing around quicksand, it is backed against the exterior wall of a tall building too terrified to jump. I feel my resolve slipping. It's hard to be honest.

Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


La Bimba did the cutest thing tonight on her way to her date with Mr. Sandman. The way she goes to sleep at night is curled up next to me on the bed, sucking on her ciuccio and holding her froggie up close to her face, evidently sniffing it. She rolls to one side and rests then rolls back and rests, back and forth, back and forth, until she falls sound asleep. Then I transfer her to her crib. Tonight, she rolled to one side and continued onto her belly, pushed onto all fours, the splatted on her tummy and rested. Then she pushed back up, pushed to sitting, then leaned her head on my thigh and rested. She was trying so hard to stay awake to practice crawling and sitting, but she kept slumping, so tired was she. Adorable!

It rained today. I ate fried anchovies.

Do you think we should open a bed-and-breakfast in Naples or move to Portugal and open an authentic Neapolitan trattoria?

I keep forgetting I owe an article about Italian dancers who have had careers abroad but have returned to Italy to live to a magazine at the end of this month. I'm so distracted.

Wow. I just sat here for about five minutes staring at the screen and not typing. I am so bored with my bad self. Okay. Bye.
No, wait. To be an artist -- visual, performing, literary, whatevs -- you have to be unafraid to be hated and unafraid to be laughed at. Come to think of it, just being a card-carrying human being means risking being hated and laughed at. And loved, scariest of all, but only when you really think about it. Otherwise, being loved seems like a no-brainer desirable. I want everyone to like me and I fear being laughed at. Shit. How am I ever going to write that book?
Annie Dillard via C. S. Lewis: "The sum of human suffering we needen't worry about There is plenty of suffering, but no one ever suffers the sum of it."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Warning: Scatological Post

Sometimes the bar over my blog is in Italian and sometimes it is in English. I have finished my Weeds marathon. I have nothing to say. Cliffhangers be damned!

I had something hysterical, witty and brilliant to write about, but I didn't write myself a note and now I have forgotten it. I was feeding La Bimba fish and cauliflower and pasta when a juicy Neapolitan tidbit came to me, something about The Husband, and I chuckled and La Bimba chuckled and said, "Tika," her all-purpose word for "That's cool. You're right. That's a cow. Give it to me. I'm done. Can I get out of this high chair now?" Now it's gone.

La Bimba pulled the J key off my computer keyboard. I cannot get it back on. I removed the ù/§ key -- because I don't use it and it bugs me -- to figure it out and I figured it out and still can't get the key on. J is not the most popular letter I am learning, but it is where my right index finger rests when I am poised to write and now it touches a little rubbery thing instead of a nice smooth key and I find it disturbing. Trip to Dino the computer guy is on the agenda.

When you live in Italy long enough you stop thinking about Fred Flintstone's pet dinosaur when you meet someone named Dino. Guess I haven't been here long enough. Bap-bap-bap-bap-bap!

It is summer in the city, folks, and it feels great. Mid-70s (I will never adjust to Celsius), sunny and breezy. T-shirt weather. And capri pants. I was wearing a pair of those nifty 3/4 length pants (trousers! not underwear!!) when The Husband glanced at my hirsute legs and suggested it might be time to shave. He said it with a chuckle. I asked if it bothered him and he said, "It doesn't bother me. For you, I said it." I guess he thinks it bothers me. It stands to reason that if it bothered me, I would have shaved, and that if he is pointing it out, it must bother him. I reasoned thusly and he still insisted that it doesn't bother him, but probably bothers me. Can anyone guess what really bothers me here?

I'll shave one of these days. There are so many things I'd rather do with my spare, Bimba-sleeping time. Like blog. And eat cake. Read a book. Wait for season 3 of Weeds.

I don't wax. It hurts and leaves red bumpies.

I finally finished the Dillard memoir. Fantastic. Too bad I didn't look up any of the words I didn't know. There were about eight of them. And I didn't dog-ear the pages or use a highlighter (because that would feel like college) so I'll never know what words I didn't know and didn't learn. Some writer/lover of language I am!

I am going to see some contemporary dance in Piazza Plebiscito tomorrow. That should be ... interesting.

I had another... I REMEMBER WHAT MADE ME AND LA BIMBA CHUCKLE! I had another weird dream last night. It involved poop in a jacuzzi. I was not the pooper, thank God. Elizabeth Perkins was. Anyway, I told The Husband the dream and he told me that dreaming about poop porta bene, brings good luck. I so prefer his analysis to my shrink's. When I told her about a poop dream (years ago, poop stuck to the outside of my jeans, couldn't get it off), she told me it was about shame. Shame or Good Luck. Both?

Shame is a big topic, too big to tackle on the blog this evening. I wrote a paper about Shame in Ulysses in grad school. Lots of bodily functions going on in that book. Poop, pee, semen, menstrual blood, Yes! Did I mention that James Joyce and I have the same birthday? And that Dublin had a Jewish mayor? And that I am thinking of going back to grad school in Performance Studies?

About going back to school: nah. I couldn't possibly write a cold, dry, danceless dissertation on dance. Or maybe I could write something dancey and fabulous and change the course of dance academia forever? What am I on about? Need more cake.

Naples, Motherhood, Mulitculti Marriage, Dance, Cake. These will be labels some day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Oy Ai Oy Ai O

I am forcing myself to blog a bit before returning to my Weeds addiction. It's pretty bad. I don't blog, I don't do my writing group assignments (and I started the writing group!), I don't bake, I don't read. I just watch Weeds. I'm looking forward to running out of episodes.

This Weeds addiction has even stopped me from observing Naples, the whole point of this farshtunkeneh blog.

If anyone in my family is reading this right now, go Google Justin Kirk (he plays a character on Weeds) and tell me he doesn't look like cousin Erik. I know it's not like eerie twinship, but when he smiles, he reminds me so much of my LA cuz. There he is on the left.
I have been meaning to write a letter, an email actually since I still don't trust the Italian postal system, to all my maternal first cousins. I am the youngest of ten first cousins and an only child, so my cousins have been surrogate siblings. Not all of them, not always, not in the same ways, not at the same time, but enough to make me miss them and think about them, even the ones I have had very little contact with over the years since my grandparents died. I will write that email. I want to tell them that I think of them and love them and miss them and hope we can use the internet to keep us connected, send photos of our kids, write about our lives, gossip about the rest of the brood. I think it would feel good. Maybe I'll start by devoted a blog entry to each cousin...after an episode or two of Weeds, of course.

Cousin. Cugino in Italian. Brooklynites call Italian guys cugines (pronouned KOO-ZHEENZ) and now we know where that comes from. Cugette, unfortunately, is just a bastardized French feminization of cugine and aurally resembles courgettes, which is the Englishman's, via the French, again, it seems, word for zucchini, so it still counts as Italian. If you are reading this, R., linguistic anthropologist diva rock star, is an honorary PhD in my future?

I am not actually smoking the pot, just watching Kevin Nealon smoke it, but note my swiss cheesy brain. I have no desire to smoke a joint though I do have a lot of fond stoner memories. A lot of them take place in a car, but let's not go there since my parents read this blog and I wouldn't want to give them retroactive agita (from the Italian, agitare; I'm getting that PhD in Linguistics for Dummies, baby!).

Could be an interesting writing assignment: Write everything that comes to mind from when you were on drugs. Just keywords, not full stories, and then see where you go from there... dude. Here's an example:

Hopelessly Devoted to You. Break night. The Delta. Round robin candy bars. Someone stole the hood off my parka and it's 40 degrees below zero outside. Stoner hostess. I'll hold the joint up to your mouth; just breathe normally. Gilbert Gottfried: I crashed in the Andes mountains once, but I never ate a soccer player.

I think I'll go make some popcorn, scramble the words in the above paragraph, and see where I go...after an episode or two, that is...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Pass the Poppycock

After experimentally downloading television shows on (off?) iTunes, I have found my addiction: Weeds. I am so addicted to the show that I am both miserable and thankful that I have only two seasons at my disposal. I know I am in too deep because I dreamed I was romantically involved with Mary-Louise Parker. It was totally lesbian until MLP grew a penis.

The same dream featured a cell phone I couldn't figure out how to use (the 21st century version of the missing-your-plane dream?), very undercooked pancakes, the revelation that our Irish friend F. is actually only 33 (shaved some years off ya, F!...or was this just another cloaked Jesus reference?), a little blond girl, and a hobbit house with a winding staircase. Freud? Jung? Anyone?

Today is Pasquetta, Easter Monday, La Bimba is napping, The Husband is fishing. I think I slept nine hours in a row last night. I say "I think" because I don't believe it's possible (shouldn't I be less tired now?) and because we mustn't jinx it!

I have been gearing up to share the story of how I came to Blogger. Are you ready? I'm not. Next time, I promise.

Sometimes while watching Weeds, I remember Mary-Louise in that movie where she died of AIDS and Drew Barrymore had a black baby. Was Whoopi Goldberg in that movie? And did I actually need to type "Goldberg" there given that there is but one Whoopi?

I had a Big Band songbook growing up. I would play "Makin' Whoopee," treble clef only, and sing along: Another bride, another groom, another sunny honeymoon, another season, another reason for makin' whoopee; a lot of shoes, a lot of rice, the groom is nervous, he answers twice, it's really killing, cause he's so willing, to make whoopee. Then it all goes down hill, washing dishes and baby clothes, not getting laid anymore. Good song.
Oh, I wanted to thank Doug and KC for suggesting places to move. Clearly, however, I should rephrase the question: Where should we move that doesn't require that we sell a kidney to afford?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Nothing Fancy

La Bimba tortured us last night. She was up from 11:45pm to nearly 3am. I could not figure out what she wanted. The last half hour she was thrashing around and wailing. Then I thrashed around and wailed. The Husband helped, and then this morning he told me that I attacked him, which is true, but I plead temporary insanity.

Reader's Poll: Where should we move?

I bought Roberto Saviano's Gomorra for The Husband yesterday. I am looking forward to him reading it and having yet more to rail against Napoli about. Should make for a pleasant couple of weeks before he returns to his compulsive watching of TG3 Regione (local newscast). For those of you not up on camorra history, Saviano is Napoli's own Salman Rushdie: death threats have forced him into hiding and under police protection because of his book. I think it's a good read. What book that opens with dead bodies falling out of cargo containers isn't?

I forgot to mention in my post-passover post that I did an ingenious thing: I baked a cake (two actually) out of the leftover charoses. I took a carrot cake recipe and replaced the carrots-nuts with the apple-nut-raisin-wine-oj-cinnamon combo that was the mortar for our matzoh bricks. Delightful!

Oops, gotta go. La Bimba is about to lick the sole of one of my shoes. Che schifo...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Pesach Recap

I have been dying to blog since the seder, but have been wildly tired and going to bed at 9pm. It is now one minute to nine so I have to write fast.

The seder was a success (see lovely comments from Dee on previous post; thanks, Dee!). We read a bit from the Italian Haggadah, we drank (some of us too much...hope you're feeling know who you are!), and I observed five people polish off a vat of chicken soup.

When I went to pick up the meat from the butcher, he was out from behind the counter, madly cleaving some part of some animal, shaving off its fat. He turned to me with doleful eyes and said, "Mi dispiace, signora." I thought he was going to tell me he sold my brisket to some other Jew or that he couldn't sell it to me because he went home after putting it aside for me and realized he was an anti-Semite. Silly me. He was only apologizing because he failed to procure the chicken livers. He was visibly pained over it. I told him not to worry, The Husband would be relieved.

The butcher went into the big fridge and brought out my hunk of mooing love and my chicken (I took the smallest one he had...two kilos...and the seder group still ate it all!). On my previous visit I had forgotten to ask about the lamb shank, so I did so then, all apologetically for not having advised him sooner, telling him it was for the seder plate, that it represented the sacrifice, jewda jewda jewda. He looked at me quizically, so I continued explaining, zampetto di capretta, cosce di agnello, non lo so, and he said, "No, no, I understand," went back into the fridge, and came out carrying half of an entire lamb. He pointed to foot of the skinned beast and said, "Va bene questo?," this okay?, and after I nodded because what else was I supposed to do, he simply hacked off the foot and wrapped it up with my chicken.

This was my first seder with a lamb foot that I saw come fresh off a lamb. It had toenails. I should have taken a picture. Next Naples!

As for the chicken, it still had a couple of feathers on it, so I had to pluck them like a babushka in the shtetl. I felt so old country! It's harder to forget your chicken was a chicken when it still has feathers. Store-bought chickens look more like headless babies. I am now going to try my best not to think about headless babies.

The only other Jew at the seder table was the aforementioned Dee. She brought Rakusens' matzoh sponsored by the Jewish Chronicle. It had the letters JC in the corner, so I naturally thought it was sponsored by Jesus Christ.

My most recent ex is a carpenter and my father or my mother, I can't remember who now, said to me as a warning (?), "You know, Jesus was a carpenter." I told my ex that and he said, "Well he was a Jew first." Good one. He's still a dick, my ex, but that was a good one.

That felt good, calling my ex a dick on my blog. I might have to do that more often. No hard feelings!

So, the seder group sang a chorus of Dayenu (Ci sarebbe bastato!), dubbed the brisket "la genovese ebrea," recited the 10 plagues while dipping their pinkies in wine, reclined, and made it through a meal without bread. I am so proud. Even La Bimba sat through the narration. La Bimba loves Zio Sal, Zio Mimmo, and especially Aunt Catrin for whom she did her gorilla scream and imaginary bicycle dance.

I taught my first yoga class at the Mudra space today. Only one person came (thanks, H!), but it was great. I am going to go out on a limb and assume that no one from Mudra will ever read this blog, so let me tell you how fucking annoying they are about money. H. wanted to know how much a gym membership costs, how much a yoga series costs, etc., and the woman was all, " beh...potrebbe essere." What is with these people? Print a flaming price list and hand it to people.

Neapolitans HATE to put prices on things. I once had a rude awakening when I went to a dance studio here (I will refrain from mentioning their name as much to avoid trouble as to avoid giving them any publicity, positive or negative) to attend a lecture they sponsored. The invite said nothing about price. As I was walking out the door, the bitchface secretary (and I mean BITCHFACE; she is awful, and no, having a baby has not softened her at all), said, "Oh, you have to pay 30 euro." Thirty euro to listen to someone talk about how to do dance PR in Italy? You know I would never have gone if I had known it cost 30 euro. I told her I'd pay her next time because I only had 10 euro on me. When I returned to the studio to take class a couple of weeks later, the woman actually stopped me on my way out, again, to ask for the money. I told her, "Non si fa così," and she couldn't look me in the eye when I handed her the cash. Stronza!

They really know how to make you feel cheap here.

On a lighter note, The Husband informed me today that he would like to roast a baby pig at La Bimba's birthday party. Will La Bimba ever be able to enjoy "This Little Piggy" without having flashbacks to her first birthday when she saw a little piggy spinning on a spit, engulfed in flames? My dad is looking forward to tasting it.

That reminds me of a story the late Olympic champion wrestler David Schultz told me when I was hanging out with him on John Dupont's Foxcatcher Farm in Pennsylvania (I was there with another ex, long long ago, too long to remember if he had been a dick or not; but not that long before Dupont shot and killed Schultz...horrible story). Schultz and his family -- wife, very young son and infant daugher -- were about to eat some venison when Schultz said to his son, "Son, tonight we are having Bambi for dinner." Poor boy dissolved in tears. Schultz also told his son when his wife got pregnant the second time, "Son, we are having another baby. So, we are going to have to give you away." By then the son was used to these taunts and just rolled his eyes.

Sometimes I write things about people that I regard as amusing, as something to smile about, and, if they're no longer with us, to remember them by, fondly. Sometimes I'm not sure they would see it that way.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

An April Fool for Fame

Here is the Time article:,9171,1604905,00.html

And La Bimba is back on track! Eleven and a half hours of uninterrupted dreamland. Brava!

I've been preparing some dishes in advance for tomorrow's seder: carrot tzimmes and the charoses (or charoset if you are into the Sephardic pronunciation; the s ending is Ashkenazi Hebrew, and also Yiddish).

All this talk about Sephardic (also modern, i.e. what they speak in Israel today, Hebrew) vs. Ashkenazi Hebrew brings me back to Oxford circa 1989. I did a year abroad there, a bizarre year at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies (note British spelling of centre...looks so French...don't the British hate the French?...I guess not as much as the Pilgrims hated the English because they changed the spelling...those crazy Pilgrims, self-hating English...I don't actually know who was responsible for changing re to er, our to or...just asiding away here). Of our group of ten? twenty?, I don't remember, students, I was the only one who chose to study Yiddish. There was the modern Hebrew group, the Biblical Hebrew group, and the Yiddish lone wolf in sheep's clothing. I studied one-on-one with Professor Dov Ber Kerler, a very hairy Russian man who had me writing short stories in Yiddish by the end of the year. Now I don't remember anything. Sorry Dov!

Dov Ber and Dovid Katz, one of the most important Yiddish scholars in the world (a Brooklynite...from Borough Park, methinks...that was some Shakespeare for you since we're in England...are feeling condescended to, dear reader?...should I let you figure out my brillilant strokes of brilliance by yourself?), the two big, raving Jews, would get together for lunch at the St. Giles cafe next to the Hebrew Studies department. They would order all sorts of treyf (non-kosher food) like bacon and cheese together, and sit at the tiny table screaming in Yiddish. I loved the balls of it all.

I never did get used to Jews speaking in English accents. When I told one of our fellow students, a Jewish Londoner, that my grandmother's name was Daurcy Schwartz, she said, "What? Dancing Plants?" (remember you have to say that with a British accent, dahncing plahnts).

Speaking of meat and cheese, I remember going to my local deli with my first boyfriend B. Brooklyn 1986. Adelman's on Kings Highway between Ocean Avenue and East 19th Street. Adelman's is a kosher deli, so that means no dairy, just meat. (There are also kosher dairy restaurants, but those are gross). B. ordered a cheeseburger. The waiter looked at him like he was with the gestapo. How could a boy, Lutheran minister's son notwithstanding, grow up in Brooklyn and order a cheeseburger at a Jewish deli?

I am also fondly remembering a seder during which Grandma Daurcy Schwartz told us the story about having sex with Papa Myer under the Brooklyn Bridge. I am sure it never happened. Either way, it is not a story for the dinner table. I miss my grandma, Big D. She had a t-shirt that said "75 and Still Sexy" and another one that said "Daurcy is my name, sex is my game." I'll have to find a way to post a photo of her so that you get the picture (pun intended however lamely so!).

I remember fasting with my mom during Yom Kippur. We would fast and watch cooking shows at the same time. We thought we got extra credit from God for that. My father never fasted. He would show up in the bedroom where mom and I were starving, half a bagel hanging out of his mouth. Heathen!

I used to like to watch the parade of Sephardic women on their way to synagogue on the high holy days. They wore Versace and Gucci to synagogue. Ocean Parkway, a wide Brooklyn boulevard with a synagogue on every block, became a catwalk. The Hasidim were much less interesting to watch except for visitors from the midwest. For the midwesterner, the Hasidim were like martians or a lost tribe from the Amazon jungle.

Obviously, I am not an obersvant Jew. Jewishness is my culture, Judaism the religion I don't follow. Passover seder is like Christmas dinner, fasting on Yom Kippur is a habit (one I gave up since moving to Italy...I conveniently never remember about Yom Kippur until it has already passed). I just want La Bimba to experience the matzoh half of her genetic make-up since she is growing up in the pizza.