Archive for the ‘Sociology’ Category

I hate the words dago, wop, guido, etc.  People in this country toss these words around quite casually and so I wasn’t always aware of how hurtful or degrading they can be.  When I was 8 or 9, the neighbor’s daughter walked past our house and called me a dago bitch.  I asked my mother what that meant.  Now I am an adult and realize the irony of the situation.  Our neighbor’s daughter was a female dog of Italian descent.  But there is a difference between being Italian and being of Italian descent.  And if you use words like dago and wop, you aren’t Italian.

Zia brought over some homemade prosciutto the other day and I like to pair it up with fresh pineapple.   It’s even better than with cantaloupe.


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Last Saturday Lord Mycol and I went to lunch at La Feria.  It was his birthday, it was our third choice restaurant, and we were short on time.  Sausalido doesn’t serve lunch on Saturdays, the line at Primanti’s in the Strip was out the door, Oakland was packed with graduation traffic and we knew we’d get a good meal at La Feria with little to no wait at all.  And we did!  The only problem:  I forgot to tip our server.  At La Feria you take your bill to the cashier at the counter as opposed to waiting for the server to pick it up at the table.  I was so caught up in the moment; admiring the Peruvian wares they have for sale and on display on every available surface other than the actual dining tables, getting our leftovers boxed, getting home in time for lemon cloud tart I made for Lord Mycol, and paying the bill at the cashier’s counter, that I utterly forgot to leave a tip on the table.  I didn’t think twice about it until 8 pm that evening.  All of the sudden I was seized by the memory of having walked out without leaving a tip, therefore causing the waitress to wonder what she’d done wrong, or worse, what kind of bitter person I might be.  Neither of which, of course, is true.  Since then I have been trying to find the time to get over to Walnut Street and leave the tip for that waitress at La Feria.  Every day since Saturday it was lingering on my mind.  I was certain I would do it just as soon as possible.  Then the universe stepped in and saved me a trip.

On Thursday night Yim and I went to CJ’s in the Strip to get our dose of jazz.  Roger Humphries and RH Factor are there every Thursday and we love it.  On that particular Thursday Howie Alexander was sitting in on keyboard.  Yim and I love the scene at CJ’s.  The tables are dressed with burgundy tablecloths and set with numbers that remind me of a club from the 1950’s.  As the band struck up “Take Five” I noticed a familiar face walk in.  “Hey, that’s my waitress from La Feria,” I told Yim, who knew the details of the forgotten tip.  I thought to myself that if there were any doubt in my mind that I would take the initiative to get that tip to La Feria that here was fate stepping in to nudge me.  I could choose whether the tip was important, after all.  I mean, the waitress didn’t know me.  I go to La Feria maybe once or twice a year, chances are she’d never recognize me again.  And even if she did, would it matter?  Was this really a karmic opportunity or not?  Well, as soon as I recognized her I knew that I was going to go and give her the tip.  It feels good to do the right thing.  When I approached her she was puzzled at first and then truly happy.  She gave me a hug and exclaimed, “I love people like you!”  See how good that felt?  Now go out and see if you can work some good karma into the world today!

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In church on Easter Sunday I got to thinking about the priest’s sermon.  Before I tell you what I thought about, I should say that I only get to church on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass and on Easter Sunday.  Every other year or so I may make it there for another special occasion, or maybe not at all.  However, my mother did try to get us there far more often when we were growing up, so I am quite familiar with the teachings, the traditions, and the ceremonies of a Catholic mass.  I got my First Communion, but dropped out of Sunday School before I could be Confirmed, only to regret it later.  All the good Italian Catholic girls had their Confirmation, with Confirmation names to boot.

Throughout my life I have had the occasion to pray.  There were many times as a teenager that I embarrassed only myself by praying for selfish reasons, realizing the absurdity of it even as I rambled on towards “Amen”.  But the first time I ever prayed, it was in real earnest, and it turned out not to be the last time, either.

The first time I ever prayed, I was 5 or 6 years old.  It might have been late autumn because I think I remember that it was cooler outside.  Our windows were closed by then.  Our family, my mother, my little brother, and I, shared a second floor, two bedroom apartment in a house down the street from my grandparents and Zia.  My brother and I shared a room; he still slept in a crib and I slept in a single bed.  Sitting on the plaid sofa in the living room I could look down the hallway to my right and see my bed inside the open door of our bedroom.  On that night I saw my mother dressing my brother in fleecy blue footed pajamas, the kind that zip up one leg from the ankle all the way up to the neck, where a little fleece flap snaps over the zipper’s top.  He stood on my bed as she zipped him in.  That is when he started to jerk and shiver, his little body stiffening strangely.  In this moment of my memory, there doesn’t seem to be a sound.  Just the knowledge in my young mind that this is panic.  My mother is acting quickly and efficiently, but there is fear all over the place.  She has wrapped a blanket around him and I cannot tell you how it happened so immediately, but she and my brother are gone.  I know this: there was a split second where there seemed a possibility that I would go with them, but I COULD NOT GET MY SHOES ON AND TIED FAST ENOUGH AND I WAS TRYING.  I so vividly remember FOCUSING on my shoes, but I was already so worried that I couldn’t seem to move fast enough.  The dexterity needed to tie my shoes was gone.  And I know this: somehow I was told that Nonna would come for me, just wait.  In that time of waiting I knelt at the living room window’s sill and looked deep into the night sky, stared at the distant, distant stars and prayed so very hard for my brother.  I made deals with God every which way I knew how.  I promised to be the kindest, most loving and protective older sister a little brother ever knew.  I promised God the world if he would just spare my brother’s life.  And my prayers were answered, even though I was wagering more than I had.  My brother had suffered an allergic reaction to a booster shot resulting in convulsions.

So, anyway.  I like religion in many ways.  Although, I think religion is more of a business and spirituality is more of a way of life.  As an adult I am prone to Buddhist meditation and yogic enlightenment more than the body and blood of Christ.  I hope this doesn’t sound strange, but I do think Jesus Christ was a real person.  Are there people who don’t believe in his existence the way that there are people who don’t believe in God?

That said, and acknowledging that a post about religion and spirituality could be drawn out into a series of posts over the course of a week or more, I will now share with you my thoughts on Easter Sunday’s sermon.

The priest talked about how we have existential questions in our minds about the meaning of life; why are we here?  He talked about how when we turn on the news we learn about all of the violence, hatred, bigotry and killing going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He talked about how we learn about children, babies, that are abused and murdered.  He talked about how we hear about shootings and robberies in our own neighborhoods and we could ask ourselves, “What is it all for, this life?”  What is it for if we just die in the end?  But that is why Jesus gives us hope.  Because Jesus gave his life for us and was buried, only to rise three days later to sit at the right hand of the Father, we can have hope for the future.  The future of after our death.  Our post-mortem future.  Jesus gave us peace of mind that our suffering here on Earth is only temporary, because after we die we will be reunited with God in Heaven, where everything is perfect.  And Jesus gave up his own life for us and asks us to do things in memory of him.

So I thought, “Wasn’t that nice of him?  He heard there was eternal salvation and so he was all, ‘Oooh, me!  Me!  I’ll go first!  I’ll die first so that I never have to suffer again and then I will lead by example, giving hope to all of those that remain behind in that Hell we call Earth.'”  How altruistic of Jesus.

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with Lord Mycol today.  We were just making small talk about the day and we got to joking.  I said something that prompted him to respond “You can’t tell me what to do.” . . .

Me:  “Yes, I can.  I own you.”

Lord Mycol:  “Jesus owns me.”

Me:  “Ha!  He abandoned you while I never left your side!”

Back at church, when it was collection time, I reluctantly pulled a dollar out of my wallet and waited for the old fella to shove that basket on the end of that reaching stick my way, as if he were stoking a fire, so I could drop in my last donation to the Catholic church.  I was thinking, “I don’t feel good about giving my hard-earned money to a filthy rich organization that continues to promote sexual molestation by covering it up and failing to hold its employees to the same legal standards that the rest of the nation’s criminals are held to.”  But I also thought that one dollar ain’t that much for the show.  I pay at least five to see a movie.

For those of you that feel this post was blasphemous, don’t worry, I’ll repent when I go back to church next month for a mass dedicated to the memory of my grandparents, where I will pray for their reunion and eternal peace and happiness.  And if you don’t think I believe, I’ll tell you that I KNOW my grandmother is in Heaven already, but my grandfather is stuck in Purgatory.

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Inventors are a strange breed of people.  They tinker in their cellars and brood over schematics, too engaged in their own thought processes to care much about interacting with the rest of the world.  So one can only imagine what a Norwegian inventor might be like.  I know one myself, technically he’s a co-inventor, and today’s post is dedicated to him.

To help you understand the Norwegian, I have gathered some indisputable facts for your perusal.  For instance, it is important to realize that Norwegians are steeped in age-old culture, which makes them smell like old cheese.

Speaking of cheese,


Leif Garrett, Norwegian-American cheese.

But seriously, speaking of cheese, my favorite Norwegian inventor, Thor Bjorklund, invented the cheese slicer.  So now you finally know who cut the cheese.  Bjorklund’s invention was revolutionary in maintaining Norwegian old-world views.  In Norway, “any form of elitism is likely to meet strong criticism.”  This is a concept of Jante Law, which dictates that the Big Cheese stands alone.

Norway also gives us the author Knut Hamsun.

Hamsun is the author of one of my favorite novels ever, Hunger, inspired by the, ahem, “delectable” Norwegian dish, smalahove.


So let’s get to the man this post is really dedicated to, my favorite Norwegian co-inventor, Dag, who will be portrayed by the Norwegian-American Walter Mondale.


The question is, are you still considered a co-inventor if your partner is a clone?  Anyway, this man came to America, married my best friend, and then took her to Norway.  And together they produced three outstanding inventions:

The Lindy.


The Emil.


And the Mila.


The original patents have not been disclosed in an effort to secure their integrity.

So, in celebration of Dag, Norwegian co-inventor and thief of friends, whose birthday is today,

Happy Birthday, Dag!

Gratulerer med dagen, Dag!

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Thunda Cats Out

Out again into the glorious snow today.  Alison and I donned our winter best and braved the 20″ deep fluff.  It was so good, in fact, we didn’t return home for 3 1/2 hours.

Mycol worked last night and we spoke around midnight.  The hotel provided him with a room for the night, along with other employees who were stuck at the job.  I felt a little lonely.  What a beautiful sight the world outside was and no one to share it with more intimately than over the phone.  I spent the night in Mycol’s room and fell asleep watching Notting Hill*.  His room is upstairs, and the view from the window of our neighbors roofs and the treetops is magical under the circumstances.  I was surprised to see snow still descending from the sky when I awoke at 7 this morning.

The world this morning was quiet and still.  The snow drifts outside were pristine.  As the day crept towards noon I noticed neighbors out trying to shovel paths and I got the itch to go outside.  There was no traffic and as I watched people make their way on foot down the center of the avenue I felt excited about doing that myself.  Alison called right on time.  I knew she’d be up for an outing.  I bundled up and walked down to her place.  People are extra friendly on days like today.  Greetings from all passersby made me think of the romantic idealism of olden days.

It reminded my of how people behave at campgrounds.  When we camp, everyone takes strolls around the ground, casually assessing their temporary neighbors and issuing friendly greetings made with eye contact.  Is it that when we feel vulnerable, even a little, we find comfort in this way?  On any other given day I surely do not exchange hellos with the majority of the people in my neighborhood, nor do we look at each other.  Someone suggested that on a day like today it’s best to stay in because the caliber of people venturing out is likely criminal.  I disagree and found the general vibe was completely opposite.  Although nothing would have kept me inside short of witnessing horrible crimes straight out my window.

I did note that snow-graffiti prevailed.

*An aside on Notting Hill:  I found it didn’t hold up well to time.  I was disappointed and disinterested and rolled over to sleep before the midway frame.  While I still like Julia Roberts, thank goodness Hugh Grant seems to have packed it in.  And Alec, Alec, Alec!  (Baldwin) What have you done to yourself?!  You are absolutely fantastic and funny and I love your style, but I barely recognized you in this role from 12 years ago because you have blown up since then!  With FAT!  Come on, man, bring sexy back!

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Winter Walk

Snow storms are the best part of winter.  Peppino and I just took a two hour long walk and it was exhilarating.  Itchy thighs are a reminder of my childhood, when going outside to play was something we just did, regardless of the weather, because we craved it.  (I wonder if this itchiness is the kind NieNie talks about with her grafts?)

As a child in a grown-up body, going out on a day like today seems a bit forced, but afterward I always feel great, like I am alive!  I’ve been told that the Norwegians go outside everyday, no matter what the weather.  Ever since I heard that I have tried to make it my practice as well, mainly because I struggle so desperately every winter to endure the darkness and the cold.  I figure it might be easier to bear if I reversed the roles and took from winter rather than letting winter take from me.

So, Peppino and I carried our umbrellas because in the beginning the snow was sleety.  We talked about frustrating injustices, new-found energy, and planning for the future as we made our way to a half-way point and coffee shop lattes.  Once upon a time we talked over our drinks and through our smoke about moving to France together.  “Over our drinks and through our smoke, to Paris, France we go…”

Now that I am home the flakes are the size of quarters and flying around in the air like the flakes in a snow-globe.  I wish I had someone to play with some more!

The other great part about winter weather and coming in from the cold is hot soup.  I made this hot and sweet vegetable and tofu soup the other day and was able to heat up a bowl on the stove after our walk.

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