I’m just lucky that way…

While I was scrub-a-dubbing in the shower the other morning  my mind was swirling and  tossing with  my reaction to something I had just read. Then it coalesced into – No everybody doesn’t.

Everybody doesn’t need “Nature’ – to interact with, to be out in it. Everybody doesn’t find it soothing, or rejuvenating.

Everybody doesn’t like or need Everything.

What I’m lucky with is a strong sense of self. My psychotherapist friend commented on that aspect of me. Given my childhood one would think I would be the last person on the planet to have that trait – and yet I do.

Not to the point of me reeking with self-confidence. Oh no, because if I did my life would have turned out very differently. But to the point that I know ME. And I’m really confident in who I am. And that who I am is exactly right.

You know my “About Me” page – “The first thing you should know about me is that I am not YOU. A lot more will make sense after that.”

So all that Nature stuff that philosophers thru the ages have touted, and all those annoying positivity people keep throwing in people’s faces, just makes me twitch and pisses me off. Guess what world – some of us enjoy Nature from the inside of the window.

I’m stressed and itchy and twitchy. No I don’t want to go for a walk – anywhere. I don’t want to go outside. I certainly DON’T WANT to go for a walk in the park or the woods or even around the block. As much as I like walking I’ve always looked at it as transportation – a way to get myself from one place to another. Is it enjoyable? Sometimes, and sometimes it is just expedient. It is in no way soothing, unstressful or anything more positive than getting where I need to go. Period.

I learned the hard way that looking out my window and seeing sky and trees is a total necessity to my mental health and well-being. The operative phrase here is ‘looking out the window’. 

While I am obsessed with light, sunrises and sunsets don’t really interest me. One more photograph of a red sunset, oooh’d and ahh’d over leaves me ho-humming. Unless there is some incredible play of light, which there usually isn’t. Seen one sunset/sunrise, seen ’em all. (Inside joke there.)

Years ago, when I lived in New York City, a friend asked why I never got out of the city for a country weekend. I asked “Why would I? What does the country have that NYC doesn’t” Central Park was always enough ‘country’ for me.

And quiet? I treasure quiet. Do you not know how quiet a city can be? Spookily quiet. Comfortingly quiet. Safe and cozily quiet. The most amazing moments of peace for me was an early Sunday morning, after a snowstorm, standing in the middle of Park Avenue, no cars, no people, twinkle lights on the scraggly trees along the median. The world seemed to have stopped and I was the only one in it – Heaven! So brilliant that I can conjure the scene and the feeling even now.

My point? So many people are not as lucky as I. They look outward for clues and cues to who they should be. And they rarely come up with anything that makes them feel good about who they are. Who they really are. It sucks their self-confidence from their souls.

When you write about ‘everybody’ you are contributing to this soul-sucking. Because they think you know better because “everybody’.  I need the word ‘everybody‘ (and that includes ‘everyone’) to be stricken from the language. It pisses me off!

You want to talk about what brings you pleasure and joy! By all means, I’d really like to know.  But to insinuate that those things should bring me pleasure and joy? You might want to re-think that. Please re-think that. I won’t rain on your parade, don’t rain on mine.

Please make it about YOU. Your likes,dislikes, pleasures and joy. Yours. Not mine or anyone elses. Not everyone’s. Or everybody’s. YOURS.

I can appreciate without wanting or needing. I love your enthusiasms, please respect mine. We can learn from one another without embracing the other’s point of view.

There is no ‘one size fits all’. There is no one answer. But there is the one YOU.

I hate the phrase “You do you” – it drips with sarcasm and dismissiveness, at least that’s the way I hear it. But there is some truth to it – said kindly and sincerely.

Appreciate yourself. Trust what makes you happy. Even if it seems like no one else shares your happy. Because there IS someone else who does.

Why do we have our best ideas in the shower? I know I do. My best writing gets done in the shower.

If you talk about it you jinx it…

Yesterday I mentioned that I was logging some good sleeping then last night I hardly slept at all. And for no discernable reason. Today is Tuesday – nothing going on I could sleep as long as I wanted, so no anxiety about the upcoming day.  The room was neither too hot nor too cold. Aside from one major coughing attack on my husband’s part, all was quiet. The coughing attack didn’t wake me, I was on a bathroom break. I just flipped and flopped and tossed and turned and occupied my mind with nonsense.

As in: I have to retype my internet password chart, well not actually retype it, edit it, add new, delete old. I was also enjoying the feel of the sheets. Sheets are changed on Sunday afternoon, so by Monday night they are still feeling all crisp and lovely.  I was really enjoying the sheets and mentally writing a post extolling their virtues. This activity actually made me happy. Eventually I fell asleep, was out of bed by a little after 7am. All good.

Except – the coffee was dreadful. Really nasty. It was a new bag that my husband had opened yesterday. I made another pot, using the same bag of coffee, got the same results. I do not know why I thought only some of the coffee would be bad. I opened another bag, same thing. I opened the other 3 bags of coffee – all rancid. We buy coffee from Amazon, 5 –  18 ounce bags a month on a subscribe and save deal. Amazon won’t allow me to return the coffee and they won’t refund my $90. You know I am pissed plus my husband just stopped working and I can’t afford to be throwing $90 down the drain. (Edit: Lisa’s comment inspired me to have another go at Amazon Customer Service. Finally ‘spoke’ to another chat bot, no I don’t really think they are real people and received a refund! Yay!)

I took a 2.5  hour break – made lunch, ate lunch, cleaned up lunch dishes, made a cake, cleaned up kitchen again and here I am.

I read something this morning that annoyed me and I was gonna say something but that would make me as bad as them, so mouth shut. First world problems, people, first world problems.

I cut my hair this morning too. Nice and super short and I feel so much better. I look in the mirror and I recognize the person I see. So weird how I can’t imagine myself as I once was – all stylish in my own odd way.

I still have half a day ahead of me – it’s not even 2:30pm perhaps I’ll read for a bit, or do some more house work, I’d say I’ll take a nap but I’m not sleepy. I’m a little antsy..

Making lemons into limoncello

Today, being Monday, is always a shit day. Monday=laundry=getting up at o’dark thirty. But it got worse –

After posting I checked my blog email account and saw there was a comment from someone I didn’t care to hear from. Someone I have avoided for over 40 years and will do everything in my power to avoid until I die. I deleted the comment and blocked them on WP. Then I went over to FB and deleted the page I had made for the blog, then deleted an account I had in my birth name, then blocked this person from my active FB page.

Then I bought a new domain name, deleted the old domain, gave the blog a new name, changed the header and here I am. And I’m feeling quite pleased. I’ve used my gravatar profile picture as the header but left off the official blog name – which is the name of my beloved cat Miss Frankie. Frankie was one grumpy little cat but smart as a whip – I loved her to pieces and then some. Miss Frankie and I are a lot alike, so why not honor her.

You know I thought something was weird when I noticed that on Nov. 4th my stats showed 139 views. I thought that was some kind of error, then I thought someone was reading through my entire blog. The last post before today was on Nov. 4th and the comment in question was posted on Nov. 6th which I didn’t see until late morning today. Bingo! Those 139 views I’m pretty damn sure were all this particular person who shall not be named. I hope they had fun.

But all this deleting and re-inventing gave me such a spurt of creative energy. I’ve decided to do a photo-a-day on my IG account and take pics of things around my apartment, starting with my bookcases. I’m posting twice in one day here on the blog and my brain is swirling with things I want to do and say and write.

I’ve gone from angry and edgy to bouncy and fun. Also – I will not engage with this person no matter how much my native New York snark bubbles to the surface and begs to be set free. I’ve avoided this person for all these years and I will continue to do. I was tempted to respond but decided to stroll the high road singing in the key of delete.

Doing a quick wrap up because I’m no longer interested

There was Chapter One and then Chapter Two so I guess you can consider this Chapter Three.

I suppose what I was getting at, if indeed I had any point in mind, was that I don’t consider myself white because the world around me didn’t consider me white. I did refer to ‘white boys’   usually I refer to “Anglos” which encompasses ethnicity and culture because I don’t get Anglo culture – very different from mine up to and including food.

When I lived in the Bronx amongst a  variety of people, most of whom looked like me, I don’t think I had an identity problem (my Aunt Margie and Sheryl notwithstanding). It wasn’t until we moved to a very white, middle class, white collar neighborhood in Queens that the disconnect began. Also I was 8 when we moved and I was just then becoming aware of what was socially acceptable.

Social media, such as it was back in the 1950’s, was blond, blue-eyed, Anglo oriented. For some reason what comes to mind was the cover of Parade magazine, then as now a Sunday newspaper insert, with a cover photo of the perfect American teens – and they sure as hell didn’t look like me or live like me. Television and movies were no different.

Two anecdotes, from a lifetime of similar encounters:

When I was 11 I joined the Congregational Church. This particular congregation was, judging by last names and appearances, Scandinavian, German and let’s just call it British, in ethnicity.  I was welcomed warmly.  Came Christmas time, since I was the new kid, I was assigned the role of an angel in the Christmas pageant. I refused the part. I told the Sunday School Superintendent that I couldn’t be angel because “I’ve never seen an angel with black hair.”

My mother later told me that this lady stopped my mother in the supermarket and related the conversation to her and then added that she was taken aback by my statement and looked for pictures of angels with black hair and couldn’t find any.

Fast forward many years later – early 2000’s. I’m in my late 50’s. My best friend of 10 years, Diane, was a biracial woman with light skin, freckles but who identified Black and had stereotypical Black features. She and her daughter-in-law Von, who I had known almost as long as I had known Diane, were in my dining room and I was in the kitchen making tea when this conversation happened:

Von: What do you mean she isn’t Black?
Diane (laughing): She’s Italian (pronounced Eye-talian – Diane is Southern to the core).
Von: But Mom, her skin is darker than yours!

I came out of the kitchen, laughing, and said to Von “You thought I was Black? What – did you think I just had good hair?”

Thinking about it now, I realize that I grew to feel that I didn’t belong anywhere to any group. Yet everyone thought I belonged to them except for Anglos. I was taken for every nationality except Northern European. Greeks thought I was Greek, Italians thought I was Italian, Spaniards thought I was Spanish, Israelis thought me Israeli and so on. At various stages of my life, and looks, I was also assumed to be part Native American and even Eurasian (Oh those high cheekbones and almond shaped eyes and that  yellow-brown skin…)

As my hair has gotten lighter with age so has my skin. And I don’t think people really register me as being any ethnicity at all. Now I am just old and that’s all people seem to need to know or relate to.

Aglio e olio: Chapter Two

Every white boy I’ve ever made spaghetti with garlic and oil for loved it.

I don’t know at what age human beings first become aware of what they look like and where they fit in; who their tribe is; what group they belong to.

The first four years of my life I lived in an Italian-Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx. I have no memory of awareness of anyone being any different from anyone else. The only difference, in my experience, between Italians and Jews is the day they go to church.

When my grandmother sold the house we lived in we moved to the projects, still in the Bronx but now with a more mixed bag of neighbors. (For those unfamiliar with the term ‘projects’ they are public housing – you know, for poor people.) I remember that our neighbors directly across from our apartment were named “Rivera”.  Since us kids were pretty the same age the doors were always left open and we floated back and forth between the two apartments.

Back in the old days your parent’s friends were called Aunt and Uncle.  My mother had a friend, Margie Yates. Margie was from Jamaica, the Caribbean Island, not the neighborhood in Queens.  And yes, Aunt Margie was Black.  I adored her. I loved to hear her talk, that Jamaican accent – musical and magical.

Walking home from school with my friend Sheryl, I told her she had to come up and meet my Aunt Margie, who I knew was visiting that day. I don’t remember any of that encounter but I do remember that when Sheryl and I went outside to play, I guess I was gushing about Aunt Margie. Sheryl blurted out (this is the 19050’s remember) “But she’s colored! My reply? “No, she’s my Aunt Margie.”

I was perhaps 6 or 7 years old and still wasn’t aware that what you looked like mattered.  No one had told me. I hadn’t experienced being different yet.

When I was 8 we moved to Queens and that all changed.

~~~ To be continued

Spaghetti with garlic and oil: Chapter One

Every white boy I’ve ever made spaghetti with garlic and oil for loved it.

I used to be 96% Italian, that’s been downgraded to 86% Southern Italian and the remaining 14% various other Mediterranean ethnicities – as you can see. The Southern Italy portion is confined to Sicily yet recent history has my father’s family living in and around Naples. Still considered Southern Italy but not as far south as Sicily.

An exotic little son-of-a-gun, aren’t I?

Mediterranean people tend to the darker side – hair, eyes, skin. And so I do tend. But not everyone in my family tended that way. One of the (many) pointless lies my mother told was that her father had flaming red hair and blue eyes. I found his draft card online and he was described as having black hair and brown eyes. WTH? I have said that my mother never met a lie she would not embrace wholeheartedly but this is a corker. That said, my cousin Camille,  my mother’s sister’s daughter had red hair – Lucy Ball red only natural.

When my elder male sibling was born he was described as looking like a little old man because he had white hair, blue eyes and dead white skin. When I was born 2 years later I was described as a monkey – covered in black hair, black eyes and dark skin. The hair fell off, so not werewolf syndrome but it was also said that I was born with a caul.

Needless to say when my mother took the two of us out she got a lot of sidelong glances. Where did that “white” kid come from? My father was dark but my mother had medium brown hair and hazel eyes, olive skin but not the yellow-cast olive tone that I have. Yet, she said that when she was young they called her ‘blackie’.

Which brings me to – Italians weren’t considered “white”. Indeed we were referred to as ‘blackies’ and perhaps that was what my mother was referring to – racist taunts. in the 1890’s, when there was a large influx of Italians into the United States, particularly in New York City, the general opinion was that the Italians were animals, savages and should be deported.

(Here’s a fun web site – The Racial Slur Database – the page for Italian is HERE.)

I was born in 1946 in New York City, a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-national city where one would think ethnicity wouldn’t be much of an issue. But of course it was. NYC was populated with human beings – and human beings love to hate.

~~~To be continued