I first saw Sunday Scribblings at Bella’s and the Bongga Mom’s blogs. Sunday’s always a slow day, so it’s perfect to have a built-in writing prompt–today’s is fantasy. I can’t say how future prompts will go, but this one went in a decidedly fictional direction.
I sit under my favorite tree everyday now. Mommy told me that it’s a hemlock, and that it’s our state tree. I don’t really understand why a state has to pick one tree when it has so many different kinds. I wonder how the other trees feel, standing around being a part of our great state but not being picked. I think they must feel like the last kid picked for kickball at recess. Thank goodness that’s never me.
I’m not the most athletic girl in my class, but I’m tall and that seems to count for something in kickball-picking. I’m about six inches bigger than most of the boys and a lot of the girls, too. Mommy said the boys will catch up, but to tell the truth, I don’t want them to. I feel powerful when I can look down at the top of someone’s head and know whether they have dandruff.
I didn’t used to spend so much time under this tree. I used to be what everyone would consider a normal kid, I think. Used to play with the neighbor kids, ride our bikes, play school in the basement when it rained. But ever since my tenth birthday, about two months after Mommy died, I just haven’t felt like it. I don’t mean that suddenly I woke up on my tenth birthday an adult or anything, but that morning, I don’t know. It just felt childish to do those things.
I looked over at the bright red numbers on my alarm clock that morning and when I saw that 6:12 staring back at me, I knew it was time. Time to get up and be an adult. I looked out my window and saw that it had rained overnight, but now the sun was making everything sparkle just a little.
I threw my pink comforter decorated with huge lips off of me and put on my most adult outfit: a black skirt with little white flowers and a white button down sleeveless shirt, tucked in. Then I put on white socks that stop at the ankles and an old pair of black sneakers because I couldn’t find anything more adult to wear. Besides, Mommy wore sneakers sometimes too.
I brushed through my long, straight brown hair just like Mommy taught me, from the very top all the way to the very bottom, and all the way around. I decided to not put it in a ponytail today. I think maybe ponytails are for little girls.
I walked downstairs quietly, so I didn’t wake Daddy, just like that old board game I used to play when I was a kid. “Don’t Wake Daddy!” Do you know it? It really was a stupid game, but I guess there are some things you just don’t know until you’re big.
I went into the kitchen where our cat, Hermione, was waiting for her breakfast. No matter what time you get up, that cat’s always waiting for food. I guess you might notice that she’s named after a character in my favorite group of books. The one with the “Goblet of Fire” is the best one, if you ask me, but my best friend Loris would argue to the death about that. She says she likes the original best, but to tell you the truth, I think she’s only read the first one.
I put Hermione’s food in her dish and got down the Frosted Flakes from the cupboard. I don’t even have to use a chair anymore. And I never spill the milk anymore either. I’ll never forget when I learned that saying about not crying over spilled milk. One morning when I woke up first, I had done just that, spilled the milk and stood over it crying like a baby. Mommy must have heard me, because she came in and told me straight out, “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” and then she explained that sayings are sayings for a reason.
After that, she taught me to hold the bottom of the gallon with my other hand a little bit, and just like that, no spilled milk anymore. So really, the whole thing has never come up again, but I still like the saying.
It’s little things like that I think of when I’m under the tree. All the things Mommy used to do that I know no one else could ever do like her. And while I’m there, I like to pull out my drawing paper and colored pencils and pretend I’m a kid again, just sitting under my favorite tree without an adult care in the world.
[tags]writing, fiction writing, short stories, flash fiction, sunday scribblings, fantasy[/tags]
How’s that for a lofty post goal?
Let’s start with rainbows.
It is often said that if you’re coming to Italy and want to blend in, you can’t go wrong if you bring a lot of black clothes. Are Italians afraid of color?
In clothes, perhaps, but I present to you this morning’s vehicle rainbow in the piazza:
There is actually a woman who has a purple car, but she must have gone out this morning.
Now if the rest of you will pardon me for a moment, I have some things to say to two people who found my blog while searching for answers that weren’t previously to be found here:
(1) To GoogleIsOurFriend#1: The Parthenon is Athens was built between 448-432 B.C. The Pantheon in Rome, if that’s per chance what you meant, was built from 118-126 A.D. Rome’s Coliseum was built between 70-82 A.D. That would make the Parthenon the oldest, followed by the Coliseum, and then the Pantheon.
Bravo for your interest in ancient history (or the fact that some teacher somewhere made you find this)!
(2) To GoogleIsOurFriend#2: I can’t imagine that there would be particular negative side effects (please note that the proper spelling is with an “e”) to smoking basil leaves other than the usual, general smoking ones, but I’m certainly no doctor so don’t take this as medical advice.
To be clear, I’m against smoking of all kinds, but I noticed you’re in California where you can buy medicinal marijuana. Maybe that’s an easier and more well-tested route? And call me an Italian herb purist, but I’m thinking the basil might just be of better use in a caprese salad or a nice pesto. But I don’t judge.
Bravo for your ingenuity!
Let it never be said that I don’t support my inadvertent readers and their quests for knowledge.
[tags]cars, european cars, rainbows, parthenon, pantheon, coliseum, smoking basil, basil[/tags]
I’m talking about southern Italy’s not-so-well-kept-secret, malocchio, derived from the Italian words for bad (male) and eye (occhio), known colloquially as “The Evil Eye.” Anyone who is of Italian heritage, or who has ever known someone who is, probably knows about it, although the general beliefs behind this tradition run through various cultures and religions.
Its roots are in envy, and its symptoms can include headache, excessive yawning, and a general malaise; yes, this sounds like just another day for some of us, but a trained eye, excuse the pun, can tell the difference. In its more severe forms, the afflicted can end up poor, injured, ill, or dead.
Now do I have your attention?
My first introduction to the “Evil Eye” came with the story of how my older brother was “overlooked” as a baby, which to southern Italians, is a very bad thing. It happens when someone looks at another with envy or, as in my brother’s case, someone had complimented his sparkling blue eyes without adding “God bless him” or the like.
So my great-grandmother called for olive oil, water, and scissors, shooed everyone out of the room, and went to work. Some sort of prayers were overheard, but since no one else was with her, and my bisnonna isn’t around anymore, what exactly happened in there has remained a family mystery.
But another question always nagged at me: What if I had been overlooked too? My great-grandmother was already gone by the time I was born, and my grandmother didn’t do the prayers. And although I certainly can’t claim stunning blue eyes, I’ve seen baby pictures; I wasn’t a toad.
What if I had been living my whole life under an evil spell?
Fast forward twenty years to Calabria, and I would finally have the answer, because there, little to my surprise, malocchio is alive and well, despite all the plastic red chili pepper horns liberally dispersed to counteract its effects; both the color red and the figure of a horn fight off the Evil Eye.
Do this out of view of the malocchio-er in order to avoid even more nasty looks. A sprinkling of salt around the outside of your house works too.
So, back in Calabria, one morning, P and I were enjoying the morning sun and cappuccini before a trip to the weekly farmer’s market when I suddenly felt sluggish, my head heavy and headachy—classic malocchio symptoms, P informed me through violent head nods. Lucky for me, nearby was Nato, an elderly man who knew just what to do.
Normally prone to mumbling anyway, Nato mumbled in my general direction while making the sign of the cross and kissing his fingertips repeatedly. He then informed me that it was a man far away who had given me the Evil Eye. Perhaps a whole ocean away? Interesting, and food for later thought, but my head still throbbed.
Then he said a bunch of prayers, mostly inaudible although I made out the name of Sant’Antonino, a “Hail Mary,” an “Our Father,” and a “Glory Be,” which took about three minutes in total, and poof!
Malocchio gone, I was assured.
Maybe it was the fact that I had come inside out of the sun or that I finally had my caffeine fix, but, you know what? My headache was gone, and I was inspired to head off to market after all. What weapons these prayers were!
So, of course, I wanted to know them—what if someone was envying P too? Turns out you can only learn the process on Christmas Eve from someone who has also been taught on Christmas Eve. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to look any further than P’s Mamma, who, a few months later, just before Midnight Mass, walked me through the prayers as I mangled the local dialect.
Sorry, no photographic evidence was allowed.
The fun part was when the water, olive oil, and scissors came into play. Solving a 35-year-old family mystery, this must’ve been what my great-grandmother had done, having carried the tradition from Calabria to America.
The process is actually quite simple. Place water in a small dish and then drop olive oil slowly into it. If the olive oil disperses, the Evil Eye is, indeed, present, and you pierce the oil with the scissors while reciting the prayers. (Most people around here don’t seem to use this olive oil, water, and scissors thing anymore though.)
“Die Malocchio Die!”
No, that is not an official part of any prayer, but I certainly can’t give away any centuries-old secrets here.
So now I’m armed against malocchio, especially important since it seems that I had been cursed for who knows how long (by a man, Nato said…hmm….). I don’t think I can remove the Evil Eye from myself (of those I’ve asked, no one is really sure of the protocol there), but luckily there’s no shortage of paesani willing to do the trick.
Who knows whether there’s any truth to the superstition, but really, at this point, who really cares?
All I know is that once a month, I smile at my neighbor Anna Maria as I sprinkle salt around my porch and steps, and I never, ever leave home without my plastic red horn keychain.
Caught this article this morning: Woman steals another’s identity, gets into Ivy League.
Brooke Henson was 20-years-old when she went missing seven years ago. Another girl named Esther Reed has been missing for about the same time. During those seven years, Esther, a high school dropout, took on Brooke’s identity and got into Harvard and Columbia using Brooke’s identity.
To be fair to Esther, though, she took the GED (high school equivalency diploma) and SAT (college admission) tests herself only using Brooke’s identity, so she did earn her university spots for the most part, right?
Esther is now missing again, by the way, now that her two identities have been discovered; let’s hope she’s OK somewhere.
Up until now, I’m following. Mostly.
But then two odd facts stand out in the article for very different reasons:
On the serious tip:
(1) Authorities are investigating Esther’s contacts in two of the United States military academies (Navy in Annapolis, MD and Army at West Point, NY) as well as some international money transfers she’s received.
“Officials want to make sure she’s not a spy.”
Really? That was definitely a turn I wasn’t expecting.
It also says the Army is investigating. Admittedly, I don’t know much about the inner workings of high level government, but why is the Army investigating? Don’t we have, like, a Federal Bureau of Investigation or something for things like this?
And doesn’t this involve potential international terrorism? What exactly does Homeland Security do these days?
All I’m saying is that I’m worried that the Army is being overworked, what with the war and all. Maybe someone else could handle the Ivy League mystery.
And on the not so serious tip:
(2) Esther had a high IQ but poor grades in school, so an English teacher encouraged her to join the speech team. None of this is odd to me. The following sentence from the article, though, is: “Reed won competitions with the speech team, and 10 years later her name is still on plaques at the high school.”
What do you mean still? Are plaques normally plated over to make room for new speech team winners? Or, in the spirit of Everything’s About Me, should I be going back to my high school and making sure my name hasn’t been erased from plaques (assuming it’s on any)?
Spies. International Terrorism. High School Plaque Tampering.
CNN.com can be scary in the morning.
Here’s the postmark:
Today is January 18.
My birthday is October 18.
At least the number of the day is right.
Thank you Poste Italiane (and Jenn)!
[tags]italian postal service, poste italiane, post office, life in italy[/tags]