Category Archives: sociology

Italians.

DadRima&AngeFINALCROPPeople.

It takes all kinds.

And, I’m glad to say so.

What if we were all reticent and deferential? In America, we’d be stuck on a street corner, bowing and gesturing for the other to cross. Crowds would form. Traffic would stall. Chaos to commerce. Only the strong would survive. Finally, one lone person, likely among the shortest, would push through the throng and head across the road, shaking his or her head in disbelief at the inefficiency of it all. That would be the Italian.

For every proponent of tolerance, acceptance, and the next festival in celebration of diversity there’s an old Dago who sits, reading the paper and chuckling. Somebody brings him a sandwich. Talking with his mouth full, he’ll tell you what for. He knows. He’s Italian. We always do.

For the final decade of my twenty five in public education, I worked at an elementary school at the cusp of the county line. Demographically, there were few Italians living over there. True to their history in our town, the surviving generations were still maintaining their family homes closer to the center of the west side. I remember being told by my then very blonde and fair skinned boss that I was “a bit harsh.”

Nobody at the other school, over in Little Italy, would have called me by that moniker. Everybody who worked there or ran that building told it like it was. There was a happy extroversion in that climate. And, the faculty was the most cohesive social group in the entire city. I will never forget the night of my first all school program; there had to have been seven teachers there, all helping run herd, and they’d all organized entirely unsolicited by me. They were led by one woman. She was Italian.

For just under three years, I had a mother in law. She thought Italy was a third world country, and “loved my brown eyed grand children just as much as my blue eyed grandchildren.” Everybody tries, some more than others. But, we’re all different, it’s always easier to stay the way we are, and inherent bias is unavoidable. But, when you cross the line, the Italian will tell you so.

What line?

Well, back when civilization was trying to evolve beyond barbarism, there was a people who, though their motive was to establish power, were adept at assessing a situation, identifying its obstacles, and spending intelligent energy and willpower developing a solution. To expand their influence, roads were developed and constructed, the kind which could be traveled beyond the dusty sandal and walking stick. In fact, entire transport systems were created which ultimately established connections, yielding an increase in trade and cultural exchange.  Prior to this, there were kings and their extended families, and land owners, and slaves, and the poor – the latter, in droves. These expanding road systems enabled pockets of civilization to become independent and self governing, by virtue of their access to resources which existed, well, down the road. These pockets became known as cities.

Yes. The very structure of workable American society is framed by transit routes and cities. And, we have the Romans, from Italy, to thank for it; their drive to achieve a dominating empire left behind what we now call infrastructure.

Oh, and the next time you look at something beautiful that did not occur in nature, take a moment. Be they paintings, sculpture, even cathedrals, much of the world’s most magnificent works of art were created by Italians. Inlaid tile. Stained glass. Frescoes. Even before Michelangelo and DaVinci, there were artisans. These swarthy, well oiled, slightly hairy brutes did their part to decorate the entire, known world. They frosted the cake.

Yes. Every human frailty eventually makes itself known. There is weakness, right along side strength. Nothing lasts forever, not empires, not even life. But, for every moment constrained by decorum, there will be an emergent crisis. Let’s be ready to thank the personality which steps up. That will, eight times out of ten, be the Italian.

From us, you will get candor. We’ll smile at you in public if you deserve it, and reprimand you in kind. You’ll always know where you stand, with us. We are as proud of our heritage as you are of yours, and we know one more thing. We know the value of preserving that history. We are a part of the greatest generation, in this country we call home, and you can call us by our name. It’s pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled.

Let’s eat.

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© 12/22/18    Ruth Ann Scanzillo.        All rights those of the author, whose name is pronounced “Skan – ZILL – o”, and appears above this line. Thank you for your respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fluke.

Between Roger Stone and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the eyes tell the story.

The first time I ever saw a fluke, my then husband and I were fishing off Mystic Point.

According to AnimalSake, the fluke is a member of the flatfishes. As these types lie low on their side at the bottom of the oceans, they express a freakish feature: both of their eyes appear on the left sides of their heads!

Such an eye position serves them critically. Found in the Atlantic, low on its undersurface, they blend with their environment where a mottled camouflage helps them to take their prey by surprise and hunt it down.

Fluke fish   (photo credit: AnimalSake)

Never having so much as held a fishing pole, I took to this new pastime with gusto at my tender age of 34, finding the whole enterprise juvenating and the light, flaking meat delightfully mild.

But, though decades have passed since both my last fishing expedition and the marriage which began and ended it, the eyes of the fluke are these to which I now return.

It would seem that all life forms at any proximity to the grande unraveling in Washington, D.C. would do well to have eyes in the backs of their heads. No one has a clue what the leader of the free world will say or do next, only that all within range will be both duly shocked and awed by his baffling incongruity with law, order and any form of conventional governance.

Speaking of incongruity, take Press Secretary Sanders. I watch her keenly, every time she appears at podium to face the queries. Facial asymmetries notwithstanding, there is something about her eyes which sends me back to Mystic Point.

I’m in the boat, dropped anchor. Water laps quietly, on all sides. The tug on the line is almost imperceptible and, with a silent woosh, up comes the catch, flapping its tailfin with every muscle on a smooth, flat back. And, staring up at me, from some other dimensional realm, are its two, side eyes.

Why do Sanders’ eyes seem to fight for their presence on her face? The forehead muscles alternately pull her left orb upward, momentarily boggling and bulging it while the right eye, intent on maintaining some form of stasis, cannot control an involuntary reaction to the left. And so, they both lurch and roll in their sockets, like a couple mismatched  lychee nuts. What does this tell us about the war going on between her brain hemispheres, for God’s sake? Can anybody say “cognitive dissonance”?

As for Roger Stone, I am inclined to think that he keeps his Cliff Notes under his eyelids; can the man verbalize a thought without closing and holding both, completely? Watch him too intently, with your own hopefully healthy set, and your chest might notice a faint atrial flutter. Never have I witnessed such anti-rhythm since Glen Close in “Fatal Attraction” sat, catatonic, unblinking, flicking the lamp switch on and off with the erratic tempo of her own madness.

It’s winter, in the Great Lakes. Ice fishing is less common on Lake Erie and there are no fluke to be found in these parts, even in summer. Still, I’d love a fresh one, fried or steamed, to warm the cockles of my troubled heart this day. Tomorrow will come, soon enough. Best to be grateful for whatever clear vision it may bring. The eyes of the Lord are upon only the righteous; one wonders how many times, in recent days, God Almighty has had to turn in divine disgust, and look away.

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© 12/19/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Game of Need and Seek.

An Open Letter to the Unsuspecting:

 

The holidays have a seductive quality. Be wary of prowlers.
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Oh, and know that I am not talking about those who skulk around property with burglaries in mind. I speak of those who, without realizing it, are looking for you.
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These are the ones who proclaim their independence. And, they’ll do it to anyone who appears to be listening.
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What is important is to first know that there are always layers. There are layers of skin – the epidermis, then dermis, then the fat, and so on. But, there are also layers in behavior. Human behavior.
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And because, though we may look upon them fondly, we are not dogs we are people, and we have needs far beyond those of food and sleep. These needs are many, occurring first on the surface and then running deep, reaching all the way to our core of being.
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If we are self aware, we know what we need. Add to that some self education, and we can distinguish between the sources which can meet such needs. Having established these, we can then seek the fulfillment which results in needs met.
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But, if we are neither self aware nor sufficiently educated, we may become prey. This is not a good thing.
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Should somebody treat you with unusual attention, begin by stepping back. Adopt a position of observation. Feel your own breath. Know your space.
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Because unless you maintain your self as distinct from the other, you may become an extension in the realm of someone who, at the very moment you are feeling special, displaces you. This is because you are likely being sought to meet a need in that person, a need for whose meeting you are vastly unqualified.
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Remember that the way you feel in the presence of another exists only within your own perception. Do not attribute to the other any credit for such feelings. We are, at any point along the journey of life, so often assigning to others credit where none is due. Doing this causes problems between us and everyone we know.
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If you do experience nice, soothing, exciting, or otherwise desirable feelings, enjoy them in that moment. Be grateful. But, be not deceived. You are likely merely responding to a synergy which is inherently momentary.
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We converge at any moment across a spectrum. Many believe such encounters to be profoundly divine in nature; these see God as directing all. Yet others are more detached, viewing the world of life as largely random. Whichever your position, know that you are still a distinct living soul, and do not have to accept that your meeting up with any other is anything attributable to the intent of that person.
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If your encounter is pleasurable, express gratitude. But, when you separate, take the experience and store it as just that, without any further expectation. The other person is also reacting to having been with you, and may register a completely different response.
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Pain exists to warn us, to heighten our attention and increase our focus. But, some pain can be avoided. Take your attention away from false beliefs that others can meet any of your needs. This places a burden upon all our relationships which is doomed to disappointment, what some call heartbreak, and can induce acute and entirely unwarranted pain.
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Instead, return to your own soul center. Name your need, and feed yourself. Regard all others as decorative, perhaps transient, across the scheme of your own life. Give as emergent crisis warrants, help with an attitude of love, but avoid sacrifice. Be, in all ways, who you are, without fear. In this way, nobody will ever take from you that which is truly your own. No one will steal your heart.
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© 12/18/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  Thank you for respecting original material, and for taking your own advice.
littlebarefeetblog.com