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thought i was a donut, ya tried to glaze me

9.23.2009

Genetics





Although I'm half-Italian, it's rare that any true guido tendencies come out. I have never thrown a table at somebody. I'm not really attracted much to tape-ups. I don't iron my hair much anymore. And although I do own a nameplate, it's white gold, single-plated, which I think is about as un-Guido as it can be.

Like I said, they're rare. But it happens.


My dad came home two Christmas Eve's ago after a trip to Ragtime, Howard Beach's finest gourmet grocery and deli. He had bought some things for our Christmas Eve feast--seafood salad, antipasta, and, my favorite, some delicious, imported prosciutto. I helped him unload the bag and then opened up the carefully wrapped bag of prosciutto, hoping to eat some. What I found made my blood boil like a pot of sauce on the stove.

"Dad," I said.

"Dad."

He turned to me and said, "What?"

"Did you look at this before you bought it?"

"What do you mean?"

"LOOK."

I grabbed a piece. It was the thickest piece prosciutto I'd ever seen. As a former deli work and slicer extraordinaire, this offended me. As a half-Italian foodie, this made me want to stab someone.

"DO YOU SEE HOW THICK THIS IS?"

"Now, Katie, I...I couldn't open the package in the store..."

I knew this, and I knew it wasn't his fault. But I was angry, and he unfortunately was there. The messenger of bad Italian deli meats.

"It looks like...like Canadian Bacon. God, who was back there? Who the fuck was slicing this?!"

"Katie, I wish you wouldn't curse..."

"It's supposed to be.....PAPER THIN," I screamed. "PAPER THIN! It's INEDIBLE. COMPLETELY INEDIBLE."

Breathless now, I added--

"YOU CAN'T SERVE THIS ON CHRISTMAS EVE!"

I held the pieces in my shaking hands and went through each one. They got thicker as I went through, angering me even more. My dad now was thoroughly frightened and also probably as disappointed as I was that we couldn't sneak some appetizer snacks before dinner.

"This is from the butt-end of the meat," I said, observing the noted thickness at certain parts and the exposed skin on a few pieces. "Those fuckers gave you the complete end of it."

" You're not supposed to do that," I said. "You're supposed to save that to cube up in a pasta salad or in the house vodka sauce. Who doesn't know that? Who would even put this on a slicer? You're not supposed to have to use the fucking guard to cut prosciutto."

I started walking around the kitchen as I continued to talk, having too much anger to stand still.

"You know why they did this to you, Dad."

He looked at me.

"It's because...it's because you're not Italian. They can tell in there. They probably gave their regulars the good stuff. All those lazy old-Howard moms who buy their fucking MEATBALLS at a DELI."

"Well, I wouldn't say that..."

"Well I just did! And it's true! Look at you! Look at you! Look at your fat Irish head and your blue eyes. You were a target! A walking target for bad meat! Let me see the provolone. Let me see it--I want to see how they cut it."

"Katie, relax."

"It's Christmas Eve!" I cried again. "And we don't have edible prosciutto. Now what are we supposed to do? Buy a pack of Danieli from fucking WALDBAUMS?"

"We could pick some up before your mother gets home."

"That's an EVERY DAY prosciutto, Dad. An EVERY DAY kind. This is a holiday. This is ridiculous. You're going to have to bring it back."

"Bring it back?"

"Yes," I said. "Bring it back. To the store. I want you to show this package to the manager, the register girl, the fucking stock boy and tell them what their precious deli workers gave you. You don't need Giada FUCKING deLaurentis to tell you this is bad."

"I think that's a little uncalled for..."

"Uncalled for? Look at how much you paid for this! This imported pack of GARBAGE. Of foam-core-thick prosciutto. Imported fucking HAMBURGER PATTIES of DRY PROSCIUTTO. And you just paid $23 dollars for it."

"It's not a big deal."

"IT IS A BIG DEAL."

He looked at me, and I looked at him.

"You know what," I said. "I'll just go."

He stopped me before I could make it to my car with a solution--he stops back inside Ragtime on his way back from picking up my mom. They could see it was bad. They would probably give him some fresh meat. And I could have my Italian Christmas eve feast. I agreed and handed him my car keys and soon felt the inner Guido inside shrink quietly back down inside of me, where it was all along.

9.22.2009

What Mike Bloomberg Wants You To Think About Him With His Internet Ads



Look! I'm Mike Bloomberg. Sure, I'm a billionaire with a house in Bermuda. Sure, I'm too good to live in Gracie Mansion. Sure, I'm going to spend ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS on my re-election. I'm even too good for a salary--but you're better for it!

Yes, it's true that I'm all of these things. Plus, I'm condescending and arrogant. BUT, did you notice what I was and wasn't wearing here? A blue-collared shirt! Look! I'm just like you working schlubs on the subways--with your little ID tags hanging off your pants and listening to your iPods and reading your free little newspapers--going off to your cubicle jobs wearing khakis and oxfords. I'm just like you! It's not just a PHRASE--my COLLAR IS ACTUALLY BLUE! And I'm not wearing a tie! A regular or bow tie (or ascot, although please, I haven't worn one since the late-80s.)

Did you notice what else I did in this ad? I rolled my sleeves up! You know why? It's because I'm just like you. With my rolled up sleeves you can see my watch; I made sure my people purchased a fairly cheap one so I can be down with you guys. And I roll up my sleeves because I work so hard. I work 60 hours a week so I can pretend to barely afford the new, higher property taxes on that semi-attached house in Glendale or Marine Park or Whitestone. It's these rolled up sleeves that would have been paying tolls on the East River bridges just so I can just get to work to use these exposed forearms (ever try to take public transportation from these middle-class neighborhoods? It's a nightmare!) It's these rolled up sleeves that represent schools that aren't really better, but still get As. It's these sleeves that can say to my hypothetical children, "When I was your age, I got a real education!" and actually mean it! Mike Bloomberg is just like you!!

I'm also sitting in an empty coffee shop drinking regular coffee. Just look at that cup. It looks like it came from a Greek diner or a bodega or off of a cart. I'd never spend more than 90 cents on a cup a' joe--I mean, not for nothing but that Starbucks stuff don't even taste good. Am I right? Huh? Five bucks for a cup of coffee just ain't right! I was never one for those fancy drinks neither. Never spend more than a buck on coffee. This stuff is it. The good stuff. Keeps me up. Right?



My collar isn't white. God, I'm an Independent--didn't you see? I'm not like all those other politicians--I'm like you! Now can't my poll numbers go up?


Can't you see this blue fucking shirt?

9.19.2009

9.17.2009

9.16.2009

you can find me...

For those interested, I will be blogging for a little at my school blog over here.

This blog is far from dead, but I'm doing that for a grade so, ya know, it'll take priority. The topics will be a little bit more scholarly too.

9.10.2009

Classic

I only signed up for the St. Francis de Sales Summer Classic, my parish's basketball league, for the uniform. I considered owning a pair of the shorts and one of the t-shirts a right of passage for any Rockaway kid and, always wanting fit in, I signed up to play for a few summers.


In my short career as a summer baller, the teams I played on were mostly average. This wasn't bad, considering I was a below average player. Could I make a layup? Barely. Could I shoot? Sometimes, if I got into a groove. What I knew was based off of what I watched on TV and did in the Walsh's backyard court, and even those few skills could be erased if I got too nervous. The blacktop of the SFDS schoolyard might as well have been the Garden to me; once I got out there, my heart raced and I'd usually choke. But at least--at the very least-- I'd get to keep the t-shirt.

The summer I was 12 I received a call at home from my next Summer Classics coach. My mom answered, and she spoke for a few moments before I heard her say, "Sure, I'll go get her."

And with her hand cupped over the receiver, she whispered to me,

"it's your Summer Classic coach--she says she knows you!"

I picked up the phone and said, "Hello?" and on the other end of the line there was an excited, masculine-sounding voice.


"Katie!" she said, "It's Mary. Mary Jones*! I'm the coach at [all-girls Catholic High School in Brooklyn]. You know me--I know you. We're going to be playing basketball this summer. I'm very excited!"

"Oh," I said, slightly confused. "Ok. Cool."

"I'll see you on Tuesday," she said. "I want to go all the way this year!"

I hung up the phone. I had no idea who this lady was, but somehow, she knew me. Perhaps she had heard about my fairytale run to the 10th Round of the Diocesan Math Bee? Or maybe she'd been told of my perfect score on the 5th Grade English-Writing State Exam? Regardless of how she did know me, I started to get excited. Not only was I now going to be playing on an above average team--maybe even a championship one--I was actually recruited to play for it.


Now there is an unwritten rule in the league that bans the stacking of any teams. The players are supposed to be chosen randomly, by someone other than the coach. Yet every year, there are teams far superior to the others, with entire rosters that practically mirror AAU travel teams or, in the case of the older high school division, have all had features in the Daily News high school sports section. These teams always steamroll their way to the Championship game, almost always taking home something I desired even more than the regular uniform: The St. Francis de Sales Summer Classic Championship Long Sleeve T-Shirt. It came in three colors: purple, red, and green, and under the tiny floodlight in the Walsh's backyard, as I clumsily practiced my shot, I would often close my eyes and imagine wearing it. And now it was in my cross hairs. How, I had no idea, but it was there.


I showed up the following Tuesday and found my way to my team. I saw girls I knew from school--Jenny Willis with the killer 3-point shot, Megan O'Sullivan who was recruited by Christ the King--and asked where the coach was. They pointed to a skinny, athletic woman in men's basketball shorts and a tank top. I approached her.

"Hi," I said

She looked me up and down a few times and then ignored me. I tried again.

"Hi. I'm...on your team."

She stopped and looked.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Katie Honan."

She looked me up and down some more.

"You are?"

My face scrunched up and I stared at Coach Jones for a few minutes before defending myself.

"Uh, yes."

She looked at her roster, than at me, then stared at the roster a few moments before saying,

"You're not who I thought you were."


I don't think that will be the first time in my life where somebody mistakes me for somebody else. I'm sure I'll hear the phrase "you're not who I thought you were" again, if I ever embark on an adventure into internet dating, or perhaps in the middle of a fight with someone, shocked or disappointed by my actions. But then that would be sort of theoretically thinking I was somebody else, not literally. Nothing hurts like the first time you're found out; you'll never be good enough from who they thought you were going to be. My 12 year old heart dropped to my feet.


Once I got over the initial misunderstanding, a different sort of feeling set in. I wanted to know who she thought I was. The other Katie Honan. I only knew of one--apparently not who she may have wanted, but a decent, interesting person nonetheless. And I only even knew of four other Honans , all happening to be members of my immediate family. I thought foolishly that we might be the only Honans in all of the United States, judging by how infrequently the McGuinness's Irish Gift Shop sold our souvenir family crest. The lady behind the counter even told us it wasn't a common name, and I imagined the only other Honans somewhere in Ireland, distant cousins sharing my last name while they milked cows and lived in thatch-roof houses.

The idea that there were other Honans sharing air with me in the same regional area--close enough that they were on my town's radar, yet far enough that I had never heard of them--freaked me out. What did the other Katie Honan look like? Was she better at Uno than I was? What kind of daytime television did she watch? Why was she so great in basketball? Why did this coach want her so bad?


But nothing would be resolved as the season progressed. Coach Jones was stuck with me the rest of the season because of another rule that was put in place, originally to help these all-star teams stay that way. Once a team roster was created, it could not be changed. I couldn't be traded or kicked off just for a simple case of mistaken identity. The purpose of the league, after all, was to promote sportsmanship, athleticism, and dependency on the Catholic Church for all social activities. It wasn't very Christ-like to turn me back to the league commissioner all because of my lack of skill. And I never even had the chance to ask Coach Jones who she thought I was, since she stopped talking to me once she realized who I wasn't.


So the season went on, and I never played and never learned about the other me. So be it. Peninsula Hospital Center, our team, rolled through the regular season, crushing other teams by often double-digit margins, and we easily made it to the playoffs. I still showed up to every game on the off-chance I'd get some playing time, but I always just rocked the bench. Sometimes I would get so bored I'd create elaborate situations in my head where the other Katie Honan showed up to one of the games, demanding to know who I was and I what I was doing pretending to be her. She'd be like my evil twin--sleeker, thinner, taller, with a shot like John Starks and the blocking ability of Hakeem Olajuwon. Often in these fantasies the Evil Katie Honan and I would get into a verbal shouting match under the lights which would end with us both slapping each other across the face, I yelling, "Who are you?!" and Evil Katie Honan replying, indignant, "No, who are YOU?!"

The game would usually be over before our imaginary fight went any further. I'd pack up my stuff and I'd stop by the Snack Shop for a Marino's Ice before walking home.




I arrived for the championship game early, and took my place on the bench after warm-ups. We were playing Baskin Robbins, a team we'd easily beaten early on in the season. They were a scrappy bunch, though, and we trailed after the first half. They wanted those shirts, and they wanted it bad, and more importantly, they were a team who observed the rules and wanted to beat the team that got so far because they didn't. I resonated more with them than I did my own team, and I secretly rooted for them from the sidelines. I would have loved to have seen the look on Coach Jones' face after all that scheming.

But Peninsula was a team of all-stars. My teammates rallied and by the final few minutes we were leading BR by over 15 points. It was then that Coach Jones glanced in my direction and reluctantly pointed to the court.

"You're in," she said, although she could barely look at me when she said it.

I jumped off of the bench and got on the court and crouched down low like I saw them do on TV, my arms hanging down like a monkey. We turned the ball around quickly and I raced up to get under the hoop. Meghan O'Houlihan saw me--she held the ball up, about to pass it, rethought it, but then passed it to me when she had no other options. I felt the rubber ball in my hands and dribbled it--hearing the sound, feeling it come back into my hand--and stopped. I swirled, pivoted on one foot, extended my right hand and let it fly up. Like a gazelle. I heard that sound--swoosh--and made the layup. I guess I'd finally learned something from all those hours of watching.


I followed my team back to the other side (keep moving, keep moving, don't watch it, keep moving) and before I knew it, the game was over. I played. I scored. We won. I got my shirt, which I still wear because it says "champions" on the left arm. I never saw Coach Jones again.


And years later, I finally found out about the other me. Who I was supposed to be. Turns out there's another family of Honans who also have two daughters, although they don't have a Katie. Dumb Coach. They live in Brooklyn but had a cabana at the Surf Club and they excelled at swimming and basketball. They went on to attend [All-Girls Catholic High School in Brooklyn Full Of Snobs], and I recently tried friending them on Facebook but they denied me.

Every so often I'll meet someone who knows of these other Honans.

They ask me if I've ever met them. I always answer, "sort of."

'I am a part of all that I have met

Tho much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are --
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.'

9.09.2009

A Quick Note About Healthcare

Last summer I got Swimmer's Ear, which I get quite frequently in the summertime because I dive funny and also, my friends and I still like having handstand contests in the ocean even though we are all in our early to mid 20s. I visited my family practitioner after trying many home remedies (wax, Demerol, Q-tips) that did not work. I still was deaf in one ear and half deaf in the other, which actually resulted in some hilarity at a job interview (a story I'll tell at a later time).

At this time I was insured by Cobra. I would not call this ear cleaning a really invasive procedure. Basically, my doctor took what looks like a giant steel needle, filled it with water, and used the force to flush the wax buildup out of both my ears. It did involve the help of one of his assistants--someone had to hold the little receiving bucket, right?

I filled out the insurance forms and payed the co-payment and a month later received a giant package in the mail. There were dozens of forms and questionnaires wanting to know about this pre-existing condition. They wanted to know my history. They said they wouldn't pay for the procedure.

All for fucking swimmer's ear. Imagine if it was something real?

I don't have insurance anymore. I'm real careful about my health, too, now that I'm living on the edge. For one, I don't have handstand contests in the ocean anymore--too dangerous.

9.01.2009

think about it: Swine Flu

The outbreak began in queens (thanks again, St. Francis Prep), yet the borough is suffering from an extreme shortage of hospital beds. Are there any plans to build new hospitals? No. But hey, someone just offered to build an 11 story condo in my driveway.


Further Info HERE.

wherever i go, there's sand in my sheets

Living there still means you have to cross a bridge to see a movie, buy clothing or, with few exceptions, get a good meal. Living there probably means your basement will flood and the planes from nearby J.F.K. will interrupt your sleep. You might get evacuated for a hurricane. You will get stuck in beach traffic.

Hometowns incite nostalgia, seaside hometowns maybe more than most. All the sensory memories that the shore provided -- the Wednesday night fireworks, my collection of sea glass, the taste of salt on someone else's skin -- enhance what must just be a yearning for summer. A summer of my youth, most likely. An imaginary summer of my youth, perhaps.

No amount of attention can romanticize a past that is not necessarily a romantic one, but in the end, romance is personal and the present is full of potential. Today there is an explosion of construction. Real estate values are high. The water is clean. The Rockaway Music and Arts Council and the Rockaway Artists Alliance fill the cultural void. There are good waves, Dad reports. And the laughing gulls are back.


The New York Times, April 18, 2004, Jill Eisenstadt


On Studying Hard In School (and other ways to get succesful)

From an email from my mom. I just started j-school last week.

I am reading Barbara Walters book "Audition." It is her life story of rising to the top of her profession. Apparently the rise involved a lot of activity with men at the top. She talk openly about the help she got along the way. Women who rise to successful positions often say they did it on talent. From Walters point of view the talent was not on the written page. She was lucky to make the right connections but it was not easy and she did have to make sacrifices. Have a great day.

I wonder if my writing has even improved?