Monday, August 08, 2005

jeffery, jlp, oscar, earthgirl, andrew, kerry, bert and dear dear old brando* and all you food/travel lovin’ readers, this one’s for you!

* brando, I am so sucking up! You have a book contract – get me one!

So where am I and what am I doing?

Madison Aug 05 134 chocolate-covered gingerbread hearts

No kidding: I am right here in Madison. There is a Polish deli in this town, in a yuppified strip mall. It is so wrong for so many reasons but there you have it. Each time I enter (all of two times thus far), it is completely empty. I should buy something, I should! But the selections are too…. Polish.

Madison Aug 05 135 yum! sour cucumber puree!

Madison Aug 05 137 they (I cannot align myself with my homeland here) cannot live without this stuff

Alex owns the place and he was there today when I poked in. I want to refer all lonely people in Madison to his store immediately. The man is a talker! So Polish it hurts. It is one long sentence, sort of like this one which you cannot interrupt because it is joined together to form a whole and if you jump in and say something like I really must get going then you appear totally rude and like you’re really not listening to any of it and so what’s the point…

I just want to note that Polish people really are rotten spellers (in foreign to them languages) because we have a basically phonetic approach to words. A spelling bee would be a joke! How do you spell szczypiorek? What, you’re kidding, right? There is only one possible way: szczypiorek (meaning: chives). Try not to make fun, therefore, when you see signs in the store that seem somehow off. We are not trained to find fault with something like this:

Madison Aug 05 144

Alex, the highlander (the moustache says it all). He hasn’t been back to Poland for a while, but on the counter he keeps a picture of his old highland home. Next to it is a cheap replica of the Statue of Liberty. Behind it? A portrait of the pope. No, not the new one. The real pope. All we need is a fake-autographed photo of George W. Bush and I'd feel like I entered a place straight out of the Chicago Polish community.

Madison Aug 05 143 "When I lived in New Jersey, I wanted to get a degree at Princeton, but it's all about money here. I settled for menial work. It's okay, it's okay. It's the American way."

Virgin voyage

Or – are the proper terms maiden voyage and virgin territory?

Last night I was happily blabbing about something or other and a person in the same room said .. Nina, do you know you just said someone was “painstakingly shy?"*

I do that sometime. Wrong words, wrong meanings. Most people, when they learn a language through immersion (as I did by moving to the States at age 7), adultify it as they work their way through the school system.

Not me. I went back to good old Polska for high school and a chunk of college and so I never shed that elementary school pidgeon-toed (what the hell is that?) language, perverted at the playground and never subsequently corrected by exasperated teachers who would know better.

Ocean is written by a person who, at times, is still capable of talking “tenement for rent, inquire within, when I jump out, you jump in” talk.

A commenter notes that it does create a very distinct voice for blogging here. It’s an interesting point. I do think that I plunge ahead without heed and often without much awareness of the quaintness of my choices – words, topics, all of it. It must generate a (sympathetic) smile. As “painstakingly shy” did for the group I was with.

I read all your comments to yesterday's post very very carefully and I cannot thank you enough. No, really, they blew me away. So generous! That’s what I see – your utter generosity. And that is what shook me out of my alternately tearful and morose state of being, it’s what made me come back so quickly.

What’s with the virginity in the blog title? Ah. You could say that this is the virgin post of a new, refreshed Ocean. But actually I titled it thus because it is the first time that I am blogging from a new computer. Isn’t it wonderful when events sort of merge and coalesce and it appears that the chaos of yesterday can resolve itself into a quiet ride the next day?

[And virginity has another moment in this post: I have to admit that my last year in an American school was in 7th grade, where we graduated from singing about rental properties to belting out “...I don't want no fire truck, I want one that I can…” The awful truth is that I thought this was hilariously funny.]

* this kind friend followed up today with an email, noting: there are 43 google entries for "painstakingly shy" (in quotes) as opposed to 50,000 for "painfully shy".