I’ve been stuck on watching HGTV for a while now. I’m not quite sure why; it’s not like I can apply many of the ideas here in my new house. Kurt says we can paint, and we don’t even have to paint the walls back to neutral because property management will come in and paint them back for us.
No kidding, folks. You should see how many layers of paint we have to go through when we nail something up or drill a hole. There is so much paint on the walls that the screw just forces it up and around the hole, so if you have to take the screw back out again, you’ve got a lip of paint all around the hole. Plus the people who do the painting aren’t terribly careful with their brushes. All of our closet doors, which are made of that lovely 1980s-era oak veneer, have at least one big paint splotch on them.
I guess it’s a good thing that the ceiling is painted the same color as the walls, else we’d have ceiling paint on the walls and vice versa.
Aside: Is it a normal thing to paint ceilings the same color as the walls? My whole life, I was under the impression that colored walls always had a neutral (white or cream) ceiling. Then I moved to Washington, and my good friend J had her entire house painted pale blue. Including the ceilings. She says that’s normal. What do you people think?
I saw the awesomest paint color today on HGTV, Design on a Dime, I think it was. The designer chose this gorgeous metallic blue-green color that looked amazing in that particular living room. I don’t think I could pull it off because I’m not a designer, but it did look awfully rad in there.
Another reason I’m hesitant about paint is most of what I would want to paint, being the living and dining rooms, are open to one another. I’d have to paint them the same color, and I’m not sure if I would want to do that.
It’s all complicated. I have design dilemmas.
But as I watched HGTV today, I realized something. I have no real sense of my ethnicity.
Maybe that sounds kind of odd. I mean, everyone has an ethnicity, right? Most of the American populace is from somewhere else; very few of us have families that have been here for more than 100 years, and it’s only the Native Americans that are actually native to our country, not to point out the obvious.
Me, I’m half mutt (basically Western European with some Norwegian thrown in), and then half Lithuanian Jew.
Why the qualifier of being “Lithuanian Jew”? I’ve been told my whole life by my relatives that when they were forced to leave their home country of Lithuania, they were not considered to be “Lithuanian.” Instead they were branded as Jews. Apparently back then, if you were Jewish, you had no other nationality.
So am I really Lithuanian, even though all of my father’s ancestors were from Lithuania? Or does their religion trump their ethnicity?
Why the hell am I thinking about these sorts of things while watching HGTV anyhow? Well, one of the shows today was talking about remodeling a kitchen for a couple that are Italian-American. And they feel their heritage in everything they do. They really wanted a kitchen to reflect that, so the designers came up with an Old World Italian kitchen with a modern flair.
I was raised simply as an American. I’m not anything else. Just American, that’s me. And I know that’s the goal (or was) of many Americans, to blend in and become simply “American.”
But I feel that lately we’ve been trying to be hyphenated Americans. Black Americans are no longer black — they’re African-Americans. We have Korean-Americans and Chinese-Americans and Italian-Americans and Spanish-Americans and Russian-Americans… the list goes on and on.
I wasn’t raised with any funky food that my classmates would make fun of. I wasn’t raised with any weird words that no one else knew the meaning of. I wasn’t raised to attribute my body characteristics to my ethnicity (no, I do not have a Jewish nose, for which I am eternally grateful).
I wasn’t even raised to be Jewish. My father had been raised in a children’s home (sort of like an orphanage, but for kids who weren’t orphans), and my grandfather never taught him to be Jewish. My uncle is, though, and when I was a kid we would go visit various relatives for various Jewish holidays. But my father was never comfortable because he didn’t always understand what was going on, and it was hard for him to explain it to his kids. Instead my stepmom got us all going to church. The last Jewish ceremony I attended was my cousin’s bat mitzvah two years ago. The rabbi officiating was really cool — he made sure all of us non-Jews knew exactly what was going on and why it was important.
In a way, I feel like I missed out. I hear KitchenLogic and Lena discuss their Norwegian heritage, and how cool it is to be Norwegian. I read about The Purple Chai’s grandparents teaching her Yiddish and how much her heritage has permeated her life. Even Art’s first language wasn’t English — he spoke French until he moved to the States! And my best friend Caroline, being half-Korean, can speak and read her mother’s native tongue, and she used to visit her in Korea every year when she was a kid.
I’ve got nothing to compare. Sure, my family are all immigrants — they came to the States back around the turn of the last century from Lithuania when things got a wee bit problematic for them there. They came to Rochester and Watertown, NY, and started new lives. My grandfather was of the first generation to be born here, just a few years after the family arrived. He would have been 100 this year. My uncle tells me that Grandpa had an accent and sometimes would sprinkle his speech with Yiddish. But I don’t remember; Grandpa died in 1984, when I was only 5. At the time I was living with my real mother, and since my parents were already divorced by then, if we had gone back to New York for a visit, there wasn’t a huge chance we’d see my father’s side of the family.
That photo you see is of my father’s father with my sister Michele and me. I’m guessing this was the summer of 1979, which means I was less than six months old. My sister would have been four going on five. Grandpa would have been 72 by this time. He was married late in life, and my father was born when Grandpa was already 39 years old.
I suppose most people don’t really think about their heritage and where they come from. For me, it’s just something I really notice. I love to learn about new things and new people and new foods and new traditions. Caroline taught me how to make Korean bbq beef (aka, bulgogi) the last time she came to visit, and it’s now one of our favorite meals to make, although I have to minimize the hot bean paste or else Grace won’t eat it.
I guess I sort of feel I don’t have anything interesting to offer in return. We’re just Americans, and that’s all that we are.