Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Day at Work: The Armenian Mafia

My head was swimming over the week-end. Besides the drama I had with a supervisor who was extremely rude, there was other news/gossip floating around. Apparently, one of the workers at the hospital was very involved in medicaid fraud with the Armenian mafia. It's national news. I've seen the girl. She is one hot Spanish mama. But it doesn't mention it in any of the news articles I've read. Maybe she's trying to cut a deal with the Feds. Apparently, she was on her way to work last week when the Feds showed up and cuffed her. As I heard this, I kept thinking of the Russian spy girl who made the news. They have the same vibe. Anyway, she was supplying the mafia with information about patients coming in to the hospital.

There's a lot of action where I work. Damn.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Paper Topics

Philippe de Champaigne, St. Augustine (Los Angeles County Museum of Art

This may be foolish but I've decided to write a final paper on St. Augustine. Yikes! It's a 20-page monster. We read his conception of the third paradise/heaven for class. My one-page commentary on him wasn't the best work I turned in yet somehow I'm stuck with him. He's just that intense. Why couldn't I do something easier? I was even thinking of incorporating Buddhist thought comparisons into the mix. Sigh. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another day at work: Turkish Invasion of Cyprus

There are days when I don't abjectly hate my job at the hospital. Today I had an educational conversation with a new patient that came, Ms. V. -akis. I asked her if she was Greek and she said yes. I told her that I was in Greece ten years ago, visiting Athens, Delphi and Kalambaka. She said she studied in Athens before but that she's originally from Cyprus. Then she proceeds to tell me her story. She said that the Turkish Cypriots invaded her village and she and her family lost everything. She talked about how they lost the embroidered silks they made with their own hands. She talked about her mother waking up at 4 in the morning to tend to their silk worms and their garden. She talked about her father's house built with stone with his own hands in the 1940s and how he planted citrus trees and lemon trees that bore many fruits. Then she talked about how when the Turkish Cypriots came, they tore the trees down, took their lands, defaced their village church that stood their for hundreds of years by taking down the cross that proudly stood on its dome and painted over the saints' faces. They used it as their mosque and right across from this church, they built their own mosque. They took the gospels and the artifacts from inside, looted them for their gold and destroyed what they thought was not fitting for them. But the land they used to build their mosque on was hers. It was her land, land that she recently purchased with money that she made from working as a school teacher. It was all gone. She became a refugee. A year later, she migrated to the U.S. This loss is a story shared by many. I'm not too familiar with the story since it's news to me. I know other histories. When she talked feelingly about her loss, I had to restrain myself from tearing up because it reminded me of others who had lost as well. It's the same story everywhere. The Chinese invading Tibet. The Palestinians caged into a small settlement in their own land. The Native Americans all but completely annihilated and displaced. It's about greed and power.

On a lighter note, Ms. V -akis told me that anytime I saw the surname with -akis in the end, I should be aware that this person comes from Crete. I told her I'd remember that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Fulbright

I submitted everything for the Fulbright grant a few weeks ago after months and months at slaving away at the application. Just in case you don't know what it is, it's only one of the most prestigious academic/research grants out there. For U.S. citizens, it's the chance to explore another country in depth either for research purposes or as an assistant English language teacher. I applied for the research grant to go to Ukraine. I've been working on this story and going to Ukraine would just do wonders for it. It's like going to the super spa to get the book going, shaping it up to where it needs to. Of course, if I didn't get it, I would just have to find other means of getting the story into shape. It'll be harder but it must be done.

I've been preparing for this Fulbright for a while now and it even propelled me to start taking my Russian language study seriously. That's one of the requirements - to have a working knowledge of the country's language. My Russian is still bad but I think by next year, if and when I find out that I am one of the chosen 10 to go represent the U.S. to go to Ukraine, I figure I'd have mastered something more by then. Now, all that's left is the waiting game.
It's the time for desperate prayer. Dear God, please please please give it to me. Amen.

The $25 Pizza

I heard about a mythical pizza, so good that a sixteen-inch regular cheese pie costs $25 and if I wanted just a slice of it, it costs not $3 but $5. The special, with sausage and onion, is an unbelievable $30. I got the lowdown from Arthur, this Bakharian Jewish guy who manages the colonic place I went to recently. (I'll post about my gut-cleaning experience another time). Anyway, Arthur is this nice, gregarious Bakharian Jewish cutie who was asking me if I knew the holy grail of pizza, a place that only exists on Avenue J, in the midst of an Orthodox Jewish community.
No, I said, still in awe at the fantastically impossible price tag. I said I'd look into it. I did. The next time I drove to Brooklyn College, where my efforts to obtain some medieval English lit experience is making pottage out of my brain, I decided to drop by and get a pie. I always drove by anyway and because I knew at that point what to look for, I zoned in on the place. It's a non-descript storefront on the corner of Avenue J and East 15th. It was raining so hard that night that there were sharks swimming in my nice European sandals. However, it was crowded inside and I had to wait about 20 minutes to get my pie. So I went across the street to Walgreen's to buy myself an umbrella and stared at the cruel drops of rain greedily wetting everything it could wet, including my sandals. By the time I thought my pie was done, there was a cardboard "CLOSED" sign hanging between the door and I squeezed in. There she was, my pie, freshly out of the oven. Then the old man, the mastermind of it all, took freshly grated cheese and sprinkled it all over and if that wasn't enough, he took a bunch of basil and started clipping it into pieces all over the pie. It smelled like what a $25 dollar pie should. I rushed home and gorged along with my siblings. Then our taste buds exploded. This pie has killed the taste of pizza for us. This pie was the bomb. We're doomed. No other pizza shall do from now on.