27.02.06 - 9:59 p.m.

my grandmother, slight and wishy washy: jewish when it wasn't popular, so italian and catholic, not polish; not headscarfed and fat. religion born of a guilt too great, and followed to the letter except on saturdays when she allowed herself an entire entenmann's coffee cake and a day off from the wash. bialystok turned to ghetto, anyway, she would say. your father would've been killed and then where would we be?

the other made my mother with a man from pila. one christmas after begging, i was gifted a flatiron for my curly hair. she snatched it from my hands and thrust it at my parents: non i suoi capelli, she yelled, and threw it on the ground. this was caught on videotape and remains my favorite family movie. the month before she died, she took my face in her hands across the breakfast table and told me, your little grandmother is polish. your grandfather ifwecancallhimthat, mayherot is polish. you are polish and not just italian. listen to your nonna matta. i understood this as reverse psychology until today.

nowhere! my grandfather would interject
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