My Cousins From Bensonhurst

I am Italian. Well, Italian-American. If you want to be really specific, I’m actually Argentinian-Italian and Sicilian. My family care over here in the early 20th century. For the longest time, they lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. A few of my cousins and aunts and uncles still live out there. It’s a lot of fun to visit, because Brooklyn is really like the city, so different than the town in New Jersey where we live.

My grandparents live on Staten Island. We used to go there every weekend to visit. Now, we don’t go as often, because everyone is so busy. My two older brothers actually grew up on Staten Island. That’s where my parents lived until they moved out here. They lived in a neighborhood called Annadale. Staten Island is not so much fun to visit. I mean, there’s the Mall, which recently got a makeover, and there are tons of little stores.

But what really sets Staten Island apart is the food. There are amazing restaurants there. It’s kind of the middle of nowhere. In fact it’s new York City but it doesn’t feel at all like a city. It’s more like a Jersey town. I made friends with the kids on my grandparents’ block when I was like three. We still keep in touch and sometimes we even go out together to the movies when we visit. But not in a while. Probably since i was like fifteen.

Being Italian is weird. People make fun of our culture. They say we are “orange.” That isn’t a spray-on tan. That is my skin color. I couldn’t imagine people saying all that about any other nationality. There are dumb shows making fun of us. It’s kind of sickening. If you ask me Italians have a beautiful culture. And the cutest boys.

Italy Foods by Llee Wu by CC

The last time we drove out to Staten Island it was flurrying. My cousins and I went for a walk in the Greenbelt. It’s a gigantic woodland right in the center of the island. They also told me about a new website that features Staten Island News. It’s actually really interesting and has articles on all kinds of things and not only Staten Island. It’s kind of new so there isn’t all that much and it isn’t built up yet but it’s worth checking out because the writers are funny and interesting.

My cousins from Bensonhurst are the truest Italians. They still live on 18th Avenue where there used to be a lot more Italian people living. They all migrated to Staten Island and then to New Jersey. It’s like my family is one of the holdouts and refuses to move. My grandma’s sisters still live over there. They enjoy the life they lead. Their parents tell me about the 1980s when Brooklyn was the best place in the US to live. I wouldn’t doubt it. I’ve seen the pictures.

Bensonhurst by Scazza by CC

Brooklyn is actually the most different than my home town in NJ. There isn’t a lot of open space and all the buildings are made of brick. A lot of Chinese people moved into the area where my family was. Everyone gets along but it’s sad because a lot of the Italian shops have closed up. I’ve seen old VHS videos of the 18th Avenue Feast and saw firsthand how amazing life had been for these people.

Salads or massages. Which one made me feel better?

I am fat. No, not really. But at the same time, I’m not thin.

No one has ever called me fat. At least not to my face. But then again, no one has ever seen me without my clothes on. Except my sisters. And they are too young to probably realize even if they do think I’m overweight.

I exercise about twice a week. I know that’s not enough, but that’s how it goes. Right now, I’m in private school. It’s a religious school. We do have gym class, and that’s when I exercises. I won’t count walking around the mall. But I counted my steps and I walk about a mile around the mall every time I go. And, we shop like five days a week. So that’s how I stay on the small side. That, plus my Mom is skinny. She was actually a model. And, my Dad is not fat at ALL. Not a single fat cell on him!

Salad by verygreen by CC

Recently, I’ve tried doing something about (what I feel is) my excess flab. I eat salad now. I’ve asked Mom to make us all salad every night with dinner. The issue is, we eat out at least two days a week. When we go out to eat, I always get a salad. At home, though, it’s rare. So now we eat salad every night.

Do I feel any better? I think so. It may sound gross, but the only thing I’ve noticed after three weeks is that I spend a lot less time in the bathroom. Let’s just say it’s a lot easier. But that’s it. The scale hasn’t shown any changes. I do think my stomach feels better, though, but I can’t be sure.

The other new activity is massage. I had to try out massage on demand after my bestie told me how great it was. The massage therapist came one night after dinner. The session was 90 minutes. Afterwards, I felt like a new person. So far, I’ve had five sessions. My parents will pay for two 90 minute appointments per week.

I never even knew about women’s massage at home before my friend Rania told me. She had a massage because she hurt her ankle playing tennis. I didn’t have an injury, but I spoke with my Mom about how I have low self esteem and she said it might help. She asked me to get the information from Rania, and so I scheduled with the same therapist. The lady was definitely good at what she did. She knew where I had pain in my shoulders before I even told her. I only knew about going to the day spa like my Mom does.

The first time was weird. The only ones who ever saw me with no top on were my two sisters and my Mom when I was younger. My sisters see me topless all the time. It’s no big deal. Then again, the massage lady only really saw my back. They cover you in a sheet. I didn’t know this, so I was freaking out. So, I called Rania and she laughed at me and told me that you’re covered the entire time. How could I have known that?

After the first time, I couldn’t believe how I felt. I hadn’t felt so good since about fifth grade. ZERO stress. I hadn’t realized it, but every year since middle school, I’ve felt more and more stressed. I usually have insomnia, and after the second time, I could sleep without trouble. The only bad thing in all of this is that now my Mom said my sisters can get a massage, too, and she’s reduced my time to only an hour each time.

Relaxing by Lostintheredwoods by CC

My Mom is getting one, too. So, the massage person will be at my house for three hours. One for me, one for my Mom, and a half-hour for each of my sisters. My Mom read how massage can help kids, so that’s why she’s doing this.

Jed gets in trouble for his smoking

Last month, Jed got in huge trouble. But it wasn’t for that wacky tobacky, it was for having cigarettes in his jacket. My parents are strictly against smoking. Anything. My grandpa died of emphysema before I was born.

So we have a maid. We’re well-off. I mean, my parents never talk about money. Ever. It’s not something they do. But I can say that when I turn 17, they will buy me a 2 year old Mercedes. We vacation about two months out of the year. My parents own a summer house, as well as a second house out in Colorado. My Dad travels a lot, but mostly for work.

Anyway, we have a maid. Not a live-in maid, just a Polish lady who comes three times a week. I don’t know why, but the maid told my Mom about a pack of Marlboro’s Jed left in his jacket pocket. Of course, Jed said it was his friend Pete’s. My parents know Pete smokes. But that’s about the worst excuse ever, probably.

Cigarette Smoking by Lindsay Fox by CC

My Dad brought it up after dinner. He was in his office upstairs and he called Jed in. Jed had no clue. Of course, Jed didn’t close the door. So my sisters and I heard it all. I have to admit we were all listening from behind the palm tree in the hall. Kayleigh was loud and so my Dad got up and closed the door. Not before telling us that eavesdropping is very rude.

But my dad said he was very disappointed. He said that Jed has to start acting responsibly, or else his future will not be very good. By the end, Jed was sobbing. My dad got him so upset without even raising his voice or getting mad. Dad is like that. Good at laying on the guilt. But Jed still smokes. I caught him out on the terrace last night. He is so not slick.

And that other stuff he smokes. Wow. It smells so gross. I don’t know why kids smoke that stuff. But Jed is about the worst at hiding it. Sooner or later, I know he’s going to get caught, and I think my dad might just lose his patience.

Intro to my blog page

I’m Ashley. This is my blog. I think there’s a 5% chance that this blog will suck. Why? Just because most blogs I see are about as exciting as watching the laundry spin in the dryer. Also, I’m not known as the most exciting person. I’m actually kind of average, boring, and extraordinarily ordinary. Lastly, I can’t really write. Well.

I am a middle child. I have three older brothers, and two younger sisters. Growing up, dating was not easy. My brothers were known as the kind of guys who would hang you from a clothesline if you get out of line. So, no guys ever tried disrespecting me. That would have been a bad move. This was good. But it was also bad. Guys were literally afraid to date me.

Mostly, I plan to talk about life. The good. The bad. The ugly. Especially the ugly. Why? It’s more fun. Who wants to hear about how great my day was? Or how lousy it was? You’d rather hear how there was a guy break-dancing in the street keeping the bus from moving because he was obviously high. It’s just a matter of not being bored. I promise I’ll try to keep this blog exciting, but I did warn you.

My eldest brother, Brett, was a high school basketball star. He was 6’2″ by eighth grade and a real jock. Neither of those traits hurt. He ended up with a full scholarship to Seton Hall. If you follow college basketball, you’d probably know his name. He’s that well known. After college, he joined the Army. So he’s not around these days, since he’s deployed in Afghanistan.

My next eldest brother, Jed, was the opposite. He plays guitar. And smokes. You know, that “stuff” that smells like skunks. My parents don’t know that last part. He’s in college right now, at Rutgers. I don’t think he ever picked up a basketball.

I’ll save the part about my sisters for another blog. They’re a lot more interesting, though just kids. Me? I’m a senior in high school right now. I have a good average and did very well on the SAT, so it looks like my future will be bright. And, I’m attractive. Or at least the boys in my school tell me so. Like I said, I really don’t date, though my parents are fine with it. Maybe if I travel outside of my town I’d meet a cute guy, but usually we only chill in Bridgewater.

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