Wednesday, August 10, 2011

About GOD for Deborah

For Deborah

The answering machine blinked.  On July 22, 2011, a woman talked haltingly, as in a daze, not really knowing WHY she was calling me after some thirty years of silence.  How had she found me?  My thoughts went to the Internet results found under my name and the Consciousness Conference in Stockholm I had recently attended, where my telephone number was also listed.  Later on in the day I returned her call.  I had recognized her name and remembered her black outfit in which I last saw her - black, warrior-like, mannish. 
              Who had she become and why had she found me?  Deborah had been “inspired” to call me just like that, after some thirty years. The conversation which followed made it very clear that a part of her had known the content of my recent expansion unto the web and, furthermore, that her life experiences resonated with mine. More than a generation separates us in time, but she has matured through the hardships in life and I have become liberated in ways not known earlier in my life. Somehow, our paths meet like two lines on a graph.
              Talking about my experiences comes spontaneously to me.  I referred to what I call a mystical experience I had when I was 11 years old in an olive grove near the old Appian Way, 19 km. outside of Rome.  She wanted to hear about it. We had been on the phone for a long time, and I sensed that it would be easier if I sent her my description of that experience through the mail, since it was not listed on my website. Therefore I have decided to rewrite it for Deborah, a person of a distant past and list it here.
The experience: July 1948

            As usual, I walked towards the large expanse of century-old twisted olive trees at the edge of my grandfather's property, circumscribed by our grape vines, the Old Appian Way, a neighbor’s ravine and a walk leading to the main house, a 17th century villa, later monastery, then villa at that time and presently an abandoned residence, around which horses ran freely and grapes were once raised.
     It had been built by the nephew of Pope Urban VIII, a Barberini Cardinal and prince.  His coat of arms, made of a turret of bees carved out of travertine, stood for centuries crowning a 40 foot gate until a dozen years ago, vandals laddered up to it, detached it, and got away in the night.  It probably now adorns a villa in California or New York.   My grandfather had bought the property in the early Twenties, knocked off half of the third floor creating a magnificent terrace overlooking from a distance St. Peter's dome in Rome and the villa where the Pope spends his summer months at Castel Gandolfo.
              My childhood years were happy, magical and were spent mostly among adults.  I was homeschooled by my Mother, playing with rabbits, cats, wild flowers, investigating ancient ravines where wild strawberries found fertile shaded niches.  It was my Eden, and I knew it. I still remember a picture of me looking at a flowering begonia near a giant hut built by my grandfather so that I could play outside when it rained.  The thought came to me even then:  “I have never known sorrow, like so many people I talk to have!"  The all-powerful CREATOR had ordered the Universe and I LOVED IT, because I loved its exuberant creation.
This state of affairs suddenly ended on a cold November night in 1944 when escorted by a German military convoy, my father drove his Lancia into Rome and we entered the dingy and dark hallway of my grandmother's apartment at Via Flavia 104:  two pet rabbits I had milk fed since birth came along in a basket, and so did my one-year old cat Nerina in a different container.  As we entered the dimly lit kitchen, I saw the old marble table upon which I had been delivered eight years before.  It was bare and stark except for a mouse trap neatly placed in the middle of it with cheese bait still uneaten.  As I recalled it later, that image was really meant for me, as it was the cage in which I would remain for more than half my life. While training in hypnosis in 1985, I tried to dismantle that image.  Now I wonder why that became necessary, since within 3 years,[???????] I would have the most profound experience in my life which would transcend Time and Space and take me to the experience of bliss and  the meaning of life.
         Some have to fast, flagellate themselves, pray or go into caves or the desert for years - and then there are some like me who suddenly and literally out of nowhere enter a portal of what some may refer to as 'eternity'. For years after the experience I felt a certain guilt, as a survivor of a great battle feels when many of his buddies have not survived it. And the survivor asks – “WHY ME?"  This was probably the reason I did not talk to anyone about this experience for about 35 years or so.  I told others, because I started reading and found out that I was not alone - many other people over  the millennia had had this experience – and these were people we knew about, saints, visionary mystics. I was none of that, therefore the question remained: “WHY ME?”
Now, at the ripe age of seventy-five, after having finally accepted responsibility for the event, because it did entail certain actions, I feel liberated and free in talking about it.  I should also mention that a message came as the vision waned, and it was about "TALKING WITH OTHERS" who were also in despair and need.  But the wise person-child knew that she could not talk to anyone about the experience. I felt an enormous sadness, which I feel right now as I am writing, about my incapacity to share with others what had been revealed to me.
I had to change several skins, like the grasshoppers I once raised, I had to acquire strong ego defenses, I had to read a great deal and become overeducated to finally arrive to a place in life where the opinions of others no longer mattered, because I had earned my wisdom and could feel safe in saying anything I needed to say.  I had arrived at a new way of life where communications would make it possible for me to speak out and be heard to fulfill the command which came to me at 11 years of age:

That the Mind is eternal, that it is part of the energy of the Universe, and that LOVE holds the whole thing together.  I had asked “IT” to reveal itself after having endured the nothingness which engulfed me at the end of WWII.  I needed to know that God existed, to know God, the Source of Power, as I referred to it as a child, the power which had created the world ex nihilo.      No one can KNOW what God is but as an inference, and only because our minds are also like sun rays coming out of the Sun.
         What is “IT?”
    Someone who read this story asked me, “What was the experience about?”

It was the same experience that some thirty years later I read about in several texts written in various cultures about it. I was standing on a pathway through the olive grove in our farm on a warm July afternoon, flanked by the trough where the horse and the cow drank and by the ancient olive trees.
Suddenly, as the sun was lowering itself over the wall separating the property from the OLD Appian Way…suddenly, I felt surrounded by a giant wave of light and experienced my whole being becoming light. I was still standing and I was totally conscious while at the same time being totally immersed in this expansive experience. As Chopra would say, I was in a state of pure consciousness reflecting upon itself. The emotion was one of bliss, of feeling tremendous love for everything. As the experience waned, perhaps after a few minutes, perhaps after five, perhaps after ten, it is hard to say, a part of me knew that I was in a state of total knowing about life itself. A thought arose in my mind: why do I have to keep on living now that I know everything, since life can be so much about suffering? ... Another thought arose in form of a message. I had experienced similar messages previously. The message was verbal, not auditory and it said, “You must go on living in order to tell others about what you experienced, so that it may help them when they may find themselves in despair as you did.”
The experience was over. I was overcome by a deep sadness because of the incapability at the time, and “for the next thirty years,” to talk about it with others.
I knew that I was not a saint or anyone worth of such an extraordinary gift. Allegorically speaking, I had no reference for such an event at the time. It became a wall behind my back, but it also isolated me from my contemporaries. It remained in a state of isolated vacuum in my consciousness until I was able to learn that there had been many others over thousands of years who had had the same experience.
It did become an issue over these last years because time is passing: “What am I going to do about following the instructions I was given?” I’m still working on it…………
What are the limits of the Human Mind? What are its connections to what in all cultures has been referred to as “GOD?”…Answering this question will be the content of a later entry.
Is this, Deborah, what you wanted to know?

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Helicoidal Concept of Community, Aug 5, 2011

For some mysterious reason I started this morning a dialogue with a UPS man at the store. It was about shipping a box far away, destined to arrive in time for a conference on "Community."
           For an even more mysterious reason I started telling him about the “medieval” world of my childhood, which technically occurred from 1936 to 1946.
           The subject matter arose initially from “trash pick up” due this morning, and my inherent habit of redeeming trash for reuse.  Memories arose from a distant past.
           Trash! We buried it among the grape vines…Yes, that is exactly what was routine at the farm, a forty acre farm 10 miles out of Rome and 6 miles from the Anzio beachfront from WWII, nestled at the foot of the Alban Hills.
           My birth occurred as “little Adolph” was in the process of solidifying his expansionist dreams in Europe. My Mother had left the Sudetenland with the idea of studying linguistics with professor Adler, a Jew, and a personal friend of Pope Pius XII, who also had a German housekeeper!
           Even housekeepers can create connections and obviously the Pope, a man of great power, never did try to assault his housekeeper (as powerful figures appear do engage into these days!)…yet the Borgias probably did!
  Anyway, back to my Mother.  Imagine a woman trained at the Frank university of Prague where Thomas Mann was still alive, coming to Italy, falling in love with a man whose hero was Rudolph Valentino and also Adolph Hitler, being seduced by him, becoming pregnant (here I am) and more or less suddenly finding herself on the brink of a European War in which all of her Jewish friends would be incinerated. She was secluded on land only seven miles from Rome, surrounding a I7th century ex-convent - then villa. A Prince Barberini, the nephew of pope Urban the VIII, the Baroque Pope, had it built. The Barberini princes’  "bees" coat of arms, having survived over the palatial gate at the end of the estate for hundreds of years were defaced about 20 years ago of its coat of arms by someone who probably shipped it to an antiquarian in New York City!
    The convent-villa was a grand place with three stories. We, the local land gentry, lived on the upper floor where one had a distant view on clear days of St. Peter's dome in Rome.
  Some peasants who worked our land lived in a mezzanine without plumbing of any kind. Imagine how blacks lived before the civil war in the South. I came to America to escape my past only to see parts of it again as I travelled through the 'South' in 1955….the shanties across the railroad tracks…
    Our peasants, as the Southern blacks, also had no place to go. They had no health care, nothing but one large bedroom and kitchen where all the cooking utensils consisted of a copper cauldron suspended over a hearth fuelled by the sticks and wood they were allowed to collect on the premises.  And they were white, not black. Poor downtrodden people are by nature colorless until they want either to be rich or white.
    Food! -- Our peasants were allowed a vegetable garden. My father called them sharecroppers; Oil and wine (as in old Roman times) were free.  Some had a few chicks on the edge of the property. If they were sick they would have had to walk for more then an hour to Castel Gandolfo, where the summer residence of the Pope was.  They saw him, but he did not see them as his limo rushed down the Old Appian Road towards Rome, right in front of our giant travertine gate in front of the property.
     Not very different from how people live today in the countryside of some parts of South, Middle America, India, or Africa.  – There are no Popes there, just giant corporations.
     My grandfather and father felt no guilt for this state of affairs because, “THIS IS THE WAY IT WAS."  On the other hand my Mother, having come from Prague, a highly civilized product of civilization, felt compassion for those serfs but was powerless to alter their fate in any way.
     But this story is not just about the peasants living on our premises, but about me, the only child and presumptive heir to the villa -farm property, but only after having married a rich neighbor’s son, which was a marriage dreamed of by my Grandfather Peter!
As the only grandchild of four grandparents, two German-Austrian and two Italian ones, I had the privilege to see how folk from recently still enemy countries ate daily together. -- Not well.
      On the other hand, although I sensed this all along, it did not slap me in the face until after WWII when I became nine years old.
      Until then life was marvelous for everyone, including the peasants who baked bread weekly as one can still see it done in Breughel's painting, carrying the planks of loaves over their heads and then zipping all the loaves in a giant dug out hearth dug into the side of a small hill, which is protected by with a huge metal door that was closed after the loaves were nestled into an area surrounded by red ambers. You wonder if Little Adolf also remembered similar ovens in his native Austria.  The fragrance of that bread when the door opened still pervades my life, along with the thought of Adolf's ovens where all my Mother’s Jewish friends were incinerated.
       Was I part of a community?   Was I part of the Italian Community, of my Mother’s community? How many communities can we be part of?
     This paper is about community. Yes, I was and am part of many communities now. But the real community then was the one with supporting peasants. They made/cooked, chickens, cows, cats, dogs, donkeys, horses, butterflies, snails, insects, birds, olive trees, peach trees, wild herbs, ancient olive trees and much more.
        As an only child home schooled by a depressed mother, I chose to run away from the villa, which also contained the renaissance chapel in which I was baptized by a man who became the head of the Jesuit order…did I care about any of this? Of course not. Status symbols were not part of my life because whatever I played with had no status. IT JUST WAS.
       Sure, perhaps once every two weeks I was driven by my grandmother's carriage to visit a far away estate where there was a child with whom I played.  The same went for far away relatives.  What is now achieved in ten minutes with a car, may have taken more then an hour by foot because the roads were not paved, but crisp with stones and gravel…and it might rain.
      I neglected to say that we had no telephone, only the radio for news. The running water in the big house came from a well after it had travelled from the lake of Albanpo, near Casdtel Gandolfy.
For heat, there were only three fireplaces in a house with more than 12 rooms…. A grotto built by monks under the house had the same temperature all year round, about 52 F. It was our refrigerator during the summer.
       Obviously Jefferson was much better off then we were! On the other hand we had Venetian hand-painted renaissance furniture in the house.  I hated it because scratching it was almost a mortal sin.
        I was happy. My parents were miserable and had little money allotted to them. My grandparents had the power and were happy. The peasants were RESIGNED.
       The purpose and intent of this story after describing the personal notes is to describe how this mini universe could function without really being part of a metropolis.
      It did function for better or worse, depending of its inhabitants because there did indeed exist a COMMUNITY, a stratified one in which I was at the apex observing all those gents below and looking at them, mostly through my mother's eyes and commiserating with them.
      But, would it have been possible to have a similar community with peasants who had a closer well so that women did not have e to carry the enormous copper vats on top of their heads and walk a mile with them on?
      Yes, it could have been done, and it was done after the war ended in 1945 and Communism swept over Italy creating unions. Serfdom had ended. Something valuable also ended: community.
       Now the peasants knew they were suffering and were poor. Now the landed gentry were afraid of the peasants because they might take over.
       Yes, for a few years after the war ended we still raised our wheat and had it thrashed in a nearby community. The paid laborers still gathered grapes, which were hand-torqued to separate the juice from the skins and seeds. The cow still gave us milk, the pig raised by another peasant still gave is hams, the rabbits I still raised until I went to Rome to school when I was 13 years old, still gave us meat. The olive grove made it possible for us to have our own oil.
        Eventually many years later, we did have a refrigerator although stoves no longer heated the house because we spent the cold months in Rome.
        Slowly over several years, the villa became a financial burden. The peasants living in the mezzanine had died. Cheap help was no longer available and I, living mostly in the metropolis learned to adapt to contemporary life.
        Now, more than sixty years later, my thoughts go back to the structures of those communities looking at the growth which might occur, not in a linear way, but in a helicoidally growing structure, in which the direction of growth also has within itself the original schemata from the original circle, plus the development and change in time. After all, that is how the structure of DNA, the informative matrix in our bodies, works. One could call it a matrix in constant evolution.
        As the state of this Earth is increasingly turning to destruction being overridden by too many hungry people, and powerful forces not aligned with the welfare of their constituents in which I include so-called other animals, green creatures, silent rocks, and whatever is part of what some call “Gaia” or “Mother Earth.” I look back at the ancient hierarchical structure and wonder, could it be become part of an ascending helicoid in which humans live in small communities, work together in creating food and shelter and, most important, use the finest of technology to have access to medicine, news and shipments of products they cannot self-raise, also partaking at a virtual level part of the larger community called "Gaia” and civilization. Jacques Ellul would have agreed.
        Yes, of course it is possible. We are far removed from the Oneida Communities, the Ghettoes, and the Stadtels. Today’s romantics are invoking such an adventurous life from the safety of their foam-stuffed couches while imbibing adventure through televised programs. They are television programs that have access to anything possible or thinkable. They are custom-made as a release for people like us who lead stereotypical social lives based on pre-programmed activities insulated from physical existential involvement possibly demanded by a creative daily existence.
        Beaudelaire would have called many of these technologically advanced programs creating for the brain of the spectators the illusions of artificial paradises, not much different from lounging in the opium dens and probably as destructive to the mind and body in the long run.
       Obesity is indirectly our main killer, driving us to physical death and mostly into worlds, which no longer exist, but briefly in the mind. A button is switched off and we are still in our same old house, in our same old jobs, with the same old mate and with angry kids who want more and more of EVERYTHING.
       Is change possible? Yes, but only within the supportive network of a community in which we need to create and work for and feel proud of. Alone, we can do nothing except switching on the TUBE! And live someone else's lives.

*This is an original copper cauldron used to prepare the one meal for a family. It hung from two rings over the hearth. It was no longer used after WWII when unions came into existence in Italy after 1946.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rome, Open City 1945

On my return home, I walked through the narrow streets on which I had once travelled in a carriage pushed by my German nanny, Maria. I would go by the door of “the Witch” who ate bad children, then by another door of the Morabito family, with whose children I once played and fought with for possession of a spinning top. Mother recalled that I slammed the toy on the boy's head! I was not a wimp at age three!  And not even at age seven.Yet, mysteriously I turned into a wimp at age seven and a half. Something appeared to tell me that life was not worth fighting for any more since I was at the mercy of a chaotic inward awareness that made me feel that I had no longer any control over my life.
The spring waned into summer. July 25, 1925 arrived as Valeriana and I were seated in a very small garden just across from the King's Palace known as the Quirinale. There were swings, but no cats to place on swings as I had done with my friend Nerina, our farm's cat. For a while Nerina had also lived in Rome (to save her from possible bombings over the farm), but she had returned to the farm a few days before. The radio rang with triumphant news. It meant nothing to her.  I missed Nerina, although the cook did not!
The cat's ability to obtain food was unrivaled.  While on the villa-farm, which had a coal-stoked hearth, but no refrigeration, the young cat had learned the way to the cave. She climbed a wall and found the string attached to a pulley to which meat and other perishable foods resting in a basket were attached. The pulley went over a hook that was quite close to the wall.  All the cat had to do was to climb the wall and pull the string just as the cook did, and the basket would be hers.  Needless to say, it had taken us some time to discover the perpetrator of the meat's theft.
After Nerina was taken to Rome, her skills sharpened. She was then capable of pulling down the oven's door and could get to the meat inside!
Nerina had to return to the farm. She had a long life, which was aided by extra meat from baby rabbits as she infiltrated their penned up enclosure. The last time I saw her was just before my departure for the United States of America.The cat was thirteen years old and was then being fed with fresh liver, which she guarded fiercely from other contenders.
Yes, on July 25th, as I sat in the park with Valeriana, a storming noise was driven towards us from the Quirinale square, where the Greek marble sculpture of Castor and Polluce protected the King's palace.
The noise was from vehicles, as many of them were approaching, from people screaming, and from loud speakers. The scene was bedlam!
The girl and her nanny drew closer to the street and watched as the slow armored vehicles drew closer. Open trucks filled with waiving people in uniform followed, but the people did not wear blue uniforms. They drove on along Via XX Settembre, towards its end at Porta Pia, the famous portal to ancient Rome. This was the wall through which Benito Mussolini entered Rome with the intent to seize power of the city.  But in July of 1945 Mussolini (whom I had never seen, but only listened to on the radio) had been captured by the Italian Partisans and hung near Mantova by his heels, flanked by his young mistress Claretta Petacci.
I did not know nor remember any of this.  Later on in life I would bemoan the fact that I had never been taken to Piazza Venezia to watch the DUCE (Benito Mussolini) work the adoring and shouting crowd from the balcony of Palazzo Venezia in the center of Rome.
Twenty years later I would return to Rome again for my “exile.” My landlord would be, as a fate would have it, the head of the cabinet under Mussolini, the four star general Domenico Chrieleison. He would grin while remembering Mussolini drawing an adoring female behind the heavy drapes of the Quirinale (The King’s Palace) windows to produce one more True Fascist! Yes, I had known Mussolini without having ever met him. They were memories then. They are memories now.
On the jubilant day they entered Rome, the wind of power had shifted, and the Italian crowds on that day yelled worshipful songs and screamed towards the new LIBERATORS. Just a few months before this day, these liberators had been their enemies!
I picked up the jellybeans and the lifesavers and stuffed them in my summer dress pocket. I didn’t really know why the crowds jeered and the solders waved, and I felt as apart of one of mother’s strange stories in which heroes defeated dragons. Yet, I saw neither heroes nor dragons. Within me, the war had just shifted from one state of awareness to another; from anxiety to depression.
My father said that within a few weeks it would be safe to return to the villa-farm because the battle at Anzio was over and bombs would no longer be falling on the villa. Rome had been saved from destructions in so far as it was walled by the ancient Roman walls. Outside of the walls, buildings were in rubble, and refugees were squeezed into shanties like canned sardines. Water was scarce and the sun was broiling.
The return to the villa farm was swift. The furniture was brought back from the house of a friend of my grandmother Ometti. The peasant refugees had returned to their own houses speckling the land. The grain heaped for the refugees was no longer in my bedroom and the Venetian hand-painted furniture was again in place, and so was the Persian rug. The German soldiers in their blue uniforms were no longer there, but we did have new neighbors in the villa across the street, which was taken over by American forces after the Germans withdrew.
Field marshal Kesserling, who had fought the allied forces with General Chirieleison, had negotiated a safe withdrawal from Rome with Churchill, which occurred at night before the Allied forces had entered the city in order to avoid the destruction of the Holy City.  Kesserling also wanted to avoid a bloody confrontation with Field Marshal Clark, who was particularly interested in preserving neither lives nor antiquities, and neither was Churchill.
Preserving antiquities and art appears to have been the only worthwhile concern of “ little Adolph.” Since he was not able to make “good art,” he became intent on acquiring and preserving the artwork of others. It just so happened later in 1963, as I shall further describe elsewhere, that I shared with my little daughter Hildegard, the home of General Domenico Chirieleison for two years. He even read fables to her at night in his bed so that I could to see a movie sometimes. No. He was no pedophile. During my last year in Rome, in 1964, he actually acquired a young mistress.
The "general" as I would refer to him in the future, was a four star general; and the head of the cabinet under the "reign" of Mussolini and Victor Emmanuel.  He became like a grandfather- friend for us over those two years in Rome and reminded me a couple of times that it was HE who had saved Rome from destruction through his secret negotiations. I probably owe him my life.
“Little Adolf,” as I came to describe the Teutonic German leader (Kesserling) left a permanent imprint on my life as well, although I never saw him in person. It all started with those radio messages aired at dinner on the farm in 1943-44 and earlier.
As I recall from our dinner times together at the long dinner table waited on by a maid with white gloves, my father was a vehement fascist and a Hitler fan, while Grandfather Peter was pro Jewish and not politically inclined either way. He kept a low profile during the war because of his Jewish friends hidden in a Cistercienses, where Father had also taken the cow.
My mother Hilda kept a silence regarding politics.  We heard about Hitler’s offensives, his losses, some problems with Jews, then about Italian partisans, the German killings of Italian civilians at “le Fosse Ardeatine,” Hitler’s last stand, and information filtered through about possible enemy concentration camps, which interested Mother because her parents had been interned into the Russian Zone after the Allied Forces invaded Europe.
I could not relate to anyone's interests or psychological positions because no on spoke to him about it. One thing I did know: concentration camps were bad and at the end of the war my German grandparents were in a concentration camp. Somehow I placed them in the same contest as the Jews, although they were not such. The tensions at the dinner table had increased from arrows to poisoned arrows between my mother and grandfather.  But they did not argue about the War. It was about how to raise me.
Mother and my grandmother Ometti just kept silent for most of the time when the conversation was about politics. Just like the time when my father had accused president Roosevelt of being a Jew (because of his name and policies). My father vehemently wished for all “DIRTY” Jews to be exterminated as soon as possible.
I only knew that Jews were considered "God Killers," yet I did not like to hear Father's commentary and I disliked it less and less as time went on.
A few years later, my mother told me more about her life in the Sudetenland, where she was born (Kaden to be exact). I became acquainted, through my mother’s memories, with mother’s friends. Her closer friends were Jewish. They were integrated Jews and free-thinkers (whatever that meant). The best friend of all was Anne Marie Bondi with whom she spent some time in Hungary at her summer estate. Mother came to know gypsies and listen to their magical music. She would always remember the steppes where the eye gazes into the vast expanse of space…and also how their refrigeration worked. It would work by placing butter in the cool water of a toilet (I always wondered if that particular toilet was ever used for other purposes rather then refrigeration!).
When I returned to the villa-farm, which at that time was more of a farm than a villa, things had not changed. The cat Nerina was there. So were the dog Pietruccio, the nameless cow, the donkey Cadorna, and the nameless horse.  All of these animals were still there.  I was gone for the nine months during in which Europe was being transformed by the presence of its new victors: The United States, Great Britain, and The Soviet Union. Whatever was left shifted between the Soviet pole and the Allied one. Japan was still at war, but it would not be for long.  The African situation was in limbo. India was going through its own crisis, and China would start its own ascension. Those were the days of grand espionage and apparently friendly communication among the Great Powers.
Sixty-five years later I would discover at the funeral of my astrologer, Jacob Schwrartz, that he had also been a part of the struggle for world supremacy. He had been stationed in the Philippines and the Far East. My father had once felt that his heydays had been when he was 14 and he had traveled incognito from Rome to Paris to deliver a message (secret of course) to the dignitaries involved in the Peace of Versailles!
Historical background is, for all of us, the great and continuing landscape over which our lives evolve; with which we grow and make decisions, even if we consciously want to ignore it.
My mother had decided to ignore her background. We both had developed liver disease from eating too much fried food and high stress. Mother was no longer reading Bible stories, but was instructing me in the English language while also forbidding me to speak German, which actually is my native language.
Fortunately, my mother knew perfect English, Italian, French, Czech, and she could understand most of the Slavic languages. I started learning English and within months I could even read it. A family friend, Anna Orecchia, who was living in New York City, sent me books during the next two years. Pamphlets owned by the American forces now stationed where the German Command had been, across the Appian Way and the grand Baroque gate. Father also spoke English, since Mother had also taught him. He enjoyed bartering with the troops: wine in exchange for gin, cigarettes, Agatha Christie mysteries and booklets in self-improvement. He passed the letter over to me to practice English.
The booklets were about self-help. The one that readily caught my attention was titled something like “How To Know Your Personality” or “Know Your Type.” In the booklet, a person had to answer a series of numbered questions with “yes” or “no.”  Then that individual had to add up the scores in each category. At the end of the exercise, he or she would have to look at the index in the booklet and read a few paragraphs about one’s “personality” in regards to where the highest score happened to fall.
I did read, supposedly, who I was, how I felt and how I thought.  I was apparently an “introvert” among other not very good personality traits. I was not happy with this and attempted to see whether I could have a “better personality” if I answered the questions differently.  Would I be capable of getting a different score? Of course I was if I behaved in a different manner than usual and thought differently about myself!
This awareness of my handicaps made me hate myself and at the same time it gave me a reason to improve.  Yes, the booklets were good to me. So was the gin. Every morning, I mixed one raw yolk from an egg that had been plucked while still warm from under a chicken, and separated the yolk from the white. I would then place it a glass, add a good shot of gin and a lot sugar and beat it to a light yellow cream. I consumed one-third of the mixture myself, and would add more gin and sugar thus increasing the volume and bring it to my father for breakfast. Since the mixture he received was the same every day, I was safe!
Around my 8th birthday (but after August 29,, a few weeks after the radio announced the explosion of an “Atomic Bomb” ( whatever that was) it was decided at home that Don Husselbring, an American solder from Omaha Nebraska and his friend Peebles would take me and my parents for a drive  in their enormous green car to see  the vast cemetery of the Allied Forces near Anzio. My family had often driven to Anzio, the Italian beachhead of WWII, to enjoy the beach, driving in front of a town called Andria.
This was a special occasion for the two men.  As the car passed near the town of Andria, I happened to look out of the window, noticing that not only the town looked strange, but also the landscape did. There were no trees left, but dark stumps erupting from the hardened soil, and torn limbs stretching towards a sky…no grass…I could see THROUGH the town. It had become almost transparent since most houses  consisted of only one wall standing , the opening of the windows  revealing  either the blue sky  or other parts of houses…The car sped along. No one seemed to notice.
At the arrival to the cemetery, rows upon rows, almost to the horizon of white crosses, I did not feel anything.  The view of Andria had scorched my mind.
I was not aware that a few weeks before, a much larger town across two oceans had been scorched and turned into a wasteland much larger than Andria. Two pilots at the simple pulling of a lever had exterminated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The trip was meant as a celebration of victory for the two American soldiers. For them, the War was now over since Japan had surrendered.
I would not be aware for many a decades that a message from the Emperor Hirohito had reached the State department before the first bomb was dropped. The American State department had decided to ignore it , or perhaps it had been lost.  It was about total surrender to the Allied forces.  Had the message been acknowledged in time, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been spared. Yet the games of power required that the two towns and hundreds of thousands of people be sacrificed in an unprecedented cataclysm worthy of the Goddess Kali, as the physicist Teller would remark at the sight of the first glorious mushroom cloud after the grand test in the New Mexico desert.
The bombs were not really exploded to defeat the Japanese, but to impress Marshal Stalin about the power of the new American weapon!—The display was useless. Within more than a year the Soviet Union had created its own atomic weapon.
Before his death president Truman regretted the incident. Later Oppenheimer was accused of perhaps spying for the Russians! And could no longer work on classified material.—Those are the  wages of War. No one ever wins.

Story Number 8 is going to follow in my autobiography, but not on the blog.