Monday, August 29, 2011

Meet Rachel Figueroa-Levin, the Soap-Making, Jewryican Stay-at-Home Mom Behind Twitter’s ElBloombito

Editor Note: Let me remind the Observer that it was the NYFrepress who coined the word Bloombito. It was not Rachel.

La Bloombita.

The Observer: That’s the spirit! So, besides Adam Sandler, where did you hone your Spanglish? Does it have anything to do with growing up Jewyorican, as you named your other Twitter handle?

Rachel: My father is Puerto Rican and fluent in Spanish. My mother is Ashkenazi Jewish and despite being married to my dad for 30 years doesn’t speak any Spanish at all. For me Spanglish is sort of a natural evolution from living in an English speaking country. Kind of like “Yeshivish” in the Jewish community. I grew up in an English only household but the languages of your ancestors have a way of sneaking into your vocabulary.

The Observer: Amen—or should I say ah-mein—to that. So tell us a little bit more about yourself? You mentioned your grandma out in Sheepshead Bay and your dad at the NYPD. You grew up in the city? Went to school here? What were you doing before you became an artisian soap maker?

Rachel: I grew up on Staten Island. In Willowbrook, within easy walking distance of that creepy mental hospital busted by Geraldo Rivera (another Jewyorican!!!). I moved to Manhattan when I moved in with my then-boyfriend (now husband/baby daddy). Before I was a soap maker I dabbled in opera (I’m a soprano), freelance graphic and website design, and writing. Now I make babies and soap. In a year or two I’ll probably be doing something else. I’m so incredibly lucky that my husband has a “real job” that allows me to just be creative without worrying about money.

Otherwise I’d be one of those starving artists. I’m a well fed starving artist.

The Observer: With plenty of time for Twitter, too! Seriously, with a new baby, how do you find the time for social media?

Rachel: I can feed the baby with one hand and tweet on my phone with the other. I have to. Between not being able to go out much during my third trimester (and the baby was 2 weeks late), a very cold winter with a newborn, and hurricanes, I’m pretty much a shut in. Thank G-d the weather is nice again!

The Observer: Did you write before, or did the blogging and twitter (and wit!) sort of just happen?

Rachel: I have always enjoyed writing. The wit I credit to my late grandfather Bernard Samith. He was a master of one-liners.

Do Not Ride Your Bike in the Hurricane (But If You Do, Don’t Forget Goggles) >>

The Observer: Were you worried about being outed? Surprised? How’d that happen?

Rachel: I put my @jewyorican twitter handle on the Bloombito profile. So I wasn’t outed… just discovered.

The Observer: Does that trouble, bother or worry you?

Rachel: Not at all. Like I said, I created this for friends so I wanted them to know that the profile was me. My personal twitter is public so anyone can see it. If people are really that interested in my daily happenings… that’s O.K. with me.

The Observer: So, the obvious question: Have you been offered a book deal yet?

Rachel: I have not. Is this something I should expect? You aren’t the first person to mention a book deal. I think it would be funny.

The Observer: It’s a thing, I guess, from Shit My Dad Says to the rash of Tumblogs-to-books. I noticed in the Daily News you’ve got a cook book in the works, so maybe you could parlay it into something with that. How many followers did your main account get thanks to this? Also,

Rachel: The only “book” I have ever written was for NaNoWriMo two years ago. I got maybe 300 new followers on my personal account.

The Observer: You mentioned NY1 and Inside City Hall. Are you politically active?

Rachel: I don’t know about active… I’m politically aware. I blog about it occasionally—but not much. I like political pundit shows—a little too much maybe. I’m also addicted to Hardball.

The Observer: Did you vote for El Bloombito?

Rachel: I did. To be honest, if he ran for a fourth term I’d probably vote for him again.

The Observer: Speaking of fourth terms, here are a few questions from Twitter readers (please respond in character):

Rachel: O.K., shooto.

The Observer: From @dsrbroadway, Is he seeking a quatro term?

Rachel: Yo no seeko un quatro term por que yo necesito to be paid more than uno peso per yearo. Tengo bills.

The Observer: From CFWard57, “Donde can yo vayo to learn Español as bueno as yours?”

Rachel: Watcho El Streeto del Sesame!

The Observer: From MikeZ37, “¿Quien es macho, Fernando Llama o Ricardo Montalban?”

Rachel: Ricardo Maltoban es el man.

This Transplanted Frank Lloyd Wright House Is About to Have a Very Ironic Weekend in The Hamptons >>

The Observer: All right. Back to you. What is your fondest non-El Bloombito memory of or experience from Hurricane Irene?

Rachel: My husband’s birthday was yesterday. Blew out emergency candles. My daughter also stood up without holding onto anything for the first time. That was fantastic.

The Observer: What was your weirdest hurricane provision?

Rachel: Coconut toasted marshmallows.

The Observer: And the question that’s on everyone’s mind: With Irene gone, is this the end, or just the beginning?

Rachel: Everyone is telling me to continue El Bloombito. I will for now, as long as it stays fun.

The Observer: Anything else you’d like to add/plug for/let the world know?

Rachel: I run a hyperlocal website for my neighborhood Inwood, In the Wood. My neighborhood is amazing and very important to me. All you stranded Brooklynites should come up here! No flooding!

mchaban [at] | @MC_NYC

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