domenica 22 marzo 2015

How beautiful!

Forecast was calling for rain and indeed it was raining when I woke up this morning. In the time it took me to move from waking to getting up, I managed to read the Sunday post on Postsecret and to contemplate the possibility I might be hibernating right now at the beginning of spring, Outside it stopped raining but weather remained gloomy.
Around 3 I dragged myself out of the flat, as I was supposed to meet with Fabio in the center to go and visit the Gallerie d'Italia. I got on the red metro line, headset in the ear but no music playing and book in hand: since visiting the exhibition dedicated to Primo Levi in Palazzo Madama last week I've been re-reading all his books in my own chronological order, i.e. the order I read them.
So there I was, reading "Other People's Trades", when I heard a woman exclaim: "How beautiful!"

I had to look up from the book, curiosity sparkled: something beautiful on this cranky, dirty and filthy and quite smelly carriage of the Milan underground line?!? Where? Show me!

Turns out she was pointing at me, I was the "how beautiful" she was pointing to her husband. She told me it was beautiful to see me reading a real book and see me smiling.
When I got off the train, she wished me "happy reading" and smiled at me.

Now, that was a beautiful moment to me. 

sabato 14 marzo 2015

X or Y

March the 8th came and went.

So what? Many others did before it and many will do after, but what will change?

Alas, nothing, I fear. I might count myself lucky if they don't get worse in the coming years (outlook not very positive right now).

I am lucky I know. I'm privileged, somehow spoiled, I'm well too aware of that.

I live in a 1st world country and have the luck of working in a company that is making some genuine efforts to embrace differences and to make sure gender equality is not just some words on paper. It's something I utterly enjoy, because for a part of my average day I can live with the notion I'm valued for who I am and for my work, not for my gender.

Yet, sometimes I am painfully reminided of how my working hours are merely a bubble and that reality is way different. Sexism is alive and kicking and on Friday I had once more to listen to such stupid "jokes" from people I otherwise considered very smart and sensible. Even worse, the other colleagues (all male, ça va sans ddire) laughed heartily at the jokes. I couldn't even get angry: I just felt once more disillusioned and sad.

The disappointment I felt was so great that I couldn't find my voice to reply. I got so emotional, I just choked 2 or 3 sentences, look extremely cross and the reaction as usual is: "Oh you got upset! You shouldn't, I'm just joking, you know that!"

More than a day has passed alrea and, on top of all the other feelings, I am extremely upset and angry. First of all against myself, because I still haven't learned how to reply in this scenarios without looking like a fool.

If I werent such a fool that's what I would have said:

"Oh, a joke! How stupid of me to not have realized it. Could it cause I'm a woman or because, guess what?!?, it's not just a joke. When you make such a joke in this environment, aside disappointing me and downgrading my opinion of you, you're bringing the ugly world outside in the office and you make me doubt how you'd behave outside.

If you think it's a joke, and that things like inequality, viiolence and sexualization of young girls are something that hasn't happened since the 60s, I need to take into account the possibility you live in a parallel world that comes in touch with mine by chance, due to a weird overlap in the time and space fabric of the universe.

Probably in your Italy, your sister never had to deal with being groped on public transportation, harassed or catcalled in the street. In your world, women have same rights, enjoy the same chances of their male counterparts.

If that's the case, well, it's awesome. But let me give you a quick outlook of what it'd be like to live here, in Italy in 2015.

If you were to live here, your sister would probably have to teach your cherished nieces how to watch out on the bus to school: elbows out, shout if you get groped and get away quickly. My mum also added the "knee in the groin if chance allows it" bit, but that depends on your sister defence technique.

If you were to live here and you happened to be a woman, you would have to get used from a very young age to deal with disappointment of being overlooked, in spite of your abilities and skills, just because of your chromosome asset. You'd have to grow up with boys and later on men being given chances and opportunities they didn't deserve one bit while you work hard for them, just because of, guess what?, their chromosome asset. Oh, and don't even get me started on those pitiful excuse of doctors that use their so called conscience to deny a woman her own right to choose what to do with her body and how to deal with unwanted prengnancy.

The difference between an X and an Y in our DNA secuences doesn't (or at least shouldn't) allow you to make such jokes without feeling like a total tosser; and it does have nothing to say with the ability to empatize with other people. You don't need to wear high heels to understand how tough it is to take a walk in one woman's shoes.

And, since we're at it, I'm fucking tired of having to resort to show you how upsetting your "jokes" can be by turning them against your female relatives: am I really to believe that you're able to understand how horrible, sick, hurtful your words are only if I apply them to your mother, sister or grandmother? Is this the only way you're able to relate to the issue and struggles of people different from you???"

But I didn't say any of those words. March the 8th came and went by and all I'm left with is the memory of yet another smile that has turned sour in my memory.

domenica 8 marzo 2015

il solito post del solito otto marzo

"Mimose signò?"
"No, grazie."
"Ma come? E' la tua festa, non vuoi comprare nemmeno una mimosa piccola piccola?"

Il cumulo di polvere da cui spunta un mazzetto di mimose non lontano dall'Esselunga di Via Feltre appartiene a uno sfortunato ambulante che ho incenerito con lo sguardo.

Potrei scrivere molto altro, ma ogni anno mi trovo costretta a ribadire che sono una donna tutti i giorni e non solo quando mi vuoi rifilare delle mimose.
E in più fa bello e voglio andare a fare una passeggiata, quindi se siete interessati, potete rileggere il post dell'anno scorso.

mercoledì 4 marzo 2015

The Epiphany Bingo

The "Tombola della Befana", the Epiphany Bingo, is a consolidated tradition amongst that group of friends of mine collected under the somehow sarcastic name of "lovelt creatures".
Tradition would call for the Epiphany Bingo to take place on Epiphany Day, but we're quite anarchic, which is a snob way to say: we're not even able to sort out our socks drawer, let alone organize to meet, eat and play bingo on a specific day.

What we need to do is to bring in prizes for the bingo: they can be really good (like bottle of wines, good food, etc) or terribly nasty recycled "thing". After playing we have a little barter section: you try to get the price you want and normally you need to take in also one of those "thing" too. The nasty part is that you can't throw away the nasty thing, but you can put it back in the bingo after 2 years.

Some years ago I wanted a set of tea towel. I still have them and use them but if I think about it now, the only reason I wanted them is that I was gloriously drunk. In order to get the tea towel I also had to take in a plaster duck; at the time, I was still living in the London, perfect excuse to leave the duck at my mom's place. My mum, being the completely nut artist she is, painted the duck and then covered it with a layer of gloss paint: the most striking part of it were the eyes. If a duck ever tried a bad acid trip, it would look just like that painted duck. The duck is not at my mom's place: not because I am back in Italy but because it's been won by Angela and she couldn't find anybody so crazy or drunk (or both) to swap it for anything. I think it'll be eligible for bingo next year and I'm already quite worried.

This year I won another of the "historic" prizes. Words cannot describe it. Really, when you see it with your own eyes, it does leave you speechless:


Even this picture is not enough, because sound is missing. This statue is abso-fucking-lutely horrifying and it also produces a music worth of The Shining or Deep Red.
Needless to say, nobody wanted to swap it for anything. So I brought it back home, left it in a corner with the plan of hiding it in the basement soon. The morning after I took the train back to Milan and l forgot about it, until my dad reminded me about it while chatting on FaceTime.

He wanted to know about the statue and so he did what he normally does: he had my mum asking questions. I told them what happened at the bingo and that I was going to bring it down to the basement next time I'd be in Torino.
That's the moment he jumped in:

"No worry, I'll take it"
"You haven't got the keys of the basement"
" No, I take it for myself."
"..."
"It'll do great in the nativity scene next December"
"Next to the Cometa Dancing?"
"Yeah!"

And that's the story of how the lovely creatures lost one of their traditional presents and how my family acquired an extra bit for the nativity scene, at least until my mother doesn't hear it playing for more than 10 minutes.

martedì 3 marzo 2015

to Shibboleth

The crack is still there; it’s not so easy to find, if one doesn’t know where to look for it.

You are still there; you’re not easy to find, if one doesn’t know where to look for you.
But I know where to find you because I walked across your edges so many times your path is etched in my brain.

Some years ago I joked about you, Shibboleth, the crack at Tate.
But as the three Kings used to say, I started a joke without knowing that the joke was on me (bonus point for whoever spots the pop reference): now, each time I am back in London I naturally gravitates back to the Thames and the Southwark and I head back to Tate Modern, looking for you.

That’s because, back then, I didn’t know you meant so much for me, or maybe I knew it, but found it hard to admit it to myself.
Cuts will heal but scars remain and even if time will make them look lighter and fainter on the skin, you know where they are and you will always feel them.

A quick, delicate touch over it and you will be able to retrace them and remember everything about them.
The gap you’re about Shibboleth, is the gap i feel inside between what I used to be, what I am and what I wish I could be: a somehow vague notion of longing and belonging.
I don’t laugh about you anymore Shibboleth, because now I understand a little bit better: you’re just like the cracks I got inside, they’re healing but the can’t disappear, some memory, distant echoes of them still remain. I don't need to think about them too much to know that they're still there, shaping the path I'm walking on. And I don’t need to look down to know I’m just walking along the same old edges.


martedì 24 febbraio 2015

The silent sounds of London

Each time I'm leaving for a small journey around Europe, I normally take into account some things that have by now become accepted truths: the first one is that I will always leave home as somebody who's running away from it. I'll normally postpone getting the luggage ready till the last possible millisecond and leave home at the last minute, giving me an overall aura of a pinkish hair runaway madwoman.
The second truth is that in the moment I land I'll be temporarily deaf. My ears pressure has always behaved like an anarchist and after a bad infection some years ago (note to readers: if your ear ever starts bleeding after a flight, don't believe the A&E doctor telling you to take an aspirin and go to sleep, ok? You'd have to be highly dysfunctional, stupid or both to believe him) alongside the pain my hearing capabilities drops badly.
The feeling is the one you get when your ears are full of water but there is no sound whatsoever. I see people opening and closing their mouths but I hear nothing. Hearing eventually comes back, slowly and gradually and the day after I'm as good as new.

To say I freaked out the first time it happened is an understatement, but now I got used to it and I somehow appreciate it. First of all it's a good excuse to play dumb if situation arises. And, it allows me a whole different look on what's around me and strips me of some of my habits, like having the iPod constantly on. I've grown up listening to music in every song moment of my life: I listen to music first thing in the morning, sing along some of my favourites at work and one of my he last thing before turning the lights off at night is to close the turntable. By if I can't hear it makes no sense to try and listen to music at inhuman high volume. So no music for me today, in my ears at least. Because walking in central London, I could see all the sounds and noises of the city: the different accents English is spoken here, the screeching of the tube vagons on the tracks, the service announcements over intercom, the gulls calling each other and the Thames water that hits the pillar of the bridges, the Caribbean duo playing near Waterloo and the busker at Green Park.

I walked around while my brain was singing to the Clash, switching to Billy Bragg around Charing Cross, the music plays in shuffle mode, from the Pogues to Nick Lowe, from R.E.M. to Césaria Evora, till the sun set down and Ella accompanied me home. Well, to the bed and breakfast...

domenica 8 febbraio 2015

staring at the oil bottle

As I already wrote, last Friday I woke up with a huge stye in my eye. I went to the eye-doctor and then to the pharmacy to get some medicines.
When I told some of my friends, I was surprised by how many (almost all!) of them replied advising me to stare at a bottle of oil.

Uh?

A bottle of oil. Everybody knows it, apparently. Well, everybody but me. I'm apparently very ignorant of any notion of popular remedy.
But as the stye is still happily squatting my eyes, I thought I could give it a try and immediately faced some issues.


First of all, I bet none of my ancestors stared into a bottle of oil with a plastic cap: you can't really take a good look at the oil from it; plus, this "bottle of oil" sounds too generic to me: olive oil? corn oil? Quick search on Google and I learned it's extra-virgin olive oil bottle I need. And so I stared at it, thinking I've however done much stupider things and making a mental note to add olive oil to the grocery list for the week.