martedì 9 settembre 2014

totally a feminist

This summer was a lucky string of good reads. I loved almost every single book I picked up and it's something that hasn't happened so often recently.

One of the best book I read was Lauren Bates’s “Everyday Sexism”.
The first time I came across the Everyday Sexism Project was on Twitter.
One of the many possible harassment I could be victim of just because I'm a woman had just happened and I got back home feeling angry and upset.
To quote my sister quoting a De André's song, "it's easier to vent your rage on Twitter rather than doing the same in a movie studio", so I took it to the internet and found the Everyday Sexism website and pour all my frustration in a post.
I start reading the other posts: the more I read the more I felt passionate, angry and tired about this whole fuc**d up situation.
It made me also more aware I'm not alone, it's not just me and it's not my fault. 
I mirrored myself in the words of other women from all over the world: I could see my old self in the tweets from teenagers and I fear my future can be read on that website too.
I took it as my personal daily homework to repeat it to myself. It didn't solve anything per se but it helped.

When the book was published I knew it was a matter of time before I eventually bought it. 
So far I haven't found a better way to explain it but bear with me: by reading this book I detached myself from the world around me in order to plunge deeper into reality. This book hits a lot of painful chords. 
Sometimes I caught myself laughing out loud while reading it on the metro.  Some other times I felt tears in my eyes, because nobody should ever be victim of abuses.
Way too often I felt angry because I recognized how many times I left the catcalls, the abuse and discrimination pass by because I was tired, because "I'm not going to change it by myself alone", because it's downright dangerous, because "that's the way it works".

Yeah, the way it works is that you just shut up. The way it works is that when you try to talk about it with a colleague or a male friend, he shuts you down saying that those are not abuses or violent acts, no, no,  it's just that men need to get laid (sic). It's oh-so-so-so tempting to give up already, thinking it's not worthy the headache and disappointments.

But then, something small and ordinary happened few days ago that changed my whole feeling towards this whole matter, making me thinking humans do stand some chances after all.
Yep, one more thing happened.
I don't really talk about work and colleagues that much, but this is something I just need to tell somebody; or anybody; well, everybody really.

Few days ago, I was chatting with my colleague Mo, telling him how my intention of posting a feedback ended up in a small paper on being a woman in IT and being a woman in IT in Italy.

This is the short chat that followed:
Mo: Totally a feminist
Me: I’ll take it as a compliment ;-)
Mo: It is!

5 words and one exclamation mark. That's it.

Can it get any better? Probably no, and you want to know why? Because it felt natural, normal.
It didn't feel like a struggle to claim a right, or yet another battle to win.

Of course it is a compliment, why should it be something else?!
Life and society have made me feel as if I had to justify my demand of equal rights (and pay, and treatment, etc.), Mo simply reminded me that I didn't have to justify myself but be proud.
And I am; I'm totally a feminist.
I'm proud of being so. And proud of having as colleague and friend some great men, just like Mo.

lunedì 8 settembre 2014

pensierini sparsi

È Settembre.
Le rondini migrano a sud.
La gente vendemmia.
I/le blogger tornano dalle ferie con un surplus di energie e buoni propositi.
E con questo ho raggiunto la mia quota mensile di luoghi comuni.
Ora aggiungo pure una foto per completare l'opera. Voilà!


La mia estate non è stata propriamente l'ortodossa estate media italiana, d'altro canto non lo è più da tanto tempo ormai, e io tutto questo entusiasmo del "ricominciare" proprio non lo sento.
Deve essere la mia base da bastian contrario ma di fronte a questa esplosione di positività e creatività mi chiudo a riccio e reagisco in maniera estremamente misantropa.
Forse, come mio solito, mi sto facendo troppe paranoie. Anche questa è una mia non troppo sana abitudine che porto avanti da tanti anni. Eppure di spunti di riflessione e cose da raccontare sono circondata, e allora cose che mi frena? Credo che il conclamato terrore dei refusi scampati al correttore automatico e al correttore ortografico del MacBook mi faccia tirare il freno a mano di fronte al post seriale e compulsivo, ma non può essere solo questo.

Allora, visto che non ho buoni propositi, nuovi spunti, inizi o iniziative con cui illuminare le 4 persone che ancora si incaponiscono a leggermi, vi voglio raccontare una storia.
Anzi no. La storia ve la racconto dopo.

Prima voglio ringraziare le suddette 4 persone che ancora si incaponiscono a leggermi: se quando mi fate i complimenti a quattrocchi sembro scostante o poco felice, beh non lo sono, anzi è tutto l'opposto. I complimenti mi fanno molto piacere ma allo stesso tempo mi gettano nel panico: vengo da una lunga tradizione di understatement piemontese, quel tipo di educazione per la quale le cose vanno fatte bene perché è questo l'unico modo accettabile in cui farle, tanto meglio se si aggiunge una una soddisfazione intima e basta; i traguardi raggiunti non vanno sbandierati troppo perché sta male.

Se passi una vita a non ricevere complimenti perché "quello che hai fatto è il minimo che avresti comunque dovuto fare", credetemi, al primo "sei stata brava" da una persona che non conosci magari benissimo, ma alla cui buona opinione tieni tanto, il cervello va in corto: le sinapsi assumono la forma di urlo di Munch e con una vocina da particella d'acqua Lete ti gridano nelle orecchie: "E ora che facciamo? Che facciamo? Che facciamo? Aiuto! Mamma!"
Ecco, io ai complimenti ancora non ho imparato come reagire. Mi fanno piacere ma non so esprimermi, perché tutte le frasi di risposta mi suonano "false e cortesi" e pure presuntuose: allora piuttosto abbozzo un grazie stentato e poi sto zitta.

Ecco, ora vi voglio finalmente raccontare una storia. Storia di vita vissuta, neh, mica bruscolini o pettini per bambole usati sui baffi dei gatti.
Alle superiori non sarò stata la più simpatica della classe, nè la più furba, ma avevo capito che il modo migliore per continuare a farmi gli affari miei, giocare al gioco del 100 e soprattutto leggere Pennac durante le lezioni era capire cosa volessero da me i singoli professori.
Non ero in grado di capire chi fra i miei compagni di scuola mi stesse prendendo per i fondelli, ma i professori erano libri aperti: i miei preferiti erano quelli lineari e onesti, quelli che non facevano gli amiconi o i gggiovani, ma volevano semplicemente impegno e studio. C'erano le perle rare, come la prof di lettere e storia del terzo anno capace di far abbandonare la lettura di "Cioè" anche le takethattiane più sfegatate.

In quarta superiore, mi erano bastati un tema e un'interrogazione di storia per inquadrare la nuova docente di lettere: la professoressa assegnava dei temi dai titoli tremendi, vuoti e io mi vedevo costretta a riempire almeno un intero foglio protocollo di parole vuote. Faceva domande allucinanti alle interrogazioni, ma non mi fregava.
Io sapevo che a lei importavano solo il primo e l'ultimo paragrafo.
Del tema o del capitolo da studiare, la prof valutava solamente in base a quella ventina di righe.
Ovviamente avevo subito ricambiato la mia produzione scolastica ed ero diventata bravissima a scrivere un inizio scoppiettante del tema, a cui facevo seguire tre pagine di "bla bla bla" per poi concludere con un paragrafo altrettanto buono.
Lo facevo per il quieto vivere e perché sapevo che superate le 3 pagine e mezzo di scritto in calligrafia media (spaziata ma non troppo, per non far scattare il sospetto che la stessi prendendo in giro) scattava il sette.
Delle tre ore assegnateci per il tema, riuscivo così a ricavarmi due ore durante le quali scrivevo quel che più pareva a me sui fogli di brutta. Buona parte della mia corrispondenza con Gill di quell'anno è stata un gentile omaggio delle tre ore di tema.
Sapevo che alla professoressa non interessava che io esponessi i miei pensieri e le mie idee in maniera interessante (a Gill invece interessavano eccome); le interessava piuttosto che io non commettessi strafalcioni grammaticali e argomentassi le mie idee secondo il suo punto di vista. Sapevo che impegnarsi a esporre le proprie idee in maniera personale e originale non mi avrebbe fatto guadagnare nulla se non un sei scarso e infinite discussioni; ma io di discussioni infinite non ne volevo fare: ne avevo già diverse in corso nella vita extra-scolastica, le sue ore di lezione erano le mie ore di cessate-il-fuoco cerebrale, perché rovinarsele?

Nel corso degli anni ho spesso ripensato a quei temi: mi sono chiesta se la mia decisione del tempo, quella specie di bandiera bianca sul versante della critica e della libera espressione sia stata la migliore, la più saggia scelta che avessi potuto prendere. Ai tempi mi sembrava tale: era un ennesimo modo di amalgamarsi alla visione che gli altri avevano di me, non scontentavo nessuno e potevo continuare a vivere tranquilla e fare ciò che mi interessava davvero.

Non li rimpiango però, ecco, penso che avessi fatto quei temi come andavano veramente fatti, avrei acquisito delle doti che oggi, di fronte alla schermata bianca di TextEdit, vorrei tanto possedere. Però, di contro, ci avrei messo molto, ma molto di più a finire Dostoevskij.

lunedì 1 settembre 2014

of communions and not belonging

Communion…
Community…
You hear these words so often, over and over, in a Catholic country such as Italy that you could easily be fooled into believing they hold some true meanings.
Most of the time, however, they feel like nothing but a clutter of vowels and consonants.
It's so easy to be tempted to dismiss it all as me being over-sensitive about it, but then I remind myself that dismissing facts and feelings is the best way to bury my head in the sands.
It happened when visiting the cathedral of Trieste some weeks ago. It’s a magnificent church, yet the thing I remember the most is this panel.



The thing is that the English sentence is not the exact equivalent of the Italian one. The Italian sentence reads: “Who has faith, worship. Who doesn't have such gift pass by with respect and reverence”.

Given that the vast majority of Italians are Catholics (well, they’re baptized and gets married in the church) and I don’t belong to the vast majority, it’s obvious I’m a gift less one.
But with so few people outside Italy speaking my language, I wonder why was it necessary to word the request for respect of a sacred space in such a arrogant way. The tone that transpire for that "Who doesn't have such gift" is closer to a "if you're so unfortunate to not have such a gift, oh you miserable inferior being" than anything.

Do you really need your sense of belonging to a community to be enhanced by reminding people out of it that they don’t belong?
Do you feel more part of it by marking over and over something you supposedly have and others don’t?
Who knows, it probably does work, if you’re inside that community. But I don’t belong to that communion of people and I felt incredibly irritated by it. Sure, there are far worse thing to worry and get upset about it, yet this small event was enough to make me stop: my visit of the church was truly spoiled by it, because while I was admiring the mosaics on the rooftop, I was still thinking about that sign.

It seems there was a need to remark you the need to respect this place of worship: yet who ever placed the sign has obviously forgot most of the people that are so unrespectful to the churches during their visits, using flash to take photos, answering the phones etc, are catholic themselves.

I think it’s mainly due to the fact yes, this is a small event, but it’s not the first and it won’t be the last.
I’ve lived through so many of these small little acts of discrimination (should, can I call them so?), yet I haven’t grew any immunity against them.
I still feel irritated by what I perceive as a conceited act of  self-righteousness and arrogane, an ill-disguised sense of superiority applied on me, as an atheist, by people that leave everyday life not following the advice and words of Vatican yet thinking of themselves standing on a superior moral ground.
I 'm pained by the fact I have to endure people deeming themselves as "tolerant" to other people religious beliefs (or lack of them) yet being effectively the complete opposite on every day life. And it seems there is no way to make them understand what they're doing is not so "christian", if we consider as "christian" the basics teaching of Christ and not the structure of power built up in the centuries by different churches. The most common reply you will hear when you complain (and I can tell it by experience) is "Oh, but we allow them freedoms and rights they would never have in their countries". They don't specify who the "them" are, but it includes anybody who is not exactly 100% like them, i.e. white, Italian and catholic, but by lacking just one of these factor is enough to endure some sort of discrimination.

On the good side, year after year, I met more and more people like me, in Italy: so while I'm still annoyed by events and sentences like the one I met in Trieste, I also hold on to the knowledge there are people out there that not only use the word "communion", but act upon it. I just have to remind myself about it, no matter how hard and tiring it can be.

martedì 26 agosto 2014

Fenejum o giù di lì

Ho notato la scritta la prima volta che sono andata a fare la spesa al supermercato vicino a casa mia; persa nei miei pensieri, quasi non ci ho fatto caso ma all'ultimo secondo l'ho notato:


La reazione è stata alla Furio per così dire: "lo vedi che la cosa è specifica?"
Dopo questa scritta ne ho trovate altre in giro, ad esempio questa che gioca sulla somiglianza fonetica delle parole heart e hurt:


Oppure questa, probabilmente la mia preferita:


Non sono sicura di come si chiami l'autore: FeneyJum, Ferret Jim, Ferrey Jum...
Più di una volta mi sono detta che l'avrei cercato su Google, ma ho sempre rimandato, come mio  solito. Poi ieri mattina, il cerchio sì è come chiuso:


Ho fatto una foto anche a questa scritta e stavolta mi sono messa a cercare su internet: c'è un sito che si chiama Fenejum e lo stile, per il poco che ho letto finora, corrisponde a quello che ho letto sui muri.
Forse devo fare qualche ricerca in più, quindi da oggi presterò ancora più attenzione ai muri.

life according to Italo

In Trieste there are some statues dedicated to the different literary figures that shaped its and the world's culture: Saba, Italo Svevo, James Joyce, and each is accompanied by a small plaque with a quote of the writer.I took a picture of the one at the feet of Svevo's statue, because I liked it and found it quicker than pulling out the notebook from the bag:


Life is neither ugly nor beautiful, but it’s original!
(Italo Svevo, "Zeno's Conscience")

Barely one week later, I've found myself looking for my copy of the novel and then deciding it was quicker to buy a new copy.
I took it with me to the laundromat yesterday morning where I spent about one hour washing and drying the content of my last run with the washing machine. On Thursday it went out with a bang that killed the electricity safety system of the apartment and probably roasted its small engine, if the cloud of white smoke and smell of burnt plastic that set into my flat tell anything.

I had some fun time trying to wring all the water out of the towels that I was planning to have washed: right now I like to believe it was all good and original physiotherapy for my wrist.
Yet spending the evening this way doesn't classify as a lifelong aspiration.
I felt so, so, so frustrated, longing for a flat that is my own and where at least I have some control on the quality of the appliances put into it.
This morning when the technician came to fix the damage. So, with this small bit of life fixed I can say that yep, life is neither ugly nor beautiful, but original. And originality doesn't come cheap as my wallet can testify: it feels a good hundred euro lighter.

giovedì 21 agosto 2014

Traveling alone

I travel by myself a lot of times.
Primarily because of work: it's not real "travel" as I come back with memories of hotel, taxi and airports but once in a while I manage to sneak some hours of wandering around town.
Most of the times, however, it's because I want to go somewhere and either nobody else I know wants to come with me or because of the timing of my holidays is out of sync with most of my friends.

I've been traveling alone for such a long time I expect other people to be familiar with the concept. Yet, when I say I'm going here or there (or everywhere), some friends and acquaintances still wonder about it: "By yourself alone?"
I've become so good at not rolling my eyes: "Yes, all by myself alone. It'd be hard to travel alone with somebody else, wouldn't it?"
I have become pretty good at not rolling my eyes and snap, but sometimes I feel like asking them some basic questions: what else do you suggest me to do? Stay at home on Bank Holiday watching the time pass by on the desktop?! Or maybe browse the internet, looking for pictures of places I could be visiting if only there was somebody else with me?
Thanks but no thanks. I rather browse the internet to search for tickets, hotels, addresses and then, when the time arrives, I pack lightly and go.

And when I arrive wherever I had planned to, be sure somebody will be surprised by the fact I've travelled alone.
But the funny thing is when you travel alone, it doesn't mean you're always alone. On the contrary, it can be quite tricky to get some time by yourself alone.
So, for example, last Friday was Ferragosto, national holiday in Italy: I used the extra day off for a short visit to Trieste.
On the way going there, I chatted a little bit with the family that was going for a day trip to Gardaland.
Then, over 3 days I struck up random conversations with the people that were staying in my same bed and breakfast, a lady on the bus going to visit Miramare, the waiter at the restaurant, the girl at the ice-cream parlor, a tourist from Milan waiting for a bus to Croatia, a couple of guy going back to Milan.
A volunteer working at the synagogue gave me some advices where to go and have lunch and pointed me in the direction of a nice cafe nearby.

I probably met more people than I would have met if I were traveling with somebody else: traveling alone means that what I loose on one hand, I gain on the other, so everything eventually balances out just fine.
Being lonely and feeling lonely don't always overlap: when it happens, most of the times, it's in my everyday life.

giovedì 14 agosto 2014

Packed and ready to go

Backpack is ready, alarm is set: I got a small 3 days travel ahead of me, destination Trieste.
For once I've had not to debate about DLSR and lenses to carry along: I still got the cast and I simply can't hold the camera very well. Just my luck to have the cast removed on Monday, when I'll be back in Milan.
So phone will do, this time around.
Well, trying to look at the bright side, I can say that at least I've found a perfect way to effortlessly carry my reading along: