Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Eurospam, Bee Gees and random bits of Easter Monday

I'm just back from Easter break and about to start a royal holiday, so I should just relax, but let me say something...

It all started with a Spanish guy... how come everything in my life seems to revolve around Spanish people???
Anyway, 2 summers ago Jaime announced he was heading back to Spain and a group of friends decided for a nice farewell gift.
Few weeks before he organized a party on the evening of the final (even got small flags to decorate the building), got the winner right and so when he said he was leaving and we were getting the gift together, I was the one that volunteered to buy "THE Festival" gift set on line.

Two years have gone by and I never ever watched a final of THE Festival, but I always know when it's on. How? 
Advertisement from the EuroFestival shop normally picks up when date is getting near. During the year I don't really mind the random mails as I just bin them directly, but when the shows approaches it's doom and despair. Yesterday, when checking the mail after 3 days, I found about 3 mails about the excitment of this year final! Who-hoo! How can I resist? Sheer iron will-power, I'd say.
I wanted to unsubscribe but couldn't find any information on how to do it in the mail, then remembered that's what happened last year too.

And it also came back to my mind that, frustrated by it, I simply gave up, promising to myself I would take care of unsubscribing in the following few days.
Did I do it? Of course not!
So here I am again
Guess I didn't as I kept receiving eurospamming, and guess I will keep continuing receiving it as the same happened yesterday!

I could have found the way to unsubscribe, but the sun was shining, the air warm and slightly breezy... I just went out on the balcony and enjoyed the weather, checking the tanning squirrel (there is a squirrel that often get on top of the brick wall of our balcony, sprawled down and well, get tanned I suppose).

Out of the blue (but out of the radio of one of my neighbours as well) the song "Heartbreaker" by Bee Gees came out and I found myself singing along with it. When it finished, the dj started blabbing but my brain was stuck into a Bee Gees vortex and kept playing over and over their greatest hits.
Not that I really minded it as I like Bee Gees, but it occurred me only at 6 in the evening that I could actually played their songs on my laptop instead that my head: they're definitely in tune and sing much better than I do!

But I was quite busy knitting my top, I had hoped to have it finished before Amsterdam, and I'm so close that I don't really know what to do!
This is how it looked yesterday:

I finished a sleeve at lunch break and I got only one left. Will I manage it?

Friday, 22 April 2011

Postcard from York

Did you know that a bottle of westons premium organic pear cider contains the amount of 3 units of alcohol?
I didn't and I think now that I would be better off if I did read the label before drinking some good gulps off the bottle with an empty stomach.
Well, now I'm blissfully tipsy, with a full stomach, and enjoying a "Granada Chai" at el piano.... and this vegetarian-vegan restaurant is yet another reason I should move to York: one day and I'm in love with already!

Happy Easter folks, if the day means anything to you, but also if it's just an excuse to enjoy some time off!

Yours drunkly,
the evil-but-slightly-happier-than-recently Virgi.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

501 post e un video...

Considerando che non sono mai riuscita a scrivere più di 5 pagine di un diario, arrivare a 500 e un post ha un che di straordinario; e non stiamo troppo a fare i pignoli sulla qualità degli argomenti trattati o dello stile utilizzato!

E' un minuscolo traguardo che mi va di festeggiare, così, in piccolo, un piccolo massaggio shiatsu all'anima e via! verso nuove avventure!

Tanto per chiudere con un sorriso, oggi ho visto un video veramente divertente. Solo di recente ho scoperto Stephen Colbert e un po' alla volta sto guardando su internet molto del suo materiale. 

Durante la pausa pranzo mi sono guardata questo video e per poco il chewing gum al salmiakki non mi andava di traverso dal ridere!

Monday, 18 April 2011

La biostecca?

Va bene che è lunedì mattina e sono un po' addormentata...
Va bene che Repubblica è solo uno dei principali quotidiani italiani e l'ortografia alla fin fine vale quanto il congiuntivo...
Va bene tutto, ma che diavolo sono le biostecche???

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Lessons (not) learnt and blueberries...

... or what a Saturday can be all about.

Yesterday was quite an interesting day: not a nice one altogether, but quite interesting and somewhat revealing.

Revealing in the fact I never learn: when people say "better alone than badly accompanied", they are not so far away from truth, popular wisdom is so underrated nowadays.
I spent my Saturday evening in a pub with a group of Spaniards, feeling in a bubble, completely cut out. Every attempt to switch the conversation back to English failed miserably and more than once I was literally left out in the middle of a discussion, because somebody else said something in Spanish.

And it's not as if I didn't know what was going to happen! Oh no! I was perfectly aware of it and from the first step I took out of home I knew I would have felt miserable the whole evening. So why on earth did I agree on that? Because I'm an idiot, I'd dare say. Because I idiotically believed people telling me "we need to catch up and have a chat", because I idiotically hoped that the other would have struck to English or at least tried a little bit harder than usual.

So I spent the evening in a pub, signing up on Foursquare, texting, checking my email on the mobile. Way to enjoy life, great work, Virginia, keep it up!!!

I got back home very upset, more with myself than with other people, because, as I said, I knew how things were going to be and still I decided to be miserable to make other "happy". And happy about what? Seeing me? Next time I'll send them a picture they can tape on a wall, as that's the way they made me feel anyway.
However an idiot I felt yesterday evening, I decided to not give it a damn this morning: even though I know that the promise to myself to not get myself in this kind of situation anymore will fail, I decided to award myself.
Because, alongside the stupid Virgi, there is another Virgi, the one that, no matter her failings, deserve something better than what she's got right now.
Yesterday afternoon I was browsing in the food section of Waterstone's, when I spotted a book with a blue, familiar cover. It was the "Nordic Bakery Cookbook", by Miisa Mink. It was the last copy on the shelf and I didn't even think about it: I just took it and literally "hugged" it, in fear some other customer wanted to take it away from me.
Silly, but I couldn't help it. The Nordic Bakery is one of the first place I discovered in London when I arrived some years ago and, even if the level of the cinnamon buns has been oscillating quite a lot recently, I just keep on loving it. It's only natural that I wanted the book and I know it's going to provide endless hours of wonderful baking. I already spotted the second experiment and can't wait for it!
Second experiment, because the first recipe had been chose already. On the way back home, I stopped over at Tesco and got the ingredients for the "Blueberry Rye Tart", that proved to be, as described in the book, a very easy and quick bake.
The photo in the book is much better than mine, and probably also the one baked in the bakery, but I felt proud of myself anyway.

The Nordic Bakery cookbook

So this morning I decided to have a slice of it. Not exactly the kind of cake I  would have at breakfast, but I thought I needed a bit of spoiling, because family is far away and if I don't spoil myself, who will?

slice of blueberries pa<a id=

Friday, 15 April 2011

dubbi, speranza, giustizia...

Sono passati ormai molti mesi, ma ancora mi ricordo i dubbi che mi sentivo dentro: già mi immaginavo i processi fiume, i rinvii, le richieste della difesa. 
Mi domandavo se sarebbe arrivata la giustizia dopo la protesta.
Fa bene all'anima sapere che sì, la giustizia è arrivata. Stasera, sotto forma di condanna per tutti gli imputati del processo per la morte degli operai della Thyssen.

Le morti sul lavoro rimangono ancora troppo, anche una sola di queste morti bianche è una di troppo. Ma che questa sera sia un inizio è una speranza che non voglio ancora abbandonare e spero che la certezza della pena sia effettiva per i condannati, che abbiamo modo di pensare e riflettere, ma non in una villa in Svizzera, bensì alle Vallette.

The mug is mine... and is back!!!

The analphabet with a personality disorder idiot that took my mug left it in a meeting room.
The knitting ninja is happy.
I'm over the moon.
The mug is coming home with me tonight.

Oh joy!

Happy Days

So, not only I can go online to beat the blues.
No, this country is on the warpath and will do everything in its power to stop my amazement at its compulsive idiocy.
And mind you: coming from Italy, I can boast a extensive, over-decennal, hands-on experience in theoretical and applied idiocy.

So what to think of this article I read on the Guardian website the other day on the "Action for Happiness" movement?
Well, from the first initial reaction of "oh my, I can't believe I just waisted 5 minutes of my life reading that. I could have done something much more pleasant, such as ironing my clothes for example", I evolved into a "what a massive load of crap!!!" and I'm right now stationed at "Time to re-read Orwell's 1984 and get ready to apply for political asylum in Zimbabwe".

It's not because I'm unhappy right now and this Pollyanna do-gooders make me even more unhappy. No, no, even at the pick of my happiness, in the most elated, blessed conditions, I'd find things like this sickening and perverted.
Apparently now you can explain "happiness" with a scientific formula: some key ingredients et voilà, les jeux sont faits! Here is your happiness, or even better, THE happiness as it can be applied the same way to everybody.

We tick some boxes here and there, we do small act of kindness towards strangers so we can feel good about our being nice people, we engage in positive thinking and the world is an happier and better place to live.

Bullshit, pitiful, hopeless, stupid bullshit.

How "imposed" happiness can make feel people better? It will only make those feeling miserable even more so.

I commute every day in London and there is nothing true in the "sorry" and "we apologize for the inconvenience..." I hear every day, there is no feeling in the waiter asking me how's the dinner in a robotic tone of voice. So how is an unfelt "Good morning" going to make me feel any better? 

And do the promoter of this initiative truly believe that because they put down this action points people have to go through to be happy, happiness will spread around like a positive-vibe virus?

I went and check the website, as no matter what I already knew "in my bones", one always need to check at the source.

Man, if I weren't depressed already, I'd have immediately become so! The website states the 10 keys to happier living, the first one of them being "Take the Action for Happiness pledge". Now if only I remembered where I left Chairman Mao little red book, so that I can stick the pledge in it and wave them around in a dogmatic yet nonchalantly way.

You need to start your local "action for happiness" group, ça va sans dire. Failure to create the group will cause you neverending misery that not even the "mindfulness to bring into your life" might be able to swept away.

Am I too cinic? Yes, but that's because I live in the real world and I got a normal job. I'm not one of those highly paid PRs behind the campaign.
My life is not based about launch parties or seminar.
My life is plagued by the tube and its inhabitants (on 2 and 4 feet: wonder if the mammoth-rat I saw at Vauxhall today is happy), by the constant pushing, by the never ending chanting of "Free Standard! Free Evening Standard" and the smell of disgusting food.

How can I be happy when I walk into my local library and  realise it's falling into pieces and the chance of finding new books get closer and closer to zero at every new visit?
"Forcing" Britons to be more sociable (at least among themselves) is really going to make them feel better and less miserable?

Isn't looking for constant positive sides just another form of escapism, of hiding our heads into the sand, instead of facing real problems in life?

To feel less miserable in this town, I'd need at least:
1. Clean, not smelly, not overcrowded and over priced public transportation.
2. A NHS run by smart people, where I don't get told to "have paracetamol  and some rest" for any kind of symptoms I might have.
3. Fair taxation.
4. Fair housing prices.
5. Better salary.
6. A decent library nearby.

Would all these conditions make me happy? Probably not, but they would be the base to build my happiness upon.
I came to accept that the amount of Britons I'll ever befriend is very limited, and I feel quite privileged of knowing those whom I consider friend, as they truly are outstanding and remarkable. So I know that I have to "make-do" with that and that there is nothing, no workshop that can mutate the (lack of) social skills of (most of) the English.
However, I also know that nobody can be happy if worried about the money spent for basic necessities in life and if stressed by the poor quality of life, due to the lack of investement in society by the governments.

Find me anybody who's happy after realizing that there's no much money to save after you paid rent, bills, transport and food, as I'd really like to ask him/her the contact details of the pusher.

I can see why "Action for Happiness" is receiving so much buzz in the media: in times where cost are affecting each aspect of life, tax are on the increase and Mr. Cameron boasts about his idea of society, it is so much easier to create a fake sense of contentment in people, a feeling that might even be misjudged as happiness, rather than working and spending money not to promote a standard happiness, but to give each citizen the basis to go and get their own happiness. 

Instead of the long, difficoult and expensive way, the way that grant also more freedom to people to truly pursue their own happiness, we rather settle for the cheap, new-age, PR'ed and marketing focused way. Every little helps, I guess...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

That is my mug!

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

When my parents chose to name me "Virginia", I'm quite sure they suspect I wouldn't meet many other girls named like me.
I had to wait for 15 years before my path of life was crossed by somebody with my same name.

It never really mattered, I had much more pressing matters at hand, but there was a moment when I felt I had a more common name: school trip. One traditional moment of any school trip is the "souvenir" moment. Postcards for your parents, some ridiculous gadget for other relatives and then something for yourself, normally a small treat with the name of the place or some landmarks picture, plus your name: pens, t-shirt, key-rings or bracelets... All my classmates would buy something. Me? Vittoria was the closes I could get to my name.

Some years ago, when my mum gave me a small keyring for Christmas with my name on it, I felt like so childishly happy and over the moon. I never had something like that, so obviously I treasured it even more.

Then some years ago I got a mug with my name: there had just been a reorganization within my company and they gave each of us a mug, with the name of the new team on one side and our own name on the other. They made some mistakes in the purchase, so I ended up with 2 mugs with my name!!!

I kept one at home and one in the office, but now I think I will have to stop this small tradition of mine. Why?
Simple, because people keep stealing my mug!
I never thought my mug could be so fascinating, but it happened more than once that I put it in the kitchenette's dishwasher and the morning after it was gone! 
Why? Why? But above all: Why?!?!?!
So far I put down a possible list of reasons for it to happen:

  1. I truly do own the sexiest, funkiest, coolest, best-est of the best mug on planet earth and people can refrain themselves from using it.
  2. One/Many of my colleagues have a personality disorder and think to be me, or some other Virginia.
  3. One/Many of my colleagues can't read.
Any other suggestion?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


nuts!, originally uploaded by zia virgi.
To summarize it:
1. The recipe for roasted peanuts in shells contains peanuts.
2. It is suitable for small children who CAN'T choke on nuts.
3. Unless your name is Dumbo, you got 2 huge ears and you're an elephant, it's better if you do not eat the shells.

Dagli ai blu!

No, non è una campagna virale su internet per promuovere l'odio contro gli ometti blu, altresì noti come Puffi, e per portare finalmente a termine l'opera di sterminio che Gargamella e Birba tentano senza alcun risultato degno di nota da troppe stagioni. No, la storia è un po' diversa e complicata, anche se il problema intorno al quale gira intorno è per la verità molto semplice: sono depressa.

Non sono "giù", non soffro il tempo inglese (non più del solito, per lo meno) e non è la mancanza di luce a deprimermi. E' il famoso "male oscuro", quel tipo di oscurità che il sole non riesce a illuminare. Non voglio farla troppo tragica, ma non ho preso sul serio questa condizione per troppo tempo. L'ho rilegato in un angolino nascosto, ho fatto finta di niente, fino a quando tutto non mi è esploso in faccia.

Quando anche alzarsi dal letto mi è parso un compito impossibile e non sono riuscita a trovare nulla di positivo per controbilanciare angoscia e infelicità, ho capito di dover fare qualcosa.

Innanzi tutto ammettere a me stessa che ho un problema: non la cosa più semplice per chi, come me, è stato cresciuto nell'idea che di certe cose non si parla e certi problemi tali non sono.
Poi ho dovuto trovare il coraggio di dirlo a chi mi sta vicino. Comunque è stato più facile che dirlo a me stessa e una volta fatto questo il resto mi è sembrato facile, anche se più angosciante, perché l'ammissione di depressione ha come rotto le dighe emotive che mi proteggevano.
Sono andata dal dottore che mi ha consigliato di parlare con il servizio di zona. Li chiamo, faccio una valutazione "al telefono", per capire di che tipo di aiuto ho bisogno e dopo due giorni la terapeuta mi richiama.

Ora, io ti dico che non sto bene, che sono depressa e mi sento alienata e senza scopi nella vita, ti confesso che ho bisogno di una mano e di qualcuno di esterno che mi aiuti. Tu terapeuta con laurea e probabilmente dottorato e contro dottorato che mi consigli?

Un corso online, mi pare ovvio! Ecco cosa mi ha consigliato il sempre glorioso ed efficace sistema sanitario nazionale di questo paese. Accesso gratuito al sito "beating the blues". E, ciliegina sulla torta, non è un problema se non ho internet a casa, perché posso usare un pc della biblioteca di Brixton per seguire il corso.

Ho riattaccato il telefono, sentendomi stranita come non mai. Ero senza parole per quello che mi era appena stato detto e chiunque mi conosca anche solo un briciolo, sa quanto improbabile sia per me trovarmi senza nulla da dire!
L'avrei dovuto capire: se per capire se stai male, ti fanno fare un questionario a punti in stile Donna Moderna via telefono, non è che poi ti mandano Sigmund Freud a bussarti alla porta e a chiedere come ti butta!
Ero rimasta d'accordo con i miei coinquilini di fare una lezione insieme, passare una serata in soggiorno davanti al pc, ma nutrivo dei forti dubbi a riguardo: non sono riuscita a vedere fino alla file il video di testimonianze sul sito, perché l'ho trovato stupido e angosciante.
Così quando oggi mi hanno chiamato per la conferma, ho rifiutato, spiegandogli che trovo irresponsabile affidare a un sito internet il benessere di una persona. Ironico, però, che sia la persona che ha bisogno di aiuto a rendersi conto dell'inutilità e pericolosità di una simile iniziativa e non quelle persone che si suppone siano specializzate e preparate ad affrontare simili problematiche.

Io mi sentirò pure alienata, triste e sola in questa società, ma forse è più corretto dire che è questa società ad essere alienata, triste e sola.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sushi in Barceloneta

Little bit more than a month ago, Mikel headed back to Spain.
We provided him with the basic survival kit for Barceloneta and it was good to know that it used it over the weekend.
Even better, it was nice to know he brought Sushi to enjoy the seaside too:

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

sinking slowly

I kept on hoping for the whole winter that it was just the weather, that it was just the lack of sun.
But it is't. Now the sun is staying on for much longer, sky is shining and weather is getting warmer. And yet I'm still depressed.

It seems to me that I'm not living, barely existing, letting real life runs away.

Everything seems unmoving: baking, taking photographs, writing this blog, going out with some friends... everything is kind of sucked into a huge black hole. I might still be doing some of this stuff, but they don't make me happy or satisfy me anymore. I just do it out of habit or because people expect me to do so.

I don't even bother to mask the binge eating attacks anymore. Partially because I don't care, partially because I know that people don't care; or they can't or don't want to understand. Fair enough, living in this city is stressfull enough to make anybody (including myself) quite uncaring.

I look at this picture of me and it seems taken a life time ago:

heard 'em saying

I was recovering from chicken pox and mending a broken heart, yet I looked so much more relaxed, so much happier than I am now.
I wonder if I'll ever feel the same again.