Tuesday, 26 August 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.

Thursday, 21 August 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.

Thursday, 14 August 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:

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

requiem for my TWSBI

I'm trying my best at not being a materialistic person and a hoarder, yet I know I can't really follow those minimalistic trends of über-efficiency and order that seem to have spread like the Blob all over the internet, or on Pinterest at least.

I'm basically trying to balance out my obsession for yarns and books and my love for shiny geeky gizmos with the limitations set by my mortgage, bank accounts and living arrangements: at the same time I'm also trying (and failing) to preserve the appearance of order in the flat and in my life.
It works pretty well in general. I suffer some set backs here and there, normally after a yarn festival or a huge sale at a bookstore.

However sometimes tragedy strikes out of the blue. Yesterday morning I was working at my desk, taking some notes when I noticed something weird. Crap, why's my hand smurfs blue?!?
Simple: my beloved TWSBI broke. It didn't exactly break: its barrel cracked and ink started leaking out.
It didn't happen out of the blue (no pun intended). The crack started forming back in the days in London, when I dropped it on the floor in the library. But this little crack didn't move for such a long time and when it did it was over so many weeks and months, I grew used to see that small cut over the barrel. Yesterday I had to put the ink back in the bottle, clean the mess I made on the palm of my hand and consider what to do now.

Here it is, my lovely fountain pen:

It's still so beautiful but, it used to be so much better! And even more important, I could use it before, while now I can only reuse some parts of it.

I don't know what to do. Should I get another one, same model? Or should I just keep going and be one pen short?
Part of me thinks I don't really "need" another fountain pen: with time my fountain pens stash has increased and it's not I'll have to resort at using my blood in order to write.
I know that an extra TWSBI would be just something I fancy having and I could use my money better.

Yet, on the other hand, it's such a beautiful pen! There's something amazing at writing with a fountain paper and this one is was my favorite: it's smooth, fitted my grip perfectly and was a joy to use. 

The only thing preserving my sanity right now is the fact it's August, so most of the shops in Italy are closed, even my favorite pen dealer, so there is no chance I can fall in temptation... I'll just have to wait September for that.

Monday, 4 August 2014


Halfway through my 4 weeks of cast on the left arms, things were going pretty smooth: I managed to get better and better at one hand typing, temperature were not so high and I've also managed to keep frustration at bay.
I helped my niece with the summer homework and with origami: mainly boxes and frogs, frogs and boxes for about 3 days. I caught up with some of my online classes and read some novels.

To celebrate all these achievements and also to leave the flat, on Thursday night I met up with some friends.
We had dinner (note to self: next time avoid burger, it gets really really messy) and after that we stopped in a bar for a drink.
We were talking about one of the biggest issue around books, i.e. how to deal with a great number of them when the space in the flat is limited.
Manu commented that she resorts to the ebook reader: the digital format is less expensive than the paperback and she also saves a lot of space. Still when there's a book she truly loves, then she needs a real book: paper and ink. Reason why she just bought the paper version of the last book by Tiziano Terzani.

In the moment she said those words, I spaced out for few seconds, not many but enough to go back in space and time to remember, think and then return to present chatters.

I recalled the time when I read "A Fortune-Teller Told Me" for the first time and the time I found its english edition on a shelf at "Shakespeare & Co." in Paris.

That holiday, no matter all that happen afterwards, remains in my memory as one of the best travel I ever did and, even after years apart, I think it was meant to be so: everything had to go the way it did so that I could spend some euro for this book and sit on a bench reading it.

A blink of the eyes and I was back in the present, sitting on another bench, laughing and chatting with my friends and I felt... no, I didn't feel happy, that hideous, overrated word, that has been overused and abused too much in everyday life at time of internet to really retain any meaning for me.

I felt that bittersweetness that summer, good company and a spritz carry along with them: it's that warm, fuzzy feeling that makes me hope all sufferings of the past had a reason to be so that I could find myself right where I am. And it doesn't matter I know it's not true, I'm perfectly aware that most of it is due to my own complicated self and other people's pettiness. Yet, for those hours, I decided to treat myself to some denial and peace of mind.

I felt that feeling that seems to tug at my backbone each time I've just returned or I'm getting ready for a travel, no matter how far or close the destination is, an exhilarating need to laugh out loud just because.

I felt like pulling the phone out of my bag and dial some numbers; I wanted to call some people: people I haven't seen in a long time, people that probably are not reachable anymore at the numbers I saved.
"Every place is a goldmine. You have only to give yourself time, sit in a teahouse watching the passers-by, stand in a corner of the market, go for a haircut. You pick up a thread – a word, a meeting, a friend of a friend of someone you have just met – and soon the most insipid, most insignificant place becomes a mirror of the world, a window on life, a theatre of humanity.
(T. Terzani, A Fortune-Teller Told Me)” 
On a bus going to Lijiang, in a youth hostel in Budapest, on a train going to Cologne, at a bus stop in Rome and in many other place I still have to see, you've all been my very own magic goldmine that never runs out.

Friday, 1 August 2014

A generation gap

It's early afternoon and my nephew is playing a very educational game on the iPad, where he has to direct a granny to rob other people because her pension is obviously not enough, plus if you rob enough people you can buy a jedi light saber.

Than the following conversation happens:

Davide: "Aunt, what's that?"
Me: "What's that what?"
Davide, pointing to the videogame he's been playing with: "That! It's a food vending machine, isn't it? But why does it look so strange?"
Me, quite puzzled: "I don't see any food vending machine, Davide..."
Davide, sounding more and more annoyed: "That one! That one!"
Me, desperately trying not to laugh (because nothing is more hilarious to me than my nephew throwing an hysterical tantrum, he's a bit of a drama queen): "I don't see any food vending machine, Davide, point it to me please."
Davide: "This. One."
Me, finally not puzzled any longer: "Oh, this is a telephone box, Davide. Not a food vending machine"
Davide: "A what?!?"

Spent the following five minutes explaining to my bewildered and amused nephew what telephone boxes were and how they were used. I'm pretty sure he listed it under "fable & fantasy".