Thursday, 30 January 2014

pioggia di parole

Stasera è volata via in maniera strana, a degna conclusione di una giornata altrettanto sui generis.

E’ iniziato tutto con il solito secondo caffè della mattina, ché io sono come gli hobbit. No, non ho i piedi pelosi, ma come loro ho bisogno della seconda colazione, che per me equivale a un secondo caffè: se non lo bevo rischio di azzannare un collega e, visto che ora in ufficio siamo in due (evviva! Ora il lavoro di due lo facciamo davvero in due e non più io da sola eremita in quel di Cologno!), il rischio è decisamente alto.

Il primo caffè lo bevo a casa e poi, una volta sopravvissuta ai mezzi ATM e al percorso da G.I. Jane fra Gobba e l'ufficio, in ufficio prendo un caffè alla macchinetta con Claudio, il ragazzo che lavora in reception.

Oggi sono rimasta senza parole perché, mentre chiacchieravamo, Claudio ha utilizzato la parola “balengo”: l'ha usata in una frase dal senso compiuto e l'ha utilizzata correttamente. A sentirgli pronunciare “balengo”, con una “e” anche abbastanza aperta, ho avuto un momento di felicità, mista a stupore e familiarità. Mi sono fermata per un secondo e poi mi sono girata verso di lui: “Ma tu! Tu hai usato la parola balengo, vero!?!?"

Fuori ha continuato a piovere per tutto il giorno, ma chi se ne frega! Non sono più la sola nel palazzo a dire “balengo”!

Durante la pausa pranzo ho scritto una mail a Laura. Laura l’ho conosciuta la scorsa settimana ad Amsterdam, alla craft night da Penelope: abbiamo iniziato a chiacchierare, dalla maglia (tu cosa stai facendo, che lana usi, che ne pensi del muro della perdizione di Tosh che c’è nell’altra stanza…) siamo passate a parlare di altre cose e alla fine ci siamo cementate sui libri.
Abbiamo parlato di autori, ultimi libri letti, i su e e giù di Murakami e letteratura per l’infanzia che non è solo per l’infanzia però, anzi il contrario. Lei mi ha consigliato alcuni libri olandesi, io ho perorato la causa di Rodari e poi le ho consigliato un libro che ho comprato a Sara per il compleanno: “La famiglia Sappington”.
Tempo una settimana e Laura mi scrive dicendo che lei, di questi Sappington, non ha trovato traccia. Al che io penso: vuoi che nel paese del dolce sì, dove un film dal titolo “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” è stato storpiato e mutilato in “Se mi lasci ti cancello”, non abbiano fatto danno anche nel reparto letteratura?

Colpito e affondato: i Sappington non si chiamavano mica così. Titolo originale: “The Willoughbys” di Lois Lowry. Anche se magari Willoughby non suona bene come Sappington in italiano, mi domando da dove sia saltata fuori la traduzione italiana. Ma soprattutto perché hanno deciso di cambiare così il titolo? Per non destabilizzare le fragili menti dei giovani lettori? O per confondere ulteriormente le idee ai lettori diversamente giovani?

Così, con l’euforia per il balengo e i dubbi sui Sappington, sono tornata a casa e mentre preparavo cena poco ci manca che, insieme al porro, mi affetto pure l'indice: avevo l’iPad appoggiato su uno stand e stavo leggendo il mio feed di Twitter quando becco un retweet che mi lascia completamente senza parole.

Capisco che non si può sapere tutti, ma voi, voi! Amici piemontesi! Voi che avreste potuto mettermi in guardia e avete taciuto!!! Ignavi!!!
A 35 anni suonati ho scoperto che “solo più” e “facciamo che” sono piemontesismi. Come sarebbe a dire che “solo più” lo devi spiegare ai non piemontesi perché al di fuori dei confini regionali nessuno lo usa?!? Ma davvero?
Perché non me l'ha detto nessuno prima!?! Avete idea dello scompenso emotivo in cui sono piombata? E già partivo da una situazione di evidente svantaggio, ora devo riassorbire pure questa botta alla semantica!

La preparazione della cena è stata momentaneamente accantonata, perché oramai il neurone era andato in tilt. Mi sono rivolta al grande oracolo (leggi: ho cercato “solo più” su Google) e pure l’accademia della Crusca mi conferma la piemontesità del suddetto. Ummisignur?!? E ora? Ora me ne vado a dormire, ma domani inizio un sondaggio di opinioni fra i ragazzi della reception e il collega. Penso che con un po’ di pazienza e sana rassegnazione, forse fra qualche mese (o anno) riuscirò ad accettare questa verità.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

My newest yoga

You hear quite often people saying that knitting is the new yoga.
For sure knitting effects on my mind are very similar to the one yoga ones: knitting has the power to settle my unrest brain and calm my nervous self.

Yet every time I hear it, I find it more and more irksome. I believe (or delude myself into believing) it’s something told with a lot of sarcasm and a bit of spite. As if it were something that became fashionable out of the blue, yet another whim for hipster to engage in between uploading an instagram post and sipping a soy latte.

On the other hand, from what I’ve seen online recently, it doesn’t really look that knitting has any of that calming, empowering powers yoga can give you. People seem to the brink of nervous breakdown, on the lookout for a reason, a word, anything to start a discussion or pick up a fight, so that I worry that, from the new yoga, it could morph into the new kendo.
I wonder whether I’m writing this partially out of envy: I wonder whether I wish I had the energy and time to be just the same, to engage in the social networks as well as other do. But then again, I’m too lazy to really develop my feeling of envy.

One more reason why, in the spare little free time I’m left with at night, I concentrate on something else: right now I’m on my newest of the new yoga. Entrelac.

It started back in Amsterdam, where I got two skeins of Malabrigo at Penelope craft. You might call it a whim of the moment: I just bought it without any plan, without any pattern in my Ravelry queue to match them to. But my heart has its reason of which my Ravelry queue knows nothing.
I loved the feeling at touch of it (but it’s Malabrigo, so it’s expected) and the color way and how it evolved along the skein.

Malabrigo

Saturday morning after a lazy breakfasts and some extra medicine to fight the Dutch flu, I unpacked my suitcase looked at the Malabrigo, quickly browsed through Ravelry and casted on: the choice fell on an Entrelac scarf.
I started with one block, then moved to another one and then another block. Little by little the scarf pattern took shape before my eyes but, before that, I was surprised at how relaxing I felt while knitting the scarf.

The combination of the yarn I chose, the pattern I picked and the technique I’m using: everything fits together like a puzzle. Every stitch I work on the scarf I feel calmer, happier and somewhat detached from my surroundings.

It’s a very physical sensation: I almost missed my metro stop this morning because I was too immersed in the scarf.
But it’s also something influencing my brain cells: it’s not currently helping me to put order into my thoughts, but it’s taking some pressure off my shoulders anyway.
After some knitting, I start relaxing, calming down and thinking that yes, my mind is messy right now and yes, I need to do some house-cleaning inside, but it’s okay if I don’t do it tonight.
I can accept it and live with it: maybe not always, maybe tomorrow I will change my mind about it, but tonight I’m knitting and, as long as entrelac is my newest yoga, I don’t really give a damn.

entrelac

Sunday, 26 January 2014

a very public private display

Aside developing one hell of a tonsillitis (soon turned mega-gigantic cold plus ear-in-the-water feeling thanks to Alitalia bad pressure and air-con systems) and working a lot, the latest trip to Amsterdam had some extra little thing happening.

For example, I made a complete fool of myself. Again. While this is not a surprising piece of news, what adds to this incident is that it could have ended with me behind bars. If that had really happened and we were to live in a fair society, the other part of the whole episode should have ended up stripped of his legal rights on the base of solid stupidity.
But nothing so serious happened, we don’t live in a fair society and on the whole what happened is not so surprising, given it happened in Amsterdam anyway.

I just had lunch and was walking back to the hotel: cold crisp air, a bit of wind but the sun was shining. I was not paying that much attention at my surrounding, thinking more at the task ahead of me in the afternoon, how to split the work for the day after, etc.
And then I saw it:

Caterinette a manetta

A whole array of knitting spools! How cool are they!?! The penguin one is my favorite.
“It must be a new craft shop!”, I think and before even realizing what I’m doing I’m heading to the entrance.

In the moment the door lock clicked and I took a small glimpse, I remembered that having things on display on a window in the Netherlands doesn’t automatically means that it’s a shop.
Yep, I mistook a private house for a shop and made a complete ass of myself. By the time I got back to the hotel, I could still feel my face beetroot red and burning.

It was quite tough going back to work, because my mind kept going back to the lunch break: how could I have been so dumb?!?

At least, I can say this trip provided me with something quite unforgettable; well aside the usual casual visit to Penelope Craft and the even more usual postcard pic of the canals!

Old Amsterdam

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

a sickly feeling

I already had a sneaky suspicion when I lived in Haarlem.
Now I'm 99.9% sure. It really looks like I'm allergic to the Netherlands
Monday I'm in Milan and everything is ok. I wake up, hit the gym, the gym hits me back, go to work, etc.
Tuesday I wake up, get on a taxi then get on a plane and arrive in Amsterdam. In the evening I start to feel a bit tired, unrested.
This morning the alarm starts ringing and I got a bit of sore throat.
By lunchtime the sore throat is at full force while I walk from pharmacy to pharmacy trying to find somebody that can sell me something a bit stronger then a Fisherman's Friend to cure the sore throat.
"You don't look so sick to need a medicine", the first pharmacist tells me.

I want to burst and scream: how is it possible that in the country where you can buy magic mushroom and dunk a spice cake in your cappuccino, I need to endure all this bullshit for some sore throat medicine?

But I don't scream, because it's pointless and because by then I got no voice left.
And now, end of day two in Amsterdam, I fear I'm also developing a flu.
I'm afraid of what else could happen tomorrow to make this the perfect business trip to hell and back.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

#41

Domenica sera stavo facendo le valigie. Beh, valigie.
Ho riempito un borsone, preparato lo zaino per il lavoro, controllato di avere il portafoglio e le chiavi. E a quel punto che, non so bene perché, ma ho staccato il mio vecchio portachiavi del Toro: mi era stato regalato poco prima di emigrare e me lo sono portato in giro per quasi 7 anni. Domenica l'ho tolto e l'ho sostituito con quello che mi ha portato An-li dal Giappone.

Ieri sera stavo scrivendo una lettera e mi sono ritrovata a parlare dello stress a casa dei miei genitori, a quanto quegli spazi non mi appartengano più e a volte mi soffochino. E, come a riprendere simbolicamente il cambio di portachiavi, mi sono ritrovata a scrivere con una naturalezza che mi ha quasi spaventato: "it feels so good to be back home".
Ho smesso di scrivere e guardato quelle lettere: la mia calligrafia, l'inchiostro blu era lì a prova che non me l'ero sognato, che non avevo le allucinazioni.

Ho chiamato Milano "casa". Fino a qualche tempo fa lo ritenevo impossibile: la famiglia è a Torino, gli affetti sono a Torino, tutto è a Torino. Ma è una bugia, perché le persone che in questo momento mi capiscono di giù si trovano probabilmente in altri fusi orari, perché qualche affetto sparso ce l'ho pure a Milano e perché non tutto è a Torino.

Sto abbandonando la mia città? No, non credo questo sarà mai possibile, è il posto che mi fa battere forte il cuore, ma forse ho finalmente accettato il fatto che il mio cuore non può battere forte solo un weekend al mese. Che ho bisogno di più per poter vivere bene, ma anche perché lo merito. E se Milano può darmi questo, che diventi senza problemi la mia città.

Durante le ultime due settimane mi sono resa conto di quante cose abbia perso negli ultimi dodici mesi, di quante persone ho lasciato indietro per strada e quante mi abbiano lasciato indietro a loro volta.
E la cosa non mi ha fatto male. Non mi ha nemmeno reso felice, questo è vero, più che altro mi ha lasciato indifferente.
Non so se sia un segno positivo o negativo, ma questo mio diventare più "egoista", per mancanza di una migliore classificazione, sta iniziando a piacermi.

I will go in this way
And find my own way out
I wont tell you what to be
But I'm coming to much more of Me
(DMB)

Monday, 6 January 2014

pezze a perdere


Adesso che le vacanze natalizie si sono conclusi, altri chili (un numero imprecisato, diciamo così per pietà) si sono andati a depositare praticamente ovunque.

Il problema non è tanto che mi faccio schifo. Sono tanti anni ormai che non mi piaccio, ci sono abituata. Cerco di mettere pezze qua e là ma è come tacconare il Titanic con il pongo.

La situazione, già non piacevole di suo, è aggravata da una serie di scazzi, arrabbiature e delusioni che mi fanno venire solo voglia di nascondermi e sparire.
Come ciliegina sulla torta, da fuori sembro dare l'impressione di stare bene. E di essere "così" felice.

Ma non è "così": non entro più nei jeans in cui entravo un mese fa, nonostante i miei tentativi non riesco a riprendere il controllo di nulla nella mia vita e mi arrabatto alla bene e meglio. Una continua rincorsa che si conclude con un mio rientro a Torino dove tutti mi trovano così bene.

Basta. Ieri guardavo i jeans e ho preso una decisione palesemente schizofrenica: finché non riuscirò a rientrare con comodità in questo paio di jean nemmeno troppo vecchi, non passerò più un weekend a Torino. L'unica eccezione saranno delle brevi toccate e fughe in giornata, visto che devo ristrutturare l'appartamento a Torino.
Questo dovrebbe essere un incentivo sufficiente per perdere un po' di peso e riprendere il controllo su me stessa.

E potrebbe diventare anche l'occasione giusta per le persone che conosco a Torino di combattere la fobia di prendere un treno per Milano (hic sunt dracones). Oppure per dare una sforbiciata radicale alla mia rubrica telefonica.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

a piece of sky

After returning from Australia, I didn't really have a lot of time to mull about it: the photos are still in a pure state of chaos. Once in a while I make a feeble attempt at bringing order to them and fail at it.

That's possible one of the reason why every time somebody asks me how Australia was, I don't know what to say.

"It was cool/nice/ok."
"I had a nice time"

Any sentence that comes out of my mouth sounds either plain miserable or lame; or both, now that I'm writing about it.

Well, I've never been a great travel reporter. When people asked me the same question about China, I had more or less the same kind of problem:

"So, how was China?"
"Mmmh, outstandingly Chinese?", 
was the best I could come out with.

I can sum it up as follows: going to Australia made me realize it is possibly the most Australian place on earth. Even more Australian than any Walkabout pub I ever walked in.

There's a small part of this travel that is with me every day. I'm not talking about emotions or memories of what happened there. I'm not even talking about the photo of the koala that greets me each time I unlock my phone. Photo that never fails bringing a "awww cute" to my lips every time I unlock the phone, anyway.

I'm talking about an object, a material proof I was there, tucked away in my wallet.
Everywhere I go it's with me, every day I'm carrying around a small bit of sky.

Back in Sydney, on one of the last day of holiday, a Yoko Ono exhibition opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Given my overwhelming ignorance when it comes to contemporary art, I can state I know more about Yoko Ono than the sum of all the artists walking the Earth right now. 
I know she can crochet blindfolded, for example. 
I know she's got an app of her own. 
And I know about John Lennon and the Beatles of course. Oh, and I also know I never really cared about the personal story behind it, as the blame game never really added anything to my liking the songs.

Everything I know and I don't know about Yoko was still not enough to make me curious about the exhibition probably. It was the poster that eventually did the trick.

"WAR IS OVER", it states, in bold yet simple, minimal, black & white huge fonts.

Then your eyes fall one line down.

"If you want it" is still written in capital letters, but in a much smaller size. The weight of the first statement looks so heavy it might squash those smaller letters, yet it doesn't happen. On the contrary, it's only because of those smaller letters that the whole poster can stand on its own.

It's mesmerizing. It has more appeals than the song with the same title and the posters written in several languages were an invite for a visit: "Just come over, you'll like it".

Could I trust a poster? I threw caution to the wind and one afternoon I braced myself and venture into the Contemporary Art Museum. It was quite busy, packed with visitors and volunteers all over the place. You need guides in a contemporary exhibition, to give some information about the different installations. Or to avoid sitting on them, as it happened to me once at Tate Modern.

I'm not sure I understood everything, which equals to say it's obvious I didn't understand it all. Yet I enjoyed it quite a lot.

I liked the idea of an artist leaving instructions to the visitors on how to deal with what she put on display.

So, I stamped "War is over" on the map, looked at people playing chess, wrote the reasons why my mom is beautiful. I touched what I was asked to touch, look at what I was not supposed to touch, listened to songs, watched videos and life feed from a webcam.

And I also took what I was ask to take away from the museum.

a piece of sky

"Helmets - pieces of sky" is a room of WWII helmets filled with jigsaw puzzle sections: if we were to put together the puzzle it'd be a giant sky. I took one piece of the puzzle and put it in the wallet, thinking of it as a reminder of the day, a promise to myself to go back to Sydney in some years time and see if somebody visiting the exhibition did the same so we could try to put the puzzle back together.

Some weeks ago I was listening to Fabrizio De André live album with PFM. I was singing along while washing the dishes and I thought about Yoko's sky.
One of the song, "La guerra di Piero", tells the story of Piero that goes to war and ends up being killed. While he lies dying in a field, he laments the unfairness of dying in May, when it'd be much better to do so in winter, and his words are so cold the spring sun can not melt them.

Since then I associate that small bit of sky in my pocket, not only with Sydney, Yoko Ono and her art, but with the song as well: I fished the jigsaw piece off a helmet, Piero was a soldier and probably wore a helmet. And he probably stared at the blue sky, spotted with puffy white clouds, as he laid dying in the field.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Such a cold game

First day of work of the new year. Gosh, it sucks to be back.
Christmas holidays are somewhat stressful; there's always too much food and alcohol, family dramas, tension with people to meet, yet it's also a relaxing time made of lots of nice small things: lazily wandering around the house; catching up with my pocket list of article to read and reading some pages off the books scattered around the flat; taking pictures of my knitting projects (and also knitting them!); meeting with friends for a coffee, some row of stockinette stitch and an exhibition.

This morning was quite stressful for me; after having breakfast, it dawned on me that, like it or not, delusional as never before, there was no way out: I had to work.

And so I did: I crashed against reality, dusted myself and the laptop off and worked the whole day.
It went better than I expected: I struggled here and there, keeping up the attention at detail was a bit tough but made it at the end.

Some time after lunch, I fixed myself a nice cup of tea and awarded myself a 10 minutes break of pure idleness.
Every time the end of a vacation break approaches, I start thinking about past holidays and end up planning the next one. Call it self-defense, but nothing helps overcoming the gloominess of impending commuting with the crap Milan underground than planning my next escape.

My mum had found the Japan guide I bought a couple of years ago and left it on my her desk. I was browsing through the guide, more and more convinced that Far East is probably an area I should return this year (or very soon anyway), when a familiar tune started playing.

Last year found me not very inclined to listening to new music, my soundtrack was more set in the past.
Yet here and there I managed to discover something new and so, so, so good to listen to.
I didn't do it on purpose though.

As most of the best things in life, it happened by pure chance: one second too late or too early and I would have missed it.
It happened in Melbourne: it was raining and Sevan and I were in Fitzroy. After browsing around a seemingly endless strip of stationery shops (seriously, Melbourne is the world capital of stationery shops), we decided to check some vinyl stores. I ended up buying "Stan meet Chet", an album by Stan Getz and Chet Baker. The guy at the counter gave us the address of some other stores we could go and one was just few blocks down the road.
And off we went. I didn't buy anything in this second store but when we were about to leave, I heard a nice tune; as we were almost at the door I didn't feel like going back in to the counter and I went for the quick and dirty solution: I shazam'ed it on the go.

The name of the track quickly appeared on my phone, alongside a nice link to the iTunes store.
"Why not?" I asked myself: I listened to the short sample of the song and then to another sample from the album.
That was it. I bought the whole album. I just fell in love: with the recording, with the singers voices, with everything in general.
I had just discovered Myron & E and bought "Broadway" (recorded with the Finnish band Soul Investigators).

If I ever paid attention to record reviews, back in the days when I used to buy music magazines, I might have actually been able to write down what draws me into their songs. Alas, by the time I got to the reviews page I was already bored out of my wits and those short articles written with way too tiny fonts were always sacrificed and left unread and forgotten. So, now, many years later, every time I try to describe what a record is about, how it sounds and where its appeal lies, I just find I lack the words to say so.
My break was over anyway: I decided to postpone the musings to later in the evening and go back to work, but the situation hasn't improved and I haven't found the words yet.

All I can do is snap my fingers, tap rhythmically on the keyboard and sing along; and wonder how it'd feel to have the possibility of spending more time on this kind of activities: writing, wondering about music and words, thinking about travels...
Living an extended holiday without the stress of it, I guess.
A bit of wishful thinking is on the roll here and I smile about it and about my own delusional self.
Life, pretty much like love, is such a cold game as Myron & E are singing to me right now.
And I'm alright with it, at least for tonight: I'll just keep their record on repeat for a little longer.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

bad resolutions, good list

It turns out my survival skills are not so bad: not only I made it through Christmas, but I also oh-so-effortlessly got over New Year's eve uninjured.
How cool is that?
A lot, and now that the worse is over on the celebration and party side, I'm left with a new year and some doubt of what to do with it, aside living it and leaving it behind once it's over.

In the meanwhile I got 365 days to figure it out. As usual, the new year brings a lot of things with it: work, travels, holidays, dentist appointments and taxes to pay and before everything good resolutions.

Oh yeah, good resolutions that are going to crash and burn once they impact with real life at the end of the Christmas break.
Since I think I've been doing quite well during this Xmas season, I want to keep up the pace. That's why I've written down a list of good resolutions that I'm planning to break in the next few weeks.

So, here's the list of my bad good resolutions:
1. I will not stash yarn unless I have a project ready to cast on.
2. I will not start too many project at once.
3. I will buy only ebooks, so I won't have problems trying to cram the books into that poor excuse of book shelves I got.
4. I will not go to bed too late.
5. I will be healthy and take good care of myself.
6. I won't be grumpy.

I've already started working hard at failing on most of the list and hopefully will be done with it before the month is over.