Thursday, 26 December 2013

How I got over

(or how I stole the Christmas from the Grinch)


Bah, humbug.
Humbug, bah.

The only thing that made this Christmas bearable was the notion of some kindred spirits (aka friends) sharing my strong distaste for Christmas and everything that comes with it.

On paper this year should have been more decent than the past years' tortures: less meal to attend, less relatives to go visit, more time for myself. Yet, it's been heavy and quite stressful.

Last week wednesday I had to go a small surgery on one of my veins, so until Christmas Eve I ended every evening with a shot of heparin in the belly. I also have to wear a compression stocking for the whole day (and will have to do so for another whole week) and it's slowly but surely driving me mad.

Moreover I feel more and more stressed each time I return home. I'm not used at sleeping at my parents, dealing with their life style and at the same time trying to accomodate all the people I need/want to meet, the things I need/want to do.

And yeah, if you are a binge eater, Christmas at home with your parents stuffing themselves and then remarking you don't fit in your jeans anymore and you got a big backside, it's not the nicest time ever.

By Christmas Eve dinner I knew I needed a plan, an emergency exit to avoid a nervous meltdown.
And so I tried. The plan involved a lot of time spent knitting, reading my childhood books, sorting out my photos and living in denial.

letture di un certo livello 2

My mum put all my childhood books on some shelves in my former room, at kids eyes level: Sara read some of them already and Kipling tales are amongst her favorite, while she can't really digest "Kim" and "The silver skates":

"It's written by a old granpa, it's soooo boring!"
"No, it was just translated a long long time ago and you're not used to that kind of Italian"
"Was it any different when you were a kid?"
"No, Sara, this book was translated before I was even born"
"That old?!? How could it be possible???"

So with endless line of stockinette stitches, some photos and some good music, I managed to survive the food, the family, the kids playing with all the toys and the cartoon on TV.
And when everything else seemed to fail I resorted to the only available escape: a glass of sherry, full to the brink, so I could see the glass more than half full.

Today I met with Miky and Corra and they could see km afar that I was not alright. Surviving is a tough job and with consequence: trying to maintain a balance when I'm fundamentally unbalanced right now, it's a tiring way to spend my break.
I'm just happy that the worse is over. Or so it is until new year's eve. Help...

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

santo merchandising

Io non sono mai stata una grande fan della chiesa cattolica, non è un segreto. Come cittadina italiana, ho sempre trovato fastidiose le ingerenze e imposizioni esercitate dalla chiesa nella vita di tutti i giorni, dall'ora di religione a scuola allo spazio dato dai media a ogni dichiarazione di un qualsiasi prete, passando per l'otto per mille.

Una delle cose legate alla Chiesa che più mi danno sui nervi in questi giorni è il nuovo spot in circolazione sulle TV italiane. Solite immagini per suscitare commozione e sensi di colpa, ma di quelli leggeri che si lavano via con una donazione ai preti. 
Ed è lì che mi scatta l'attacco isterico, quando la voce melliflua informa gli spettatori che "per uno che sbaglia, ce ne sono migliaia che dedicano tutta la vita alla loro missione". E a me viene da aggiungere la postilla: "e ce ne sono ancora di più che l'hanno coperto, quello che ha sbagliato, con un velo di pesante silenzio e omertà".

Ma voglio essere buona (è pure sempre Natale, no?) e pensare che non questa parte non è stata tagliata con malizia, ma per ristrettezze economiche: insomma, i tempi sono quelli che sono, pure la chiesa deve tirare la cinghia, risparmiare qua e là e racimolare grana dove può.
A quanto pare devono essere proprio male se tutte le scuse sono buone per fare cassa: sembra che il modo migliore sia capitalizzare il ritorno d'immagine del nuovo Papa.
Ok, dopo Ratzinger anche un pezzo di legno può passare per un Papa moderno, ma bisogna ammettere che con papa Francesco la Chiesa ha "svoltato".

E quindi vai di merchandising selvaggio!

Papa Francesco raccontato ai bambini! 64 pagine tutte a fumetti e pure delle figurine adesive, alla modica cifra di 2,99€.

Non ho invece controllato quanto costasse il calendario 2014 di Papa Francesco:

Prego notare l'eleganza del negozio che ha piazzato il nostro eroe, accanto a un delizioso calendario di porcellini teneri e rosa.
Per ora ho visto solo questo, però, ogni volta che vado al supermercato, butto un occhio agli scaffali vicino alle casse per vedere se hanno messo in vendita gli ovetti sorpresi del Papa: ormai Francesco è l'unico che può contrastare il demonio in rosa.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Take away (show)

Need some good music to start the weekend, so here it is.

Big kiitos to Sami for introducing me to Tenniscoats.

Tenniscoats - Baibaba Bimba | A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

the Peppa Pig conspiracy

I do believe in a few things.
I believe that no chef can beat my mum's cooking.
I believe giving people a 3rd chance is a mistake too many.
I believe in coyotes (and time as an abstract).

I also believe in my new thesis, I finished formulating on Sunday: I believe Peppa Pig is the antichrist in pink.
And we need to do something about it. Fast.
We need to take action right now, before it's too late and Peppa and her brother George take control of the planet.

Here's a brief list of reasons why we should ban her somewhere remote, with no tv access:
1. She's annoying.
2. She sets a bad example for kid: she jumps into puddles of mud then refuses to take her shoes off before going to bed.
3. Not only she's annoying, she's also bossy and boring.
4. Only her brother George is more boring than her.
5. Have I mentioned how annoying she is already?

And I also got a list of reason why Peppa's parents should be stripped off their parental rights (admitting that fictional porks can actually hold parental rights over their offsprings to begin with):
1. They allow their kids to jump into muddy puddles.
2. Not happy with that entirely, they jump into the puddles themselves.
3. They're probably high on crack: for what other reason would they wake their kids at 1 in the morning to go and "look at the stars" at grandpa Pig's place?
4. Peppa inherited from them her being so annoying.

I got 2 nieces and 1 nephew. I thought Teletubbies had me ready for everything (kids) TV could throw at me: bring it on, Tinky Winky, bring it on.

I was wrong. I was so, so, so terribly wrong.

Peppa Pig is everywhere: I bought some clothes for my nieces as Christmas present. It was a struggle to find something not in pink and not Peppa Pig related: what kind of aunt do you think I'd be by letting my nieces go around town dressed like porks?!?!?

And it's not just clothes, merchandise is everywhere: tissue paper, biscuits, chocolate, glasses, shoes, I haven't seen any Peppa Pig toilet paper yet, but I'm going for grocery tomorrow, so I'll keep you posted on this.

Right now, in the moment I type, millions of kids over the planet are watching her cartoon. There's a brainwashing operation in progress: in few years time, something will happen, like a small "click" in the infinite universe and kids will snap, become pink, oinking Cybermen and take power and enslave the whole humanity before setting up on a war path that will eventually bring to the demise of our galaxy... something that needs to be stopped now and that should be high in the agenda of the people over UN.

I feel quite powerless: can you imagine the dB level my niece can reach if I turn off the TV while Peppa is on? What can I do?

Right now I just played around with a meme that is quite popular on the web right now. Hope Peppa doesn't sue me for this:

Monday, 9 December 2013

Sunday musings

I spent the weekend in Milan. Not a big news, given I live in Milan, but it was an important decision for me. December 8th traditionally marks the beginning of the Xmas period in Italy: at my parents' it's the day we set up the Christmas tree and the nativity scene.
Yeah, a brunch of atheist do that: we're not hypocrites, quite the contrary. We gladly embrace the consumerism of our society, it's all about days off, food and presents for us. It's just extra sweet because of my nephew and nieces. So in a way it could have been expected for me to sit on the train back to Torino late on Friday evening to spend the day with my family and friends. But what for? To have people then standing me up because they got other plans and having to wake incredibly early on Monday morning to go to straight to the office?!?
It sounds fascinating enough, but no, thank you.

I decided not only to stay put, but to not move until Xmas time. I received some texts from people that "expected" me to be in Torino, but I just told them I was in Milan. Invitation to join me here were met with silence... makes me feel so appreciated, geez, thank you guys.

So while one side of my bitter self was thinking about the pressing need to re-evaluate friendships as soon as possible and to further trim down my address book, another part of me joined the consumeristic people all around me for a weekend of Xmas shopping.

I spent Saturday afternoon with Flavia, a girl I met in a knitting group: we went to see a craft art fair. It was free, it was huge, it was crowded! Basically half Milan moved to the fair: I can positively say that we left the place quite dazed, and it was not for the mirto we drank. Also cause the sample we were given was so tiny, not even an ant could have ended up drunk with that!
The fair had exhibitors from all over the world and from each Italian region. I ended up buying food and alcohol, which I diligently packed, thus avoiding to fall in temptation and to empty the bottle before it reaches its intended receiver.

Not happy with this burst of shopping, on Sunday I went to the Milan city centre for the "obei obei". It's supposed to be the traditional Milan Christmas fair, but times are changing and now it looks like yet another market: lot of stalls with food, flowers, Christmas decoration, magical spot remover and super-whatever-peeler.
I ended up not buying a single present there, I made up for those after the fair by taking a stroll through the city centre.
I just used the fair as an excuse for taking a stroll, having a pancake, drinking some mulled wine and buying some dried ginger. In the meanwhile I also took a look around and came up with one question and one thesis.

The question is: why would anybody think that an overcrowded busy fair in a cold and foggy winter day is the ideal way to spend time with his/her family, when it's plainly obvious that  the family is highly dysfunctional and nobody can tolerate each other?
I basically live 2 hours door-to-door from my parents.
I got plenty of issue of my own and so everybody else.
Aside when I had surgery and some other random events, nobody from Torino ever came to visit me. So I am painfully aware of the amount of time, money, patience, physical and psychological endurance you need in order to keep relationship going. I'm letting friendships dying right now, because I can't take it any longer and it looks not everybody is ready to share the weight with me.

But yesterday, walking around the fair, I saw something different. I saw people that live within a family, people that are not alone. Yet they looked more miserable than I am.
They looked trapped in the same kind of loneliness that surrounds me: I kept bumping into upset, angry people. Husbands running away from their spouses, parents forcibly dragging their kids, people swearing and cursing the day they met each other.
"Why did I marry you?"
"Move you stupid."
"You stupid little f****r, I wish you weren't born"

If you know you're going to get upset or angry with your family, wouldn't it be better to try and do something less stressful?
You don't need a Nobel prize to know that after one hour out a 3-year-old child will be tired and will want to be picked up by one of the parents: so why would any person sane of mind go to a fair, without a stroller just to scream to the kid "move or I leave you here"? Why not going to the park close to home instead?

The contrast was sharp: Christmas lights and decorations all over the place, decorations and traditional sweets on sale, the atmosphere was set for Christmas, yet the mood of lots of those people was quite miserable.

I have been thinking a little about the possible reason why: I spent the last 8 years envying people that got both job and family close, but it looks like they're not really aware of what they got.
I wonder if they envy me. To be honest, I'm not really sure of what I got either.

(as for the thesis, I'll tell you about another day: I'm tired now and it can wait).

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

cuteness and breakfasts

At 5 in the afternoon Milan is pitch dark.
It's cold outside. In the morning, I have to pay extra attention stepping out of the metro station as the curb is inevitably frozen.

It feels weird, partially because I can't shake off the ghost of the holiday. Not the ghost of holiday future, but the ghost of holiday past.
This year I had to wait quite a long time before my vacation started, but it was worthy.
Less than a month ago, this time I was still in Australia, now I'm in Milan. The contrast is sharp, the match almost non existent.
Sydney vs Milan.
Rats & cockroaches vs. koalas & parrots.

I feel like I'm not really awake, maybe this is all a dream and I'll soon wake up in my hotel room in Sydney, ready for another day of wondering and wandering around.
I look at the pictures I shot and wonder if I'll ever manage to sort them out. I wonder when I'll snap out of this weird state of stupor I'm currently in.
As I don't like to spend too much time on questions I can't answer, I can share with you one or two things I'm pretty sure about.

Koalas are not cute.
Koalas are über-cute. You browse a dictionary and the word "cute" got a koala picture associated to it.
I got about 70+ photos of koalas sleeping on trees and they all look basically the same: there's a koala, it's on a tree and it's sleeping, just like this one:

daily dose of cutiness

I haven't managed to delete a single one of those picture, except those blatantly out of focus, because each time I see one I go: "awww, it's soooo cuuute!"
That's how koala managed to survive thousands of years, I think:  predator tries to hunt koala down; predators sees koala, predators goes "awww, it's soooo cuuute!", koala runs away. Mmmh maybe "slowly walks away" is a more likely option.

Another sure thing is that food is amazing in Australia: the different type of food we had in 2 weeks is something that is basically impossible to get in Italy.
And yeah, I know that Italian food is great etc. etc., but it's not the only kind of cuisine I like and it's amazing for me to be able to be presented with a choice.
Vietnamese, Malay, Korean, Japanese, African, Greek, Chinese, Indian, Nepalese... such a variety of flavors and cultures has been one of the best part of this travel.
And honestly, nothing beats a flat white and banana bread to start off a day: my new ideal breakfast!