Friday, June 30, 2006

heading for halfway

Another day at the office, another hot sunny day in Milan and, today, I can't seem to wake up. I slept more than I have in the last few days, the temperature was much cooler than the last few days. I don't get it. It may very well be because of the fact that I did not have a shower this morning owing to the lack of hot water. There isn't any sort of chronic shortage or anything, it's simply that, unlike Niki, Dorota, and Matilde, I can't make the hot water heater turn back on. This is no one button pushing action. This water heater is intense. Think the flames of hell, but blue and on a smaller scale. When hot water isn't needed and the heater is on, you can see a single blue flame through the little open window. When the water turns on, the flames ignite (like those on a gas stove) and you see a row of flames before your eyes and hear gas burning as if it were a violently ignited fume from hell (i make it sound like i've ben to hell, and, I assure you, that is not the case). So this morning, no flames were going, and trying to reignite them by turning the switch just was not successful= no hot water for me. I'll have to get the real lesson in hot water heating from Dorota (she has been showing me her tricks in the kitchen, learning lessons from a real cook ;).

Speaking of Dorota, last night Carly and I, after declaring our love once again for the GS supermarket and heading over there to get some clams and wine for dinner preparation and deciding to hit the town together later that night after eating aforementioned items (although you don't eat wine...), ended up staying in the apartment and chatting for a good 2-3 hours with Dorota about just about everthing but with a focus on life and travel (yea, I know, real specific...). As we have dinner around 8 or 9, by the time we are just chilling and chatting the sun's light wanes and the apartment darkens. A nice ephemeral passing of time, a reminder that time treks stoically forward. It was only when I started talking in Dorota's general direction instead of looking Dorota in the eye because things were getting dark that Dorota turned on the lamp in the room and we continued on our way. It was nice to spend a night at home instead of heading out, since the previous three days have been a Marina marathon in anticipation for her long trip (which, unfortunately and fortunately, got cut short, so we'll see Marina again on Monday).

Now I have woken up... it only took two hours, oi. I am very happy now at the office, doing tasks that are challenging to me, using my Italian writing skills, and working with someone who seems to care about my productivity and my learning here at the photo agency. I sat through a meeting this morning, completamente in italiano certamente!, a sort of progress report on things going on in the office, with other agencies, with daily work. I am happy that I moved up to the top floor because I have much more visibility if I am not doing anything or if I am not tremendously productive. I've been doing a lot of writing for myself, so I look busy, but I have also been doing a lot of cool work more often. I get to struggle with Italian too, writing turquoise instead of turkish and writing that mongolian people looking for gold wear bathtubs on their back instead of saying they wear deep pans on their back. It has made for some laughs, and laughter is really the best thing.

So another week has ended and I am leading to the half-way point of my sojourn in Milan. Sales start tomorrow in Milano and I've been on the quest for linen pants and a pair of shoes... tomorrow's price chop should be just what my wallet needs to get high quality clothes at highly desirably prices. Sunday I may take a trip, who knows, it's just that easy when you're in Europe. Depending on Carly's job situation she may be leaving on Sunday :( but as she exits, Matilde comes back from her adventures in Scotland. A lunedì!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

turn right around and let those eyes follow

A rainy morning in Milan, and I thought it would never be possible. It did however rain throughout the night last night and a bat flew into and out of the house (milan has upped the number of bats in town to take a bite, quite literally, out of the mosquito population, which I can attest 6 itchy times to be a problem). So perhaps in the spirit of turnaround also seen in my life, Milan has decided to give us all a break from weather bordering on 40°C (100°F, which as a Celsius-reader really freaks me out) to give us a bit of thunder and lightning... well speak of the devil, there it is.

I came to realize yesterday that I would not be the most busy person in this office, I would not be a superstar by any means, taking on projects of my own and impressing those around the office. I have come to terms with being a foreigner with Italian not quite good enough to kick photo ass and constantly be learning. So I've undertaken more writing, aside from this blog, because I have the space to think. I have even more space to do so because of the language barrier, I get to enclose myself in a little English bubble of my own, letting my mind spill out rich, specific-filled phrases in the effort to construct something or other. So we'll see what another 3 weeks at the office will give me... a collection of essays? a novel? At the very least I will have this blog, I 'll have to keep having adventures after Carly leaves on Sunday for Florence and after Marina leaves this afternoon for Amsterdam and other locations TBA. Although I will miss them dearly (we've hung out everyday for the last three days, with mosquitoes as well come to think of it), Matilde (aka Gongina) will return this Saturday from Scotland, so perhaps the adventures will just get started. But, nonetheless, I will continue observing this continuously fascinating life.

On more than one occasion, while walking down Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle II or Via Dante, I've noted tourists (their pale skin flags them as foreign) sitting at cafés and watching the people as they pass by. I don't blame them for their fascination with the people here, the environment overflows with aesthetics: design, fashion, personal aesthetics, and the general pleasant apperance of the people... if they were wearing potato sacks (think toga) they would still be attractive. The thing that I find funny about these people watchers is how obvious they are, positioned towards the oncoming people traffic, taking their sweet time to take in every single detail of the look on two legs passing by. If you were a Milanese, I don't think your head would swivel in admiration (unless of course you are an Italian man attracted to a passing woman, who stoically tries to ignore the hooting, hollering, looks, and faces).

If you are a Milanese, the whole process is much more subtle. The eyes scan that look on two legs much more quickly, shoes first and a quick sweeping flick of the eyes back up to the face, and away. I can understand that they've perfected this glance having grown up in an environment full of visual overload always. I have to say I am glad I anticipated the potential overwhelming sight of Milan with its architecture, design, fashion, people. Otherwise, I might just have been floored, dizzy with too many places to look. My slow eyes would not have been able to flit and register it all. I can only imagine what how powerful the Milanese glance in love or lust must be, giving attention for more than just that quick one-two punch assessment but settling and quietly taking much more in, connecting.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cambiamento, the turnaround

Last night, I was on a boat. But, wait, you say, Milan is a landlocked city, how on earth were you on a boat last night? Well children, there is this thing called the Navigli, a canal that used to run through most of Milan that, now unfortunately only runs through very little of it. It is in no way a Venetian beauty of a canal or a scenic walk of a Lachine canal, but it's a center for nightlife in Milan (seems like everywhere I go seems to be a center of nightlife eh? well, there's a lot of night life, so there). The canal is lined with bars and little gelaterie and cute hangout joints. And boats. So Marina and Carly, seeing my child-like excitement, or subtle awe, decided to make my day and hang out on a boat. We three get along pretty well, although Marina and Carly share an affinity for rap, hip hop and american slang. We had a very nice night, chatting, drinking... seems to be a nice pasttime.

My change in mood from yesterday's more mellow state has chiefly to do to finding my lost sock (I lie, it has to do with my more challenging job at work). But I thought I had lost one of my socks yesterday, a nice wild striped one. I've never lost a sock before. It was a defeat. Anyways, the REAL reason for the change is moving to another floor at work where the activity is more and the jobs are more challenging. I get to hear more Italian, see more of the action, write more Italian, learn more skills. Now, the real internship begins. I am now working with a super sweet, beautiful and positive woman at the Picture Desk, completing tasks that are immediate, always changing. I just discovered, on the hunt for CDs the digital archive for which I was working the last two weeks but never knew. It is a super cold room with the office's network within and shelves of CDs, so thus the analog archive of file folders is getting replaced with shelves of CDs... oh the new perspectives I am getting. To sum it all up, perfect.

At the end of the day yesterday, having changed jobs, I was feeling a bit odd, still having that bitter taste in my mouth from the previous two weeks of archive digitization. Arriving home, straight from work, I was drained, weight pressing down under my eyes, throbbing body, exhausted mind (that's what happens when you have an actual job). So, as I have every day, I decided to do some yoga. While there might not be very much space in the house, there is this perfect spot in the room where I sleep on one of two bunkbeds (Niki's got the other one) and where there is just enough room against the closer to do forearm stands and, eventually, hand stands. After doing yoga in the early evening, completely sweaty and slightly dehydrated, I feel in control, at peace, and strong. The thing about yoga is that you only have your body to work with, you are tapping into your own strength, no weights, just you. And there is just something about the flow of movements in tune with the breath that is completely spiritual. So even if you are sweaty and hot by the end of it (humid hot Milan doesn't help the situation any), you don't really care that much because you are ready to do things, your mind is clear, your confidence high.

But sometimes you do mind the heat, not that it outweighs the benefits of an inner calm, but, hell, hot, sticky underwear is just no fun at all. I've grown to hate underwear, really, I have. Sticky, restraining, tight, waist-changing, and just plain entrapment. Why can't there be a light underwear that isn't tight and hardly feels like it's there... that's the way underwear should be, at least in the summer. I will go on a quest, or perhaps I'll start manufacturing underwear. I'm definitely in the right place to start an undergarment revolution. Now, if only I could pin down Dolce or Gabbana...

So I leave you with a fun fact about Italy which sort of fits into a plan I have to do a mini photo project with the common street signs of Milan... if you own a tabbacheria (a tabacco shop) and the carabinieri or polizia come in to check out the place and you don't sell salt, you'll be getting a fine. Or so says La Marina, but I trust her as a reliable source.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

travel is the thing

quick news recap: luckily the No side of the Italian Referendum to change the constitution won, so that things will remain as they are right now instead of dismantling and reorganizing the political system. and, yes, Italy won their soccer game yesterday. Gladly I wasn't in the mood for most of the game, because the most intense part of it all was definitely the last 10 seconds where with the game tied at 0-0, Italy was given a penalty kick and well of course Totti scored. Niki lept up for joy, the courtyard of our building erupted with cheers and shouts of GOAL as did the streets below for a good half hour. Evviva l'Italia.

While things have been a bit tough here in terms of adjusting to a new culture and trying to be all I can be (no I am not in the army) in the workplace within a new culture, I have learned new things about myself through the process of traveling. Carley and I chatted this over when we were eating gelato near La Scala. Picking up and plopping yourself down half way across the world from home puts you in a situation where you shed your everyday relationships, your everyday expectations, your everyday routine. Here, wherever here may be, in this case, Italy, you need to learn everyday, learn to communicate again, learn to orient yourself and to navigate. The warm padded and present comfort of instinctual unthinking language abruptly disappears as you find yourself not knowing how to say floor, tan or second. Thus you try and rely on your observations of body language, of interactions, of friendships all in an attempt to understand the culture you have entered, the underlying principles and any issues that also may exist. Often times you don't understand. There will always be the universal effervescent sound of a laugh or the welcome sight of a smile, but the entire way you view yourself and the way you will have to interact may change completely. You've entered another world.

All the while, however, you still have yourself. I know that I've been tracking my feelings and reactions in all these new situations. What type of person am I? What do I enjoy? How do I interact with people? When really all you have is your physical self in a foreign environment, an intimate observation of your thoughts and emotions takes place. I learn to become reacquainted with myself and observe as if at a distance. I note my want of proud confidant posture, my desire to present my best sophisticated yet simple (Marina knows all about this one) self forward, the want for connection, for sincerity, for creativity and expression. Beyond finding a life mission, or a life partner, travel is foremost a personal journey (no, I am not going to sound like that cheesy book The Way of the Traveler, bear with me) in which you learn more about that person who has always been with you. It's in this new environment, that a new presence of identity bubbles to the surface. The process fascinates me and can be emotionally taxing, a weary journey of reacquaintance, seeing how you get along with yourself.

I've been shifted in jobs at work, doing editorial research it seems, summarizing incoming projects and translating them into Italian. So this flow of blog posts may change in schedule and may change in frequency given this change of circumstances... we shall see.

Monday, June 26, 2006

yet another encore

Brace yourselves, this week the mercury will creep up close to 40 as Saharan heat presses into Milan. It is said that this week will be the worst of the summer, the hottest, and then it will be a different sort of heat. I find myself sweating more than I am used to, wiping off the liquid from my forehead as I entered the Metro this morning and other times as well. Somehow, I don't mind the heat that much. I know that if I keep drinking water and staying hydrated that I'll be okay. And I know that sweating is natural. In a way, it makes you feel alive.

So the weekend was nothing short of amazing, fun, and busy. It all started on Friday, as weekends usual do. I ventured forth to find a modern art museum, La Permanente, only to find that it did not exist and did not stand on the street and at the address where I thought it would. The address itself didn't exist. Great. Would this be the beginning of an awful weekend? I wandered around the public gardens (with certain spots looking as if they should be in Maine and not Milan) seeing dogs tredding through fountains, Italians lazily and oilily (not a word probably) lying in the sun and kids running around, before heading home. Upon my return, I learned that Carly, my old friend from 4 years ago at PSYL (a leadership camp), would be arriving within 20 minutes from Bellagio. What I didn't know was that Carly, fed up with the abusive children she was taking care of and the uncaring mother who wouldn't introduce discipline (boys will be boys), had packed up all her bags and come to Milan. She had decided that she would find a new job and place to stay and that everything would work out. Although I was a bit apprehensive at first, as anyone who hasn't seen someone else in 4 years should be, we immediately hit it off and continued chatting throughout the weekend whenever we weren't in museums or discouraged from conversation by loud public transportation. That night we went to see a free Sting concert as part of the Cornetto Free Music Festival. Standing in a packed Piazza Duomo with people huddled together, lip synching to Negramaro and then Sting, the wholse scene was a good time. From the little children who really couldn't care less, to the man selling beer and water out of a plastic tub on a cart covered with a light and an umbrella to the girls with whom we made fun of Sting's Italian, Carly and I had a wonderful music filled night (with mosquitoes looming above in the bright lights). Three encores later and we finally navigated our way home, awaiting a night of sleep and a weekend of tourism ahead.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to be able to talk in English, communicate effectively and, even, intelligently with another human being. I could speak a language all my own, well no, not really, but you get my drift. I was getting to the point where I needed a bit of a holiday from the English language so that what I have learned would sink in more effectively. At the end of the weekend, it would be back to Italian for me.

Saturday we headed to the Castello Sforzesco for perhaps the best cultural deal in town. Not only do you get to see an old fortification built by the Viscontis (later bombed and rebuilt... an exact replica says my guidebook) but you can also admire over 20 rooms of sculptures and paintings (including michelangelo's pieta rodanini and some canalettos) for only 1.50 euro (student price). Feeling cool (both temperature-wise and culture-wise), Carly and I headed off to Piazza Santo Stefano to have lunch at cente pizze (a hundred pizzas, although they don't actually have a hundred pizzas) and a visit at a latin-american church (who would have known). In the afternoon, we wandered in the heat to the Leonardo Da Vinci Science and Technology museum.
For 6 euro, we thought we had been cheated because the displays were nothing but juvenile and uninteresting (and one room was particularly rancid). However we figured out that we could have a little presentation in Italian about Leonardo Da Vinci with some of his reconstructed machines. With some elementary Italian and a venture into physics, Carly and I learned quite a bit and even built a Da Vinci bridge quickly enough to beat out the ten year olds and get a Evviva Ingliterra (Long live England!) from our guide. The skies broke out in thunder showers after Carly and I had bought melon and prosciutto (which came with free golden kiwis... what?! we still can't figure it out), and Carly, Niki and I went out to dance in the rain and celebrate a temporary end to the heat. In the cool night, Carly and I hit the fashion stores for La Notte Bianca, a full night of shopping, music, and special events around town until 6am (even though we called it quits at 2am).

I want to digress. On this lovely Saturday, at one point we were heading in a metro direction I hadn't gone before. I was convinced, after consulting my guidebook that we were indeed headed in the right direction for Cadorna. A woman came up to me as we waited for the train and asked if the train was headed for Lima. I said I had a guidebook and would check. Seeing Lima in the opposite direction, I told her that she should take the other train. Also, just as the train arrived an Italian woman asked if the train was going to Cadorna, and I said yes, for sure, that's where we are headed. Sure enough, that is not where we were headed, at least on the train that we got on. Not only was our trip a bit longer, but I had instructed two others wrongly because I thought I knew where I was going. I should just give up, I am Canadian I do not know Milan, screw it. Non lo so, I don't know. How do you ever know to trust that random person you ask for directions? You can't unless they have a store, or live here. Don't trust the random person for directions.

Anyways Sunday Carly and I went to the Pinacoteca di Brera, were struck by the scandalous Saint Rocco and the popular-with-the-ladies Saint Ursula, and taken aback by Hayez's The Kiss, Bronzino's Andrea Doria Waiting for Neptune and the final work by da Volpedo's Fiumana. I legitimately got my 2.50 euro entrance from my ATM (metro) card and somehow, unknowingly, I made Carly an EU student and she too got in for 2.50 when she probably should have paid double. Sweet deal. Wandering down Via Spiga towards La Scala, we had some lunch and then hit up the second sweet deal of the day: a 5 euro ticket to a concert at La Scala, the reknowned horseshoe shaped opera house in Milan. We waited around with a bunch of fancily dressed Italian elderly people and got our tickets. After a gelato and people-watching we headed back for the concert. I managed to snap a few photos before being told that I could not actually take any pictures. From our seats we could not see the stage, we could see all the box seats that could probably see the stage, we could see the other people on the other side who also couldn't see the stage, but, however, we could see the stage if we leaned over on a red velvet bar in front of us. La Scala (see interior photo care of Carly), basically, is white, gold, and red velvet, with a chandelier in the middle. Although luscious at first sight, if you look closer, some of the decorations hanging from the red velvet drapse above all the seats are wood painted gold, a bunch of lightbulbs in the chandelier were burnt out and the seats in front of the stage looked like they could have been in a high school auditorium... a lesson in costume jewelry i thought (to which Dorota would later put me down saying La Scala was one of the most famous opera houses in Italy). Once the music began, I would concede that the acoustics were indeed amazing. From my seat where one can see absolutely nothing, I could hear crisply the single violin or the single flute playing their part. Standing up and watching the small chamber orchestra as the played Rossini, Mozart, Rota, and Gershwin, I was moved. The skill of the musicians, the experience of this concert venue and fanning myself as if I were some sort of lower class gentleman from 400 years ago all came together to make it well worth the 5 euro. And at the end there was a sultry gorgeous Argentinian tango complete with a lengthy and riveting accordion solo played as one of the two encores. Of course, they had to play more than one.

We came home, went out to witness the referendum voting and have dinner, before coming home and chatting wildly with the new addition to the household (aka Carly) and anticipating a week of work for some, finding work for others, and utter sweating heat. Thus ended the activities of one of the most enjoyable weekends I've ever spent: full of culture, conversation and connection... really, who could ask for more?

Friday, June 23, 2006

sit back, relax, enjoy

Note on the D&G ad: it's everywhere in Milan, in all the Metros, on all the streets... World Cup madness continued.

Just when you think you've gotten tired of this place, you discover that you are indeed taller than almost all the cars in the city and that today is friday. I am so glad that week 2 at the ol ufficio is almost over, this weekend there's a free Sting concert, a night when all stores are open all night long, a referendum on the Italian constitution, and the visit of Carly a PSYL friend from 4 years ago. The weekend is waiting to be enjoyed, and it starts at 4.30pm.

Yesterday at 4pm, over the sound of my iPod singing continuously in my ears, I heard the blaring of a TV and more specifically a soccer announcer. The office had come to a standstill for the deciding match in the World Cup which would determine whether or not Italy would advance. It was a sort of bonding experience, yelling at the TV, swearing in Italian, rooting for the home team. It's kind of amazing how involved the Italians get, jumping up and down, yelling and cursing at the TV, and then, at the end, going back to work and moving on with their lives as quickly as they switched on the TV. It was nice to have a day at work that did not end with me being frustrated or pissed off, I actually stayed until 6 yesterday but, granted, I was watching a soccer game for the last two hours, ma dai (but come on)!

Two new things on my lifetime menu last night: pasta with nut sauce (sounds so much better in italian salsa di noci) and carpaccio (with the usual lemon juice, rocket lettuce and cheese). The pasta was quite nice, reminded me of the addition of chopped almonds my mother had made to our pasta at home. She had thought it a great invention, but, sorry mom, the Ligurians had a one-up on you. And the carpaccio, I was apprehensive. Raw meat. I've never had raw meat before. Hm. But since I've been in Italy, really I have no clue how to say no or to refuse any sort of new cultural experience. And it wasn't so bad, a light cool estival dish. I think it made me a bit nuts last night because I was thinking that every slightly uneasy feeling I was having must be from the raw meat. I don't think I'll be trying that stuff for a while, raw meat makes me nuts. Or perhaps the nuts made me nuts. You know what, I think I am just nuts to begin with, food excluded.

So I should get back to work, turns out that it is actually time consuming now that they've given me new tasks to do. Glory be, things may be turning around on this side of the world. Ciao.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

how to be an italian

With music, work goes a little better. And that's where I stop talking about work.

Last night I went out with Matilde and Davide to the two hip hangout spots in Milan for highschool and college students: Le Colonne and Mom (no, this is not a bad your mamma joke, it's a small hill where literally swarms of people assemble). Both spots were full of people chatting, smoking, drinking, playing soccer. Aside from the fact that it was pretty hard for me to follow conversation because I don't hear well on top of the fact that Italian is my third language, le Colonne was a beautiful spot framed on one side by ancient Roman columns and on the other by this beautiful stately old building and Mom was just a wild scene with Milanesi of all kinds passing the night away (Wednesday's night is Mom's night).

Observing the people and being a bit outside of conversation (Matilde ran into some highschool friends and was swept away in a flood of catching-up conversation. I only caught a few jokes, but was content nonetheless), I reflected on my Italian integration experience thus far and wanted to formulate a top ten, with a bit of help from Gaia and my insight into life thus far. So here it is à la Letterman, Stefan's list of top ten ways to be like a Milanese:

10. Watch soccer, whenever it's on, whoever is playing

9. Complain. About the weather, about work, complaining is the key

8. Go shopping, for at least three hours, if not an entire day

7. Wear clothing with brand names on it, or distinguishable patterns. A D&G belt would be a must, a pair of sunglasses (of course), and don't forget the shoes

6. Perfect the quick appraising glance of others, make sure that the outfit matches, don't forget the shoes

5. Come to work at 9, maybe 9.30, don't start working until 10 or 10.30, take cigarette breaks often, a little more than an hour for lunch and leave work early

4. Drink coffee, smoke and drink, as much as possible. You can even start when you're 12 if you like, it's not as if there are any laws against it in Italy

3. Talk with your hands: scratch your neck for I don't give a damn, motion with your palm to split your face in half to indicate stupidity, put your hands in prayer position and motion up and down without moving your wrists to indicate supplication, put all your fingers together on one hand and shake them back and forth for general emphasis (i think) and finally hold the left hand up in a stop motion and slice it in half parallel to the floor (figuratively speaking) with your right hand to say to throw away.

2. If all else fails, just curse and call to the Madonna. I've been told that there are very few Italians who don't swear (some examples: oh la madonna, non mi rompere le palle, che cazzo fai? and the innocent ma dai!)

1. Take the day off work when Italy is playing an afternoon match at the World Cup, because, come on, it only happens a few times once every four years

It's also an important lesson that food should be Italian, it's of a high enough quality. Sushi in Italy, as I learned yesterday, not exactly fantastic. When in Italy, do as the Italians do. Speak Italian, curse Italian, sweat Italian, speak only of and argue loudly about politics Italian (referendum on the constitution this sunday), love Italian, and, most importantly, eat Italian.

I've learned that the secret to learning a language is also to perfect those instinctual responses and little noises. For pause or thought an extended eh is more suitable than an ummmm. To say sorry, I've someimtes defaulted to automatic French because I know they won't understand English, really I should just say scusa. To say please in the sense that you want to let someone pass or allow another to do something you say prego and to say please in response to someone's question to render you a service you can say si grazie. But really, the most valuable lesson is to just swear whenever you can.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

hotness, not the good kind

Yesterday I was all proud of being alla moda (in fashion) and wearing white pants. By the end of the day, after the sun came out and everything heated up, I was regretting that decision trying to drain drops of water from my water bottle as I once again felt like I was being groped (when in fact it was just someone's bag) on the packed metro.

Before yesterday there hadn't really been a day where I felt hot and bothered. It could be that sto sempre tranquillo (I am always relaxed) and it could be that it hasn't been that hot. The family has marvelled at my claims of not being hot and always happy with the weather. I even ironed some of my clothes the other night (granted I took the breeziest spot in the house). Truly, I was not hot.

But yesterday, oh lord. It could also be that I was tired and, by consequence, frustrated and angry. But I think long sleeves and long pants were the culprit for my general state of unhappiness. I've come to realize that pretty much all the long pants that I have brought to Italy are useless except for the flight home. The material in those pants is simply to heavy for a climate that is constantly hot and where it seems never to rain (my boston umbrella has been aging in the boredom of uselessness). So today I am in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, wishing for the same heat, because if it is cold today, I am not having very good luck. I even picked up a local paper today in the hopes that I would find a weather forecast, but alas, the Italians only live in the present and I can only know what today will be like.

Last night was the first night that I was interrupted in the middle of the night. Interrupted by my sweating body. It would have been really nice to sleep on an ice cube. Here you sleep with a bottle of water by the bed and all the windows and doors open. That way whatever breeze may exist comes in and makes things bearable (although, i haven't found things too unbearable to date thanks to my nalgene, which a lot of people stare at, and gelato, which I haven't indulged in too much). Normally, the last week of June, so claims the family, is the hottest in the summer. And I always ask.. e poi? (and then?) and the answer always is: it's hot for the rest of the summer. I find it funny that they focus so much on this one week when the entire summer is insane, but perhaps I've spoken too soon.

So I find myself at work again, and as Boris and Natasha (I've been scanning all the B movies in the world it seems) are scanning, I am going to get a cappuccino (and give caffeine another shot). Ugh, caffeine... I'll try caffe collatte next week. Perhaps me and coffee were never meant to be. I'm not a very good Italian (well, yea I'm Canadian) because I don't smoke, I don't drink coffee and my skin isn't tanned enough. I also like to work, not very Italian. They come in check their email for half an hour (okay granted, I check mine all morning long, but my job is plate (boring in french) go out for coffee, yell ciao to each other, yell pronto on the phone and work in between. At least they're content.

Me at my job right now, pretty far from content. But, as always I am trying to see the good in it. I've been reading other people's blogs and work for them sounds fun and exciting (or in Allen's case, thoroughly complicated but he's enthralled so it's great), for me I can't really say the same. So far (and for the next week and a half) I will be in the digital archive in the morning, scanning slides from old english movies (all of which start with the letter B) for the digitization, and in the afternoon I am in the analogic (read: normal) archive sorting through slides to get rid of, to send back to firms we no longer represent (yea I used the we as if I felt like I belonged, which I kind of do), and to give back to the photographer. In theory, this is tremendously exciting: I am at the forefront of the digitization process, the evolution into a high speed digital 21st century. Wow, right? High speed, eh? Let me tell you, the process is slow, extremely slow. Pick the slides, scan the slides, identify the slides.... each batch of 5 takes perhaps 10 minutes. And in the afternoon, I am going through every single folder (Abacus, Aquiloni, Babysitter, Balletti, Balli... alphabetical order) and looking at every single sheet of slides looking for slides from 5 companies we no longer represent. AIE. So today, armed with my iPod (grazie a dio [thanks be to god, to borrow from Anna's arabic phrase] for music), I will try to tackle the archive. I've been leaving work early (I am supposed to work until 6) because truly, I don't believe in anything but 9 to 5. And, in addition, I can't support the torture of me myself and I in the archive. I've been thinking about the future, about the joband the people in the office etc.

But wait, everything may not be illuminated but there is light within this experience. I am learning that, in life, I do not, at any cost, want to be at a job where I do nothing all day (like the poor woman who sits behind a desk all day in the photo gallery here) and I also do not want to do mindless tasks where I feel like my brain is rotting (as I do now) but I would rather be creating, thinking, doing. If I had a project here, a higher sense of purpose, I'd be happier. I couldn't have been more thrilled when another intern came to me for help with her English translation of meeting minutes. I like helping people. I always have. I need to be visual, but actively so, not like I am now. Being here, in Milan and at Grazia Neri, have also made me realize that I need to be surrounded by a certain aesthetic environment to be stimulated and satisfied, a busy everchanging environment, that helps others, that serves a worthwhile purpose. And making that realization, if only to give me a better sense of direction, is well worth the torture of the archives and the digitization process.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

high fashion, high life

Note: I will try to put up photos from yesterday, so check back for high fashion photos... for now an archival view of the Duomo (and its uncovered facade).

Today I decided to dress in true style, crisp pink shirt, white pants, brown belt and shoes. Today I mean business. People are pretty impressed it seems already. Matilde noted the dapperness before I left and Gaia mentioned it moments after arriving. Watch out Milan.

Speaking of fashion, yesterday I went to the Golden Square and walked around its periphery. The Golden Square, framed by via Manzoni, via della Spiga, Corso Venezia, and via Monte Napoleone, is filled with chichi (no idea how to spell that, nope) boutiques with eccentric and elegant window displays. The interiors of the stores (into which I need to go back and play the role of high fashion conoisseur) are feats of architecture, they are so aesthetically designed. But the clothes, and especially their prices, I thought were all pretty useless. Uselessly expensive. Okay, maybe I wouldn't mind an item or two, but to have such an imposing aesthetic order (where the primp salespeople look like feats of architecture themselves and the window displays and clothing racks look like art exhibits) truly intimidates the casual viewer, the temporal tourist. I went into D&G (blech, for all those brand whores in Milan who flaunt text and names and scream D&G from their belt buckle or sunglasses) and was impressed by the cool design but just didn't dig their desire for edgy raw streetwear that is grossly over-priced. Perhaps there's an upcoming sale? One can only hope. After I left that mirrored madness, I caught a glimpse of some wild chandelier through a courtyard window of Corso Venezia... hidden elegance, the high life of the road of high fashion. Dorota would later tell me of a similar experience where she caught a glimpse of the Barilla family home in the Golden Square which had peacocks strutting about. Mamma mia. Around the corner on Via Monte Napoleone and I found myself in the courtyard of the Armani store with two shallow simple black pools filled with flowers before a coolly aesthetic men's store. It's no wonder the Milanesi have a solid confident attitude, they've got the stores to match. It is something to see, a bit ostentatious, a bit over the top, but then again, it is also the cutting edge of design and an aesthetic wonderland... I'll be sure to return.

The rest of my evening was spent practising a bit of yoga, relaxing, ironing (which the family finds extremely funny eventhough they approve... I think they just appreciate this wild creature who doesn't quite understand Italian but has a way of his own) and chatting with Dorota. We had the meandered from work to Italian politics to the status of women in Italy and the status of queer people in Italy to the duality of nouns in English (Dorota has a theory, and well I couldn't really tell you what it is because I was a bit tired, but it has to do with the arabic duality or something). What I find truly interesting is that Italy is so open with its emotions and so easy-going but at the same time there is a subtle chauvinism that underlies everything. Only when you dig deeper do you discover it. Dorota keeps telling me of the amazing (amazingbad not amazing good) things that students of hers say in class (this one Napolitano said he has never done dishes, doesn't do dishes and will never do dishes, that is the job of the woman). If you come to Italy for a week, you could miss that subtlety. Also, since the Church is pervasive (é dappertutto as I like to say) although no one GOES to church, there are intrinsic ideas that casual sex is bad, mastubation will make you blind and queer people should be shot (the men in Dorota's class upon being asked if their son told them he was gay responded that they would kill him), there is an underlying conservative and intolerant view. It's interesting because the big names in fashion, Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana, Armani, are all gay. But, since they have made a name for themselves, they're alright. Interesting no?

I love sitting down and chatting with Dorota, who claims I am the only one who listens. We get along so well, laugh a lot, and discover things about each other's societies in the best most natural mode of conversation and connection. She's a pretty awesome woman, with lots of language skills, plenty of knowledge and tons of care. Bellissma.

Alright tutti, I am going to read some Italian to learn some more (it's a constant process) but I can feel myself becoming more fluent, already I am starting to think in broken English. Thank god for your emails and this blog :)

Monday, June 19, 2006


Monday morning and week number one has officially been declared completed. I am back at work, now more optimistic having had a comprehensive tour on Friday afternoon (you would think they would give that on the first day, eh?). I know what happens in every place in the office, I now know what I am doing, and I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel: my days in the archive will end within a week or two. hoorah.

Finishing work at 4.30 on Friday afternoon, I headed to do my first bit of touristy activity and went to the top of the Duomo, a beautiful medieval cathedral that took 400 years to build. The Milanese are constantly restoring the cathedral (currently the facade is covered) and there are parts that are white and pink, fresh to the world once again. I took 150 photos at the top of the Duomo (before editing) and immensely enjoyed my first foray in tourism... there are so many beautiful statues up on the roof (3400 on the whole church to be exact, in true international medieval style) I went a little nuts.

Saturday, after cleaning the house and learning that both sweeping and filling up the gas tank have alternate meanings in Italian that find themselves deep into the night and minds of the Italians (if you know what I mean, which I think you may not... they're dirty people), I decided to hit up the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and be a tourist. I gladly found the museum pretty empty, silent, beautiful. I entered one room, dimly lit and as I turned the corner I witnessed a full wall sketch of Raphael's School of Athens. It was breathtaking, the air was cool, the shadows subtle. I was in quasi ecstasy and I then knew why I was an art history major. Throughout the rest of the museum there were similar moments like these with a Dante-inspired stained glass window and a small impressionist Francesca and Paolo from Mose' Bianchi that all left me a bit numbed, in the best way possible. The feeling is as if your eyes cannot take in as much as they want to and your chest just fills with lighthearted wonder. In short you feel sort of otherworldly. So I guess I had an out of body experience at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. Well worth 7.50 euro.

Sunday we escaped the forno (oven) that was to be Milan to head to Celle Ligure, a beach town in the province of Liguria. From the car I was able to witness the yellow wheat and green grass countryside of the Piemonte, flat farm land all around with a farm house here and there and the extremely photogenic (although I was not successful) single tree alone in a pasture. We went through the Apennines and into Liguria where coloured stucco houses dot the hillside that ultimately end at the coast with beautiful blue beaches. Although parking was nothing short of a nightmare (though everything here doesn't really phase me to worry), the subsequent cloud-like brioche (think warm sugared cloud) and genovese focaccia made everything alright, as did the clouds parting to reveal glorious sunshine. I, of course, was il bianco (the white one) among my newfound family and they laughed really hard when I pulled out my 45 sunscreen lotion. They of course were using 2 (italians usually probably just slather themselves in olive oil... although some were using tanning oil). I started off with 20 and worked my way down to 10 with a little venture into the land of 6. By the end of the day, I was nicely tanned but not nearly as much as the others who were running away from me in terms of skin tone, escaping into the exotic and sensual world of a deep golden brown. People here are just naturally darker, and the contrast to their white parts is almost blinding, as I was to witness from the car one man standing out on the point with a strip of blinding white contrasting against the deep luxurious brown. In my picture taking, I've ventured into suspiciously taking pictures of other people without them being aware. There are some cute shots of people I don't even know, displaying a real life that already exists here without me: the tourist. What is wonderful about the beach and about the Italian culture so far, in general, is that anything goes. Want to go topless on the beach ladies? Fine. Men, want to wear speedos? Va be' (Fine). This liberated spirit that doesn't really worry about what goes and what doesn't but just lives will be something I will live up to the fullest and bring back with me for sure. With pure emotions and a raw sense of aesthetics, it isn't hard to see how Italy appeals to so many.

In parting, a few more shots of la vita Italiana...

Friday, June 16, 2006

the honeymoon is over

Note: I have been getting a lot of comments on the blog, which I appreciate but I'd really love for this to be a space for free writing (that's why the first few posts were so free and funny). I guess it's up to me to distance myself a bit from commentary, so, I guess what I mean to say in all this is use the blog as a source of information, and post your comments, but leave the commentary in cyberland. If there's anything worst, it's having the blob (as some like to call it) and the internet invade your daily life. Anyhoo, I'll be off for the weekend.... stay tuned, more adventures to come on Monday.

I think the initial high of being in Milan and the novelty of the experience have worn off after five days. The reality of this city is starting to seep through: I am starting to notice beggars on the street, the prostitutes who linger late into the night, the male dominance and conservative ideology that reigns, and the subtle xenophobia that is also here. It isn't as if I am starting to hate Milan, it is only that I am starting to see a more comprehensive view of the city (which is quite fitting because today I am going to get a full view of the city from the top of the duomo).

Yesterday, I gladly spent a quiet evening at home chatting about the cheap and easy travel that Europeans enjoy, the politics of Milan, the Middle East, George Bush and Canada with Dorota, all while doing the dishes and cutting watermelon (anguria). Earlier in the evening, when I arrived home, I had held the elevator for an elderly woman in our building coming towards the elevator. When she saw me she made some sign with her hand, as if she were scratching her neck. Of course, I had no idea what that meant and was unphased. When she indicated that she lived on the same floor, I went into the elevator, no problem. I later asked Matilde and co. about the gesture and if there was anything else typically Italian I should know about. They were aghast because scratching your neck usually means 'I don't give a f*$£' which is, well, rude. Dorota suggested that she may have just waved her hand away at me in some sort of shooing motion to indicate she didn't need the elevator. I really don't remember what I saw. But now, I know.

The Milanese have this way of appraising you and what you are wearing in a very quick manner. It's odd because people here are very warm once you know them, but there is no way you will meet random people. Matilde was telling me that if you go to a party, you go with your friends, you stay with your friends, you leave with your friends. E cosi (that's how it is). So there is a coldness that reigns here, Milan is a city of individuals, much like New York. But the contrast is so great between those people you know and those you don't. It is kind of surprising. But I digress. Since Milan is a city of fashion and status, it seems, what you wear occupies spot number one on the list of priorities. Other than men's rotating and focused appraising glance for a beautiful woman, some Milanesi will give you a quick look over, a top-to-bottom scan with the eyes. I guess it's a very subtle compliment, or at least that's how I've been taking it. It might be an insult for all I know, since it is so subtle. For now, I am alright with it, but I'll let you know when it starts getting on my nerves, because it's one of those things that could be flattering on a good day and like daggers on a bad day.

The other thing the Milanesi do a lot is say ciao. Everyone at the office says Ciao! to everyone else, whenever someone enters a room everyone says Ciao! and you say Ciao! when you are leaving too. When in doubt, say Ciao! unless of course you are in a solemn place like a cemetary or a church. Although it might be alright to say Ciao! in the monumental cemetary, that place is simply nuts, since it is so crazily baroque and uncontrolled with huge tombs... like a city of the dead. Anyways, I think it's nice when people say ciao to each other and know each other but saying Ciao! Ciao! Chee-owa! gets on my nerves sometimes because it seems like a call for attention. Ciao I am here, Ciao hear me, Ciao I exist. Which I guess is kinda nice in a way, no one really gets lost in it all.

Well back to work for me and thus ends my blog post on a lower note. No, I am not depressed. Yes, I still like Italy. It is perhaps only due to a bit of tiredness yesterday that everything rubbed me the wrong way. Hey, it happens, even in Italy.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

...but i like bananas better

Off goes the scanner and here I am to type out my saga yet again. It truly is nice that this job allows me time to write and keep the world up to date. This morning I feel as if I've forgotten something, it's one of those mornings, and in fact (infatti) I forgot to bring my allergy medication to fend off the evil dust of the archive. So we'll see what happens this afternoon when I go down into the land of filing cabinets.

After a successful afternoon in the archives yesterday, finding exactly what I needed to find all along (in previous days, I had failed utterly in comparison to yesterday's results), the Grazia Neri office held a cocktail party opening for the exhibit being shown in the gallery right next to the office. The show was ten photos of ten objects from Hermes, each with a story or poem by an Italian author. If any of you are in Milan and read Italian, you should go. The exhibit is wonderfully poetic and moving. Now, the cocktail party was quite an event. It was one of those fancy catered events with waiters and all, but, unlike all the others I had been at in the past, this one was in Italy. The servers were nowhere as pushy as those in North America and just stood around with their platters waiting to be approached. Once you did approach, they said prego (kind of the equivalent to please, but, hell, it sounds so stupid in english). It seemed curious at first that the servers were not more assertive in approaching people standing around, but, soon, I understood why.

Whenever a platter of food would come out and be put on a table, the Italians would flock to the the platter and clean it off. It was as if it were some sort of attack. I quickly observed that one should never get between an Italian and his food. Platter after platter and the Italians would flock, devour, and retreat. The wine was being downed and the people were having a good time... e cosi (that's how it is). As I ate lunch at the Osteria del Gambero Rosso (yea, the one from Pinocchio), I also noted that the Italians aren't stingy when it comes to food: order wine, bread, whatever, all for the good cause of enjoying life through food. The waiter seemed a bit offended when I ordered nothing to drink (and I was afraid he would be even more offended if I dared to drink water from my water bottle).

Back home (in Porta Romana, I think the quartiere is called), I jumped at the chance to buy milk and yogurt at the GS. I think I am going to have to go back with my camera to document the crazy-wonderful things that the supermarket sells... hazelnut yoghurt, rabbit, carpaccio, pesto... I think the Gavronski family thinks me a bit nuts for enthusiastically jumping on the chance to go to the GS, but it really is one of the best ways into understanding a culture, or at least experiencing more of it. Food, as Naila continually affirms, is such a large part of life, a fundamental block of existence. No food, no life= important.

Over dinner, while Dorota wasn't running back to her room to check on the World Cup game between Poland and Germany and being yelled at by her children to return to the table, my first cultural misstep happened. Now, that sounds monumentally bad, but, not to worry, it was a cultural mishap of the hilarious kind. Dorota asked me if I liked melon since we were having prosciutto e melone (ti piace?), to which I answered: si, mi piace ma amo di piu le banane (yes i like it but i like bananas more). Enter uproarious laughter. Now, to me, this didn't seem like something deserving of laughter. Although I was laughing too, because laughing is contagious, I was horribly confused. Melon (cantolope) is a fruit, so is the banana, hence comparing them shouldn't be funny. But here, melon is usually eaten as an antipasto (before the meal) and is thus considered more of a vegetable (yea, of course... wait! excuse me?). Yes, melon is in a different category than fruit, because you don't eat prosciutto with banana.

That evening Mati and I went out with her friend Davide out to the country to what looked like an abandoned farmhouse where some indy rock kids were playing. Since the mosquitos were more exciting than the high school children at this gig, we decided to go to a swingercafe (god knows what the Italians think it is) called leCoq (all signs point to a swingers' cafe) where we had some cocktails and nice conversation. The evening concluded late after a tour of Milanese sights by car in a completamente vuotato (empty) Milan. All the while, cheesy old Italian pop music played as our soundtrack.

This morning I awoke to no hot water (and thus, no shower). Matilde showed me, upon waking in the house where many things don't work (her words not mine), that you had to turn the hot water on. Okay, should just be a button, right? Turned out to be a switch that when turned correctly are accompanied by blue gas flames. I've been learning little things about how to work things around their home in the past few days: the lights in the kitchen don't work with the switch, the toilet flush handle needs to be held a certain way, and the door. The door can only be opened with a certain number of turns of the key (in the correct of the two locks) and I have still to get it open.

So the adventures continue, even when I don't expect them. Yesterday, I was worried I would have nothing to write this morning, but of course Milan comes through yet again. Hopefully tonight I'll get a good night's rest and I'll have nothing to write tomorrow (although you know I will, because work me fa un po schifo [annoys me a little], perhaps something reflective on the Milanese method of visual appraisal...)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

nonstop a gogo

so my bag arrived this morning right before i left for work, and everything was a bit compressed but present, accounted for, nonexploded. beautiful.

another day, another dollar. well, not really: i don't get paid. really, i don't understand what is going on at this damn job. but after my first caffe this morning (quality stuff, pure and strong) I am liking selecting slides from weird movies from years past during my mornings (all the while I get to update my blog and keep everyone posted as to the events of my days that are always gogogo. At this pace, I am not sure returning to Canada will be very much fun :P Anyways, we'll see where this internship goes, I am figuring out a bit more as to the 6-week plan, I would love for this experience to be a valuable one.

Allora, so yesteday, I was a bit out of it and managed to walk straight into a plate glass window. boy, was that funny. it was just so clean, so clear. There is still a smudge from my oily face and the impact of my lips, che bello. I felt so dumb. SO dumb. But my fellow student intern let me know that she too had done the same thing her first week here, and hence me and Gaia bonded a bit. I am getting a bit tired of the work, because somehow I want to be the super productive person I always am. Lunchtime found me in a local street fair and walking around the truly monumental monumental cemetary closeby. Today, however, I am just going to take it as is, slowly, taking my time, enjoying it. There is an opening at the gallery here, a little cocktail for a small show of photos of Hermes fashion (usually Grazia Neri does stuff that is more political, moving, thought-provoking, but fashion, per me, va bene).

Italian is creeping into these blogs, watch out people, before long it will be entirely in Italian since I am getting more and more exposed to la vita italiana. So yesterday, I left work early, a bit frustrated but happy I had escaped, to go on my British Airways sponsored shopping spree. I met la Marina in Piazza del Duomo and off we went to tackle the affair. Trusting her completely we wandered into Zara, H&M, Mr. Kenzy, Celio... all the good deals in town. The typical Italian way of shopping is specialty, going to one store for one thing etc etc. All those famous names Armani, D&G etc. are a bit pricey and well more for brand whores than myself. Finally, after a nice chit chat at a cafe, pausing from failed shopping, Marina and I hit up United Colors of Benetton and found stuff on the first try: three quarter light grey pants and a light blue polo. One stop later and we had gotten a cellphone... now to figure that out.

My life here is insanely busy, much more than it would ever be at home, so all the details are down here.

The evening was something quite special. Dorota, Matilde's mother, teaches English and we were going to a dinner hosted by one of her students for the students in her class (who range in age from early twenties upwards). Before going, I thought: nice Italian dinner, should be great. Well, I really didn't know what I was walking into. It was as if I had entered a wild soccer game, this one of conversation... la partita di conversazione as I like to call it. I could barely follow what was going on, moving my head to and fro. Matilde was trying to keep me up to date at first, and told me of the circle of Italian conversation (from sports to gossip to politics to love and over again). I was at a total loss. I have been totally lost in the past few days but it doesn't really get to me at all somehow, like the lit sign in the piazza del duomo tells me 'everything is going to be alright'. So to help me, some of the guests and hosts filled me in and ask me questions to me directly which was especially nice. What was also a big help was the wine tour of Italy I took last night. From Venetian prosecco, to hearty sicialian 13% alcohol red wine, to homemade tuscan wine, to dessert wine and finally to blueberry grappa. Needless to say we were all pleasantly tipsy by the end of the evening and the ride home was, shall we say interesting. I laughed so hard when I understood broken English or understood a joke in Italian (none of which I remember very well). The one thing I do remember is Dorota, who kept going on the balcony to smoke never closed the screen (to which there was an uproar) and when she did, it sprung right back open in true comic fashion. I may not have managed to say very much, but amidst the storm of conversation, jokes, and brazil's world cup game playing in the background (to which someone always yelled out eccola (here it is!) in anticipation of a goal) I had a real good time.

With my bag arrived finally, I can now settle in more and truly embrace life in Milano. We'll see what new adventures await.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

gli azzurri vincano!

Men in suits riding motorcycles. Women in stilettos on bicycles. The people here are so put together that I can't help but be self-conscious... but in a good way (aware of how I look but not really caring what other people think... it's not like I can understand everything they are saying). Fine shoes, tailored shirt, nice pants... is as if many of these Milanesi have walked straight out of a fashion catalogue. Men, straight or gay (and now I really can't tell), wear really nice clothes that, well, are real fine. Things match, look new, go together. Yea, life's different here: the temperature is warmer (up for interpretation...) the breezes are cooler, friends are closer, people are more open, and the emotions are purer (you'll see with the world cup game shown in the piazza del duomo later...).

In the afternoon, when most of you North Americans were just getting up, I was going through boxes of slides in the archive here to find slides from a certain distributor so that they could be sent back to them. Picture a room with lots of file cabinets and piles of orange boxes stacked up on all of them with names of famous people and normal subjects. Sorting through pictures of drugs, people eating, festivals, awards, gay pride, architecture, I tracked down a couple of folders from the desired distributors. After an afternoon sorting through the dusty piles, I went home on the Metropolitana, now savvy of its directions.

Once home, we went to the GS supermercato, although Niki was convinced it wasn't anything special, I thought it was an adventure. Hamburgers shaped like Mickey Mouse, pesto in a jar, rabbit and carpaccio at the meat counter, and tons of varieties of juice. I think I am going to spend much time at the GS...

So night rolls around and Italy is playing Ghana at the World Cup. And of course, we're going to see it in the Piazza del Duomo. Although the Duomo has been under renovation for the past 6 years, the openness of the square along with the beautiful architecture of Vittorio Emmanuelle II were breathtaking. Seconds after our arrival, Italy scored their first goal, thus we were lost in flag-waving, firework-burning, horn-blowing, cheering Italians. The game was intense, drama mounting high, seems like gli azzurri complained of foul-play every two minutes, the Milanesi cheered and booed but were sometimes silent (rare according to Marina). And the night was spent cheering and walking around downtown Milan, quite picturesque I might add. I've noticed the Italians are a people of pure emotions: telling all, showing all, being open and direct. They'll swear ardently at the bigscreen (ma che cazzo fai!) and shake their hands up to the Madolina on top of the Duomo when things go wrong. But in the end they were happy for a victory of 2-0 against Ghana. Saturday we will see the Italians up against the States... oh boy, let the sociological study begin! Once my bag arrives, I will bring my camera everywhere and will click click click away and send out photos. I've been missing quite a bit without my stuff. The good news is I have a mini shopping spree in the works thanks to the missing bag, so today, I'll leave work a little early and go a little crazy on British Airways' tab.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Benvenuto a Milano

After 14 hours of travelling, I arrived in Milano only to discover that, unlike me, my bags had not made it to Milano. Although pissed, I was welcomed with smiles and open arms by my old friend Matilde, her brother Niki, and Mati's friend Marina. I was resolved not to sleep my first day until the evening (although I was exhausted) so I stayed up and tried my very best to make conversation in Italian and get to know my surroundings. Assuring me that losing my bag was part of the experience (luckily I had another bag packed), Mati drove (as the rest of us held on for dear life... another authentically Milanesi experience I was told by Marina) back to her place. It was really nice to just sit back, and not sleep, and follow the conversation and already feel myself improving in Italian. Mati's family apartment is a nice and cosy two bedroom apartment with a nice breeze. The balcony overlooks a courtyard that feels so typically Italian, with bright coloured walls and many other balconies. Somehow things here are more lively. After much conversation (which, as Marina also tells me, typically centers around love and food), we finally went out to dinner. I feel wonderfully at home with Mati and her brother and mother Dorota, and look forward to spending much more time with them. My first day was spent sitting around, listening and laughing with my new company, still arriving mentally.

Dinner was tough, only because I grew increasingly tired. But with such lively company (and a bit of wine), I managed to stay awake through dinner, learn a bit of slang, and become more aware of the North-South animosity that exists in Italy. Still without bags, but well fed and arrived, I figured out where the hell I was going the following day (to WORK!) and was asleep without much trouble at all.

The following day, still a bit jetlagged (but of course!), I awoke at 7.45, had some cornflakes (yea, they're called something else...) figured out the whole shower apparatus (you have to sit down, no shower curtain, wild) and was off on the Metropolitana to work. Of course I had to get a bit lost. I overshot the street I was looking for, but wasn't too far off (at least I wasn't on the other side of the city). I am now working at the photo desk (i think...), scanning images using this super nifty slide scanner called the nikon super coolscan 9000. With a name like that, it can only be supercool. I'm a bit hungry but I'll get used to this Italianate schedule soon. For now, that's my story. I'm glad I am here, a bit pissed my bag didn't want to come with me, completely out of place, swimming in Italian, needing a cellphone, and a familiar face. Give it a few days and I'll be super.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

save the last dance for me

Inspired by a recent encounter with the Canadian crooner's (Michael Buble) rendition of the classic...

Just go...
Well we've already gone
Already split our separate ways
But now I let go of your hand
And spin around the dance floor
as you step the other way

You can dance all the rest of your dances
with the guy who gives you the eye
You can smile all the rest of your smiles
for the man who brought you close
Just remember not to give your heart away
and save the last dance for me

I know we may lose touch and forget
the feeling of being in each other's arms
Somehow we'll dance back across each other's path
look deep and see how far we've really danced
having maybe waltzed the night away on the moon
or tangoed across the milky way
perhaps, sadly, we'll have drifted to other planets

Maybe touch and sight will bring us back from distant dances
recalling just where we left,
rewind the kiss-walk-away
and bring you back in my arms

But for now, go and dance the night away
I'll waltz here by myself for tonight
but will go out dancing once again
How far I'll be able to go, I don't know
Because I can't forget the last dance
I've saved the last dance for you

Monday, June 05, 2006

that feeling

note to people: much of what I do is creative writing, so the shit written may not be happening... the craft of a writer to conjur up emotion... keep that in mind children

that feeling
of raw skin
everything hurting
right at the center
screaming silently
pulling you in
to the boiling
pit of your stomach
spurs more pain
as you see the david enter
in your soundless reverie
and another gnat lands
on your bleeding flesh

Friday, June 02, 2006

cut off

4 hugs a day for survival
left unfilled

daily emails, phone calls,

broken communication

in silence i lurk and discover
a digital reality i don't want to know
a bright light screen message i shouldn't have discovered
i shouldn't have had access to

but i can't help but feel the fact
that our hearts forever bleed
and i feel wounded
when i shouldn't know anything at all

really i should just be hopelessly pacing
imagining you dead on the road
slumped over the wheel
cell phone ringing in your pocket to another voice message

really i should still be holding you up
to honesty
to loyalty
to your pedestal

you think it's fine, it's great, it's far away
with so much distance, what's the point
of continuing
holding on to nothing

so we'll talk and exchange empty pleasantries
while foundations crackle and spark
smouldering when you think them stable

i don't think this should be continuous
or that pearly dreams last touchless months apart
but when silence reigns
and i still remember the lively blue of your eye
and the touch of your skin
I feel sinned
I feel rotted
I feel stained