July 9, 2016

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May 31, 2016

Inspiration from the Greek Gods

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May 31, 2016

A nice picture of me 2016

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May 29, 2016

snowflakes

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May 29, 2016

A few cartoons

December 15, 2012

winter doing its thing

14.12.2012

December 13, 2012

ideas for my best-seller

10.04.2009 – Well, I’d buy them …

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December 10, 2012

confessions of a winetard

01.12.12 – Saturday, Piacenza wine market

A brief history of my relationship with wine

1982, I’m 18, travelling around Italy with my boyfriend and no money. We’re somewhere in the mountains around Rome, and we decide that on our budget we can live on crusty bread, fresh tomatoes and fiaschi of local red wine in squat bottles in woven straw baskets, which all costs about 50p a meal and is nutritious, traditional peasant fare. This seems like a marvellous idea during our first meal, after which we pass out on our beach mats in a field under the shade of a tree. When I wake up I feel dreadful, headachy, nauseous, depressed. I won’t touch red wine again for the next 15 years.

What influences my wine buying behaviour:

  1. Is it white?

Mid-late 1990’s and I’m in my mid-late thirties, burning out from taking myself and my career far too seriously, and suffering from insomnia, which seems to be exacerbated when I drink white wine. Red wine is healthier and has all of those anti-oxidant thingies in it. I won’t touch white wine for the next 10 plus years.

What influences my wine buying behaviour:

  1. Is it red?
  2. Does it have a pretty label?
  3. Price range ITL.3,000 – ITL.5,000 (for a really good bottle)

End 2010, M. is selling insurance and one of his clients owns a local wine shop and bar. Within a few months of meeting him we are spending what we normally spend on a bottle of wine on a single glass. Buying a bottle of wine has become as complicated as choosing a new phone or computer.

What influences my wine buying behaviour:

  1. Does the vintner tell a good story? + €10–€15
  2. Is the vintner a woman? + €5–€10
  3. Will the vintner treat me like an alcoholic if I don’t spit it out? – €5–€10
  4. Will they be pleased if I don’t? + €5–€10
  5. Do they personally introduce us to their vines? Do they carry around a picture of their vines in their wallet? + €10–€15
  6. Will they want me to try the whole range of their wines? + €10–€15
  7. Do they talk like sommeliers and wear that ridiculous spittoon thing round their necks? – €10–€15
  8. Does he have irritating facial hair and suggest things like if you swirl the wine in one direction it tastes one way, whereas if you swirl it in the other you get something different? – €3
  9. Does the vintner act like a mad scientist? + €10–€15
  10. Does it have a pretty label? + €3
December 7, 2012

my first fountain pen

27.02.2008

defining moments 11 missed out

December 5, 2012

anatomy of an argument – sweating the small stuff

27.03.2011 – Journal entry [btw, we’re fine]

Well yesterday started out ok then M. and I had a massive row at the supermarket, after we’d been running in the park, about something ridiculously trivial and I am still in a rage about it. It’s making me feel crazy. I have just tried to clear the air, but M. maintains he has nothing to say, he’s happy, he got up early this morning, he’s feeling a bit tired, but otherwise he’s fine. I am seething. I’m not sure why I am making such a big deal of this. He has nothing to say and I can’t bring myself to look at or speak to him.

I am convinced that M. was trying to pick a fight with me. He won’t admit it. He reckons I escalated it beyond the two-minute moan he was having about my having bought an unnecessary plastic bag at the supermarket, and beginning to expand on the theme about how wasteful I am and all the food I’ve ever bought which I haven’t eaten. Perhaps I did. But I could feel a cloud descending on me as he repeated variations on the theme over and over again.

It’s not as if he was paying. It’s not as if the plastic bag wouldn’t get used as a dustbin bag anyway. It’s not as if I’m never going to miscalculate the number of bags we need again, and will be penalized to the tune of 15c. And since I’m the one who does most of the shopping, and I prefer to have too many plastic bags than over-fill too few, plus I pay for the fucking stuff, I don’t see why I should have to listen to him droning on about it. So it feels like he was picking a fight.

So why did I take the bait? I was starting to feel resentful, thinking how happy I’d felt running around the park, how relaxed, how normally right now I’d be in a dreamy state of well-being and instead I’m being nagged, having my balls broken about something absolutely trivial. I kept thinking “don’t sweat the small stuff”, actually, I kept thinking “why does he have to sweat the small stuff”. Maybe if I’d been thinking the first thing, I’d have been better able to resist the temptation to explode, because that’s what I did in the end. I told him to shut up, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!!!! I think I might have missed the stage of politely asking him to change the subject. No, I didn’t. I could probably have been more polite or humourous about it, but I did ask him to change the subject.

Did I tell him he was right? He said something strange yesterday morning, that he was going to have to leave me because I always told him he was right. I often appease him, it’s the easiest way. He also said that it was because he was nearly always right, and I’d do better to just listen to him and do whatever he says. At the time this was a light-hearted conversation, but I wonder if there’s anything behind it.

Anyway, after I told him to SHUT UP, he didn’t, which ramped up my frustration, which was rapidly turning into rage, even further, and I doubled back on myself and took the parallel route home so I wouldn’t have to keep listening to him. Unfortunately I was the only one who had the keys, so he was waiting for me. We got home in silence, with me banging every door I could. He seemed calm and cheerful. It felt a bit sadistic.

This does remind me of rowing with mum. I think she believed this was what communication was about, this was how people were supposed to interact with each other, this was “being Italian”, being honest, being oneself, expressing one’s feelings. I would be the one having the amygdala hijack, and I’d feel completely drained and crazy afterwards.

It’s funny, M.’s always more likely to do this when people are coming over, especially if it’s D. He has been known to behave like a whiny pain in the arse with T. around as well, but less so.

What happened when we got back? It was quite late, so I started tidying up the house, clearing the table in the kitchen. M. started to go on about the plastic bags again, because, evidently, I hadn’t understood what he was trying to say. I started screaming at him to shut up, what was there not to understand that he’s pissed off because I bought a plastic bag we didn’t need, and how dare he break my balls about something so fucking trivial, about a 15c bag. How would he like it if I broke his balls in this way? I don’t break his balls so why the fuck does he think it’s alright to break mine. He denied he was breaking my balls, at which point I threw the folded-up table-cloth at him.

I went into the living room to try and cool off. I realized that wasn’t going to happen so I decided to have a shower. I’d just finished getting dressed when D. & A. arrived. There followed a fairly excruciating day of my pretending that everything was alright. M. was showing affection towards me, leaning against me at the table, but as soon as D. & A. went outside on the balcony for a smoke, he said, half jokingly, “I hate you, and I’m going to hate you until you apologise.” I couldn’t trust myself to speak. Before D & A came back, I hissed at him in the toilet that I was happy to apologise if he was. He announced that he had nothing to apologise for.

Is it too much to ask that he shows some basic consideration of my feelings, like if I’m clearly about to erupt with fury to stop doing whatever it is he’s doing which is presumably provoking it, reasonable or not? Apparently it’s too much to ask. I really feel like I’m dealing with Sheldon here, but am I being a bit Sheldon-like?

December 5, 2012

sunrise over Milan this moring

Ok, maybe you had to be there…

 

December 3, 2012

what I think about when I think about wine

Thursday 29 November 2012

I don’t like this wine, but it’s a Barolo, and costs a fortune. Saying I don’t like it would just sound ignorant. And invite comments about how I’m English and can’t possibly have any kind of taste in wine. I suppose I’ve learned that it’s bad manners to be dismissive about well-made wine, it doesn’t show the correct appreciation of all the challenges wine-makers face, all the choices they have to make, to follow the phases of the moon, whether to use pesticides or sexually confuse the butterflies [honestly, they spray a hormone into the air that makes the butterflies that attack grapes forget what their sexual preferences are re. gender, and makes them horny all the time, not just when the female is ready to mate],  to let the must ferment with or without the skins, to age the wine in oak, stainless steel, cement & fibreglass, in terracotta amphorae seven leagues under the sea … But, fuck, I don’t like this wine, and I’m paying a fortune for it. It’s a bit sour, very tanniny, it’s not giving me a good buzz. When I was a teenager hanging out with a biker gang –the ex-public school boy bikers – experimenting with drugs, drugs were evaluated on the quality of their buzz. Why isn’t wine? Why can’t I ask Antonio for something with a “mellow buzz” rather than elegant or full-bodied, which basically means less or more alcohol? I’m sure the producer decided to gently squeeze rather than crush the grapes, to use old rather than new oak casks to retain the genuine flavours and aromas of the wine, I don’t care, to me it tastes like it will curdle in my stomach. It smells of fruit, of jam. Big deal. I like surprises, like when wine smells of something completely different to wine, but tastes delicious, like those German wines that smell of petrol, or the biodynamic ones that smell of shit, honestly, not even shit and something else, just shit. They try to dress it up a bit, saying it smells of stable, or even horseshit, which is less scary than human shit, but the last one I tried smelled of nothing less than dirty nappy. So what do I have to do to get a decent glass of wine around here, without having to pay homage to well-made wines I don’t like? And for the record, Antonio, it’s not true that I am a sucker for oak-aged wine, all that vanilla, all the difficult stuff rubbed out by the wood. I do realise that they put actual wood shavings into tetra pak wine to make it drinkable. I don’t want a wine that tastes of the rocks on the sides of the mountains the grapes were perilously grown on. I want to float away, to get pleasantly squiffy, savouring a lovely, gentle, tantalising wine that reminds me of random things, of the smell of new tennis shoes, of shitaki mushrooms, of condoms, of chlorine, of freezers, of burned leaves, of mothballs, of M.’s deodorant.

November 30, 2012

the best part of the week

defining moments 8

November 28, 2012

portrait of a beginner blogger: please ‘like’ me

Tuesday 27.11.2012

As soon as you wake up you check your email to see if anyone has ‘liked’ your latest blog post. Your mood for the rest of the day depends on a) whether anybody has noticed you posted, b) how many people have ‘liked’ it, and c) who they are –  are they just ‘liking’ you in order to drive traffic to their blog, or might they actually have looked at your post? You spend all day constantly checking your email in the hope that you’ve received more ‘likes’.

You care so little about the self-promotional side of blogging – you are above that sort of thing, of course – that you don’t actually know why or how your posts get seen by the random people in the blogosphere who seem to ‘like’ your posts.

You don’t actually read other people’s blogs, or only the well-established ones, by people who actually know how to write. Your time is far too precious to waste reading people’s rambling, poorly-articulated efforts.

Gosh, 10 people are ‘following’ your blog. What does that mean? Who are they? According to WordPress they think your latest post was ‘awesome!’ WordPress is suggesting you click on links to ‘awesome’ things these people have posted because you might like them. Ok. Who’s this? Oh, this takes you to pictures of scantily-dressed young women. You’re clearly not part of this blog’s demographic. You don’t think you’d like this person who ‘liked’ you. Ok, who’s this? A self-styled, self-help guru on achieving mindfulness, fulfillment and inner peace through a macrobiotic diet. You don’t believe for a second they read your post about wine tasting. You don’t ‘like’ them back. The next one sends you to a post about being a missionary in an African country. What could you possibly have in common? And the one after that links to a post about eliminating swearing from his writing, and your posts are full of what he calls ‘f-bombs’. You are beginning to suspect that WordPress pays people to sit in front of a screen all day watching blogs being updated and randomly ‘liking’ posts. They’re like drug pushers, getting you hooked on being ‘liked’.

Look at this guy’s posts. Quite well-written, but no way are you going to read to the end. You toy with the idea of making a helpful suggestion in the ‘comments’ section about keeping posts short to ensure they’ll be read. But then you remember that you are not in this for the self-promotion, all that sordid, mutual back-scratching. You will attract readers to your blog because of the quality of your art.

You haven’t told anyone you know about your blog because it’s not ‘ready.’ When you’re satisfied that you’ve achieved a sufficient level of excellence in your art you’ll notify them. You’re not sure how. You’ve tried dropping hints to a couple of friends and family members about what you’ve been spending all your time doing but they’ve shown no interest in finding out the address of your blog. You long to belong to a community of mutually-supportive quality bloggers, who always read and comment on each other’s work.

In the mean time you guess you’ll settle for being ‘liked.’

November 26, 2012

Autumn, doing its thing

26.11.2012 – a rainy Monday in Milan, on my way to work, a rare opportunity to see leaves on the ground before the park keepers clean up the ‘mess’

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November 26, 2012

personality tests I have failed

14.04.2009

There’s a website, Authentic Happiness,  that really annoys me and which inspired this cartoon:

Since publishing this cartoon on my blog [now defunct], I have been asked things like ‘Did you actually take those personality tests?’ and ‘Why don’t you like that website? You should try harder to join.’ (This, from my partner.) Also, ‘That cartoon shows a lot of self-awareness.’

So the answer to the first question is, no, I didn’t do the questionnaires. Also, just to be clear, since I have obviously failed in the purpose of this cartoon, which was to make fun of the Authentic Happiness people in their relentless pursuit of positive thinking, you don’t actually have to pass these tests to join some kind of happiness club, they are for self-awareness/development purposes only.

I dislike personality, psychological and aptitude tests, as I have a long history of failing them. For my statistics class at University, we did a lot of these tests to generate data to analyse. I was always an outlier – at the ‘educationally sub-normal’ or ‘uh-oh, mental!’ end of the normal distribution.

There’s a horrible personality test called the Big 5, which evaluates you along 5 dimensions: Openness (intellect), Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. What I learned about myself from this test was that I was naïve, feckless, an introvert (which apparently means ‘more likely to turn out to be a serial killer’), high-maintenance and emotionally unstable, i.e. destined to end up an unemployable spinster.

For the next couple of decades, I adopted a strategy of minimizing self-awareness, of refusing to recognise what the tests had revealed about me. This worked quite well, and I managed to earn a living and have relationships by convincing potential employers, boyfriends and sometimes myself that I was outgoing, easygoing and completely committed to whatever it was they were proposing. However, this was exhausting, and I just couldn’t keep it up. My true nature always asserted itself eventually.

Then I did the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, which unlike the Big 5 test, isn’t arranged in terms of positive and negative ends of a spectrum, but goes from good to … differently good. According to this test I’m an intuitive introvert, who prioritises human factors over objective logic, with a high tolerance for uncertainty. In other words, an independently-minded woman who is better suited to self-employment. That I can live with.

25.11.2012

Today I read a review of this book, and was inspired to dig up my old cartoon:

November 25, 2012

how to deal with figures before you can count

11.05.2009

November 25, 2012

how to play

110402 – watching A. play basketball in Casalecchio

Yesterday we were out of milk, and I asked A., nearly 6, to come and buy some with me. He had just opened one of those little juice boxes, so I thought I’d wait until he’d finished drinking. I distracted myself for a couple of minutes, and when I looked back to see if he’d finished, he a) hadn’t, and b) was playing with the juice box rather than drinking. I took a deep breath and suppressed my natural urge to bark at him to hurry up, and, instead, observed him.

A. announced he didn’t like the drink – “organic blueberry” – but that he liked sucking the droplets from the straw when he took it out of the box. I resisted grinding my teeth, contented myself with a martyred sigh and kept watching. He started pulling the straw out and sucking the juice from it; then he wanted to see what would happen if he put the straw back in up-side down with the short part in the box (it still worked) ; then he noticed that he’d put some kinks in the bendy part of the straw and wanted to see if he could get them out by pressing with his teeth (more or less). After about five minutes of this, he finally handed me the almost undrunk drink, saying he didn’t want it any more. I couldn’t resist muttering something about “wasteful!” but otherwise kept my hair on. I was impressed by how absorbed he’d been in his ‘messing around.’

Later. A.’s skateboarding process:

  1. Get auntie to carry skateboard downstairs.
  2. Pause to consider skateboarding across the flower-bed. Decide against.
  3. Complain that the skateboard keeps stopping and won’t go in the direction I want it to; when auntie points out all the cracks and pot-holes in the pavement, get auntie to carry skateboard until the next bit of smooth pavement.
  4. Wonder what kneeling on skateboard and pushing yourself along with your hands is like. Ignore auntie telling you to stand on it, or you’ll never learn.
  5. Scrape thumb painfully on tarmac. Ignore auntie telling you not to put thumb in mouth. Decide to try sticks. First stick breaks immediately.
  6. At the park the tarmac path slopes down. Find a bigger stick. Discover that the stick won’t slow down the skateboard without endangering fingers. Rolling off the path and onto the grass will. Also the tips of my shoes dragging on the ground will. Get auntie to carry skateboard back up hill. Again and again. Have not given up on sticks.
  7. Notice path through the grass, decide to try and skateboard across it. There are a lot of stones in the earth along the path. I must dig them out or I can’t get across. Where’s my stick? Oops, it broke. Here’s another bigger one. Scrape, scrape, poke, poke, there goes the first stone. This one’s big. Scrape, scrape, scrape…
  8. Here are some more good sticks. I’m a caveman. Look, I’m rubbing two sticks together to make a fire.

Lessons learned:

Shoes are better than sticks for steering and stopping.

You can ride down the hill with a friend if you’re both kneeling.

[NB. Interesting post here about playing and Aspergers]

November 23, 2012

the house mum grew up in

05.05.2008

November 22, 2012

the point of journalling

110309 Wednesday

I’ve just spent the morning harvesting my ideas from my recent journalling. I realized that the purpose of journalling, or rather, what I get out of it, is ‘braingasms’ – and I had one when I came up with that thought, a little shot of dopamine from my brain, rewarding me for my efforts.

There are days when I write pages and pages of crap and nothing happens, but then things start to percolate and float to the top in subsequent days. I wonder if I could graph the relationship between the number of ideas I have and the amount I write, to see if quantity really is more important than quality.

Finding ideas in amongst all the crap is like panning for gold – except far more unpleasant, and I don’t know if I can compare what I find to gold. The main gratification is the braingasms, and you get those whether the ideas and images are good or not. There’s no quality control in the brain department responsible for rewarding ideas.

November 22, 2012

a good way to start the day

23.03.11 Wednesday

Signs of Spring: yesterday morning, my taxi driver, about 79, practically wolf-whistled at me when he picked me up. He said, ‘what a beautiful nordic woman. Where are you from?’ I told him I was English. At one point he said I had ‘the body of a thiry-year-old’ – obviously not the face, then (I had been up since 4.45 am) – I think that made me laugh out loud with embarrassment, although I was pleased as well. He asked if I had trouble with ‘latin lovers’ – I think he said this in English. I said no, I should have added, not any more. I’ve been thinking recently, admitting to myself that I like living in Italy because I still stand out in a crowd, whereas in England I look the same as anybody else.

November 21, 2012

from the ridiculous to the morbid

05.03.2011  Saturday

I wonder if I have an alter ego? If so I wish she’d come out and show herself.

My life feels like a bad story that no one wants to read. There’s no beginning or middle or end. Or rather, the middle is just one gigantic boring bit.

If the experience of working at XXXXcompany was like being at war, then I was plagued with captains who would lead me to my certain death.

What if the doodles I’m doing, the scribbles which I then carefully colour in, are some sort of reflection of the state of my circulatory system and I’m going to die of an aneurism, like dad? Then people can look at my paintings and say “she knew she was going to die and didn’t tell anyone.”

November 20, 2012

The joy of mindlessness

12.03.2011 Sunday – from my journal

At some point yesterday I was reading about mindfulness. Being mindful is about paying attention to things, about really listening, really noticing. That’s what I’ve been paid all these years to do on behalf of other people. It’s exhausting. It’s just so much easier being mindless. Isn’t it easier to not think about things, just react as they happen? But then there’s that business about needing to keep body and soul together.

A lot of jobs require you to be mindful, on behalf of other people. Because you can’t be mindful about everything. No-one has that kind of attention, that’s why you need doctors, shrinks, consultants, lawyers, accountants. The irony is, the more time you spend being mindful, the more you have to spend on people being mindful on your behalf.

November 15, 2012

points for effort

20.01.2008

November 14, 2012

braingasm

24.02.2011 Thursday

I woke up this morning and had a vision of a world in which I was doing completely different work. In my vision I was setting up centres for old people which offer assisted living services, day-care centres, and basically great places for old people to pass their final years. There should be the option to be sociable or not. It should be a fantastic place to work for, especially for entrepreneurial people. Old people should be enabled to feel like useful members of society if they want to. They should be afforded whatever level of privacy they want. It should be an opportunity for workers to learn all sorts of different skills, from building management to counseling, from plumbing and carpentry to management, there should be crèches for the workers, and ways for the old people to interact with the young. There would be weekly anecdote circles, and creative writing workshops open to everyone, especially writers researching memories and experiences of living in different times and different places. It would be a place of integration and cultural exchange. I’ve no idea how I’d make any of this happen. The first idea I had was to try and do some voluntary work in an old people’s home and see what conditions are like.

Anyway it was a nice vision. Will I ever do anything like it? Probably not. It was a nice way to wake up though, and whatever the brain does to reward itself for having ideas, even stupid ones, it was doing it, giving me a nice buzz.

November 13, 2012

true math trauma

20.01.2008 – How I learned about the law of diminishing returns

November 13, 2012

Italian leave-taking rituals

20.10.12 journal while in Morgex

I can think of only two aspects of living in Italy that I find intolerable: Italian TV, and Italian leave-taking rituals, which take between 20-30 minutes during which everyone seems to talk to each another more than they have done all evening. Objectively this is quite a sweet ritual, left over from the days when Northern Italians were care-free individuals who took siestas and weren’t slaves to schedules like the rest of Northern Europe. In practice, I get horrifically bored and it’s just not that practical in Milan in winter to stand around nattering for twenty minutes in the freezing cold outside the nice warm restaurant you’ve just vacated. Me I’m all for god’s sake, you’ve just spent ALL EVENING with these people, let’s GO, for fuck’s sake!

Fabrizio made me laugh the other day when we were talking about national communication styles, and said that whenever Lucia had to tell him something she “began in the Paleolithic era,” confirming that Italians like to give exhaustive amounts of detail when exchanging information. English communication is much more about “need to know,” which I’ve always felt I was on the wrong end of, deemed “not necessary to tell,” “Not required to know.”

November 12, 2012

unreliable memories much more interesting than facts

15.03.2011 – from my journal

When I was a teenager I distinctly remember mum telling me that at school she had a classmate whose weight would yo-yo up and down. Every so often, when this girl got too chubby, her parents would whisk her away to a clinic, where she would be ‘put to sleep’ for a week, sedated or anaesthetized and fed through a drip. She would come back to school with concave cheeks and a flat stomach and be the envy of her classmates. This was the same clinic my mother’s father would check into when his stomach ulcers got so bad he would be vomiting blood. The treatment was the same: he would be ‘put to sleep’ for a week, then come back good as new.

I never questioned my memory of these gothic-sounding practices, even after I did my degree in psychology. This was Italy, and different rules apply. Also, although it sounded physiologically dodgy, I found the idea of a clinic where you were put to sleep for a while to solve all your problems incredibly appealing, much more restful than dieting or therapy.

When I asked mum about this recently she denied ever telling me anything so mad-sounding, and said that her schoolmate probably had anorexia or bulimia, not conditions which were recognized at the time, and she was removed from school when she got too thin, not for being too fat. But the part about her father being put to sleep in this clinic was true, except that it was when he got depressed, not for his ulcers.

For the record, she tells me a lot of mad-sounding things, so my memory is probably correct even though her revisionist explanation is likely to be a more accurate description of the facts. And the mad-sounding version is so much more interesting than the facts.

November 11, 2012

and the connection between totalitarian regimes and The Accidental Tourist is…

03.03.2011 Thursday – from my journal

At the gallery I wasn’t particularly inspired by any of the art, except for the 4th Estate, and I was sad to learn that Volpedo committed suicide after his painting was deemed too controversial to be accepted by any museums during his lifetime. It’s a shame he didn’t hang around to see what an emblem of revolution his painting became.

I got particularly fed up with the modern art, all the stuff from the 50’s and 60’s, the slashed canvases and lumps of lead. It all looks like a joke that I don’t get, and no one will explain to me. Sometimes I completely understand those totalitarian regimes that want to do away with the intelligentsia and middle classes.

There was a TED talk I was watching the other day, a woman who was working with Cambodian women, the last nine in the country who had some memory of Cambodia’s dance heritage, and they were starting to teach the youngest generation. She talked about the importance of preserving what was beautiful from the past.

All my parents wanted to do was distance themselves from their pasts. Mum, specifically, adopted the belief that the past has to be “discharged”, eradicated somehow, before we can function properly. Is that why she behaves like such a Martian so much of the time? S., too, she’ll hear a word, a cultural reference that someone of her background and education should be perfectly familiar with and claim to never have heard it. It drives me crazy. She’ll say things like, “a ‘milkman’…  what’s that?” For God’s sake, she reads and watches TV. She must have picked up something.

There’s a bit in The Accidental Tourist I find hilarious and I’m not sure why: “When Macon was small, he used to worry that his mother was teaching him the wrong names for things.  ‘They call this corduroy,’ she’d said, buttoning his new coat, and he had thought, But do they really?” Is it because Macon has a mother with the same “I’m not from here” act I grew up with? NB. Mum disguised her extraterrestrialness behind a “being an uprooted Italian” act for a long time, until I realised she is just as much of an alien in Italy.

November 10, 2012

communication, Italian-style

Journal 11.02.12

Communication in M.’s family: everyone engages in a kind of stream-of-consciousness commentary on what they’re doing, what they’ve done,  what they’re going to do, and constantly judges and comments on each other – all of this simultaneously, so they are often talking over each other. I think this is what dad meant by “Italian” communication.

It used to drive dad crazy, when, at the dinner table in Italy, he’d just have finished telling a story, and my grandfather, who’d been talking to my uncle, would say, “Who? What did they do?” and expect dad to start all over again. Then when he’d finish telling it again, my uncle, who’d been talking to my mother would say, “Who? What did they do?” This would go on, until every member of the family was sure they’d heard the story.

Dad dismissed this as crazy and chaotic, with no-one ever listening to each other but when it works, a lot of information is exchanged very effectively. It can also become pathologically critical, competitive and “invasivo” – the Italian  for ‘invasive’, a term that’s used for behaviour as well as for surgery.

In my English-dominant-culture family, communication was very top-down, i.e. dad-down, one-on-one, and there wasn’t very much of it. English children should be seen and not heard. Italian children need to be emitting a high-piched racket all the time so their mothers can always tell where they are.