Posts tagged ‘journal entry’

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.

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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 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 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

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 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.

November 8, 2012

tramp dread

28.02.11 – from my journal

Just read Michael Neill’s Monday post. Here’s a nice thought: “When you don’t know what to do, don’t do it.” So he’s saying don’t change. If you don’t know what to do, do nothing. That’s subversive. M. was looking yesterday at exhibitions we could go and see this afternoon. That would be in the spirit of doing nothing, I suppose. It’s hard doing nothing, especially if you’re feeling scared, scared of being judged, scared that opportunities are passing you by, scared that there are all sorts of pro-survival things that I should be doing, that normal people would do, that I’m not and am therefore going to join my homeless friends in their sleeping bags in the street downstairs. Why does “homeless tramp” seem to be the logical conclusion of my behavior? I’m hardly reckless. The chances of me doing something that will really turn me into an outcast are almost slim to none. I’m not likely to murder or steal from someone. I’m quite a good person. I have relatives who wouldn’t allow anything really bad to happen to me.

November 7, 2012

when my mind takes a break from all the worrying

27.02.2011 Sunday – from my journal

Thought: If I looked like my personality I would look like Brezhnev, all totalitarian, beetle-browed, and responsible for an era of economic stagnation.

02.03.2011 Wednesday evening – from my journal

My hair clip has just sprung open, whacking me on the back of the head. I wonder who I can sue?

Today I updated my status on facebook a few times. I said that M. told me I looked like trailer trash, but I think I look more “Silicon Valley” or dot com.

I also reported that M. has become “mayor” of our local kebab shop, supermarket, and wine bar.

November 6, 2012

non-verbal communication breakdown

20.10.12 – journal in Morgex

Is my frustration with being talked at for hours another symptom of my misanthropy/ undiagnosed Asperger’s or is M.’s family really annoying? I assume that if I’m sitting there reading, or typing on my computer that this will be taken as a strong signal that I don’t want to be disturbed. This is obviously one of my remaining British pre-conceptions, as reading is considered vaguely anti-social over here, and of course you’d prefer real human interaction to that.  Still, I have not yet worked out how to extricate myself from my mother-in-law’s hour-long monologues about stuff she must remember she’s told me before. Sometimes I see it as a kind of payment for the hospitality and affection she has always extended towards me.

Two carpenters are staying here to do various jobs around the house. The two of them on Friday had been up since 4.00 am, and were only released from company at 10.30 p.m. Yesterday we had dinner downstairs, and G. & L. were holding forth until nearly 11.00. The older guy didn’t seem to mind, the younger guy, like me, seemed desperate for some peace and quiet. Finally, I put my jacket on and started giving very hard-to-miss leaving signals, and ended up waiting for 10 minutes outside for the others to come up and let me in. The younger guy, kept disappearing for a smoke and to make phonecalls. The older guy excused his rude behavior, saying he’s a bit “rozzo” – uncouth. God, what does that make me?

November 6, 2012

will I do whatever it takes?

28.02.11 – from my journal

My biggest problem at the moment is that I don’t want to do whatever it takes, I’m just not willing to. I don’t want to rent out all my brain energy for someone else’s benefit. I suppose if there was a social benefit I would feel better about it, but to further the interest of the insurance industry – I can’t see the point. There must be one.

I once said to Julia in a coaching session that I wanted “more interesting problems” – but did they really get more interesting, the more money and the less time I had? What are interesting problems? Surely it doesn’t get more interesting than “how to earn a living”? How to earn a living and not turn into a zombie? How to earn a living and be free, feel free, be you? What does that mean and why is that so important to me? Why am I not interested in furthering the human race? Why am I so unbelievably self-centred? Just as well my genes aren’t going to be passed on, although I suppose I have enough nephews and nieces to ensure that will happen. For most people it’s sufficient to do whatever it takes to raise your family and to feel like you’re doing a better job than your parents did, to get a sense of progress. Why has that never been enough for me? Why does this feel like a good use of my time? I have no idea why I’m writing, I have no idea about writing for other people, this is entirely for me, no audience, so why on earth does this feel like a good use of my time?

November 6, 2012

one of my inner censors

28.02.11  from journal

What if I took my book-writing aspirations seriously? What would I even write about? I’ve been ploughing through my coaching journals, which is a bit excruciating, but sometimes I seem to have stuff to say. The most boring bits are where I’m focusing on work, on trying to think in ways that don’t come naturally to me. I keep thinking things like “stop trying so hard, love” – I feel like I’ve got some kind of misogynistic Northerner in my head, shaking his head pityingly at my attempts to be a businesswoman, since business is something I clearly have no understanding about or feeling for. Actually this is totally true. I’d love to not bother my pretty head about things like this but sadly I have to provide for myself and my feckless young man. I wish I could be feckless. No I don’t. I just wish I had some non-demanding, rent-paying work so I wouldn’t have to worry about this aspect of my life.

November 5, 2012

how it feels to be unemployed

Journal 28.02.11

That makes 4 months that I’ve done virtually no paid work. I’m feeling scared. Yesterday evening I ended up eating half a loaf of bread and watching back to back episodes of The Big Bang Theory to try and not feel scared, but I went to bed feeling scared, I went to sleep feeling scared and I woke up feeling scared. I’ve decided to stay here this week and face my demons. It may turn out that this involves eating entire loaves of bread and watching series 3 of Damages back to back, that I’ve been saving for just such an occasion when I don’t want to feel anything.

Maybe that can be what I do on Wednesday. I read somewhere that Wednesday is the worst day of the week, the day in which you’re likely to have the lowest energy, to have lost hope of either achieving anything or that the weekend will ever come. The last two Wednesdays I have spent watching In Treatment. Maybe the first of those two Wednesdays I might even have done some journaling and gone running but things fell apart after that.

It’s no fun feeling scared. I certainly can’t be creative while I’m scared. It’s good to have something routine to do, to occupy all of my attention, that doesn’t require any kind of emotional or intellectual energy to do when I’m scared. Otherwise, it’s all about dulling the sensation, blocking it out with TV. Sometimes really good books or movies help. Sometimes the desire to stop feeling like this galvanizes me into action.

October 28, 2012

Still so true

09.05.2007

October 28, 2012

the pursuit of ignorance

Monday 16th Jan 2012.

The universe doesn’t want to give me any answers today. Mainly because I don’t want to ask it any questions.

I might be disappointed by the facts, so maybe it’s for the best. Anyway, what you don’t know can’t hurt you. That’s what they say, isn’t it? I have a superstitious belief that “knowing it makes it so,” i.e. if I ignore it, remain ignorant of it, deny its existence, it’ll go away. The alternative, paying attention to things, makes them real, like if you pay attention to your health, you’ll get ill, or at least turn into a hypochondriac. Knowledge hurts, makes you focus on the unpleasant facts. And who wants to do that? Chances are, it’ll all become moot eventually, anyway.

October 28, 2012

a curse on Atkins and all his ilk

Tuesday 24th Jan 2012

As I write it’s 18.40 and a carbohydrate-free evening yawns ahead of me. Last week I was practically hallucinating by the time I went to bed at the end of the second day of my two-day-a-week, restricted-calorie all-protein diet.  I was seeing the bread, specifically, the toast I would be shovelling into my mouth the following morning. I was so hungry that when I was flossing, I noticed I made a point of swallowing the bits of food I pried from between my teeth. Ewwwwww. Desperate times.

Why does protein always smell so disgusting, anyway, whether it’s lentils, eggs, bacon, steak, fish – ugh, one more disgusting than the other. Just thinking about protein makes my stomach heave. A curse on Atkins and all his ilk.

October 27, 2012

metro rage

Today

A man standing over me on the metro sighed loudly just now as my small rucksack, resting at my feet, brushed against his feet. The train isn’t crowded. My immediate response is to glare daggers at him, thinking, thankfully not out loud, “Are you sighing at ME?!” in the manner of Robert De Niro inTaxi Driver. This is one of several variations of “What the fuck is your problem!” that I seem to be saying this a lot these days – is it only these days? – to myself, and out loud. M. does it quite a lot too. I hope this is normal.