Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Am I the only one?

Today is a terrific day for you, Scorpio. You finally seem to have a grasp on your thought processes and inner emotions. You will feel extra sensitive and loving, and people will be drawn to you because of it. You're able to look at your feelings in a rational, levelheaded manner instead being at the mercy of your wildly fluctuating emotions.

I just chose it from the site that google provides when looking for your horoscope. Definitely not been acting in a level headed manner today. No sir.

I did however got in touch with three friends from uni who I hadn't spoken to for aaaages today (I have been hanging around on Messanger all this time while everyone else had moved to Skype). This I felt was more significant (and fecking amazing) than my supposed lovingness. If ever I had done anything vaguely horoscopey in a day "getting in touch with people from your past" would have been it.

OK, this is anecdotal evidence, and not a valid scientific test, so if the sceptics aren't convinced by my scepticism, when I was 16 I did an actual scientific test. I literally cut the horoscope page out of my favourite magazine at the time and stapled it into my diary in the hope of finding some correlation every month for about a year. Mum was not impressed. "That's not very Christian of you!" she said decidedly disapprovingly when I asked her if she thought there was anything in it.

Regardless of its unorthodoxy the results were decidedly disappointing. Disappointing enough for me anyway. I relegated astrology to the box of interesting claptrap. And I still haven't heard anybody in Britain discussing it really seriously.

So I was in for a big surprise when I moved to Italy. Some days I feel like I am the ONLY one who doesn't believe in it. At my interview I was put under pressure to sign the contract on the same day and as I stalled in order to buy time I said "I don't like making decisions quickly." "What's your sign?" asked my interviewer. "Scorpio." I said. "Ahh that explains it". I looked up at her, but she was serious.

My boss, to my amazement, explained to a visiting parent the nature of her daughter's problems by putting it down to her star sign. Even the Buddhist monk from time to time says, "You don't need me to explain to you why astrology is important." YES, YES, I DO!

His explanations so far have been limited to "just think of the influence the moon has on the tides," "and people have been doing this for centuries." Given that he's a wise man it's a little worrying, (but the good thing about Buddhists is that they tell you not to believe what they say until you've tried it out).

So notwithstanding the dubious scientific background to it, what happens if you don't act like your star sign? Maybe I'm not really a Scorpio? Someone was equating being a "typical Scorpio" with anti-Semitism the other day and I'm not anti-Semitic.  To top that off I've been told by a fellow Scorpio that I'm not "evil enough".

So there we have it. My birth certificate must be wrong instead then.

A has a told me something sweet about one of his fellow interns who is an ardent communist. Said colleague told A that everyone would be communist if it was explained to them properly. People are just ignorant and misguided and that's why they are right wing.

I used to think like that too, until I had a few conversations with people and pretty soon learnt that it doesn't matter how reasonable your own views are to yourself nobody will ever think just like you. Not even if you explain it to them for a MILLION years.

It's quite hard to come to terms with actually and although I've managed to accept this on issues such as women's rights and racism, I have yet to manage it with astrology. I still expect the person to bust out laughing or a quick internet search on proof that full moons do not cause homicide rates to go up to change their minds, but experience says that this is not going to happen.

Not in Italy anyway.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Canvas number 1: Sneak Preview

Poor A has been working so hard this week, until midnight on Wednesday and Thursday and until Saturday morning on Friday. Really, who'd want to be a lawyer? So I've been taking the opportunity to start work on Canvas number 1. It's not finished and I don't know when I'll finish it yet, so here's a sneak preview. 

Recognise this detail  anyone?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

10 Reasons Italians Should Cheer Up

Happy Birthday Italy! Wow! 150 years! (I don't want to sound patronising as that doesn't sound like a very long time, but you made it this far!) Not that you care anyway, you miseries.

I had the day off work today. You'd think that that would be enough to cheer them up, but like some people in England who are grumbling about the royal wedding causing them to take time off work, or just resenting the whole situation on constitutional grounds, most Italians remain decidely subdued.

I have taken it upon myself recently to try and show my grumpy friends their luck whenever they start to complain again about the current political, cultural or economic situation and sigh over how I will never understand it because I'm British. Yes the UK has a lot going for it when it comes to politics (in comparison with Italy anyway) and education but that doesn't mean that Italy has nothing to offer.

I usually start along the lines of "Just think about the food and the weather!" but apparently these are so obvious they don't count any more, so I've had to think a bit harder. Here's my list of things to celebrate about Italy. I've got ten items, but there must be more, so you if you think of any more add your own at the bottom.

I present to you the Gnocco Fritto...

1) The food. Yes it is pretty good.

2) The weather. It's better.

3) Partying culture involves more eating and less drinking which is definitely a good thing if you are a light weight like me.

4) People eat more but somehow do not get so fat.

5) Society dotes on it young. People are much more tolerant of children, and young men aren't feared like they are in the UK. Teenage girls are less pregnant.

Look - families even hang out together!

6) Yes they will probably call everyday but your family can be counted on if you are in need to do pretty much anything: from ironing your shirts to giving you the entire contents of their fridge to letting you stay in their holiday house.

7) People are more open. People are allowed to touch each other. Some men are comfortable enough with their sexuality to even kiss each other hello! People can get angry, argue, get over it and then move on (if they want). They can also tell people they love that they love them.

8) Going to university doesn't require taking out a huge loan.

9) No obstacle is an obstacle. Why else would the Italians have the largest organised crime network in the world? Even at work, I think my boss will surely have to say no to a client but my timetable is endlessly played with until they get their lesson. (Maybe straight forward things are so challenging precisely because they aren't challenging enough?)

10) Italy still has some of the most interesting architecture, history, art, and music in the world.

There's probably a reason you haven't seen this photo of the Duomo before...

During the recital of this list I can guarantee that any Italian who is reading will nod their heads thoughtfully to all of them except the last. "Oh, that doesn't count," they say, "that has nothing to do with modern Italians." Why the hell not?

Most of the Brits alive today didn't fight in WWII but that doesn't stop them from thinking they're better than the rest of Europe.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Goat Cushions and Fox Scones

Excuse me for a lazy post but sometimes life seems so messy. It's Thursday evening - I need to write my blog, but nothing tessellates.

What have I done this week? Well... I have been to Olgiasco on Lake Como for an exhilarating ramble around the beautiful peninsular and the peaceful Abbey of Piona, gone food shopping and cleaned the floors. Then I finished my goat cushions and went to a well known furniture shop which destroys my soul but at the same time makes me spend loads of money on things that will allow me to make scones in the shape of foxes... or moose in the shape of a moose.

The weeks at work are whizzing by with mock exams and marking, setting homework, checking homework and trying to give students a gentle reality check. All of this is interspersed with trips to the Doctor's, getting shoes mended and other errands.

I feel a bit like I'm getting swept away by the craziness of the mundane, drowning in trivialities, losing myself in the daily grind... In short I need a holiday. Fortunately next week is Carnival and a bit of a respite. I'm looking forward to it. I need to find myself again. After all, the daily grind is what life is made of.

A randomly asked me when I was going to make my giant cushion.
"I just don't know! I have so many projects in my head!" I cried despairingly.

When a non-existant manta-ray pillow is stressing you out you know its time to take a break.

Uninspiring Cushion

Goat templates

Many hours of sewing later...
Billy Goat's Gruff