What was, what is, what will be.

I had one of those “deep” conversations with a friend the other day. And I started thinking. And that’s never a good thing.

But still, I started thinking. I looked back over the almighty shoulder and started browsing through some of my most precious memories. She asked me if I miss my family – living with mom and dad, that is. Please do remember that I’m 25, soon going on 26 and that’s downright scary. I’m in my “remembering adolescence” phase; it’s like a werewolf cycle, only it comes around just once a year, right before I change digits.  I never really get to the same conclusion, not for two years in a row. Back when I was 20, I didn’t miss the sweet sixteen, not for a second. I was 20, I considered myself a grown-up and had high expectations from myself and from everyone around me. I didn’t miss being a teenager, being told what to do or depending on my parents’ approval. I didn’t miss the fights, the nights spent with my eyes glued to the computer, headphones shoved in my ears, listening to angry “F*** You” music (i.e. Puddle of Mudd, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Rancid etc.), waiting for my dad to just pass out from all the liquor and for my mom to finally stop crying and just go to bed. I didn’t miss the drama nor did I miss being pushed around. I was a young artist, I had a bunch of wild dreams and kept telling myself that I’d make them all come true. It never crossed my mind that I might just be downright stupid and incomplete.

When I turned 23, I missed it all. I would’ve given everything to go back there. As nasty as it got sometimes, it was ten times better than what I was going through. Nothing could beat the comfort of my own home – even though it wasn’t literally my home, we paid rent. But hey, at least someone else took care of the bills. I could easily focus on school, art and writing, though I never got around to giving it my 300%. I didn’t like the heartbreak, the nights I spent tossing and turning and crying over a douchebag who wasn’t even half as awesome as I truly was. But hey, I was 23, a chick and I was in love – and God did it hurt! I missed adolescence, when heartbreak was as common as the common cold itself. You got it on Wednesday and you were over it by the weekend. That’s how I remembered my first crush and all that coming-of-age high school drama crap. I missed staying at home with my parents, worrying only about my grades or about how I’d get away with all the ditching and smoking behind the school building. I missed spending time on the balcony, listening to my angry “F*** You” music, feeling sorry for myself and for my joke of a family – but at least those were productive times; I painted a lot of good stuff back then. Of course, thanks to daddy, I’ve got nothing to show for.

When I turned 25, I didn’t even know for sure if I missed my teenage years or not. That time of my life was a pretty decisive landmark in the shaping of my present self – it’s the same for everybody else, but I took it personally so it meant a whole lot more. Sweet sixteen was like the moment when B.C. turned to A.D., according to the universal calendar.

But I’m turning 26 soon. And I’m still thinking. And it’s still a bad thing, look at what I end up doing when I get to thinking. I blog, for Christ’s sake. And yes, I do miss some of those teenage years – but just moments of it. The most important moments, that is. Those rare nights when dad came home less drunk than usual – or apparently sober (boy he fooled me a couple of times!); we’d sit on the couch, I’d tell him about my crappy day, he’d give me a decent foot rub and I’d go to bed with a smile on my face; I’d spent my afternoons in my room, listening to my angry “F*** You” music, testing new techniques with pastel chalk, water and hairspray; I’d spend hours in front of that easel, until I’d realize that my back hurt too much, so I’d put the easel away and I’d continue painting directly on my lap; my pants would obviously get messed up and my mom would yell at me for that. I’d get angry and try hard to ignore the rants. By the end of the day, she’d fix me dinner and she’d fall asleep while watching one of her cheap soap operas. I remember that she truly enjoyed defending those shows, insisting that what she was watching was of much higher quality than that “daytime” crap. Hah…

Yes, I miss those moments. I miss hanging out with my friends on weekends. I miss ditching school and seeking refuge in the Irish pub, playing darts, munching on pizza and giving poetry a shot. We actually tried to start our own Dead Poets’ Society. My dear friend Cassy must still have a copy of that particular notebook. I’d love to read it again and marvel at our ingenuous and basically virgin brains.

I don’t miss the family part. Not all of it, anyway. I miss some bits of it. The good ones. I’m very picky, I know, but they’re my memories and I choose to do whatever I please with them. I’ve tossed the bad ones away – I got my experience out of them, there’s no use keeping them around anymore.

But I know one thing for sure – the kind of thing that you can disprove with science and I still wouldn’t care. I’m part of a very important generation. I’m part of that moment when humanity decided to take a second look in the mirror and say “Hey, there’s something wrong about this picture. But instead of going out of my way to fix it, I’ll just channel it into something that I’m good at. I’ll write. I’ll paint. I’ll play the guitar. I’ll do something about myself without putting myself down!”. Maybe it sounds complicated to you, but to us… it was an exhilarating moment. The day we decided that we weren’t kids anymore but we didn’t qualify as adults, either. The day we realized that we walked that very fine line between child and adult – that niche which, if handled in a smart way, could open some kickass doors.

Of course, very few of us got that far. Some settled for the boring office job, the moderately priced car and the one week holiday at the seaside every year. Others didn’t make it past 18. And some, but just a few, got to where they are today by constantly adding tiny bricks of experience to the majestic towers that they are, watching down on the rest of the world. I could have the audacity to say that I’m one of them, but I don’t really qualify as a tower, as I move around a lot. But I guess I’m somewhere in between. I’m still walking a fine line between everything that I was, everything that I am and everything that I could be.

And I gotta hand it to myself, it’s not as easy as it might sound.

So yes, I miss being a teenager, but down to a point. Yes, I look forward to reaching other important landmarks in my timeline, such as marriage, kids, the C.E.O. plate on my office door and so on… but down to a point. Yes, I’m enjoying every second of my present existence. But sadly, down to a point. Like I was saying, I’ve been thinking.

I’m a mess by nature. Born in the 80’s, raised through the 90’s, emancipated through the 00’s. 25 years of going back and forth through every single corner of the world and every single corner of my head.

What I do know for sure after 25 years on Earth is that I don’t want the motherlode of happiness. I want drops of it, on a daily basis. Just enough to keep me going. Enough to make it worth while getting out of bed in the morning and enough to put a smile on my face as I go to bed at night. I want my +1, my favorite stuff, my dream job and my reasons to escape to a remote island once in a while. I want the whole pack, the good and the bad. Otherwise it wouldn’t be that much fun.

And what, you didn’t see this picture coming? *sighs*

Opulent douchebaggery.

(choice of song is almost random, although the “concentrate” part is useful to me right now…)

I’m back. It’s been a wild couple of weeks, I have to admit. A fundraising festival that broke our backs with its 600 participants, then too little time to actually recover from that event, then chicken pox. Yes, chicken pox. I’m 25 and I have a mild case of chicken pox. Twenty years too late, for that matter, but it’s still chicken pox. It’s just life’s way of saying “It’s never too late for me to come and sodomize you until you cry and beg for mercy”.

Try not to imagine me covered in red dots like in that episode of “Tom & Jerry”, it’s not that bad, at least not yet. My medical certificate says “Beginning” of the almighty chickin’ pox, but I keep my hopes up and pray that my immune system plays its part as always. But then again I got sick the wrong way. You usually get the back aches, headaches, sore throat, fatigue and nausea before you get the rash, I got it the other way around, in episodes. Day one was headache, day two was nausea, day three was back aches. Some persist, some go away swiftly. I’m forced to stay indoors anyway, and I truly and honestly don’t want to stay home sick. It’s annoying and depressing.

   “Yes, just like that.”

And that isn’t even the funniest part. I got it from a fellow waiter, who got it from his nephew. And the nephew got the entire school sick; the place looked abandoned for about a week – quite the outbreak, must say. And this particular childhood disease is very contagious, especially for children and pregnant women. And it gets worse for pregnant women, who are most likely to produce children with congenital malformations if they ever get the chicken pox during pregnancy. And since I come in contact with so many people on a daily basis, the doctor said it’s best I stay at home. I couldn’t disagree but I can honestly say that I don’t wanna I don’t wanna I don’t wanna stay at home!

Wait, I was telling you about the funniest part and I got sidetracked, as usual. They prescribe these antihistamines for the rash, Fenistil drops. The prospect says one shouldn’t drive or operate any kind of machinery while under this treatment, because the drops might cause drowsiness, sleepiness and fatigue. They should cut out the “might” from the sentence, it most certainly makes you drowsy and sleepy. I walk around like a zombie around the house, befriending my doors and checking twice whenever I type something. Like I was telling my friends the other day, I have to think and carefully look at the keyboard before writing more complicated words, including “antihistamines”… I did it again. For what it’s worth, the treatment is effective, I do get less itches, my skin is somewhat grateful. But still, I sleep so much. Too much! And too deep. I fell asleep at 21:00 last night, a friend called me around 22:00 and I was convinced that it was morning and also insisted upon the fact. We talked for about half an hour, I don’t remember a single word of the conversation and then I went out like a light. No dreams, nothing. These drops are CREEPY.

  “No shit?…”

 So I’m stuck inside the house for this week. Normally that would be nice – some time off bladibladiblah… BUT not sick. Staying at home, sick, just… just sucks. It gives me some time to rearrange the place a bit but still, it sucks.

Working in a hotel (and quite the fancy kind of hotel) puts you in contact with a lot of people on a daily basis. Some give you the chicken pox, others just give you the nausea directly. I’ve met some of the world’s greatest assholes throughout my jobs in hotels. And this job isn’t different either – except for the pay, it’s so damn good to be out of my country, you can’t even begin to imagine. Anyway!

I’ve met Satan. This stumpy 60-something-year-old lady who probably didn’t have toys while growing up. She probably worked hard or just married a rich prick, but she obviously got a taste of the good life and now she’s the nightmare of anyone in the hospitality industry. Seriously, people go pale when she comes around. And my God does she enjoy to torture and irritate people.

“Bring me a cup of warm water, not too hot, not cold either, just warm, with slices of lemon, a bottle of water – one of the large ones you keep for breakfast, not the small expensive ones! Bring me some totally skimmed milk with another cup on the side… I’ll have the large salad like that guy, with less bell pepper, less onion, less garlic, more salad and corn, the medium rare steak – what’s taking so long, a steak should be done in five minutes, your staff is incompetent… Bring me some fruit, I’m not interested in your buffet, I want cherries. I don’t care if you don’t have any, you must procure them for me… Oh I see you’ve brought me cherries. Bring me a spoon too, how am I going to eat them?! Bring me a crème brulee. Oh it’s so good, but it makes you fat, I’m on a diet. Bring me another one.”

 “And while you’re at it, bring me your still beating heart on a silver platter.”

That lady needs a waiter just for her. She makes you run, she bathes in your misery and she enjoys playing the part of the pretentious bitch. I was once taught that there are good customers and difficult customers. But once in a while, life teaches you that there are also the impossible clients. The ones you serve quickly, blatantly ignore their subtle insults and pray to the point of crying that they leave as quickly as possible. They’re not happy, no matter what you do. There will always be something wrong. If she spends five days eating at the same table and dropping hints that that’s her table, on the sixth day you will prepare that table just for her. On that same day she will walk in and choose a different table. She wants to eat outside. Double the runs for you, you unlucky prick.

I thought that this thirst for useless opulence was a trait of my own people. But then I went out and noticed that it’s spread worldwide too, just in smaller quantities. People take people for granted. And let me say something, before the drops kick in.

Your waiter is not your slave. Your waiter is a guy who gets paid to smile at you and put food on your table, pour wine in your glass and thank you for paying your bill. He is a human being, most likely ten times smarter than you are. He’s probably doing this job as a means to an end, paying for college or a better car. He’ll probably do better than you ever will. He’s your waiter, not your servant, you opulent douchebag. You should be more careful with how you treat him – it’s a general rule: Never insult your waiter, bartender or chef. You don’t want to engage in a Russian roulette of “where did he spit?”.

“My bet’s on the ravioli!”

I’m simply allergic to people who forgot where they came from. They forgot about the days when there wasn’t any dinner because they simply couldn’t afford one. They forgot about wearing the same clothes to school because they simply couldn’t afford new ones. They forgot about driving the same pile of junk to work every day, they even forgot the day it broke down and never came back to life. They forgot the blood, the sweat and the tears it took to get them where they are now. And for that reason alone I do not give a shit about them, about who they are and about what they do.

You can be a rocket scientist, acclaimed novelist or a famous whatever. If you talk down on people and graciously play the part of the pretentious prick, then you mean nothing, you are nothing and you deserve nothing. Ancient philosophy says that before you start demanding respect, you should show respect.

There’s a reason why there’s an urban myth about the waiter spiting in your drink.

  “You’re damn right I did.”

This is war.

As usual, in the darkest of moments there’s a fairy something that reaches out, grabs me by the collar and drags me back out into the light. Of course, six months of unemployment in Italy are nothing compared to five years of working hard in Romania. I handled it with my head high and my mind glazed with TV shows and mushy romantic comedies. That also added extra pounds to my system, but I’ve already started to leave those behind.

Starting tomorrow, I am officially a working girl and it feels awesome.

There’s a lot to do, my body still suffers from the general adjustment process but overall my psyche went all the way to the Moon.

There are many advantages to this new job thing. Money is basically the first that pops into mind, as it generates other greater benefits – like the certainty of my attendance of the 30 Seconds to Mars concert in Milano, the possibility to purchase basic things like a car, a bike, a camera, a decent pair of sunglasses and well… a social life.

It’s been weird to spend six months at home with no friends in a foreign country that had trouble taking me in. Really weird. It was comforting for a couple of months but then I went stir crazy.

So I’m finally coming back to life and I pity the fools who will cross my path. I’m thirsty for new things, I’m already planning road trips and my mind is going all over the place – this kind of brain hyperactivity will probably produce more pieces on this tiny blog, but it will also be a catalyst for more serious writing and painting. Which I’ve also missed but haven’t been able to do properly given the unemployment buff.

All I can say is that I’m happy and looking forward to the concert. Can’t say I look forward to really work, but hell, I’ve still got a couple of steps to take before I can finally do the job that I truly love. Not many steps, just a couple. It takes a while to adjust, but when that happens, things will change dramatically.

I salute you.

Benefits of Immigration

Because that’s what I am, basically. A multilingual immigrant who does one too many things yet experiences the troubles of adjustment, like every other immigrant. But whenever it gets too hard, too heavy, too grim or just too damn annoying, my automatic optimistic interface gets switched on and I start looking for positive aspects of this epic change in my life.

For what it’s worth, back in my country the closest I got to a live concert was a B’EstFest weekend – three days, lots of famous artists. It was the only show that provided a decent level of sound quality. Everything else just let me down. It’s awful to finally get to see one of the bands that inspired you and walk away with a sour taste in your mouth because of our local incompetence. I’ve been waiting for years to just get out of my country and go to a place where I could afford and truly enjoy going to a live concert once in a while – and I’m talking about big bands, big names here.

So when I heard that 30 Seconds to Mars will be in Italy on the 17th and 18th of June, I just had to say “Hell yes!”. I never had a Jared Leto poster on my wall, so I’ve automatically excluded myself from the raging teenage fan sector. But I’ve enjoyed their music from the beginning. What I must admit is that “This Is War” is a masterpiece, I sometimes put it on repeat for at least a week until I decide to finally listen to something else. The admiration that I hold before these guys is indescribable, the ludicrous amounts of inspiration that their music provides for my fingers are the reason why I’m doing everything in my power to be there for them too – as one of the thousands in the audience of their June 17th concert in Milano.

It’ll be the perfect birthday present, I reckon. Being able to just get on a train or a car and just go there, experience their live music and then go back home with an enormous smile on my face, saying “I f***ing did it!”. If you follow them closely, you’ll probably understand why I love them so much – from the music to the level of creativity granted to each of their music videos, from the photographs on Jared’s blog to their way of life.

They just deserve every single amazing thing that comes their way and I deserve every single second of that concert.

Sparkly Dildos and Homicidal Twihards

I have officially seen it all. Really.

I tried to read the Twilight series, I honestly tried. I can swear on the Bible if I have to. I tried and I failed. I rarely do that and I have an ego, so you must appreciate the amount of effort that I need to admit failure. There’s no point in explaining this entire Twilight frenzy, anyone who’s over 12 is aware of the sparkly vampire cult that has been killing contemporary literature and cinema. I’m not a fan, I couldn’t care less who gets to bang Bella and I think that the only good things that came out of this whole mess were the soundtracks and Robert Pattinson (and not in a “OMG he’s a hottie” kind of way).

I understand the passion for the story – what girl doesn’t dream of a vampire lover who doesn’t melt in the sun but sparkles like a diamond? I still believe that Stephanie Meyer pooped on everything that means “vampire” but hey, somebody had to take this step. But I do appreciate the film producers for having given us Pattinson, who in spite of his sparkly debut (I will use this world a lot, just so you know) is already beginning to prove himself as a real actor. His interpretation of Dali, his beautiful performance alongside Emilie de Ravin and his upcoming “Water for Elephants” are examples of this young man’s potential.

  “Well, I had to start somewhere, right?…”

But I’m not here to discuss the quality of Meyer’s books nor am I here to question Kristen Stewart’s ability to act or the fact that I became allergic to Taylor Lautner’s torso by the third movie, because of overexposure to it. No, I’m here to discuss the rabid fans and company decisions based on rabid fans.

It all started here, where I first realized how stupid people are. I got there by randomly googling for the word “Batshit”. Don’t ask. We’re all fans of something or someone, don’t get me wrong, I’m most likely to slap whoever says something bad about “The Mentalist”, for example, but this fanaticism should have its limits. We live in a free world, so there aren’t any limits. That is why we hear about jaw-dropping cases where a batshit insane Twihard decides to shoot a flare gun at a guy who dares to talk against Twilight. My personal favorite is that lunatic chick who tried to slid a colleague’s throat with a shank because he had the audacity to say that Twilight should be destroyed, since it’s making some people do bad things such as slitting throats of people who don’t like Twilight with shanks. The word “paradox” just captured new meanings.

  “New subspecies of humans: Twihards. Mostly females under 18.”

 When I was sixteen I too understood sobbing over a hottie actor that played a vampire. Back in my days, those vampires were Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas – now those were the days, long before Cruise decided to go cuckoo and Pitt decided to have a platoon of kids. They drank blood, love-hated their existence and looked awesome with long hair and white shirts. Anne Rice knew her stuff, I have to give her credit for offering such tales of passion and death glazed in blood. I still understand sobbing over a hottie actor that plays a vampire. I understand being a fan. What I don’t and will always refuse to understand is why they don’t release some anti-psychotic medication along with every Twilight movie. Give them out for free but please, do us all a favor and give them something to contain their unjustified anger towards people who just don’t agree with a lousy book (and movie).

But this isn’t the peak of ridicule in the Twilight saga. No, it gets worse. Yes it does, trust me.

I present you with the TANTUS VAMP. Yes, it’s a dildo. But not just any dildo. It’s a Twilight replica – basically it’s Edward’s dick, it sparkles in the sunlight and you can keep it in a freezer prior to using it, just to get that tingly sensation of screwing a dead man.

Below, we have a very satisfied customer…

What I like the most is the company’s presentation. “We promise this vamp won’t be the only thing coming for you in the night!”. I reckon they’re currently working on a dildo version for Jacob’s dong, as well. It’ll probably come with fur and a set of claws to make the experience more real.

 “He sparkles!”

“Don’t be surprised if this toy seduces you, its long sleek shaft and deliciously ridged head calling out to you in the night. But don’t save this for just nocturnal escapades, try taking our Vamp out in the sunlight and watch it sparkle.” – I don’t know who laughed harder in the process, the “engineers” who produced its “deliciously ridged head” or the copywriter who had to write about it. It’s like they’re telling women to be proud of their sparkly dildos and take them out into the sunlight, for the rest of the world to see just how far people can go over a damn vampire movie. Most of us keep the dildos hidden in the lingerie drawer, for Christ’s sake!

I’ve finally concluded that our world is slowly disintegrating, thanks to people who strive for profit over culture, profit over common sense, profit over mental sanity.

But now I know what I’m getting my best friend for her birthday!

  “You’re never gonna guess what’s in there!”

Irony, humanity’s dearest friend

While growing up, I’ve always wondered who this Murphy fellow was. I kept hearing about Murphy’s law, but I’ve never bothered to look into it. My irony bible was a large panel posted in my favorite Irish pub, with the title “Murphy’s Drinking Laws”, so you might notice when it was that I’ve actually started to understand the true perversity of the Universe.

They say the name comes from Ed Murphy, a development engineer from Wright Field Aircraft Lab, who felt the need to express his opinion about a technician’s incompetence regarding a malfunctioning strap transducer: “If there is any way to do it wrong, he will.” – well, at least that’s what George E. Nichols said in Arthur Bloch’s book, “Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Why Things Go Wrong”, published in 1977. This is as close as anyone got to theorizing irony, through Murphy’s Law.

Seeing as I now sound smart enough to continue my rant about irony (thank you, Wikipedia), I can only say that if anyone was ever brave enough to compile an encyclopedia of cases where irony has played its part better than Jack Nicholson played Jack Torrance in “The Shining”, I’d probably earn a couple of pages in it, at least.

As much as we hate to admit it, anything that can go wrong is most likely to actually go wrong.

  “And this is just an hors d’oeuvres from life’s gigantic plate of irony.”

It’s not a reason to panic, though. Resigning ourselves with the potentially disastrous outcome is a much healthier way to cope with it, if it comes to pass. Like the guy in Alanis Morissette’s song: “And as the plane crashed down, he thought <<Well isn’t this nice…>>”. Humanity has its rich history of tasting irony’s bitter slaps on the face and it will continue to experience it because, well, we’re helpless before it.

Let’s go back to April 14th 1912. Yes, you know where I’m going with this. The largest ship of its time and its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. They called it “Unsinkable” (which brings me to this little ad that I just had to bring up, because I’m nasty), yet it went down with the grace of an elephant tiptoeing through a porcelain factory. One of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century is also a perfect illustration of irony, all because of an oversized icicle. But the whole “unsinkable ship sank on its first voyage” wasn’t the entire plate of “Oh yes it happened!”. It turns out that 14 years before the Titanic took its nose dive, Morgan Robertson published a novel called “Futility”, featuring a large-ass boat called “The Titan” that sank on the 15th of April. It featured three propellers, 3000 passengers, a small amount of lifeboats and the starboard collision with an iceberg while on its voyage from New York to England. The Titanic featured three propellers, around 2200 passengers, the same small amount of lifeboats and the starboard collision with an iceberg while on its voyage from England to New York.

  “Don’t worry, babe, there’s no way we’ll be THAT unfortunate! It was just a book!”

We can also go way back when the Romans practically ruled the world and say hello to Marcus Licinius Crassus, who got his own taste of irony. He was a renowned general with a shitload of money and gold, just enough to fund armies and invasions. His luck ran out and the Parthians defeated him. You’re probably wondering where this is going. Well, the Parthians knew their way around building and preserving empires, so when this guy decided to plunder their lands, they said “Hell, no!” and not only did they bring his armies down, they executed Crassus as punishment for his greed. They poured molten gold down his throat.

  “Judging by the look on his face, I think he saw it coming.”

I’m pretty sure that millions of people have perished and will continue to do so under irony’s tender touch. Some of the most famous deaths include Hans Steininger, the guy with the longest beard in the world, who got caught in a fire, tripped on his beard, broke his neck and died; Bobby Leach kicked some serious ass as a famous daredevil, having managed to even navigate the Niagara Falls, but then he slipped on a banana peel, broke his leg and later died of gangrene; let’s not forget Franz Reichelt, the lunatic who was convinced that his tailored “pre-Batman” costume would help him fly off the Eiffel Tower, yet the cameras only managed to record him plunging towards his own death; Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize for her theory on radioactivity but she also won a deadly case of aplastic anemia that proved irony right, once again. I could go on forever but I’m pretty sure I’ve brought you down enough.

 “Or maybe not.”

Most of you know who Steve Irwin was. I’m also pretty sure that most of you, like me, grew up watching him on Animal Planet as he wrestled with crocodiles while laughing in the camera and telling us not to try this at home. Our most dangerous approach to his kind of action were probably the backyard lizards that left us their tails as souvenirs, so we loved Steve Irwin and some of us dreamed of growing up to be just like him. I remember my dad telling me that this guy was nuts and that one day, one of those crocs would be the end of him. I would like to take this moment and say “In your face, dad!”. Most of us probably thought the same thing, that a crocodile would be the end of Steve Irwin, while some of us secretly hoped that he’d live to be 80 going on 100. Until that blasted stingray decided to call it a night and end him. A stingray. Not a brown snake (which is just one of the many poisonous things that one can find in Steve’s homeland), not an alligator or angry crocodile, but a stingray.

  “Though they shouldn’t be underestimated, stingrays rarely attack. Otherwise this photo would be slightly different.”

For as long as we can remember, man has laughed in the face of irony and got bitchslapped every time. Haven’t you noticed that whenever you’re late, the red light tends to be all “in-your-face”? Or that it starts raining only after you take your car out all sparkly and shiny from the car wash? Or how a truck drives through a puddle and turns you into a Dalmatian only when you put on those cool white clothes for the interview of your life?

Well, I’ve had my own share of ironic moments. My favorite part is when I spend months looking for a job, and when I finally find one (that is probably not exactly what I wanted but, hey, it’s better than nothing) contracts start pouring in like I’m the most precious asset on this side of the globe. Every time that I’ve said “This time, it will be better!” it was always the same. Or worse. We’re all experiencing the bittersweet twists of irony. It’s by our side 24/7, just waiting for one of us to defy it, to say “Heck, what can go wrong?”.

Don’t ever ask that. Don’t ever think that nothing can go wrong but also don’t ever let yourself be brought down by the idea that anything can go wrong. We are not invincible and every single action that we perform is recorded with an opposite outcome in irony’s memory, just waiting to be used against us whenever we wish to defy it.

It’s not like I’m being a pessimist here. I don’t believe in the “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong” theory. I do, however, believe that if anything can go wrong, well, it might just go wrong. It might not make much sense to you, but I’m just trying to be an optimist without pissing irony off, so ambiguous statements are required. It might be spying on us this right now. Shhhh.

Dating. And Internet.

I was born in 1985. That means I know what an audio cassette looks like and that the Backstreet Boys were really freakin’ awesome back in the 90’s. That also means that I was there when they invented the cell phone and I struggled with the horrible beeping noise of a dial-up connection.

I was a teenager in the early 00’s, so I got most of my notions about boys and girls from the ravishing 90’s and my brother – maybe not the best sources, but hey, I had to learn from somewhere, right?

I knew for sure that when a guy liked a girl, he’d toss and turn for nights until he’d gather up the courage to ask her out on a date, buy her flowers or concert tickets. I knew that a girl had to leave signs for the guy to pick up on – those details that make a difference, that determine the guy to proceed with his “courting ritual” or to give it up. All those coming of age movies impacted our lives more than we could ever imagine, we all secretly yearned to end up with the girl. Most of us didn’t, because life tends to do that.

  “As pictured, Life toying with tiny humans.”

As the years went by, the value of real life interactions began to drop significantly. The Internet went on from the century’s most amazing invention to a fluffy Gremlin – we knew it was just a matter of time before someone dropped some water on it and turned it into the monster that it is today. Because the Internet, in its present form, is a monster, a social monster that desecrated the human interaction and reduced it to instant messengers, tweets and social networks.

Our entire lives revolve around certain websites. We keep in touch with our family and friends through Facebook, follow the news on Twitter and videochat with people on YM, Skype or AIM. We spend more time clicking on the “Like” and “Share” buttons than we do on actually improving our relationships with the people around us.

   “The Internet.”

I’ve only come to abhor this phenomenon recently. I’ve been so sucked into it that I didn’t even notice it. Back in the good old days, hooking up went something like this:

 “Hi, I like you, wanna go out sometime?”

Nowadays, hooking up seems to be more like this:

“Nancy Stark wants to be friends on Facebook.”

Back in the good old days, all a guy needed was a single red rose and a lot of guts to show up at her doorstep and take her out on a date. Nowadays, the guy’s main weapons are the “Like” and “Comment” buttons.

Facebook is a wonderful thing, no doubt about it, but it can be a horrible nightmare as well. Sure, you meet a lot of people, but how many of you have the courage to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger without sounding like idiots or premium stalkers? I, for one, admit that I suck at meeting people on Facebook. I can’t do it. I can’t approach a complete stranger and say “Hey, just making conversation here, how are you?”. It feels wrong. Yet some of my close friends have successfully hooked up and even married off Facebook.

“Tracy Stark changed her relationship status. Tracy Stark is Married.”

Am I getting slow and old while the rest of the world continues to race towards permanently hiding behind keyboards? We put in more efforts to look good on our Facebook pages than we do on doing our jobs right – and if you think I’m wrong, how many of you don’t have access to social networks and messenger applications at work?

“Oh, all of you.”

The problem is that this Internet (and particularly Facebook) addicted society has managed to damage my own perception of the world and the way I approach people. I’m now stuck with twisting and turning over hundreds of possible ways of talking to a complete stranger, just because I find him interesting. That’s probably because I still believe in the “dinner and a movie” thing instead of copy-pasting links of love songs via AIM.

Social networks have also opened up a whole new black hole in the social interaction process. The Internet (and those classic chatrooms, for example) was very useful for people who had trouble connecting with other people in real life. I’ve heard of and met couples that hooked up on the Internet and got along so great that they’re still together, some of them even married. But you see, back when the Internet was just a baby, all a person had to do was say “Hi” and strike up a conversation. Facebook killed that too. With the ridiculous amount of perverts and well… idiots who shouldn’t be allowed to even touch a computer, it just gets more and more difficult to separate normal people from stalkers.

“He might look normal, but Wes Craven made movies about guys like him.”

So what the hell is going on? Where is this all headed?

What will our life be like, ten years from now? Theaters filled with people who are too busy with their Blackberry’s to actually watch “Wicked”? The death of social skills and the peak of social networks? Where’s the adrenalin of actually going up to someone and saying “Hi, I like you!” without getting the pepper spray treatment?

I’m honestly terrified as I realize that I don’t know much about how everybody else does it.

I just can’t “Poke” a complete stranger, no matter how much I might like him. I just can’t “Comment” on a guy’s photo just because I want to make him notice me (on the Internet, for Christ’s sake, this isn’t even happening in real life, it’s happening behind a computer screen). I don’t know how other people can do it.

I’m grateful for everything that the Internet has to offer (with minor exceptions, such as Rebecca Black and the “Leave Britney Alone” guy), but I have to admit that it will slowly kill my social skills if I continue to play by its ever-changing rules. I know that you’re all pretty much aware of all of this. I also know that most of you are just afraid to admit it. So instead of doing so, you might as well use the damn “Like” button. Thank you.

Interlude.

I would like to apologize for my absence, but since life has its funny ways, I have to play along.

I’ve finally started work, so my perspective has gained new territories which I’m exploring quietly, one step at a time.

I’m off to sleep now, I’ve survived quite the weekend and I’m looking at five hours of sleep before I can resume a normal schedule.

So I’m leaving you with a song that I’m simply in love with. And I promise to return with good materials, sometime in the very near future.

All I can say is that I finally feel alive.

Romantic Comedies are Lies

This particular type of movies has been around since the beginning of cinema. It all pretty much started with Ernst Lubitsch, the one often credited as “the pioneer of romantic comedies”. He was pretty much the first to feed us with the sweetest of lies: love conquers all. He’s had some of the world’s greatest actors to give life to his deceiving characters: Carol Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper and so on. He made us believe that not only do opposites attract but they actually have a shot at a life together.

Just so you know, Lubitsch was not the only filthy liar around, because then came the fifties and more romantic comedies began to infect the screens everywhere. We had Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, married, in love yet going against each other in court in “Adam’s Rib”, Kim Novak cast a spell on Jimmy Stewart in “Bell Book and Candle”, Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe got into “Monkey Business”, Doris Day practically killed us softly with gems like “Pillow Talk” and “Calamity Jane”, George Cukor kept throwing his funny love stories at us, one after the other until the day he died. I could go on forever but I’m already getting depressed because now I realize why I’m such an idiot when it comes to men: I’ve seen all of these movies and so much more. So much more…

And yes, watching romantic comedies at a very young age does tend to manipulate your perception of the world around you, especially if you’ve already been fed with the Disney Classics. That’s why the first love always hurts so much, because these cinema masterpieces make you crave for things that don’t come so easily and they never really come when you’re ten years old and still making your Barbie kiss Ken. Nothing lasts forever, not even Barbie and Ken.

“Like what, you never saw this coming?”

But cinema didn’t stop the lies in the sixties. Oh no, they kept writing and producing the same bullshit premises over and over until the 90’s came around and the romantic comedy was literally reborn. Of course, they changed the characters a bit, they tried to make them seem more human and less “Hollywood”. The 90’s were great for romantic comedies, if you stop and think about it. We had Richard Gere falling in love with a prostitute Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”, Helen Hunt fell in love with a douchebag played by Jack Nicholson in “As Good as It Gets”, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fell in love over the radio in “Sleepless in Seattle”, then Meg Ryan fell in love with Tom Hanks all over again over the internet in “You’ve Got M@il”, then Julia Roberts fell in love with Richard Gere again in “Runaway Bride”, then Hugh Grant put aside his cup of tea and wooed Andie MacDowell in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and Julia Roberts in “Notting Hill”, then Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles brought Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” back to life in the high school version called “Ten Things I Hate About You” (quick pause to mention that I’ve read the script and it was better than the movie; that, my friends, says a lot about the execution) and so on and so f***ing forth. I’ll stop now before I get diabetes.

“Thank you, Julia. Roberts.”

But I’m not done yet! I’ve barely skimmed through the 90’s! Did you think that that was it? Oh no, my friend, the romantic comedy didn’t stop there, it just got bigger, better and worse at the same time. The 21st century allowed cinema to dig even deeper inside the woman’s psyche, as it is proven that women are most of the demographic here.

“No, not these…”

The ‘00’s brought us a new batch of pretty faces to associate with romantic comedies. Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, Josh Hartnett, Heath Ledger, Anne Hathaway, Drew Barrymore, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Grant (what, you thought he’d quit after the 90’s? F*** no.) and so on and so forth and so on and so forth. We had the control-freak chick fall in love with the “I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck” Irishman. We had bright and sweet titles like “Leap Year”, “40 Days and 40 Nights”, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, “Casanova”, “Two Weeks’ Notice”, “The Princess Diaries 2”, “Confessions of a Shopaholic”, “The Proposal”, “The Wedding Planner” – all best served with a large batch of chocolate and tissues, because that’s what women watch when they’re sad, lonely or simply dumped by their significant other. That’s what women watch at any other time too. Because it is in our nature to dream. And we start doing this at a very young age.

We’re constantly told about the first crush, the first kiss, the first love, the first everything. Well, almost everything. Nobody prepares us for the first heartbreak. Nobody tells us that men are also human. Our mothers tell us to look for men that are smart, handsome, rich and with a sense of humor. That’s our biggest problem: nobody teaches us how to spot the difference between an overachieving asshole and a decent guy.

“Douche. Live with it!”

Romantic comedies are to blame, in fact. Our society used to indoctrinate us with the idea that “the richer, the better”, “the more cultivated, the better”, “the harder working, the better”, “the prettier, the better”. People had standards when it came to choosing a significant other. They didn’t settle for less and they always thought about their own future before jumping in. But then romantic comedies came along and everything just went horribly wrong. All of a sudden, they started telling us that a poor yet beautiful girl can settle with a poor guy just because she loves him – but nobody mentioned the mortgage, the low wage, the high cost of living in general. The poor girl could also fall in love for the prince/rich guy and the prince/rich guy would marry her and they would live happily ever after because that’s what it usually says in the movies, but they forgot to mention his family, his own expectations, her impression of what being married to a rich guy would be like as opposed to what it really was like, his hot secretary included. The beautiful girl COULD fall in love with the ugly guy, they’d be married and live happily ever after and they’d even have a pair of average looking babies. But nobody mentioned the name calling from the guys at work or the hesitation of introducing your loved one to your beautiful and pretentious parents.

“Mom, he’s the right one for me, I know it!”

Romantic comedies just make it all seem so fluffy and possible that we never stop to wonder if it can actually happen or if it’s best left on screen. The setting itself is pretty much idealized – he’s a wealthy pediatrician, she’s a wedding planner who can afford Gucci shoes but can’t afford better furniture, he’s a company manager, she’s a lawyer, he’s a rich consultant, she owns a pastry shop… oh come on, for Christ’s sake, nobody’s going to show us a love story between the garbage guy and the cleaning lady from the fifth floor. In the romantic comedy universe teachers are not poor, they own pretty nifty houses with back yards and they are unaffected by government teachers’ benefit cuts. All women are beautiful and all men are to die for. It’s what Hollywood does best to keep our hopes high. Everyone who’s ever had an influence in our upbringing (parents, TV, teachers) forgot to mention that there’s a completely different thing out here.

“Bullshit.”

They forgot to mention the bank loans, the price increase on gas and food, the extra pounds after pregnancy – which reminds me, they made pregnancy look like the funniest nine months with a quick montage that left out the back aches or the constant trips to the bathroom to pee. They made it look like true love really does conquer all.

Well it doesn’t. He might love you and you might love him. And you might live happily ever after. But he might also not be willing to take this step with you. He might cheat on you and even dump your ass two years after the wedding. He might do that even after you have his children and you’re no longer good for the “singles” market because of an illegal amount of stretch marks. Things can go down, and they can go down badly. He might not even ever bother to see that you actually exist. You might as well spend the next five years sobbing and sighing over him while he goes on to marry the hot PR with big boobs and a Corvette.

My intention is not to disappoint you, nor to feed you lies. I’m only describing the woman’s nature to have more faith in romantic comedies and their happy endings rather than in real life. Because in real life, shit stinks and you can’t sweep it under the rug. In real life we’re often too busy providing for ourselves to actually notice that there’s someone next to us. In real life we dream about the perfect relationship while we continue to manually destroy the ones we already have.

The romantic comedy does not portray the real human nature. It idealizes every single notion about love and it spices it up with memorable statements.

I mean, really, how many of us don’t dream to hear “Shut up, you had me at HELLO!”?

“Oh come oooooon!”

It’s time to wake up, girls. It’s time to stop dreaming about meeting a doppelganger of Chris Pine and it’s time to start accepting and loving the ones around you for who they are. So what if you’re experiencing new feelings for the guy who serves you coffee every morning at your favorite café? Who says he has to be a rich and successful surgeon to make you happy? Go ahead, love whoever you want and live your own life, just remember that every decision that you make will point you in a particular direction.

If you’re looking for a rich, handsome, smart and funny man, you’re delusional. But if you’re just looking for someone to love because you can already provide for yourself, then you might actually have a shot at a decent amount of happiness. Just remember that people change and that the man you love today might not be there for you tomorrow. Individualism is totally underrated and underappreciated.

“And so was the movie <<Blind Dating>>. *sigh*”

They didn’t tell you this about WORK, did they?

I’ve had a very long day, so I reserve the right to be head of the bitch pack today.

I have an issue with the job industry. People have this obnoxious habit of making simple jobs seem extremely complicated and extremely complicated jobs sound like dream jobs. How many of you haven’t heard the following during a job interview:

“It’s a walk in the park. You fill out some forms, check and sort the mail and make coffee for the occasional guest.”

Nobody tells you the stinky and ugly truth.

“There might a couple of extra hours, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.”

Oh yes, pay a lot of attention on those job interviews. There’s no such thing as a “dream job”, not even if your name is Richard Branson. We all have to work our asses off to get the good stuff. When someone tells you that you’ll make a lot of money by doing almost nothing or what seems to be not enough, they’re feeding you large sacks of shit. I’ve been there. Well, me and billions before me. But still, it’s my duty to share some of the experience, so I can later say “I told you so”. It’s my woman nature and I always get to say it. Live with it.

When your future employer tells you that you might have to do some overtime once in a while, you might as well bring a tent, a sleeping bag and spare clothes to work. When you’re told that if you do the extra mile, you’ll get great extra earnings, that usually means that you’ll toil like an idiot, spending more on medication to rebuild your immune system which you’ve damaged with too much work and little sleep, than all those appealing bonuses that they keep dangling before your nose. Sit, Sparky, sit. Nothing comes easy. If it sounds easy, it’s either a scam or a nice lie. Not all of us are fortunate enough to do what we like – and even those have to work hard to get results.

“Most of us will toil and die in misery. Glory and riches come afterwards. You suckers.”

Quick note to those who actually have it easy: you’re nature’s way of laughing in the rest of humanity’s face. We don’t like you.

Some of us become police officers. We go in deep, convinced that we’ll become the next CSI or CBI squad, but we’re faced with the harsh reality when it’s too late (basically when we start to enjoy blowing that whistle).

“At least I get to move my arms around.”

Some of us become doctors, dreaming of the day we’ll receive a heartfelt thanks for saving someone’s life. Nobody prepares us for the long hours of looking up people’s noses or asses.

“I’ve had my elbows deep in green poop this morning and I had guacamole and chips for lunch. I’m doing great!”

Some of us become firefighters, lawyers, accountants and so on – we all go in deep dreaming of great careers, a house on the beach, medals of honor and a nice car. Nobody tells us that it takes years of blood, sweat and tears to get there. Most of us don’t even make it that far, because we can’t toil ourselves into kidney failure and let’s face it, most of us are just too nice, too scared or too simple to get our hands dirty for the extra cash. We’re taught from a very young age that the only way that we can get results is through hard work. But nobody has the balls to tell us that we might end up losing more important things on the way.

“Like the decent hairline.”

In the end, it’s a matter of choice. While some of us will go the distance and get buried in paperwork or debris, just to go home to a TV and a fat cat, the others will take it a little easier and squeeze in a wife and three kids. Life is shitty that way – we rarely get everything we want and it usually comes at a very high price. Yet I’m puzzled by this guy, I can’t figure out if he really likes his job or he lost a very ugly bet. Either way, he makes janitors look freakishly cool.

The other extreme is even more irritating. A lot of people tend to make simple jobs sound like nuclear science. Why do I need tons of experience to be a waitress, for example? Or a shoe salesman? If I’m decently smart, I can learn this in a day, maybe two. If I’m special and not retarded, or plain stupid, I can spend fifteen years bussing tables and still trip on my shoe laces and pour hot coffee in someone’s lap, on a daily basis. I’ve heard so many people ask me: “For how long did you work as a waitress? Do you know how to do this?”

Let’s make something clear. I’m talking about a normal no-star job, like 70% of the world’s bars. It doesn’t require techniques, only a clean and decent look, a good attitude, a smile and at least an impression that you know what you’re doing. A five year old can kick our asses at this. If it’s not a five star venue, why the hell bother? Who is desperate enough to check if you serve their coffee on the right side? I’m pretty sure that the scrawny shoe salesman who stops by Louie’s Café doesn’t need a silver spoon to eat his chili, nor does he need his eggs and bacon on the right side – the guy’s hungry, just give him his damn food and smile, for fuck’s sake.

What experience do you need to work as a salesman? Or as a bartender? You pick it up as you go. If you want to be really good at it, then you take up a course or read a useful book. You show interest. But really, why all this fuzzy-nuzzy-bullshit? They should ask for a decent level of intelligence, not experience. Experience is NOTHING without a good working brain attached to it. How can you trust your merchandise and cash register with a nineteen year old Concetta who doesn’t know how much is 10+45? I’m serious, it happened right before my eyes. How can you trust your bar to someone who picks his nose right before he pours your coffee then frowns over his fingers, looking for his booger? Yes, that killed my appetite. I just hope it killed yours too.

“And I spit in it too, because I don’t like your smug face. But you didn’t see that.”

I’ve been told that without previous work experience here in Italy, it’s hard for me to find a job. So what, the other five years of work back home don’t matter at all? Well, there’s a question of customs here, customs that you’re not used to, I’ve also been told. Like what, putting a cup in a small plate on a table or chatting with my boyfriend on the phone while I serve a bagel and tea? I mean seriously, I come from strangely different standards. I don’t really like my country, but I have to admit that on a restaurant/café level, we get shit done. And besides, bussing tables and mixing sours is what college students are best at! And most of them weren’t prepared for these jobs, their parents didn’t give them their milk bottle and said: “Honey, when you’re eighteen and still unable to tie your shoelaces, you’ll be serving pizza and pasta to pay for your college books!”.

“Also, you’ll have a lot of unprotected sex and flaming shots.”

You see, it takes years of study and practice to get certain jobs done. Medics will know what I mean. All those years of quick lunching next to a dissected corpse will pay off as a life saving experience later. It takes a couple of days, a decently bright mind and good will to learn other jobs. It would be wonderful if they’d just stop making waitresses sound like fucking rocket scientists.

“Would you like some fries with that?”

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