Thursday, March 29

The Pursuit of Beauty

The spring season is upon us and, despite the expected sprees of cold weather, the days are getting longer, the birds are singing and the daffodils are in blossom. All this idyllic imagery inspires me and reminds me of how artists from the past expressed the vibrant bloom of life that occurs at this time of the year. I am Italian and of course the first picture that comes to mind is La Primavera, the Spring, by Botticelli. From there my mind trail takes me to the Venus - a symposium of eternal, ethereal beauty. In his Symposium, good old Plato identified the keys of ideal beauty in the context of love, attraction and attractiveness. It's a beefy piece of work (especially if you've gotta translate it from ancient Greek..), but it has always stimulated me to consider and reconsider the concept of Beauty. Following my previous post, a number of you have raised the question of what defines beauty - a concept that, despite the apparent homogenization of standards ( ei: everyone aspires to resemble the cover page models from fashion magazines) it's actually as varied as the colours of a cubist painter's pallet! The Italians say, "Il mondo e' bello perche' e' vario", the world is beautiful because it is varied, and thank God for that: it is different tastes and preferences that make life interesting and enables us to establish human contact with people who will like,hate, love us. It always astounds me to see how different cultures perceive a range of physical traits. Like the Brazilians and the Africans who love their women's big buts whilst us Europeans often starve ourselves in fear that our bum may 'look big in this'. Or the Far East Asian fascination for prominent noses and here we are willing to pay anything to have our noses made smaller..go figure! Whatever the circumstances, we all appear to conform by a set of aesthetic standards, whether we would like to confess it or not. My cultural background has imposed onto me from a very young age that I should pursuit to be slim, ideally measuring 90-60-90, the 'perfect' hourglass measurements (think Sofia Loren, Monica Bellucci, Gina Lollobrigida), to look pristine and colour coordinated at all times. In as much as I have always tried to escape from aesthetic compromise, I can't help but feel the pressure. In as much as I accept myself for the person I am and the way I look, I keep on wishing I was better, looked better, sounded better...
Expectations can play a nasty game. In an old article on jealousy I quoted Joseph Addison about how it is the fear of not being reciprocated by the ones we love that makes us insecure. Insecure about ourselves, what we wear, how long is our hair, how firm our butt, how full our lips are and so on..Advertising campaigns do not help either as they make a living out of our insecurities..
But without me rambling on for much longer, what do you think defines beauty? and is there a universally accepted 'ideal beauty'?

Blue is the Colour

"Why are we called the blues when our flag has got no blue in it?!"

One of the very famous football anthems for Napoli Calcio sings, "my heart is blue... and when Napoli is on the pitch, my heart beats ever so fast, my voice trembles and I get the impression that Napoli is my one love!"
My dad has had the misfortune of being surrounded by women all of his life. Only son in a family of five girls, married to a lady, has two daughters (with loads of female friends) and works in the female dominated fashion industry. I imagine some of my beloved blog-readers may consider my dad's life pure bliss..but I often feel sorry for him. My parents always told me that they were delighted when I, their eldest, was born. (Well, which parent wouldn't be!) Mom had had a miscarriage of a beautiful baby boy in her fourth month of pregnancy, which was a harsh blow. Then she fell pregnant with me and they couldn't wait to meet me. Although I wasn't a boy, dad would still take me to the football ,stay up watching telly until late together and on Sundays, as sure as the daylight, we would watch the footie on TV (on silent) as the radio would be softly playing the live F1 races commentary in the background..lulling us into a restful afternoon siesta.. I never really minded that, if anything I was always honoured and proud to be daddy's girl/the son he never had..God, please, bless him with manly sons in law!
My dad loves football and Napoli, even more than the national team, are a love of his. I was there when Napoli, captained by Maradona, won the scudetto in 1987, I am even named after Ruud Kroll's wife (yeah, named after a wag?!) ..
Those happy times taught me (and still do,every time I go back) a lot. For all my anti-Italian attitude with regards to ethos, mentality and manners, when it comes to patriotism,blue is the colour, red is the car and green,white and red stripes is the flag. Last night I watched most of the Italy-Scotland game and listening and singing the national anthem brought a tear to my eye.. Gli azzurri won again 2-0 and made me proud. Blue is the colour indeed, but why the heck are we called "gli azzurri", the blues, when there is no blue in our flag. My personal, ever so poetical interpretation is that blue is the colour of a sunny sky, of the mediterranean sea..but you may have a better explaination! So, what do you think?

By the way, yesterday another Italian made this little chicken very proud: Filippo Magnini won the gold in Sydney for the 100 mt men world championship freestyle final, we've got two finalists in the 200 mt breaststroke whilst Federica Pellegrini broke the female world record in the 200 mt freestyle.. Euro 2008 qualifiers, swimming world championships, going home for the week-end..ah! I am a happy lady!!!
PS: Pictures like this make me realise why swimming is my favourite sport..

Tuesday, March 27

'Go, Conquer the World With A Towel!'

As a follow up from my last post, I realised that my most recent entry lacked of substantial depth - ye, right Ivonne, you wanna change the world, but how exactly? Last night I was catching up with the news. Apparently yesterday the people of Northern Ireland and the world witnessed history. The leaders of two antagonistic extremist parties sat down together in the same room to plan a better future for their country. As I was watching that, I couldn't help but feel patronised about a condescending piece of news and vague promises I feel like we have heard before... In his most recent entry,Wiggy mentioned the apparent lack of forgiveness and Christian attitude which could be potentially jeopardising the political reconstruction process within the N.Irish context. Also yesterday a group of infuriated university students from Rome protested against Fausto Bertinotti, historical leader of the communist party in Italy, in contestation of his false promises and his failure to stick by the ideals that got him into power in the first place. The caricature on the right (which allow me to say, does not massively differ from the original..) depicts Bertinotti, a man who portraits ideals, values, power which are, the more I think about it, like dust in the wind..fragile,imperfect and failing. Parallel to this, I have been reading up the Naked Pastor's sermon from last week-end about how, in front of the failure of human philosophies, secular theories, religion and scientific discoveries, God's perfection exceeds them all by far (Psalm 119:96)
John Newton's familiar lyrics are piercing my mind and heart this morning.

'Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I am found
Was blind but now I see! '

The author obviously knew that beyond physical slavery, we all are or we have been slaves to our own consciences, selfishness, vices, sins, fears. I am often astounded by the many radical and life changing paradoxes about Christianity. The poor who end up be
ing the richest; the humble who shall be lifted up; the paradox of being blind when you have perfect sight and to be able to really see even if you are blind.. The more I think about wanting to change the world, the more I realise that Jesus oughts to be my icon and inspiration. He acted out what some would call, "an invisible revolution" where people's lives, cultures and societies were radically transformed by a touch on the hand, a communal meal with wrong-doers and a washing of the feet of a bunch of dirty, illiterate and quick tempered fishermen. "Go, and conquer the world with a towel" is a brilliant command which masterly encompasses the essence of Christian 'revolution'. Unfortunately, it ain't my creation. John Glass, the top man in Elim in the Uk, preached this on my first day at Bible College.. five years later, I am beginning to understand the power of the paradoxal truth of Christianity more and more. Beyond philosophy, religion, politics, science,theories, I believe, the essence of Christianity is still the key to world change. Go and change the world not with a war, a cruisade,a big slogan, but with humility, kindness, compassion, grace, Love. (Of course, shout if you must!)

Sunday, March 25

I Want to Change the World!

"Throughout history great change has only been made by those hungriest for truth and those not content to simply follow the beliefs of others, but who instead demand the genuine revelation of coming to know God personally. Those who will accept no less that that are the ones who become world changers."
No, this is ain't some dodgy line out of out of "Pinky and the Brain" for world domination... 'I want to change the world' is the cry of my heart. It starts with a deep realization that the world is pretty much shit at the best of times, that human selfishness and strive for greed have turned a perfectly formed universe into a lousy junk yard of polluted air and unsafe streets where, as the ancients used to say, the rich get fatter whilst the poorer starve to death. I look around myself and I see desolation, despair, hopelessness. Then I look at God and I see skies of blue, craftly constructed spiderwebs, and Hope. Tonight, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, I went to watch "Amazing Grace",in my opinion, an outstanding movie about William Wilberforce's endeavours and struggles to obtain the approval of the slave trade abolitionist bill in 1807. Can't believe I ever lacked interest in my Church History lectures at university - I am now embarrassed and ashamed of ignoring the remarkable efforts of a man who single-handedly, and as part of a conscientious Christian Faith and Community, had a dream and invested his whole life in the achievement of the acquisition of rights for the poorer, the defenceless, for a sense of Justice in a corrupt and gluttonous for egoistical cravings society. He indeed acknowledged, like many of us, that the world is wrong. But he did not, unlike most of us, sit back on his sofa and ate popcorn, watching the world go by... He wholeheartedly committed himself to desiring to change the world. Whatever the cost. I want to change the world and I believe that you and I can do it.

Thursday, March 22

Classy Lassy! - The Arcane Secrets of Human Psychosis

You must know the feeling yourselves, when you have got a stinking cold and breathing is enough of an effort (let alone trying to look lady like..) That's me this morning at the office:still fighting against a silly influenza which is making me sniffle, sneeze and blow my nose to much of my personal and my colleagues' annoyance! This morning on the bus there was a guy that was so lacking any manners that was pretty minging..He had extra fuzzy grey curly hair (nothing wrong with that!) and a full grown Victorian mustache. One may say, 'nothing wrong with wearing a mustache either...', but following Brian's all-inspiring post on people's annoying habits that get on your nerves, I'll confess: I have a real issue with people's..hairiness!!! I don't get it - the mustache guy on the bus who amongst many things kept on scratching his privates, vigorously picking his nose whilst 'eating the harvest' which got entangled in his facial hair..revolting or what? Anyway, even under more decent and composed circumstances, I struggle to understand facial hairs. Like how does a man with a tash lick his ice-cream? (I always make a mess of myself even without one) What would it feel like to kiss a guy with a full grown beard? (obviously never tried that before..) Guess men feel more...manly with their facial hair unshaven as they have waited years to hit puberty and gain this most explicit sign of manlihood..and I can totally understand the sex appeal of a little stubble in a guy..but women, what's that all about? During the last and most controversial British Big Brother show, Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty, was often caught happily bleaching her facial hairs on camera - classy, lassy! On the contrary, as displayed in her self portray above, Frida Kahlo, one of the most charismatic, provocative and psychotic 20th century female artists, never seemed to have any problems with priding herself in her masculine upper-lip hairiness and voluminous mono-brow.. nice. I have a recurrent joke with a friend of mine who has a ridiculous obsession with female hairy armpits (yep,tells you a lot about a guy..) - which I quite obviously don't agree with. As one of Almodovar's characters in "All About My Mother" would say, 'A woman is more autentic the closer she gets to her ideal of beauty' - ok, this is no condonation for extreme make-overs and plastic surgery (well, whatever floats your boat, really), but I still believe that, despite gender equality on intellectual grounds, a woman is still a woman and should seek to portray a wispy,ethereal image of beauty, grace, class and...HAIRLESSNESS! (whatever it takes) and that TOILET habits should be exclusively left to the privacy of the little girls' room..Like my image conscious beautiful mother would say, "Even after 25 years of marriage!, there is no excuse not to make an effort both for yourself and the one you love" .. Guess I don't really need to make up a list of things that annoy me...'coz there's your answer!!!
Love, from an attempting to be lady-like poorly little lady and feminist in disguise!(",)

Tuesday, March 20

'Painting the Town...Green'

Little did I know about Manchester before I moved over here. The stronghold of northern Englishness, red bricked terraced houses,'English bulldogs' fuelled by a sturdy diet of 'sausages,chips & mushy peas', is actually the hub of multicultural Britain. From the renowned Rusholme Curry Mile to the festive Chinise New Year celebrations in the town centre, Manchester masterly embraces, fuses and showcases a number of ethnic groups, cultures and customs over the traditionally suggestive backdrop of typically Victorian architecture and reminiscences of an industrial scenery. Fast moving, vibrant, tollerant, progressive and remarkably open to change and modernization are traits of a city that moves on without ever discrediting its own origins and history.
About 200 years ago a wave of Irish emigrants touched the Mancunian shores and made their permanent residency there, merging with the locals and giving the city a whole new identity. If you speak to any of the kids in our youth club, they all claim Irish ancestors of some sort or have Irish family names - despite wearing hoodies and sounding remarkably Manc! Saturday, as you all know, it was Paddy's Day (St Patrick's) - the biggest celebration in Manchester after Christmas - go figure! It was also my friend's birthday, which kinda got overshadowed by this sea of drunken, leprechaun-like, green-wearing Mancs, ghastly resembling the damned spirits out of Dante Alighieri's Hell. * (By the way, 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY,MY LOVE,I SHALL MISS YOU LOADS WHEN YOU ARE GONE!') So I find myself having to deal with all these drunken idiots, police everywhere and not the sign of a free taxi for over an hour in the freezing cold at past 2 o'clock in the wander I have such a nasty cold today!More than a merry parade for an Irish saint, it reminded me of reading in my high-school geography book about the Belfast riots in the 70's! However, Manchester's inclusive attitude to cultural diversity does not stop at geographical multeity, but it extends as far as religious beliefs, culinary preferences and sexual inclinations. The prominent gay village is one of the most flourishing areas of town, blossoming with restaurants, pubs and clubs able to cater for all preferences. I left Italy as a traditionalist lefty, stiff-upper-lip perfectionist and opinionated religious young girl. I then moved to England to study theology and left Bible college with more passion and enthusiasm for God, yet more questions and an increased sense of grace than I ever had. Having analysed the Scriptures, philosophy and human kind inside out, I was left with a sense of wonder, disappointment, love, beauty, hope and back. I then moved to Manchester and encountered a variety of cultures which paradoxically surpassed any from my extensive travels. From 'judgmental little prat' to working and living in an environment surrounded by members of the gay community where, suddenly, being 'heterosexual and Christian' was abnormal...what a journey! Now 'judging' has all of a sudden become harder. It is much easier to make assumptions and judgements about people you don't know or don't care about. However, Manchester has actually taught me a lot more about Christianity than it meets the eye: this city, like what is at the essence of my faith,it's a place where strangers become brothers and enemies are embraced into a friendly hug. Where you can, if you want, become 'one of the crowd' but where, even staying at the fringes, you can still experience the ripples of God's love.

Friday, March 16

'Like My Mama Used to Make It!'

For my British readers, you will have surely recognised by now where the inspiration for this post's title comes from, put on a fony Italo-American accent, drown your four fingers towards your thumb,reached your lips and blown noisy kisses in the air, vigorously begun to gesticulate in uncoordinated patterns and read the sentence again, out loud this time,(possibly even stroke your fake black mustache..) and hopefully chuckled to yourself.. For those overseas, however, 'Like Mama Used to Make It' is the catch-phrase from a series of tv ads for "Dolmio", producers of 'allegedly' Italian style pasta sauces made in Holland and tasting as Italian as sushi is a vegan Moroccan dish! Last night I watched a little bit of "The Goodfellas"with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta. To much of my amusement, this movie portrayed a lot of, paradoxically realistic idiosyncrasies about the Mafia culture and Italians abroad in general. My friend's dad calls me "the Irish Mob" -'coz I am Italian, bossy, and have a funny distinctive Northern Irish twang in my miscellaneous English accent - go figure! Often people ask me if the mafia is a fictionary concept invented by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, but it is so not! In as ridiculous as it may sound that one of the G8 nations, world leader for culture and arts (not to mention football) who's forefathers conceived the foundations for most international jiuridical systems, Italy is a country ruled by three legal entities: the Constitution, the Papacy and the Mafia.

"Coffee and Cigarettes, 2003"

In last night's movie, a Jewish American young lady marries a top Irish gang member of the mob (Ray Liotta). She often repeated over the course of the film that even things which should have appalled her, or at least raised her suspicion over her husband's whereabouts, suddenly became 'normal'. Likewise, most Italians stopped raising questions a long time ago and comfortably cohabit with this entangled concoction of legal systems, illegality and chaos..little nothing ever happened. We are just like 'the three wise monkeys': Don't hear, don't speak, don't see! I, on the contrary, could tell you a million and one stories about it. Like when they stole my dad's motorbike and,instead of calling the cops, we called my uncle who called a friend of his who has a friend who knows somebody...long story short: we got the bike back in less than an hour for the modest price of £100. Convenient,ah? Or do you need a ticket for a sold out concert? There is always a friend. Really don't fancy wearing that seatbelt that creases your freshly ironed fake Valentino's? Wear a t-shirt with a seatbelt drawn over it (available in most shops)...and the list could go on and on and on. Mysteriously, it all becomes 'normal' like sipping coffee sitting at the table outside a family run cafe in the piazza, or shopping at the market. I don't condone any of this, but I can see why people find it funny... Here is to the Italians' inventiveness, humor and 'gift of the gab'!

Tuesday, March 13


"The Man in My Life I Let Him Tell Me What To Do!"...

Not to worry guys,I haven't fallen over and cracked my head open or fallen in love stupid with some random fella! In an attempt to get fit again and run the London Marathon next year - yes, you heard me right, my madness is never ending - I have started seeing Matt,a personal trainer,who I pay to, indeed, tell me 'what to do' to get back in shape. He is lovely and very sweet. He totally gets me which, in hindsight, makes me think that maybe I should have started paying boys to be with me a lot sooner...(obviously I am only messing). A joke apart though, if you would like to support me and a bunch of other folks going out to South Africa in July 2008 with Habitat for Humanity to work on a building project affiliated to the renown Desmond Tutu's community project, please do not hesitate to contact me. I'd be delighted to suggest various ways for you to get involved. (It is NOT all about money!!!) Right, better get down to the gym - still a long,long way to go!(",)

Out With the Old and In With the New

With no need for ditching the past!

Yesterday something quite extraordinary happened. For those of you who know me, you will be aware of my utmost respect for the ancients and fascination with the cyclical view of history. Tucidide, the Athenian, wrote that history is a heritage, "a legacy for the forthcoming generations" and that,somehow, it always repeats itself. Hérodote optimistically wished that we would learn something from the past, but was ultimately convinced of the opposite: we make mistakes and,even though we may learn from them,we are gonna make them again. I was erroneously brought up with the unrealistic ideal that once you become a 'born again' Christian, your life is transformed radically to a point of near perfection.. Indeed, being 'born again' encompasses the awakening of the human spiritual dimension and the automatic rejection of the sinful nature; nevertheless, I later discovered, there are issues, struggles,weaknesses which will remain your fight until the day you die. The popular worship song which reads "the weakness that I see in me,will be stripped away by the power of Your Love" may actually be theologically wrong. God ain't gonna come and plunder you off of all of your imperfections and make you into an angel-like superhero over night! In the same hand, this is no condonation for sloppy religiosity. At times I can identify with the "Captives" series by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Beside the Sistine Chapel, la Pieta' and the David, there are a number of less spoken about works which i Prigioni, the Captives, are part of. Michelangelo believed that art was not to be created, but to be brought out of something already existing. He thrived in the dormant vitality of raw materials, masculine, rugged, dynamic personas awaiting to be woken up by the sapient hand of the artist..this credo was the cause of fierce confrontations with fellow art master, Leonardo Da Vinci, who, by contrast, believed that the artist is a creator, an inventor of life. Anyway, history of art apart, the Captives are a crude, passionate expression of wild exuberance screaming to come out. Likewise, I often feel frustration over the weaknesses of old which, for all of my endeavours, I don't seem to be able to shake off me - history repeating itself... I have recently shared about how my latest heartbreaks have been caused not only by the actual facts, but more so by bad experiences, baggage, I have been carrying around for way too long. That's when the really good stuff about Christianity comes out. Forgiveness; Grace. Forgiveness, which is not the equivalent of forgetting all about it, putting a plaster over it, let mommy kiss it better and happily pretend that nothing ever happened. No, forgiveness goes much deeper than that. It allows you to confront your own demons, turn ditches into wells whilst Grace, that wonderful gift of God who loved,loves and will always love us unconditionally, enables you to break free of the chains from the past and start afresh. Last night we broke the chains, send 'that old devil back to hell'. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound indeed. So out with the old crappy, tiresome bondage; in with a new future enlightened by many happy memories and meaningful friendships.

PS: Thanks Dave, you were right.

Sunday, March 11

'A Woman Especially, If She Have the Misfortune of Knowing Anything, Should Conceal It As Well As She Can'

Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey" (1817)
Identification seems to be a recurrent theme in my life at the moment. Due to a newly found sensitivity, I appear to have developed a greater sense of empathy not only with given circumstances and people I know, but also with historical characters, movie protagonists and intellectual personalities.I am a girl, right? And, as every educated Western young lady, I have been brought up to love Jane Austen's writings,to be besotted with the perfectionist ideal of a prospective Mr Darcy and to be contineously inspired by the fictional characters and groundbreaking life of miss Austen. All this gives me the irresistable impulse to read up about her, watch movies about her, identify with Jane Austin. Last night I went to see "Becoming Jane" which, as an allegedly stereotypical female rom-com, substancially exceded all of my expectations. Casting the incredibly talented James McAvoy. The 28 year old Scotsman is winning me over time and again: after playing the quarkie faun in "The Chronicles of Narnia" and the idealistic doctor in "The Last King of Scotland", his performance as Tom Lefroy, the Irish bohemian city bachellor who is willing to forsake it all for love's sake, was an intense exploit of passion,pathos and raw talent. On the other hand, Anne Hathaway was beautiful and adequately impressive in the clothes of a witty and intelligent young Jane Austin. Cherry on the cake was a rather "quiet" hunky brother Henry, Joe Anderson. The film is based on the early life of author Jane Austen and her possible flirtations with Thomas Langlois Lefroy.I wouldn't want to spoil the story line for you, but the alleged romance between this two is portrayed to go way beyond mere youthful infatuation, but is a real exchange of passionate besottment and livid desire which widens the spectrum of the author's scriptorial inspiration and shapes her views and characterization of her fictionary entourage (all,remarkably,with no explecit sex scenes!!!). My sister often teases me to be a lesser-postmodern version of miss Austin. Who knows, maybe if Jane was born in 1983, she would have been a blogger!!! I can only dream of being like her; however, I can yet again identify with another young woman's struggles. 200 years later I still often fear that a well educated woman is surreptitiously regarded as a threat to masculine pride and male dominance. I am convinced that even confident,erudite,enterprising knights in shiny armour fear, deep within, to be confronted by a woman who 'knows what she's talking about'..(I am dying to hear your views on this one!)Jane Austin eventually ended up never to marry - regardless of her pleasant apparence,wit,sensitivity and potential persuiters. I am not saying that her singleness was exclusively motivated by male perceived inadequacy; Jane fought the self-distructive battle between her undying romanticism and idealism contrasting with unclement rules and regualtions of a money-driven society.
And there was me thinking I had something new to say....
Lying on the sofa on a cold Sunday afternoon reading "Pride and Prejudice" for the fourth time over and waiting that one day unyelding love may be able to look beyond fear of inadequacy, tollerate virtual insanity and be willing to do anything for love's sake. Sweet, ah?!

Friday, March 9

Smile Like You Mean It

Gorilla Bananas recently left a comment on a post of mine which kindly applauded my ability to bounce back up after low times and disappointments. Unfortunately this time the fall was soooo low, even little bouncey-me, it's struggling to get back up as quickly as usual. Nonetheless, there is as verse in the Bible that says :"Cry with those who mourn and rejoice with those who are happy"- I think is in 1 Corinthians, somewhere. This is one of the most inspirational Bible verses for me where, as part of one body, we are called and somehow transformed to be naturally inclined to share in the lives of others with compassion, emphaty and pure love. For all my moaning about how difficult things have recently been for me, I can't help but exhuberantly rejoice over the joy some of my dearest friends are experiencing. As you may or may not know over in Japan both the Sinivirta's and the McKee's are expecting a baby and looking great! (yeah! I am going to be an 'auntie' again). Merle has recently brought to the light another wonderful little boy called Caleb and my beautiful mamma is doing remarkably well. The cancer has considerably reduced and she is about to commence the penultimate cycle of therapy. Isn't that wonderful?!How about those little sparkles of joy in the midst of a storm,ah?! So with you I rejoice in love! Love you all immensely, xx
Maiko&Chris,6 months

Caleb&Merle,big bro Joshua in the background..

"Smile Like You Mean It", The Killers

Tuesday, March 6

Soul Connections

Throughout my young life I have been in contact with a number of individuals who, for better or worse, have shaped the course and outlook on my existance. I count myself blessed with the rare ability to preserve a phoenomenal memory solely for the good things from the past; the bad,on the contrary,are subconsciously erased or mysteriously vanish into a feeble recollection.. I really like that about me. Nonetheless, at times like this, this quality can be a painful curse. 'Losing' a special friend in your life, someone you felt you had a "soul connection" with, and only being able to remember the times of blissful happiness, the intellectual intimacy that was shared and the memorable moments whilst brokeness and resentment prevent you from making ammends, and experience skeptically shouts from within that nothing is ever going to be the same again. As I am writing this post, the song "Couldn't Care Less" by The Cardigans is expressing musically what I would struggle to articulate verbally. However, the truth is that "I do care", and I wonder whether that could make a difference in mending this broken bridge...Soul Connection also refers to the rather surreal identification I feel I have found with Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan Nobel Price winner I mentioned in a previous post. This lady has really touched me not only for her achievements and public persona,but more profoundly as a woman seeking excellence in all areas of life: woman, Kenyan, mother, wife, politician, academic, daughter, Christian. This morning I was reading about her marriage breakdown, the undermining male attitude towards an intelligent,qualified and idealistic lady who, in as much as she is professionally recognised and publically acclaimed, often struggles with being accepted as a woman with her passions, desires, insecurities and simple ambitions. I am fully aware of being no way near the achievement of a Nobel price or any of her great contributions to humanity, but I can easily identify with her struggles. Since I was a little girl, I have been encouraged to "stand on my own feet"(no matter how small they may be!!!),to learn to do things by myself, to seek personal fulfilment regardless of who is or is not in your life. All this has made me into a highly independent person; what most people seem to have difficulties to comes to terms with, is that an independent individual is not a lonely one-man-band and that he does not function, or at least does not function as effectively, without the constant interaction and interchange with others. What is remarkable is that, in the midst of many outwardly perceived successes, I often feel rejected, I wish I was a little bit more ordinary.When my little sister came over to visit last summer, we often went to the cinema (to the point that we exhausted all half-decent options),so we decided to watch "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" with Uma Thurman. May be because we were in a jolly good mood when we saw it, me and Martina laughed our little heads off all night as this Hollywood rom-com confirmed a lot of undesputable stereotypes about women in general and destroyed many others about "super-women" who, for all their super-powers and charme, are often equally as insecure, needy and emotive as every other girl. Everyone dreams of supergirl, but no-one wants to get too close to her in fear.
My auntie wrote me a letter the other day (guess that's what aunties are made for) which read: "...I always thought that you could be immune from disappointments; you, who are always so strong, so balanced, who always have so many people around, who are so young great woman!..." Ok, she is biased. After all she is my auntie. However, I also know that, by saying so, she expresses the view of many of the people in my life. The Wee Italian Chick: An Emotionless Superheroine with no problems! (not). Frankly, I am quite sick of it. I wish I could be loved for all that I am - not just for the wide smiles that make everybody happy. Luigi Pirandello, an increadibly astute 20th century Italian dramatist and novellist, extensively explored the issues of the masks people 'put on' in their lives; the conflict between "to be" and "to appear". This concept became exemplified to me during a visit to Japan where public apparences are all that is to be seen and openness to the inner self are to be blamed as a sign of weakness. In a Western world which paradoxically claims to be a lot more in touch with their innerselves,Pirandello identified how many masks we daily put on, not out of dishonesty, but more in search of approval. Pirandello says that the harmonious/chaotic cohabitation of those masks is what makes us~I partially agree, but I can't help but think that as God sees beneath all that apparelle (titles, apparence, qualifications are irrelevant to Him), similarly I wish others could do the same. However, in the midst of disappointment and misunderstandings, I choose to seek to be happy again, to praise those outstanding people who can read the book of my life with no need for glasses,my soul connections. As Dr Maathai writes, "Life is a journey and a fight;we are not able to control it, but we have the ability to pull the best out of every situation." So I should do.

Friday, March 2

Have a Laugh on Me!

Some good old entertainment from the Wee Italian Chick. Me and the Habitat for Humanity team last summer dancing African style in Nanchuwa, Kisii (Kenya). The Artic Monkeys song "I bet You look Good on the Dance Floor" comes to mind. It was so much fun!

This brief post is in support and response to Gorilla Bananas who recently suggested cross-cultural issues are defeated by dance, a universal language. **I am the little jumping curley haired lady in the middle!!!**(",)

Little Sparkles of Joy

I always find it interesting when, in the midst of a storm,the gloomy clouds shift for a split second to let an often feeble ray of sunshine peeks through and warms your cheeks..I like that, as I like it when little unexpected surprises come your way and brighten up your day. They are the best. I will never forget the day my university friend Andy died. It was devastating for us to lose him so suddenly and unexpectedly. We were sad and cried and looked pretty puzzled and confused,wobbling about around our beautiful campus when,unanticipatedly, a group of two year olds walked out of the nursery holding hands on their way to their post-afternoon-nap break (mmm,don't you miss being a child?!) happily yapping away, when a little blonde haired boy caught my eye and waved at me energetically - simple things,ah? That little smile gave me life on that sad day and what a wonderful gift that was. Or it's like when they sent mom home from the hospital in time for her birthday, when she wasn't expected to get out for a further 10 days..priceless. On a sillier level, the other day's yoga lesson was a ray of sunshine indeed. Yes, I ain't that flexible (quite funny to watch really), but the yoga instructor was "a sight for sore eyes" and, unexpectedly, made my day. Sometimes is when you least expect it that the most wonderful things happen,so just keep on smiling and expect the unexpected. Have a nice week-end!