Sunday, 25 April 2010

DEAD LIKE ME - Welcome to Israel

"Dead Like Me", like the little girl protagonist of the homonymous TV series. The irony of dying hit by a toilet seat falling from outerspace due to the explosion of a Russian spacecraft is just the beginning of a new life of adventures and misadventures for Georgie. 

I have not yet been affected by spacely WC's but instead I have been suspected for 6 long hours of wanting to blow up the El Al flight from Rome to Tel Aviv on April 23, 2010. Dead like me, or like all passengers travelling to Israel, according to the twisted minds of the guards at Fiumicino Airport.
For once in my life I arrived at the airport very early. I was ready in line for checking-in three hours prior to my flight as insistingly suggested by my travel agent. "Flights to Israel require more controls therefore more time" she said. 

Fifth in the queue at super armed Terminal 5 I am happily thinking about the Vanity Fair already awaiting to be purchased once passed the metal detectors. 

But my check-in/interrogation becomes very long. After having repeatedly answered the same questions ten times I am asked to sit on a red chair while all the other passengers smoothly go by. Three different men come back to me with the same questions: Why are you going to Israel, who touched your suitcase, what do you do for a living, is there a website of the company you work for, why are you not working at the moment?? Can one be unemployed without being suspected of terroristic plans!!?!?!

After two long hours I am told the guards have decided to search my luggage (only once in Israel I will find out that creams and antihistamines are gone) and myself. As I  am taken to a private room I notice the police officer is wearing latex gloves. I point out my concern about the search. I am promptly reassured it won't be internal.
An Israeli man tells me they have checked-in for me and that my computer will be shipped (nooooooooooooooo !!!!!) in a red box separately from me and my suitcase.

I pass all controls and tests and am entrusted to a young native of Haifa who escorts me to the gate.The flight carries a three hour delay. My young guard is then forced to follow me to the café where I treat him to breakfast. We talk about Israel and about the soon to start Sabbath. So I begin to grow suspicious that once I land my driver will be on religoius strike and leave me in Tel Aviv until the end of the holy occasion instead of driving me to my destination. 

My new friend must return to check-in. I am left with a less polite colleague. But I need a loo and this new guard is forced to follow me. On the way to the restrooms I pray he won't force me to pee in front of him as I know I won't make it under pressure and therefore will make him even more suspicious! I succeed and we go back to the seat where I am asked to stay put till boarding.

So I am sitting there while a press conference is held behind me with priests and nuns involved in some project with faith and sports and I realise why I am the victim of this misunderstanding! I am the only one who is not wearing a cross and I am the only one under 60!

Changing of the guard and I am entrusted to a young woman from Tel Aviv who tells me they do not believe that I am a terrorist but that someone has given me, without my knowledge, the explosive. I begin to think it might be true. List of suspects because in contact with my suitcase before leaving: my grandmother, famous Palestinian, Federica's chihuahua, known anti-Semite, the Chief of the Leonardo Express train direct from Termini station to Fiumicino Airport, obvious unionist par excellence and therefore anti-American and therefore anti-Israeli!
Someone behind me says on the microphone that Fiumicino must become the hub of faith. My itching is uncontrollable. I also pray that the flight will leave soon.

We board. I am assigned a window seat. To make sure i can't move they have placed a paralised woman next to me. I sit for three hours needing to pee again. I only find relief once in Tel Aviv. Not for long though. I retrieve my suitcase and my computer. I open immediately the red cardboard shoebox in which they had located my laptop (might as well thrown it directly from the plane ...) to notice three long scratches on my MacBook's shiny titanium cover. Oh, now it is war on Israel!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

SCRUBS vs. GREY'S ANATOMY - It's a weather matter

After working for more than two years in England and having experienced the bad influence of a hostile climate I am positive that the weather can act like a giant thermometer on our mood. 

I'm not saying anything new, of course ... so that two rather famous TV series do nothing but agree with this common sense: "Scrubs" and "Grey's Anatomy" are day and night, black and white, the sun and the rain. 

Let's compare the two main characters: Elliott Reid, "Scrubs", and Meredith Grey, "Grey's Anatomy." Both start out as interns in American teaching hospitals, both beautiful women (the latter had a discreet lipjob), both living on the West Coast but - and here's the catch - the first in the sunny California, unspecified losangelian site, the second in the rainy Seattle (although the show tries to hide it with takes of a constant clear sky).

Elliott Reid is super unlucky. Yet, since she lives in the sunny valleys of California, she does not mind, ever. She doesn't mind when as a child she discovers she was given a boy's name; she doesn't mind if her friend and colleague and partner spring in and out of her life confusing her to the point she gives up whom she thought was the right man for her (dolphin trainer, try to find another one with the same job once you let go of the first...). This slightly awkward blonde sportively puts up with her state of second best doctor in the hospital she works for and she is fine when the only person she tries to build a friendship with lasts only half season and is soon thrown out of the script. She does not let go even when she is repeatedly forced to deal with the excellence of her family (all doctors) in the futile attempt to prove his ability to a egocentric fatherElliott, like an eel dressed in a blue scrub, lets everything drip off her.

On the other hand her colleague in Seattle, from Grey'sanatomyville, falls into acute depression for a bad hair dye and since the very first season she has promised never to smile (and if it happens the camera usually fades off as not to frighten the viewer with emotions that are not covered by Seattle's gray climate). Even Dr. Grey comes from a family of doctors - the mother in this case - whom however, in perfect style with the depressing mood of the series, dies after years of Alzheimer's. Meredith gets engaged and then marries the handsome Doctor Shepherd but the marriage can hardly bring good spirits. Indeed, the engagement between the two makes the hours of labor of a pregnant woman a pleasant pastime. Depressed Meredith, who actually gets to be dead for several hours during the third season (which better medium if not someone who already seems to be dead inside?) drags into sever mood swings all the other doctors in the series who end up attending the same therapist (which, by the way, is not very professional). Meredith could have a thousand reasons not to be depressed but we know by now that she could also win the lottery and maintain the veneer of despair. Because the doctor's only bad luck is that she lives in Seattle where it rains all the time.

This is why when I wake up in the morning I look out to see what color the sky of Milan is. And in those rare days when my eyes see blue I feel a bit like Elliott Reid.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

MAD CAT - Reality vs. Fiction

A.S.: this post has nothing to do with TV series. I was so exhausted after this experience I couldn't watch any.

Insisting. I think I have learned that stressing does not always bring the result we wish for. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Last night I wanted to know how to meow to explain a few things to my friend's cat.

The first thing I would have told him is that I'm allergic to cats. This means that over time not only have I learned to keep them at bay to prevent asthma attacks but I also developed a kind of hatred towards the category.

The second thing I would have explained to him is that I locked the room during the night just to avoid he might approach me during my sleep.

And the third thing I wanted to say is that it is useless to try to knock down the living-room's door. Because the animal tried to enter all night and judging by the noise he generated he was at least throwing himself with a cat-catapult. Even meowing pitifully did not work. Because the chair I placed  behind the door as you only see in horror movies and the many other weights I put to counterbalance the brute force of a cat as pissed off as King Kong on top of the Empire State Building had long been designed by my being an animal equipped with opposable thumbs, a brain larger than a walnut, soul and knowledge of the bon-ton (of which the mad cat is definitely unprovided but I have some doubts about the opposable claws).

Add to this that I went to bed at 02:00am because my flight had been delayed and shortly after we got stuck on the highway due to an accident and that at 7.30am I was up and running, the temptation to throw the cat out the window was immense. So insisting did not work this time. 
Actually it does not work with me at all. Because some doctor of the mind with well exposed certificaton said I'm not very spontaneous but actually very methodical, so if I put into my head that I should be asleep and a cat ruins my rest I am victim of significant menthal imbalances

The second match is expected tonight. It is rumored that Curry - this is the name of my infamous arch enemy - is getting ready with chemical weapons (about that: once home today I found a smelling gift on the bed as if to say "be very careful ..."). 

I know that I'll lose, my horoscope of the week began like this: "Saturn returns". AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH !!!!!!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

UGLY BETTY - A Million First Kisses

It was the episode "All the World's a Stage" of season 4 of "Ugly Betty" to trigger in me Proustian souvenirs. The young Justin, Betty's nephew who's developed very much throughout the series, especially in his nose, finally revealed himself. The process of coming out, awaited by his mother, relatives, friends and public, has taken a couple of steps forward.

After a performance from the students of what it is supposed to be one of the best acting schools in NYC (that made me look back at my sister's nun-run school shows as masterpieces) Justin confronts his friend Austin. For audiences at home the attraction between the two is obvious but the teenagers involved need a few more steps before staging a mock fight which leads them to bumping and touching until falling into kissing.

And that's when I heard "bam"! I feel warm goose bumps rise from behind my head and climb up to the top. The first kiss ... or the first kisses.

My first-first kiss happened on the run, when I was 12, because you were supposed to take care of that business as soon as you could. Friends would expect a full report on actions, movements and feelings. It was more about what you would say to your gang than the actual kiss, the case being that my first kiss took place behind a massive garbage bin in a dark alley with a girl of infamous reputation. Questions I was asked afterwards: "how many seconds did it last?", "French kiss?" "Did you get to second base?" and so on. Imagination helped where experience was lacking. 

My second-first kiss arrived much later, under the spotlight of a nightclub in the middle of the dance floor, visible to all classmates who were certainly more aware than me about many aspects of my personality. The sensations, far more intense than those experienced years before, remain confused because of the rivers of alcohol that were flowing in my veins at the time. Questions I was asked afterwards: "in front of everyone?", "so.. basically, so far you've been lying to yourself?", "And when are you gonna tell your parents?" and so on. Disappearing for a while helped calm the rumours.

So we can't say that my first kisses were as memorable as Justin's on an emotional level but somewhere in my head I can still taste the flavour of other first kisses that were sought asfter and desired in every part of me and that have changed my life in those brief but intense moments. When touching was enough to make me dizzy, when 0.15 second look could revolutionize my day or when love was the only concern of my life.

Friday, 2 April 2010

AUDITIONING IN ROME - From Naples to the Circus

What I am about to tell does not refer to any TV series or film. Simply because what I saw today was never represented through such media. Maybe James Cameron will arrive there in ten years after inventing advanced technologies and XYZ generation cameras but till today my story could not find representation. 

This morning I had my first audition in Rome. Warned at the last minute about this job opportunity and encouraged by friends who know my laziness when it comes to work hard to get a contract, I showed up at 10.00am on Good Friday of the Easter Holidays of the year 2010 at a gym in Appia Nuova in Rome. 

Although disturbed by the idea of competing in a space not designed for dance but for body conditioning, abs abs abs, aerobics, step and other manic calory burning disciplines I arrive with my not very fashionable jumper to find out, already by the entrance of the building, that I am totally out of place. 

I take a deep breath and pretend not to notice that nobody has a hair out of place, or showed up makeupless or that the new must-have piece of clothing for dancing is a checkered shirt as if we have to dance for Madonna in "Do not Tell Me". Anywy I sign in: No. 65 .

[Non-dancers may not know that the dancers are usually provided at auditions with a little number to be put in a visible place. (Locations chosen by the participants to show the serial number and the support chosen by the organizers to hold such numbers could be subjects to many other posts on this blog)]. Just know that the green Post-it is no better than the yellow Post-it: they just do not stick to fabric, especially if you plan to move with that thing on. And... dance is supposed to be movement. 

However low my spirit is I take this audition as exercise for future ones and decide to try to do well and enter the dance room to warm up. Only ten minutes after I realize that the space, supposed to accommodate up to fifty people, is reaching 200 participants. 

I take another deep breath (the air is lacking) and concentrate. The combination is interesting. I put effort in it despite the fact that from my position I can only see heads and arms of the choreographers. I am confident they will soon announce the exchange of rows so that we would all be able to benefit from a complete picture but I understand straight away that no one will give away the pole position. When I try to take a few steps front I am bounced back by a wall of checkered shirts. 

I begin to get an idea of how it works. While marking (technical term for the action of rehearsing with little effort) I get kicked and punched by the ones around me who are dancing as if it was the premiere.

I am about to give up but then decide that I owe it to myself to learn the combination before going to my doctor's appointement booked in the afternoon. As time goes by I begin to see more clearly. What in Rome people call an audition is very similar to a fight at the fruit market in Naples. You might not raise your voice but you make noises by clapping at anthing that happens around you.

I continue trying while a bunch of breakers do never before seen things and ballerinas are going around with the usual expression of the people who do not want to get on the stilts for the day. Suddenly I realize I am no longer in Naples, but in a circus! But no wait! Wait... look at that one and that one! and that one! and that too! This is Gay Pride!