The new Kings of Leon

I'm listening obsessively to the new Kings of Leon album. It's heartfelt rock'n'roll, the kind that asks for big stadium gigs full of adoring singalong fans. I didn't like Kings of Leon much before, whereas J. had their previous album on repeat mode in his iPhone for a long time. Until I read this raving review in a Sunday supplement and, since I haven't listened to anything other than 80s pop these days, I decided to have a go. Apparently, this album got very mixed reviews, many of them leaning toward the thumbs down road than anything else. Who cares. These days I see music critics as irrelevant as everyone else's opinion about music : they're only purpose is to inform you of artists and their output. Their personal tastes are pointless. Music to me is about instinct: it either rocks your world or it doesn't. It either makes you feel happy, or sad, or sexy, or it doesn't. Stuff like "the track starts on the right note but it doesn't hold to the end" or any scrutinising production bollocks is only interesting for people who work with it. I just care if it makes me dance, if  it makes me cry, or if it makes me forget my own thoughts for a while. 

And I'm not going to feel silly for that.


Having it All

The other day I came across an article in a fashion magazine about that old feminine ideal of having it all. The myth that we, the fragile sex, can have a successful career, a family, a stable relationship and money while still managing to be pretty, sexy, fashionable and intelligent. Note that I say myth, and not concept, because that what it is, and will always be, if you, stressed out folks out there, haven't realised yet: being good at everything is nothing more, nothing less than pure utopia. It is a phony ideal of life. And more to the point, it's utterly unfair to women. Men don't go through this kind of dilemma - or at least, not the ones that I know. Most of the men around me (the non-gay ones) are either focused in 1)Make money, 2) Have sex, 3)Be recognized for whatever they do so they can have numbers 1 and 2, and 4)Have a good time after and while they're working at numbers 1,2 and 3, which includes drinking, drugs, bungee jumping, gambling in Vegas, or whatever takes their fancy. The ones with kids and relationships are either 1)Bored, 2)Too busy fucking around to care, 3)Thinking they're too hot to be having sex with just one bird, so they better get out of it ASAP. Some of them care about their looks or think about clothes, but never more than once a week, and even them it takes a right pickle for them to do anything about it (say, a girl that looks horrified at the sight of their naked beer gut, or a pair of torn jeans that exposes their disproportional god-given male qualities). So I suppose, with few exceptions, men in general don't go about fretting that they can't have it all, simply because they don't want to.

Now, in my case, the have-it-all ideal assumes an entirely new proportion. On top of wanting all of those things that make up the myth, each category is divided into several sub-categories, making the whole thing sound, well, decidedly AMBITIOUS.

I'll give an example (the most obvious of the other obvious ones): career. I don't want to have just ONE career, for many reasons, the strongest of them being that 1) I have way too many interests, 2) Which makes me want to be able to explore at least some of them at lenght and 3) Which also scares the monkeys out of me to be defined by any single one of them.

I'll translate: right at this moment I'd very much like to write a novel and short stories, colaborate with magazines, create an ethical fashion label, learn to knit, sew and draw properly, take street fashion pictures on a weekly basis, and become an assistant of someone with an established career in any of these creative areas. In my little deluded head, I believe I am perfectly able to do all of the above at the same time, so I've written a weekly schedule in which I dedicate a few hours everyday to each task/project, carefully designating special slots for exercising and socialising on a regular basis.

BUT - and there's always a but - on top of everything I also need to find time to run a small (tiny) business in which I buy, style, photograph, edit, update, promote and send vintage clothes to remote corners of the world, and all on my own.

The result: a frustrated, overly disquieted version of me at the end of every single day because OBVIOUSLY I cannot complete 25% of my meticulously drawn daily schedule.

It goes without saying that each and every aspect of my life suffers too. I skip daily runs and yoga sessions because I'm already late to finish whatever I'm working on, I neglect friends and boyfriend because I always think I could be carrying out a project instead of engaging in meaningless chit-chat, and when I am around other people I struggle to pay attention to what they say because my mind is racing with things I ought to be doing.

The relationship part, I don't even want to go there. My other half favourite choice of words is "What did I just say?", because he knows I'm endlessly pretending to listen to him. Not to mention (the shame!) my nightly predilection for books or another episode of Six Feet Under instead of sex.

God. My neck hurts.

So how on earth I'm gonna manage to have children and a house and (oh, I forgot), enough money to support this insane lifestyle, that's what I can't even think about thinking.

And there are still women out there who say we can have it all. I'd kill whoever invented that.


Impressions from an Italian holiday

Last weekend we went for a road trip around the north of Italy and it turned out to be one of the most fantastic trips I've ever been to. This time, we hadn't planned absolutely anything, and I was almost certain things were going to go wrong - last time we went for a road trip (around the UK), we ended up in obscure, cold towns, getting car-sick and bored to our hearts' content.

Amazingly, this time everything rolled smoothly. We simply picked up a car in Milan, looked at the map, and someone pointed a finger randomly at the map, saying "Let's go there." After six hours driving through stunning landscapes we arrived at a tiny touristic town called Levanto near Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera.  

And our luck did not finish there: after knocking on some people's doors asking for a hotel room, we managed to rent this superb three bedroom flat 2 minutes from the beach. I was in heaven.

We spent 2 days soaking in the sun in Levanto and Buonnasola (another beautiful beach 10 minutes away), had dinner in Vernazze, an even tinier village with one of the most fantastic sunsets on Earth (the other one being my Dad's hometown, Campo Grande, in Brazil), watched shooting stars lying on the rocks (I had never seen one before, until my new friend C. told me to keep looking at the same point in the sky for 10 minutes. I screamed when I realized it was true.), and ended the trip with late drinks in a medieval city called Lucca and the best risotto in a restaurant in Milan with a view to the Duomo.

Now. The fun part: (Before any Italians read this, please note I am totally generalizing).

1- Tanning is SERIOUS BUSINESS for Italians. They surely don't give a rat's ass to that whole nonsense of sunbathing before 11am and after 4pm, or using SPF 30, or things like wrinkles  and, uh, CANCER. Why, if they can turn into a 70% dark chocolate version of themselves? I've never seen anything like that shade of tan. They were all something like this: 

(That's the only picture google came up with when I typed "super tan". And that picture is probably from someone's granny in the 60s - which gives us an idea of how crazy must be these days to go this dark :).

Everywhere there were ladies toasting away midday, with a cigarette in one hand and baby oil spray on the other. And their faces MATCHED their bodies. Damn, I don't think I've come across anyone that, uhm, ruthless since the 80s. 

2- Young men in Lucca ALL have long hair scraped back in a (yes) BUN. I'm not making this up. We went into the town center at night for drinks and we encountered this corner full of boys and young people standing in front of pizzarias and gelaterias (apparently their saturday night hangout of choice). And a whole group of them had their hair UP, loosely tied with the ends sticking out. Something like this:

I've seen men wearing their hair this way occasionally, but I never thought this was a MAJOR trend anywhere since the... what, early 90s? Oh, and all of them also wore knitted jumpers tied around their shoulders in a preppy sort of vibe, even though it was 35ÂșC outside and there wasn't any remote possibility of temperatures falling.

3- Italians can be quite scary sometimes. Everything seems to be "private" or "exclusive", and you have to pay to have to privilege to be at this places. Every beach has a private area with sun loungers (30 euros a day), and we were kicked out of all of them. You cannot order an espresso at the bar and take it to a table without someone screaming at you that you need to pay a fee to sit down, and don't even try to use their toilets or (the heresy!) throw a can of coke in their rubbish bins if you haven't bought it there. 

4- Italians like their buildings to be grand and embellished, but it seems that around the riviera and Cinque Terre they don't want to spend too much money on sculpted ornaments. Instead, they paint extra windows, balcony columns, adornments and bricks on the walls in 3D style, so from a distance it's like you're looking at carefully built antique architecture. Marvelously kitschy. Something like this: 

That's all I can remember now. But I'll never see Italians in the same light after this trip. They surely are peculiar people.