So, when do you graduate?

It has been SO long since my last post!
I am seriously sorry about it and there is really no good excuse for that.
I could go on writing you about all the things that happened to me and distracted or prevented me from writing, but the sad truth is that I am a lazy, not very well organized, not multitasking at all person.
Oh yeah, I am also still in that long dark tunnel called “university”.

Adding my not very good capacities of managing my life to the fact that I am still a student, very late with my graduation and very sick of it, you can imagine how badly I deal with combining my studies and extra activities.
The truth is that I think about updating the blog all the time and I feel like I have a lot to say: but the omnipresent feeling of guilt because I am not studying (or studying enough) and the fact that it always takes me quite a long time to reorganize my thoughts and write something properly, make me let the blog slowly slip lower and lower in my to-do list…

So, what about a short focus of how to finish your studies can be an actual problem in a long distance relationship?

As a matter of fact, if they would have asked me a couple of years ago, I would have never considered it such a big obstacle. I mean, it’s not like you are in high school and you must finish it. Or like, you have a good job that you are afraid to quit. If you are a university student, in the very worst case you will have what, 2 years more to do? Just hurry up and finish! Or move somewhere else to study there!

Nothing more wrong than that…
Soon enough I discovered at my own expenses that university can be a concrete problem standing in your way, whether you want to plan your future post-graduation or just take off and move somewhere with your partner without any particular plan. And of course, the stress of being in a long distance relationship doesn’t really go well with studying hard: missing you girlfriend (or boyfriend) and the possibility of sharing both everyday life and important moments is sad and frustrating, and for sure it doesn’t help with focusing on that crazy amount of exams you still need to take. Meanwhile, traveling as much as you can in order to meet drains your savings, takes away precious time to study (or sometimes, even to follow your classes!) and absorbs your mind completely.
My advice? Hold on and get the hell on your books! I know it’s unbearable, I know it’s the last thing you want and you feel like doing, but you seriously don’t want to find yourself procrastinating all the time, failing exams because you didn’t study enough and eventually prolonging this period even more. Maybe it won’t be the most brilliant period of your university career, maybe you will need to sacrifice some time with your love, some travels and so on, but I think in the end it’s going to be worth it. Once that chapter is over, you will be able to finally focus on all the possibilities open in front of you.
Just never stop thinking long-term and remember: the more time you spend in the university, the more difficult it is to get out of it!

[You have to forgive me, but it has been already three years that I am doing my two-years master and I can’t take it anymore. If I wasn’t sick enough after I got my bachelor degree, then I had the amazing idea of going for an Erasmus exchange, which was awesome and of course left me with the most horrible post-Erasmus syndrome ever. Plus: Italian university system sucks, I didn’t like almost any of my exams schedule (there was also a tremendous amount of History exams involved!), then there was also the girlfriend far away in Poland to make everything more joyful. And here I am, still stuck here, starting to work on my thesis only now and still with the future filled only with question marks.
Run, if you can. Run. D:]

Parents and superpowers

I think I could inaugurate a new column titled: “how to deal with disturbing questions of your parents”.

First thing: in the specific, in my case, with “parents” I mean my mom: a mom who likes to believe she is fine with me liking girls.

And, at the same time, a mom who one day, talking on the phone about the time in which I was still using contraceptives, goes like: “And what kind of precautions do you use now?”

-Mom, what are you talking about?!

-Well, you use nothing?

-What do you think?

-Well… what do I know!

-Come on, please! Are you serious? Do you know that J. is my girlfriend?

-Yeah I know I know, but what do I know about what kind of… other… “arrangements” you have! [embarrassed laugh]

So, let’s have a quick check of how many different things this conversation could imply:

-My girlfriend is secretly a guy

-Or she is a girl, and since I like girls I’m naturally libertine: so I probably have also male lovers

-Or she is a girl, and since a girl can’t fully satisfy me, I probably have a male lover

-(Either ways I’m a cheater)

-Or we just enjoy threesomes or orgies (of course, again with guys)

-Or we are in a closed relationship, but one of us has some STD

-In all those cases, I don’t know how to use contraceptives

-Or my mom doesn’t know where babies come from

-Or simply, for some super lesbian power, we are able to get pregnant by our own, no matter what.

Second thing: you do the column telling me how to reply, because I was totally speechless.

Love without borders (quick moment of promotion)

So, you have to know that J. has this magic power of finding and winning online contests: and this is how she discovered a very nice initiative to promote connections between the various regions of Europe (here you have it on their website). The contest, Love without borders, is for “international couples in Europe” and well, to cut the long story short, we are participating! Apart for the fact that it would be nice to win a romantic trip in the Mosel region, I have to say that it’s very nice to see all those couples, maybe met somewhere completely random, surviving through years, traveling across Europe, eventually also settling down somewhere and having children! We all found someone in an unexpected way, in an unexpected place, and all those couples working out for real are the best demonstration that borders are only mental and not physical.

Anyway, if you want to vote for us, you can like our picture and story (veeery short because we had a limit of 100 words!) on Facebook here (and forgive us for the selfie, as you know we are not photogenic at all!). Yes, I know, voting on Facebook is annoying, but the good news is that it will be only for a pre-selection.

And if our happy faces aren’t enough, let’s note that we are the only gay couple taking part in the competition: time to show some LGBT pride! 😉

Words are very unnecessary?

So, if they say that communication is the key of every good relationship, (and people aren’t able to communicate even on a basic level, even in their own mother tongues) how about communicating only in a second language?

Personally, J. and I always communicated only in English and I never found it weird: probably because we met in this sort of neutral ground that Erasmus was, where everyone was speaking English all the time and it was totally normal. However, what I noticed once I came back from my Erasmus, is that the idea of having a relationship, I mean a real one, in which the language of communication is not the mother tongue of neither of the two, is something almost beyond imagination. The classic conversation I have is:

X: So she’s Polish? But does she speak Italian?

Me: No… why?

X: Ah… but do you speak Polish?

Me: No…

X: So how do you communicate?

Me:…English?

X: *Shocked face*

So, after this initial trauma, the conversation goes on with: “But how do you do that? /How is it, to communicate only in English?” And this question, the how, is actually interesting, because, let’s be honest, communicating only in English is not all sunshine and rainbows. Of course, first of all, you need know the language on a higher level than ready-made sentences for tourists to hook up. After that, there is time to improve (and if you are in a long distance relationship you will have sooooo much time, soooo many Skype calls to improve with). And in the end, a real and good communication is totally possible.

But there are for sure some specific and funny situations you’ll find yourself in, at least once:

  • the challenge of learning the mother tongue of your beloved one: well, she learns Italian so fast, I surely can do the same, right? Well, with Polish it can be a little bit tricky: they write some sounds in two different ways, or pronounce the same letter in two different ways, and anyway they have letters and sounds I didn’t even know that existed! After spending in vain 4 hours, during my first trip to Poland, trying to remember how to say dobry wieczór, I realized that Polish is seriously not my thing. I swear I’ll learn it, sooner or later, but so far my range of expressions is more or less limited to kocham cięsmacznego and na zdrowie.
  • having a long conversation based on a misunderstanding: it happens also to the best of us, but especially if you have some pronunciation problem (and Italians’ problems with the “H” are notorious). The best one that happened to me was all based on mistaking the word crepes with crabs: I let you imagine…
  • trying to prevent fights and dramas caused by misunderstandings: I stopped to count how many times, especially in the beginning, one of us said: “Wait, maybe you meant to say…”. It requires a lot of patience, especially if you are chatting with someone like me, that is not able to spell or type correctly, giving to sentences completely different meanings.
  • the unbearable lightness of the swear words: I don’t know about you, but for the fact that English is not my mother tongue, swearing in it comes so much easier! For this feeling that the meaning of swear words is less effective, it’s like in English I can turn into a truck driver in any moment. But the situation can become even more hilarious when you start to approach the swear words of the language of your partner, and vice versa (because of course, it’s the first thing to learn in another language!). And how do you explain to a non-Italian speaker that there are different levels of swear words, and that you cannot just use what we call “blasphemies” (bestemmie) in every context? (unless you are in Tuscany or Veneto, of course!)
  • the introduction to the parents: that lovely moment in which her parents don’t speak English at all, and you don’t speak Polish at all. And you will discover how many different ways of communications you can have using only the words for yes, no, thank you, good morning, good evening. Or even better, when your mother, that tries to speak English since a lifetime, quickly falls back on French, or even better on Italian, but slow and loud, like it could make any difference. Anyway, you’ll soon become a simultaneous translator in order to have a family dinner.
  • being waked up in the middle of the night by someone talking to you: no, it’s not a dream… so why can’t I understand a word? Ah, great, she’s speaking Polish… in her dreams: go back to sleep!
  • thinking directly in English: when you start to do it, you know that English got you. Which can be good, since translating from your own language is so much difficult and in the end never fully satisfying. But more alarming is to start talking in English when there is no need to, when you talk by yourself, or when you are supposed to speak your own language and you can’t remember some words anymore. When you start to dream in English, it’s the beginning of the end.
  • Wait, how do you say that…? We are not living dictionaries, so it’s a classic to not know that specific word that would match what we mean just perfectly. When you talk on Skype it’s easier, because your friend Google translate will always be there for you, but talking live is another story… and of course you’ll never remember that word you checked millions of times. This can turn in a funny mix of languages, when you find yourself keeping using not English words because you cannot remember them (this is how it goes for me with the word “pier” that I call just “molo”, valid for both Italian and Polish).
  • Hanging out with friends and forcing them to speak English: this can be hard, very hard, especially because you don’t want to be a pain in the ass for your friends, right? But anyway, when it works out, it can give unexpected joy: like when you discover that that class mate that used to brag so much at school, in the end is not so fluent and confortable as you expected. Or when your shy friend that is ashamed of speaking English finally goes for it, successfully (usually a little bit of alcohol can be the solution!).
  • Feeling part of an American movie: it was already exciting having the chance to use those slang expressions that they don’t teach you at school, but that you learned from movies, TV series and programs. But when you find yourself using also sentimental and cheesy expressions, you definitely, all at sudden, feel like you jumped in Titanic or, even worse, Grey’s anatomy.

P.S.

How ironic is to write a post about communication and in the end correct ever single “comunicating” and “tounge” you wrote?

50 shades of Valentine’s Sanremo

No matter what, Valentine’s Day will always be an annoying day for me. Probably because I am mean and cynical, and I prefer cats to people (because they are mean and cynical just like me).

Just kidding: the truth is that I’m a tender heart (even though I still prefer cats to people!), but I consider myself an anti-romantic, I absolutely hate clichés and I basically consider Valentine’s Day a festivity devoted to consumerism. So, usually, I just try to ignore the date, avoiding to be too much pissed about it, whether I’m single or not.

Joel and I are quite on the same page about the topic.

But this year a single torture was not enough: first of all, they had the brilliant idea to show in the cinemas Fifty shades of Grey on Valentine’s week, probably creating a significant performance anxiety in all the guys, and a stereotyped and distorted idea of love (which is: the more abusive* = the more romantic) in all the girls that went to watch it.
(*And with “abusive” I refer to the psychological side, not the BDSM one!)

Plus: on the same week we had the biggest music festival of Italy: the Sanremo Music Festival. Ok, maybe it was a very good show some time ago, so it’s important, traditional and so on… and I also recently discovered that inspired the Eurovision Song Contest. But, if you ask me, it’s always basically boring, predictable, trashy (but the bad trash, not the good one!), and the more interesting guests are invited only in order to create some polemic (this year we actually had Conchita Wurst) and focus even more attention on the show. J. and I watched only one hour of it: a sociological experience that I would have gladly spared her.

Conclusion: Facebook spammed me all week long with comments on all of three of the events, SIMULTANEOUSLY.

BUT! Incredibly, in all this bitterness and sharpness, we also had a bright and cute side (just like the already quoted Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)! On the 14th of February, me and J. participated in a flash mob in support of equal rights for gay people in Italy (in specific marriage right). The flash mobs have been many in different cities of Italy, but the dynamic was always the same: first kissing with your partner both covered with a mask (because it’s also Carnival period! How could I forget?), then showing the symbol of the campaign, and in the end taking off the masks in order to reveal your identity/gender.

By the way, the name of the events “Piazzate d’amore” has a nice double meaning: in Italian the word “piazzata” comes from “piazza” (= square, the public place), but to do a “piazzata” to someone means to make a scene, usually a love drama, very loud, in a public space and/or in front of other people.

I have to say that, even if I was the one who proposed to go, it was a sort of a challenge for me, because of two main reasons:
1) I get embarrassed if people take pictures of me, or even worse record me. I happened to be also absolutely not photogenic and OF COURSE they captured the happening in every possible way. For your joy, here you can find the pictures of all the events around Italy, and for the bravest, here there is a video of the flash mob in Bologna, with a little bit more of tongue.

2) I get TOTALLY embarrassed in showing any kind of affection in public. If we are friends I will hug you, and squeeze you and tease you all the time. But if we are more than friends, walking hand in hand is probably the maximum I’ll ever reach. So… kissing in public was definitely a big thing for me. But I did it for a good cause!

No seriously, it was very nice and fun. (And also ironic, if you think about that, in the end, we are here celebrating a Christian martyr, executed because he was officiating illegal weddings between Christians and Romans. He was promoting equality too, in his own way!) Anyway, it was a good occasion to make something actually meaningful out of a day that usually shows a standard and ready-made idea of love. With nothing against love and lovers and lovers of Valentine’s Day, of course: you already understood that, somewhere very deep inside, I’m soft as well, isn’t?

So, everything very nice. But nothing like the following hours of eating in the bed and having a TV series marathon. That’s love ❤

Ok, but who?

Have you ever had that funny friend that, after you had a very long and passionate monologue about the latest amazing movie you watched/the polar bears to save/what you had for breakfast/that time on primary school/why you started your first blog, asks you:

– Ok, but who?

– What do you mean by who? I did it!

– No, who asked you about that?

Old but gold joke… (wait, does even exist a joke like that in English?)

Anyway, probably you can already understand that I have many of those friends (and that probably what they are trying to suggest is that I over talk).

But going back to the key question: who asked me? Meaning: why this blog?

Well, apart from my unstoppable need to share my wicked/brilliant thoughts, here we have the long story.

Almost two years ago, when all this thing of the long-distance-international-gay relationship started, I wanted nothing of it. Ok, the gay part yes: but all the rest was just a mess, and it was my prerogative to NOT START a relationship during my ERASMUS exchange. I was not ready for something like that: I never considered before how to survive a relationship of this kind, not even to mention how to make it last, to shape my life in order to make it work. So me and J. (my still mysterious girlfriend) started to deal and work on a series of things that, usually, are rather taken for granted (communication for example), and we found ourselves looking at things from a different perspective (we keep discovering how also simple everyday details appear different depending on our home culture and historical background).

In all of this, knowing that there are many different couples in a similar situation was very helpful: suddenly we realized how many long distance relationships exist and last, how many of them are Italo-polish, and how easy it is to find their stories online. We were not alone!

But it’s not only about that.

In the last couple of years I also  started to be a little bit more interested in LGBTQ issues. Everything because, when I was in Finland, I discovered how hard it actually was for me to come out with almost strangers, even though I always thought to be comfortable with my own orientation. Maybe it was because when I discovered to like (also) girls, some years earlier, it happened in a little bit random way. Maybe it was because I didn’t go through that more or less usual period in which you question your orientation, and I never fully processed everything. Maybe it was because from the very beginning I was in a quite gay friendly environment, surrounded by a supporting family and group of friends, some of them gay as well: I know that it looks weird to say, but living in such privileged and protected situation never pushed me to define myself or to face the world outside my comfort zone.

So, to make the long story short, the more openly I started to talk about myself, the easier it got, the better I felt: because acceptance of yourself passes also trough this step. Before, during and after this process, the confrontation with others was always simply priceless, and many online blogs made me want to share my experiences too: starting from episodes of online coming out, to ironic blogs (for example the Italian 3/4 di Prospettiva), facebook updates of couples in a long distance relationship that I know, simple projects pointing straight to what I cared about (like the lovely Italian for my girlfriend).

Especially Lei disse sì (“She said yes”), a v-blog, eventually turned into a documentary, about two Italian women going to get married in Sweden ( because in Italy of course they cannot, sigh). I recently went to watch the final movie at the cinema and, at the conclusion, the couple and the director listened to the impressions of the audience and aswered some questions. What came out from the debate, the reasons why it’s important to do this kind of projects, also extremely simple ones, is that we have to talk about homosexuality, because it’s still a bigger taboo than what we can imagine. And there is nothing like sharing our world to make a change.

It’s all about talking about it. And it just happens that I love to talk, as you can see!