Friday, June 29, 2007

A Milan summery summary

I have been in Italy, back for a permanent new life, for three and a half months now. It's been quite an adventure, very different from what I had imagined.

I live in an... interesting neighborhood. A nice, quiet street, but frequently used by foreigners with very different cultural habits (pissing next to their own cars before getting on..?!) and shady people that do drugs or get rid of stolen goods.

Work-wise, having tapped into just about all of my savings, I am struggling with random, short-lived gigs at very different jobs, with random income and no direct link to the arts yet.

I was a waitress for a day at a fancy fashion event. A girl I met last time I was in Milan, girlfriend of a friend, knew I needed the money and called me up 'cause she needed an extra hand. I earned more that one day than I have doing anything else. No new contacts, though.

Another contact through a friend, from NY, landed me 10 days of work for a bookstore, managed by her aunt. After a very depressing interview with one of the guys in charge (things are bad, we have no work, Milan sucks), they called me up a couple of days after that to help organize and handle their stand at the "Salone del Mobile" fair, a major design event. Go figure.

I then was finally contacted by one of the many "agenzie interinali" (temp work agencies) and I spent four weeks as a secretary at an association that networks CEOs and Financial Directors of companies around Italy. It was a classic "Miss, will you please type this letter for me? Can you please call so and so? Can you make these copies?" kinda job. Worked with just two older people, and was on my own often. They were very nice, though.

I also successfully tested and interviewed at a language institute to teach English in the fall. It's going to be a casual gig, as they do not have fixed classes, but rather one-on-one meetings with students. Doesn't sound like it'll be enough to make a living out of it, but I hope it'll give me the experience and training to do that as a private gig.

And finally I worked on some translations from Italian to English for a magazine that talks about the heavy industry, robotics and such. My roommate's cousin has a communications agency and does the magazine twice a year. Met her one night when she stayed over, right before going to bed, and my roommate had talked to her about me. After a quick test and the promise of a very low fee to justify taking on a rookie translator over professional agencies, I got the gig.

I learned of processes and words I never heard of before, like epitaxial reactors (the cool machines that coat wafers with, for example, silicon, and create the raw material to be used in circuit boards and other equipment...), rheophores (the pieces of wire that stick out of a transistor and are soldered into a board, carrying electricity, and which no spell-check recognizes!) and I learned that "veline" is one of those cultural things that just does not translate to English (girls like the juggies in the Man's Show, but which are in *every* show in Italy, part of the scenery, next to the hosts, whose only job is to be half-naked, dance, giggle, and look pretty...).

On a personal level, my social life is just about nil, having no money to go anywhere and no friends nearby to invite me there. One of my roommates just opened a pub, but after the first night of free beer, now I gotta shell out the regular fare. Which is no fun. And you have to drive there anyways, so unless my other roommate goes, there's no way. My other roommate has been nice but he knows he can't invite me out to go spend money. Plus inviting a still stranger girl out when he's trying to pick up girls can't be good for him... lol.

I did get to help with and attend the marriage of one of my best friends at the beginning of this month, in Genova. So I traveled there two weekends in a row, and I played photographer and "bomboniere"-maker (another one of those cultural things that just doesn't translate).

And to conclude this long-overdue mega update, tomorrow I'm going off to London, to meet a family, close friends, that is coming together to Europe for the first time, and they invited me to go along a long time ago, before I knew I was going to be broke and jobless in Milan... But everything was organized even before I got here, so I'm just going to enjoy it, play guide where I can, take tons of pictures, and forget about troubles for 3 weeks!

I'll be visiting some amazing places. Only Paris is a repeat for me. But the itinerary includes London, Vienna, Prague, Copenhagen, and a nice cruise around the Baltic Sea, going all the way to St Petersburg and back. If all goes well, I'll be back by the 21st, to update you all with info.

Nevermind that London just had a car bomb threat half a mile from where we'll be staying. Nevermind about the floods and bad weather forecast. And nevermind that I'll be back and worrying how the hell will I pay rent next, alone in a country that feels stranger than it should, boggled by it all, and probably in a hot hell that only a large cement island in a humid valley can create. I'm lucky I'm escaping it for most of July.

Like a friend says, I always seem to find solutions out of nowhere, Lady Luck on my side, finding myself into odd, even dangerous situations in hindsight, but so far I have managed to come out of it all with only "minor" emotional scarring...

So what else can there be to say but... let the adventure continue!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

best forum thread

this got a chuckle out of me in this sticky, hot summer night in milan...

too bad it's only thursday.

more updates coming up soon, i promise. a new trip is in the near future, so wait for the pics!!! ^_^