Life in the time of internet

I was born in 1990. I can therefore claim it as my decade, a pure 90s child, whatever that’s  supposed to mean. The thing is, I’m a 90s kid with enough nostalgia to feel like a 70s, 50s and 20s kid as well. I belong to each a little, dusted with grunge, fed rock n roll, sparkling in a beaded flapper dress as Bing Crosby croons the night away from an old turntable. That sentiment however doesn’t seem to fit the age I’m living in. My teens and adulthood happen to coincide with the emergence of the tech generation, and I’m often expected to follow the movement, belong to this generation Y I do not understand.

If I accepted the truths my mind is flooded with, I’d be screaming “when I was your age” sentences at people all day long, because in my head – and heart – I come from a different time. I come from a time where the concept of making money by sharing your life as a couple was inconceivable. I come from an epoch where school reunions were the place to rediscover what our classmates have become instead of nodding at them as they tell us things we already know thanks to social media. I belong to a time where love was an end in itself, not a means to an end or a way to prove to the world that picture perfect exists.
As I was rewatching a show from my childhood, I realized I grew up dreaming of life like it was presented in movies in the past: knocking on your neighbour’s door for eggs or sugar or greeting newcomers with pie, taking a roadtrip for the sake of it instead of editing each moment into a like-worthy post, settling in a little town where everybody knows your name and not feeling like the world is surpassing the dose of ambition you need.

I never felt like I belonged to this generation of social overachievers, bundling the simple joys of life with empty expectations and shallow experiences. It always feels as though everyone is trying so hard to compensate for such poor self esteem the internet has to witness unending efforts to prove things nobody should believe in.

Happily obsolete

I grew up the old fashioned way. In a time of electronic evolution and new technologies, my parents decided to bring me up the way they were, with no added help, no frivolous objects, thus repressing the urge to follow the latest trends and rendering me less of a victim of increasingly elaborate marketing ploys.

I learned to use a vinyl record player when my classmates were walking around with discmans, I had a twelve channel programmable television set and a cassette player when my contemporaries had a hundred channels, cable and the latest hi-fi systems. I also played with elaborate (and definitely non-aerodynamic) paper airplanes and retro electric trains when gameboys and Nintendos were all the rage. You’d probably assume that made me mad, and you’re right, it did…at first.

As years went by, the more I had access to what was considered obsolete and the less I dabbled with modernism, the more I learned to count on myself for entertainment and everyday tasks like reheating dishes in a skillet or oven pan and finding the right technique to not end up with half of my food stuck at the bottom of what could easily become a dish-washing nightmare. And yes, I never had microwave popcorn with all the fake butter and ten thousand useless ingredients; instead, I went through bags of burnt kernels to perfect the corn popping technique, and guess what? I still can’t make a decent batch. Didn’t expect this turn of events, huh? I learned to cook whole meals from scratch while my friends were playing video games but I still can’t make a half decent bowl of popcorn at 27, how ridiculous. Well, it doesn’t end there. Since I moved from my parents’ house, I have had access to microwaves much more often – home still being a preserved haven of health and lowkey technology – and have used them a few times to reheat something in a hurry or make the occasional mug cake. However, popcorn remained a pan-only treat until about a week ago when my roommate popped some in a paper bag. The thought having pleased me, I decided today to try my hand at the matter and followed the relatively childish procedure: put popcorn in bag, close bag, program microwave and…pop! Except she forgot to tell me one thing: how many minutes do they take in there? I was alone and just pressed on 4, a reasonable time in the microwave world, I thought. One thing is for sure, guessing is a bad idea. A burning smell started exuding from the machine around three minutes in, but being in unfamiliar territory, I assumed it was a figment of my imagination, for how could anything burn in a microwave? Famous last words. I opened the door when the timer rang, unfortunate tune of my popcorn’s death sentence: inside the brown paper bag was a clump of black chunks formerly known as popped corn kernels. I’ll refrain from describing the dark cloud that also came out of my unfriendly helper.

Ultimately, I suppose my old-fashioned upbringing had nothing to do with my popcorn-making abilities, I believe I just don’t carry the kernel-popping gene (or the paper plane designing one if we’re being precise). Nevertheless, I think I’ll maintain the tradition of making my future children just as clueless about society’s downward spiral into the technological abyss, teaching them the value of time and what wonders a little elbow grease and creativity can produce. My train and record player patiently await their little hands…or mine until then.

Three cheers for new year’s

Hello to anyone who reads this,
And to all those I terribly miss.
I do not know what to make of the past year,
We’ve in turn felt sadness, anger and fear.
We’ve watched countries burn to the ground,
We’ve seen music lose some of its sound,
Films will never be quite the same
After so many have lost their flame.
Orange is a colour we now well know,
And each day produces yet another blow;
We’ve seen death too many a time
Hoping for our beloved the bell won’t chime.
There is still hope, world, I swear,
In every smile, and sprinkled everywhere.
There is life left to celebrate,
Beautiful memories to perpetrate,
Love enough to go around
For happiness we were surely bound.
Now that wretched year has flown away
Give your heart to this bright new day 🎈

(Maria Sometimes)

Always is never enough

Alan Rickman has just died. Same week as Bowie, same age, both cancer-stricken, both British. Well the Brits always had a peculiar sense of humor…I bet they had made a pact to meet up on the stage beyond, David performing and Alan narrating his new story; two beautiful charismatic beings captured on film and tape, two souls too free to capture and keep alongside us.

I had been feeling under the weather since last weekend, and these two deaths confirmed my mood: this week is simply better forgotten with its morbidly dark content. These two were true artists, they left us with an undeniable musical and cinematic heritage that we will definitely “always” cherish. However, always just doesn’t seem enough; they can no longer reinvent themselves, stuck in every character they’ve ever incarnated, from Ziggy and Major Tom to Snape and Colonel Brandon, and every one in between, never again to experience those they had no time to become. Always is short, even if we as spectators can still rejoice in their presence as we replay their masterpieces, that’s it, it’s over, their chance is gone. That’s the tricky part of life, the one that says once your eyes close, all your potential closes with them, trapped beyond the realm of the living, kept from us here still panting from the last time we experienced their intrepid energy. However, unlike us mere mortals, they live on in the millions of admiring fans they accumulated with every winning performance. Alan Rickman embodied talent and charisma, a sense of humor that helped him even when playing evil or stern characters, as I loved watching his off-screen bloopers, and he always managed to amaze me with his acting skills, skills not so common in today’s world cinema. He worked with his gut, his wits and his heart; the way I believe we all should.

In the end, celebrities are of no bigger importance than anyone else, but when brilliant people become famous like the aforementioned two, there’s no denying the world knows loss once they’re gone. Farewell Mr.Rickman, and every time I’ll watch one of your movies and weep, and around me they’ll ask “after all this time?” I’ll unfailingly answer “always”.

Bowie to Bowie

I suddenly felt like paying tribute to the great David Bowie by creating a “poem” with only his lyrics, taken here and there. Here’s my adieu, with your own words Mr. Stardust:

I’ve heard a rumour from Ground Control
Oh no, don’t say it’s true
I’m awake in an age of light living it because of you
Don’t let the sun blast your shadow
The moment you know, you know you know
Wonder where you are
Watching all the world and war torn
Said you took a big trip, they said you moved away
Happened oh, so quietly they say

Rebel, rebel, let’s dance
Put on your red shoes and dance
Let’s dance for fear your grace should fall
How many times does an angel fall?
Nobody here can do it for me
I’m in tears again when you rock ‘n’ roll with me
Ground control to Major Tom,
All the stars look very differently today, Is there life on Mars? There’s a starman waiting in the sky.
I’m stuck with a valuable friend
As long as there’s sun, as long as there’s rain
As long as there’s me, as long as there’s you
“I’m happy. Hope you’re happy, too”.

Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo, became the special man, then we were Ziggy’s Band.
Eh, eh, how could they know? That given time, the leaders go
Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Here I stand, foot in hand, talking to my wall, I’m not quite right at all
Keep your electric eye on me babe;
Time may change me, but I can’t trace time
For my love is like the wind, and wild is the wind
And though nothing will keep us together, we could steal time, just for one day, we can be heroes, for ever and ever, what d’you say?
“Oh I’ll be free, just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free, ain’t that just like me”

Farewell Ziggy

How to describe the knot in my stomach as the news of a legend’s death sets in? I woke up this morning and my heart sank as I read the most terrible four words the music world apprehended: “David Bowie is dead”.

Just yesterday I was listening to his new album, dreaming of someday meeting him. I don’t usually condone people crying over celebrities fading away, there’s always a bit of hypocrisy in posts such as those social media boasts every once in a while. However, in this case I can’t help but post my own desolation, small words for a man who changed the perception of so many, me included and even at the top of the mourners’ list. This dreamer pushed me to take pride in my eccentricities, see them and display them as treasures in a world constantly denying us individuality. He singlehandedly managed to make millions applaud his madness, brilliant unforgivingly beautiful madness. There is no shame in being different, in seeing the world in a different scope than the rest; on the contrary, there should be pride in being everything but ordinary.  Bowie showed us the potential of the marginals, the power that resides in every single individual deemed too strange; we are what makes us unique, we are our quirks and our dreams, and all we’ve got to do is put on those red shoes and dance the blues.

Where are we now, Ziggy? You have just travelled to the stars you were always so fond of, and if the Earth no longer enjoys the beating of your heart, your art lives on, for as long as there’s sun, as long as there’s rain, as long as there’s fire, as long as there’s me, as long as there’s you.

Musical musings

I woke up this morning to the sound of Frank Sinatra’s velvety voice. My father, an early riser I definitely took after, has those sudden urges to blast his music at the strangest hours of the day, notwithstanding the countless interferences and warnings of the sleepy neighbors underneath – the remainder of the building’s inhabitants probably too hard of hearing to mind.

Oh Franky, how far are the days of good, really good and genuine, music resounding in people’s houses! Nowadays people dance, if that’s what you call nodding energetically and shaking their behinds, to the horrifying sounds synthetically maneuvered by musically-challenged chart-topping “artists”. I believe real good music went somewhat extinct around the mid-eighties maybe, with a few sightings of genius here and there every once in a while, replaced by crowd-appealing tunes. If there is one thing that is certain, it surely is the fact that when trying to reach the majority of a population, the quality of something finds itself radically diminished and the product significantly dumbed down. Albeit some classic songs did make it into modern day, their true essence was lost in the transition;  the smooth philosohy behind Sinatra’s “My way” has been disconcertingly disfigured, quoted under instagrammed pictures of people dressed in abominable clothing and striking poses unfathomable at the time of the song’s release. The unfortunate tale of good songs turned into parodies of themselves continues with half naked girls and gritty-voiced men covering beautiful lyrics with distorted versions of the original melodies. Deep sigh. “New York, New York” is playing now as I type, images of how it was back then racing through my disillusioned mind, I find myself wishing I had been born in any other era but this one. Music is the most expressive way of conveying a period’s truths, and all I hear on the radio these days is the world’s downward spiral into IQ oblivion.

I started writing this thinking of all the joy my father’s music collection brought to my life, the bearings of more authentic times, and here I am concluding that no matter how beautiful it was before, it simply isn’t anymore. How fitting, life has the most perfect timing sometimes; “Yesterday” just came on, nostalgic and unforgiving, “oh how I long for yesterday”…