East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Time to take a break

I am terribly tired.
The sudden heatwave that hit us was just the last straw – already I was fatigued, and my patience with humanity was growing thin.
It’s time to take a break.

In the last few weeks I’ve not updated these pages too often, and in the next few days I’ll just drop all my social media activities – except for the bare essentials – because quite frankly, right now it is just tiresome, painful and frustrating.
I’ll get me a good book (I have a few dozens here waiting), and I’ll just read, write, eat and sleep.

If you don’t see me around, do not worry.
I’m just trying to recharge my batteries.


The last goodbye to my mother

My mother died in june 2007, for complications after a cancer surgery. She was buried in the “Cimitero Parco” (that is, the Park Graveyard) in the outskirts of Turin. My mother had always been flippant about her final resting place. She said my brother and I would not even bring her flowers, and she’d rather have a Native American-style burial, her body exposed on a tree, for the crows to feed and take her back into the cycle of things.

Six weeks ago I got a call from the graveyard administration.
It was time to remove my mother’s remains from the ground, and place them in a boneyard. Of course I knew this would happen, and I was not overly worried about it. I had seen it happen for my grandmother – a matter of a few signatures on some papers, and learning where the body would be placed.

But things have changed, since my grandmother was moved from her grave.
In particular, the Park Graveyard is now a for profit company – and the translation of the remains is now a business.
The call I got six weeks ago informed me that there would be a price to pay – around 1500 euro, minimum. Less, maybe, if I could produce papers certifying my current shaky financial situation.
The basic service that was free twenty years ago, is now fifteen hundred bucks.

That was a shock.
First, we can’t afford that kind of money, and then… is this some kind of kidnapping?
“We’ve got your mother’s remains, now pay!”

I asked the lady at the other end of the line whether there is any alternative, but was told “we can’t discuss this on the phone”.
I was given an appointment, for today, and I started doing the rounds of the office to gather all the financial documentation I hoped would help.
All this, with all the obvious difficulties of living in the countryside, of being in a soft lockdown situation, with a virus still infecting people, and working over two provinces – I live in Asti, my mom is buried in Turin, 100 kilometers away.

We checked the website of the graveyard company, and retrieved their services and fees list. We found out the figure of 1500 euro was exactly accurate … 600 euros for the digging up of the remains, 900 for the placement in a boneyard.
Anything else would be more expensive, up to over 5000 euros.
We also found out we’d be able to ask the graveyard to hold our mother in a deposit, for up to two years, for 8 euro a day.

It was extremely time-consuming, stressful and it made a difficult period even more so.
Then, just as I had almost all the paperwork sorted out, I was told my appointment had been anticipated.
And so, without the financial details, on Monday I found a passage to Turin, and I went to see the graveyard people about my mother’s bones.

A rainy day in a Turin graveyard, late April that felt like October.

It was there I found out there is an alternative to the 1500 fee.
One that is not discussed on their website, and they will only explain in their offices, and only on a direct, specific question.
And it goes like this: I sign a paper called “Disinterest Declaration”, in which I say I am not interested in what will happen to the remains of my mother. At this point, I will not pay a single cent, and my mother’s bones will be disinterred and placed in a boneyard in the Turin Monumental Cemetery and I will never know where they are.

Basically, it’s “We’ve got your mother’s remains, if you want to know where they are, you need to pay.”

And so I signed.
My mother would come back from the afterlife and haunt me forever should she know I have thrown away so much money for such a thing.
In a week or two, the body will be dug out, and placed in a small box, and put somewhere in the Monumental Cemetery.
I will never know where exactly.

Unless I decide to pay.
Because they will keep a record, and should I change my mind, and shell out the cash, they’ll be happy to point me in the right direction.

And remembering my mom, I know she’d be terribly angry, at the sole idea of this kind of ransom-like transaction.
And she would also laugh a lot, out loud, at the whole thing.

Because she’s with me every day, not in any supernatural or mystical way, but just out of memory and affection.
It does not matter where the fossil remains are stored.

Anyway, now you know why I’ve been absent so frequently in the last weeks.


It’s not the years, baby, it’s the mileage

Today was the first proper sunny day in months, and we met with our friend Fabrizio for a chat and some social interaction of the kind that’s not done in online meetings. So we took a jaunt to Costigliole, where Fabrizio has his house and his writing shack. And because he’s a much more active and fit person than I’ll ever be, he took us on a long walk among the hills.

And boy am I out of shape.
The exercise completely floored me, making it clear that I better start doing something about my (lack of) activity, or I’ll end up like one of those old men that roll on the floor instead of walking.

On the other hand, the fatigue brought inspiration – and I am about to pitch a new story to a publisher that might (only might) be interested in a story of mine.
An active life also improves mental agility.
But what the heck, wasn’t it a meatgrinder of a walk…


Guilty (or so they say)

After fifteen years, my Italian language blog, strategie evolutive, has been anonymously reported to the Facebook authorities for unspecified “abusive contents”, so that I can no longer share my posts on the platform.
This begs a number of obvious questions – such as Why? and Why now? – but does very little to my online existence. I can still post and share on other platforms, and in general, who cares.

And as I seriously anybody could find my Italian posts so triggering they need to be reported and silenced, this in the end feels like that guy that scratches the paintwork of your car because you’ve parked where they would have parked had you not been parked there.
Petty and stupid, in other words.

The irritating thing is that filing a complaint with Facebook does not work – because as an automated message informs me, they have more urgent problems to deal with (to wit, checking the fake news about the pandemic and the American political situation), and therefore they will not review my complaint.

So here we are – and really, nothing has changed, except my perception of the number of dicks out there reading my blogs.

And as I am at it, I can close this post with a song by Alice Cooper, from an Alice Cooper record my late mother liked a lot (weird girl that she was, sometimes)