Monday, October 25, 2010

The Milan Experience

Arrived in Milan under cloudy skies that deteriorated by the day so that by today, Monday it is pouring and the adventurous tourists who dare step out with hopes of maintaining an itinerary returned to the hotel soaked to the bone. Yes, that is me.

So far Milan has not been a very eye-candy experience as Italy should be about. The city is run down, very gray, dirty and expensive. Only with the exception of the small area of the Duomo is it commercially groomed for some pleasant strolls. My friend and I have summed it up as hoping to have a Parisian experience but instead finding ourselves in the Bronx. I'm sure that just put me in the bad side of some Milanese mafia.

The food so far however have been outstanding. In the Navigli district on Friday night I have a huge plate of spaghetti with clams and it was finger licking good. I am not a very eager pasta eater but proudly, I did clean up my plate. Even small hole-in-the-wall restaurants have been surprising in their delivery of delicious food. Today for lunch in it's simplicity, I had a toasted croissant with caciocavalio (sic) cheese and prosciutto and it is nothing like what you get in New York. yes, I am talking to you, Cipriani Dolci!

One more day and then I pack up and head south to Florence where everyone tells me it will be sunnier, warmer, brighter and much much better.

Milan, Italy

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Not Missing Facebook

On a whim I turned off my Facebook account on Tuesday night last week.  I had many reasons but mostly it was puzzlement of how I ended up with 475 friends.  I am not a social butterfly so I CANNOT have 475  real friends - I told myself.  The gorgeous man next to me just begged to differ.  I love and adore this man =)

How for example am I suddenly in a banter with these people from high school and college who never thought I was cool enough to be part of their clique.  And then there were the superficiality of most of the exchanges that just bothered me. And status updates about the shallowest of things (i.e. what should I buy? a $1,000 Gucci bag or a $650 Jimmy Choo? Me: get a cheap tasteful bag and donate the rest to kids who can't have one meal a day!). Or rant about things at work when I know very well they hardly work in the first place.  And couples who post lovey-dovey messages on each others' walls when I know they are having extramarital affairs.  Then it becomes obvious - social network is as socializing is to reality show is to reality (thank you Arron Sorkin)!

Of course, having had an addition to the website for almost 3 years now I did have to go through some withdrawal symptoms.  I thought I would eventually quietly slip back in and log on.  Initially I turned to Twitter and sent my twits more often.

And then there was this new-found freedom. People started emailing me back on my mailbox which was convenient because now I can reply from my trusty Blackberry.  When I had my FB, people emailed me through the site which meant I had to log in to respond.  And then I didn't have the constant email notifications of a picture of me being tagged somewhere. Although my privacy setting do not allow others to see the pictures I am tagged in, I still monitored where I was ID'd.  I don't mind being tagged as long as I looked decent.  The man beside me is notorious about uploading pictures of myself and tagging them all over.  And then his friends would comment in their language which necessitates the assistance of Google translate to comprehend.

And so for the next 24 hours, my life began to return to a normal cycle of ...well, life.  I woke up and didn't check on my Facebook first thing in the morning.  I didn't sneak into a quick glance of the site from my Blackberry between meetings and on the commute on the bus.  The best thing of all, I had more time to work on my pictures.  And then I really found time to sit on the couch and read the books I have collected in my iPad.  I had time to read through the travel books I got to prep for my next trip and had time to take down some notes.

Today marks 10 days of Facebook-less existence.  And you know what - I do not miss it at all anymore! I still am in touch with the people who matter through emails.  And then there are the phone calls, of course.  Pictures that need to be shared? The ones I only really enjoy viewing are on Flickr and I always find them updated.

However I don't wish to impress that I will completely not return to my old FB account.  Definitely though I will sign back in.  But there will no longer be 475 people in that friends folder.  I hope they understand that it is not personal but I would like to have the freedom to post status updates and pictures to the few people I am comfortable sharing them with.  My goal is to cut it down to half.

I guess you need to walk away from something that has taken over your life, see it from outside the box and be able to figure out exactly what its purpose is.  Much like everything else actually.

New York City