A word about… Valentine’s day

I’m going to be as careful as possible because, well, writing about this holiday can be as controversial as writing about religion, or politics, or Marmite. I will try and avoid as many clichés as I can, and I will only mention the word ‘consumerism’ once. This is not an anti-Valentine’s post, but it isn’t a pro-Valentine’s post either. It’s just, you know, my (unpopular) opinion.

Now that’s a heart-shaped cake

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I don’t even dislike it. It’s one of those holidays I just don’t care about, sort of like Easter – I don’t necessarily see the point, but I’ll have the chocolate. I’m all for excuses to celebrate and have fun – it’s the sort of thing I love. That’s what birthdays are, isn’t it? There’s nothing actually good about getting older, but it’s an excuse to go out, have fun, treat yourself to your favourite food, catch up with friends you haven’t seen in a while and get presents. I also love Mother’s day, and Father’s day (still think a Daughter’s day would be a great addition to our calendar). So what bothers me about Valentine’s? I had one long train journey to figure it out.

It’s not the fact that it is a consumerist holidays, because what isn’t, nowadays? And I absolutely love Christmas, so I really don’t think I can comment on consumerism. It’s not the chocolate either. I’ll never complain about chocolate. I‘ve also told you that I like cheesy and corny. I gotta draw the line somewhere, though.

What I don’t like about Valentine’s is how forced it feels. I love the idea of dedicating a day to the people in your life you love. But heart-shaped balloons, candles, confetti and pink everywhere? Not so much. I like it when love is subtle. I love small gestures, I love warmth, just like I prefer a cup of tea to a glass of champagne. That’s why I hate flashy proposals, too (this would be my worst nightmare*).

But that’s just a matter of personal preference, like drinking tea or coffee. I don’t like coffee, but I’m perfectly ok with other people liking it. The same goes for Valentine’s. It may not be my cup of tea, but however you decide to celebrate your love, it’ll probably be sweet. I’m not going to tell you that confetti or cutesy cupcakes are too cheesy – I’m not Anthony Bourdain. If it’s an excuse to have a lovely time with your boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, family member of choice or cat, I’m not going to complain about it. Ever. Especially if you have lots of pizza and cheese and watch telly.

What I really hate, however, is what it does to people. Normal couples occasionally turn into smug couples. Single people can feel insecure and lonely. And Facebook becomes a battlefield. Valentine’s-lovers and Valentine’s-haters (sort of like Little-Endians and Big-Endians) tend to have pointless, heated exchanges on their walls. “Ha! In spite of all you, sour singles, I’m going to celebrate Valentine’s because it’s great and it’s not my fault if you’re sad and lonely”, or “Valentine’s is stupid and pointless, you’re going to break up anyway plus millions of people starve every day and I don’t like your face”**.

But it’s fine. I find that avoiding social media is the best solution. If you feel like throwing some chocolate my way, however, I won’t say no.

* This was one of the suggested videos on my YouTube homepage. Does this say more about YouTube or me?

** I am only slightly exaggerating.

PS: I promise I’m a romantic. I think. But then I hated The Notebook, so who knows…

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11 things you may not know about me

Here’s the thing with quirks: we all have them. All of us. Yet I feel like the majority of people are absolutely convinced that they’re especially quirky or different or plain crazy. I have met people who were convinced there was something wrong with them because they talked to themselves or daydreamed a lot. Hello? I spend less than a quarter of my day in the real world. Most people do. Having quirks is like secretly wanting to write a book: 95% of the world population have that in common with each other. It’s just that people don’t talk about it that much because they’re worried they’ll sound crazy, but that’s ok. We’ve all stalked a couple of people on Facebook, at times. We all still think there’s a chance we might marry Ewan McGregor (no? Is that actually just me?).

So here are 11 things you may, or may not know about me:

1)      People know I eat a lot – they just have no idea how much I actually eat sometimes. I take the whole ‘eating one’s feelings’ thing very seriously. I dunk Cheddar in melted Emmental. I smear Nutella on doughnuts. I can eat 10 Mars bars in a row without feeling sick. Oh, and condensed milk? The whole tube, no problem. I eat when I’m stressed, I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m sad. I eat. I also think about food a lot. If I look a bit pensive, I’m probably thinking about what to have for dinner. I have a folder with over two hundred pictures of food on my desktop, just because.

Leslie Knope

Leslie Knope expressing my thoughts on sugar

2)      Also, people know I watch a lot of TV – again, they have no idea how many series I regularly watch.  I’m currently watching 76 shows. Granted, they’re not all on at the same time, but by the end of 2013 I had watched an average of 20 episodes of 76 series – that’s 1520. One thousand five hundred twenty episodes a year.  That’s over a hundred a month, and about thirty thousand minutes of TV a year. This thing: http://www.pogdesign.co.uk/cat/ is pretty handy.

3)      I’m really, really horrible at maths. I had to use a calculator for the calculations above. It takes me forever to multiply numbers. Forever. And in my mind I can only count in Italian.

4)      Speaking of TV, I have my guilty pleasures. I love good TV: comedies like 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Community or The Office. I love a good drama too: Sherlock, Luther, Black Mirror, The Hour. I have a soft spot for Doctor Who. I also watch a number of debatable shows. I watched Gossip Girl until, like, the fourth series. Ditto for Grey’s Anatomy. However, I can’t stand gross humour. Farts and sick and stuff. I’ve never quite understood the connection between bodily fluids and comedy. But cheesy and corny… that I like. That Skins bit when Tony says to Michelle “I think I might love you”, and she says “That’s an awfully long sentence, Tony” will always be in my heart. And Pam&Jim’s wedding in The Office? When he cuts his tie because she had ripped her veil? I cry every time I watch this.

5)      When I say I have a soft spot for Doctor Who, I’m trying to downplay my obsession. I wrote my dissertation on the dubbing of Doctor Who – that’s how much I love it. I had to watch the fifth series about twelve times and it got better every time.

6)      Some days I don’t make the bed. In fact, most days. Apparently, I’m onto something.

7)      I tumble dry everything. Everything, doesn’t matter what the tag says. I own four or five jumpers that used to be baggy and are now too small, but instead of blaming the tumble dryer I tell myself I’ve probably just gained a few stone.

8)      I have had my current phone number for five months and I still don’t know it. I keep telling myself I need to sit down and learn it – and I don’t.

9)      If I’m sad and feel like I need to cry I listen to Cat Stevens’s Wild world, and then I cry. Every time. In fact, I think anyone who has feelings should cry when listening to Cat Stevens’s songs. If you don’t, there’s a 50% chance you’re a robot.

10)   If I’m speaking a foreign language and don’t understand what someone says I’ll just nod. Terrible habit. My landlady/flatmate in Berlin didn’t look very impressed by my random nodding after she had asked me what I was having for dinner, or how my course was.

11)   I once washed aforementioned landlady’s underwear by mistake. She was a sturdy, no-nonsense woman in her sixties with gray hair always tied up in a ponytail. One day, I did my laundry and found out I’d also washed a couple of frilly, lacy, pastel-coloured thongs. I dried them and put them back in the laundry basket. Moral of the story, if you live with a sixty-year-old, try never to find out what her knickers look like.