Monday, April 22, 2013

The price of a passion

Let's start with a premise: I don't give a "damn" to call myself a journalist. Sometimes I would prefer to be a baker at Magnolia Bakery and live wrapped in that wonderful smell of sugar and cream and colored cupcakes. I would not even gain weight because I don't like cupcakes.

So I am not part of that category of people that likes to precise "I am a journalist or a freelance" and goes around with some badge hanging from their neck as a leash, not even very elegant. Every time they give me a "badge", honestly, all i think is that I will have access to the buffet and eat for free. Should I feel ashamed? Not at all. because I am not rich and sometimes I cannot shop grocery. So a free meal is always welcome. And if it is offered to stay 8 hours to follow the boring meetings of a summit where the most exciting thing is to meet the President, well, than that badge is well deserved.

My dream is to cook. My goal is to have a radio show. What I do easier is writing. When I lived when roommates back at the University, every Valentine's day, I was - of course - single and In charge for writing all their Valentine's cards. Each one different from the other. I don't like to make copies. This is why I was able few times to write - as a ghost writer - 3 different prefaces for the same book, signed by 3 different people.

All this said. Often people insult me when I write and honestly I don'g give a damn to this either. I notice, though, often smiling (sometimes getting angry) that many people say that i don't understand anything because I live in my "golden new yorker world", overpaid and with the only obligation to move from one fancy party to the other.

People don't know anything but they try to insult you using some stereotype that somebody else stuck in their brain. i know this as well.

Another short premise, before to get to the point. I am happy here and I don't want to go back. I already found the bench, in Riverside Park, facing the river that, thanks to a fundraising that Chiara will hold, the city of NY will devote to me. I want to stay here even after my death, to stay alive.

Yesterday I was in Boston. I wrote an article, I think a good one. That article will be paid - may be - in couple month and the money will barely cover the expenses that I paid upfront for the bus and a sandwiches and the water. For free, as all blogger, I have also written a blog and twitted all day long to give details "live". i think I did a good job. To save money I didn't fly there or took the train but I spent 9 hours in the bus (round trip) and when I get there I could barely move my legs. I choose the less expensive sandwiches and I drank a Coke because it is less expensive than water . I walked around Boston with 2 heavy bags to save the money for the cab and I took pics using the camera I am paying monthly and when it was time to write the article i realized that the nearer Starbucks was closed and I didn't have internet. I wanted to cry. Then - as a revelation - I saw my gym!!!!! My only, precious luxury that I keep. I went in and I looked for a plug in for my Ipad and because the cable was too short I wrote the article sitting on the floor with the music aloud of the gym and people working out all around. I was starving and thirsty but I couldn't move because my deadline was almost there.When I pushed "send" and my boss said "all ok" I stayed there few minutes wiling to cry. I had to pee and I couldn't move my legs. But right then I got a message from somebody saying "great work today". 

When you are a journalist, when you have this damn passion, it is hard to ask which is the price to pay before to start. The price that a freelance pays, then, is inhuman. In my country, we are nothing, We don't have dignity. We don't have fame. 

I don't "hate" my colleagues with rich salaries, benefits and hotel where they can rest and write and pee and restaurant where to eat. I don't hate them. But very often they look at us in a snobbish way, almost with disgust, always with indifference. Many other people, then, have a wrong idea about us, that contribute to make us more and more invisible.

If someone asks me if I am a journalist, i say "no". Journalist is someone that can live with this job. I do other things to survive. Shamelessly I often survive with the help of friends, all Americans, who send me grocery home or buy me stuff when I cannot. My family help me even if they are not rich at all but they believe in me and support me any way. I survive because I am humble and proud and versatile and I consider myself much better than others that never took a chance to accept a challenge and go for it. When someone asks me what do I do, I say "I write" that means all and nothing. And when they ask me if I am a journalist I say "no" and I explain that to be a journalist in the country where I was born you don't have to be good (and I am good) but you have "to know someone powerful" - "someone". As for any other job.

Yesterday I wrote about Boston. My dad told me "you always put a little of heart in what you write. Not your colleagues. May be you should do like them". May be not, dad. They "do" a job. I allow myself the luxury of a passion

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