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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Great news!


I'm sorry I have been neglecting this blog for a while, my Master's classes keep me busy.
I have been taking a few tests and I passed them all, so I'm pretty happy. 
I will be applying for another semester in Germany because I really want to go back to Bochum, so fingers crossed! I hope I can spend the next winter term at RUB.

Here's the best news ever: I will be attending the WCMX World Championship in April! (you can read David's guest post about last year's event here).

I think I have said it before, but I will say it again: I have the best friends. I feel very lucky to have so many great people that support me. 
When my friends heard about the WCMX Championship in Dallas, they all came together to make my dream come true. One day they asked me to meet them at the MX track and they surprised me there. I was speechless. I wasn't expecting that and I think I was the happiest girl on the planet. I can't even explain how much this means to me, it truly is a dream come true and every time I think about it it reminds me how much my friends love me. These guys became a part of my life a few months ago, and in the beginning I couldn't have imagined how important they would become, but now I know I can always count on them and I'm so glad I get to be a part of their lives.

I am very excited about the trip, it will be my first time flying overseas on my own (and yes, my mom is a bit worried!). I pushed to be able to live this experience on my own because I think it will make me grow as a person, and once I get to Dallas the whole WCMX family will be waiting for me, so I really don't think I'll be lonely! 

Another good thing happened in the last month: I rocked the interview to volunteer at the first summer camp for kids with special needs in Italy! I will be taking part in the training weekend next month and I hope to be volunteering in August. I am looking forward to visiting the camp and starting this new experience! I will update as soon as I can so stay tuned.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

More than awesome part 2

My trip to Germany was great. I had to wake up at 4am to go to the airport and, when the plane landed in Weeze, it took me more than two hours to get to Dortmund, but it was definitely worth it! On that day I even managed to watch the end of Anna's Bachelor presentation at the skatepark.

I was so happy to be able to spend some time with Lisa and David and go to the Rehacare, the biggest exposition of disability-related products in Europe. I had been to the Expo last year and I had so much fun, but this year was even better: they built a small skatepark with drops, roll-ins and even rails.

The first day of the Expo was the best day of my life: I got to see Mike Box again (I hadn't seen him in a year) and he brought a WCMX chair for me! He made me the happiest girl in the world. I love him so much and he makes me feel so loved when he's there for me. I also love my new chair and I spent the next few days skating with the guys, I even took part in a couple shows. I have learned so much with this chair, it really took my skating and my confidence to the next level. I am so thankful to Mike for giving me this opportunity. In the last few weeks I've been thinking about how many people love and support me and my passion, and I feel so lucky because I know I wouldn't be where I am without them. I have decided I want to make a difference in my country, so I will work as hard as I can to improve my skating. Once I'm good enough, I want to start workshops just like David does, so that kids and adults on chairs can try WCMX in Italy, and hopefully fall in love with it.

During my week in Germany I even managed to go to dinner with my friend Megan. I loved spending some time with her and talking about our crazy lives and my love for my new chair. We went to an Indian restaurant (my first time!) and the food was very spicy, but it tasted good! After dinner I realized if I went home I'd get there at about 2am, so I decided to sleep over at Megan's, even though her apartment is not accessible and I had to climb the stairs (we did have some fun in the process anyway). 

My last day in Dortmund did not start in the best way: I was home alone packing my bags and suddenly there was no power in the whole apartment. When Lisa and David came home, they spent an hour on the phone trying to figure out why. In the end, they had to go to the office, that meant I had to get to the railway station on my own (with two wheelchairs). We said goodbye and I started rolling towards the subway, pushing myself with one hand and the other chair with the other arm, my big backpack on the old chair. It was not easy because there were hills and curbs, which wouldn't be a problem without the extra chair, but can get tricky when you have to push something besides yourself. With the help of a couple people, I managed to take the train. When I got to the railway station, things got easy: I even had fun rolling with my two chairs on the flat ground!

During my train ride to the airport, everyone was looking at me because I was sitting between two wheelchairs; one was weird (the WCMX chair has shocks like a bike and a grind bar, so it looks different) and upside down (it has no brakes, so I sit on the train seat and tip it over to prevent it from rolling away), the other chair had a huge backpack on it. 
The flight back was good and I was able to take both chairs on board without extra costs (and without arguments!). I am now taking my Masters' classes, so I probably won't be blogging much, but stay tuned because I might have rad news coming soon!

Friday, October 23, 2015

More than awesome part 1

This is how I'd describe my life right now: more than awesome. The past few weeks have been crazy, so many great things have happened.

Let's start with the first one: I graduated! I am now a Bachelors (even though I don't really care because my Master's classes started this week so it really doesn't make a difference).
For my project, I had chosen to do the translation and subtitling of my favorite TV series, Push Girls. The professor liked my idea and I managed to get it done in time for October's graduation session. On the week of my dissertation, a good friend of mine came from Florence and she spent a few days at my place so that she could be there on that day. She is pregnant with her first child (a baby girl!) and I loved spending some time with her and getting to feel the baby moving in her belly.
On the day of the dissertation, my best friend came to my house early so that she could do my hair. We wanted to try a pretty complicated hairstyle and it took forever to get it done, but I like how it turned out. I am very lucky to have my own personal hairstylist! 

The dissertation in itself was not bad, but I had to wait for over two hours until it was my turn. When I got in, I started talking and then I wanted to show a clip from the subtitled episode. I had gone to University the week before just to try the video: everything had worked fine. What we didn't know was that the computer was going to be the same, but they moved it to a different room and they forgot to move the speakers, so my video was mute. Somehow I managed to go on and my final grade was the top grade, so everyone was happy. Later that day, I spent some time with a few friends and my family and we celebrated together.

When I sent a picture of my graduation to my friends in Germany, they asked why I have "a tree" on my head. It is a tradition in Italy. When you graduate University you wear that crown instead of gowns and caps. The laurel wreath was common among poets in the past, now it represents culture and graduation.

The true highlight of the month was my week in Germany, but it definitely deserves a post of its own, so stay tuned! I'll be posting about it soon.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Outdoor fest

Hi everyone!

I am finally done writing my Bachelor project, I only have to get my presentation ready, so I can start blogging again. I haven't been doing much since my last post because, as you know, I've had a lot of work to do. But I had so much fun last weekend, and I will tell you about it.

A good friend of mine was going to be in my town the whole weekend to promote a wheelchair version of the Segway and he asked me to join him so that we could have some fun together. It was part of an event, the Outdoor fest, which included, among many other sports, a FMX show. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love action sports, so I was stoked when I heard that I could even get to ride on their bikes.

The first day was pretty fun, I loved spending some time with my friend and using Genny, the wheelchair he was promoting. Unfortunately, the bikes were not there yet.
On Saturday I woke up early and decided to spend the whole day at the event, I didn't want to miss any FMX show and I wanted to ride Genny on the beach.
When I got there, one of the riders started talking to me and I told him that if I was going to ride with him he had to do something cool, because I am used to watching FMX and a little speed won't be enough to satisfy my needs. We started joking around and then he made me ride with him, I had fun even though he didn't do anything out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, it was pretty windy, so they couldn't really do the show as planned. 
I went to lunch with my friend and then we tried the chairs on the beach. It was a great feeling because I could move around in the sand without having to walk (I hate walking!). He said I am a good rider and we were both happy.
I spent most of the afternoon in the FMX area: even though it was still windy and they couldn't do many shows, they were all very nice and fun to be around. One of my favorite things about action sports is that most riders are very kind to each other and in general, sometimes it almost feels like family. 
After dinner the wind was not as strong and they could jump under the fireworks. It was a beautiful show, but at some point it started raining hard, so they had to stop.

On Sunday I spent most of the day with the riders, I watched the shows and got to ride again. I am trying to talk them into letting me try something a bit more extreme, but for now I thank them for what they have done so far.

Monday, August 17, 2015

My week in Germany

As I have mentioned in my previous post, I spent a great week in Germany last month. I was so happy to spend some time with my friends. 

On Friday, Lisa and I went to lunch with another friend of mine. After lunch, we went to David's workplace and his Italian coworker fixed my spoke (thanks!). It had been loose for a couple weeks and I thought I had to replace it, I am so glad he could fix it in a few minutes! 
As soon as David was done with work, we got on the train to go visit Lisa's parents. There was a family party going on and I am so happy I was invited because I always enjoy my time there. It was nice to spend some time with Lisa's mom and meet her grandparents.

On Saturday and Sunday we ate a lot of good food (thanks Simone!) and we visited Lisa's dad. Lisa, David and I went around town and practiced some wheelchair skills: I rolled down some stairs, then there was a curb that we wanted to get on, but I thought it was too high for me to go up. David and Lisa did it and they kept telling me I had to try, so I did. Sometimes they annoy me when they keep saying I should do something that I think is too hard, but then I realise they just do it because they love me and they want me to get better at it and become more independent. When I tried, my wheelie was not high enough and I fell on my elbow, but at least I was on the curb! I was getting up when a couple walked by and wanted to help. It is something I can do on my own, so we all politely declined. At that point, the man insisted and started getting mad at my friends for not letting him help. I think he even insulted them. When the couple finally walked away, we kept rolling. 

Walking people, I think it is fine that you ask me if I need help if you see me struggling, but please do not offer your help whenever you see me around town. If there is anything I need, I will ask. And, most importantly, if I say I don't need help, please do not try to help in any way and don't keep staring. Also, please never touch me or my chair without permission: I know you are trying to help, but I might want to do that on my own or you might actually do something wrong, especially if you are not sure how to help.

On Monday, Lisa and I decided to go to Berlin. We booked two beds in a hostel and we decided to travel by train. The intercity was expensive, so we woke up early to take the first of six regional trains to get to Berlin (Lisa can travel for free and bring another person on regional trains). When we got to the station, we found out our first train had about 30 minutes delay, which meant we would miss all our trains. We explained the situation to the guy at the info point and he was so nice that he made sure we got on the intercity (yay!). Four hours, a puddle of puke and two bottles of Spezi later, we were in Berlin! We left our bags in the hostel and went to eat a currywurst: Berlin believes they invented it, but I think Bochum did, and I find the one in Bochum better (even though that one wasn't bad). Lisa got new gloves and challenged me with a few curbs and a soft ice cream (it melts in a few seconds!). One of the reasons why we went to Berlin was to have dinner at an Italian restaurant. Lisa thinks they make the best pizza in Germany, and as far as I know she is right. The food was very good (my pizza was even better than some I have had here in Italy, just the prosciutto could have been better) and even the waiters were Italian. I just didn't like the fact that we had to roll through the trash to get in. As soon as we got out of the restaurant, it started raining, so we went straight to the hostel. 

On Tuesday, we got our bags and checked out. Before lunch, we went for a roll in the park. I was very tired and Lisa always wanted me to go faster, so I was not in my best mood, until this happened.
We were on one side of the park, and there were two paths to get to the other side: one of them was long and even, the other one was shorter but very steep, and it had a few lines of cobblestones. I took the steep one, and I am so glad I did. As I was working my way up the hill, my bag and jacket fell off of my lap, and I had to stop to pick them up. If you have ever used a wheelchair, you know it gets a lot harder when you have to go up a steep hill with no run-up. There was a guy standing there, and he asked me if I needed help. I could have used some help, but I took that as a challenge, I had chosen the hard path for a reason and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. As I was trying to go up that hill, the guy started discussing with Lisa. She told him I am an adult and I can make my own decisions, and he replied that I don't look like one or something like that. He said I could fall, as if adults didn't fall. If I fall, I will get back up. Lisa told me to try it backwards, and it worked. When I finally got up the hill, I was happy. She told me she was proud: that was a reminder that she only acts like that because she cares, and that I should believe in myself and try new stuff everyday, because if I don't try I won't learn. I think that was the most important moment of the week.
After that, we had lunch and we went back to the railway station to catch the first of six trains. I was a bit worried because we only had five minutes to change two of the trains. We climbed on and off the trains as fast as we could, got to the elevators and people were yelling "Keep calm!": we didn't have time to keep calm, but we managed to get to all of our trains in time. About seven hours later, we were in Dortmund. We had dinner with David (he made pesto!) and went to sleep.

Wednesday was my last day in Germany. Lisa brought me to David's workplace to say goodbye, then we went to my University in Bochum, were we had lunch with two of my friends. After lunch I had to get my bags and say goodbye to Lisa. I took the train with one of the girls and got to the airport. 

I hate leaving Germany. In Italy, people often ask me about the Germans. We have this stereotype that Germans are cold, detached people. I don't think it is true. It could be that I have been extremely lucky, but almost every German I have met was very kind. When I am in Germany, I am surrounded by people that make me feel at home. 

When the plane landed in Milan, it had at least 20 minutes delay. I got off the plane and everyone around me was speaking Italian.
When I lived in Germany, Italian was the language of my thoughts, Skype calls and a few italian friends. That instantly came back when I got to the airport in Düsseldorf and I could feel my brain "changing the setting" as I got off the plane in Milan. Coming back to Italy in March, after six months in Germany, it took me at least a couple weeks to get used to the fact that everyone around me was speaking Italian.
My parents and a friend of mine were waiting for me in Milan and, after spending some time with him, I was ready to go back "home" and plan my next trip.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Update on feelings and travel

Hey! I am sorry I have been neglecting this blog for a while, but now I am done with all my exams and ready for an update.

As you know, I went to my friends' wedding last month. It was amazing. I was so happy for them, and it really made me feel like I am growing up. This was the first time I went to a went to a wedding of a friend of mine that was not a family friend or a relative. We had so much fun, ate tons of food, danced and laughed. In case anyone is wondering, I did wear a dress.
Those who know me will know I never wear dresses, but before my friends decided to get married I had told them I'd wear a dress on that day, and that I would buy it with the bride. 
A few weeks before the wedding, my friend and I went on a mission to find the perfect dress for me. After checking about three shops, we found a green dress that we both liked and I bought the first dress of my life. It felt weird to be wearing a dress because I never do, but then I got used to it and many people liked it. I've had a few people compliment my shoes (green Chucks) as well, even though some people had told me I shouldn't wear them at a wedding (I didn't care).

A couple weeks ago I passed my last exam (yay!) and packed my bag. I couldn't wait to go back to Germany, the place I call home (you know, home is where the heart is).
I woke up at 4am and left for Milan, where the airport is. We drove for about two hours and when I got there I checked in, had my chair tagged and the assistance guy started questioning my ability to walk up the stairs. After a quick discussion, I told them to do whatever they wanted, they could carry me up the stairs with their chair (which would require two more people and about 30 more minutes) or let me walk. They let me walk.
When I said goodbye to my dad, they couldn't believe I was traveling alone. This happens every single time, and I wonder why they think it's so weird that a wheelchair user wants to fly alone. However, I'm not going to get into this now, because I have other things to write about.
While I was waiting to board the plane, the assistance guy asked me why I had my helmet with me. I told him about WCMX and he asked to watch a video because he couldn't believe me. I showed him a video and he was impressed.

I boarded the plane and I was very happy when I started recognizing the landscape around the airport in Germany. I had a huge smile on my face when I rolled through the doors to find Lisa waiting for me. She was holding a paper with my surname on it, then she flipped it over and I could read "Welcome home". We hugged and got ready to take the train home. She had brought cool Spezi (my favorite german drink, it's cola mixed with orange soda), because she knows we don't have it in Italy and I missed it so much. This girl knows how to make me happy.
When we got to the railway station in Dortmund, I really felt like I was home. I know that place so well: I would travel to Dortmund almost everyday during my semester in Bochum. We rolled to the 4ma to give a hug to David and the guys and I was so happy to see everyone again. Then, we took the car and went to Bochum, so that I could see my university and my room again. I said hello to a friend there and chatted with Vici for a while. That evening we had pesto for dinner and went to sleep, I was exhausted.

On Thursday, the weather was pretty bad, so we decided to sleep in. I got my brother a birthday present, then we went out to get lunch and we watched a movie on the couch with ice cream (I know, we are lazy). I had to pack my bag for the following day: we were going to spend the weekend at Lisa's parents' house, which I will tell you about in my next post. Stay tuned!

Posing with the groom on his special day

Thursday, June 25, 2015

To my angry "teammate"

You often yell at me for leaving adaptive equipment set up at the gym. You know me, so you know it’s hard, and in some cases, impossible for me to put it away on my own and I have to ask someone to help.
I know you and have never viewed you as a mean person. When you get mad at me, I try not to take it personally. Maybe you just had a bad day. Everyone has bad days.
But I don’t think you’re right. I don’t think you can blame me for leaving the equipment around. It’s not my equipment. It belongs to the gym and it’s where it should be. I don’t complain when I come in and find your bench in place, so why do you have to complain if you find mine?
I know most people on our powerlifting team use the regular bench, but I also know I find it there way more often than you find mine. And I know I can’t move it on my own, but you can.
Today, I saw you walking into the gym as I was parking my car. I knew you’d find the adaptive bench. I just hoped you wouldn’t get mad because I was already exhausted and I had come to the gym to free my mind for a while.
I got in and heard you walk up the stairs. You saw the adaptive bench and got angry. I don’t know who you were talking to, but I heard you when you called me the R-word. I don’t know if you knew I could hear you, but you hurt me.
When you walked down the stairs, you yelled at me and told me I must always ask someone to move the bench when I’m done. I didn’t reply because I wasn’t in the mood to apologize and didn’t want to hurt you. I try to always be nice to people because I don’t know what they’re going through.
This isn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last, but I want you to know you hurt a lot people by calling me the R-word. It’s not just about me, it’s about the entire special needs community. I don’t get called the R-word very often because my cerebral palsy only affects my movement, but there are people with special needs who might be called that every single day, and it’s so wrong. I know you probably were just mad and didn’t really pay attention to what you were saying.
A friend of mine once told me if someone gets mad at me because of my special needs, I don’t have to worry about because it only determines the other person’s worth and not mine. But I’m not judging you because I know you, and I know you’re better than that. What makes me a little sad is the fact you know me. I thought you were my teammate and my friend. I used to look up to you, and I didn’t expect you to act like this because I have always been nice to you.
I’m not going to apologize for having special needs and needing extra equipment or extra help. I’m not going to apologize for leaving my bench in place. I’m not asking you to apologize for what you said or did. I’m just asking you to try to put yourself in my shoes. And remember, a little kindness never hurt anyone.