My confused brain: On Sundays

 

I wake up as I do every morning at 5:00 a.m. without alarms.

I think I am an early bird because I am neither tired or grumpy.

I am fully awake.

But today is Sunday, and although my heart is ready to write, my brain has decided not to oblige today.

“It is Sunday” it says “ I want to have fun, I want to watch TV, laugh at silly jokes, and enjoy” it demands.

“Only 5 minutes” I reply, and I start preparing my morning tea.

“We’ll see about it” it threatens me.

“Time to work” I say once I finished preparing my tea.

“But we work everyday. It is Sunday” it says almost crying.

“We gotta get on with it” I say trying to make it understand

“It is Sunday. I want to watch TV, laugh at silly jokes, and enjoy. I won’t work today” It repeats again.

So I turn on the tv, and here we are still discussing when it is a good time to start writing. Sometimes my brain doesn’t want to understand that writing is having fun, enjoying and laugh at silly things, even when those silly things are our own lack of concentration and skill.

Error 5440

 

I upload my contents like every day, and like every day, I take a second to thank whomever deity might make people click on my posts,

I upload today’s post. And instead of the delightful thrill, I get by seeing my posts flying on the web. I get chills because the generous spirits (genies or angels) that have been helping me, putting my posts out there, are not doing it anymore.

All I get is Error 5440. Click again and as many times as my trembling fingers allow me, and the same message comes out: Error 5440

I’m sweating cold, and the anxiety’s invisible hand is tightening around my throat.

I try again: Error 5440. And another message: the website you are trying to find is nonexistent.

This is too much for me

I decide to leave it for now and to make myself a cup of tea, but something is missing. Maybe biscuits could go well with this fiery cup of glory.

I leave the house, and right in front of the door, I find a group of funny looking spirits who seem to be having a jolly good time. They look at me and flee into the house like a group of mischievous children.Something tells me I should get a better set of helping genies because these are more bananas (crazy) than I am

Anyway, I think I’ll better get to work again because if I leave my genies to their free will, I will never get anything done.

Her

There she was waiting. I could see in her profile that she was shy.

Once we started talking I could see in her a wise but fragile soul, as she had survived not one but many battles, cried defeats and survived ignominy. She smiled and laughed at my poor attempts at humor. But her laughter, although sweet, was a cover. A cover of what? I don’t know. But I could see in her eyes memories that still hunt happiness away.

Her soul was a pandora box that could mirror the deepest darkest corners of ourselves. And yet, she was fragile. And in more need of protection than anybody, I have met before or after her.

“I have to go,” she said

She just stood up and walk out the door. And for a brief moment, I felt as if a part of me had just left behind her.

Japanese business etiquette II: Business cards

Although, Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Our daily business interaction hasn’t changed much in the last decades.

What do you mean? You may ask

I mean that our ways to interact, to connect, to build relationships in business are still traditional. We still don’t rely on social media as most people, in other countries, do because we don’t trust it much yet.

We still go old school when it comes to “network” We go through the whole process. We make phone calls, send faxes (yes, you read that correctly) we make appointments, wait for appointment confirmation. Then on the day of the appointment, we dress formally, make our way to the meeting place, while being sure to arrive at least ten minutes before the agreed time, wait in the lobby room and greet our counterparts one these arrive.

And once we get inside the room where our meeting will be carried out then we finally exchange business cards.

There are also few steps for this simple and yet crucial moment.

1.- Hold your card with both hands. Do not simple handle the card. But offer it.

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2.- Then respectfully receive the business cards you are being offered.

3.- Once you get back to your seat, lay all the business cards you have received and read them.

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As you can see, business cards, physical business cards are a must, because business cards tell the person you are meeting that you are trustworthy. And if you translate your card even into simple Japanese, people would be grateful. And you’ll be showing your commitment and your willingness to go the extra mile, which will speak highly of you. Moreover, as Japanese people tend to be shy, your business card will be giving them “a hand” because they will make small talk based on the information you provide on them (your business cards).

In other words, business cards are still ,in this time of internet and social media, the best way to introduce yourself in Japan. And secure the beginning of a good business relationship with your possible clients and business partners.

Miyazaki: And his magic at Kichijōji

As I arrived at Kichijōji station, I couldn’t help but notice little gnomes, faceless ghosts and other “magical” creatures walking around. They all seemed busy and preoccupied.

And although I gave them the best of my smiles, they were not kind because they didn’t stop to help me when I asked them for directions. They just ignored me.

And neither the scarecrow that so kindly helped Sophie in the moving howl’s castle seemed to be carrying out good deeds this morning.

I knew the Ghibli museum was close to Kichijoji station, but all those “magical” creatures were taking the whole station for themselves. The volume of their voices was growing louder and louder. And they didn’t seem to be going anywhere but rather waiting.

But waiting for who, I wondered.

And just after few minutes, my question would be answered.

Because just before me, Mr. Miyazaki himself appeared at the ticket gate. And those magical creatures, his creatures, jumped to attention.

He was wearing a wool checked jacket along with a hat of the same print. He, all of him, was just as colorful, enchanted and fascinating as the characters he creates. And they all followed him on to the next train like obedient and lovingly children. And without him, the Kichijõchi station became gloomy and silent.

The annoying meatballs

Italy, 2002

I am glad I let my friend Francesca set me up with this guy, I mean the guy is gorgeous, he looks like a model from one of those expensive magazines. He is just sitting in front of me. And I think I just forgot my name.

Did I take a shower before coming here? Yes, I think I did. God..! Just looking at him makes my head spin.

I can do this. Yes, I will seduce him with my charismatic personality. I am giving him my best smile when I hear an annoying pitchy voice.

“Stop fooling yourself, honey” the annoying pitchy voice is saying.

When I look down at my plate, I realize, to my horror, that a small round meatball has just spoken to me.

I need to lay down. I think I’m having a breakdown.

“You are not having a breakdown” repeats another meatball.

 “Elizabeth….are you ok?” asks my gorgeous date.

I reply the best I can, and I start rolling the spaghetti onto my fork.

“You know?….I wasn’t so sure about this date, but I am glad I agreed to it” he says with a killing smile, I freeze but I try to reply with coherence.

And the spaghetti takes the opportunity to jump back into the plate.

“It is cold,” it (the spaghetti) says when I was about to tell it off. But as I am too dazzled by my date, I decide not to pay much attention to the cheeky fugitive spaghetti.

I’ll get it later, though.

He (my date) reaches for my hand, lifting it to his lips, and my heart skips a beat.

I think I am in love.

“Elizabeth….” He says my name

“Yes…” I reply making plans for our wedding already.

“I hope you don’t mind….” he says

“Yes..” I reply again encouragingly

“I hope you don’t mind….but I forgot my wallet..” He says sheepishly.

Needless to say that I heard laughter coming not only from my plate but from all over the restaurant.

“Told you, honey,” says the small round meatball laughing at me.

I take my fork, and I stab it (the meatball) so hard that I almost brake the plate.

“Ahhh…..” the meatball screams.

And I eat it in one mouthful.

That’ll show them. I might be having a rubbish date, but the food won’t be showing me up.

Without internet: Could you work?

 

“I’m telling you when I started my career, we didn’t have internet, we didn’t even work with computers” was saying, my middle-aged colleague.

 

I stared at my colleague while holding my fork halfway to my mouth.
My colleague’s words shocked me because, although, I interact with technology every day, as most of you, it is shocking to be reminded that it was not always the case.

 

My colleagues started talking about telephones, faxes, and notebooks and pens.

“Can you imagine? I even had to go to a seminar to learn how to send e-mails?” My colleague was saying in a low voice as if making me a confidence.

 

My colleague’s words resonate with me because in the back of my head, I still remembering the world without internet, perhaps my generation is the last generation to have grown up without it (internet). Yes, I am that old 🙂

I still remember the boring Sunday afternoons and the horrible silence in the streets when the children went back home for dinner.

 

In other words, I remember daily life without internet. But business without internet, I have never experienced..!! and I think that is a huge (very big) challenge.

 

Just think about it, you are only giving a notebook and pen. And you can use the office’s phone and fax machine as long as the other thirty people, who work with you, are not using it 😫

I don’t know you, but I couldn’t work properly. Or maybe I am just spoiled.

 

Working without computer or internet, I have never done. And that’s why I take my hat off (I want to show my respect) to those colleagues who have achieved so much without technology. Thank you, and I hope one day, I can be as good as you are.

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With love

Walking along the gray streets, sometimes, I wonder how I survived all this time without you.

pablo-4You said goodbye one morning, and although it was not up to you to stay, or to leave. The fact is that you left, and your farewell changed my life. For better or worse nothing was the same.

I was never the same.

And although, I know, deep down in my heart, that you never wanted to leave me, yet again you did.

Ironically, none of us had a say in what happened, but it still hurts, even today. In every step I walk, in every moment I live, in every dream, I still hope to find you.

And I want to think that you remember me as well. I want to believe that this post will reach you. And, that you will read it, and we will be together in some parallel universe. In one way or another.

Somehow trying to explain the emptiness you left in me, I had come up with the crazy idea that when you left, you took a piece of my heart to later hide it somewhere in the world. And that’s why I have lived like a gypsy looking for that missing part of me. Like a cursed soul, whose only hope to survive is to follow the memory of you in this world.

I guess what I mean to say so inadequately in these lines is that I will always love you and that nothing could ever erase nor replace you, ojii-chan (ojii-chan means grandpa in Japanese)

Fairies and my insomnia

Late at night, fairies visit me whispering stories and old tales. Some speak familiar languages, some talk in dialects I have never heard. Nonetheless, they all come to share their stories and their secrets. They fly around me, tickle me, pull my hair softly until I wake up and agree to play with them.

When my husband is awake, they hide and wait for him to fall asleep to come out of their hiding place. Once he is asleep, they pour magic dust on him, so he doesn’t wake up. And when they are sure, he won’t wake up some kiss him on the cheeks, and some lie on his chest looking at him with goggly eyes. They like to flirt those little ones. Those cheeky little fairies.

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But the fairy queen sets them straight “there is no time to play” she says “there is so much to do and so little time.” They take me out of my room. And I write, what they share with me.

While the world sleeps, the fairies tangle their stories around my fingers, whispering their stories in my ears, and laughing at my mistakes. I write until dawn when they must go back to spread morning dew, so nature wakes up. But I know they will come back. As they do every night.

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What matters

Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said that “what matters in life is not what happened to you but what we remember and how we remember it, in order to retell it.”

We all have happy memories that bring smiles to our faces, those memories like clear water that the sun kisses while saying goodbye in warm afternoons. But as life is a mix of emotions, our memories are inseparable from feelings, both joyful and painful.

I think that our lives are like collages, that blend happiness with hardships. A little bit of craziness, lust, curiosity, passion, a few grudges, some forgiveness and love. But not all collages are the same, and it’s their unique mixtures are what makes us, us.

I wouldn’t ever wish pain or hardship on anybody, even to people who don’t know nor like me, but if there’s something I’ve learnt, it is that even the most painful moments have a purpose. They make us appreciate the good times, help us improve as individuals, and, as much as we might hate to suffer, those memories and experiences can be put to good use. We can transform them into something good. Even if something devastating, a life changing event has happened to us, we can still have the power to turn things around.

We may feel those agonising memories as a burden, and that’s ok. But we can still turn them into something good. Sometimes, we can even feel those memories dragging us to the edge, but we can still turn that around. We can feel they hunt us, and yet we can still turn them around.

It’s not easy. It requires hard work. We have to try hard, sometimes even harder, but if we are willing to see at least a little bit of hope every morning, we will be able to get through the day. Was this what Gabriel García Márquez meant? That it doesn’t matter what happened to you but what you do with what happened what really matters?

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