Every professional writer tells us, amateur writers, to write every single day. “Even when you don’t feel like writing, go ahead and write why you don’t feel like writing,” they tell us.
Sadly, my friends, this is one of those days, when everything seems to go wrong, and even the simplest syntax and vocabulary seem to slip my mind. Today, my mind doesn’t make the difference between good or bad. I have been dragging words all morning. Even the little characters I draw are sitting there waiting for me to give them a story, so they don’t get lost in their existence. The evil witch has already jumped on the opportunity and is marrying Prince Charming. The lovely princess will have to get a job, oh well!! It was about time 🙂
Then I came across a beautiful video, where a lovely Nana recreates the dishes of her childhood during the Great Depression. She has inspired me more than I would have ever expected. Unfortunately, she is not with us anymore, but she has left a legacy of love, courage, and bravery behind her. And maybe that’s what’s life is all about. Inspire others, build something praiseworthy with our lives to inspire even future generations.
Today, in these broken lines I know I am not conquering the world, neither these modest lines will ever win a prize, but I know I’m moving forward because I am conquering my humanity. And that is a triumph. My very personal triumph. And I owe it to the legacy of a lovely Nana, an Italian immigrant who didn’t let harshness define her life.
A rainy day of 2002, I was landing in Costa Rica, a paradise on earth, where the stress and rush of the modern world are not to be found. Just yet. Not just yet.
As always the same routine, immigration, taxi, and hotel. Just do it all over again a few days later.
But little I knew my life was about to take a turn.
Arriving at the hotel, a casual phone call home would confirm the worst. He was gone. The time stood still for what it seemed hours. The auricular fell from my trembling hands. And I stood there unable to move. Everything became a blur. Someone offered to help me with my bags. I looked at him. And tears started pouring uncontrollably. I collapsed crying onto the floor.
I woke up the next morning with my all my clothes on. I felt lost. It took me a while to remember where I was. And what had happened. And when the memories of the previous day came back so did the tears. And while I was debating if it was worth living another day, a knock on my door interrupted my suicidal thoughts.
I opened without asking.
“Laura” said a husky voice in the semi-darkness “it is time.”
“I know” I replied, “I had been waiting for you.”
He extended his pale, bony hand to me. I took it. And without words, he led me into darkness.
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.
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.
Hey, you all…!! Come on..! What are you so sad about? What did you say?
People do not understand you..!!! Oh, my..!!
You poor little things. Now, come here and let me give you a warm hug. There, there it’ll pass. You’ll see.
What is that? That the Brown people are taking your jobs? And that the African Americans have been mean to you?
Come on..! Do not cry..! Now, put down that tiki torch.
There, there… good boy.! Now come on, let’s talk..! But first, let’s blow your little white nose. Nice..!! I will definitely have to throw this handkerchief away now.
No, I will not call you master.
Now, what is that non-sense of starting a genocide so you and your children can have an opportunity in life?
Oh, I see..!! You had privileges before, and there given to you, not because of your intellectual abilities but for the color of your skin, and that’s why you don’t have any (intellectual abilities)now.
But honey, there are so many smart and successful white people out there, what is the difference between you and them?
Ahh..! I see, they worked hard, they studied hard, and they actually made a great effort to succeed in life. But you want none of that nonsense, what you want it’s things given to you.
You want things the way they were before the civil war.
When the white man was respected and feared, and that’s why you voted for the Donald Trump, although, the functionality of his prostate interferes with his “brain abilities.”
Honey, let me give it to you straight, to succeed in life, there are no shortcuts, you have to work hard, study harder and stop with the rallies and shenanigans, why don’t you work on yourself instead of trying to bring other people down? Because that ain’t cool.
And now go on your way because this brown hot mamma gotta keep working.
The earliest memories I have of music involve a piano, a guitar, and my grandfather’s sanshin (Okinawan guitar of three strings).
We would enjoy music together. But don’t misunderstand my words, the musician was my grandfather. I was only the audience. He would play beautiful songs for me every afternoon to save us from the boredom of the routine.
He would play unknown songs, and the musical notes would dance in the air bringing us smiles. And if for any reason I couldn’t find grandpa in the house, I just had to follow the music notes hanging in the air. They always guided me to him.
And since then music has accompanied me in everything I do, even this humble post, without music, would simply no exist. And If I play the correct tune, I feel my heart opening causing the words to start pouring themselves on the paper. However, we all know very well that most of what I write it is not always entertaining nor interesting, but poor letters are better than nothing.
On this disastrous day, everything had gone wrong, as if God had given control of my life to the demons of my nightmares. Everything was just going wrong.
And to top it all, I needed to go shopping in the blistering heat of the summer. I was literally stomping my way to the supermarket when I heard a demanding voice:
“You better get out of here because this place will be dangerous in a few minutes more.”
I turned around, and to my shock, I had to hold back tears because, in front of me, there was a little boy, a little angel, who showed signs of Down syndrome.
In one second my mood changed and decided to obey his request
“I see, thank you for letting me know about this matter.” I said
“Of course,” he said, “But you better get out of here because this place will be dangerous in a few minutes more” he repeated his orders again.
I promised him I’d be careful and he seemed pleased with my answer.
Then a minute later I understood what he meant all along.
He and his brother were about to race each other, so the race was the “danger” the little angel was talking about.
I couldn’t help but smile. That was the first time I smiled on that day.
Obviously, our little champion beat his brother fair and square.
There in the finish line were our little champion, his older brother, his youngest sister, and dad. The dad and I exchanged bows, and our little champion granted me a smile and a wave.
And it got me thinking that there are thousands of people like me, who, sometimes can’t see anything but their own problems, or can’t feel anything but anger or hate.
But luckily there are people out there, angels with warriors’ souls, who, have the power to make everything look better, to make the days brighter, and to make us understand that there is love in everyone of us.
As children we all enjoy playing with dough and mud, we love dressing their ordinary appearance into whatever our innocent imagination tells us.
But when we grow up, sadly, we forget that once we were all artists, that we could create dragons, castles and kill them all at the end of the game to just start it all over again later.
Lucky for me, I have good friends, who don’t let me forget the joy of playing and who are willing to experiment with me what the city has to offer.
And going around town with these good friends, we found a charming little store, and soon as we got in, we were hooked, because we had found an “Amezaiku” (飴細工) shop.
Amezaiku, candy crafting, lets you shape candy into whatever shape you might like. Amezaiku’s origins could be traced back to 796AD when Amezaiku masters gave their first offering to the Doji-temple, which was built when Emperor Karmu moved the capital from Nara to Kyoto.
But you have to be quick, though, candy wants to be given an identity, and waits for no one.
And even your hand temperature will play against you, so you have to be quick.
There were enchanted roses, sleeping mermaids waiting to be freed, dancing bears, who would love to go home with you. And something primitive and familiar awoken inside me. I just simply had to try it (Amezaiku).
And I did
I almost immediately registered for a workshop. And It was a nice class indeed, where a young master, Mr. Yamamoto, would guide us step by step into the process of making candy dance. And through this dance wake up the spirit within it (the candy) to reveal it (candy’s the spirit) before the world.
※If you wish more information about the lessons, call 03-6323-3319 website: http://ame-yoshihara.com
A sunny day of spring, I bravely made my way to the closest Japanese school and tried to make one of my most precious dreams come true: Stop speaking Japanese like a barbarian.
When I got to the class, there were all younger than me, as I had expected. And all Asians. Most of them Chinese. And as I don’t speak Chinese I was feeling rather left out.
I tried to smile in a rather sad attempt to connect with them. But it was all dead silent. I was cursing myself already for being an idiot. At my 30’s something, I should have known better. I was already thinking to call my boss to apologize and ask him to give me my job back. I am sure he will believe I was “temporarily insane.” When suddenly a young teacher entered the room. Stopping my thoughts at once
He looked at us, smiled and introduced himself as our tutor. When he finished, he asked us to do the same. And if as someone had switched a lamp, the whole room became alive. The youth woke up, and the dead whispers became an animated chorus of singing cicadas in summer. It was a magical moment.
When we all finished introducing ourselves, the veil that had covered the room in the gloom was simply lifted.
And I am sure this was inadvertently for them, but for me, I had just witnessed the power of self-introduction in Asia. I have all these years thought, stupidly, that it was mainly a Japanese cultural characteristic but I was wrong, it is an Asian cultural characteristic.
In Asia, you need to introduce yourself. You must introduce yourself. As if giving the person you meet a rope to not fall off a cliff. And for me realizing this was like a car crash because I do not like introducing myself. But in Rome do as Romans do.
Taro, the little character of my book “Positive thinking to learn English (or in Japanese 英語を習うのためのプラス思考）was born one morning, when life seemed to not only have closed doors but windows, and all the paths that could ever lead to happiness. Or at least to spiritual or mental peace.
And suddenly for no reason or whatsoever, although, there is always a reason in the crazy carousel of our lives, I took a piece of paper and a pencil, although I hadn’t gripped a pencil in long time. And I held my breath while drawing fine lines and circles, and as if it were a miracle, Taro came to exist.
Smiling at me since its place in the paper, I couldn’t help but smile back at him. Very little I knew at the moment, but Taro had saved me. He forced me to look at the corner of my soul, at that part of me that I had hidden long time ago from everybody, even from myself so that it wouldn’t get hurt.
Taro softly made me look and discover that unknown part of me, at the silent place that I had always neglected, pretending it didn’t exist. But that through Taro could re-emerge, or maybe only come to be. Just be.
Sometimes life resembles a wild black horse, it will throw you. And if you are lucky, it’ll go away, but sometimes, its fury is such that it will not only throw you, but it’ll step on you, over and over again, until it is sure there is no hope to stand. Sadly, some may never stand, some stay broken, just a bare mirage of who they used to be. Some recover and get stronger, but they lose a part of their soul, and become bitter and try to take their anger on others, I think I was destined to be one of those souls. And lastly, there is a lucky group of people, who recover and become human. I think I was fortunate enough to be part of this last group of people, and although, I would like to get credit for this, I don’t think, for a second, it is my merit. I think a miracle happened. The ordinary in the extraordinary took place when Taro found me, and with him, I started writing discovering I’m a storyteller. And with him, I never went back to be the same. I became a little braver and started putting my words out there. So, with little Taro, the story begins, again, when it should be finishing.
On rainy days, especially in Tokyo, the world seems to stand still.Or so you think. Even in the most terrible of rainy days, those that come with typhoon warmings, people would still make their way to work.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat” can keep Japanese employees from their desk, duties and prized customers.
In fact, most employees know how to get from home to their offices by foot. Just in case, they need to do so. Granted, that’s also due to our elevated numbers of earthquakes, In fact, everybody still talking about where they were when 3.11 earthquake stroke. After which, all transport systems were suspended for security.
The memory of 3.11 it does still hunt us.
But even 3.11, the worst natural disaster in modern Japanese history, couldn’t stop us from going to work. Yup, even this immigrant followed the example of the strong and admirable Japanese ethics.
I was still in shock, so I cried a little on my way to work and prayed some more, but I made it through. And it was a good lesson because it taught me to stand with Japanese people and support them. Support us. And the message was loud and clear: You want to be one of us, you work like of us.
Of course, there are things we must change in our vision of business. But what we can praise about Japanese people is their strong work ethics, loyalty, and precision when creating. And these characteristics are found in everything we have in this country.