Cicadas and the peeping Tom

 

I recall my first day in these islands as if it were yesterday, but not because of the excitement of arriving in a new place to discover, to learn from, to treasure in my heart for the years to come. But because of the noisy, impolite, nerve-wracking singing of the cicadas, that woke me up at godforsaken hours.
Let me be candid and tell you that these tree-friendly bugs have annoyed me since day one. With their unstoppable singing, I thought I was going mad. Perhaps, I went crazy after all. But my mental sanity will be probably discussed in another post. 😄

I was so upset with the cicadas that my murderer’s instincts started to flourish that year.

I would stare at the trees outside my window with my sleepy eyes, ruffled hair, and sweaty face. So, one of the neighbors thought I was a peeping Tom ( a pervert who spies people while they undress)
The 85 years old gentleman who called the police on me accusing me of such crime (peeping Tom) came later to apologize for the misunderstanding. Of course, he came accompanied by his wife. Just in case. You never know, right?.

 

But times have changed, and even to my surprise, I have grown fond of the little tree-loving insects (cicadas). I don’t look forward to their endless singing, but I am happy they always make me look out of my window.

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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.

Broken pens: the drama and the inspiration

I love pens. I love holding them. But at this moment, all the pens I own are broken. Why are they all broken? I have no idea. 

The spring that unfailingly lowers the tip is stuck..!And It’s hard to make the ink leave a mark on the paper. I try writing with the other pens, but it is all the same result. 

And when inspiration strikes, it has to wait until I finish battling (dueling at times) with the pen, the ink, and the spring.
I’d love to curse and let it all out, but I shut those thoughts down because the inspiration is a sensitive spirit, who needs to feel peace and calm to work her magic. So there she is now waiting with crossed arms in front of her. She is huffing and puffing at me, and the foolishness of who I am. 

“Buy new pens,” she says. 

“I like these old ones. I’ve had them forever” I simply reply.

And the inspiration just rolls her eyes at me as answer.

When I finally get the pen to work, I write it all down, but something is missing. I know. And the inspiration knows I know. I look at her, but I don’t beg her. 

“Fine” she says angrily. And she starts pouring silk on air.

She cries with me in the funeral of Prince Charming and smiles at the birth of his heir. And when we finish the story she leaves without warning or a goodbye. But I know she will come back. Because although I know, she doesn’t like me because I am a talentless writer, I know she will come back because she has nothing better to do than torture me.

Odawara: Its treasures and pinky ninja

The first time I visited Odawara, I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as I saw it,  I fell in love, metaphorically and literally.  And even now after so many years, it still speaking to me.

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And to many people, because even the samurais stop to take photos in front of it (Odawara castle)

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Its solid wooden gates welcomed me as it has welcomed thousands of people before me.  And will continue to do so until the end of times. Perhaps.

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And with the brave “pink” ninja who kindly posed  for my camera before I left, I said goodbye to Odawara castle once more.

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The “successful” guy: The poor girl

 

The guy sitting at the cafe nervously looked at his phone. 

Someone was running late. And we were all witnessing his impatience and the cruel ticking of the clock that wouldn’t stop for him, or anybody.

A few minutes later, she came almost running through the door, ordered a cup of coffee, and sat at the table mumbling apologies that he wouldn’t listen because he had news to share. 

“I have finished my book” he announced with a big smile.

“Congratulations…” She said happily “And……” she tried to continue. 

“You have no idea how great my book is” he said with an intoxicatingly happy face that started to resemble a hysterical mask. 

“Yes, I see. But…” She tried again 

“You know? Most of my friends are writers, journalists, poets, and editors. And they all say my book has potential” His happy face has mutated into the joker’s face. He had a happy grin on, but there was something scary and obscure in its expression. 

“Great..” She managed to say

“I mean my friends just love it. They love my book. I am sure that in less than three months I will be an international success, and you will be the luckiest girl in the whole world for being with such as a great guy as myself” He said with a laugh that could freeze your blood.

 

She only nodded and started sipping her coffee knowing she was not invited to speak but to reassure him silently.

 

We all try our hardest not to look at them, but we couldn’t help to feel sorry for the poor girl sitting with the “successful” guy.

 

 

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.

Yone oni

One morning in the busy city I live in, I got into the train, without realizing I was about to be emotionally and physically abused by a ninny salary boy, who, I am sure, will die a virgin.

I will call him “the ninny”

I, unluckily, stood next to “the ninny” when I got on the train, and to an even worse luck, the train stopped suddenly, making us all stumble, onto one another. And to my outrage “the ninny” started elbowing me.!

 “The ninny” was elbowing me so I wouldn’t fall on him, which was not necessary because I was already trying hard not to.

Being elbowed so disrespectfully woke inside me, Yone oni (oni=devil), the dark side of me that I work hard to keep at bay.

But “the ninny” woke her up, I felt “Yone oni” waking up and start breathing with fury. We (Yone oni and I) took a look at him, and then we saw his weakness: embarrassment.

Embarrassing “the ninny” easy-peasy. So we started laughing at him. Laughing more and more, until we saw “the ninny’s” cheeks turning bright red.

Yone oni was happy but not satisfied. She started plotting against “the ninny” while I was trying hard to calm her down. But she refused to go back to sleep. She wanted revenge. She didn’t want to listen to me, until, I explained to her that spending more time on him would be a waste of our time.

Then she agreed, through clenched teeth, to take a little nap but she promised to keep an eye open just in case I might need her.

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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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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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