Apr 19, 2015

A Matter of Letters: The Mojo To Write

Yes, I'm fully aware that I owe you a post about scarfs, but currently it's so hot I rather not wrap anything around my neck (though my friend Andrea, and now my dear Arjen, have a beautiful string infinity scarf I'd love to wear! And it would be perfect, even in this weather), so that post will be postponed until whenever I feel like writing about it. Not fair? Hey, not like you are paying to read this blog, so deal with it. Besides, if I manage to get my hands around that lovely scarf, rest assured that in 24 hours of it's first use you'll have the scarf post.

Picture taken at Thon Hotel EU, Brussels.
Letter half written and my first
Lamy fountain pen.
Today's post, however, it's about a penpal situation: the lost of the mojo to write letters.

Basically, when you have penpals and you engage in snailmail conversations, they are that: long conversations thrown on paper with the aid of a pen or a pencil. (Mostly a pen, I have yet to find a penpal who writes with pencil... at least once.) Seen this way, the process of writing letters is simple, just like a talk: your friend writes something to you, you reply and say some more, and your friend replies and says some more... and it goes on and on and on. The fun about penpalling is that some topics can go on and on for ages. I remember a friend of mine - very dear - with whom I wrote for many years about the topics of love and freedom/independence. If we would have kept writing letters to each other, I'm sure we would still be developing those two subjects. Letters with penpals also often include the most delectable details of each other's lives and our environment. The ongoing office stories of which you can't have enough, the family stories, the friend stories, the latest purchase, the books each are reading, the TV series each like the best... it's like a very long and lovely coffee break with a friend, full of just about everything.

Letters open you to the chance to have the whole story, not cut because it's late and the coffee shop is closing on the two of you, a constant conversation not interrupted by cellphones and mobile internet, people passing by... it's a one on one, full disclosure, no interruptions communication experience, even if you stop while reading or while writing: it's a perfect channel.

However, it might happen that you suddenly don't feel it in yourself to engage in that sort of conversation. Not because you don't love it, or you don't want it, but because suddenly there's something inside you stopping you. You might enjoy very much your friend's letter and you want to reply to it, but the words refuse to flow down your pen. Maybe you even feel like your soul is a bit heavy when you think about writing, and that sensation keeps pulling you away from the pen&paper. For a penpaller, that's horrible. Soon letters from their different friends start to arrive and they don't even dare to open them because they can't still bring themselves to write. What used to be something awesome - getting a letter - is suddenly something dreadful, because the penpaller don't want to let down any of their friends. So what to do? Force the words out and write gloom, blah letters or wait?

I've been through a spell like that, and maybe I'm still not fully recovered. In my case, what I found useful was to wait it out, take letters little by little, and often send postcards to my friends to let them know that I've received their letters but can't reply to them just yet.

I don't know any secrets to defeat the loss of mojo, and if someone has a tip I'm all ears. My advise for anyone in this situation would be to be honest, wait it out and send a postcard. Postcards are small, so sure you can squeeze a few lines onto them out of yourself to explain the situation to your penpals, right? If they are good penpals (like my penpals), they'll be supportive and understanding. If they are not, well, what better chance to find that out.

If you are on the other side of this equation, and I've been there too, hey, be supportive! A penpal is a friend, and if they don't have it in them to write at the moment, don't force them. Drop them a postcard or an e-mail, let them know you are thinking of them, but don't rush them. They eventually get their mojo back and things will go back to normal. :-)

Apr 11, 2015

Time to Fly Back

My photos - the few I've made - are still in my Blackberry, far from being organized in albums in my facebook profile, or to try and do something with them on my +Google (or is it Google+?) account or anything. I don't have a Pinterest account, so that's why that's not even being neglected. So what has been happening? Well, here it goes in a few, quick points.

The first week we were pretty much booked with errands and a couple of trips. After the whole ordeal of the cancelled flight - oh yes, and I still have a conversation pending with KLM, because I'm so sorry, they are not AirFrance, and I'm not that lenient with them - I had stuff to do, like make sure my yearly Social Security tax was paid and all in order, cancelled my Hungarian bank account, and started looking around for the things my family asked me for. Quite the next day after my arrival, my boyfriend and I went to spend a night in Vienna. I didn't had it planned, but he insisted, particularly because my planned abroad trip didn't include him. At Vienna, we went to the Schönbrunn, as usual, and then visited the Easter Fair and Sigmund Freud's house.

Schönbrunn was a bit changed, with more rooms opened and the audio of the audio guides chopped in half. It was enjoyable, but I did miss a lot of the information we used to get before. The Easter Fair was quite small. Lovely but small. Sigmund Freud's house was quite interesting, as it was in the flat where he lived and held his practice. Sadly, though, the tour was quite poorly organized and very little to no information was given to the visitor about how to proceed about the exposition. There's a lot of room for improvement there.

Then, that same week, we went to Mezőkövesd to visit very dear friends of ours, with whom I had a very, very comforting conversation. I came back from it feeling awesome and soundly supported. We also went to Gödöllő, another place we simply can't leave out of our trip. We went on Sunday, with the awesome surprise of finding they were holding "Violet Day", which is a fair of sorts held in Spring, honoring Empress Sisi's favorite flower. (I would upload pictures, but my connection is quite poor. Maybe in a later post.)

This week I met with a dear friend and then went to Bruxelles to meet with a dear friend and penpal. She and I met for the first time and I had a blast! I promise I'll tell you all more in a later post, because I have a lot of lovely pictures that need to be shared along with the story.

Anyway, in two weeks with so many plans, I barely had any actual time to breathe. I'm returning home feeling a bit exhausted, if I must tell you the truth, but happy. I accomplished several things I wished to accomplish and managed some others I had to manage. Now it's time to go back home to my daily duties and tasks.

Apr 5, 2015

First Week in Europe

I don't really have much time to blog today - I'm about to go to have lunch with my Grandpa and my Aunt - and, well, my boyfriend needed the best part of an hour to clean up the desk so I could set my netbook on it to work. I won't go into that right now, but my penpals will sure hear about the whole thing. (Yes, my relationship with my penpals works in a kind of "exclusive" way where they pretty much got to know just about everything and anything about me and my life. They are, after all, my penpals ^_^).

My trip started... well, it started nice but it has had a couple of bumps on the way. The flight to Panama and then from Panama to Amsterdam went without any trouble. I actually made friends on the plane to Amsterdam with a couple of adorable brothers, José and Ernesto, who are also Costa Rican, study or are already electronical engineers and were sooooo adorable! We spent the entire trip gaping about animé, talking of Dragon Ball Z and then sharing tids and bits about life and what we thought of this and that. Really, an adorable, amazing pair of brothers. Then, as all went well, suddenly in Amsterdam my flight to Budapest was cancelled. As in CANCELLED. I didn't worry, thought they would surely put me on another plane and get home, maybe two hours later. No. Shiphol was taken over by an absolute chaos, lack of proper communication, no reasons as to why all flights were being cancelled, no indications as to what would happen with us, and I ended up tagging with a group of Hungarians and making a 6 hour queue. Yes, a 6 hour queue. It wasn't funny.

It had a nice part, which was that suddenly our tiny little group started behaving like a family. We shared food, looked out for each other, guarded our luggage, listened to each other, helped each other find out what was going on and so on. At one point - after standing in line for two hours - there was a rumor that we could go to another queue in the Baggage Hall so we would be issued tickets for the next day as well as cupons for a hotel and food and whatnot. I wasn't particularly happy about that because I was traveling with no clothes. The point of my travel was to settle some accounts, pay my aunt my tax money (which she had paid out for me) and fork up clothes and books of mine to bring back to Costa Rica. So why would I bring anything other than the clothes on my back (which were very thin), my phone, my netbook and my filofax? Half our group decided to go for the other queue and the other half stayed. It was good we did. Around 5 hours and 30 minutes into the line, we learned that there was a plane flying to Budapest at 20:55 (we were supposed to be on the plane of 14:20). We started asking questions about whether there was any chance we could get on that plane. The first person told us no, but then we caught a second person who looked at us and asked us:

"Are you all together?"

We didn't even bat an eye when we replied "Yes, we are." She was gone and did her best. Soon she was back and said that the flight was completely booked, but it seemed that there were ten no-show passengers, so she would do her best. Five minutes before the take off of the flight we've got our tickets. Thanks Hyne the gate was close to where we were, so we ran and got on the flight. We tried to help other people as well, but had to run before we've got to know whether they've got on the flight or not. They did.

The days then, on Budapest, were hectic, to say the least. Honestly, I haven't been able to rest just yet. My boyfriend wanted also to get a night at Vienna, so after a day in Hungary, we went to Vienna, and did our rounds. All kind of fast, no time to call up on friends, visit or anything. Not to mention, that there was snow and rain and cold.

Next week I'm flying to Bruxelles for three days to meet a penpal. Maybe then I'll be able to rest a little. We shall see about that.

Mar 28, 2015

Quick Post

Tomorrow I'm flying to Hungary, and today... well, today, right now, it's quite late. I had thought about writing some about scarves and hell weeks, but truth to be told, I'm kinda tired and I'm not really in the mood to write about that. It's a great topic, but not for right now. Maybe tomorrow, is the connection at the airport(s) is good enough, I'll tell you about it.

I'm traveling quite light. As a matter of fact, I'm basically carrying nothing but the luggage I'll fill up with stuff and a sachet with my documents, filofax, phones, laptop and cables. No, really, that's all I'm carrying. The process is starting: I'm moving my life back to Costa Rica, where I hope to build a home with gables... because I'm not giving up on my gables.

Two weeks, I wonder already what will these two weeks bring along. Curious? Well, stay tuned! ^_^

Mar 17, 2015

I'm Not My Gender!

St. Patrick's Day, one of my favorite holidays, even if it's not a holiday observed here. Well, my favorite holiday of all is Halloween, and that's not observed here either, but that has never stopped me, has it? I'd be delighted to write to you about St. Patrick's Day and how much I love it, and how I like to prepare for it (except that this year I realized only after I was in the car, on the way to the office, clad all in maroon, not in green. I did change later on to green, so not all was lost!), but what drives me to the keyboard of my netbook is something else entirely. Today I felt insulted by a sexist comment.

It all happened during lunch time. At the office we have a microwave for our area, in which all of us heat our food, and then proceed to go wherever we choose to go to eat. I normally don't eat with my coworkers because when I eat with someone is a friend of mine from days past, and when I'm not, I take the opportunity to have some moments with a book. I'm currently reading "Chesapeake 1880", which has great parts and others rather poorly done. Anyway, as sometimes happen, when I went to heat my meal someone's meal was already in the microwave. No biggie, I put my food in the queue and then went to the bathroom, expecting for the microwave to be free when I was done. Indeed the program had ended when I came back, but the owner of the food contained had not removed the food. I opened the oven to remove it and place it on top of the microwave, but the damned thing was too hot to hold. I did try but it was too hot and I knew I wouldn't be able to touch it. So I asked who the owner of the container was, so that person would remove the scalding container. The owner wasn't far from there - could have actually removed the container in time, since he was in distance to hear the beep.

"Here," he said handing me some paper napkins "take it out."
"No," I said moving out of the way "it's too hot for me to touch."

And here comes The Comment. My coworker actually said: "Too hot? You are a woman! You should be used to! I bet your mother-"

I didn't let him continue.

"I'm a person like anyone else, and I resist heat just like any other person."
"You are a woman," he insisted "what kind of woman are you? Sure your mother could handle that!" (He has never seen my mother, nor has ever heard of her, mind you.)

Honestly, I found the comment insulting, the sheer idea that just because I'm a woman I should be trained for the kitchen, unlike my male counterparts, who need not to deal with any kitchen task, nor need to be trained to endure heat on the hands. I did tell him that his comment was sexist and I found it insulting, with those words, the words "sexist" and "insulting" included in the message, and he simply insisted, as if he were right in his assertion and my being insulted were nothing but some stupid words from an ignorant woman who forgets where is her place in society. I deigned him not to any more of my attention.

Now, I'd like to make something clear: I'm not being picky or delicate, my not being fighty or radical-feminist, I'm being honest, and I am entitled to feel insulted when someone thinks that just because I happen to have been born female I'm less or different by default from my male counterparts regarding anything other than my particular function in the reproductive scheme. First and foremost, I'm a person. The 4% of my chromosomes do not define me entirely. The fact that - reproductively speaking, I'm a "life carrier" instead of a "life impregnator" do not define me. I'm a person, a mind, a soul a spirit, and my body, its shape, its form, its age, its gender are but the vessel my mind uses to move around the world. Yes, quite a great vessel, which I love, and comes with a lot of perks, like senses and sensations and all sorts of things to experiment with, but neither of those qualities are what makes me, me. I'm not automatically happier because I'm a brunet, I'm not automatically a sharp shooter because my eyes are dark. I'm not smarter because I'm not too tall, I'm not automatically temperamental because my skin is Creole or I'm half Latin. I don't automatically know how to handle babies because I'm a woman. I do not automatically know how to cook because I'm a woman. No, I'm who and what I am because I'm a person and I've grown into who I am through a sequence of choices based on what I've lived and what I've learned from my experiences. Not because I'm a woman, or Christian, or half-Hungarian or 5-foot-4.

I'm no different from any other person of the world. We are all different, but neither of us is this way or that way "because we have been born this or that". We are who we are because of our decisions, not because the fatalistic view some still ascribe to because for them it's much easier to imagine all the same, treat them the same, ignore them the same, instead of taking the time to know each person for whom they are, and understand that you can't box people up because of whatever a given chromosome has made them to be.

Let's stop generalizing, let's start knowing each other. Let's stop insulting, let's start understanding. We are not our chromosomes, we are not our ethnicity, we are not our religion, we are who we have chosen to be, and I've chosen to be a Person. Treat me so.

Mar 11, 2015

Scarves

Day 4 of Hell Week and all I'm thinking of is pizza. Damned, this stupid diet makes you hungry! So I'll talk to you about something else: scarves.

Scarves, scarves, scarves, a simple (or not so simple) piece of fabric that can do wonders for your attire. And about which many conceptions exist. I've friends who love them and pretty much can't go out of their home without one, like Trish, and others who can't resist anything constraining their necks, like Sonja. Others have a "meh" attitude: good if you have it, good if you don't. However, if you are like me, you are the kind of person that has "scarf seasons" and ... whatever other season that strikes your fancy when one strikes you. I've had my on and off with scarves for a while now - except in winter, in Hungary where I'm not crazy enough to leave home without a scarf, mind you - and recently I decided that it was about time to bring back in full force the scarf season.

Source: From Google
The first thing that's great about scarves is the scarves themselves. Their different lenghts their colors and textures, their flow, it's all just marvelous! Some months ago I went out with a friend of mine, Noha, and ended up in a store where I was ultimately seduced by a bright yellow, soft, cotton infinity scarf. Have used it since, of course, but it was more a matter of having that thing of beauty than actually thinking of how can I wear it or whether I've anything to wear it with.

A small drawer in an IKEA sectioned closet organizer houses all of my scarves, which admitedly isn't much space (I really need a whole house for my own to deal with the amount of things I have. My mom is right in there.) and among them I have rather simple pieces, souvenir scarves from trips, some old synthetic shalws that still keep their beauty, many, many pashminas (and those are not all of my pashminas, mind you. I had a "pashmina season" some years ago), and some quite special pieces, like a purple silk scarf I've got on Finnair, which is beautiful and deceivingly warm.

Source: Google
I have never been much about the scarves and how to wear them, as I usually just wrap them around and try not to choke myself on them, but this time around, since I have some problematic pieces that are hard to wrap around properly without them taking over my head, I decided to check out a few tutorials on how to wear a scarf. Wow. There are so many ways! And there are ways for all of the types of scarves I have... except for my exceedingly long pashminas --- I have to keep investigating on that area.

Anyway, I decided that, since I have the scarves and the will to wear them, now armed with the knowledge to do so, I'll go into a scarf season and see how it goes. The weather isn't too hot ot humid here to make the wearing of a contraption around your neck uncomfortable, and today I've been feeling so awesome with one of my most difficult pieces so nicely set around my neck ^_^ ...except for the dark cloud of stupid Hell Week. Oh well, that's all for alleged health and getting a nice weight. I plan on pigging out with pizza the day after, just as an act of revenge, but other than that, yay! Scarves!

Mar 8, 2015

Hell Week

After a month with shake-days, February was my "go back to food with vengeance" month, which ended up making me gain some weight. Not too much, but enough to make my nutritionist decide to put me on a special diet program, which I call "hell week". And hell week starts today.

Hell Week is about a whole week of planned meals, and by "planned" I mean specifically planned. Not like so far where I only had general directions like "2 carbs, 2 proteins, 2 veggies" and so on, but a specific composition of things, such as 60 grs of chicken and 1 cup of tomato salad. It's not really - so far - a diet that makes me hungry, but what I don't like very much is the fact that I can't eat whatever I want, but I have to eat specific stuff. For a whole week. Hn... I wonder how will this end up. Oh well, we will see in a week.