Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The recall

Innocently unearthing memories of the past can become a double-edged sword. On one hand you have the joy of looking back and reliving those precious moments when life was so different, without preoccupations (or at least not visible in those frozen images) and reminding us about all the amazing experiences that were lived and shared with loved ones. On the other hand one might discover that not many things were as we thought, not many things were evident or perhaps, even non-existent, creating a feeling of uneasiness, oblivion and being lost. When no memories seem present, one wonders what part of life has fallen victim of being forgotten forever, doomed into the nothingness.

I can’t help but feeling happiness to see memories of loved ones, where they seem so delighted and in bliss, having the time of their life, living life and embracing many experiences. But I’m never present in them. I was the eternal absent from those times, and I recently discovered that in one way or another I have been the only one to blame for my decision to not act, to not be there and not leaving an imprint in the pages of history; if not universal history, at least in the pages and lives of those for whom I cherish. Why then, if I’m guilty for my own exile, I’m complaining about the situation? I believed then, that I should uncover tales of old to become part of a shared experience, to become an intrinsic aspect of other’s lives.

Unearthing dormant stories, that were once thought lost to time and the masses, can also become complicated matters to deal with. How they will come out, what tone and what feeling they will be carrying along can create an atmosphere of anxiety never experienced before. I really thought I was ready for it, that I could juggle with all the information but I have to admit that it came too fast and with a great responsibility on my shoulders. I panicked, I admit it… but I cannot, I WILL not accept this burden, this… act of nigh-blackmail. I stand fast under my banner, which shows my true-self, even if this action leaves me broken.

I went looking for memories but I ended up finding none, and when ancient plots came forth, I despaired. I guess sometimes the recall must be intentionally denied. 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Into the ocean

And yet when everything gives us the impression that there’s already so much in life to make us bleed, I remain steadfast. After the fall of the tarot card, picking up the pieces just didn’t seem so much fun, but I had to do it. It was a one-man job, trying carefully to collect and place correctly every little piece so that it’ll fit perfectly again; I have so much to hope for, so much to be excited and anxious. There is though, definitely a different and distant feeling when the protagonist isn’t here, near and close to help with the broken, scattered pieces. Every single day I whisper a petition, just to keep the tradition up, just to remind me how it once was and I wish it were. Sometimes, I even whisper it out loud, but even in a closed room there is no echo.

These feelings are similar, and the closer they are to one’s heart, the blurrier the line between them is. What events might seemingly hurt us, are ways of showing how great we as human beings can be, with this amazing capability of generating feelings towards other beings. I do not feel like an idiot or a naïve. I feel happy when I see those that matter enjoying life and being happy. What better egotistical feeling than being happy for a loved one’s happiness? And I like feeling good.

As much as I want to feel terrible about it and run towards that hill, I have been giving myself the appropriate exercise to find happiness wherever I can. Wish it to and be grateful that there are many out there experiencing and living new things. It’s just that sometimes… I wish I was a sailor, even if it takes some time and needs to slip away for a while. Small missing details are the ones that linger. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Silentium est aureum

Since little kids we look up to someone to follow, a role model that truly personifies the essence of what we believe and hold true and righteous; a paragon of excellence in every aspect of our interests and approval. Usually, in the early stages this fellowship turns towards a parent, a teacher, or even a friend. Later on, it shifts towards famous artists or musicians, painters or writers who we admire and consider them our eye-openers: those that illuminate us. We sometimes choose these figures because we feel somehow related to them whether it’s the way they express feelings that we experience and relate to in lyrics, paintings, or in words. For one reason or another we feel related and sometimes even see ourselves reflected on them or on their actions. What happens then, when we feel related to a person of a moral behavior frowned upon our society or culture? What does this say about us? About our inner thoughts, demons and dark passengers?

For quite a while there has been an approach, or better yet, an affinity to disturbed and troubled characters, from books, movies, webcomics even, that enclose values and morals that can be seen as out of place, evil and shocking at times. When such a relation appears, and manifests itself deeply and vividly, one becomes a judge of its own set of values and its whole person. One takes the part of both critic and criticized regarding the actions. Critic, because one hates seeing their true self being shown to our faces and things are even worse when they’re displayed from a different view, other than our own; we hate ourselves for being bad. Criticized, because we know that speaking of it will bear no sympathy or comfort, only disgraced looks and words of pity and scorn from others. Shame overcomes as one imagines the society knowing about the dirty little secrets, knowing that under such a hard and thick coating, only despair exists. We feel lost as we ponder over the meaning of these situations, over how they got there, over what they say about us.

We hide, we run, we take different personalities and change names, addresses and backgrounds, all of this to conceal what boils inside, for the sake of order around us. Silence is golden, but suffering in silence is hell, just as other people are.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cooking

After having sushi so many times, eating microwave meals for one is simply devastating. The joy of cooking resides intrinsically in the value and fulfillment of sharing, of having someone to cook for or being cooked for. I love cooking. It relieves me and makes me feel at peace, but putting so much effort for single dishes verges on depressing.

And if weren’t enough, when one sees that the effort put into cooking is overseen and considered trite, one must ask if it’s even wise to continue the charade; if it’s best to settle with uninspired meals and tragic dishes. I wish I wasn’t used to lonely dinners and cold nights that make me withstand these days of tribulations. I wish I wasn’t dinning alone. Many days can pass, but my will must remain strong, though after a thousand aeons past, one can discover that even death can die.

As stated by the book of Chronomancy from Dungeons and Dragons, the worst thing that can happen is to be forgotten. To forget is to wipe from the very fabric of existence any person, object, thought or action, and I fear that I have little by little forgotten to cook.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Salamanca; through a 2MP cellphone camera

My most recent journey abroad took me to the amazing city of Salamanca, cradle of the Spanish language, full of historic constructions (some dating back to the IIth century), exquisite gastronomy (cured ham and beer, can it get any better?) and a crazy-freakin-night-life (starting to party at 22:00 and ending at 5:00-6:00 is the norm). But even though the city, formerly known as Helmantica by the Romans, is a small one (150,000 inhabitants in the city itself) there is much to see and discover, specially if one is a museum and ancient architecture lover -as myself. Unfortunately, my visit counted for a mere weekend in which not everything could be seen within time, but at least I got a glimpse of the city; enough to wanting to go back with more time and explore it.

Do not be fooled by the initial amazing blue-skies of the following pictures, Salamanca remained my whole stay between 10C and -4C (around 50F and 24F), and the river Tormes, known for an anonymous story called 'La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades' or simpler 'Lazarillo de Tormes' (The Guide of Tormes), on which the city was founded, creates a wave of fog around the whole city engulfing it in a perfect scenario for a horror movie; sometimes visibility was merely 20 meters (roughly 65feet).


The 'Plaza Mayor', the central part of the city, heart of the social life of Salamanca, houses the City Hall on one of its façades and a myriad of restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, bars, and even a hotel (if I recall correctly; or where they private apartments? Not sure, but people lived in some places!). Built during the XVIIIth century with a clear Barroque style, many of its features had been changed even before being built (some towers were discarded as well as other elements). Now a days, it's the meeting place for the locals, not making it any less beautiful.

Plaza Mayor, heart of the city. Before the 40's, it had trees!


'Casa de las Conchas'. Built during the late XVth century and early XVIth century, belonged to a knight from the 'Orden de Santiago de Compostela'. It's most notable aspect is the façade adorned with more 300 seashells, symbol of the apostle James and of the Order of the same name. It reflects a late Gothic and early Plateresque (typical of Spain during the time between the more known European Gothic and Rennaisance styles) styles.

Façade. This picture is courtesy of Wikipedia because my cellphone couldn't get a nice view, but I had to put this picture to get the concept of the building.


View of the Cathedral spires from the inner courtyard on the first floor.


View of the original ceiling over the staircase.


View of the Cathedral spires from the second floor.


View into the inner courtyard from the second floor.


During the Francisco Franco dictatorship, Salamanca became the capital for the Nationalists before being moved to Burgos. Nowadays you can see many anti-fascists graffiti all over the city, symbolizing the strong influence that this part of history had in the city.

Of course, Francisco Franco's house, is right in front of...



The Cathedral of Salamanca. Actually there are TWO cathedrals, the Catedral Vieja de Santa María (Old Cathedral of Saint Mary) built in a XIIth century Romanesque style, and the Catedral Nueva (New Cathedral) started in XVIth century and completed during the XVIIIth century. The most interesting aspect of this complex is the the Old Cathedral is INSIDE the New Cathedral. Apparently, 'salmantinos' (how people from Salamanca are called) liked their Old Cathedral so much, that when they wanted a new one it was built without destroying the former.

The Old Cathedral seen from a small plaza.

The Old Cathedral seen from the plaza where Francisco Franco's is.

Bell tower, also from the plaza in front of Francisco Franco's house.


West façade and entrance of the New Cathedral. Next to the door the Old Cathedral peeks with its circular constructions and stone roof-tiles.
  
North façade of the New Cathedral, with its copula and characteristic late Gothic-Plateresque architectural style details on the wals, spires and windows. 


Main access to the New Cathedral. The cellphone's resolution didn't allow to capture a sculpture of a small astronaut in the sinuous details, but you can see it here.


'Convento de San Esteban' (St. Stephen Convent), built between the XVth and XVIth centuries with a Plateresque style (oh... bored already with this style?) by the Dominincan Order. It's famous for allegedly being the place where Christopher Columbus exposed his idea to the geographers of the University to venture into the Atlantic for a shorter route to the Indies. Yeah, you know the story.

Main façade. Yeah... it was already afternoon so the shadowing sucks.

  

Details of the main façade.

A better view, perhaps?


And now, various views of the city. 

Casa Lis, built during the Art Noveau and Art Deco period (late XIXth century), with it's amazing glass and metal works. Now it houses a museum and a café.


Segment of the walls back from the Roman times. 

 
The Roman Bridge, built around the IIth century. In the background, the copula and bell tower of the New Cathedral.


Pretty much all of the city's buildings are made with a special type of stone from a nearby village. It's a type of chalk-like formation which retains this kind of white-cream-yellow color. Oh yeah, and there's a Sponge Bob Square Pants made with that stone!


For the lovers of beer, pork, hams, salamis, cider, and gastronomy in general, Spain IS the stuff! 2.50€ for beers, 4.00€ for this appetizer of grilled pork. Paradise, I tell you! Paradise!


During this trip I had the amazing opportunity of staying with a great family, friends from Honduras that have lived there for already 6 years and they have a beautiful 2-almost-3 year old girl which is the pure embodiment of cuteness. One of my great guides in the city, the lovely Andrea. Here, with scarf, jacket, boots and what not.




Finally, an assortment of pictures showing the power of the fog that engulfed the city on my last night.






Views from the neighborhood were my friends live.




   








Views of the Cathedral, and Francisco Franco's house. As it might been noticed, many of the old buildings have a slightly red hue on their walls. This is because back in those times it was a tradition to stain the walls with bull blood, for example when students graduated from the University... it was sort of their 'diploma' to leave their names written on the walls.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Patience

Upon seconds and minutes of waiting, of watching the tower fall through waves of dreaded exchanges of whispers, as if it were prohibited under death to be loud, I try laboriously to embrace and accept that these are not my signals anymore. I am no longer the messenger nor the receiver, I’m no one; a bump, an obstacle, a presence that must be avoided or feared, and from whom these whispers must be protected and covered. Backs are being turned towards me, literally. Snickers and laughs and mockery arise from these waves, to have me blatantly ignored when I show concern; they run and hide away from sight. I cannot come to peace with my patience, because I don’t know if I will find peace in patience. I guess... there is only dusting off the sand from your shoes and keep on walking.


I wonder what is the message though, that such superb use of Enigma must be applied. Are the forces already where we used to be? Are there code names already? Are there forecasts and exchanges of future status’ information? Not only was I a former messenger, but now I message no one, and worse I’ve lost my job as a scout in a way I still don’t understand how it happened. I should be angry for this unemployment but if anything I feel hopeless and wondering if it was me who didn’t do a good enough effort at work. It was indeed crushing and terrible to walk pass my company and see that everything is normal. Not that I wish them any harm; if anything I wish them the best, but I thought that I was an important cog in this marvelous machinery.


I once ran up to a former soldier friend and he greeted me with the most astonishing normality that made me wonder: did he get like this so fast or is he still pining heavily but hiding it so damn well? I wonder if our anecdotes about fun and wonderful times, fear and doubts are still being told. I wonder if the people at the company still remember those scary nights in the fox-holes and victorious cases of wine and hot meals we joyfully took. I wonder if there is a simple sign of remembrance or must I come to accept that patience is my dark companion now.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Peace

Self-disemboweling, spilling your guts out, opening the wounds. All these are perfect analogies for exposure, freedom, honesty and frankness. Achieving them might prove to be a complicated matter, a road filled with tortuous treads, sinuous trails and excruciating paths, but one that has to be crossed, nonetheless. And once making it through comes the best part: facing the goal, a painful one that for a reason, we always knew what it was and yet we feel so surprised and horrified when finally meet there. Fear hugs us, reigns supreme and ushers a world of madness.

We are constantly reminded, through movies, TV shows and books, that to be afraid is common and that there is a misconception of fear. Fear of heights, spiders or crowded places have one common ground: fear. We repeatedly hear that “there is nothing to fear, but fear itself”, and if we stay true to this thought, what should our plan be to deal with each and every one of our fears? Look at fear straight into the eyes, and bask in it, confront it, attack it, punch it and kick it, utterly destroying it for good. Yet, in a world where chaos reigns, we despair.

For our own sake, for our personal peace, fear must be dealt with, must be crushed. We cannot let it keep beating us, keep walking over us and making us suffer; making us prisoners of our own selves. And yet, somehow it got inside me. I ran valiantly into the killing field, into my personal Omaha Beach, knowing the dangers, knowing that there were little chances for my survival. I survived. I came out, with many war wounds, heavy blows, injuries and missing parts but I knew that it was going to be hard, I knew the consequences but at least I can say that I did it. That I went all the way. And I’m not afraid to say that there was fear inside me, but when I got back home, it didn’t vanish, it was merely subdued.

Upon seeing into the eyes of the Dragon I heard a voice like a thousand needles into my heart, and I despaired. Chaos beckoned and I hopelessly heeded the call. And after a thousand years, peace remains elusive in the Kingdom of Heaven.