Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

It is the time to think about them, to plan them, to write them down, to do whatever you think will work this time around, because, this year, you are going to stick to your resolutions. Or are you?

Today, 28th December, we Spaniards celebrate el Día de los Inocentes. It's what you might know as 'April Fools' Day', but in Spain it is celebrated in December. 'Spain is different', they say. A good day to think about 2014's resolutions, because who are we fooling? Most of them will forever remain as good intentions.

This year I am not making any lists, I won't trick myself into thinking that a new year can trigger a new life. After all, every day is a fresh start, every single day is an opportunity to become a better version of myself. 

This year I aim to stick to my sole and only resolution: do more of what makes me happy
As simple as that. No unachievable idealisms. No becoming someone that I am not. I'll water 2014 with white wine, clear it of toxic people and fill it of shared moments with family and real friends. The soundtrack will be that of the loudest laughters.

I hereby commit to investing all of my energy, time, effort and other resources in being happy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sick of Being Sick

Stages of being ill:
  1. Colleague at work starts sneezing. Sneezer-Colleague
  2. 'I told you so'-Colleague says: "you should have had the flu shot this year"
  3. You brag about not having caught a cold in over 6 years
  4. Hypochondriac-Colleague starts coughing
  5. Sneezer-Colleague calls in sick
  6. You start sneezing... No!
  7. 'I told you so'-Colleague says: "you should have had the flu shot this year"
  8. Your head aches
  9. Your skin turns the shade of grey that no makeup can hide
  10. Cautious-Colleague recommends you to go home
  11. No! you won't succumb to a cold. You brag about not having caught a cold in over 6 years and  try to fight symptoms by taking vitamins, eating oranges, wearing layers... But it's too late
  12. Your nose starts running. Constantly
  13. You take a box of tissues to every meeting
  14. Your nose blocks
  15. You start breathing with your mouth. As a consequence, you are thirsty all of the time
  16. Food loses its taste
  17. You're told to go home. You resist
  18. Your voice becomes manly. And echoed...
  19. Your eyes start watering without reason
  20. Ears stop registering sounds
  21. Welcome to life in a bubble!
  22. Your brain doesn't catch up with the outer-bubble world making your sentences incoherent
  23. Your skin begins to ache
  24. You surrender, admit that you're sick and go home
  25. Feeling vulnerable, you crawl into bed with the sole aim of not getting out
  26. Mummy!!!!
  27. You toss and turn in bed, your cough impeding you to get any sleep
  28. You're bored
  29. Change base camp to sofa
  30. You're bored
  31. Change base camp to bed. Can't sleep
  32. You're bored
  33. Mummy!!!
  34. You're so bored and miserable that you go back to work
  35. Cautious-Colleague asks whether it is a good idea for you to be back so soon
  36. You pretend to be 100% recovered
  37. An ear pops. You feel the happiest person in the world
  38. A nostril decongests. Yey!!
  39. Cautious-Colleague starts sneezing and gives you a killer look

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Language in Language

So you speak English, do you? I thought I did too... up until a little over 5 years ago.

It all started the day I landed on the country which was to become since then my home. Having brought up in the British education system since my toddler days, I pretty much considered myself fluent in the language of Shakespeare. Up until I got into the taxi from the airport, told the taxi driver the address I wanted to go to, and receiving a blank stare and a idle engine in return. I gave up after the third repetition and was forced to write the address down for him to read himself. The exact same thing I would have done if I'd had landed in Taiwan.

English is not a language, it's a world of languages I have yet to explore. It's not only about differences in pronunciation, or accent, or spelling, or jargon or even slang. It's how one same word can have so distinct meanings in one supposed same language. 

If you want to avoid empty glances or awkward looks, here are some of the first words I learned (the hard way, as always) did not always mean what I meant them to mean:
· Pants: underwear for some, trousers for others. So be sure to tell that you wore (or not wore) the correct ones! 
· Rubber: what some use to delete pencil mistakes and what others use to prevent 'other type' of mistakes... 
· Biscuit: think before you order it: am I a tiny bit peckish or famished?  
· Lift: complete different interpretations of up and down
· Bird: think twice before classifying it as an animal... some refer to their girlfriends with this noun 
· Shag: very utterly extremely important that you get this one right, or "selling a shag" can get you from this to this...

Regardless of whether you speak English or any other language, the common truth is that the more you know, the more you know how little you know!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Coming

December is tomorrow (wait, what?!!) and with it the final countdown towards Christmas arrives. Notice how I emphasised 'final' in that previous sentence there, the countdown towards Christmas started the day Halloween was over. At least in Europe. In the US they had Thanksgiving in between. But that came last Thursday - happy Thanksgiving US friends - and it's over now as well. Hence, my initial point: 
December = Christmas
Although my childhood days are way - way, way, way - gone (read my "On the Verge" post for reference), I admit that I still get that childlike grin in my face when I go out and see all of the colourful decorations, twinkling lights, Christmas trees... Ah, Christmas... Needless to say that I really like this time of the year. I love spending time with my family and seeing the look in their faces when they open their presents. 

Unfortunately, the fact that I'm no longer a kid, allows me to see the other side of the festive days: the Preparation. Yes, it deserves a capital letter. And it's own part in the previously shared equation, or otherwise I would be lying to all of you. Dear friends, it is with great concern that I open your eyes to reality:
December = Christmas = chaos + queues + panic + entangled Christmas lights + to do lists + to buy lists + Christmas carols infinitely following you everywhere you go + dreadful social engagements + unimaginable expenses + claustrophobically crowded shopping centres + you name it...
So, my humble suggestion to all of you, who like me, have your child days behind, is to hold your braces and pull through this month with a big smile on your face and a huge sleigh full of patience.

Ho, ho, ho!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Teeth Matters

I walked out yesterday from my emergency visit to the dentist with a prescription (I could have kissed the guy), a wounded bank account (I *should* marry the guy) and a number of thoughts around teeth...

We are born with no teeth and die with a few (if any). In between, a bit of everything tainted with a mix of emotions.  

The number of visits to the dentist is directly proportional to the growth in your vocabulary. The more you know, the less you like (sometimes referred to growing up - and it's not pretty).  One learns the hard way that crowns are not exclusively reserved for royal family members; that there are more fillings than the ones you get to choose for your sandwich; or that wisdom is not carried only in your brain. Losing a tooth has a totally new significance when the tooth fairy isn't involved and having holes in your smile is considered creepy rather than cute.

An open door to a painful world of unpronounceable words (orthodontists, bruxism...) and utterly humiliating moments - even visits to the gynecologist aren't as embarrassing as having a person dedicated exclusively to moving a plastic tube around your mouth for 30 minutes to suck your saliva in. This is probably why we neglect our teeth until we are paralised by acute toothache impeding us from eating, sleeping, talking, thinking, living.

My final words to you: take care of your teeth.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween's Coming

Tomorrow is Halloween, or as the song would say "Halloween's coming, Halloween's coming..."
Fear not, unlike the song, however, skeletons won't be after you, but rather sexy nurses, hot policewomen, sensual pirates, overly exaggerated breasted men (why do men always like to dress up as women?) and so on. Just make a search for 'Halloween costumes' on the web, the results are priceless. Actually, scratch that: do fear!

I do get the children's side to dressing up and getting sweets. I mean, it can't get better than being allowed to a sugar-high at the age of 6. And they do look cute in their pumpkin costumes and so on. What worries me is the adult (and increasing) part of this day.

If it were up to me, Halloween should be renamed to "dressing for who you'd like to be". It's basically the day were you are allowed to remain undisturbed with your appearance and what it might reveal, which, judging from the cleavage in some of those costumes, it is sometimes more that what others might want to see... It's not even any more about dressing up as zombies and ghosts (which I already find quite distasteful and senseless)!

The development, or rather, the deterioration of Halloween truly amazes me. As a Spaniard, I have been raised to believe that this is the day were we should remember and pay our respects to the loved ones who have sadly left. It is a tribute to those who were once physically close and now live solely in our memories. Families congregate in cemeteries to put fresh flowers on tombs, say a little prayer and shade a little tear or two. If you know how that might relate to a provocative pizza slice (how can those 3 words be together?), please let me know.

Happy Halloween people! (or whatever)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Internet

I still remember the days when meetings with friends were arranged over a series of telephone calls; all of which happened in the space of minutes and lasted for as long as you could clutch to the plastic apparatus without being disturbed by my older brother (waiting for the call of his latest female conquest) my prudent father (claiming that the bills will ruin this family!). Time and place was decided and then it was left up to each one of us to be there on time or else miss whatever we were up to. There were no mobile phones to alert of unexpected delays in the public transport or other unforeseen events. The city was filled with lost souls looking for the place they were supposed to be at; asking others where this or that street was. There was no GPS, no Google Maps to consult, no Whatsapps, SMS...

The times when people actually talked to each other... I felt as if I knew everything about my friends after long conversations shortened only by the strict curfew I had to adhere to. Then the internet happened (yes youngsters, believe it or not, there was a world before the internet!); and with it, the new ability of knowing everything about everyone without the need of any social interaction. We became victims of the over-sharing epidemic.
“Whatever we possess becomes of double value when we have the opportunity of sharing it with others.”
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the web. I'm an auto-declared geek (my Mam's still amazed of what I have become interested in). Every part of my life is technologically fueled. I can't go offline for a day without getting stressed and suffering withdrawal symptoms. I plead guilty of visiting social network sites (why do we insist in calling it "social network sites" when we all know which site we are referring to?) with the sole and only purpose of spending a few minutes (ahem) peeking into the lives of others. Just before writing this, I confess to have easily spent a whole hour procrastinating in front of my laptop doing nothing but changing from one insignificant tab to another. Just like that: tab, tab, tab.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My Weekend Plans

When the end of the working week approaches, I fear the moment when I'll hear the foreseeable question: "Doing anything exciting this weekend?". I honestly need to think and mentally prepare for this from Mondays to be able to have something to casually drop as an answer that won't brand me for the rest of my days as being boring.

The truth is that the best of my weekends involve: a book, a cup of tea (or glass of white wine), a sofa and not much more. 
This, however, will mean my response to the dreaded question is: "Reading, drinking, lying and little more". 'Bliss' in my eyes; but I'm guessing 'exceedingly dull and uninteresting' for the listener. Not even when I go over the top and treat myself to a play in the theatre, succeeds in making a conversation out of my weekend plans. 

Let's be honest: sadly, more than half of the time, the person asking you about your weekend plans isn't the least interested in what you answer. They are either a) being polite; or b) longing for the cue "what about you?" to talk about themselves (oh, don't do people love talking about themselves...) 

This is why I have decided that the next time I hear "Doing anything exciting this weekend?" I'm going to completely ignore the social pressure around this topic and offer a frank answer that mentions all of the things I have no intention of doing (e.g. waking up early, making the watch rule my day, run from meeting to meeting) and all of the places I won't even consider setting foot on (e.g. the office, claustrophobic clubs).

I love weekends!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Jet Lag is the New Hangover

Severely dehydrated. Struggling for words. Head and muscle (every. single. one. of. them.) ache. Lightheaded. Weak... Hangover? No; jet lag

I'm just back from a business trip to the other side of the world. A trip short enough to not fully adjust, but long enough to have left part behind. I think a part of me has been lost in every time zone from here to there and back. Now I'll just need to wait for the pieces to catch up with the cardboard version of myself sitting here.

I don't know what time it is of what day. I don't even care, for that matter. I just want to go under the duvet and hide there until tomorrow. That and my Mam. Maaam!! 

Yeh, you might want the exact same thing (plus greasy junk food) if you were out partying last night. But hangover is the price you have to pay for a night out having fun! There's nothing fun about spending 15 hours between airports (plural), flights (plural) and queues (plural: check-in, security, toilets, boarding, disembarking, etc.) 

Ok, let's be fair. It wasn't that bad. I have to stay positive and look on the bright side:
  • the 3 airports I was in had Wi-Fi, so I didn't even have to work on my life-work balance
  • my bag reached the same destination as I did. Both ways.
  • I did not missed my connection. In fact, I spent more than 3 hours waiting for a 45 min flight home
  • I was able to change my middle seat for an aisle seat
  • with my headphones on, the (constant and extremely loud) screams of the baby were 'differed'
  • my vegetarian food was always served before the rest (it was still tasteless crap, but I still got the "I wish I was you" look from the passengers around me)
  • the flight attendant gave me a second blanket, so I didn't lose any toes to a/c frost
  • no threatening devices/substances were found in my hand luggage after it was embarrassingly completely emptied in front of the whole London Heathrow airport
  • despite absurdly feeling a mixture of anxiety and guilt, I was able to provide the correct answer when the cops (that's how they are called there) in the security check asked my name
Oh, well, at least I'm certain that I didn't text my ex, said anything which can be then held against me or hugged others proclaiming them my best friends ever.

*Note: Any grammatical errors and nonsense in this post can be fully attributed to severe jet lag conditions. Be nice and avoid judging me solely on the content of this post. Highly appreciated. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Every Day Oxymorons

Easy opener. How's that for an oxymoron, huh? And yet every first (and failed) attempt I make to open a milk carton, is without scissors. I'm full of hope, what can I do?

Old news for you: we live in a contradictory world. 

I'm a very private person, but for the purpose of this post, I'll make a living sacrifice and share a few examples with you. My life is full of oxymorons.

My personal life, for instance. In my last relationship, I felt so alone together that the only solution was break up, even if for some time living apart felt like the impossible solution. But he seemed too keen in making me grow smaller, and I didn't want to disappear. Yes, breaking apart was my only choice. I won't go into more detail of this bitter sweet experience, you all know how it goes. 

My leisure life as well. A few weeks ago I went to a concert. It was a one-man band playing soft rock. Nice evening, that was! There was a small crowd and the place made the acoustics amazing. It was in a small café in town. One of those places where the paper tablecloth tables hold plastic silverware and paper towels and your drink gets poured into a plastic glass. I'll definitely go back, it was fantastic!

And even my professional life, where I've seen myself making decisions based on exact estimates. The nature of my work favours communication by email, and I have to master this channel to avoid pretty ugly situations derived from being being clearly misunderstood. Very demanding. So much that my last break was a working holiday

Living a contradictory life is seriously funny!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Detox Time

Part of this all 3.0 thing that I'm going through is to undergo a major detox. Nope, I'm not going to start blending fruits and vegetables as meal substitutes to eliminate toxins from my system. I'll be guiltlessly removing toxic people from my life.

They're not strangers to you, we all know them in their different forms: the Pitier, the Frenemy, the Schemer, the Snob, the Manipulative, the Narcissist, the Dream Killer... So many to say goodbye to...

I encourage you to kick them out too! Let no room for those who make you feel small or treat you in a harmful way, bringing you down over and over again. 

See you never!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Letter to Neglected Ageing

Dear increasing number of women,

Allow me to be blunt: that plastic surgery does not make you look younger. It makes you look weird. Chucky-meet-E.T. weird. 

Eyes are meant to blink. Lips should move when you talk. A nose has sides; plural. Your face should allow you to express feelings.

All this re-arranging of skin and bones does my head in.
And don't get me started on other parts of the body... For all the guys out there: if they don't move when we do, they're fake.

My most sincere congratulations if your objective was to confuse people. ChapeauWe don't know when you're angry because you can't frown. We cannot tell if you're happy, because you can't smile. (You can always turn to the "if you're happy and you know it and you really want to show it, if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!")

Plastic surgery does not make you look younger. It makes you look nothing like yourself and exactly the same as all the other women who have had cosmetic surgery done. So alike that I used to think there was only one surgeon in the world creating this new specimen in batche. Why would you want to go voluntarily through this painful surgery? And even do so repeatedly (plastic surgery is like Pringles: "Once you pop, you can't stop"!)?

You would be doing yourself, the ones around you and your pocket a favour if you took another approach to ageing.

Someone who hopes to look older than her grandchildren.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Guilty Pleasures

Brace yourselves, because it's time for a confession: from time to time I'm rejoiced at mischievous acts. 

Although I prefer calling them guilty pleasures. Small actions that cloud my conscience but fill me with delight. 

Don't judge me, we all have things we feel guilty about enjoying. Some of mine?
  • purposely breaking the first cookie of a package in a supermarket's shelf
  • getting into [insert here: Zara / AWear / H&M / other] with the sole mission of unfolding perfectly folded clothes
  • going out of my way to step on the grass after seeing a "Do Not Step on Grass" sign
  • putting random items in people's trolleys at Tesco
  • standing in the middle of a crowded area and staring up at the sky
  • giving directions to someone when I have no clue of where the place they are looking for is

Guilty as charged!

It feels kind of nice to confess these and I invite you to share some of yours  (I'm always open to new ideas!). 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sorry, I'm not Sorry

I've been raised up to be polite - all thank yous and after yous. Lately, however, I seem to have taken these good manners to the extreme of self-condemning - all sorrys and excuse mes.

The straw that broke the camel's back? Realising that I apologised when introducing myself! 
Here's how the conversation flows when meeting someone (let's call them 'Mary' for illustration purposes) for the first time :
Mary: "Hi, I'm Mary."
Me: "Hello Mary, nice to meet you. I'm Mireya."
Mary frowns and stares blankly with no intention of hiding her confusion.
Me (slow and loud): "M-i-r-e-y-a."
Mary frowns harder and stares even more blankly clearly revealing her confusion.
Me: "I know, I'm sorry."
I once read that people with names that are difficult to pronounce are less popular; but apologising for a name that I love (thanks Mam & Dad) is simply absurd.

So here's my new resolution: I'm dropping the "Sorry" from my name. If you can't pronounce my name, that's fine, I'll repeat it as often as you need. Don't worry, I'm used to it. Unless, of course, you are the taxi company - to whom I am and always be 'Monica', or Starbucks - who make tall one-shot skinny lattes out for 'Olive' (who cares? if they won't get it always right either way).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Little White Lies

Even after knowing that Hugo the hamster really never went to that happy hamster farm after he left the comfort (not) of the tiny cage in your room, we never seem to grow out of telling white lies, do we?

Why not, if it spares us from a harder truth? I'm all for damaging facts concealing!
  • Running 5 minutes late - in a world where every minute lasts for 10
  • Chocolate is good for you - because that chocolate bar is magical and will totally give you wings!
  • It's time to wash this shirt... and these pants -  I'm sooo not in the mood of finding a free hanger in the wardrobe
  • I need that new pair of shoes - to come closer to my 100th pair :)
  • I've read and agreed to the terms and conditions - who has the time to go through this page of text anyway?
  • My home is your home - but take your shoes off, sit on that chair and leave everything where it is.
  • I need that new pair of shoes - to come closer to my 100th pair :)
  • Window shopping - and buy all of those things I don't even need

Just tossing ingredients for a happy life!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On the Verge

I'm turning 30 in a couple of days.

My social media feed is literally inundated with wedding pictures and cute babies which all my classmates seem to be currently popping out (very politically incorrect use of words, but some are already on their second!). Me? Well, let's see: I'm boyfriend-less, child-less and renting (choosing my words carefully here, since thank to God I'm not 'homeless'). Falling out of the norm has convicted me to a set of society where confusion and questioning oneself reigns. "What am I doing wrong?" I find myself further and further away from those who were once so close, with less and less things in common. Whilst the girl sitting next to me in 2nd grade is engaged delivering a human being into this world, my major accomplishment to date is that I've finally managed to hold my Bakāsana for longer than a second (I know, well done me, right? I mean, it happened once and that still counts). 

I guess I should have stopped comparing myself to others waaaay back. Let's face it: at 5 I was probably eating snots but surely not composing symphonies (Mozart), at 12 I was writing boys names in the back of by school books and not plays (Lope de Vega), and the fake sickness that kept me out of lectures at 19, were never granted with a nomination to the Academy Awards (Leonardo di Caprio).

As the 3.0. version of myself becomes a reality, I've decided to care less and count more. Care less about what other people do (as long as they are happy and don't hurt anyone) and count more blessings. I don't seem to adhere to any 30-year-old stereotype anyway - which, by the way, creates a lot of amusing confusion in people. The other day I was buying cigarettes in Spain (where, literally everyone smokes) and the guy asked for my ID! Didn't know whether to be offended or flattered. It must be the Johnson's baby oil that I diligently use after my daily shower (hey, maybe I do have things to talk about to my toddlers' mums friends!). Other times, I'm taken as ancient for I find true happiness immersed in the pages of a book with a mug of tea in my hand. 

Let the laughing at oneself begin!