MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Surviving without the Net

mac-internet-sharingThere is a child in a pram holding a tablet. It can barely say two words but it knows how to swerve its fingers in order to play a virtual game. There is another one which needs a screen in front of it depicting moving images, so it can eat a spoonful of food. Then there are the older ones that have a smartphone stuck to their hands as if their life depends on it. There is a man who enters the swimming pool with a digital gadget in a waterproof case. And these are not unique cases.

We spend our days fixed onto a screen; a digital depiction of reality, while real life passes us by. We are so deeply addicted to this new-age “disease” that we cannot even imagine life without it. Without a smartphone, a tablet, a computer, or simply put, the Internet.

So much, that when you are found in a location with no Internet access, you immediately classify it as an uncivilized place – because, really, who in this day and age does not offer free Wi-Fi!? – and then you struggle to survive a few days without the one thing that has become an intrinsic part of your day. You can feel the withdrawal symptoms already kicking in in less than 24 hours. You desperately try to find a Wi-Fi network anywhere. Simply to log-on and surf the web. Just open a browser onto any page. To view anything. Simply to feel ‘safe’ that you are online, even for 5 minutes. To sense that you are in familiar space, no matter if that is virtual.

By the end of day one, your hands are already itchy. You are even considering knitting. Simply to keep yourself busy.

We have become so addicted to the Internet – that place where you can find literally anything – that surviving without it seems like balancing without a net. And as we become all the more connected and digitally forward, we become socially awkward network junkies. All the while, reality continues to pass us by, without us even noticing.

The duckling run

free-widescreen-animals-duckling_100458The minute he heard the splash into the crystal clear waters of the lake, Fuzzy started to run. His little duckling legs had never moved so fast in his short life. He didn’t have a lot of time.

The Master might get out of the lake any minute now. But according to his daily routine, which Fuzzy had closely monitored for over a week, he spent at least 25 minutes in the water, swimming and enjoying the tranquility that only those calm blue waters could offer.

Fuzzy’s mother told him not to go near humans. They could not be trusted. One minute they would extend a caring hand and the next they would pull down a heavy object over your head. There was a thin line between love and hatred, she always said. But Fuzzy somehow wanted to give humans the benefit of the doubt. After all, this certain one seemed alright. He was a sort of ‘live and let live’ mentality.

But today Fuzzy felt daring. After all, it is good to take a risk once in a while. It keeps the adrenaline pumping, he thought. So he ran.

Within two blinks of an eye he was there. Now he simply had to locate his exact target. From what he had observed, the Master placed it under the clothes he left on the river bed. So Fuzzy dug under the shirt. And there it was. Black and shiny. He had seen him operate it so many times, he felt almost like an expert himself. It only took the push of two buttons. And…. Mission accomplished!

He had just taken a cute duck selfie! And he was so proud. He was certain the Master would enjoy it too!

One box is never enough

box-of-stuffThey say that one of the steps to healing is practicing a ritual where you place every physical object that reminds you of a story that ended into a box. Out of sight, out of mind. Maybe it will work. But this ritual is much harder than it seems.

You can place things in a box. Like photographs, notes, letters, soft toys, books, memorabilia, even clothes. But how can you put away memories, experiences, feelings, hopes and dreams? How can you erase from your mind events that happened and made you stronger? How can you simply forget the feeling of carefree happiness? How can you simply chose not to remember?

It takes the slightest thing to associate with a memory – a song, a quote, a book, a movie, a TV series, a perfume, a game, a car, a dish – random everyday things that will get your eyes all welled up. Because no matter however much you try, a life cannot fit into a box.

And even if you do attempt to place as much as you can into a four-sided cardboard to stick at the back of your closet or under your bed, you will always have to face a single fact – that one box is never enough.

Gladstone’s alter ego

unluckyRoy never thought he was lucky. He had bought a lottery ticket more times than he could remember but never won. Ever. He would always be off by one or two numbers. But despite the absence of Lady Luck, he got along in life pretty well.

Well, until one rainy day. That’s when he realized he wasn’t lucky at all.

He was already late for work that morning because his alarm clock had stopped working in the middle of the night. So he had to rush out the door, stepping into a huge puddle, getting sprayed on by two cars that sped past him, and missing the bus to work. As he waited at the bus stop for the next one, he got struck by lightning the minute he opened his umbrella. Luckily, he suffered no harm. The hospital was nearby.

By the time he got to work it was nearly midday. His boss was not understanding at all, due to a meeting that had gone terribly wrong and budget cuts being introduced. Roy was simply the wrong person at the wrong time. He was placed on probation for a week and had to return home.

This time he managed to catch the bus that had just pulled over at the stop. He jumped in, but only a few stops later a conductor boarded and fined him sixty times the price of the ticket he did not have for rushing to catch the bus.

As he arrived back home, he turned on the TV to get his mind off this terrible day. The TV caused a power outage, which blew the fuse and burnt all the light bulbs. Upset (and a little scared about what else might happen), Roy curled into bed and fell asleep.

The next day, however, wasn’t much better. Roy woke up with a huge zit on his forehead, as if attacked by a giant mutated mosquito. He ordered in food and was delivered the wrong order by mistake, which of course was much less than what he wanted. When he called to complain, they told him no refunds could be made because he had already accepted it.

When he went out to the nearest ATM to withdraw cash to order food that he actually liked and could eat, the machine ate up his credit card and would not give it back. The bank told him it was his fault for not pulling it out. His card was cancelled and he would receive a new one in three working days. It was Friday.

Roy crept back into his apartment, feeling as if Lady Luck had cast a curse on him. He wondered if he was Gladstone Gander’s unlucky alter ego, and if his town was in a parallel universe to Duckburg. Maybe that would explain all these misfortunes.

During the weekend, Roy slept in and decided to not even attempt to exit the house. Who knows what catastrophe loomed out there?

Instead, he took his computer and started writing. By the end of the week, he had written a complete novel. On how an unlucky person can survive and thrive. He sent it to a friend of his who was a publisher. He was almost certain he would be laughed at, but it was worth a shot. Everyone else gets published with worse ideas, why not him?

Within three months, the book was published and became a best seller. Maybe Roy’s luck was finally changing…

To all ye who doubt

CreateYourselfI am better than you think. I am stronger, smarter and braver. I can manage on my own. I can deal with my own problems without needing to run back to you for help. I can sustain my own routine. I can shop on my own, cook on my own, wash on my own. I can take care of my own income and expenses. I can decide for myself. I can make the right choices. I may make mistakes but I learn from them. This is my life and I get to decide for it. I trust you and love you, but I will no longer stand to be controlled by you. I want you next to me, supporting and loving me. Not on top of me, yelling and shouting at me. I want you to rejoice with me and cheer me up, not hit me when I’m down and step over me. I need you there to listen and advise me. Not to dictate and criticize me. I love you but sometimes it just seems you don’t. Tough love is not an option anymore. The world is a hard place as it is. I just need you to help me find solutions to power through it all. To help me find my place and realize my dreams. To make this a life worth living and enjoying to the fullest. No-one can do that if they are constantly strapped to a ball and chain.

Allowing yourself to get lost is the quickest route to finding your way” – Sarah Pezdek-Smith

It’s only words

teddy bear covering eyesAs a child I used to love watching Duck Tales and Gummi Bears. You can really learn a lot from such programmes. I remember one thing in particular that I learnt from the latter – the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I tried to go by it. Because in essence, words are just that, right? They shouldn’t affect you so much.

Unfortunately, though, they do.

Words do penetrate your skin deeper than you may think. They affect you to the extent that you sit and think and rethink and replay conversations in your head, trying to figure out where it was that things went wrong.

The main problem with words, is that you can never take them back. Once out there, they’re out. And it hurts.

It hurts when loved ones tell you things they shouldn’t even think of, let alone say. When you are called names you fear. When you realize that what said in a moment of anger is what people truly think. And it ain’t good.

Words do hurt. They might not break your bones, but sometimes they leave a scar that is much harder to heal, for the wound is deeper than any flesh injury could ever be.

The truth you’ll never know

icebergIt’s hard to be perfect. No matter if it is just keeping up the appearance of being faultless.

Joseph knew it well. All his life he was trying to prove himself to others – even to his family and friends. That he was different. That he wasn’t like the rest of the guys out there. He had something special boiling up inside him and was striving to find a way to let it out. All amidst friendly mockery and criticism that he took on like a clown – with a smile on the outside and a frown inside.

But he never told anyone about this. Not even Alicia. He just wanted her to be happy. He was happy as long as she was. And that was all that mattered.

At least that was how he felt. Most of the time.

They were both trying to get ahead in their careers. Alicia had motivated him to reach higher. But it seemed that no matter what they did, no matter how many applications they sent, no matter how much networking they did, nothing seemed to work. There was no window opening up. Not even a mouse-hole.

And at work it all seemed to pile up. He was getting more and more jobs assigned to him, which of course he could do given his extraordinary skills, but under normal circumstances it would take another two people to share the tasks. Yet no matter how efficiently and accurately he responded to his obligations, there always seemed to be someone coming back and asking for more.

Alicia was at her limits too, as she was facing a similar situation at work and was being suffocated under never-ending workloads that seemed to proliferate instead of decrease.

Joseph had to listen to her complain, while she tried to console him when his turn came to externalize his agitation.

But one day, Joseph felt something was wrong. He woke up with a numbness in his feet and stumbled on the way to the bathroom. Something that had never happened before. He didn’t tell Alicia. There was no need to make her worry.

The doctor he immediately saw told him that unfortunately they detected a genetic mutation that caused an unforeseen illness to develop. Something that would require extensive, prolonged and continuous treatment.

Joseph felt the ground from under his feet disappear. He could feel the blood flushing out of his brain and rushing to his heart, which was beating like a drum. Cold sweat trickled down his spine, as he attempted to remain conscious. He could hear all his dreams shatter right in front of him. Right at that moment. Because everything would be different now.

At work, it was just another tedious day with demands piling up and everyone nagging about each other. It was bad enough he had his company to worry about, Alicia wanted to lash out on someone about her own ordeal.

And that was the moment he cracked. The moment when he felt it was better to behave like a jackass and get her to move away from him than make her suffer with him this unexpected future. It was easier to be the guy she hated. The person who did not deserve her. To make her see that she deserved better. It was better to break his own heart into a thousand pieces than force her to change her own dreams for his sake. For a future that no-one knew what it would bring and how.

Alicia ran away from him, with the image of a prince turning into a beast in her head.

And Joseph, he closed up inside his shell, hoping that one day she would understand – that he loved her so much, he let her go.

Twice upon a Whisper

2nd-birthdayA lot can happen in a year, let alone two. You keep yourself busy, trying not to be overwhelmed by all that is happening around you, and suddenly you find yourself remembering this – it’s been two years since I started this blog!

I honestly can’t remember how I was surviving without it. To me, it is more than just another blog. It is my refuge, my creative freedom, my memories, my travel log, my friend. It is the place where you can go to and be yourself. To say exactly what you want to say, the way you want. And just maybe the message will get through. At least it is off your chest and out of your mind.

A blog when done right offers a myriad of opportunities. And that is what I strive for. It’s not simply about finding a good read; it’s about identifying with it and seeing a piece of yourself in it too.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. I am grateful that you are reading my posts, commenting, sharing, and feeling it all with me.

If I have learnt anything in these two years, it is that life is not at all what you dream it up to be. It’s hard, cruel at times, and with many ups and downs. But you have to keep fighting. Simply for the moment that will come and make it all worth it.

Thank you for being here. Just remember, even a whisper is sometimes louder than a scream.

Burning bridges

BURNING bridgesAlicia was in love with a prince charming. At least that’s what she felt like. He had swept her off her feet from the moment she laid eyes on him. He was no ordinary Jo. He was the sweetest and most romantic guy she had met. His name was Joseph. And the first day he saw her she literally fell onto him. She was late for a meeting and he just stepped out of one. They worked in neighbouring offices in the greenest capital in the world. That was most convenient of all. Because for lunch they could easily escape for a picnic in the park, feeding leftovers to the ducks and geese, and playing with the chipmunks running up the tree barks.

Their romance seemed perfect. So perfect it actually scared Alicia.

Nothing could be this perfect.

Joseph was the type of guy who would open doors for her; who would pull her chair up and allow her to sit first before joining her at the table; who would buy flowers for no reason, simply to remind her that he loved her; who would listen and know exactly what she needed almost before she even said it. He was charming. Almost prince-like.

And Alicia loved that about him. That she felt so comfortable around him. She could be herself. Laugh, cry, yell, scream. She could do it all because she knew he would understand and he would support her.

Or so she thought.

There comes a time when everybody cracks and reveals a side of him no one knew was there.

And when Joseph cracked, there was an eruption.

The ludicrous and never-ending demands at work, combined with Alicia’s overbooked schedule and her super-tensed nerves, brought him over the edge. And he exploded. Like never before.

He told Alicia she was selfish and always blamed him for everything that went wrong. That she was so easily aggravated and constantly took it out on him. That she didn’t even know what she wanted anymore and aimed so highly for it all that in the end she would be left with nothing. He fired at her with no mercy and left her standing alone.

Alicia knew she had issues, but so did everybody. She thought, however, a love that bound two people was strong enough to surpass them all. Apparently she was wrong.

What she saw that day was an image she would never forget. It was a prince charming turning into an ugly beast. A monster with a frozen heart and claws dripping with blood.

She ran to the park, crawled up onto the bark of a tree and let the tears flow down her face. A chipmunk timidly appeared and slowly perched in her arms. She felt the warmth of its fuzzy coat embrace her like a tender consolation.

When bridges are burnt, no matter how strongly they are re-built (if at all), they are never the same.

Il ritorno del grifo

1 DSC08984There are few cities that invite you back no matter how much time has passed. Cities where you spent a significant part of your life, your ‘formation years’ and which draw you back to inject in you every now and then that adolescent hope which you had when you first set foot there. Few cities actually have something new to offer every time you visit. And even fewer make you feel as if you arrive at home. Every time.

The highway ends and you can begin to sense the excitement creeping up inside you. As you turn on those winding roads lined with blooming green trees, you feel that you are returning somewhere familiar. 2 DSC09120And the moment you see that first building, that first location which springs a memory to mind, you know you’re there. Where you left a piece of your heart, a piece of yourself. At a place which is filled with experiences and a best friend who always awaits you with arms wide open. It’s a place where you have a family and it feels like home no matter how long it’s been since your last visit. All it takes is a couple of hours to rediscover it all and blend right back in, as if you never left. As if a part of you continues to live here, evolving along with the city and yearning to remain free, independent and energetic, just like your youthful self when you first arrived.

3 IMG_0746Perugia is a city that registers in your mind and heart. With historic medieval stone buildings, situated in the heart of Umbria at the centre of Italy, between Renaissance Florence and the capital Rome, Perugia is famous. It is a well-known cultural and artistic centre of Italy, rich in architecture.

It hosts arguably the best Italian language school for foreigners, while famous Popes, 4 IMG_0739as well as renowned actress Monica Bellucci (among others) were students at its university. The famous painter Pietro Vannucci, nicknamed Perugino, who was the teacher of famous Renaissance artist Raphael, was a native of Città della Pieve near Perugia, while famous painter Pinturicchio lived in Perugia. Also from Perugia was the famous architect Galeazzo Alessi.

5 DSC08995Situated in the Umbrian hills with an elevation of 493 metres, Perugia is a beautiful medieval city where you can go pretty much anywhere on foot. It is actually more convenient to walk rather than try to drive a car through the narrow winding roads, especially in the city centre.

6 DSC09029

With so many uphills and downhills, it is also an ideal city to exercise naturally. Perugia is one of the rare cities that even require the presence of escalators and lifts – hundreds of steps exist throughout the city joining the different levels created due to its very particular geographic location.

7 DSC08989And the most exciting thing is that every strait around every winding corner leads to a magnificent scenery, a stone balcony full of colourful flowers smelling like spring and a series of steps that invite you to follow them to quench your curiosity.

Perugia is a city that inspires and encourages you to enjoy its elegant and interesting lifestyle to the fullest. 8 DSC09145It was only fitting therefore that the city chose as its protector during the Renaissance the mythological griffin – il grifo. With the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion, the griffin – found all over Perugia – is the city’s symbol, its emblem, its mascot, and during a football match, the city team’s nickname. It is associated with strength, courage and intelligence. The wings give it speed; the claws give it ferocious power – a proper combination of the king of beasts and the king of birds.

9 DSC09117Even more fascinating is the presence of an old city, buried when Pope III Farnese at the end of the ‘salt war’ in 1540 decided to build a fortress – Rocca Paolina – to keep the Perugians in line. Five levels high and symbolic of the papal domain, it encompassed an entire medieval neighbourhood, complete with houses, towers and streets. It was finally razed to the ground in 1860 and all that remains are the charming and unique basements, crossed through by escalators and used for cultural exhibitions.

No matter how long or how little you stay, 10 DSC09749there is always something new to discover – a small artisan shop, a tasty dish, a delicious drink. With festivals taking place all year round – be it Umbria Jazz in the summer (when the streets fill with music) or Eurochocolate in the winter (when the city is overflowing with chocolate) – the city invites tourists worldwide to discover the fascination of being a Perugino (and this is not only in reference to the famous Baci chocolates).

11 DSC09053In addition, few cities can boast an ideal balance between provincial traditions (the city’s population counts a mere 170,000) and technological progressions. With almost everyone in possession of a smartphone, the Umbria region even offers free Wi-Fi for two hours a day wherever you are in the city. Plus, the Perugini are avid recyclers – with containers separating waste found throughout the town, thus making the city exceptionally clean.

12 IMG_0735The best thing about a constant stroll up and down the city is that you return home tired but upbeat. Particularly since most of the high-ceiling houses here are naturally cooler inside than outside in the summer and in the winter do not require heaters to retain their warmth. This is when you truly feel fulfilled, when you are falling fast asleep in the warm embrace of a bed bigger and more comfortable than the one you usually lie in, to wake up refreshed, elated and safe of being among family.

13 DSC09057Then when the time comes you don’t want to leave. You already feel accustomed to this tranquil life, carefree and stress-free. Why return to the other side of reality? But departing will only make the next return taste sweeter. Because you will return. That is for certain.

 

N.B. All photos are mine taken in Perugia, Italy on 15-24 July 2014

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