Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta group. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta group. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 3 de noviembre de 2016

He was a friend

   The problem with having people over was that Tom’s place was always a mess. He tried to keep it clean; to make it look like someone responsible lived there, but it was impossible for him to keep that façade up. He had to confront the fact that he was not the most organized person in the world and that he shouldn’t have said “Yes” when asked if he could have his friends over for their weekly gathering. They had that tradition since they started having their own places. It was an excuse for seeing each other more often because if it weren’t for that dinner, they wouldn’t know anything.

 Marina had almost always hosted the dinner. She had the most beautiful apartment of the group and her husband was very relaxed about them meeting up so often. Sometimes they only met every two weeks because she had something else to do or her husband needed his space so they just didn’t get together. If it wasn’t her house, they sometimes used Greg’s place but the problem with his house was the fact that it was too far away from anyone else’s and that he had a baby so they had to keep it silent and very short.

 So Tom had a lot to do before his friends came over. By his request, the dinner was changed fro mthe usual Friday to Saturday. He knew that if he needed time to plan the whole thing and it was going to be an important meeting because the New Year holidays had just ended and it hadn’t seen each other in weeks. They would normally call for a pizza or something like that but he really wanted to impress them as he had always been the loser of the group, the one that never did anything too impressive, the one that was still single and working a menial job.

 Yes, Tom wanted them to see another side of him, a side that he would hopefully actually have. As he started planning, he realized he was really as dull and simple as anyone would think. His job was really not interesting so they never spoke about that but he always got so tired from it that he had almost no time to actually read or hear about other things in the world. He didn’t have any real knowledge about the interesting things of life. He only knew about the boring corner he occupied in the world and that was it. So he really had to make an effort.

 The first thing was actually planning the dinner. Even in the New Year’s Eve dinner with his family, he had his old timey notepad and a pencil with which he would write ideas for things to eat. His brother insisted he should just order a pizza and garlic bread but they always did that and he wanted to impress them with something they couldn’t see coming. The garlic bread was a nice idea, so he wrote it down and his mother told him a good salad is always welcome so he wrote that down too. The idea was to have many simple things around.

 The days before the meeting, he decided to buy most of the things he needed for his dinner in order to do them first and see if he could do it all by himself or if it really was a better idea to just ask for a pizza. He used the oven and borrowed a bunch of kitchen equipment from his mother, as he didn’t have anything to do proper things at his place. He didn’t even have a blender, just a couple of pans, a cooking pot and the microwave. Tom had to borrow his father’s car too to be able to take all of that back to his place. They thought he was going crazy.

 The first thing he decided to do was the salad, which he thought was the simplest of the dishes he had wrote down. He decided to do one mixing vegetables and fruits. It was supposed to be something refreshing and filled with flavors. He did everything the recipe called for but at the end, he doubted the result was the same as in the recipe. Apparently, the fruits and veggies he had chosen weren’t in their best moment. Some of them were too “green” and others were too ripe. It wasn’t to be surprised, as he had never picked up so many things from the supermarket.

 He put the salad on the side and decided it would be nice if he kept it on the refrigerator. Then, Tom decided to make the garlic bread. It was a rather simple thing to do. His trial test was going to be with cheap bread he had found in the supermarket. Again, he had made the wrong choice, as the bread was much too hard, like a rock. It was almost impossible to cut it. But once he did, he smeared some garlic paste on it and put it in the oven. The thing was he forgot about it when doing another recipe, so the bread got burned and his second attempt another disaster.

 What he was doing in the meantime was mixing the ingredients to make nice thick waffles. He had found a website that advised against the mix they sold in a box and encouraged people to do the mix themselves. The whole kitchen got covered in flour and a couple of eggshells ended up in the mix. He let it harden a bit when he got the garlic bread out of the oven so when he mixed it again, it had a very rough texture, not very similar to the one in the pictures of the website. When he tried it in the pan, it just got stuck there and burned like the bread.

 And all of that happened in a single day, the Monday previous to his gathering with friends. He wasn’t ready at all and he was even more of a disaster than he had thought. Tom had never cooked anything for himself and had no idea about entertaining people. He was a shy person, the kind that would always be asked last about a subject, if asked at all. He knew they had put that burden on him because no one else could do it and that thought made him realized he didn’t want to be that person.

 So early Tuesday, he grabbed the phone and called every single was one of his so-called friends and told them that he had decided against organizing their little event. He didn’t explain why or anything like that. He thought it was best not to say anything that they could use against him, although he knew they were going to talk anyway. After making all the appropriate calls, he decided to go to bed and rest because he hadn’t been able to sleep properly just because of that stupid meeting being in his brain for weeks and weeks.

 A surprise came in Wednesday, after having been able to sleep for ten straight hours. A girl from college called Alicia had come to his door to visit, out of the blue. When he buzzed her in, he didn’t really realize what he had done. But then he did and he started picking up the trash from the floor but then stopped and realized that didn’t make any sense. If Alicia was there, it was because the others had told her about the cancelled reunion. She wanted to know more and he shouldn’t just fake that everything was perfect when it wasn’t.

At the end of the day, that mess in his house was what made him Tom. He was that mess and it was the most original version of his own self. Nothing more could be as perfect to describe him as that pile of things all around, ranging from papers and notebooks to all the ingredients that he hadn’t used and wasn’t going to use for anything, never again. He even had some clothes on the floor, mainly the ones he would pick up and put in bag to take to washing machines in the basement of the building. It was one of those places.

 When Alicia arrived, he greeted her on the door and didn’t ask her to come in. He just wanted to know what she was doing there. She said that a bunch of people, including her, were worried about him because he had cancelled out of the blue. She reminded him that he was always so worried about arriving on time to their other meetings and often gave money for more pizza, so it was weird that he would just cancel the gathering that he was in charge of. So Alicia was just there to receive an explanation and she really got one.

 Tom said he was tired of being the last person they always thought of, except when they needed money or some idiot to do shit for them. He told Alicia to told every other person in their so-called “friend group” that he wasn’t going to be the same idiot that he had been since college. Maybe he wasn’t brilliant or successful or anything, but he still deserved some respect. He closed the door on her face and decided it was a nice time to order a pizza, all for himself.

miércoles, 21 de septiembre de 2016

Thoughts on family

   You don’t have to cry in order to be sad and you don’t have to smile every time you fell happy. Each person deals with moments, with feelings, in their own way and there is nothing bad about that. We are just different and that is what makes us interesting to each other. If we were all the same, there would be no point in meeting each other and building up relationships. Being different makes us unique and better, in every single sense of the word.

 However, it is always better to be able to demonstrate what you feel in order for other people to notice what’s going on, especially if some of those people are of any interest to you. For example, you have to be able to talk or at least show your parents how you feel and why you’re feeling the way you are. You don’t have to be able to do that with every single person in the world but it is very important to be able to communicate with family.

 Family is the group of people we have never chosen to be with and the group of people we should know better than anyone else. And I say should because it is clear that many people do not live like this, meaning that some of us don’t even know that much about our siblings or our parents. It is very typical that, as children, we don’t really see our parents as equals. We see them as people that are just wiser and move in other circles that we just don’t understand. When we’re little, they seem so mysterious and difficult to understand.

 However, as we grow older, we realize parents are just like us: they are a couple of humans who’ve had a life before we entered their lives and will continue to live independently from us once we get out of the house or even as we are still living in there. That’s why divorces are so tough on a family: it breaks up a whole bunch of connections and many things you have learned about your parents don’t really mean anything anymore. In that case, everything seems to become something else so you feel lost and confused but the truth is that, with a little effort, everything comes back to what it once was or at least something like it.

 Then there are siblings, who depending on the age gap, can seem like friends or like some other strangers, like parents. If they age gap is not so big between siblings, the possibility of having a true friendship develop between them is very high. That’s simply because you treat the people your same age as friends and equals and you tend to get closer to them because interests are similar and you are able to understand each other. When the age gap is too big however, the level of friendship can be high or very low, reaching the level of friendship you have with your parents when you’re young.

 What’s great about brothers and sisters is that you get and instant set of friends that way, or at least the possibility of having them in the house, different from school friends that come and go because hey have their own separate lives that may run close but never really parallel to your life. Of course, sibling don’t have similar lives but at least the first fifteen years of life is frequently similar as you probably all go to the same school, you share all those meals during the week, the holidays, the moments with the parents and a very large array of things that come with the fact that you live in family.

 Of course, there are many types of families, some of them not even having siblings or both parents or even parents at all. Besides that, there are families that do not really believe there should be a tight relationship between parents and children as in the old days people believed children only had to respect their elders and that’s what was required in a family. Love was something that people supposedly felt but it wasn’t the same kind of feeling we think of today. People tended to be colder before because it was more practical, especially as families were a lot larger: there could be up to ten children in one household or more so there was no real sense of “having to” love them all deeply and without reservations. There was responsibility and respect and that was it.

  Of course, the fact that there should be love in a family doesn’t mean that it’s going to be perfect every single day. Family relationships can be as difficult as relationships with other people and that frequently has a lot to do with how complicated things are in the household, the moments of life you and your family are going through and the personalities of each person. There can be days when everything is laughter and beautiful and everyone gets along in the most respectful but also thoughtful manner. On the other hand, you can have days when everything is a constant fight, everything is a problem and all the words that you speak might be cause for some sort of quarrel.

 But that’s exactly what a family is supposed to look like, The old days when everything had to be said in the most proper of words even if you were addressing your brother or your mother are done. And doesn’t mean that everyone speaks in the most awful manner to their family but that the relationship has evolved and its now possible to get closer through the language and through the best words that you can use to communicate with people you have loved and seen for so long. Family is something very strange and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are so many forms of it all around the planet. Even in the building we are living in there could be dozens of varieties.

That probably why beginning a new family is so strange at first. No one really knows how to properly do it but you always have the example that you received at home. Even if it isn’t the best example in the world, it should be enough to get you started in the basics of creating a new family. And nowadays, the process can be done much slowly that before because in the modern world not many people are able to establish themselves outside the familiar home and then not many are willing to stop their careers and so on in order to create a home, which often includes bringing a new member of the family to the world.

 Some people think it is better to save some money before “looking for” their first kid. Some others think it’s better to have a child early in life, in order to enjoy the upbringing and being able to cope with what childhood entails. It’s not the same to be a parent in your twenties than in your sixties. There are both advantages and disadvantages to each way of doing it. And then, there are also the “unexpected” arrivals, which normally happen when people are young but can also happen later. In those case, you’re just pushed into adulthood and family.

 Pieces tend to come together when a family is being formed. Money may not be coming in huge amounts and it may be difficult to find a proper place but people always seem to be able to make it no matter what. Like in the past, families today can thrive despite of difficulties. The difficult thing, probably, is to keep yourself in that perfect balance as you try to make it all better for you and your new family. They are probably many things missing but it’s just like a game of domino’s or a puzzle: every piece will find its spot in time, if things are done correctly, with the best intentions.

 Families have always been here, in whatever shape or forms it was, and they will continue to be here in other forms we might have not consider at this point. It is silly to think the family structure is just one and that only that one should be achieved and respected by every single human being, when most humans have thrived among what people now call “non traditional families”, as if tradition wasn’t something that keeps evolving every single days without stopping.

 Anyway, our family is that group of people life got us to be with. It put us with them for a reason and it is up to every single one of us to find out, if we want. But we don’t have to. The best thing is to appreciate all of those people that surround us as we grow up and help us be better and achieve everything we want from life.

jueves, 9 de junio de 2016

Scientific discoveries

   The water was very cold. It wasn’t surprising at all as the lake was located very high into the mountains, far from any real source of heat. Besides, the area was often covered with a thick fog that didn’t really let the sunlight pass. The group camped on the edge of the lake and was careful enough to put everything near them. It wouldn’t be very nice if an animal decided to steal their food or if they lost things that were just in front of their noses. They would stay only one night and then continue their journey.

 Their destination was a high plateau, located on top of a flat mountain. Rumor has it that many species of plants and animals lived there and that most of them had never being registered by science. The five people in the group had the mission of arriving to that area, after climbing completely vertical walls, and do the most thorough job in identifying new species of animals and plants. They had to bring pictures, drawings and even samples if possible.

 The day they arrived at the lake was only the fourth day of their journey. They had already crossed through a deep humid valley where one of them had been bitten by a snake and had to be airlifted out of there. Where they started the mountain section of their trip, they often had problems falling to the ground and hurting their hands and knees. It was a very difficult job, especially for the ones in the group that had never really gone out in a mission like this.

 Two of the camper by the lake, one man and one woman, were teachers and real professionals in biology. They had already travelled to every corner of the world, they had categorized many species and each had discovered quite a few, so they were the visible heads of the expedition as experience was always most appreciated. The rest were four students and interns, five originally, that had decided to enter the ballot to get into the trip.

 The two professors interview several people for the trip. They were essentially looking for people just like them, people that didn’t mind having no food in a day and knew how to walk in a jungle, a forest or the mountains. They rejected many almost immediately. Most of them thought it was going to be a nice little trip with hotels and cars and video cameras and many other nice things. It wasn’t.

 They had only one cellphone that had to be used only for emergencies. Everyone could bring their laptop but, obviously, there wasn’t going to be any Wi-Fi or anything like that. The computers were just for keeping track of their discoveries and have a copy of the pictures they took every single day. It was a useless brick aside from that. No makeup, no artificial elements, nothing like that either.

 The guy that had been bitten by the snake was the one the professors had thought was really one of a kind. He was very brilliant and had actually collaborated with a couple of amazing scientists from other universities. He was very well versed in every single aspect of a mission and was looking forward to the one they were interviewing him for. He was even tested by showing him several pictures of different species and he had answered everything correctly.

 So it was more than a surprise, more like a disappointment, when he had stupidly left the tent to pee in an area that hadn’t been checked yet. According to what he said later, it seemed like he had urinated on the snake and that’s why the animal had reacted so violently, biting him in one of his thighs. He knew the venom of that particular species was not one that acted fast but it was venom all the same. The helicopter arrived soon as they were only a day away from their departure point.

 Secretly, the other four students and interns laughed at what had happened. They hadn’t like him at all when they had met him some days before the journey started. He seemed pretentious and so full of himself, telling them every single part of his experience with other scientists. It got boring very quickly and he probably knew right away that he was going to be talking only to the professors during the trip. But no one would never really know that as he had left so early, in such a particular way.

 By the lake, they decided to check the water with a special machine that was equipped with sonar. They wanted to know what kind of wildlife lived there and if it was possible for them to bathe there. They already smelled very strongly and they had to, at some time, have a bath to clean themselves up or else every animal in the jungle would know they were there.

  The sonar didn’t pick up anything big. So the professors decided to fish for a while, as the four students entered the water and swam just in front of them. The funny thing was that they couldn’t almost see each other. It was very difficult to move without hitting a rock or tripping on some formation no one had seen. In the water it was the same and it felt dangerous too, so they only were there for five minutes, enough time to feel refreshed.

 When they were done, as they dried their bodies on the shore, the professors announced they had capture two fish but none of them was a new species. They were some kind of anchovy related creature, very small and really smelly. They took pictures and returned the animals to the water. Sometimes discoveries took their time to happen.

 The next day they moved away from the lake in order to get to the plateau. As they had already lost some time because of the snake and the lake, they decided to walk two days in a row, without resting or at least only resting for a few hours. No more camping. They walked for three straight days. They descended the mountain on the other side and had arrived to the jungle again, were they discovered a couple of new insects and saw a couple of snakes that resembled the one that had bitten their partner.

 Finally, one afternoon, they arrived to a very tall wall made of rock and dirt. They tested the surface with their climbing gear and discovered that area was not well suited to climb to the top. Several rocks fell once they tried to climb onto the wall. So they had to walk along the wall until they finally camped to wait for sunlight. First thing the following morning, the professors found the perfect area to climb. It was going to be very difficult and they had to get everyone up there so the plan was complex.

 The experienced climbers had to go first. That meant the two professors and one of the students had to climb almost with no instruments or equipment, at least to a certain point. Then, they would help the others with ropes and all the climbing equipment they had carried from their base camp. None of the leaders were nervous about it. They simply began climbing. By midday, the three scientists had climbed at least fifty meters, which was very good. They installed everything there, on a special hard part of the mountain and kept going as the other three just started.

 As expected, nightfall arrived as they were still working on the mountain. Their fingers were numb and some had awful bruises that made it difficult for them to climb. The student that had joined the professors was the first one to arrive and he helped bring his two companions on top. When they were all there, they helped the remaining three. Two of them were bleeding a lot when they came up to the top.

 They decided to form camp not very far from the edge. The idea was to rest, cure their wounds and start real work on top of the plateau. They almost couldn’t sleep as they had arrived to the place they had wanted to visit for a long time. No other human had ever been there and it was certain that they were going to encounter very special creatures. They were about to enter scientific history.

 However, the night did not only bring the best wishes from them. It also brought heavy sleep, provided by a plant they had ignored, just by their camp. The plant released spores that made people extremely sleepy, almost putting them in a coma. This was used by a certain kind of spider, an undiscovered species, to kill all the campers with its powerful poison.

 The bodies wouldn’t take long to decompose. That’s how powerful the venom was. And all the machines and equipment would be destroyed by powerful gusts of wind and other animals, completely erasing any trace the scientists had ever been there.

martes, 17 de mayo de 2016

Weird woods

   The majestic tree, various meters tall, fell to the ground causing a tremor. Only animals realized what had happened, as there were no people in the vicinity. The tree had fallen because it was rotten from the inside and couldn’t hold any longer. It started breaking from the roots up and finally, one very clear morning, it fell causing various birds to fly away scared. The movement on the ground caused by the tree was felt everywhere in the woods and the animals knew exactly what had happened.

 In time, the tree got covered in moss and, when time came for people to arrive to the region, they couldn’t conclude how much time it had passed since that tree had fallen. The explorers loved that forest because it was relatively easier to go through than any jungle in the other end of the world or maybe a very far away forest, locate in the middle of many mountains or something like that.

 The explorers discovered some new flowers and plants and also new bugs, which wasn’t something difficult in such conditions. The place was very humid and animals were all over the place, even among a think haze that covered the entire forest. The team of explorers installed a small camp in a clearing and decided to stay there for more time than anticipated because the forest showed promise and they wanted to bring back lots of new data. It would help them tremendously at work.

 The following day to them arriving, the haze had grown thicker and the trees seemed to be much more numerous, they seemed to be everywhere. Not that the forest didn’t have lots of trees but it just seemed like many more had grown overnight. The leader of the team decided to do maps of the area in order to be able to explore it more efficiently. He spent the whole day doing drawings of the area around their camp.

 During the night, it was difficult to see anything and not even flashlights seemed to penetrate the darkness of the forest. Strangely, it was a very quiet place after dark and that made them a little bit uneasy. It wasn’t very common to find a forest where no bugs or small mammals made sounds or cries of any type. It made their nights even more alone, more filled with tension and insecurities.

 They were already planning to go back to the city, even if they had decided days ago to stay a full month in the forest. The plans had not changed but it was good to talk about what they were going to do afterwards. They were only five people but they all felt a little strange in that place, in that situation. The forest had something about it that they couldn’t explain and it didn’t really made them feel good. That night, it was difficult for them to sleep.

 The next day, it was as if the volume had been raised again. However, when they decided to use the maps their leader had done to explore the forest, they realized they were useless. The trees were not where the map said they were and now there were also big boulders covered in moss a little bit everywhere and they covered large paths inside the forest, making it very difficult to walk around and explore. Something was very wrong with that place but they couldn’t really say what.

 Ignoring the problem with the maps, they decided the best thing was to tie a red rope around their waists and tie the other end to another person who stayed in the camp. As they were five, that limited the number of people going to explore to two at a time. It was efficient at all because other two had to stay there, sitting, making sure the rope worked in order for their partners to come back.

 The fifth person would normally go around the camping site, without walking away, and check the place they had decided to settle in. As it was a natural clearing, it was very strange to see one and there must have been reasons for that. So it fell on the responsibility of one person to investigate why that space was a clearing and what type of bugs and plants grew there. That second day was very productive in that sense. Yet, it wasn’t much of a secret that they all wanted to go back home.

 But the job comes first and they needed to finish what they had started. That second night, they wrote down everything they had seen. The absence of sound in the night also became a thing inside the large tent were they did everything. They started to talk less and less, only writing and making very soft sounds. They hadn’t realized it until the moment they left the forest some days later.

 The third day, the forest again changed its configuration or that’s what it seemed. The most frequent bugs had also changed from one day to the other. The first day there were common worms and then the second there were blue caterpillars. On the third, there were large groups of butterflies that would for large groups on trees and on top large bushes that weren’t there before.

 Humidity was another thing that changed every single died. The third time was the one their knees and elbows hurt the most. It was almost as if they had transported to an actual jungle except for the fact that the weather was not that hot. It was just how humid it was and how tired everyone felt after working for so many hours in those conditions.

 The fourth day the most frequent bug they could find was beetles. And they were not only black but also green and blue and several other amazing colors. Some of them the ability to fly and it was frankly very scary to see them do that. The bushes had grown in number and several boulders that had cut off paths had disappeared or so it seemed. Everything was different each time and it was very challenging to get used to all that. But no one complained because that was their job.

 The fourth night, they shared a nice meal but didn’t say a word at all. They just had been compelled to share a moment with each other but they respected the forest so much they didn’t want to speak and then ruin the whole harmony that was going on. Also, they really didn’t feel as they could actually talk in a normal register. It fell difficult to talk, to scream even. Many of them secretly tried but it was as if nature had taken hold of their vocal chord for the moment and it wouldn’t let them go.

 Late that night, there was absolute silence until a single sound disturbed the whole moment: something had fallen very nearby, making the ground shake severely. Every member of the group woke up instantly and they all headed outside to check everything out with their flashlights. But it was useless. The haze was thick as always and nothing could be really seen beyond it. So the all went back inside but would barely sleep.

 The fifth day was their last. They were planning in walking to the edge of the forest until it was close to nightfall and then just walk to the place were they had entered the forest. Their cars were there as well as the people that took care of the national park were the forest was located. It was very far from the clearing they had chosen to stay in but if they started early, they could reach it easily by dawn.

 They looked for the fallen tree, the one they had heard the night before, but they never found it. Everything in the forest was calm and no tree appeared to have fallen. Humidity was not the same as the other days. It was almost exactly the opposite. The wind that blew through the tall trees was very dry, making their skins feel strange. They walked without stopping all day, not even for food. They hadn’t discussed it but no one was going to stay behind doing any more exploring. They had to leave.

 The walk lasted for several hours and they begun to be very worried about being able to come out of there. The park’s entrance was nowhere near them, the forest had shifted again. They walked to different directions for hours until, with the last lights of the day, they found what seemed like another clearing. Had they come back to the same spot again? No. There was a license plate in the ground. And beneath it, metal on the ground.