Monthly Archives: May 2017

Meet the 106-year-old great-grandmother whose cooking videos have taken YouTube by storm

Meet the 106-year-old great-grandmother whose cooking videos have taken YouTube by storm. http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwwfuZ9DQ

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Tokya night

Back from Japan, in this article I will talk about my very first experience in Tokyo, and in particular, of what I appreciated more and less of this vibrant city the first night i walked along its streets.

Tokyo in my opinion, is certainly one of those cities that made us always dream for years, especially if, as happened to me, one was an enthusiast of comics and cartoons of the 80s period. Who doesn’t remember the various Mazinga, Ranma, Doraemon, Gundam, Saint Seiya and those other hundreds of cartoons who entertained us for so long when we were just kids?

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INTRODUCTION

During my experience in Tokyo, I visited many places and I had the opportunity to stroll in the evening to enjoy the atmosphere created by the neon lights that adorn all the various buildings and skyscrapers of the downtown.

I still remember when I arrived here for the first time, it was still afternoon. I came to the Shibuya station from the airport, and went to the hotel to drop my luggage, have a short rest, and get ready to go out at night. I was at the hotel Fukudaya, just near Shibuya itself, located in an excellent starting point from which it is possible to move comfortably to visit all the various areas of Tokyo.

I have choosen this hotel not only for its comfortable position, but also because Fukudaya offers traditional japanese rooms, realized with the popular tatami floor, the futon bed, and the paper windows that make you immerse immediately in the Japanese life.

Another advantage of this hotel was to be quite close to a konbini, a word used to indicate small supermarkets, usually managed by 3 main brands called 7Eleven, Lawson and Family Mart, where I was able to either buy good food to take away, as well as get some cash in yen, since inside it, it was present an ATM machine accepting my european bank cards.


the typical japanese room of the hotel Fukudaya in Tokyo
I still remember with pleasure the act of walking barefoot on the tatami. Once arrived, in the room there was a pleasant silence, partially broken by the distant buzz of the cars running back and forth along the near streets, which, although being many, produced a steady, calm, and almost relaxing sound, quite different from that of many other cities, where it’s easier to feel the loud engines rumble and the horns. In fact, one of the characteristics of Tokyo, is that despite the overcrowding, the cars are very quiet, because drivers tend to just use the horn as less as possible to maintain the quiet at an acceptable level.

And now, after the short rest, it was time to go out. The sun was down, and the nightfall arrived. Finally after all this time I was ready to visit Tokyo and to enjoy for the first time in my life the fantastic atmosphere for which is known, and that fascinated me for so long since I was only a child.

THE FIRST IMPACT WITH TOKYO, IT’S TIME FOR A DRINK….

After getting out of the hotel, i immediately spotted along the desert street, bright like a ray of light breaking through a cloudy sky, a typical drink vending machine, a popular icon of the streets of Japan. This scene alone was already enough for me to immerse myself into the situation. As many already know, Japan is the homeland of the drink vending machines, as it’s possible to spot them one by one at each corner of almost each street.

It’s incredible how much this business has spread over Japan. Inside the machines, the most unthinkable bottles, and the first challenge for a tourist starts from here, understanding what the hell is that strange colorful drink….

Be ready to trash your money more than once…..or to enjoy an unexpected wonderful drink…..

I have tried a couple and i must say, countrary to the food, i didn’t like Japanese drinks, except for green tea which is amazing.

Among those i tried, one of the most popular is the Calpis, a milky drink which in my opinion (and only in my personal opinion), is just a mix between a “watery” milk, and a Sprite lemonade. So yes, if just someone out here is wondering what does Calpis taste like, my personal (once again, really personal) answer is, imagine to drink a Sprite or lemonade together with some cold “watery” milk…..sounds weird…..yes it is….did i like it? nope! sorry!


My room with an empty bottle of Calpis along with some other souvenirs
I was so delighted by how bad the Calpis tasted to my mouth, that rather than trashing it without mercy, i decided to bring the empty bottle back home with me to exhibit it in my room as a souvenir (picture on the right below)………Calpis……..I’ll never forget you, i love you! When i look at you in the emptiness of my room, I remember the old good days when i tried you and fallen in love with your damned ridicolous taste….oh yes, the good old memories……Calpis….don’t know if to hate or love you….. Calpis……you always be in my heart……ehm in my room sorry……

Talking about the rest….The Fanta with grape flavour instead of the usual orangina, terrible, or still, the very long 500ml coffee bottle, which tasted like an american long coffee with few more water to make it even more “watery” and insignificant…..just garbage! so if you see an appealing brownish, caffeine free dring, nope, it’s not peach tea, but just this gargabe!

The last one i tried was some sort of mandarin tea/juice, which from the bottle design looked good…except that, once i got it I just found that it was terribly hot….oh yes, it was hot, because in Japan they often sell hot drink in bottle….

Third bottle in the trash bin without finishing it….

But now it’s time for some compliments. Although i didn’t like those drinks, i must say, Japan is really an excellent green tea producer….Yes, when it comes to green teas cold or hot drink, pleasure is guaranteed…..I can’t tell enough how good can be a bottle of matcha latte, or that of a simple green tea….If wondering, yes, for my personal experience and opinion when it comes to drink bottles, the best choice to do in Japan is to buy some green tea….or at least this is the outcome of my experience!

…AND NOW THE TIME FOR A NICE RAMEN

And after the great drink vending machine experience, I then began to walk along the main boulevard leading from the Hotel Fukudaya to the Shibuya station, and while doing so, I was flanked by the popular elevated highway of Tokyo, another great icon of this city, which I had often seen in the past in films or in some videogames set in Tokyo, and even in the city of Rome, where there was a very similar version of it, not surprisingly, still built by a Japanese architect, the famous Kenzo Tange.

While strolling, i began to see some local restaurants, one of which immediately caught my attention, as it was a typical ramen restaurant where you could sit along a unique table directly facing the chef who was preparing the various dishes.


a typical ramen soup of Tokyo in Asakusa with pork meat (hope not to be wrong)
For those not familiar with the Japanese language, the ramen is none other than the typical cup of spaghetti hot soup usually eaten with the wood chopsticks, another well-known Japanese cliché often seen on TV. I was tempted to go in, but I was immediately put off by the Japanese written menu, and for a moment, frightened and not yet completely accustomed to the place, I went straight. Big mistake, because after all, I believe that in our life we should always try new experiences and take some risks without being afraid. After all such opportunities like a trip in Japan don’t come every day, and trying the local dishes of a place during a journey is something that should be made, even at the cost of not understanding what is written on the menu. Learned the lessons, the days after i found the courage to try some special dishes in some local restaurants.

Guide and recipe to prepare ramen at home

After a while, I then arrived at a junction that connected me to a main road leading to Shibuya, and the impact was immediately strong. An incredible number of neon lights, incomprehensible due to the Japanese characters but yet so fascinating, was filling the emptiness of the dark sky, in an endless line that seemed almost like a tunnel, with so many people on the street walking back and forth in a neat and calm way second to none, something for which, japanese citizens are very popular throughout the world.

In the end, I spent the entire evening walking around Shibuya, along with the areas of Shinjuku and Roppongi.

I tried to capture the atmosphere in the best way I could, by catching some good scenes as well as some interesting gazes of people tirelessly waiting for the next traffic light to be green.

Once back in the hotel, I was pleased of the experience, because after all these years, I was finally able to realize the dream of enjoy for one night the vibrant and futuristic atmosphere of Tokyo. And while closing my eyes, I then made the point, and though about what I loved and hated of this strange and exciting evening.

THE GOOD AND DARK SIDES OF TOKYO

THE NEON LIGHTS


Walking along the street of Shinjuku district in Tokyo
Needless to say, they are fantastic. I cannot still explain why this crazy “habit” broke out so much in Japan. A quite rare phenomenon, at least for now, although I must say that in recent years in the far East, i found many cities that have begun to do the same, while here in Europe, apart from Trafalgar Square in London, i don’t remember anything like this. The only other exception, i think is represented by Time Square in New York.

Historically speaking, however, the city that I remember the most in terms of neon lights, is definitely Tokyo. Shibuya station in this sense, is the heart of this atmosphere because each skyscraper is covered by giant neon lights and advertising screens like no otherlace (Shinjuku is eventually another one similar to it).

TIPS: if you want to enjoy the place from a top view, it is possible to climb to the upper floors of the Shibuya underground station, where through the windows, you can admire the atmosphere from above. The same is true if you visit the Starbucks of Shibuya, located just opposite to the station.

Where is the Starbucks of Shibuya?

THE GREAT SHIBUYA CROSSING


Tokyo, view of the Shibuya crossing at night with rain
Another way to enjoy the atmosphere and the lights of Tokyo, is certainly to cross once in life the famous Shibuya crossing. It is a particular road junction became popular because, instead of presenting the usual four crosswalks, it has been realized with 6 of them, i.e. four arranged in a square, and two forming a cross, and each time the traffic light gets green, a river of people start to fill the emptiness of the streets. However, I invite anyone to do this experiment, stop in the middle of the road while others people continue to pass through. It ‘amazing how no pedestrian will attempt to touch you even in the slightest way. It seems like everyone is very careful not to touch you to make sure that there is the utmost respect, something for which of course, Japan is very popular.

THE NICE SMELLS OF TOKYO


A typical ramen restaurant of Tokyo in the area of Asakusa
Another thing that has certainly fascinated me is the amount of smells coming out from the kitchens of the various restaurants located around the central area. Smell of smoked fish, hot ramen soups, burgers, fried food, and ethnic food of any kind. Surely, Tokyo from the culinary point of view has a lot to offer. For those who want to make a quick meal, it is also possible for just few yen, to visit the so-called Konbini (usually called Lawson, Family Mart or 7Eleven), namely those small but still well-stocked supermarkets, where you can also withdraw money, as well as buy a whole range of tasty and ready-made foods, as well as many types of chips, strange drinks never tasted before, sweets of all kinds, and so on and so forth.

THE PANORAMIC VIEWS OF TOKYO


Tokyo, panoramic view from the top of the Roppongi Tower
Tokyo with its neon lights is great to be enjoyed along the streets. However, it also has to offer some unforgettable panoramic views from many different points, such as the the view from the Tokyo Tower, or from the Roppongi Tower, or even from the Odaiba promenade, where a small reproduction of the Statue of Liberty is present in front of the popular rainbow bridge with the Tokyo skyline behind. Of the many scenic views that you can enjoy, what I liked most was the one from Roppongi Tower, because i was able to get a complete overview of the entire city from a truly exaggerated height, besides being able to also take a shot of the Tokyo Tower, which recalls enough a smaller and orange version of the more famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was nice to see all the cars, like little ants, moving back and forth along the streets of Tokyo, transmitting all the energy of this city that seems to never sleep.

Guide to Roppongi Hill and Roppongi Tower

THE HATEFUL WESTERN ADVERTISING

And now a negative point. One thing for example that I didn’t like at all, was the ostentation of the great european and american brands that even here in Tokyo seem to necessarily make a show of themselves, filling the central streets of Tokyo with their big shops and their large signs, which i personally find pathetic and inappropriate. Unfortunately, it is a sad reality, but Tokyo has not escaped the phenomenon of expansion of the big brands of western clothing and perfumes. Find me on the other side of the world, and watch the same bags, perfumes and clothes brands you would have found in Paris, London or Rome, it wasn’t really atmospheric at all…..globalization….what a wonderful thing……

THE REFLECTIONS OF THE RAIN

At one point I even had the opportunity to enjoy a light drizzle, which made the place even more vibrant, with all the lights reflecting on the road surface. In particular, it was nice to see the pedestrian of Shibuya Crossing filling the air with their umbrellas, most of which even transparent, capable of still showing you the curious and interesting gaze of people.


Neon lights in Shinjuku station, Tokyo, Japan
THE SAFETY OF TOKYO…..

It was strange and curious, but while I was traveling with the subway late in the evening, I found some very young teenagers traveling alone. After investigating a little bit on internet, I later discovered that Tokyo is considered one of the safest cities in the world, with a crime rate very low, and this consequently also allows younger people to have access to public transport like the subway without concerns, even if it’s getting late.

AND THE EXTREME KINDNESS OF ITS CITIZENS…..GREAT!

I will never forget the incredible kindness shown by the people of Tokyo and of Japan in general of course. Simply open a map for 2 seconds, and some of them will immediately come closer trying to help you as they can, by even trying to speak English with those few words they know, since English is still a language not particularly well known in Japan (at least for my experience…things in the future can change. And for now anyway, inside transports there are already many English signs to help tourists).
It’s furtherly and incredibly amazing the kindness inside restaurants or supermarkets for example. Entering a store in fact, such as the popular Family Mart, Lawson or 7Eleven konbini, is always welcomed with the typical “irashaimase” expression, pronounced by all the salesmen, which literally means “welcome customer!”. It’s furtherly remarkable the “two-hands” gentle manner with which they take or return your credit card when you pay, to show the utmost respect toward the customer … what else to say …. unique in the world…

THE BEAUTIFUL GUNDAM STATUE OF ODAIBA


Gundam statue in the night in Odaiba, Tokyo, removed in March 2017
Yes, when it comes to anime and manga, Japan is at first place in the world. I could have spent an entire day visiting anime shops and another one spending tons of money to buy action figures and robots, because although i’m not particuarly in love with this world, i am still fascinated by the beauty of their packages. For this time, I just opted out for Doraemon and give up with robots, also known as mecha. For those curious to know what is the meaning of mecha, it’s a japanese term to indicate giant robots. However, for those in love with the latter, the isle of Odaiba in Tokyo offers a special feature, a giant and partially animated staute of the Gundam robot. I can easily understand the reason. Based on the popularity charts of anime in Japan which i found on internet, looks like Gundam series is on the very first top ten.

And this is why instead of buying a robot action figures, I opted out for a short walk in the isle of Odaiba to see the great Gundam statue and take a nice picture under the rain. However, in March 2017 the statue has been removed by its producer, Bandai, to leave space to a new statue of a more modern Gundam which should be presented in the future.

Here for example, TV Asahi listed the top animes of all times in Japan, and Gundam of course, is at second place. It just needs a look to the Gundam position to understand why in Odaiba they are exhibiting such a beautiful statue.

For more informations, this is an interesting article i found, talking about the announcement of Bandai to remove the old mecha statue of Gundam from Odaiba, and providing more informations for future plans

THE UNUSUAL QUIET OF ASAKUSA


Asakuas lantern in front of the Sensoji temple
I want to spend some few words to also talk about a very remote district in the northeast of Tokyo, known as Taito district, or Asakusa. It is an area became popular for the presence of a great Buddhist temple called Sensoji, in front of which stands a delightful morning market, and a very characteristic giant paper lantern called Kaminarimon, another popular icon of Tokyo.


Asakuas lantern in front of the Sensoji temple
In this place, in the evening, there was a calm and relaxing atmosphere, filled with the rain reflections of the lantern and temple lights. The market of course was closed in the evening, however, i have been able to still enjoy the pleasant feeling of loneliness, quite different respect to the chaos of the most central areas such as Shibuya, reason why, Asakusa represents a place that i certainly can suggest if one is willing to take some good night pictures of Tokyo and to enjoy some peace.

Travel guide to visit Asakusa

THE GOOD SOUND OF THE VIDEO ARCADES….

Aahh….the good old days of 80s, when the playstation didn’t exist yet. You just took some coins from the pocket of your pa (eh eh of course i always asked first), and went out to spend your afternoon in your favourite video arcade to play the latest games with your friends.


View of the arcade room of Sega in Akihabara
Those times seem finished elsewhere (in Italy for example they are almost disappeared, although being very popular in the 80s and 90s), but this seems untrue for Tokyo.Yes, here they still exist, and they are pretty technological. I was surprised when i saw the first one, absolutely modern and full of fantastic high resolution screens to play the games. It was nice and even nostalgic to spend some minutes inside one of them. After so long that I did not, I have been able to play again a classic game like Tekken (of course the very last version!)

I was also surprise by the great passion and addiction of Japanese people for the claw crane games, those typical games where you try to take a peluche or a gift through a joystick, with which you move a mechanical crane (picture below). Here are some tips to try to have better chances of winning while playing the claw crane games, which it’s possible to find throughout many cities like Tokyo in Japan.


A typical arcade room of Tokyo
AND THE BAD ONE OF PACHINKO ROOMS…..

One negative point however, goes to the curious and addicting phenomenon of the japanese pachinko halls, the very popular machines in Japan where you have to follow the movement of little spheres in the hope that they end up in the right place to win (i admit that i don’t know how to play pachinko, but this is what i guessed when i saw one of them). The phenomenon of pachinko seems to be not only quite fashionable among japanese people, but also extremely addicting, at the point that many people use to spend hours and hours a day in this sort of Japanese casinos, probably trying to alienate the mind from the well known stress and chaotic life of this city, where everyone works very hard each day to reach the well known “perfection” for which Japan is famous, a characteristic for which, unfortunately, is not uncommon to see at night, thrown to the ground, some drunk Japanese guys, probably devastated by the stress of their job, and by litres of sake. I also remember that this was a quite common clichè of many 80s cartoons, where the typical father of the main character (such as in Doraemon cartoon for example) used to come back home very late in the night completely drunken, after a night spent with colleagues and some nice bottles of sake.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that in other countries you don’t find drunk people, but here is quite evident that this happens due to the high amount of stress, whereas in other countries like mine, Italy, getting drunk is more a way to be the idiot of saturday night and have some fun with your friends in the hope to give a different “sense” to your life.

Moreover, while from Italy i wouldn’t expect anything good, as i have the myth of japanese perfection, i wasn’t certainly expecting this to happen in Japan as well.

PROSTITUTION AND MAFIA…YAKUZA ON THE WAY…MMMH…


Tokyo, Japan, view of the Kabukicho red light district in Shinjuku
While walking, in some areas i was approached by apparently almond-eyed yet non-japanese and “over the average” appealing women offering me a…..massage….i didn’t accept of course and i immediately wondered what was all about. Well, of course, it wasn’t hard for me to wonder that behind that massage there could have been something more…..(i could be wrong…..i could….) and due to that, i immediately remember about all the stories of the japanese mafia known as Yakuza, one of the largest organized crime group in the world…..I must admit that these women didn’t look to me to be japanese, but more chinese, thai or korean probably….I cannot say it anyway, but i was quite sure that they weren’t japanese at all.

I know of a red light district where the sex scene and market seem particularly active, and it’s called Kabukicho, situated north east of Shinjuku station, although i don’t have much details about. Kabukicho is also the main district on which the popular Yakuza Playstation game is based.

Not only, while using the subway, i found that some carriages were reserved to women, as i read somewhere on Google, in the hope to stop the popular phenomenon of “palpation”, which has spreaded in Japan more than usual, due to a still “over the average” inclination of some people in Japan (not necessarily japanese, but also chinese, or korean for example) to be sexually addicted. Not to talk about some erotic mangas featuring teenagers as their main characters, and even the phenomenon of japanese school girls prostitution of the last years (still, at least this is something i’ve read about, and not sure about it)….Well, i can easily understand from which pulpit the myth of the used panty vending machine has born (because yes, i suspect it’s just a myth)……all this of course is also the signal that, despite the tourist myth of perfection, there could be something wrong out there, like in any other country i visited…Italy for first, where i live…..

THE STRESSFUL SIDE OF TOKYO…GLAD TO BE JUST A TOURIST…


Shibuya crossing in Tokyo seen from the 1th floor of the underground station building
Of course i also don’t want to forget that i’m just a tourist here. My experience as a traveller has teached me that when you visit a country as a tourist, you always have the eyes filled with love and enthusiasm, something that often brings you to also ignore that the place you are visiting, isn’t really good as you imagine if you decide to live in it. I often hear people telling me “oh wow, it would be so good to live in Italy like you do”. Of course, attracted by our beautiful cities like Rome, Florence and Venice, many tourists totally ignore that here in Italy, find a job, make a living, and dealing with our corrupted politicians is a totally different story…….I believe the same somehow is true for Japan, where as a tourist, it could be easy to ignore some negative aspects.

I often heard stories from japanese people about their over the average inclination to work very hard, and to get over stressed….Most people with whom i talked sustain that japanese people have a really limited spare time, at the point that even finding the time for a sentimental relationship could be a serious problem. In the past i even heard about a word….. “karoshi”, used to indicate a strong job burnout that can lead people to die. That’s the signal that “perfection” somehow, has a serious price to be paid.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, my evening visit to Tokyo clearly showed me many of the typical good and bad aspects of this city. However I must admit that imperfections aside, Tokyo and Japan in general still and certainly remain among the best places I have ever visited, an exciting and unforgettable experience i will never forget and that everyone should try once in a lifetime.

Mother’s

In this collection, read perspectives on motherhood from writers and artists, from a mother-to-be’s ruminations on gestation and time, to a father’s thoughts on his wife after the birth and death of their son, and more.

“A Wilderness of Waiting,” Sarah Menkedick

At Vela, Sarah Menkedick weaves a gorgeous essay on pregnancy and waiting.

Before gestation, I dominated time in the way I dominated my body. Long runs whittled the latter into sculpted hardness, and the discipline of schedules and fixed points — Saturday, summer, graduation — brought the former into focus as a series of arrows pointing always one towards the next. Time as trajectory, body as tool of the mind. And then this baby began growing and my body expanded into a force to which the “me” of my mind was subjugated, bobbing about unsteady and insignificant as a paper boat in surges of blood and hormones. Time yawned open, a vast canyon I fell into, with the erstwhile tidy arrows echoing off the walls.

“The Rise of ‘Mama,’” Elissa Strauss

In another recommended longread, “Violet,” Adele Oliveira tells the story of becoming a mother in the face of uncertainty.

On the Longreads blog, Elissa Strauss explores how the use of “mama” has helped to rebrand motherhood for the modern mother.

Overall, it’s the way in which “mama” has widened the horizons of “mother,” without giving up on a mother identity altogether, that is the key to its appeal. Women still want to be moms, still want to talk about being moms, but they need a new context.


From “Motherhood’s Fantasies” by Marge Malo at Marging From Chicago.
“World’s Best Mom,” Matt Wessel

Matt and Katie’s son, Randol Thomas, died several hours after he was born. At Alive in You, Matt explains why Katie deserves to be crowned the world’s best mom.

Our son took his last attempted breath during the baptism and his heart stopped beating just seconds after it had ended. It was the perfect ending to his perfect life, and all because of Katie. Because when you’re the world’s best mom, you remember things that no one else does, even in moments of pure chaos.

“Musical Breadcrumbs,” Deborah Bryan

In this poem at The Monster in Your Closet, Deborah Bryan explores the power of music and sharing memories across a family’s generations:

i want
to play music
for my sons, with
my sons, because it
is sweet at the moment,
and because the sweetness
of those moments will
someday be their
trail of crumbs
back to me


“Attachment” sketch by Doodlemum.
“On Motherhood and Losing Myself,” Anne Thériault

In May 2015, Anne penned “Mother’s Day,” a post for her mother — as well as other mothers out there.

Anne Thériault at The Belle Jar reflects on becoming a parent and losing a part of herself:

Another layer to my unease lay in the fact that if I felt like I’d lost some part of identity, then had my mother experienced the same thing when she’d given birth to me? It seemed impossible that she had ever been anything other than what she was, namely my mother; and yet that selfish feeling of impossibility was almost certainly evidence of the part that I had played in who she had become. For a long time I’d thought that I would never grow up to be my mother, because my mother’s life had always seemed so constrained and limited. Now I saw that I was the one who had limited it.

“At the Blue Dolphin: On Mothers and Sons,” Rachel Basch

In this essay at The Millions, a mother meets her twenty-something son, Nathaniel, before he takes the train back into the city:

I am watching him as if I were watching a film, a young man on a cold, rainy night all alone on a train platform. What do I think will be revealed to me? I know what I want, some proof that what we experienced together mattered, that it had, has, value, that my love for him, for life, is not unrequited. I want to know that I was able to do it, that I succeeded at the thing I feared I could not do, that I have loved him enough for him to know it.


“Catching the Sunrise,” a prenatal yoga pose sketch from Alison Lee Chapman.
“You ARE Beautiful — In Which I Am Afraid for Your Future,” Alyssa Moore

At dearlilyjune, Alyssa Moore writes to her daughter Lily. In this letter, she describes a childhood of bullying:

I know that soon you’ll be one, and from there, one will be five, and then, you ride a bus away from my loving embrace and into popularity’s cannibalistic jungle sometimes referred to as school. And Lily, I am terrified.

“Reclaiming All My Pieces, Motherhood Included,” Lisa Sadikman

Lisa Sadikman, the mother of three and writer at Flingo, embraces motherhood after trying to find her way out:

Motherhood shattered me. I know this sounds violent and in some ways it is, especially in the first few weeks and months, even years. It is a realignment, sometimes so sudden and drastic that it feels more of a loss than a gain. In other ways it is a slow breaking down of ambition and perspective, of ferocity and priority. At times I have felt so lost, so unfamiliar to myself. Then there are moments when I am so entirely present in the light of my children, in the comforting weight of motherhood, of knowing.


From The Penny Parade‘s “Hey Mama” series.
“I Am Not Your Monkey: On Motherhood, Art, and Presumptuous Bullshit,” Natalia Antonova

Natalia Antonova writes about being pigeonholed and forced to validate other people’s choices:

On a personal note, I find the statement “I assume you’d be able to do so much more with your life if you weren’t a mother” insulting, because it was motherhood that both toughened me up and made me want to do more with my life.

“What I Do All Day When I Am Home With the Baby,” The Ugly Volvo

The writer and comedian at The Ugly Volvo offers a fairly accurate description of most of the things she does on any given day. Timestamps included.

9:35 Lie on floor as baby crawls over my inert body. Absentmindedly wonder if there is more to it than this — if maybe other people have some sort of routine that seems less stupid and boring and pointless. Wonder if there is some big thing I should be doing to help the baby’s development that I am not doing.

9:40 Sit on the floor and clap, hoping to teach baby to clap. Baby will not clap. Go online and Google, “How old babies start clapping?” and read article saying they start to do this more between 9 and 12 months. (Baby is 11 months old)

9:43 Spend the next few minutes going, “Well sh*t, maybe there’s something wrong with the baby. He should be clapping more.”

Motherhood


Motherhood and Waiting is a collection of writing that explores the act and process of waiting as a parent and parent-to-be. Published at Motherwell, the series was inspired by Belle Boggs’ The Art of Waiting, a memoir on fertility, medicine, and motherhood. Here are excerpts from the essays in the series.

From Boys to Men

Lisa Romeo muses on watching her sons grow and blossom into young adults.

You wait to find out if everything you waited through before, all the years of doing and hoping, praying and sculpting — you wait to see it if worked, if it did any good, any good at all. You are waiting to find out: did you make a good person, a decent adult human? Did each of those boys become the men you were waiting to meet? You wait to find out if the adults you and your good husband made and tried to shape are the kind of young adults you would want to wait with you, years (you hope) in the future, when you are waiting for bad news, for the doctor to return from the operating room, for the biopsy results.

The Lilac Grove

Leslie Kendall Dye writes about being a family of three.

Even if you have chosen a kind of planned social obsolescence, even if you feel good with your one baby and your sort-of manageable existence in your fairly tidy apartment, which you can occasionally afford to dress up with some bodega-bought peach roses, it stings to watch other bellies swell, other families grow, and to quietly let your group membership lapse.

IVF RSVPs

In a series of RSVP replies, Amy Klein declines.

“Darling, I’m so devastated I’m going to miss your out-of-town wedding on The Big Island. I know we’ve been besties forever, and your wedding is very dear to me and even though I don’t usually like shelling out $10,000 to travel for a wedding, I would have come to yours. Except, except . . . I am scheduled to have an IVF transfer that day — or around that day, or that week or that cycle — if everything goes well: if my embryos defrost, if my uterine lining is thick enough, if I get over this flu, if the roads are clear, if my check clears—hopefully I will be on bedrest that week incubating my future child . . . .”

Anticipatory Preparation

Zsofia McMullin writes about waiting around — and waiting for things to happen:

I wait for the week to be over. For second grade. For his first sleepaway camp. I wait for braces. For high school and prom and driving. I wait for meeting girlfriends, and for college applications. I wait for a gaggle of teenagers in my kitchen. I wait for phone calls in the middle of night. I wait for things I don’t even realize I want to be waiting for. But I wait for them anyway.

Takeover

In The Art of Waiting, Belle Boggs describes how IVF takes over your life:

It is not just the takeover of your body that makes IVF so challenging, but the takeover of your schedule, your life. Every-other-morning appointments, waiting by the phone for news about the results of blood draws, timing injections precisely, ordering more medication or procuring discounted or free leftovers from women finished with their cycles: it all takes time.

The story of food.

Tucked away in a far corner of Kolkata, Noodle Hub is a true FIND! I started off and after a lot of twists and turns, traffic jams,stopping people on en-route to ask the way, GPS confusions resulting in low battery; I reached more than an hour later. Noodle Hub surpassed all my expectations, from food to decor everything was impeccable. Frankly I was expecting it to be a small eatery with nothing special to offer, but now it has become one of my favorite Pan-Asian joints in the city. It was a two story restaurant, how many even big brand names have that? The place is huge! With ornamented wallpaper in white and red, Chinese posters,wall hangings, beautifully sculptured hanging lights, An elegant stairway, bold wooden furniture, & paintings of buddha this place looked sober and enigmatic. I was invited for a Food Bloggers Meet at Noodle Hub. The Owner, Sanjoy Roy and his associate Dipanjan Ghosh where the perfect hosts and when we got to chatting, I learnt so much from them about Pan-Asian delicacies. It was a lovely experience.

Reasons To Visit:

Exquisite Food

Cheap Prices

Bored of Run-Of-The-Mill Chinese? – This is the place for you

Must Haves:

I cannot pick a few, because everything that I had was purellyyyyy delicious!! Try anything from below and you will not be let down!!

We started our foodathon with Fresh-Lime-Soda (salted). It s was nice and refreshing. Then Prawn Hargaon & Chicken Sui Mai came. Both came with an helping of a Garlic-Chili-Tomato Sauce. The Prawn Hargaon was basically a version of prawn momo, it had lots of minced, fresh prawn and tasted yummilicious! The Chicken Sui Mai was primarily chicken dumplings, it too had lots of stuffing. The dumplings and momos were a grand beginning to a grand feast !! There were hands down one of the best I had, had in a long long time. The meat was fresh, juicy, well marinated, basically everything that one can hope and dream for!!

Then Gai Shai Takrai came, it was a fried chicken starter with lots of lemon grass, chilies, onions & garlic. This was a the show stopper of the evening!! The portion was huge, the flavors were just perfect and the taste was plain mind blowing. I loved it!! While I was still trying to scrap of any remains from the bowl of Gai Shai Takrai, the Chicken Khao Suey arrived. THIS IS THE BEST KHAO SUEY I HAVE EVER HAD!!! The presentation was beautiful, with small bowls of chopped chilies, coriander leaves, lemon, burnt garlic, spring onion, golden fried onion, crispy rice and a giant sized bowl of the main Khao Suey. The Khao Suey was plain heavenly! With the first mouthful I was captivated by its rich, yet sweetish and nutty flavor. If you are ever here, this dish is a must try!

The came Plain Rice and Thai Green Curry. The green curry was PERFECT!! It was rich & creamy, with the right amount of lemon grass, coconut milk, chicken strips and mushroom!! OHHH!! I love Thai food and this was plain ecstasy!!

Malaysian Noodles arrived soon. Its primarily a version of Pad Thai. It was quite delicious, though I would have liked some more prominent flavors in it. With the noodles, we were served Prawn in Hunan Sauce, Pakchoy in Oyster Sauce, Roasted Pork in Orange, Sauce Sliced Fish with Green and Garlic. The prawn came in a red spicy sauce, the pieces were huge, another addition to the lovely dinner that I was having. As the evening passed my experience went from good to great to plain WOOOWWW!! The Pakchoy in Oyster Sauce was exquisite. This dish is mainly Chinese Cabbage (Pockchoy) and Mushroom with other veggies in a black oyster sauce. It’s subtle, fresh flavors simply engulfed me!! The Roasted Port in Orange Sauce was spicy and tasted very different from the others!! This dish was very palatable and I was left licking the spoon. OHH MY!! WHAT AN ENDING – The Sliced Fish with Green and Garlic was perfection personified. This white gravy dish came with lots of fresh veggies like bell pepper, broccoli, pakchoy among others.

For desserts we had, Thai Mango Pudding and Chocolate Wanton. The pudding was very innovative, and had a sour-y fresh taste. The wantons had fresh baked brownie stuffing and garnished with chocolate sauce. They were yummmiliciousss!!

This Pan-Asian Casual Dinning won my heart and soul.

The Story of two crooks.

Several days ago I was sitting in library. Looking for motivation to finish my thesis revission. Whenever I read my thesis, there’s always a kind of inferior feeling. I don’t know what make me feel so bad. Sometimes my negative feeling hang up in my mind and so many “what if” statement appear inside my brain. Realizing that there’s some mistakes in my thesis, and the deadline getting closer. I don’t even believing in myself. Till I found one of Ajahn Brahm’s book. The title is “Cacing dan kotoran kesayangannya”. I begin to read the first story in this book .

This story narrated Ajahn Bram when he was a young monk in Perth, Australia. There’s a group of monk want to build a Temple. This is their first time experience to construction materials with their own hands. Laying bricks is a test of patience. Before a brick is laid, cement has to be layered, making sure that its thickness is somewhat consistent. Ajahn Brahm tried to arranged the bricks. His progress was slow, due to the great care in his work, but he wasn’t bothered. He was going to build a beautiful brick wall, his first brick wall. Finally, he had finished his work, so he stood in front of the wall to admired his work. Suddenly, he caught that he had overlooked 2 bricks that were laid slanted. Worst of all, the bricks were right in the center of the wall. They were mistakes that stared back at him. Since then, whenever visitors come to the temple, the young monk would show them around to all places, all except the brick wall that he had built. He afraid that the visitor will look and focus at the two crooked bricks.

One day, 2 elderly monks came to the temple. No matter how Ajahn Brahm tried to detour to avoid the ugly brick wall, the old monks insisted in touring the area around that brick wall. Reluctantly, Ajahn brought his elders to the brick wall.

“Oh, this is such a beautiful brick wall!” one of the elderly monks commented.

“Excuse me Sir, are you sure? Haven’t you seen the 2 ugly bricks that are crooked in the middle of the wall?” Ajahn exclaimed in surprise.

“Yes, I have seen the 2 ugly bricks.” replied the elderly monk.

“But I also saw the remaining 98 good bricks that made this a beautiful wall!”

After reading this story I’m realizing that sometimes we focus on things that went wrong or didn’t live up to our expectations and they can keep us brooding for days and weeks. However, we’ve forgotten the fact that they are only 2 bad bricks in the wall and we should not overlook the beauty of the remaining 98 bricks. We are worth of a good qualities, sometimes we made mistakes, but don’t let the 2 crooked bricks not remaining the beauty of 98 bricks in our self and life.

HK : All of the story is very heart warming. I’m highly recomended this book :))

“Every struggles in your life has shaped you into the person you are today, be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger”


Escape from the situation is an easy way to walk away from the problems. But the toxic feeling inside your heart will always be there. Escape and escape. we won’t to face it and act like everything’s okay. we repressed all of the hurt feeling and escape. Again and again. Maybe we feel better just for a while, but the problems aren’t solve yet.

And so I am, there’s a time when I feel so bad. Like everything didn’t work as well as I thought. When suddenly the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place. So I Left the painful feeling and looking for a good things. But, the uncomfortable feelings still left behind. Yes. That feeling still left in my heart. I call it move on. But the reality is “I’m escape, not move on”. Move on mean I’m finished or deal with the business in the past, So I have no worried or regret whenever I think back to that situation, because I have been deal with it”

Day by day, The toxic in my heart becoming more big. I have no chance. I need to set it free. I do this by continually presenting my pain and dissatifactions to me, bringing them to mind, disturbing me and reminding me to deal with them. To heal and grow I must admit that I’m not happy and then understand why. This process is also concerned with helping me to find myself. It forces me to examine my discontent , to ponder my purpose, and so it directs me to seek self-fulfilment. Thus, this process has two distinct goals : motivating me to become emotionally free, and encouraging me to discover and develop my true talent.

Realizing that we can only be happy as ourselves. What we were meant to be is the person we already are. It has taken everything that has ever happened to us for you to have turned out the way we are today. If we become the success we dream of and look back on your most troubled times, we will see the contribution that adversity played making us more honest and more real, and how it motivated us to made a change.

To express your feelings

To mourn, forgive, and heal

To admit the lies you tell

To understand why you tell them

To understand your true needs

To give up false expectations

To accept yourself as you are

To create your own life, free, productive, and happy

King Gozmay’N

Hi everyone 😀 it’s a very beautiful scenery in front of me. The weather was cold and the moon looks very big and shines brightly, I guess today is a full moon. OMG, I’m gonna change into a wolf at 12 am, hahaha, I’m a Gumiho 😛 😛 (pardon my wild imagination).

By the way, I this photo in my gallery, this is remind me about my struggled during finishing my thesis. One of my favorite dessert in Nox Coffee. Too cute to be eaten. but most of all, I will never forget how I’m living like the owl while working with my thesis deadline. Sleep in the morning and work all night long, hahaha. I’m not a typicall of night person. I usually sleep at 11-12 pm everynight, but the power of “kepepet” give me more power to do all the impossible things. hahaha. 😀 😀 the power of deadline is very amazing.

Owl dessert at Nox Coffee Yogyakarta
Back to the owl, this is some lesson that we can learn from the owl :

Even though u are not a typical of night person, u can learn to living like the owl, mostly to finished your deadline.
Stayed focus
Be “whoo” you are
Glide through the dark times
be observant
Life’s a hoot
:)) For those whose having a lot of works, you can try to living like the owl. but don’t forget to repair your biologic time after finishing the deadline :))

Islam problems

There are constant calls in the west to find the “root causes” of terrorism, and try and address them. Oh, it must be poverty, or illiteracy, or unemployment. These views are trivially proved wrong simply by looking at the demographics of the worst terrorists – they’re so often well educated, financially successful individuals.

Unfortunately, jihadist terrorism (like so many of Islam’s problems) is not some isolated problem to a few fringe religious extremists, as so many wish to pretend. It never was. Jihad and religious world dominance is a significant goal of mainstream Islam. And until we recognize and confront the problem, it will only get worse.How can I say that mainstream Islam is the problem? Simple: while it is true that only a small number of Muslims are willing to personally commit jihad, mainstream Muslim organization after organization constantly support terrorism around the world. And even many of the ones who don’t support terror still pursue Islamic dominance outside of jihad – through our courts, through government infiltration, through intimidation, through radical education, and through claims of political correctness and tolerance being used to suppress free speech. These softer sort of approaches to Islamic dominance is precisely why incidents like the ground zero mosque must be confronted, and why they are offensive – especially when they seek taxpayer funding with a wry smile.

The plain fact is that the atrocities against women, all other religions and ideologies, the fatwas and bounties, the antisemitism and torture – they’re a product of the culture, and not isolated incidents. I’ve frankly stopped blogging on most of the honor killings, drive by shootings, and just atrocious behavior that happens here in western countries, because they’re so frequent. The mainstream Muslim community does not stand up and condemn this behavior – instead they always deflect about Israel, or other excuses.

What needs to be done? Islam must be reformed, however little they wish it. Muslims need to recognize that they have problems within their own culture, and need to shame them out. Some do – and there are also tolerant branches of Islam that are willing to stand up and do what is right. All of these need to be supported and propped up, while we recognize and call out the jihadist elements. In other words, the left’s current tactic of trying to disregard terrorists as merely criminals (whom they can’t prosecute), and their willingness to blindly look at terrorist elements as okay or even good simply because their true enemies (conservatives, of course) have called these organizations out is exactly wrong.

Women and children in islam

Muslim Cleric: ‘When a Slave-Girl Gets Married, Her Owner Can No Longer Have Sex With Her’

May 10, 2017

WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN ISLAM
KUWAITI CLERIC: ‘WHEN A SLAVE-GIRL GETS MARRIED, HER OWNER CAN NO LONGER HAVE SEX WITH HER’

In an instruction about how Muslims must treat slaves, Kuwaiti cleric Othman Al-Khamis explained that slaves come “from jihad,” or holy war, and if a slave-girl gets married her Muslim owner “can no longer have sex with her — it’s over.”

A cleric is a Muslim scholar trained in Islam and Islamic law (sharia). In an April 18 video from YouTube reposted and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the Kuwaiti cleric Othman Al-Khamis says, “Where do slaves and slave-girls come from? From jihad. Slaves and slave-girls are taken captive in jihad.”

”When jihad is waged, the imam has four options of what to do with the prisoners,” says the cleric. “This means that he has to do what is in the best interests of the Muslims. He has four options.”

“The first is to kill those prisoners who are fighters – just the fighter, not the women, the children, the elderly, the monks, or the slaves,” he explains. ” His second option is to release them for a ransom. His third option is to release them for free, without a ransom.”

“His fourth option is to enslave them, both the men and the women,” says Al-Khamis. “The men would become slaves and the women slave-girls.”

“The slave is the property of his owner,” says the cleric. “They are enslaved through jihad, and a Muslim cannot be a slave. A Muslim must not be enslaved. Only infidels may be enslaved.”


He continues, “When a slave-girl gets married her owner can no longer have sex with her. That’s it. It’s over. She moves to her husband’s home? Of course. The owner can have sex with a slave-girl only when she is not married. If she gets married, it’s over. He can no longer have sex with her.”

Othman Al-Khamis then explains when a Muslim man may marry a slave girl.

“But as I’ve said, a [Muslim] man cannot just go and marry a slave-girl,” says Al-Khamis. “He should marry a free woman, not a slave-girl. But if he cannot find a free woman to marry, or if he doesn’t have enough money, or nobody wants him, and things get hard for him, there is nothing to prevent this.”

“In the words of Allah,” he quotes, “‘If any of you have not the means to wed free-believing women, he may wed believing girls from among those whom your right hand possesses.’”

Finally, emphasizing his primary point, Al-Khamis says of the slave-girl, “Her owner cannot have sex with her if she gets married. Are we clear? She cannot be in bed with two men. That’s impossible.”