The Disappointment Panda and other Life Truths

No, this is not a fable or a story intended for kids. What I am  talking about is one of the most endearing characters of Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Seems like I am in a loop of motivational books here but let me tell you that this is NOT you expected or average self-help text.

If you are one of those who believes that you can “attract” whatever you want, and it will be given to you, or you think that having a positive attitude all the time is the way to start improving your life, this book is NOT for you. The Subtle Art will probably tell you exactly what you DO NOT want to hear; I better should say that this book and all of it awesomeness is a “hand it with care” type.

First of all you will find a lot of cursing in this book… and that is okay. It is not that the author is a potty mouth (well, he actually is), but makes his prose more real and somehow fulfills the purpose of conveying a deeper message. This book will not tell you that there is abundance in the universe and whatever you really, really wish shall be yours. This book keeps it real: Life suck sometimes, and you gotta deal with it; it is good that you have problems; and uncertainty is awesome for you.

Without revealing too much, I would say that this is a book that will challenge you. It will make you question your values, how do you tackle problems and, most importantly, what are the things you actually give a fuck about. Manson’s main premise is that there is a  finite amount of fucks each one of us has, so you better make them count.

The beauty of this is that “giving a fuck” is not a synonym a of indifference, just the opposite. You should give a fuck about things that actually matter to you. Easier to hear or read than to do. If you are tired of “feel good” books, and you really want to do something about yourself, this is the right one for you.

Highly recommendable as a complement for your motivational, bedside bestsellers, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck will make you really object yourself. Do not miss the opportunity to lay your hands on a copy and start living not the way you want, but the way you need.

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The Disappointment Panda and other Life Truths

Underwater

It was the perfect day in the beautiful neighborhood of Madison. Summer was at its peak, and people were flocking to the public beach. Over there you could find every color, shape, and form: Teenagers, young adults, moms, dads, babies, grandparents, hipsters, and no hipsters, you name it. It was the perfect setting for people watching.

The temperature was unusually high, so it was not rare to see many people in the water. Maria was not one of them. She was sipping a coffee in a café whose terrace was pretty much at the beach. She had a book in her hand, but every once in a while she distracted herself with the splashing sound of kids jumping into the water from the public trampoline.

Maria could see how they immersed themselves and then come out again laughing and splashing some more water to their friends. She thought that maybe it would be a good idea to invite some people the next day and swim a little. There she was when she saw a young woman in a red swimming suit jumping and then… Five seconds, ten seconds, fifteen seconds passed and nothing. Maria did not know if she should get the lifesaver or just start screaming because nobody seemed to notice.

She grabbed her stuff as fast as she could and ran towards the beach. People started to stare at her because she was dropping things on her way: Bag, book, sunglasses, shoes… but above it all, she was running into the water fully dressed. When Maria reached the platform, there was still no sign of the woman. She submerged herself once more and could see nothing. That was unexpected. She was hoping to see what you normailly see under the water: some algae and dirt, but over there the water was sort of murky. It was like there was fog in there, if that makes any sense.

After a few seconds, Maria emerged again. She thought about moving further when she turned around and saw the woman getting out of the lake. Astonished, she swam back and, when she finally made it to the shore, she thought about approaching her but immediately discarded the idea. She felt like a complete idiot and thought that the woman might find her a little bit too creepy, so she decided to just let it go. She kept herself close though because something was not connecting.

While she was collecting her scattered belongings, she noticed that the woman in question was acting weird. She was just standing there staring at the lake. Maria had to talk to her. She did not want to scare her, so she walked slowly and asked her softly, “Are you alright? I’m sorry, I couldn’t help seeing you jumping and then you just wouldn’t come out again, and I…” “I don’t remember swimming back here,” the woman replied. “It was so dark.”

To be continued…

Underwater

Wonder Woman: The Empowering Super Heroine

When I grow up, I wan to be like Diana Prince, a.k.a. the Princess of Themyscira. There, I said it. Finally, last night I went to watch Wonder Woman. I know, I know….I am a bit late, but I would like to share my thoughts with you about it still. In summary, I absolutely loved it. Yes, it a little bit long (over two hours) but totally worth it.

I am not an assiduous super hero movie goer, but I found Wonder Woman utterly compelling since the moment I watched the trailer. Maybe it was because the actual hero or heroine is a woman and not only a chick that looks hot in spandex and is part of a crew led by a man. Diana Prince made me feel that we can have super heroines standing up for themselves, not just supporting, and that was very empowering.

Yes, Gal Gadot is gorgeous and yes, her costume is quite revealing, but I do not believe the intention is to make men drool in the movie theater. Likewise, the Amazons are beautiful and they are not super models; they are real warriors with a mission that demands commitment and sacrifice. Diana Prince is the same, but she also has a kind heart with the naïvety proper of someone entering a new world. However, I love the fact that she is ridiculously smart and can put men in their place – and win them over – just with brains.

She does not need to be rescued, and she totally believes in herself. Oh but that did not come only because she is a goddess herself (sorry for the spoiler), but because she was trained harder than any other Amazon. She believed in her mission from the beginning and went for it. Moral: work hard, very hard, and you will conquer.

I do not know about you, guys, but after watching it and while watching it, I imagined myself like one of the Amazons: strong, bad ass, and capable of defending myself from anybody in the world. Every time a man appeared on screen saying things like, “Who let this woman in?” or looked at her like she was a pink elephant, I just wanted to unsheathe my sword and start slicing them. To be honest, that is how I feel every time a man is condescending, mistreats women, or simply acts like a prick.

Now, please, do not get me wrong. I do not consider myself a feminist, and I do not have anything against men. I think you guys are awesome, and I believe that we need each other to achieve great things. And that is something Wonder Woman is very good at: It is not us versus them. It is more like, “Us and them.”

Another thing that makes this movie and Diana Prince memorable, is that she is genuinely caring, compassionate, and believes in love. And that is exactly what ignites her power – like every other woman because we are capable of that. Okay, it is love but more than that, is the loss of it. Sure, she literally falls for the very first guy she sees but, as it happens in real life, you never, or almost never, end up with your first love. It gives you a taste of what it is and sometimes breaks your heart, but most of the time, it leaves.

Speaking of leaving, have you ever noticed that all great super heroes are loners? They have objects of affection at some point, but rarely they stay together once they devote themselves to save the world. I wonder if there is any sort of theory or any sociological or psychological study about it. I would be very interested to read it. Could it be because of the generalized idea that you cannot have everything in life? Could it be because love distracts you and makes you less productive whether your work in an office or you save humanity? Also, for those who already watched the movie, did you realized that she is never called “Wonder Woman” in the entire film?

I never like to say that a movie, book, tv show, etc. is good or bad. This is my second “review” and pretty much I am telling you how I feel about it and what were the reactions and thoughts it provoked in me. In this case, you can see that it did a good job. Wonder Woman has it all: it is entertaining and it has humor, amazing action and fighting sequences, a little bit of love, and definitely makes a girl feel like we can do anything we set our minds on…. oh and also makes you feel like getting a sword, a shield, and hit the gym with all your heart and soul. *Giggles*

Wonder Woman: The Empowering Super Heroine

Up and Going

I did not know what to write about today (err… yesterday), so I had the brilliant idea of asking. “What motivates you,” he said. You could see my reaction immediately: All of a sudden, I was ready to write about puppies, unicorns, and rainbows. Anyway, after struggling for a bit and falling asleep pretty much on the keyboard, here is a small list of the people and the feelings that keep me going:

First: You. To be honest, I am not feeling very motivated at the moment. Just the opposite. It is kind of hard to focus when you realize that time is passing faster than you would like and there is still uncertainty. Still, please know that you are my main motivation, my motivator, and my engine. I know that you do not like me to say those things, but it is like that. Period. You know who you are 🙂

Second: I want a sharp mind. These days motivation is giving in to emotions. I know that this is not the best way to approach the problem at hand, but sometimes it is just way too hard to be all zen. Mind is hard to tame, but I’m working on it.

I am not sure if the self-help books that I have been reading are the ones to blame, but I have come to accept that there is a lot of room to improve (how ridiculously selfish I sound; my apologies). I am working on this blog because I want to improve my writing skills; I read self-help books because I want to make my life better, and I study math not only because I have to pass a test to get into grad school again, but because I really believe it can expand my mind. In summary, I want to know more.

Third: I want to be a better person. What I mentioned before are skills, but I truly believe that I can be a better person. I want to be a better daughter, a better girlfriend, and a better friend. I want to be compassionate and generous too. I am not saying I want to become Saint Therese or anything, but I am sure that, hidden somewhere, there is a better version of my self ready to take over.

Fourth: My family. I want to make the proud and happy. Being far away from them have made me realize how much one can take family for granted. I want to help them in any way, shape, or form I can and see them just insanely happy. I mean, they are far from being perfect, and we have our issues like any other family but they’re love is unconditional and now I think it is time to start giving back.

Wow. This exercise was actually pretty enlightening! Thank you for suggesting it, you (you know who you are) and for not letting me get away with puppies, unicorns, and rainbows.

Up and Going

The Girl Who Didn’t Like Mathematics

Once upon a time, there was a girl who did not like maths at all. It was her least favorite subject at school and, when she had to attend class, her stomach and her spirits just went right down her toes. Lilly could not understand how there were other kids that actually enjoyed that stupid class. If the option could have been to clean blackboards instead of going into the classroom, she would have taken it gladly.

If there was something worse than the session at school, that was homework. She felt that in class, the teacher taught them 2+2=4 but at home, she felt she had to solve a formula for quantum physics. Lilly had an older brother but that was not helpful either. The kid was a freaking genius and he could understand everything. Of course, he would not help her under any circumstance. He had a reputation to keep. Teenagers…

The night before her maths final exam, the little girl was next to terrified. She could not understand half the concepts, let alone remember all the formulas for areas and perimeters. If uncle Bob wanted to put a fence around his field and find out how much water his new tank could hold, he should go to the hardware store or wherever you buy fences and tanks and ask a professional, instead of tormenting elementary school kids.

Decided to at least nail a few numbers, Lilly grabbed her book and notebook and started scribbling shapes and formulas. Every time she got the result wrong. Desperate, she continued going page after page but nothing seemed to make sense. She even considered praying and sleeping with the book under her pillow. Learning by osmosis was a thing, right?

It was past midnight, and the girl was still trying, tears threatening to come out any second. All of a sudden, she realized she was not alone anymore. She turned around and saw him: Her favorite hero in a bow tie. “Hello! Please don’t be scared. My ship always takes me wherever there is somebody that needs my help and, just by looking at those measures for uncle Bob’s field, I assume I am just on time. Come on! I want to show you something.”

Lilly followed him inside his ship and could not help but stare with her big, giant eyes. “I know, I know, it’s bigger on the inside but that’s not important now. I want you to meet a good friend of mine.” A second later, she was stepping out of the ship into a place that seemed to be far, far away a long, long time ago. When did people use to wear tunics?

“Lilly this is my friend Euclid! I think he can help you,” the man said and excused himself by saying he had to save the world or something like that. “Are you really, Euclid?” “Yes, yes I am,” said the old man proudly. “Oh okay,” replied Lilly softly. “It’s just that I don’t understand anything of your work, sir,” continued the girl shyly. “Oh not to worry, child! I have had to explain this even to kings. Ask away!”

A strange sound took out Lilly from wherever she was. What was that? An alarm clock? Her alarm clock? How did she made it to bed? She didn’t remember leaving her desk but her books and pencils were already packed in her school bag. “What a weird dream I had.” she thought. “Better not to tell my parents… or anybody.”

She was surprisingly calmed considering the exam would happen in a few hours. On the bus to school, she took away her notebook and saw all the practice problems solved. They all were correct! Who did it? But wait, that was her own handwriting! Lilly started to remember her “dream” more clearly and the more she remembered the more excited she was. She couldn’t wait for the exam to start.

When finally was time for math, she was the first one to run into the classroom and sit down in the front row. Her teacher was astonished not only to see her sitting there but to see such a change in her; she was beaming! She was the first one to finish and when she came back to her seat, she grabbed her book to keep reading. When she opened it in the perimeter topic, she saw it: A big, bright “E” on the bottom of the page.

The Girl Who Didn’t Like Mathematics

Dear Abuelo

Yesterday was Father’s Day and it had not sunk in until our waiter at the dinner place asked us if we had celebrated our dads already. We said no and then I thought about you. I thought what would have done if I were there and you were there. Probably we would have had a late lunch with all the family; some rice, mole, tequila, and cake for you. Yeah, that sounds about right.

I miss you. I miss you more than you can imagine. I wish I could have been with you to watch  the “Selección,” scream “¡GOOOOOOOL!” at the top of our lungs, and curse the useless players every time they did something stupid in the field. I wish we could have discussed every highlight of the match all day long and then speculate about the result of the next oneI am pretty sure that you were watching it too, first row.

How I enjoyed talking to you, but even more, how I enjoyed to listen to you. You had the most amazing stories. I wish I would have recorded everything you said and then write the most amazing book ever. You had the best ghost stories! I think that is why I like them so much and why I was always eager to hear you telling them over and over again. They will not ever, ever get old.

I love how much you enjoyed to ask me questions about the world, although most of the time you knew more than I did. Abuelo you were so wise; I wish I had more time to learn from you. I will always be amazed of how much you knew about so many things and, specially, how you managed to learn them all by yourself. You are amazing!

Thank you for all the big and small things you did for me every day. If it wasn’t for you, I would not know how to drive, how to shine my shoes, how to change a bulb, and how to ride a bicycle. I think if it wasn’t for you, I would not love soccer and the Tuzos, I wouldn’t know about sports and how to treat a swollen knee. I wouldn’t know how to dance and how to appreciate life as it is. Like you always used to say: “La vida es tan bonita, hija” (life is so beautiful, my child). And it is, Abuelo. It is.

I write this while listening to your favorite song, and all I can say is “THANK YOU.” You are my hero and I feel lucky that I not only had a dad but a grand dad. And what a grand dad! You are my angel and my guide; I know that you are wherever I am. Thank you, abuelito, thank you so much for everything. You are THE BEST.

Te amo, Abuelo

Dear Abuelo

Vapor in the Mall (cont.)

Seeing this, Nina ran towards the doors and did not dare to look behind again. She was not the type of person that believes in ghosts. Ghosts does not exist, do they? Somehow she managed to reach home and convinced herself that what she saw had a totally rational explanation. Lost she was in those thoughts when it was time to go to work again.

For her surprise, Patricia the manager, was at the store when she arrived. “Nina I allowed you to leave early last night but that didn’t mean you just could leave the place in such a state!” Nina did not know what her boss was talking about but then she looked around: Papers, envelopes, stickers, pens… everything was on the floor. “Pat I’m… I’m so sorry. I didn’t do any of this. What happened?”

Patricia looked at  her for about three seconds and finally said, “Alright. It is not the first time, you know? I am actually surprised it is the first time this happens while you’re here. This is the reason I lost my previous employee and the reason why other merchants just take their shops somewhere else.” “What are you talking about? Please don’t tell me you believe there is something supernatural here.” she replied.

“Is it really that hard to believe, Nina? You saw it yourself last night, didn’t you?,” said Patricia. “How do you know? You weren’t here! All stores were empty!” “It’s okay, calm down. Now let me ask you a question: Have you spoken to anybody today? Did you see your parents this morning? Did they see you?” “What are you talking about? Of course I saw them! I had breakfast with them! I was talking to my mom and…” “And she didn’t even notice you were there?,” Patricia interrupted softly.

“What happened to me?,” said Nina desperately. “Well you had quite and impression yesterday and your heart… well, let’s say it couldn’t take it. We found your body in the corridor and…” Nina could not believe her ears. “Long story short, now you are one of us. You are our newest resident. Welcome!” “Resident?” the girl asked. “Yes! Long before this place was a mall, the municipal cemetery occupied this space. Well, technically is still here. Why do you think all this “accidents” and knocked down stuff come from? It’s us, the residents who do all these things. We want our last dwelling to be left in peace.”

As soon as Patricia, or her spirit, finished talking, vapor started to inundate the shop. And not only the shop, but the corridor and other stores. The rumbling, the voices, and the murmurs became louder and louder. The lights began to flicker and light bulbs burst. Ovens at bakeries, coffee shops, and the supermarket turned on and the heat quickly made all wood structures catch fire. The residents were finally claiming what was theirs and taken without any respect a long time ago.

A few months after the incident, the mall was finally torn down and the land sold to the city. Most of the structure was already reduced to ashes except for one solitary wall by the food court. Surprisingly, it looked like the fire did not even touch it. The wall did not have anything special but the words “Rest Easy.”

Vapor in the Mall (cont.)