Dusting, cleaning, tidying up

Dusting, cleaning, tidying up, vacuum cleaning… Does it sound familiar? On a regular basis we know what this means. Usually, after completing these unpopular tasks we enjoy the cleanliness of our home, sometimes an ephemeral moment.  There are moments in life when we should look back, open old drawers, read old notebooks, look  at old pictures and decide, what we want to keep and what we should get rid of. Some of us have no problem throwing away unnecessary loads, but others suffer with the smallest thing that they have to throw away. Mmmmm, really? Throw away the envelope of that chocolate your first boyfriend/girlfriend gave you or the CD (yes, THE self burnt CD with its self designed cover) your BF (= best friend) gave you in school…

Can we really blame anthropology and genetics for not throwing away anything we own? Or is it sometimes procrastination what makes us push unpleasant things out of our minds and sight? Some people like to collect and hoard, and some take it to an extreme and develop a compulsive behavior turning into compulsive hoarding.

the hoarder

The Hoarder

(Image from http://www.redbubble.com/people/louijover/works/5764908-the-hoarder)
We all like to keep some special things, maybe a certain book, the first little shoe of our child, your favorite stuffed toy, and you certainly have other examples.

Living in a very clean and organized country as Germany you can find examples of tidiness everywhere. If I think of normal households, the first thing that comes to my mind is the term ‘Frühjahrsputz’ which is something like the ‘Spring cleaning’. After a very long and dark winter it makes sense to open all your windows and let light and fresh air invade your place. This procedure also includes the real cleaning of every corner and surface, rooms, windows, bathroom, kitchen, garage, cellar, garden, closet, etc. And here where I live everyone takes it very seriously. In a machine loving country, like Germany where the workforce is very expensive, there are machines for all tasks, especially the cleaning ones. I was amazed the first time after having had breakfast at my in laws place… We had just finished our meal and were taking the dishes to the kitchen when my mother in law surprised us with her new device. She proudly turned it on and started vacuum cleaning the table. No breadcrumb survived the process! Everything was accurately disposed. I first thought it a great idea and following her advice I ran to the next Tchibo (coffee store that sells all kind of ‘practical’ stuff with new themes every week at an affordable price) and bought mine.  But… I had not the obstinacy and endurance of my mother in law and after a few times I sent the table vacuum cleaner to the attic. And to my surprise I found it there a couple of years later!


Vacuum cleaner for the table

Moving around the neighborhood I usually observe the neighbors with their special machines trimming their hedge, polishing their cars, cleaning their fences and their paved entrances. They all attack their floors as if it were the last task in their lives that they would accomplish. Every week there is a free ‘local newspaper’ with a lot of printed ads where you can find the latest offers for machines in the next ‘Home Depot’ or ‘OBI’. When I was living in Mexico and also in Brasil you would see people sweeping their entrances with a broom or washing the floor or walls with lots of soap and water. Manforce against machine…

The Summer is almost gone and the leaves have started to turn yellow and red, a beautiful view and a special atmosphere in the Fall, if it weren’t for the leave vacuum cleaners which are used to blow the fallen leaves to a heap. Of course, if you walk on the sideway you have to make sure that you have been seen by the neighbor with his loud blowing machine, if not… who knows where or how you could finish! Well, that to the romantic atmosphere. You may ask yourself, why and why so compulsively? There is a rule here that states that every sidewalk has to be continuously free of leaves in the Fall. If someone would fall because of ‘the leaves in front of ‘your’ sidewalk, then they can sue you… and that would be very expensive.

leaves pile

The Fall

After the romantic Fall we’ll soon have the cold Winter coming. Oh, it’s so nice when it snows! The tiny frozen stars and the fluffy snow flakes! Are you already guessing? Yes, there are machines to get rid of the snow on the sidewalk and there is a rule that forces you to have yours free of snow by at the latest 7 o’clock in the morning, no matter what… and more exact, always free of snow between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. A romantic idea of snow? Not quite. Some house owners take advantage of the snow and use the mechanical muscle force to get rid of the snow, they have their daily work out with a snow shovel. Can you imagine a tall and muscular German guy shoveling snow in the morning? Nice idea? Well, that’s quite the wrong picture as I have seen and know of many strong German women! who do the job. I know of many men who love machines who then buy a portable snow plow for the purpose…

The reality is that we couldn’t imagine a household without machines. The good old vacuum cleaner, the dish washer, the washing machine, the tumble dryers, the mixer and all of our daily helpers and all the ‘new’ verbs we have developed to combine with the machines, like for example vacuum cleaning. In some countries they work fine and for everyone, but in others they aren’t yet that popular, maybe because of the costs. While living in Sao Paulo and coming from Germany we also bought a dish washer, but… The lady who came to help us with the household was always looking suspiciously at the dish washer and asking me, if I really liked it and commenting that it was not so good. She could not understand why we were putting dirty dishes in the machine and took so long in washing… She was maybe right. It would have been easier to wash the two cups and plates from breakfast immediately avoiding bad odors in the machine. She loved the vacuum cleaner but had a difficult relationship with it. Every time she tried to change the bag, she managed to almost break it coming worried to me with the different parts in her hands. I pictured her confronting with the broom one of those modern vacuum cleaning roots in the form of a disc that sweeps the floor with almost no noise… I wasn’t that cruel and would have never bought one.
You can get a good description of all vacuum cleaners and its use, of course in German,  here http://sunny7.at/wohnen/haushalt/der-staubsauger-guide-

I was mentioning before that it is good, even essential, to look back and to get rid of burden. Opening “internal” drawers could bring unwanted memories back. However, keeping things closed and out of sight doesn’t mean that we have dealt with them. They are still there, waiting…

I personally have reached a moment in my life where I had to look back, analyze the present situation and decide how to continue in the near future. I have decided to physically get rid of burdens and just keep the minimum necessary to have a simplified life. I have also opened some old drawers and have found some friendships that were causing me burden, they used to vacuum clean my energy and I decided to get rid of them, too. At the same time I found old names and faces in those drawers and I’m very happy to be able to reactivate them and have them integrated as an active part of my life. So I’ll have a detox 😉 in all aspects of my life. How about you?


Nice to meet you

If you had the opportunity to meet someone meaningful to you, who would it be? Let’s say you get the one in a life time chance of meeting your idol, your guide, your inspiration, could you name this person? There may be interesting people you’d like to meet and you start looking for a way of meeting a special person… or maybe you just prefer to stay in your comfort zone and don’t want to risk a disappointment…

Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados

Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados

Let’s suppose you know of a guy who has a very old car, hasn’t got many days vacation, but has a great wish. He wants to meet the person who has inspired him to become a good teacher and to motivate the youth to follow their ideals.  This is the story of an English teacher in South Spain living in the sixties who desperately wanted to talk to the one and only John, John Lennon. On his way he offers a ride to two young people, who could even be his pupils, and starts his journey from Central Spain to the South. It’s a funny, warm, original story to be seen in the movie “Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados”, from David Trueba.


Javier Cámara plays the teacher, Natalia de Molina the young woman and Francesc Colomer, the boy. Thanks to a very good friend of mine, I could watch the German premiere of this film during the Munich Film Festival.

David Trueba

David Trueba, Film Festival Munich

Link to the Film

Who would I like to meet? And especially what for? To talk about what? Would I have the guts to talk and ask questions or would I just stare at my idol? Good questions and no easy answers. Would I like to meet a writer? Maybe, but if I think of many of them, I see them when they are famous and a little bit arrogant. I was thinking about Oscar Wilde, Ernst Hemingway, Johann Goethe, Miguel de Cervantes or William Shakespeare… Maybe a woman would be more interesting and less imposing to me… Mmmm, the feminist who didn’t consider herself one, Simone de Beauvoir? Or may be a contemporary writer of crime novels like Elizabeth George? Or maybe the Lady of Crime Agatha Christie?

Thinking of more altruistic topics, would I maybe like to have met Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi? Mmmm, I don’t know, and I couldn’t imagine what to say. Let’s try another field: politics. How about having met Indira Gandhi or Margaret Thatcher or even Hillary Clinton or the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel? Well, difficult to tell. Some male politicians, let’s see… Obama, Clinton (but not alone in his office ;-)) or some rather unpopular like Vladimir Putin? Mmmm, the name makes me think of fiction. How about meeting someone who only exists in fiction… Dracula or Mr. Darcy? Oh, and I forgot to mention the scientists par excellance, Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, or  Dr. Koch? Mmm, I still don’t know.

Do you really have one public person that has inspired you that much? Apple fans wouldn’t doubt and would arrange a meeting with Steve Jobs whereas the opposite party would immediately say, nonsense, let’s talk to Bill Gates. In the financial area, you would maybe think of an interview with Warren Buffet or in Germany, with the founders of the successful chain Aldi, North and South…

We all have our preferences and some artistic persons would maybe chose a painter or a musician or orchestra director. However, I still find it  very difficult to decide what I would like to ask to or talk about with that person.

Now let’s make it more difficult. Let’s suppose that you are given 10 minutes to talk to whomever you would like to, ignoring distances, time, countries and other physical impediments, who would you like to spend those 10 minutes with?… The chosen one would know the weight and importance they may have in your life. Would you decide based on love, your job, admiration, importance, curiosity?

What questions would you ask? I hope you’re not thinking of getting the autograph of a pop star… or the used socks of a guitar player… Yuk!

Sometimes we have exactly 10 minutes to say something nice, something meaningful to someone at our side, let it be a loved one, a colleague, a neighbor or someone we have just met. How often do we rather stay still and don’t say anything at all?

Thinking about this I remember another film I saw during the Film Festival in Munich, it is called ‘the Seagull’ and is inspired on the play by Anton Tchechov. The plot is transported to New England and it shows how a family interacts without really communicating. Many truths are kept hidden and things that had to be said are never mentioned. This leads to a knot in the relationships and a very conflicted familiar situation.

There was a first filmed version inspired on the play from 1968 directed by Sidney Lumet, but the critics weren’t that good. This new version was released in the US in Spring 2014 directed by Christian Camargo with an interesting cast. The film is also known as “Days and Nights” and was filmed in Connecticut showing New England of the 80’s.. The cast and crew lived all there and got to get the surrounding very well. Even the music producer, Claire van Kampen, lived there and managed to create an impressive musical setting for the picture integrating the physical atmosphere by the lake with the sounds of a warm cello.

Link to the Film The Sea Gull

Back to communication and talking in a family. There are families in which there is a continuous flow of words, meaningless, but continuous. How many long time couples have you observed that have long conversations about absurd themes like ‘the color of the stone that will be laying close to the entrance door’ Topics that may cause distress or pain are not addressed or only slightly touched, like a breeze…

Addressing and talking about distressing topics, mainly about feelings, is usually difficult and requires a lot of courage. Some people go through life dodging difficulties and running away from pain and trouble.

To be able to grow we need to bravely put on with difficulties and if they involve more the one, trying to talk and listening to all parties.

Does this sound very dogmatic? It may… But looking around, even at a level where world conflicts, like the Gaza Conflict and the problems between Ucrania and Russia, are threatening our peace, we should remember this…

Have a communicative time!

Reloaded or Version 2.0?

What does reloaded really mean? Is it a remake? A new interpretation of something? Where does it come from? Another way of saying that something is a new version of something is to add 2.0. to its name. These are very new terms that have become so popular the they are even combined with classical themes.

Lats Friday I was at the premiere of Swan Lake Reloaded, an encounter of street dance and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. I hadn’t read any kind of critique or description before because I wanted to be surprised. I praise myself of being open-minded and what came really was something different.


The show is Fredrik Rydman’s Swedish techno remix of the Tchaikovsky’s classic. Not only the music was remixed, the story was ‘modernized’, if you can call it that way. The play is full of coarse elements and the motto ‘sex sells’ applies ideally to this reloaded version. The story is loaded with “funny banana” allusions to the masculine organ while the swans have dedicated themselves to ‘the oldest profession in the world’. Rothbart is a drug dealing pimp and the prince is a softy guy. You have to know the original story to be able to follow this 2.0 version. Does reloaded have to be equal to coarse?

The music has a strong electro beat and is loud. Not every piece in the show is from the original ballet, they’ve included songs with interesting texts and sung by a nice woman’s voice.  The songs reminded me of alternative rock music.

To the visuals in the show, the choreography was very bright, lots of light effects, and a great visual simulation with lights and smoke at the beginning to set the time to our modern age. This very new age world with is street scenes almost always in black and white is in opposition with a scenery that reminded me of Paris, Toulouse Lautrec and the cancan. In this case, the music matched the era and it was bright and funny. The dancers were in big red “business” suits and they were performing with elements of street dance. Some of these scenes were also like a circus performance with circus humor.

During the show I had one or two good laughs. One was with ‘La Cucaracha’ reloaded, not the music, but the visuals. I don’t want to tell you more in case you watch the show… Another one was with the way the swans were dressed and especially with their white wigs… I made a note in my mind not to buy cheap hairdryers or I would end up looking like “a crazy swan”.

Image from Swan Lake Reloaded.de

A white Swan from Swan Lake Reloaded

All in all, this remake of the Swan Lake made me think of the Swan Lake Ballet in a psychiatric clinic, more or less… The play uses successfully the element of surprise presenting what you don’t expect to see or to listen to. It’s a big show, but neither the story reloaded nor the dancing left me an unforgettable impression.  I found the technical elements very impressive same as the price of the ticket, really impressive, too. ^^

One of the modern interpretations of the Swan Lake that I prefer is the talented interpretation by the “Taller Coreográfico de la UNAM” (National University in Mexico City) of Gloria Contreras and her creative and sensitive choreographies.

TCUNAM Swan Lake

Swan Lake by Gloria Contreras


However, after the show we went to have a glass of wine and something to eat at the restaurant next to the theatre. The theatre is called “Prinzregenten” and it is one of the biggest theater houses in Munich.


The restaurant was the best surprise of the evening. It is beautifully decorated and was almost empty although it was a Friday evening. In other places in Munich it is impossible to get ‘spontaneously’, with no previous reservation, a table for five.

Restaurant Prinzipal

Restaurant Prinzipal, Prinzregententheater


Now again to the ‘reloaded’ part.You may find the term attached to computer games, films and other entertainment media. I’m not very sure, but it may come from the science fiction film “The Matrix Reloaded”, 2003. The story continues six months after the first Matrix. As for the 2.0, the versioning my be from software development with its releases and complete new version of a software package.

I’ve found that many of the remakes of either theatre pieces or films try to be extremely innovative and I imagine that they want to challenge the spectators. They include lots of violence and sexual elements in their performances. However, I don’t find them original or daring as all of them have more or less the same look. Am I misinterpreting something?  I used to go to the theatre and some of the plays I saw abused of these elements I’m mentioning. I remember having seen “The bitter tears of Petra von Kant” , a film of R.W. Fassbinder, 1972. In this “reloaded” version the scenery was scarce in black, grey and some pale pink, and everyone was wearing dark and S&M outfits. Is this original?? In one of the crucial scenes, the personal secretary of Petra hangs herself in a corset… Mmmm… I imagined Rihanna singing her S&M.  Another play 2.0 I watched was “Reigen”. This is a theater play from Arthur Schnitzler that was first performed in 1920 and it was a scandal in the conservative European society because of its theme. In the original play the dialogues always suggest sexual themes, but whether show or talk openly about it. In the reloaded version, the scenes were “shocking” because of the violence shown on stage. The colors were, of course black!, almost neon green and white flashes. In our 21st century, we are continuously in contact with all this, even in TV shows. Reading or writing about sex has become “in”, so I suppose that to be “original” the shock has to be visual or acoustic and everything has to be more shocking than before.

Back to the term reloaded or with second versions sticking only to the re-creating, re-designing, re-inventing something, not intended to shock. How is it with people? Have you had a makeover? Are you reloaded or V. 2.0? In my case I have started with Tona Reloaded, full of new ideas and plans that will radically change my life the way I’ve lived it in the past years… And I hope for good and without shocking 😉 When I finish with the process I will be then Tona 2.0

How about you?

Wish you a creative week!