like nothing, with a bit of salt.

There’s a girl sitting in the corner of this family run cafe that I am a regular at. The coffee here is really great. Ethiopian kind and always brewed to perfection with a refreshing acidity and sweet stone fruit undertones. I usually pop by to read a book and have a cup of espresso on sluggish Sunday mornings since my place is nearby.  And today I came with the intentions of carrying out the ritual, except, somehow… I very nearly failed to do so.

Well, first of all, It seemed that the typical, nonchalant atmosphere that filled the room was replaced with curiosity sparked by the corner girl instead. Her drink caught my eyes particularly. I took a notice of her at the moment when she started lifting a Bavarian teacup decorated with blue roses towards almost-inconceivably opened lips. I never saw anyone drink from such a peacocky tableware here, I swear, and that really started to rack my brains. So, as a simpleton that I am, I just decided to order what she’s having, hoping to feed my brains with some answers to vague and formless questions.

“Can I have one of those?” I tried subtly pointing towards the lady when Luke, the barista, asked for my order.

“Sure” he only lukewarmly smiled, almost as if he knew what I was up to.

He took off right away and I just went back to investigating the stranger. When the peach-coloured pillows of mouth reached the riff – she stopped for a millisecond and then proceeded to carefully sip from the, what it seemed to be the most fragile, porcelain cup.

She, and now I, are having “salted sakura tea”, as Luke points out while putting down the same flashy cup on my table a few moments later. “Wow,” I think out loud, and by the way, that’s the irony in me reacting. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was just a tiny, pinkish petal drowning in a cup of boiling-hot water. And here I am, still staring at the mysterious woman. I guess by doing that I’m hoping to figure out the taste of the pretentious tea before going in for the kill. Can’t explain the precaution, though, as I am a bit of a daredevil by a rule of thumb. It’s just something’s off with the cup and with the colourless tea and the girl too.  All of it feels like a flaky love letter to 80s.

What mostly throws me off is that this unfamiliar corner habitat seems confused or rather unfocused (you see I’m terrible at recognising other people’s emotions) on the taste of the tea. She has her gaze locked on the greenery in the opposite corner of the coffee shop instead.

“Is she seeing something that I’m not?” I attempt to take a better look at the flora…

The harmony of the greenery and the shadow-striped floor fabricated by the window jalousie stops my thoughts for a moment… For a brief second, or perhaps even longer, my entire body – limbs, knuckles, nerve system, and soul (if you believe in one), gets swallowed by the overwhelming calamity and nothingness… I dissolve within the scene.

Then a life or a few minutes later,

I’m being brought back to senses and back to my consciousness by a very light and fragile, almost cherry-like fragrance coming from the direction of the cup. I look down and the sakura petal is somewhat obscurely fluttering within the crystal clear water. As if it is about to reach a metamorphosis, a transcendence of some sort. Perhaps it is diffusing too? Or… Am I witnessing a teacup storm here?

The corners of my mouth go up. I chuckle on my own like a proper cuckoo case. On these rare occasions of the cognitive shift, when the dialogue between my conscious and unconscious minds change and when the triple threat – ego, id, and superego – disappear… I become part of something bigger, or rather, I understand the smallness and precious ridiculousness of ‘myself’. “Was I experiencing an ‘overview effect’ just now? Was that… the aroma of the tea?”

Suddenly, I knock out of it to realise that I’m still looking at this sakura-tea girl. I catch her watching me watching her. Well, my eyes are open and it seems that I’m looking her way when in ‘reality’ I was looking at the entire universe just now.

She timidly smiles and goes back to analysing the flora and fauna of the cafe.

“Were there actually two of us fusing into space?” I mutter to myself.

Fuck, I wonder why these days every stranger clouds my mind with stardust?

I decide to finally try the salted sakura tea and It tastes like nothing, with a bit of salt.

Before opening my book and landing back on the planet, I ordered a cup of espresso.

Let me c0unt for you

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Hey. It’s been awhile. Yes, yes I know… We said we’ll keep in touch. But having in mind our past cases – we already could foresee what’s going to happen for us. In fact, it wasn’t even that hard, predicting the cards, I mean. I guess my dream of becoming a freelance-fortuneteller has somewhat worked out, right? (millionaire freelance-fortuneteller is the next title I’m working on)

I want to see how long did your hair grow? I cut mine entirely. Can you imagine? Just chopped it off… Like That!

Do you know I have two alien tattoos now? The first one… Well, I was kind of a-little-perhaps-a-lot drunk for the first one, but can you imagine that the second was planned? Yup, Intentional, with the capital I, where the I in it was maybe a little tipsy the night when the decision was made. I’m still full of surprises… And, of course, alcohol. Nothing’s changed in that department. Good old whiskey, gin & wine recruitment agency is busy as ever.

What’s next… Oh, a smiley piercing. Yup, that too. It’s such a teenage rebellion cliche, but I guess my age nullifies the whole banality thing. I’m still a cool cucumber. (as cool as a person that uses ‘cool cucumber’ in a sentence gets)

Physical changes aside, did I tell you about my shifting locale? I lived in Japan for awhile and officially became a buddhist there (they gave me a diploma). My Sweet baby ramen, I miss you. Stayed with monks and climbed many many mountains… It was breath-taking and sometimes lonely (climbing in silence with no one around can be intimidating) but most of it was adventurous. I would love to tell you more about it, but it deserves a whole another story. I’ll keep it for latter. For that wine & cheese night that we usually do. I mean did… But maybe will do once again too?

And what did I tell you? The recruitment agency always means business. CHINK

How much time has passed already?

I forgot to count. 1 time, 2 times, 3 times… Technically this sentence implies that we can’t even do it. Gramatically… And how could it be, when I can’t even do the grammar (leaving the mistake autocorrect-free for that special effect). But whichever the case – it feels like it’s been lot.

I remember saying goodbye. In fact, we didn’t do much. It was more like an exchange of a couple blinks, smiles, fluctuating voice tones and hand waves. This lame order finalised our  many years together. We should be more dramatic, that way I could at least sueeze up a good story to tell. With what we have I can only scrape an ‘end’ and a ‘story’. NUTTIN MUCH, YA KNOW.

Seas, mountains, hair, tattoos and loads of other stuff are becoming part of an evidence that I will be holding against you. An evidence of time. Because I told you, it’s uncountable. It’s fluid. Unstoppable. Running. Melting and diffusing.

So I thought, maybe… Maybe, at least, I can show you.

Hey, it’s been awhile.

 

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How less can be more

Tatsuro Kiuchi is an artist born in Tokyo, Japan in 1966 that is well known for his first-class skills in the “bloodthirsty” field of illustration. Instead of taking undersized steps on the career’s ladder, he took a shortcut and, let’s express the situation in a creative turn of phrase, utilized a lift in order to be able to reach the finish line faster. Some might feel cheated or even start protesting this injustice (him taking a shortcut); nonetheless it is nothing but a natural outcome, since T. Kiuchi was born with the talent which later he enhanced before and after graduation with distinction from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. So, the game of reaching for the top is fair and square – no tricks, and then automatically the protests that I’ve mentioned are just imaginary friends of mine.

Tatsuro’s first picture book The Lotus Seed (text by Sherry Garland / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide, which pretty much describes on which floor the doors of the lift have already been opened for him. If you, dear readers, are lost with the numbers (not all of us are good with maths) let me drop you few names instead of figures… Does Royal Mail, Starbucks, New York Times or Washington Post ring a bell to you?

Yes, you are right or another option would be that you are wrong, which would say a lot about your intellect capacity! Tatsuro Kiuchi probably no longer has a fear of heights, if you know what I mean. Well, not like he was ever scared or not like I have proficient information to cover this subject, most importantly the point that I am hiding in this jungle of metaphors is that he is doing very well.

Originally and surprisingly, the illustrator was a graduate in Biology at International Christian University in Tokyo, however he made the change to an art career. At the beginning of career as an illustrator for the most part he illustrated children’s books with several publishers in US and Japan. Eventually, Tatsuro Kiuchi branched out into editorial work in magazines, advertising commissions and book jacket illustrations.

His work is a perfect amalgamation of simple and sparse colours. Without doubts there is something heartwarming about his work that just reaches out to the ones exploring it. That’s why his work has been recognized by Communicatin Arts, American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, Art Directors Club, 3×3, The Association of Illustrators Images and Design Week Award. Less being more at least works for T. Kiuchi’s case.

More of his works can be found here.