Sunday, April 30, 2006
Saturday, April 29, 2006
To the S... family
This is part II of the post "Office Nightmare", posted on April 26.
So, smart, funny Brigitte decides to take this crazy picture and send it to her colleague whom she regularly harasses with complaints about the maintenance of her office spaces. You know, to cheer him up a bit.
She types an alarming message, saying "We have mice infestation, here's a picture, you must act quickly!" and she attaches the picture. She then cc's most of her co-workers on the floor because she truly believes they need more humor in their lives. That includes her boss.
Then she realizes her boss is away in training and her Blackberry cannot open the picture attached. So about 5 minutes after sending the initial message, she emails her boss, saying: "Disregard prior message, it's just a joke."
Next morning, she sees her boss' reply: "I did not find it funny. I'll explain." Brigitte's face falls, as she start to wonder what kind of blunder she has now committed.
Here's what happened. As Murphy would have it, even though she was in training, her boss opened that message right away. Furious at yet another problem with their office spaces, she passed her Blackberry to her left neighbour, who would happen to be the very top guy in charge of maintenance. We're talking high director levels. They both get pumped up and by the time she gets my next message, telling her it's a joke, they are up in arms and ready to leave the class to take action.
My boss did not find it funny. The director of administrative services even less.
In the end, I think it's even funnier than I expected. But boy, will I be more carefull next time!
They strand you somewhere. They take you out of your comfort zone. You're hungry, far from your loved ones, tired, sunburned, itching, surrounded by competitors, with no amenities whatsoever. You are, for most participants, like a fish out of water...so what do you miss most? Yes. The very symbol of love, belonging to the human race, the true call of the city slicker, the essence of civilization. I have named...the Blackberry!
On the last episode of Survivor, Shane, the businessman, found a piece of wood that reminded him of a Blackberry so he adopted it, carried it everywhere and started happily sending away imaginary messages.
Need I say more?
Total distance ran: 5.5 km (considered a warm-up distance by some)
Speed: slow turtle
Friday, April 28, 2006
"I have a dream..." said Martin Luther King.
"I had a dream..." said Brigitte.
I dream a lot. A lot. My dreams are vivid experiences, so vivid that I very much consider my dream world as another dimension, different but as valid and true as "reality". Parrallel worlds, if you will.
This morning I dreamed about a friend of mine. I'm very fond of him already, but my dream endeared him to me even more. It makes no sense, you will say, he did not really say and do those things. My brain knows that but my emotions think otherwise. So without having to lift a finger, this particular friend's stock has had a sharp increase in my Wall Street. What does he think of it? "You are deeply disturbed" he says. Eh.
While I'm on the subject of friends, I want to say that I don't tell my friends nearly often enough how much I like them and how important they are to me. Even when I don't call them, for weeks at a time, I treasure them always. You know who you are. Thanks for being in my life.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Midnight Oil, Forgotten Years
I've just signed the Children Should Never Be Soldiers Declaration committing myself to help bring peace and protection to the children of northern Uganda. As many as 30,000 children have been captured, tortured, and used as frontline soldiers and sex slaves in a bloody civil war that has raged for 20 years. The time has come to end this war.
I hope you will make this commitment, too.
Please join with thousands of concerned citizens and parents who believe that all children deserve to have a childhood free from torture and a future free from cruelty.
World Vision will take this petition to the Bush Administration, Congress, and the United Nations to demand action.
World Vision's goal is 1 million signatures—and they need your help to get there.
On the subject, see also the 360 Blog:
Thursday, February 23, 2006 / Old horrors, young victims
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Photographs: le papou
Art direction: le papou
Copyrights to be paid cash or in Legos to the papou.
Anderson Cooper on CNN! Those blue eyes. This grey hair. This impish smile. This concerned look.
It is simply disgusting how popular the man has become with his female audience. What's not to like? Very handsome, vastly well-read and perfectly well-dressed, impeccably brought up, deliciously funny, emotionally available, unusually intelligent, wonderfully modest and extremely successful.
There is not a man out there who couldn't learn something from him as far as charm goes.
Sure he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, his mother was a famous heiress, bla bla bla.
Yes, he covers hurricanes. Yes, he was outraged by what happened or rather didn't happen during and after Katrina. Yes, he was caught several times with tears in his eyes during the coverage. Yes, he's had tragedies in his life that would endear him to anything wearing a skirt. Sure, he's precisely the type of man women would love to have fathering their child. Yes, there has been much hype about him.
Still, Anderson Cooper is more than just a pretty rich boy with some sad stories. For one thing, the man can write. How well, we're about to discover when his book "Dispatches From the Edge" comes out next month. I have high expectations, as far as his literary style.
Then, in spite of the attention, the status, the adoration and the VIP treatment, he's so far remained incredibly funny, unassuming and human. That's pretty irresistible. He's the rare man who gracefully handles the spotlight, something he probably learned from his mother.
So in all objectivity, there are only two things I can hold against him:
First, his devoted female following, and believe me, it's there, it's real and it's big.
Second and most crucial...well, that's the irony. Alas, not one lady can ever seduce him...
Note: I'm really bad with Copyrights. This is the Internet: instant access to thousands of images. So the pics in this post are Copyrighted I'm sure and I'm breaking a thousand and one laws in posting them. I'm forever grateful to their authors, if I knew your name I'd give you proper credit! Please don't sue me. Amen.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
There are no free spirited, pretty, skinny girls who have all the answers. Even though, when I look at films such as this, and and Garden State and Keeping the Faith, it seems to be one of guys' great fantasy.
You try holding your father on your knees in an urn. It may be a life-changing moment but an uplifting, spiritual and emotional catharsis, it is not.
The only thing I liked about Elisabethtown was a very real feeling for what American life can be like. I went to Mississippi, hated it at first, and then was won over by the very real and genuine warmth of its people, just like Louisville. God Bless some Americans.
So I went and picked up my son from my bed. He was all warm and limp. He was sound asleep and so heavy now that it’s hard to lift him.
“Mommy, thank you” he mumbled as I tucked him into his own bed.
What else is there?
Good night every one.
"The snoop?" I ask.
"Yes, the snoop button on my alarm clock!"
Lesson of the day
After years of my childish funny mistakes being lavishly repeated as hilarious, dear laughing mother, vengeance is sweet to the Indian’s heart.
"Crash" is a must-see. The cast is outstanding, the scenario is outstanding, and the subject is dynamite. I warmly recommend it to everybody.
I love how it embraces the many sides of people, how it defies the traditional Hollywood cast of Good and Bad without much in between.
Anything that reminds me that no one is always good or always bad, always honest or always a crook, always honorable or always scum, much as we'd like to pretend, is welcome to me. There is no place in our society for our dichotomy. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad.
And yes, I hated that Hugh Grant would seek oral sex from a black prostitute. It's very hard to acknowledge the dark side, in ourselves and in others. But Star Wars is a myth. In life, you never really choose one side to the exclusion of the other. You navigate the line back and forth. I hope I can one day learn to live comfortably with mine.
I have an unfortunate tendency to idealize people, always to be disappointed in the end. The day I can truly accept and be comfortable with the fact that both sides are present in EVERYBODY, that day I will have taken a huge step towards...the essence of things.
Yet another notion that the Yin and Yang around my neck reminds me of daily!
I've been serious far too long. Next thing you know, I'll dress only in black and listen to requiems. Hopefully, my next post will be total madness.
He’s eight and he hides his head or leaves the room during commercial breaks on TV, for fear of seeing something that will upset him. I failed to see the menace in a Miller Light or Dove commercial. I thought him overly sensitive, a chicken, a bit of a wuss really. I mean do you know any eight year-old who runs away during...commercials?!
So last Thursday, we happily sat down to watch another episode of Survivor. Commercial break. Papou runs to his room. And then, with no warning whatsoever, after a mellow car commercial and prior to a scrumptious pizza commercial, they aired the trailer of the horror movie “Silent Hill”. With no warning whatsoever: thirty seconds of horror, of monsters so horrible it left even a hardened adult like me shaken. All I could do was quickly lower the volume to stiffle the agonizing screams and thank God that Papou was not with me.
I was shocked and then angry, with the intense anger of powerlessness. Sure, I can write a letter or two, but I’ve no illusions that I can change the current trend of raising the bar of what’s acceptable to an insane level.
The scales fell from my hardened, blasé eyes when I suddenly realized that my son is not odd. He’s normal! He SHOULD be apprehensive at being unwillingly exposed to all the horror, and violence, and sadness the movies and television dish out like junk food. It’s society and all the other little kids who take that in without blinking that are distorted. From now on, not only will I do my very best to filter what my son sees, but I will also be proud of him for needing that. It means he is still intact.
Other exemples of what I’m talking about?
- 5 and 6 year-olds sitting in the theater to watch “Jurassic Parc”
- During a matinee presentation of “Finding Nemo”, the trailer of “Pirates of the Caribeans” presented to an audience full of toddlers
- The great Spielberg thinking it acceptable to include an unbearable scene of torture in “A.I”
- A 3 year-old girl I know who saw all three movies of “The Lord of the Rings”
- A classical children tale like “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” made into a movie so intense and sometimes scary that it’s not fit for younger audiences
Friday, April 21, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
The only positive thing to come out of the last five days is the addition of two rosebushes, one small lilac tree and three other bushes to my garden. I planted them, tucked them in, watered them abundantly and scrutinized them. It was all I could do to not bring them a blanket, a glass of milk and a teddy bear at night. I hope they like my garden and settle in.
I watched many episodes of “Spooks”, a British series not unlike “24” without the real time factor. MI-5 is often ruthless in it and makes no apologies for it. I am convinced the Americans do the same but would never own up to it so candidly. They would try to hide behind a twisted front of moral high ground. It’s one of the differences between Europe and North America.
The main result is that my internal voice, which speaks English about half the time, now has a British accent.
Wisdom of the day:
What the f… is the point anyway?
Note: Before I sound anti-American and half my friends disown me, I just want to plead for the right to criticize policies and national behaviour when I think it is deserved. I can promise to be impartial in my judgements in the sense that I am not prejudiced towards any one country. I just call it as I see it.
Friday, April 14, 2006
It’s where man, woman and child meet the edge of their knowledge and understanding. It’s where man, woman and child hit the wall of their fears, prejudice and limitations.
To me personally, it also symbolizes the heart of darkness, where one’s world ends and the dragons take over. Inside.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
In 1989, I took the infamous scuba diving ITC (Instructor Training Course) there, a week-long, intense, boot camp-style class one never forgets. The fact that I felt a magnet-like physical attraction to one of my instructors perhaps helped make it memorable. But no, a lot happened that week and it was memorable in many more ways than that.
When I made up my mind to pop up by the shop, while in town, I very much planned on having a little fun with my two mentors, should either of them be there at the time. I was convinced they wouldn't recognize me right away, so I intended to play the dumb customer for a while, asking naïve questions and pulling their chains a little.
Not so. As I entered the shop, the first pair of eyes that met mine belonged to one of the two instructors, and I saw both instant recognition and surprise on his face. Seventeen years and he identifies me within a quarter of a second? I was robbed of my fun!
He offered me coffee and I stayed and chatted for nearly an hour, catching up on a decade and a half. Although the store had moved up a couple of streets, I was struck by how unchanged everything was. My friend had not changed much; their activities had not changed much. It was as if time had stood still there in my absence. In this world of change and chaos, that time can almost be still somewhere stuns and fascinates me.
I think I will go back. I am very curious now. I want to find out whether something that remains the same attracts me, like a pillar of stability in a sea of chaos, or whether it makes me restless and longing for new interests.
I've seen so much, done so much, changed so much in seventeen years, am I really the same person I was? Will I find out that they actually changed too, once I dig a little deeper? I, the ever-changing fickle free spirit, am mesmerized by stability. I want to know if it can be achieved without stagnancy. I will find out.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Running: 40 minutes, at snail’s pace
Movies: Brokeback Mountain
So sad! I didn’t expect it, though I probably should have.
I was totally unimpressed by Ledger’s impersonation of a roughneck and his unbearable mumbling (I had to add the subtitles to follow!) I very much liked the interpretation of Gyllenhaal though. Other than that, gorgeous photography; bittersweet; something very American Literature about it. 8/10
Running: 30 minutes, actually PASSED a snail (it was dead and flattened: roadkill)
Movies: The Chronicles of Narnia
Narnia, Narnia, Narnia…I grew up with it. How could the movie be anything but disappointing? It was. It never really takes off. Somewhat entertaining but far from truly magical, and magic is what Narnia is all about. Lucy is a charming little actress though. 7/10
Friday, April 07, 2006
In that case however, my friend declined, because he didn’t want to do a commercial that would glorify the Army and could actually influence a kid into signing up.
I never forgot it.
Recently, my brother mentionned how, while looking for a job, he had turned down a couple of very lucrative ones because they were in fields that didn’t match his beliefs and philosophy (oil industry, forestry etc…) I wondered if I would have had the strenght to decline an interesting salary…
Now I’ve gone and entered a work-related competition…for another department which I can’t name. I have reasons to find this particular assignment very interesting for me, in several different ways. However, I have ethical reserves with that department. Nothing clear cut. There are parts of it I really like…but on the whole, it’s not a department I…endorse? I have very mixed feelings about it. So , I can’t help but wonder : do I WANT to work for a department I have some reservations about?
My brother told me that to live in harmony with your own ethics is to live with peace in your heart. I wonder where I stand…I hate when I don’t know my own mind, which sadly happens way too regularly.
Of course, the competition is FAR from a granted. My chances are actually not that great. But I figured I should know my own mind before the process goes on. I think Life will decide and thus convey the message. But don’t we have Free Will?
I hope this finds you well. This is a formal letter of complaint. I believe it's always better to be well before receiving such a letter. It helps digestion.
I have been reflecting in the past few days upon the true power of cinema; Even though you have been alive all of your existence, I assume, and are well-known among your countrymen, I had been totally unaware of your being until very recently. I had to wonder: "Where have I been all your life?" The answer seems to be: - mostly North America.
I sat to watch Pride and Prejudice without the least inkling that I was in any danger. Being very fond of Mr. Firth's Darcy, I was totally unprepared for what followed.
I hear you protesting already. "“Blame the director!" you will say, "Blame the cinematographer!" I am sorry Sir, but for all their very real talent, these two individuals did not make me fall in love with Keira Knightley, and not for lack of trying. The fact that I am female doesn't enter into it. Stranger things have happened.
No, I blame you, and partly Jane Austen, may she rest in peace even though she never finished "The Watsons". I sat down, innocent as a lamb, thinking about my income tax and a disquieting noise my car makes when breaking.…The rest...is history. It is inconceivable how someone can legally and wholeheartedly seduce you within the course of an hour and a half. You, Sir, have bewitched me. It is false representation. You could be conceited, you could be greedy, you could be coarse. None of it matters because of your eyes and the depth of feelings you are able to convey even as you remain silent. Never has being drenched like a poodle looked this appealing.
How dare you, Sir, burst into my life in such a fashion, only to leave me alone, stepping into freezing puddles of melted snow in a dreary parking lot, alone with a car that still makes a funny noise when I break? Caught behind an octogenarian thinking that safety resides in driving at thirty miles per hour on the highway, all I could desperately wish for was to be called Elisabeth Bennet, in order to be blessed with such interaction with you. Reality struck very hard indeed.
Sir, you have invaded my dreams, my imagination, the romantic soul that lives in every unfortunate female. I hold you entirely responsible and accountable for that and will have my lawyers contact yours for unrequited seduction. The fact that this conspiracy was actually shot in 2004 and that my blessed innocence was thus prolonged by another two years only adds insult to injury.
I will only add…God bless you. All my best to Keely*.
* Note to my many Southern Chinese readers : That’s his wife.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
She was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, barely twenty-four hours before my own son. Her mother and I were great friends and still are, inasmuch as distance permits us.
In the fall of 2005, I received the heart-stopping news that Claire was battling a rare and very aggressive form of cancer. I was beyond stunned. Claire is eight.
For the first time in my life, I felt uneasy towards Claire’s mom. What does the mother of a healthy child say to the mother of a very ill one? I was awash with guilt for having a healthy child, with relief for the same reason, and with shame for being relieved. I was filled with dread for Claire and her family. I felt so helpless. I didn’t know quite what to say so I didn’t say much. Maybe not enough. But I thought about them a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot.
Recently, I called to get some news. I got an answering machine and so did my friend, calling me back. I’ve no idea what message she left because I heard only one word: “Cancer free”. Ok, that’s two.
How clear and triumphant, these two words! I was tsunamied with joy, relief, gratefulness, happiness. “Cancer free”. “Cancer free”. “Cancer free”.
We shall not know for a couple of years whether Claire won a battle or the war.
Let it be the war. Please Lord, let it be the war. Grow and thrive, little Claire, and I love you.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
A new pair of running shoes: 110$
Knowing you no longer have ANY excuse for not running and you’re really lousy if you don’t: Priceless
So this morning, a trainbuddy informed me that it was wayyyyyyy too early to play in my garden or plant anything this weekend.
As a matter of fact, we’re expecting snow this afternoon.
Monday, April 03, 2006
I have cat I will nickname Sweet, for I want to respect my cats’ privacy and will not name them by name.
Sweet is sweet, undemanding, easily frightened, shy, discreet, and amiable. He’s Fatso’s twin brother but they grew as different as could be. Although Sweet is only three years old, he has been diagnosed with kidney failure. There is no cure. There are treatments, but one costs $350 and its effects don’t last, and the other necessitates daily subcutaneous injections. I did that for a while but Sweet suddenly started violently objecting to them, behaving as if in great pain and distress during the shot, and vanishing under sofas for days afterwards, looking at me like I was the abominable snowman and running from me.
So I stopped subjecting him to that and he is wasting away before my eyes, but not in pain, apparently, and not unhappily. He’s quieter than ever, he’s skin and bones. But he still rubs around my ankles like I’m the only love of his life.
I have to face the fact that I will lose him soon. As I hold him now, light and soft, I have to accept that I will soon hold him inert and lifeless. I have decided where he will be buried in our garden. I’ve chosen the stone that will mark his grave. I nearly dug the whole already. I am desperately trying to come to terms with the fact that he will soon be dead. I am failing miserably.
Yesterday, April 2nd, was a perfect spring day, sunny and warm - enough. For, I believe, the first time in my life, I did some gardening. I turned some earth, got some pots out, arranged some stones, took the patio set out, planted some seeds and watered the freshly turned earth.
Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” is the only book that ever made me long to garden and Von Arnim’s “Elizabeth and her German Garden” the only one that ever made me desire to sit in one. I’ve never really been attracted to gardening before. I’m still not sure that I am. But I’ll give it a try.
After going through a frenzy of decoration inside the house (which created about 65% more havoc than there was before, but hey, it’s an ongoing project) my creativity and my love for my environment suddenly discovered it could spread to the immediate outside. What can I say, I am nesting. Literally. I am creating a nest around me that will bring me beauty, peace, comfort everywhere I look.
So I took a shovel and went to work. I must say, my love for earthworms and unwittingly slicing them to pieces is very limited. And I had not the slightest idea that peanuts in their shells grew deep in the ground.
But there is a certain sense of satisfaction and anticipation, once you look at an orderly garden, brown and dry but also trim and neat, to know it’s ready to bloom into splendour.
Of course, once you start looking into gardening in a little more detail, it is mind boggling. You have zones, temperatures, climates, types of ground. People seem to know whether they have acidic or well-draining earth…There are the plants you plant in the Spring and those in the Fall; those you must plant every year and those you plant only once; those you have to cut often and those that must grow wild; those you must water often and those who need dryness; those that need shade and others that need sunshine. The shrubs must be trimmed, but at a certain time only and a certain way only. If you don’t trim a certain bush, it will no longer flower. If you trim the one beside it, it will die. As for fertilizers, it takes an MBA to figure out which goes on what plant. If you’re wrong, you’ll probably kill the plant or become infested with bugs. It’s staggering.
So I happily ignore most of it and I go with instinct… I’ll let you know how we fare, my garden and I. Like my house and my life, it’s an ongoing project.