Sunday, February 26, 2006

Cold sense of humor

I have come to the conclusion that the elements have a personal vendetta against me. The weather, I have found, has a sick sense of humor. You wake up in the morning, it's a beautiful sunny day and because you are in the sanctuary of a temperature-controlled ambiance your brain immediately thinks T-shirt. OK maybe sweater because half of your brain is awake and remembers that it is still February after all, but never would you think of layering your whole wardrobe ! It's been 20 years and I still fall for it. I took the precaution of wearing a coat on top of the T-shirt I wear to the gym... it's a big coat, I froze my buns off. Still, I refused to go back and get a sweater... to the gym for crying out loud! It's difficult enough to get myself to go, but if on top of it all I have to dress as if I was actually going out forget it, it wouldn't happen.
So I came back to the house after the gym and stuck my tongue out to the sky as I mumbled "I'm not going out today anymore, so there". And the day continued to be bright and sunny, but I had been hit, literally, by the reality of freezing temperatures.
I am so ready for Spring it's not even funny, at least a sunny day will mean warm weather and not this tease we've been getting.
Oh well, back to making myself a hot chocolate, crawl under the covers and reminisce of days to come.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Little Creepers

Today I woke up in a horrible, no, more like murderous, OK maybe not as much but most definitely horrendous mood. There really was no reason for it, I went to bed early, slept quite well and woke up somewhat refreshed. Yet every little single thing was annoying the crap out of me. The fact that I didn't see the logic behind it made it even worse, until I hit the shower and realized that I have been overtaken by some invisible entity, or entities in this case. My body is plagued with hormones breaking havoc, partying like it's 1999, as they do on a monthly basis.
It seems like their parties are getting wilder as I get older, making me think that they are taking revenge to my ignoring them for so long. You see, my theory is that those little creepers overtake the body during teenage years, when they make you see, hear, react in such strange ways that no one understands you, much less your parents. Then somehow they are tamed by our intellect for a few years until they decide that they've had enough of their sedentary boring life and go back to their unruliness of years past.
This time, instead of just annoying their landlord with physical proofs of their presence (read pimples) and sending boosts of paranoia, they become all out aggressive. I am sure that they are well organized, maybe even unionized groups that get together for about 20 days to decide what their next maneuver will be, and then, for about 4 days go on a rampage until they get together again plotting and analyzing how successful was the attack.
They might decide to send little troops to the nervous system, making every sound seem like a aggression, every physical sensation a personal vendetta from the elements. Sometimes the objective might be the brain, materializing as thoughts where everything is negative and wrong. In those instances the attacks come as full arguments with yourself, interesting if you are just an observer, but frustrating when you're the one doing the arguing since you'll never let yourself win the argument... ahem.
Parenthesis- As I imagined the scenario, I started thinking at the irony that it is estrogen and progesterone the ones provoking this and not testosterone. It would have been so much simpler if it had been the other way around so that I could say "of course, figures", but no. Most likely the testosterone is staying on the sidelines and enjoying the show... pff.- End of parenthesis.
So although it made me feel slightly better imagining that invisible army being the culprit of me needing an exorcism, I still found it annoying (of course, they won't let me win this battle) that it is completely out of my hands. I like to be in control, and having my body turn on me is the ultimate treason.
But I won't let them have the last word. I will sit down quietly in my corner today and just watch their strategy as objectively as I can without giving them the pleasure of becoming an active participant. But if any of them decides to get into my head... well,then, there will be hell to pay!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Writing a blog is a two edge sword. On the one hand you want to express what you are feeling or thinking, on the other you are aware of the fact that there might be someone out there actually reading too much into it. I have always felt more comfortable writing my feelings than saying them out loud. My mother can testify to that, as a teenager going through all the crap one goes through, I would leave her letters saying how I felt, even if it took me waiting to get to the point of exploding.
Today I feel like that, and even if it may frazzle some people or may bother others, I have to say my piece. And so here is me venting.

Today I'm feeling blue. Don't know if it's because I'm PMsing to the nth degree (ooh she said the "P" word), or because I am sometimes too aware and perceptive to the moods that are around me. I like, in a very selfish way, to be surrounded by positiveness, as unrealistic as that might be. I react too strongly to others' moods for my own good. It's not like I expect everyone to be all smiles, that would be extremely boring, but a good frank laugh does lift my spirits up.
I don't believe it has anything to do with living precariously, it's just that I am too permeable and pay too much attention. I've been trying to find the right balance of who-cares with that which I am living now, but somehow it eludes me.
I haven't pin-pointed what is it exactly that is getting to me, but it is. I am surrounded by too much negativity and it's affecting me. I'm not depressed mind you, my life is extremely good, but I am not enjoying it to its fullest because there are too many people frowning.
I am not the cape crusader, but I do feel more often than not that I should do something to make those creases disappear, whether it be by a joke or some ridiculous comment.
I like to see people happy, it makes me happy. Is that wrong?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Today I spent the day in an office that at first had no electrical power, elevator or heat, all due to some poor devil that fell asleep while pumping heating oil to a nearby building. The oil spilled to an electrical grid which in turn had a massive surge provoking an explosion in our office's basement. Apparently almost simultaneously the water main burst due to the explosion, which most likely is what saved the building from catching fire. All is fine, we have electricity, heat will be back at some point tomorrow, and all systems are running. Life goes on as usual but for one thing: It made me realize, yet again, how fragile the balance of life can be. If the water main had not exploded the building would have gone up in flames, and today would have found me looking through the wanted ads instead of writing this blog.
The funny thing is that we have, more often than not, found ourselves in the office working under less than desirable conditions. There have been water problems, where the trips to the bathroom became an expedition to the nearest McDonald's or an excuse to wander into Barnes & Noble; heating problems where everyone could be seen in their outerwear not knowing if they were coming, going or just sitting at their desks, computer problems, telephone problems, you name it we've had it. But today people, although with their coats, hats and scarfs on, were all repeating the same credo: "I'm just glad I have a job to come to".
It made me realize that although we complain because we're not happy, it is entirely our choice, but once that choice is threatened things somehow look different. One thing is to stay in a place that you're not entirely satisfied with, another is to be forced to leave that situation, as unhappy as it was making you.
Do we always have to be reminded that things could be worse in order to appreciate what we have? Do we have to be forced into a situation in order to actually go for it? Human beings are strange creatures, we love to complain but take no pro-active decisions to change whatever it is that is making us unhappy. Only when we have no other choice one of two things happen: either we realize that whatever we had wasn't that bad after all, or we find ourselves forced to do that which could make us happier but would have never done otherwise...
I smell of smoke and I am tired, and so today I promise that I will not complain about the heat at home not being adequate (at least I have heat) and will appreciate that I have a job that I can go to every day... until I have to go again to McDonald's to powder my nose...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Me, myself and I

How do you define yourself in 5 words? Now that's a million dollars question if you're someone like me. Do you define yourself by a culture? what if not only one happens to fit who you are. Do you define yourself by beliefs? how do you narrow your complicated self into only 5 words? Is it nature or nurture? Did I learn who I am, or was I born and predisposed to be this way?
Seriously, having to answer to who you are in 5 words is like wanting the history of the world summarize into one short chapter. There are too many circumstances, twists and turns that have made you arrive to where you are at to be able to explain it in... 5 words???
It does make you wonder though: Am I too complicated or not simple enough? think about it, whatever the outcome, it's a pretty good exercise.
By the way, this is our version of charades at home... who needs board games? We do give ourselves 24 hours to answer though...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

300 +

You know you must be doing something right when you have absolutely no problem printing 300 plus pages of a study that goes against what you believe in, just so that you can read it and rebut every single coma and period. That's how I spent most of what was left of my evening, after what seemed like an eternal day at work. I searched for those who are against, and I mean against, bilingual education, and I found them. Their theories are solely based on the principles of cost... need I say more? The equation is simple: Keep the masses stupid, it's cost effective; instruct them and it becomes too expensive in the SHORT run.
I will not go into specifics, if you want to know more about it ask me, but suffice to say that the 300 plus page study in question leaves much to be desired as a scientific/objective analysis: they compared 6 non-bilingual schools against one bilingual. Sure, that must have really given them a feel for the field.
Anyway, the point is that although I spent my day in a constant spur of synaptic activity, considered by some as a sure sign of Attention Deficit Disorder because I need to pay constant attention to various silly things around me, I still found the energy this evening to spend some time doing what I like. I have read from some of my fellow bloggers the frustration they reach when the place they spend the most time in threatens to be less than stimulating (namely work). It makes me realize how difficult it is to achieve a balance between what we have to do and what we want to do. How do you train your brain after at least 8 hours of numbing input to try and get a somewhat comparable quality time with that which makes you happy? I would have loved to be able to spend more energy into debating with myself the stupidity of those too narrow minded to see things the way I see them, but I'm too tired to remember what I believed in before my usual 3:00 PM much-needed-but-can't-take-it nap time . Coffee? it helped for a few minutes though I know that I'll be feeling the effects at around 3:00 AM. Chocolate? same thing. I haven't found the answer yet, but I'm sure that when I do I'll be the one writing more then 300 pages and selling them at Barnes and Noble to all those souls searching for Nirvana, or something close to it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Winter winter winter

I decided to embrace winter, at least for a few minutes, and post pictures I took this morning... it's beautiful, it's clean, it didn't last long... enjoy (this one is for you Jen ).

Visit my Winter Wonderland album

Sunday, February 12, 2006


It's snowing... a lot. It's white, it's wet, it's cold and it's falling horizontally since yesterday, sometimes even upside down. Yes, upside down. If it had lasted an hour or two I would have said how pretty, now it's more like enough already!
Judge for yourselves.
This is what I usually see from the apartment: Vistanat01

And this is today:

What can I say, it's snowing. I hate winter. My favorite blogger (The Disquieting Muse) put it best: "I take it entirely personally. I take umbrage at the precipitation. I am affronted by the plummeting temperatures. I believe the sky becomes that shade of uncompromising gray on purpose, just to suck every last vestige of joy out of me." I'm still somehow holding on to that last vestige of joyfulness, but you are so on the money girl...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Les Cornichons

Cornichons are one of those delectable little things that have always been a culinary mystery to me. They seem like dwarf cucumbers that have been pickled to a delicious extreme. Enough to make your palate feel the right amount of vinegary juices, but not too much so as to make your mouth pucker in some painful way while the saliva comes in pouring like a broken damn to wash away the acidity. No, they have the perfect amount of sour and salt. And the crunchiness! Biting into one becomes a concert of percussion that slowly dies as the rhythm of your chewing progresses.
Cornichons are not pickles; they do not flap around as you hold them, they can fit in your mouth without it becoming some college competition of who can swallow a bigger piece, and they do not have that unexpected sweetness that somehow leaves your taste buds confused. They are salty food and therefore... salty. They are crunchy, sour, little pieces of nothing that make me marvel at how we have transformed what is probably a freak of nature, into something delicious.
When I think about food I realize that there are little miracles like this one which explain what eating is all about: It's the unexpected things that can happen in your mouth, the happy surprises, and not only a mere action of maintaining the machine our bodies are. Eating is not only feeding oneself, it is discovering and allowing our senses to come alive. The smells, the sights, the sounds and, of course, the tastes, all come together to make either a great instant of pure selfish pleasure, or one of the most disappointing experiences you'll ever have. There is no middle ground, and if there is, it most likely has been a dull meal, therefore not worth writing about.
Now, if only I could apply this great theory to liver...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The perfect half

There is something to be said about sharing your life with someone that stays up late watching "My Fair Lady" without any coercing, has profound conversations about religion and politics while listening to Mozart's requiem, but still gets laugh attacks when trying to do Rock, Paper, Scissors ...
And did I mention that he was a great 6'4" cook? No mystery meat for him, nuh-uh sir!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Education and Politics

My husband asked me a few days ago why did I believe in bilingual education, as I was trying to answer the question I realized that although I don't have yet enough theoretical knowledge to fully develop the whys, I do have plenty of gut feeling about it.

My first argument is to ask any parent whether they would prefer to have their children learn an adopted language to the expense of falling behind in all other areas, or would they prefer to have their children continue they acquisition of general knowledge while building on it with a second language.
I can just imagine a child trying to overcome their being uprooted from their country, having to deal with a completely different setting with the pressure of not knowing the language, all the while being treated as a pariah, in a different classroom, not learning with the rest of the children. Any child’s self-esteem would suffer. The repercussions could be like many that we have seen in this society: children of immigrants eventually falling through the cracks of the system, feeling, and rightly so, that it is that system that has let them down, and therefore rebelling against it. Often there is also an extreme reaction against that which made them different from the others: their own culture. So they turn against their parents, against their traditions and forget their mother tongue, loosing along the way some of their identity and pride.
I have learned of many cases like these. Cases, which I am sure, could have been avoided if the system had worked with them, alongside their culture, and not against it. Bilingual education seems to me to be the way of avoiding these cases. By empowering a child through the reaffirmation of their cultural identity, the learning process becomes a pleasurable activity and as such much more effective.

Here, as in France, I have heard the argument that when people immigrate they should become nationals of the country they chose to move to. Nationals implying that they should become “Americans” or “French”, and they are not referring to citizenship. They expect them to leave behind who they were and become what the majority deems acceptable. When we speak about a language and a culture being alive, we are talking about the constant change that language and culture goes through, and those changes are usually brought upon by the enrichment that comes from being exposed to others different from us. It is because of this that we evolve. The saying “when in Rome do as the Romans” leaves out the fact that the Romans are no more and that their language is dead.
Accepting other languages, educating with this acceptance and having educational systems that work embracing the differences and do not try to force everyone into one mold is what bilingual education means to me.

Unfortunately bilingual education seems to be more of a political debate than an educational one, and therefore an ever-changing battlefield. As I was reading an article for my class, I was surprised to learn that bilingual education has been implemented on and off for quite some time. What I did notice though is that it seems like it was mainly driven by whatever political tendencies there were at the time. It started with the acceptance of having different cultures forming the country, followed by a rejection of future waves of immigrants, back on once they realized the usefulness of having a multilingual society, off again when it was decided that instruction should be done exclusively in English. Although there have been changes and legislations passed, it seems that it will remain an issue at the mercy of policy makers and people that have no interest in what education should be all about, the enrichment of human beings.

What I still cannot grasp is the lack of foresight these legislators have. It seems obvious to me that when you have well educated (well as in properly, not the social meaning it has been given) and well adjusted individuals, any society will thrive. Why then boycott your own society? Unless the purpose is exactly that, to have individuals that will always feel like they do not belong so as to serve any given political agenda.

Education should not be politicized, it should not serve the interests of a few at the expense of many. Bilingual education finds itself in the midst of political agendas by funding being the prize or the lack of it the punishment, yet it is the children that are suffering the consequences. The wrong basis is given to those children who were told that their origins are something to repudiate and forget, they will grow up emotionally poor and then, once they do belong to the society, bring their lack of enrichment with them.

But like I said, I do not yet have the theoretical knowledge to back this up, only my gut feeling.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


You know it's time to change your picture when your 7 year old cousin asks his grandfather to send you an e-mail wanting to know what you were drinking on the photo... beer or coke? ahem... It's bad enough that the kid was born with a predisposition, being French and all, but if on top of it he sees his older cousin with a can for a face, and Budweiser to that! forget it, I don't want to be hunted with remorse. If it had been a Stella it would be a different story.
It isn't the first comment I have had about that picture, which I happen to think is pretty good, there have been a few, namely from a friend who is under the impression that it's not really me. I don't want to disappoint her, but yeah, it's me. She mentioned that I should change it to one with my gardening hat on my head and a glass of wine in my hand. Now try and picture it. My gardening hat is a Jamaican straw hat, multicolored as you well imagined, that flaps as I walk. It has no shape and falls in a very awkward angle on my right eye. Charming hat. I look very silly with it but it serves its purpose.
And so by my friend's comment I can safely assume that she sees me as a completely ridiculous lush. Now that's an image I want my cousin to have of me... so we stick to a nice (and safe) picture, and don't tell the kid what I was having.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Going Bilingual

I should consider myself lucky to be able to speak several languages, and I do, but now it means that I have to do that which I love, writing, in more than one. And so as of today people, I will be driving everyone crazy in two languages.
For those that prefer Cervantes' mother tongue, please note the link on the left "en espaƱol", it will take you to the equivalent of this blog but in Spanish. Sometimes it might be a translation and others just its own unique entry...and she's going crazy in a bilingual way! who said life was dull?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

To edit or not to edit

The title of this entry will most likely make some people chuckle, namely the editors, but here is my dilemma: when I write it is usually in the spur-of-the-moment just because something moved me, and so writing it keeps it in the archives of my ever deteriorating brain. Now, if when looking back at it I notice a, shall we say, lack of fluidity, a poor use of language, should I go back and change it? As bad as it is sometimes, it does represent an instance where I felt the need to say something, or nothing, but still say it.
I am actually referring to my last entry. My most avid reader, who shall remain anonymous, correctly pointed out that the first half of the blog was not my best. As I re-read it I realized that I could have done a much better job, but yet did not feel that it was right to change it. Somehow it was like I would have betrayed the moment, when I was tired beyond words but still needed to say something.
So the question is, good writers need to revisit their masterpiece (aren't they all masterpieces?) so as to reach near-perfection, but, for the rest of us, is the feeling lost by a lack of editing?
Oh, and for those of you who I'm sure are staying up at night wondering how the lamb/pork/mystery meal went... it actually turned out pretty good... mustard saved the day!