31 juillet 2005

Hi, my name is Anne and I'm a smoker

Late this afternoon, I realised just how addicted I am. Noooo, not to blogging (although...), to cigarettes.
At around 6 p.m. I found I was quickly running out of ciggies. Quickly as in I had 2 left and about 6 hours to go till I would think of going to bed. As I'm suffering from insomnia again, it might even be as long as 8 or 9 hours before I actually fell asleep. That promised some mental instability that had better not be fuelled by annoying, loud or repetitive neighbourly sounds.
As smoking is not exactly the cheapest hobby I could find, and I'm in a bit of a financial pickle, well... you know how they say that maturity shows in decision-making moments. Yeah, OK, so they don't really say that, but I desperately need to convince everyone that I'm mature - all right, not convince anyone then, just act it. Anyway, to cut short a story that was threatening to be quite record-breakingly boringly long, I thought it would be good practice to not rush out and shove everyone out of my way to get my fix sorted before the few shops that are open on Sunday were closed, and decided I would instead dose out the two remaining sticks so they would last the evening - and hope for the best.
Let's just put it that way. Insomnia with me starts with a tension in my jaws, usually a few minutes after I've switched off the light. When I feel that tension, I know I'm in for a fun moment. Well I had that all afternoon. All afternoon.
So I decided I'd try and go to bed early and take something to help me sleep (something herbal, I'm not into sleeping pills, for many reasons). Turns out, I'm still not in bed and I'm all stressed out, and I can tell I'm going to have my usual hard time trying to get to sleep, and I'm not sure the night is going to be restful.
But it doesn't really seem out of the ordinary, for someone in the throes of withdrawal. And I haven't even binged on chocolate as a substitute. Hmmm. Wonder when I'll be kicking it for good now.


He'd been trying to come up with an explanation for what he could only view as writer's block. With one little thing: he wasn't even a writer - he was barely a speaker.
He found he always had trouble expressing himself, making himself understood to the masses of people just admiring him. Thing is, they were admiring him. Ooh-ing and aah-ing at everything he did: no wonder the pressure was stifling everything creative.
He'd been warned well in advance that the turn-out would be big. And he'd tried to deliver. He'd tried everything under the sun. Plastic arts, for lack of a more adequate term, because his... doodling? certainly didn't qualify as drawing, more a sort of projectile painting with everything he could lay his hands on.
He'd tried poetry, in a language that he was the only one to understand, as he reckoned that was sure to have him labeled a genius. He'd tried singing, in a very personal syncopated skat fashion.
Nothing. So he'd decided to go for expressive silence. Just looking and reacting. Facial words, if you will. Especially since people he had never met were present. Well, they were here for him, and he had to give them their money's worth: some amazing mime artistry was bound to get him off the hook.
And at 8:00, everybody suddenly shut up. A siren song started, his eyes started drooping, and his mum gave him his favourite teddy. All set.

30 juillet 2005

The sweet and sour taste of revenge

I might have woken up a few people today. Yay me.

We went to bed at past 2 a.m., knowing full well we would have to get up at 8 sharp. That helped me understand the "ignorance is bliss" saying. When you know you have to wake up less than 6 hours later on a week-end, you try to go to sleep quicker. Ah ah. Let me break it to you gently: IT DOESN'T WORK. At all.
So that, in the morning, you feel and look like not the brightest thing. And then revenge for a very very bad night strikes, and it makes you feel much better.

You have a loud case of the hiccups.

Now, of course, it could have been really good, if the only outcome had been waking up the neighbours. Except hiccups give me a headache and a sore tummy. And now I have to do the washing-up. Pooh.

29 juillet 2005

Life is short, don't make it shorter

I'll let you ponder this while I frantically reply to job offers (New York and Berkshire today, can I stress that I just want to move away...?) and decontaminate my flat lest a couple of friends that I'm supposed to put up tonight run away screaming.

I trust everything is well with you, yes?

27 juillet 2005


Yeah, well everybody's calling it WotW, so I thought I'd be a little different.
Just seen it.
Loved it.
Yes, I did, and don't let the rest of this make you think otherwise, it's just lies! Lies! Shut up Gladys.

No, really I enjoyed it. Well, except for this, and this, and oh THAT*. THAT was just blatantly taking the mickey, wasn't it?
And well, Dakota Fanning. See, I used to really like that wee girl. Now, I hear her yell one more time, I personally feed her to the tripods. With ketchup, syrup, Thousand Island Dressing, and vinaigrette.
No really, I enjoyed it. And I think it's safe to say that Tom Cruise is a good actor. There is a flash in his eyes at the end of the movie that was very reminiscent of his Oprah moment, I thought. And considering I haven't seen his Oprah moment, surely managing to remind me of it is testament to his incredible acting, no?
No, really I enjoyed it. Couple questions though (yes, I know, I always do that, but hey, I've been world-famous for, like, evah in my family for the number of questions that I can ask on any given subject). Did Spielberg produce SquareBob Pants McSponge? Cause it's on for an awfully long time. Similarly, did CBS finance the movie? And just how many liters of Fanta did they use??? Oh and, yeah, just remembered. Why this vehicle, and none other? And ooh, ooh, am I being paranoid, or the aliens, they have legs like frog legs? Was Spielberg trying to say that the French are the enemy? And what exactly happened? The narrator, all Morgan Freeman that he is, didn't quite explain it. Or did he? I mean come on, millions of years, people. You're saying the evilly intelligent aliens never knew?

No, I really enjoyed it. Plus, at the same time as THAT was really taking the mickey, I felt the symbolism of birth was really working.
Yes, I did apply to the New York Times Movie Review, and they didn't want me. Wonder why?

* Sorry, but you do realise that not everybody has seen it, and I can't go spoiling it for them, right? (let me leave clues for myself, though, so that when everybody's seen it, I can remember what it was. First there was the killing - so like something else. Second was the family gathering, for two reasons, first d'oh, and second how and why? No? Oh dear, already I can't remember what the why is for.

People. I'm in a bad mood

Oooh, rant, moan, self-pitying! Haven't done that in a while.
Stop. I can be completely self-deluded if I want to. That's my prerogative. And no, I don't like Britney Spears.

Hey, I'm a bit fed up with waiting for the phone to ring and the e-mail to blink, telling me I've got a job, or an interview, or something that would make it worth the blind shot in the dark I took, so I'm going to go out in the rain* and see how the world lives without money. You enjoy yourselves and post lots of interesting stuff, because I'll be reading it all when I come back.

Anyway. The actual bad mood thing? That started at 5:20 this morning. How can it start so early, you ask in wonder? It's because I'm precocious.
A prodigy, if you will.
Tut-tut. If you're going to say something disparaging or that even remotely sounds like a reality-check triggering thing blah, kindly go back a few paragraphs. Also check the title. And the first sentence of this paragraph, while you're at it.
Actually it might have started at 10:30 last night. But I didn't read the signs properly.
See, last night, I was having a bit of a very nice blether with her (should that be "a very nice bit of blether"? You know what, we'll play it safe) - See, last night, I was having a very nice bit of very nice blether with her, and at some point I excused myself to go to bed, because my head was pounding and I wasn't feeling my best. That hot, heavy, stifling weather is not agreeing with me.
So I went to bed. And that's when it started. Let me give you a comprehensive background picture. Yes, I know, I'm really nice to you, pre-chewing everything when really you could be reading the whole 6 months' worth of archives because it's all in there. And it makes for very pleasurable reading too.
I'm handing you the stick to beat me with, aren't I.
Swiftly moving on. My flat overlooks a backyard, a very nice backyard indeed, with flowers, and wild plants and trees, and birds, lots of birds, making lots of chirping and other similarly annoying noises. Around this backyard proudly stand four buildings (except mine is really bending over and leaning on a stick - no, not the one you'll beat me with). That's a lot of people living with their windows open in summer. Because it's hot. And I'm no exception, I live with my windows open too.
Big mistake. So I was reading a little bit of Christopher Brookmyre's Be my enemy, because I physically can't go to sleep without a (n even) short read beforehand, and that's when it all started. Suddenly my downstairs neighbours, both parents and two young boy children type offspring, were living with me, in my very bedroom. And one of said offspring just didn't want to go to bed. And made it clear to everybody else, in the building probably. I'm not even sure they were being very loud, but I'm convinced they were all leaning outside their own window in turns to deliver their lines with maximum reach. Which is nice of them, you know, letting everyone participate in their everyday life. And once they started, it was really all like we were a big family. The people who live on the ground floor and have access to the "garden" were eating outside and just took this as the signal to start talking a bit louder, somebody let out the longest series of sneezes I've heard in a very long time (no kidding, there must have been more than 20, I'm wondering how his brain walls didn't give in), my upstairs neighbour (missed her, did you?) started, well, walking, flicking lights on and off, brushing her teeth... (yes, I hear all that) And some people just thought that it was all too much, so they started closing their windows. Loudly. Any more loudly and they would have been closing mine. It sounded like somebody had been caught trying to get in through said window, with the aim of getting out with stereo, TV, bed... Loud, and a bit violent. After a while, with all the sounds blending in, I got a bit paranoid, thinking that maybe there was a picnic for everybody and I hadn't been invited... Even people the street were joining in: I usually don't hear much (a bit of a luxury in Paris) thanks to the backyard, but last night, woo-hoo. Horns, sirens, they were all honking away like the wedding of a fireman was happening right there and then. At 10:30. At night.
But you know, I fell asleep. So that was good.

And at 5:20 this MORNING, someone screamed. And I mean screamed. And someone (the same person, I suspect) threw something, or several things, or ran into several chairs inconveniently placed in their way because lots of things fell to the ground, and the sound reverberated. That seriously scared me. I've been awake since then. I'm in a bad mood.

* No, it's not raining, you're right. But inside my head, it is.

26 juillet 2005

I'm high-maintenance

To myself. Which is why it's a problem and why I'm talking about it.
And why it ties in quite nicely with my rant about Jeff Goldblum. Surely, high-maintenance as I understand it means about as expensive to him as a baguette to the average French person. Mind you, baguettes are more and more expensive these days. It's getting ridiculous, 200 grammes of bread are going for €.75, extortion is what it is. Even more so as they're going to put less salt in it.
Right. High-maintenance, we were saying. Before I quit my job (god I can be stupid sometimes), I was toying with the idea of having a femme de ménage (sorry, but translating it by maid is just preposterous* and I'd feel like Scarlett O'Hara (ooh, hang on, Rhett Butler... Hmmm... No. Stop.)) so femme de ménage it is. And before you jump on your high horses and JUDGE me, I was TOYING with the IDEA, and if you knew me, you'd know that means it would have taken quite the little while before I actually did something about it. Which doesn't necessarily augur well for the architect, but that's so beside the point I won't even broach it.
So. I don't know many people who love to blow a week-end on the housework (apart from my mom, but she is one of a kind and
even though I take after her, I have made a few choices, and one of them was that I'm not going to be disturbed like that). I know what you're thinking now. You're thinking that now I don't have a job, I at least have the time to do it and still enjoy the week-end.
And you're probably right. Oh how I hate it when people are right. Although in this specific case, you're really only half right. Yes, I do have the time, but see, I seem to be physically incapable of getting to it. Much like Batman is physically incapable of showing any superpowers, I'm pretty sure I can make a baguette-shaped pochoir** and place it over a big lamp, but I can't sweep, hoover and wash. And that's a problem, because I also like my place to be clean. Ish.
We're back to Jeff Goldblum, aren't we? See, if I met Jeff Goldblum (or George Clooney, I mean, if it all translates into me getting to have a femme de ménage, I might lower my standards a little), I wouldn't have to worry about brooms and vacuum-cleaners. I'd just have to concentrate on keeping the bounty-hunting bimbos at bay.
Oh dear lord.
I just can't win, can I?

Bring on the mop.

* Yes, I realised - it took me a while - that cleaning lady would be a perfectly acceptable equivalent, but humour me, will you? We all know the world is not a perfect place, and I'm trying to blend in.
** Actually, if you had the pochoir idea but were thinking of a broom, a hoover or anything remotely reminding of a housework accessory, contact me. Please.

24 juillet 2005

Somebody's not going to be too happy, but Jeff doesn't care

Jeff Goldblum.
All hail Jeff Goldblum.
Over the week-end, Jeff Goldblum ever so elegantly flicked George Clooney down his "ooh he's so sexy I wanna have his babies" pedestal and erected (no pun) a statue of his own, with his bare hands, probably bare-chested as well, because of the stifling heat right now and aren't we all happy about the weather, eh, Jeff-Goldblum fancying guys and girls?
Just so you know though: HANDS OFF, he's MINE.

The class, the humour, the sexiness of this man. Unbearable, really. How does he cope?
I'm trying very hard not to use any swearwords just now, because that wouldn't be suitable when talking about this fine specimen of mankind that is Jeff Goldblum, but somehow, without them, I feel I'm falling short of conveying exactly the level of elation that befell me when I saw Jeff Goldblum in that episode of Friends.
Yes, for lack of better swearwords I'm using big words, words that I don't necessarily understand or know how to use. Who cares? We're talking Jeff Goldblum here! Jeff Goldblum deserves the whole dictionary.
Of course, he did have that really low point in his career when he did Jurassic Park 2, but it's all forgiven, now, isn't it?
Ooh, and talking of the infamous Lost World, have I ever mentioned that time when I was in translation school, we had that big teacher, biiig teacher, and one day she was roaming the corridors, and all we could hear was the THUMP THUMP THUMP of her steps, and I was talking to a friend, and he looked at me with fear in his eyes and whispered: "Something has survived."
See? Jeff-Goldblum related memories already! This is meant to be.

So, now that I've made sure that I will be #1 on the hit page when he googles his name,
how do you reckon I should go about it? Because somehow, saying "I am your number one fan. There is nothing to worry about. You are going to be just fine. I am your number one fan." doesn't sound like such a hot idea.

Oooh, hang on, who's THAT? Bruno Putzulu? Hmmm.

23 juillet 2005


What was he doing, here?
What was the point exactly of this?
Looking at homes, looking inside homes, looking at the way the yellow lighting made them appear warm, comfortable, hospitable even.
Imagining the life that went on inside of them.
Imagining the life that went with the yellow lighting.
Craving for that life.
He knew, of course he knew, that were he to ever pluck up the courage to ring one of their bells, they would never let him in.
The scraggly hair, the torn clothes.
The smell.
They would not smile and open the door wider to let him in.
Instead they would recoil at the sight of him, and shout.
Sometimes he wondered what it was that ruined it most for him: the acrid stench of his own filth or the smell of the cheap booze.
Still, he wished that some day someone would see through the smell and ask him.
Ask him how exactly he had become that leftover of himself, and what could be done for him to go back to who he once was.
A person.
A human being people would look at instead of through.
He had been one of them one day.
He wanted to shout that now.
He wanted to shout to them so they would take him back.
"Hey love, can you spare me some change? Hey love, can you spare me a look? Hey love, can you... talk to me?"
Of course he wouldn't.
One day, maybe, when he felt he couldn't take it anymore.
Until then, he would just look at them.
Their homes.
The yellow lighting.
The yellow lighting that made him want to give up booze right there and then and at the same time long for a bottle of something strong, the pain was so acute.
He couldn't even remember the last time he'd been in one such home, the yellow lighting of course, but also the gardens, the children laughing,
With him.

He slowly reached inside his only usable pocket and grabbed the bottle of plonk.

A quote and a quandary

If we see light at the end of the tunnel,
It's the light of the oncoming train.

Robert Lowell, Since 1939

Ok, so not really a quandary, more of a query: does the fact that I find this funny mean there's no hope for me? And will I ever understand poetry?

21 juillet 2005

There's a winged beast on my wall and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on TV

And yes, it all ties up. Here's how: I'd hoped the LXG would be helping. Except where are they when you need them? Trapped in the TV screen, that's where.
Suspend disbelief, they say. That's all nice and well, but when I do suspend my disbelief in the hope that, oh I don't know, say Dante will be swooping to the rescue to kill the beast with the help of all those many fancy weapons they're using in the movie, and it doesn't happen, what does it tell me? That all this suspending disbelief thing is a crock. And I'm bitterly disappointed. I would have shown my gratitude to Dante. Probably less so to the invisible man, but for Dante... I might even have cooked.
And I've never seen an insect like that. Which doesn't necessarily mean much, because as soon as bugs of the flying category are in my immediate vicinity, my vision gets all blurry, my speech becomes ever so slightly irrational, my voice goes one octave higher, and I lose all common human characteristics.
And the bugger that has presently invaded my privacy, all winged and stuff, because I wouldn't really care that much if it was just a creepy-crawley, has stuck itself on a part of the w
all that I, being stump-legged and - oh great, now Dorian Gray's gone all dust to dust and ashes to ashes - all of three apples tall, can't reach: it's very small, but obviously cunning enough that it knew that by perching atop my books, it would be safe from my fury, which fear has decupled (or is it the other way around? I certainly feel more scared than furious right now. Anyway.).
My skin is all itchy, I feel like a thousand of the bastards have decided to launch an Anschluss of my body. I'm never going to sleep now. Well of course: what if it flies all the way to my room? Granted, considering its size, it's probably the equivalent in effort of Berlin-Vienna on foot, but it might decide to rest on my face, once it gets there. And even if it chooses to rest on a wall in my room, it might just, once refreshed, think it'll be fun to go on an exploration of my nostrils, for instance. Is there a way that it can go from my nose to my brain in one nifty little flight? Because I can tell you right now, I couldn't take the buzzing in my head.
I mean, like I need the buzzing in my head.

20 juillet 2005

French culture, anyone?

So this guy on the radio was saying something or other about something or other, and it all sounded very clever, until he went "well, the over-65 in 2050, we have a good idea of how many there will be, because most of them are already born".
I thought I'd share.

Ooh, they're releasing an Iggy Pop anthology, or whatever you call it. Iggy Pop is sooooo sexy, and - for those of you who are wondering - I'm pretty sure my neighbour doesn't agree. Seeing the commercial makes me wonder if I agree with myself, though...

Canal + (formerly one of the most innovative channels in France, and the first cable channel) will be playing Desperate Housewives as of September. Considering we have Lost on TF1 (presently one of the crappiest channels), and - for our friends Down Under - The secret life of us (again on Canal), it's safe to say that we're keeping up with world culture.
Of course,
we already had adapted (or dubbed!) all of the real TV shows, so we weren't completely tardy.

And then we finished the evening in wonderful fashion, singing Our House along with
Madness, and watching Bono sing Bloody Sunday 20+ years ago, dancing with his white flag on stage. Men do age well.

What French TV programmes/songs have made their way to your own countries, I wonder?


I've just (well...) realised something. I'm a cretin.
I've been reading high-quality blogs (and I do mean high-quality, some of them are so high-quality my head hurts when I read them, OK?) for a while, been having political talks for ever (hey, I'm French, that's how we learn to talk), been watching documentaries and soap-operas (know your enemy, right?) ever since I had a TV, and the blatent conclusion to that is, good lord, I am stupid.
So now, I'm looking at two possibilities.
Either I try and make it better. That's hard work. I'm half Corsican. Not sure I can cope.
Or I embrace the moron in me. And that's something I'm sure I can excel at.
Oh well. It was nice to pretend I had a brain.

Please, for those of you who knew all along that really I wasn't the brightest pea in the pod, don't make it worse. You should have warned me then, you can't gloat and go "I always thought so" now.

Also, for those of you wondering where the logic is here, it is currently racing through all that empty space in my head, going "HELP! I'm trapped!".

18 juillet 2005

Let's get ready to... mud-wrestle!

At long last. Now I know why I bought this flat.
I've been saying here and here and here (no, I'm not putting in links, I intend for you to go and browse my archives, I need the stats*) that the Whole Bloody Building (yes, I'm capitalising, it's now officially been christened) is in such a state of disrepair that it's all going to crumble down and it won't even be dangerous for people on the pavements because the walls and ceilings are so completely porous and permeated by infiltrations that really it'll be more like a warm shower of muddy... stuff.
Can you guess which words in that sentence I just made up from the French? Also, if you think this explains part of the title, you're wrong. I really don't like to be predictable, you know. Come to think of it, it does explain part of it, but only because I'm so unbelievably smart I can outthink myself sometimes.
Anyway. That is sooooo not what I'm driving at. Well, kinda, but only tangentially.
Boy I'm on fire, vocabulary-wise.
So, the building. The disrepair. The managing agent! The neighbour! It's all coming together!
Last night, we had one of those way-too-few-and-far-between meetings. With the managing agent. With the errrr-ing and emmmm-ing neighbour. With everyone else for that matter.
So I get there with all the enthusiasm of a cow at the slaughterhouse, and am mentally honing my oratory skills in preparation for the verbal jousts to come when in sashays the neighbour, all dolled up and dressed to kill - she still has a lot to work on shoe-wise, but compared to what I've seen her wear, tonight's order was very obviously "dress to kill". And I'm stunned. And I'm wondering, why, she can't have dressed like this for us, can she? And then the managing agent announces that the architect will be joining us later on.
HA! There's my answer! She's going for my guy! 45-ish, slightly overweight, full of himself, sexy. What can I say. Sometimes, you just can't control your hormones. Well, neither can I. Evidently, neither can she.
And now we both know we're going to fight. And it's not gonna be pretty.
I think he knows it too, and he's loving it. My, that man is sexy.

* Oh, come on, who cares about stats when there's going to be girl on girl action in the mud**?
**There. That'll take care of the stats.

They shoot horses, don't they

Bunk beds. I think I've mentioned them before somewhere, or maybe I do have a life and have talked about them with some friend or others. Hmmm.
Well, folks, we were sleeping in bunk beds in the gîte (like bed without breakfast) this week-end.
So what do you do when you're sleeping in the bottom one and someone has just mentioned that a psychopathic murderer might be getting in through the window that (all of, the eight of) you've left open because man was it hot there? No, you don't think of the psychopathic murderer. Matter of fact, you don't really believe a psychopathic murderer might be loose in Cahors, or Luzech to be precise, this time of year. Even psychopathic murderers know when it's too hot.
No, what you do is think that hopefully, the guy who's sleeping in the top bed is not too heavy, because what, just what exactly would happen if he is too heavy and the structure, being old and wooden, doesn't hold up and, well, breaks down, and you end up either crushed to death by both the guy and the structure or impaled, to death as well probably, into your own bed by one of the bed posts?
You'd be dead, that's what would happen. And then that would definitely justify and even vindicate your not liking weddings in the first place, wouldn't it? Because you'd not be dead, would you, if you hadn't come to the wedding, hadn't slept (insisted on sleeping, even, which shows what a self-sacrificing soul you are, you saint) in the bottom bed, and hadn't died.

But then, the structure held up, or the guy wasn't too heavy, and no psychopathic murderer got in through the window, and so you didn't die.
So really, you didn't have much of a choice other than to attend the wedding, did you.
Oh well.

In retrospect (I was a bit too tense on the spot), it was lovely, the village was lovely, the church was lovely, the bride was fantastically lovely, the groom was handsomely lovely, the people were lovely, the castle (castle!) was lovely, the dinner was lovely, and the dancing. My, the dancing.

13 juillet 2005

Ta ta dada, ta ta dada

People. Don't be sad and all that but what with Bastille day being a Thursday, this is now a long week-end. Yay! I hear you twitter with delight at the prospect of one looooong alcohol-induced stupor.
Yay indeed, as I'm off to a wedding for the long week-end.
A wedding. Wedding. Wed. Effing ding.

Just to make things clear, I don't like weddings. I just don't. Don't like the rigidity of them (I might be making up words here, I'm not sure), don't like the etiquette of them, don't like the sartorial efforts they require because I always feel inadequately dressed, don't like the fact that single men (just what is wrong with them that they're single still?) will try and persuade you that they're exactly what you've been waiting for, don't like the fact that single girls (yes, same - and I know what's wrong with me, thank you very much) are absolutely frenzied with the promise - as everybody has been hammering on - that weddings are just the place to meet someone.
Also, I hate the fact that, when they are family weddings, aunts and cousins and uncles will be coming to you and conspiratorially whisper: so, when are you walking down the aisle then? When the man I love finally gets out of jail, that's when, but that's probably not happening any time soon, as he's in there for armed robbery, isn't he, and well, the security guard got shot, and then after 2 years he was up for parole, but there was this knife scuffle at the ref, so he was in solitary for two weeks and that was pretty much the end of the parole talks, right?

But I fear it might be frowned upon to cause a coronary in a relative, even more so at a wedding.

Anyway, that wedding concerns none of my family, so what exactly was the point of that little show of aggressiveness? None, but man, I feel better now.

12 juillet 2005


What really happened yesterday:
My downstairs neighbour (guy, knows his vocabulary and how to use it, no overly long sentences) and a plumber came round for all of fifteen minutes.The wall was completely ignored.
I didn't see or hear from the managing agent, who by
the way cancelled our meeting for the evening (now kindly refer to my unbelievably accurate prognostication in the previous post).
The whole "we shall convene among ourselves" thing was also cancelled (well, can't get it right every time, can I).
Below is an excerpt from a phone conversation with my upstairs neighbour (don't get confused)
- Hi, Valérie, it's Anne. I got your message.
- Hiii. Did you get... Errrrrrrrr, yes.
- blabla bla bla
- blabla bla bla
- So I just emmmmmm wanted to know, because I know, I mean you told me, that eeeeerrrrrr if we were errrrrr having the meeting at emmmmmm the end of the week, say Friday, well, eeeeerrrrr, I think errrr, I seem to recall, emmm, it wasn't possible for errrrr you?
- Yeah, I'm away this week-end.
- Would errrrr, maybe emmmm another day be errrrr possible?
- What, this week-end?
- Well, errrrrr, yes.
- No. I'm. Away. This week-end.
- Aaaaaaah. Yes. Errrrrr. Well.
Upshot is, she'll phone me Monday morning to brief me. Can't wait.
And the thing is she really is sweet. She must learn to speak, though. Must.

In other more pressing news, I have to work on my Irish accent. Sometimes, the phrase "I'll head for the buses and take a taxi from there" pops in my head and if I say it, because I can't ignore the voices, it'll have to be in an Irish accent.
Please don't ask, and I won't tell lies.

11 juillet 2005

The building that wouldn't just die - episode 165,731

This is going to be one mother of a day.
This morning, two of my neighbours are coming with a plumber to investigate the leak that has been ruining my bathroom ceiling for 8 months now. Good things come to those who wait, eh. Then, we'll all go look knowingly at the wall that's been incriminated in the humidity that a few people have been complaining about for, what, 8 months, maybe? Then in the evening, we are - or we are not, it has not been confirmed yet, and I'm betting on a last-minute cancellation - meeting with the managing agent, in preparation for the meeting that we'll be having next week (yeah, whatever). Although even if the managing agent does not grace us with her presence, we'll still be convening among ourselves, to discuss a few points. Ooh the fun.
That means two things.
One, that I'll be spending way too much time with my upstairs neighbour, who is a sweet girl, I'm sure, but displays unfortunate furniture-shuffling habits and evidently suffers from an acute elocution problem. Either she loves the sound of her voice, or she has a very very bad case of aphasia. It takes her forever to make a sentence, and I'm not exaggerating, because she's constantly looking for words, going errrrrrrrrrrr, and emmmmmm and - argh! it drives my blood pressure to yet unwitnessed levels.
On Friday, I lost 15 minutes of my life - which she is not giving back to me - when she phoned to ask me to phone the managing agent (yes, the logic of that eluded me as well) because she wanted to make sure that the works planned on the outside wall did concern the whole of the wall, and not just a part of it that wouldn't solve any of her problem. Except she took 15 minutes to say that, and when, at the end of the phone call, I said "So I'm checking with the woman that the whole wall will be fixed", she went "Eeeexactly, eeeeexactly. You errrrrrrr summed up my point emmmmmm precisely. That's eeeeeexactly what I errrrrrrrr meant." And she went on again.
I did try to phone the managing agent on Friday afternoon, right after my neighbour had phoned me, but obviously couldn't get through. I tried again this morning, and was told she'd call me back. Needless to say, I'm still waiting. And then my neighbour phoned me again, and sounded surprised when I said I'd tried to call the agency. Turns out she had as well. AH AH fucking AH.
That's it for thing one.
Thing second is this, and it derives straight from thing one. There is a risk that I might be arrested by the police before the night is through. If I have to spend a whole day and a whole evening (which, again, I'm not getting back) with my neighbour, and see the managing agent, and deal with angry flat-owners who are going to have to pay through the nose for all that there is to do in the building, well surely someone is going to have to die. And seeing as I'm not married, haven't yet found the job I want, and am still intent on changing countries, it's only fair to assume that, the best being ahead of me, it won't be me.
I intend to plead temporary insanity.

Training day

I need a new laugh.
You know those girls whose laughter could attract dogs, it's so high-pitched?

Mine is nothing like that. Nothing. It's more of a throaty affair, without the sexy. Trailer-park, smoker stuff, that's what it is. All aah aah aah and no tee hee. You get the picture, don't you? Because I'm not going to be using technology I don't understand and leave an open mike or anything of the sort around me just so I can get a practical example to post around these parts.
No no, no use insisting.

How do you get a new laugh though? Is practice enough? Because my problem is if I try this looovely trickling or cascading laugh that genuine girls seem to find so easy to launch at the ears of the world, I'll also take on the personality of a bimbo. I don't know why, that's just the way it is. So I'll be laughing high-pitched, talking high-pitched, adding lots of silly sounds at the end of my sentences, and losing a good usable portion of my brains in the process. It's like while I go up the scales, my brain will go down the drain.
I did think of giving up laughter altogether, and sticking to smiles, Mona-Lisa style (I have no shame, you should know that by know). Every now and again, though, a snort will escape me and that'll be the end of that pious wish. Obviously, once I've let out a snort, I might as well just forget about any shreds of dignity that might be ridiculously flapping in the wind behind me, and let the whole thing escalate to the hiccupy stage where I stop breathing and the only thing you hear, at irregular intervals, is an extremely bizarre sound, half-way between a sob and a burp.
So. The whole of today will be devoted to reading and listening to funny stuff, and training. Hee hee hee instead of HA HA HA.
Hee hee hee instead of HA HA HA. Hee hee hee instead of HA HA HA. My cheeks are sore already.

07 juillet 2005

The dwarf and the ladder

Once upon a time, there was this wee girl, 1m60 to be precise, who had two left hands and ten thumbs and couldn't do much around the house.
One day, her parents came to visit, and they kindly took that opportunity to do some work for her that she obviously was not physically (or mentally, poor child) capable of doing. This included fitting in some shelves and drilling holes in the walls so they could fix the curtain rails. To that end, her parents had brought with them their own set of power tools. They relied on their daughter, you see, for the essentials, such as hammer, spare nails (no acrylic), stepladder and the like.
Unfortunately, the wee girl only had one of those fancy stepladders that you can also use as a spare stool, but that was no use to reach the ceiling. She was desperately lacking a proper, normal-height one.
So the parents sent their daughter out into the wild world to go ask one of her better-equipped friends for one. Out she went, in her billowing summer dress, all 5'3" of her (aren't I sweet to give you both the metric and the other thing too?) to fetch the magic ladder. 'Twas a hot day, that day. But she was determined to accomplish her mission in honourable fashion. So on she sauntered to her friends' apartment, who could provide her with the much sought-after artefact.
Once she had acquired the ladder, she made her way home in the now stifling heat. Perspiration (ladies do not sweat) ran in glistening rivulets down her golden skin (she was barely back from a holiday on tropical shores), her dress clung to her, outlining...
Ooops. Wrong genre.
Right. So she made her way home, careful not to hit any of the shop awnings she walked by and under. Unfortunately, short as she was, the ladder was overbearing. She was ridiculously dwarfed by it. People saw her and her sidekick - or was she the ladder's sidekick? - and smirked. But she walked on, her head held high. And soon she reached the shadowy haven of her own adobe.
By the end of the day, all curtain rails had been affixed. 'Twas time for her to make her way back to her friends' flat, to hand in the ladder, now that its job had been done.
But she couldn't be bothered. So she kept the ladder a whole week, until she felt it was improper of her to do so. Out she went, this time dressed more appropriately for both the weather and the task at hand, in sturdy trousers and a comfy cardigan. She noticed the smirks again, but now what really bothered her was the fashion in which people stayed in her way even as they saw that her mobility was
obviously hindered by the presence of the stepladder (useful though it had been - she was not in the slightest being derogatory to the ladder. It just so happened that right then, it was a bugger to handle). She thought of using Jedi mind tricks, or of holding the ladder parallel to the ground and whirling around very quickly while keeping her eyes open to observe the passers-by as they flew up and dropped in a heap in the gutter (not grinning anymore, are you, hon?). But she kept her cool and walked on, seething, even though it didn't show.
She finally reached her destination, left the ladder in the caring hands of its true owners, bid it a fond adieu, and made her way, yet again, back home. While walking unhindered, she noticed pram-pushing, parcel-carrying, kids-toting parents, and her heart went out to them, until she realised that she had done it wrong all along: why bother with trying to avoid awnings, people and cars, when you can use whatever it is you're carrying as a thoroughly effective means to ensure that people, cars, and even awnings if you go about it right, will avoid you? That saddened her. Not only was she utterly useless at DIY, her competencies were also ridiculously limited in the street.
She was quickly back to her angry self, however, when she saw a good few too many SUV's and 4WD's
(with pushbars and windshield-mounted light bars, only the bare necessities) on the streets of Paris, of all off-road playgrounds, but that's a story for another bedtime.

06 juillet 2005

Prions, mes frères

Today is the big day for 5 cities.
Mrs Mogul - for whom it must be like being caught between a rock and a hard place today, as she's a New Yorker in London - asked me yesterday if I thought that Paris was going to win. Welllllll... It's a toss-up, isn't it?
Perfidious Albion is doing its worst to make London Olympic host city, Paris is uncharacteristically (how on god's green earth do you pronounce this?) fervent in hoping we will be the chosen people, New York and Madrid are not as worrying as they used to be but you never know, and Moscow is pretty much out of the game.
I'm scared out of my wits. I so do not want to feel the same bitter disappointment as I did when Beijing was elected. But Sebastian Coe is one scary guy, and - not that I'm forgetting his athletic prowess - but can he be showing any more bad faith?
If it wasn't so... childish, it would be really quite funny to see how all the petty rivalries that ever existed between our two nations are being revived. Forget l'Entente cordiale, we're at war. Jacques Chirac has apparently added his two cents in Kaleningrad, saying, among other things, "you can't trust a people whose food is so bad". Mature. Funny, but mature. And for the record, I don't agree. You can't say that shepherd's pie, yorkshire pudding, and phosphorescent green peas are bad. Not to mention haggis, but we're talking about the English.
Notice how admirably unbiased I am, trying to be fair and showing both sides' faults and qualities? I need you to notice that because I might have to appeal to you and your testimony later on.
You see, I very much want Paris to win the Games, but if all else fails, if push comes to shove, if I-don't-know-any-other-phrase-meaning-that occurs, I'll put national pride behind, waaaay behind, and apply to whoever* will be host city. And I certainly don't want anybody saying " ah ah, you trashed us, and now you want a job?".
Plus, really, it's an apropos show of fair-play, isn't it?

* Should that be whoever or whomever?

Booh-ooh-ooh, as in update
Merde. Chier. Con.

05 juillet 2005

Pretend I'm typing this there and then

I'm trying something again. I'd be willing to try almost anything in the name of blog.
So I'm now sitting at a sunny café terrasse on Place Gambetta, waiting for a waiter to notice the indistinct shape in the corner, said shape being badly in need of a cup of coffee to regain human form.

Ah, he's noticed.
Ooh, he's nice.
Anne, stop.
Oh wait, did I say "sunny terrasse"? It's suddenly clouded up and rain looks very much like clear and present danger. Talk about WMD. I've already ruined a pair of shoes, losing a second one would certainly be the equivalent of Imelda Marcos giving half her collection to charity: even if it seemed like a good idea at the time, the profound stupidity of it would very quickly be glaring.
Woah. This guy is using two of his fingers to pick his nose. Somebody's been keeping in touch with the child within.
Talking of children, my neighbours have moved out. The sweet sound of their infant son howling every other hour has now been replaced by hammers, drills, sanding machines and the like, a much, much welcome change if there ever was one. Considering that my upstairs neighbour still hasn't decided where exactly her sofa, table, chairs and high-heel shoes were most acoustically pleasing, and the blackbirds and jays are up and about at 4 in the bloody morning, I'm having very loud second thoughts regarding the purchase of this flat. Still, it did seem like a good idea at the time.
I'm right out of an apointment at anpe (a government agency that... helps... you find a job). I'm now scared out of my wits that I'll never be able to find a job again. Translators are not in such high demand - goodness, that other waiter is really nice too - and finding a job overseas does not look like it's going to be the walk in the park that I was anticipating. Still, resigning really did seem like an unbelievably good idea at the time.
Oh lord, I've just lost a retina from the sun, who evidently came out the winner from its brawl with the clouds, reverberating against the glass tabletop, my cell phone screen and the teaspoon, right into my unsuspecting and unprotected eyes.
Sitting here seemed like such a good idea at the time.

04 juillet 2005

I'm not kidding

I have a problem.
While watching Batman Begins on Saturday evening, I could think of lots of cool things to write, and then I forgot all about it. And I mean all. Right after telling them to the friends I was with then. They don't deserve me.
It's reached that point where I'm actually kind of dreading opening the Blogger window because I'll feel inadequate. And I'm kind of dreading having a read of you all because that'll make me feel even more inadequate.
Or maybe it's hormonal. Maybe I'm not quite dealing with the summer heat as well as I should be and that's affecting my... ability to write.
I mean, come on, Friday evening I was at the Stade de France for the IAAF Meeting, I shook hands with Marie-José Pérec, got smiled at by Stéphane Diagana, was introduced to the former Technical Manager of the French Athletics Federation (who was convinced we'd met before - those days I spent in a drunken stupor in Sydney? I knew I was missing something.), saw loads of stuff backstage because I was invited by a journalist friend (nope, sorry, can't talk), saw loads of stuff on the stadium itself (along with 74,000+ people), managed to run out of batteries for my camera (how, just how do you run out of batteries when you're going to a track & field meet? The same way you lose your
ability to write, that's how.).
Surely I should be able to write something clever and witty about that, shouldn't I?
And on Saturday, I went and met up with said friend, and "met" - and blew it, my hair was so messed up - a very solid candidate for my children's paternity, and on my way home, got chatted up by a fireman. Yes ladies and gents, I got chatted up by a fireman. Well, kinda. Let me set the stage (oh, it's a miracle, I'm writing!).
You know that on the 13-14th of July, balls are organised
by firemen all over France. It's our own little tradition, and I suspect that that's where the French sexy reputation stems from. Anyway. The firemen are out and about these days, trying to sell tickets for the "lottery" that's taking place during the ball at the caserne in my neighbourhood. So, Saturday, coming out of the metro, I walked into those two fine specimens (they're always in pairs) who were obviously on the prowl for girls with an "ooh firemen!" weakness, and I guess I was an easy prey.
"Hi, would you like to buy tickets for..."
"Yeah, OK." (damn, blew it again!)
"€3, or more, and you can come pick up your prize on the night."
"There you go. So are the prizes OK this year? Cause last year, I got a bottle of perfume that stank to high heaven."
"Really? I hope it's better this year then."
"Yeah, so do I. Thank you. Bon courage...!"
"Oh, er... apparently, this year, the prize is a fireman."
I kid you not. He really did say that.
"Really? I'll be there, then", was my witty reply.
Hormonal, I'm telling you.

02 juillet 2005


In a few minutes, he'd come in. She'd have to be really quick then. She couldn't let him talk to anyone.

Someone nudged her on their way to the bar.
"Oops, sorry. Well, hey! What's a pretty lady..."
"Save it."
She was as dry as a Schopenauer book. Too bad. He was kind of cute and she certainly hadn't pulled that easily in a good long while. Reassuring somehow to know her attractiveness was still there, despite the obvious disuse.

There he was, walking in like the world was at his feet. Well, honey, the world was rebelling big time. Rise up, stand and deliver.
He walked to the bar. He was going to order when she softly put a hand on his shoulder and the most engaging smile on her face.
The tiniest pinprick, he'd think it was her watch or her nail.
Hey presto.

Advance the internet cause

Take a survey.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey
It's by the MIT, I feel much much more clever now.

01 juillet 2005

Let's hear it for the blog

I still have this horrible writer's block (heh, writer's block). Holidays are bad for me. Bad. Bad. Bad holidays. Apparently, not writing everyday (even though the notebook was always in the bag, oblivious of the mortal danger it was running of being attacked by the sunscreen, little action hero that it is) has severely damaged the little imagination I might have had until then. Or something.
I find this "or something" extremely useful, don't you?
Anyway, in a last-ditch effort to try and salvage my burgeoning career as a world-famous diarist, or something - see? -, I am trying to see if I can actually write something without having the foggiest about what I am, I fact, writing. Today's the 1st of July, I figured if I tried something, now was as good a time as any.
I've typed 10 lines - so far, so good. Or some... nah, just kidding.
No the problem is I'm really a fraud. I'm surprised I even lasted as long as 6 months. I think I'd said all I ever had to say when the first three or four days were up. It was all downhill from there.
Oh yes, and I did say world-famous. Because, let's face it, I am. I know, I know, we all are. But see, this is my space. So I am.
Right, this is getting me nowhere, let's change tacks.
Footloose is on the telly right now. Remember Footloose? Am I the only one here who, every time they watch a dance film, and I do mean every time, will think "right, this is it, I'm taking up dance lessons, in 6 months I'll be the new Jennifer Beals/Jennifer Grey/Kevin Bacon/Christopher Penn"? Chris Penn. Good grief. What is wrong with the guy? How did he go from what he was to what he is? Sure, it can't be easy having Sean Penn as a brother, but what on earth did the parents do wrong that one of them turned into an alcoholic (albeit reformed) with Madonna as an ex-wife and the other one has got a major substance abuse (well, food, but he's obviously having way too much of it. Waaaay too much)? And Jennifer Grey. Nobody puts Baby in a corner, OK, but why did she have to have that face job? I'm not even going into the whole John Travolta thing. (No, Jennifer Grey has never, that I'm aware, had a thing with John Travolta, I'm on the dance movie track here.) Jennifer Beals looks a bit silly. That leaves Kevin Bacon. He's OK. And he sure can move. Well, Kevin Bacon it is, then. OK, well, I'm taking up dancing. In 6 months, I'm Kevin Bacon. Except I really don't want his nose.
I'm exhausted now.