Little Miss Awkward

I just can’t help it!!

Filipino Prison Inmates vs Michael Jackson

michael.jpg This is by far the best thing I have seen on You Tube in a long while. The choreographer needs to get a special award for this and for managing to stay alive 🙂  Pure class!!!

July 30, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Music, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Mirror

rabbit.jpg In recent weeks, I have had a mirror held up in front of me and the reflection looking back at me is not something that I particularly like. I am talking about a metaphorical mirror, and the reflection that looks back at me is not myself in the physical sense but my character.

In the past few weeks I have been spending a lot of time with someone who I consider a friend. However I usually come away feeling exhausted because the time we spend together is usually spent talking about her. Her life, Her woes, Her loves..in fact her everything. As someone who tries to be a good friend, I listen but it is totally one-sided. She talks and talks and I listen, and boy does she talk. When I bring up something about what goes on in my life, she brings it round to her again. It is nice to have someone listen to you because we all need to unburden from time to time but now I find it really exhausting. For her it is me, me, me, me. I would like to unburden sometimes without it just being another introduction into another chapter of her life.

As I reflect on her behaviour, I realise that this is something I do, and now I see it from the other side of the fence. It makes the other person switch off, and makes you look really self absorbed. Which means I have made myself a promise to try and be a better listener. Listening is a very underestimated skill. Being a good listener is not something that comes easy for a lot of people. A lot of people would claim that they are good listeners, when in fact they aren’t. Good listeners that I have meet are able to say so much without actually saying much. They HEAR what you say and aren’t just waiting for you to finish so that they can chime in or even better interrupt.  

Now how do you tell someone that they should shut up once in a while?  Just like how do you tell someone that they have body odour. There is never a nice way of saying it, is there? I know that I would be hurt and really self conscious if someone tried to to tell me to put a sock in it.  It is amazing what you learn about yourself from other people if you are open to it.

How ironic that I am writing about people talking about themselves on a blog. A blog in essence is the modern day epitome of self absorption because everyone who has a blog talks about themselves. Their lives, their woes, their experiences and we want people to listen (or more accurately read) about our lives. But the main difference with blogs is that you can’t force it on people, you don’t have a captive (or captured) audience. At least, we all have a choice of whose lives we want to peek into. Hell, maybe I should suggest to friend that she should start a blog, it might ease things for me a little 🙂

July 27, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, France, Rant | 4 Comments

Someone Else’s Guy

kisses.jpg In my book, there are people that are out of bounds. Those that have a wedding ring, those with girlfriend’s, those with serious narcotics issues, those with murderous tendencies and of course straight up mentalists.

When I meet a guy that I think I like and find out that he is attached in one way or another, my brain immediately switches off in pursuing matters in that direction. My friend has a theory that if it is not legally binding then it is fair game. Meaning if there is no marriage certificate involved then there is no problem. I don’t agree with this, not because I am taking the moral high ground or anything like that but because I strongly believe in karma. If I consciously do something that is not right, it is going to come back and bite me in the ass 10 folds over.

I was having a heart to heart with a married colleague of mine. We were talking about relationships, I asked him if he was happy in his decision to tie the knot. He said he was but he said that if the right woman pushed certain buttons he knows that he could be nabbed. Maybe not necessarily leaving his wife but have an affair. He was quite frank and said it was about having his ego stroked, doing something that is taboo and of course the sex. He said he would never pursue a woman but if he was pursued it could happen. So I thought about this and asked myself what sort of person is a pursuer of another woman’s man. If I wanted someone bad enough, could I do it?

This question popped into my head because at the moment I have a very strong attraction to a guy at work. By the way he looks at me, I get the feeling that he feels the same. The glitch in this fairy tale is that he has a girlfriend. So for me I go to extra lengths to avoid him, and avoid making eye contact with him. In my head, he is out of bounds. Totally out of bounds. Then my heart skips a beat when he is around or just looks at me. Something tells me that he is a guy that can be ‘nabbed’ but I don’t want to nab him. As much as I want him, I can’t consciously inflict pain on another person, especially another woman for my happiness.

Another point to note is that if I were to nab him, I am going to spend the entire time I have him, watching my back and his back for the other woman who comes along and nabs him. Because I am very aware that he is nabbable, as it was the way I got him. As this relationship would be based on a foundation of lies and cheating. Of course my friend says, oh but he is not married to her or anything, you have to do what makes you happy.  Can you really be happy doing something like that? Katie Hopkins from The Apprentice (UK) fascinates me. She has been branded a professional home wrecker, who allegedly ‘nabs’ other people’s husbands and is quite proud of it. When she gets them, does it truly make her happy??

I know I am not a pursuer but I can see how easily it happens. There is that temptation to throw caution to the wind and just go for it but there never seems to be a happy ending in these circumstances. I am really interested in people’s views about this one and be honest and frank!!!

July 20, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, France, Rant, Romance | 18 Comments

Is there a Doctor in the house?

doc.jpg Being in a new country, means you not only wrestle with a new language but also with new styles and customs. Today I was hit with a medical – French style.

For my new job, I was told that I would have to see the company doctor for a compulsory medical. A medical for work? I thought how peculiar. It wasn’t like I was signing up for the army or anything were my physical fitness would be put through the ringer. This was in essence a desk bound job. Back home, the nearest I have come to a medical, was to state on my application form whether I had diabetes, blood pressure, or any other form of disabilities. At other times I have not even had to declare anything. So this for me was a new concept.

Last week, when I had told my colleagues about my impending French medical, they either smiled knowingly or gave me a look of pity. I was also pre-warned that I should wear my sensible, Bridget Jones style underwear. Oh dear, I am not liking the sound of this. My colleague declares she will be donning a crotch less knickers ensemble for her appointment. I can’t help but wonder if this would score brownie points with our French doctor. They do like their lingerie in this part of the world. At my allocated hour of doom, I sauntered over to the office of the ‘Medecin au Travail’. Noticed that the doctor was already in with someone, I decided to make use of the laydeez room and make sure no piece of under garment was stuck somewhere it shouldn’t have been.  I was quickly stopped by the lady who it transpired was the nurse and not the doc. She handed me a paper cup and more less told me to do my business in the cup. Great start!!

**Too much information time** I came out with a nice warm cup of ‘d’eau de sugar007’ and didn’t know how I was supposed to present it to her. Is there such a thing as urine sample etiquette? Do I leave it by the bathroom sink? Or hand it to her like some sort of sacrificial offering. Luckily she took it from me and did what she had to do. She then ushered me into a room, where I was asked all the usual stuff about family medical history etc. However this process was not too straight forward as she was French, and spoke no word of English. But for the most part I got through it but I have a feeling I might have inadvertently told her I was a junkie from the way I was illustrating that I have had a some vaccinations. Oh well, hoping the urine sample, might clear up that misunderstanding. The hearing test was quite comical because it was those contraptions where you have headphones on and pressed a buzzer whenever a sound was heard through them. The thing was I heard the nurse’s hand banging against whatever instrument she used to produce sound in my ear. So even if I didn’t hear anything, I knew from the banging noise behind me that she had pressed her bit, so then I would press mine. Oh what fun.

This whole thing was just the foreplay to the main event. I was then ushered into another room. Waiting for me was a woman in her 50s who had arms that would make Madonna cry with envy. When she was not putting innocent employees through their paces, I imagine she was doing the same to her Pilates mat. She had the body of an athlete and the face of a granny. After a short run down of my eyes and hearing tests, she points to a door and says something in French. I look at her with my, me-no-speaky-no-French face. She repeats herself this time, I catch the word ‘vetements’ in the middle of it all. Oh this was THE moment. I was to go in and take my clothes off and return.

I walk into the room all pumped like a soldier going to war and come out like a soldier returning defeated (with just underwear). I have seen those French films with these willowy young females who would happily fleet around the house bra-less, wearing thongs, and eating toast while having a conversation about politics with the guy who has come to deliver the mail or fix the washing machine, I for one am not one of those.

She points to the weighing scales and sits behind her desk with pen in hand. I jump on the scales (fully aware of what it would say) and she asks me to tell her what it says. I really couldn’t think of what the number was in French and this was kilograms, therefore the figures were higher. Like with most brits, I am more familiar with weight measurements in stones and ounces. I ask her to come over and have a look. She point blank refused and told me to read it out aloud to her. WTF??? I think this was some sort of psychology on her part to make me ‘realise’ that I was overweight by saying it out loud. This technique might work on the French but it sure as hell does nothing for me, all it did was just get me annoyed at having to rack my brain to remember the number in French. Anyway you have to give her props for being original.

**More too much information** That was not the end. I had to lie down on the doctor’s chair, remove the bra and have her feel my breasts. Then used a mallet to hit my legs, to check out my reflexes and at what point it seemed she was touching my feet as though she was taking their temperature. Now that was a new one on me. All in all I knew what she would say. I am pretty healthy but need to lose some weight. I could have told her that. Some colleagues have told me they have been told they have crooked spines (oh dear) and other such random diagnosis.

All in all, despite seeming a bit OTT for a temporary desk job, there is something to be said for a free health check including a breast examination in a work place. Although this seems more of an exercise in covering the company’s back but the employees have nothing to loose by it.

On the way out of work, I see the doc and I cringe, she smiles. All ends well!!

July 17, 2007 Posted by | Battle of the Bulge, Blogroll, France, Rant | 5 Comments

Before and After

dinner-party.jpg This week seems to be the week of dinner parties. True to her word Jacques and Gille’s mum had me over for dinner. Now this was the perfect example of how people make a dinner party look effortless. As arranged, arrived at J & G’s appartment with a bottle of wine. I am no wine connoisseur, I like to drink the stuff, I know I like the taste of some and not others but I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Merlot and a Chiraz. So when buying wine for other people, my main barometer is price. I don’t go for the cheap range or the expensive range but I try to find a happy (price) medium. However I soon found out that I should have taken more care with my choice of wine.

Mum looked utterly relaxed, sat down for a while and chatted with me about my job, my plans e.t.c We were awaiting another guest, an ex colleague of hers.  German Man (45) arrives soon after with two bottles of wine. His bottles looked the business, as though he really evaluated his choices. He walks in the appartment, and loudly admires the impressive views from the rather plush top floor appartment. He then proceeds to ask Mum and Dad how much it had cost them, in a roundabout way. You don’t do that in my book, unless it is people you really know well. He then spends the next 15 minutes trying to sound out their personal wealth.

In the meantime, Mum briefly leaves the room only to return with a tray of mixed apperitifs. She sits down and continues chatting, looking very serene. Dad is being the perfect host, pouring drinks and asking questions about me and German man. However German man is still switched in calculator mode. I am seriously disliking German man. He has strong air of twatness about him.  As the conversation flows with predominately German man talking and boring me shitless with talks about infrastructure of one thing or another, Mum leaves the room briefly and returns with a tray of steaming bowls which she sets on the dinner table. She ushers us over to the dining area. Dad pours some white wine (which was gorgeous) but German man refuses to drink anything but water. I really wish he would drink something alcoholic because it might help release that hot rod stuck up his arse. Mum serves a fish soup, stating that she hopes that fish is okay for us, as she knows some people might be vegetarian. This sets off German man into a rant about how he really gets annoyed with people who are veggie who go to dinner at someone’s home and refuses to eat meat. I am sorry but they can’t stop being veggie just to be polite. They obviously have their reasons for their choice in not eating meat. This I said in a more diplomatic, dinner-party-friendly way but I think he just ignored me. Mum leaves the room and comes back minutes later with the main dish. Not a sweat bead in sight.

German man proceeds to talk about his job, the incapability of Venezuelan’s to absorb information, the ugliness of Venezuela, and the stupidness of Americans. He didn’t stop there, he talked about why people don’t go in to a certain African country and ‘sort’ it out and make it civilised. I have a feeling his idea of ‘sorting’ it out requires a cattle prod and canes.  I took particular umbradge at this because he was talking about a country which my parents come from. Arsehole. Dad poured red wine to go with the main dish, which was 10 years old and came from his sanded floor cellar. Reason why I should have paid more attention to my wine choice.

German man works in the education system and complained about teachers being too individualistic, who aren’t motivated by financial rewards, like that is a bad thing!! At this point, I am just sitting back, guzzling all the wine coming my direction and just taking in the crap that comes out of his cake hole. He them proceeds to mention the problems he has with spoilt pupils in his school, who are from rich middle class backgrounds, products of “those” mixed marriages. Bloody hell, what am I sitting next to here? He proceeds to ask Dad if he is under or over 50. God, you couldn’t pay for this type of entertainment.  Mum gets up from table, clears dishes away while Dad brings out the cheeses and cuts the bread. Now serves the white wine because this goes with the cheese. White, red, purple I really don’t mind just keep it coming.

Mum and Dad were great hosts. Being attentive, explaining French jokes and things I didn’t get and more importantly keeping my glass topped up. Mum had dessert on the table before I could blink, still no sweat bead in sight. German man had to leave as he had something to do very early in the morning, which I hoped included losing his virginity- the Twat.

Overall it was a masterclass in making a dinner party go smoothly and of course who not to invite 🙂

July 10, 2007 Posted by | Battle of the Bulge, Blogroll, France, Rant, Work | 3 Comments

The Hostess Without The Mostest

cheese.jpg ***Warning – really long post*** I am not a natural entertainer. Hence why I rarely host a party, dinner or anything that requires me to be the one responsible. I envy those people that seem to have it down, they make it look effortless. However I could not avoid this dinner party. It was supposed to be a thank you to a couple of people who have been amazingly generous with their time and friendship since I arrived in France. They have done it for me on numerous occasions and I really wanted to do this for them.  But I was quickly reminded why I don’t do this often.

I decided to make a shepherd’s pie, as it was English, fairly economical to prepare and one of those things that after preparation, you could just stick it in the oven. (Thanks Despina for suggestion). Shepherd’s pie for non-English readers – think more savoury spaghetti bolognaise sauce with a mashed potato topping, baked in the oven and you pretty much have it. 

By the time I had peeled the potatoes, vegetables et al it became apparent that I was running out of time. But I was counting on my guests’ usual tardiness. I had planned to have the pie in the oven by the time they were due, so by the time they had apperitifs (nibbles), then it will be ready. Didn’t work out that way. At the time they were due to arrive my potatoes were still boiling, and I was still fiddling with the meat part. I forgot to get some tinned tomatoes, and it became a race against time to get ketchup into the mix before they arrived. There was no way in the world I could let these French people see me squirting ketchup into this dish. It just couldn’t happen. I will be a laughing stock. Managed to get the ketchup in on time and got rid of the evidence. So that was ready but the potatoes weren’t. I was getting pretty peeved and frazzled at this stage. It is not like I am boiling bricks.

The buzzer rings. Shit they are ONLY ten minutes late and the potatoes aren’t even cooked yet alone mashed and ready for the oven. I let them in. I become very conscious that I am sweating like a pig in an abbatoir. Would you want to eat anything served by someone out of breath and dripping with sweat? It doesn’t help that it is a very hot day. Wipe my face quickly and open the door with an extra cheesy smile. We exchange pecks on the cheek, make small talk and usher them to the sitting area. One more guest due to arrive, so buys me more time. I lay out the apperitifs, and offer them a drink. Noticed that I had put the red wine in the fridge and not the Rose, and of course you don’t refrigerate red wine. It couldn’t get any worse, but oh it does. The wine refuses to be uncorked. Half the cork is in bits and there is this underlying fear that the rest of the cork will fall into the bottle with bits of wine cork. But luckily one guest had one of those swiss knife thingies with the cork and managed to prise the offending article open. Left them to make small talk, eat apperitifs and sip on cold red wine.

Unfortunately I have those kitchenette things were my every frantic movement was being watched by them. I felt my back was really sweaty and had to run to the bedroom just to check that my khaki pants didn’t have a big ass sweat stain on it. The last guest arrived earlier than expected. Bugger!! There was no way that I will have time to get this pie in the oven, as it would mean a 40 minute wait before dinner is served. So when asked what we were having for dinner, I proudly announced we would be having a traditional English dish of minced beef casserole served with mashed potatoes. I didn’t even have time to steam the vegetables.  Luckily for me they said it tasted very good, and they especially liked the way the carrots were so crunchy. Well that tends to happen when you undercook things.  As they ate, I just couldn’t relax. I was so paranoid. Do they really like it? Why did Guest B only have one serving? Why aren’t they drinking more alcohol? I need them to drink more because parties always seem much better when you are even slightly intoxicated. Did I clean the toilet properly? I hope no one asks to use the bathroom. The mint pineapple served with icecream went down well. I got extra brownie points when they heard I had actually cut the pineapple myself (cutting a pineapple is not that hard- surely?).

The pain was not over. The conversation was predominately in French which was the intention. They are doing their best to force me to listen and speak the language. And I love them for that.  I actually enjoyed the fact that there was some conversation going on but it was the  extremely long silences in between that caused me anxiety. Uncomfortable silences, with them looking at  imaginary paintings on the walls. It was the same look you have when the mad man comes on your train carriage, and you look everywhere but at him. The problem is that I don’t really know them so well to talk about things in depth and it is not due to the language barrier. In this part of France, you quickly realise that deep conversations are very rare to have with people that you don’t know that well. Back home I can meet a stranger in a pub, bus or anywhere and we can have a real deep conversation, where we put the world to rights. But here people seem more guarded, somewhat reserved especially with someone who they haven’t grown up with.

Luckily someone suggested that we go for a walk. I jumped at the opportunity. I thought they would head home straight after but nope. After a very short  walk around the town, they came back here and lounged reading English magazines. I guess I was relieved that they weren’t running away and were just happy to just chill. But I still couldn’t relax. After they left, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief, had a cigarette (first in six months). I was happy it was all over.  After hosting the dinner party from hell, I am glad I did it because it was my way of giving back but God I will not be doing that again in a hurry.

ps: I hope I haven’t given them food poisoning!!!

July 8, 2007 Posted by | Battle of the Bulge, Blogroll, France, Rant, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Domestic Naked Goddess Chef!

food2.jpg Need some help folks. Need ideas for things to serve to some new French friends coming for dinner. Looking for a dish that is economical, easy to prepare, and fool proof – more importantly wouldn’t confirm the stereotype of brits and bad cuisine. Have left it a bit last minute, so I am a bit desperate for suggestions. I have already worked out dessert. I will be serving pineapple carpuccio with a mint pesto. In case you are wondering what this is, I saw it on the menu of a French restaurant, and laughed myself silly. It is a blatant rip off from a Jamie Oliver recipe book. Or maybe Jaime stole it from some bar-cum-restaurant in France 🙂 The dessert is so simple it is ridiculous. All that is required is a whole pineapple cut into thin slivers. Then fresh mint and some sugar pounded in a pestle and mortar (hence the pesto). The key to the dessert is the presentation. Just lay the pineapple slivers on a large flat plate and sprinkle the ‘pesto’ around it. The coolness of the mint and the sweetness of the pineapple works beautifully.  Okay now it is your turn to provide me with a main course…please!!!

July 6, 2007 Posted by | Battle of the Bulge, Blogroll, France, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

For Prince Fan’s Out There!!

prince.jpg As a massive Prince fan, I just love this clip!! Dave Chapelle does a brilliant Prince impression. He is exactly what I imagine Prince being like in private. Dave Chapelle is an American comedian, who had a show on Comedy Central! It was so successful that the DVD sold half a million copies on the first day off release and a million in a week!!! Heck of an achievement for a comedy DVD. It was so successful that he was offered a 50 million dollar contract, which he allegedly turned down. He explained the reasons on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and it was so refreshing to see that money does not affect everyone the same. In my opinion the only person allowed to turn down 50 million dollar contracts is Bill Gates. This particular clip is from a segment of the show where Eddie Murphy’s brother, Charley Murphy (who is quite funny) recounts days of being in his brother’s entourage. The stories are so ridiculous and silly, and clearly not true but this is the best  impression of The Purple One I have ever seen. I wonder if he ever saw it and curious to know what he thinks. ***Be warned, it has very badly bleeped swear words***

July 5, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Music, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Lost in Translation

franglais.jpg My language learning has been somewhat of a joke. Due to a bit of laziness on my path and the difficulty of learning the French language. I know the basics from my early years at school, which have surprisingly stayed with me till today. However I have come to the realisation that things get more complex when you want to do more than order a ham sandwich or ask where the Post Office is?

I make the mistake of trying to do a literal translation from English to French. Sometimes it works, and so many times it doesn’t. For example when I want to express my excitement at something, naturally I would say ‘I am excited’, therefore it seems to be fairly obvious that in French it would be ‘Je suis excite’ (I have a QWERTY keyboard, so no accents ‘fraid). But I have recently been informed if I say that, some well meaning French man would see that as an invitation to unleash me from the constraints of my underwear and give me a good seeing to. Similarly I have to be careful how I use the verb ‘coucher’, as I might unwittingly be asking someone if they would like to horizontal tango with me.

It takes me a good few hours to read a paper, and that is because with every other word I have to consult the great all knowing oracle – otherwise known as a French dictionary. It does get quite disheartening that sometimes I can’t even be bothered to speak Franglais. I have met people who have been in the country for years and have still not gotten to grips with the language. This I find disturbing. How does that happen? Do they live in a cocoon for those five years? But I can imagine, how easily it is done and I don’t want that person to be me. It is extremely important to speak the language of the country you live in. Not only does it make your life easier but it enriches it a lot. I realise I am missing out on great conversations due to my lack of lingo.

At the moment, I am feeling like the most boring person in the world because my conversations are very superficial. I ask people how they are, then talk about the weather, then maybe ask if they are going on holiday this year and then back to weather. You get better conversation in a hairdresser’s. It makes it hard to make friends. At the moment, I don’t think I would want to be friends with me. The people I have made friends with, also speak a reasonable amount of English, which does not help me at all. It feels like a bit of a battle at the moment. But I intend to win this one.

July 2, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, France, Rant, Uncategorized | 11 Comments