inspirational people / tennisplayers edition

Look at this baby face!
As already mentioned, I adore tennis and among my favourite players are Roger Federer (obviously!), Lleyton Hewitt (on whom I had a lil' crush when I was younger, hehe) and Tommy Haas (even if he sometimes remained second or third best in my heart due to his rivalry with the aforementioned ;) ). The thing that is common between them is their rather similar age and their fighting spirit - they are all in their thirties and I do hate it when the media point out that fact too heavily especially regarding Federer who has already won 17 grand slam titles (and that from a very early age) and can still smash youthful guys!

It sounds even more ridiculous since the average age seems to be growing among tennis players and Tommy Haas, who himself gets annoyed at being constantly repeated that he is 35, OMG 35! and still playing, and probably the best tennis he's ever played after a long period of terrible misfortune and injuries. He rose from the 896 spot after injuries to reach back the top 20 within a year and is now world n°13. It just shows how determined, courageous and talented he is! They all are!
Among his fans, you'll often find people carrying signs reading "age is nothing but a number". Anyway, let's not forget that Hewitt remains the youngest player to reach the n°1 spot.

What is particularly striking about them is that they are as eager as before and when they play, they fight, they never give up. Take Hewitt, he's not as tall as an Isner or a Del Potro but he beat the latter recently at the London Queen's Club tournament on grass. His serve isn't that destructive but his return can cause serious damage and he never calls it quits. He has, like Haas, undergone many surgeries and he says, like Haas too, that this is precisely because of this hard journey that he finds the strength to fight and play on. They also feel they are more experienced, know themselves better and feel they can surpass themselves due to what they have been through. Federer's amazing constancy and consistency is baffling.

Is it me or do the texture of Tommy's hair and the koala's fur look
somewhat similar?
I enjoy watching Tommy Haas on court, just like Hewitt, he keeps moving a lot, his footwork is quick and I like his signature jumps, half squat on both feet when awaiting a volley for instance. It makes me smile, and even laugh unashamedly, when he swears at himself, (gently?) smashes a racquet, or ironically applauds an unforced error of his on the court. He's just human and too harsh on himself!
Similarly, Hewitt's nervous ticks are sweet and funny and his "come on" ritual cannot but put a smile on your face!
Federer's cool composure hasn't always been so and I sometimes feel a bit worried when I see him get angry at himself (or at the crowd for pretending they can call a ball out when it's not, fyi he won that match after being down 2 sets to love!) hoping that he will soon refocus. Even if those are obviously things aimed at shaking you up in order to be more concentrated, we see that many players who get too annoyed too easily have not always reaped the benefits of it. McEnroe admitted that his constant,well, fits of rage hampered his game.
But I'm digressing as usual.

I love the fact that Tommy Haas and Federer are good friends. They even played doubles together in Halle, Germany last week  and that Federer, according to many of his fellow players, stays a really simple, approachable guy who isn't haughty or holier-than-thou at all! I had only slight doubts about Tommy Haas who is engaged to a glamorous Hollywood actress and attracted to luxurious sportscars... But the fact that he is good friend with Federer just does him justice haha! No, I'm joking, he seems to be a nice, authentic person AND I love that he has helped me practise my German, I'm so proud when I hear him speak and can understand (almost) everything! Same thing with Federer although he almost always speaks in French or English, it is not that often that I can get a chance to hear him speak German... And of course, Lleyton Hewitt's adorable Aussie accent is a bonus!

Lleyton and Cruz Hewitt

Tommy and Valentina Haas
Last but not least, they also have kids and seem to be doting fathers! Tommy Haas recently said that his daughter was his main motivation and source of inspiration. Roger Federer (like Tommy) said that he wanted to play so that his twin daughters can see him and remember him playing. And we've seen Lleyton Hewitt's cutsey son come and greet him on court after, according to his dad, he helped him out a lot during practice sessions!

So, what's not to like in those guys?



It's like everyone's playing a game I don't know the rules of
Smiling, half amused, half amazed,
Aquiescing and conniving.
On the surface.
I walk on dazed and dizzy with questions
Pretending to know the answers
Yet knowing that they amount to deciphering hieroglyphs
A writing so strange and enchanting
So appealing and yet so aloof
Inclusive and exclusive
Where do I belong?


Done with Xmas spirit?

One thing that always gets me is this scene from "Love Actually" when Billy Mack (a.k.a "uncle Bill" hohoho), played by utterly terrific actor Bill Nighy, gives some wise advice. So anti politically correct in an otherwise quite predictable romcom, but hey, can we really escape those?
On the other hand, I do confess I like myself a good old Xmas film, even the very down-to-earth - not too say overly sweet and a wee bit tacky - made for tv ones that are broadcast at the moment. Even a little after Xmas.
... "Aaand I do believe it's time for commercial break"!


Long time no speaky

Still catching up on (multiple) re-runs of the Royal Wedding and all things Wills & Kate (obsessed? me??)
I unfortunately couldn't see the live ceremony because well, 1st. I don't have a tv set (but had planned to go to my parents' for the week-end anyway) and 2. because of that stupid administration I had to go and see to have an urgent paper signed, which, of course, they couldn't do because "the one in charge" was still on holiday (let me point out that it wasn't a public holiday here, ahem). Same thing happened the following monday even though they told me the clerk would be there, and all over again, they said to "come back tomorrow". Our admin system is such a joke!

On another grotesque note, my ophtalmologist (because yes, as if my day hadn't been ruined enough by the admin-&-missed-wedding debacle, I had to have my eyes tested on that day too, I couldn't let a 3-month's wait to get an appointment go down the drain) advised me to have a haircut, since I have that (rather unconscious) habit of tilting my head to the side.

Okay, so the dress was gorgeous, Kate (Oops, sorry, Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge) looked stunning, William's imminent baldness raised everyone's concern again, Harry's grin was more annoying than ever and the Queen's own interpretation of this season's colour block trend was smashing. I wish I could have been there but then again, I can't really stand big crowds and would probably have ended up looking like poor little bridesmaid Grace above ;o)

I was thrilled the couple was given such a title, it reminded me of my great stay in Cambridge last month for a brilliant conference, one or perhaps the best I've attended, all the delegates were so nice and gave me the best feedback ever. I've been sick for almost a month now (how is that even possible?!) and it has really put a strain on my energy and motivation to go on with my thesis, though. Fingers crossed this nasty illness will soon be out of the way, please?

k, babbling almost over, sorry about the whining quality to that post though!


Happiness, please!

Few things make me happy, even though I wouldn't consider myself a sad person, I'm not an optimist at heart either. But when tiny little things happen, it can change my mood drastically (either from very good to very bad, that is. Call me bipolar!) So I was quite thrilled to hear from my former Japanese student today and learn that his family was okay too. I was happy to see that my parents had left some pumpkin soup - my favourite - in my fridge after they visited me yesterday and even happier when I actually realized it was pumpkin in that deceptively orangey glass bottle and not orange or carrot juice as I first thought (luckily I realized that before pouring the liquid in a glass, but I'm sure the mere smell would've been clue enough). I was glad when I received an email from my thesis supervisor on a sunday forwarding me the email from a colleague she had asked about a little detail we discussed just the day before. I was beyond joyful when my mum found my old cream cable cardigan she knitted herself and that I used to wear when I was about 10 years old, and that still fit me!! Love at first sight all over again!
So, on days when I'm so down I don't even feel like getting up and face the stressful day awaiting, I should just focus on tiny details like that. One step at a time.


Colin's Speech

I am so thrilled The King's Speech received another award, an Academy award on top of every other distinction Colin Firth had already been crowned with. I am one happy girl! And yes, I am easy to please as long as "costume drama" and "British" are used in the same sentence. Just add the names of Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter and I'm over the moon. Easy, peasy, told ya!

And for the record, I'm sorry but the following scene is not "offensive", just meant to be utterly funny. (Admire the hesitation "... and tits" + Rush's advice to his son. Haha) I'm still puzzled with puritanism and the paradoxes of the US society/ censors as far as movie rating is concerned (among other things though!)


Small is beautiful

I've recently come across this lovely short film, and inspired by Chloe from "Dirt on your new shoes", I'm posting it for you to have a look. I must admit that my first impulse was to check out Mr Tennant (hehe) only to be slightly (read - utterly) disappointed not to hear his oh-so-swoony Scottish accent. Oh well.

Flight of the Conchords

One day, quite by chance, I listened to a hilarious "mockumentary" on BBC radio with brilliant Welsh actor / comedian Rob Brydon as a narrator (you may best know him through his role in the film "A Cock and Bull Story" or the BBC series "Gavin and Stacey" - that I both heartily recommend! - or then again as "Alan Partridge"). The show was called "The Flight of the Conchords" and it was about the eponymous band from New Zealand and their chaotic but jolly adventures while touring the UK. I then enthusiastically embarked on watching the HBO adaptation of their comic duo and I must say it is beyond quirky and ridiculously funny! But little did I know that the band actually existed as such beforehand and they had performed at various festivals, including the Fringe in Edinburgh, which is where they initially caught the eye of Rob Brydon.

Sorry if most of you guys already know about them, I've heard they were featured on The Simpsons, so I guess they are quite famous in the US (especially as the HBO series is all about their move there) but they are quite unknown here, sadly...

I'll leave you with these screen caps from Season 1, episode 4 where Bret is giving feedback on his dinner date... and trying to give some kind of compliment still using the food lexical field! Classy and hilarious!
and a song from the first episode (I love the "depending on the street" and "you could be a part-time model but you'd probably still have to keep your normal job" haha. Well, I'll let you enjoy it by yourselves now.)

P.S: and I want shirts just like theirs!


Unwittingly trendy

Hee hee, let me introduce you to Felix the leo (yep, that's his name, and don't laugh at me for being all dotty, this name was actually given to him quite officially by the company selling them. I'm not lying)
It's been part of my menagerie for a couple of years now, I think I bought it in Scotland, I just can't resist cutsey things, let alone fluffy animal-themed things. I realize this number is quite on trend right now, and the poor thing luckily doesn't even know about it, otherwise he wouldn't put up with being tucked away in books.
Ok, now I'm rambling.


Going with the flow?

As anyone else is doing at this time of year, I've decided to write something about my New Year's resolutions, even though I know perfectly well that I won't follow them or at least will have a hard time sticking to them ;o)
The thing is, I make a lot of lists (from random ideas, urgent things to do, books to read / borrow from the library, artists I like, etc. to the obviously very exciting grocery shopping list) but whereas they put my mind at ease for a while (especially when an idea crops up just after I've jumped into bed and keeps torturing me until I write it down in order not to forget about it - scatterbrain is my middle name these days...) I have a habit of not following them / forgetting them and improvise. So let's hope 2011 will be full of skilful improvisation! But don't get me wrong, I'm still a sucker for carefully (over)prepared things, maybe something to rethink this year?

* Cut the procrastination and stop dreading the hard work ahead (i.e stop making a mountain out of a molehill, even if the said molehill takes the form of a 500 page PhD to be written)

* Go back to yoga (it might help - or worsen, who knows? - my back problems. Oh my, do I speak like an elderly lady... 2011 with a vengeance

* Be more fearless and do (e.g dress) as I like without thinking about the probable stares and frowns that might ensue

* Eat more healthily (says I after stuffing myself with a delicious tiramisu and buying 500g of chocolate because it was on sale, *ahem*) but my sweet tooth is one of my trademarks (read: whims) Surprisingly I don't eat much "regular" food and feel stuffed very quickly but I seem to have a separate compartment in my stomach for sugary food and unfortunately this one is bottomless, hee hee

And here are my current obsessions:

* Two of my favourite actors playing in the same film about one of my favourite era. I knew I had to see "The King's Speech" as soon as I saw the trailer a few months ago (and still have to wait for it to be out in cinemas!!!)

* Listening to sweet, soothing music such as this:

or this:

Have a sweet and brilliant Year!


Love at first sight

Yesterday my mum came to visit and we went to two of the few vintage stores the city has to offer. In the first one we called at, we had to listen for about 10 minutes to the saleswoman - who was beyond tipsy - rambling on about how ethical real fur actually was. All this because I winced when she mentioned the hat I was looking at was made of real fur. Maybe I should have added that my concern was not only ethical but also practical, but I just wanted to end this burbling of hers as soon as possible, especially as it was very hard to remain unflinching and refrain from laughing when she kept mispronouncing words and so on, all this accompanied with richly-scented breath. My mum and I tried not to exchange looks for fear of bursting out laughing. In the meantime, my mum made a few attempts at taking the conversation onto a different track with a couple of "oh, look at this nice handbag" thrown away here and there, but the fuddled yet congenial saleswoman kept on. When she eventually stopped talking, we had to leave and laugh it out, even though the boxy shop had some cute cintage designer pieces we didn't have time to examine thoroughly (because thrifting is all about thorough, scientific examination indeed!)

In the second, hippier store, my mum was fascinated with the very 80's looking (because they were) fairisle sweaters and at the back of the shop, I literally squealed when I saw this adorable handbag made of thick embroidered tapestry. It was love at first sight. I didn't even go through the usual questions "do I really need it?" and so on, it had to be mine and all this customary reasoning seemed useless and completely irrelevant!


Books I want to read

Because I am entirely devoted to my PhD corpus and feel like reading something else is a case of high treason (even though I'm committing such a crime right now and have done so many a time... ahem) or at least some silly way to waste time on something that is not vitally relevant to what defines my life at the moment (did I just say silly?), I often have to postpone reading books I come across or hear about. Here is a brief list of books I'd love to read as soon I have more time away from preparing seminar lesson plans, reading for my thesis, exam marking or conference paper writing (the latter I should be doing right now instead of writing about what I should or shouldn't do!):

And this is only a ridiculous glimpse of all the books I'm hankering after and that are cramming up my shelves!


I wish...

I wish I could stop worrying about every little thing,
I wish anxiety wouldn't stop me from doing things I have to do and should enjoy doing
I wish I could believe people's compliments
I wish I could plan ahead peacefully
I wish I could stop procrastinating (like I'm doing right now!) and start doing things that matter instead of postponing them for fear I might not be up to the task
I wish I could learn to enjoy the moment
I wish I could start to live instead of dreaming up my life
I wish I could stop being testy
I wish I could stop wallowing in self pity!
I wish I could simply speak up my mind no matter what
I wish I could shed this perfectionism
I wish I could feel the same in real life as I do in fiction
I wish I could start to live as I should and liked

image credits http://photocompetition.hispeed.ch/seo/photo/243719/bulles_de_savon /bulle_savon_etang_eau_bulles_rond_ovale_sphere.html


Lady of Shalott where art thou?

So many words I want to say, so many things I want to do
Inside my cocoon, unopened pupa, fragile and brittle,
A touch of frost, a wave of heat, a drop of dew,
unripe, uncertain, meandering,
when does the butterly finally spread its wings?

Yet clichés all work and fail,
the whale and the aeroplane,
Why should they all be meant to mean
the life, the signs, the plasticine,
childish and true, our fears oppressive,
our burden both cumbersome and necessary,
the meaning, the night, the flight,
oh dear, what if we were right?


Ins-PIE-ration (I know...)

Another inspiration retro & vintage-wise is Anna Friel who, I think, somewhat looks like Zooey Deschanel. I remember being fascinated by her outfits when I watched Pushing Daisies more than a year ago. Here are a few examples...

and she totally pulls off an otherwise grannyish patterned dress! Amazing ;o)


The Guardian & Sartorial advice

This article from the Guardian is so funny & sarcastic! Another reason why this newspaper is among my British favourite

The 10 rules of summer dressing: Here's how to stay cool this season,

by Jess Cartner-Morley

The Guardian - Sat 05 Jun, 2010 12:03AM GMT

1 Tights/Bare legs: British summer fashion is a kind of collective madness. From about early May – even if, as with this year, it is actually still slippers-in-the-morning weather – we all have to dress as if going to a picnic. Wearing black opaque tights in summer, even if the skies are gunmetal, marks your card as a killjoy and a wuss. Hey, I don't make the rules, OK? Deal with it. This, my friends, is why God invented cropped trousers. Unflattering they may be, but think of them like stabilisers while you adjust to getting your legs out, and pray that 20 minutes a week in the gym doing half-hearted lunges while watching MTV will get you Gwyneth Paltrow's legs.

2 Playsuits: Awful name. Sounds as if the wearer should be banging a rattle on the table while covered in ketchup. But then, in America they call these rompers, which is worse. Absolutely nothing wrong with a playsuit, so long as you realise it is entirely impossible to convey the smallest amount of authority while wearing one. And no, banging the rattle harder won't help..

3 Sunglasses: Deciding which sunglasses to buy is simple. First question: are you the sort of person who remembers to put your sunglasses back in the case and back in your bag when you take them off. Second: do you cultivate friendships with the sort of people who will surreptitiously check out the side of your sunglasses to find out the designer label? Third: is your self-esteem affected by the name inscribed on the plastic arm by your ear? Unless you answered yes to all three questions, put a £20 cap on the purchase and buy yourself something useful with the difference.

4 Harem pants: It's tough, keeping up with fashion. You'd think wearing unflattering trousers would be enough, but no: you also need to wear the right kind of unflattering trousers. And so it was that at the precise moment in 2007 when skinny jeans reached their tipping point – probably when you started wearing them – the fashion-forward abandoned them in favour of a new type of ridiculous trousers. The harem pant was first launched as the drop-crotch trouser, a style that mimics the effect of a toddler with a soggy nappy. Even fashionistas, it turns out, have some self-respect, and the drop-crotch was refined into the harem pant. The moment you start wearing them, the cool people will stop, so why bother?

5 Maxi dresses: The further a hem gets from the knee, the more difficult it is to wear. It makes surprisingly little difference if the direction is going up or down. If it works, a maxi dress might give you that insouciant Angelina Jolie look, without even having to shave your legs. If it doesn't, you will look like Matron from an Enid Blyton book. To err on the side of Jolie, remember the golden mantra of impact: shoes and hair. Repeat after me: shoes and hair. Shoes and hair. Got it?

6 Holiday packing: Most people spend too much time and money buying new clothes for their holiday, and not enough time packing the actual suitcase. The packing has as much impact, and is cheaper, although admittedly is less fun. This is the time to indulge your inner fashion nerd: lay out everything in outfits. Allow sufficient time, and come back a couple of hours later to reassess – there will always be at least one thing that you realise instantly you won't actually wear.

7 Clogs/Sandals: The only positive benefit of the return of clogs to fashion is that, by comparison, they make gladiator sandals seem both flattering and comfortable. Gladiator sandals are, of course, neither flattering nor comfortable: they make all but the most photogenic of feet look like slabs of undercooked meat, and the law of averages states that if you crisscross a hot pair of feet with 14 leather straps, then at least one of those straps is going to rub. But the alternative, this summer, is to wear clogs. Oddly, there is nothing that accentuates a tree trunk leg quite like attaching a log to the sole of your foot.

8 Swimwear: The only sensible way to choose swimwear is to ignore all photographs posed on models. Buying a bikini because it looks good on Lara Stone is no different from buying a pair of earrings because they look good on her. It's not your fault; the presence of a to-die-for body on the page messes with the balance of your brain. It's a proven fact.

9 Summer weddings: It is your duty as a wedding guest to look nice. Not look nice as in look attractive, but look nice as in look as if you are nice. The point of a wedding, you see, is that the bride gets to act out her perfect married-life scenario, to be the best-looking girl, the centre of attention, surrounded only by guests who will gush and whoop and give her presents and tell her husband how marvellous she is. And why not? It's one day – give the girl a break. Your role is to look decorative in the album and add to the aura of wholesome, cupcakey gorgeousness. Any fashion that hints at negativity (wonky Belgian avant-garde charcoal raw-edged felt tunic) or potentially-threatening-to-the-smug-married-order vampishness (Versace slit-to-the-thigh numbers à la Hurley) are strictly verboten.

10 Tribal trend: Wearing "ethnic" is sartorial code for, "I am much too serious to bother myself with fashion. I choose jewellery that looks a bit like something you'd find in an obscure gallery of the British museum to show how cultured I am. My female friends wear artisan scarves and consider themselves evolutionarily superior to women who wear diamanté." The tribal trend is an attempt by fashion designers to combat this. Good luck with that.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2010


Suit yourself!

To celebrate (wow, that's a big word and has to be taken ironically of course!) the revamping of this blog, here is a video of hilarious (what am I saying AAWESOME or rather legen-daaaary) Barney Stinson from How i Met Your Mother.


Retro perfection

Don't you just love the quirky retro touch in this video? It reminds me of 1950s musicals. But I'm even more wowed by Zooey's outfit, I just love that full skirt (or is it a dress?) & cardigan. Perfect! It makes me think of this Primark skirt I saw and stupidly put down because i found it, well, too... full! And for a couple of quids at that. now who is the fool? Ha!


Note to myself

When/if? by chance, I have time to do some cooking again (apart from scones) here are some recipes I definitely have to try! (after revising my maths i.e table conversions taken from the internet - aren't we living in a splendid era?!)


I love tea!

I heart tea! (How surprising given the title of this blog, hee hee)

I love its colour, both light and intense, like a sweet forbidden liquor.

I love it even more when milk adds its soothing hue, especially the very moment when you pour it into the cup (err, mug, please!) and this undescribable cloud-like texture that dissipates in the twinkling of an eye, but what a magical experience!

I love its taste, of course, especially Earl Grey, my all-time favourite that has never disappointed me (...so far)

I love the cute little cakes and biscuits, often colourful (like Battenberg, mmh, so fanciful and even puerile but soooo tasty!) and most of all scones, that go with it and that make the perfect afternoon cream tea, and even better is to share it with your lovely friends & family.

Beside my love for English tea (I'm so nostalgic about my last year in London), I adore tea-inspired jewellery, so childish & quirkily funny and so refined at the same time, don't you think?

Thanks to Anna's lovely blog, I even started to like (almost love?) Mondays

So, just look on the bright side of life, as the Monty Python would say & start enjoying Mondays :o)


Irish brunette

A video from super-talented Lisa Hannigan (no longer in the perhaps too overwhelming shadow of Damien Rice... I adore him too, though!)
by way of apology for my long absence.
Hope you'll like it!


I'm not very fond of Topshop's jokes!

Argh, I was so excited to receive my parcel from Topshop today... But my enthusiasm quickly vanished when I realized, horror-struck (yes horror-struck indeed, fahion is a serious business, remember?) that the luuuuverrrly (à la My Fair Lady song) cameo necklace (adorned with a key & clock) I had ordered had been turned into an über-tacky "love" pendant necklace. First, I thought of a joke, not a very good one, though. Now I'm waiting for a reply from the customer services. Come on guys, how can you get your love's and cameo's mixed up, eh? But the terrible thing (or should I say tragic?) is that the coveted necklace is now no longer available from the website... And as I won't be in the UK before another 3 weeks, I'm not very hopeful.
Still, I just thought the "love" trick was very ironic. If they did love me, why would Topshop send me a "love" necklace instead of the one I wanted?

So if anyone comes across this fab necklace, I'd be very grateful if you could think of me!

Well, enough about futilities (and parentheses) : oops, I did it again!
Tschüss then (yes, that means I've run out of things other than vanities to say!)



I'm so happy: spring break means London escapade (as usual now, why did I have to leave London in the first place, whhhyyyy????) and a daytrip to Cardiff, the nation of the Kingdom I haven't visited yet and I'm sooo excited! (One month and 6 days to go)
Maybe I'll stumble across a local Myfanwy or a Daffyd, if I'm lucky & if he's "out" of his village... Enough about Little Britain. Well, actually no, it's never enough, isn't it?

(Note to sensitive/prissy people, do not watch this video, I decline all responsibility for what may happen to you, thanks)

Well, gotta go now, I'm almost too tired to go to yoga class but I'll go and breathe from the nose all right (i.e the exercises we're doing at the moment, well it's just my 2nd taster class & I must admit that sadly, it has had no effect on me so far - I'm still as stressed as before, with sore muscles, at that. Am I just a hopeless case?!)


Vintage interlude

I realized this blog lacked pictures and you can see for yourself that I'm not a professional photographer, no need to even specify that! Yet, I like that out-of-focus effect...

Why vintage? Because that bag comes from my gran's (straight from her old wooden cupboard, if you wanna know) and I had an absolute crush on that tapestry fabric thingie as soon as I saw it. It was in pretty bad shape but thanks to modern technology (ahem, by this I mean smelly cleansing products) it was rejuvenated.
Quite a few times, on my shopping trips in London, sales assistants asked me where I had found that bag, hee hee - my gran rocks!

Here, it is accompanied with two of my now-favourite pairs of shoes (among too many others) that I like to wear with it.


Oh my! (again)

OMG, I can't believe it's been almost 2 years that I haven't posted any *effing* thing in there and have just let this blog decay...
The thing is, I'm busier (lazier?) than ever and anyway, I'm not that sure I've had any faithful readers in a while, so I'm just a prey to that "what's the point" existential stuff - blogwise, of course!
To defend myself, I spent such a nice year in London, but such a time-consuming one as well, that I just didn't feel like using my precious spare time blogging but rather exploring the world and, of course, work on my thesis but that doesn't count as spare time, does it?!

Actually, I have been much engrossed in fashion blog reading lately and as I love fashion, trying out outfits etc, I've been blessed and I'm even thinking of turning (perverting?) this blog into one of those, and yet again, I'm not really into showing myself around like that especially as I wouldn't appreciate being recognized - given my position - by this, I mean job, not social standing or anything of the kind, don't get me wrong, I'm not that full of myself!
Well, you never know, among the 2 monthly readers of this blog, one of them might be one of my students, lol.

So, to match my current mood, here are a few links to the blogs I like to peruse:


... Yes, you may say that my superficial side has cropped up and is now out in the open, sorry! But you could actually reply that fashion really is a serious business.
Enjoy, anyway. Not that these bril' girls need advertising, some of them are already very famous in the world of fashion. Sigh.

Oh, and I just wanted to have a thought for Alexander McQueen who died today, he was such a great artist, quirky and so British, rest in peace.


I'm in an Italian mood!

Hi there!
I know I haven't posted anything in a while...Been pretty busy!
Here is an old tv ad featuring a funny Italian guy!
By the way, let me explain why i'm in an Italian mood. It's just that i've been teaching "French as a foreign language" at university this summer & many of my students came from Italy & they were all very nice & funny (as well as those coming from other parts of the world, of course!!) So here i am, pining over the "loss" of my students. But i've got over it now & i'm soon to teach at the university of London, i.e to brand new British students! So, gotta go back to my stressful packing (i have to move out in less than a week) & PhD conference paper writing (that i'd ideally love to finish before leaving...) & to tears-inducing friend-gathering-for-a-last-goodbye event!
Enjoy the video (in French, though I think it was originally "imported" from Germany)


I've managed to split myself into 2!

Oh my god, I'm so exhausted...
Let me explain, and keep in mind we are on a saturday, i.e supposedly a relaxing day, when you can indulge in some trivial things to do & can allow yourself to linger a little...

Well, I had to get up at 8 am, i know, it's not so early but i'm not a morning person & have had many days of early waking-ups-without-a-proper-good-night's-sleep...So, i had to get up (quite early for a saturday) to go to university for a course that goes along with my job as a volunteer in a non-profit organization (dealing with education & social inequality). When i arrived, there were only the two of us and when the coordinator arrived she told me she had sent me an sms to tell me the meeting was actually to take place 30 minutes later. Well, never mind that; that mishap actually allowed me to meet another PhD student like me, very nice (just like me again, hee hee!), with whom i probably hadn't talked with if i had arrived on the "legal" time. The course was not that bad, though not highly informative, nut after the 1st hour, it became a bit boring (i felt as if i were back to high school, hearing about stuff everyone knew, or should at least).

Then, i realised once that my mind had been wandering off, and when i came back to the solid reality, i realised that this daydreaming could probably be a good thing to make time go faster... So i started conjuring up some memories & other things that inhabit my imaginary world (from Six Feet Under to Virginia Woolf) but then i realised my imaginative world wasn't enough to escape this & i felt even more disheartened...
There was also this conference taking place at university at the same time and which i would have loved to attend (i had already been there the day before & really wanted to pursue my discoveries ;)) so for some time, what soothed me was the thought of being able to attend the colloquium on the afternoon & listen to interesting talks about the reception of Shakespeare in the Victorian period & its refashioning by Oscar Wilde. So i told the coordinator that i had to attend that conference & finally was "released" from the afternoon session... The thing is, the other PhD student seemed aroused by this idea & also quit to go to the conference: now i'm feeling like some devilish literary missionary or proselyte, hee hee!

Well, after that i had to hurry to give a course to my student, but met some friends on the way, & unluckily didn't have that much time to talk.
Well, the long day is over (as Norah Jones would say), even though i managed to go & try on a pair of boots and buy a cameo-necklace on my way back after my lesson!

AND NOW, I'M IN DESPERATE NEED OF A CUP OF TEA! (yeah, i know, i'm so British on that matter!)


From a soon-to-be-expatriate teacher

Oh, god, I've just spent almost 6O euros on books this afternoon... All in less than an hour at that. I went to the library to pick up a book by Leonard Woolf I had ordered and then perused over a few books in my favourite British bookstore/coffee shop and found another one & then went to another library for French titles and found two by Flaubert, one entitled "Journey to the East" and i couldn't help thinking it might be useful for my thesis & anyway, i like Flaubert, now I just feel like acquiring his complete letters cos I keep coming across great quotations precisely from his correspondance. On my way to Flaubert, I saw the wonderful picture from "Lust Caution" the latest Ang Lee film, and I just thought that would be a pale transcript or synopsis from the movie, but it was actually the short stories on which the film was based, i'm so stupid, i didn't know the film was an adaptation. Now i'm secretly praying to find some link with the stories and my PhD subject, since the British writers i'm studying are within a trans-cultural dimension. Anyway, I keep telling about my books-imbued life... & i hope soon expatriate. I'm all focused on my teaching assistant application right now & i went to meet the English assistant from the university i'm applying for this afternoon, even though he wasn't that enthusiastic about his home university & city (i.e London!!) at first... How can you not be thrilled by London? He said he was a bit tired of it & I couldn't help replying to him with that famous quotation (by Woody, I guess) "When you're tired of London, you're tired of life", but he immediately contradicted the latter bit; hopefully i hadn't ran into a prematurely depressive student! Anyway, he gave me much information, making up for his apparent lack of enthusiasm, which was nice & fueled my already strong desire to go there. Let's pray I'll be chosen (well, it sounds like a religious assumption, the choice lies on the university commission). Keep your fingers crossed for me!


Exhausted or just bankrupt?

I feel so worn out...Why? Well, don't you guess? I've been shopping. Not that long actually, I'm no longer used to spending hours on end of rambling from store to store; still... I've been indulging in some shopping orgy (even though the term is a bit strong, I'm usually quite sensible & think twice before buying something, with the risk of seeing my hoped-for piece of clothing disappear, which happened twice in less than a month!). Well, I was supposed to prepare my tomorrow "intensive course" but one of my "students" wasn't available so the course is postponed... I also have to go on reading extensively for my thesis, there are so many things I want to read (and need to get hold of, incl. Chinese books that haven't been translated, but I may have to put this one aside...) & I'm meeting my supervisor next week.
Apart from that, I went to a conference last week-end and discovered a yet unchartered academic building at the other end of Aix, pretty lovely actually! On my way to the university annex I came across an old lady who stopped to tell me something. At first, I thought she was just asking me for directions, cos, yes, another troubling & upsetting thing in my (quite uneventful) life is that i must unconsciously carry some signpost saying "i'm a tourist agency, for enquiries, ask me"... So, she started to speak but i was in a hurry and didn't really catch all her words. The terms "fortune teller" reached my ears, and she started to unravel her "prophecies", which stirred my inner laugh, when she said things like "you're pretty, you'll be very lucky in your love life", and which completely destroyed her credibility and struck me with its falseness: my love life is simply non-existent! Well, of course, if she can see my future, there's still hope!
Right now, I'm so into my British-mood (kind of England-sick) that I spent almost an hour on Sainsbury's grocery store online, just to browse the incredible range of teas, and the typical biscuits...How pathetic is that? (But among them are custard creams, one of my favourites, just after scones, my all-time favourite) that we can't find here except in a bookstore picturing itself as British (am I being nasty, here?) where the owners aren't warm at all and where you pay 3 or 4 times the normal price. Yet, there's another British bookstore-coffee shop in the city which is so cosy and makes great, original teas. And I really need my shot!


Don't you dare "madam" me again!

I'm facing serious existential questions nowadays, or existential crisis even... I'm a bit troubled by the fact I'm being addressed to as "madam" in shops and so... Well, it depends, once, a salesman said "madam" and then "miss, rather, sorry"... Hum. As John Cage - aka "the Biscuit" - in Ally McBeal would say (yes, I've indulged in some Ally episodes over the Xmas holidays, i must admit it), so, as he would have it: "I'm troubled", I really am! I mean, I've always looked younger than my age and that used to annoy me a lil, except when I could get reduced fees in museums or fairs, but that was hardly worth the existential trouble. And now, all of a sudden, I look like a madam, though ringless and unmarried, which makes it even more ironic. Help?


What's happening?

Today, I've lived an experience (well, that sounds a lil bit too official for what i'm about to tell, but never mind) that has seriously qualified my – well – hatred, or rather lack of enthusiasm for city buses. I had to give a course quite far away, i.e not in the city centre of Aix… So I had to take a special bus in addition to the normal one (a kind of minibus, called "proxibus", nothing to do with an internet-related thingy, though the process of getting a chance to have a ride is to book it by phone, modernity has taken hold of us, hurrah!). The outward route was pretty good, the bus was even ahead on time and I didn't even have to care for my stop, the driver just knew where I was going and stopped by himself. Then, on the return journey, I feared – for all the time I was running full blast since I had done extra (unpaid) hours (Sarkozy, where art thou?) – that that bout of technology wouldn't meet my expectations, or at least, wouldn't meet me…But there it was, waiting for me! I felt so grateful (yes, that deserves to be noted, I rarely acknowledge gratitude for the public service) actually, I was only 1 minute late. Then, it dropped me whereabout I was to catch the other bus (the "regular"one, are you following?) but there were several stops and no mention of where the bus I was waiting for was to pass… And, lucky as I naturally am, I was waiting at the wrong stop, so when I saw the bus arrive, I took to my heels (after a few seconds of hopeless hesitation) and was running again; I saw the bus stop and then start driving again to reach a green traffic light, but I didn't stop running (the irony of hopelessness? A repressed Forrest Gump surging up?), and to my great surprise, I saw it stop and waiting for me. Grateful again; no really, that was too much! I'm not use to having such a stroke of luck with public transport! What's going on?


Ist es schlimm??

Ist es schlimm dass ich (ja, muss ich's gestehen...) "Verliebt in Berlin" mag? Tja, nur ein bisschen... Let me try to explain & defend myself… please...?
The "phenomenon" has reached France for a couple of months now and I watched a few episodes and pretty much hated it. No one would deny it is quite ridiculous and boring! But when I searched about "Berlin" on the internet the other day, I came across "Berlin, Berlin" (another show I had heard much praise about and am now eager to watch, I've only seen a 4 min extract on the internet 'cos it's not on tv here, except on the satellite…Schade) but I also found about "Verliebt in Berlin". I didn't know about the German title, but quite intrigued, I followed the link & oh surprise, what did I find, Lisa Plenske and her posse! I couldn't help watch the video (I'm weak, I know, don't mention it ever again, please) and then another one…as if I was addicted to some weird substance. Actually I found the voices much better in their original version (of course) and relished hearing German, and I must admit I was quite happy at myself grasping every word. And the brevity of the video really alleviated the boredom of the real-length thingy.
So, I feel relieved now after that confession!
Hope you're not ashamed of me…
Well, maybe you can have a look at the videos now, I dare you! ;)

Tschüss! (yep, I'm becoming more & more infatuated in German: a side effect of Lisa Plenske's predicament?…I love saying (or writing) that name now, oh Gott, es ist wirklich Schlimm!!)


Long time, no say... except that, which rather puzzles me, but it's positive ;)

Your Inner European is Dutch!
Open minded and tolerant.You're up for just about anything.


No, I'm not narcissistic!

Try it for yourself too!
It's nothing but random I guess, anyway.


Name / Username:

Name Acronym Generator
From Go-Quiz.com


Daily miracles

Everyday life is actually full of tiny details which are rather interesting, if not amazing. If you really pay attention to them (what i probably don't do everyday, far from it) it can be enough to brighten up a not-too-terrific day! If you're in a receptive state of mind, only, such little "miracles" can take place. Well, they're miracles only if they are funny ones; discovering a fresh, annoying little fine on your car is not among those! But discovering one on a shiny red Porshe can be. It's all a matter of perspective in fact.
Today, still receptive as i was, i.e still in a good mood, which is not an all-time feature of my character these days, and the heat is not smoothing things out, i saw an old lady (well not THAT old, but still...) riding a really tiny bike, i mean really short for her. Please, don't think i was making fun of her, (well, maybe a little?) but what was really "funny" was the way she believed it so hard, trying to go faster and faster, even though more and more cars were passing her by. It's like you could invent a whole story behind that. Maybe she had to borrow her grandson's bike to go and visit her husband at the hospital, er, no, that's not funny.
Now, I'd love to abide by Rilke's principle, who said that if life isn't interesting, don't blame it on life but blame it on yourself (and your imagination) for not being able to see its richness, to make it interesting. For a long time i've loved that idea, and i still do. But what could we then say to people starving in shabby houses in poor countries for instance?


I need my "Six Feet Under" shot!

Billy: That's the thing about Narcissus, it's not that he's so fucking in love with himself, because he isn't at all, he fucking hates himself. It's that without that reflection looking back at him... he doesn't exist.

Margaret: Just because both your parents are shrinks doesn't mean you're a shrink.
Brenda: Well, just because you're a shrink doesn't mean you're not insane.

David: I have to get control of myself.
Claire: No, David, if you were any more controlled, you'd be a sculpture.

Claire: [to Nate who is angry because she can't watch his baby] You know, Nate, this isn't "The Matrix." The rest of us that don't have babies - we're real.

Arthur: [after Ruth & he broke up] Perhaps you'd prefer if our laundry didn't mix anymore.
Ruth: Honestly Arthur, I don't care what our laundry does.

Post world championship thoughts...

Hey guys, I'm just recovering from France's defeat in the final...
No, I'm joking, i'm not feeling that bad, but i was really disappointed, especially about Zidane's rash gesture (and the attitudes of the Italian team...no comment!) that's too bad it ended that way. But it was just unbelievable our team reached that far considering its difficulty at the beginning. I was so sad Germany didn't reach the final, they really deserved it... And i would have loved to watch a Germany vs France final (so i wouldn't have been that disappointed if we lost then). The final was the only match i watched entirely, cos the great thing is that we had our exam during the whole championship. But the atmosphere was truly unbelievable, every time France won the streets were resounding with horns, shouts etc., and the main streets were full of people, bathing in the fountains, etc! Quite funny!
And even funnier were the excuses the players tried to find, at first, during the qualification stage, accusing the grass, the ball or the judges.
And let me end with the French team's coach most brilliant thought (yep, unlukily, they decided to keep him...) "we played better than yesterday but not as well as tomorrow"... Wow, he seems to master his subject and have a really great theory there. But enough irony! May we all find such mottos to help us cope with life!



Some pictures of Brighton...

A view of the "Brighton Pier" by night

The "West Pier" ... or what is left of the Victorian structure, built in 1863. It burnt in 2003, just a few month after its partial collapse.

P.S: If you want to see more pics, just click on the link in the sidebar.


How Victoria Beckham can help me improve my German...

When reading my weekly French-German magazine the other day, I came across this supposedly touting article with a picture of Victoria Beckham & the title "perfect bottoms". Stunned as I was to see that this article had been published in the serious newspaper "Der Spiegel", I read on, to discover that her pair of jeans costs 349 euros ("because she's worth it" probably...), and the whole growing market of clothes customizing.
It's actually pretty ironic that holes are more expensive than the cloth itself... How void, emptiness can become more valuable than matter? mmh, wide subject.
The clothing industry seems to be a good epitome of society itself.
I didn't know that Victoria Beckham, beyond helping me with my German, could also contribute to raise (pseudo) philosophical & sociological questions!


Enjoy... (if I may say so!)

And here is the script matching the image...


"Shit happens"

Here are some quotes from a poster I bought in England, that's just so funny I couldn't resist.
So, this is actually a series of aphorisms on the theme of "shit happens"…

* Atheism: "I don't believe this shit"
* Agnosticism: "can you prove that shit happens?"
* Televangelism: "Send money or shit will happen to you"
* Jeovah witness: "knock, knock, shit happens"
* Capitalism: "this is MY shit"
* Feminism: "men are shit"
* Existentialism: "what is shit anyway"
* Mormonism: "excrement happens (don't say shit)"
* Communism: "let's share the shit"
* Conspiracy Theorism: "THEY shit on us"
* Psychoanalysis: "tell me about your shit"
* Freud: "shit is a phallic symbol"
* Amish: "modern shit is useless"
* Shakespearian: "to shit or not to shit, that is the question"
* Descartes: "I shit therefore I am"
* Politically correct: "internally-processed, nutritionally-drained, biological ouput happens"
* Einstein: "shit is relative"
* Vegetarianism: "if it happens to shit, don't eat it!"
* Fatalism: "oh shit, it's going to happen"
* Americanism: "who gives a shit?"
* Disneyism: "bad shit doesn't happen here"


A student without a university!!

It's been quite a long time I haven't "updated" my page… But life's pretty chaotic lately. As you may have heard, there are lots of students' demonstrations and strikes going on for several weeks now, in France, and many universities are literally blocked, mine among others, and for the 3rd week now. That's really becoming utterly annoying! We have had an exam and quite a few courses cancelled, and finding days that would suit everyone to postpone all these will be a huge dilemma since all of us have different timetables; and that will undoubtedly infringe upon the time that was kept free for us to revise and write our theses… And most of all, even the library is closed, so we can't have access to books, which is extremely practical when you're making research and writing your thesis!!! (Especially as other existing libraries don't have specialized books at all! That's pathetic)

Anyway, I find these blockades totally unfair and undemocratic, even though the student unionists claim that they "voted" so, i.e. it's a democratic gesture… But they forget to mention that the 1st day they decided on the blockade, no one but the union knew such a vote was planned or what they were up to, and they keep on voting among themselves, so of course, they are pro-blockade… The ones who want to be given the basic right to have access to university (cos, well, we've paid our fees and, hello, the streets are there if they want to protest! If you just think that so many people in the southern countries still don't have access to education, and here we are, acting like stupid spoiled children!), so the ones who want to study freely are in majority but are afraid to show up to these assemblies to vote cos during these sessions the pro blockade are actually ruling everything…and also deciding on the time of the vote so if you don't sleep inside the uni, you don't necessarily know when it's taking place…(Fair, fair, fair…)

I've just been here today, and we were more and morer numerous against the blockade, but literally insulted! That's what they call democracy and respecting your opinion...Not mentioning how they can prtend it's fair to count thousands of votes just by appraising how many numbers of hands are up, in an eyeblick!

And being against the blockade doesn't mean we are in favour of the Prime Minister's bill** AT ALL. Many students are against it but still want to study and get their exams. What's totally irrational is that the ones blocking the university are actually evoking "freedom of expression and of opinion" but they actually exert it against itself, since by blocking universities, they stifle the freedom, not only of expression and opinion of those who may have other opinions than them, or not (since, as I said, many are against the bill too) but basically the freedom of movement, of going to school!
In that respect, the "occupation" is obviously illegal (totalitarian even, since it negates the freedom of others)
Thus, resorting to freedom in order to justify their protest is totally absurd and contradicts that very freedom!

Well, sorry for pouring out all that resentment, but I really needed to, I feel as if I were on another planet, with no timetable, and well, great you may think, but it's not like that at all. I cannot really plan anything 'cos we just know the day before if our lesson will be held or not, and even if it seems to give you much spare time to prepare your thesis &c, but, quite paradoxically, well, at least it's like that for me, when you don't have a fixed timetable anymore, your goals are less foreseeable, and you don't feel that "motivated" to study when deprived of any sense of schedule; it's like when you have a whole day with no class (i.e. vs your expected timetable) you do less than when you have only a couple of well-planned hours.
But I guess that's just me and my need of frames, to structure my stream-of-consciousness-like state of mind; hey how did you guess I was working on Virginia Woolf and British Modernism?!
But enough rambling… Sorry for boring you guys, but you've managed to read that far though! Thanks ;)

**P.S: I haven’t mentioned the bill itself: very briefly, our Prime Minister plans on setting up a work contract reserved for 'the young people' under 26, in order to fight unemployment (reaching an unsettling rate in that category of the population). This contract is rather flexible and enables the employer to "sack" the employee whenever and without motive during a trial period lasting 2 years, and that is the main bone of contention since this period will nourish precariousness and the lack of job security…


By way of relaxing interlude: Funny "Six Feet Under" quotes

[In front of a casket]
Elderly Man: You did a real good job on her.
David: Well, we do our best.
Elderly Man: If there's any justice in the universe, she's shoveling shit in hell right now.

Ruth: I joined "The Plan".
Claire: Isn't that like a cult or something?
Nate: No, it' one of those '70s self discovery clubs that yell at you and don't let you go to the bathroom for 12 hours, right?
Ruth: [takes out yogurt cup] I think this will do. All right, I'm leaving you without dinner. I'll be back really late. [leaves]
Claire: This whole concept of mom self-actualizing is making me nauseous.
Nate: You're sure it's that and not the concept of mom pissing in a plastic jar?

Margaret: That white blouse would have worked, if you had gotten rid of that bra.
Brenda: Yeah? Well that skirt would have worked if you had gotten rid of that ass.

Freaky? Spooky?

Check out this from The Guardian:

France confirms bird flu on poultry farm

Associated PressSaturday February 25, 2006

The European Union's first outbreak of the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu in commercial poultry was confirmed today in France, the EU's largest poultry producer.
But President Jacques Chirac, trying to keep the lucrative market alive, sought to ease fears by insisting that eating poultry is safe and panic is unjustified.
The agriculture ministry said lab tests confirmed H5N1 in turkeys at a farm of more than 11,000 birds in the south-east Ain region.

Hundreds of birds died and the remainder were slaughtered even before the presence of the lethal virus was official. The farm has been sealed off.
However, Chirac said there is "no danger in eating poultry and eggs" and that panic among consumers is "totally unjustified." * (Er, is it, really? Remember the Mad cow disease & the lies We've been told about it? Now, it's easy to blame the population for not believing the politicians...)

"In any case, the virus in question ... is automatically destroyed by cooking. So there is strictly no danger," the French president said as he inaugurated the annual agriculture fair in Paris - where poultry has been banned as a precaution.

Panic appears to have developed among consumers. There had been a drop of up to 30 percent in poultry purchases even before the announcement.

In an indication of the global impact of the French case, Japan temporarily suspended imports of French poultry, including the delicacy foie gras, meat and other internal organs, (what a nice precision!!) according to the Japanese embassy in Paris. In 2005, Japan imported 1,510 metric tons of duck and other poultry meat and 377 metric tons of internal organs, including foie gras, from France.
The spread of bird flu to commercial stocks in France, which has been working for months to prevent and prepare for an outbreak, served as a sobering sign for other developed countries that consider themselves well protected.

France has some 200,000 farms that raise 900 million birds each year. In 2004, the latest year for which figures were available, the French poultry sector generated more than €3 billion in revenues - more than 20 percent of total EU production. (Thanks to the foreign viewpoint, we can clearly get the point, whithout the pseudo-reassuring, hypocritical jargon...that our home politicians use, pretending to hide what is really at stake, i.e. "Money, money, money, money...lalala",)

Scientists fear the H5N1 strain, which has spread from Asia to at least 10 European countries and Africa, could mutate into a form that is easily transmitted between humans, sparking a pandemic.



Rousseau, De quincey? No, don't worry, I'm not pretending or even aiming to compare myself with any of these great writers...
"Confessions" is just a title I chose, maybe ironically, for something which is supposed to be "intimate" i.e. a blog, a diary, but which is now generally becoming less and less so, developed as it is by anyone, and mostly by politicians, whose goal we can imagine is not to reveal their intimate life, but rather a political device...
So, who am I, a tiny minutie grain of sand, adding up to that immense realm of web-blogging?
Anyway, let's assume our tininess...
Let's throw words at whoever wants to hear - or rather read - them... Or let's throw them to that self-reflecting screen (narcissistic fashion?)...
Who cares?

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