Saturday, November 15, 2008

Evening at the Karamu Theater

Seated Nude by Beni E Kosh

“One of the lost cities.” That’s how many people talk about Cleveland and they may not be far off when they say “lost.’ I like it better than calling it dying although it might be irrelevant because when something is lost it often dies for lack of nurturing. But sometimes hidden under the smoking rubbles you find a live spark warming a lonely Cleveland night.

I discovered such a spark last night at a small theater on East 89th Street in one of the city’s lost neighborhoods.

The Karamu theater company is currently presenting “Waiting2 end Hell” it starts out as a feel good comedy with a nod at gender stereotyping which quickly explodes into full blown relationship drama.

The play by William a. Parker is based on Terry McMillan’s book “Waiting to Exhale.” The director, Terence Spivey, has staged the play to give the cast plenty of space to wheel you into the lives of Diane and Dante and their close and not so close friends. Someone said to me, “it’s a women bashing play.”

I did not think it was bashing women but the play described how easy it is for women to become complacent in a domestic setting. The play is sure to stir echoes of past struggles and maybe offer some belated wisdom to appreciate what you have before you loose it.

The impressive cast gave a great ensemble performance capturing the nature of each of their respective character and bringing the audience to that often elusive suspension of disbelief stage. No doubt the close proximity of the audience to the actors was the magic glue that held it all together.

“Waiting 2 End Hell” is playing at the Karamu Theater till November 23rd.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Life at a plant in Cleveland Ohio

Men at work

Monday to Friday, I work in a Cleveland manufacturing plant, it is a dirty place located in an ugly neighborhood with little amenities. We don’t have fancy restaurants within walking distances or any kind of boutiques. We can walk to the Speedway for a gas station special, a hot dog and a soda and maybe a ding dong if you feel like it.

Once you park your car in the secured parking lot and use your badge to get through the clinking steel turn stall, they own you for the day. As you wave at the guard shack and arrive at the front door, you are greeted by all the forbidden, you can’t carry a weapon, but that is a good thing considering the way that I feel some mornings. You can’t go past the yellow line without personal protective equipment; that one always makes me smile, they mean hard hats and work boots that protect your head and feet from all kinds of nasty accidents, I think prophylactics. The biggest poster is that no one is allow to smoke within 30 feet from the doors and absolutely no smoking inside presumably to protect all the non- smokers from harmful smoke, a thoughtful if ironic management position if one considers what kind of toxins the average worker breathes per hour in the plant.

In spite of a dreadful setting the men and women working in the plant are gracious to me, always greeting me and opening doors and lifting gates on my behalf. They show the kind of thoughtful behavior that makes living in society harmonious.

They are smart and but they shine the brightest when they attend the mandatory state of business meeting with our plant manager. They scheduled these informotials about twice a year. Normally, salaried employees attend during business hours. The plant employees attend according to their shifts.

Last year, I missed my time slot so I went to a second shift session. The new plant manager was excellent at pointing the improvements that were in the works for the employees. She was on a roll untill the question period, when a guy in the back raised his hand.

“I just want to point out Mam, that we used to have seventeen custodians taking care of this plant.”

“Yes?” She said with intense interest.

“We appreciate all the new flowers and fresh paint in the Human Resources area but if I go to the bathroom and there is no toilet paper in the stall and no paper towels in the dispensers, I am left in a difficult position.”

Everybody cracked up with this very polite and clever way to tell her that she was full of crap. Never underestimate the insight that comes with sitting on the toilet with time to think about what is essential.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gay and not so gay marriages

Think about it!

I switch my opinion about people almost daily, are they cruel or thoughtless. I was listening to a news show this week-end which mentioned that California had done a 360 on allowing gays to marry.

Why is marriage called a holy union? Most couples that I know are not in a state of grace except for a few unions often not sanctified by Church or Government, where partners treat each other with affection and respect.

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen exploitation in gay relationships as well but in heterosexual relationships it seems that money is the third silent partner which drives the relationship. Traditionally marriages were sealed by a contract executed by a religious organization, more a business proposition than romantic alliance. Not much has changed and even though people now will marry for love in the back of their minds they assess each other’s assets. This is not to say that it is wrong. But it is really important to value the same qualities and understand that life is fluid and the common journey littered with bumps and pot holes.

To marry for procreation may sound antiquated but most women and men want a partner who will be a good parent. You don’t hear too many people say, I want a husband who will be a scumbag and beat me and my children or I want a wife who will be more concerned with material stuff than with me and our family or goals.

No, we are looking for partnership and if we are careful about the choices that we make we can find it. Many gay couples have an advantage over “regular unions” and that is that being of the same gender, they can read their partner better. You can be married for years with a partner of the opposite sex and still be unable to understand what makes them tick.

The element of surprise can be a wonderful element in a relationship but unpredictability can make you crazy when it is practiced over years of companionship hence the importance of marrying someone who is truly compatible. Just as engineers do better when they talk among themselves, artists do better with other artists.

When two adults want to engage in a permanent legal union after much soul searching or very little, who are we to say that matrimony is only to be recognized if it is between a man and a woman? We can all be given the right to choose the method of our own destruction or elation.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Second Coming

It was a rush to finally get out of my office last night in time to get home to watch Obama’s prime time commercial. I got home in time to warm up the tube by answering the last question on “Jeopardy” and then 30 minutes of uninterrupted bliss while I watched an infinitely well crafted dream, the dream that maybe Martin Luther King was talking about so long ago…

I am cynical by nature, culturally and historically Quebecois have the highest disregards for anything that smells of political manipulation. Although supportive of Obama, I did not know if I could stand sitting for 30 minutes listening to what I thought would be more of the same.

After all I did watch all the debates and have read as much as I could find about this unusual candidate. I did not expect to be sharing a moving television experience with millions of Americans but it was.

When the clip ended, I am not ashamed to say that I had a renewed hope for my adoptive land that maybe we could saved the world as we did with our allies in WWII by saving ourselves and re-creating a great society. I know that life has been getting harder in America in the last 8 years for the middle-class and the under class. The dark days of America have stained the lives of many other countries and we can not ignore the impact that our debacle has had on other nations, we are not standing alone. On 9/11 the World stood with us and we let that opportunity to establish a new world order slip through our fingers. Instead we became obsessed with revenge and with poor leadership invaded Iraq.

We now stand at the proverbial cross-road, we can let our fears and prejudices guide us to retreat to elect another Republican President or we can give our vote and support to a man who has a vision of what we can do to improve not only American lives but the lives of so many other people.

Voting for Obama gives me hope, it makes me feel engage in the rebuilding of our inner structures, maybe we can be part of the dream team which will get our country back on track.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mechanically Impaired

Why did you choose to fall in love with this woman who is so temperamental and not that one who adored you?

Sex is at first plentiful and over the top, she makes you feel as if you are swinging from a crystal chandelier, floating high above the ground. You are falling in love and it is so easy to explain her bad behavior as being “insecure.”

She does not like your relatives, particularly your mother; your old friends suddenly seemed to disappear to be replaced by her carefully edited entourage. She wants you to share all her interests so you become a vegan even though you love meat. She wants you to get a better job; she tells you it is so that you both can enjoy the good life…

She will insists on having a joint account where you dutifully deposit your pay check but she reserves herself the bank given right to keep all her money in a private account, “just in case”, she says. She is of course in charge of the budget because she is so much better at it but she may complain that if you brought your lunch, you could have a much healthier diet and save money.

You may end up putting her through graduate school, college or tech training so she can have a meaningful job. Your life has become perfectly predictable and you ease into a domestic routine which is harmonious and productive. Week-ends are well planned with home repairs, scheduled activities and Sunday dinners with relatives or friends of her choosing. If you want to visit your mother, she will at first make excuses why she can not come but insists that you should go without her. But when it becomes obvious that you are going, she comes along to keep you company. You may think that you are so lucky to have found the perfect mate who is always there for you…but not really.

As long as you do everything she wants, you can be in her favor zone but mild dissent escalates quickly into hysterical scenes complete with nervous twitches, tears and sometimes peaks into hyperventilation.

You sometimes feel as if you can not do anything right unless she tells you. Is this what love is all about?

If love is based on a chemical reaction between two people, why does it often end up feeling as if you are mechanically impaired? Is it that a healthy relationship should be based on kindness and mutual generosity fueled by chemistry rather than chemistry based?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hungarian Rhapsody

I went back to Budapest last month for a business trip. My previous visit dated back to a time where I was married with young children and the Soviet Empire was beginning to crumble. At that time Budapest was a neutral zone where East Germans and West Germans gathered to share a week-end and perhaps make escape plans.

A vivid memory of a bus load of Russian tourists loudly invading the most sacred church in Budapest, St Stephen's Basilica, is forever stamped in my memory. The men walked boldly in front of the altar to take pictures of their group, were smoking cigarettes and were oblivious to the local worshipers stunned by the intrusion. It was a disturbing snapshot but it also predicted that a change would come. The languages that were prevalent were Hungarian, Russian and German. I spoke limited German but it did not matter because Hungarian people are helpful and most patient. It was obvious that trade was slow. Shops that were meticulously maintained had few products to sell. Restaurants which had 20 pages of menu, could only serve goulash soup and chicken paprika. The city of Pest was surrounded by a cloud of smug due to leaded gasoline propelling cars made in the Eastern Bloc. It was a beautiful trip because even tarnished the glory of the city could not be denied.

I had no expectations and maybe it explains my delight in discovering what free enterprise had accomplished in a few years. The immaculate VW Passat taxi which picked me up from the airport was driven by a man wearing an immaculate white shirt and accepting credit card payment, nice when you are exhausted and have not exchange your money into the local currency which is Forint not Euro. My hotel was the same Hilton located in the Castle district but there was a definite service improvement, it was upscale and friendly with an executive lounge serving free food and beverages including wine all day, along with the use of computers with free internet access.

I had to attend meetings outside of Budapest for a few days which also gave me the opportunity to visit a wine cellar which was a new business venture that a young couple had started. We were treated to a wine tasting along with specialty dishes. We stayed in a lovely hotel in the country which was haunted but nothing unpleasant happened, a few whispers, shuffling sounds and cold spots were experienced but no one was possessed.

To get to Pest from the historic Castle district of Buda, we walked across the Danube on the historic Chain Bridge built in 1842 and partly destroyed during WWII by the Germans. It is a great place to take pictures and view both cities. The bus system is extensive and I would have liked to try it but my companion wanted to walk and as it is the best way to see a city, we did, for ten hours! It was a full day of exploration and observation and we found that everything was the same but everything had changed.

English was spoken instead of Russian, businesses and shops displayed their wares with pride. Buildings were renovated, restaurants offered variety of dishes and if you chose to sit outside on their terraces, as we did, all offered warm blankets to cut the September chill. It was cozy to eat lunch overlooking the pedestrian traffic going in and out of St Stephen's Basilica which was again treated with reverence and respect. It was a liberating trip, I found myself succumbing to the charm of Hungary all over again as I did many years ago in a previous life, ghosts can be friendly but they are only a pale reflection of what you can experience if you choose to stay in the present.

Gate to the ARTS Museum

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Elections Quebec Style

I received a note from Zannie, one of my sisters that simply said, “for us it is all done.”

I was intrigued and called her immediately. I had to know what did she meant?

In my family we are not to comfortable with transitions, we jump right into the core of the matter. “What is all done?” I asked her.

She said, “Our elections! What else? We have re-elected Harper. It took less than two months, no bombardments of political ads, no robot phone calls and it was relatively painless and inexpensive.”

I said, “I know, I read in the Montreal Gazette that again Quebec distinguished itself by voting for anyone except the major parties.”

“Bien oui, she said. We love to have a minority government, it prevents abuse. Besides we in Quebec do not trust a strong Federal government lead by Anglophones to understand our culture.”

“Well, Mom did vote for Harper in the first election and he is from Alberta, you could not get more Anglophone!”

“True, she conceded, but you must remember that soon after we took her in to see if she was beginning to show signs of Alzheimer?”

“Yes, that is true, we both laughed, and the doctor said that she was sharper than most people.”

“Harper wanted to change many of our rights, and here in Quebec, we are socialists and proud of it. Why else would we vote for the Bloc Québéquois, a party who can not win in the Federal elections since it only represents Québec”

“Let me guess, you voted for them?”

“Yes, I did and so did Denis and Francine, Catherine, Nathalie, François. Pierre and Sylvie probably went with NPD as did Mom and Valerie. Pat and Martine, I am not sure maybe they went Green?”

I said with envy, “so many choices.”

“So is Obama going to win, she finally asked me,”

“No doubt, he will win the popular vote, I said. But not sure about the electoral college.”

“What’s wrong with Americans? Why are they still using this archaic process? I really don’t get it. This is the age of information, it should be based on each vote”

“Maybe this a way to keep the capitalists in power legally?” I replied.

Maybe that is the true reason to keep that process, it worked in 2000. We rolled over like lambs and accepted a legal decision which has now been challenged by hidden facts such as dumping ballots and voter intimidation as well as eliminating perfectly valid ballots.

I do hope that this time, justice will prevail and that the winner will be the deserving.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beer Drinking

One of the greatest pleasures of summer in la Belle Province of Québec is to discover small neighborly places to eat and drink with friends and families in a casual atmosphere. My brother Pierre and his girlfriend Sylvie introduced me to a small micro brewery in the south shore community of Chambly about twelve miles from Montreal.

“Bedondaine et Bedons Ronds” has a unique style with its collection of beer memorabilia and its shelves of beer bottles lining its walls. It is also a beer museum which offers tasty and original brews.

But what appealed to me is that it is the story of a small Quebec entrepreneur, Nicolas Bourgault who matched his interests and passion for beer with a lot of hard work to start a business which became a success. It took a lot of planning with business and advanced brew master courses and also the much appreciated help of family members and friends as well as grants from the Quebec government.

The old garage was converted into a brewery which is part bistro and part pub and is located in the historic district not too far from the hiking trails and bicycle paths that bring in patrons in quest of refreshments.

Their signature beer is called L’Ensorceleuse but there are so many choices with unusual names that it is impossible to only try one. How can one resist “L’Amère Veilleuse”, ie. The Marvelous, “ La Dernière Brosse” ie, The Last Bender or " Sème Ta Graine” ie. Sow your Wild Oats.

All of these beers are created by Nicolas and his employees to bring joy to the palate of the most demanding beer drinker. My brother Pierre fits the description having sampled micro brews for many years, he has adopted Bedondaine as his favorite brasserie in a province where beer is serious business.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Disruption in Strongsville OH

I noticed in my small Parma Heights community that political signs are landscaping a few yards but overall the participation has been minimal for such a disputed race.

Not so in Republican rallies where an herd mentality ignited by an agent provocateur successfully raised its ugly ignorant head last week in Strongsville. The crowd waiting to see McCain was being “interviewed” and the comments were far from respectful to Senator Obama’s run for the Presidency.

Shame on people who feel that the best way to increase their blog traffic is to provoke and antagonize crowds of McCain –Palin supporters. I really can’t see the advantage in cultivating discord and hate.

I am an Obama supporter, I feel that he is the candidate who can energize our economy, unite our nation and be trusted to bring the best people in his administration in the pursuit of excellence. After so many years of an administration that feared independent thinking and progressive ideas, which resulted in one of the most mediocre government in the story of this nation, Senator Obama’s ability to obtain support from the best and the brightest is uplifting. I finally have hope that we may have an opportunity to create a strong integrated society where citizens will be respected on their merits and social contribution such as dedicating themselves to their families, taking charge of their communities, taking pride in doing the best work that they can do and pursuing knowledge and happiness in even strides.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Money spent on war outsourcing

This week-end I watched "Grace is gone", a movie that touched my heart. I have to admit that I cried and felt a lot of anger watching this under-rated beautiful film about a father who does not know how to explain to his young daughters that their mother was killed serving in Iraq.

It was a beautiful film but received little acclaim in spite of John Cusack's stellar performance. Probably this film was too subtle for a typical anti-war movie, there are no flashback to a heroic death in Iraq just a great sense of loss.

In "War Inc" the new John Cusack's movie, there are no such subtleties, the message is apparently clear enough to invite Bill O'Reilly's spin zone to call the film nothing but propaganda, interesting words from the King of slime at Fox network.

War Inc is available on DVD if you can't wait to see it in Cleveland.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Poetry in Tremont

I know that Steve has become possessed by the power of words. He is so passionate about poetry that sometimes I wonder if he is a reincarnation of those long gone "Beat generation poets."

I think that I will attend tomorrow's event at the Lit, I don't do poetry very well but I am dying to see Steve with his French beret , read his work with total sincerity.

My poems are sad and frankly not very good but sometimes being whimsical allows a gap to be breach and something extraordinary will be.

So tomorrow night, see you at the Lit!

Poême pour Lui

Someone told me that you still talk about me
How is that possible
Have you forgotten what was meant to be
You gave me the Moon and the Sun but I was too young
I chose a falling Star and never made it very far

Someone told me that you still talk about me
How is that possible
I see your eyes and I forget how many lies
You said about me

Do you feel sorry sometimes, do you have regrets
Or do you just like to talk about me
And deep in your soul hope to forget
That I left because you never talked to me.

Small Changes and micro-economics

I have had to cut my expenses because like everyone else, I noticed that between my gas bill and grocery trips my money just doesn't stretch as far as I need it. One of the first casualty has been my book budget, I no longer buy books and instead go to the library. I know that it is saving me about $100.00 per month but I sure miss the new books that I must now wait to read. I also cut way back on my TV cable offerings, I only kept my internet connection and basic cable and I hardly notice the switch, it was painless.

I limited my selection of plants and flowers for my landscaping projects this year and I think that by being more selective, I chose better. I'm actually enjoying adding plants a little at a time and waiting for what I want until the price is right. The planning and anticipation is enticing and the final selection definitely satisfying.

All my meals are home made except for an occasional stepping out which is usually shared with friends and becomes a festive occasion rather than a scheduled non-event. I have decided to keep my six year old car as long as possible, it makes me feel "green" and it is paid for so even more valuable to me than Kelley Blue Book estimates.

I still drink great wine, I can't compromise on that subject, so these days I'm drinking Oregon's Pinot Noir and I find the quality excellent. I also won't compromise on my hair, I still spend too much money on my stylist but she is a professional and in Rocky River, one must pay for talent.

This week-end I am planning to clean up years of photo albums, I am planning to send all those memories to my sons who live out of states after all it is time for them to carry their own past.

Meanwhile I am adapting and change is so good for one's brains once you stop hitting your head against the wall and realize that it was all self inflicted pain.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pourquoi nous isoler?

Je vis aux Etats-Unis depuis pas mal longtemps, en effet parler Français m'a donné un avantage énorme pour trouver du boulot. Je suis Québécoise et il y a beaucoup de compagnies américaines qui font affaire avec le Canada.

Le Canada est le pays qui est le plus grand partenaire financier des Etats-Unis. Il y a deux langues officielles, le Français et l'Anglais et la loi demande que les contrats et ententes soient offertes dans les deux langues.

Mais ce qui est très chouette, c'est d'avoir le bénifice des deux cultures.


I have lived in the US for a very long time and being bilingual has given me a real edge in getting continuous employment. So many American firms are doing business with Canada because it is the number one economical partner and Canadian law recognises two official languages, French and English. This is requiring that contracts be available in both languages as well as all marketing material.

But the best part is that having a bi-cultural experience is beneficial to all.

It makes us richer in experience, knowledge and understanding.

I just don't trust Obama

Dust is settling on the Democratic Primary season, Hillary has withdrawn from the Presidential race and now it is time for the Obama camp to re-evaluate their strategy. Ordinary people have suffered many set backs under GWB and Cheney's reign but yet in Ohio, one of the most segregated state of the union, many ordinary folks are considering casting their vote for McCain because they say that they do not trust Senator Obama.

I am trying to be open minded and respect their position but the sheer narrow mindless grates on me. I have lived long and hard and have lived under many forms of government in various countries. I see working Americans, these people who all work so hard compared to other industrialized nations letting their prejudices keep them prisoners of a system that favors the true elite which is not among the ranks of the educated but among the ranks of the super rich.

Today our Congress voted down a Bill which would have re-captured 17 Billion dollars of tax payers money from the Oil companies, under a special windfall provision.

Under John McCain, we can be assure that the Bush doctrine will continue. There is a lot of talk about Obama's lack of experience but do you really like the wide experience that McCain has?
What has he done for you?

The incredible positive energy which Obama is projecting is a big threat to politics as usual. I think he would not listen to the Christian right, I think that he would upheld division or state and religion, I think that global competition would be on his mind when discussing education. I think the possibilities for lifting us out of this economic down turn is exceptionally strong.

McCain with his wealthy wife, quick temper and flip flopping personality is the one that should not be trusted. Where does his interest lie?

My neighbor Peg said that she would not vote for Obama because in spite of being a wonderful human being and a lifelong Democrat, she "just does not trust him."

I feel the same about McCain and the Republican party. They are not reliable, it is the party that brought us to invade a country which represented no danger to us, it is the party that brought us international shame by letting its own American citizens wade through the Katrina's devastation without assistance. Lots of money, our money went to Katrina's contractors who were supposed to help and did not.

Part of me, the Canadian born part says let them choose the object of their own destruction, let them choose racial prejudice over common sense but the US citizen part of me says, no. We are better than that, our fears can be tame, we can grow all together. Race is economics, it is about being poor and uneducated, it is about choosing to vote for someone who represent the divide that is crippling us rather than giving union a chance.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Flirting can be easy...really Virginia!

How about wearing a t-shirt that breaks the ice?

This t-shirt says support your local library, check me out.

I like that idea even though I cringed at some of the words that one can see parading on some people's back. However Single Tease, promoting the t-shirts that put you at ease may really have hit on a cute and nonthreatening way to let that handsome man know that you are available without looking like a desperado.

They also have t-shirts for men but maybe some of the more macho guy would feel a bit too metrosexual to wear one? I'll have to ask around what men think about it.

The last time that I was in Montreal, I noticed how accepted it was for people not to be married and to have or not a relationship. My sister Cathy who is in her thirties, always say to me when we talk about relationships, "Danielle, c'est pas pour la vie." Which means it is not for ever.

This in spite of having a great relationship with Alexandre, a really nice young man, who is at least 10 years her junior and quite in love with her.

Maybe Quebecoises are just more stoic about relationships, getting marry is not a goal and with the laws protecting children and their welfare ; fathers and mothers are required to support their offspring.

The Canadian Government has established $7.00 per day daycare centers which are registered and professionally staffed. This encourage both parents to work and contribute to raising the children regardless of their status.

Maybe what allows the women in my family not to rush into unsuitable unions, is financial independence and laws protecting children's rights. We also have close family ties and if one of us needs help, there is always someone who will lend a hand.

My sisters have a very positive attitude towards their children, they love them and as such would not bring into their home unsuitable partners. I think that if a woman has a strong support system she can raise a happy child without the benefit of matrimony which allows her the freedom to only stay in relationships which are healthy.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sex in the City the Movie or is it Snore in the City

Last night all over America, women gathered to celebrate the return of the four well known best girlfriends from NYC. See it here.

The SouthPark CineMark even had door prizes to reward the audience of cheering and happy women. There were not many men but this movie is not about them. It's about making a lot of money for people who already have plenty by squeezing every remnants of fun from the HBO original serie which was fabulous.

The NYC scenes were not eye catching and the story was predictable. The original serie had a lot of quick, funny and sharp lines. This movie is just a pale version of one of their more mediocre episode except that it is blown up on the big screen and last for over two hours.

I would have liked to see more plot, less Sarah Jessica Parker's attempt at being in spite of her small, petite frame a high fashion model and more of Kim Cattrall's spunk.

My girlfriends loved the movie, "a good bit of fluff." Is what Rebecca called it. I can't argue with that assessment so if you want to waste two hours and $8.75 run to see it otherwise go to your neighborhood vedeo store and rent the original.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Did I tell you I got a new job?

I know that NE Ohio's economy is in the toilet but I came here because of a job offer and since I have been here, I have had many calls from headhunters trying to lure me to talk to their clients. It is flattering as can be but I'm confuse, why are they calling me?

I'm a fifty something woman with no connection to anyone and a pretty healthy ego and yet I get these tempting offers. So I thought about it and I think it has to do with my resume. It sounds so good that I'd hire me!

I once wrote a resume for one of those Basement Boys, well you know the type, good looking and so sexy and charming but totally without marketable skills and got him a job at GE. His previous experience had been pushing a broom at a defunct battery shop. He actually lived in my basement and when he lost his job at the battery shop and his car was repo, I stepped in to get him another job. I eventually had to ask him to leave but he did live in my basement for 18 months. We were never lovers but I must admit that he was a tempting morsel and I thank my stars that it never happened.

On Tuesday , one of these headhunters asked me to apply for a job in Willoughby and I answered back that I have my own corporate credit card, lap top and office and make a pretty good salary and have full benefits and 3 weeks vacation so what does this company have to offer?

It really felt good to say that because I came here and for five years worked in Hell. Finally, last February, I applied for a new job and got it. My new boss is an extraordinary guy. He has no bedside manner, just imagine a physician that tells you straight out that you only have 6 months to live and tells you to make your arrangements and then walks out of the room.

Well, that's my boss. No cuddling and no mix messages, he and I do not always agree but I am impressed by his knowledge so I listen and am learning. I finally have gotten away from customer service which I miss in some way because I genuinely enjoyed helping people however it is like being Marines and after a while, you become numb from people hitting on you because you can't deliver the goods.

But now I am some kind of investigator, almost like a private eye. I have become a Root Cause Analyst and that is a hot job. My work is to analyze why errors happen, it is somehow related to quality but it is more hands on, I track processes and finds what is the cause of errors. Since I am someone who has graduated in making big mistakes, I have a natural advantage. Unfortunately finding mistakes does not make you the most popular person around even if you are very nice in delivering the bad news.

I just hope that by year end they notice that their fat bonus check is partially do to my efforts in improvement.

The key to get a job is also to get into an area where your skills are valuable. I have written many resume for friends and family members and they always get an interview and many got the job. But you can't lie, you have to work with your strengths and keep it interesting. No one is going to call you if it is boring to read. So if you can't get to the last word without your eyes wondering, scrap it and try again.

I'm sure you can do it! If you feel you need help, let me know maybe I can help.

False Friends-Les Faux Amis

My first language is French and my second language is English. You may have to be reminded that two people living across each other if you think of the English Channel as a cultural divide for centuries can not be more different in social, political and personal habits.

There are very good reasons why they fought with each others for hundred of years but I always think that one of the biggest obstacle may have been language.

There is a strange and interesting dynamic between these two languages which I have not seen in German or Italian the other two languages which I have study with moderate success.

It is that so many words sound the same in both French or English but mean something completely different that it leads to confusion for anyone who is not aware of this pitfall. Now we all can go on the web and Google "false friends- faux amis" but since I learned English way before Google, les faux amis gave me a lot of grief in my pursuit of communication.

Sensible the French word means sensitive or even nervous, as in pas recommandé aux sensibles - not recommended for people of a nervous disposition.
Sensible the English word means to show good sense, e.g., in making decisions: sensé, raisonnable, sage.

If you like languages take a peek and check out the alphabetical list and try to imagine various scenario. I like affair, habit, magazine, manger, match and of course mentor.

If we all learned the faux amis French would be a breeze to learn.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Our Enfant Terrible- Tim Russo

The Free Times 's writer James Renner did a detailed article about Tim Russo, a pretty well-known blogger with a past. Tim's new blog, "Blogger Interrupted" disclosed much of what Renner's described here.

Tim has been outed so many times that one would think that by now everyone would have had enough details to let it all settled but solicitation for sex with a minor is such a politically and socially damnable charge that hope for forgiveness seems to be unattainable. I do not think of Tim as some kind of pervert because I know him. I also know that people under stress and unhappy will find escape in whatever is convenient. Some will use drugs, porn and sex to fill the emptiness, I too went in chat rooms and experienced the thrill of being whoever someone wanted me to be. It was a fantasy time, a way to forget about an unhappy marriage.

When I expressed guilt about it, my girlfriend said: "it is not real, think of it as reading a book except that you are writing your own script."

Of course I was chatting with grown ups but how do you really know? You can be any age , sex, or race. Tim may have been snared as he said and he did show poor judgment. I am convinced that he has paid a very big price for his mistake.

If he would go away, it would so much easier for people to forgive him or if he was less belligerent or less intelligent. But Tim is sharp. I actually was there when he asked a Republican candidate the abortion question. As it said in the Free Press:

"When he interviews Republicans he'll ask up front, "Is abortion murder?' And he'll get them to say, "Yes.' Later, he'll come back to this and ask them what sort of penalties they would recommend for women who have abortions. Would the sentence be like a traffic ticket or could they be executed, like other murderers? Then, he'll sit there and watch the guy squirm."

Pure Russo! We all sat there speechless, it was brilliant.

Weight Watchers

My clothes noticed that I gained a lot of weight since arriving in Ohio and after taking my own good time to do something about it, I am finally committed to do something.

So about three weeks ago, I convinced my sweet neighbor Pauline to come with me to Weight Watchers. This was a very painful decision because I'm such a snob and let's not forget that French women don't get fat...

Well it really is not as bad as I thought, actually it is pretty easy if you switch off your prejudices and agree to think of food as delicious, healthy and lean. I still drink red wine and have cheese but everything is balance. I love eating fresh fruits and vegetables but I miss chocolate so I bought these Vita Brownies and they are pretty good and only worth 1 point.

It is interesting to make a commitment to check and balance, it makes me feel responsible and all grown up...maybe it is time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Great Time to Buy a Home

I had this great idea of moving to Lakewood. I love the Great Lakes and a view on the lake would be intoxicating. I even took a tour of a friend's home in one of these very tall building which looked like a giant standing on shore. I also spent hours on oggling the best condos with my calculator to see what I could realistically afford. It looked pretty good so I called my Realtor to get a Market done.

Then I noticed that on my streets "For Sale" signs were appearing faster than dandelions even my next door neighbor entered the contest. I was shocked by her asking price, she bought her home 15 years ago and still has a small mortgage. It is freshly painted with a nw kitchen, three bedrooms and a family room in the back, she has a attached garage and the street is quiet and did I mentioned that the neighbors are wonderful?

She listed her home at $115,000 and it just sat there gathering more cobwebs than visitors. She finally had an offer at $105,000. I am pretty sure that she would have accepted except that the buyer started to make more and more demands and finally withdrew the offer and presented a new one of $95,000.

I was a Realtor in a previous life but I never encoutered this kind of greedy behavior. Buyers know that the market is saturated with inventory and that great deals are available but it is not enough to get a great deal, they want to steal the home. It is as if the Southern Carpetbaggers are back here in NE Ohio.

I called my Realtor and expressed my reservations. " You know that I made a lot of renovations and I don't have to move, I just want to live in Lakewood."

"Listen Honey, if you don't have to move and you are not willing to loose money, just wait. The buyers are locusts, they want to get great deals and this new crop are bottom feeders. They just want to low ball their offers in hope that someone will accept it because they are desperate. It is not a good time to sell."

I was a bit disappointed but even more disconcerting is the possibility of trading in my very nice next door neighbor for people who are eager to take advantage of her situation. I know that it has nothing to do with me but I am resentful of this economy which did so much for so few. I know that I have finally managed to make enough money to have the same income that I had 7 years ago. My food and gas budget has however more than doubled.

I know many people are facing foreclosure and loosing a home is a true hardship. But for people like me who continue to meet their financial obligations by swimming in place there is no assistance available, no relief. Our big American dream is falling down the drain like itsy bitsy spider and may not come around again unless we can get tax code reforms. I would like to see a payback for all the money that corporations have made by keeping their tax dollars while outsourcing good jobs oversea. You hear so much about company going "global." But it is starting to sound like a dirty word to me, a euphemism for destroying our middle-class quality of life.

It might be time for Americans to require a new amendment to the Constitution that would allow the removal of a political administration who blatantly steals from the people to favor their own friends, investments and family members. Maybe the silver lining behind the legacy of GWB, is that it made many people re-evaluate what they want for themselves, their families, and their country. Maybe next time there will be a welcome change.


American Pink Collar is back and in a much more mellow mood. This blog is going to focus on positive issues but I have not lost my edge. I just want to think of what is possible and attainable rather than on solution less problems.

I am wearing pink colored glasses but it makes me feel better than to be looking for bugs under each post that are out there.

I think vampires and goblins do exist they zap your energy and good will and they are banned from this blog.

Enjoy Carla Bruni's song "Quelqu'un m'a dit que tu m'aimais encore" She is the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. I bet Bill wished he could have been President of France...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Islam is not for everybody only for the few

I just finished reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's autobiography Infidel. You can judge for yourself what you think about her metamorphose from devout Muslim to political activist intent on denouncing the abuse of women and children under the guise of religion. It is an extraordinary story, but Islam is not the only religion which views women as evil and willful who must be controlled even if they must be beaten, mutilated and kept in compounds where their male relatives can trade them in as breathing mares taking away their pride and minds.

I agree with Salman Rushdie that change must come from within and that Islam will never be modernized by outsiders it will have to come from within the ranks of its followers. When Muslim women find their voices and start educating their daughters and sons to think outside the box, we might see some progress towards a modern society.

We can and should give assistance to any Muslim woman who wants to escape the tyranny of living under such an oppressive regime and come to America as a political refugee.

"Charity starts at home" and because of this very good adage, I suggest that we insist on zero tolerance for fundamentalist groups and religious education which is sponsor in anyway by the tax payers money. Education is a deterrent to emancipation. I think it is important to have a religious education but it should be given to adults within a historical context and never to children as anything but fairy tales.