Thursday, December 28, 2006


Santa Claus came early with the jet lag. At 5 am, I was jerked awake by Jacques' loud soprano voice "Santa Claus came, the presents are here!" and a mémie asking if he drank his milk? At 5.35am, I dragged myself and Tonton Alex out of bed because the two little devils wanted to open the presents. Luckily mémie prepared a huge pot of coffee.

Jacques distributed the presents. Tata Hélène got a jade necklace, a Terry Pratchett book and a Gordon Ramsay cooking book, a pretty set of hat, scarf and gloves. Jacques got a big lego set to build all sorts of complex animals and the Interceptor from Lego Star Wars range. Nicolas also got some legos and the monkey which he named Mr. Monkey. Julien got some games for his PSP and Anna pretty clothes and accessories. Papa and Maman had two pro walking sticks with shock absorbers for their long trecks. Tonton Alex had some cufflings and a large picture book about the WWII which actually mentions the whole world and not just the struggle in Europe.
Later we had lunch at Mamie Ese. All the cousins met up to take a family picture for Mamie Ese with all her grand and great children and the spouses.

Les Retrouvailles

It was brilliant seeing the kids again, and Julien and Anna. Anna was gorgeous, she lost all her weight from her two pregnancies and looked as young and slim as the day I met her 10 years ago. On the other hand it was a shame that Julien's difficult (starvation) diet did not have long lasting effect as obviously expected, I don't know what kind of doctor would recommend that. Jacques has lost his two front teeth and Nicolas has grown into a handsome adorable little boy.

Reveillon de Noel

Christmas Eve was at Marie-Odile's.
It was all an event in itself. My poor aunt although very nice and cool, was utterly so hopeless that Dad needed to help with everything, from choosing the menu, cooking and serving and she still complained that no one helped her with setting up the table for just 8 of us. Geez.

We had a good time nonetheless, even Dad who was hard at work in the kitchen. Alex nonchalantely remarked "why is Christmas Eve at hers and not ours if your Dad is doing everything?". A very valid point, my parents agreed to decline any further invitation over to hers and invite her instead for future occasions.

Papi Jacques received lots of exciting presents, which is wonderful for a 91 and 3/4 year old. (He took offence when I said 92, as if I was trying to make him sound older than he is). He received two books on Christianity (his favorite topic being a fervent Christian), one frame of pewter with photos of his great-grand-sons and from me a box of tea, biscuits and jam from Harrods.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Spa for the Soul

I have been hectic lately and things got worse when we missed our flight to France on Thursday, needing to cancel our visit to Caroline's (it was for her birthday too - I felt really bad) and needing to find an alternative journey home.

Alex took me to Paris instead! What a wonderful husband! I love the spontaneity. In my three years in Paris I never went to Montmartre, so he booked a hotel on the famous hill. We took the Eurostar on Friday morning and arrived in Paris on a lovely sunny day. Our hotel check-in was at 2.30pm, so we decided to do lunch near the hotel. Firstly we did not expect our metro station to stop us in front of the Moulin Rouge; that was exciting. And we found a lovely little restaurant in the heart of Montmatre. The gastronomic lunch included:

Marbre de porc aux poireaux
Filets de Bar sur lit d'epinard avec sa bisque de homard
Charlotte au cafe

I can' really translate, I can only say it was very delicate and tasteful food in such a charming environment. We took a long lunch there, and I could feel the entire tension leaving my body and my strength and happiness flooding back in me. As the title say above, it was a spa for my heart and soul.

After lunch we dropped off the luggage at the hotel before running off to the Basilique Sacre Coeur, it is indeed a beautiful structure and the interior decors are worth the trip. The concave nave of the basilique depicts Jesus embracing his congregation below, Mary and the apostles and other bible characters are drawn by his side.

We then walked around the park and made our way to Place du Tertre, a famous place where artists gather and paint and sell their art. Alex and I sat down to drink a vin chaud (mulled wine), to warm ourselves up.

Later we walked around Pigalle (the Paris red light district), before going off to the Champs Elysees for dinner. Walking up and down along the lighted avenue, we visited the Renault museum exposing cool prototype car designs, even a space ship!

This day was absolutely magical. I discovered a side of Paris I did not know. I am so blessed Alex took me there, it was just what I needed.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Secret Santa

Geez. How lame does it get? Either my secret santa does not like me much or knows me very little. I got a chocolate egg, (is it Easter yet?) I don't like cholocate eggs so much and a mood light. Alright, granted I might have been a bit of a lunatic lately. But it is not true all year round and I've had very stretched last few weeks, one oughts to become sensitive when it drags on.
Bloody get me something useful or pretty, or at the very least funny. He/she could have got me a make-up or a fantasy jewelry, they make very nice things in the UK, or some lingerie. Anything but a mood light!
Anyway, I was Martin's secret santa and I got him that funny book, but when we were up to Manchester, we touched on the topic and he complained that people made it so dull, that it was always something proper or nice and he wanted something naughty and embarassing. He had no idea he was instructing his benefactor. So I had the book and thought he won;t like it as a secret santa present. I got him some stress balls in the shape (and feel) of boobs. He was delighted! He loved them. He never suspected they came from me either. Quite cool. It made it worth the effort of getting something else.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tough Love

ragghhhhh. Can someone shoot me now!? My boss just had a go at me for loosing it last Friday. I am ashamed enough as it is that I could not control my emotions so that I don't have him making me feel like a complete looser.... But I spoke to Dad who agrees with Ron. And anyway, I told Ron that I wish he'd support and trust me, because it is not easy being a woman or just me.

My crime? I cannot dissociate my work from my personal life and social life. Maybe it's because I socialise with my colleagues and customers during my personal time?!?

I would love to be more in control and to be able to keep a straight face and look happy all the time and smart and strong. But below all these layers of strength, professional, good at what I do, pretty face, there is a vulnerable and sometimes insecure woman and if I don't get my me-time to chill then these top layers wear thin and leave me exposed to negative feelings like being the ugly duckling or alcohol or being sick.

Anyway, all is not bad. Ron was having a go at me because he's got big plans for me in 2007 and it will require me to be well in control all the time, I can never show that I am vulnerable no matter how tough it gets. The second good news is that I think that by showing I am vulnerable to my female colleagues, I showed that I was only human, they don't see me as threatening or wonderwoman anymore and all of them were a lot friendlier.

Now is a time to make my 2007 wishes
1) Learn to stay in control - show that I am equal to my male colleagues.
2) Take the time to make friends with my female colleagues because I need their support and empathy when I come back from being men's equal.
3) Learn to dissociate work from social from personal and make me-time a priority to facilitate the in-control thingy.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I've been tagged!

Okay, I'm not sure what being tagged means but it gives me something different to talk about and it could have some fun results if not interesting.

The rules are:
1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog
4. Name of the book and the author
5. Tag three people

1. Grab book closest to me
2. Flipping the pages
3. Faced with an important decision, I always envison how each alternative will play out before I make it. During this process, I'm not afraid to change my mind a few times. Many are tempted to decide an issue simply to end the discomfort of indecision.
4. Leadership. Giuliani.

5. I don't know that many people, so I pick Kitem, God Uncensored, and Steven aka My brain hates me etc because I'm sure he'll make a very funny story out of this.
Remember nothing is going to happen to you if you don't do it! What will happen is that it will save you ten minutes not to do it. :D

Remembering Pepere

Anna-Marie aka Mamie L'Autre, Jean Seguin aka Pepere, with my grand-aunt Janine and grandpa Jacques, aka Papi Nono. Photo taken in 1930.Pepere was born on this day in 1903. He was a very nice old great grandpa. Thanks to the year he was born, he did not have to attend any of the two World Wars, he was too young for the first one and too old for the second one.

To me he was never old until the winter he died in 1997. Until that summer of 1996 he would go for a walk pushing his bicycle. One year some youngsters stole his bicycle but everyone in town knew it was Pepere's and so the bicycle was returned to him. He kept a tortoise in his garden that crawled as fast as he could and would bite fingers and toes.

I wish I had spent more time with him. I did spent a lot of time considering I was little and would much rather play than seat down with him. but I did take the time to find out about his sister whom I visited before she died a few years ago. He told me that he had been lucky, because he got to go to the agriculture school when he was a young lad, and education was not given to anyone - back then. He would have raw onions and a slab of bread for his lunch and loved it. "Onions are gooPepere in the French summer of 1989d for you" he'd say. Gosh I can't stand raw onion, the taste lingers forever even after brushing my teeth, so I eat shallots in my tomato salads instead.

He had a bit of vineyard, and in the autumn we would make it a family day out to pick the grapes. I only remember going once and remember eating more grapes than dropping them in the basket. He had started his own coal business, which my grand father took over. The whole town knows my family name well because they would deliver coal on Christmas eve if needed be. Also my grandpa was the first to hire a coloured person at the normal wages and benefits. It's good not to forget people like that, who have been through this kind of life where heating was not to be taken for granted, nor education, nor a wholesome lunch. He was a good hard-working and earnest man.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Learning to read

May 2005. Angkor. Cambodia. Alex and I were on our honeymoon. Adventure, Discovery and Exotic Food is what gets us excited. I love this shot. I wandered off the beaten track and landed in a village. This is their classroom, the monk knows how to read, and there were 5 students aged between 10 and 25. The blackboard had our alphabet written on it. That scene moved me, and Hammer's story about his nephew inspired me to share this photo.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My cuties

I got to chat with Julien, Anna and my two lovely little nephews yesterday. It made my day. They are so sweet and fun. I am so excited to see them next Sunday. Jacques and Nicolas were shy though, they did not want to come to the camera because 'Tata is too sexy'. Well better that than too ugly I say. They're adorable.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A bit of a drama queen

Today was very special. I was so sad this morning because of last night. But as the day evolved I spoke to my father in law, then Alex, and my brother and my dad and then my mom and they all listened and comforted me. That was really welcome and just what I needed.

I also went over the nice things of last night and for the life of me I know why I was upset but I no longer understand why I as in such a state. After all I had some brilliant chats with some of the most important people in the company and Ron made me dance, he's an excellent dancer, and the girls were very nice and truly cared to uplift my spirits.

Furthermore, today I had a good heartfelt reality check and I much needed it. I can see clearer what I need to do for my career to progress, and I will need to protect myself. Like Alex said "Never forget No. 1, and that's not Ron nor me, it's you." Thank you all, I love you just for caring.

Ugly Duckling

What a failed and horrible night. I hated most of the evening. I was so miserable. I ended up being the sad drunk who cries at the end of the bloody party. Why? Because I realise that I get along with everyone one on one, but in a group I simply don't belong. It is not the first time I feel that way about my company. All the girls have their group of friends, and although I try to join in the fun as I would when I go to customers' parties, I find myself being excluded. I am taller than all the girls so I always end up in the back of the group pictures as well. I don't get their sense of humour either.

I got upset in the bus when my colleague kicked my drink off my hands which spilled on her dress and she started screaming at me. I was stunned by this rudeness and just went to the front of the bus looking forward to arriving at the party where my friends (Martin, Nick, Ron, Rudiger, etc) were... or so I thought.

When these guys saw the swarm of pretty girls they paid me no attention. and I realised that I am only popular when I am one of the three girls of a party of 15. Even Martin was dirty dancing with some of the girls. But Ron did invite me to rock'n'roll, which is always fun. And I did have a pleasant dinner with Ingvar, Brian, Steve and Rudiger. I felt so heartbroken though. I spend so much time with these guys I thought I knew them and I thought we were friends, but they are just men!

The only satisfaction I have is that they do not pay me attention because I am one of the lads, they have enough respect for me not to hit on me. That also means I am the ugly duckling. I am possibly the smartest woman in the office along with Jane and I am well respected, but realising that you don't really have friends either on the guys or girls, it hurts. Of course Julie and Ann, even Carrina came to look after me. Ingvar went on and on about how brilliant I was at my job and I was one in a million. Martin sat me down later to explain how boys will be boys. Sarah also checked on me but she is the one girl in the office who does not like me. I'm not sure why she doesn't but every time I try to break the ice, she ignores me. I could not care less under normal circumstances. Last night, I'm the one who rejected her. I told her I'd be happy to tell her what's on my mind if she was my friend, but she's not.

Overall it was not a bad night because I had a good time with the bosses, but it had such a bad start and ending to the evening. At least in vienna if this happens again I can leave the party, I am not stranded in a place I don't like with a bad frame of mind.

I think it is time for me to learn about self preservation. I must protect my feelings from situation like these. If I am not going to learn and accept that friendships are just superficial then I am not going to be friends with anyone in the work place anymore so that I won't care when they forget my existence.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Stunning after all?

What a day... It did me good to express regret of something I knew I would do before I actually do it, because I forced myself to make an effort and I quite like the results. at least if I don't come out okay of the pictures, I'll have the satisfaction to know that I tried.

Last night I did my nails while watching Secretary (2002), a strange but captivating story with James Spader. Then today I finished my errands, which consisted of finding a tasteful, artistic present for our best customer, and although I did not find it, I found out I can commission the work and got the name of an artist to call on - so I thought of commissionning a family portrait since it is a family business and they love taking pictures, that sounds like a much better present than anything I could have found. I hope Ron approves.

Having completed my task early I went to Boots to find a concealer for my acne as it really upsets me when I look back at photos and all I see are my stupid pimples. I went to Clinique because I like their products although they are expensive, the girl gave me a full professional make-up!!! I did buy a few of her products but I needed/wanted them.

Then I did a pathetic bun but it holds on, I don't care if it looks weird and all over the place, at least from the front and profile I look lovely.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Regional Sales Meeting

A while ago I promised pictures of the UK region sales meeting and I did not post them... maybe to protect the identity of my colleagues, but it's not like anyone will be after them. I got a bit paranoid when a British Airways hostess made the headlines for being fired after blogging naughty stories and images of things happening in her job. I love this job and all these people are so lovely and brilliant to work with. Below is starting from me, Martin, Lovely Dani from South Africa, Nick, and Torsten from Denmark.
Next meeting is the Kick-Off Meeting in Vienna. I can hardly wait, I've started shopping for lovely clothes to wear at the dinner parties when I'm there.

Office Christmas Party

Tomorrow night is the office Christmas party and all the girls in the office got their hands manicured, their hair cut and dyed and some even got spray tan. They look great.

True to my nature, I think 'sod it'. I can foresee myself working too late to actually do any of this, then I'll rush home in the traffic and I'll jump in the shower, I'll struggle to put my hair up they'll fall all over the place and after 45 minutes of pulling my hair, I'll leave them down, then I'll apply a thin layer of make-up because I don't want to hide my face or natural features and I'll put on my nice long black dress and a necklace and I'll jump into a cab and arrive all stressed out and undone at the party and I'll feel bad for not making an effort to look as stunning as the other girls. I can't understand myself sometimes, it's not a beauty contest and I'd much rather polish my wits and work out my brains. I don't mean to undermine my colleagues, they're lovely and clever girls and take time to make themselves up extra nice, I wish I'd bother.

Naive? defines the word as:
1. having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.
2. having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous

Yup, that's me... Although most of the time it's on purpose, you can actually pretend to be naive so you don't have to justify something.... like when someone flirts with you and you're not interested acting naive can help greatly or when I do something wrong, I can act all naive "oh I did not understand it like that". However, most of the time I am geniuningly naive and it's cute being naive at 8 but just plain stupid being naive at almost 30. Sigh. Got a lot to learn about life.

blah blah blah... Sorry, I almost got philosophical there...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Re: Guns are not weird, needing them is

A few nights ago, I might have visited one of Hammer's fan's website (Phoenix Ravenflame) , and after reading quite lenghty articles on guns, I decided to leave a comment to show that I cared. Maybe not the smartest comment, but an honest one. I said something like "it was weird living in a country where you need a gun". For the sake of clarification and to stop being hammered by incinuations that I might be ignorant... I explain.

I've lived in a country at war, I saw tanks driving by my school every day, I walked by a ministry building that blew up, I lived on the same street as an embassy that blew up too. I've lived in a country where I could have been kidnapped every street corners. And I've lived in a post-communism country. And you know what? I felt safe! And I hear stories from my friend in South Africa where he walked out of a gun shoot out between gangs and told me with a bright smile "I was lucky they did not take my car." - he does not have a gun either.

This, however is not the point I was making. I could not care less that Americans have a passion for guns. My lovely grandpa was a hunter and he loved his riffles, that's cool. And I understand that America unfortunately suffers from high crime rate. What I meant was that I was very sorry you had to rely on guns to ensure your safety. I am happier living in a country where I am more worried about my customers wanting to slip my dress off my back than walking home from the station in the middle of the night.

One more thing, Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, James Bond is a fictional character, and he's hot, with or without his gun. ;)

Re: What to do?

Hey Steven,

Looking like that, I'm surprised you haven't... Maybe you're in the wrong job.


Yeah, Martin recommends I make fun of the customer by leading him on, but I find that very risquee. Might land me more trouble than I'm already in. I'll leave it till the New Year and see how he is. He was pretty wasted, so I'm hoping he does not remember his misbehaving. Anyway, I'm probably going to turn down the sales promotion so I don't have to visit the customers on my own.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What to do?

I've been out and about with Martin inviting our customers to Christmas dinner parties and thanking them for the good business this year. A few nights ago I was in Manchester, this time the client was inviting us to their big do. The dinner was lovely I mingled with all the different buyers and other suppliers. However, much later in the night, my customer was very drunk and he was literaly all over me. I put him back in his place as gently as I could explaining that it would be very awkward talking about display cabinets if he went any further, even though he seemed cool about it, it still feels awkward. it also compromises my option of getting into sales next year. I don't know what else to do. If I choose to go into sales, I won't have Martin to lean on or hide behind when a customer makes it... difficult.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


I'm finally going through my Radiohead education. Alex has always been a huge fan of Radiohead for as long as I've known him. Actually I remember the time before we started dating, We were hanging out in my room in Penang, listening to CDs and he took out Pablo Honey from the collection, it must have meant a lot to him. Ever since, I always enjoyed Radiohead whenever he plays their CD, but I never paid it a lot of attention so I don;t know why a few days ago I decided to listen to Fake Plastic Trees from the album The Bends. It is a fantastic song and from the same album I always loved High and Dry and Bullet Proof...I Wish I Was and most of the songs from OK Computer.

Casino Royal

Oh wow!!! What a man... What a Bond... I have been a fan since the age of 8. I loved every James bond movies featuring Sean Connery and Roger Moore. I kind of lost interest with Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosman. They did not have the charms I'd expect of my Bond.

I kind of had the hots for Daniel Craig in Tomb Raider alongside Angelina Jolie; and then I loved him in Layer Cake. This was beyond words. I might need to sleep on this statement I'm about to make... but Casino Royal might be the best James Bond movie I've ever seen and Daniel Craig the best Bond yet. It was excitement-pack, he was hot, it was not cheesy, it had a realistic story line, it was clever, he was hot... Ooooh I'm in love. Gonna have sweet dreams tonight...

Christmas Hamper

The company sent Christmas hampers to all of us. That's very lovely, my hamper came in a large basket, I will have to find some use for that basket now.
It's full of chocolates and biscuits and yummy food stuff, a couple of bottles of French and Italian wines as well.

Christmas at Home

I bought a real Christmas Tree!
I like the decors I bought, it looks very posh, all in silver and blue, it's matching the wrapping paper for the presents. And that's Nicolas' monkey looking comfy on the papasan chair.

Harrods Christmas Windows

When I went to Harrods the windows adopted the Casino Royal theme. Shame that I won't have time to check out the Christmas window display. I just hope that this is not their Christmas display. This is becoming a big issue in the UK. People are becoming more and more afraid for the sake of being "politically correct". Well that's rubbish, Christmas is about the nativity of the Christ, and have I got news for them... it's a religious holiday!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Office Secret Santa

We do a Christmas Santa in the office, and I picked Martin!!! Out of all the people in the office I pick the one person I am closest to. I thought I'd have to look extra hard for his present, something funny, but not useless. Well it took me about five seconds to find it. I walked into the bookstore and on display was Stephen Clarke's 10 commandments to Talk to the Snail. This should provide hours of entertainment on our road trip to visit customers. I'll take a picture of Martin when he opens the pressie and post it. Surely he will know it came from me, but it's absolutely perfect.
Alex is reading it, he wants the same present for Christmas, I guess I can wrap up another little one for my hubby.

Christmas Shopping

Alright I'm done! I've bought all my Christmas presents. I even found lovely presents for Papi Jacques and Mamie Ese, who are usually the most difficult ones.

Now that Julien, Anna and the kids are all coming home for Christmas, it meant extra presents on the list. I got Jacques an entire winter outfit, which he loved, and toys. Julien was the one with the longest present list, I had to explain to him that I was not Santa Claus and that the money came from somewhere.... lol... sorry Julien, it's for entertainment sake. I even found something for Caroline's 30th a lovely branded large handbag so it looks smart and she can still carry Jeanne's bottle and diapers. I am very pleased with everyone's presents. It's gonna be a great Christmas, possibly the best ever. And we'll all be back in the house where Julien and I were born too, it's gotta count for something.