#11 “I will find you and I will”… wait, no. “Self-control” or how not to kill them after all. For real.

It’s been ongoing for a while already.

I am talking about my neighbors. Next door.

Today Love took his flight to Singapore. Babylove and I will be following very soon – yey! We had to wake up very early as the flight was very early. Even earlier – the time has gone forward. Sneaky time. Stole me one hour of sleep. Probably the reason why I almost lost it. Today, when coming back from the airport, I found the neighbor. Stupid him, he was doing it again: something nasty to my bicycle. No matter what, when he saw me and my face, and probably especially the look in my eyes, he stopped. That’s a good thing, for him. For me. I don’t want to end up in jail.

Have you ever thought about the inconvenience of going to prison?

Poor neighbors, just before us (Love, Babylove and your friend right here) they had had to cope with two guys who were highly ignorant of the basics of neighboring. They were young, single, with money. Well, young and single mostly. And they did not care. They did all the things a bad neighbor does. Partying loudly without giving a notice first. Borrowing stuff from the common attic and returning it when they left. Damaged. Smoking pot in front of the house – I don’t get why they did not do it on the balcony, that makes me wonder. Blablah.

The neighbors had a very hard time with the two youngsters. I understand. I even work on my empathy level for them. Oh yes, that’s something I omitted about me: I am not the most empathetic person in the room. It does not mean that I am insensible, just that whenever someone gets kicked under the belt in a restaurant, most of the people around will be “experiencing” the pain and make a face. I’ll be making a face too, but probably due to deciding what to choose on the menu. When there are too many dishes I want to try, it gives me pain. I like restaurants when the menu is short but the cooks know what they’re doing… and I digress.

Credit: Freedesign.com It's just because you need a break in the story. A little pic here, another one there.

Credit: Freedesign.com
It’s just because you need a break in the story. A little pic here, another one there.

Well, my point is: I understand what they’ve been through during four years before us – the neighbors – and for the past two years, I’ve been patient and kind. With minor hiccups, but no one got killed. On their side. While Babylove and I had already one accident last year.

And there could have been another one some time soon.

Thing is that when we arrived, we had the only baby in the house for 15 years. I think I told you that BL can be loud. As children are. But not in Germany. In Germany they produce quiet children. With soft voices. I love it, it is relaxing. Unfortunately I have a mixture of loud French and oddly loud German as a baby. Plus, he’s been from the birth on around loud Spanish, Chinese, Colombian, Canadian people. One of his godfathers is a loud Indian and the other one is a louder Italian. Let’s not talk about the godmothers… And of course, the neighbors complained. From the first moment we set foot in the house, walking our way upstairs. She was there, talking to another neighbor, who melted down and started baby-talking. But she said: “The stairs are a common place, you see. And it’s echoing. You need to make him quiet while passing by. It’s not a nursery.” I struggled a bit, thinking that I might have misunderstood as my German was not as good. But the look on her face (you know which one I mean? The same look I talked about previously) showed me otherwise. I smiled and moved up.

I tried to bring cakes to everybody. Hey, I am French, we are corrupt. At least I am...

Are you still with me? The story goes on. Let me know if you read until here. Clap your hands.

Also, there is the issue with the bicycles in the hallway of the basement. That’s when it started to be dangerous. We have a common part of the basement to store our bikes. There is no given space for anyone. But I suppose, some sort of twisted tradition and being in the house for a very long time gives you the privilege to put your bike in your special corner. I had not been aware of that before long. The other people in the house just do not care. The neighbors next door do. My bicycle has been moved around for month, first slightly. Then across the basement. I did not realize that it was a warning: if a bike blocks mine, I move it too. And I am fine. If my bike blocks another one, it’s moved. And I am fine. After a few times, I kept care of storing it in a corner, and the croozer in another. The one time it was moved across the whole basement was maybe a bit excessive, but I found funny the effort the person was going through for such a matter. Instead of talking to me.

But I knew as well that, being a foreigner, I would shy some people away. That is a basic learning of living in another country. Even if you speak the language, the merest accent in your speech can be a blow in the face of someone insecure. And stop any communication.

I did not know for sure back then who was the person doing that. Not for sure. Until my bike flew by itself from the basement to the ground floor outside – after that, I started to lock it. I had learned something.

Oh by the way, I am not apologizing. Just explaining. The context. To show that yes, I perfectly understand the other side. I am really good, in fact, at understanding the other side. That’s kind of a gift I’ve got from my grand-mother too. She used to say: “Put on the clothes of your foe. Feel the way they feel walking down the street. If you feel it and can befriend them, there is a little more humanity. If you can’t, strike first.” She was fierce and wise, and from another time. But mostly she was right.

Two years putting on some clothes that weren’t right for me at all. But Love was there and he’s the voice of reason. Rational and strong. Until he was not. He went on a three months assignment in Switzerland. And I was still working. Oma, BL grandma, had come to support me a while. One morning, she called me to check out by the window. Had I left my bike outside all night long in the rain? And unlocked? I do not have as good eyes as she does, so I ran downstairs barefoot. That was my bicycle. I wondered, did I do that? Unlocked, maybe. I am not the best at locking and closing stuff in general. But outside? On my way up, I met the neighbor next door. The gentleman. And he looked very satisfied. So I stopped and asked him. I will spare you the details but yes, that was his work. My bike had “touched” his too often the past few months. It was too big and took too much space. Next time I would not find it in front the house but in the fields. Now I would understand how to behave maybe?

I thought about many things while he was yelling – because my absence of reaction made him believe that I did not care. It’s not that I did not care, well, I did not care much: nobody was dead and I was relieved to know that I was not completely nuts (remember, I wondered if I had left it myself there). I told you  that I dislike arguments, too. And that was for me the start of an argument I had no stake in. So he yelled and I thought: “Hm, I wonder how to make him shut up now. I need a shower and I’ll be late again to bring BL to the daycare. Maybe if I bring him, I take my clothes, I go to work and shower there? Hm.. he looks angry. I wonder why. Bike-touching, is that like rape? Maybe. I am not really totally immersed in the culture. I have probably missed something. I’ll ask Love tonight on Skype. Jess, chill, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. Put yourself in his shoes.”

Then I smiled, said sorry, told him to simply knock at my door and talk next time, and left.

I had a confirmation: those people were odd. IMHO. And then two days later, the accident. Now that my bicycle was locked, there was no way to move it. One morning, like every morning, I hung the croozer and jumped on the bike. When you leave my house, you need to cross a highly frequented street. I had felt something off while driving and had looked at my back-wheel suddenly flattening. I was already on the street and my brakes did not work anymore. A car. No brake. Was I dreaming? I had no clue that I wanted to be an action movie star. I went into a skid, the auto braked, the croozer turned on the roof. I am so good at harnessing Babylove that he can most of the time barely breathe. He just had a little fun. And I got scratches on my knees.

I am not a big fan of these slimy sneaky ways of dealing with neighborhood issues. I talked to the neighbor. Politely. He yelled again. Did not confirm but did not deny anything. And told me I and my little bastard had had what we deserved. I went to the police. But with no proof you can just complaint against X. It took me all my self-control not to knock at their door with a kitchen knife.

Or an ax. But I don't have one, so a kitchen knife.

Earlier this week I have had an adventure involving saving guppies. I have told you about the look. It was on her face. What I did not share, is that after having climbed the facade and opened my apartment door, there was no key to be found. Because the neighbor had taken it. We met right afterwards. She knew I would face trouble to go home. But she would not have given me my keys. She returned them in the evening, in the mailbox with a post-it: “Found. Did not have the time to give them back before.”

We had met. We had met.

Today morning at the airport Love, Babylove and I had a breakfast. BL has a Magpie complex. When it comes to shiny things, he can’t help himself: he puts them in his pockets. A lot of coins and my or Oma’s jewelry ends up in his pockets. This morning it was nail scissors. I have been quite shocked to find that in particular but not surprised, I have cut his nails yesterday evening and in the mess of packing and blablah I just forgot to put them back in safety. Horrible feeling when I think about it.

When we arrived home, and I found the gentleman working on my bike, I snapped. He looked at me and breathed twice. I felt very cold and clear of mind. I told Oma to bring BL home. I reached for my bag and inside there were a milk bottle, some pens and my camera. And the scissors. I looked at him and approached. He probably felt compelled to attack first and walked towards me with a very aggressive posture. Yelling again. How could we possibly have been so impolite this morning? So early and already moving and dragging stuff around (the luggage I assume) and having a car in the middle of the night standing in front of the door with gangsters inside (the taxi driver was a bit dark-skinned, but not as much as I am though. Does that make me a gangster?) and, and…

I realized with relief that I did not feel wrong about anything. My bike is stored outside since the sun is out last week. There is no reason to complain about noise either because children are loud. Period. No, those people are just horrible people. I reached for my bag. I took a picture. Smiled, wished him a nice Sunday, and left.

Seriously, they should be happy that I have in high value human life and also, that I practice yoga.

See, that was worth it a story, wasn’t it? Clap your hands again if you think so. I like music. And yoga. It keeps my mind and my body relaxed.

Now he’s probably wondering if I’ll go to the police with it or not. I am too. I have jut a few weeks left here and that would be annoying. I am not even angry. Anymore. Yet. Is that blackmailing?

Let’s hope there’ll be no next time.


Do not kill the neighbors Friday!

Isn't it a beautiful once in a decade Friday? Gives me peps for the weekend

Even if you really want to. Murder is inconvenient, especially if you have a child: if you get caught, who’ll be taking care of the little one?

Brush your teeth. Particularly before going to bed. Even after the party of your life.

Work out and run often. You never know when you’ll have to escape uncomfortable situations. And being healthy to live longer to do lots of things in your lifetime is important. I personally always feel complaining about the short span we have. I need just more time.

Walking the twisted line

#10 “Try again” or the game is never over unless you decide so

If the rope tangles I untangle it. That's it.

That’s true. In my life, lots of things almost worked out… and did not. Past relationships, jobs, family issues. C’est la vie.

When your rope tangles, and you loose balance and rhythm, do you stop skipping altogether darling? I swear, I frown, I even sometimes get super annoyed because I  was so close to any meaningful personal goal / best.

Then I start skipping again.

On a Friday mode already,

Eat healthy. Wear fast-food.

“In addition to the hamburger apparel”…

No. No no no no. No.
I don’t want to know what comes in addition to the apparel. What am I supposed to build on this “Third From the Top” sentence?

What did my grand-mother use to say again?.. Ah yes, she would take my hand whenever I would slow down in front of a Mac Do in Paris and look straight into my eyes through her fancy golden glasses. Then she would smile and say wisely: “Women like us can’t eat this food from the devil, love. You don’t look good while eating it. You don’t look good after – it stays on the hips.”

I’m not a big fan of fast-food anyway. But I love burgers – I told you already that I love meat, didn’t I?
The Swedes made a clever move: if you can’t eat it nor make love to it… wear it.

I’m lovin’ it,

#9 “You are who you love” or find the people with whom you will save the world

… and love them even when they annoy you.

Kry spent a night last week in an Ethiopian prison. To calm her nerves. When she told me today over Skype, I suggested to try jasmine tea next time. Or chamomile. It always works with me. I have dreamed of her expressing strong negative emotions last night. So once awake – and because I do not often remember my dreams – I contacted her. Kry is a beautiful woman, when she walks in everybody looks at her. Probably because she’s very tall. And also because she can be very loud – she’s French. She’s intelligent too. She studied economics, she believes in developing empathy to solve the world’s biggest issues and took a flight last year to Ethiopia to start working on it. She’s a hard worker, by the way. She meets important people to draft new regulations. Also she tried to force me to become vegetarian – or reduce my meat consumption to chicken. Chicken. Don’t get me wrong, I love chicken. But I love meat. Anyway, I’m not eating that much meat anymore. Love tries to force me to become vegetarian too. Kry and he have their mouth full of world responsibility here, systemic visions there, reducing food waste, increasing resources sharing… when craziness surrounds me, I surrender. I am weak. But not yet a vegetarian. Maybe the lack of protein or iron made her become not fully herself – though some articles say claim that vegetarian diets are good for the mood. She gives and shares and laughs and brighten the days of everyone around her. She is Canadian French. Yet Kry spent one night in an Ethiopian prison, to calm her nerves. Addis Ababa is a wonderful city. Beautiful and harsh. The place to be when you’re willing to change things, as Kry is. And a horrible place to be, where your values and principles can be challenged on a daily basis. Last week Kry had gone to a restaurant with a friend visiting. A nice restaurant, the sort of places she does not go to since the first week she arrived, last September. There were sitting a group of foreign businessmen. Eating, joking around. Bragging. About their last night at the brothel. Unfortunately for Kry, she knew the place. She’s working with the girls once a week to help some of them finish school. With a little luck and lot of perseverance, it may work. Primary school is not so hard, is it? Kry stopped eating her boiled vegetables. Of course, she could have stopped listening instead. I know, darling, it is impolite to listen to strangers’ conversations. It is impolite to stand up, turn red, stare at strangers. In a restaurant! It is impolite to call people names, too. And to slap the first one under reach. Completely hysterical. I told her so already. Then I told her how much I miss her. She is my friend. Beautiful, intelligent, empathetic. Responsible. Straight in her shoes.

A childcare in Addis Ababa, where past and future meet

Credits: Kry

Gab picks me up at the airport when I’ll arrive in Singapore next month! If you had told me yesterday, I would have said: “Nah… we skype now and then, but actually meeting and spending time together in the same corner of the world again? I don’t see that happening, darling.” I love traveling. Discovering places, people, foods. Mainly foods I must say. I love traveling with people and without anybody. Mainly without. Last summer I discovered that traveling with someone very close can turn into a nightmare. Or maybe it’s just this person who is evil. Gab and I had planned this trip to Ireland very very thoroughly. Ah no, scratch that. She had. I mostly had chosen the destination closing my eyes on a map of Europe (we had only one week) and pointing at the Channel. From England to Ireland there is only one step. I did not want another stupid London trip. That’s just good enough for the weekend when you’re a Parisian. I am not anymo. Bro. I digress… So Gab, very well organized as usual, ready for all kinds of unexpected events, tried to woo me into organizing myself too. Love always pushes me to order this, lock that, secure this, confirm that. “Inform yourself Jess, close your bag Jess, watch out, prepare, know.” Did I precise that Gab is much younger than I am, she talks with this motherly responsible tone – in fact I think that she even changes her voice when she speaks to me. Love, too, is younger. We were on the narrow curvy mountain road (in Ireland, cheri, remember?) when the accident happened. The toe-truck just in front of us crashed into a rental car coming from the other side of the curve. Horrible. I mean, the mountain was quite nice, we were in the Connemara region and we had a wonderful sun. But the crash was noisy and impressive. The other car had not stood a chance. Gab and I jumped out of our car and went to save lives. Gab works as travel retailer, that’s why she travels a lot too, and she studied and made her thesis on panic reactions in crowds. She used to spend her weekends saving lives during parties, races, gatherings of all kinds. She can drive a boat and pilot a small plane. Also, she swims with a mono-fin. With her light blond hair, her big blue eyes and her soft voice she then looks and sounds like the little mermaid. Who does cross-fit. When the crash happened, we were arguing. We had been arguing from the second day of the trip. I had forgotten my passport under the pillow of the hostel room – she had forced me to hide it, just in case. I had not listened to the end of her non existing love story – I had been listening to it for already eight months. But I had not given any opinion about what she should do – in my opinion, friends are there to share their ear and shoulder, not to give unwanted and inappropriate advise. I had gone surfing alone – she had complained before that the water was too cold and too jellyfish-ed. My music was too aggressive – hers was too…modern. I had laughed at her non existent parking skills… that was very funny – she was too stressed all the time! I had pointed out that she too had a French accent – well, I don’t really mind having a French accent thus it would not have bothered me if she had said the same about me. In fact, to be fair, nothing ever really bothers me. I know my flaws. What turned me off and made me argue on that narrow curvy mountain road was her constant stressed mood. And she had been constantly stressed by my nonchalance. This is the dog biting its own tail. While first aiding the family in the car, we were still arguing. When the police arrived, we were still arguing. Until a policeman kindly asked us to shut up, it was impolite to continue arguing in French like hysterics. Did we need time to calm our nerves a bit before answering the questions? I asked him if he had some tea and scones with him. He smiled. Gab rolled her eyes. Then laughed. She is my friend. Way too responsible. Not so much fun. A bit too straight in her shoes. I miss her. She picks me up in Singapore.

Love leaves on Sunday already. Time does not go backward and certainly does not slow down. Last year in October, Love stayed in Kenya two weeks. He had left his phone, his tablet, his laptop at home. Anyway, he was in a village down south near Mombasa, and there was no real effective network. He spent his days playing football. Okay, he trained children (essentially girls) to prepare them for a big football tournament. He had taken part from Germany in the organization (sponsoring blablah) and now he had taken some holidays to participate in the coaching and all. Love loves kids and sports and helping people. He wants to change the world for the better and it requires action and responsibility. Awareness and mental strength. “You are what you do” is his motto. I personally say “You are who you want to be and do the way you think you are and sometimes the way you think people want you to be” but he once told me that that was twisted and voluntarily misleading. I did not really get the point but I smiled and nodded nonetheless. I often smile and nod when he starts these big speeches – last Sunday, we passed by a house with a private pool, and he explained me why those people were irresponsible and selfish. Wasting so much money to be entertained three months a year while the big public swimming pool was two steps away. Wasting quantities of fresh water while children around the world could not get a cup a day… During these two weeks in Kenya, we skyped twice with the smartphone of a newly befriended Kenyan. Once four minutes when he landed in Nairobi and the other time three minutes as he was about to move to another village. Babylove had forgotten that he had a father and I was almost angry. I even had to put on my mouth guard at night. Very sexy. And then he came back. Tanned and happy and straighter than ever in his shoes. A mix of relief and happiness and annoyance rushed in me. Of course annoyance rushed first out of my chest. “Where is the responsible person when it comes to your own family?” did I want to say. But I said: “So? Did you enjoy your holidays? No kid, no girlfriend…” then he said: “I was so good not to take the devices. There has been a big theft in the place where we stayed first and the other ones had their electronic stuff disappeared. I brought you some herbs, you can infuse it like tea leaves. You seem a bit tense.” Ah Love, always has the answer to everything. He is my love. So responsible. So ready. I’ll miss him when he’ll leave this Sunday.

My friends, my loves, my family. They are who I am.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Weaving the Threads.”

#8 “Be creative” or the 30-year-old girl who climbed the facade of the building and saved the goldfish

This is not a joke. This morning. Yes.

Now I feel sore and tired, and after this post, I’ll switch on a movie and bury myself under my duvet. Even if I wanted to read through my “Children’s drawing from 3 to 11 years old” assignment.

That's how I feel now in my brain and muscles. Brain is muscle too. You see?

If I could hire a ghostwriter to write my life, it would definitely be Jonas Jonasson. I love him. I do. So far he’s written two books on the life of hundred-year-old or so characters. History and fiction are intertwined in such a fashion that at the end of the book, you’re disappointed that his characters did not live longer.

Today came too suddenly. I knew it would, and I had even been awake when today arrived. Still, it fell upon my head and burdened my back. Monday. Great.

When I woke up a few hours later, the sky had a vicious electric grey color. I rolled over to take my to-do list laying near my bed. One outstanding item only. Manageable.

>> Give away guppies to old guy for his grand-son – 11 AM

By 10:30 AM, I had brought Babylove screaming his way to the daycare. I had done the grocery shopping for the week. I had dealt with some unexpected issues regarding liability insurances cancellation (remember? I am soon to leave Germany). I had NOT had BL’s urologist on the phone but 8 times his secretary (that is a topic for another post: how to deal . I was almost proud of myself.

Now I needed to get rid of the aquarium. Truth be told, I’ve never wanted to take the responsibility of owning living decoration. Pets, fish, plants… They do not speak, they can’t just tell me when they need water / food / cleaning. This is horrible. They do not even express when it’s too hot or too dark or too this or that. Children scream and whine and do horrible things to remind you of your responsibility. Pets and plants just die.
But Love is fond of nature. And Babylove too.

And now, with Love busy having his last week in Germany, who has to make sure the pets don’t die out in an empty flat? Right. Unfair, right? Right. Unfortunately nobody in my direct surroundings wanted to be entrusted with this responsibility. You need to know that the five guppies of last year expanded into 32. Horrible. Until this little old man overheard me complaining on Saturday and offered me an alternative to flushing the fish in the toilet: his grand-son. He was in fact leaving Monday morning by car to visit the little one up north. Would I meet him at 11 AM precisely to give him aquarium and all? I would have to be punctual because he had to pick up other fellow travelers: he had just become a Mitfahrgelegenheit driver. That was a long story. To make it short: his daughter had decided that he should not travel alone this long way. What if he had a stroke? Or worse: what if he took hitchhikers aboard FOR FREE. The least he could do, in the interest of his health and the greater good, is to carpool with pre-selected hitchhikers. And not for free, please. People had to understand that everything in life had a value. A cash value.

I looked at the old man and agreed. To give him my fish. The cash value of everything in life has yet to be proven to me. And some TV commercials advertise otherwise.

Back to today 10.30 AM. On my way to the house, I met my neighbor. She gave me the Stare…

Do you know it? The Stare. You feel that something is in the air – a complaint most certainly – and your neighbor’s lips curve downwards. You try a shy “Good morning” with a smile while mentally ticking the boxes of your Good Neighbor List, checking for missing points. And your neighbor does not return it. He/She just stares. That gives me the creeps.


Okay. She finally left and I got off my bike and gathered my shopping bags. Arrived at the door of the house. Looked for my key. My missing keys. Not in the bag, not in my pockets, not anywhere. Then I remembered: this morning I had left the flat a first time with Babylove, and had realized half way downstairs that I had forgotten to take a warm hat for him. Yesterday brought cold and grey and rain. Probably to remind us that Spring does not mean Summer. Spring is fresh.

So I climbed back quickly, inserted my key to open the door of the flat, ran to the hat shelf, stormed out of the flat slamming the door behind me, bounced down the stairs, picked up BL on the way, threw him in his buggy – ah, that’s when he started screaming. Now you guess where the keys had stayed when I came back two hours later. No way to pass the main entrance of the building. How would I access my flat? How would I pick up the aquarium? Was it even cold enough outside to keep the ice cream solid? Yes.

I first ran after the neighbor who had just left. But she had left. She can be so swift sometimes. Then I tried the bells of the other flats. But nobody was there. Then I called Love. But he was caught up in a workshop – he’s always in workshops when I need him. 15 minutes had already been wasted with non working solutions. As I often encounter this kind of issues, my brain works full speed. I do always have a solution. It is just that, this(ose) solution(s), especially in case of emergency, under stress, are not always the most reasonable one(s).

I considered the building. I live on the last floor. The fourth floor. Not that high. A bit high yet. On this side of the house, the windows were closed. But on the other side there was my balcony. And I had left the door of the living room open this morning! Yes, that’s right! I started to smile. Then I stopped. It would be annoying to climb from balcony to balcony with the shopping bags. And I was tired. Was it not even a bit dangerous? I am mother now, I have to keep care for my neck and my back, otherwise I can’t carry Babylove when he’s too tired to walk. I un-considered the building, and the whole balcony trip altogether.

Considering how I feel physically now, I would almost regret not having flushed the fishies away. But as I am emotionally connected to my son and he's to the fish...

I turned my back on the facade and there stood the old man. I had not heard him coming. Must have been a spy or something in his younger years – I really have a good ear. He asked me if I was ready. I had spent ten minutes considering the facade. One look at me and he understood that I had no fish with me. He asked me what I would do then, and the image of a goldfish sliding down the pipeline toilet flashed in my mind. I saw his sad face and asked him if he had an extra five minutes for me. He nodded. I climbed up.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ghostwriter.”

Desperate times, desperate measures