Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Procrastination AND insomnia

Ah well. Can't sleep.
More about my West Coast road trip, shall we?

Here's one of my marvelous friends.

I visited Francey whilst in LA.

She lives in a beautiful and weird little house in Glendale.
It's entirely unique.

We've known each other for about 15 years,
and people often confuse one of us with the other...
or they did when we lived in the same town.

Oddly, we've "lived in the same town" on two different continents,
so there've been many opportunities for mistaken identity.
Fortunately, we both live such upright, moral lives
that no incriminating or sordid details were spilled.

You know me: Mrs. Buttoned-Up.

After Francey took me to the Getty,
we zipped over to the Norton Simon Museum.
Of course, you can't take photos inside the galleries,
but once again, the gardens were marvelous.

Look how cleverly the sculptures have been placed
to echo the landscaping.

Or perhaps it's the other way around.

Do you suppose they put in the trees to match the sculptures?

Obviously, what I know about growing trees
you could put on the head of a pin, so...

Apparently someone isn't a big fan of Barbara Hepworth.

Can you tell?

In addition to being a stellar human being,
Francey's also a talented painter.

Here's a painting Francey did of me a few years ago.

Count your lucky stars,
I've spared you the other, a nude.
Because I don't have liability insurance covering accidental blindness for my readers.

Besides, then I'd have to call myself Mrs. Unbuttoned,
and we can't have that.
This is a family blog, folks.

To end on a serene note,
here is Francey's painting of the park at Virginia Water
where she and I used to go walking.

Lovely, isn't it?
Gosh, sometimes I really miss England.

You can see more of Francey's artwork here.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Procrastination R Us

Well, I thought about working on my Museum Studies Master's dissertation today, but then that urge was overtaken, around noon, by the much stronger urge to nap. Now it's almost three in the afternoon, so it's probably time to knock off, work-wise, and that leaves just a bit of time to blog before supper. We don't really do the 9 to 5 around here, that's for sure. Well, Mr D does, and more, so I try to help out by keeping the household really balanced, and doing practically nothing. It all evens out I think.

So up top, there's a picture of me, doing my version of Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, but without lying down in a scratchy, scratchy field of grass, or showing you how big my butt looks in jeans these days, or even how quick the security guards at The Getty Museum move when it looks like a middle-aged lady is going to lie down in their very posh ornamental reeds. None of that, please, so we've just gone with the kind of pensive profile shot that ought to be on the cover of The Economist or Vanity Fair or something.

Surely my priorities are skewed.

And I think I'd sleep a lot better if I procrastinated less.

Still, it's probably marginally better to do some blogging that's both procrastinatory® and dissertation-related, so herewith I present... The Getty.

Because it's way nicer to gawp at pictures of a stellar museum and its lovely gardens, than it is to wrestle one's way through essays on the post-modern museum, or discussions about the interpretation of objects and materiality. Or papers concerning authenticity and digital reproduzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzz.

See what I mean?

The Getty Museum just as noted for its stunning setting and marvelous building as it is for its collection. That's probably a good thing, since the museum's collection seems to be diminishing year by year, due to various court-mandated repatriations of many of The Getty's illegally obtained objects.

Every view, every vantage point, offers breathtaking vistas.

I loved how, from so many angles,
the near horizon simply dropped off into nothingness.

You'd never guess that one of the world's largest cities sprawls below,
because Los Angeles is only rarely visible.

Many views have a surreal quality, like a Magritte painting.

Clouds, air, space: framed.

The inside of the building feels light and airy,
and the structural elements appear weightless, floating.

So much of the building is about texture and contrasts,
and though the building is entirely white or grayish,
the play of light on the varied surfaces creates subtle, satisfying differences in tone.

And though I'm not much of a gardener,
I found the flowers utterly captivating.

Especially the truly wacky ones. Calling Dr. Seuss!

And this one made me think of the episode of Star Trek,
where Captain Kirk is cured by the Mahko root.

And no, I'm not a Trekkie.
You can thank Wikipedia for that little tidbit.

I was much more of a Man from U.N.C.L.E. girl.
Ilya Kuryakin? Mmmmm.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Virtuous Woman

Well, I feel like an especially wonderful example of womankind these days.

Not only have I sworn off my nasty voodoo-doll habit as of yesterday (now that I've offed my arch-nemesis), but I've apparently gone off stealing as well. Who'd a thunk it?

Check out what I passed up in the hallway of the Marriott Courtyard, Ventura.

You guessed it, a cartload of Gideon Bibles!

IMG_7613, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

You long-time readers know about my penchant for lifting The Good Book. And here there were three (3/trzy/drie/trois/drei/три) Bibles on the maid's cart!

How did I let them all get away?

Was it:

  • Goodness?

  • A righteous spirit?

  • A moment of absentmindedness?


No, my friends, they were all in English, and I'm afraid I'm full up on English language Bibles these days. Had they been in Zulu or Korean or Portuguese or Latin, there'd be no doubt that my returning checked baggage would have been at least 12 ounces heavier, plus or minus a gramme or two.

As it is, I can't be bothered with Bibles in my native tongue. I crave the eccentric, the unusual, the odd. Mr D is planning a trip to Sweden in the fall, so perhaps I'll prevail upon him. Although he's mighty forgetful, and he also hates the idea of having to ship more books when we next move house, so I'm probably out of luck there.

I tried to get Rob, my friend in Moscow, to steal me a Russian Bible, but his upright Episcopal schoolboy upbringing got the better of him, and he couldn't bring himself to do it. I imagined him sitting there alone in the hotel room, opening the drawer, and shutting it. Opening it. Shutting it. Opening. No, shutting. Shutting it. Keeping it shut. At least he was thinking of me, just a little... even if only in a kind of Bible-stealing way. I'll take whatever I can get, attention-wise.

Or perhaps he was worried that the KGB would track him down at a later date? Whatever. Clearly, it's all down to me, this Bible stealing business, at the end of the day.

And come to think of it, I haven't hit up Miss T for a Scottish Bible either. What do they speak there? Besides Dour?

No, silly, it's Gaelic. Possibly a Gaelic Bible might be even more of a downer than the usual. And drat it all, I didn't even think of nicking a Welsh Bible whilst at the Hay-on-Wye Book Festival.

Obviously I need to hone my criminal skills. Opportunity lost, but there you go.


Voodoo works, apparently!

Toothpick voodoo, originally uploaded by Juha-Matti.

Oopsie daisy!

Looks like we got a little carried away over here.

Remember how expateek and Mr D were prematurely ejected from Poland? How, right before Christmas, they had to hear that they were being summarily rejected by The Company's European division? How they had to return to the USA, tails between legs and shame-faced gloriously welcomed home by the American division of the same company? And how, in the dead of winter of Warsaw they had to pack up all their belongings and how expateek cried bitter tears over it all?

And she's still sweeping up the litter from all the ticker-tape parades she's been to, here in the USA, celebrating their repatriation.

Brushing the confetti out of her gorgeous brunette locks.

Pulling at her earlobes a little, trying to adjust her tympani after hearing all the gleeful shrieks of "OMG! You're back! OMG!"

Even Mr D's been a bit verklempt over all the love and attention he's received from his American colleagues. Who knew how much he was appreciated? (Well, expateek did, of course, but very gratifying to have it confirmed that she's not the only one.)

Anyhoo, you may also remember that expateek spent a few dark and wicked hours (more than a few, in truth) wishing the most unfortunate ills upon le French boss of ze bad news, the cretin executive who visited all of this joy upon us.

Using expateek's best virtual skillz, he was, over the course of several months,

eaten by bears,

pecked to death by birds,

IMG_5791 clownboils, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.
visited with boils,

crushed in an industrial machinery accident,

5791clownhail4, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

frozen to death in a hailstorm,

attacked by sharks,


mauled by a lion,

drowned by crocodiles on the Zambezi river,

and stamped upon by expateek's foot.

Not that she harbours grudges or anything. She's as willing as the next person to let bygones be bygones.

She'd pretty much let go of all her anger and resentment, especially after her buddy Don reminded her not to be such a hater.

So you can imagine how expateek felt yesterday evening when Mr D arrived home from work and casually mentioned that le French boss of ze bad news had been demoted.

Oooooah. Quel... umm. C'est... uhhh.

expateek was at a loss for words.

Mr D smiled his cat eating the canary smile at expateek, and without much comment, he quietly opened a nice bottle of cabernet sauvignon.

Not celebrating, of course. Because that would be wrong.

No, just the usual peaceful evening at home, in America.

MORAL: Don't cross expateek, because apparently in the voodoo department she's more powerful than she looks. In spite of not knowing what she's doing. At all.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mysterious foreigner at O'Hare

We made it back from our trip up the entire west coast, only to find this sign posted adjacent to the taxi stand at O'Hare Terminal 3 Arrivals. It seemed quite sinister at half-past-midnight.

IMG_8066 siamese connection, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

What the hell could it possibly mean?

And then I realised that indeed, perhaps I am the Siamese connection.

Because look. New hat, purchased in California. Worn on the flight from Seattle to Chicago.

IMG_8084 hat1, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Probably entirely not politically correct, but hey, that's me. Always looking for new ways, both hi-tech and low-tech, to embarrass my children. Really, it's just soooo easy.

That's strange. Nothing's showing up.

IMG_8067 no shadow hat, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Hang on a moment, bear with me...

Aha. If I turn off the flash.... now that makes the photo of my shadow much more effective.

And voilà, Bob's yer uncle.

There's your mysterious Siamese tourist. Now you see her, now you don't! Or the other way round. Or something. Ach, forget it.

IMG_8068 shadow hat, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

The only question left: shall I wear the hat to the Henley Regatta next year?

Or to Ladies Day at Ascot?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the Road Again...

Well, not much news from me lately... I left the laptop at home for two weeks and after the first couple of days of painful withdrawal, I've almost adjusted. Almost. I check the Blackberry only 50 times a day, but that's about it.

We're making our way up the West Coast -- first to Los Angeles, to see my artist friend Francey for a few days, and to take in the Getty, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Gamble House. Then to Santa Barbara, where we were bit players in Aphrodite: The Extravaganza, as she graduated from UCSB on Sunday.

Now we're in Oregon, to visit family, and then it'll be up to Seattle, to see Peregrine, our eldest. Nothing like a nice relaxing 6,000 mile round trip!

Should be back to blogging at the weekend, when I've recovered from jet lag. At least it's only 2 hours difference, rather than 9.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Me and my popular friend!!!

Look what happens when you make friends with the most popular girl at school! And then she does a make-over for you over at her house, so the next day you show up all beautiful and different looking in homeroom! Wowza! Thanks, Vic!

And just disregard that I have, apparently, 735 emails in my inbox. I don't really, I just photoshopped that number in to try to make myself look super popular, like Vic. It worked, didn't it? You were fooled You believe me, right?

Because I haven't racked up enough airmiles this month, I'm off to California today to find Vic and abduct her attend Aphrodite's graduation at UCSB. Should be fun, but I'll be away from the computer for a bit. That'll be me, trying to figure out how to mobile blog during the ceremony. Because there are never enough ways to be an inattentive mother, and I like to be at the cutting edge of neglectful technological solutions.

Ta ta for now, friendies!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

How cool is that?


I was reading Vic, at What Were You Thinking? the other day, and she mentioned that she'd designed a blog header for That Blue Yak's blog header contest. I loved her design, and wrote and asked if she'd do one for me.

Incredibly, she put together my new very cool header in about four minutes flat, and even gave me instructions on how to install it. Because even though I did COBOL and Assembler programming on IBM 370 mainframes for six years during the 1980's, I'm stupid like that and need to be walked through the simplest of procedures.

Anyway, her instructions worked (ta da!) which is more than I can say for a lot of the instructions in the IBM 370 programming manuals I used to use, so I'm super impressed.

Here's her explanation behind the design.
... I chose a folk art giraffe because he's not so serious, but a little South Africa. Also a lamp post from Britain, a ruined Polish castle, and a warning sign for travelers.

Perfect! What I love the best is how the giraffe looks kind of crabby and like a total insomniac.

Could anything be more appropriate? No, my friends, no.

But now I'm worried that maybe she's been sitting outside my house, watching my lights turn on and off all over the house from 2 to 5am every night. Stop it, Vic! I know you're out there! I'm drawing the blinds now, for sure. Every. single. night.

Anyway, I told her I'd send her one of my four children as a form of payment, or goodwill, or what have you. Because it's always nice when someone else can feed and look after enjoy your kids. Don't you think?

But I just know she's gonna ask me, What were you thinking?

Go over and check out her blog. She's the funniest thing on the interwebz. Go on! Go!



Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Name is Sybil

Not really, but boy, is this weird. Yesterday and today, I've started writing various posts in my head, and I get going and then it's all, NO! We're not using expateek today! We're speaking in our own real voice.

And then I get kind of confused, because who the hell is "we"? Is this multiple personality week? Myself, expateek, and some other crowd of people in there? Like Mrs. Staines-British-Accent? Madame Speaks-English-Like-Zees? Channeling Sally Field here, but without the bad eyeglasses, please.

Sybil_DVD, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Uhhh. It's making me confused, which I suppose is a big part of the problem with multiple personality disorder. Of course, it could work to Mr D's advantage. Madame D cooks dinner, but then expateek has to clear the table, and Mrs. Staines washes up. Too bad he's never thought of exploiting this before, because he certainly hasn't gotten a lick of housework out of any of us for years! I was just going to complain to him that he shrank another one of my tennis tops when he did the laundry, but now he'll probably just tell me that he's gotten Mrs. Staines to take over, because you know how those Brits love to iron.

Hopefully, there's also a sporty Afrikaner girl in there with a rippin' open-stance forehand, and a thin and beautiful Polish girl who can teach me how to be thin and elegant, so I can fit back into my skinny jeans. I'm not gonna bet on this, but I'm pretty sure Agnieszka doesn't eat as many pierogis as expateek does.

I'm going to go take a roll-call of all the people in my head, and get back to ya.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First person personal

Well, today I got a great email from a perfect stranger and a new friend, LC who hails from a place in Belgium that's too small to name. (And if you're wondering where in heck that might be, all I can say is, take out your map of Belgium and your magnifying glass, my friend, and get cracking.)

LC wrote a lovely letter, commiserating on my difficulties in South Africa, and telling me she enjoyed my writing,

I am a South African (please don't let that stop you reading) living in Belgium. I came across your blog a few weeks ago and was transfixed and horrified by your experiences in SA. You made me laugh and cry - the memories, the accents, the funny sayings and your wonderful style of writing. I read all about the SA and Poland experiences and often wondered about the time in between. The gaps made me ache for you and made me so sad for my beautiful country. I left many years ago to go to London where I married a Brit but my heart keeps straying back.

I lived in Natal (in the foothills of the Drakensberg), we holidayed in wild places on the coast and my sister lived in Cape Town where I also spent part of my holidays. I do so hope you went to some of those places as they are so utterly beautiful. I know you went on safaris and to Namibia which I am glad about (although I have done neither!).

I never lived in Jo'burg either and have no desire to. I know there is horrific crime throughout the country and am not sure I would like to live there again, even though I still have family there. By the way, a relative of mine was married to Alan Paton who wrote "Cry, the Beloved Country" - oh how sad he would be to see it now, albeit with roles reversed.

And then she said this:

I notice you still retain "expateek" and refer to yourself in the third person, which I think I remember you saying was a way of detaching yourself from the "you" of JHB and which was so understandable. I hope you don't mind me asking why you haven't reverted to the first person and that I much preferred your way of writing back then. Felt closer to you then, but perhaps that is the reasoning behind the idea!

So perceptive, LC!

I wrote back:

What a wonderful letter!

It's not often that people weigh in ... even comments are hard to come by, and so often I wonder if anyone's really reading. Actually, the little widget-counter things let you know about some activity, but it's really hard to tell whether people are reading or just clicking through. I did notice you, tho... in fact was wondering again today who you were, because it seemed like you must have read through the whole blog from beginning to end. I was impressed by your ability to sit still for so long!

I still love South Africa. It is such a beautiful country, and when I really think back on it and remember... the hot dry air in Jozi, the flowering trees all over, all the people walking in the dust, the hawkers, the cool of the patios in the restaurants, the Afrikaans section of the bookstores.... It makes me weirdly homesick for a place I hardly stayed long enough to call home.

I'm still sorry, in some ways, that I spent most of the second year in London, but I was going through a mess of a time and was terrified in Jo'burg after the robbery. My husband and I were also going through a dreadful bit. I just hated him, as I'd not wanted to go to SA in the first place, and the build-up of resentment of move after move after move had poisoned my point of view.

He also traveled a lot while in SA, and worked impossible hours, so I was on my own a lot. And by a lot, I mean a lot. It meant locking myself in, evenings, behind the trellie doors to the bedroom, waiting to hear the gnnrrr of the outside gates and the bip bip bip of the alarm deactivation, which meant that he was home, and that there were now two of us to listen for housebreakers. Lovely.

I had some very nice friends in Jozi, and something of a social life, but mostly I just wanted to be back in London (the prior posting) with my old friends there, living my life as it had been before SA.

Also, having live in help (Oscar and Towela) drove me insane. I like being by myself, rather a lot, having quiet time to read or write... after 25+ years of non-stop childrearing I feel I deserve some down-time. But I'm terrible with boundaries, and I felt like I'd gotten my kids out of the house, finally, and then had adopted two more needy and somewhat child-like dependents.

Forgive me if that sounds horrible, but I just didn't know how to set limits, and suffered from my stupidity as a result. I think Saffers are a lot better at managing that relationship stuff with maids/household help, having done it their whole lives. For me, it was an irritating mystery, and I found myself driving Oscar around, like downtown to the Home Office by Jeppe St, where it's super easy to get hijacked or shot, for example, and wondering what in the hell I was doing.

The truly weird thing was, that once I was back in London (ostensibly to be closer to my daughters) I was working full time and sort of "single-ish" -- i.e., neither exactly "married" nor "unmarried" in other people's eyes, so no one knew what to make of me. "Is she getting divorced? Is she after my husband? What's she doing? Well, there's just one of her, so I won't have her to dinner, it'll make the table uneven.... and besides, she works most evenings anyway." So I ended up slaving away in a dismal rainy country with a very different life than I'd had a year and a half previously. It was pretty odd. I somewhat enjoyed my work (teaching Pilates, which I'd started training to do in Jozi) but worked for someone who wasn't very ethical or intelligent, so that took some of the fun away too.

I finally realised, when my husband invited me to go with him on a trip he was going on to Thailand, from SA, in May 2007, that I was going to be missing out on the times-to-come that we had both worked so hard for. As if, just when things might perhaps get easier and more fun (more travel, more time to enjoy each other again without kids to worry about so much), that I was about to throw it all away in a fit of stubborn, hysterical, post-traumatic pique.

So I went with him to Thailand and had a lovely time, then went to visit him in Poland once he moved there (early August). I spent the whole visit, practically, in bed. (Not like that!) No, just utterly and completely exhausted and could hardly lift my head for a cup of tea. I lay in bed, listening to Chopin and looking out the second story window at the willow branches swaying gently outside, and thought... "what in the feck have I done with my life?" By the end of the weekend, I'd decided to join him in Poland, and went back to London to tie up loose ends and give notice on my flat. What a relief!

Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of time to write that year in London, and honestly, I was SO depressed, it would have just been a misery to read. I wept buckets. Honestly, could never wear any eye makeup because my eyes were teary and red most of the time. My life felt like such a disaster and I just couldn't figure out what to do. When my head finally cleared, in August, in Poland, I could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Guess that's what PTSD or whatever you call it will do to you.

I literally felt like an entirely other person for about a year and a half.

It's really interesting that you mention the 1st person/3rd person thing. I've really been struggling with this. I wonder if it's related to that "not myself" kind of feeling as well. Sometimes I find the construct cloying and irritating... I think I "caught it" from IAMBOSSY and Derfwad Manor (Mrs. G) and have thought often about how to give it up. I think it's kind of a self-protective mechanism, a way of being funny without revealing too much of myself. But it does keep people at a distance as well.

To be honest, you've hit the nail on the head, and I'm actually sick of writing that way. It also doesn't really fit somehow with being back in America (besides the whole expat/expateek business which obviously doesn't exactly apply any more). Perhaps part of it too is the whole unresolved anger at the way we were treated by the French corporation, and giving myself permission to virtually torture "management" with no internet trail....

Thank you for saying you liked the old style better. I have wondered about this, and it's so interesting to get outside input. Any suggestions about how to effect the change (back to my real self?)...

And, readers Reader? Any thoughts?

I'm feeling very naked here, in my first person persona.

Don't leave me standing here all alone...


Monday, June 1, 2009

Me and Camus at Yale

You've heard of Camus, haven't you? Oh puleeeze. The French man of letters? The grumpy existentialist who didn't want his work to be labeled existentialist? Of course you have.

To tie in with the 1st of June, which is officially part of Plagues Week according to expateek, you get to hear a little story from expateek's formative years involving The Plague, by Camus. Then, if there's time, we'll unleash another plague on some unsuspecting victim the French boss of the bad news.

Many many years ago, expateek was going on a tour of universities with her father, in the hopes of choosing where she would spend the next four years of her life. She visited Swarthmore, and Bryn Mawr. She dropped by Princeton, Mount Holyoke, and Smith. She saw Brown, Wellesley, and Harvard. And she visited Yale.

She applied to several of those universities, but she most definitely DID NOT apply to Yale, because after she saw the type of students at Yale? Not so interested.

expateek had the obligatory interview with Admissions, while Dad was off colluding with the Yale economics faculty about labor economics or some such esoterica. She finished up her interview, and then decided to go outside to the lovely park in front of the main buildings, so she could read her book, La Peste, by Camus.

Surely, she thought, a lovely girl sitting on a park bench in New Haven, reading a book in the original French, would be ever so captivating. Perhaps some handsome Yalie might even stop and exchange a witticism or two about the banalities of life, or the existential sorrows of university, or..? The possibilities were endless. expateek sat and read about bubonic plague and les bubons in the park. Because she knew how attractive pestilence and pustules could be.

Then, from afar, she heard the clack, clack, clack of someone walking in platform shoes. (Yes, it was the 70's, since you ask.) The clacking slowly came nearer. It was an odd, three beat clacking, though. Two footfalls, and then a third metallic tap.

expateek's curiosity got the better of her. She looked up.

Approaching her from across the park was a tall black man, dressed entirely in a purple three-piece suit. He wore a purple cowboy hat with a huge purple feather plume stuck in the band, and purple glitter platform shoes. And carried a silver-topped purple walking stick, which provided the interesting third tap.

expateek quickly cast her eyes back down to her book.

The tapping and clacking came closer and closer. And closer.

And then suddenly, Mr Purple had joined her on the park bench.

Whatchoo readin', beautiful?

expateek didn't answer. She suddenly couldn't speak. Jumping Jehosephat, what the hell was she supposed to do here? She was too polite terrified to tell the dude to get lost, so she decided on the spur of the moment to pretend she was deaf. Or mute. Or something. She tried to keep reading.

I say, girl. Whatchoo readin'?

Mr. Purple continued, perhaps sensing that expateek had been rendered speechless by his amazing pimp-style splendour.

That book in another language? You read French, girl? Thas' so sexy, baby.

Oh sh*te. Suddenly "sexy" was the last thing expateek wanted to be.

Um. I'm just waiting for my dad. He'll be here in a minute, expateek said in a tiny mouse-like peep.

Yo' daddy? Why, baby, I be yo' daddy. You know, ah gotta whole stable o' beautiful girls jes' like you. Why donchoo come strollin' with me, back across the park, and come see mah house. It's beautiful, baby, jes like you.

OMG! It's the invitation to come to his house and join his business! As a ho'! How awesome is that? What in God's name was expateek supposed to do now?

expateek gulped, closed her book (carefully folding down the page corner so she wouldn't forget where she was) and said in a firm trembling voice, I think I hear my dad calling me. I have to go. Cuz that used to work on the playground ten years before and it sounded kind of plausible and not rude.

She stood up and started walking toward the Admissions building.

Don't be like that, baby! You can have yo' own room, even, at mah house! Jes' come on with me and have a look.

expateek heard the *clack clack tap* of Mr Purple following her. She walked faster.

Come on, girl. It'll be fiiiiine. The *clack clack tap* was keeping pace behind her.

expateek walked faster still. The *clack clack tap* sped up.

Suddenly, expateek made the biggest decision of her young life.

We'll see if The Dude can run in his flippin' platforms.

Short answer? He couldn't. Or wouldn't. And expateek tore pell-mell, all the way back to the Yale admissions building, arriving with heart pounding, and breathless with terror.

And that's how expateek made the decision to avoid a life of vice, and also a life at Yale, and she went to Wellesley instead.

But meanwhile, it's Plagues Week! And the plague of the day is.... HAIL!

Ah, look. Our favorite friend is walking, once again, on the streets of Rueil-Malmaison, just outside Paris. A lovely day, and yet...

What is this? A cloud passes overhead. Are these the blossoms from one of the flowering trees lining the boulevards of Paris? But no, eet ees a bit cold. Non, it cannot be hail. Non! But it is! Hein! How ees zees possible?

Let us try to capture this rare meteorological phenomenon on film!


5791clownhail1, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

5791clownhail2, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

5791clownhail3, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

5791clownhail4, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

5791clownhail4, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

expateek knows what you're thinking to yourselves. Shouldn't she have intervened, when she realised that le boss was going to be buried in piles of hail, dying a cold and painful death on that lovely French pavement?

Sorry, but that question only reveals your ignorance, people. Professional reporters simply report the facts, documenting the news as it happens. They cannot insert themselves into events they are covering. It's simply not done in journalism. Unfortunately, some lives will be lost, but ... how do you say it in French? C'est la vie.