Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pins & needles

My mom’s white bloodcell count is down, and I’ve been suffering from colds and sore throats on and off for the last 4 weeks. Put one and two together, and you have it : I’m not allowed to go anywhere near her. I’m stuck here in the apartment, looking at walls that are cold and white, and still give no hint of being « home » . I feel my life has been uprooted the last 10 months, in every sense of the word, and here I am…floating somewhere, trying to get a grip – without any success.
This stupid blog being the only place I can come to spill it all out – that is, with a serious amount of sensoring, as it is, allas, not completely anonymous.
The one person who’s always been there for me, out of reach. Telling me she’s happy to see I’m doing so well…Ha, what am I to say or do ? Mom, sorry, but actually I’m falling to pieces and I feel there’s nothing left of me ? No, right, not an option. I have to be there for her, smiling, supporting, not giving her the slightest notice of the fact that I’d much rather throw in the towel. Being a puppet held by a few strings : get up in the morning, go to work, come here, try to get through the evening alone by staring at a screen, go to sleep in a bed that gives me awful backpains, other nights standing in traffic jams for two hours to get to my parents, and in between weekends where I try to find the energy to spend « quality time ».
Sorry, bad day. Must be the fever.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The wedding

M&A got married Saturday. After blowing us all of our socks 10 years ago, when A (barely 20) got pregnant. After surprising us again, 3 years later, by getting pregnant again. And finally, after amazing all of us by being such a wonderful, happy family throughout the years – while we were still carelessly enjoying our days at university.
So two days ago, they wanted to show the world what we already knew: that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. And they did it in vibrant red colours, for the law and for the church, surrounded by family and friends.

P was M’s Best Man, so we were there from early Saturday morning, until, yes, early Sunday morning. It was a long day, filled with lots of emotions. The 14-year old girl in me realizing that my first crush was getting married. The year-long friend in me being very very proud of him. The 7-jear long girlfriend in me wondering if I will ever have such a day, or if the dream is really irreversibly broken.

Since we all go way back in time, this marriage was a reunion at the same time. The party itself was held in the same place were we had our high school parties, where we all played a part in “Peter Pan”, and where we graduated. That alone provided a serious amount of nostalgia. Throw in a couple of old teachers (as M’s dad was our teacher, and later principal), and a handful of high school friends we hadn’t seen in 14 years, and the night was way too short to handle it all. (the fact that the bar was the only place where you could talk didn’t really help in my case – way too many bubbles!).

Anyway, the night was closed by hugging the people we love & share lots of memories with, and by driving home through a fierce autumn storm. M&A have jumped on the plane, enjoying a well deserved honeymoon – and I’m also on a trip; down memory lane, that is...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Show off or shut up

What I’ve noticed over the past few weeks, is that my INSEAD experience has left me with knowledge – knowledge I can’t use, because otherwise people will think of me as a bragging miss-know-it-all.
A few examples :

Conversation over lunch at work
A : Can you believe it – his wife is going on a business trip to Dubai !
B : Dubai ?? Wow – isn’t that in the Middle East ?
A : yeah, apparently it’s booming over there ; lots of new companies and so.
Ok, please tell me - what do I have to do in such a situation ?
- Just be myself, and tell what I know ? "Uhm yeah, I know about 10 people in Dubai, who recently moved there to work for company X, Y and Z. P was contacted as well by a company in Dubai. And you know what else ? You don’t get taxed over there."
- Or : just sit there, and nod along at the question "isn’t that in the Middle East ?" (which is what I did)

Conversation with some friends
A : You know how to tell when your pasta is ready, right ? You throw it against the wall, and if it sticks, it’s good !
B : Yeah, I know – than it’s just "al dente".
A : Hmhm, I like it when it’s still like that.
Again – what to do ?
- Guys, one of my best friends in France was from Bologna, and in Italy they are simply horrified when they hear about this method. What we call "al dente" over here, is simply "cooked way too long" over there.
- Or : yeah, I do that as well ! (which is what I said)

So here I am, with all my "knowledge" - not daring to use it, because I’m afraid I’ll sound like I’m bragging and showing off. Which brings me right back were we started, and what I wrote almost a year ago, on November 19, 2007.
Back then, it was just the MBA itself I couldn’t explain to people – now it’s still that, and soooo much more. From "No, I didn’t actually practise my French a lot, we spoke English all the time" to "No, it really wasn’t like an 8-month holiday for me, and yes, I could really use one now". From "Yes, we all felt like we knew eachother for years after a month" to "No, my boyfriend is never home before nine PM, at the earliest".

I’m so tired of the huge differences between my life and the lives of the ones surrounding me – and the impossibility of explaining it all without giving the wrong impression - that shutting up and nodding at methods for screwing up pasta is what I do. And if somebody finds out that working in Dubai is tax-free, they won’t have it from me !