31 Day Journal Project – Day 25

Oups! A few weeks ago, I was suppose to make a smashing comeback but looks like I only had the opportunity to write 1 article. Bad bad Ben! Now, let’s get back to it.

On this 25th article of the challenge, we are asked to help ourselves on the switches of manliness series in order to identify the one we lack the most in our current life. The assignement is starting by saying: ”There comes a time in every man’s life where he just feels…meh. He’s not happy about things, but he’s not depressed either.” Oh boy… This quote is so going to help me recommit myself into this challenge…

Anyway, the serie introduces 5 switches: Physicality, Challenge, Legacy, Provide & Nature. So, let’s study all of them if I want to identify the one missing from my life.

                Physicality

Those of you who saw me IRL know that I am not a very physical man. I am a skinny guy who can be compared with a shrimp in France (I’m not aware for the metaphor in England, sorry). Always have (always will?) and the good side of it allows me to eat substantial amount of food without putting any weight at all :) That being said, I’m very glad to report my weekly performance: I now run at least 1 hour (or 10kms according to RunKeeper) in a week. It might not look very much but for me it is quite an achievement. I am not a sports guy (unless there is a TV involved), running was always hell in school thanks to this crapy PE teacher and I do not have a very acute competitive sense.

Even though, I’m very glad I found my way back to sport in the beginning of March (and thanks to nouille-h), sticking to my schedule and experiencing good sensation once my session is over. A few days ago I even tried this, to help getting in good shape. But it was a no-go: I couldn’t follow the pace, I wasn’t sure I was doing the right move… I stopped after 1min. Maybe I’ll try again, or I’ll try the Lafey method instead which is very popular in France.

Anyway, I’m feeling so good running (well, most of the time) that I miss my bike very much. I would also love play badminton again (the only sport I was quite good at in upper secondary school (geez, it is hard to switch from FR to UK school system!) and I possess some great and cheerful memories of climbing sessions from lower secondary school (memories revived by Rikk) that I desperately want to try again!

Sadly, even if I try to go out every day (and I grow tired of new place to go…), I must admit I spend most of my days sit down on a char or on the sofa. It surely is related to my current unemployment though; I hope everything I put in motion these past few weeks will help me getting back on the right tracks.

That’s why I believe this switch is ON and I hope it stays for long.

                Challenge

It might sound a bit dramatic but for the past 7 years, I didn’t had any other choice that to challenge myself in my everyday life. The problem is: it happened too soon and no one was around to see/help/talk/advise…

It started when I was 18. I won’t go into too many details in here but I sort of had to figure out how to live on my own while I started University. Long story short, it didn’t go well. At this point, I would’ve loved for someone to throw me something else to help me re-think my life. But it didn’t happened and I was stuck in my very own challenge, trying to succeed.

The second challenge occurred when I decided to drop out of university. The failure was formal. I did succeed some stuff but not enough to be really pleased with myself. I had to take yet another challenge. Somehow, like some sort of leap of faith, I left my apartment, packed all my belongings and went to England. I needed this 6 years ago but, better late than never I guess. And this challenge was a success. I met some very nice persons, had a lot of fun and it was the first stress-free period since University.

I tried to organise my comeback the best I could but once again, I failed miserably. It took me some time to find something else but eventually (with the gigantic help of my best friend) I managed to get a new challenge, something that could help me reach the next chapter of my life. I can be quite slow to establish all the means to this end but I really think I have a shot at this.

So, I consider this switch ON as well, but it looks like it is a much more fragile and sensitive one and I must keep an eye on it so it doesn’t flip back.

Legacy

All right, this one is definitely switched OFF. I can’t think of anything right now that could help building my legacy or at least start one. But I still got plenty of time, haven’t I? I hope so.

Provide

They say: “It is often activated, just not in a very productive way.” And it looks like they are right about it. I’m always having trouble planning ahead because until today, it always felled apart. However, I try sometimes to put some things in motion like making a daily schedule but I no good at maintain it, even if I really want to. Maybe I see myself too much through others lately, I’m afraid I would be wiped out of the surface of this world if I started to act all independent, like I’m not important in the big scheme of this universe. But once again, I trust it would change when I manage to get things going on a professional level first (and then, maybe on the personal one).

Nature

Even if I claim to be an urban guy, I do enjoy some time at the countryside. It is indeed a great way to disconnect. And I mean it literally because where I go, there is no Internet and it is very difficult to get a proper 3G signal! Not sure about the fact it fights depression as I tend to believe loneliness can be a hell of a bitch but nature is sure is a place who promotes calmness and sharpness. It’s been a long time since I’ve slept in a tent and I kind of miss it. I nostalgically remember the summers when we spent our days outside, building sheds in the woods, biking all afternoon long and only went back home for dinner and bed. I would love to try hiking in the Pyrénées with a competent partner. I terribly miss those mountains. We used to go over there every year when I was a kid. And with our motor home, we spent extraordinary time in the mountains during summer.

So yes, this is a switch I would gladly turn back ON!

Live report – Franz Ferdinand

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Quick break from my challenge so I can report from a live performance I saw on Saturday’s night at Nancy’s Zénith. My flatmate offered me tickets to the show as a Christmas present. I just pointed at the poster announcing the gig on the streets and said “Hey, do you know the band? I really like it, it could be great to see them, don’t you think?” And the next step, I had 2 tickets in front of me, in a bar, on December 23rd. Isn’t she the greatest?

I have to admit, it was pretty difficult to wait that long to enjoy it. But the date finally showed up and I was ready for it as I spent a lot of time listening again the complete discography of the band which I possess in my music library. I was still a teenager when I discovered the band on the radio and really like it in a matter of seconds. Of course, hearing “Take me out” a lot on national radios helped a bit to maintain my recent crush. However, I must point that I enjoy even more the tracks which are not played on radio but the one you can only found on the album. To me, “Eleanor Put Your Boots On” is one of their best.

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But never mind all that. On Saturday, it was all about me and the Franz for a hell of a live performance. I didn’t know they would give only 3 gigs in France so when I figured it out, I was feeling a bit lucky to be part of it. Even if the concert hall was far from being full.

First of all, we had the pleasure to discover Teleman as the opening act of the evening.  It is some sort of an indie band according to the Guardian. They performed about 6 or 7 songs and it was very pleasant even if the audience was maybe a little cold, not supporting them a lot. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed their performance and I’ll try to stay inform on their future activities.

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After a quick break, the show took off as the 4 musicians went on stage. And since that moment, we were up to an hour and a half of a great rock show! The scenography was pretty simple (maybe too simple) but we were here to listen and shout and dance on some good British rock, nothing else. They almost played the entire last album and add some stuff from the older ones like “Take me out”, “Ulysses”, “No you girls” or “Do you want to”. The teenager inside of me was in a trance state, shouting loud all the lyrics of these “old” songs. I hadn’t enough time to learn the lyrics of the last one. As I was saying, there were no elaborated scenography during the show but we had a hell of a light show, always in tune with the music and urging everyone to get up and jump nonstop!

All the musicians were in an electric mood as well, jumping everywhere, playing with the audience and giving us a hell of a performance. So, kudos to you guys, you did very well! The only sad point is that it was way too short!!! In the mean time, the last album is very short as well so I guess they won’t play songs longer than they are (even if they were making them last longer so we could sing along).

In the end, it was a terrific show and I’m very glad to have the opportunity to see them perform live!

ffSorry for the bad quality of the pictures, my smartphone is not very young and not great at low brightness…

31 Day Journal Project – Day 24

Dear Lord! 3 weeks without any post in here… Looks like he can’t keep his word, he won’t finish this challenge… Well, surprise! Here I am!

I don’t want to justified myself on the reasons why I haven’t been blogging these past few weeks but I had some stuff to occupy myself.

In the beginning of March, my flatmate and I received a couple of friends for a few days, one from Strasbourg and one from Montpellier. Currently living in eastern France, there is not a lot of opportunities for us to meet so we had a lot of fun and a lot and a reasonable amount of parties and drinks^^ After that, and thanks to nouille-h, I started some physical training by running around a park, like a guinea pig :) I didn’t run since high school but now I am “forcing” myself to run at least 30 minutes twice a week. And so far so good! I even managed to improve my performances by improving my running distance from 4.5 to 6 kms in less than 3 week. So I must keep this good habit! And kudos for nouille-h ;)

During those weeks, I also tried to enjoy the fantastic weather we had! My flatmate promised me a freezing winter but I’m glad to report that we had none of it! Instead, I even enjoyed a walk in a park with a short sleeve T-shirt! It felt so nice! Sadly today, the weather is back at a cold, grey and rainy standard… Call it a bit of a “vacation” after receiving 2 lunatic friends :D

And then—just to finish off—serious business is ahead of me. If I tried to study a bit from time to time during the last months to refresh my memory with a lot of very cool scientific knowledge, the applications for jobs are starting to be published. And every time, it is the same story: you have a 10 pages long  and boring form to complete and to send back to the correct address with a few extra paper proving you are not a complete twat. And it takes an awful lot of prep and thinking to do it the right way. I had a deadline on the 20th of March and another one on the 31th so I’d better crack on. Still, I think I manage to organise my days so I try to waist less time and that’s why I can finally get back to you!

Oh! I almost forgot! Rikk is back at his after quite a long break so this is partially why I’m back at mine, even if I’m still miles ahead :p 

Let’s go back then to day 24 then on the art of manliness challenge. On this day, they ask of us to think about culture; the fact that we consume it more than we producing it.

I won’t disagree with the statement; I am the first to consume a lot of cultural stuff thanks to Internet and sadly enough not through the most legal ways. I am completely aware of the copyrights and all the laws forbidding me to do so. But I can’t help it, hiding myself with this true but easy excuse: I do not have a salary I can count on buy legally all the things I watch or listen. Strangely enough, I take a particular pride to buy every book I read even if I can also find them on Internet.

And when I say I hide behind my statement, it is not completely true because when I have a job, I try to buy some DVD box sets or some vinyl to make amends for the times I use µTorrent. It is not much but I like to think it is good for my karma.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I would be able to produce a lot of interesting cultural stuff. I guess I would be more focus on sharing it and helping people discovering it. I’m sure it’s because, living in a secluded place when I was young, I didn’t have access to any of the wonders I discovered late in my life. My parents were not big consumers of culture either so I didn’t have any role model to open my eyes to those things. Internet arrived in my village by the time I was 13 or 14 I believe (it was a shitty connexion with 20 hours per months, unbelievable for a kid today!) and I started slowly to discover some fantastic TV shows/Books/Stories/Hobbies and it took me ages to sharpened my tastes. Twitter helped a lot and I’m still spying on some friends accounts to find some new music to like or some new TV show to start.

So if I had to do something to help propagate culture I guess I’d go into some big estates in the suburbs where it is often hard to take and interest into culture and help the kids discovering their own tastes so then can evolve and grow passions faster than I could.

31 Day Journal Project – Day 23

Everyone has focus issues. This has been a problem, mostly when I wanted to stay concentrated during mid terms exams or else. Sadly, I found that I can hardly stay focus for more than 2 hours and a half. After that, my mind is automatically redirected to some useless stuff. That’s why I only reviewed my lectures and university courses for about that amount of time. After that, I needed to “clear my head” with something completely different before going back again to study my lectures. I work on an “alternative” basis.

I had some distractions back then. I still do today and they are pretty much the same.

Twitter can be a hell of a distraction! Even if I don’t follow a lot of people, there is almost something new to read every 2 or 3 minutes. It’s ok when it is just a tweet but when there is a link to an article that sounds interesting, you can be suck into a time vortex and forgot all about what you were suppose to do in the first place. Nowadays, I use Pocket to store the more interesting articles so I can read them later. It’s a bit procrastinating and I don’t know if I’ll have time one day to read them all but I try to keep a low number of favourite tweets on my account.

Tumblr can be a bitch as well. Ironically, today is the 3rd birthday of my Tumblr account \o/ I’ve been avoiding it for a few months because, weaned from the Internet, I wasn’t up to date about some TV shows like Doctor Who and Sherlock. And you must be aware that spoilers are a regular habit of Tumblr. As I did not want to be spoiled, I avoided it. But now I’m back and it feels good to have another place where you can scroll down infinitely and keep on discovering new things, depending on the accounts you subscribed.

I must confess also that for me, the basic card games on Windows can be quite a distraction! They are the silliest games but I’m obsessed to make perfect stats on FreeCell and the best I can on Klondike. I’m not proud of that fact.

In addition, I watch a lot of TV shows. This is related to my first university years when I spent a lot of time in front of my first laptop. To date and according to myepisodes.com, I saw 267 different TV pilots. I didn’t follow through all those shows still, it looks like I have spend around 8 months, 2 weeks, 9 hours and 26 minutes in front of my screen (without reruns). That’s a lot! I reduced the amount of shows I am currently watching a couple of months ago, henceforth I do not have 20 episodes to watch in a week anymore. Still, I have a couple of shows sleeping on my hard drive in case of shortage.

In the end, I’m glad to see I can regulate the amount of distractions I currently have so I can focus more on my coming exams. I still have to read everything on my timeline but I can delay watching episodes. Only a few fantastic shows must be seen the day they are broadcast, otherwise I can wait a bit. I didn’t even started on House of Cards season 2, this is quite an achievement!

31 Day Journal Project – Day 22

Back to something I might be more inspired. I don’t know if it is very healthy or not but I often conceived it. Today we have to picture our life if we had a liveable income for the rest of our life. Even if in my dreams I have shitloads of money by winning the lottery, I can maybe extrapolate to a situation where I can only live without working but also without a lot of money to spend.

I am currently in a situation where I am living thanks to the good will of others which is quite difficult to bear on a daily basis. I have contracted a huge debt to someone very close to me over the last 8 years or so. I know he doesn’t see it that way but I can’t help but think I owe him a lot.

I have an unusual relationship with money. I’m not tightwad (pretty much the opposite in fact when it comes to share with others) or spendthrift but I do keep a close eye on everything I spend in my everyday life as the result of an early education to money management. And just like one is not enough, I just started to contract a second one a few months ago who worries me just as much because I don’t know how I’ll be able to repay it one day.

So, if I had a liveable income every month I’ll try to save some to make a substantial present to both of them. It won’t repay my debt (far from it) but I’m a man of symbols so it’s the thought that counts. I won’t be able to accomplish my wildest desires for them but I’ll try to do something nice. After that, I’ll have a very long round-the-world trip. Just me (with a companion maybe?), a backpack, a camera and the world as a playground. Who wouldn’t love it?

Once I’ll saw everything I want to see (meaning, a couple of years after at least), I’ll settle somewhere nice in France. Maybe close to my relatives? I’ll use the income to make at least 2 projects come alive, both related to science. The first one is to help labs getting better equipment related to what they need. Science in France is not a very rich area (even if it differs from labs to labs) so with some philanthropic work and with good connexions maybe I’ll be able to help raise money for them and make them progress faster, in a more comfortable way.

The second one is about accessibility of French studies on the international scene. We are not known to be very good in English over here and sometimes, in some labs, people can have difficulties to broadcast their ideas and papers. So, maybe an independent office of translation and lobbying could help it. For now, I do not have other ideas but I can be imaginative so I could launch other concepts if I have a good idea in mind… Be an entrepreneur for others. Sounds nice!

Oh wait! There is another project I’d like to do! Well, it is not a project literally speaking but more of a wish. You know, when you are speaking among friends of family about any subject and at some point someone say: “It could be good if I had some money…” Well, that’s it! I’m not speaking about a gigantic project or wish but going abroad on holyday, buy a costly piece of furniture you need, see a live performance, choose a random destination for a weekend… these kind of thing. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if someone in the assistance stands up and say: “Ok, I’ll make it real.” That is the sort of things I’d like to do.

And I know, it could sound very philanthropic, idealistic and utopian but I often thought about this and it always came out this way.

31 Day Journal Project – Day 21

Let’s go back to a more general topic, shall we? On the 21th day of the challenge, we are asking to take a look at the four archetypes of the mature masculine on the art of manliness website and choose the one closest to us.

After briefly reading the descriptions, I recon I am closer to the magician. I found myself a bit in the lover archetype but I didn’t want to go back on the sentimental journey again. If I have a more global vision of myself (I am not just a stack of feelings, I hope) then I must choose the magician one!

I do like the description of it, being reflective and reticent is all me. But even if I found myself in the description, I’ll have a lot of effort to make if I want to fit all the requirements. I can’t turn everything to gold as an alchemist of life, I just make do with the things I have today. No need to improve them, just enjoying the time being with what I have. I could try to improve them but I’m not specially looking for it. Maybe I need someone to kick my ass from time to time.

I also got nothing of a Spiritual mediator. I’m not a believer, more of a Cartesian man and I’m not sure there is a lot of stuff that could change my mind. Also, when I read the description I’m afraid to see that I have some attributes of the detached manipulator. However, I try not to use this side of my personality very often.

Finally, they ask us what we should do to find a balance between the 4 archetypes. After reading the King and Warrior one, I don’t really want to share some traits with them so…

Not my best blog article I’m afraid, not very inspired by the subject… Looks like I’m more comfortable with personal blogging… We’ll see tomorrow…

31 Day Journal Project – Day 20

Maybe I should blog in the morning when I’m on my own and there is not the 24 hours deadline. It could be a good way to start the day and will be less “stressful” I imagine. Because I intent to finish this (and so do you Rikk, I hope ;) ) and keep on annoying you with all my personal feelings!

Once again, let’s have a trip down memory lane. This time, the challenge asks of us to remember a period for which we have the greatest nostalgia for. Easy one for me as I keep on giving the same answer to everyone asking me this. Without any doubts, if I could go back in time, I’d choose high school! And the best part is that I wouldn’t change anything from those 3 years.

At least, not in the high school part. Because the family part… Well, let’s not go back there… So yes, I am willing to do exactly the same thing, the same routine but only with the same people! This time of my life went so fast, I do have the feeling that it went too quickly and I wanted more. It was so comfortable to get up in the morning and after a 40 minutes ride in a cursing bus who played shitty music, being with the most perfect circle of friends I ever had. They literally opened me to the world, introduced me to music I fell in love with, took me out to my first nightclub and so much more. Even if we were not in the same sections (not all of us choose the scientific option), we always managed to eat together: 12 on an 8 seats table. We were very resourceful at this time!

And we enjoyed each other company not only during school time but also to celebrate our birthdays, for a quick summer BBQ or for New Year ’s Eve! I was a bit far from where they all lived but my opinion mattered when we planned something and it was absolutely fantastic! I loved those guys. I wish I told them more often. At the end of high school, everyone went their own way. We were a few going to Nantes but some went to Rennes instead or somewhere else and we lost sight of each other a bit. There was a few events where we met again (recently, one of us got married and another one had a baby) and even if every time we meet again there is still this special chemistry between us, I have less news of them and I often have to make the first step, write the first mail if I want some news. I don’t blame them (or just maybe a bit), all of them found a boyfriend/girlfriend (all but me, yay \o/) so I trust is it more complicated to think about the lonely guy who doesn’t have a job (or someone in his life) yet.

In the end, I would want this so bad. Same friends, same students, same teachers, same bloody schedule when sometimes I was out from 6:55 am to 7:00 pm, same grades that went a bit down as the years went on (but I did get my diploma!), same everything! But this time, I guess I would try to invite them more despite I lived about 25kms away from them and I’d try to stay in touch more often. Perhaps I should write a letter and send it via Facebook? Yes, that’s a good idea!

31 Day Journal Project – Day 19

Oh well… Here goes the scariest topic of them all. Romantic relationship. Not usually something I like to talk about but from the beginning of this challenge, I already wrote articles who sound very personal to me even if I didn’t expect to do so. I suppose one more is not going to hurt… Is it?

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: I am not currently involved in a romantic relationship. The sad fact is I was never involved in this kind of relationship at all. Mostly because once again, when it was time for me to start living my teenage life and experiment in all the way possible, I was the witness of a daily war between 2 people who used to love each other. I guess it cool me down a lot and I didn’t see the point of having someone to share a bit of my life with if it eventually ends in a messy way

During this time, I was preoccupied with making good friends and keep the circle intact. That is why I never went further than friends even if I could’ve tried to have a proper romance. I went through high school without any romantic events and I kept on the same state of mind during university. However, university was the time of my life I was the most depressed so maybe I didn’t want anyone to share the same feeling with me. With time, I managed to feel better and I could’ve started to look for someone again. But still then, I had the same “friendzone system” (I still have it today) that restrained me to go further. I have to say I’m not the kind of person who’ll go in a bar or in a club by his own will. I can be seen as a happy and talkative guy but I’m mostly asocial and private. I’m having a hard time to meet someone all on my own.

I guess this is why dating apps were created! I tried them a couple of years ago, still uses them from time to time. Although, once again it is pretty hard to have a proper conversation with someone who is not particularly looking for the same thing you are. Because even if Internet and those kind of app simplifies a possible encounter, I still need to talk a lot with the person, take my time doing small talk, see if there is some sort of connexion between the two of us before actually meet the person. I’m slow, reflective and pragmatic. I guess it doesn’t help for love at first sight…

I’ve met very nice people through these apps (and still do, sometimes) but I never consider those encounters as relationship, even when it went further than just a coffee. I have a lot of trouble with the idea of “a couple” because of what I witnessed. I don’t even want to create a romantic relationship as I’m too scared of hurting the other one when (or if) we’ll have to break up one day. It might seem kind and noble from me even so it is far from it. Until a couple of years, I was feeling a bit indifferent with my bachelor situation. However, time flies and I would deeply enjoy having someone to share my up and down, who encourages me in my projects, who would like to go travelling with me, etc… Just having someone on the same wavelength as me so we can share some lovely time together.

For now, I still feel alone and miserable…

31 Day Journal Project – Day 18

Complicated task today as we have to find a project we’d like to complete with our hands. I can’t say I am very good with manual labour and I guess liking to build furniture from IKEA doesn’t count, right?

Anyway, if I have to pick something, I’ll go with cooking. It fits the “manual labour” thing, isn’t it?

I started to bake cakes a few years ago, when there was a “cupcake fever” in France. I wanted to try it so I gave it a go, bought some equipment and everything. I had some failures but in the end, I managed to cook some good stuff. But it never really was as I wanted it to be and I was kind of pissed-off not having anyone to taste my food (I did not want to finish overweight). I have some free time now so I could give it another try (with muffins, I miss Starbucks so much) but I left all my equipment in cartons when I moved out of my apartment in hurry before heading to the UK. I didn’t cook anything since.

But if I had a craving for manual labour and considered a new career move, I’d choose to learn how to build wooden stuff. I find it quite fascinating to be able to built things from A to Z. All the precision required in measurement, the long work needed to think, draw, shape a piece of wood is quite appealing to me. I see myself all alone in a shed working in the light of a candle. Not very good for a social life but it must be very rewarding to live with the work you produce with your own hands.

31 Day Journal Project – Day 17

Let’s have a quick jump in the past for this 17th day of the challenge. Thanks to this website, we are instructed to find a fact, any fact of the year we are born and comment on it. And this is what I chose to highlight:

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It mainly makes me reflect on two things:

First, I remember my childhood. When we played me and my brother with the turntable who wasn’t plug to the stereo. We had a couple of vinyl discs but I can’t remember a time when my father actually played one. It was just some sort of “toy” for us. Then, we started to listen to compact cassette as our cousins used to make “mixes” for us we could listen into the car. I wonder what our parents thought about that. I guess it wasn’t really their kind of music (the dark ages of dance/techno of the 90′) but we kind of liked it so I guess they just let us enjoy it. Personally, I grew tired of it. In the same time, my father loved to listen to some classic rock/pop music on CD on Sundays. That’s how he participated to shape my taste for this kind of music. We played the same CD over and over again. A few years later, I discovered the Internet who offered the possibility to download music for free (even if it took about half an hour just for ONE song!). Even if I don’t want to promote the process, it is a good way for a teenager in his lonely countryside, away of everything, to discover the world and some good music. I still download some music today but luckily, there is other ways to discover some good new stuff. And to complete the circle, I bought my father a new turntable and I reward him sometime with a new vinyl as a gift. I really hope he’ll share his collection when I’ll be settled in my flat!

Also, it makes me think about my grandmother. We had a lot of discussions about how life evolves quickly, and the fact that she saw everything change so rapidly. I loved the time we walked together in Nantes. While we were looking for a shop to eat, she was sharing with me her fantastic memory: before this bar here there was a groceries shop; in this building there was a man whose job was to operate the lift; the bus stop was here before and I took it to go over there; and so on… She says she is born at the right time to see all that progress and technology, she feels lucky. Even if she lived in an occupied France during WWII, I tend to agree with her. I’m not sure we’ll see as much progress in general life as she saw (I secretly hope I’m wrong). That’s why I envy her for being a witness of all this change.