Sunday, December 29, 2013

Amsterdam



Despite the cold temperature, Amsterdam is warming up to me. I’m currently sitting in a restaurant, drinking Amstel upon the bartender’s patriotic recommendation. I had to visit three museums before I could admit that Amsterdam is not a carbon copy of Portland, Oregon. I think ever since the 24-Hour Church of Elvis closed down, Portland is lacking in museums. And, although both cities are bicycle crazy, Amsterdam trumps Portland in the bicycle category too.

On the subway, a woman sitting across from me leaned forward and spoke to me in Dutch. When I said I didn’t understand, she switched to English. “Is there camouflage on my face?” I figured she meant foundation and assured her that her makeup looked nice. We talked for a little bit and she told me I have to go to the Red Light District. “You have to see the ladies,” she said. Well, I never got around to that, but here’s what I did accomplish in Amsterdam. 


Last night, I finally got into the Van Gogh Museum. It has a really hip ambiance with a DJ playing new wave music and stylish people drinking cocktails. Seeing everything over the course of Van Gogh’s ten-year career, I could see the work improve and become distinct and the colors go from subdued to electric. I was interested to learn that Van Gogh not only put a lot of thought and preparation into his paintings, but he also planned the way they should be hung. He did two versions of The Bedroom with a yearlong gap between them and it’s the first version that is the most well-known. 

I read an article recently that revealed a new theory into Van Gogh’s death, that he didn’t kill himself but rather allowed himself to die after some boys accidentally shot him. I don’t know what’s true but the people at the Van Gogh Museum stick to the traditional story that Van Gogh committed suicide.

Another museum I went to was the Anne Frank museum. Visitors can see where Anne Frank, her family and another family hid from the Nazis, until they were betrayed and sent to concentration camps. A revisionist like Van Gogh, Anne Frank wrote a second draft of her diary. Her bedroom walls still have the pictures she put up, including one of chimpanzees having a tea party and a self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci. Her height chart on the wall revealed that she was tall for her age. She was my height (5’6) the last time she was measured. 

At the Rijks Museum, I felt dizzy and a little overwhelmed by the maze-like building and the masses of people. I saw the Rembrandts and Van Dykes and then I left. I wish I had more to say about the Rijks Museum, but I wasn’t in the right mood or state of health to enjoy it.


Amsterdam is a beautiful city. I hope to come back, but it will have to be with friends.



Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas in Paris


 












I’m missing Paris already. Before going, I had heard differing views from friends and acquaintances. One friend who visits Paris often told me, “Paris is the most beautiful city in the world.” A guy I met at a party in Portland, Oregon, took a drag on his cigarette and said “I was definitely NOT impressed with Paris.” A Qatari woman I met while working in Doha told me, “Paris does not have nice restaurants, but be sure to go to Disneyland.” I don’t know if her prognosis of Paris dining was based purely on a Muslim viewpoint. I myself didn’t have a problem ordering French dishes au jambon. I loved the food and I think Disneyland was the one attraction I did not check out during my five-day stay in the city of art and love and all things fabulous. The only person I concur with wholeheartedly is my friend who said Paris is the most beautiful city in the world.

I rented a tiny studio through the website Airbnb. Viktor, the man who rents out the apartment, met me bright and early so he could give me the key. He gave me directions for where to get a SIM card, a travel adapter and other essentials. He had prepared a fruit basket, a bottle of wine, bottles of water and orange juice to make my stay more comfortable.

On my first day, I went to Notre Dame and the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. Later, I was in the subway rifling through my bag for my guide book. I had written the code for entering my apartment building inside the book. At the same moment that I was struck by the realization that I had left it somewhere and had therefore locked myself out, a man approached me and asked me out for a drink. “I’m not interested,” I said, as I walked away in a panic. The man followed me, “You’re American, yes? I want to get a drink with you.” At this point I turned to him and yelled, “Leave me alone!” I had learned this phrase in French and had even practiced it with a French friend, who said it was more likely to make men laugh than obey the order. Saying it in English had the desired effect. The man quickly altered his path to get away from me, so that if anybody turned to look, they wouldn’t know who I had yelled at.













I retraced my steps, looking for my guidebook. I tried to call Viktor, hoping he could give me the code to the building. My attempts to call him only added to my panic. It seemed my new French SIM card wasn’t working. I went back to Shakespeare and Company.  I didn’t find my guidebook, but my search led a nice woman to ask me what was the matter. She offered to let me use her phone to call Viktor and I was able to get through to him. Then the nice woman, whose name was Terry, invited me out for a beer. We went to the Latin Quarter and chose a sports bar that was very American. Finding a place that served beer proved to be harder than finding places that served wine. At the sports bar, I think all the French people there wanted to pretend they were American, whereas I was more interested in pretending to be French.

Terry, who is a PhD student in geology and astrophysics, was so friendly and fascinating to talk to. In return for her favor of letting me use her phone, I helped her choose last-minute Christmas gifts for her niece and nephew. She wanted to buy them children’s books, and on that subject I happen to be an expert.

The following night, Terry and I met in Montmartre and went to a brasserie decorated with antique clocks and cool art. And because we were right next to the beautiful Sacre Coeur church, which is the highest point in Paris, we attended a service there. A nun sang hymns in French, which was lovely.

During the time I spent alone in Paris, I went to the Louvre and the Luxembourg Museum. I loved seeing the paintings from the Italian Renaissance. The paintings at the Luxembourg Museum were especially meaningful for me because they were part of an exhibition on dreams, which is one my fascinations.

Walking along the Champs Elysees past all the Christmas booths, I felt so happy and lucky to be in Paris, I actually cried a little from joy. I was also drinking a warm red wine, a traditional winter beverage, but I don’t think the tears that fell were influenced by alcohol. I was really just overcome by how beautiful Paris was. I wish I could have stayed longer. Even with the typical tiny apartments Parisians live in, I would still love to live there. The metro is so easy to use, that even someone as directionally challenged as I can get around easily. People are friendly, contrary to the stereotype, and even though Paris is the City of Love, I did not feel lonely being there by myself.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Changes

I really like being 30.
West Fir, Oregon















I imagined turning thirty would be like a countdown before blasting off and so far my reality has lived up to that vision. I should clarify that my idea of blasting off is not as explosive or dramatic as you might think. 

I didn’t go skydiving or deep sea diving or shooting up in a rocket. Actually, I’ve spent the first week of my thirties being an extreme nature lover.
Crater Lake
West Fir, Oregon

I hiked around Ashland and Crater Lake, wearing a skirt that matched the deep blue of the water, getting scratched by thorny shrubbery, taking photos everywhere. My mission has been to relax as much as possible. I’m now house sitting for a friend, a job that involves watering rhododendrons, lying in a hammock and listening to a Miguel Zenon station on Pandora with the speakers turned up. With one leg dangling off the side, I rocked myself, only once getting pulled out of my reverie by a truck tearing down the road, blasting a song about bitch slapping. When I stopped by my mom’s apartment today for boxes of macaroni and cheese and clean clothes, I overheard a fight in the next apartment, in which one woman was threatening to bitch slap another. It’s a little strange to hear two references to bitch slapping when the only language I’ve heard all day has been expressed through trumpets and saxophones.

My fee for staying at my friend’s house is reading her manuscript about Glacier Bay, Alaska. The book suits my contemplative mood. She writes about how people live in harmony with the earth, how people are shaped by their experiences and how land, just like us, changes over time. People and places are temporary while ideas remain stagnant.  I suppose to really love a place you would have to be accepting to it changing over time, the same as you would for a person. To be happy with people and places we should be open-minded and try not to get stuck in mucky, rigid ideas. Developing ideas about people and places can be dangerous. The idea of holy land has resulted in pointless bloodshed over the decades, simply because people are trying to mold a place into an idea.
Crater Lake

Diamond Peak














While I’m contemplating my friend’s book, I’m also thinking about how delighted I am with my friendships and the people who have changed and grown with me over the years.   
    
My friend Mel gave me a lovely handmade card for my birthday and a necklace with two small clocks in it, so that I can wind one to Portland time and one to whatever time zone I happen to be passing through. My friend Khira gave me a palm reading and was somehow able to tell from looking at my hand that I have a big heart and am a caring person. I usually look at a person’s eyes to determine this, but she must know something I don’t about pathways to the human heart. My palm also revealed that I might have a nervous breakdown when I’m about 45. But that’s okay. Right now, I’m just focusing on how cool it feels to be thirty.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Week in Chicago

Sitting at the Museum Cafe at the Art Institute. 
I spent a week in Chicago while still readjusting to being back in the states. After coming back from Qatar I thought I’d be able to endure the inexcusable heat, but my delusional resilience only made for more agony spent under the sun. 
Millenium Park
I stayed with friends in Andersonville. Even though the setting was different from their old Portland home, my friends’ way of life seemed to have been frozen in a time capsule. Everything about them was as I remembered it, but having an old friend in town forced them to do things a little out of the ordinary. I got one of my friends to accompany me to an awesome bookstore called Quimby’s, which is loaded with small press books and self-published zines. I felt like I’d come to the right place when I saw the local cartoonist, Corinne Mucha, has published work exclusively for Quimby’s. A scenic bike ride along the North Shore and manicure/pedicures was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

We did our time-honored activities, such as pub trivia, listening to NPR in the morning and doting over my friend’s adorable dog.

The heat shortened everybody’s fuse and one night when the apartment was filled with awkward silence, I decided to go out by myself. I went to a jazz club Al Capone used to frequent. I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I’d left Chicago without going to a jazz club. At the Green Mill I drank a couple glasses of red wine and talked to friendly people. 


Sue, the largest and most complete T Rex at the Field Museum
Patience was tested back in Andersonville, where things were getting uncomfortable. During one conversation, one of my old friends called me a prude and I had to let that sink in, as it was the first time I had ever been called that. Perhaps being in a hyper conservative country for the past year has upped my modesty. I had been so preoccupied with the idea of readjusting to American life, I hadn't thought of how my old friends might need some time to readjust to me. Their prognosis is that I've changed, and the changes aren’t in my favor. I’m not as funny as I used to be. I’m more serious and harder to relate to. I myself would have used the word grown, not changed. I am still the same in essence, but I’ll tell you how I have changed. 

Since I've been back home, I’m constantly capturing trees and flowers with my camera. (I didn't see many of those in Qatar.) I’m still feeling fortunate for being in a country where individualism reigns and hang-ups over sex cannot determine the taboos for everyone. For a while, I was still taken aback when I saw short shorts and revealing blouses. And I’m still adjusting, although I think I've finally settled in. For a couple weeks, when I heard a noise in the distance, I expected it to be followed by the call to prayer.
Buckingham Fountain

My week in Chicago, although way too hot, gave me reason to go back. I want to go back to the Art Institute and see everything. So far, that museum has the most impressive collection I've seen: a plethora of paintings by all the great masters and statues and artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome and the Byzantine Empire. I would also like to explore more ethnically diverse neighborhoods. And of course I want to check out Quimby’s again and go to more jazz clubs.






Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Giant Mechanical Man

There's so much pressure to talk and seem funny and interesting these days. I think that's why people usually empathise with shy, socially awkward, inarticulate characters. In the movie, "The Giant Mechanical Man," the conversationally-challenged characters have a hard time getting by in a noisy city where almost everyone has earbuds in, watches porn on $5,000 TVs and has raunchy conversations, regardless of who is standing nearby. Hardly anybody reads anymore, except for the book, "How to Have Winning Conversations," which the obnoxious author promotes tirelessly. 

Unlike the other other loudmouths in this movie, the two destined lovers spend most of their time being silent. Tim is a street performer who makes a living painting himself silver and holding still. Janice was previously employed by a temp agency that would hire her to stand for long periods of time in an art museum. After getting fired, she has anxiety dreams in which her teeth are falling out, making talking even more difficult. Her problem isn't that she is crazy or unlikeable; she is just quiet and having a tough time thriving in a noisy world. Tim's problems stem from the same issue. Janice's sister thinks her unhappiness can be cured if she dates the delusional self-help book author who teaches her how to have winning conversations. In contrast with her horrible date who only talks about himself,Tim gives her a winning compliment. "When I look at you, I see you."

I loved this movie. Jenna Fischer from "The Office" is fall-in-loveable and Topher Grace is hilarious as the self-absorbed self-help book author.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sociopaths at the Airport

Recently someone was telling me about her neighbor, whom she described as having “sociopathic tendencies.” I wouldn’t want someone who didn’t know me very well saying I had sociopathic tendencies, so I offered, “Maybe he was just having a bad day.”

She rejected my suggestion and clarified that he had only tendencies, like a lot of people, but that didn’t make him a true without-a-doubt sociopath. I wondered if perhaps she was overanalyzing some small incident with the neighbor, but I let the matter lie.

Without any training in psychology, I believed I could not accurately identify sociopathic tendencies, but that was before I went through the hand-baggage check line tonight at the Doha Airport. An airport employee was aggressively gesticulating, yelling at other employees and demanding that passengers take items out of their carryon luggage. It felt more like I was going through a cattle maze than a civilized airport procedure.

I asked the sociopath – er, man -- why he was so angry and he shouted at me, “This is none of your business!” I asked for his name and he flicked his name badge in my face, saying, “My name’s Mohammed. Go complain about me.” I made sure I got his last name and complain is exactly what I did.

I’ve heard from people who have had to identify a perpetrator in a police lineup that there was something unimaginably cold and devoid of human emotion in his face. Sometimes the sign that something’s wrong is hidden behind the eyes, sometimes it’s in offensive behavior for all to see.

Anyway, perhaps the airport employee really was just having a bad day and taking it out on me and everyone else. Or maybe he has sociopathic tendencies. Or maybe it was just another typical day at the airport.


I have to board my flight now. Until next time. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Power Struggle

I was at a coffee shop, trying to get some writing done. Not far from me a man was interviewing a potential barista. The man, who appeared to be the manager, wore an air of authority and spoke of “my coffee shop” and “my employees.” The potential barista was nervous and soft-spoken. I couldn’t stand the tense atmosphere, feeling that the arrogant manager was relishing making this man feel small. A woman sat next to the manager, perhaps another person with hiring power, although she didn’t pose any questions. I suspected her presence made this manager want to show off his dominance even more.

I searched for a classical music station on my laptop and tried to untangle my ear buds when I heard the manager say, “Give me one word to describe yourself.”

The man hesitated and emitted utterances to show he was thinking. “Hardworking,” he finally said.

“Hardworking is two words,” the manager laughed. He covered his eyes with one hand and shook his head. The woman laughed with him and covered her mouth with her clipboard. I looked over and saw the job candidate struggling to think of another suitable word.

“Hardworking is one word, actually,” I butted in. The man stared at me, completely shocked that I had the audacity to correct his English. The woman sitting next to him was now smiling at me. “Is it really?” she said.

“No, it’s two words,” the man said, before I could answer. I turned my attention back to my laptop with classical music plugged in my ears. The people next to me wrapped up their interview and moments later, the man I’d taken down a notch was standing over me. I removed my ear buds so he could tell me, “You’re not supposed to be up here. This floor isn’t open to customers yet.”

I usually hold back from correcting people, but sometimes it’s hard to hold my tongue. An imam came to my work a couple weeks ago to give a motivational speech with mandatory staff attendance. I had never heard an imam give a speech, so I was curious. The imam started with a prayer and then went on to promote some pills that would help people quit smoking. “I see the sisters in the audience are smiling. They want their husbands to quit smoking. It used to be that men would quit smoking and then go through withdrawal and beat their spouses. But these pills are free of side effects and withdrawals.” That was red flag #1, cluing me in that I would not take away much wisdom from this speech. He did not condemn domestic violence, rather, he made it into a joke. He continued, “I fly a lot and people always stare at me when they see me coming down the aisle. I mean, it’s terrible. Just because of two or three bad guys, they’ve messed things up for an entire culture.” I think he was referring to the 9/11 hijackers. Redflag #2. Four planes were hijacked by groups of four or five men each, so you do the math.

The imam said it was okay to educate women (Thank you, so much!) and wrapped up his speech. A woman in a hijab turned to me and asked me what I thought, “He’s very charismatic,” I said and left. “And,” I thought to myself, “He is another man who needs to be taken down a notch.”

I’ve learned to be careful about taking on that responsibility myself. For speaking up at the coffee shop, the manager made me move to a section that was not so quiet and conducive to writing. If I had spoken up in an attempt to set the imam straight, I would have been sent straight home. So I have learned to be selective in setting people straight, even when it’s a struggle to keep my mouth shut.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Night Out

Painting a Nuremburg street with sleek cobblestones, I cleared my mind of all stress. Then my phone rang.  The very nice driver I call upon whenever I want to go places phoned me to tell me he was downstairs. I quickly washed my paintbrush, wiped the splattered paint off my glasses with the front of my shirt and ran downstairs.


Talking with my driver is almost as much fun as going out and I think I substitute talking to him for a real social life on most days. Well, last night I desperately needed a night out. A real night out. Not just driving around, talking to a cool, middle-aged Sri Lankan guy who calls me Madam.

I accompanied my friend Karen as she got glammed up, first at one salon, then another, then to her apartment for the final touches. 

Karen
At the hair salon, waiting for Karen, I sat on a sofa and flipped through a Qatari fashion magazine. I looked at a “before” and “after” photo of a woman. The after photo claimed an amazing transformation, although I think the woman looked better in the first photo, wearing blue jeans, zebra high-heeled boots and a white lacy top. For her transformation, she was cloaked in black fabric with small silver spikes studded down the sleeves. Her hair was piled on top of her head and her eyes were lined in black. The beauty ideals here are very different. Black is encouraged and aggressive spikes cover clothing and accessories.

me
A woman sitting next to me introduced herself and we got to talking. There is a lonely desperation in this desert country that compels people to spill the contents of their soul upon first meeting someone, so I wasn’t surprised when she told me her husband left her after the birth of her child and that she came here hoping to earn enough money to send him to school. But what happened when she arrived is all too common here. Her passport was taken by her employer. She earned slave wages and never got a day off. Luckily, she managed to escape that employer. When I met her, she was relatively happy because she landed a job at the hair salon as a receptionist, where she would earn more money and be able to send some of it home. Things were looking up, but her smile faded when she showed me a photo of her little boy on her phone. “My mother looks after him. I haven’t seen him in two years.”

one of my drawings
Karen and I went to a rooftop bar and I tried to smile and not think about the sad story of the woman I’d just met. I think the Filipino community is very kind here, so I introduced myself to two beautiful Filipino ladies at the bar, hoping they would have more cheerful stories to tell me. “What do you do?” I asked them. They looked at each other, unsure of what to say. “What all women here do,” one of them answered. I would have thought most women worked as nannies, cleaners, or teachers, but I figured out they were prostitutes. I wanted to continue talking to them, but they kindly excused themselves to go look for male clients.

When I got home, my mind returned to the woman I met in the hair salon and I felt very sad.

On my wall I have a postcard with Thomas Jefferson’s face on it. I look at it sometimes and think about the rights I have as a privileged American and how these rights are non-existent for others.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Two of everything


A new friend came over to my apartment after I gave her a heads up that my apartment is dullsville. She walked in, observed my twinkly blue lights, drawings piled high on my table and photos of my friends on the wall and told me she didn’t think my apartment was boring at all. She gave me some tips on moving my furniture so my couches and chairs aren’t jammed in the corner. She advised me to wrap twisty ties around my TV cords so they don’t look so chaotic and throw colorful scarves over everything to brighten the mood. 

She also said I might want to think about doing something with my spare room, which is empty except for a suitcase.
Also, she said if I were interested in having a boyfriend, my apartment didn’t exactly say welcome. Mine wasn’t the sort of living space, she said, that would make me feel open about being in a relationship. The pictures of my friends on the walls gave the impression of someone who likes to be independent and admires other independent people. Really, I’m just interested in portraits and unique characters for writing and drawing purposes.

We went into my bedroom and she said, “I can tell which side of the bed you sleep on.” It was the side that wasn’t occupied by clothes and books. If I wanted to welcome the idea of having a boyfriend, I might want to start making the whole bed hospitable and buying another lamp to put on the other bedside table. I don’t think I’m going to buy a lamp and clear off the bed for my phantom boyfriend, but it’s an interesting idea.

My friend looked at my drawings, which often feature couples, and she told me they would be great to put up on the walls. Also, I might want to get into the habit of buying two of everything: two candles, two lamps, two vases, whatever, and put them side by side. I immediately thought of the couple in the French movie Delicatessen: a weird and wonderful movie. The female character’s vision is so bad and she’s so clumsy, she buys two of everything because she expects to break one of everything in her home. She attracts a retired circus performer who plays the saw to accompany her cello music. I guess that “buy two of everything” trick worked for her.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown


I started a cleanse that forbids consumption of meat, fish, dairy, caffeine and sugar.

Not only has my food gotten more colorful as a result of my new eating regimen, but so have the images in my mind after watching Pedro Almodovar’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” During my Fellini craze, I fantasized in vain about having a part in one of Fellini’s movies, but realizing the impossibility of this, I’ve progressed to wanting to be in a living director’s movies, namely Almodovar. I like the strong female characters in his films, the vibrant colors, the humanity and the humor. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is vastly different from Talk to Her, Bad Education and Volver, the other films of his that I’ve seen. I suppose all of them have his signature splashes of color, but “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” is a comedy both clever and slapstick. I think I laughed the hardest at the scenes involving the gregarious taxi driver who equipped his taxi to meet his passengers’ every need.

I could see some influence from Fellini and Hitchcock, but “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” was still like nothing I have ever seen. My guy friend who watched it with me also loved it. I may be depriving myself of coffee and chocolate these days, but good movies should always be in ample supply.

After watching the movie, I played with my camera and asked my guy friend if he ever felt like filming anything. He said all the time, but most people don’t like to be filmed. I told him that I like to be filmed, but I can’t act. My friend informed me that the best directors can get a good performance out of anyone. Hmmmmmm. If that’s true, maybe a part in an Almodovar film isn’t entirely implausible.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fun and games, grit and grime.


The boys in my class held the edges of a big parachute and shook it, making waves in the rainbow material. The delight on their faces grew when I threw a heap of colorful balls on the parachute. Plastic balls bouncing over an undulating parachute provided an exhilarating burst of color. Some boys crawled underneath the parachute for the thrill of being in a multicolored, chaotic hiding place. I joined them underneath the parachute and sang the ominous Jaws theme, my announcement that I was a shark and all of them had better scramble or else be eaten by me. Well, my “Da duh da duh da duh” must not have sounded very frightening, because my prey turned on me. The boys decided they wanted to be sharks too, and performed a swift attack, jumping on me from all angles until we all lay buried under a floppy parachute, my glasses sitting at an odd angle on my face and my barrettes falling out of my hair.

This is a typical day for me. I find great joy in my work and I love the boys in my class. Entering class one day, a boy turned to his friend and said, “Miss Meri is drinking milk!” as if that were big news. If only the comments people made about me were that innocent and true. 

Lately, I've been interrogated by co-workers about my interaction with a male co-worker, who happens to be British. Apparently, it’s unbecoming for a woman to be seen walking down the hallway talking to a man. Telling these women that my life is none of their business and I don’t need to explain or defend myself does nothing to quell the prying questions. These interactions have left me exasperated and wishing I could click my heels together three times and magically go home to Portland, Oregon. I suppose I should consider the source, before I let any negative comments get me down. 

The same woman who has become suspicious of my nonexistent love life paid me a backhanded compliment on my first day of work when she said she was sure I was English and not American because all Americans were ugly. She then contorted her face and hobbled around the room like a hunchback to show me what she meant.

I’m finding the rules of the culture so difficult to conform to. I have the most boring social life, and yet I’m characterized as some kind of party animal. In the staff room last week I was warned by a well-meaning co-worker to “Be careful,” even though I was simply sitting at a table, waiting for my third cup of coffee to kick in. Well, my co-worker told me that a certain notorious Arab man whom I've never met has a hankering for Western women. 

Another co-worker wearing an abaya nodded her head and warned me that “fornication is illegal under Islamic law.”  “What fornication?!” I wanted to scream. “I live next to a deserted wasteland filled with abandoned school buses. Abandoned school buses aren't exactly conducive to fornication. And really, did you seriously just use the word fornication?”

I tell myself that I've been through challenging times before and that I’m a strong woman. I used to box and was pretty good at it. I've knocked the wind out of sparring partners twice my size. I can get through this.

I’m going to leave you now with a funny cat video. Au revoir.