Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Today I began the character study for my new story. I started with my dad. I think he has great potential for being a comic figure. He is sorta bald and he loves to wear a cap. I have to admit it's not a bad strategy. He has very skinny legs, which resemble those of birds. Most of all, they are white, hairless. My mom often says, "Only if he were a woman..."

When my mom saw the drawing, she burst out laughing. I don't know if that means "Oh that is so true..." or "My God, he is funny." However, I do find this guy to be cute. Yet, I'll never show it to my dad. He always prides himself on being an experienced educator and I make him look like a sort-of-naive vacationer in Hawaiian shirt:-). After all, we can't always be so serious...

Monday, August 29, 2005

in the dark

I love to jog in the dark no matter where I go. The darkness devours my sweat, my unkemptness so that I can be a free and wild jogger.


First, I'd like to tell friends that I am not very upbeat about my art today. I've been thinking about doing pictures about my mom, but I have an illustrator's block. I thought of paintings I did years ago, back in 2002. The colors quite represent what I look for. The followings images are from a small book called "My Penguin Mama." When I wrote the story, I wasn't so much awed by my mom. I've always thought she is a lovely woman, but now I do realize how "cool" she is. I just can't wait to write about her in my blog journal today.

by Weichuen You 2002

I don't have too much fashion awareness and that's really not the main criterion with which I judge a person. Instead of saying my mom is "in," I'd rather say she has her unique style in every domain. She might not be the most beautiful woman in a crowd, but there's something about her that attracts people. She is confident, generous, magnanimous, respectable...Most of all, she is always energetic when it comes to work though there are times when she is fed up with it. I love her elasticity and quickness in self-adjustment to changes.

by Weichuen You 2002

It's noticeable that some people lose their glow as they grow older. It's right the opposite in my mom's case. Well, the aging traces in appearances are inevitable, but the years bring wisdom and experiences. My mother has found a perfect balance between family and her interest over the years. I am touched by her efforts in letting go of her hold on children little by little. I don't think anyone can do it more elegantly than she. Now she is preparing herself for a new life after the retirement. I do have a feeling that she will have a blast!

by Weichuen You 2002

Oh, I do not want to give the impression that my mom is a saint. Far from it. She has ordinary people's worries too. She grumbles about her "roundness." She often finds faults with us and expects us to do better though she is not so perfect either. She is sometimes too realistic for me. But these little flaws don't matter to me at all. They just make her more lovely than ever.

by Weichuen You 2002

So I figure my mom will be enjoying to the fullest of life no matter where she goes. When I am old, I want to be as beautiful and sure of myself like her. OK, and not to make my dad too jealous, I'd like to have a guy as "interesting" as him by my side:-).

Sunday, August 28, 2005


真是不敢相信像我這種走孤僻路線的人,也被捲入此股blog tag的漩渦,本來想假裝沒看到老曹的點名,或勇敢地站出來,成為第一名拒絕玩blog tag之人,後來想著想著,越來越多的圖像躍入腦海,筆一拿起來就無法住手,好吧!那我就走插畫blog tag風好了,應該沒有人會像我把網路遊戲看得比回家功課還認真吧!



怪癖三: 我是眾所皆知的drama queen,生來具有把一切戲劇化的天份,有時候太過耽溺於悲傷時,會懷疑事情真的有如此嚴重,還是我正在為下一屆金馬獎熱身。




Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dream trilogy

When I was 25, I thought of making myself a gift, to convince that my trivial life did mean something to myself. I set to write a story, with each painting representing every year. Well, I didn't make it through. However, the theme of this story is about my "dreamer" personality. I'd like to share the very imature images with old friends who might find surprises in these old works and new friends who encourage me endlessly.

1. The broken dream

by Weichuen You 2002

When I was little, my mom kept recounting to me the shock she had had when we met for the first time. She would say, "Your dad and I had tons of dreams about you since you are the first child. We thought it'd be a baby boy, with ebony-black hair, large eyes and all those things that spelled 'perfect.' It was really frustrating to get someone totally different from our expectation after ten arduous months of pregnancy."

Here is the dialogue I imagine between my dad and mom--
Mom: Is that our baby?
Dad: Well, I guess so...
Mom: Are you sure? It's so...
Dad: Ugly?

Well, I'd always protest to my mom that it was not my fault. If we look on the bright side, I did make the birth of my brothers easier. After people experience the worst, something slightly better is regarded as a breeze.

2. The renewed dream

by Weichuen You 2002

I have to say that parents are people with really incredible vitality. The shattered dreams about their children can't baffle them. At least it's so in my case.

When I was five, one day I accidentally drew a very crude, simple sailboat on a piece of white paper. On seeing the "masterpiece," my mom screamed with excitement and called for my dad. I don't remember if they kissed and hugged me. It was the moment when my parents realized that my unconventional appearance didn't totally ruin my life.

Mom: Look at the lines! My darling baby, when did you learn to draw?
Dad: Can you believe it? Van Gogh of the 21th century is right in our family...

Thus began my children's painting classes, which I didn't really enjoy. However, as a child, I already knew how much "responsibility" meant, especially when it came to pleasing parents.

3. Dreaming alone

by Weichuen You 2002

Another 20 years passed by. While my parents forgot all the beautiful dreams they had about me, it occurred to me that I needed to continue dreaming, even if I dreamed alone. I was rather at a loss about my life then. I was just out of love; no one new was in sight. I was reluctant to settle down for my stable job which could last for the coming 30 years if I didn't object to fate and seek for some change. I didn't like the gray city I lived in. The list of the negative emotion went on and on.

I started to paint, more intensively than before. It was in this dream that I found the calm and joy. In my dream, I dance alone in my own sea, accompagnied by creatures other than human beings. My existence might be so insignificant that I am the only person that takes it seriously, but that doesn't bother me.

With or without the world, I dream still.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Paper moon

I have heard about this story for almost 29 years and I have told people about it again and again. Today it occurred to me to put it down on paper.

It was the eve before Chinese Moon Festival. Snow was about to give birth to her first child. The ward was almost empty. Apart from the struggle with the stubborn baby who refused to come out, she felt very lonely. Her young husband was not by her side. Her only companion was the big, round paper moon on the white wall. She thought of the families that gathered together celebrating the holiday, the merry crowds out there, the noisy laughter and shouts on the streets.

Snow was not alone, physically. It was just that she knew nothing about the little life in her bulging stomach. She felt as if the total unkown had envelopped her. Also the pain...

I think my mom will appreciate me for creating such a beautiful story about my birth. Back to the reality. I was the hard-headed baby and I still am, to some extent. My birthday is about to come. Besides, I have been quite obssessed with the topic of giving birth lately. If I never have my own children, I will bear in mind the scene my mom repeats to me all my life.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Water girl's fantastic dream

This is actually a surrealistic dream I had a few months ago. I was really impressed by the image of all the trains waiting in the huge station of Hague when I traveled to Netherlands last summer. Instead of opting for this means of transportation, I went to France by plane later. Maybe it was the unfulfilled wish that gave me the dream.

What is it all about then? I see trains advancing at a fast speed in the sea. And I am in a race with them. The only difference is that I ride a bike. I am not worried about falling into the water. There's something about it that holds all the objects up. I do not see the bottom of the sea, but it feels like I were on land. It's even better, with the blue seawater caressing me gently yet playfully. People seem to equally enjoy sea-bathing. They hail me in a very friendly manner. What a lovely dream...

So I decided to put the image down on paper today. I don't have to live by the sea or swim every day to remember the beauty of water. It's right in my head.

Water girl I

by Weichuen You 2002

I feel kinda ashamed in saying that I adore swimming while I haven't gone into the water for months. On the other hand, there must be people who love the sea without really knowing how to swim. Besides, the words today are actually for a very elegant swimmer, Missy Patty, who celebrates her B-day today, if I do not remember the date wrong:-).

The magic of swimming is known to those who can't live without this sport. In summer it cools the burning fire in me. In winter, it warms my freezing body. Most of all, the amazing effect it has on my psyche can not be summarized in a few words. Often it pulls me up when I am about to sink into the dark well of self-torture. Even when I am not troubled, floating freely in water makes me believe that I am invincible. I think, "If, if I can cross the Pacific Ocean, what else can baffle me?" Swimming is the positive form of ecstasy pills with no deadly side effects, no exorbitant costs and best, it gives you a beautiful body...

Patty knows these things better than I, so I'll just give her a very simple birthday wish--I hope you'll swim til the last day of your life, if that day ever comes...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005





就 只 是 空 想

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Letting go

I am not belligerent
I am just different
Tonight let's stop the fight
cuz I can't take your bite

If you let go
the pain wouldn't cause him to bleed
If you let go
it'd be a rewardable deed
Let me beg you gently
let go of your hands please

You must know the theory
the tighter your hold gets
the unhappier your baby
Loose a little bit your hold
then he wouldn't be so cold

As an expert in letting go
I have no choice but to say no
when he asks me if it's hopeful
to make you think life's beautiful


Monday, August 22, 2005

must-see in summer

photos taken at Taipei Botanical Garden by Weichuen You







La surprise du jour! Je voudrais t'offrir un petit voyage. Tu expérimentes tout avec tes yeux et ton imagination. Tu es prêt?

L'été est la saison pour les fleurs de lotus chez nous. J'avais peur de les manquer en allant au jardin botanique à la fin d'août. Mais j'étais très contente de les trouver encore là. C'est comme si elles attendaient ma visite. Il faisait chaud ce matin. Les gouttes de sueur coulaient sur mon dos lorsque je me suis concentrée à captiver le charme de lotus. J'ai lutté contre les rayons de soleil brûlants sans mon parapluie en pensant que je ne voyageais pas seule. Si je manquais un scène précieux, tu ne comprendrais pas pourquoi je suis tellement attachante à ce petit endroit où je reviens tout le temps. Il y avais plus que des fleurs et des arbres. Il y avait des artistes qui passaient tout le matin pour prendre des photos ou dessiner. J'ai vu aussi des jeunes qui se sont proménés tranquillement dans ce coin de la ville. Il y avait aussi quelqu'un comme moi qui se déguisait en une touriste qui emmenait un autre touriste dans son cœur.

Tu dois me poser la question pourquoi on a oublié un tel beau jardin lors de ton séjour ici. A ce-temps là, je croyais qu'il n'était pas assez magnifique pour montrer la beauté de ma ville. J'avais tort. On pourrait trouver le calme dont tu avais besoin. Et tu me dirais sans cesse combien tu trouves cet endroit super. Pas grave. On peut le réserver toujours pour la prochaine fois et c'est une promesse d'accord?

Mon voyage ne se termine pas encore. Il continuera grâce à toi…

Saturday, August 20, 2005


This is my first time participating in Illustration Friday. I'd wanted to draw this serene little corner for some time and I thought it rather appropriate for this topic. My days in Elbeuf, France this summer were mostly spent in the apartment. The only relief every day was the daily walk to the park for a sun bath. I looked at people, I contemplated and I read. Though my life was quiet, I felt so much emotion which I'd always had to wait to share with Dim or friends. However, whatever I did, I would never be able to precisely describe what I'd gone through mentally. I am the only person that sees my reflection. The viewers see a blank which leaves much space for imagination.

Pals of my blue days

by Weichuen You 2003

I first met Pedro in the kitchen of Towne House, a two-storied motel-like building for students who didn't come from Rochester, NY. Everyone had a small room with everything inside except the kitchen. Because of this reason, I had an official excuse to escape from the stifling space of my own when I had enough of solitude.

On that day, when I pushed open the door and walked into the large kitchen, a Mexican boy was eating soup alone. His skimpy dinner aroused my curiosity. I couldn't help approaching him and taking a look at the weird thing he was eating. I felt his loneliness acutely, which spoke directly to mine. We started a small talk tentatively, wanting to make sure we were both friendly. Thus we started one of the most fantastic friendship I had ever had in my life. We were family, we were brother and sister, we were more than friends, we were pals of the blue days away from home.

I did the drawing one and half years after I left Rochester. Pedro's face is too fine and the only photo I have was not enough to help me put together his face. So I replaced his look with that of my little brother. I am no longer in touch with Pedro, but I'll remember forever the shy young boy and the blue days we had together in a foreign place.

(The following three pictures aren't really part of the llustrations for this week's topic, but maybe there are readers who would like to know what I want to express.)

Kirti is an Indian American girl. She spent almost all her life living in the US, but that didn't make her less Indian. She cooked with various kinds of herbs. She wasn't interested in making her opinions heard or even known in class. She would share with me the Indian traditions her family still kept. Though she seemed so timid in appearance, deep inside of her were a huge dark sky with glittering stars, dark-green forests, transparent-blue ocean...She had such lovely thoughts that it was one of the luxuries of mind to discuss with her about life and all the other issues.

Sometimes I wondered if Kirti was lonely. America, unlike for us, was her home. Somehow her uniqueness was also the reason why she couldn't fit in. Of course, we never talked about this. I felt her longing to love and to be loved without any barrier, but she was too nice to break her parents' hearts.

Kirti said she would never go back to India for husband-hunting. One year after I left, she did follow the tradition her family--going to India for an arranged marriage. I don't think this was a sad ending. Kirti deserves the best love in the world and I wish her all the good luck...

Matteo was the first South European I encountered in my life. His Italian elegance was bizarre when being among liberal, carefree Americans. The strong conflict between classical conservatism and open-minded free spirits found a perfect stage in Matteo. He wanted desperately to learn more about the new continent, but he was obstinate to reserve the Italian ways of expression, Italian pride and his self-identity. I understood all. Our only difference was that I was better at masking in another culture than my own.

I can still envision the frustrated Matteo hiding in his little room with warm orange light. His scent mixed with the thick nostalgia for the European home. The small drawing of Rialto Bridge from me wasn't huge enough to cover the huge white wall. Matteo frowned, hesitating between sulking alone or grumbling together with us.

Oh poor Matteo, how I wish I had been more tender with you...

Carlis had with him a hidden past. He also locked the door to his heart. He didn't really have ups and downs, like most of us. He had a well-kept facade. There wasn't too much that we could expect from life, yet it wasn't completely hopeless, especially with the help of liquor.

When Carlis was sober and drunk, he would often make remarks that shocked us into silence. With time, we learned it was simply his style. I felt thousands of waves tumbling inside, I felt his pumping heart, I felt everything, but he wouldn't admit it.

Carlis was the enigma of my blue days and he kept my brain busy so that I wouldn't fall into my dark hole.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pseudo-Zen, les fruits de mon insomnie

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"

This was a drawing done in 2002 after I read the novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I was captivated by the words I am going to quote later. This summer my young friend Patty reminded me of the story. I'd like to share the picture with her and those who are deeply moved by the novel.

Francie saw two young girls making preparations to go out with their fellows. Since none of the flats had bathrooms, the girls stood in front of the kitchen sinks in their camisoles qnd petticoats. And a line the arm made, curved over the head while they washed under the arm was very beautiful. There were so many girls in so many windows washing this way that it seemed a kind of hushed and unexpected ritual.

Excerpt from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New York and she

New York mood

by Weichuen You 2000





Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Grâce à l'amour

A ma très chère muse

Devant la porte de l'aéroport. Le reflet de mon image m'a fascinée. Au début, tu m'as laissée jouer avec ma caméra numérique. Pourtant, ma concentration t'a attiré. C'est comment j'ai réussi à prendre la photo sans ta connaissance.

Je ressens aiguëment ta solitude actuelle. En même temps, tu dois penser que ce n'est pas juste que je semble être ravie en retrouvant mon indépendance. Ne crois jamais que je ne t'aime plus. C'est exactement le contraire. Plus je t'aime, plus je suis forte en esprit. Mon indépendance ne vient pas de moi, mais de toi, de toute l'émotion précieuse que tu réserves pour moi. Si un jour on ne s'aime plus, je perdrai toute ma force et mon inspiration. C'est avec l'amour que je voudrais m'avancer jusqu'au point où on se rejoindra sans avoir besoin de se quitter de nouveau.

Je ne suis pas toujours à tes côtés mais je garde cette image ci-dessus dans ma tête. Même lorsque je me sens isolée, je parviens à te voir émerger de l'ombre derrière moi avec un sourire tendre et apaisant. Ton odeur flotte dans l'air en caressant mon âme angoissé. Qui dit que l'on est seul?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

L'été 2005

Tu viens d'Elbeuf
pour les nouilles de boeuf
Après le petit repas
On va à un fort pas
pour voir les montagnes
ainsi que la compagne
On visite aussi les villes
avec de belles filles

On prend des taxis
"Je t'aime," Tu me dis
On se drague aussi
au métro et en bateau

La cygne est piégée
On voit un sac blanc
Le feu est figé
à une manière marrante

Je dis, "Mon âme soeur,
je mets mon petit coeur
en haut de Taïpei 101
Je compte 3, 2, 1
Tu le prends avec tes mains
Je deviendrai ton nain
Et on rentre en avion
en disant aux poissons,
"On est bien là!"

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ramasseur de ton odeur

Puisque je ne peux pas me passer de ton odeur, surtout lorsque tu n'es pas à mes côtés, j'ai inventé un petit truc pour le garder. Regarde, je vais t'éxpliquer comment il fonctionne. Les ventilateurs absorbent ton parfum. Il y a un tube fin derrière par qui l'odeur entre dans la boîte marqué avec la première lettre de ton prénom. On peut plier la bâtonnete de ventilateurs pour ne pas occuper trop de place. Enfin, il y a aussi un sac fait exprès pour mon invention. Chouette n'est-ce pas?

Monday, August 08, 2005

A bowl of beef noodles

Three more hours and Father's Day in Taiwan will soon be over. Since my dad is away on a trip, what I can do is draw a beef of noodles as a way to say "Happy Father's Day" to my very own dad.

When it comes to materials, I am rather adventurous and fickle. My family is not one with many traditions. But we do have a very important one which has been there for decades, that is, expressing our love for each other with a bowl of beef noodles, only and specifically from the restaurant "Tao-yuan Street" near the Rebar Department Store. It is a taste that forms my lifelong memory. When I was a child, going to the beef noodle restaurant represented an array of sentiments. For example, we celebrated our birthdays there. And when driving by Taipei First Girls' High, my mom would repeat her expectations for me in the future. Or we ate beef noodles simply because we were in a good mood. This food stood not only for the need to please our tastebuds but also hopes, joy, and most of all, love.

The first time I went abroad, what obsessed me day and night after a month of eating hamburgers was beef noodles. Every time I talked to my parents on the phone, I would tell them how much I missed the unique yet satisfying taste that couldn't be found anywhere else in the world. Then, miracles happened, or to be more precise, we started a new family ritual. Whenever I come home from abroad, there would be a bowl of beef noodles waiting for me at home. A forty-minute drive from the airport to the taste that follows me wherever I go. Friends say I am the luckiest girl in the world. I think so too.

Even in a country like France, my weak stomach has got used to cold salads that differ much from the green veggies I eat at home. Yet I still think of beef noodles. At least I am not alone now. I've wanted to draw a bowl of beef noodles for you. It might not resemble in any way the taste you crave for day and night. It is a symbol of my affection for you.

Je suis heureuse que tu sois tombé amoureux des nouilles de boeuf car tu sais combien cette nourriture est important pour moi. Bien que l'on puisse s'aimer en étant très différents, il y a du plaisir ultime en pensant aux nouilles de boeuf avec le même sentiment. Lorsqu'elles nous manquent, on peut se réconforter. La nostalgie ne serait pas aussi aigre lorsque l'on a un compagnon. Si je pouvais rester en rêvant avec toi le goût de nouilles, je préférais plus que tout ce choix. Dès maintenant, lorsque j'en mange, je penserai à toi, comme si tu pouvais ressentir la sensation de moi. Je n'en mangerai pas seulement pour moi-même. Je crois que tu comprends.

En aimant les nouilles de boeuf, félicitations, tu fais officiellement partie de ma famille. On n'a pas grands mots d'amour entre nous mais un bol de nouilles de boeuf nous réchauffe et comble le faim mieux que tous les plats exquis. Je ne te donnerais pas les fleurs ou le chocolat lors de jours de Saint Valentin. C'est trop banal pour moi. Je t'enverrai un bol de nouilles de boeuf et tu sauras combien je t'aime. Ou voire les jours où tu crois ne pas pouvoir t'avancer, j'ai toujours des nouilles de boeuf pour toi.

Now I've found someone who loves the beef noodles as much as I do. They become a strong link between us. Beauty and youth abandons us when they find better candidates, but love and food can last for a whole life, if we are lucky enough. And why not believe that you or I can be so lucky?

Two bowls of beef noodles for two special occasions this week...

French mania II

With the sentence "To be continued..." in the previous post, I have made a big promise though it was nothing but a beautiful excuse for hitting the sack. Fortunately, Muse treated me quite nicely. Today I come back with some more interesting mania about the race called French.

5. DIY mania: I do not have any official statistics to demonstrate how French people love tinkering with their houses and gardens, but I read about this passion in the textbooks for French classes a long time ago. In a country where labor costs high prices, this is rather understandable. Apart from that, the DIY spirit is rather incomparable when it comes to cooking. Since dining out is not a very economical choice, home cooking prospers the market of kitchenware and all the cutting-edge inventions that one can imagine. I'd always thought making French fries at home equals throwing potatoes into a pan of oil. My naïveté scared D. It was not until Annick took out the machine shown in the photo above that I realized there was indeed something to making French fries. The Tupperware culture is quite prevalent here too. Tupperware is a brand of containers designed for ovens and micro-wave ovens, but this word can even be used when people refer to someone as a housewife. There are even cookbooks and recipes specifically written for the usage of Tupperware products. It did shock me to see that 15 minutes in micro-wave oven can turn a potful of nothing into tempting paella. The preference for DIY cuisine does have its downsides. For example, going to restaurants does not excite me as much as before. On tasting salads with lardons (pieces of bacons), I exclaimed with contempt in addressing D, "Oh, this is no big deal. If you'd like to eat this, it is really easy to prepare." He rolled his eyes helplessly meaning, "Woman, can't you just calm down and enjoy the dinner?"

6. Carnivore mania: I do not object to consuming meat. Having a pair of parents who feel sad without meat for a meal, it is impossible to live like a vegetarian. So what's special about being carnivorous? When the variety of meat stretches beyond our experiences or habits, it can be very surprising. This summer I tried horse meat and other unknown little birds. French eat rabbits too. Before people announced the kind of meat to me, I always had a blast exploring the foreign cuisine. And when they said, "What we eat today is..." The fork and knife hung in mid-air, my eyes wide-open. It took me several seconds to react and I uttered, "Wow..." After my brain resumed its function, my hands started to move again freely and I would add, "It's new to me, but really good..." like a sophisticated gourmet. There is no need to make a molehill out of a plate of meat. Because of this mania, I am quite curious about the profession of butchers. They sell not only meat but also sausages of all sorts. They also offer the choices of stuffed and marinated animals. It has become the top one dream job I'd love to take up in France apart from working as a baker.

7. "Profite-en" mania: The word "profit" exists in English as well, but I'd never heard it used so often as in French. "Profite-en" is equivalent to "Go for it" in English. The French philosophy works like, if the opportunity is right in front of us, it would be a waste not to make the best use of it. Somehow it's hard for me not to associate it with the carpe-diem spirit. At first, my strict Asian side would grumble on hearing the sentence, "There are times when you can't just think of grabbing the opportunity. Sometimes it is obviously wiser to say 'No!'" Now I have totally forgotten why I stuck so tightly to this theory. It's amazing to see how I myself have been transformed even in ways of thinking.

8. Rebellion mania: It's a well-known fact that French no longer believe in the marriage system. There are far more unmarried couples out there than officially married ones. People either do not believe in it anymore or are against it. Like with other existing rules, French are born to rebel against them. However, most of the time it is due to self-interest that people do not agree to follow what is stipulated. This is a highly creative society yet individualistic as well. Oh, by the way, a very good reason for not getting married is to spare the wacky expenses. That's it.

My presumptuous classification about French people might be too subjective, too narrow, or too irrational. I do not mean to insult them. On the other hand, I find them adorable despite their craziness. And what's more pleasant than spending the end of the day all alone in the dark making fun of the folks I really like?

To be continued one day, maybe...

J'aime "la connerie de ta mère"

In summer, Normandy is dotted with golden fields of wheats. In the countryside, especially on sunny days, the whole world seems to possess only two colors, sky blue and wheat ochre. According to the "women folk," picking a bouquet of wheat and keeping it for one year, good luck will knock on one's door afterwards. I don't know if the superstition is based on any story or scientific research. Who cares? It never bothers to gather some more good luck does it?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

French mania

To better understand a culture, it's inevitable that we assign certain stereotypes to its people. For Taiwanese, the word French conjures up images of cafés, romantic guys, croissants etc. And too often, these stereotypes reflect only a group of people's bias toward another group of people. They are what we insist on believing, but they might not be true. For me, French are in no ways different from Taiwanese. We both have our vices and strengths.

So, how would I describe French? An interesting word came into my mind when we were strolling downtown in Rouen tonight. "Mania." It's neither complimentary nor derogatory. French stick to certain things or principles with such tenacity, which really fascinates me, or sometimes I have to say this facet in their personalities sort of bothers me. Here is my not-very-objective conclusion:

1. Smoking mania: Even in an outdoor square in France, it's impossible not to be envelopped in the mist and odor of cigarettes. People give signals of their approach by this repugnant smell. For non-smokers, it signifies more like a way to define territories. "This part is mine. Don't intrude upon it, or I'd poison you slowly to death." I might sound paranoid, but French people's need for cigarettes is impressive. Yet, once one is stuck to it, even a simple yet luscious taste becomes bland. There should always be one more spoonful of salt, sugar, sex, drugs to make life more livable. How to make them know that they can resolve problems without any cigarettes? Well, fortunately, I do not work in the smoke-quitting propagation department in the French government.

2. Art mania: It's rather inappropriate to use "mania" for this rather positive quality. Excuse me, but I'd like to present the image of a classy writer. I'd love to give a personal example. My stupid drawings always receive rave reviews among French. At home my difficult brothers would spend their whole lives dissuading me from drawing, which rather frustrated me in the beginning. However, friends here see the good things in my lines and colors. They respond actively to any artistic expression. For me, there are always sources of inspirations. We came across the spetacular performance in Rouen tonight. Monet's paintings were projected on the big church he painted at different times of the day. It was totally an accident, but I was more than glad to be part of this beautiful feast for the eyes.

3. Roundabout mania: French overthrew my conviction that traffic lights make life more simple. For them, there were more car accidents and death tolls with the either-stop-or-proceed choice. They figured that roundabouts could cause less harm and give people time to slow down and decide which direction to take before finally rushing that way. It appeared to be very confusing when I traveled in France for the first time with friends. Gradually, we took delight in circling around, enjoying the scenery, and even becoming the eye-catching sight in turning around and around for more than 5 times. Several days ago, I was very honored to witness the construction of a new roundabout on my way to the countryside. So, roundabouts are to soften the impetuous French after they take a pot of nicotine and a bucket of alcohol. What a dramatic life...

4. Freedom mania: As the three principles of French Revolution suggest, freedom, or liberty, is a very important part of this culture. There are always loopholes in laws and rules. As long as people are not caught right on the spot, why not? Freedom in love symbolizes liberation from many conventional taboos, but on the other hand, it means some people's feeling will be terribly hurt. So what? In the film "Belle maman," Vincent Lindon marries the young Mathilde Seigner, but he falls in love with her mom played by Catherine Deneuve right at first sight in the wedding. In the end he leaves the daughter for the mom. Quite a shocking story for me, but life goes on. Each person finds his own way. I don't know if there is a limit to French freedom. If the answer is no, I won't be surprised.

To be continued...