Saturday, September 24

Weeping & Wailing --- On Thursday, Leigh and I had our hardest day yet - by far.

How, one might ask, can anyone have a bad day with such an angel!

 Posted by Picasa

First, Leigh was kind of sick; second, it was raining outside, so Charlotte and I decided I could stay in with Leigh before meeting her (the three of us meet up for lunch everyday - so Leigh gets a good dosage of mommy between grueling danio-times). I think it's almost always better to go out, at least for a few minutes, if possible.
Leigh and I did alright for a while, but she was getting harder to please. In general, she's having a good time, and every once in a while, she can't reach something, or she's not getting enough attention, or she's hungry, or she's looking for a change of pace or a different activity. When this happens, it takes minimal to concerted effort on my part to attend to her needs, and then she's good to go. But today (Thursday), it was a lot harder. The problem was, I don't think there was really much that great to do in the apartment, and she's rather use to getting out during the day - or at least having mommy, in which case getting out is secondary. So all of my efforts worked at best for a few moments.
This situation persisted, even escalated. I tried to go out with her with the stroller and an umbrella, but I didn't realize the second (smaller) stroller was just cloth-covered, and would just get soaked. So we went back in. I also made some lunch, and tried other activities, during the course of which I noticed and appearance and increase of irritation on my part. I caught myself immediately, and took note to not act on it at all with Leigh (to not be short with her, curse, or kick stuff too violently). In part, the irritation was directed towards her, since she was the one who couldn't be satisfied. Reason became my anchor, as I remembered that she really only asks when she needs, and there is no malice in her complaining.
Nonetheless, the emotional strain (combined with the partial recognition that I would never please her as much as her mother could) eventually led to an overload, and there I found myself, crying hysterically, sobbing loudly, even shaking during the last 10 minutes as I tried to get us out of the house to go to lunch. For brief moments she gave me a puzzled look, soon again to rejoin me in our cacophonic wailing.
Throughout this near-fiasco, I maintained a rather clear consciousness of the situation, recognizing my emotional state, and accepting my reaction to Leigh. I actually apologized to her for those moments during which I offered no distraction and made little effort to cheer her up (a task always at least partially accomplished via songs or clowning). But I also congratulated myself for focusing my thoughts on service and love, and only allowing my emotions to play their minimal normal course.
In the end, I felt good about the fact that I tried my best, I used reason and welcomed the situation and praised God for presenting it, she will not be traumatized by the experience (I don't think), and I learned lots about myself, Leigh, and relationships with infants. Plus Charlotte said I did extremely well.
I am grateful for the experience, and I know I have grown from it, and will most likely do better in the future.

Sunday, September 18

Kisses --- Here are some pictures from my new role-playing group, which I join on Friday evenings. For the record, I've spent the last 10+ years role-playing with a few friends here and there, but always struggling to get together, playing a few times per month at best, hardly finding interested parties, only knowing a few role-players, etc. Here in Quebec, I've found a couple of role-playing clubs, and the one I just joined has at least one or two games going on every single night, along with a three-cabinet-large on-location library of books and board games...

This looked like a Dungeons & Dragons table - I backed off as soon as I suspected it

A game of Ars Magica in the world of Conan the Barbian - sounds like a blast!

A much needed lounge for heavy-duty role-players (who have to sit on chairs for hours at a time)

This be my table, in full action!

This is a wargame/strategy game (not sure which one)

My new friends (we're playing a game of "Werewolf: the Forsaken"): Gilles (the Storyteller), Steve, Clarice, Benoit, Stephane, and Julien (I'm not %100 sure on the names, but these will do for now...)

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Saturday, September 17

This is my desktop with a bunch of my widgets open - each can open individually for me to check news, the weather, phase of the moon, etc. In the middle is Lysithea - that's the name of my computer. Those media player buttons are fully functional through WinAmp. That kitten always follows my cursor at a distance - when I click, it minimizes all windows to show my desktop. The buttons in the circles and the chinese characters allow access to further menus, folders, shortcuts (like screen saver or programs) Posted by Picasa

This is my current beautiful desktop, set up with "DesktopX", with no start menu, no regular icons - only danio's highly personalized universe of laptop possibilities! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15

Pics of the Quebec Baha'i community:

Baha'i community in Quebec - there was a cluster reflection gathering on Saturday, for the whole area, as well as a Nineteen-day Feast, at which I had the joy of meeting a whole bunch of cool people Posted by Picasa

Guy-Claude and his beautiful daughter, Leigh - Charlotte and Andre are in the background - the whole family! Posted by Picasa

A happy Leigh, floating around from one person to another - such a charmer! Posted by Picasa

Children in action! (making "mandalas", actually) Posted by Picasa
Walk on --- Today I had the wonderful delight of going on a walk with a few English-speaking moms and their respective babies. It was really a lot of fun, and provided a great support - very promising for my interaction with the "world of caring for Leigh". I can't wait until next Thursday, and every other Thursday, for the next walk with all of these cool mothers and their babies!

Wednesday, September 14

Everything --- I'm so very happy!!

I just got back from my first capoeira class in almost two-and-a-half years!!! I've been waiting for this night for so long!

While we're at it, let me just mention here all the things I've been hoping to do and more:

I've moved in with my sister's family, been here two weeks, and I'm at home already. It's a wonderful family, and I've made myself very helpful.

I've officially started watching Leigh (my niece) four days per week (missed a day last week, as I spreained my neck - quite painful and debilitating, a neck sprain is!), and it seems that she is dealing rather well, and putting up with crazy ol' Uncle Fishbird's crazyties.

Performance Studies:
My second goal for my stay here is to get published in at least one journal relating to Performance Studies - and therefore write a worthwhile article. I've been researching, picking up where I had left off some six months ago, and I should be conducting more research at Universite Laval (the one big university in Quebec city, where Charlotte is working on her PhD).

As I mentioned, I just started, and I'm comblé (delighted, so to speak). Did I mention it's a short 15-minute WALK from my new appartment? so I can even JOG to my capoeira class! - oh wait, I did!!

There are two roleplaying game clubs that I've found so far. I'll be joining the one at the university, starting a Werewolf game on Friday!

There are THREE go clubs in Quebec, and I'm waiting to hear back from the one at Universite Laval - catching a theme yet?

Children's Workshop:
Charlotte leads a "values workshop" for parents and their children under 5 every other week, which I will be helping with

Diet & Health:
While she's not a vegetarian, Charlotte has all the same interests and diets as I do, and since we've made good headway individually, we're benefitting from each others research and practice (including face and hair care for the danio!)

Study Circles:
There's a good chance I'll be able to tutor ("animer" in French - cool term!) a Ruhi Book study circle during my stay

I've scheduled a couple of days per week to work on my Mandarin language skills

Baha'i Association:
There's a Baha'i Association on Laval campus, in which I will be taking part.

I'm in love with everything Google, and I want everybody to know about it! Gmail is the best e-mail service on the internet (I've tried 40-50 services of the last 7 years), plus they have weblogs (what you're reading), free image software (Picasa, a fancy software that's both full of options and user-friendly), picture sharing (Hello), Groups, instant messaging ("Google Talk" - user name rcdanio), and a community of friends to which I can't belong yet (if you, dear reader, are a member of orkut, I would very much like an invite!). Of course most of these beautiful thingies interact seemlessly with one another.

Bonus (as if any were needed):
Charlotte makes coffee every morning, and at many other times too; I have my own "room", marked off by a makeshift curtain of beautiful forest green fabric; Charlotte's family and I will be visiting Richmond, Virginia in just three weeks; I'll be attending two conferences (hotel room and all) with my sister, for her lab research (I'll actually be babysitting!); Charlotte and Guy-Claude (husband) had been watching my favorite series until two years ago, and I happen to have all of the episodes from the place they left off, and we're watching them a few nights each week; I having amazing, fascinating dreams; I'm listening to Evanescence!; I have a new desktop which looks totally sweet and doesn't even use a task bar or a Start menu!

Sunday, September 11

Everybody! --- I had a most wonderful dream, friends! It was several nights ago, and already distant in my memory.

I got a job working for the National Baha'i Center! There were some large dormatories besides the building, where dozens (hundreds?) of people resided. In fact, there was some kind of large gathering or conference. Attending this event, were almost ALL OF MY FRIENDS!! I can barely begin a list of everyone who was there! some I've recently seen, some I haven't seen in years. There was such joy all around, so much love!

I had received a letter from the National Spiritual Assembly thanking me for my services, saying they are grateful for what I will have done by the time I die in three months. (Incidentally, the NSA would never actually write such a letter in waking life.) I couldn't quite figure out the expected date

I reacted to my inpending death as I think I would in real life: (1) I was really excited! I anticipated a positive transition into the next world, (2) I worried a bit about how to do my very best with my life in the time I had left.

I tried to explain to my friends that I was going to die, but it didn't seem to register with anyone... like, although it mattered, it wasn't worthy of notice.

Lots more happened, a couple of days went by, happy death was approaching.

I had gotten off from working, I was taking a break, and then I found myself analysing a large image with Charlotte, where the tiny details were the most interesting part - we had some high-precision zooming device. We were scrolling up this series of figures and faces, racognizing significant spiritual figures, and when we got to the top, we saw the devil: a black (midnight black) female face, mouth wide-open, staring at us. Kind of creepy, but mostly fascinating.

I actually had a sequel to this dream later in the day when I took a nap, where I was meeting with some people outside of said dorms, playing basketball among other things. There was also an old lady I know who was trying to teach me something by doing a series of acrobatic maneuvers, including crawling up the wall, to change a lightbulb... (how many Baha'is does it take to change a lightbulb? a determined old lady with too much zeal!)

One interesting aspect of the dream is that most of the people I was interacting with were Baha'is. I think there's a special dimension to my friendship with Baha'is which is often absent elsewhere: Baha'is have a common understanding of the forces at work in our time. We understand a certain destined reality surrounding us, with a growing darkness which can only be remedied by unity - unity which can only be accomplished through a common understanding of human nature and the human spirit - a spirit which longs for communion with the Great Spirit - a common vision of humanity's future potential beyond the present muck we're stuck in - one common Faith established and prescribed by Baha'u'llah, as promised by the religions of the past...

With this similar understanding, my relationship with Baha'i friends includes mutual motivation in a common effort to assist the whole of humanity in advancing to the next stage of human evolution - a spiritual evolution more staggering than the material (technological) evolution we have witnessed in the last year-and-a-half.

Tuesday, September 6

This is my new desktop pic, to think about my friends Mishkin, Christian and Robbie, whom I miss dearly... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 4

Exclusive pic from the second floor of the Baha'i House of Worship! Posted by Picasa

Amia the curious charmer, to whom I owe my new name, Fishbird Posted by Picasa

The Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette (right outside Chicago) Posted by Picasa

Tree right outside the Baha'i House of Worship Posted by Picasa

Jessica, the singer superstar-in-the-making Posted by Picasa

Be strong - like Brent, Robbie and Fishbird (me) Posted by Picasa

Read my lips! Posted by Picasa

Gentlemen... true gentlemen Posted by Picasa

Picture this --- hey! I'm just trying out this new picture software so my blog will have pictures too!!

What better picture than my friend Niki and her beautiful child Zack?!

I miss her so... She and I were co-workers for the last three years, and I left her behind in Richmond... Her virtues-of-a-mother will continue to inspire me while I'm caring for my niece and nephew, and later on when I have my own child(ren).

Thursday, September 1

Fish-Bird --- So I stayed about 3 days in Evanston: I did some driving with Midge and Robbie to help move the latter in with Brent and Liza on the occasion of his beginning his internship with the Youth Desk at the National Baha'i offices there.

The drive was fun! Lots of conversation between Midge and me, we saw the gorgeous view all the way, including rain (we took the "long way" through the mountains), I watched a couple more episodes of Farscape, etc.

The stay in Evanston was as fabulous as it could be!

***Pause for name introductions***


Robbie - my closest companion these last couple of years in Richmond, VA, moving in with Brent

Midge - Robbie and Brent's mother

Brent - one of my two or three first friends when I moved to the US

Liza - Brent's wife, who moved into Evanston with him for further practice/education in speech/hearing therapy (just got her masters)


Suzanne - Liza's sister who lives with her family in an appartment right across the street from Brent/Liza

Husayn - Suzanne's husband

Amia - their daughter

Annya - Liza and Suzanne's sister, living with the latter (family name, Mitchell)

Liz and Nate Davis, friends that live nearby

All of the above (except first two) were in Champaign-Urbana while I lived there a couple of years ago!


The first morning we went out for breakfast with Brent, Liza, Midge and Robbie. Brent's and my favorite breakfast place in the world, Le Peep!

We visited the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, or House of Worship ("Dawning Place") in Wilmette - also the "Mother Temple of the West", one of the six continental such-termed temples. We visited it each day, actually, and on one day, we even went up to the second and third levels - which I had never seen in my previous visits.

Along with Robbie and Briana, the two interns for the Youth Desk this year, we got a full tour of the National Baha'i Center, learning about the various offices, meeting all kinds of amazing, nice people, and even running into two of the members of the National Spiritual Assembly!

Brent, Robbie and I played plenty of video games (mostly Capcom vs. SNK 2), some Warlord (collectable card game),

We had a couple of dinners & lunches with various people from the list above,

Nate, Suzanne and I met to discuss the possibility of holding a regular meeting focusing on spiritual parenting, where participants could discuss the matter, along with specific issues they might have, and where they might learn more about Baha'u'llah, the Baha'i Faith, and some of its principles.

Amia continued to be her usual adorable and sociable self.

I was happy.

Very happy.
Saul Williams --- I met Saul Williams at the immigration office in Ottawa! It was just him, his travel manager and myself behind the counter. I actually didn't recognize him, but after several minutes going through interrogation and hearing the guys next to me talking to their assigned immigration officer about a show they were giving in town, I did finally hear the manager speak his name.

Not quite lamely, I turned and said, "Did I hear Saul Williams?", he nodded peacefully, "THE Saul Williams?!?" - to which he leaned forward, asking "What's your name" while extending his hand. I shook it and said "danio".

I went on to say something like, "I really love and appreciate your work. I often say of my favorite artists that they are doing the work that _needs_ to be done - a lot of people aren't." He said thank you.

It's worthy of noting that I had already noticed the travel manager in the O'Hare airport, who was talking on the phone in a very meaningful language - hard to say it otherwise. From what I caught, he was talking to someone about life, value, growth, art, effort, and all kinds of inspiring-sounding things - especially to my danio-ears...

As for Saul Williams, he exhuded the most amazingly serene aura, peering into my eyes and searching for purpose and intention (maybe). He asked me where I was from and mentioned he had seen plenty of lovely pictures of Martinique.

I did introduce myself to his companion as well, but I unfortunately forgot his name. As Saul left and said goodbye, I said, "I will sincerely pray for your continued success. God bless you."

My Chicago-Ottawa boarding pass is signed by him: "Many blessings on your journey."