Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

BIG DECISION # 4 – LIVING IN THE MOMENT September 21, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — matamich @ 6:52 pm

be-present1-300x298  I told you to stay tuned for Big Decision # 4 and here it is. Living in the moment, or living in the “right now”. Actually, I’m a little late on writing this post, because I’ve been moving toward this and doing it for quite some time now and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Living in the moment is difficult. We are raised and coached throughout our lives to plan ahead, to prepare for the future, to work toward the next goal, the next achievement. We take this lesson and start to live life waiting for the next big purchase, the next big trip, that fun thing we’ll end up doing soon if only we do this, and that, and make this much money… and so on.

By doing this, we often forget to live in the moment. We fret, and worry and complain, and wait while life is happening all around us, opportunities are popping up, friends want to see us, new friends arrive, and new adventures show up. If we keep living for the future, or dwelling on the past, we will never live the present moment to its fullest and really, we don’t have any guarantee for the future, we don’t know how much time we have left. We only have right now.

I’m not delusional. I do have plans and projects that keep me happy, but I also savor each and every minute of every day.

Living in the moment has brought some wonderful, surprising, fun and even scary things to my life. Sometimes I don’t think straight because I’m so fully invested in the right now, but at least I can say that I have lived each moment to its fullest.

And I’ve never felt more alive.

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Mich and Mum do Memphis or The Bucket List Trip September 13, 2016

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August 11th 2016, 5 am departure, which means that Mum arrived the day before, and Mich desperately tried to go to bed at 9 pm and get at least a few hours of beauty sleep before getting on the road to travel the almost 2,400 km (one way) to FINALLY meet her King.

 

Mum and Mich get a choice seat on the bus that is definitely not as “Grand Luxe” as Mister François Reny (our tour guide)… who will now be known as Buddha, claimed in his publicity.

 

The bus is just okay. We are disappointed at the lack of leather seats, cup holders, charging stations and leg room. Autre bémol? Buddha asks the passengers NOT to use the bathroom. Uh, wait, we are driving to Tennessee and we can’t use the bathroom? Is this even legal? Should we have contacted human rights? It is agreed that they will have comfort stops every 2 hours, max. This would have been nice, and it was for a while, until Buddha started falling asleep all the time and snoring and rolling around his front seat and almost falling head first over the ramp and into the stairs or straight through the windshield. Nobody would attempt to wake him up, so the comfort stops started to get few and far between. Thank God, the bus driver is a rock star. And pretty cute, too.

 

First meal was at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Best meal of the entire “road” part.

 

First stop – Toronto. Quick run around the base of a very impressively… um… erect CN Tower and Mich can’t stop thinking about off-color jokes and double-entendres, which would thoroughly scandalize her mother, so she keeps them to herself. Several photos later, they have a drink on a lovely terrace in downtown Toronto, and do some people-watching before the bus is due to leave.

 

Night 1 – Mississauga. Decent hotel, comfy bed. All our rooms have two Queen sized beds. YEAH. We are so tired at the end of the day that we just zonk out. Decent breakfast the next morning at the hotel and we hit the road again.

 

Rough road day, we drive through Detroit which is creepy and wonderful and impressive with its abandoned hotels, plants, homes, etc. Too fast to get any good pictures.

 

Night 2 – WKRP in Cincinnati! (Does anyone remember that show?) – Decent hotel, comfy bed, no water pressure. We hit Applebee’s, for a very late dinner.

 

On route to Nashville, we get to watch Elvis concerts and Elvis movies on the bus, and then Buddha talks a bunch of bullshit (name dropping) with several mistakes and wrong information (which drives Mich crazy!) and then he falls asleep. AGAIN. BO-RING!!!

 

There are 16 free seats on the bus, so the girls play “seat tag” and move around, stretch out their legs and get comfy, as do other passengers.

 

Night 3 – Nashville!!! During our stay, we hit Broadway where there is country music coming out of every door, we have the best hamburger in the universe (I’m not even kidding) and do some shopping. Mich gets a Cowboy hat! We visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and wander around downtown Nashville. Hunky cowboy bouncers at every door. Mich wanders around the city, looking for PK Subban and his purple cowboy hat.

 

Emotional moment number 1 – we visit RCA’s Studio B in Nashville and they play ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT for us, in the very studio where Elvis recorded it, with his X on the floor where he stood, and in complete darkness. Mich cries softly throughout the entire song, people keep asking her if she’s okay when they turn the lights back on. She swears she saw and felt Elvis standing right beside her, since she chose the chair beside the magical X on the floor, without even seeing it. The guide explained the significance of the X and of her chosen chair, later.

 

Quick dinner and then we go to the Grand Ole Opry where we see a 2-hour show featuring Vince Gill and friends. Mich is searching for Dolly Parton…

 

On the road again, destination Memphis!

 

We arrive in Memphis, drive around and see Mich’s Boyfriend’s high school, his first house in Memphis (he was born further South in Tupelo), his second house that he bought with the royalties from his Jailhouse Rock record, then we hit the rough parts of Memphis. Mich desperately wants to get off the bus to take pictures of the run down shacks and abandoned buildings, but they tell her it’s dangerous and she is kept inside. Dammit!

 

Then we hit Beale Street, blues music coming out of every door. We walk around, do some shopping and Mich drags Mum to a Blues Club with an outdoor courtyard featuring a live Blues band and… wait for it… an Irish Diving Goat! It must have been a drunk goat? Drinks and drinks later, Mich becomes a bit salacious with the Elvis life-sized statue in the park and Mum drags her off. Dammit. I only wanted to verify if he was really LIFE SIZED (ha ha ha).

 

Day 2 in Memphis, we have lunch at Gus’ Famous Fried Chicken. Very Southern comfort, but also very good. Mich gains 10 pounds in one sitting (not really, but it feels like it).

 

We visit Sun Studio where Sam Phillips’ secretary discovered a 19 year-old truck driving Elvis who walked in to make a $4 record for his mother. Mich gets to sit at the secretary’s desk and pretend Elvis just walked in to her office. Mich gets worked up again, so Mum drags Mich into the Studio and they take turns posing with Elvis’ authentic microphone.

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The Studio visit was not included in the tour, but Mich insisted to Buddha that they could NOT miss this since they were already in Memphis! Buddha was insulted at her for questioning his planning, so our small group of rebels who wanted to visit the Studio were abandoned in downtown Memphis to talk 2 km back to the bus that was parked in front of the famous Peabody Hotel where the rest of the group went to watch the ducks take the elevator back up from the fountain… BO-RING!!! Ducks? Who cares about ducks?

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Luckily, nothing bad happened, but let me remind you that we were walking in 34 Celsius heat in the South and it was humid. We are by the Mississippi River! Mich led the way, while the two men in the group insisted that she was going in the wrong direction and wanted to head in the opposite direction (toward the roughest part of town!). Mich was in the right direction and saved the day.

 

We had supper at BB King’s with another live blues band. Mich ate her ribs, downed her drink and then… as soon as the band started playing … she leaves her purse with Mum and hits the piste de danse with “Papa” and his wife (other members of our group)! Our waiter gave Mich two thumbs up.

 

Day 3 in Memphis,   the girls get beautiful because they are invited to Graceland!!!

 

We visit the house in the morning… and it is indescribable! WOW! Mich can see Elvis coming down the stairs from his still closed-up and private upper level area. She takes her slow sweet time visiting each room downstairs and then the offices, the trophy room, the music room, TV room jungle room (hell yeahhh!), and the gorgeous grounds. Elvis goes through, around and all over her. Mich is in heaven. Emotional moment number 2 – The grave. She falls to her knees in front of Elvis’ tomb with tears in her eyes. She puts a token from her office on the grave (small tiger figurine, because his karate nickname was Tiger) and spends several minutes on her knees (wishing Elvis was standing in front of her instead of being six feet under…!).

 

We then visit the private planes, the archives, the car museum, do some shopping and get a bite to eat.

 

Return to the hotel for a quick shower and change, food, and we return at night for the candlelight vigil to honor Elvis’ death.

 

Surreal experience, with Elvis Presley Boulevard closed to traffic, people building shrines along the street, Elvis impersonators right and left, and tons and tons of people holding candles. The girls deface Elvis’ stone wall with some private messages in permanent marker. When the dark comes, all you see is a sea of candles and all you can hear is soft Elvis slow tunes played from the speakers atop the stone gate. People speak in hushed tones, the atmosphere is very peaceful, very loving. Sadly, it starts to rain HARD, but we still make it up to the grave again, with our umbrella and an impromptu lovely girl from Cleveland who has no umbrella (total stranger) and stays tight with us under the umbrella until the end. We are soaked. Elvis wanted a  “Mich wet t-shirt vigil”, for sure!!!

 

Back to the hotel to dry off. By the way, during this entire day and night, Buddha is never with us and we find him sleeping on various benches throughout the day and evening. He sucks as a tour guide.

 

Day 4 in Memphis, we head out to Tupelo to see where Mich’s sweet baby was born. We meet the mayor and shake hands with him, we visit the shack where Elvis was born, his church, watch a short movie about his childhood and go to eat at his favorite snack bar. Mich gets to put her ass where Elvis put his ass, sit in his booth and recreate an iconic picture of Elvis in that very booth. We eat an Elvis burger, fries and have a root beer. Visit the park where he gave his free concert in 1957, the hardware store where he got his first guitar and his grade school.

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Back to Memphis for days 5, 6 and 7.

 

We then hit the road to head home. First stop, Cleveland, then Niagara Falls where Mum gets to finally see this force of nature (Mich has done the Falls before). Plenty of photo ops, walks, a great meal and adventures in the kitschy part of NF and we visit Niagara on the Lake and head on home to Québec.

 

It was a great bucket list trip!

 

We finished the adventure by attending the Elvis Experience concert and I introduced Mum to the genius behind the Elvis. She was thrilled. Perfect ending to a very Elvis trip.

 

That is all, baby! Bucket list check!

 

 

Irresponsible June 25, 2013

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Just how irresponsible can you be in life and get away with it? I see irresponsible people every day. I hear about them on the news, in conversations, witness their idiocies and apparent complete lack of awareness that their actions have consequences and that they need to think before they act.

I was recently confronted by an act of such heartless irresponsibility that I was floored by it. I stopped minding my own business and gave that person a piece of my mind. I knew that doing this would not change anything, because even as I told him off, he was oblivious to what he had done and how many people he had screwed over in various ways. I felt that this was the last straw for me and that irresponsible people need to be confronted, and have their actions thrown in their face.

This person signed a lease starting July 1st with a roommate. He then suddenly decided to go out West (way across the country) to work “temporarily” to make money. Throughout this time, he was offered on several occasions to see if the lease could be cancelled or if the roommate could transfer to another place and share the rent with someone else, etc. Every time, this unspeakable jerk insisted that he wanted to keep their apartment and he was coming back, that he was out there making money for a better life for them, and bla bla bla … Not once did he decide to be honest and give his roommate a chance to turn things around.

Instead, he waited until 10 days before the moving date to call her and tell her that he was never coming back and did not want the apartment.

Let me remind you that he signed the lease.

And he thinks he did the right thing. She was ready to move in 10 days. We had boxes, furniture, a rental truck, small appliances, were all set to purchase a fridge for them, we even had groceries (basics) prepared.

Everyone moves on July 1st in Quebec, so there are not many apartments left and on her own, she can’t afford it.

I only hope that if there is a penalty to pay for cancelling at the last minute, he is the one who pays. I hope they go after him and garnish his wages.

At some point, oblivious people who do unspeakable things to others have to pay.

Karma is a bitch.

But thankfully, she always finds you.

It’s only a matter of time.

 

Big decisions – it’s time November 18, 2012

Recently, I had been feeling sad and somewhat trapped by my life. I had to do something to change this. All around me, I was witnessing people making major life decisions, difficult ones, separations, quitting their job to pursue a dream, giving up things that were part of their lives, shaking things up and, not only feeling better about themselves as a result, but also looking better, feeling healthier and more optimistic about their future.

It was time for me make the jump.

My first big decision was to end my professional relationship with a client who was taking up too much of my time and who treated me as an employee instead of a collaborator or consultant. Neither of us was happy with this situation, and both parties were frustrated. The client wanted a full time assistant to be at his office and available on demand. I could respond to the urgent requests, and I had more than enough time to deal with any regular work by being on-site two days per week, but this was not optimal for the client. He wanted someone there, just in case.

So I decided to let this client go, despite the financial hole this would create on a short term basis.

I was afraid, but I have never felt happier. I am currently training the full time assistant one day per week and she will be able to take over very soon. Projects have been coming in, clients have been calling and new opportunities have arrived. I am reorganizing my services and focusing on what I love to do.

I haven’t replaced all the billable hours from this client yet, but I will. I am confident, I feel good about this decision and I know it was the right thing for me.

I also believe that this is a first in a series of big decisions. It’s my turn!

Stay tuned for big decision number two.

 

Gimme Five August 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — matamich @ 9:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

Random Creative Writing Challenge (Just for fun):

 Trace the journey of a five dollar bill through the lives of five different owners.  What was exchanged during the transactions?  How much (or how little) did the transaction mean to each of the people involved?

I wrote this several years ago.

 Gimme Five

(Copyright Micheline Harvey)

Jean-Yves walked briskly across the busy intersection, dodging between the random cabs, rummaging through his pocket for his cell phone and looking at his watch. He was running late. Again. This was going to be a huge deal, he couldn’t really afford to piss off the client, not this time, so he thought that a bit of his trademark sweet talk might just fix things. He certainly knew his way around secretaries and receptionists, for so many had fallen prey to his charms. If only he could find his stupid cell phone and dial the client’s number, he was sure he could buy himself another 30 minutes or so.

He finally located the damn thing, wondering why they keep making them so tiny! He did not like the old, clunky, cumbersome cell phones from way back, but he DID like something that had at least some weight in his hand. Something that did not get lost at the bottom of his pockets so easily! As he pulled it out, avoided getting his expensive suit splashed by an impatient driver, cupped his family jewels quickly – just to check – and prepared his most sultry, sweet and low voice to charm the panties off the girl who answered all the incoming calls to MADISON, DRAKE, LLOYD & ASSOCIATES, a folded five dollar bill fell out of his pocket, fluttered out in front of him, swirled up in the whoosh of wind of a passing city bus and blew away, too fast for him to try to catch it.

Oh well, he shrugged, what’s five bucks when you make as much money as I do and are about to close the deal of the decade?

And so Jean-Yves hustled on to his appointment, speaking in hushed, syrupy tones into his teeny tiny high tech cell phone as his five dollar bill made its way down the street.

***

Giselle hiked the baby up higher on her hip, pulled on her purse strap and tried to untangle the many bags she was hauling with a single hand. She frowned, thinking that she’d only been a few dollars short and was unable to get her husband Steve’s big bag of veggie chips he liked so much. They were struggling a bit since the baby, and since little Trey had been basically her idea, she hated when his diapers, formula and baby food took anything away from Steve. Her husband did not ask for much, and he had not been ready for a baby. He kept telling Giselle that they should wait, just a couple of years, for him to get a raise and her to find a job. Instead, she had stopped taking the pill without telling him and presented Steve with the fait accompli. He had freaked out a little, but had been nothing but supportive throughout her entire pregnancy, taking on extra shifts and doing odd jobs on the weekends in order to be able to get her anything she wanted, or needed.

The baby sneezed, dousing her entire left shoulder with snot and drool and broke out in a curious little giggle, bouncing up and down on her sore hip and stretching out his little hand.

Giselle could not figure out what he was reaching for, until she realized that little Trey had found a five dollar bill, stuck in the branches of a thick shrub!

That’s my baby boy, she thought, smiling. Giselle looked around to see if anyone seemed to be looking for a missing bill and, seeing no one, she slipped it into her bag and headed back to the grocery store to get Steve a bag of his favorite chips.

***

Kat made a funny face at the baby in the woman’s arms as she bagged her purchase and handed her the change from her five dollar bill. The baby yelled, laughed, vibrated against his mother’s shoulder and let a long strand of bubbly drool fall onto the conveyer belt that led to the cash register. Kat wrinkled her nose as she fished around for the paper towels to wipe it off.

Kat’s period was ten days late. She was NEVER late. She was like fucking clockwork. She zoned out and flashed back to the night of the bonfire and how her boyfriend Luke didn’t have any rubbers. How she had drank one too many beers and felt all loose and lovely and loving. How she let him stick it inside her “just a little”. How she was so sure that he had not pulled out in time like he said he did. She eyed the rolly polly drooly little boy and thought that she was way too young to deal with having a baby. She closed her eyes for a couple of seconds and prayed for her period to start. Just. Please. Start.

The woman pulled Kat out of her reverie by asking her to give her a five dollar bill in exchange for a fistful of loose change she had just discovered at the bottom of her purse. Kat counted out the pennies, dimes and quarters and handed the same fiver she’d just put in the register back to the woman who smiled, picked up her numerous bags, and left, baby bouncing on her hip.

***

“Here’s the five dollars I’ve owed you forever…” said Giselle, as she put the baby in his playpen and set the bags on the kitchen counter.

“Oh, and I got you your chips.” She smiled, thinking of the luck of finding a wayward five dollar bill AND discovering as much in change in her purse after the transaction. Not only could she get Steve his beloved chips, but she could pay back a pesky little debt that had been nagging her for a couple of weeks. Having no income was a bitch.

Steve took the five dollar bill, smiled and kissed Giselle.

“You can keep this, honey. I don’t expect you to pay me back.” He said, handing it back to her.

“No way. For once I can pay you back. Please, leave me this small pleasure.” Said Giselle, tucking the bill into Steve’s pocket and copping a feel of his butt at the same time.

***

Joe sat on the corner, bundled up in too many layers of smelly old clothes, his dog Bugger by his side, holding up his empty coffee mug to beg for money. This was a pretty busy corner. He usually made enough money for dog food, McDonald’s and the upkeep of his drinking problem. Some people did not even look at him, other’s tossed in a couple of quarters. Mostly, he got one dollar bills. But sometimes, when he was lucky, some generous soul would fold a fiver into his mug.

Joe sometimes remembered, through an alcoholic haze, the years when he was a successful businessman. When he had a family, a wife and two really good looking kids. When he thought about this, he’d smile, until he started to remember his drinking, and what it made him do. Joe lost his values, lost his wife, lost the respect of his kids, lost his business and ended up on the street. Joe was now only a shadow of his former self. Five dollars would help him feed Bugger. Five dollars would keep him alive one more day…or give him that buzz he craved so much. Joe smiled, revealing two missing front teeth, and held his mug up high.

***

Standing out in front of the expensive sushi restaurant where he’d just had lunch with the sexy receptionist from MADISON, DRAKE, LLOYD & ASSOCIATES,  Jean-Yves glanced over at the homeless wino sitting in a smelly lump and begging for money. He turned his nose up and sneered, in disgust, thinking that he’d NEVER, EVER in a million years give money to people like that. They were pathetic. All they needed was a swift kick in the ass. Although he had more than enough money for several lifetimes, he would never even consider giving them one, red cent.

Little did he know…the folded five dollar bill that was just placed into the beggar’s mug by Steve, as he made his way to work, was the one that flew out of his pocket, that very morning.

THE END

 

My hairdresser should always be available for me – Mon coiffeur devrait être toujours disponible pour moi June 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — matamich @ 5:52 pm

Last time I went to my hair guy, I asked him to leave a little length as I’ve been wearing a chin length bob for some time and I wanted to be able to put my hair up, tie it back, play with different styles for summer. Two months later, I can’t do a thing with my hair and I want at least a trim to give it shape and get rid of the split ends.

So I called on Friday to see when he could fit me in next week for just a quick trim. Any time of the week was fine, I’d make it work.

They gave me an appointment THREE WEEKS from now.

Hey, when I desperately need to get my hair trimmed, I want to do it NOW not in three weeks!

In three weeks I may have changed my mind and fallen in love with wearing long gypsy kerchiefs all the time.

I have very fine, straight, thin hair. It’s not that big a job to trim and blow it out.

I wish my hair guy was just on call for me, available all the time, simply waiting to make me gorgeous when I need it.

But I’ll wait, because he’s worth it. He rocks.

***

Lors de ma dernière coupe de cheveux, j’ai demandé à mon coiffeur de me laisser un peu de longueur. Je portais mes cheveux en un carré un peu asymétrique au niveau du menton depuis un certain temps et je voulais pouvoir les remonter, les attacher, jouer avec différents styles pour la saison estivale. Deux mois plus tard, je ne peux plus rien faire avec mes cheveux et je voudrais au moins faire enlever les pointes, histoire de leur donner un peu de mouvement et un aspect moins rebelle.

J’ai donc téléphoné vendredi pour demander un petit rendez-vous n’importe quand pendant la semaine à venir pour me couper les cheveux. Je me plierais volontiers à ses disponibilités.

On m’a donné un rendez-vous dans TROIS SEMAINES !

Hé, quand j’ai un besoin urgent de me faire couper les cheveux, c’est tout de suite, pas dans TROIS SEMAINES !

D’ici trois semaines, j’aurai peut-être changé d’idée, ou je serai tombée en amour avec les grands foulards de gitane noués autour de ma tête à tous les jours.

J’ai les cheveux très fins, droits et minces. Ce n’est pas très long de les couper et coiffer.

J’aimerais tellement que mon coiffeur soit disponible, sur appel, pour moi, tout de suite au moment même où j’ai besoin de lui pour me transformer en belle déesse !

Mais j’attendrai patiemment. Parce qu’il en vaut la peine. C’est un magicien !

 

My professional blog is moving – Mon blogue professionnel déménage June 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — matamich @ 6:08 pm

For those who follow my professional blog, you can now find it under the blog section of my website – Pour ceux et celles qui suivent mon blogue professionnel, vous pouvez le trouver désormais sous l’onglet blogue de mon site.

I will be keeping this blog to play – Je conserve ce blogue pour le plaisir d’écrire.