Ma rencontre imprévue, imprévisible, et belle

Ce soir j’ai rencontré quelqu’un. Karima. Une dame d’âge mûr, habillée avec élégance et dont le visage évoquait celui de Sophia Loren, et qui aidait au service dans le restaurant italien où j’ai choisi de diner, un peu tard.

Elle avait envie de parler. Elle semblait contente de pouvoir me renseigner en français sur le menu. Les convives qui étaient là, à la tablée de quatre, étaient tous italiens et elle ne parlait pas la langue. Les clients qui sont arrivés après moi étaient aussi des italiens. Décidément. Il ne restait que la télé où BFMTV nous donnait les nouvelles, le chef en cuisine, et moi. Alors elle regardait la télé, elle arrangeait des choses ça et là, elle servait et desservait, elle disparaissait brièvement en cuisine.

C’est au moment du dessert qu’elle engageât la conversation, depuis une table devant moi, alors qu’inspirée par le reportage de BFMTV sur l’inhumation de Nelson Mandela, elle me fit part de son admiration pour le grand homme qui avait tant oeuvré pour son pays et l’humanité. J’acquiesçais et hochais la tête.

La vérité, c’est qu’entre les bruits de repas du couple d’italiens à ma gauche et le son même faible de la télé, je ne l’entendais pas assez pour la comprendre et je ne parvenais pas à tout lire sur ses lèvres.

Je reconstituais tant bien que mal les phrases, et priais que mes réponses et mouvements de tête s’accordaient bien avec ses propos. “Mandela a quand même passé vingt-sept ans en prison !” “Il a failli être exécuté.” [Karima traça un trait horizontal sur sa gorge avec son doigt] “En France … gouvernement de Giscard … puis Mandela libéré” Je n’ai pas saisi. “Afrique du Sud … Ma belle-fille vient de Cape Town.” “C’est bientôt l’anniversaire de mes jumeaux.” “Oh, lui ai-je répondu, vous avez des jumeaux? Mon frère et moi sommes jumeaux !” “Oui, ils auront 38 ans bientôt, ils sont Capricorne.” Le même âge que mon frère et moi. Karima partageait désormais des bribes de sa vie.

J’ai alors invité Karima à prendre place à ma table si elle voulait, en lui expliquant que je l’entendais mal. Une fois à proximité, malheureusement, elle baissa naturellement le volume de sa voix et certains de ses mots restaient couverts par ceux des voisins et de la télévision.

C’est ainsi. C’est ainsi que j’ai appris son prénom, celui de ses enfants ainsi que leur âge, leurs métiers, le pays où ils habitent. C’est ainsi que j’ai appris que Karima, mariée à l’âge de 15 ans, divorça à 28 ans et éleva seule ses deux enfants, les faisant voyager entre le Maroc, la France et Dubai, leur apprenant le protocole, la vie avec les riches, les pauvres, à donner au pauvres, etc.

J’ai appris en une heure une quantité de choses sur Karima et ses enfants, leur caractère, leurs récentes activités et leurs projets. Mais c’était surtout une rencontre imprévue, imprévisible, et belle.

MBTI en famille

I found a French version of the MBTI test and all those who can speak 😉 in this house took the test:

Vlad: INTJ (I 50, N 30, T 30, J 10) [Mastermind]
Renaud: ESTJ (E 10, S 10, T 20, J 10) [Supervisor]
Coralie: ISTJ (I 70, S 70, T 10, J 60) [Inspector]

That makes an absolute majority of TJs, a majority of Is and Ss, and an absolute minority of E.
I wonder what Amy would say about our results 😉 (I hold Amy to be *the* MBTI specialist, although she would humbly deny it).

My inner world

Amy and I mentioned inner worlds in a conversation the other day. Mine has music as a background. It is pretty much like the outer world, I reckon. Well, no, scratch this. It’s messier.

My inner world has loads of samples of music. When I stop and think about it, I can pinpoint what song, or what melody. And I can trace why this particular one is in my head, most of the time. There is something else than music. There are sounds. Sounds that I heard. They repeat in my head until another sound worth of being repeated takes over. They are jingles. They can be short sentences too. Either ones I’ve just heard, or ones that I constructed myself. Either I’m practicing my side of the conversation in my head, or it’s just my thoughts or bits of my thoughts that play. I move on to thinking about something else, or doing something else, and if I pause, a jingle is still playing. It’s not bothering me.

But there are occasions when this is bothering me. For example, when I’m under stress and I’d love to focus on something else than the music or the jingle. Impossible. It’s as though the volume is turned all the way up, and any thinking relevant to the conversation or situation at hand is banned from the setting.

In an effort to put a name on this tendency to reproduce jingles and sentences or play them in my heard, I looked up the “symptoms”. The closest I found was echolalia.

Echolalia: The involuntary parrotlike repetition (echoing) of a word or phrase just spoken by another person. Echolalia is a feature of schizophrenia (especially the catatonic form), Tourette syndrome, and some other disorders. From echo + the Greek lalia, a form of speech.

In a book by Robert J. Waldinger, “Psychiatry for Medical Students”, the part on “Thought Process” ( chapter four, “The Mental Status Examination”) is particularly interesting. I think perseveration applies to me.

Rate and flow of idea. Patients frequently use the term racing thoughs to describe being flooded with ideas and unable to keep up with them. This condition is often seen with anxiety as well as in those with psychosis (e.g. mania, schizophrenia.)
Circumstantiality involves thinking that is indirect in reaching a goal or getting to the point. This style is common in obsessional people and in schizophrenic patients.
Blocking is a sudden obstruction or interruption on the spontaneous flow of thought, perceived by the patient as an absence or deprivation of thought. It is seen in patients with schizophrenia and in those with severe anxiety states.
Perseveration is the tendency to emit the same verbal response again and again to varied stimuli. This may range from constant repetition of one word or phrase (e.g. “night and day, night and day, night and day…”) to an inabilit to shift fhe focus of conversation away from one particular topic.

Other abnormalities of though process. Abnormalities of thought process may include the following:
Neologisms are new words or condensations of several words that are not readily understood by others. This disturbance is seen in patients with schizophrenia and organic brain syndromes (e.g. a paranoid man used “plickening” to mean “the plot thickens”).
Word salad is a jumble of words and phrases lacking comprehensive meaning or logical coherence. It is characteristic of patients with schizophrenia.
Echolalia is a parrotlike repetition of another person’s speech. It is observed in patients with mania, among other disorders.”

Now I’d love to hear about others’ inner worlds 🙂

Language barrier, problems reaching out

My parents sent me to the UK for 3 weeks, one summer, when I was 10. I stayed at the Carvers’, in Frome, not far from Bristol and Bath.

I don’t know why, but today I was reminded of watching TV during a weekend afternoon with their daughter, who was 13 years old. A soap opera was on and I was struggling (and quite failing) to understand what was going on.

I thought I had figured out the main female character was in early pregnancy. At this point I was barely paying attention to the show. I was looking for ways to speak to my companion. So I was rehearsing my side of the conversation, over and over.

Is she waiting for a baby?

That was the translation of “elle attend un bébé?”, which is the French for “is she pregnant?”, which I had never learnt to say.

And I rehearsed it (and other variations) for so long that eventually, it wasn’t worth saying anymore.

I had been concerned not only with the language barrier –I suspected my words weren’t right–, but also it was difficult for me to initiate the conversation. Yet, I wanted to. I didn’t.

I am not sure whether I wanted to find out if the woman was actually expecting, or if I simply wanted to talk.