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I’m a murderer. Vicious, vicious plant murderer.

I dread this time of year. Dread it. Anyone who has any vacation days left is hopping off on a flight to Dominican resort or is boarding the party cruise-line…. and who do they ask to “keep an eye on” their plants? ME!

I hate watering plants for people. Give me a hamster to feed, a cat to cuddle with or a dog to take out. But plants? I forget about plants. I don’t know how much water they need. I don’t know their types. I don’t know their survival requirements. I know nothing! By having to (not) water them, you turn me into a murderer. A terminator! A liquidator! Pure and simple, a killer.

My sister is the one that dumps them on me. I reluctantly agree, of course. I can take care of her daughters when they are at my place, how could I not take care of plants then? Maybe I will do better this time!

At first, the plants seem fine. I try talking to them. Sing to them. I try to make them happy. I diligently read the list on how much water they need and how often they should be watered. Next few days, I forget they are there. Because they are so quiet, I don’t notice their presence. I watch TV, I write my blogs, I go to work without a single thought regarding the plants.

Then I come home one day, and I suddenly notice almost like a trail of shedding leaves. Then, as I glance to see if there are any survivals left, only few, sad, wilting leaves are staring at me. “You did this to us!” they scream. Then I notice spots and brown patches on stems. “Please forgive me!” I cry. I give them so much water their little pot is overflowing. I don’t know what to do. I add more fertilizer. I put them in a warmer place. I blast Mozart and Vivaldi through the house. I stay up late to talk to them and make sure they will make it through the night.

By the time my sister comes back, sun-kissed and reborn from her vacation, I manage to kill half her plants. She grabs whatever plants are still half-alive and storms out- saying she will never trust me with them ever again. I pour myself a glass of wine and cheer to the plants I killed. I’m a plant murderer.

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Life without A/C

“It’s the devil,” my Swedish roommate whined. “It ruins the environment,” my German roommate assured me as he was backed up all his whining with staggering statistics. Living in France in the summer is much harder than people realize. A lot of those beautiful, old buildings do not have A/C. Particularly the student rooms- we were all meant to sweat until our clothing was wet inside out. I think I wrote my last will during those hot, summer days, as I was sure I wasn’t going to make it.

As I sit in my A/C room and reminisce my study abroad in France, I can’t thank Willis Carrier enough. A Cornell University graduate, he was the one that came up with modern electrical air conditioning. He was the one that makes my life, on a daily basis, much more tolerable. Living in Florida, life without A/C is unthinkable these days. People pass out from heat because it is so hot sometimes, and then somebody will tell me that A/C is bad? No, sir. A/C saves lives. According to CDC, an average of cca. 700 people die each year. Now, I’m not saying they were all trapped in their homes without A/C but I’m certain A/C could have helped. Unless they were stuck wandering the desert, then I guess they didn’t stand a chance really.

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Can an author sell books at all without harassing friends/family for likes or paying for promo?

It’s been a year and I have not sold a single book yet. I’ve had free promotions on Amazon and people have read them. You see, when I started out I decided I was not going to harass my friends to like my Facebook page or have them write reviews for me on Amazon. I wanted to do it clean. I wasn’t going to pay for ads to get my book out there. So many online blogs recommend having a blog to get readers, make sure you format the book right and have it proofread…. and you’re set.

When I got my first and only review, I cried. It was positive, but apparently they still found mistakes. I ran proofreading program more than a dozen times and mistakes still happen. I’ve been editing the book to make it better.

When I came out with children’s books and had free promotions I asked for reviews (good or bad) but there has not been any feedback. It is so hard to not feel like my books are just a needle in the Amazon hay.

I guess what my question to those successful authors out there is (assuming my books don’t suck) is what else do they recommend doing? Or should I cough up the money for promotions?

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Don’t give up- your child can become bilingual!

One of the few memories I have of my Grandma, ma belle Grandma, were her attempts of trying to teach me French as a young child. Our family has some decades-ago French roots and she knew “intermediate French” from conversing with her Grandparents. There are many cognitive advantages for a child who is bilingual and by God, my Grandma was going to pass these advantages onto me.

As a child, I resisted. Fought against. Cried. Even just learning how to count in French was a crazy nightmare! Unknown sounds that were impossible to say, nose bleeds from all the nasal sounds (haha, just kidding). You get the drift though. She tried her best but I was just too stubborn to learn. I gave her the satisfaction of learning “un, deux, trois” and “je m’appelle” but anything more than that was a hopeless cause.

She tried, my poor old Grandma, but she just didn’t have the tools to teach me. No books, no entertaining visuals. Nothing. Just her and her tiny jazz hands. But now, in this beautiful world of internet, anyone can learn a language. Book market is flooded with language experts or language lovers as I call them. The main thing for any parent is not to give up. Particularly when you don’t have family members who speak another language. Why don’t you learn a language with your child? Start with new words… the grammar takes a while to learn anyhow, but if you give them the foundation/the vocabulary… it makes it so much easier!

P.S: In case anyone is interested, I wrote a children’s book in English for beginners and little ones who are just mastering their first English words available on Amazon. It is currently in process of being translated to French, German and Croatian. Give it a look and let me know what you think! Thank you for reading my blog, and leave some comments on teaching a second language to a child below :)

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Inertia and the factor of external force

Lately I’ve been having one of those “what life truly is all about” periods in my life. Don’t ask me why, I’m not even on my period or anything, but I have just been highly contemplative and reading such hard-core philosophical literature that gives me a nasty headache. One of the concepts that shows up a lot is inertia.

Inertia, by definition is a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. But I prefer the definition they have for it in physics (thanks Galileo and Newton) which states that inertia is a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

I’m quite the B student at physics (I mean, I think I kind of get Einstein’s E=mc2 formula), but I was compelled to the physics definition of inertia better because it highlights the external factor force. It’s not simply a feeling of not having the energy or desire that is needed to move.

Everything is incrementally changing around us whether we like it or not (state changed by an external force) until one day we notice the big changes. Therefore, the fact the someone/somebody/something can do nothing/ remain unchanged seems less realistic- for want of a better word. There is an external force- perhaps other people, perhaps an event that alters the mentality and gets people to change/think/feel differently about something. Our society is so change driven (whether we like it or not) and affected by external factors that there is no way anyone can remain in the state of inertia for long. I mean, just look at what happened to Greece ;)

Joking aside, the point is you should never just have the tendency to do nothing. Even when things are good- can’t they be better? Or if things are bad, can’t you do something about it? Transform the state of inertia into your benefit, because otherwise the external forces will change it for you.

P.S: Thank you for reading my blog, check out my books on Amazon and let me know what you think! Thanks! :)

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How is London not the city of my dreams?

Out of curiosity, lack of desire to work and simply genuine boredom I surfed the web the other day, dreaming of my move to London. Why London you ask? I saw a musical there once and it was so good that I generalized that London is the city I should be in (not much of a logic, I know).

I browsed the sites for jobs, and I gasped at the salary ranges. 15,000- 30000 pounds were the most common salaries I saw! Of course, executives and managers had a better pay, but for an average shmo like me I couldn’t imagine living on that salary. I mean, simple room sharing (yay, it’s college time again) costs are starting 600 pounds a month. Rooms! I am an adult and I want to have my own damn studio, even if a tiny, tiny one! And those go for at least a 1000 pounds a month. So you’re telling me I cash in roughly 2000 pounds a month and more than half goes for my rent, not to mention the cost of food, transportation etc? Even commuting to London and finding a place on the outskirts seems so darn expensive. Do regular people in London ever save any money? How is such a low pay possibly worth living in London? You can’t go out and do things because you can’t afford them. So what is it, the prestige of saying you live in London?

As I was browsing this, I thought of the post I saw on Humans of New York, where a guy works 13 hours a day and he can’t save a lot of money. I kept thinking to myself: why do you stay there then? Wouldn’t it make sense to move to a less expensive place and save up there? And maybe work 10 hours instead of 13? Not have your wife worried about how you are going to pay for things?

People want different things in life, but I sadly realized my move to London seems to be unfeasible for time being. I can’t forgo my privacy, the fact I have a house (which, before you chip in, it’s really average sized and nothing fancy and a common thing here in Orlando), I don’t have to live like I am in college again and I save some money in addition to the expenses. Livin the dream, I guess, yeah?

Does you, dear readers, have a fantasy place in mind? Or do you perhaps live in London? New York? Leave a comment below, tell me I am wrong and that I should move to London! :)

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Watching the world burn

I wonder. Is the world really always so close to falling apart or is the availability of the modern communications, internet etc. just a practical tool that allow us to follow its (almost) collapse so closely?

Of course, Greece is the hottest topic this week, at least in my more financially motivated circles. Greeks just said a big f*ck you to poor Angela Merkel who was just trying to get them to start paying more taxes and hire less relatives in government offices.

More bombings in Iraq, self-explosions, abuse of XX (I mean, really, you name something and there is a sick somebody abusing it)…. People starving, suffering, killing each other….And I just wonder? Do we really enjoy nothing more than watch the world burn? Is this brutality just part of nature, but the Western world is so distanced from it that it becomes unexpected? Is nature really meant to be this gruesome?

Because the world nowadays is awfully similar to the one in Game of Thrones. The reason I chose this show is because I am always reluctant to watch it because of its brutality. But, hey, it’s just me being a softie! People are having their heads chopped off in the Middle East (heck, even in the UK), women are being raped and even good ole incest apparently still happens. Constant battle for ruling, for dominance… and for survival?

Of course, you might argue that good stuff happened recently: the U.S. Supreme Court and its ruling of same-sex marriage nationwide. Or the women’s soccer team winning against Japan! And if you read the Humans of New York posts on FB…man, is this world filled with love. That’s all good news. Great news! But when I see the other 90% of the world burn, then I wonder… is the world always supposed to be burning while some good souls are trying to put out the fire?

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When you’re down, down low….

Weird. I have one of the Eurovision songs stuck in my head. I am down, down low. It’s been a rough, ROUGH week and I have little energy left. Or will to do anything, really.

How to cure the down, down low? Here are some of my tips:

1) Hug your kitty/ dog. They may have disgruntled faces (or are about to scratch you) but the feel of that soft fur will make you feel like the world is a better place.

2) Watch “Pursuit of Happyness”- when you realize Chris Gardner was homeless, with a kid, working like a maniac…. you realize you should probably get off your ass and be more productive.

3) Have a glass of wine. No, forget wine. Have a mix- maybe vodka and coke. Rum and coke. I’m not saying to drink your problems away, but sometimes alcohol can get you more relaxed.

4) Get your best friend on the phone. Or when you don’t really have a best friend, talk to your dog/kitty. They are great listeners, often better than people. And they will listen to your problems for hours.

5) Pet your dog/kitty for good measure. Again!

So that’s kind of what I do. What do you do when you have a bad day/week/month? Leave comments below :D

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P.S: Thank you to those who took advantage of the free promotion of my children’s book “Ginger’s missing glasses”– don’t forget to leave a review! :)

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When English is too difficult for the French highschool kid(s)

Ah, my dear France! My dear French people! English is really not that hard. I promise!

Today, a lovely article was posted on one of the French website (click here– but it’s in French)… a young high school kid decided to make a petition to disregard a certain question “M” on the BAC d’anglais (I guess kind of like SAT’s) because it was deemed too difficult for his young mind.

OK, OK. I get it. English even gets me sometimes. But, lets look at the questions. Could we possibly understand the two questions (from a French perspective) if we only used some logic? Perhaps language similarities?

Let’s see.

First question: “What are three of his concerns about the situation?” So, I am assuming he didn’t know the word “concern.” Because words like “what, are, three, his, situation, about” are basic English levels. Right? This boy is doing his BAC! He knows basic English! So let’s assume the word “concerns” was too difficult. Or perhaps he connected it to the French verb concerner (French for “relate to”). That’s after his first brain storming. But we all know, a word like concern cannot possibly be English. Come on, way too many nasal sounds! In fact, the word “concern” comes from a mix of French and Latin! From French concerner or late Latin concernere (in medieval Latin ‘be relevant to’), from con- (expressing intensive force) + cernere ‘sift, discern’. So you don’t get a pass on that first question, young boy. The word has French roots!

Second question: “How is Turner coping with the situation?” OK, again. Beginners English levels include the words “how, is, with, the, situation?) (oh, and btw, the word situation is the same in French!!) So the verb that is puzzling the young French boy must be “coping.” To cope( or cope with)- a person dealing with something difficult. Could the verb have any origin in French word or perhaps is, just by normal logic, easily related to French verbs? It turns out, the verb “to cope” comes “from Old French coper, colper”, fromcop, colp.” And as much as I admit, perhaps this is a harder verb to understand, it still comes from your own native language, French boy. So no need to complain, because, as it turns out, you fail in French!

What do you think? Leave a comment below :D

P.S: My children’s book “Ginger’s missing glasses” (beginners English *wink wink*) is free tomorrow on Amazon!

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Shinning bright on a Sunday!

It’s a great feeling when you have the writing fever. You stay up late, forget about eating, perhaps drinking coffee to stay up when your body is telling you to shut down.

I’ve been up since 5am and I can’t stop writing. I would like to share the cover of my new “Ginger’s missing glasses” children’s book. I am presenting the cover today, but it should be available on Amazon tomorrow. For FREE pre-orders, e-mail: leahrennes@gmail.com. DO IT! I want to hear your feedback!

I hope your Sunday is productive as well.

Love,

Leah

P.S: I also want to state that I have decided to do a so-called “LULU” pledge- meaning 50% of my profits will go to those in need. As you have seen in my log posts, I consider myself fortunate to have good opportunities in my life and I want to help those who do not.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Winston S. Churchill

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