Last night, before the I went to enjoy a wonderful turkey dinner, I went to the doctor. I was relieved to be seeing someone because I had been trying all week to get in to see a psychiatrist by referral of my new psychologist and it wasn't happening. All of the English speaking psychiatrists that could potentially medicate me were booked until Christmas.
The host family had been dragged into the mess by then. I needed to know if I was covered by their health care or not, and so broached this delicate subject which lead to the instruction for me to go to the family doctor. That's how it works in socialized health care. You go to your General Practitioner first no matter what you are sick with and if they don't believe that they can help you or they don't have the expertise they refer you to a Specialist. Each visit costs about 20 Euros and are from 60 to 100% reimbursable. Even the Specialist as long as you are referred. So because I was looking to go to a Psychiatrist (Read: Specialist) I needed to see my GP first. Okay, great.
Except that she does not speak any English.
Host Dad told me that he could be present for the appointment to translate for me - I had talked to him about this possibility before - and then almost in the same breath said, "But I'd rather not."
I was taken aback, but I realized that I didn't want him knowing that information about me any more than he wanted to know it. Though they are generous and kind to me they are still my employers and if he were to translate for me it would be a kin to me walking into the office of any CEO I have worked for and telling him my life story while sobbing uncontrollably. Not much good can come from this scenario, not really.
He asked me if I knew someone else who could go with me and I said yes, even though I did not. Not anyone who was available anyway. I went to bed early thinking about the possibilities.
When I woke up on Thursday it was everything I could do to make myself leave the house. I spent forty minutes pacing back and forth from the bathroom to my bed, getting ready while at the same time thinking I should just go back to bed. I felt like shit and looked as bad; my eyes were puffy and dark from so many tears shed. On the Metro platform on the way to school I began to cry while thinking about Turkey. If I had thought for a minute that I could escape the discomfort of going to a French doctor for this, that morning changed my mind. I simply couldn't go on as it was.
So I wrote a history of myself - explaining why I was here, how I had been in the past, everything that I had been doing that had not been working - carefully wording it so that it could be translated. I made sure words like "moved" and "have taken before" would be changed to the proper French word or phrase, and then I dumped the whole thing into Google Translator. Armed I went on my way.
I waited in a cold, stark white waiting area for an hour before it was my turn to see the doctor. I had read in blogs before so I knew sort of how it worked. I knew to say a somber "Bonjour" to the others waiting on my entrance, and it didn't take me long to figure out that there was no receptionist. I assumed that behind one of the closed doors was the doctor, and so I sat and pretended like I had done it all before.
The room was chilly and dark, despite the loud hum of an electric heater on behind me and the spotlights shining from the drop cork ceiling. I read my book for as long as I could before the doctor ushered me into her office.
Of course I tried - the first thing I asked was if she spoke English - but she didn't. Not really. So I forked over my translation and listened as she read it aloud in French. It was so strange to hear my sadness, over simplified and rearranged, in another language. That's me, I thought, because it felt as though she were reading some other thing. Maybe there was a test at the end. But no test. This was me.
For forty-five minutes I gestured and drew pictures and asked for her to repeat. She asked me over and over if I had friends here and if I saw them. Always, I replied, knowing it was not the word I wanted. I cried, my eyes searching her office for a box of tissues and finding none. At one point she asked me the same question several times, and I though I didn't understand I nodded ferociously. Yes, I think, I said.
"You don't understand, do you?" She said.
"No, I'm sorry."
"It's okay," she said, "It's no big deal."
I did comprehend most of what she was saying though, I just hadn't the words to respond with the information she needed. She asked me again what I was doing here. Why did I move to France?
In my poor French I tried to explain to her that I had a fantasy about Paris being this amwzing magical place, healing me. But, I said, city is just city and person is just person.
She seemed to understand because she replied, emphatically in French, something that I did not completely comprehend but was not at all lost in the translation.
"Of course!" She said, "No place outside can be beautiful until you are beautiful inside first."
"Yes." I said, sobbing now. "It's that. Exactly. Exactly."
She typed for what seemed like eons on her computer and then scribbled on a piece of paper the name of the medication she was prescribing me. She was sending me home with drugs. Somehow all of the things I had failed to say made enough sense to her, and she understood what I needed. I had succeeded. This was no small thing.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Last night, before the I went to enjoy a wonderful turkey dinner, I went to the doctor. I was relieved to be seeing someone because I had been trying all week to get in to see a psychiatrist by referral of my new psychologist and it wasn't happening. All of the English speaking psychiatrists that could potentially medicate me were booked until Christmas.
"Ohhh, okay," I said out loud. My host dad was in the living room, but working at his computer, so it was directed to no one in particular. "It's Paxil."
"So good," he said distractedly. "Hopefully that will be good then."
"Yes, I feel better now, knowing what it is. I like to know what's going in my body, you know?"
"Yes!" he replied, "I'm sure it will be fine! You have taken it already?"
"What? No, I didn't think I had time to go to the Pharmacy."
"Yes, of course you do. The young one is not here..."
"But I still have to come back to make dinner, blah blah blah," I replied, clicking closed the windows on the computer.
"I can cook dinner," he said, "You have your party to go to , no?"
"Yes. You can cook dinner? Really??"
"Of course!! Go to the Pharmacy! Have a nice Thanksgiving!"
"Really?!" I squealed. "Oh my gosh thank you!! Yea!!"
"Of course!! Bon soirée!"
I wised him a good night and ran out the door. I made a quick call to my mom to let her know that I had good luck at the doctor's, and to wish her a nice Turkey Day then slung the bag over my shoulder. In it were my only four forks and two bottles of champagne. I thought briefly how odd it would look if I had been hit by a car then, because in France it was just another day. No real reason to be carrying two bottles of champagne and forks. But then, surely they have seen stranger things.
I stopped at the Pharmacy and had the luck to approach the Pharmacist who spoke near perfect english. His family lived in L.A. he said. This was the explanation the presence of the word "gotta" in his english vocabulary. I didn't feel the need to talk to him about Thanksgiving, but felt distinctly connected to the U.S.. Like maybe he was just an immigrant here too.
I hopped on the bus to chez Sarah full of my blessings.
When I arrived she was I suspected - up to her elbows in Thanksgiving. She had it under control and so offered me a drink instead, but I milled around the kitchen, sticking my fingers in the potatoes and offering to carry and spice and arrange whatever I could. I could not not help. Her husband fiddled with the Christmas music and set up his T.V. with a lovely display of turkeys copping an attitude. People arrived.
And then more people. And more. And more. Everyone who had RSVPed showed up with a dish of food (or three!) and a bottle of wine (or three!). Most of us were Americans but there were a Canadian and an Australian thrown in for good measure, along with the various French husbands. None of us had a problem sharing our holiday with the other nationalities because, in fact, wasn't that what it was all about in the first place?
By nine o'clock we had en massed more food than could possibly be consumed, but we definitely tried. We were all a light with drinks and jokes and the warmth of sixteen people crammed into 40m2. People sat on the floor and arms of chairs and didn't think twice about it, so merry to be with one another on what every one can easily say is the best, true American Holiday.
At some point, some one remembered the tradition of actually giving thanks out loud and the room took turns being thankful for each others presence, for blogging (what brought most of us together) and of course for the generosity of Sarah and Gui for letting us all be together on the cold night in France. While all the other French families were passing a regular Thursday night, we were having a veritable feast.
I said a silent thank you for the doctors I have seen in the past two weeks and the new meds nestled in purse; and then a thanks to all of the people in my life who were happy to still have me there, who have been looking on in support even when they couldn't do anything, patiently waiting for me to come out of the darkness. I said a thank you for my family who I knew were eating then too, on the opposite side of the pond, whom I know now more than ever are the most important people in my life.
When every one left the party we stretched our arms out for good old American hugs.
"No bises!!" we said. "It can be so impersonal."
Of course we are all conditioned now so bisous were inevitable, but the hugs were fierce and welcomed.
"I miss hugging!" I said, and went in for another person to wrap in my embrace.
I was home by midnight and made one more phone call to my other sister in Pennsylvania. She told me that she was almost done with her Christmas shopping and I told her about my night. We talked lightly about my return and I didn't mention Christmas. I still don't know what is going on with that but, I felt complete as I pulled my comforter up to my ears and burrowed in for a long winters nap.
The holidays have commenced.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I planned to spend Sunday at home. It was cold out, I was tired and I wanted to finish painting my walls sunshine yellow. I had tried to warm myself up with a cup off coffee while reading blogs but it didn't help. The no-shutter-closing had taken its toll on my apartment and it was freezing. A hot shower was in order.
As I let my body turn red under the spray, something caught my eye out the window. The steam on the pane had me certain I was having hallucinations.
"Huh, that looked like a snowflake," I thought.
I wiped the humidity off the window and felt my body light up. SNOW!!! It was really snowing!!
I forced myself out of the cozy bathroom and flung on clothes so that I could lean out my door and take pictures. After living in Austin for four years, it was like seeing snow for the first time.
It's funny, really, because it's not like I haven't seen snow in my life. I grew up in Colorado, there was plenty of the white stuff to go around, even though the town I lived in was more high desert than mountain which meant our annual snow fall was around 4 inches. Maybe.
And I've lived in Pennsylvania where winters are regularly snow filled. In fact last year at Christmas while my mom and I visited I am pretty sure there was a regular blanket of snow on the ground. Whatever, it doesn't matter, because each time I see it fall I feel like an eight year old waiting to make a snow angel. I had to resist my urge to go hold my tongue out under the falling flakes.
It didn't take long for the snow to turn to a cold cold rain and I went back to my painting. At the Castorama the day before I found a bizarre surprise in the paint isle. Pre-mixed paint colors? Where were the millions of color cards making my choice of yellow virtually impossible? Apparently they existed but the person who had driven my there explained that they were more expensive (which may have been his clever way of keeping me from spending two hours choosing a paint color). So there they were, six shades of yellow to choose from.
Luckily the French and I have the same tastes in jaune and I found just what I was looking for. It was called Safran Yellow but basically it was sunshine in a box. Paint in a box? Sure why not.
I opted to paint just the wall in the kitchen and half of the long wall behind my armoire. If you could see it, this would make sense.
Also, I guessed that painting the whole apartment yellow would be akin to taking too much prozac.
Doing it this way, I was able to knock out the whole project in a day. It has completely changed the space in a very good way. Though it's still balls ass cold in here.
Other yellow things keeping me alive? Yes, Nesquick. In the form of soy hot chocolate, because the little girl in me (who needs some comfy momma love) can always be made warm by a hot mug of cocoa. Like when I was a child I add WAY too much chocolate so I can drink the gritty sugary bit at the end.
Then there are these. Vitamin Stress Tabs that I can dissolve in water. No reason for me to forget to take my B-12, because it tastes pretty yummy. It reminds me a bit of Emergen-C. I currently take two a day.
So much yellow. Because sometimes you have to make your own sunshine, don't you? I am hopeful for this coming week, excited for Thanskgiving goodness. It can't be bad this week, with so many people making pies...
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I've been tagged by MgFgTg, and I think you all deserve a day off from the heavy sadness I've been throwing out there (but you are such troopers, really! And a HUGE thank you for all the love and support, by the way.) I've decided to humor it. This meme is to offer up Seven Things About Me (That You May not Know). I think I've done it before so now I will have to think of seven completely original things about myself. Here goes.
- I have recently come to grips with the fact that I chased a man to France. I'll pause for the collective "Ohhhhhhhhh..." from those of you who didn't know and couldn't figure it out from the context of this blog. You understand now? Good. While he didn't do anything vile enough to warrant castration, I do have wild fantasies about taking the two hour train ride to where he lives just so I can key his brand new Mercedes. With a REALLY BIG KEY. And maybe slash all the tires. Alas, no one who's broken your heart deserves that much effort so I just move on. But what you may not know here, is that he is not the first man I've uprooted my life for. Four years ago I moved for a right sociopath from Houston to Austin. Anyone detecting a pattern? Yes, I think therapy is a good thing.
- I'd choose spending money to "enjoy life" over saving for my future any day. In fact, when I came to France I came with the equivalent of 300 Euros because I am so incapable of saving. I have a fair amount of anxiety about this year because I know how crap the economy is and I will need some kind of cushion for my return, but damnit I want to get Christmas presents for people and I don't want to stay in Paris alone...SIGH.
- The past two days for breakfast I have eaten a whole toblerone bar. Today I added to my consumption a galette (read, savory crepe), un grec yaourt (greek yogurt, yo), coffee and a hot chocolate. Well balanced, I think.
- The French word for peanut is cacahouete. That's pronounced 'caca wet'. Every single time I hear it I think of diarrhea. Every single time.
- Last night I had a dream that I was an Au Pair in Normandy and Normandy was filled with castles floating on clouds, shining through in brilliant rays of sun. It ended with me walking through the rainy streets and coming across a pug puppy trying to squeeze itself down a gutter. I tried to pull it out, which squished it dead. I woke up thinking I had really killed a puppy. Too creepy? Try dreaming it!!
- I am going to publish a book this year. Just throwing that out there for good measure. I promise it won't have anything to do with mangling puppies. On the contrary, it's about a little blue bird named Twitter. Yes, that one. I will actually finish that story this year. No, really, don't laugh.
- Today I am going to the French equivalent of Home Depot (meets Ikea) to buy curtains and maybe paint because every where I go I have to nest. I hate white walls and until I have left my mark on a place it does not feel like home to me. I am thinking I'll paint a warm golden rod yellow...
I tag Diary of Why, Misplaced Texan, Biddy, Pumpkin, Salty, Puntabulous, and YOU. If you want to...
Friday, November 21, 2008
Every single time I take the Metro Line 9 on my own, I take it in the wrong direction. Today, I passed my ticket actually going the right way and then decided "No, this isn't right," and turned around. I couldn't find stairs to go to the opposite platform and so ended up having to exit entirely. Of course my pass didn't work then and so I had to jump the turnstile to catch what I thought was the correct train. Once on the line I realized I was, indeed again going the wrong direction and so had to get off, turn around and go the other direction. Thus I was late for my first therapy appointment.
In the grand tradition of The Thirty Days of Good Things I have so casually abandoned in favor of depression (how lame!!) I needed to share this with you.
Maggie Mason said she's getting one for everyone for Christmas. Don't worry Sister L I won't send the nieces these. But I thought it was so hilarious. "Is that a..." I said to myself, "Oh yes, it is."
Could you imagine if I wandered around Paris with a felt vagina on my lapel? Part of me wants to buy one just so that I can see people's reaction on the Metro.
My favorite part is the little rhinestone clitoris. My Goodness it's brilliant.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Despite my depression, I still have to work. That is life, right? The world does not stop spinning just because my brain decided to not produce the right chemicals today, and that is perhaps why depression can be so devastating. And yet, somehow that's also a blessing. If you can still keep going, you know that eventually you can recover.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Today I woke up knowing that it would be one of those days. Nothing particularly bad had to occur. The sky was even patched with blue. I had a reason to get up and get moving, and a place to be on time. But there is a certain heaviness that hangs behind each of my movements today. Even if the sun were to commence to shine, the sallow emptiness in my cheeks would likely not reflect it's brightness.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
It turns out that it's a terribly good thing that I am taking myself off the market because I may be a menace to men. Also that I am going to hell.
When one has a blog, one knows that there is certain information that can be placed out there that might be read by people you do not intend to be readers, such your date from the night before.
Mind you we never spoke of my blog, not once, and normally I delete the tag in my emails to people I don't know that well, but he's a smart guy and followed the one I mistakenly left. What a terrible thing to find about yourself on the internet. I can only imagine how he must possibly feel.
He left a very lengthy comment on the post that I have deleted because, well now it's a bit sensitive and perhaps I need to discuss this with him. Though I'm sure he must have considered it private in the first place and since it no longer is I thought here would be a good place for a very sincere apology.
I am so sorry that my words have damaged a stranger. It's possible in the past, I would have wished them to hurt someone who hurt me but as you didn't really do anything to me (you were very sweet in fact!) I should have been a bit more careful. I don't expect forgiveness, and I already know I should have some terrible karma for this one.
The things I said were not reflections on you as a person, merely my writers dramatic interpretation of my personal opinion. You are a wonderful person who will make someone really really happy someday. I think we both know it's not me. Did I mention I have clinical depression that sometimes affects my judgment? Yeah, not such a great excuse, I know.
Take heart in knowing that I will feel bad about this forever (probably!) and the bus to Hell is definitely waiting at the stop for me. One Hundred Million Apologies,
That American Bitch Who Should Learn to Keep Her Mouth Shut
Monday, November 17, 2008
So I've bailed out of even trying to post every day for a month. I have no good excuse. No, I have a good excuse, but no one wants to know about that, not really.
Let's talk about my date instead, that's more interesting.
I met him with sore feet. I had left my apartment at 10 that morning to teach english and then spent the rest of the day wandering around Paris in high heeled boots snapping pictures for one of the books I am working on. It was a really good day, I felt happy to be in Paris and by six forty-five I was leaning on the railing at the fountain watching the break dancers and hoping that his photos were accurate.
You can't tell anything from those dating sights, not really. The photos of this guy led me to believe he was thick like a fifties movie star and his chats made me think he was over confident - almost rude - but I had committed to this "What the hell" date and so there I was, waiting to meet the "real life" version.
"I hope he is wildly funny," I thought to myself, "I hope I find him really attractive."
In real life he was slight. Not rail thin, but somehow delicate in the face. He was not muscular and his button down oxford seemed to be a tad to big for him. He was nervous.
We took a drink and then a movie. His english was fine and he did not ask me to demonstrate my poor French (as the guy the night before had), but there was zero chemistry. He asked me a lot of questions about myself and I felt obligated to reciprocate but found myself lacking the interest in the process.
After the movie he proposed dinner and I accepted, despite that I didn't want to walk anywhere and I was bordering on dropping dead from exhaustion. I was hungry too, so what could it hurt? And I wanted to give him a fair chance. A half an hours conversation before a two hour movie is hardly enough time to know someone, right?
We ordered food and a bottle of wine and I tried very hard to remain interested. I found myself easily distracted by the couple at the table next to us who seemed to be having a very engrossing conversation about a woman who had sent them a letter. Her photo was in the envelope, in sunglasses by the beach, and there was a scrawled cursive inscription on the back.
"I love letter writing," I said, attempting a new topic. "I think it's such a shame that people don't really write letters anymore."
"Really?" he replied, "I prefer email. I have terrible handwriting and it takes too long to write a letter."
"Yes, but there's something so nice to have a letter in your hand. It's tangible, you know? You can smell the paper; touch it, you know?"
"...No...if I print anything, ever, I throw it away at the end of the day."
"What about a love letter, haven't you ever written one of those?"
"No, not really," he replied, matter of factly. "Why would I do that when I can just send an email?"
I tried to explain the sentimental value of a letter or photograph or even a book, but he didn't grasp it. I excused myself to go to the bathroom.
In the restaurant a group of people were celebrating a birthday and a cake was brought out. The twenty or so people laughed and sang and gifts were exchanged. I closed the door to the bathroom and let out a deep sigh. This is the point in the date where it struck me that I had virtually nothing in common with this man.
We were nearing the end of the meal and I turned down coffee and dessert. I needed to draw this thing to a close. He started to get that moony look in his eyes. The thought occurred to me that I might be obligated to kiss him based on the amount of money he had spent that night. I was not about to split the check with him, but then what? I could not imagine our lips meeting.
No, this is the 21st Century. Surely he knows the price of a date, right?
"I should really catch my train..." I said. My body language began to read 'ready to go'.
"If you wanted," he tried, "We could go back to my place and take another drink and I'll drive you home from there."
I cringed "Ooh, I think I really just need to sleep. But thank you."
Because accepting an offer to go home with someone translates in any language, and if I didn't want to kiss him goodnight there was no way I could fathom...other things.
We rushed back to our Metro stop where he tried to set another date.
"I'm sorry, I have to run!" I said and did. Just in time, I reached my platform to find that the last train had gone.
I cursed loudly. My feet throbbed.
An hour and forty minutes later I made it to my ville. Legs numb, I made it as far as across the street from the bus before stopping to take my boots off. The ground was wet and cold and my socks were quickly soaked. The night was silent, save the squish of my feet on the sidewalk. It could have been worse, of course, but I was given pause to wonder why I was even bothering. Though I had two particularly good days, I had decided that I am not happy enough here to consider staying longer than a year (if I make it that long) and why should I complicate things with meeting a guy?
At two thirty I fell into bed, dead, vowing to take my profile off Meetic the next day. And, yes, I really did.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Though it's been determined that going to bed early is where it's at, I have to add a good thing that is of the contrary. Because I've been a self imposed hermit for few weeks now (aside from when I was in Normandy) and because I had the awkward and painful talk with my host dad about going home for Christmas (and it did not bode well*) I was long overdue for a night out on the town.
Like a real metropolitan girl I started off with an impromptu date(?). It was a date to wet my feet for the date that will wet my feet for dating again. That sort of makes it an anti date, but who am I to turn down a guy who is offering to buy me wine at a chill Parisian wine bar?
Well, I almost did because after the initial email exchange (he found me on meetup.com and has been asking me out for weeks) I gave him my number. A confirmation text message came in from him. But he was already programmed in my phone. Insert Twilight Zone Theme here...
I remembered quickly that I had gotten text messages from this guy when the phone was handed over to me from the previous nanny. He didn't know she was gone. I asked her about him and she replied "Oh God! I mt that guy a year ago and he is STILL asking me for drinks. He's a bit weird."
Great, so apparently I have a magnet for the weirdos now.
Needless to say I was a bit creeped out and planned on abandoning him for my alternative plans but it got to be too late.
Well, he was fine, a bit weird as suspected but I had no obligation to kiss him goodnight and he went home early, leaving me to join the Americans at the standing Friday Night Drinks.
Needless to say I was not in bed before 2:30. Tonight is the date with a guy who I think looks a bit like a James Bond villian (more like the new James Bonds than, oh say, Jaws) and sure I'll give you a full report if you want. Unless it goes really well, and then I'll keep the good stuff for myself.
I have to admit, though, after staying out late last night, I might just want to hit the sack early tonight.
*But I'm still trying to be hopeful!!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Yesterday I just couldn't. I tried, I tried I really did but I could not think of one thing that made me happy yesterday. So I skipped it.
It is looking more and more like I won't be going home for Christmas. Last night at dinner HD asked me again if I had plans for Christmas.
"No, not currently," I said. "I don't know maybe I'll go to London."
My voice was barely audible and as I said it I could feel my face grow hot and eyes well with tears. Across the table he pushed his potatoes around in the awkward silence. Quickly he changed the subject.
"So, they aren't giving the money to the lenders..." Le Crise is his favorite subject of late.
I sucked up my tears and finished dinner, even enjoyed the rest of my evening doped up on French cough medicine (usually given to patients with tracheotomies or severe bronchitis, I was offered this at the Pharmacie.) I watched a movie with a happy ending and fell asleep at 10:30.
Today I am going to try to get a hold of a therapist. I tried being my own therapist but I can't compartmentalize, and I need to put these feelings somewhere. I don't even know what to do with them, and I can't begin to think how I am going to make it through Christmas. Though I'm sure I will. I have survived worse.
SO, happy thing for today? Distractions. I have a ton of work to do for my French class (missing days sucks) and also to prepare for my second lesson with the twins. I sort of bombed the first time and I need to fill 45 minutes appropriately. This means planning. I also need to weed out what I am going to write for my Paris picture book. I hate how stagnant depression makes me...
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I have conjectured on many occasions that I am an eighty year old woman in disguise. I have been known to complain about the volume of your loud music, I find teenagers (in general) to be rude and poorly dressed; I love to bake and knit and make soup, and I love crawling into bed at ten and calling it a day.
Okay, most people don't find that ten is too terribly early, but as I am no where near eighty and I have a healthy number of friends I might seem like a bit of a fuddy duddy. Choosing to stay in on a Friday night? Yes, I have done it, and totally enjoyed it too.
Right now, my reason is a little more forgivable and it comes in the form of a lovely gastroenterological issue that is hanging out with me tonight. How did I go from a chest cold to this, I don't know. I do know that I am kicking myself for not bringing a case of Imodium AD along with me to France. (What made me think I wouldn't need THAT?)
So, luckily I love going to bed early, because that's what I'll be doing right now. And maybe knitting a little too...
I lay in my bed last night at eleven, wishing my lungs would just explode and get it over with already. Suddenly I remembered I hadn't posted a blog for the day. Damn. So technically I failed at NaBloPoMo, but I have decided to keep on posting each day this month continuing with my theme as if this never happened.
If I had posted yesterday I would have posted about Christmas music. It's coming on Christmas (they're cuttin' down trees, puttin' up reindeer, sing songs of joy and peace...) in Paris just like the rest of the world*, and the lights are being strung in the streets of cities all over France. Despite the fact that I may have broken into tears at the Starbucks when 'Baby It's Cold Outside' came on**, Christmas time always puts an extra beat in my step and a little smile in my heart.
Lie: Christmas didn't always warm my heart. For a lot of years it was nothing but stress for me, because I spent so much energy trying to find the perfect gifts and have the best decorations and go to perfect parties. Last year, though, finally, I succeeded in having a season that I really enjoyed. I put on an amazing carolling party, I decorated my apartment just the way I liked it and I listened to Christmas records every single day. I celebrated with my friends and then my family and the festivities carried me joyfully into the new year.
I am struggling with this a little bit now - I don't know if I am going home for Christmas and I want it more than a Hippopotomus - but since these posts are about GOOD THINGS I wont't go on about that.
Instead I will continue my search for a production of The Nutcracker in Paris, and showings of White Christmas. Because being in a foriegn country is a silly reason to miss out on my favorite Christmas things.
Now if I could only score some eggnog and snow...
*Er....Excepting the countries that don't celebrate Christmas...
** If this is going to continue happening, maybe it's prudent for me to stay away from Starbucks for the season!
Monday, November 10, 2008
It's something about being so close to the sea, aided by the company of good good friends. I am getting a bit sick and will need a serious day of rest when I return to Paris, but despite all that I feel refreshed.
This trip, coupled with the week before, has made me feel really hopeful again - inspired. I am exited to begin working on my book projects again. I have gained some perspective on why I feel what I feel and think maybe I can change things this time.
It's because of the sea air. It's because of the comforts my friends give me. It's because of the simplicity of getting around and being there and enjoying a time without worrying about the next train or the trip home. It's because of the ancient architecture and the beautiful spanses of sky, undisrupted by buildings and so many busy people.
I return to Paris tomorrow to rest to avoid the encroaching illness. I will sleep and dream of the views of the sea. Of laughter and food and happiness I am happy to have found again.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
This weekends trip to Normandy takes on a trip to the lovely Granville, where we walked and ate and had coffee and cidre and scaled perilous cliffs just to reach Christian Dior's house.
I always forget how much the water moves me. Just hearing the waves crash makes my heart soar. At some point I found that I had been smiling the whole day, without even thinking about it. When we left, the smell of the sea had begun to linger in my nose and I could taste it on the back of my tongue.
The sun had come out just for us, for the few hours while we were there, emptying its warm rays onto the beach and the cobblestones. It was truly lovely.
Friday, November 7, 2008
This is the pie that I made on Wednesday celebrate our new President Elect Barack Obama (correct spelling this time). I'm posting a bit late I know, but I can do that because it's my blog. And it is something that made me happy, so keeping with this months theme.
It was delicious slice of home, even though I cheated and used ready-made pie crusts. Oh, and it paired quite nicely with the champagne we popped.
A beautiful and spirited old friend from Austin has just started a small crafting business in the studio space of her apartment in San Francisco. She is currently working on these impossibly adorable creatures called "Softies". It's been agreed that she should re-name these things, but to what? Any ideas?
It makes me so incredibly happy to see her busy like this again. We spent so many nights in Austin, when she lived down the street from me, drinking bottles of wine and listening to campy seventies music, plotting the many ways we could use our various talents to increase our meager cash flow. She always had a trick or two up her sleeve, and always with an amazing smile to match it.
I miss the times we spent together but am thrilled that this massive internet-y thing is holding us together, despite the 7,000 some odd miles that are between us.
Check out her site! Buy her Softies for everyone you know! Support my wonderful friend by shopping her Etsy shop (which will be up in time for Christmas.) Also, read her blog because she is an amazing writer, to add to her numerous talents.
I've been having nightmares for weeks now. It seemed that even if I could escape the thoughts of him while I was awake, he would come to haunt my dreams. Just as in life he simply would not go away, thus holding me in a cycle of ever shaken emotions. I've been so ready for them to settle, for the dreams to cease, for my heart to mend.
Last night was the same. There he was, filling up a summer afternoon at a beach with his old friends from Austin. I was chasing after him like a happy puppy, waiting for him to give me what I was looking for. For a moment it seemed that he was going to confess - he was going to hold me close and tell me what I was longing to hear - and then he pulled away telling me he has slept with someone else. I should be okay with that, right? At first I was and then I realized the gravity of it and I revolted.
"Well it was going to end with us anyway." He said casually. In the dream his face glistened with beads of anxious sweat under a bright light. It was an ugly face that I did not recognize. I did not know the man in front of me.
Angrily I punched and slapped him, screaming to him of my pain. It was the thing in life I never got the opportunity to do. I never got to show him just how much pain he caused, but here I finally released it all. He tried to console me, but I would have none of it.
I woke with a scream still in my throat, sad. Then an idea:
Oh my God, I thought, Maybe he is really gone now. Maybe my body finally knows now that he was never coming back in the first place.
The dream left me exhausted, and I went back to sleep. I needed to dream something else. I closed my eyes and let my head fill with ideas of a new home in the States and certain someone from back in Austin who has re-entered my scene. I wonder what that may bring, and who else could be out there waiting.
Barely there, I can feel now, is the slightest sensation that I may be free. I have this notion that I will be able to laugh hysterically and smile freely sometime soon. Shaking off the last bits of pain, I make another cup of coffee and get to work.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The young one and I duked it out in plastic armor with wobbly swords. It was my feeble attempt to include less punishment and pain in the English hour. I could not bear another day of attitude and whining. So after he had dutifully fulfilled my request to define words and write his dictation, I succumbed to his request to a sword fight.
It was a short battle where I hacked off his leg and he chopped my right arm away and when we'd killed each other we both regrew our limbs and took to final blows. He stabbed me good with his short sword, and even though I was dead I made one cunning slash and felled his head from atop his shoulders. HA!! The villain was dead!!
And it was awesome. It one hundred percent made up for the fact that the trains are on strike and it took me an hour and a half to get home (and that I had to pee the whole time). How sweet is that??
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I did not end up pulling an all nighter to watch the polls turn, but I definitely woke up early this morning just to find out the results of the election. I was so incredibly happy to see splashed across every news site and every blog that Barak Obama is the knew President of the United States of America.
Monday, November 3, 2008
The young one is violently shaking a Wii controller, causing random "Eeeuuugh!!"s and "Splat"s. They are on vacation for three more days, and still in their pajamas. Their mother has asked me to make sure that they get their homework done before break is over, to which I say "Pfffffffff!!" I'll do my best but, hey I totally remember school vacation and you never do your homework until the day before you have to go back. Just never.
Today God decided he liked me and brought out the sun. Thanks God!!! It really, really makes a difference in my mood which is why, even though I was completely exhausted after class, I went FNAC and spent the money on the Wake-Up Light. I already feel happier.
I couldn't afford the one that had three nature sounds and an F.M. Radio, but I do get the birds chirping. It sounds so real, I kid you not - I had my door open (it was also warmer today) and I couldn't decipher the difference between the real birds outside and the ones coming from my bedside light.
No, Philips is not paying me to endorse this, really. They I can't wait to see how it works because even though Biddy is sending me emergency Cymbalta, I would like to get happy on my own, for once. I know how sensitive I am to darkness, so...Well I'll keep you posted.
And, for fun, I created a poster for the "Don't Drop Kick the Puppy." I find him to be sickeningly sweet, whilst saturated with urine. ' Cause cute things make mistakes too, right?
Posted by Evolutionary Revolutionary at 8:46 AM
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Instead of staying home to
browse the personal ads work on my French homework, I decided to push against the precipice and leave my apartment. The morning filled me full of high hopes for sunshine and warmth and I knew if I stayed in the darkness would overcome.
Desperate to vacate my dusty brain, it was suggested that I take in a little sport. Actually, it was a bargain offered up by Phil: "If you don't feel better after some exercise I will buy your ticket to London." Okay, deal. Well, sport for me means doing more than scaling the subway steps to get to a bar or cafe. "Sport", for me, usually equals bike riding, as running will quickly burst my lungs like a red balloon. Bikes in Paris? = Velib!!
So I went to meet a friend at the fountain who would join me. By the time I got there it was colder than when I left my house and threatening rain. I watched as people waited and mingled. For the first time since I got here two months ago I really looked at it. It's a beautiful fountain, really, but like everything else to me, it has been lost in the fact that I am not a tourist. I rarely have on my glittery vacation eyes and so frequently miss out of the special bits that really make Paris.
Normally I would have just taken a picture but I forgot it today and so I could do nothing but observe and listen. The sound of water rushing, clashing with the clamor of so many different languages lay across the scene. People meet here and kiss and laugh, and go on their way to take a coffee or pass a "pleased to meet you" moment. We search each others faces in expectation - "Are you who I am looking for?" - the beautiful bronze woman hovering above us triumphantly, slaying her foe flanked by winged lions.
A group of students reconvenes in front of me. The Metro empties from below ground. My friend arrives.
We fussed with the Velib meter for long enough that two people offered to help us. "No no, I'm just blonde, don't worry about me" I wish I could say in French. Instead we just fumbled, "Desole."
We didn't have more than an hour because my friend had to meet someone later, and so we didn't really go anywhere and I'm pretty sure we broke a few hundred traffic laws. We stayed along the Seine, wizzing the wrong way down bus lanes and maneuvering around pedestrians on sidewalks. At four we stopped to drop off our bikes at a terminal by the Musèe D'Orsay where a young man is waiting to put two bikes away.
"These are broken," he says. And I think he means just the couple next to him, but clearly he would not be standing there if he had not already tried to return his bikes in all the places that appeared available.
There is some conversation about where the next terminal is and he tells me those are broken too. Ah, so Velib is flawed. I see. Not always the quick easy solution to above ground transportation as I had thought!
A couple of Japanese ask us for help renting the bikes and I somehow manage to go through the same fumbling retardation while a line forms behind us. Eventually they just give up and take the train to the Eiffel Tower. Meanwhile, my friend and I have to find another place to park our bikes, so we ride down the street to the nearest mapped location. I get off, finally, and find that I am dizzy from being on wheels in the fresh air.
We walked back to the Musèe, and brushed past the line to get in to Free Day. Someone is waiting for us at the front of the line and we squeeze in.
But even though I have been dreaming of going to this Museum for years I don't find a thrill on entering for the first time. There are too many people. I want to be alone. The light is too bright or not bright enough, I can't be sure. I start to have an anxiety attack. Because there it is again, this nasty bastard that keeps visiting me. "The black dog" as Phil called it. I awkwardly excuse myself from the two girls I am with and run from the building before I lose my shit.
I suddenly seem to be having the opposite reaction to my new surroundings that I had for the first two months. Where I used to feel trapped an anxious being in my apartment, now I feel that way outside of it. Maybe it's a change in season, maybe its part of the acclimation process that is my new "Best Friend Forever", but either way it is tiresome.
I got home and made some tea and an emergency call to a friend in Texas. She confirmed that I may need to internalize, and that my idea for a self imposed seclusion may not be a bad one. And a therapist, if I can find one. We discussed the new motto I stole from Maggie Mason (Who stole it from the brilliant Ann Lamott - read the excerpt at Maggie's blog.) "Don't drop kick the puppy". Because, let's be honest we all know I am more fond of the drop kick than the patient alternatives when it comes to my own happiness. One of my personal resolutions has been to be kinder and gentler with myself and this fits along with it.
Regardless, I think the verdict is clear: Phil owes me a train ticket to London. Cough it up Phil, Cough it up.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
- After a week in Caen I think I have actually absorbed some french that I can use, but I am still too nervous to use it.
- I really think that I need to absorb more, and so I am watching American shows that have been over dubbed. It's sort of obnoxious because the voices don't match up to my memory of them at all.
- Even though Halloween was yesterday, there is a Special Halloween Simpson's Marathon.
- I'm totally watching it instead of going out to be social.
- In fact, I've been in my pajamas since I got back to my house today at 3P.M..
- My pajama pants are the only pair that currently fits me.
- I have lost over ten pounds since I got here.
- That means that I need to punch some new holes in my belts, because my size 8/10 jeans don't fit me anymore.
- For the first time since I was in middle school I fit in size a size 6.
- I blame this all on the hundreds of flights of subway stairs I climb, because I sure as hell haven't been skimping on the croque madame.
- I could totally go for one right now.
- But I think I'll go to bed instead.
- Tomorrow I am going to spend a bunch of money on a Wake-up Light to combat the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder that has recently afflicted me.
- I am supplementing it with Vitamin B and some funny French homeopath.
- Because I'm totally sick of being depressed.
- To that end I have purchased a brand new journal as well, free from memories I don't need to re-live right now.
- And I signed up on a dating website.
- Wish me luck with that.
- Am I totally lazy for bullet listing like this?
- A real post will come soon, I promise.