Not at all related to my major life distractions at this moment, I am just terribly curious - where the hell is everyone??
I know that I haven't been writing consistently or much at all these days but I have seen a fifty percent drop in readership in the past weeks. Can I blame Twitter? The recession? The untimely death of Michael Jackson? Please say it's because you all have lives, summer vacations and much less time to read blogs and not that you no longer love me. Because I sure still love you, even if I am busy and inconsistent.
Really, I do. I love you.
Don't leave me.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Not at all related to my major life distractions at this moment, I am just terribly curious - where the hell is everyone??
This Friday I got an email from a friend of mine who has offered me some writing work to cut my chops on. "Deadline - Monday!" he said. Of course I didn't have anything done on it because like a good writer I waited too long to ask for a deadline and may or may not have completely neglected the work.
Never one to turn down a challenge, though, I set off to get as much of his project done as I could by Monday. After a short Friday evening at a friend's birthday I effectively grounded myself to my apartment and my computer for the rest of the weekend.
I admit to feeling totally overwhelmed, but the sensation is equally laced with excitement. There is suddenly legitimacy behind something I am doing - a deadline and a person on the other end expecting my very best. And with the support of my number one fan Toady (who, when asked to please get breakfast for us?, came back with enough fresh fruit, bread and snacks to sustain me for the whole entire weekend) I feel inspired, capable and strong.
This morning, even though we went to sleep at two a.m., I woke up at four thirty thinking about the project. Tingles of anxiety drove me to work on a section of the chapter in progress and it took me nearly two hours to wind down enough to sleep for a while more.
Though the work isn't the brilliant New York Times Bestseller I have ruminating in my head, I am excited about it, interested in it and loving every pressure filled second. Blessed with an extension, I'm pushing myself to make the second deadline (and still squeeze in time to make a few things for my birthday next weekend.) Yes, this is really what I want to do with my life.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Remember that time I was all "I'm going to tell you all about my trip to Spain?" Yes, well. I'm telling you now.
Once upon a time I had a fantastic, magical dream to tour Spain. I want to take a picture book for my mother's ??th birthday. She's writing a book based in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, where there exists a magnificent cloister, a castle and lovely rolling green fields. I wanted to go there for her, but for me as well.
The problem with this little town is that it is SO in the country that no trains go there. Not that I was thinking about this. At the inception of my idea I wasn't even thinking trains. I was thinking "I want to see ALL of Spain, and I know how to do it!"
My (crazy) plan was to fly into Barcelona and then rent a car for two weeks, making a loop nearly all the way around the country. I'd hit Madrid and Granada and Valencia and then end up back in Barcelona where I would get on a plane to come back home.
Then I realized that, even if I slept in the car the whole time (which might get stinky, but I could do), I would never have the money for this little adventure. Not unless I sold something like a kidney which, after last week, I am thinking I might need.
But I didn't want to let go of my trip. And I didn't want to just go to Barcelona and call it a day. I wanted to see this little town. So I thought and thought and thought. Much like Winnie the Pooh on a log in the woods, except without so much honey and pants.
And it came to me one day in one of those strokes of "Oh why didn't I think of that before?!" I can walk. At first it seemed silly - to just walk to this little town in the middle of nowhere Spain. After consulting the dear old internet, however, I remembered that one of the great things about this little town is that it's on the Camino de Santiago - a holy Pilgrimage trail going all the way from France to Spain. I would take the trail of course!
The whole Pilgrimage trail takes something like four weeks. Me, I don't have the time or money to devote to an endeavor like that. (And let's be serious, I'm not that religious.) But I can take the train and meet up with the trail in Burgos and walk it all the way to the place I want to go. It will take two days there and two days back, but this weekend I am going to start strengthening my legs and (God help us) try to quit smoking. The Frenchman is going to lend me almost all of the technical gear I will need in order to make the trek. All that's left is to pick some days and buy the tickets.
At the end of the trip I will reward myself with a lovely night in a lovely bed and breakfast in Barcelona, hopefully by the beach, and definitely with a shower I don't intend to share with anyone. I could not possibly be more excited about it.
Besides this planning, I am working on the fixings for my upcoming Birthday. I am turning old. That is all you need to know. If I can get all my ducks in a row I will have succeeded in making at least one adorable Birthday dress and one amazing chocolate cake. With strawberries. And chocolate butter cream frosting. I hope you're not on a diet that day.
For all of this to happen, I am no longer allowing myself outside of my apartment with my debit card. I curse Sephora, the Soldes and my ugly toenails for their mischief today. And if you wanted to so graciously donate to my Birthday Trip, donations would not be scoffed at. I would even send you a copy of the book! (And I wouldn't spend it on nail polish either.)
But seriously people - can you believe it's already almost July???
Monday, June 22, 2009
Yesterday was the longest day of the year. It's been staying light out until nearly 10, with traces of color still left in the sky till long after. It doesn't feel like summer - I am still bundled in warm sweaters and my unshaven legs are staying that way because there's no sun for them to see. But time keeps marching forward. Soon it will be my birthday, and just after that a little vacation.
Today I stayed home, resting from pushing it too hard on the weekend after such a long week of being sick. The neighbors burnt their compost in a little black grill and made it smell like fall. It is hard to believe that yesterday in Paris was a party.
This guy is advertising for an energy company in the Subways of Paris. I would like to start a blog about all of the worst advertising I see here. This mulletted man would be the mascot for it.
Going to meet Toad on Saturday evening, I walked through Nation to find a Manifestation (read: Protest) in the form of an enormous group of techno dancers, completely wasted and nose up to a dozen different trucks blaring electronic music. I am not sure what they were protesting - nor if it was terribly efficient, this means of protest - but they looked like they were having a great deal of fun.
To ensure everybody's safety, these armored cops lined the street. They were happy to in my photo.
And crossing just in front of us was this Tibetan Monk. He seemed so out of place, and yet all at once not, in this crazy street party.
Next day, I bought Le Monde with the intention of reading it but just drank my coffee instead.
In the nearly empty parking garage they played classical suites quite loudly. The blank canvas begged me to try and remember some ballet moves. It has been too long, and I am too clumsy now for that kind of grace.
Then the Fete began, turning out every opera singer and gay choir.
Every bar turned into a stage.
And every street became a block party. I have wanted to go to the Fete since I learned it existed, and was certainly not let down by the strange way that the streets of Paris became on giant night club, everyone a patron of it coming to laugh and dance.
Ordinary spaces became backdrops for great bands. Corners of neighborhoods became a block party with need for a three or four blaring baritone saxophones. Though I was exhausted, the energy sank in me until the very second I hit the bed, dead.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Tonight I played a game of Trivial Pursuit with my dear Toady. In French. With Vodka. I do not suggest that you do this unless you plan to lose.
And by lose I mean that one (or the other) plans to be hugging the toilet (or the sink).
Trivial Pursuit - the Junior Edition - Sucks.
Friday, June 19, 2009
I'm going to see the doctor today, not because I think she'll actually tell me anything about whats wrong with me, but in the hopes that she'll give me something to break the four day low-grade fever.
This is how French doctors work:
You go in, sit in an empty waiting room with no receptionist and wait your turn. Everyone is remarkably fair about this. Old ladies who are frothing at the mouth will gladly get pushed ahead, and aside from those such dire situations no one ever cuts in line.
When it's your turn, you go into the doctor's office. It has all the typical doctors office stuff, except you're going to sit down across from the doctor and tell her what is wrong, in a very job interview type fashion. It will go something like this:
"Well, have a cough and a runny nose and a fever. I've had the fever for a few days, actually."
"And have you been to Mexico recently?"
"Okay. Tell me about this fever, how long have you had it?"
"Hmmmmmmm," she will say with a grimace as though that is very bad. "And your cough? Where is it at? Your chest? Your throat? Your lower back?"
"It's in my chest."
"Your lower chest or your upper chest?"
"Tsk, tsk," She will say. This is very bad indeed, her face seems to say. "Let's take your temperature."
You will go and lay down on the doctor's table and she will take your temperature, blood pressure and listen to your breathing through a stethoscope.
"And you say this has been going on for how long?"
Her face is crinkled with concern. Surely you have water on your lungs, a tumor and a heart murmur. She sits back down at her desk and types furiously into her computer.
"Okay," she says. "I'm going to give you a prescription for some high grade asprin to lower the fever and a cough suppressant that will make you sleep."
"Um, but what's wrong with me?"
"Oh just a flu I think. Should pass. If it doesn't, you should probably go to the hospital."
And like that, you will take your paper prescription and head to the pharmacy, completely befuddled by the gravity on her face when discussing your fever and cough. If it doesn't pass, go to the hospital? What if I am dead by then? Should I go to the hospital now? Am I dying?
No swabs have been taken of my mouth, she has not looked into my ears or throat, she doesn't have my family history. She doesn't know that I smoke, how much alcohol I consume or that last week I had some tofu that may have expired. Nothing. This doctor knows nothing about me. And furthermore she's told me nothing.
This frustrating cycle is what we call "the best health care system in the world"*. But I would like to point out that nearly all French people are hypochondriacs. I think I am beginning to know why. When you are told absolutely nothing by your doctor, you are left to think the worst, all the time.
Fortunately, thankfully, this whole ball of nonsense is paid for by the French government.
*I would like to note that there ARE some remarkable things about the French Health Care System. Just...my doctor is not one of them.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
It sounds sort of like a dance move, doesn't it? And, sure, why not. We could morph a hacking cough, fever and vomiting into some kind of break dance, I am sure. We could even call said move "la nouvelle grippe", make a video for YouTube and become famous on the internet. We could have T-shirts and a Facebook Fan page, Beyonce can write a song for us and then when Pfizer catches onto it's goodness they will use our popularity to sell the vaccination against the pandemic. We'll be stinkin' rich.
Or we could not be so morbid (nor so dramatic) call it The Flu and just hope I don't have it. Formally known as "The Swine Flu" or "La Grippe Porcine" in French, The Flu shows itself in symptoms such as:
- fever, which is usually high, but unlike seasonal flu, is sometimes absent
- runny nose or stuffy nose
- sore throat
- body aches
- fatigue or tiredness, which can be extreme
- diarrhea and vomiting, sometimes, but more commonly seen than with seasonal flu
Suffice it to say that I am now eating chicken noodle soup that I made yesterday while I was completely well thinking "It's not soup season," but am now SO happy for. In a few minutes I am going to turn off all the lights and pray for a gajillion hours of healing sleep because I'll be darned if I am not the biggest wimp when I am sick! More news about the fun things I'm planning tomorrow, when my brain is less like porridge.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I've been having the most terrible nightmares. More than the odd ones I share with you here. Every night they come, symbolic and violent. I am changing, rapidly, into something different. I'm not sure into what just yet. Maybe little blue bird. Maybe a diligent mole (I am losing my eyesight)? Maybe just something stronger and more secure. I am reconciling things each night that I didn't know needed reconciling.
Last night I stayed at the apartment of a new friend. Sometimes you meet people with whom your life parallels at exactly the right moment. We at lentil soup and fresh salad, drank wine and smoked, rehashed the reasons we've needed therapy for so many years. She let me sleep on her red velvet couch in the little alcove with crown molding and a photo of Audrey Hepburn tucked near the ceiling, looking down on me. I didn't have any nightmares.
Before I woke I looked straight into nameless eyes as he told me he loved me.
A week of low key hermitage was just what I needed. I slowly finding my rythym for my art project and my writing. The kid and I worked hard on a school project and I am proud of him for his strong sentences with proper punctuation and thesaurus words. Even if he hates to buckle down and do it (and at least twice a week we argue about this), he is slowly becoming a good student.
I have a lot of thinking to do about matters of the heart. I will keep them private until I am sure.
Now, something I stole from Badger: Two truths and a Lie.
1. I have never been happier in all my life, but oh how I miss my family.
2. I love my nightmares.
3. I am a good student.
Ha. That one's pretty easy to figure out.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I have finally begun work on my new art project. Today I actually glimpsed the images that have been floating around my dreams (quite literally - I have been dreaming about them) on the paper in front of me. I am nervous to move forward with it, because what if that changes everything? I guess then I will start again.
I posted a few of my older works and the two most recent over at birdTAKEFLIGHT. The sight itself is too dark for me now, but at least I have a place to send people when they ask, what do you do? It doesn't get much love, perhaps you could go for a visit?
Last night, after crying myself to sleep at the end of Gone With The Wind (which is still heart breaking even in funny French), Colored with various themes from the movie my dreams woke me with a new question mark.
I was pregnant, this time I wasn't an elephant, and the father was the Frenchman. We were no longer together, he was already with his new girlfriend and we were trying to navigate the delicate matter of me being with his child but not a couple.
"What is the protocol for telling mothers about their son's illegitimate child?" I asked. I insisted he tell his mother about it. "At least it will be a terribly beautiful baby."
My sister and mother were there, walking me to the car.
"I'm so tired, so tired," I kept saying.
"It's because you're going to be a mother," They said. "But I think you're ready for it now."
What is trying to be born from me? What am I ready for? I am waiting for the grand reveal.
Monday, June 8, 2009
After a week straight of going out that involved totally emptying my pocketbook and filling my liver with toxins, I need a break. It was wonderful having friends in town but how is it that when you have visitors you behave like you are on vacation, even if you really aren't? I cannot count the number of times I went to the ATM, nor the number of late night cabs and blocks walked. I prefer not to count the drinks because, judging my mental and physical exhaustion today it was too many.
My goal for this week is to stay home, and while that might seem like a reasonable, attainable goal to most people, I've started off this week feeling a tad lonely and a little grey like the ridiculous cold sky. Rainy and cold? In June. I am driven indoors, craving a hot mug of tea and wistful for a sweet cuddle.
On the train ride home I watched a young man, loaded down with bags either going or coming, I wasn't sure, staring out the window into the rain. He looked terribly sad, so much that I was tempted to ask him, but I understand the occasional need to be quiet with your melancholy. Though I am the kind of person who usually needs to reach out and be touched, to talk about it until it's dead and I have exhausted myself by searching each corner of the issue, I have found myself recently wanting to be simply quiet. I find myself swinging from one extreme to the next.
I want to be with people. I want to express my emotions and release them.
But I don't feel like talking anymore. I don't feel like explaining and I don't want to try to make myself understood.
I am coming to re-know myself in this funny bipolar way. The extremist, the exhibitionist, the social butterfly, and the opposite creature who is craving the solitude, the warm corners of my apartment and moments where I don't have to say a word. I am tired from telling the same stories over and over. None of them have endings yet.
I dream of the pieces I am working on right now. Each time it looks different, these people alone with themselves, bubbled in a world of exhausted sleep and my sketched version of them. I want to bring it to life but if feels like my hand doesn't speak the same language that my brain does. I start again and again, hoping I will get it right.
The rain tinks, tinks metallically on the vent to the kitchen. When I woke this morning the sky was a perfect blue, feathered with light white corn rows of clouds, but by noon it had grown cooler and because I forgot my umbrella I walked home in the rain. I wanted silence. The only sound I could tolerate was the rain on the roof, and the piercing screech of someone's home repairs made me weary.
For a moment I am alone, and then it is too much to be this way. But like a rat in a wheel I keep moving forward hoping to make a breakthrough, a balance, a harmony with myself that is neither too sunny nor too dark, too loud or too silent. I think that if keep spinning this wheel eventually it will break away from it's constraints and I will finally go somewhere.
I try to keep the pace.
Friday, June 5, 2009
When I was your age, my mother didn't have a nanny to take her aggressions on and so when I f-ed up in school she made me accountable for my actions. She would take away my phone privileges, ground me from the T.V. and sleep overs were out of the question. I sucked at school too, but nobody sat with me while I did my homework, that is for damn sure.
When I was your age I was a latch key kid and nobody had been babysitting me for years. I knew how to work the stove, the microwave and the oven. I had to clean my own room regularly and I had to help clean the house. I knew better than to leave food wrappers all over the house. I folded laundry and put my own clothes away. Oh and I totally had to walk to school uphill in six feet of snow every winter. Yeah.
Dear thirteen year old kid, how I wish you had my mother for a year. Your sissy ninnying wouldn't be tolerated and your lazy ass would have to be present when dinner was served and when you were asked to set the table you would actually have to do it.
Kid, I'm not sure if it's a French thing, or if it's a Rich thing or if it's a Your the Youngest thing, but you get away with things that, in my household, would have been cause for a Spanish screaming fit and smackdown. Unfortunately for me, it only means that I get in trouble for "not doing my job". Oh, how I wish I could. Because I love you and you're real cute but you're so old enough to know better.
Your Nanny Who Is Totally Going To Ground You Today
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Yesterday, the neighbor who keeps all the strays and who was also so happy to hear that Pipelette was alive, stopped me with more news.
Not only is she alive but she actually belongs to someone. Neither of us had any idea because she was around our respective houses so much, but I suppose a cat is a cat and goes where the food is. Between the neighbor and I she was eating quite well.
Today Pipelette - who is actually names Bageera - stopped by to say hello so me. It turns out that this tough kitty is NINETEEN years old. She's a scrapper, and has the war wounds to prove it.
I will be sad when she passes away for real, but at least it will be on her own terms next time.
Last night I had on of those dreams that makes you stop and go "Damn, I should really stop doing that before bed." For me it could be pretty much anything that I need to stop because I always have really strange dreams. At one point I distinctly remember thinking I needed to stop watching T.V. before bed. Yes, my brain is a mystery to even me.
So there we were at the beach, Sister L, my Mom and I. The salmon colored sea lions and walrus' were taking up all of the sunbathing space down the whole coast. We didn't mind so much because they were friendly, like cats, and wanted to be pet and cuddled. Then two female elephants joined us on the sand, wading into the ocean.
They began washing themselves in the surf, spraying their backs with their trunks. Huge pink elephants, smiling in the blue sea. Then the first one turned around and gave birth, right in front of us. It was gruesome and vivid and terribly realistic. I, obviously, have never seen an elephant give birth, but I assume it is as terrible as this.
After the first had successfully finished labor and was suckling her infant the second turned around and started the process. Unfortunately for her, there were complications and so she stood on her giant back feet and began to slam on her pregnant stomach with her front hooves. She was distressed, angry and huge, but for some reason this action did not cause her or the baby elephant inside her pain.
Eventually the trunk and head began to wiggle out and just before I woke up there was very nearly a successful birth.
And then I was totally confused. I am sure that Freud would have a lot to say about watching pink elephants give birth in the ocean with your sister and mother. Me, I'm not so sure I want to know.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
In an doped up allergy medication haze I lost my bestest ever favorite grey sweater. I don't even know how to begin replacing it. I felt naked and lost without it for two days.
Then yesterday I got a bit of unbelievable news! The cat is still alive! Apparently when I was gone this weekend the boys both saw and heard her wandering around outside the house. For weeks I have been hopefully (albeit sadly) searching in the bushes to see if maybe she had been hiding there all along, but to no avail. Sometimes I would hallucinate her crazy deaf cat meow and wander into the garden but she was never there. And then! She lives! The boys said she is short some hair on her wounded leg where she was shaved and apparently tended to because she's also in a bandage. My heart is happy.
In case you haven't noticed, May is completely over. Where did it go? And through it all I think France had one five day work week? The spring is really really here (along with the questionably smelling Metros, yes) and the city is stripping down and heading to the beaches. No vrai Parisien stays in Paris for their holidays. Why would they? There are so many amazing getaways just a few hours from here. Some prefer the mountains, some prefer the beach. Me, it's all still new to me and I simply prefer the life that allows for five weeks minimum of vacation.
Monday was Pentecost and to celebrate I went to visit my friend Ames who was staying in a gorgeous Bed and Breakfast called the le Moulin de Saint Martin (or le Vieux Moulins) out near Disneyland. She has no desire to actually go there, but wanted a quite getaway and couldn't possibly have chosen one better.
(View from the chambre windows)
(Breakfast! With huge cups of drip coffee!)
The tiny town Crécy-la-Chapelle is home to 3,000 people and is surrounded by a moat (yes, filled with water even). Like any good French town it hosts an enormous gothic Cathedral, but more importantly it is in the heart of Brie country. My stomach love/hates this. I mean, who needs dark spiritual places when you have cheese?
Tuesday I was back at school, only to discover that I am once again enrolled with my previous teacher who hates me because I still can't conjugate verbs in the first group in present tense. On the first day in she took every opportunity to highlight my fault in front of the whole room. I sort of wanted to throw a book at her, but opted to leave head held high anyhow. I, personally, know that I can communicate (with conjugations, thank you!) and comprehend quite well and that I have a very special learning process that hasn't quite allowed for comprehension of grammar just yet. So what if I learn in a manner exactly the opposite of every other adult on the planet? I never graduated past my infant learning curve (I have to talk, then I can read and THEN I can get grammar) and it plagues me but I am getting there.
And, um, yes, I am a little upset about her judgment of me. But I am moving on.
Today is another sunny and warm spring day and so I will go meet Ames in Paris with the hopes of bringing her back to Meudon to show her all of the fabulousness I have discovered since her first visit back in October. And sitting in the sun with cold wine. Because it is just that kind of day, I think.