Archive for January, 2013

Shockingly Sexy

January 31, 2013

So much so I had to come home from the cafe and take care of business.

Sometimes you have to take advantage of the fact that your room mate, who is almost always here when that kind of action is wanted, is away.

I was surprised to walk in the door feeling the way I was feeling.

I had left just a few hours before feeling like I was crawling out of my skin.

I can be a stubborn brat and my brain did not want to go and write.

So what you living the dream, my brain demanded, it’s not that fun.

Your dream sucks.

You are not really a writer.

You don’t have any words.

You suck.

It was not quite that loud, or perhaps it is better to say that it was more muted, and subtle, I was not hearing distinct words, the peanut gallery does not enunciate well, but they can get noisy and they are great at sowing discomfort.

I really felt like a raw nerve.

I fled the house and scurried around the block.

I could not go directly to the cafe, even though I flew half way around the world to be a writer in Paris, sitting in a cafe with a book and a bag of pens and a creme.

Even though I feel amazing when I am writing.

I was not feeling amazing.

I felt like I was fleeing.

I can’t outrun myself, although I can exhaust my body walking at times, stomping my feet into bloody stumps.

I did not want to do that either.

You are allowed to go to the cafe.

You are allowed.

Faith versus fear based decisions, come on kiddo, faith, go get you a creme, go sit in Odette and Aime and who cares if you only write a sentence.  Just go.

I hustled around the block and I walked around another corner and I blew down the rue past clots of teenagers snarkily sitting on scooters next to the sidewalk curb and pushing each other around.  I watched a girl trip another young woman who was trying to pass through, and the woman turned around, took out her headphones and tore them all a new asshole in French.

I think they were harassing tourists and boy did they get the tongue lashing.

I slid by grateful it had not been me, I am the hapless tourist.

Although not the uninformed tourist.

I was online today trying to figure out what I was going to do with my day, what sights was I going to see, where was I going to walk, what was I going to take photographs of.

I have done the top ten–Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Sacre Couer, Notre Dame, Louvre, Centre de Pompidou, the D’Orsay Museum, Les Jardins de Tuilieries, the Luxembourg Jardins, le Jardin des Plantes–and then some, when I think about the churches, museums, neighborhoods, and Metro lines I have transversed.

I had no idea what to do.

Write, a voice whispered.

I pretended not to hear it.

But I knew I was going to write, I knew I was going to write this morning, when I was, well, writing.

Not morning pages though.

Nor my blog.

Not my book either.

Although I just sent off another query. I have not heard back from the agent that requested the entire book yet, it has been eight days, ten, I am losing track.  I figure, three weeks time, then I send another query to the agent regarding the work.

Until that time that I hear from her, I continue submitting to other agencies.  Every agent that I have queried is informed that the manuscript is on multiple submissions.

And as a good friend said you just keep throwing them out there until one sticks to the wall like a piece of spaghetti.

I like the image.

She’s entirely correct too.

I have no idea who is going to pick it up and all I can do is take action and keep going forward.  I am using the Poets and Writers agent data base and I am currently in the Cs of the listings.  I just scroll until I find an agent accepting e-mail query submissions for memoirs.

I go to their website see if my work is a good fit.

If it looks like it is, I do a little research, check out titles the agency has published, and then go craft a query letter to the agency.

It’s a method.

It could be madness.

But it is a method.

I have already tried reaching out to the people who I know in publishing which really is not any one direct.  I have had a few helpful suggestions, but so far I’m still casting the net.

I am getting into the habit and that is good.

I don’t know what actions will get me published, I just know that if I don’t take action, I won’t get published.

Action also has to fall onto the paper and that takes getting my butt into the chair at the cafe.

Which I finally did, despite the rumble from the upstairs brain pan that wanted, really wanted to just go back to the house and crawl under the covers and watch a video, and not blog and not write, and fuck it.

I pushed open the door instead and crossed the threshold.

I sat at my favorite table in the corner of the bar, unloaded my notebooks, book, pens, and peeled off the finger less gloves.

I fussed with the lay out of my notebooks and book, laying them here, I don’t have OCD officer, I swear, excuse me while I straighten your badge, it’s a little off-center.

The coffee came.

I opened my book, David Sedaris–When You Are Engulfed in Flames–and read a page.

I felt too guilty to read.

Reading is a pleasure after I have written, but until I have written, it is me avoiding the writing.

I set the book down on the table, I opened up my little blue Claire Fontaine notebook and made a writer’s entry for today and what I was doing and how I was afraid.

I had a sudden moment of remembering something from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, that sometimes it took him a full hour to craft a paragraph.  I could write a paragraph.

A paragraph would be good.

I also remembered the part when he gets a spot of unexpected money and takes him self to a cafe out of the rain and the cold and splurges on a creme and drinks it down while it is hot.

Yes, I can do that too, enjoy the coffee while it is hot.

I finished my creme, pushing my spoon around the froth of milk foam that was still clinging to the cup, desert, and then I opened up my new manuscript.

I looked at what I had written and knew the chapter was not complete.  It was missing something.

Sex.

And then it all just came tumbling out, I wrote page after page, for nearly an hour and I got turned on.

Ha.

I actually got turned on by writing my own sex scene.

Well, not mine, but the characters.

It is a part of the story and it fit and I won’t call it erotica, it was a sex scene, but I was exhilarated.  I had smashed through the fear and I had written for an hour and the chapter was finished and I felt like a writer.

In need of a lay.

I took care of the call and then made a hot meal.

A cup of tea later and an agency query and there it is.

I have to remember this, and I have to constantly, consistently remind myself that I always feel better after I have written.

Always.

Whether it is my blog or my morning pages or now, this new manuscript.

I suppose the only difference is that I have a routine for the morning and a routine for the night and the struggle is to delineate that time for me to now write the next piece, the cloth that I will later fashion into a suit.

I don’t have to conquer Paris.

I don’t have to see it all.

I can just go to the cafe on the corner and remember that I flew around the world to be in that exact spot doing exactly what I did today.

In Paris.

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Lovely Day

January 30, 2013

When I wake up in the morning love, and the sun light hurts my eyes….

Which it does not often.

I live in an interior room, this is great for there not being any street noise, it is quite quiet in the apartment, it just does not get a lot of light.

So, when I was sitting across the table from a lady bug this afternoon I was stunned to see a patch of bright white on the floor.

“Oh my God,” I said jumping up quickly, “is that what I think it is?”

I strode over to the window in the small kitchen and craned my neck out the window, and, yes, there, a patch of blue in the bluster of grey clouds scattered over heard.

As I watched, another patch, then another, then, the sun spun down and my mind was immediately made up.

Off to the gardens.

Yesterday I had thought about going to the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th arrondissement, but the rain, the bookstore not being open, my own muddling about, I never got it together.

Here, now, sunshine, get out in it.

When the forecast says rain for the entire week it is very important, at least for this seasonally (diagnosed, thank you very much) depressed person.

I need light on my face, on my skin, all over my body as much as possible.

I also need to exercise and walking in a garden, in Paris, in the sunlight, after the rain?

You do not need to twist my arm.

Off to the garden!

Jardin des Plantes

Jardin des Plantes

I was so happy.

The sun was warm on my back, the sage was blooming, it smelled divine.

It was Jerusalem Sage, according to the sign.

The bees were out.

Not much to pollinate, but there were a few blossoms about.

Bee House

Bee House

 

The bee house was so adorable I wanted to climb over and open the door and see if maybe there were wee small beds with bright red wooden pillars and blue blankets and white pillows lined up in a row.  The whole garden was like a fairy tale.

The little menagerie, the solarium, the herb garden, labyrinth.

I ended up walking the entire periphery of the park and then strolling up and down the avenues of trees.

Tree Avenue

Avenue 

I ended with a spin around the small zoo, le menagerie and quite unexpectedly came across a group of wallabies!

Menageri

Menagerie

 

 

 

 

 

Wallaby

Wallaby

I just leaned against the fence and stared.

The sun warmed my face.

I sighed in contentment.

My eyes happy.

I feel like the gardens in the city are like icing on the cake here in Paris.  The buildings and sculpture are so elegantly counterbalanced with the trees and the spread of green grass.  Some times I need a break from the imposing beauty and the ornate.

A tree, green with moss, spread against the blue sky, eases my eyes, and soothes me.

Trees

Trees

I floated out of the park.

I decided I was up for a walk.

I strolled down toward the Seine and I walked the Right Bank from the garden to the 7th arrondissement.

I popped up from the river walk to hop to a cafe and borrow the bathroom.

I was going to stay, but I was in the St. Germaine neighborhood and when I saw the cost of a single espresso was 3.30 Euro, I was out.

Besides the five-minute wait for a waiter to approach did me in.

I don’t like to pee and dash, but that is exactly what I did.

I prowled down the boulevard, I pulled an apple out of my bag and I just about spit it out when I nearly bumped into Karl Lagerfeld.

Apple in my mouth, fumbling for my Iphone, I blushed 8 shades of red when his assistant smiled at my recognition.

I may be wearing tattered Converse and a torn up blue jean mini-skirt with black tights and a plaid shirt, but I am a fashionista at heart.

Karl Lagerfeld!

He is tiny and thin, thin, thin.

I remember when he had not been.

When it looked like he was sneaking out to the Patissierie and eating puff pastry lathered with butter, dusted in sugar to dunk in bowls of chocolate chaude with whipped cream.

Not that way any longer.

I bet he just sneaks to the bathroom now.

And the white signature pony tail pulled back and the large black Chanel sunglasses.

I love you Karl.

I said it quietly, under my breath, in between trying to swallow the bite of apple in my mouth and snapping a shot of his back as he walked away.

As though I was not already filled with sunshine and benevolence.

Paris, you trollope.

Seducing me with soft warm sun and Chanel icon sightings.

I walked along Avenue de l’Universitie and headed to the cafe/tabac in the 7th where I always run into a friend or two.

I sat down, had a creme that was in my price range, and opened up the notebook.

I wrote.

Then I sat and read.

Then a meander to the American Church and a looky Lou at the bulletin board.

No postings that would have made sense to me, so I just went in to punch the time card at my real job.

Came home.

Ate some dinner.

Revelled in my life and the simplicity of a walk in the garden, a cafe, a notebook, book, pen, a clean meal, and a mug of tea.

All done in Paris.

Then I reflected on what Maggie told me today, “your first year in Paris is yours, your second year is for love.”

I believe she may be spot on.

Right now, Paris and I are having our own love affair.

I will make room for some one soon, but maybe first another walk through the gardens.

Seed Pods

Seed Pods-Jardin des Plantes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running Around in Circles

January 29, 2013

I was like a restless dog today.

I got the day off unexpectedly.

I was supposed to work today.

A lot.

However, I did not, instead I did, well, it feels like not much, but it wasn’t that bad.

It was in Paris.

I hung out with my fellows.

I sat at the cafe.

Bert's

Bert’s

I hung out.

I drank a creme.

I drank another.

I went back to the house and discovered that I had gotten back my state refund from California.

And it was already three-quarters gone.

What the fuck?

I looked at the bank statement.

Oh, well, looky there, thanks ACS Student Loan Services, I see that you ran an automatic payment without my knowledge.

I was actually not overwhelmed or upset.

This is huge.

HUGE.

There would have been a time, and not that long ago that this would have pissed me off.

However, I do owe them money and I did not ask for my forbearance to be extended.

I forgot.

Thank God I had done my taxes already.  How they both dropped within the same 12 hours I do not know, but I would call that serendipity for sure.

I could not be mad, I was just grateful that there was some money in the account to cover the cost of the loan payment.

Ten years later and I am only about a quarter of the way through the payment.

I went to my account, logged in, requested another forbearance, and fingers crossed, I will not have to pay on the loan for another six months.

I would like to have my student loans paid off.

Me and millions like me, I suppose.

I write it down in my daily affirmations, I am financially successful, I am solvent, I have paid off my student loans, in my morning pages, along with a gratitude list that I compose daily.  It really helps me to see that I am constantly and continually taken care of.

How else could I possibly explain the timing of the state refund tax and the withdrawal?

This led to me being in a bit of a dither–I have a little money, what do I do with it?

This and the abundance of free time I had.

I decided I needed to go fuel up my Navigo pass, it is almost the end of the month and now I will be able to happily traverse the Metro system for another month without worry, as often as I like, with no Gendarme to give me a ticket.

Pont-Neuf La Monnaie

Pont-Neuf La Monnaie

I used the number 7 line three times today, one of my stops was at Pont-Neuf La Monnaie.

I was on my way to Shakespeare and Company.  I figure the other thing I really needed was a book.

Unfortunately the book store was closed.

Oops.

Frogs.

I decided I would walk along the Seine.

It was a nice walk, the weather softer, slightly balmy, soft rainy drizzle.  Not enough to need the umbrella, but enough to take the glasses off my face so as not to get misted.

#31

#31

The book sellers along the Seine were mostly shut down with the weather.

The streets not too busy.

It is not a heavy tourist time.

I can feel that a coming though.

Spring feels just around the corner.

Although I am well aware that February is still winter and that March here can be rather capricious.

Determined to not have gone out for naught I continued along the Seine and just took in the scene of commuters coming and going on their way home.

Going Home

Going Home

I crossed over the bridge of love.

That’s what I call it, or Locks of Love.

Love Locks

Love Locks

 

 

 

 

 

 

This, in turn, reminded me that it was soon to be Valentines Day.  I have some post cards that I have been meaning to send out and what could be nicer than a Valentines Day postcard from Paris?

A date.

Oops, sorry, how did that slip in there?

I thought I would also “splurge” on some stickers to decorate the postcards I got.

Books and stickers.

I am a twelve-year-old at heart.

I discovered a new book store on Rue Rivoli, Librairie Gaglignani, the oldest book store with English language titles.  Half of the book store is in French, then in the back, the English Department.

Heaven.

The stacks, the push ladders, the wooden book shelves, the smell, oh, the glorious smell of paper and leather bindings, dry, sweet, warm, the cozy arm chairs.  I was happy as a clam.

Until I started looking at the price tags.

You want 23.50 Euro for a paperback?

No.

But it is the new Irvine Welsh.

I will wait.

I still went about covetous, desirous.

In the Stacks

In the Stacks

I debated.

Hmm.

No, I will head to WH Smith and see what the prices are there first.  Damn you Shakespeare and Company.  I can not wait for the end of the month to have a new book.  Even though the end of the month is only a few days off.  Not having a book to carry with me on the Metro has already made me a little cuckoo.

With a last longing look I fled the store.

I headed up a few blocks and, yes, WH Smith was a little cheaper, but also it felt tatty after the glorious lay about of the previous store.  However, I did get two books and a packet of stickers for the cost of what I would have spent at Gaglinani.

There will come a time when I don’t think like this, I pray.

I will have my student loans paid off.

I will own a home.

I will walk into a book store and I will pick up a book I want to read and buy it without thinking that I could eat for a few days on those Euro.

I actually do firmly believe this.

I am not having a pity party.

Instead, I came home with my loot, my Navigo charged up, and went grocery shopping.

I cooked myself a nice dinner and I played with my new stickers and I wrote postcards.

With Love, from Paris

With Love, from Paris

I read from my new David Sedaris book and I had some tea.

I thought I had done not a thing today.

But I smiled and I looked Paris in the eye and I said, today, despite my best efforts to undermine my happiness, I am happy.

Here.

In Paris.

Expat in Paris

Expat in Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Say “Fuck You”

January 28, 2013

To the fear.

Fuck you twice.

The two gigs I had land in my lap yesterday disappeared.

I actually was a little relieved, I had set my alarm clock for 6 a.m. to get ready for tomorrow.  I can now reset that to a lovely 9:30 a.m.

A much more respectable hour for my brain to function and co-habitate with the world.

Really, the world should be breathing a sigh of relief, I am not a nice monkey when sleep deprived.  And I would have been sleep deprived, it is hard to switch gears to an early morning wake up, I of course had planned on going to bed by 10 pm, but my brain would have been wide awake tap dancing.

This is better.

Whatever is going to happen tomorrow is better.

Maybe I will make more money and not have to work 12 hours to get it.

Maybe I will have lunch with the man of my dreams.

Maybe I will meet a new friend for coffee.

The latter seems to me the best bet.

I say, throw caution to the wind.

So what if rent is due and I don’t have it? I still have three days before it is due.

Rent is paid for today.

I have 65 Euro in my wallet.

I can buy a book.

I can have a coffee.

I can take a walk.

I can write.

I looked down at my hand today in wonderment.

Wondering mostly where the hell the bruise on my ring finger came from.  One solitary bruise right on the knuckle.  I cannot remember knocking it on anything, and it is tender.

Upon examining my hands I realized that not only do I have a callous from my pen on my middle finger, which I have always sort of had, but I also have an actual indentation on my finger with another smooth callous where the pen rests.

I write that much, that it is changing the shape of my hands.

Wonderous.

Also wonderous, bicycling.

Bless you Paris for giving me a free pass on the rain this week.

The whole week, albeit greatly warmer than last week, is supposed to be rainy.

Not today.

I got up today, my bike calling all sexy like from the corner, hey, lady, yeah, you, wanna go for a ride?

Yes please.

Possible I got the bruise from riding it, but I cannot imagine how.

Although riding along some of the cobblestones I did think I was going to bruise my brain from all the bumping up and down.  It was literally like being shook, I could not see straight.

Today was my first day out on my bicycle that was not a Sunday.

I could gloss this over, but it made me realize that I am not afraid of the traffic conditions any longer.  Which means I am not afraid of getting lost on my bike any longer and I can pay attention to the traffic instead of whether I should take a left or right.

Things that I find surreal.

Surreal, but wonderful.

Listening to St. Germain in my headphones while riding the Metro in Paris.

And riding my fixed gear across the Champs Elysees.

What the fuck am I doing here?

Riding my bike through the streets of Paris.

Ha.

Here’s to doing what you are afraid of.

Nobody said it would be easy, and it sure as fuck is not, but it is not quite as hard as it was, it is not quite as uncomfortable, and I am getting into it.

Into the moment, mainly, where there is nothing wrong and it is sunny, momentarily, it did not last much past the bike ride to and fro from Avenue George V, and I am on my bike.

My glittery sparkle pony.

I am on the Metro with my headphones on listening to French house music, in France.

I am happy.

I am a writer.

I have an indent in my finger to prove it, in case you were wondering.

I am an artist, who says let me get inspired.

I don’t have a job to go to tomorrow.

Although, I do have a job to do.

After I put in my time there, I have the entire day free.

It may well be a rainy day.

Perhaps a walk.

Paris, it ain’t a bad place to walk around.

I could go grab a book!

Oh.

Yes, there is that.

In fact, I could go to Mister George V tomorrow and hit a little fellowship, then walk along the Left Bank to Shakespeare and Company.

Or.

I could go explore another book shop.

I know there are other English language shops in the city.

I could wake up and say, hey, Paris, what do you want to do today?

I don’t have to work, want to play hooky?

I refuse to believe that I will not be taken care of, the money I would have made over the next few days will come from somewhere else.

I have money in my pocket now.

I have love in my heart.

I have Paris at my doorstep.

Literally.

I Read Your Blog

January 27, 2013

Oh shit.

I think that is what I said.

Followed on its heels by the words, that I managed to choke back, “I’m so sorry.”

I stifled those.

Why I need to apologize for writing what I write is rather funny to me.

I actually, often, forget that people read these.

He said it was long.

Um, yeah.  They are sort of.

I tried to not ask what he read, everything flashed through my eyes from poop nanny entries to I slept with that guy from that place to the club I was at when I whipped off my bra to escapades at Burning Man.

It was like I had been caught with my pants down.

Damn Gina.

Was I wearing my black lace panties or the old faded pink ones?

Shit.

I couldn’t very well ask him which ones he read.

I just let it go.

It is nice to hear that people read it.

Especially when they are cute.

He’s cute.

Young, I think, but cute.

Love the accent.

Love.

Of course, just about everybody here as an accent.  His is Irish.  He also reads.

He read my blog.

I love me a reader.

In fact, we had an ice breaker sort of conversation about books last Sunday.  I have a book I just finished to loan him and he has an article in a literary review from London, I believe, on Will Self.

I may have some one to swap books with.

That is exciting.

Who cares what panties I have on anyhow.

They are all cute.

My blog is my blog but it is not me.

Sometimes it is, I can hear my voice, I can hear the voice of the blog.

Just like my book is me, but not me.  As is the new piece I am working on, which though fictional has a load of autobiographical things in it.  I am drawing from my experiences and that is what a writer must do.

And read.

Which, I shot myself in the foot on this one, sucks at the moment as I have nothing to read. I left my book at the baby sitting gig last night.  I’ll be headed back next Saturday and will get it then, but I don’t see myself not having a book to read for the next week.

Nope.

I will have to rectify that.

I have plans to meet a friend at Shakespeare and Company on Friday afternoon for a get together.  She is going to read my book and we are going to talk writing.  And hopefully set up a time to write together.

I find that having a writing group is helpful too.

Anything to further the craft.

Got to do it.

I want to get a book before Friday though, as well.  This bears some thinking over.  My schedule just got tight for the next few days so I am not sure that I will be able to squeeze something in.

Of course, I do have a book a friend gave me that is in French, but that is more like studying at this moment than actual reading for pleasure, reading to let the craft of another’s words sink into my skin and settle and drift like the spats of snow in the corners building up against one another to tumble back toward my pen at the appropriate time.

I do not plagiarise.

But I take.

I steal.

I borrow, beg, and broker.

That is mine, this here, I will take that.

His eyes, blue, there is something about Irish/English blue eyes that take me.  Ironically blue sky eyes remind me of not only Paris, the sky here peeking through the clouds, but also of Wisconsin.

I am a sucker for blue eyes.

And he has freckles.

Ok.

I better get on task.

What else?

Oh, yes, working.

Like, putting food on the table working, is actually happening quite a bit this week.  I have four shifts.

Two of which are going to be long ones, but as it’s right at the end of the month, rent is almost due, I need to have the cash.

The dad called me today, his father was struck ill quite suddenly, and he has to go back to Ireland the day after tomorrow.  He asked me to work 8a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and I am helping them out tomorrow for four hours.  That is a substantial amount of hours to do in the next few days.

And a decent amount of Euro.

I will be able to hand some rent money, not the full month, but at least a weeks worth of February, to the room-mate.  I will have the money to upgrade my Navigo pass for the Metro for another month, they check it, it is well worth having it loaded.   I do not want the 40 Euro ticket.

And I have had it checked.

I will also have a Saturday gig back in the 7th and then I will be starting my new gig next Wednesday in Courbevoie.

I had another interview today and it went really well.

So well, the little girl got up on her mother’s lap, whispered in her ear, and asked if I could stay and play, ‘I was funny,’ she liked me.

I like her too.

The house was the first house were I felt an immediate response to something familiar, art.  They had art everywhere.  The little girls art, and their own, photographs, and books, loads and loads of books.

They want me to speak only English and I will happily oblige.

They want me as long as they can get me and I could feel their relief, mom trusts me, I could tell, that feels really nice, to be trusted.

They have even asked if I would be available in March for the girls vacation time, they may want me to go on vacance with them.

Sure thing.

The pay is also pretty darn good.

Four times a month I will go out to the last Metro stop on Line One, La Grande Arch, at La Defense, and it will be almost my rent.  Those Wednesdays and a scattering of other gigs, and I will have the money to pay rent, eat, and sit in cafes in write.

Which is all I really need.

Here, in Paris.

And maybe a date with a blue eyed boy.

Whole Lot of Nothing

January 26, 2013

I did not get out and about much today.

I went to bed late last night, slept in, and stayed in until I had to leave for the babysitting gig in the 7th.

Which I got to early and took a little walk around the neighborhood.

The sun had broken through, the temperature was warmer, and it was nice to be out of the house.

That is not to say that I did not do anything.

I did plenty.

How to make washing your clothes exciting for your daily blog?

Let’s try-handwashing!

Yeah, that’s right, the washing machine and the stove blown fuse have not been fixed yet.  After recycling yesterday’s pair of socks, I figured, it was cold, my feet weren’t sweating, I could not stand it any longer.

I broke out the bucket in the sink and I washed all my laundry by hand.

Then I got into it.

I scrubbed the kitchen, swept, cleaned the stove, took out the trash, hell, I even cleaned the toilet and scrubbed the sink in the bathroom.

I put on some music and I sang some.

I probably annoyed the hell out of my room-mate.

However, I will say, he was probably not going to say anything to stop me.

I know I would put up with some one singing off-key if they were scrubbing the stove and mopping the floor.

Sing it.

That’s about all I did, though, once the hand washing was washed and hung to dry and the kitchen scoured and the lunch made and eaten, it was time to head off to the 7th for my gig.

Having caught every train right on time, as though to make up for the lost time I waited on the train station platform last night, I made it to the neighborhood twenty minutes early.

I decide to explore the church that the Metro stop is named for: Francois-Xavier.

Steps

Steps

Francois-Xavier

Francois-Xavier

Facade

Facade

I took some photographs from outside and decided I had enough time to go in and explore for a moment or two.

 

St. Francois-Xavier

St. Francois-Xavier

There was a crowd of people at the front, it was a wedding!

I suddenly realized as I heard the words intoned, in French, for “is there anyone with cause who can say this man and woman should not be united in holy matrimony?”

I had a brief, terrifying moment, where I almost shouted out something.

Mostly because I was thrilled that I understood what was being said.

I stifled the impulse and snuck back out the door.

Later, I told the five-year old girl A. that I had seen the end of a wedding and heard the church bells chime once they had been declared husband and wife.

We were heading back from the park, having enjoyed an interlude of Chinese jump rope and sand castle building, after being asked by the park guardian to exit.

They actually have people who go around and lock the park gates when they are closed.

It still amazes me that.

And there they were, husband and wife, in the park, having their photographs taken.

“Look!”  I said to A.

She was thrilled, “the bride, the bride!”

A. is a bit of a fashionista.

She even told me that the big tent in front of Invalides was a tent for a fashion show.

I wonder who is showing.

I know that there has been a lot of recent activity and the Spring collections are coming out.

I may not be attending any now, but I can say I was in Paris during the fashion shows for Spring collections.

I can also go back to that simple saying that Jim gave me when I was having a horrid bout of home sick.

“Just end everything with, ‘in Paris,’ it makes it sound just that much better,” he told me.

Yup.

Even, I scrubbed a toilet, in Paris, sounds better than, ‘I scrubbed a toilet.’

The next few days will be filled with more of the baby sitting and such.

Tomorrow I will be off to Courbevoie, which Corinne has told me is quite fancy pants, for an interview with a mom and a six-year-old girl for Wednesdays.  The gig pays 11 Euro an hour and is for 9 hours every Wednesday.

That is almost rent.

Bring it.

I will be meeting them by the Carousel by La Defense.

I have not seen said carousel, I am excited to see another.

I rather like the carousels, they are dear to me and magical.

Then Monday, I am off to Asniers Sur Seine.  Their new nanny is not available.  I am not really too interested, but as I have nothing else happening that day, and no steady source of income yet, I will take whatever I can get.

Tuesday I will head back to the suburbs to help mama out with baby again, of course this is not paid, but it is love, love, love, and service and is really good for me, gets me out of the head and into helping and that’s where I need to go, a lot.

Aside from these gigs, I will write.

I will cold query.

I will submit.

I will start to compulsively check my bank account for money.

Wait.

I have already started doing that.

I found out my California state tax refund was successfully filed.

I am not getting back a lot from it, but I am getting back enough to hold off the dragons for another day.

The IRS doesn’t accept filed returns until the 30th.

I have no idea how long that will take to go through.

Though, if memory serves it won’t be too long.

Maybe a few weeks.

I will have money coming in.

I will pay rent.

I will continue to write, work, walk.

In Paris.

Even when I am doing a whole lot of nothing.

It is stil doing something.

In Paris.

Sans Arret

January 25, 2013

What, motherfucker, really?

No stopping?

I don’t want no stopping unless it is non-stop sex.

I stood on the train platform in the suburbs after a ten minute “brisk” walk, that would be the fast, don’t fuck with me walk, in the cold, in the dark, in the strange new land, I call France, in the cold, did I already say that?

In the cold.

Damn.

It is cold out there.

I am inside now, thank God.

I don’t know if I read the train schedule wrong, there is that, I could just have read the train schedule wrong, but I thought I had it pinned down.

I had taken the same train just a few nights back from the suburbs and the baby and not had any problem.

The platform, when I arrived, at 10:44pm was empty.

Cold.

Empty.

A scattering of salt on the iced over steps and nothing else to see, except the trains that blew past ruffling my hair off my face and chilling the tops of my ears even more.

One train.

Two train.

Three train.

Four motherfucking trains latter.

No, five, it was five trains before one stopped.

They would whistle past, warm, lit, stuffed with passengers cozy and warm, I imagined ensconced in soft seats with warm heat vents blowing on them and mugs of hot chocolate in their hands, complimentary of the train, and the was probably even a wood burning stove on one, I imagine.

With wee elves roasting marshmallows.

For s’mores.

Thanks, brain, love that scenario.

I finally understood that the next train was not coming until 11:22 pm

Enough time for me to make the transfer at Gare de L’Austerlitz to the Metro Line 10 to the Metro Line 7, before the Metro closed for the night.

If all went well I would be sitting here at the computer with a cup of tea, thawing out quickly and I would be writing about the bite of cold and the double muffler option and my room-mate was not kidding when he said get a winter coat.

“Aren’t you cold,” she said to me from her nest of furs.

“Yes,” I answered simply, “I am.”

I won’t always be cold, maybe I will actually listen to what others say and get better prepared.  Of course, it will be warming up by Sunday, easily, according to the weather, a good thirty degrees warmer than right now.

I could stand that.

Maybe, just a little.

The days are growing longer, I did notice that today, and there, for just a brief moment was a peek of sun that lingered for a minute, lighting the planes of my cheeks before I ducked around the corner on George V and headed for the American Cathedral.

Cold in its own way.

Try sitting in a room for an hour and a half while there is open air construction going on outside the door and one of the windows has a broken pane of glass and the tattered plastic that was put over it flaps in the wind.

Actually, let us not to try to imagine that, I just got cold again.

I am almost warmed up.

I am on my second cup of tea.

I am in yoga pants and a long jersey shirt, a sweat shirt, and a scarf.  I also have on knee-high socks and slippers.

I will warm up soon.

Usually by about 4 a.m. I am actually too warm and have to throw off the covers for a moment or two.  The comforter on my bed is quite cozy.  I could crawl under it now, but I would then not perhaps finish doing the writing for the blog.

I will nail down the train travel for next time.

Tuesday I will be going back out to help with the baby.

Baby is doing good, mama got to get a little sleep, I got to do a feeding and lots of snuggling.  Auntie Bubba at home and abroad. Where ever I go I get to be of service around the miniature set.

Tomorrow a baby sitting gig in the 7th.

Sunday an interview to do a Wednesday gig with a six-year-old girl to teach her English.

Monday baby sitting in Asniers Sur Seine.

Tuesday back to the suburbs to do another shift with mama and baby.

Which is not paid in anything but love, but it is some good time there, and well worth the travel, even when it is cold.

I am getting to help out.

I am getting to get out of my head.

When is that agent going to get back to me?

Probably not until next week Martines, so chill.

And keep up the cold queries.

I sent out another one yesterday and I shall send out another tomorrow and another the day after that and, well, I believe the point is made.

I actually do not expect that I will get picked up by this agency, but I will get picked up.

I do believe that.

I will pay off my student loans.

I will travel more.

I will write more.

I am writing more.

I will get published.

I will.

And if I get to help out with a few kids in the mean time, then I am lucky to be where I am, the demand for child care here is high.  And my experience with the under twelve set is getting extensive.

Here to be of service.

I just keep telling myself that.

Even when it’s cold out there, I am not out in it long.

I have a warm place to come back to and hot tea and an apple to munch on here in a moment.

I get to make phone calls to the states tomorrow too, I have already booked on with John Ater.  Another perk of doing the gig in the 7th, love getting that phone time in.

I too can go without stop, some times, but now seems an appropriate place to at least pause for the evening and fall into the warm of my comforter.

And sleep.

Sans arret.

 

 

Getting into the Pool

January 24, 2013

Literally and figuratively.

Living the writers life.

I bought a new notebook today.

I went to my Papeterie up by Square D’Anvers.  I like that I am recognized when I go there now.  The patroness always gives me a smile as I wander through the small store picking up a notebook here, fondling a pen, touching a card.

I am a tactile sort of gal.

I picked up another Claire Fontaine notebook.

This make three notebooks I have bought in Paris.

Three notebooks full, bah, bah, black sheep.

I also picked up some more pens.  Yes, they are more expensive than the US, but as the days continue to compile on my Parisian experience I am more and more seeing things in Euro instead of dollars.

The work that the pens do, as well, merits using good ink.

I have a certain kind of requirement for getting me to that happy place where the pen hits the paper and strides confidently along it, smoothly, without a hitch.

One of those things I require is exercise.

My brain does not want to admit that.

Watch some Shameless, that’ll do the trick.

Uh, no.

It actually won’t.  Not to say that I won’t watch a little Shameless later, but I won’t do it in the middle of the afternoon, I won’t check out on my computer.

I will check things out, however.

Like the piscine at the Paul Valeyre Centre de Sportif on the corner of Rue Cadet and Rue Maubeuge.  Which is on the corner of oh my God that’s so close I have no excuse not to go.

It is a block away from me.

That’s right, there is a swimming pool, open to the public, a block away from me.

I could tell, I have been thinking about it now for weeks.  I can smell the chlorine wash drifting out of one of the vents every time I dash down the hill from 36 Rue Bellefond to the Cadet Metro stop.

I have been quietly investigating.

Doing a little research here and there.

What I have found is actually quite astounding.

There are a huge amount of pools in the Paris area and they are really quite affordable to go to, if you get the pass.  If you don’t it’s about 3.70 Euro a swim.  But if you get the three-month pass it’s 37 Euro.

37 Euro for three months!

That is a freaking deal.

For a little spot of time when I was in San Francisco I was a member at the UCSF center down on Mission Bay, they have two pools there, an indoor and an outdoor.  I was paying about $89 American a month to be a member.

I did it for about four months.

I swam.

I miss swimming.

It is soothing for me.

It feels like flying.

It is good exercise and it is highly meditative for me.

I started swimming, competitively, “late” in life.

I got onto the high school swim team when I was a sophomore in highschool.

Most of the swimmers on my team had been competing from an early age, most before the age of ten.

I was a truly late bloomer at the age of 16.

I had never intended to be on swim team.

I had not intended on having weak ankles either, which is what I discovered at the age of 15 when I suffered an injury in a basketball game.  I went in for a lay up and got fouled, I landed heavily on my left ankle and blew it out.

I wore an air cast for a week.

Life sucked.

I rested off it for another week, then I was back in the game, and literally the next practice I had, the exact same thing, I went in for a lay up, and when I came down my ankle went out, and this time I had not been fouled.

The doctor looked at me and said, “no more contact sports, unless you want to undergo surgery and be on crutches for three months instead of a week.”

“No contact sports?”  I asked, I had not really thought basketball was that much of a contact sport, but ok.

“No.” The doctor replied, then asked me, “what other sports do you play?”

“Soccer and softball,” I said.

“No, neither, you can’t do either,” the doctor said firmly.

I was in shock.

“What can I do?”  I asked.

“Swim.”  He said, shut the file with my ankle x-rays in it, and said, “swim, that’s about it.”

I thought no more of it until that summer when I went to the pool.  My ankle was still tender, I do remember that, surprisingly so, I had not been doing any sports for months and it was still tender.

One of the lifeguards noticed me and said, “you should go out for team, you’re not bad.”

I was totally flattered and thought, why not?  That’s the only sport left.

I went out for team.

To this day I am still shocked that she said that to me and that I actually decided to try something else.  I loved being in the water though, I had been swimming since I was a baby, literally, my mom put me in swim lessons at 10 months.

I don’t remember not being able to swim.

I think I thought it would be that same sort of lovely divine floating and playing that it was that summer before I actually joined the team.

It was not.

It was horribly hard and I struggled for a long time.

But I kept showing up and at the end of the season I had been named Most Improved.

I lettered the next year and the year following.

I became a life guard and the pool my refuge from home when home got too hard.  And home was getting pretty fucking hard.  I ran away, to the pool, after spending the night in the back of a school bus, my senior year.

I was always at the pool.

It was my comfort, a constant, I could show up at, work hard, and even if I was not the best on the team, I could always improve on my own times.

The perfect team and individual sport all at the same time.

I had lots of surprises being on that team.  I got a kind of acceptance from my team mates and from the school I had never really had before.  I will always be grateful for that place.

Now, I feel that itch happening again.

The desire to get back into the water.

Despite the tattoos, which I am nervous about unveiling to the entire French world, or so it feels, and despite not having actively swam in years, the allure is there.

Today I went looking for a swim suit.

I did not find one, but I did find out from a friend that there is a store I can go to at Les Halles that will have them, along with goggles and caps–which all the pools require.

I am actually happy about that, I prefer to swim with a cap on, protects the hair and it keeps it out of my eyes.

I did not swim today, but I will soon.

I walked two miles, bought a new notebook, went to Odette & Aime and worked on my new piece, which has gone back to being a novel, I had a little epiphany, and I realized I was shying away from the story by trying to write a screen play.

I got in the writers pool.

I read.

I wrote.

And soon I shall swim.

 

Being of Service

January 23, 2013

When you don’t have an official job, but you sort of do.

What do you do?

Go be of service.

I went out to the suburbs today.

I so thought I was going to get lost.

I really did.

However, the directions were perfect, and the best kind of directions for this wayward, oft waylaid lady–take a right by the cafe, red mailbox on the left, as the crow flies–sort of directions.

I also asked for directions the one place that I was a bit uncertain as to which way I was supposed to go next.

In French.

I asked for directions in French and I understood and I followed those directions and voila!

I made it.

The trip was a little surreal.  When I think about it, I spent over three hours total today below ground on various trains and Metro lines.

Metro Jussieu

Metro

I got where I needed to go, however, a very new development in the Paris suburbs.

New Developments

New Developments

This mural was my “red mailbox” to turn right at.

The apartments are so new that the streets are not yet on any maps.

The turned earth raw, the pavement new, the cranes and scaffolding scattered about.

It was all very new and very strange.

I wondered to myself how is it that I got here?

What in the world am I doing at 1045pm on a Wednesday night in this neighborhood?

Being of service.

I say yes to things, is another way of putting it.  And if this was being a help, than I am glad for it.  I washed some dishes, I made some dinner, I gave mom a rest, and I got to hold a new baby in my arms for hours.

Hours.

Mmmm.

The smell of a new-born.

I told the mom, not to worry, I promise I won’t eat her while you are napping.

I may kiss some wee small toes, but I won’t eat them.

I had baked salmon for dinner, so I was already satiated.

Sleepy Monkey

Sleepy Monkey

She is a precious little thing.

I get to hang out with her and mom on Friday as well.

I am going to be getting my fill of the kids for the next few days.

Friday, this little gal again.

Saturday the kids in the 7th.

Monday the kids in Asiniers Sur Seine.

Wednesday an 8-year-old to tutor.

In between I must to write.

I must.

I filled my day with the baby primarily and got to help out my room-mate who has been down for the count for the week with a proper bad cold, flu, cross my mother fucking fingers, I don’t catch it, illness.

I have not gotten to the writing as much as I would like.

Granted, I have done some, I would not be who I am, who I want to be, without putting some sort of pen to paper.

I always write in the morning and I did today.

I always write my blog, and I am doing that now.

I also got off a poem.

Yup, babies and poetry, that’s what you get from me today.

Skip past the italics if it don’t float your boat.

 

Can You Save Me?

Pink pocket plagiarist dance

Jitter bugged steps toward

French waiters dressed white/

Black.  Follow, fallow, cast out

Bright light lamp eyes.

 

The spill of hot chocolate

Smell of the Tabac drifting

From behind the counter

Water slops in a glass.

Old lady hands, crumpled napkin.

 

Cast back, hand jobs, blow

Jobs, fucking, another on the

Couch, not yours.

Shivered green/

Blue.  Overexposed.

 

I lean into the violet

Dusk wishing to busk

Your cheek with love bites

Hold your hand still,

In the small of my back.

 

Hide me behind the

Open trunk of the convertible

Press me again to your

Mouth.  In faith I am framed

Smut crusted, dusted.

 

In old snow and dealt

Blue black, ribbons fallen

From bedraggled dolls

Drug behind tired children

In oversized train stations.

 

Moth batters about moon

Heart swells, music tells

Dashing apart, not falling together.

This is feeling though,

Not fact.

 

 

I like that I am writing poetry.

It was my first love.

Sometimes it is to me, and probably only to me, the truest form of my history, I can tell you every bit of that poem.  I can tell you it is about love and loss and wandering through train stations.  I can tell you it is a melange of four different times, four different places, sitting next to a famous ex-model, actress in a Parisian tabac, two different men, and the history of my own heart.

I can tell you the songs, snatches of music, the colors, the sounds, the smells.

I could pick apart every single line and tell you what moment of my life it comes from.

That would be rather boring, for the reader, I imagine.

Poetry, for me, is history.

It is my own histroy, my own story.

Poetry, for me, again, this is just for me, is the attempt to capture a moment.

Yesterday when I was writing the summary for Baby Girl to send to the agent, the curt, almost dry, cut to the chase, write the action, move the pace, tell the story as quick as you can, outline fifteen chapters and the arc of a life squashed down from 265 pages to 2 pages double spaced.

A kind of dry poem.

But it does not encapsulate for me the true feel of the book.

Then again I don’t know that I have a poem for Baby Girl.

I may have.

I did have a journal I was keeping.

It was destroyed.  The destruction of that record is long gone, twenty years gone, in a trash barrel, in a land fill some where outside of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

I have kept most of my journals, I have one that I wrote soon there after that trip.  It has bits and pieces of poems.  It may be interesting to go back some time and look them up.

A baby is a poem.

A poem is a child.

To love, to hold.

To let loose upon the world.

With or without my interpretation.

A conversation that I will only have a small part of, for just a moment, her small foot in the palm of my hand.  The small furl and unfurl of her fingers around my thumb.  The soft sweep of brown hair underneath my hand, and the warmth in my arms.

A baby.

A warm ache in my arms.

A body poetic.

 

Making Up for Lost Time

January 22, 2013

Today I got it on.

First, after leaving the house to go get groceries, the cupboards were bare, I did the usual.

Pray.

Eat.

Drink coffee.

Write.

Meditate.

I also posted a blog here about the hideousness of the migraine I had yesterday and I actually found that I had taken photographs of the neighborhood I was in yesterday, the 16th arrondissement.  I thought I had not, surprise.

There were more surprises in store for me today.

An e-mail from my dearest sister.  I have not been in contact with her for years.  It was such a wonderful surprise, it brought tears to my eyes.  I sent her some recent photographs I have taken of Paris and shared a brief bit of what I am doing with my life.

Slow to re-establish contact, I may be, but grateful for that contact nonetheless.

My sister and I have never been close.

But she is my sister and there are things we share and things, like this blog, that would never be without her influence.

“Meet your Auntie Bubba,” she said to my eldest niece, handing over the bundled baby I had just watched be labored into this world.

“Aw, Pooh,” I said, using my own family nickname for my little sister, “can’t we let the Bubba thing die?”

“No.” She replied with conviction.

There was no arguing with her.

There usually never was.

Oh, I tried.

Yet, in the end, I usually gave up.

I lost contact with her frequently over the years.  The last time I really talked with her was about seven and a half years ago.  The last time I saw her was nearly nine years ago.

My baby sister.

We were extraordinarily close at times, though, especially between my 19th and 21st years.

We lived on and off together during those years, I helped her with my oldest niece, we shared many experiences, many challenges, a lot of moving around the country, and some crazy ass parenting, or lack thereof, from our mutual mother and father.

We were unspoken rivals.

She dated.

I did well in school.

She was the pretty one.

I was the smart one.

Or so goes the story I told myself.

I was jealous of her, and maybe she was of me.

I cannot always ascertain the truth of things any longer.  It, whatever it was, was so long ago.

“Mom!  Carmen dropped acid with a bunch of strange guys.”  My sister ratted me out.

I remember certain things.

I remember the way she smells, and how strangely ugly and devastatingly beautiful she was when she was giving birth.  I thought I would never be so beautiful.  I thought I am in the presence of something so fierce and god like it could be shattering to look on for too long.

I remember how amazing she is as an artist.  She could always draw and paint.  I never held a candle to her talent.  I also castigated myself for not being an artist.  Or as smart as she.

In the end, she was always smarter than me, with herself, with people, with my mother.

It may have been to her demise and I believe she had a longer, uglier, wilder, and much weirder journey than the one I have been on.

We are bound, though, I will not argue that, never deny that.

I wish, hope, pray, what have you, that one day I will walk with my sister along the banks of the Seine and all the old malice will drop like diving birds into the water and we will start anew, afresh, with light, and love in our eyes for each other.

And maybe a modicum of compassion and a little empathy too.

I miss my monkey.

She may have been my original love.

The first face to draw my attention, so like me, so unlike me.

Then, another surprise.

Aside from the revelation I had this morning doing my daily writing.

Daily writing, morning pages, pen to paper, how do I love thee?  Let me forever count the ways, one page at a time, one letter at a time, one word at a time.  I am finding more and more of myself in you.

It came down to the migraine.

I was stressed.

I let the stress build up.  I let myself get too anxious, too worried, too much in the constant action of trying to figure it out.  Too much in my head.

My head rebelled.

Even my head can only take so much of my brain before it too wants to explode.

I resolved, while writing, to let go, to surrender, to just be ok with what is happening, or not happening, in front of me, or behind the scenes.

Where will this matter in ten years, ten months, ten days?

It won’t.

Get into it.

Get into being in Paris.

Have fun being broke.  Get silly.  Be wild. Be free.  Enjoy it.

Act like the broke student doing the European tour.

I never got to do that in college, I am now.

So what if I am 40.

I am never too old to learn, to discover, to have an experience.

Don’t mind the lack, my words, my definition, of success, just get into the mix.

I am successful, I am.

I am a writer.

I am a writer that got a response from an agent.

!

That was the next surprise in my e-mail.

I got a response to a cold query I sent an agent last week.

She said she was interested in reading more.  Would I send the first ten pages?

I did.

She responded back in less than an hour to that e-mail.

52 minutes to be exact, but who’s paying attention?

Me.

I just about peed my pants.

I certainly teared up.

The second e-mail asked for the whole shebang.

She wants to read the book.

She wants to read the book!

SHE WANTS TO READ THE BOOK!

Breathe.

Ok.

She also wanted a full summary, chapter, by chapter.

Fuck me.

I have never written a summary of the book.

Ok.

Internet.  Google.  Research.

I opened up a new document and I opened up my book and chapter, by chapter, by chapter, all fifteen of them, I wrote a summary.

I introduced each character.  I outlined the action.  I breathed.

Jesus, there’s a lot of crack in this.

A lot of violence.

Rape.

Abuse.

I got teary again.

I am no victim.

But I am a survivor.

I paused, I finished the outline.  I knew it was too long.  I knew, as well, that I did not have to respond immediately.  In fact, I did not want to seem too eager to the agent.

I let it sit.

I went and did other business.

I filed my taxes.

Yup.

Taxes done.

I am getting a small return.

Enough to live on for another few months, supplemented with the odd baby sitting gig or two.

I got dressed.

I had been in my pajamas all day long.

That is the nice thing about working from home, you can wear your Hello Kitty pajamas until 5 pm and nobody knows the difference.

I went to the American Church and paid a visit to my fellows.

I came home, no nausea on the Metro, thank God.

I made dinner.

I made tea.

I re-opened the summary of Baby Girl and I revised it, edited it, and made sure it was clean and direct.  I also made sure that it was not longer than the industry standard.  Which meant editing it tighter than the original draft.

I opened up my g-mail account and drafted a response to the agent.

I thanked her for her further interest, attached the summary, attached the book, and sent it out to the Universe.

I took action and let go of the results.

That is the best I can do.

That and love myself to bits for taking the leap.

It does not matter if she picks up my book.

Oh, of course I want her too, but it does not matter.

I have been making the effort and I made the leap and I let myself come to Paris and dream.

I loved myself enough to follow my bliss.

Even when I doubted and doubled back.

I stuck it out.

Yes, I can say, I am here to stay.

In Paris.


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