Archive for January, 2013

Monster Migraine

January 22, 2013

I fell out yesterday.

I have not had a migraine like that in quite some time.

It was one of the scariest experiences I have had in a while.

If I had been paying attention, I might have realized what was happening, but as the case was and is, so often with me, I was not paying attention to my body, I was paying attention to the fear generating machine in my mind.

Get out the door!

Get to the Metro!

Find the new address for the babysitting gig!

While you’re at it, make sure you take some photographs so people don’t think you’re not doing anything here in Paris.

God, fucking, forbid, it look like I’m not doing something worthwhile and worthy of notice and support.

Who are these people anyhow?

I don’t know, but they were all up in the committee banging pots and pans and rattle trapping along to beat the band.

Fuckers.

First clue that I was not all mentally there, I had a difficult time getting my bag of stuff together.  I forgot my map book, I put my phone in the wrong pocket, I almost forgot my camera.

Next clue, I could not take off my shoes properly when I got to the babysitting gig.  It felt like slogging through soft, thick, knee-high clay.  The walls were closing in on me and I did not even notice.  I was trying too hard to untie my shoe laces, which seemed to be five miles away from my hand.

I should have known by the time I got to the bathroom.

It smelled like bacon.

Ok.

No bathroom anywhere smells like bacon.

I get auditory and sensory hallucinations with my migraines.  Sometimes I hear birds, which in hindsight, I did now just realize, I heard robins tweeting when I lay down to take a nap.

That is one of the best perks of being a baby sitter of a certain age of children–they nap.

I usually find something to do during nap time, read, write, work on something.

Yesterday, however, all I wanted to do was lay down.

I lay down after putting the girls to bed, such pumpkins, I do hope I actually get the chance to meet up with them again when I am in full faculties, I could barely read to them yesterday.  My French, fyi, I was told by the three and a half-year old, was not as good as hers.

BAhahahahaha.

She is right, in case you were wondering.

Really smart little girl.

She taught me the word for peanuts though, we used it as our secret password for the day.

Cacouettes (I think that’s how it’s spelled).

I lay down, the snow was falling.

I listened to it, the crisp crackle and hiss of it, underlying the sound of the neighbors coming and going, the occasional wail of an ambulance, the wash of birds singing.

That should have been the tip-off.

I heard birds.

Birds are not apt to be out signing in the snowfall, Martines.

My head definitely hurt and I was beginning to feel nasueous, but I put that off to the heat in the apartment being really high.  I was also wearing more layers than normal.  I had on an additional pair of tights under my blue jeans and a pair of knee-high socks–striped the three and a half-year old like to point out all the colors.

By the time the dad had called to let me know he was running late and the girls were up for their naps, I knew there was something horribly wrong.

I barely eked my way through the next hour and fifteen.

Thank God the girls were clever and knew how to entertain themselves quite well.

By the time the dad got there I was as close to throwing up as I have ever been with a migraine.

I managed to get my coat on and my scarves, but I was so overheated I could barely lace my shoes together.  I sat outside their door, having left my shoes outside, and nearly cried with the effort of putting on my Converse.

I made it to the Metro.

The most horrifying part of my day.

I leaned up against the cold back side of the train, my back pressed to the door, my bag clasped in my hands, my eyes closed.

Every time I opened my eyes I was washed over with the desire to throw up.

I cannot imagine the results would have been that awful–all I ate yesterday was oatmeal and banana for breakfast and two apples with almond butter and a small baby bell cheese for lunch–yet, vomit, during rush hour on the Metro?

No, please God, thank you.

I managed to get off the right transfer and onto the next train.

I just kept envisioning the code to the building and getting inside 36 Rue Bellefond.

I did not stop at the grocery store and there was nothing I was going to eat anyhow, the thought of crossing the street to the Carrefour was almost more overwhelming than the entire journey from the 16th to the 9th.

I got inside.

I pulled off my clothes, put on my pajamas and fell into bed.

I closed my eyes and slept.

I woke up twice.

Once to pee.

Once to take a vitamin C tab with aspirin fizzy tablet that my room-mate had a stash of in the bathroom.

The migraine broke sometime this morning.

I woke up at ten a.m.

I made my bed, I prayed, yeah, I did.

I pulled on some socks and put on my shoes and I went to the Carrefour in my pajamas.  I bought bananas and sparkling water and pink grapefruit juice.  I came home, made oatmeal, a cup of coffee, and wrote.

I am going to leave the revelations of the writing for tonight’s blog as I really should have posted to my blog last night.  This post will suffice for that and I will write another tonight.

I had some revelations.

The monster came out of the closet and we made friends.

I have a new appreciation for being here in Paris.

Funny, that, pain, really is the arbiter of spiritual progress.

I made some progress, yes, yes I did.

 

Ah, Warm

January 20, 2013

So good, having heat.

Simple things, like heat, electricity, hot tea.

Fuck.

I was not a happy girl last night when I could not figure out how to get the electricity back on.

I was an even unhappier girl when I realized the radiator’s were all electrical.

Fuck me.

I went to bed wearing tights, socks, a turtle neck, a scarf, a fleece blanket, and a top quilt.

Of course around 4 a.m. I was so hot I thought I was going to die, but for a little while there, I was freaked out.  In the dark, literally, figuratively, and alone.

Ha.

Worst nightmare ever.

However, I did not die.

Nope.

I woke up crabby though.

No coffee.

No hot oatmeal.

I got dressed, I made my bed, I lit up some candles.  I actually managed a little makeup.

Then I got annoyed.  I went out and I started knocking on doors.  Barnaby had not gotten a response back from the land lord and I was over it.  I found the guardian for the apartment and he came in and flipped a bunch of the fuses I had and nothing.

He went back to his apartment and got a flash light.

He found the problem.

He fixed it.

Sort of.

There is one fuse that does not work.  He told me I would discover it whenever I was to turn on the item that was connected to the blown fuse.

I was in a hurry to get out and late for my Sunday morning commitment, so I just fled.

Only to come back later this evening, cold, hungry (I had an apple and a banana for breakfast) and ready to eat some lunch and start my day over.

I filled the kettle and turned on the stove.

NO!

NO!

NO!

Fuck my mother.

It is the stove that blew out.

I burst into tears.  I  just wanted to make a coffee and a fucking pot of oatmeal.  That’s it.

Like that’s all it takes to make this lady happy.

Fortunately, the microwave does work.

I scrambled up a couple of eggs and made my oatmeal in the microwave and blasted a cup of water for tea.

I got happy.

I ate hot food.

It really is the simple things.

Warm bed, roof over the head, electricity, heat, hot food.

Simple, really, really basic.

There is a part of me that does not want to admit this, but really, I do not need a lot more than this.  I need companionship, that I do need, and I can forget that quickly and get isolated, especially in the land of I don’t speak French that fast.

I went out today and hung out at the cafe and had good check ins with folks and also met a new face and reunited with a friend who was away in India over the holidays.  It was good and I am pushing myself to continue to go out and fellowship even when I don’t want to.

It is necessary.

Because I am not alone.

I am not in the dark.

I have candles just in case.

I am being taken care of and I can pause and breathe any time my head says otherwise.

Once I had that hot cup of tea and some eggs and oatmeal I knew it was time to get back out there.  I had not gotten to take any snow pictures that had made me happy.

I took a nice long, cold, walk up around Sacre Couer.

There were quite a few more people out than I thought there would be.  I was not alone in wanting to take photographs of the neighborhood.

Plus, as I heard the peels of laughter drifting down the hill intermingled with six o’clock bell tower striking, I realized that there were children sledding down the hills of Sacre Coeur.

Not one of them was on a sled, mostly plastic bags and sheets of cardboard.

Yet, the unmistakable sound of a child careening down a snow-covered hill blew right over me and through me and suddenly I was in Warner Park in Madison, Wisconsin, and I was on a sled and it was a moment of pure magic.

Standing in Paris at the foot of Sacre Couer covered in snow listening to children laughing with abandon, sliding down the hill.

Snowy Sacre Couer

Snowy Sacre Couer

“If you feel like you are falling down the hill, then you are in God’s will,” her voice came to me.

That is the kind of attitude I am going to cultivate.

Instead of screaming and shrieking with fear, I can choose to a laugh and squeal with delight as I fall down the hill.  There’s a fence at the bottom, I am not going to fall through the cracks, I am not going to be dropped.

Enjoy the free fall.

Enjoy the wild abandon.

Follow your bliss.

I trampled through the snow and slipped behind the cathedral to the other less travelled side, I took photographs and I smelled the delicious tang of wood smoke lacing the air and got pelted with snow balls as I inadvertently got caught in between a couple of kids tossing snowballs at their father.

Who was probably glad for the respite.

Je m’excuse madame!  Je susi desolee!

No worries kids, I smiled, I breathed in the air, I climbed the stairs and revelled in the beauty of the city sprawled out cold and snow-covered.

I transversed the slippery streets back to 36 Rue Bellefond and happily warmed up inside, a house with electricity and heat and made a cup of tea.

Barnaby offered a dinner at Odette & Aime and I said, “oui!”

Hot bowl of soup.

Simple.

Soup.

So good.

After dinner, back to the flat, still happily electrified, and into the hottest shower.

Ah, warm.

Happy, joyous, free.

Not in the dark at all.

Be Strong, Be Still, But Above All

January 20, 2013

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

 

-Shakespeare

 

Sigh.

 

Of course I was not being true to mine own self.  I was being true to a part of myself, that part of me that lives in fear, that which does not ever have enough, despite the warm bed, the full stomach, the art about her, she still fears.

 

I did a lot of writing.

I did a lot of thinking.

 

Then I did some more writing.

Then I stopped thinking and I started to listen.

 

Shh.

 

“Don’t go.”  She said, simply, “don’t go,” she repeated.

 

Her words rang in my ear.  And eventually those words drifted through my blood stream, into my heart, into my gut.

 

“Follow your fucking bliss, what ever that is,” he said.

 

His words shouted out from the screen.

 

Those words sank through my eyes and seared themselves over that patch of fear in my head.

 

I sat.

I meditated.

 

I walked.

 

I sat and I listened some more.

 

To thine own self be true, was reiterated again.  And then again.

 

I turned over the 8 year piece in my hand, stamped with a Paris emblem, 8 ans Paris, I wiped the tears off my cheeks, I sat with my back flush to the radiator, warm, and still, I listened some more.

 

You are not making a mistake.

Even if you are making a mistake, you are not making a mistake.

 

That part of me that wants to be secure and know everything that is happening and not be surprised, because all surprises are bad right?  Did not want to hear what I was hearing, but my heart did and it blew the thoughts away.

 

I am not going back.

I am staying.

 

I can breathe again.

 

I have to follow my bliss.

I am supposed to travel more.

 

I am not about to give up yet.

 

“Time, takes time,” he said.

 

I breathed in again and felt the tear melt well up in my eyes.

No, sir, I am not crying, that is a snowflake caught in my lashes.

 

Liar.

 

But it did snow again today.  Cold flurries, nothing that stuck, not like the fall that happened last night.  I had not realized that the snow was sticking and when my room-mate came in covered in snow I realized I had to go back out.

 

I got out of bed and got dressed.  I took a phone and my camera, my house keys and my muffler, and set out into a wonderland.

 

It was deliriously beautiful.

 

I wanted to walk up and around Sacre Coeur, but I got an unwelcome “tourist guide” who would not stop following me, I cut my walk short to escape the unwanted attention.

 

I did, however, feel softly sweet and safe in the crush of snow, the few cars about going so slow you could cross the street without looking both ways.

 

I turned down job.

I turned down the fear.

 

I said yes to the great unknown.

 

I said, ok, you got me this far, where do you want me to go next?

 

Africa?

 

Maybe, I have always had a desire to travel there.

 

I might stay in Paris, I may go South, I may go where ever the wind blows me.  I may be poor as a church mouse, but I will be rich in experience and abundant with self-love.

 

When I say yes to trying to stick it out and no to that which I know, then I really am in faith.

 

Tonight that is what this feels like.

 

Faith.

 

Sitting in the dark—literally—the electricity went out about a half hour ago and no, I can’t figure out how to get it turned back on and my room-mate does not have a clue and go to the store and buy candles and get into it.

 

Fuck you, I want a cup of hot tea.

 

Um.

 

Yeah, go to the store and buy some candles.

 

Sure thing, boss.

 

I have a dream.

 

I am living it, I am going to keep living it, and when it no longer makes sense, and I cannot find my way, I will just fall down the hill and maybe instead of grasping out for things to stop the inevitable, I will just surrender and fall.

 

Just because I am falling does not mean I am failing.

 

My sweet neighbor just gave me a candle.

 

I don’t have to dash to the corner store.

 

I do not have to freak out.

 

Everything is as it should be.

 

If it’s meant to be I cannot fuck it up.

If it’s not meant to be I can’t manipulate it into happening.

 

I believe I am meant to be here.

I am going to stop trying to fuck it up.

 

I am just going to let it happen.

 

 

*I wrote this blog last night on a dying battery, in the dark.  The electricity blew when I went to put the kettle on.  And the heat went out.  And it’s cold here.  In case you were wondering.   The guardian fixed it this morning, but this was my first chance to get it posted.  Another blog will follow later today.

Do I Stay?

January 18, 2013

Or do I go?

That is the question.

The passport stamp in and out of London may well work, I have been doing a little research, but it may not either.  It clearly shows that I was only in London for 2 days, not the 90 days I should have been out of the EU.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that even should I over stay my tourist VISA that I won’t be slapped on the wrist.

The French system, at least for Americans, seem a little on the lax side.

That being said, I am risking being barred for life from the EU (that’s 28 countries) should I get caught over staying.

I believe I can feign pretty good “stupid American”  if questioned.

I left, I went to London, and I came back, see my stamps?

Of course, I may not get stopped.

I have decided at least this much, that I will be staying another three months.  The apartment is leased until the end of April.

The early twilight, the cold, man it got cold, the risk of being barred, the e-mail offer of a possible job in San Francisco…

What?

Funny, that.

I had a friend contact me the day prior and ask me how long I planned on being in Paris.  She was looking for flights and the best deal was really a way out, in October.  Would I be in Paris in October?

I said I would.

Unless I got a job offer that took me back to San Francisco the next day.

That day was yesterday and at the end of the day, after I had my visit with the new baby and had come home and done some writing–six and a 1/2 more long hand on the novel–and my blogs, I got a message from an old friend back in San Francisco who said, should you ever come back to SF, we, his partner and he, want to talk to you about a job with the shop.

Well.

God, your timing.

WTF?

I wanted to immediately say yes!

I started drafting a response.

Then I thought, you know this does not require an immediate response, wait on it for a moment.  Let it sit with you, talk it over with your room-mate.

We discussed why I want to be in Paris.

Well, duh, it’s Paris.

But, underneath that, what is the allure?

I want to be a writer in Paris.

He said, take out the writer, if you weren’t writing in Paris, having been here two and a half months, would you want to stay.

No.

Maybe.

Take out the writing?

I don’t know how to do that.

What would I do if I weren’t writing?

Struggling to find work.

Um, already doing that.

He said, you can write anywhere.

This is true.

No doubt there.

Speaking of the writing, I worked on Eurydice Rises again today, note I changed the title, I don’t like Dot.Com.  It just does not have the ring to it that I want and honestly, I don’t care about the dot-com collapse that much and I am not interested in doing a lot of research around it.

I am interested in that time as far as the club scene in San Francisco is happening and I have a story to tell that relates to that, it really does not have as much to do with the tech side of things as it stands, it will be scattered in the background, but it’s not the focus.

I struggled a bit in the writing yesterday when I was at Odette & Aime.  I got into the story, I got into the scenes, I completed what is most likely the second chapter of the work, but it just was not singing to me.

I flashed back to a conversation I had this past week with a new friend about writing screen plays.

I did some research and after that I saw, clearly, that the story does indeed work much better as a screenplay, which is what I had originally intended it to be.

Back to the drawing board with the piece.

I pulled out the notebook, looking over the research I had done and immediately saw scenes, I started jotting them down, I got out about six of them and a rough, rough, rough, timeline of incidents.

I could see the pictures in my head and knew I was on the right track again.  I’m going to look into some screenwriting software and see about learning how to write the screen play.

This feels right.

Staying in Paris feels right too, at least for the next three months.

I don’t know what is after that.

It is very nebulous.

I did feel some comfort knowing that my skills were desired in San Francisco, it feels like I have a net, in a way.  I felt easier today, despite not having solid money coming in the door, I did not feel so anxious.

I am being taken care of.

Barnaby pointed out that he was in the middle of his third go around with establishing himself in France, he had gone back and forth to the United States three times, he’s been at this for almost two years.

He also asked if I knew how long it had taken a mutual friend, John, I sort of knew, but was not sure entirely.

Ten years of trying.

I know others who have come and gone back and forth.

“You have a fantasy of how this should be working out for you,” he said.

Ouch.

But correct.

Maybe the fantasy of getting it, the city, work, a place, the first time out is just not realistic, maybe it is just the beginning.  I may have to try another tact from the stateside of things before being able to make this a permanent move.

I say this because there is no money left in the coffers and the only other options of staying in Europe is to take myself out of the area for 90 days, but that takes finances I am not in touch with right at this moment.

However, something miraculous could happen tomorrow, or even tonight.

Il neige!

“It’s snowing!”  The little boy cried, his red mittened hands held out in front of him, he was catching snowflakes while his father stood holding his scooter outside the elementary school next to Square D’Anvers.

Indeed, it is snowing.

It is beautiful and I think that I want to be here and the thought of getting barred for life is a little on the scary side, so what options do I have, what can I do?

Which way do I turn?

Do I stay or do I go?

I do not have to make a decision today, but at some point, as the days tick tock forward, I will.  Today, I stay.  At least until April 30th.

After that?

I do not need to know, the knowing I have a job if I want it, gives me just enough assurance that I will be taken care of, no matter what.

Ha.

Like I always have been.

This is not something new.

And I do not have to figure it out.

Nope.

But I do need to go put the kettle on.

Il neige et il est tres froid.

Circle of Life

January 17, 2013

I was sitting in the hospital next to Corinne, holding her new baby Orla May.

I was cozy as cozy can be.

It is cold out there and the hospital had the heat cranked to 11.

The baby made faces, occasionally shifted in my arms, and twice opened her eyes.  Mostly she slept.  I was entranced, enrapt, enthralled.

New life.

Just on the heels of a friend passing.

So, the wheel turns.

Baby

Baby girl

I sat with new life in my arms, marveling at how much hair she already had, with tears streaking my cheeks.

I am sentimental.

I can admit it.

I do not want to meet the person who is not moved by new life, by small tiny fingers laying against yours.

Such wee, small paws, fingers, toes, her little nails already had been pared down a bit, barely a few days old and already a manicure.

I am a bit jealous.

Wee, small paws

Wee, small paws

Both of her nails and of her ease, sleeping, wrapped bunting style, soft, cozy, warm.

A new beginning.

I feel like I am having that, a kind of new beginning.

I am certainly uncertain of what is happening, of where it is going, of what I am doing.

I feel like a baby, that is for sure, wanting to cry and squall and be anxious.

Yet, I, for the most part, went about my day as if I knew what I was doing and where I was going.

I woke up.

I made the bed.

I made the breakfast.

I had the coffee.

I did the kneel down and ask for guidance thing.

I got dressed.

Extra layers today, it really is cold out there, and a bit in here too.  The windows are not greatly sealed and despite the radiators all being turned on, it feels fairly draughty in here.  A good excuse for another hot, hot, hot cup of tea.

I wrote.

I asked for direction.

I meditated.

I thought about having been given the gift of eight years without drinking or using.  I thought about a friend who has thirteen years and what would my life look like at year 13.

“You’ll be happily married, with babies, and a thriving career.”

The super secret voice whispered in my heart.

Really?

I would like to think so, but thinking certainly never gets me anywhere, except into a bad neighborhood.

My brain is like getting off on the wrong Metro line and being suddenly lost.

I am attacked by fear.

I went and did the deal and talked the talk and did what I need to do to ensure that today would be another day in which I did  not reach for fast acting relief.

Or for facecrack.

Get off the computer, I chided myself.

Go see Corinne, go see the baby, go visit, get out of the house and when you get back go write.  That is a direct order, do not go to jail, do not pass Free Parking, go to the Metro and hit line 2 and transfer to line 13.

What am I going to do when I get there?

How am I going to find her?

Where is this hospital?

My French is not good enough to get directions.

BRAIN!

Shaddup.

Just get on the Metro and let yourself take the next action in front of you.  Stop thinking and take an action.  It’s as easy as walking up the hill.

Yes, it’s cold, so what?

Yesterday, I seem to recall, you were liking the cold, the sharp bite of it on your face.  What’s the problem you big wuss, can’t hack it?

Ack.

I chased my own self up the hill to Metro stop Anvers.

Funny enough, I knew exactly what Metro stop to get off at, despite not having taken the train to Metro Duroc before, I had been at the stop yesterday, without even knowing it, I had been at the corner of the hospital, I had been right there.

It is located in the 7th arrondissement, where I went to babysit last night.

I had gotten to that side of town faster than I realized and had a spare fifteen minutes before I was do at the gig.  I decided to walk a direction I had not walked before.  I headed up Invalides toward Rue de Sevres.  I crossed the street at Metro Duroc and headed back down to Francois-Xavier and off to Rue de Breutille and hit my gig right on the nose, 5 p.m.

What is the address to the hospital?  I texted Corinne this afternoon.

149 Rue de Sevres.

Hmmm, that sounds familiar, I mapped it out on google maps and sure enough, there it was, just catty corner to where I was yesterday, in fact, I knew exactly what building it was, as I had thought about taking photographs of it last night before I realized I had walked almost all my time off.

I had to nearly run to get to the gig on time, I did not dally to take a photograph.

Today I went the exact same way, and just got off one Metro stop later.  I walked down the street practising how I was going to ask for Corinne’s floor and her room.  I reminded myself that the second floor in France is the third floor in America, that ‘room’ is called a ‘chambre’ and I practised saying the number to her room in my head, making sure I had the numbers correct.

I strode to the hospital entrance, looked at the directions, walked inside, got on the elevator took it to the second floor, and without once having to ask for directions, found my way unerringly to the correct door.

Now, how did that happen?

It was like magic.

I knew which Metro, I knew which direction to turn, I read the French, I got on the elevator, I walked down the hall, I knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Corinne called out.

Oh.

Look.

A baby girl.

“You can hold her, take off your stuff, get comfortable,” Corinne said.

I washed my hands, shed my coat, settled into the chair by the bed.

And suddenly, Orla May, brand new baby, in my arms.

Orla May

Orla May

I can still feel the weight of her in my arms.

I told Corinne I might spontaneously conceive.

“You will be married with babies and a successful career,” whispered in my ear.

I looked down at Orla May.

Yes, I could stand to have one of these, or two.  I thought.

Two would be nice.

I have always wanted twins.

“Tell me about John,” Corinne said, “what happened?”

I did my best to explain what I knew, “one life ends, another begins, it’s amazing,” looking down at the small face, eyes closed, dark hair swirled over her head, “I am sort of blown away by her right now.”

“She is amazing, isn’t she?”  Corinne smiled, “Holy shit, I had a baby.”

Indeed.

We both grinned at each other.

The baby made a face, crinkled up her nose, squashed her eyes tight, and turned a kind of red I know oh so well from having been a nanny.

“There, you go, work it out,”  I smiled down on her, I could feel her little tummy contracting, gas, it’s with you right from the start.

She did what she needed to do, face relaxed, skin so new, smell, so baby, oh baby, such a good smell, the pink new scent of baby.  Her fingers unfurled against mine and grasp my thumb.

Smitten.

Yeah, I could stand to be a mom.

I could.

Which means that I came back here, back to the 9th, back two Metro stops, rife with the crazy thoughts in my head and the you don’t have a job and you aren’t a writer, and you suck, and said to myself, that’s nice, self, who cares, just go write anyway.

I did.

I do not know exactly how the two correlate, having children and writing, but I do know this, if I don’t write, I am not happy with myself.

If I am not happy with me, no one is going to be attracted to me.

I have to first be good with myself, to myself, for myself.

I do not know if I am going to get married or have children or a career or anything.

I may have some further adventures, I think I can count on that, but in the end, it all comes down to walking through the fear and making faith-based decisions.

The decision to show up and put pen to paper, even if it feels like pulling teeth, is how I will get from here to there.

And maybe, one day, I will look down and the child in my arms will actually be my own.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

January 16, 2013

Damn straight.

Right now it is 25 degrees Farenheit and it is going to drop to 16 degrees by the end of the week, according to the local weather.

Brrr.

That being said, I rather like the bite of the cold, the clear briskness of it.  The way things smell sharper in my nose, more clean, aromas wrap me warmly, the bite of a wood smoke drift from a chimney top or the salt, sweet, burnt butter smell of carmel waning out the patissier.

The cold brings it all into sharp focus.

I feel alert.

Alive.

I feel bright.

I was actually called incandescent tonight.

Thank you.

I am not going home with you, however.

I chuckled down the hill slicing through the cold night air, the crescent moon waxing toward quarter full, my breath a cloud of fog running ahead of me, the cafe windows smoked over with condensation, the chuff of cold motorcycle engines warming, and the leached out look of the sidewalks where the salt has scattered away the icy moisture from quick fast feet sliding down the stairs from the Metro.

It is winter.

I am not quite dressed for it.

I am not horribly undressed either, as I sat and shivered inconsolably with the bare legs of the soccer player on the Metro, his skin so exposed it gave me goosebumps to look on it.

I have never understood running that hot that you can wear shorts outside when it is this cold.  Although I have seen it, even in the heart of a Wisconsin winter, which runs colder than these temperatures here.

Certainly more snowy as well.

The snow lay crusted on a few tree limbs, scatter shot across the hoods of a few cars this morning, but for the most part it melted off as soon as it hit the ground.

There may be more snow by Saturday.

It would actually be warmer than it is now, the cloud cover would keep the heat in a bit.

I find that the cold also makes me appreciate being in the warmth of the house.  The cup of tea that much more satisfying.

The slightly runny nose is the only draw back and one that I had forgotten from living in cold climates previously, the nose that is always a little red, a little raw from being wiped at.

All the radiators in the apartment are on.

It is cozy inside.

I am finding that I relish the seasons.

I missed the Mid-Western turning of the days and months, the way the weather played itself out, the hotness and humidity July, even the swelter of it, I have a fond recollection of.

I plan on experiencing that here.

I do remember, from my first trip to Paris, that it can be a bit unbearable in August.

Swelter is the word.

I imagine that I will not be on the Metro as much, I remember how hot the Metro was and how pungent its riders could be.

If the occasional French man assault on my nose is distracting now when it is cold, I cannot imagine that the smell will be better when the weather turns warm.

I will be here when the weather turns warm.

I baby sat this evening and when the kids were done with dinner and settled with an agreed upon video, I made some calls to the states.

I got to talk with Calvin, Joan, and John Ater.

Each call another confirmation that San Francisco is fading further away.  It seems so close, but it is fast fading in the rear view.

I am a little saddened.

I talked with Calvin about missing my flight home.

I told Joan the same.

John already knew I was going to skip the flight.

My plane ticket to San Francisco is for February 2nd.

Unless I get some sort of crazy amazing job offer to go back to San Fran, I will be missing that flight.

I am staying here.

I have no idea how.

I don’t need to know the why.

I expressed to Joan how in the moment I have gotten to be.

So ever-present.

So grateful each day that I have a meal, a coffee, a walk, in Paris.  That there are places to go and people happy to see me and I them.  A fellowship is beginning to grow up around me and I feel very much at home in it.

I am grateful.

I also had a very surreal moment today when I was out for coffee at Bert’s and I was asked to join some fellows for lunch at a fairly ritzy place around the corner.

I blacked out.

I started to say something about not having the money to afford the meal and I got so tangled in my words and thoughts, every thing just went sky rockets.

My brain just went, shut down, abort, abort.

Joan assured me that change was happening and I would be taken care of, just like last year at this time when I did not know where I was going to live and I was couch surfing at Calvin’s.

The difference in between those spans of time, I feel more at ease with the unknowing.

More taken care of and less concerned with the outcome.

That may change, but right now, right here, I have had three squares today, a coffee out with a friend, a 50 Euro night baby sitting, and now, back at the home, back from a brisk walk in the straight jacket cold air, I have on Cafe del Mar, and a cup of tea.

I have my words.

I have my photographs.

I have my Paris.

I have it cold, bright, blue, burgeoning with brilliance and momentum toward a new beginning.

I feel that I am hitting a sort of surreal bottom around finances.

It is only up from here, through the lancing air.

I will succeed.

In Paris.

I will.

Faith Versus Fear

January 15, 2013

Based decisions.

That is what the practice is for me today.

This is a defect that I am really, possibly for the first time, truly understanding.

Most of my fear stems from the there is not enough and I won’t be taken care of.

Therefor I must grab what I can get and settle for things that don’t quite work, they may work ok, but they’re not the best fit, because I am in fear that there won’t be anything else, I grab it.

I will say this.

My intuition is getting better.

When I bought the boots, for instance, the ones that are too small, I had a gut feeling that they were really not going to be a fit, both literally and figuratively.  I walked about the store, I squashed my toes, I railed against having big feet, and I ignored that gut feeling to move on.

Those boots languish in my closet.

They were the only “nice” thing I bought for myself, well, not entirely true, I bought a bottle of my favorite perfume from Chanel.  Small bottle, 50 Euro.  Favorite perfume, priceless.

The rest of the money that I have spent in Paris is pretty evenly divided up between my groceries, rent, a few postcards, some writing materials–notebooks and pens, and a small allowance for cafes at the cafe.

I discovered another drink that works for me, not so damn expensive as a creme and one that I quite enjoy–cafe allonge–basically the French version of an Americano.

I had one tonight at the Tabac de L’Universitie in the 7th.

I was waiting to meet up with a lady bug and it did not happen, nice to have a book with me, which I finished off, wish I had brought my novel with me to work on, which I had stuck in my bag, then decided to not.

Do not do that again.

However, I am a writer and I do carry paper on me.

Mostly it is a little log that I chart my expenses in.  This one is a moleskin that Lauren gave me at my going away party in San Francisco.

Wow.

That day feels like it was years ago, but the fact are that I have only been in Paris ten and a half weeks.

That’s it.

Not even three months yet.

That day feels like another lifetime.

I sat in the cafe, finished up my coffee, read the book, scribbled down a little poem.

I sat and watched myself and how I felt, almost from a disinterested (oh, who am I kidding?  I am my biggest fan, I think about myself all the time) view-point.

I was not in fear.

Despite having received a phone call this afternoon saying that I was no longer needed to babysit.

The family had found someone who would get reimbursed by the government, i.e. that did not have to pay for childcare.  Which meant they were letting me go.

Right now.

New girl starts Thursday when I was supposed to be going in.

I was completely understanding about it.

I expressed my gratitude for the opportunity to get to know the children and that I was able to help out for the week I did.  I also stated that I thought it was great them having gotten something that works better for their budget.

I mean, I have been in their house, I know they are not people of means, the money they were paying me will be well used to help the family.  I could not be upset.

It was a nice feeling.

I thought about the boots and my shoes and how often I make decisions based on that fear of not having.  I constantly re-experience this.  Albeit, faster and faster, I feel that the whirl pool of negative financial security may finally be coming to a rest.

Repeating, daily, do not quit before the miracle.

I really am supposed to be here, I was brought here for a reason, and as I hugged a new friend tonight and felt my cheek brushed by the soft cashmere of his sweater, I knew I was needed to be there as well.  I have something to give here and it is obvious that there are people who want it and need it.

I have a purpose.

I have a job.

I have faith.

“Your faith,” he said, “it amazes me, I can hear it in your voice, you are saturated with it.”

I don’t doubt that I may re-experience these character defects again and again as I go about my life.  I will always have something to be working on, I will always be searching for a spiritual solution to my problems.

I learned a friend died last night.

Hit by a motorcycle while crossing the street.

He was introduced to me six years ago, on 15th and Julian, in San Francisco, “This is John,” Si said to me, “you are going to want to know him for when you move to Paris.”

I still don’t know how Si knew I was going to move to Paris, but he knew.  And he knew I would need to meet John.  I met John again my first time back to Paris in 2007.  And I got to see him before I moved to Paris this time and he was here with welcome arms and a sharp smile and a gleam in his eye.

He moved to Paris when he was 75 years old to teach.

He taught me to apply principles in my life.  He taught me about faith.  He hugged me and commented on my large earrings and said how much he appreciated my input coming from the San Francisco fellowship.

I know he lived in faith.

Tonight I wish to dedicate this blog to him and all those out there who love him and are thinking of him.  Rest in Peace John Wylie Hall.

You were greatly loved and you will be greatly missed.

I Belong in Paris

January 14, 2013

I really do.

I asked for a sign.

I got a million of them.

Soft, cold, fluffy, uniquely beautiful each flake falling from the cold sky onto my upturned face. I got snow in my eyelashes and snow on my cheeks, it was like being sprinkled with kisses.

I smiled all the way to the Metropolitan station.

I love the Metro.

I love Paris.

If it was possible to love it more I am not sure.

Maybe.

In Spring I hear it is just delirious and after many a cold clammy Spring in San Francisco I would welcome a warm Spring.  I would welcome days without layers and warm breezes on my skin.

I dare say I will be here to feel them.

I had some moments of doubt today as I set out for Saint Pancras International.

It was also snowing in London and it was a pretty sight, I won’t deny it.  But London did not feel like home, it did not feel like much fun, it was marking time until I could get back to Paris.

Ma cherie, je t’adore.

Sometimes you just have to go away a little while to see how much you love something.

That has happened to me with San Francisco.

San Francisco was home, but it is not any longer.

I had the worry monster come a knocking on my door, and I admit it, I opened up, I invited it in.  I said, “hey you look weary, have a rest, unload your burden, let me make you a cup of tea.”

Hang on a minute there.

What the fuck am I doing?

I need to make decisions based on faith.

I asked for direction earlier when I was feeling a little blue, go grocery shopping was the response.

Really?

Come on, isn’t there something else I can do?

Some other way of thinking my way into a happier mental state.

Oh, thinking, that doesn’t work for me does it?

Eight years later and I can still forget that thinking is not a great tool for me, it’s broken, my thinking, about all sorts of stuff, but mostly about trying to figure out what I should do with my life.

Notice that try to figure it out are in that sentence and you may begin to see the point of entry for the useless pain of my thoughts to find a place to latch onto.

Ok.

I will just get dressed and go grocery shopping.

It felt like a tall order.  After I had gotten back, home, although it did not feel like home quite yet, I had made a hot cup of tea and scanned the cupboards, they were bare.

I did not want to go out.

I wanted to wallow in my weary wallow of self-pity and woe is me.

Woe is me, my ass.

Fuck, I was in London over the weekend, I saw things and went places and rode trains and got to go for a ride, on the wrong side of the road, and connect with friends, and it was just not that bad.

It just wasn’t what I thought it would be.

Nothing ever is.

I watched a video, I called Corinne, I talked with Barnaby, I e-mailed some friends, I answered some e-mails and I checked on my blog.

The answer was here, right here, in these pages, in these words, a blog I wrote before coming to Paris about failing greatly.  That I would do it anyway, go anyway, try anyway, break my heart anyway.

I would do it.

I am doing it.

Don’t quit before the miracle, Martines.

I pulled my head out of the muck and mire and got a sack, my “I don’t need a sack I am a sack, sack” and went to the Carrefour.

I felt the first breath of cold on my face, then stepping out into the courtyard I saw the snow.

Snow!

Oh, snow.

I smiled, my entire outlook changed.

My perspective blew wide open.

I went  to the corner and watched the snow fall.  I let in fall on me.

I surrendered.

Snow fall

Snow fall

I crossed the street and went grocery shopping.

I smiled the entire time.

I went back out and the snow was still falling.

I took the groceries back, unpacked my bag, took a big deep breath and said, thank you, I understand, I do, I am right where I belong.

I belong in Paris.

Paris is my home.

I don’t know exactly what is going to happen, but my faith has been doused in flakes of surety and softness.

Kissed by my city I tripped down the hill to hop the Metro over to the American Cathedral.

I was so entranced by the snow falling my face again lifted to the lowering sky, I missed the fact that there was a friend standing right next to me, doing the exact same thing.

We laughed out loud and hugged each other.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” She asked.

I smiled.

Yes.

It is amazing.

Earlier I was crying in frustration with myself and my not knowing and I just forget, silly rabbit, that I am not supposed to know.  That certainty about anything does not provide me with happiness and if everything was certain and I knew it already I would miss the mystery and the magic.

Snow in Paris on a Monday evening.

Pont Alma completely deserted.

Empty.

Not a soul.

Apparently not everyone wants to be out in the snow.

The bridge was completely deserted.  I have never seen that before.

Ever.

Eiffel tower in the snow

Tower in the snow

Snow and Street Lamps

Snow and Street Lamps

The Eiffel Tower to my right, the arc of the bridge walkway before me.

Nary a person.

Just me.

Just the city.

Just Paris.

Just my home.

On the Bridge in the snow

On the Bridge in the snow

I am exactly where I am supposed to be and that is the only thing I need to know right now.

My heart told me so.

The snow kissed it into me and I acquiesce now.

I surrender.

Paris, I belong to you.

Will you be my Valentine?

Home Again, Home Again

January 13, 2013

Jiggedy jig.

I am ready to go home.

Paris, that is.

London has been lovely and I have gotten to meet some really nice people–one of whom is named Eloise.

Eloise!

It’s like something out of a story book.

I was chatting with a gentleman I met tonight and we both smiled at the state of my life, the adventures, the travel, the hop the EuroStar for the weekend to mark a special anniversary.

Not that I really did anything special.

I just walked around.

London.

Cromwell Road

Cromwell Road

I took in some sites.  But not the sites typically taken in, I would think.

I had a nice morning into early afternoon with Miss Kellie and we parted about 2pm this afternoon.

She was not feeling at the top of her game and after a long week of working back in San Francisco, travel, jet lag, and a little sore throat, on top of the need to be in peak performance shape for a full week back to work, she had to go back to the flat.

I was left to my own devices.

Kellie got me as far as the Underground and gave me good directions on which way to go.

I had decided I was going to go to Trafalgar Square and face the tourists and do the National Museum.

That did not happen.

I got to the tube just fine, added a few pounds to the Oyster Card (Metro pass) that Barnaby lent me, and headed toward the correct platform.

While on the train, however, the announcer came on and said, this is the stop for the museums.  I just thought, oh, I’m here earlier than I thought.

Nope.

Different set of museums.

Museum

Museum of Science and Natural History

I would have gone in.

I was in fact, headed toward the front gate.

So were hundreds of other people.

Hundreds.

The line, where I passed by and gave up hope of getting in, was marked for a 45 minute queue time.

The line was much further back than the 45 minute marker.  It was easily double that and full of children, loads of children, retarded amounts of children.  I was not going to stand in line for an hour and a half to be bamboozled by kids all afternoon.

I walked past.

I came to an intersection, looked both ways, man is it disconcerting that the cars run on the opposite side, looked both ways again, and said, ok, which way?

I turned left.

Glad I did.

I got to go past Saint Augustine’s Church.

Glorious.

Saint Augustine's

Saint Augustine’s

The sun on the facade, the naked trees against the blue of the sky.

I was mesmerized.

I kept turning back to take more photographs as I walked away.

Meridian

Meridian

I walked into the Chelsea neighborhood.  It was divine.  Quiet, elegant row houses, lots of brick, and the sun was shining over it all, benevolent, still, almost warm when I was in a sheltered area for a moment.

Row Houses

Row Houses

I followed the line of the road past these brick beauties and came to another intersection.

Again, I looked both ways, less for the cars, the roads were fairly quiet, the neighborhood extremely residential, but more for which way do I go.

I saw a peak of a church belfry to my left and decided to head toward that.

It was in the center of a gorgeously quiet pocket of Chelsea.  I almost felt like I had tripped upon some gated community.  The church was in the middle of a park and I thought briefly of going in, but it was private and gated and despite the gate looking unlocked, I had a feeling it was not a public house.

I stopped and stared, nonetheless and of course, clicked on the camera to take a few photographs.

Church

Church

Sunlit Steeple

Sunlit Steeple

The sun shone brightly and I continued my walk through the neighborhood.

I popped out of the quiet residential pocket onto a slightly busier road and after looking at a map on a bus station decided I should walk toward the Thames.

I mean, I am in London, right, maybe at least get headed back in the direction of the places one is supposed to go set eyes on, The Tower of London, West Minster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, maybe the London Eye.  Something of that nature.

However, on my way to that end I walked past the West Brompton Cemetery.

Death called.

I answered.

I swerved off the beaten path and into the quiet, sun drenched stillness of the cemetery.

Cemetery

Cemetery

Bench

Bench

It was exquisitely quiet.

Still.

Serene.

The sun battered down and I felt so at peace, no pun intended, so at rest, ok, a little intended, I just drifted along.

The chorus of ravens flocking about, the flit of a squirrel on a branch, the lines of tilted stone crosses and old headstones.

The romance of it all.

Death, you do me good.

I would have stayed longer.

I thought about snagging the bench in the corner of the back edge that I saw, so beguiling, so beckoning.

However, I hate to admit it, but I had a large cup of coffee and a half liter of water in me from the earlier part of the day.

I had to find the loo.

My visit cut short, I edged out along a more public path–I apparently had come in the back side entrance–and headed toward the West Brompton Underground Station.

West Brompton Train

West Brompton Train Station

As luck would have it I was guided to my final destination on my trip planner a little earlier than I thought I would be going.

I had plans, tentative, it turns out, and unconfirmed plans end up being plans that do not pan out, to meet some one at the Angel Tube stop.

I debated while on the train whether I should just get off at Oxford Circus on the Piccadilly Line and head to the museum.

I had time before my seven o’clock meet time.

I had the inclination.

But I did not have the desire.

The stillness and solitude of the cemetery still sat with me and I could not fathom losing that peace I had acquired in the sun to a mess of tourist in that neighborhood.  I was content to be headed in the right direction.

I got off at the Angel tube stop and walked about.

I found a restroom in a Starbucks and got a coffee to pay for the usage of the facilities.  It was a warm, cozy spot with a lot of overstuffed chairs and my feet hurt.  I debated.

Nah.

I am in London, go walk about some more.

The light fading fast I headed out with my Americano in a cup and made for a direction that seemed pleasing.

I discovered the end of a little antique market closing down for the day.  I went about the stalls and poked through a few shops.  The wind picked up and the sun was gone.

As I fumbled with my camera to get a shot of a gorgeous flowering tree next to a vintage shop on one of the corners I realized that I was chilled, my feet were really sore, and despite wanting to see more of London, what I really wanted was a book and a sit in a comfy chair with a cup of tea.

I got the photograph.

Flowering Tree at Dusk

Flowering Tree

I turned around and headed back to the book store I saw on the way.

I perused the stacks and picked up a Brett Easton Ellis novel I had not heard of before.

I headed back to the Starbucks.

Yup.

I settled for comfort and a warm place to sit and wait for my friend.

Who, as it turns out had a change in her plans and we never did connect.

I did get to the meet up place and I did meet a few more interesting folk before the night was through.

Ultimately making it back to Miss Kellie’s place in time for a hug and a hot bowl of take away from last night warmed up in the microwave, followed by, yes, another mug of tea.

I am glad I came to London.

I am happy I am going home, though.

Home.

Paris.

I will see you soon, ma cherie.

Adventures in Traveling

January 13, 2013

I got to the train just fine.

I got to the Underground alright too.

I got to my friend’s house as well.

We went out to grab a bite down the corner and upon returning realized we were locked out.

Not sure how or why I was not bothered.  But I was not.  It was an adventure.

My friend made some calls and we even enlisted the help of two police man on duty in the neighborhood, quite cute they were too, one of them asked me if I had any friends in London.

“Just her,” I said pointing to K. “And you,” I added, almost winking.

You could keep me cozy tonight officer.

Now, there’s a phrase I never would have thought would come out of my mouth.

EVER.

K.  eventually got through to H.  who said come over for a spot of tea and a biscuit.

We hopped the Underground.

Underground

Underground

Mind the gap now.

And headed to Notting Hill.

I have to say it really felt like I was in  a bit of a movie scene.  Especially when I first got off the EuroStar at St. Pancras Station.

The size of the station, the overarching lights and beams.

The enormous clock and the statue of the couple embracing.

I whipped out my camera and did not mind the I feel like a tourist moment whatsoever.

I am a tourist.

St. Pancras Station

St. Pancras Station

I did not actually take out the camera much more after that, however, the focus being on getting to Notting Hill and finding K’s room-mate so we could get the keys to the flat from her.

Room mate was located whilst in transit–she was at a movie, left the keys with the box office and there you go, all we need to do is get to the theater.

On the way, stopping off at K’s friends house, who as it turns out not only lives in super posh flat in Notting Hill, but who also has the most amazing little car.

The ride

The ride

I had actually taken a photograph of it before we went into H’s flat.  Not realizing that it was her car.

We had tea.  We warmed up.  London is colder than Paris.  I saw snow on the fields the train passed through earlier in the evening.

That was something that prickled at me for a moment.

A little thing I think of now and then.

I need to see country side.

I need fields and ghostly copse.

Rivers and marshes.

I need to see nature.

It fills something up in me.  I watched the landscape slip by before the train went below the channel and drifted in and out of country dreams of simple skies and tree-lined horizons.

I would not mind a farm.

Of course the kind of farm I want is a gentleman’s farm.

Or a hobby farm.

Something rather like a big barn house that has been converted and has a wood burning stove and rocking chairs and a hearth.  A kitchen garden in the back and some apple trees.

Oh, I would love to live on some land with apple trees and a garden.

A writers desk on the second floor with sunshine that streams through the windows.

I dazed on the land as it whipped by.

I did not have a window seat so I tried to not stare too much, I know how it feels to have someone look over your shoulder, it’s not pleasant and I had a companion sitting next to me who blocked the majority of the view.

But what glimpses I caught re-lit that old dream.

So many dreams.

“That’s the nice thing, innit?”  H said as we sat in her car, the aforementioned awesome ride that I got to go on.

I did not mind K misplacing the keys, I got to meet H.  have a spot of tea in an amazing flat, and then go for a ride on a Saturday night through the theater district in London.

Not bad for my first night in.

We got the keys, got a ride back to K’s flat and now, here I am writing another blog from another corner of the globe.

London.

Paris.

?

Where will I get to write next.

Such and amazing thing being able to travel.

The passport stamp for the train is so cute.  I am actually thinking of asking Barnaby to do a  small tattoo of it for me.

Maybe for my anniversary.

Which is imminently approaching.

How nice to be in London and instead of going to a pub, I got to go to a dinner with my friend, a ride on the Underground, and a cuppa tea with a new friend.

I will remember London this time.

I will make some new London memories.

I may even come back.

H.  offered a spot to crash should I need a place to hop to.

It is amazing, life, when you say yes, it just hollers yes right back at you.  I barely know this woman, don’t know her last name, and the next thing you know I am being offered a place to crash.

I thought to myself as she whizzed us in and out of traffic in her little mobile, which I should have asked after the name, I have never seen anything quite like it before, is that I want to do this same thing for someone.

I want to say, come over, hang out, I will make you tea, and when you need a ride, yes I have a car, I will happily lend you a lift.

In fact, next time you’re in town, stay at my place.

I really want to be able to do that.

I believe, that if I keep on going this way, keep on doing what I am doing, that life is just going to get weirder and wilder and more amazing.

I will be able to say all those things, and more, soon.

I can feel it.

Like crazy 8s.

And like that, as the clock ticks forward to midnight, I am eight years today.

Thank you London.


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