The Wake Up Call


Is set for 3:45 a.m.

The luggage is packed.

The bicycle is boxed up and waiting for me to grab it from behind the front desk at the hotel.

I have had a long shower.

I have to say this now, I will not miss the hard as granite water, my hair feels like a wreck.

I have printed off my boarding pass.

Actually the front desk gentleman did it.

With help from the “technique” man who had to walk him through it as the printer was not working in the “conference center” which has the slowest internet connection ever.

It took me awhile to get that all happening.  The computer keyboard is the French keyboard, which is not your traditional QWERTY board and you have to hold down the shift key to type a number.   I have had some experience with this board before, making it easier for me to navigate, yet still quite time-consuming.

I am to take the shuttle from the hotel to the airport at 4:30a.m.

My flight boards at 6:05 a.m. and departs from Charles de Gaulle  to Frankfurt.

There I will transfer, and an hour later, or 50 minutes, whichever comes first, I shall be lifting into the air headed toward SFO.

I am ready to come home.

It has been a long day.


I went to bed late.

I got up early.

I did not set an alarm, I had happy hope thoughts of sleeping in, and the construction in the courtyard, ie, right outside my window, woke me up hours before I was going to get up.

I sighed and thought, this is good, get up, get going, get breakfast in, write your morning pages and start breaking down the bicycle.

The bicycle break down almost became a breakdown as my click tool–the little handle of Allen wrenches–nearly broke trying to get my pedals off the crank on the bicycle.

My room-mate lent a hand and literally bent the tool in half trying to get enough torque on it to turn.  I could feel my chest tighten and the immediate panic set in, if I don’t get it boxed I can’t get it on the plane and how the hell am I going to commute in Oakland a 7 mile ride?

Maybe you could BART it Martines.


My room-mate said hang on  I will go to the hardware store, hand it over.  He took the tool and went out the door.  In the mean time I youtubed how to remove bicycle pedals.

With a pedal wrench.

Which is not something one normally finds at a hardware store in France.

I breathed and thought, whatever happens, it’s just a thing, it’s just stuff.



The room-mate returned with a set of allen wrenches that had longer handles and within 30 seconds the pedals had come off and I began the break down.

Of the bicycle, not myself.

That came later.

After the long haul trek to the suburbs to take the things that my room-mate and I needed to store at a friend’s home.  I had hoped that the endeavor would only take one person, I don’t have a lot of stuff.

However, there was enough that we both needed to go.

Two hours later, two train rides, RER C, two Metro line transfers, and one cab ride later, we returned to the house.

This time to finish cleaning and my room-mate had to toss a few things out that weren’t going to fit in his luggage.  He is a tattoo artist and has a lot of equipment, heavy stuff, more arranging, more cleaning, a quick-lunch, then the land lord came.

He walked through, checked us out and we struggled out the door.

I had my roll on, which will be checked–it’s too full to carry on–a messenger bag, my purse, and my bike box.  The room-mate had three suitcases of various sizes and two huge Chrome messenger bags full of stuff.

We looked like we were moving half way around the world.

And as it turns out, we are.

Into the cab, out to the hotel, exhausted, and wonky, my brain not quite firing on all pistons.   They took my bicycle at the front, scheduled my wake up call, and said feel free to check in, but the printer is not working so you will have to forward your check in to the front desk.

Uh, too much information, I will check in later, my brain is fried, I am tired, and I have not even got to the airport yet to get abroad my twelve plus hour flight.

Tired typing that.

We got up to the room and I collapsed on my side of the bed and my face wrenched up in a moue and I cried hysterically for two seconds, then stifled it all up.

After some general lounging, rearranging and decompressing, we went had dinner, and began the stress of getting the boarding passes printed.

I could have broke down again, I did put my head down on the desk, and then I did something novel, I went to the front and asked for help.

The clerk and the technique man got it all to work and I got my pass.  I tucked it next to my passport and smuggled it into my purse.

I did not cry.

I figure I have a good cry coming to me sometime tomorrow night.

I am not going to think about tomorrow night, it is so far away.

Everything feels so far away right now.

My passport is in my wallet, my bike box tag, and my boarding pass.  I have everything right there.  The call will come and I will get up and I will get dressed and I will go.

The stress of moving, of wrapping up my life again, and getting on another plane to another world.  A world I won’t struggle to figure out the past tense or the future imperfect.

A world where my hair might go back to normal.

Fingers crossed.

A world so far away.

And so close.

I cannot fathom this world anymore.

Maybe it’s just the stress.

Maybe it’s the saying goodbyes.

“Are you ok?” She said to me on the phone this afternoon as I was getting the gigantic duffel bag situated while we waited for the RER C train to pull into the quai.


I am not ok.

I am tired.

I am stressed out.

And I just want to be home.

At least I know where home is.

I am ready.

I love you Paris.

I do.

And tomorrow, maybe I will write you a love letter.

But tonight, I just have to say, I got to go.

I have a plane to catch back.

To San Francisco.

I apparently left my heart there.

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