Posts Tagged ‘baby sitting’

Rolling Right Along

February 18, 2015

Dear CARMEN,
Congratulations, your FAFSA was processed successfully.

Awesome.

Prepare yourself to go further into student loan debt!

Woohoo!

I actually do not have a problem with this.

Of all the different types of debt I could accrue, furthering my education so that I can have a better life and may be of better service to those about me, seems about the best kind of debt I could have.

I don’t have any other debt outside of my student loans as I prepare to move forward in this next educational endeavor, having more doesn’t really bother me.

That’s just the way it is and I accept it.

I don’t know when I will find out how much I may receive, the application, though, has been processed, my taxes are done, I await further instruction from the school.

Specifically, I await the time and day I will be going in to do an interview with the department for a place on the cohort.

I am getting more and more used to the idea that this is really happening and that I will be pursuing something outside of being a professional nanny.

Today I confirmed that I will be meeting the guy from the Valentine’s Day/night dance for coffee (tea, really, no need to scare the man off with an over caffeinated persona) via a text message while I was at work.

He asked me how my day was going and I replied that I was having a little quite time drawing with one of the boys while his brother napped.

“Oh, you babysit…”

Ah.

No.

That’s what my ego says, no, I’m not a baby sitter, I do ever so much more.

But often times, of late, especially, I don’t care so much, yes, I’m a babysitter.

I’ve been one kind of baby sitter or another since I was young enough to still be needing a baby sitter myself.

I’ve baby sat my sister, my mother, my father, cousins, neighborhood kids, I was a lifeguard–a babysitter with a swimsuit on–a bar manager, a baby sitter with a beer in hand, in one way or another, all of my life, I have watched, with great vigilance, those around me.

I also believe this is what makes me a good writer as well, or at least a writer that has things to write about, I watch, I listen, I observe.

I see.

This will make me a good therapist.

Or so I believe.

There’s more to being a therapist than just that, and often times, especially over the last ten years, I have heard many a person share something with me and seek my counsel.

I have a lot of experience, field work, if you may, to lean back on.

I bristle, but not as much as I used to, when called a baby sitter, but ultimately, it’s just my ego needing to be stroked.

I am just as important as a person who is fluent in C++ or a tradesman or a lawyer or a barista.

We all play our part and I am just playing the role assigned.

I used to struggle against it.

I am supposed to be someone else, something else, doing something more important.

Though, really, I could argue, what exactly is more important than providing for the health, safety, and well-being of a child?

Besides, I know that I am not my job title.

I am what I do.

Really, I am paid to love and I got to do a lot of that today.

The boys obviously missed me and it was really fun to have a moment this morning before we went out to the park where they were both lying across me, snuggled up.

“Let’s just stay here a little while longer,” the oldest boy whispered up into my pony tail, he had wrapped his small paw in it and was spinning a curl around a finger.

“A little while longer, but not too long,” I said, and kissed his head.

“I love you, I missed you,” I told him.

In fact, yesterday, at 3 p.m. I was suddenly confused as to where I was and what I was supposed to be doing.

Usually I am with the boys heading into the pool at La Petite Bailene for swimming lessons.

I literally patted my bag and thought to myself, did I bring my swimsuit?

Not that I needed one where I was at.

I was off yesterday with the holiday.

But, there it was, that moment of longing to have the youngest one in the pool while the eldest got ready to see his swim instructor and I thought, I am really quite lucky to have this job.

Even when there is extra work, like there is this week, the oldest has a school vacation week, I am amply compensated with nice little perks.

Like fruit from BiRite and lunch out at the CrepeHouse.

The mom put extra money in the diaper bag and said take them out to lunch and get what ever you want.

Excellent.

It’s a really nice perk to get fed.

I have had jobs where it was expressly stated that I was not to touch the family’s food.

Most times I am encouraged to help myself, and I have, but this job, I really have taken it to heart, to eat there and let myself have nice snacks and tea and coffee when the mood strikes.

I do so much of the marketing and food prep it seems a part of the deal.

Today was homemade turkey and black bean chili with red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, mild chilis, and onions; and I also made homemade corn bread muffins (and oatmeal and brown rice for the week to have in the fridge).

Chop up a little fresh avocado and top the chili, cut up some strawberries, and a kishu mandarin from BiRite, and voila!

Dinner for the monkeys.

These “babysitting” experiences are just bringing me one step closer to what I am supposed to do next.

I never expected to be a professional nanny.

I never thought I would be applying to go to graduate school to be a therapist.

Don’t you know who I am?

I’m famous in my own mind.

The reality of it though, is that I am heading down a path I do not know where it will lead, only that it seems the next step to take is always indicated right before I take it.

The money for graduate school will be there.

And I can’t fuck it up if it’s meant to be.

I also can’t manipulate it into happening.

I just walk forward, into the blue room of unknown.

Knowing that I am taken care of.

Just as I have taken care of so many others.

So shall I be received.

With love.

My only debt then.

Really.

Is one of gratitude.

A Quiet Night

January 1, 2014

And the largest cat on the planet just crawled into my lap.

It was like my laptop was a cat magnet.

Either that, or smart cat, it knew that the babies were in bed and it was safe to come out from where ever it was hiding.

It may also, smart cat, known that I have a thing for kitties.

And puppies.

And babies.

And there it is, my New Years Eve, strangely like last year, but wildly different.

Better pay, that’s for sure.

Though the overnight is not a thrilling thing for me to be doing, it is of a kind of service that I am glad to know I can do and also realizing that I won’t do again.

Not really worth it.

Sort of like house sitting.

Except, fingers crossed, I won’t be repeating the overnight again to learn the lesson like I did with the housesitting.

This cat is huge.

I think it could be found quite easily on Google maps.

This cat is so big I wonder if it’s going to sleep on my face and suffocate me while I sleep.

Hopefully not.

That would suck.

Sorry, you’re kids are not up and happy and fed, bathed, washed, cleaned, diapered, powdered, and entertained.

Your cat killed me last night when it sat on me.

I actually did get a little nervous when he/she/it crawled up on me, I don’t know that I have ever seen a feline this large (it’s also not large in the sense of a really big fluffy Maine Coon, it’s large, like, holy shit what the fuck do they feed it, Buddha cat large) and I was a little perturbed by how bossy it was.

PET ME NOW.

Ok, cat, just don’t smother me in my sleep.

Or make biscuits on my cheeks.

It doesn’t even seem like it’s New Year’s, but I was just sent a photograph of a friends baby on the East Coast up for a late night feed with the cutest little pucker on his face.

I got my New Years Eve smooch.

Nice.

Strange to think that a year has passed.

Last year I was in Paris.

This year I am in the Mission.

Life is funny that way.

Who knows where I will be next year.

Not making any plans.

Although, I did call my best friend in Wisconsin and say basically, pick a weekend, I am coming out to see you.  I figure it is far easier for me to visit then it would be for her, I count as one, she has three boys and a husband.

Far less to move across country.

And ticket prices don’t look too bad.

Ok, the cat is growing on me, a gigantic growth, but, it is warm and makes a nice soothing white noise purring sound, a small helicopter motor of noise on my lap.

I figure I can go out to her for a weekend, three, four days, as long as it’s not too close to Burning Man I will be fine.

The shifts seem like they will be continuing a pace and I will have January with close to if not completely full time work.  This Friday off, but tonight makes up for it, and I won’t be working the 12th and the 13th, but I will be taking PTO days for the time, so no loss of income.

And life, for me, really is just lived a day at a time.

I could worry about what comes next or just embrace that the right now is pretty damn good.

Which it is.

I am leery of the lack of sleep I will probably have, it seems inevitable that one or both the babies will awaken before I want them too, that is the nature of babies, but other than that, I am pretty much socked in for the night.

At least I won’t be navigating the Paris Metro system on New Years Eve in the rain.

That was a shit show last year.

Scary too.

Nothing says good times like a train car so packed with people that you can’t get off at your stop because too many people are trying to get on the same car you are trying to get off of.

Fortunate to not be claustrophobic, but that was intense.

And then being lost outside the train station, turned around, walking the wrong way in the Pigalle neighborhood, while it’s pelting down freezing rain.

Happy New Year!

This one promises, already, to be far mellower than that.

I may not even stay up until midnight.

Although, I find that unlikely.

I will, oh sweet Jesus, cat, don’t crawl up on my laptop!

It won’t make it.

Dear God.

I know cats prefer to be the center of attention, especially if one has a book or a computer in their lap, but that was a near catastrophe.

Dude.

Yeah, I am not even hating that I am spending my New Years blogging about an overweight cat and doing a nanny share overnight.

Nope.

I know that the less I fight what is happening, the happier I will be and there’s nothing wrong with the situation.

New Years can be a time of greatly overblown expectations.

I don’t have any this year.

I got paid for my time already.

I will be done at 10 a.m.

I will meet a lady at Philz in the Mission at 11a.m. on the way swinging by the bank to deposit my paychecks, then a pit stop for an hour or so at 23rd and Capp after which I shall ride my bicycle merrily back to the Outer Sunset and call it a day.

I may take a nap.

I may go walk on the beach.

I will say thank you for another year on the planet and I will be grateful that it is in San Francisco.

Home.

Excited for what the next year brings with nary a regret for what has been.

Happy 2014!

You Are NOT My Mother!

March 27, 2013

She yelled at me in French and ran out of the room.

“No, I am not,” I replied, calm and still, not about to be perturbed by the disruption to lunch, I only have to get through this next hour then I am done.

I could hear crying from the bedroom.

I sighed and walked back to the room and cajoled her out.  We had a chat.  She told me repeatedly in French that she could not understand what I was saying.  I told her right back, mostly in English, then slowly in French, picking and choosing the simplest words.

“You do understand what I am saying and I understand what you are saying, but we cannot have any more chocolate until after lunch, one bunny is enough.”  I finished, tucking up the package that had “accidentally” fallen on the floor.

She had discovered the Easter candy stash.

“Il est tombe,” she said to me, holding out the opened gold foil wrapped chocolate bunny.

Not only had it “fallen” it had magically lost the plastic wrapper keeping the package of five chocolate Easter bunnies in their cardboard box, and some how in the “fall” the first bunny had “accidentally” gotten half way unwrapped.

I put the package on the top of the refridgerator and carried her lunch plate out to the dining room table.  In the few seconds it had taken to carry dish to table, the monkey had pulled a stool out from the corner, clambered up, opened the top of the freezer door and was climbing toward the bunnies.

“Nenna!” I said coming in and pulling her down.  “Arrete!”

She burst into tears, struggled out of my arms, yelled at me and flew away back to the bedroom.

Sigh.

I am not really sure how I got through the shift with her.

Three and a half hours of sleep.

I got home last night at 2:30 a.m.

Another long night, a little closer to rent, and an alarm set for 7 a.m.

I went to bed a touch after three a.m. and it took a moment to settle down.

When the alarm went off, I did not groan, I did not complain, I did not even sigh, I just rolled over, got up, and started my day.  Wash face, brush teeth, make bed, get on knees, talk to God, yeah shut it that’s a part of my routine, read some daily readers, while this was happening the espresso maker on the stove was percolating and the kettle was starting to sing.

I made a bowl of oatmeal and looked at my watch.

I have a little dash of extra time.

I got an incoming message off the FaceCrack.

A chat back and forth, and the sexiest words ever, ever…

“I’m reading your book, it’s good…”

Followed soon thereafter by more sexy words, “this is going to sound funny, but I am actually going to get off chat and go catch up on your blog and keep reading your book.”

Go Mister Go!

Thanks man.

That put a bright spot right into my day.

I also realized as I traipsed down the hill to catch Line 7 at Metro Cadet, that I had negotiated the sleep thing really well, and rather serendipitously.  I had woken up in between my sleep cycles.  If I had gotten five to six hours in, I would have been ruined, awakening in the deep part of my sleep would have made it a monster of a morning, I got lucky.

I also was not planning on working tonight, but here I am, baby sound asleep on the breast, tucked into the brown carrier with the orange and yellow owl on it, once again.

The parents had told me that they were going to go to Euro Disney today for the baby’s one year birthday.  They did not make it out of the city.  They were exhausted and the mom sent me a text at three p.m. right as I had finished doing some writing and was about to do a meditation before, yes, that’s right, more writing.

I sent her a text back, put the kettle on the stove, brewed up some black tea, go team caffeine, and did a quick meditation to get myself centered.  The tea cooled to just the perfect temperature as I finished my sitting and I drank down the cup, packed up the bag and headed up and over the hill.

Double duty to end my six days in a row of babysitting.

I picked the kids up to let the parents get some rest in and we went out to the carousel at Metro Abbess.

Carousel

Carousel

Eight rides later.

She had a lot of tickets.

One trip to the Boulangerie, two Reine de baguettes, un demi-baguette, and a long, slow walk back up the hill later, I was ready to unwrap her brother from my body and take a brief sit down.

This did not happen.

The timing in its own way was impeccable, however, as just when I got him out of the carrier, explosive poop.

Out of the diaper, saturating the onesie, on through to his little outfit, narrowly avoiding the carrier.

Thank God, as it’s the only way he will sleep.

I got him striped down and into the bath. Washed, dried, lotioned, pajamma’ed, made dinner for the sister, cleaned the kitchen, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, aided by a four and a half-year old assistant, got her into pjs, charged up the Ipad for a movie, ate my own dinner, and sighed with relief as he fell asleep and she is now nestled in for quiet time.

Quiet time.

What is that?

Six days in a row of babysitting, I have lost all concept of quiet time.  I have pink and blue paint in my hair, my back hurts from hauling the baby around, my feet hurt from all the walking up and down the hill.

Yet.

Rent is almost paid.

And my legs look awesome, if I do say so myself, the additional stair climbing is really showing, I have lost weight, not much, but a few pounds, which is nice, and I have managed to blog every night and cover my commitments.

One more to show up for tomorrow and then off to Saint Germain en Laye.

I meet my friend at the train station at three p.m.

Once she leaves I believe the first order of action will be to fill up the gigantic bath tub in the master bath and pile on the bubbles.  I will put some jazz on the stereo, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, and sink into a hot tub of no children, no worries, no room-mate, no distractions.

And then I will write.

Oh, how I will write.

I will work on my manuscript for The Iowa Waltz and alternate between that and the new piece I started yesterday.  I am going to finish another book in first draft before I go, if I go, which unless something wild and miraculous happens over Easter weekend, I will be at my deadline and be taking the steps to go back to the states.

Where or how I have not a clue.

But I will have this last weekend to relax, unwind, shake the baby sitting off my body and get the writing going.  With April rent squared away I only have to think about food.  That and some cafe cash to rent a table at while I write.

Whatever happens, I feel that there will be another work produced the month of April.

They say April in Paris is lovely.

All signs do seem to point that way.

Man, That’s A lot of Stairs

March 22, 2013

A friend of mine said recently, “the reasons French women are so skinny–they are genetically small, they smoke a lot of cigarettes, ‘natural’ appetite suppressant, they drink loads of coffees, ‘natural appetitie suppressant, and the Metro.”

I would agree with all of the above, most especially the Metro.

The stations are accessed by stairs and if you are transferring lines, you are going to climb some stairs.

And some more stairs.

92 stairs in one station.

Just get up these next 92 stairs and you are almost done.

How do I know there were 92 stairs?

The sign which warned you of the impending doom.

I hoisted the four and a half-year old in my arms and started up.

She was exhausted.

Long day riding trains, riding carousels, eating sugar, chocolate crepes in the park, gummy candy at the tattoo convention, where there were more children than one would suspect.

Sort of like when you go to Burning Man, lots of those folks that are established artists have kids now a days.  I would not go so far as to say that it was totally kid friendly, but the buffets of candy, the bowls out on the booths, and the indoor candy self-serve pavilion, was a big neon sign of fun times for the sugar toothed fiend.

Plus, the piles of stickers and the markers everywhere.

A kind of kid heaven, no doubt.

Definitely an adult kind of heaven, and for once in Paris, I felt absolutely no compunctions about dropping my jacket, pulling off my scarf, and rolling up my sleeves so that you could see my sleeves.

I had my picture taken by a few photographers, which was funny, I was not there to be a part of the convention, but in a way, to help support an artist and his family so that they could do the convention.

I had a fun chat with a French photographer and journalist who asked me to smile for the camera and it was nice to be amongst some amazing art.

Phillip Leu was there, with the family, I saw Black Heart folks from San Francisco, and loads of folks I recognized from thumbing through tattoo magazines in the various shops I have been in, here and in San Francisco.

Could I tell you their names, nope, I was too busy keeping tabs on a very active four and a half-year old.

I actually had a lot of fun, but I am worn the fuck out, the mom had some ideas about where we should go and it was a lot of train riding.

A lot.

They wanted me to work through the night so they could go out to dinner, but I was not expecting to have spent the entire day with them and had already made plans to go get my mental health fix on.

After the convention, which I am sure I will probably get to drop in on again, we headed to La Villette.

Mom wanted to take the kids to the amusement park.

Unfortunately, the majority of the park was shut down for repairs and what have you.

However, the carousel was a go.

The little bunny girl rode multiple times in a row, smeared in chocolate from a warm crepe, the compromise at the concessions stand when she really wanted a cotton candy cone of pink air spun crazy.

First, it was the tiger,  then the air plane, the scooter, the airplane again, I rode backwards on a horse with her one go around, her mom rode with her in a rocket ship with her little brother crashed out asleep on mom’s chest, she tried to scale the giraffe, failing there, she happily ensconced her self in a teacup and whirled around in that for a while.

By the time she was done, the sugar had spun its way out of her system and she was conked out.  I carried her quite a bit, alternating between hoisting her onto my shoulders or onto my hip.

“You have hips that could birth a nation,” my sister once said smacking me on the ass.

“You should talk,” I shot back at her, she has two girls, my nieces, who are not little girls anymore, but I was reminded of them and wished for a moment to see them.

I also wished for a moment to spontaneously combust in conception.

The little boy, 11 months was so deliriously beautiful it was hard for me to keep my hands off him.  Mom is Brazilian and dad American, the kids are just disgustingly gorgeous beings.  When the boy batted his eyes at me, I almost swooned, I could have flirted with those baby blues all day.

I will get my chance to do more of said flirting tomorrow, they asked me to help out more.

I am down.

Despite having a much longer day than I was expecting, I was very happy to collect my pay and come back to the house and leave the rest of the rent money, finally I am paid up for March, on the table.

I am working tomorrow, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, dog sitting Thursday-Sunday.

I could possibly make the majority of my rent for April in one week.

If I work Tuesday too, I think it could happen.

Big deep breath.

My body does not really care for the idea, but my pocket-book does.

The family is staying in a really nice apartment, all the way up the hill and over behind Sacre Couer.  It is a hike and a half.  I will be getting a good work out this next week.  Between hauling up and over the hill and traversing numerous Metro lines, I will also be doing lots of walking out in the country side.

This is all good.

It is also good to get my mind of the what happens next thing in my life.

I really have no ideas.

My best idea right now is so silly I don’t even know that I can write it down yet.

I’ll just let it percolate on the back stove.

If you have any suggestions, be sure to pass them a long, ok, I am really fresh the fuck out of ideas.

I have crawled into my Hello Kitty pjs, I have a hot cup of tea, and the blog is just about done.  I posted photographs up as well, queried an agent to represent my memoir, and washed the dinner dishes.

Not a bad day, here in Paris.

Prep Time

February 22, 2013

I am going to do a little research.

Ok.

That was depressing.

I googled “woman age 40 stats”.

I have to say I am not fond of what I found.  Nor am I of the opinion that what mostly popped up was in any way applicable to me.

Either I am a raving lunatic who must make baby now.

Or.

I am losing my sex drive and have nothing to look forward to but the ravages of menopause.

I say fuck you to both those things.

I have been letting my thoughts percolate this week on the subject of being a woman of 40.  A topic I feel like I have done a lot of thinking about and a lot of playing with for this last year.  However, since I was asked to participate in this blog project, I have been coming back to it again and again.

Doing some sorting out of what makes me tick at 40 and what differences I see in my life and whether that has anything to do with anything regarding the actuality of what the age means to the society at large.

I don’t read a lot of papers.

I don’t watch the news.

I don’t get women’s magazines.

I do read “Voici” when I go babysit.

It is this hysterical French gossip rag.

I don’t have to understand much French to understand the scope of the magazine.

Besides the pictures really are worth a 1,000 words.

Not that the articles accompanying them are ever that long.

I have preconceived ideas, I suppose, of what 40 should look like.

It just looks like me.

My scope is limited.  Maybe I don’t have the same kinds of pressure to perform, to juggle marriage, children, career.

Working in a bike shop was a career, of sorts, I suppose, as is babysitting.  But they are certainly not the careers I think I would have seen myself pursuing at this age.  I just see what I am doing and think that it’s what I am doing.  It does not have much to do with my age.

When my age comes up for me it is generally a stick to beat myself with, as in I should be this, this, this, that and the other, like women I see who are my age.

I don’t look like women my age or act like women my age.

I just act like Carmen.

Do I need to put an age on that?

Do I need a signifier to go forward?

Nope.

The age has brought wisdom.

That I will give it, wisdom which comes with experience.

There is nothing I would go back and change, though.

No.

I like this me.

I like the work I have done to get here.

That is what I believe I will end up writing about for the blog project, the last year in a kind of retrospective, what happened to get me to Paris.  How I let go of things, the couch surfing at Calvin’s, the change of jobs, the losing the cats, the house siting in Oakland, the Lover, the Mister, the dating, the sex, the Burning Man, the service, the roll on suitcase.

I was also asked to be a contributor beyond the initial blog.

Which has me thinking too.

What goals do I have for myself, what am I doing now, where do I plan on going, how to move forward with my most authenticated self.  How to not care that I am 40 and acting like a student on holiday.

Well, actually, perhaps not acting like a student on holiday, the posters of the movie “Spring Breakers” in the Metro are cracking me up.  I am no spring breaker or spring chicken.

But I still get from here to there with a messenger bag, the new “back pack” oft-times and I am looking at Europe through the eyes of a student on vacation.

I found out through a friend recently about a train that runs from Paris to Florence/Milan/Rome/Venice called Thello and it costs, wait for it….

35 Euro one way.

That means for 70 Euro I can go back and forth to Venice.

VENICE.

I can take an over night sleeper train for 35 Euro and go to Venice.

That is something.

I am going to do.

I have been writing I am a world traveller in my daily affirmations for what feels like years now and Venice is one of the places I have always wanted to go.  I could go for a weekend.

Walk, stay in a hostel, maybe couch surf, take a gondola, go to a museum, watch the light and see what the sky looks like in Venice.

70 Euro.

Less than what it cost me to go to London and back.

I want in.

Of course I am still looking for Euro for rent for next month and food and all that jazz.

But 70 Euro?

How can I not do that?

I also do not know when or how things are going to change.

But they are.

That too is something that being 40 has given me.

This utter belief that if I show up things work their way out.  They don’t always work out how I think they ought to or the way I had suspected they would.  No, the world spins to a different tune than the one the dj in my brain box has playing.

It is a better song to dance to, frankly, I get tired of the station my head plays.

Reality when I show up for it is fantastic.

I am doing the work.

Corinne pointed that out to me tonight as I sat on the couch rocking the baby and shedding a few tears, mostly tears of frustration over the thoughts I beat myself with, the 40-year-old stick that I need to retire.  “Your really do the work,” she said.

Firm.

Strong.

No bullshit.

I can always push harder and try harder and exhaust myself and wrack my brains with schemes.  Or I can just soften myself, lay down the bat, just because I have been using it for 40 years does not mean that I have to use it for the next 40.

I am not even middle-aged yet.

One day I will look at where I am now and see that it was all exactly the way it was supposed to be.

Because it already is.

Grey Hair and Stiff Arms

February 20, 2013

That is what 40 means to me.

I looked in the mirror today and saw another little grey hair sprouting from the temple.

Out damn spot!

It is, of course, only noticeable to me.

It is also, number three of the grey hairs.

Truly, only three grey hairs and I am 40.

Not bad.

The stiff hands though, are starting to get me a little concerned.  My mom has had arthritis for a long while now.  Although I do not quite understand how it has manifested for her, she has had a number of other health issues and I am not really up on all of them.

I actually think the stiff hands are a by-product of the amount of typing and writing that I have been doing since I came to Paris.  I write constantly.

When I am not baby sitting.

And then I write when I am babysitting, should the timing allow, as it is tonight.

I am out in the suburbs, not once, but twice today.  When I look at my commute time for the day it factors in around three and a half hours door to door to door to door.

I left the house this morning at 8 a.m. came back at 2:15 p.m. had a late lunch, did some photo editing, posted up the photography blog here, did some research around agents, sent a query, then packed the computer, the book, and the dinner in my messenger bag and headed off again to the Metro at 6 p.m.

I will get home around midnight, maybe later.

I brought the computer with me.

I have some commitments tomorrow I have to make and the thought of coming back to the house after having spent that much time on the Metro to sit down and write a blog, made me think twice about getting on the trains during commuter rush hour with my computer; I decided it was well worth the hassle of having my laptop on me.

Grateful I did.

I am zonked out.

I do not feel like I have much to write about.

I have also been thinking about what to write about for a friends blog.

She asked me to contribute to a forum about turning 40.

What does that mean to me?

Aside from the slight annoyance that at this stage in the game I still get acne and I have three grey hairs.

I don’t feel 40.

I don’t particularly act like I am 40.

I do not believe I think like I am 40 either.

Then again I do not believe that I do a lot of things in general like the masses.

I was taken with something a friend said to me yesterday.

First, was that I was a talented writer, his words were amazing, so I’ll just use those, and he said that my chances of making it were better than most.  Simply because I decided to leap.  That most people do not.  They don’t try, they don’t go, they don’t buy tickets half way around the world with no clear idea how to proceed.

I feel like I am constantly walking into this darkness.

I know there is light, but I tend to feel like it is emanating from me.

Not that I am headed towards it.

I am the source.

Does that make me a typical 40-year-old?

I do not believe so.

I have been grappling with the idea and find that I don’t often care what people think of my age, except that I still find it endearing when someone thinks I am younger than I am.

The father of my charge from Courbevoie was taken aback to find that I was older than he was.  What is a 40-year-old American woman doing picking up part-time baby sitting gigs in the Paris suburbs?

Living the dream.

Maybe that is what makes me 40.

Not necessarily that I am doing something 40 year olds do, I am sure there are other 40-year-old baby sitters, of course there are.  However, what the age thing has to do is not so much the number of years on the tree, but rather just the accumulation of time which has garnered me a faint bit of wisdom.

I have the experience behind me which clearly dictates that I am not a product of my age, but of my journey.  I am not my job, but what I do.

I am a writer.

I am not a babysitter.  I no longer, for the most part, correlate who I am with what job I do.

The job is a job.

Who I am is a brave woman.

Scared, yes.

But brave as well with a perspective on myself that I would not have except for having aged into it.

Does that qualify as 40?

Or 50?

Or 60?

When will I feel like an adult?

When will I not have a slight fetishistic fascination with Hello Kitty?

Or the color pink in my wardrobe?

Or sparkles for that matter.

Ah, I know what makes me 40.

It is my, I don’t care what you “thinkness”.  Because if I did maybe I would take the glitter out of my clothing choices.  Maybe I would not flirt with the 25 year olds.

Then again, as I was told recently, “you would rock a 23 year olds world.”

I dare say I might.

Not that I have any presenting at the moment.

40.

I still have not quite grasped it.

Perhaps by the time my friend needs her blog I will have come to some sort of conclusion.

I am a 40-year-old in name only, with my fixed gear bike, my tattoos of stars, butterflies, dragons, and one small pink jack-a-lope, with my school girl dreams, and yes crushes, with the insouciant  nature I still count myself fortunate to have, and the picture of me in my own minds eye scuffling through the fall leaves that first week in November when I landed in Paris.

Skipping through the leaves, kicking them up, doing a pirouette or four, and listening to music way too loud for any adult on my headphones as I walked along Quai D’Orsay in the twilight hours of a Saturday evening.

40 is looking pretty damn good if you ask me.

Quiet Time

February 5, 2013

I have the apartment to myself for the next 19 days.

Party.

Not really.

Quiet.

Meditation.

Writing.

Loads of writing.

I have not worked on my writing in the last few days.

I have written, I have blogged, I have done morning pages.  I have not sent out any book queries so far this week and I have not worked on my new manuscript.

Then again I have gotten up at 6 a.m. for the last two days and written and then went and worked twelve hours.  I commuted one hour each way.  And I have written my blog each day.

I am not allowed to flagellate myself.

But I miss the sit at Odette & Aime and the dissolving into the written word.

Then again, I do not miss not having some food in the fridge, having paid off a chunk or rent, and knowing that tomorrow’s gig, despite being a longish commute as well, will only be for five hours.

Then I will have the rest of the day for myself.

I plan on hitting up the American Church and seeing some friends.

I need it.

I also need to purchase some minutes on my cell phone.

I just got the update that my money was almost out on my contract.  Good thing I did work two twelve-hour shifts back to back.  I have the Euro to buy some phone time.  100 Euro lasted me approximately three months and three days.

Not too bad.

I will re-up my contract for the next three months.

I miss using my Iphone, but I still take photographs with it and Tweet and Instagram and Facecrack occasionally on it.  Plus, I like having it for the map app, which I do use, quite frequently when going somewhere new.

I discovered that if I use the application here at the house where I have internet, plug-in my co-ordinates and map from the house I can turn it back around and use it coming back.  It doesn’t always stick, but often times I will also get the little blue dot showing up letting me know exactly where I am.

This is handy.

I would like to find out how to unlock the phone, however, and use it for real.

That or get enough money to buy the European model.

I would like that, enough money.

Enough money to pay rent.

To buy groceries.

To buy a few articles of clothing.

Enough money that I actually do not have to work forty hours a week.

The goal is twenty.

Eventually the goal is not at all.

Not work in the conventional sense of the word, I mean.  I work all the time.  However, I would like that work to be just my writing and I want to be self-sustaining and supportive through it.

I may not.

I am not now.

But having gotten a taste of what it is like to just focus on the writing, well, like any good addict, I want more.  I want more of that crisp feeling of being transported somewhere else, with the creamy silk of the paper slipping beneath my right hand and (hmmm, what does my left hand do?  I have never thought of that.  My left hand could be playing a fucking banjo and I would have no idea what it is doing.  Not so when I type, I need both paws.  And you should see me using the French keyboard, hilarious, it is not qwerty, but close enough to it that I can almost do it proficiently, almost) the spill of words onto the paper.

I want to keep doing that.

I want to keep plundering the papeterie and the pen aisles.

I want to not go to another baby sitting gig tomorrow, but it will put some more food on the table and pay for the phone and I will just get over it.  I will.

There is respite too, in the day.

I got to take a nap today.

I was not planning on it, then it just happened.

I finished reading through the White Review, the interview on Will Self was excellent, and I started in on the Chuck Palahniuk, “Damned” and I started to get sleepy.  I just closed my eyes and let myself nod off.

I got in a nice half hour and was pleasantly awoken by the feel of warm sun on my leg.

The sun had come out and was beaming through the window.

The kids were still napping.

I swung my legs around, sat up, and let the sun soak my face with warmth.

I meditated on love.

With my eyes closed, the sun on my face, I could be anywhere.

I was comfortable, it was warm, and it was quiet.

That is where my safe place is, a bower of pillows, a white cashmere throw, soft, soft, soft, and sunshine to nestle into.

I swear if I ever own a house I will have a sunken pit lined with pillows and cushions and cashmere throws.  I will have a ledge to set my cup of tea on and it will be next to big huge windows that let in sunshine and a view of sky.

I would like a fire-place too.

Note to self.

Many wants.

Many.

Really, though, all my needs are being more than sufficiently met and I am grateful for the warm bed, the apple, the cup of tea, the fact that I have breakfast to make in the morning, a quiet room, a safe place.

I am at ease.

I am graced.

In Paris.

You are a Star

January 7, 2013

What color is it?

Yellow, red, blue, green.

Etoile

Etoile

I baby sat tonight.

In the wonky side of town.

There were drug deals happening on the corner.

How is it that I find the ghetto so easily?

I suppose I feel comfortable there and I don’t freak out easy and I carry myself well.  I did feel a little bit off, it is Paris, actually, no it is not.  I forget that too, I am outside the periphery.

I am in the suburbs, la ghetto suburbs.

The floor of the apartment lino and warped.  The walls cheap plastic knock off press board.

Granted, it’s big.  Lots of space to run around and play cars.

I am now admitting to the entire world that I can speak French as well as a two-year old, but not quite as well as a four-year old.  Thank God, that he speaks English too.  Although, not nearly as much as the other kids I was watching last week.

I thought to myself this is good enough reason to get your ass in gear as far as figuring out what you are supposed to be doing next.  I do not want to spend a lot of my time out in this neighborhood.  I was not taking my camera out of my bag or my Iphone.

Nope.

That would have just been a sign to get mugged.

I want to be getting published next.

That is something I have to continue to do; just because I am not editing the book any longer does not mean that the project is at an end.  I still need to find agency.

Something I read recently also pointed me to agency, despite a few people asking me to consider self-publishing.

It was the number of books that are published by authors that don’t go anywhere.  They do not have publicity, they do not have representation, they do not have marketing.

Now, I want my book to stand on its own.  But I also want people to read it.

This means finding some agency.  This means having some one else read it.

Speaking of which I need to check in with the two folks I sent it to and see what they have to say.  Or I could just trust that they are reading and will get back to me when they are done.

No need to pull the band-aid off the wound yet, I already am preparing myself for the sting, I can wait a bit yet.

I did get my kid fix though.

Both mom and dad were surprised by how well the little girl took to me.

I was not, once I broke the shy barrier the first time I met her, I knew we would be good friends.  I do not know what it is, but I speak kid and I always have.  I suppose I just know how to get down on the floor and be a goof.

Making silly faces will always win over the pre-five set.

That and the comfort I seem to exude.

“Do you ooze maternal?”  I was asked once as two babies lay asleep on me and a small rescue dog in my lap snuggled right beside me.

Yup.

There is nothing quite like having a small, warm body snuggled up to you on a couch.  Whether it is just for a cuddle or for a story or for a tickle fight.  It is just the loveliest thing.

Just call me the baby whisperer.

Ha.

I also got to do a little teaching, which is good for me.  Good for my French too as I found myself reading to them from their story books and then asking them for the words in English.

Etoile?

Star.

Bleu?

Blue.

Rouge?

Red.

Jaune?

Yellow.

That was the best, the little boy saying yellow.  He had a moment’s struggle trying to formulate the word, then he got it and the smile on his face.

We did double high fives, up and down.

“Awesome!”  I shouted.

Quoi est ce que tu dite ca?

Why do you say that?

“Because it is AWESOME.”  I repeated.

Then I realized that there is not quite a good translation of the word, “c’est tres bien, c’est MAGNIFIQUE!”

“Wassome!”  He shouted back.

Yes indeed.

Three days a week, four pm to eight pm, 8 Euro an hour.

Not enough and more than enough.

I am being taken care of.

Until I can accept that nothing is wrong with what I am doing, until I can be of complete service to the situation, then will something change.

“Nothing changes, if nothing changes,” he said.

I nodded my head.

I am not sure what I need, I am not sure how to change, I am not sure what to do differently.

I am told that I am to peer inside myself and forgive myself.

Love myself.

My authentic self.

I was explaining to a French man this afternoon when he asked me what I meant when I said I would one day stand before my creator naked with nothing but a smile and that would be enough.

“Tu parle trop rapidement,” he admonished me.

Finally, a French person saying I speak too fast.

Oops.

His English is so good I did not realize how fast I was talking until he touched my arm and asked me to slow down.

I told him, slower, that I was afraid to be my authentic self, that I did not think you would like me.

He shook his head like I was crazy.

Well, of course I am crazy.

I am not saying that I totally believe that I am not loveable, but it lapses here and there and it hangs on, tenaciously, in the depths of my being that there is still something I must do different, some one different I must be.

No.

I can just be myself.

Sometimes diffident, so achingly human, sad, emotive, sweet, silly, curious, and shy.

Just like a little girl who needs a snuggle once in a while.

Just a girl who is standing before you asking you to love her.

Just a woman learning, still at this age, to love herself.

“Wassome!” He shouted in my ear.

Yes, wassome indeed.


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