Posts Tagged ‘France’

Huge Relief

September 10, 2017

To change my mind.

To see where I was taking on too much.

To apologize and make an amends to a friend.

To get honest with my person and with myself.

To see where my priorities lie.

To let go.

To surrender.

Such relief.

I have been grappling with something for a few weeks now and I suspect that recent events in my life, like letting go of the idea that I have to go to Burning Man every year for the rest of my life and that I always have to be working toward something, coalesced this afternoon as I rode my scooter into my internship.

I don’t want to do the Aids Life Cycle Ride.

Let me clarify.

If I wasn’t working 40 hours a week, interning 15 hours, and going to graduate school full-time I would be totally down with doing the ride.

But.

I realized.

I am working so hard already and to commit to another commitment seems fool hardy, prideful, and unrealistic.

I like to believe that I am superhuman.

“You don’t have to be Super Carmen,” my person told me, “Carmen is good enough.”

Fuck me.

I forget that all the time.

As if I am not constantly trying to self-improve, do better, live harder, go bigger, I am not enough.

And.

Good fucking grief.

I am enough.

I also realized that I had self-sabotaged myself by committing to do something that would make me re-arrange my already super full schedule and in effect make it so I would not have any days off.

NONE.

Yes, that’s right, I would be working full-time, seven days a week, for the next 10 months.

Fuck that.

I deserve to let myself have a little down time.

To love and be loved.

To not go crazy in my last year of my Masters program.

I mean.

I’m still working six days a week, I’m not slacking.

I rode my scooter to my internship and thought, it’s ok to change my mind, it’s ok to see where I bit off too much and it’s alright to acknowledge that maybe I knew this all along.

That maybe I didn’t buy the road bike when I had the chance because I really knew I didn’t want to do the ride.

I think I was setting myself up to give myself an out.

I had run into my friend who convinced me to ride again a week before I went to Burning Man and his talks about doing training rides made me feel nauseous.

How the hell was I going to fit it in?

I started to consciously let myself know that maybe, just maybe, it would be ok if I changed my mind.

I actually think going to Burning Man really helped me with that.

I realized there, at the event, on a very deep level, that I work really hard to work really hard on my vacations.

Maybe.

Just maybe.

Instead of busting my ass, granted for an amazing cause, and I don’t regret the $95 I dropped to register, it’s a gift that I wouldn’t ask back if I could have it back, to bust my ass on my vacation.

Maybe.

I might want to actually have a vacation.

Like.

Lay on a beach.

Or.

Sit in a fucking cafe and read a book, people watch, drink coffee at ridiculous hours and not worry about getting up at the crack of dawn to ride 100+ miles and then come back from a seven-day ride, for which I would be using my vacation time, to go right back to work.

I mean.

Maybe I want a real vacation.

And.

Then.

When I said it out loud, when I got on the phone with my person, I got to my internship a little early simply so I could have time to talk with my person, I felt the biggest most amazing relief.

I knew in that instant that it was the right decision for me.

“Honestly, doll, I’m relieved to hear you say this, I was wondering when you were going to come to this realization.”

OH my god.

I love that he doesn’t judge me, that he didn’t tell me to not do it, that he let me have my process, and then to have it reflected back to me with honesty, well, that was that.

I’m not doing the Aids ride.

And I am ok with it.

We talked a lot about things happening in my life and I shared about a great deal of joyful things and it was so good to catch up.

I also talked about doing a trip for my graduation.

What that might look like.

Barcelona.

Paris, maybe L’Ile de Re, where my friend has a family home, off the West Coast of France, especially since she was such an important part of my first two years in the program.

That it might be really nice to see her and celebrate the accomplishment.

She was also the person who has said time and again how much I would like Barcelona.

In fact.

My savings account, I have two, one is my prudent reserve, and the second, my travel savings, is called Barcelona.

Not “going to Burning Man” again next year.

Not “doing the Aids LifeCycle ride and spending over three thousand dollars on a bicycle, gear, and who knows how many countless hours on the training.”

NOPE.

It’s named, “Barcelona,” because when my friend mentioned how I should go I thought, that would make a great graduation trip.

So maybe instead of sabotaging my dream with stuffing in more than I can handle, it’s ok to admit I made a mistake.

I told my friend tonight face to face and sat down and talked to him.

He totally got it, and then he added, “I totally honey potted you into agreeing, you know I did, don’t feel bad that you can’t, it’s ok.”

It’s ok.

Sigh.

Fuck.

Thank you.

I apologized again and hugged him and that was that.

I need to apologize to the three people who donated and then I think I’m clear.

I’ll also contact my ride representative and rescind the ride number, the ride will fill up and someone else will get to ride in my stead.

And.

I also contacted my assistant director, who is in charge of scheduling my clients and said, I need to not take clients on Saturdays.  I can do a consult now and then, but no clients.

At least for this semester.

I feel a lot better.

Much clearer.

Much cleaner.

And so relieved to be just regular old Carmen.

Super Carmen gets to put her cape back in the closet for at least today.

Thank God.

It needs a dry cleaning anyhow.

Ha.

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A Few More Days

August 2, 2017

Of lazy.

A few more days of being able to do yoga in the morning during the week.

I have signed up for a class tomorrow morning.

I went to one this morning.

My ass has been thoroughly kicked with the yoga.

But.

I feel good too, especially afterward.

Especially when I run into friends in the neighborhood who tell me how good I look and how much weight I have lost.

“You look amazing!  I mean, really beautiful, and you’ve lost so much weight, I mean, you look great!” She exclaimed as she stopped in front of the garage where I was sweeping this morning.

I had just gotten back from yoga class and wanted to do my good deed for the day and so I pulled in the garbage cans, the recycling, the compost bins and I decided to sweep out the front of the house.

It’s not something I have ever been asked to do, but sometimes it’s just nice to do something to care for the house, it’s not mine, but I do live here and I like to pull up on my scooter to a tidy spot.

I was still in my yoga gear, had sweat like a maniac, had my hair up in a big messy bun, and was sweeping garbage into the gutter.

And I look amazing?

You are sweet.

But.

I could also tell that how I was feeling was reflected in how I look.

I am happy.

And it shows.

I think that’s what the “weight loss” is, that I am happy.

It’s a nice thing to say and maybe it is true, but it doesn’t matter, I feel about the same in my body as always, albeit a bit sore from the work out today.

I also had no problem accepting the compliment.

It’s nice to hear.

My neighbor and her dog went to the park, I kept sweeping and it just lead from one thing to the other.

Hot shower.

Clean sheets on the bed.

Hot breakfast, latte, writing.

Trip to the laundry mat.

Run to the grocery store.

Cook a little.

Write a lot.

Chat on the phone.

Return e-mails for my internship.

Coordinate my schedule for the month.

I have a bunch of consults this week and a probably new client, although I haven’t set anything up yet.  I have been waiting for the assistant director to make the client official.

Although my director did say I could reach out to the client, I feel better waiting for the official look of the e-mail from the assistant director.

I did some research.

I looked over my syllabi for school and I poked around to see if the classes that weren’t posted yet had any of their syllabi in innocuous spots.

Sometimes that happens, a teacher will use a different platform than the one that the school wants everyone to use and a syllabus will get posted somewhere other than the spot I am used to checking.

Anyway.

There was nothing new with school.

I did some personal accounting, adding up my expenditures for the month of July and making a Spending Plan for the month of August.

Which is typically a month where I have an additional financial category.

Burning Man.

I decided this morning to stop being a baby about it and suck it up and be happy that I have enough resources to rent a car and.

Yes.

I applied for a credit card.

I realize I don’t want to tie up a bunch of money on my debit card.

I can and have rented cars before on my debit card, but they typically demand an enormous deposit and the reimbursement of said deposit is almost always a month.

I don’t want to tie up my finances that way.

Especially heading into the fall semester.

Plus.

Well.

I like to travel and I have been lots of places in the last few years, Paris twice, New York twice, New Orleans, Atlanta, and I should be accruing miles for that travel.

But I never have.

I have always found a cheap ticket online and just bought it with my debit card.

Which is fine.

It’s worked well, but I have been thinking it would be nice to be acquiring some miles.

Especially since my dear friend has moved back to France and we’ve discussed probable trips there, and I want to go to Barcelona and I’ll be flying back from LA next June when I do the ALC (Aids Life Cycle Ride.  Hey!  That’s right, I’m riding, you want to donate to the cause?  I need to raise $3,000 it would be great if you donated.  My rider number is: 2713 you can donate here), so I want to start getting travel rewards.

Yup.

That’s right.

I applied for a credit card today.

First credit card I have applied to in 12 years.

I haven’t had one since I got sober.

Cut those bad boys up and threw them in the trash.

I had a lot of debt.

I was very generous when I was drinking and using and I had no problem throwing my plastic around.

That plus.

My first year of sobriety I had no money, like none, I had a bad accident at my first job and was out of work for six, seven months, it took me a long time to get back on my feet and I went over a year and a half without making any payments on those cards I had.

What had been about $12,500 in debt became.

Wait for it.

$112,000.

Yes.

Part of that was back taxes owed the IRS.

But hey, they audited me and took that money right away.

That sucked so hard.

Then there was the pair of panties, the bra and the pair of jeans I had bought using a Victoria Secrets credit card that I never paid on.

It was a sale of $84 that became a debt of $1350.

I cleared it all.

All but my student loan debt.

I had many, many, many conversations with collectors and debt departments and all manner of people who wanted whatever money I had.

I got harassed a lot.

I was mortified.

It was horrendous and I was assured I would drink again if I didn’t take care of it.

So.

After some time.

I made the calls.

I used a script that someone helped me write.

I eventually went and saw a lawyer who took one look at my records, what I was doing and said, “what you are doing is commendable, and at the rate you are going you’re never getting out of it, you need to file for bankruptcy.”

Ugh.

He gave me his services for cheap.

Cheap.

Fuck, it cost me $2500 to file it and for his services.

But.

It went through.

And yes.

I still have debt, but it is just my student loans.

Just.

Bwaahahahahahhaaha.

Excuse me.

Anyway.

I’m worth the investment so I don’t care about the student loans, they will get paid off too when the time is right.

So, to circle back, for eight years I couldn’t have a credit card.

And for the rest of the time I just said, I don’t need one.

I technically don’t.

But.

I would like to not have to deal with the hassle of the car rental and I can rent the damn thing, be done with it, collect some miles on a card, and immediately pay the bill off with my debit card.

That’s what I figure I’ll do.

I’ll rent the car with the card, pay it off right away and then not have to have anything tied up.

That’s the logic anyway.

I don’t know if I can get a card, but I researched and I applied and I’ll just say, I took the action, I’ll let go of the results.

I’ll get to Burning Man one way or the other.

And in the mean time.

I have a few more days of lazy.

Not that I’ve been terribly lazy, just mellow.

Work will start back up for me on Friday.

And of course I have my clients and consults and internship to deal with.

Life is full.

Life is good.

I am happy.

And apparently I have “lost” some weight.

Heh.

 

All The Beautiful

June 26, 2017

Babies.

Well.

Two of the beautiful babies.

I got to spend time with a very dear friend today and her 6 week old twins.

Oof.

Such goodness.

Beauties.

There was hours of catching up, I haven’t seen her in seven weeks, eight maybe?

We saw each other right before I left for Paris and had the twins while I was there.

I have missed her and it was so good to reconnect.

We talked and talked and it was wondrous to see her with her babies.

And.

Oh.

Yes.

I got to hold them too, one of them for a super long time, hours, literally, of having a small warm baby on my chest, snuggled in and cozy.

I brought her some homemade frittata I had made this morning–prosciutto and asparagus with parmesan and some nice chocolate and some flowers and the twins some gifts.

My standards–Jellycat bunny rabbits and my favorite children’s book–“I Am A Bunny” by Richard Scarry.

It was a gorgeous day and I managed to avoid most of the traffic for Pride.

I’m so grateful there are events like Pride, but I have to tell you, I don’t have much band width for those kinds of crowds anymore.

I was more than happy to be ensconced with my friend in her apartment catching up on all things life and school and love.

We had such a nice time together.

I will be spending more time with her in July when the family I nanny for is on vacation.

I will be surrounded by babies.

Even though I won’t be nannying for the three weeks the family is away.

I will also be picking up consultations at the internship, so even though I won’t necessarily be adding in clients at that time, I will be able to do consults, which is basically an initial assessment and counts towards my hours.

Which I am more than happy to pick some of that up when and where I can.

My friend though was quite happy to hear that I’ll have some time in July and she’ll be ready to get out of the house a bit more at that point and we can stroll around North Beach and be together and have coffee and cafe time and baby time.

“You can still have one!” She said to me, “look at you!”

Yes.

Every time I hold a baby, especially a newborn I do have a flashing moment of what would it be like, but I’m 44 I don’t expect that’s coming down the pipeline.

I have plenty on my plate as it is.

And I have gotten to have so many babies in my life, I am grateful, so grateful, for all the little ones I have gotten to take care of.

I laughed and smelled the little one in my arm and told her I was happy exactly as I am.

I am happy.

“You look amazing, so beautiful,” she said, and her husband concurred.

I have been given some really nice compliments lately.

It’s been nice.

It’s nice to have people see me and my happiness.

I am very happy.

Astounded with it at times and beyond grateful.

I really like who I am.

I like the shoes I wear, literally and figuratively, I got a new pair of “I’m a therapist” shoes to throw into the repertoire, Fluevog had a big huge sale and I couldn’t help it, I picked up one more pair.

They are investment shoes though, seriously, I will have them for years and years and years.

And some of my basic therapy clothes and wardrobe is starting to trickle in.

I just did a little bit of online ordering from GAP to fill out my therapist wardrobe.

I feel pretty damn grown up.

And loved and seen and happy and yeah, I don’t have complaints.

Sometimes I feel like there’s not enough time, but I have been squeezing in the time to be social and do my recovery and make work and take on clients and I have full days.

Super full.

They go fast and here it is the end of the weekend and it starts all over again.

I was invited to stay for dinner at my friend’s house, but I knew I needed to get back home, again managing to avoid the Pride traffic and super grateful for my scooter to zip through the avenues, I needed to take care of some things here and get myself ready for tomorrow and my supervision meeting before work and work and then being prepped for a new client tomorrow night after work.

I needed to get myself sorted.

I only have Sundays off now and so far it’s working, I do manage to be ultra creative about getting stuff done.

Finding pockets of time here and there.

Sometimes they are not big enough but I manage to sneak things in, a little grocery shopping here, an errand there, some time researching for clients, sometime writing for myself, cooking, laundry, you know, all the things.

The only thing suffering is my manicure.

I could use another two and a half hour block of time somewhere in my week.

It’s not going to happen until next weekend though.

And I also am in need of picking up my framed prints from Cheap Pete’s.

I thought I would do that today, but the twins were so dreamy, I stayed later than I had thought and it was super nice to help out my friends.

I will miss them so much when they move back to France.

Good thing I like going to France.

I know there will be visits.

Anyway.

I get far, far ahead of myself.

Right now.

Well.

It’s been a really good weekend and I am happy to wrap up the writing, tie up the loose ends and get ready for the week.

It’s sure to be busy.

It always is.

Ha.

One More Day!

May 18, 2016

One more day of work.

Then.

Off to New York.

I have made some decisions regarding my trip.

One.

I am not taking the subway to the Air BnB when I get into JFK at 10:30 p.m. at night.

I don’t feel like showing up to the place after midnight.

I’m going to get a car.

I am going to let myself not worry about navigating the trains, I’m going to let myself have a little experience, see the city from a car at night.

I think the view alone from a car will be worth the splurge.

I am also going with a good amount, obscene it feels like, of money.

I have saved all semester and I have a comfortable little cushion to let myself spend and the luxury of not being anxious about making the right train and transferring to the right line is well worth the cost of a car.

In fact, I’m also going to take a car to the airport when I return as well.

My flight back is way early, 7:30 a.m.

Which is awesome since with the time change it puts me at getting back to SFO around 9:30a.m. and I took the whole day off from work.

I’ll probably train it back to the house from SFO.

I’m hella comfortable with that commute.

But in New York, I’m going to let myself have the experience of not being anxious about train times and getting here to there.

I will take the subway while I’m there, I won’t be on a time frame, it’s loose and flexible.

I want to go to the MOMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, but if something comes up and I miss one of those because I am having some other grand adventure, than cool.

I’m going to be flexible.

I um, heh, want some souvenirs, because that’s how I roll.

And I did actually come up with a tattoo piece that I may go have checked out at Three Kings in Green Point.

If I can get it for a good price I will.

If it seems like it would take up too much time and energy then I won’t.

I do want a pair of earrings, or three, a bunch of notebooks, bunch of stickers, postcards from the museums I make it to and what ever the hell floats my boat.

I would love a sweatshirt and I always love getting a hat from the city I visit.

I don’t actually have the one I got there two years ago, I am not sure where it got off to, but I don’t have it.  I do have the one I got in Paris in 2007 and I love wearing it, I am always reminded of the street where I got it, the time of day, and how I just fell in love with it.

I’d like a good New York cabbie hat or fedora.

God damn.

I am excited.

Coffee galore, walking, oysters at a restaurant somewhere, photographs, graffiti, I want to make sure I bring my camera and rechargeable batteries.

I am also thinking about getting one of those brick recharger deals.

I drain a lot of juice on my Iphone when I take photos or when I use it to navigate anywhere.  And if for some reason I’m out and about in a part of town and don’t feel like subway back to Clinton Park, I’ll get a car and that means having my phone powered up.

I will be out on the town.

I will not be hanging at the Air BnB.

That is simply to have a place to sleep and do my blog at night.

I plan on being up and out and going the majority of the time and it would be handy to have an extra bit of juice for the phone.

I met with a lady this evening after work and told her about what I was doing and why and her whole face lit up.

“That’s like bucket list stuff for me,” she said her face glowing.

Girl, if I can do it, so can you.

So grateful that doing nice things for myself helps the women I work with give them the allowance to do the same things too.

Travel was such a dream for me when I was younger and I am so grateful that I am allowing myself more and more to embrace it.

I was writing this morning about where I want to go and things I want to do.

Take the Empire Builder Train Line.

Go to Paia, Maui–see the place where my grandmother was born.

Go to Burning Man in 2017 since I can’t go this year.

Go to Hudson, Wisconsin and see my best friend and her family.

Those are the tops on the list, but there are so many others.

I would love to go back to Alaska and really see it during the summer.

I still want to see Venice and go back to Rome for more than a weekend with more than the 50 Euro I went with.

I am still in awe how that happened.

Rome for 50 Euro.

Cape Town, South Africa.

Toulouse, France–I owe it an amends to be seen truly instead of the drunken, hung over stupor I did it the first time.

So many places.

And you know.

I’m going to go to all of them and more.

Because I am alive, I love myself and I am fucking awesome.

Yeah, yeah, I know.

But for a woman who came from where I did to be where I am at it is only by grace that I am here and I feel like I owe my God the happiness and joy I find in traveling.

It fills me up, it lights me up.

New places, new experiences.

New faces.

New art.

God.

I can’t wait to just cram my face full of art.

I’ll have something to compare the new MOMA to when I get back.

I haven’t been to it yet, not having really had time to what with school and work.

But I will when I get back.

Especially since I won’t have to be doing homework every weekend.

Hell.

I’ll also do some little trips around here.

Why the hell not?

Get on a train and see where I can take it.

Scooter down the coast.

Or up it.

I’m not sure about taking my scooter over the bridges, but I could see going around the coast  a little.

Oh summer vacation.

I am so happy to meet your acquaintance.

Feels funny to say that at the ripe old age of 43, but there it is.

One more day of work and then some play time for me.

I have so earned it.

Seriously.

Thankful

November 28, 2014

Full of thanks.

Thanksgiving.

On the back of a sporty Harley Davidson, motor rumbling under me, blue sky above me, scuttle of clouds, flash of sun, ocean off to my right, heading down Sunset Avenue, San Francisco.

Thankful.

This is my life?

This is my life.

Quite a bit different from last Thanksgiving when a friend wrangled me an invitation out to Marin to hang out with his buddies from school.

Not that I had a bad time last Thanksgiving, it was just a new time and an uneasy time for me, getting back into being in San Francisco, getting a new rooting in the soil, sandy soil that is.

“What has happened to you,” she said to me tonight as we hugged in the kitchen at a dear friends Thanksgiving celebration.

“I moved out to the Sunset, that’s what happened to me,” I smiled.

Lot’s has happened to me since I have moved to the Outer Sunset and so much of it is so different than what I expected.

I feel constantly and continually surprised by this little community at the edge of the world, the edge of the sea, the edge of San Francisco.

It may just be the best place for me to celebrate this Thanksgiving.

I have a boyfriend.

I have a job.

I have a writing practice.

I have a graduate school application I have to get my ass into gear about and finish up this weekend.

I have a four-day weekend.

Day one.

Well, so far so fucking good.

Go re-read that part about riding around on the back of a Harley Davidson with the sun warm on my back and the Pacific Ocean shimmering in the sun and ask me what don’t I have to be grateful for.

New experiences?

Check.

Friends?

Check and double-check.

So many fine, amazing, and beautiful friends in my life.

Some of whom I got to see today.

And a community that I belong to that has seen me change and grow and evolve and for what may be the first time in a while, certainly in a year or so, Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving, I feel that I belong.

That I am in the right place, that I am in the spot, that I have a spot to come home to and people who want me for who I am and what I do.

I don’t do much, but I do it well and for that I am grateful.

I show up.

On time.

With helpful intentions.

I still think of myself an awful lot of the time, but I am able to be present for others, and for my life, which is one and the same, I think, sometimes, that showing up for my life is a reward and a risk, a dare.

A dare to live outside the box, and sometimes, yes, in the box too.

I felt a moment of gleeful exhilaration on the Harley today.

I was thinking random Thanksgiving thoughts for the past few years, comparing last year to this year and the year prior when I was in Paris and those darn French folks with their ways that don’t celebrate the pen-ultimate American holiday.

With the pen-ultimate American sport–football.

In France it is not football, but futball–soccer.

In French class, Thursday, November of 2012, crying, tears slipping down my maudlin face because what was everyone doing and why were the all in class, it’s a holiday for fucks sake, why are you not having some turkey?

I was crying over a soccer ball exercise in my French class.

I was homesick.

Wow.

Was I homesick if I was homesick for football, which, in case you were wondering, I don’t watch.

I am a fair weather Packer fan, suppose I always will be since I did grow up in Wisconsin.

Twelve years of being, mostly in San Francisco, I am almost a Giants fan (sorry, Gigantes, though, the damn Milwaukee Brewers still have my heart–Cecil Cooper why did you have to give my third grade self that signed baseball?  Robin Yount, why did you have to be so cute? Gangly, yes, but hella cute, you know?), but nowhere near a 49ers fan.

Sorry folks.

But yet, football, a soccer exercise, French class, Paris, what was I doing, so far away from home?

How could I be homesick for something I never really liked?

Especially when I was in the city that I had been pining to be in for so long?

Fantasy.

That’s the haps.

I was fantasizing.

It gets me every time.

I shot the Paris fantasy in the foot and I am good with that and don’t doubt that I will go back, I have friends there, fellowship, and I love Paris, it’s a beautiful town (a little too much dog poo, but you know, every city’s got to have their thing), but I don’t want to live there again.

Nope.

I want to live here, in San Francisco, out by the beach, fog or sun, rain or shine, this is my place and it feels like my time.

The second thing that happened that Thanksgiving back in Paris that made me homesick?

Sons of Anarchy.

Yup.

I had downloaded the episodes on my laptop, this self-same archaic, almost obsolete little machine, and cued one up to watch that rainy night in Paris after having an awkward ex-pat dinner at the Lizard Lounge in the Marais, I had gotten lost trying to find the pub and was still feeling a little sorry for myself if the truth were told.

My room-mate came in blustery from the rain and work and sat for a while then we took a cab back to the 9th arrondissement, to rue Bellefond, he dropped me and went to go hang out with friends in the 18th for another ex-pat dinner.

I stayed in, made a cup of tea, sliced up an apple and had it with some creme fromage and watched Sons of Anarchy.

You know you’re homesick when scenes of the motorcycle gang rolling through the dock yards in Oakland make you tear up.

Yeah.

I am not ashamed to admit it and today, remembering it, I chuckled.

Two years later, one year of living it out, making it work, not knowing what was going to happen or how, just living it to the best of my ability one day at a time, I’m here.

In the city I belong to on the back of a Harley driving down Sunset Avenue heading home to back an overnight bag to go over to my man’s place and enjoy the gifts of being a local.

I’m not a native San Franciscan.

But I am a local.

And I belong.

For that, and so much more I am utterly and completely grateful.

Now excuse me.

I have someone to go canoodle with.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Evening Constitutional

April 28, 2013

This is my last evening in Chambourcy, France.

I decided to take Rusty out for another walk after dinner.  The sun had come out and was lancing through the trees and despite the chilly air it actually looked like Spring outside.

I went for two long walks today.

I read a lot.

Finished the Jeffrey Eugenides book, Middlesex, good read.  Much better than I remember.  As I was completing the 500 + page work I realized I was not sober when I read it the first time and was allowing myself to suffer from writer’s envy.

No longer.

Part of that stems from the fact that I am a writer now.

Perhaps not as well-known as Eugenides, slight understatement.

Yet, a writer nonetheless.

I wrote my four pages in the morning after breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee, then did a meditation before the dog got noisy and excited to be outside, then went for the first of my walks.

After returning I made a heaping salad–baby spinach, mache, tomato, miniature artichoke hearts, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, avocado, and garbanzo beans.  Dressed with some olive oil and balsamic, little fresh ground pepper, and sea salt.

Divine.

I down loaded some photographs after and checked my e-mails.

I conferred with the room-mate and made plans for tomorrow.

Despite the family being back tonight, they are in the kitchen having a late dinner, they requested I stay the night so they would not have to drive back to the train station.

I acquiesced.

Tomorrow I will go back to Paris, back to the apartment and break down the bike and box her up.  I was contemplating taking one last ride, but I will probably not.  I have a late afternoon tea date with my friend from French class–need to return her guide-book on Rome.

Then an early dinner and off, one last time to the American Church on quai D’Orsay.

I have some last good byes to make.

In the mean time I am also making contact with folks in the Bay.

I am seeing Beth on Friday night, staying over and having lunch the next day with Tanya somewhere in the Mission.

Wow.

That still feels very strange to say.

I will be having lunch in the Mission.

Getting in on Wednesday, Action Girl will be picking me up, living up to her moniker!

I am excited to see her, possibly get a hit of Junebug love as well.

I contacted the master of the house at Graceland, confirmed my get in time and prepared myself for the onslaught of the kittens.  Of whom, I am delighted to get to see again.

I e-mailed some ladies in Oakland about possibly getting out to meet with some folks that evening.  I have nothing planned for Thursday, recovering from the jet lag, maybe grocery shopping.

Friday before I head into San Francisco I will be making my way over to the Burning Man folks, meeting with them to discuss the nannying and then meeting with their next door neighbors to check in about the house sitting needs.

One dog.

One cat.

I then re-focused on being here, today, in the moment.

Made some tea.

Got off the computer.

Did some writing.

Did some reading.

I wrote for a while and wrapped up the first chapter of “Mother” in rough draft.

I then read through to the end of my first draft manuscript “The Iowa Waltz” and was quite happy to read it.  So much better than I had recalled and I was actually surprised at how the ending went.  I had forgotten!

My friend yesterday had suggested I work on a new piece, and he’s correct, new work needs working on, which I did.  Yet, the call of taking “The Iowa Waltz” further was very alluring.

Since I have read the hand written manuscript, I may just do the typing to take it out of my notebook.  I am not making any plans.

Nope.

None at all.

Although the previous 600 words may belie that.

“What are your plans?” Asked John Ater this evening when I skype called him.

“I don’t have any,” I said, “whenever I make plans the Universe laughs.”

“Are you wearing mascara?” He asked.

“Yes, but its waterproof and I am not wearing eyeliner,” I replied.

The eyeliner is what usually is the mess.

We had a really good check in, one in which I did mention that I was pre-anxious about other people’s judgement, me coming back after I said I was gone for good.

“Fuck what other people think of you,” he said.

God damn it’s nice to hear that.

Despite knowing that he’s entirely correct and I need no shame, I came here, I had an incredible learning experience and I did something really grand.

I shot the fantasy in the fucking foot.

Living in Paris was a dream and I went after my dream and I realized it and then I went, “oh shit,” this is not at all what I thought it would be.

Oh my God.

This is 1800 times harder.

“Good for you for knowing when to get out,” she said to me tonight as the dog pranced happily about.  “Paris is hard for French people to live in and they have the support of their country and a system to fall back on when things go wrong.”

Paris, I love you, I adore you, I think you are the bees knees.

I got stung hard though.

It hurt, having that dream popped.

Yet, on the other hand, it was well worth it.

“You had a learning experience,” he said templing his fingers together, his eyebrow lifting up in an arch.

“Yes, yes, I did.” I responded.

“What did you learn?” He asked leaning forward on California time and adjusting the lapel of his bathrobe–it’s morning in San Francisco.

“I learned I am very mean to myself, that I do not treat myself well,” I said, and there went the tears.

“What else?”

“I learned that people really want to help me when I let them help me, when I let down the guard and let them in.”

“Good, and,” his chin lifted.

“And I don’t want to live like this anymore,” tears overflowing, “I don’t want to live like this, I want to change,” I finished.

“Excellent, we will have us a sit down when you get back, but not right away, let’s let you get unjetlagged before we go there.” He said with a gentle smile.

“Oh!” I said, smiling, “I learned one other thing!”

“Yes.”

“I will work any fucking job there is to work, I am done with not having a job.” I finished.

“Great! We will talk about that too, now just get yourself back.” He twinkled at me, “I can’t wait to see you.”

“You too,” I said and yes, a few more tears slid down my face.

“Are those tears!  Yes! seven thousand miles away, I’ve still got it.” He exclaimed.

“Yes, ugh.” I said, “good-bye.”

“Good bye sugar, I’ll see you soon.” He tossed me a kiss and a wave and signed off.

Yes, yes you will.

In San Francisco.

Limbo Land

April 27, 2013

All alone in a great big house, the dusk starting to fall, the grey clouds heavy on the horizon, pregnant with the inevitable rain.

Dreary, cold, and clasped still in the bosom of winter the weather belies the light that still lingers nearly 9 o’clock at night.

I had no idea it was as late as it was, sitting curled up on the couch deep into a book.

I must have read about 200 pages today.

Not a normal occurrence in my every day life, a luxury, a taste that I am beginning to become more accustomed to.

Despite knowing that it will go back to being sips and snatches, quick drinks of words as I assimilate back into the states.

I find that I can slide back there quite quickly, messaging with a friend, skype’ing with another, texting from my Iphone, sending out little feelers into the Universe, the ethernet of possibility.

I feel a little caught between the here and the there as I consult the world clock on my phone–Paris, Cupertino, New York, and Sao Paulo.

“You should go to New York, you would eat that shit up after Paris,” he said to me today on the chat line.

I do feel a little New York is in me at times, no pun intended.

I sent a query out to an agent in New York today.  I send a lot of queries to agencies in New York, that is where the preponderance of them seem to be.

That and LA.

I have never had a LA vibe though.

Not quite my thing.

I am more NorCal than SoCal.

That was about as much as I did today, chatting with a friend, went for a couple of walks with the dog, ate a big juicy salad, drank a lot of tea, looked over some photographs–happy to report I asked a friend to help with backing up the photos.

I also did install Google drive to that extent, though I am uncertain whether or not I actually successfully transferred all my photos.

Something was happening, the fan on my computer went into protestation mode and I got nervous about continuing.

On the list of things to get when I get my feet back under me, a new laptop.

I may be just worrying for no reason, but it may be a wise investment before it goes kaput.

I also started a project today, just went and pulled a blog post from 2011 that I wrote about nannying at Burning Man and re-organized it a bit, tightened it a bit, and did some editing on it.  I am going to write-up a proposal for Chronicle Books.

I will also confer with a few folks about it, there are some photographs out there that I did not take that I want for the piece.

My friend suggested I start something new.

Something that is not what I have been working on for a while.

I like the thought and with that in mind I got the first piece situated.

I have a lot of material, it just needs organizing.

Like my life.

Jesus.

I have potential spouting out my ears, it feels like, but no solid direction, do I want a family, do I want to be a writer, do I want to make money, do I want career, do I want to own a home, if so where, ack.

I cannot figure it out.

“Use your words, ask for what you want,” he told me.

They get crammed up in my throat, these words, stuck like a tickle, fluttering high in my consciousness like an unruly jay squawking out harsh jabs of doubt.

Let’s have it all, shall we?

If wishes were horses and beggars did ride, where would I ride to?

After exploring San Francisco and Paris, right now I would hazard San Francisco.  I do not like admitting defeat, but I recall that surrender means to go over to the winning side.

I do not know that I want to return to France to live.

Honest injun.

This is hard.

I know I take me with me wherever I go and many a time I create my own issues in the taking, but it is a challenge living an expat life, even if you have money.

If you don’t let’s make it 10 times harder.

Now, I am not afraid of hard work, life can be a grind, but I choose to be polished by it rather than ground down.

Being in Paris is being ground down when I have found work that could sustain my frugal little life.  I wasn’t being polished, I was being worn apart, I wasn’t writing happily or much when I was working crazy ass hours babysitting trying to just pay rent and eat.

I am an artist.

And as such that does not work for me.

I have to be somewhere I can work, but not work myself down to the bone.

Having had space, both too much and not enough, here in France, I realize I need some structure, a job is good for that, and not too much free time, but enough.

I am dangerously close to veering off into figure it out land.

I feel that I have perhaps put myself in a corner when there is a door behind me opening up and out and I cannot see it as I did not achieve what I set out to achieve here, in France, living abroad, living in Paris.

I am not disparaging the experience.

I will not know how living here for six months has changed me until I have a little more perspective on it.  I know that the experiment was successful, even if I did not get the results I wanted.

What I want is generally not good for me.

Something wild and fragrant and delirious has been culminating in the crucible.

I know it.

I will continue to stir the pot to the best of my ability, not going crazy in these last few days either figuring it all out or berating myself for not having the answers.

The answers are none of my business anyway.

Whether in San Francisco.

Paris.

Or Chambourcy.

Oakland.

Or in my own head.

The last is the only truly dangerous place to live.

The rest is honey, unbridled and sweet with potential and pear blossom nectar.

Pear Orchard

Pear Orchard

Feels Like A Sunday

April 26, 2013

Despite it being Friday night.

However, I am out in Chambourcy, just outside of Saint Germain-en-Laye, France.

I am already in my pjs, and it is just before 8 p.m.

I just got out of the gigantic bathtub in the master bath and I felt no compunctions about putting on my Hello Kitty sleep shirt and yoga pants.

None whatsoever.

It has been a very relaxing kind of day, also, why it feels like a Sunday.

I have listened to jazz, gone for a walk with the dog in the woods, drank tea, curled up on the couch for a few hours while the rains blew in–just barely got back from the walk before the rain started to drop–and a bath.

I am quite blissed out.

It is counter intuitive to my personality, this slowness.

I am not a good practitioner of the resting, slow down, mellow out school.

I mean, come on, my blog subtitle is “Girl on the Go.”

That’s what I am usually up to or going to.

I realized as I was plugging in this person there and that person here and what BART would I take to get from Oakland to SF to see such and such and maybe I can squeeze that errand in here, that I was not in California yet.

I was in Chambourcy.

I put down my Iphone and turned on the music.

Jazz for the majority of my day and for a little throwback fun, I am now listening to some new age–Thomas Dolby, The Golden Age of Wireless.

It always reminds me of my last summer after highschool before I started my freshman year at University of Wisconsin, Madison.  We had sold the house in Windsor and I was living with my mom in a small two bedroom apartment on East Johnson Street.

The entire apartment was about the size of the room I had previously been occupying.

I escaped with friends from school.

Not my school either.

Although I had some friends from DeForest High School, I had left abruptly, the house had sold faster than I thought it would and we actually moved before I graduated from highschool.  I was the only person that did not show up for the dress rehearsal for graduation.

I had no clue it was happening.

I was busy helping my mom box up the house and move into the tiny apartment.

I was embarrassed and shy and scared, although from the front I put on, you would never have known.  No one in my group of friends knew that I had run away from home just a few months prior to graduation.

I had nowhere to go.

I ran away to school.

I slept in the back of the bus in the back parking lot I had broken into.

My swim coach had some suspicions, but did not discuss them with me.  He did however stop handing over my paychecks to my mom from the lifeguarding shifts I was doing after I asked him to not do it any more.

That may have been the first time I had really stood up for myself.

I am still learning how to do so.

It takes a little more time than one would think.

I still feel like a young woman finding herself out in the world.

I still want some one to tell me what to do.

I find that people pleasing is just a way for me to be in control of my environment.  Though the fact, amply substantiated by years of evidence, is that I do not have control of my environment.

The more I can let go of that, the freer I am.

I wanted to feel guilty about being out here in the country, taking it easy, but really, it is a bit of work.  I traveled from outside the city early in the morning to the city center, walked through thorough fares teeming with tourists hauling my pack of stuff with me like a college kid on sabbatical, up and down train station steps to the next Metro line to the next RER.

I do not mind work though and as I sit here berating myself, not as hard as I used to, I know that I will continue to do what is put in front of me to do.

Usually it’s just the dishes.

I don’t remember doing a lot of dishes that summer.

I remember I went to the pool nearly every day, riding my bike from the East side of Madison on Hwy 51 to DeForest.  My friend Jay had no idea I had actually moved to Madison until one night after the pool closed he offered to give me a lift and as I directed him past the Windsor Road turn off I finally broke the news to him.

The friends I hung out with were from Sun Prairie.

I had met one of them when I was in middle school in Madison.

When we moved to Windsor she and I stayed in touch.

Then her family moved to the outskirts of Madison and she was relocated into the Sun Prairie school system.  I would go weekends to her house in the country to escape the crazy at my house.

Not that I even knew it was crazy.

But when your step father makes you cut the grass with hand shears and the lawn is about an acre, there is some crazy going on.

My friend’s mom had her own struggles, I am sure of it, looking back with perspective, however, she seemed to make do in a way that I still admire.

She cooked and baked and made stained glass ornaments and windows in a little studio off the side of the house.  The house did not have running water, there was a well, hooked up to a motor, and there was an outhouse, but it was more civilized than anything I had experienced.

The bread she made still makes my mouth salivate.

One of my favorite smells to this day, hot bread fresh from the oven, mixed in with the scent of cut grass on a warm dusky night, topped with butter and mulberry jam she made I don’t know that I ever wanted to leave.

I was not always that fond of the friend, but man, did I love her mom.

I love my mom and I know she was just doing what she could, but that summer a lot of stuff fell out and I just knew my life on my own was really starting.  I took what fun I could and tried to cram the worry away in a bolt hole.

Worrying about the future does me no good, it takes me away from the blooming pear orchard out the window of the house here in Chambourcy France, where the sun has gathered one last welter of light to push the edge of the clouds apart and shafts of golden lace are caught high in the balls of mistletoe in the trees at the periphery of the lawn.

I was never at ease in my younger girl days.

I am now, which may explain the glitter and the pink and the fondness I have for childish things and toys, yes, my vibrator is pink, but it took me a god awful long time to get to this point.

I am going to enjoy myself to the utmost.

I am aware that the road is about to change and I am about to change again, I still carry the core of girl within me though, and today I am alright with it.

I have no regrets.

I really don’t

Here in France.

Four more days.

Where Ever I Go

March 29, 2013

There I am.

I was sitting in a pool of light during the golden hour as the sun set through the trees along the edge of the orchard, the rays caught up in the balls of mistletoe winding its way through the branches.

I looked at the spread in front of me, my most important things.

My laptop, my camera, the iPhone, my regular burner phone, notebooks, a book I just finished reading, the rough draft manuscript of The Iowa Waltz, and the new manuscript I started earlier this week, as well as a bag of pens, and a large pottery mug with a blue striated glaze, full of black tea.  I was at the large dining room table seated in a tufted caramel leather chair, the dog, Rusty, bumping my hand occasionally for extra pets.

I looked out over the hills, the trees, the vineyards, and the sky.

I could be anywhere.

I could be in San Francisco.

I could be in Wisconsin.

I could be in France.

I was alone in the world, yet I did not feel lonely.

I had decided today to give up the last of my ghosts.

I am done struggling for France.  Paris, you are a dream, France, I could get used to you, but I am done trying so damn hard.  Or thinking that I am not trying hard enough.  I have done as well as I could with what I have.  I have come here, nearly five months now, seeing as much as I could, crying a lot, going to museums, taking walks, doing work, helping others, getting humble.  I can go anywhere and have this experience, it does not have to be Paris.  It does not have to be France.

As long as I am alive and I am able to say yes to the Universe, I can go anywhere.

The question will be where.

I wrote this morning that I would let go and be in the moment today as much as possible.  I would accept myself and my situation for exactly what they are.

What they are is simply quite lovely.

A slumber party with me, myself, and I.

I woke early to feed the dog and let him outside, but I went right back to bed thereafter.  I did not sleep in much past what is normal for me, but my sleep was so satisfying I did not have to sleep longer than normal to feel rested.  The bed was a dream.  The sun coming in through the windows let me know what time it was.  Time to get up, make the bed, kneel, ask for directions and listen.

I made a nice breakfast–oatmeal with banana and golden raisins, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and nutmeg.  I had two lattes.  I wrote four pages long hand in my morning journal.  I sat and meditated.  I got dressed, brushed my teeth, and skipped the makeup.  The dog did not care that I did not have mascara on.  I gathered up a bag with my camera, a bottle of water, and the leash and headed out the door.

We walked the path winding through the back yards of properties near the house.  On one side modern interpretations of older homes on the other, pear orchards, bee hives, a horse paddock, a golf course, swimming pools, tennis courts.  The path is accompanied by a brook and the chatter of the stream slipping over the rocks with the occasional splash of Rusty jumping in and out was one of the few sounds I heard.

The rustle of leaves.

The scatter of doves flying up from a copse of trees.

The call of rooks in the turned over field by the stone wall.

A dog barking.

Geese in the field and a number of birds who I could not identify, grouse I believe and some sort of wood-pigeon, and a kind of jay or mocking-bird that is big and brassy and I have seen chase off crows with impunity.

The air was full of smudged wood smoke from the apiary and the sun was bright.  Despite the temperature not being as warm as I would have liked, once I had my walking pace established I warmed right up.  The path wended along the golf course, then up and into the woods.  I walked until my legs hummed and my head was clear and there was nothing to be or do except eventually turn back towards the house for a late lunch with a cup of tea.

I knew what I had to do.

I had to read.

I had to write.

I had to say it does not matter what happens next week or next month.

It does matter what happens in the next hour.  I have been given exactly what I wanted, time and space to read and to write.  Would I use it?  Would I actually sit down and pick up the pen and the new work and write, or would I pester my heart with worry?  It felt like a kind of test, if given exactly what I have asked for would I actually step up and do it?  The hardest thing to do, I find, is to actually sit down and give myself the time.

I am much better at thinking about it or worrying about it or wondering when the next time will come to me and then I will be happy.

And then it will be alright.

It is alright right now.

The sunshine flooded over my head as I bent to the page and the pen flowed and I was suddenly gone, transported, I was in the bathroom on the second floor of the apartment on Madison’s North East side–Packer Townhouses–low-income apartments that still exist.  I was describing a scene between myself as a ten-year old girl and my mother.  It was powerful to be so transported.  I could feel the cold under my feet.  I could smell the cigarettes on my mom’s breath–Merit Menthol Light 100s–I could see the color of her eyes and feel her holding my arm.

I could hear, oh almost too clearly, the words she was saying.

And I could hear the fear inside them channelling themselves out to me.

Fear that scared me, scarred me, and changed me.

I continue to change and I feel that acceptance come to me as I wrote and wrote and wrote, nine pages long hand, over an hour, and then I looked up.

The sun behind the trees, the grass sloping down the hill, the bark of a dog off in the distance.

Where was I?

Here.

I am always here.

And no matter where I go, I go with me.

No matter how it happens, I am alright.

I may not succeed at writing the way that others do.

I may not write the way that I think I should.

But I write.

That is good.

That is me.

I am a writer.

I do not need a book deal, an agent, or to be published and promoted in the New York Times.  You cannot take my words from me, they fall like spattered drops of sunshine upon this bowed head and I am successful.

I wanted God to tell me what to do today.

I wanted to know exactly where I should go and how I should be.

It wasn’t where I thought.

I was taken to a place thirty years ago, walked through the doors of a little girls heart and eyes and to see with much compassion the woman holding her arm and the woman who I would become under the influence of those experiences.

“I cannot tell you how lucky you are,” he said, his dark eyes a smolder of directness and intent, as he leaned over his knee to look me directly in the eye, “most writers would kill to have the experiences you have had.”  He paused, “you really are blessed.”

Yes I am.

So where ever I end up next, I will not worry, I have a place to be.

A table to sit at.

A pen to hold.

A notebook to write in.

A story to tell.

 


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