Posts Tagged ‘La Defense’

Where Does The Time Go

April 17, 2014

Wednesday’s Child?

I was talking to my employer today about how her little boy was dressed, very French, blue short pants, brown boots, a white shirt and a little red checked ascot/bib.

Tres chic.

Then I realized that I am just shy of two weeks of my return home from my Paris experiment.

I got two messages today from friends in Paris asking me when I was coming back.

Not yet.

Not today.

Not tomorrow.

But, I will be back.

Sometimes the ache that is in my heart is a hard one to describe, it is a mix of nostalgia, soft regret, and the dull lash of the discordant whip I thrash myself with on the occasion, because, I did not make it happen.  I the all powerful, all knowing, all important, I.

But as I was remembering, it was also with a kind of realization that the Paris I go back to will be the Paris of reality, should I choose to return.  Rather than the fantasy that I went in search of.

It will be one in which I make a much harder resolve to go legally, to go to school for real, if that’s how I am going to go, really do it.

I certainly have the connections now and the know how.

Much better than I did last time.

I will go also knowing that I take myself with me.

In my roll-on luggage, in my bike box, I come with.

My employer has had a house guest all week, a sweet woman on her own for the first time in San Francisco.  I have gotten to give her all sorts of suggestions and it was nice to be the go to person when she had a question about where to meander to next.

Yesterday she took the ferry across the bay, first stopping at the Ferry Building for the Farmer’s Market.  Today it was a trip to the DeYoung with a pit stop at a cafe, FlyWheel on Stanyan, that I had recommended.

I like that I get out and see things and pay attention and go places.

I like that I went to Paris.

Scratch that.

I love that I went.

I don’t like the pride, vanity, and lack of humility that I have beaten myself up with over the last year for not having done it perfectly.

The constant seeking for perfection, in this country and that country, so that I can prove to you, who?  Not really certain who this mythical “you” is, how wonderful and perfect and amazing I am, and now please love me unconditionally.

You know the only person who is capable of loving me unconditionally is myself.

So, I choose that today.

To let my process be what it is and be really ok with that.

I told my employer’s house guest about how the Parisian children don’t have school on Wednesday’s and so Wednesdays were always a day I could find work, in fact, they were the most sought after day and the day I made the most money.

It was the day I would take the train in from the 9th out to Corbevoie, which was just out past La Defense.  It was a long commute and sometimes, often times, in the beginning of the job, it was dark when I left and just becoming light when I got there.

But I always got there.

The little girl I took care of in Corbevoie was named Nenna and she was six.

I tutored her in English.

Mostly, though, we just played and watched videos and sang silly songs, we went to the park a year ago today, it was our last day together.

The next week I was going to be leaving for Rome and the week following I would be leaving for the U.S. again.

Our last day together was really pretty and warmer than it had been, last year the winter was long and dreary, cold, wet, it snowed a lot, and the Spring was so long in coming, but that day, it was sunny, and we went to that park near her house and she ran around while I watched the other children run about and kept to myself on a bench off to the side of the park.

I am a bit of an anomaly here in San Francisco as a nanny.

I was even more so over in Paris.

But I was good and Nenna loved me and I her.

I also had some sweet charges that I still recall fondly in the 7th–Adele and her brother Cole–who were both precocious and smart and fun.  I loved Adele, Cole was a handful and I got to be fond of him, but his sister had my heart the first time we met and it was difficult saying goodbye to her.

My last night with Adele she stayed cuddled in my lap the entire night I was there, until bed time when I tucked her and Cole into their bed–a bunk bed–and they both sat in my lap and we all read books together.

Their’s was the home that I made my forlorn phone calls home to, the parents had a carrier that allowed them free phone calls anywhere in the world, so whenever I was there at some point I made a phone call.

It made me realize, quite quickly the people who I was close to, the ones that I called more than once, the ones I reached out to.

I do long for a Spring in Paris, a summer too, although I know that’s just crazy talk, summer’s in Paris can be really unbearable, but so too are summer’s in Wisconsin, and the first time I ever did go to Paris it was August.

I won’t ever forget that trip either.

It started something.

I don’t know when I will be back, but as the days lengthen here and I look around my home I don’t know that I can imagine leaving.


It may be that I have some things to accomplish here first.

It may be that I will get to be a traveller again.

On a different pay scale, I should hope.

I don’t want to experience the Paris of a starving artist again.

Once was more than enough.

“When did you get back?” An old acquaintance I had not seen in, well, almost a year, asked me this past Sunday at an anniversary party of a mutual friend.

“Oh, I’ve been back for a bit, lived in East Oakland, then landed out in the Sunset, out on 46th between Irving and Judah.” I replied.

“You look amazing, and I am sure it was a challenge, but you know, you are so loved here, you belong here.” He smiled and hugged me and said, “welcome back.”

It was a sweet reminder that I am wanted and accepted.



And everywhere in between.

Knowing in my heart that I don’t have to commit to being anyone other than my flawed self is a relief, knowing that my community loves me is a gift.

Allowing that love in is the work of a lifetime.

Whether I am in Paris.

Or San Francisco.

Or anywhere else for that matter.

Wednesday’s child, though, I miss you, little one.

I hope your day out at the park was as lovely as mine.

Three Times The Charm

April 17, 2013

I was out at La Defense this morning, again this afternoon, and yes, this evening.


It was not a planned day.

I forgot the phone at the baby sitting gig.

I did not, of course, realize this until I was at Pont Neuilly, sitting in the sun, on a bench, reading a book, when all of a sudden, my head snuck up behind me and took a big bite out of my butt.


It screamed in my ear.


I literally jumped.

Did you really have to go and do that, I asked my head, it’s a lovely sunny day, we went to a museum, you’re sitting on a park bench with La Defense’s Grande Arche shimmering in the sun to your left and the Arc de Triomphe off in the haze of spring time sunshine to your left.

You have eaten today, you have money in your wallet.

“Not enough,” my brain whispered, trying to whip itself up into a miniature frenzy of fear.

Listen I don’t want french fries for lunch, freedom fries either, and the last thing I did not order was a side of fear to dip that shit in.

You are enough.

You have enough.

Everything is exactly the way it is.


Yeah, so what?

You got a place to stay, and 100 Euro in your wallet.





We could play this game all day long.

I pulled an apple out of my messenger bag and bit into its crisp sweetness and licked the juice off my thumb.  I flipped my book over and continued to read.

And there it was again, the insidious little fuck in my head.

You don’t have enough to go, you don’t have enough, you don’t have enough, you aren’t enough, why don’t you just go eat worms?

Good Lord.


I put my book down.

I can only listen to this crap for so long and I did not want to hear it any more.  I decided it was time to call in the cavalry, it was time to make a phone call, it was time to ask some one else how was their day going.

I reached into my bag.


Where’s the phone, you lost the phone, you got pickpocketed.


In your hand.


I looked in all the various nooks and crannies in my messenger bag, opened all the pockets, sifted, through the bag with pens in it, and yup, no phone.

You got pick pocketed.

No I did not.

I retorted.

Why would some one bother to take my little trashy red Samsung throw away phone and not my Iphone?  No one is that stupid.  And my Iphone is bigger and had someone gotten into my bag they would have fumbled upon that faster than the little red phone.

I remembered taking the phone out and checking a text message, I was supposed to meet with Corinne and help out with the baby and she had not needed the coverage.  I responded to the text and I must have left it on the table.



I don’t want to go back.

Back I went.

But mom and daughter were out and about and no one answered the door.

Sigh again.

By this time the fear klaxons were still ringing, but I also knew that I was half-way through HALT.





I needed a little more sustenance than the apple.  I was tired from having gotten up at 7 a.m.   I was angry with myself for leaving the phone on the table, and yes, although I did not want to admit it, as I caught myself staring at the guy and girl making out on the Metro, I was, indeed a little lonely.

“Hey sexy,” he said, as the Skype call came through.

I had just finished some food and was sipping tea, the mom had sent me an e-mail, my phone was there, and suddenly I was no longer tired.

Caffeinated tea.

I will probably crash hard as hell tonight.

But I was wide awake then.

A nice flirtatious Skype call, a good meal, some caffeine, and my phone is fine.

Deep breath.

I tucked the fear under the bed and went back out into the day.

I rode the Metro over to Pont Alma, crossed the bridge and sat in a patch of sunlight reading my book until I had to go cover my commitment.

Then I realized that the e-mail the mom had sent said come by at 6:30pm.

Not 8:30 p.m.

1830h is not 8:30pm.

Zoot alors.

Oh well.

I dithered when I realized this, I don’t want to go back out to La Defense again.  But I also knew I was going to need that phone and I would want it back and the night was warm and soft and the shimmering sky promised a beautiful sunset and I thought, you don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow, just show up at noon at one spot and the rest of the day is yours, so just go.

Mom will be there and yes, you’re way late, but go.

I got the phone.

I got some lovely photographs.

Go check them out.

Then I came home.

I opened the windows onto the courtyard and downloaded my photographs.

I happily edited them.

The third trip was definitely worth it.  The sky line, the colors of sunset on the glass walls, I was content with the content.

The fear stayed under the bed.

I have a bed to sleep in, an apple with some soy yogurt to snack on (day 17 vegan!), a hot cup of tea and yes, a working phone in my possession.

Life is lovely.

In Paris.

For two more weeks!




In Between

February 15, 2013

The fear and the faith is a line I seem to straddle quite well.

I do not know if this is a blessing or a curse.

I sat at Bert’s listening to a woman, young, scared, oh so scared, talking about needing to find work and what needed to be done and I thought, “am I doing all these actions?”

The fear, contagious, fell from her mouth, I could taste it, blood copper in my mouth, burnt with the edge of the cafe Americain I had been drinking.

Then I breathed.

I do not have to live in fear.

Even when I do not know much about where the day is going to go.

I was pushed and pulled a couple of different ways today.

Mainly, tied longer to the house than I could have desired.  Tied here now, in this moment, waiting for the electrician, at 7:10 p.m. on a Friday evening, to fix the stove top.

Things in Paris do not always happen on my time frame, my American time frame.

Things are often late.

They take longer.

I had sat this morning, waiting, waiting, waiting, then not gonna wait anymore,  I fled.

I left the land lord a message and said, “the door is unlocked, tell the electrician to just come in.”

I had it with being in the house.

Do not trap me inside with the weather as lovely as it was, robed in robin’s egg blue, the sky flew down my throat and ate up my heart, it was so divine.

Especially after the dreary of yesterday.

All those poor drenched Valentines Day troopers out there trying to make the best of the mercurial Paris weather.  It was as if Paris said, listen you yahoos, you are allowed to be romantic everyday of the year, “I am Paris, after all,” but I will not suffer you this hallmark version of love.


I rain on your parade.

Then, with a chuckle, the benevolent skies open up and the blue caterwauls in.

It was a gorgeous day.

I had an errand to run after my coffee session at Bert’s and I walked to the Metro George V on the Champs-Elysees.  I could have gone to Charles de Gaulle Etoile, but the roads were a mess of tourists fresh off the buses, boats, planes, and trains, being serenaded by the commerce song of the trash souvenir sales.

I choose to avoid it as much as possible.

Although, truth be told, I was headed to the mall.

I had made a purchase there last Friday and was none to happy that my purse, my one splurge from my tax refund, had a faulty zipper.  I discovered yesterday as I went to pay my bill at Odette & Aime.


The zipper literally pulled off as I opened the purse to take out my wallet.

I had the receipt however, should I ever go back to the states, or when, I will probably go back for Burning Man, especially after I got that thank you card yesterday, stirring up all sorts of fun time memories, I will have a pile of little receipts to exchange at the airport for my taxes.

The tax in California, it ain’t fun, I remember that from living in San Francisco.

California has nothing on Paris.

The tax here?


Fuck my mother.

If you are not a “citizen” here, when you leave, you can be refunded the taxes from the purchases you made during your stay.  Granted I am not exactly a tourist, but seeing as how I can’t get a real paying job here and I get nothing of the benefits of paying taxes here, I want that money back.

Thank you very much.

Normally I would have tossed the receipt out.

So glad I did not.

I pulled it out of my pile and stuck it in the purse with the broken zipper and headed out.

Aside, I am ready for the electrician to be done now.  I needs to do some eating, dang nabbit, it is dinner time.


When I got to the end of line 1, Metro stop La Defense, I hopped up the stairs and out to the esplanade.  It is entirely possible to stay underground and go from the Metro straight to Quatre Saisons (the mall).  However, I had purchased my cheap on the cheap lunch at the Monoprix–packet of roasted peanuts, piece of Elemental cheese, and a banana–and I wanted to be outside for it.

The sky just shamed me with its loveliness.

I finished my eats and squared my shoulders, I went to the store, presented the purse, showed, the receipt, and asked for a new purse in exchange.

All in French.

Smooth, easy, breezy, took less than five minutes.  The saleswoman was utterly accommodating and exceptionally polite and nice to me, she even told me to hold onto the receipt longer in case it should happen again, they would again exchange it for me.

Well, alright.

Once the transaction was done, I scooted out of the mall as quick as quick can be.

I had come for what I needed and I did not need to spend any more time or money there.

1.71 Euro for my lunch and my new purse and I am out.

Out into the day.

La Defense is just an amazing outer space area.

I decided to not get right back on the Metro, rather I walked the esplanade and took pictures.  I find it amusing to be in the middle of stunning, first world, modernity, and there, off in the distance is the Arc de Triomphe.

In the Distance

In the Distance

The juxtaposition is really quite impressive.

Then I saw the Eiffel Tower off to the right between a line of a skyscraper and a crane doing more work on a new building rising, pushing, headed skyward, unstoppable with progress and bright pained windows of light pressed glass brick upon  glass brick.



Sky Reflections

Sky Reflections
















I walked the length of the esplanade.

I took in the buildings and marveled at the sudden remembrance of a childhood memory, playing with building blocks, when they were still wooden and you did not have a box full of plastic pieces with a fold out map that tells you how to assemble the building on the package.

I thought of how I wanted to be an architect at one point in my childhood, the skyscrapers I would build.

It was as if someone had opened up my head and dumped all the buildings out, jumbled and tumbled, then righted and stacked.

I smiled, I am in the right place.

In Paris.

Or just outside of it.

Signs from God

Signs from God

I Read Your Blog

January 27, 2013

Oh shit.

I think that is what I said.

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

I stifled those.

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

I actually, often, forget that people read these.

He said it was long.

Um, yeah.  They are sort of.

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

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

Damn Gina.

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


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

I just let it go.

It is nice to hear that people read it.

Especially when they are cute.

He’s cute.

Young, I think, but cute.

Love the accent.


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

He read my blog.

I love me a reader.

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

I may have some one to swap books with.

That is exciting.

Who cares what panties I have on anyhow.

They are all cute.

My blog is my blog but it is not me.

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

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

And read.

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


I will have to rectify that.

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

I find that having a writing group is helpful too.

Anything to further the craft.

Got to do it.

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

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

I do not plagiarise.

But I take.

I steal.

I borrow, beg, and broker.

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

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

I am a sucker for blue eyes.

And he has freckles.


I better get on task.

What else?

Oh, yes, working.

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

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

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

And a decent amount of Euro.

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

And I have had it checked.

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

I had another interview today and it went really well.

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

I like her too.

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

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

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

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

Sure thing.

The pay is also pretty darn good.

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

Which is all I really need.

Here, in Paris.

And maybe a date with a blue eyed boy.

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