Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Viva le Difference!

I've been having lazy days this week. This is my last week before i officially start teaching my students. So what have I been doing? Nothing.

I would go into the city and galavant around the arrondissements but that requires money. I do not have money at the moment. I borrowed some from my friend here after my wallet got stolen/lost? or whatever happened.

I have been waiting for over a week now for my new card to arrive. The French are very slow at everything that they do.  I swear they have not upgraded from pony express. They love to stamp papers, shove them into an envelop and ask for the next customer.

I went into the bank yesterday to see if my card arrived. I stood patiently in line (I think i will spend 3/4 of my life in france waiting in a line). I was overjoyed to see that the usual pudgy crank of a woman wasn't at the front desk. I had a sigh of relief because I wasn't going to have to deflect daggers into my heart.

But I spoke too soon.

As soon as it was my turn to come to the counter, she rolled out of a door behind the office like the bratty kid who turned into a blueberry in Willy Wonka to take the place of the substitute. We both looked at each other and she was just as upset to see me. I suddenly thought of a sneak attack and threw a smile grenade at her trying to say "haha, such as life ya know?" But her defensive shields were at maximum and my grenade bounced off her like a marble on a beach ball. Pretty accurate I believe.

"Do you have my card today?"


"Non, peut-etre demain."  Her favorite phrase, "No, maybe tomorrow."

So alas, I'm still waiting.

Last night I texted my friends Dalal who lives in room 11. We have become good friends because neither of us have anyone else to hang out with in Poissy. I asked her if she wanted to go get something to eat with me. She said yes. I love hanging out with her because she speaks absolutely no english so it's a great way to force me into not relying on anything else.

We decided on a Kebab cafe since it was the only thing she really wanted. She had fish earlier so sushi was out and she doesn't eat porc because she's a muslim. So she thought a chicken Kebab sounded tasty.
We sat and talked about a variety of things. Her belief, my belief, what she thought about the U.S. and what i thought about the U.S.  We compared stereotypes. She said that her biggest stereotype she had heard about the U.S. is that we have a lot of violence in elevators.

"Hahahaha, quoi?!" I almost spit out my fries. "Violence dans l'ascensor?" I can't imagine where she got this stereotype from? It didn't make sense to me.

We continued you on and then she asked the question out of left field, "Do you think that American woman or French woman are more beautiful?" as she blinked and giggled and even blushed.

Oh gosh, she likes me.

"Um, I don't think one group is more beautiful than the other. It depends on the person."

If she was fishing then she caught a tire for sure.

Poor girl, the scarf that i was sporting would have let any girl in the states know that i was just a potential shopping buddy. But here, like a said, you can't tell who's gay.

We continued talking and kept discovering layer after layer of difference in culture and opinion. She struggled with the power the U.S. plays in the world. The way she phrased her statement was that she didn't know why all these country's ask the permission of the U.S. The U.S. is not the best.

I told her I understood how she felt and that countries are like sports teams and everyone has there favorite. Usually your team is the one that you were born into. She smiled and agreed.

I told her that the U.S. has a lot of problems and before i could finish my thought she piped in "the economy!"
Ouch. It was like she was making fun that my dad got laid off. I felt the salt in the wound because I had seen earlier that week how horrible my dollars became when converted to euro.

"Yesssss" i said slowly, "like the economy.  BUT did you know that a Muslim woman like yourself can't wear your head covering here in France at her job. I'm sure you know this already. But in the U.S. a Muslim woman can. There are a lot of problems in the U.S. but we have great things about us too."

I think this made a big point to her. I was proud of myself :)

I almost wanted to ask her if she wanted to come play for a team where she could wear her uniform :)

But i left it alone.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

La Vie Quotidienne

I feel like i need a disclaimer about how Kelsey and i are not lovers because if you read these stories out of context you would think her and i are on the most romantic ride of our lives.

No, Paris didn't magically turn me straight. If it did, this would be the newest destination for ex-gay camp. Call up Westboro Baptist!

On the contrary, I think Paris makes people "gayer."
You know, the men kiss each others cheeks when they greet? Gay.
You know, the men dress like chic models even when they are just running to the marchee ou la poste?Gay.
You know, they drink their coffe out of lil espresso cups instead of mugs? Gay.

You never know who's family over here.

Oh excuse me, "family" is a term the gay culture uses when talking about anybody who's gay.

They are really sneaky over here. It's a lot easier in the states to spot a homo. They dress nicely or look at girls in the eyes when they talk to them. It's like spotting a midget most times. But here, everyone's a midget.

By the way, that leads me into something else. There are a ton of midgets here. Like a ridiculous amount.  And moreover, I swear to you that i see at least two people a day that are limping from Polio or something. Someone needs to launch an investigative research into the dwarfism and polio in this country.

Ok, now back to my point. I honestly don't know who is on the rainbow brick road.

        I met kelsey yesterday again. I know it seems a bit much but when you are friends with only one person on a continent, you somehow always seem to end up with that person. I left my house and walked across the street to the train station. I can't begin to explain how luxurious that is. I stood in line at the machine to buy my ticket behind a short black man with glasses who was wearing a suit and a taller black man who was pushing a baby stroller. I peaked over the bushes and fence and i saw that my train, the RERA, was sitting in the station. I started getting all jumpy inside like a kid looking out the window at an ice-cream truck parked on his curb!
"Ok pal, hurry it along...come on!" Seriously, what is the problem here. He was taking ages and the douche bag didn't even buy a ticket. He jumped the train gate thingys. I don't know the technical name so lets call them gonad smashers.
The next guy was going through the buying process. I know by now how many steps it should take to buy one. 3 touches of the screen should do it.
"Come on, my ice cream truck is going to drive away and i'm going to throw a hissy fit."
Ok, my turn. 1, 2, 3! I run to the train and the buzz of the closing doors rang out with a bellow of "finally you made it."
If you ever rely on public transportation, catching your train or bus, before you have to wait for another interval is enough to give you a little tingle in your underpants.

I read or write on the train. I just finished my last book and i was going to start another one on my kindle but apparently the battery was dead. Oops.
Writing it is.
I feel like lately i have just had a writers block. I think when so much is going on in my life i can't put things into boxes yet. It's like waiting for things to calm down before you can have a chance to clean your room.
Finally, i felt lucid enough to jot some poetry. Poetry is my first love after all. As the train made it's jolts through each station into the city i scribbled these:


A flying heart- scared to land
close your eyes
Coast on puffed up words
that gave you flight
at first.
The longer your feet
don't touch the ground
the harder it is to stand.
Your gravity will
crush these bones-
pound them into sand.
Where no castles are made
on Ocean Fronts
as dusk turns into dawn,
but moonlight tides will
wash your
and drown you in the deep blue calm.


Waves of color on these walls
painted by illegal hand, fill
the station with their
pops of territory brand.

Cryptic codes only meant
for the eyes who have the brain
to see, past gray
cement and the art which
has no name.

Finally, the train arrived in Chatelet, the Times Square/ 42nd st stop of the Paris metro. I made my connection to the 1 and arrived at St. Paul to meet kelsey. We had plans to walk to Sorbonne and get coffees.
We walked and jabbered away at how she had visited her school that morning and there was a cute 30 something year old colleague of hers who struck her fancy. I think it was the salt and pepper hair if i remember correctly. We finally arrived at a quaint little cafe at the corner of street and sat down.
We each got a cafe au lait. Coffee with milk.  We decided to split a piece of apple pie. We sat at the cafe for seriously almost two hours. I was craving for a Waffle House service of re fill coffees but that was never going to happen. I also knew that i wasn't going to order another $5 dollar cup of coffee. My grandma would have slapped me all the way from the countryside outside of Nashville, Tn.

So i just stared down my empty coffee cup. It was like looking at an empty, dried up pool in the summertime.

We sat and people watched and i pointed out to her all the people with limps. Kelsey has now joined my investigation. We're going to get to the bottom of this.

We got up as the sun was setting and as the temperature was dropping. I tightened my scarf just a tad and we headed to the metro. We decided to go up to the top of the hill at Montmatre and see the Sacre Coeur.
When we walked above ground from the metro, night had fallen onto the city. We had to walk up at least 150 stairs to make it to the top. My legs were burning but all that subsided when i look out to the breath taking view. It was thousands of fireflies. The city scape here doesn't have hundreds of skyscrapers. There would no place to build. No building blocks the next. You could see for miles. I found my new favorite place in Paris.
I felt like i was sitting on the moon and looking down at the world. I don't even remember hearing anything or smelling anything. I think all my senses were focusing on the sight.
I took a deep breath and promised the view a hasty return. As soon as i could muster up the courage to climb the stairs again.
We made our way down the other side and into the bustling streets. Men were selling their fake bags, or jewelry. A gang of black men from west africa stand at the base of the stairs and try to use their charm to get you to stop and hold this string they are presenting you with. They want to make a bracelet for you. Innocent enough right?

Hell. to. the. no.

I made this mistake when i was 17 and young and naive--my first trip to paris.I will never forget unsuspectingly stumbling onto the herd and a guy with a big white smile and black as coal skin asking me to help him. He just wanted me to hold the ends of the string while he made a bracelet. I stood there, talking to him like a dumb bambi and before i knew it, he had tied the bracelet on my wrist.
"Oh, no i don't want it."

"No, you already have it on. Just give me something. Anything you have."

"I thought it was free."

"Just give me something."

He still had a hold of my wrist. I pulled out my wallet and had no coins. Just a 5 euro. He took it out of my hand. I was mortified and as soon as the theft had sunken in, I was pissed.

As i saw the gang, still there, almost 6 years later, it all rushed back. One of the men came up with me with a huge smile on my face. It took all my strength to not avenge my 17 year old self and squarely punch this douche in the face.

But i simply said, "Non merci." and walked away
-- as hard as it was.

We made our way down an off street from the hustle and bustle and found a Indian-Pakistani fusion restaurant. I had been craving indian so badly so one taste of the chicken tikki masala had me in dining heaven.

I finally ate to a point that i was full. Yes, full. You have no idea how rare it is in Paris. They are so skinny because if you had to pay 100 dollars for a sandwich then you would happily eat a damn saltine cracker.

We made our way closer to the Moulin Rouge district and happened upon an irish bar.  We had 2 beers. I had an apricot biere and a manaco. They are really into putting flavored syrups in there beers.

              I woke up wednesday morning and had plans to go into the city again. I wanted to go see the famous cemetery,  Pere Lachaise. I got dressed and was walking out the door and realized that i didn't have my wallet. I started the initial,"Hmmmm...where did i leave that thing" emotion. Soon it turned into "Okay, where on earth is this thing" and then snow balled into "fuck, my wallet is stolen" panic. I didn't see how on earth it could have been stolen.

I went to the grocery store the day before and remember checking my pocket on the walk home to make sure i had it. When could it have happend?

Then the gasp of the possible moment entered my mind. I didn't lock my door when i went to the kitchen to cook dinner last night.  I had my phone with me and took my laptop to listen to music while cooked. They had nothing else they could steal. Surely no one who lives here stole it. It seemed like the only option.

I looked everywhere, even in the impossible place like the trash, the freezer, in my pillow case.

I suppose i could have lost it but it makes me feel less irresponsible if i say it was stolen. But its not like that is much better. that means i live with a thief!

Soon i realized that i had absolutely no money. No cash. no american card. no french card. I checked my pockets and i had 80 cents to my name-- not even enough to buy a baguette. I walked to my bank to tell them to cancel my card (which i had just picked up the day before) and withdraw some cash for a meal, at least.  I walked up to the front disk. They don't have tellers here (that would be too easy). You have to go to the front and check in like a doctors office. This is third time i had seen this pudgy woman this week. She looked at me like i was a tax collector.
I walked up there and she stared at me through here reading glasses and stared right through my soul.
"Excuse moi, mais j'ai un grand probleme... quelqu'un a vole mon portefeuille et mon carte bleu." Some one stole my wallet and card.

She stares.

Um. Hello? Coo coo?

"Vous me comprenez?"

"Ouais"...with a deafening indifference.

She always looks at me like i'm speaking piglatin.

isten-lay itch-bay, i eed-nay ome-say elp-hay!

Then, my personal banker , Olivier Naude, walks out and smiles and greets me. The lady then said, "Oh, you know this man?" And i wanted to say, "Lady, this is the third time i've been in here this week. You look at me crazy then finally answer me. I have spelled out my name to you maybe 400 times by now? You have looked at my passport 200 times to set up an account and you don't KNOW me?"

I entered Oliviers office and explained to him the situation. I was tired, and literally starving by this point. It's not normal conversational french to try to explain what happened and what you need to get done. I guess i'm learning the language much quicker under pressure.
He said that i can't withdraw money after noon. It was almost 2:00 o'clock.
I said, "Olivier," with the sternness of an irritated father, "I need money to eat. I am hungry."

He went and got me money from my account.

I left the bank, thankful that i didn't have to go stand next to the gypsy girl and tag team the city for something to eat. I have already memorized the pitch."Excuse me sir or madame. I have 3 million children and they are all starving and they need to help. Please help me sir."
I was so hungry i was ready to dress up and jump in a stroller to help the cause. It would be the first time parisiens would have seen them with a child.

I ran to the boulangerie and got comfort food: quiche, a pastry, and a coke. I walked to the bench and bit into my quiche and was too hungry to realize that i was putting something around the temperature of Hades in my mouth. Quiche are like over microwaved hot pockets--they will fuck your mouth up.

Nothing else tasted good, you know the whole burnt mouth thing...where your taste buds are in mourning.


This weekend I met kelsey in Marias. There was a petit soiree being thrown in the 20th arrondissement by some other people we had met working in Paris. Some of them were teachers but others were au pairs. First, we grabbed a drink in Marais at a bar. We sat down and 2 waters came right away. This was the fastest service i had seen in France! Then i looked up and saw them drooling over Kelsey. "Oh...i get it now."
Kelsey is a man, but worse. She has the sexual aggression of a man with the tactful game playing of a woman. She's a dangerous woman i tell you. Before we could finish the drinks, Kelsey had them competing for her attention.
"We'll be back later," we whispered in my ear as she made sure not to turn around and tell them buy.
 We ran by a liquor store and grabbed the cheapest wine we could find. We were planning on pounding whatever liquor was there and then make our way back to Kelseys neighborhood for the great bars.
We were pleasantly surprised at how fun the party was. We usually try to convince ourselves of how lame something will be so we don't get disappointed.  I met a girl named Rosie. She was 18 and au paring in Paris. She is so young and so beautiful. She's 5'10" with beautiful brown hair and the most adorable accent. I met 3 American girls. One was from NY, she had a french boyfriend that she had met when she was 19 and he lived in the US. Another was from Atlanta and we shared a little southern love. Then i met this girl named Rachel. She was from freakin bo beakin Nashville, TN. Could you believe that? She knew exactly where i worked and lived this summer. What an incredibly small world? Then, i met to girls from Sweden. They were very cute, scandinavian looking, with perfect english. One had a lisp tho so that was interesting. And finally, the host, Rhea, was from Australia. She had moved to Paris when she was 19, fell in love and had been here for four years. She was living with her boyfriend, Fred. They are paxing--it's a legal partnership to allow for a foreigner to stay if they are in a relationship with a french citizen. Everyone talks about it.
Kelsey and i stood in the corner of the room chatting Rhea up about her apartment and thanking her for inviting us. She talked about how she barely has an Australian accent now when she speaks english.
Um...i beg to differ. She could have been on an Outback add no problem. But i just shook my head in agreement. I was drunk at this point.

It was a little after midnight and me and kelsey exited the party. We had plans. Two French servers were on our hit list...well kelsey's hit list to be exact. But i always like to see the chase and the catch. I'm a big discovery channel fan.

We walked into the bar and kelsey went up to the more agressive of the two, Arnauld. She explained how we had just returned from the party and was asking where a good place was to go. *giggle, hair toss, giggle, touch his arm*..

" stay hair for zee drink and aftorrr we cloze , we take yew to a friendzzz bar, okay?"


We had learned by our American warthog friend the weekend before at Sollys that you have to get with the in crowd here in paris to drink after 3 am. According to him, it took him almost a year. Well move over oink oink, it took us 9 days.

We sat down and had a beer. The less agressif server, Alex, came over and said he was glad we were going with them. I sat there and kind of though how funny it was that I knew I was just the friend who was riding on her coat tails...or short mini skirt to be more clear.

Alex informed us that two girls were joining us as well to go to their friends bar. He pointed to the corner and i could see two brunettes of some hispanic decent. The two girls waved and giggled.  The place shut down and kelsey and I, along with the two Argentinian girls waited for the guys to count their drawer. We piled into Arnauld's car and Alex got on his motocycle. Then we drove to the bar in front of the Louvre. I was fairly buzzed so everything seemed so surreal. I was listening to french techno, kelsey speaking spanish with the argentines and thinking in english, "Wow." We hopped out of the car and went into the bar. Clinks of glasses walked our way and 6 glasses of champagne were poured. The alcohol kept flowing till 430 a.m. Gin and tonic, vodka sodas, and this delicious drink with apple juice vodka--the devils brew, i titled it. We talked about everything over music and laughter. We joked about stereotypes and we had a wonderful time.

I looked at kelsey and she looked at me and we both stood up. Time to go. Thank god she was as tired as i was. We exchanged numbers, thanked them accordingly, and said we would see them soon.  We sobered up on the walk home. We jumped in bed and debriefed.

She preferred the less agressive one.

I preferred the apple juice vodka.

Something told me it would be harder for me to get that vodka.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Friendship: the only ship that won't sink :)

This weekend I met my friend Kelsey. I met her through this assistantship and she's from Denver, Colorado. But get this, we have a mutual friend! I played club soccer and was friends with this guy named Marc when i was 18. Marc moved to colorado the next year and kelsey and Marc met at a rave and ended up dating...or something like that according to kelsey. How crazy is that? Such a small world.

Perhaps its the fate connection or we just really get each other but kelsey and i are going to be very good friends. She's 5'9'' with pale skin, green eyes, and light brown hair. She's very intelligent and motivated. Intimidating to most men i'm sure but i'm not trying to get in her pants so she is just a cool girl to me.

You know those certain people you meet that you just become "insta-friends" with? It's so rare. It's like finding an intact sand dollar on the beach. You get lucky sometimes. It's only happened to me twice in my adult life. My best friends Margaret and Allison. I met those two in college and we will be old and wrinkled and share all the wonders and tragedies of life together. I think kelsey might be one of these type of friendships but only time will tell.

I met her saturday around 4 o clock in St. Paul which is very close to L'Hotel de Ville and we picked a cafe, La Tartine, right next to the Metro. She got a goat cheese, tomato, and some other type of spread grilled on a long piece of toast. This long piece of toast is really popular but i can't quite remember what it is. Anyway, I had a type of cream spread with a hint of herb and topped with salmon. Almost every dish here comes with a salad (not fries :p).

We ate, and talked about everything under sun..laughed really loud...and got stared by an old French couple. We then both had deux cafes. Everyone here has a lil espresso after their meal. I am not a fan of coffee but i decided to try it out, you know being parisien and all now ha. I realized why everyone has one because it diminishes the craving for something sweet, tops of the meal, and gives you a shot of energy to keep going. At the end of our meals in the states, where we eat fries and not salad no doubt, we crave something sweet so we get a dessert and then afterwards, we are so full and tired that we just want to take a nap, and most of the time do.

It is such a different way of life.

We paid for our meal, with no tip since they don't tip here. Which is actually nice. The price on the menu  is the price you pay. This is because the servers are paid salary and their well being is not dictated by their tips. However, there is a great downfall to this kind of service industry. Um....there is no service.
I hope you never take advantage of the american service industry, and i dare say that you NEVER complain that your server wont leave you alone to eat your dinner. Because in France, they only come over to your table if they think you're going to walk out.

I could teach them a thing or two about serving. I'd make their heads spin. There would be a party at the restaurant. Everyone would have food and they would be running to the restaurant owner and asking them where is this man from? He is amazing, and they'd be singing the star spangled banner the whole night home with their full bellies. Thats all.

After the cafe we decided to walk. Just walk. We walked from the 4eme to the 16eme, where the Eiffel Tour is. We bought a bottle of 7, 5 euro white wine and sat on the grassy mall by the monument. We drank and got harassed by men who were trying to sell bottles of champagne for 400 euro or something stupid like that...or roses for "free" but they aren't free of course.  They kind of ruin the moment if you don't drink enough. Luckily, we did. We drank until the bubbles creeped into our cheeks and to our nose and finally settled in our eyes. We laughed alot. The annoying man now became the object of our amusement. Every time they came and spoke to us ( which was literally every 5 mins ) we would spout of whatever language we knew. Kelsey is fluent in spanish and accosted them in burritos and tacos. I know just the minuscule amount of japanese and i accosted them in sushi and saki. Kelsey knew some Italian and accosted them with pizza and spaghetti, and finally I know a little German and threw out my best wiener schnitzel and saurekraut. It was fun.

It started to sprinkle so we got up and headed to the metro. As we got to the opposite end of the grassy mall, where the platform where you can overlook the majority of the 16eme arrondissement and the eiffel tower, i noticed that the sun had slipped past the horizon and the lights were shining bright through what had now become a proper rain. I stopped, in the rain to look--to take it in. Paris is just as beautiful in the rain.

We were on our way to Centre du Pompidou, which parisiens call Beaubourg because that was the name of the little mid-evil town that was destroyed to make way to the museum. We were meeting a couple, Mike and Sherry, who was also involved with teaching foreign languages here in france. They had contacted kelsey through a thread on facebook and since they had also just moved to france they were looking for some company. Kelsey and i tried to guess what the couple would be like. We settled on "nerdy abrasive." Luckily we were wrong and they were just a sweet couple that had fell in love 5 years earlier. I think mike is fairly younger. He's 25 i found out and his girlfriend is teaching while writing her dissertation, so i would imagine that she is older. She looked older but to be honest mike could pass for a first year college student. We went out to a couple of places and grabbed some drinks and got to know each other. They were from Virginia but i would have never guessed that in a million years. They were soft spoken but not boring.

It was almost midnight which was too late for such a serious couple. They had cuddling to do i imagine...or reading with the lamp on. I just imagine these things. Anyhow, much too early for a pair of 22 year olds. We were ready to see what kind of night life Paris offered.

Drum roll please :) dom dom dom dom


Paris shuts down and there are only a couple of bars that sell a beire for 8 euro for us desperate people that would pay anything for a beer. Of course, i'm going to give it another chance .But the saddest thing is that the trains shut down at about midnight on the weekdays and little after 1 am on the weekends. For someone who is used to New York where places don't dare turn off the music and serve the booze until 3am or 4 am and like a proper city, the trains never shut down. In Paris, it's just different. It is much less of a party culture. Perhaps another attribute to their health. I expressed my concern with Kelsey and she responded with the most wonderfully logic statement: "We will just stay out until the trains open back up in the morning." Brilliant.

We finally stumbled upon a place. Solly's i think was the name. I'm not sure because i was distracted from where the Hipster god himself must have floated down from wherever he resides and took a massive shit in the bar. I mean, i cannot begin to tell you how hipster the crowd was. Apparently no sleeves were allowed on the men, how could they show off their Tim Burton, sparrow in a cage, and lyric tattoos. I'd guess the sleeves rotted off from their B.O.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and although i would never withhold myself from a cultural experience because i honestly spend an evening with any group, I think they thought that the only thing my scarf that i was sporting was good for was to hang me with.

Kelsey and i squirmed our way through drunk hugging and kissing and bumping and loud music and shouting and finally made our way to the bar. "Deux Dirteee Blondes." It's a light beer. We did our best balancing act through a mine field of drunkards to get out to the terrace. We overheard this beast of a man trying to pick up the cutest little English woman. She was like the cool niece of Mary Poppins. The beast was embarrassingly enough American. He was a villain looking type with witch like moles. He was probably late 30s. He was ironically from Colorado too and Kelsey and he did the whole "oh you live...? That's next to....Oh I know someone who works at that school....oh small world" thing.
Then before you could finish your beer, the place started closing and we didn't know wether we should stick around to speak with our new American Beasty thing and the cute English girl or go on our way. The warthog made the decision for us as he turned his back to us and we took the hint. He wanted to get laid. Kelsey and i left and said a little prayer for the girls better judgment. "Please don't sleep with this loser just because he has an American accent." He couldn't have gotten a cow back in the states.

We laughed about it the whole way home.  We got ready for bed. I was staying with Kelsey because there were no trains remember?  We laid in bed and talked about Paris. We are still in honeymoon stage, something i hope i don't lose. It's always the best in the honeymoon stage.

   The weekend was finally over and I decided to invite Kelsey to Poissy and show her around my little french town. I was impressed with her neighborhood in the most inner city of Paris, but i have plenty to gloat about my little piece of paradise on the river.  I went to the grocery store today because it was my plan to make dinner for my lovely guest. I got some pasta, spices, sauce, mushrooms, and a bottle of wine. I grabbed a chocolate bar and 2 plums for dessert and made my way to the register. No bitch was cutting me today. I took my football stance and was ready to ward of eager frenchman with a bash of my bottle. I went to my boulangerie and got a 90 cent baguette and goat cheese for the aperatif.

Kelsey made it to Poissy and i started to cook as Kelsey sat at the table. I was cooking in the 3rd floor kitchen. Each floor has it's own kitchen and two washrooms and toilets. I realized that i had made more than just for two people. I had an idea. I was tired of not knowing anyone here since everyone escapes to their room before i can finish my "bonjour" to them.  I was just going to invite them for food. As people walked by or would come into the kitchen to put away something I projectile vomited my best french at them and invited them to eat. Bad idiom i know. "As tu faim? Je m'appelle Josh et je te presente mon amie Kelsey. Tu veux un repas?"
Thats basically french for "please come eat for me, i'm desperate for friends." They took the bait and kelsey and i sat around with Dalal, Stefan, and Ciede for dinner. Stefan, the guy i had met earlier from Guadeloupe and two new friends from Morocco. I would call it a succes. What was the most shocking thing is that they had all been living there for several months and none of them had ever met.
I could hardly believe that. We all thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and even made plans to do it again next week but make it a tea party.

Leave it up to the American I suppose. I'm going to make this place a party eventually. You just wait  :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poissy c'est la cité du rêve.

I woke up early again this morning-- extremely thirsty. I went over to my sink and drank while i was dreaming of ice. I apparently became an avid lover of cold things while growing up in the states. That's not so weird right? Nothing beats *ice* cold water.
I laid back in my bed and stared at the ceiling for over an hour.
I tried to fall back asleep but the more you think about sleeping, the less likely it will happen.

After about an hour of restlessness, the sand man comes and dumps a shit ton of dramamine on my face and then i sleep hard. I mean, as hard as a grandpa snoozes in his recliner with 13 grandkids screaming on christmas morning.

I wake up, and since i don't have a phone yet, i have to open up my laptop to see the time and it always shoots a big "fuck you" bright light in my face...5:45 a.m. Then, I say to myself "okay, one more hour and the sun will be up and you can stay awake." Then i fall asleep.....  I wake up to the bustling shoes outside, car honks, and muffled sounds of french that reach my ears. I try to lift my head, then arms, then shift the hips, and finally the legs. My body feels like i laid in wet cement and it's almost dry.
Gosh, i'm tired.
Then, I reach over to my laptop and it reads 1:30 pm. WHAT? How on earth did that happen? I'm not happy.

I rub my burning eyes and I decide that i need to get up.  I have these bright TN orange shorts and i put those on. Then i reached for my yellow Nashville predators T shirt because i wanted to be comfortable and it's bigger. I brushed my teeth, gobbled up a pain au chocolat. ( i can't eat before i brush my teeth. it's like starting with a white canvas, no?). I put on my shoes and went out for some fresh air.

I have been in the weirdest mood since arriving. It has not felt completely natural. Not that moving literally across the world, alone can feel "natural." However, i've dreamed of this for a long time and i wanted to arrive to the city and it open up it's big arms and hug me.

Well, the french don't hug. Okay, i wanted the city to come up to both of my cheeks and *mwah* *mwah* each side and say "Welcome." But such has not been the case. I blame it on the shitty jet lag, and the bitch who cut me in line.
Also, i technically live with 20 other people around my age and have yet to meet anyone. I hear them all the time in the shower or the kitchen but have never seen a single body part. I started thinking i lived with ghosts. I don't want to be that weirdo that runs into the kitchen and spout of my salutations in french to have them stare at me...i like more natural meetings. But it's made me feel a little lonely. When you move to a country all alone, you really can't help but feel all. alone. I met my first flatmate on the way out. He is a young black man from Guadeloupe who is a chef here in Poissy. His name is Stefan. He was very nice.

Nevertheless, I walked outside today and felt like today was going to be a good day. I had just finally met someone after all. Either way, I was going to will it into a good day.

I live in Poissy. It's just north of the 18th arrondissement (Montmatre). I live above a restaurant l'Esturgeon. It's a beautiful restaurant on the bank of la Seine, France's most famous river. It's hidden away from the main stretch of the river by two islands that have a secret garden feel of abandonment. The islands are juxtaposed by a beautifully manicured garden that hangs over the bank. Flowers of every color ordain the flood wall of about 5 feet that stretches about 50 feet horizontally in front of the restaurant. From the street level of the restaurant, a 19th century bridge juts over half of the river where it becomes just massive cathedral like pillars where no platforms connect. It's an ancient bridge that is only for view now. You can walk to where the bridge stops and many people fish off of this place.  At the river level of the restaurant, a rock path runs down the bank, a type of river walk and under the arch of the bridge. Benches line the path with light posts at each end. I see many couples come and watch the swans and ducks that have made there home by the refuge of the two islands. Squacks of "bonjour" feel the river.

I get to walk out to this scene everyday so there is no reason to not make this day a good day.

However, something was slightly out of the ordinary today by the river. Between all of the light posts where strung lights, and people were setting up tents along the bank. "Oh, this must be my welcome party," I chuckled to myself. i decided to come later that evening and check out what was going on.  I walked down to the path, south towards the new, modern bridge, about 500 ft down the river. The troll inside me led me under the bridge where the water was lapping up over the rocks. There were empty wine bottles, and beer cans, condoms, cigarette cartons and an odd amount of snicker rappers. A regular ole drunken orgy takes place here weekly i suppose, with a gluten who gets hankerings for peanuts and chocolate nuget. I saw a piece of drift wood that i decided to take out of the water and i placed it up closer to the shore to let it dry. It's my plan to go back later and make it a shelf filler.
After my stroll outside, i decided to go back to my room and finally finish putting everything away. I folded up all my clothes and put them in my wardrobe. I hung up about 1/4 of my clothes and folded the rest. Like everything else, hangers are stupidly expensive. I got 12 hangers for 15 dollars...yes, they are plastic. I lit my incense, nag clams me, and i put on Lil wayne. For some reason, i've really been into him lately. He is the last artist i'd think i'd get hooked to, but i think he's really talented.
I finally got my room all set. It could use some things on the wall though. I put that on my to do list.

I jumped in the shower and got dressed.
I grabbed my back pack and threw in my book, journal and pen because you never know where the evening will take you. I walked to the closest boulangerie. I walked in and asked what they had left since it was a little after 7 and they were about to close. She spouted off the different crudites and I chose the spicy chicken, with tomato, and cheese. I ordered a coke zero and paid. Then, i asked for change because i was going to need it for the train tomorrow. I said thanks and then I walked out and suddenly got the biggest grin across my face. That was all in french and there were no "huhs?" "qu'est-ce que tu as dit?" "quois?" I had a confidence. I started eating my sandwich and went back to my house to sit on the bank to see what the spectacle was going to be. The sun was setting and it had to be around 70 degrees with a slight breeze off the water. To my right was a group of what i suppose are gypsies. And to my left was a guy fishing. All of a sudden there was a man behind me dressed in some 19th century attire playing an accordion.

Are you kidding me? I get to be serenaded by an accordion while i eat my baguette on the banks of the seine while the sun sets and the newly strung lights are glistening on the water?

I think this is why we use the word "climax" in both literature and sex. It's the perfect combination of smells, tastes, feelings, and sights to create a single moment of pleasure that could not be exceeded by any other throughout the experience.  This was my climax.

I finished my sandwich and walked towards the restaurant on the river walk and under the arch. I saw two women in the distance, again in 19th century attire,  washing clothes in the river. Okay, this must be some "History of Poissy Festival" or something. I looked over at one of the islands and next to this swan was a beaver :) This night was just getting more and more interesting. I walked back towards the arch of the bridge and there was a red curtain set up and the title on the sign connected to the curtain read "Le Musee Voyageur" (the travelling museum).  There was a tall guy, somewhere in his mid to late twenties standing next to the tent dressed in an Oliver Twist affair reading over some lines.
I REALLY wanted to know what this was all about so i mustered up the courage to strike up a conversation. His name was Arthur. I told him i was Josh and he said, "Oh, comme Josh Hartnett."
"Um"...i had to think for a while. Oh yeah! the Pearl Harbor guy. "Oui, comme Josh Hartnett.

He explained to me that this was indeed a history of Poissy festival and they were about to start the tour in 15 minutes if i cared to partake. "Yeah!" i thought to myself, "I don't have any friends yet." Haha.
I went to the group of about 30 and took my place. Finally, i wasn't the only tourist :) I felt a little less dumb not being the only one staring without speaking.

We went on a tour of the river walk and the two tour guides were older gentlemen dressed in what i would guess to be a train conductor? I'm not sure. They had a whistle, but what i took notice of the most were the handle bar moustaches. The tour guides handed out sheets of music.
 A journalist stopped them (this was an 19th century journalist) and started to explain impressionism and the history in Poissy. Oh, cool! Claude Monet lived right outside of Poissy and painted many of his masterpieces here! This was getting good.

The man with the accordion played between each set as we walked.

We continued down the river walk and made it to the bridge where they started explaining the history. It was built in 1872 and was the major bridge in Poissy. They showed the marks where the river used to be  and how it has receded over time. Then they handed us all lit lanterns and said this is what we would have to carry in the 19th century if we wanted to see at night. So the group of 30, lanterns in hand, made it down to the river walk and stood right in front of the Restaurant l'Esturgeon, my new home. Then the tour guides went into this incredible story about how the restaurant came to be and that it was one of the oldest in Poissy and certainly the most famous. Claude Monet ate here.....bah bah bah...what?! I wanted to interject and let the crowd know that "Hey! I live here, i live here!" I was smiling with pride :)

I. live. above. a. restaurant. where. Claude. Monet. ate.

*cue the accordion*

Overwhelmed, I brainlessly followed the crowd where we met the two ladies washing clothes.
The ladies were boisterous and so full of life. They explained that that it took 3 days to wash a single load of clothes. They went through the steps. 1. Wet all of the clothes in the Seine 2. Stack the clothes like a pyramid from whites at the top to colors at the bottom and pour hot water down the pile 3.  Beat each one of the clothes with a paddle like tool. 4. Lay them out to dry.  The women explained how they worked so hard and were always out in the sun. Then they went into a really funny comedic routine about how they were looking for men to love them and went throughout the crowd asking menif they were married. I was hoping to god they would steer clear of me. I didn't want the comedy to be at my expense.

*cue the accordion*

After the ladies basically told us to leave them alone because there were no men to love them and only work to do, we went over to the finale-- the curtain where Arthur would be acting. We all gathered around and the tour guides would open the curtain to a character of the city back in the late 1800s-- a market vender, a hat maker, a waiter, a widow, a chef, a rich fat woman.
The accordion stroke up a ballade and we were instructed to take out the sheet of music they had given us and join them in singing "Le Chant Des Poissyards."

Poissy c'est la cite du reve. 
Poissy c'est le bois enchanteur.
Poissy c'est la plaisir sans treve.
Poissy c'est le parfait bonheur.

Allons Chevaliers de la gaule.
La Seine a Poissy vous attend.
Loin des rumeurs sous un grand saule.

Poissy is the city of dreams.
Poissy is the enchanting woods.
Poissy is the pleasure without respite.
Poissy is the perfect happiness.

Go knights of la Gaule.
The Seine at Poissy waits for you.
Far from the rumors under the big willow.

As the crowd of voices echoed through the acoustics of the arch in the bridge and off the river water, i realized that this was, indeed, my welcome party.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Revelations from breakfast pastries and long ass french lines.

J'ai beaucoup de la chance. I am so lucky.
I could not ask for a better transition to France. I met this woman, Sophie, through a ridiculous interweaving of communication through facebook.  She has been my saving grace. I do not know what i would have done without her.

First of all, when i contacted her and was nothing but a stranger, she came to the apartment that i am now in and put in a deposit check for my first months rent in order to hold the room for me. Like, holy shit that is nice. I can't put that more eloquent. After arriving here yesterday, she took me straight for a meal...and paid for it. Then she dropped me off at a store where i could buy my essentials. This is the store that was made out of golden chiffon that i decided not to purchase.
I woke up this morning and she took me to a boulangerie which is a bakery. We sat and ate jambon et fromage ( ham, and cheese on a baguette), pain aux raisins (raison bread) and pepito (which is like this incredible that puts every donut to shame. Its crunch on the outside and fluffy on the inside which is lined with chocolate). We talked on the cafe outside of the boulangerie next to the cobbled stone street and got to know each other fairly well for our first official day. I was so tired yesterday I considered myself useless.
We have come from such different backgrounds. Sophie is 34 and single.  She has brown hair and brown eyes and is probably 5'7". She has such a sweet spirit. It's already evident how helpful she is. She is an English teacher at the school i'm teaching at so I suppose i could call her my colleague :) Although i feel so inferior to her. Her intelligence intimidates me but her eagerness to be my friend counteracts that prideful feeling. We talked about our families, and her grandfather was 18 during the invasion of Germany. In 1943, the gestapo came and took her great grandfather who was 60 at the time and he died in Auschwitz. I have never met anyone who actually had a relative die in Auschwitz and it was just so surreal to listen to her story. It's so rich with all of the things i've only read about in books.

We continued to religion because a priest walked by.  ( I swear i'm not making this stuff up haha). She asked if i wen to church and i said, "no." She said that she was atheist and then I told her i was more of the universalist take on things. I think i'm spiritual.  Then my christian upbringing became the topic of discussion. I was so involved in church at a young age that it would even make a mormon's head spin i think. But she just looked at me, wide eyed, and kept saying, "Vraiment? Serieusment?" which is the equivalent to our, "Are you kidding me?" She said that just think if i put all that time into my studies that i might have cured cancer by now. HAHA! I laughed so hard.
Then she asked, "Do people really believe the earth was created 10, 000 years ago in America?" And i said "no" and she responded with a, "Good, it's only an awful rumor" before i could correct her and say, "It's actually 6, 000 years they believe."
Her mouth dropped to the cobble stone.
I am literally laughing as i type this because this conversation just shows you how vastly different worlds are and everything is relative.
We ventured onwards to other territory and she asked me how i managed to think so much differently than my christian upbringing.

I had never really been asked this before and she made me wonder. I chewed on my pepito and responded that i think there were two things.

The first one was that my whole life i hated myself because i thought i was gay and i was taught that i was going to hell for it. So, why would i be a part of something that would never let me be genuine?

*cue the jaw dropping cobble stone scene, the sequel.

"Surely you can be gay and a christian?" she said. Voila, there it was. She said this simple sentence. There was a subject and verb. So why was i so profoundly astounded. I felt like was punched in the brain.
I rebuttaled, "I think that would save a lot of suicides in my country."

But alas, the majority of most christians would never think such a thing. Her great grandfather had to have blonde hair and blue eyes to save himself from Auschwitz and I told her that i had to love vagina to do the same.

The second thing that helped me save me, per se, was my parents divorce.  When you grow up, you think that your parents are perfect. This was the first time that i was really threatened with a tragedy in the family. You heard of parents divorcing all the time and you simply judged them and went on. But this time it was MY family. I surely couldn't judge us. So really, it was the first time i had to look from the outside in. We were finally the family that our church was talking about, whispering all kinds of ridiculous scenarios to why Jack and Susan were no longer together. I can definitely attest to the fact that my church failed my family, with a coulpe of exception with certain woman. However, it was for my betterment. I was able to leave this place that i was constantly hiding myself. As soon as i stopped singing "Washed in the Blood" (which is so disgusting if you think about it) in the Praise Band on Wednesday and stopped sitting in circles and sharing my "prayer requests", which if i was honest it would have been, "I need to stop having lustful thoughts about some of the guys in youth group." then i was able to have a little clarity.  The world is much bigger. And to be honest, even from travelling a couple of hundred miles north, south, east, or west you will find that the "world" is much, much more different than your hometown.

***You might have much more positive experiences and hold your church close to you. I think that's great that you have something :) It's just not for me.  (It's always difficult to find a balance to expressing myself with not putting in so many jabs. I don't want to be extreme on anything because that makes me just as bad as the intolerant people that i bash. So i try to be nice. But i can promise you it wont always come across so :)***

Anyway,  after i made amazing strides of self growth in my first morning i began to think that France would be much more than i could hope for. It helps that i met such an incredible woman that asks such great questions and listens even better.  After lunch, we went to the bank and set up myself an account. I got renters insurance from them for 4, 80 and a phone plan for 26 a month. I liked the convenience of it all. We left the bank and went to her apartment where she said that she had sheets, quilts, pillow cases, plates, bowls, utensils, and the most amazing thing of all-- two dark green, vintage armchairs that i could use to furnish my home. Is this woman an angel or what? She seems so concerned with making this apartment my home. She goes to India and gave me a tan and navy sham for my bed with the traditional indian design of elephants and trees, and then she gave me a 12 foot long red curtain looking thingy with lions and flowers and donkeys, and deer. It's just beautiful. She also gave me a blue striped quilt to put over the arm chairs. She told me that she would take me to a wine store and we could get the wine crates for free and build shelves. What a great idea! I've never had such a chic room!

We eventually journeyed  to a home goods store and i managed to buy two towels. Each were 8,99 which was quite the discount from the night before. BUT, something i could not find cheaper was a pillow. My god, pillows here are ridiculous. The "cheap" ones are like 13 and they are seriously shitty. They are stuffed with the puniest little synthetic fibers that wouldn't even dare trying to hold up  my head. I had to buy a 20 pillow. I only justified it because whats more important than what you put your head on?
We got in line and it was a long one. There was only one cash register open. Finally a side register, you know the kind that's there for returns and help and such? well it opened up so Sophie and i scooted over there. There was a guy in front of us but from what i've learned so far in france that lines in France is like trench warfare. The man took notice and screamed a French expletive that i haven't learned yet, threw down all of his goods on the floor and walked out.

*awkward silence*

I asked if this was normal and got the most cliche response in the world. "C'est la vie."

She was right, it is life but more so in France, I think. They don't seem to be very efficient and usually have only one cashier. Oh wait,  that's probably because no one works in france. The stereotype is oh so true.
 I went to the grocery after this store alone and Sophie went home. It was at Marche Franprix that i learned more of this french trench warfare.
I had gotten all my goods and made my way to the line. I got three pieces of what i think are like a hybrid of plums and apricots. They looked good. I got some goat cheese and toasted baguettes for dinner. I got some pain aux chocolat for breakfast in the morning and some jus des pommes (apple juice). I walked up to the long line, where there was again only one cashier. I had made it to the next person and stepped over probably one foot at the most to look at this news paper that had the headline "Une Femme, 72 ans, est mort par un camion" which translates "A woman, 72 years old, is run over and killed by a truck. And before i could process the tragedy i had a bitch of truck elbow past me in line and started to put her things on the belt. I wanted to say something. Well, ok...i was shocked and didn't know what to do at first. There is something about being foreign that makes you a lil nervous and keeps you from saying, "What the hell, Bitch!". I knew what i could say. "Excuse moi, madame. j'etait ice avant vous." ( Excuse me ma'am, i was here before you.) But i was so afraid she'd take my accent as a sign of weakness and shit all over it and say something so fast that i would understand it and i would stare and look dumb and probably just explode with a FUCK YOU!
"Ummm you ehh see sir, I am Franch and am how you say beeetch?"

I defeatedly took my place behind her, and waited my turn. I finally made it to the register and the man with big ole freaking glasses scanned them and threw my stuff over to the end of the counter like he was snapping peas or something. The next man behind me had already nudged his way and i was left feeling disenfranchised at the end. I couldn't see the computer screen for my total and the cashier looked at me and said, "Discount."
Why was he speaking english to me? Was it that obvious I was American? Could he tell from my reaction from being cut in line since any respectable Frenchman would have screamed an expletive, throw down his good, and walk out.

"Discount?" I repeated. "You have a discount."


Oh my god, he said "dix- quarante (Dix- quarante is 10,40.)." which would make much more sense since he is french, i am and in france.  I should really start assuming everyone is speaking french to me.

Maybe i thought he said "discount" because subconsciously my bank account is rotting away because i'm having to buy fucking 20  pillows.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

O la la

I'm finally in France. I'm laying in my bed, in France. Exhausted i might add. I normally wouldn't be writing when i'm half dead but i'm trying to stay up so that i don't get my sleep routine off. I figure that one day of pure hell is better than 4 days of long ass naps of regret when there is Paris to see!

I started off getting a cab from Astoria, NY to LGA at 5 pm (yesterday), my flight left at 7 pm and had an hour long flight into Boston. I had an hour and a half layover in Boston and then it was off to Iceland. After a 5 hour flight, I had another hour layover and looked at a bright sun and a bright moon in the same sky. That is apparently an Iceland thing. Then, I had a 3 hour flight into Paris. I got my bags and made a trip from the airport to my connecting trains and finally arrived to my appartement. I've been awake now for 27 hours. Why didn't i just get a direct, more convenient flight you may ask? It was half the price with my route :)

My room is about 12x12 foot and about a 13 foot ceiling. It's in a very old building but from the looks of it, i have new hard wood. I have two windows-- big windows that open like French doors. a table and a surprisingly large bureau for all my clothes. My walls are wallpapered with a bronzy orange with a faint gold stenciling of fleur de lis type "things." I have a pedestal sink in one corner with a round, red mirror.

Oh, but i have no pillow, sheets, or bath towels. I drudged to the store for these items but i couldn't find anything that i could talk myself into letting me spend my entire summer's savings.

27 euros for a bath towel. That's like 45 dollars! for a towel!

No thank you. I will drip dry.

No wonder the stereotype of France is that no one baths.

Who could afford to dry off?

Whatever, I've got more but i must recharge the batteries.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

PhD Perv Alert

I woke up fairly early today, and by early I mean before noon. don't judge.  There is such a peacefulness of not having to get up for anything or anyone in the world. I had the window open and was getting a nice breeze. I was finally woken up by the growl of the garbage truck who hissed its "get the hell up" with the release of the air brakes. "Okay, okay i'm getting up. Geesh."
I had to start getting ready to trek to 53rd street for MOMA (Museum of Modern Art).  It was a disgusting $25 for an adult ticket but I was okay with that. A wise man recently told me, "Money is meant to be spent." Well, of course this sage just happened to be rich but I'm following his advice nevertheless. I justified the purchase because I had chips and hummus for lunch that i had bought at the grocery the day before. That's saving money, right? Anyway, I love modern art and I needed this date with all the wackadoo genius's that make you look sideways, sigh "hmmms," and chuckle at the giant, penis lying next to a giant pair of scissors-- all that outrageous modern art.

I checked in my bag, and took a final gulp of my water bottle then took out my journal to jot my notes. That's my favorite thing to do, write about what i see...mainly poetry. The technical term of this type of poetry is called Ekphrasis poetry.

I spotted a cover of a book in the Architecture section and this image was the first that grabbed my eyes and ironically ended up being the image of the day for me. Go figure. Let me paint the picture for you:
The image was a bedroom scene. The Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building were stretched out on a bed after a good romping in the sack. The top sheet was off the foot of the bed, and a rubber was on the bottom sheet, hanging off the side---weathered and used. If you looked close enough to the rubber you could see it marked with "Goodyear." The night stand had the Statue of Liberty's arm and torch as the lamp. There was an area rug underneath the bed which was a grid map of NYC. Your eye moved up to the bedroom window where dark night was lit up by the giant heads of  people situated on the top of sky scrapers staring into the bedroom where this raw sexual encounter of metal, concrete and glass took place.
It was quite the image and i'm sure you can see why it stuck with me. The image was entitled "Delirious New York."
I think it's the sex that really gets people to go to modern art museums. Its how the upper crust and "educated" get their rocks off. Don't get me wrong, the traditional museums have sexual themes. But back in the day, a ladies elbow was "sexy." Christ, imagine if someone else got elbowed on street in the 1800s. It would be the equivalent of a sexual harassment law suit today.
The traditional museum has naked women. Plenty of them. But that is just a painting, or a sculptor.
Modern art has photography :) and films, and live nude models. Everyone knows its the pictures and films that have the sex. Just ask the pornography business. Cezanne, Renoir, or Monet could never capture a penis or a vagina with their infamous brush strokes like a camera can. Fact.
And in a modern art museum, it's not just pictures of genitalia. It's penis in mouth, or a vagina being clipped by sheers, or a penis on a block of ice, or a vagina holding a rose, or a penis, vagina, butt, vagina, penis. Its a big orgy of body parts in unusual places. And sometimes its just a penis, and a vagina. A real penis. A real vagina. You can be naked in public you know, if it's "art." If you stand there and don't move and have a skeleton at your feet or whatever artistic artifact it may be, you can be just plane naked.  People will come up and stare at your weiner and va-jay jay in the name of art.
And it's all deemed intellectual because it's in a museum.

We are a funny species.

We have to put white walls and captions and high browed discussions around a naked body to sooth our guilt ridden conscious.

I want to go up to the people and say, "Go look at porn, or have a one night stand, or look at your naked butt in the mirror. It's flesh. We are flesh. You don't need a museum to see it."

We just have to become comfortable with ourselves. Thats all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Be Ok

   Since I've come to New York,  I have had a heavy heart.  Every other adventure here has consisted of excitement and anticipation of the next stimuli that triggered a smile, or a frown, or a snarl, or a laugh. But this trip began with sadness. Normally, I take in the monstrous size of all the buildings and the personalities that ride along side of me on the train-- the asian man, who has a bandana around his head, reeks of body odor, listening to hard rock, or the paled skinned red head who wears tights and reads a book as she brushes her hair out of her face.

But this time, I just stared at my black backpack in front of me between my legs and missed the ones that I loved. I felt alone... i mean ALONE for the first time in a long time. I had booked a flight to NYC back in the beginning of august and weeks later my sister had called me while i was eating mexican at my new local spot in Brentwood, Tn and told me that she had abruptly decided to move from NYC to Nashville herself. Of course I would never the question the desire of a wild horses' heart (which is what my sister has) and i said " okay." it was simple as that. She wanted to know if this move was okay with me, not that it was up to me but i think she was curious if I would be offended. I could never be offended by an adventure.

However, as soon as my plane touched down in LGA airport, I wanted to call my sister and say, "Really? Like fucking really you aren't here?" What is NYC without my sister? Yes, there is the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty, and all the museums you've read about in the magazines and even the hidden places like Long Island City park in Queens, and the Astoria park that boasts two mammoth twin bridges within 100 yards of each other. Yes, all of these attractions exist, but i wasn't coming to NYC for all of these jewels of the city. I was coming for my sister and for my friends I had made in the summer of 2010. And to be honest, without the sister, the friends seemed less significant.

I think as you get older you realize more and more that family is everything. Growing up, you are embarrassed of your parents love- the mother's licked finger which combs down your hair, the father's stern shake of a straightened collar. You are beyond annoyed at the sister's insesent plea to play "Dad" in her production of "HOUSE."
You get older and you yearn for a touch from your mother, a hand from your father, and a need from your sister.  You look for those moments because you transition from never getting enough alone time to never being needed enough.

When I hugged my family goodbye in the airport, there was not one eye that was dry. It wasn't as much as a sadness in the air. I think that as humans, we sometimes don't know how to express our concern. Lucky for us, the body sometimes overtakes our heart and produces tears that do nothing but just say "I care for you and am with you." It's a rare thing, especially since my parents divorced, to have my entire family together--the family that had summer vacations in Destin, FL where we would fight the whole way to the beach only to get lost in the sand and water and find each other again at the end of the night, smile and drift to sleep. That family was with me at the airport and although there are new people added to the equation like my Step mother, Shonda, the product is still the same-- LOVE.  I felt my family lifting me up and outwards to my dream. I'm so thankful.

I have come to realize that it does not matter what the world thinks of you. If you have the love of your family and the acceptance of your family, then to hell with the world. My world is my family and in this globe of different personalities that all share the same blood and love for each other, the earth could melt and we would still be standing there, for whatever we needed.  And with this, I can move from my sadness to my joy. I can go discover the world alone because when i return, it will be to a family that will    sit and laugh at my stories and touch my knee, and lean into me with giggles, and hold my hand because i'll be home.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Langue is Schön- New Beginnings

I've always wanted to start a blog. And today, it begins. I figured now was a better time than ever since I'm embarking on such an adventure. I decided to entitle it "Langue is Shon. " It is a sentence made up of three languages (French, English, and German) and it means "Language is Beautiful." It is a tattoo etched into my ribcage and it's something that I firmly believe in . Without the beauty of language, you would not even be able to read this. So that's my Blog.

 I'm finally moving to Paris. Say that out loud and you will smile, even if it's not true. There is something about Paris that has plagued us as children. In the movies, the parisien accordion playing the song of romance as a mime....well, mimes. The camera pans across a petit cafe where the most fashionably dressed are sipping on their coffees. And the close up on my smile as I'm finally sitting there at that same cafe.
Now cue reality. I'm not so naive (which is a french word by the way) to think I'll be living in Amelie and Ratatouille, but I do know that for me, to be surrounded by the French language is my dream. When I was 13, I walked into my sisters room and she sat there studying her French homework for Mrs. Boyte's class. I hadn't been exposed to the language before.  I opened the book and found my passion. I loved practicing the sounds and wanted to learn all the words. "What is 'dog' in French? What is 'house'? What is 'love'?" As soon as a class was offered at my school, I pounced on it. For years now I've been trying to soak up as much knowledge about the language as possible. Yes, I was the biggest brown noser west side of the Mississippi when it came to French class. Of course this didn't make me too popular with the majority of the class. But, that didn't bother me, the only French they'd be using was French kissing the cow they milked. I'll never forget this one hick in my class that butchered the language almost for fun. There was this one sentence, we had to recite: "Il y a un ordinateur dans ma chambre de coucher" which translated "There is a computer in my bedroom." But for this guy, lets call him Bubba, the sentence was "Eeel y a ordiNADER DAWNS ma chamber day COOCHIE *snicker, snicker, snicker* He had a profound ability to take any french word and turn it into a vulgar slang of English. For instance, when we recited our numbers, number 19 which is dix-neuf, became DEEZ NUTS for Bubba. He was hopeless.
However, I managed to survive the culture killing baboons, and I got offered a chance to go to France when I as 17. I'll never forget when I saw the Arc de Triomphe. It was the first monument I got to see and my 17 year old eyes could not take in the vastness of stone, and the magnitude of splendor. I was seeing what before then only existed in movies for me.

 I soaked up every linguistic adventure. Part of learning a language is making mistakes, and funny ones at that. I sat in the living room of the host family that lived in Orleans (and hour and half by car from Paris). Mathilde, my "sister" brought me a glass of water. I promptly said, "Merci beaucoup." But that is not what her, or any of the family heard. They looked at me like I had just sexually harassed their daughter. In fact, I had. I had no idea that Merci Beaucoup sounds, with the slightest mistake in the last prononciation, like "Merci, beau cul, " which is "Thanks, nice ass." I was mortified but now knew how I could get some cul in France if I wanted some.

It's this type of linguistic adventure that fueled my passion even more. My short time in France that summer in 2006 was a taste that tempted me for years to come. I remember making a promise that I would be back. As abstract as the emotion I felt, I made a promise to the concrete beneath my feet that I would walk on it again-actually more likely skip.
There was a part of my soul that was written in French and I am off to discover and decipher and digest all the beauty and grotesqueness that coincides.  I can't wait to master a language that has been whispering to me in my dreams since I could understand sounds. I love language because language is beautiful. All langues are beautiful. It's with language that we communicate, and it's with communication that we show who and what we love.

I'm ready to love France.   LANGUE IS SCHöN