Wednesday, September 26, 2012

phoenician parisian

i love Paris.
today as i was walking to catch the metro,
there was a man playing a violin in the tunnel.
about 6 feet away from him, 
another man sat up against the wall sketching the man playing the violin.
i couldn't help but think to myself,
"Paris, you really are something wonderful."


i've been here just long enough to begin fooling people into thinking i'm French.
i've learned some slang,
i walk with an air of ambivalence,
i nudge tourists,
i go when the sign says 'dont walk'.
as a result, about once a day now, someone will say, 
"bonjour mademoiselle?"
"oui monsieur.."
then they will proceed with 2-3 beautiful french sentences,
and i struggle to find a polite place to interrupt them and inform them that in fact, 
"je ne parle pas Francais. desole."
(sorry- i don't speak french)

i was standing on the metro a few days ago and some bright eyed,
young tourists from the states were talking excitedly.
"everything here is!
the way people talk and the buildings,
and how people dress! i mean look at her (meaning me),
NO one would ever dress like that back home.
the women here are so fashionable. i just wish i could see her whole closet."
not knowing that i could understand them, they kept going. 
i gave them a half smile & was almost urged to tell them that my shirt was actually from Target,
but i thought- forget it- let them wonder at it all. it's more fun.

i traveled to Normandy.
it was perhaps the most delightful day i've known. 
it deserves it own post,
but i will add this relevant lil encounter: 
at the end of my day in Dieppe, 
i wandered into this local artisan shop.
the woman was painting at the register & you could tell all the little goods were hers.
(and that she was born & raised here)
i said, "bonjour," and shopped around.
i took a lil keychain up to the register & she started speaking to me in beautiful French.
 i apologized and informed her i can't understand.
her response:
"no?! you speak English? oh my- you really fooled me when you came in and said hello. you say hello like you are definitely French. i believed you were from here! my my my.."
she was shaking her head in disbelief.
i thanked her and started blushing. 
yep- 5 weeks and i've successfully mastered one word, the most common one.
i'm practically Parisian. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

come&wash my bones..

rain is always romantic.
it truly is far more romantic in Paris.
maybe because i expect it to be.
either way, it is. 

it's been drizzling/pouring/drizzling for the last 4 hours.
i'm curled up in my bed,
sketching & watching 'An American in Paris'.
the window is open & the rain sounds so lovely on the tin rooftops as it falls down the alley to my sill.
it's almost as if i can hear every single drop's journey. 

forget work, it's friday-
come snuggle, M?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

{there's a pistol & a crystal, underneath my pillow}


things i've learned (or re-learned) in Paris:
jealousy & insecurity looks flattering on no one.
comparison is the thief of joy. (as is social media).
the people that look like they are truly enjoying themselves are the ones with more baguettes and less baggage. (i mean this literally, but i think the symbolism is also very strong).
i need to slow down and breathe easy.
people need people.
you can say a lot more by talking a lot less.
why when we don't understand something, is it our instinctual tendency to nod 'yes' emphatically?
i really love long walks.
i should read more.
i may have the most random brained thoughts in the world, next to tyler workman.
(i.e.- are monks allowed to masturbate? this changes everything!)
young asians and grannie germans are equally the worst tourists,
second to americans.
90% of people are so grumpy on vacation- what a bummer.
everyone actually does smoke here. i saw a women nursing AND smoking at the same time. what.
coming from someone who enjoys a smoke: is it possible the French haven't heard that it's actually really bad for you?
i would kill for a gluten free beer.
(not really, it's a figure of speech).
i may however punch a baby if i have to eat another meal made of rice cakes.
i wish i could eat crepes. they look & smell like french quesadillas- and anyone who knows me, knows i can't say no to a quesadilla.
it never hurts to have a small flashlight in your purse (thanks Mom & Boyscouts of America).
fresh red currants and figs are extraordinary. eat some.
i would like to buy a red vespa. 
i'm still bummed that jeff johnson's got stolen at APU.

things i've gotten to incidentally experience: 
i currently reside on the same street where Amelie was filmed in it's entirety. 
(i overheard a tour guide say this outside my window yesterday)
i stumbled upon a home of Vincent VanGogh while trying to figure out what street i was on.
i met some street musicians & had lunch with them.
their music was really really good.
i understood nothing they talked about, but i laughed when they did- 
the way a small child does during a movie when they couldn't possibly have understood the joke.
i've run the Sacre Coeur steps twice now.
down twice, up once each time -aka- 1050 steps in total.
(i've felt like i was going to die both times).
i feel like ann monson would be proud of me.

i've almost applied to the Moulin Rouge twice.
then i realized i do not know how to say, "are you hiring?" in French.
then while translating it i realized i would have to translate my resume to French.
this seems exhausting.
and then i would not be able to understand them,
or sing in French,
and i think my boobs are too big.
these girls are like mosquito bites on trunks for legs.

i'm surprised how much French i can understand after only a month.
i'm still pretty terrible at trying to speak it.
this is my current method:
i write out phrases/locations i may need during the day in my notebook.
i try to speak to a kind looking stranger.
when they do not understand,
i show them what i've written in French.
i've learned two things: my handwriting style is hard for the French to read.
pictures and basic symbols work best.
so in my best 2nd grade handwriting & basic drawings, i am able to successfully communicate.
(see below example)

(yes, i AM an artist).
this one had a sweet ol lady almost doubled over in laughter.
she literally slapped her knee (baguette in hand).
then, as if by her understanding my drawing bestowed some magical power over me to suddenly be fluent in French, she began speaking and waving her hands sooo fast,
communicating what i deduced was basically: stay straight, go over the bridge, it's on your right.
i found it.

the sweetest ugandan woman makes my bed every morning,
usually i'm still in it.
at which point i decide i should probably get up and get dressed.
after a few days when i was able to explain to her that my best friend lives in uganda right now,
she started hugging me & bouncing up & down, tears filling her eyes.
(see above: people need people). 
i can hear her singing in the halls in the afternoon,
she is my favorite. 

there is this beautiful children bookstore on the corner by my house.
i stop in there every other day or so & read a book cover to cover,
and by that i mean- look at the pictures.
the woman probably thinks i'm either expecting or insane, 
as i never buy anything but sigh & smile a lot.
they have the little prince, in french. it's beautiful. 

whoever invented eating disorders and self help books, 
has clearly never been to Europe. 
forget summer camp- 
send your daughters here for a month, no a week even!
i mean, these men/boys. good grief.
following you around, taking your picture,
buying you drinks and meals and flowers and scarves.
one guy promised to straight buy me the eiffel tower if i'd have dinner with him.
(i politely declined, although i wonder what the market value is for the eiffel tower right now..)
did i say good grief?
it's like a civilized construction zone.
i'm telling you- low self esteem solution is a european getaway.
after a few weeks, you'll literally believe them when they call you Miss America & Lady Gaga.
women don't have those 'eyes' here either. 
girlfriends- you know what 'eyes' i'm talking about.
everyone just does what they want,
and here's the best part: NO ONE GIVES A FUCK!
it's truly wonderful. 

on that note, i'm off to eat cold mashed potatoes & drink wine in bed with the window open, 
in french lingerie.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

that is one boss, bold, bladed mother fucker -aka- Tina Fey is my best friend in Paris -aka- i have the best bangs in Europe

today was perhaps my favorite day so far upon arriving in Europe.
today I laughed out loud, more than once.

this morning i got up and moved from my lil extended stay apartment hotel, 
to a hostel in the Montmartre (a glorious district in north Paris).
i was a little lady with 7 bags (oof- embarrassing is an understatement).
i carried/dragged them all by myself & wished i could fling them to the streets, 
retaining only my small purse and all weather boots. 

regardless, i climbed into the taxi with the little grumpy frumpy man,
and held on for dear life. 
the meter was already at 11,40 Euros 
and he plugged in an address that was not the one i gave him.
we almost got in 3 accidents and nearly ran over a small boy who ran out into the street. 
it was scary, i closed my eyes a lot. 
i'm pretty sure i got royally ripped off,
but when i don't speak french, and he didn't speak english-
i just paid. 
i decided somewhere along the interstate that life is a lot like a taxi ride in a foreign country.
mostly confusing,
blind trust,
scary at times,
but if you open up your eyes & just 'be'- you'll see some glorious things along the way.
then, all of a sudden, we turned a corner, went up a street, and arrived at my exact destination.
nothing made sense. but i had arrived, exactly where i needed to be.
i have to believe life is like this. 
more trust, less understanding, arriving.

i spent the afternoon in an outdoor cafe reading 'Bossy Pants'.
oh man- it's good. (go buy it).
I just pretended Tina Fey was sitting across from me, 
telling me these stories like a friend.
speaking English to me.
little dirty pigeons drank water on the cobblestone street next to me,
lovers walked and kissed and walked,
tourists abounded & got turned around, and around again.
little old men drug their street carts behind them, pulling groceries home.
a little boy in FULL spiderman costume walked hand in hand with his Mom & Dad.
(this is when i laughed out loud)- I felt such deep joy.
i mean, he had a full face mask.
it was truly the best. 
ice cream cones and baguettes were in every hand. 
i was so happy. 

i went back to check into my room.
it's teeeeny tinee and perfect. 
it's SO european.
i think that my bangs were meant to be european.
(this sounds absurd, i know.)
when i went to europe with my 3 best friends, 
almost 10 years ago now,
i have often looked back on the fotos and thought, 
"what were those bangs, & how can i get them again?"
since being here, i've realized, it's just europe.
i'm not sure what it is about the air & the water,
or maybe it's the lack of conditioner,
but my bangs curl up, and lay just right along my brow line,
flipping just a little at the frame of my face. 
no hairspray or styling in the states could achieve this. 
i love it.
i digress.

at my hostel i met two Australians, Adam & Grant.
(27 & 24)- I later found out that they thought I was 21, really? do i look this young?
they invited me to lunch & to grab a drink.
i was so ecstatic to be speaking English, i'm worried i talked a mile a minute.
they just smiled a lot & asked me a lot of questions.
i felt like i had just broken a vow of silence.
they invited me to hang for the evening, 
but we parted ways as they were headed out to party 
with several more guys & go to the cabaret-
who's 21 now? 
but regardless, it was a really nice afternoon. 

i can't explain exactly why today has been my favorite day so far.
i've seen far more beautiful things,
and had much better company.
but perhaps it was the first day that i felt 'home',
like i can really do this someday, 
and be alright. 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

en avant : onward

{The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. 
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot
learn, feel, change, grow or love.
Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited his freedom.
Only the person who risks is truly free.}
-Leo Buscaglia

{Be patient wild eyes.
Soon will come a storm to tame you.
Let her winds surround you. 
Match her fury and let fires reign.
There is no escape.
Nature means what she does.}

{it’s dark because you are trying too hard. lightly child, lightly. 
learn to do everything lightly…
even though you’re feeling deeply… 
lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them…
on tiptoes and with no luggage… 
completely unencumbered.}
–aldous huxley, 1894-1963 (adapted)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

eat, drink & be merry- for tomorrow we die..

i don't journal.
this is the closest i get.
so, sorry for random things that i post that mean nothing to anyone,
but these are the things i'd like to look back and remember.

today it was overcast.
the whole day felt weird,
like an autumn day that came too early.
i half expected it to snow a little.
i drank an entire pot of espresso. (like 12 cups)
i wrote back EVERYone.
i busted my ass to figure out the next month,
and money, 
and living,
and trying not to think too much.
i listened to TONs of muzak.
i took 2 bubble baths.
and painted my toenails chinchilla grey.

i walked to the market in my pj boxers.
i thought to myself as i was leaving my apartment,
"i bet this is totally taboo & unacceptable- oh well!"
it was.
everyone stared at me & muttered under their breath.
i practically ran home.
i will not do that again.

i sat in my windowsill smoking cigarettes & drinking whiskey in a tiny glass.
despite feeling super defeated, 
i try to pretend that this is EXactly how hemmingway & Chanel got their start:
in some ghetto apartment in Paris, doubting their entire existence.
i know that i'm destined for something that requires hard work.
(i hope i'm not a fool).

i really don't want to go home.
it's painful to even think of.
i distract myself.
i keep holding out that i'll meet some fabulous heiress in a cafe
who insists that i stay with her in Paris so i can learn French & fancy things from her & walk her dogs in exchange for a room in her huge estate.
we'll see... 
(i am a fool).

i have to live on 13Euros a day until i go home,
because of how hard i've fought for everything,
and how much money i've poured into my dreams.
i'm writing postcards and poetry and drawing tattoos.
old photographs and blonde bobby-pins make me painfully sad,
and i find them everywhere. especially when i'm looking.
i'm thankful for the happiness that these recent days have brought me.
i'm lucky.
i need to always remember.

i love being able to text and talk to my best friends,
free to be stupid and silly and reminded of true things. 
i miss the bratpack. 
i'm trying to understand all the things i just cannot understand,
about all that has happened,
and all that is yet to come.
i've given up, for today.
back to writing postcards.

yesterday i went to the Sorbonne,
tonight i'm watching The Darjeeling Limited,
in my bathtub,
in a hotel apartment,
in Paris. 
life is ironically beautiful. 

{and say, my glory was i had such friends!}

reflecting, planning, breathing,
budgeting (woof- always).
drinking an entire pot of expresso.

opened my computer to find this:

"be safe. 
drink lots of water.
remember your creator.
make sure no one is following you home and lock your doors.
eat at least one croissant for me [even if you feel sick, please make the sacrifice].
remember you are loved for more than you do." 

then as I was looking for something else,
i stumbled upon this from almost a year ago:

"you are beautiful
you are loved
you are magnificent.

you are insanely creative
beautifully honest
and love with wild abandonment.

you love deeply.
you love courageously.
you love openly.

you laugh without fear,
the kind that overflows with joy and is contagious.
you are talented
you are smart
you are successful.

you are human,
but you live in grace.
you show others grace
you show yourself grace.

you are lovely, deep, bold and true.
you are tough
you are sensitive
you are loved, so so so loved."

I'm reminded, across the world from the people I love,
feeling like I've gotten very good at failing at everything I attempt with bravery,
that I am cared for, believed in, loved.
I am so very lucky.

Monday, September 3, 2012

an american in paris

i love it here.
today i just walked for miles and miles and miles.
talked to strangers in bad french.
climbed the arc de triomphe.
found an organic gluten free grocery by accident.
bought a red pearl necklace by the moulin rouge from a man with the kindest eyes.
helped an elderly couple get 'un-lost'.
took deep breaths.
and a kitty led me home.
bonne nuit!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

portuguese baguettes

i've been here 8 days : here are my free flowing thoughts..

paris is beautiful.
stunning, in fact.
even the ugliest places are pretty.
i suppose they are so, because i expect them to be.
if you're looking for something,
you're likely not to find it for hours.
if you're wonderfully lost,
you will turn corners and stumble upon some of the most beautiful things in the world.
there are hidden gardens all over the city.
where you'd least expect them.
also- the whole city smells like piss.
you get used to it.
i carry around a bag of mint leaves,
and rub some under my nose on the metro when it gets too strong.
there are gyros and french fries and sushi EVERYwhere-
i was not expecting this..
i'm still not entirely sure what 'french cuisine' is.
the meat is very weird here.
as a result, i'm a temporary vegetarian.
i'm eating a lot of rice cakes.
there truly are baguettes EVERYwhere: 
in purses, on trains, in the dirty hands of little children playing in the parcs..
pigeons pecking at them on the ground,
in men's back pockets as they ride mopeds.
they smell great & i wish i could eat them.
i've probably walked over 60 miles, at least.
it feels great.
i miss my boyfriend.
i'm trying to be brave, at least once a day. at least.
it's hard.
i have a lifted bathtub in my apartment,
i've used it 3 times already.
it's beautiful.
the men here are very aggressive,
i pretend i can't understand them-
usually i actually cannot. 
they all say the same word to me when i pass them.
i've yet to figure out what it means.
they touch my face a lot, i wash my face a lot.

i met a portuguese woman yesterday.
we tried desperately to speak French to one another for 20 minutes,
before we realized we could both speak fluent english.
we laughed loud & deep.
she bought me a gin fizz.
she told me I was born to be Parisian- 'this, she could tell' (she said with her hands).
i asked her if i was allowed to say 'i've lived in Paris' if i'm only here 4-6 weeks.
she said, "are you alive? are you in Paris? then OF COURSE you've lived in Paris!! you Americans, you think too much, especially about other's thoughts. you want to live in Paris, live in Paris!"
i feel like i belong here.
i'm confused and smiling most of the time.

Parsons is the most lovely.
everyone knows me by first and last name.
EVERYone- even the director.
every time I walk into a room they say, "we were JUST talking about you!"
what an honor & a privilege. 
i was in an exhibition in the front entrance during orientation.
i went back when it was closed with my student ID & took lots of pictures,
so as to not appear silly.
my student visa is not going to get approved in time.
i will likely have to go home & come back next fall.
i will have to go home.
i only allow myself to cry about this once a day, 
for 3 minutes or less.
(usually on the metro, with my sunglasses on).
i've worked really hard,
it has not been good enough.

i really can't complain.
i get a 4-6 week European vacation.
i get to go home, knowing so much more.
i will learn French, save money & return so much more prepared.
(i am so sad.) 
i've learned how to open a bank account,
get a cell phone, use the metro & train & buses.
i can understand 90% of the time when people are speaking French or another language,
although i can rarely understand anything.
i can read a lot.
my sense of direction is impressive.
i feel very alive.
(and very foolish).

people much rather prefer you speak in spanish than english,
if you do not speak french..
i'm speaking a lot of franglish- i feel bad for everyone i encounter.
i'm reminded that it takes very little words to communicate.
this is a good thing to remember.
i'm taking a lot of pictures for tourists > they think i'm french : suckers.
i walk confidently.
i have no idea what i'm doing.

i drink wine out tha bottle, in my bed.
with the window open.
the air is delishhhous here. (and the tap water too!)
i have SO many bug bites (mosquitos & spiders lovvve me)-
truly at least 17+ bites right now. (i'm gross).
i eat weird 'sans gluten' things. 
and try to not starve, for my momma.
i smoke cigarettes & drink 'cafĂ©' & wine. 
i'm lucky to have one meal a day- 
usually made of lettuce and tomatoes.

it's midnight here. 
i'm listening to 'local az' muzak & watching 'arrested development' 
i should sleep.
i'll be back home soon. 
(unfortunately) & luckily.

nothing good comes easy..
or so i'm told.