Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Paris Has Left the Building!

Should you desire to follow me on continued and (hopefully) more uplifting journies....

Hope to see you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Upside Down & Insides Out

I have so much to report, and so little desire to re-live it all to be honest. The string of events that have led me to where I am now (without proper residence, on the verge of an expiring visa, pain in my leg that doesn't seem to want to end and daring to make the boldest career move I've ever attempted) has royally tried to screw with my solidarity. There's nothing like being stripped of every single thing you use to identify yourself to make you lose your mind and test the strength of your mettle. Yes, I could most certainly waste time pondering what it all means, if the universe is trying to tell me something, if it's just a string of bad luck, but I'd rather just pick up the latest broken piece, find some gnarly glue, slap it back together and keep on truckin'.

It's interesting when you go through a difficult time how various people react. I have found it's one of three reactions: 1. Shock and surprise followed by consoling and coddling. 2. Feigned understanding with much dialogue behind one's back. 3. Realists who tell it like it is with no sugar coating to be had. The older I get, the less bullshit I am able to stand from people (still having enough of my own to wade through) so I do have a new found appreciation for group number 3. All BS aside, I don't love Paris. I'm not even sure I like big cities anymore. I miss temperate weather, the sunshine, the ocean and basically loathe any environment that thrives on unnecessary stress. I don't know what that means for my future, but for now my best option is to stay put until I figure it out.

Despite it all, my disposition remains forward thinking and rather upbeat. Perhaps I've simply met the quota of tears for this lifetime. I mean, my family did seem to always think I was a bit of a drama queen. I tend to think they were just jealous at my ability to get so emotionally worked up it allowed me to vomit my way out of any situation. Although the disgorging was sometimes used for manipulation, it was mostly a surprise as my deepest fears came alive in my stomach and felt the need to exit through my mouth. There are two children who will never forget their first day of first grade in Mrs. Fleisher's class in 1984. Being very nervous about going to school all day long and having a large, scary, beast of a woman with two distinctively downward pointing eyebrows for a teacher, it's no wonder I lost my Pop Tarts all over poor little Dominic Onaindia. I don't remember the embarrassment, or if children laughed at me, or if Dominic cried in his puke covered state, I simply remember the sweet relief that followed (until the nurse's office couldn't get a hold of my parents, so the neighbor kid's mother had to bring me some of her daughter's clothes to finish out the day). Those old pangs of nervousness in the stomach have subsided for the most part, but if one does pop up now and again, I simply remember that I'm an adult now and being ruled by fear is not an option.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

One Ticket for the Crazy Train Please!

When you are an artist your whole being becomes consumed with outlandish thoughts and ideas on a regular basis. This is how we function, how we are able to create greatness and inspire the world around us, but it most certainly can be our downfall when its consumption takes a wrong turn. I realize that when music starts to top the pop charts it can be seen as less than quality, but I have to say I always go back to Gnarls Barkley's Crazy to remind me that losing my mind is the most necessary action in order to progress. In releasing all sensibility and logic one does run the risk of blowing the most minor instances out of proportion, so the walking of the tight rope between conscious behavior and freedom of thought is an understatement of how difficult the balance can be.
(I would have embedded the original video, but that function has been disabled, is the song with the lyrics)

I do recommend watching the actual video if you haven't seen its rorschach inspired artwork:

If you have read any of my previous tangents, you will understand all too well how my mind has taken me for a ride on more than one occasion. I don't know if it is a combination in freedom of mobility, a change in climate with the approaching summer solstice which has me feeling like I'm finally back in my skin, but whatever it is I am truly grateful. It is a pleasure to wake up in the morning and set working goals for the day which keep me in a forward motion and healthy mindset. To most people I have always had a fairly cheerful persona, be it genuine or the desire to be pleasing. Usually it seemed based upon the circumstances in which I let myself become involved or allowed to affect me, but recent results have reminded me that happiness is a choice. I am all too familiar with the invasion of dark times caused by fear, self-doubt, self-loathing, all of which result in self-destruction. I can't believe it has taken me so long to understand that choosing to be happy is only difficult if you feel you don't deserve it. Let's go ahead and cliché that out with 'better late than never' I suppose.
My friend Eric whom I love dearly has always said to me, "You are so lucky that you know what you want to do in life", but that has not necessarily been the case. I headed down a particular road because I had this talent, and spent a lot of time listening to other people try to tell me what I should be doing with it. I hated musical theatre, couldn't stomach being a pop star, and the over-achiever in me loved the difficulty of opera and how I was certain I could conquer it. However, the more time I have spent meandering down that path, the less interested I have become in it. I had always hoped I would be the person to change the business and the public's perception of opera, but I have been going about it all the wrong way. At least for me. I have spent my entire life fighting and rebelling against the nay-sayers who think they know what is best for me, including my parents, so why in the world would I fall into the habit of conformation of what others would have me be when it comes to my art? It can be scary out in the world when you've lost a sense of self and all you want is for someone to come along and tell you what to do for an easy fix. I have wasted precious time waiting for life to happen in certain areas and listened too closely to the opinions of others who hardly had my best interest at heart. was definitely time to lose my mind, find my inspiration and put on the necessary blinders to keep me from stopping too often to smell the flowers or drift off under the magic spells of someone else's opinion which usually only ended up being poison apples instead of food for thought. Losing the possibility of 'no' really frees up any hold that doubt may try to take. I just needed permission to be unreasonable! That resonates so well within my personality and brings with it such joy to think I can ask for whatever I want, even if I don't get it. However, I'll go out on a possibly delusional limb here and say: when I have the balls to ask for something outrageous, and do so with the most sincerity and confidence possible, I usually get it. When did I forget that I was so audacious? Well, not anymore! I may be creating a monster here, but I cannot convey enough how happy that makes me. It puts that insecure girl's fears to rest, and keeps me from being a belligerent miserable bitch to everyone around me. I have spent too much time being a shrinking violet for fear of offending the delicate nature of those around me, and that only manifested itself in the form of a bitter woman who wasn't being true to her nature and would let loose inappropriate outbursts with a silver-speared tongue. Make no mistake, I will surely continue to shock the world at large, but with that comes the ability to awe and inspire.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Walking the Streets Where the Sun Doesn't Shine

I was sitting in the police station yesterday with my friend Jenn and we were telling stories to each other which made us laugh in only the way happy people are able, then suddenly our joy was doused by the woman sitting at the reception desk in her slacks that were too tight in unmentionable places, and too short for her sling-back sandals that obviously hurt her feet as she dragged them lackadaisically across the floor. I'll get back to why I was in the police station in a moment, but for now I would like to carry on remarking on the odd experiences I have been privy to here in Paris. The French people who are in my circle of friends and most acquaintances of theirs are exempt from the slander I am about to spew. There is something psychologically defunct with most of the people in this country (or perhaps it's mainly Parisians). In all of my Freud and Jung studies I don't remember anything specifying the psychosis of the inhabitants of this country, but surely they had opinions on this very strange population. Perhaps it's very French or stereotypically American of me to complain about them, but I am sick to death of being told what to do at every moment, that I am always wrong and that happiness is seen as something dreadful. Yes, I come from a country of loud-mouthed, rarely well spoken or educated peoples, but seriously who told you you're allowed to rain on my parade? I suppose I should thank the woman from yesterday as she has inspired today's writing, but CHRIST ON A CRACKER I wish I'd had either the French vocabulary to hand out a tongue lashing or at the very least a spitball shooting device to knock her down a notch or two. In all fairness I do have a rather boisterous laugh that tends to ring throughout any corridor I may inhabit, but why is that something that should be seen as a horrifying crime? I should have asked if there was a law preventing laughter, seeing as how I was in a local precinct. This was not the only offense or odd occurrence I had been witness to this week. Recently I went to the movies, and before buying my tickets from the man at the counter, I arrived with my shitty ipod headphones in my ears (I have broken both pairs of expensive earbuds, therefore forcing me to use the less than acceptable Apple ones) and before I could even ask for two tickets he scolded me for having them turned up so loud as it would most certainly cause my deafness. I am never sure of what kind of automatic reaction comes over my face, but I think it was probably the ever so diplomatic charming smile which covered up my internal monologue that spat with the fury of an Italian mother whose daughter had become pregnant out of wedlock. "Excuse me you grumpy-middle-aged-worker-bee, you are employed by a movie theatre and are wearing a royal blue polyester blazer that is only a wise fashion choice due to the certain drippings of popcorn butter you are about to serve that will surely come out in the wash with greater ease from that material." Yes, it's condescending and elitist of me to say, but what I really wanted to say was "back the fuck off and mind your own business." Or as I have recently learned 'MĂȘle-toi de tes oignons' which after a fantastic round of etymology with a friend, have understood it to mean, 'mind the manner of your own buttcheeks.'

Before you fret that the reason for my sitting inside a police station had anything to do with my behaviour, let me ease your mind. Jenn and I were there in support of another American friend who had found himself in a precarious predicament two nights before. He also faced some French resistance on his way home, unfortunately for him it was in the form of a prickly police officer instead of a mere minion. Everything worked out, as he was only required to pay 100 euros directly to the officer with whom he had had the altercation. Forced bribery it would seem. Nonsensical country.

Alright, back to the previous rant. Although my living space is humble at best, I do happen to live in a very affluent area of Paris. Every other car is a Porsche or Aston Martin and when I walk outside it appears I have been dressing myself at a homeless shelter in comparison to the designer frocks, shoes, and bags I see walking down the street. However, as we all know, having an endowed bank account cannot buy one manners or propriety. I am constantly befuddled how every Monday morning without fail, I walk down my street to the boulangerie and seem to come across a minimum of three dried raw eggs that have been smashed to bits on the pavement. It's bad enough one has to take care with their step due to the steaming piles of canine fecal matter everywhere, but this just seems excessive. I could go on a few tangents of speculation, but I'd rather roll my eyes, shake my head and move on.
The most appalling thing I have been witness to (other than during cold season when people couldn't seem to keep from blatantly using their fingers to scrape the inner walls of their nostrils) was on my way home from the grocery store on a Friday evening when people are rushing about trying to get out of town for the weekend. There was a car double parked outside of the market and being packed by a mother and father. The mother was standing next to the car and patiently waiting for her four-year-old daughter to finish urinating in the street. There she was, bare-butt and squatting for the world to see in the middle of a crowded scene. I was completely dumbfounded. Granted, I don't have children and am sure there are memories of my own childhood which may have eluded me, but I can hardly fathom that my parents would have allowed me to behave in such a manner (though they weren't exactly able to contain many of my actions in the first place). I do have one friend - and when she reads this she'll know I'm speaking of her - whom I have witnessed on more than one occasion, relieving herself betwixt two parked cars throughout the streets of New York City. So, of course when I saw this little girl recreating that scene, I admit it did bring about some laughter and nostalgia for my lovely friend.
I still have not completely made up my mind about this country, other than I know I hate the weather in Paris. What in the hell was I thinking? It's almost the first of June and there is a small chill coming from outside my window, covered in clouds that will most certainly threaten the afternoon with rain. This California girl needs some warm weather and the ocean. Screw the seasons, I'm tired of them. Seasons are for people who need an external force to determine the motion of their routine. Give me the sun and an excuse to wear nothing but a piece of cloth tied around my body any day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lessons Hard and Tarot Cards

I woke this morning from a dream where I was driving on freeways in Singapore with a long vacation planned for travel around southeast Asia. In the car with me was a man I used to date who was complaining about the way I drove. In all fairness, I did seem to think I might be suffering from night blindness in the dream, which would have kept me from seeing whether or not I might be swerving off the road. However, I didn't like his attitude so I pulled over and let him out of the car. I decided to resume my dream during the daylight hours, where I was still having a bit of trouble controlling the speed of my vehicle and had to use both feet on the breaks. I wasn't frightened so much as frustrated with the lack of control I had over my general velocity. I tend to dream about the ocean a lot, and there was plenty of it surrounding the areas where I drove. One journey led to a hike that included some rock climbing on the edge of a very sandy cliff side, which jetted out over the water. Anyone who knows me has never heard a story which involved both rock climbing and me in it. I blame it on long fingernails and a general fear of falling, resulting from a lack of upper body strength. No thank you. So, it was no surprise in this dream when I was hanging on by a thread looking up at all the other hikers who marveled at the glorious view while I fought for my life (or at least to keep from falling into the ocean). Somehow I made it to the top with the slightly too chipper for my taste, campers. You know, those annoying people who might have been cheerleaders, aerobics instructors or just seem to maintain a general sense of overly perky behavior? I usually wish I had a BB gun on such appropriate occasions. Not enough to cause real harm, but just enough to where they can let the rest of us enjoy some silence (after a moment of screaming in pain....BBs do hurt). The dreaming woke me after only 5 hours of sleep and it left me lingering on the emotional purging process I've been going through in the last week or so.
It's been a rough winter and adjustment to being in Paris which has not inspired a lot of hope in myself as well as promise of future projects, however after a freak out about my reality which involved ice cream, Nutella, red wine and a teary phone call to a dear friend in California last week, I am snapping out of it. I called this particular friend because she has a way of seeing through the emotional bullshit to get to the bottom of things, but always in a very loving and intuitive way. It's rare when you have someone who knows all your darkest secrets, doesn't judge you and still lifts you up to remind you how great you can be when you aren't able to feel it yourself. It's not the same emotional coddling that can happen to validate what you've been doing, but the true gift of loving kindness coupled with honesty to bring you back to the facts of the matter. Knowing me the way she does she asked when the last time it was I had read my tarot cards. Now, I know it's hokum and voodoo to some people, but I find it a good exercise which brings me back to my intuition by clearing up any emotional turbulence that might be clouding my vision. Of course it's always difficult to remember the tools one has acquired over the years when becoming overwhelmed by emotion. I realize that not everyone is like me, and I do stare in amazement at those who achieve a sense or calm or even flippancy in their reactions. I am capable of this as well, but moving across an ocean into a new environment, a depressing Parisian winter and a broken leg are not exactly the formula for a healthy mental state. So, I broke out the cards. I have been dabbling with this particular deck for the last 10 years or so, and do not profess to be any kind of expert, but since I do have a strong sense of intuition and know myself better than anyone else it tends to bring in much needed insight that I fail to see otherwise.

Below is the brief summary from the notes I made on this reading. I could go into detail about each card, but I might lose some of you along the way. So if it really interests you pop me an email.

- "What I have taken from this reading is that I am a non traditional person who doesn't know how to accept myself and therefore is resistant to the changes that are naturally happening inside of me. My emotional distress from the past has distorted my current state so much that the brain tends to tell me truths that are in fact false, and if I continue to believe and remain ruled by these distorted emotions, it will only channel my powerful personality into aggression. Therefore achieving balance is necessary and will be obtained by looking at things logically, and carefully weighing options so as not to make impulsive choices which would only create further imbalance. There are external forces which will block my creative energy and try to keep me from being my best self, therefore I should carefully consider how to spend my time with people and environments. My biggest fears are that I am not strong and that others will in turn see any exuberance as false and only deem me weak therefore making me insignificant and useless. Moving forward, it is important to accept that the past will not change, but I must not resist current and future change, for they are always possible. I am NOT subject to the fate of my past. If I learn to understand these things and remain calm there is a fiery new beginning waiting for me to obtain it."

As you can see the cards did not tell me what lottery numbers to play, when I will die or that I will fall in love with a blonde haired man with black eyes. What it said so clearly is that my emotional stability is distorted, has much to do with my upbringing (duh), and that even though I think I have worked through it in therapy or whatever, I am obviously still carrying more of it into my present than is necessary. Everyone has a screwed up family or childhood in some way, but some of us are just wired with higher levels of natural anxiety that cause us to deal with it differently. On the exterior I appear to others like a relaxed, calm person who has her shit together, but the reality is I always carry around a large amount of internal suffering. However, after a so many years of trying to hide and carry pain all on my own it started leaking out (via vomit or uncontrollable emotional reactions) usually at very inappropriate times and with the help of inebriating substances.

After an attempted death by Nutella the day before, I decided I needed to get out into the sunshine (yes it's been sunny in Paris this week) and have a little fun. I did a little yoga, went to Parc Monceau and wrote for a few hours on the grass then met up with some friends for dinner. We were wandering around (first time out without a cane, crutch or leg in a brace) trying to decide what kind of food we were in the mood for with the myriad of restaurants before us, and finally decided on a hole in the wall Italian place. It was reasonably priced and not much to look at with its plastic red and white checkered tablecloths, but presented the warm aromas of a proper Italian kitchen. We were welcomed by a tall lanky older man with some serious bed-head who seemed to have lost a few teeth somewhere along the way. Two of us decided on the prix fixe menu, and as we ordered were informed that with the special menu came a free tarot card reading from one of the two Italian-gypsy-like women in the back of the restaurant.Two tarot sessions in one day, why not? I tend to look at such coincidences as more of a cosmic joke being played on me rather than giving it any great gravity of importance. The first card this woman pulled represented a man with whom there had just been an "upset." At first I thought she was going to generically talk about someone I may or may not have been dating, but she turned to the subject of my biological father who had recently been in the hospital and how it created conflicting emotions within me. Okay, one point for the tarot lady. There have been times where I thought it might just be easier if my father were dead, because at least I would not be pulled in close only to be betrayed and disappointed by him again in this yo-yo of a relationship we have always had.

In the grand light-bulb moment, I have seen the real affect of what he taught me about love and what it does to me anytime I start to feel the slightest bit abandoned by a man. The best part is realizing I really can choose to look those feelings in the face and say, "no, I will not tolerate these emotions any longer" and react in a much healthier way. As my friend Jeremy would say "it's time to put on your big girl panties!" There's peace in understanding the reason for a behavioral and physical reaction that has dictated one's actions. Rather than solving the search for love by putting a temporary Band-aid on the wound - which would indefinitely turn into an infection of continually festering, potentially life or limb threatening gangrene - making choices that avoid the gangrene altogether would appear to be the wiser decision.

(Pictured above is me, my sister, youngest brother and biological father)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

God Help Me. Jesus, stay out of it.....

The cast has been off for over a week now and while I still don't have full function of my joint, tendons and surrounding muscles (not to mention that my body does not seem to be very happy that there are several foreign objects made of metal inside it) I am surprised how fast the progression has been from the day of removal in the hospital (when I cried because I could hardly put weight on it) to now, when I took the metro for the first time in 2 months over the weekend! The unveiling from cast to leg was pretty gross. Dried blood everywhere, long gangly leg hair and peeling alien skin that itched like there were fire ants crawling all over it. Not attractive in the slightest. The very cute tall man-nurse that removed my stitches gave me some of the best physical pleasure I've received when he cleaned my wounds with a piece of cotton that applied some much needed scratching to the area. I could have died happy at that moment.
I was going to save the pictures of the gruesome aftermath until the very end of this post, so as not to allow anyone's lunch to be lost......but....sorry.

It's strange looking down and seeing the right skinny floppy leg in contrast with a strong muscle-beach-like left one. I do some exercises every day to increase mobility and have been lengthening the duration of my walks as well. Because I am a person who is full of pride (yes even after all of the humiliating experiences that have gone along with this one) it is really hard for me to endure the kind of attention that comes with being an invalid walking down the street. I am down to using the one polio crutch, but it's mostly so I don't lose my balance or get mowed down by the number of inconsiderate Parisians with their scooters, strollers, dogs and reckless children on those god-awful-ride-on-two-wheeled contraptions.
Having all of this time to myself has left me over thinking and analyzing too many things in regard to my journey in Paris thus far. I moved here to create a fresh start for myself in a few areas and admittedly have not been as proactive in taking advantage of this opportunity as I intended on when I first arrived. It's funny when you reflect upon certain decisions that cause you to question your own strength. I waver between feeling strong and weak, but I see that I can't allow those dark thoughts to come in and take over so much that I keep myself from the things I am so perfectly capable of doing. Perhaps, I did not set firm enough goals for myself and allowed that artist's way of floating along in the wind to carry me in whichever direction I felt, as opposed to focusing on where I want to go.

There's this thing that I always forget I do as some sort of default mechanism. When I get stressed out or overwhelmed I always find some man to use as a distraction and become completely focused on him. To my close friends this is no secret, as I adore attention from men due to years of damaged daddy issues. I realize I am not alone as most women fall prey to seeking out male love as over-compensation to the lack of what they received from their fathers. How cliche and ordinary! Ha. Well, it has been my reality nonetheless and when I first arrived in Paris I was dating someone who allowed me to cry on his shoulder and was there for me at every moment. However, after I discovered he had been dating another girl at the same time as me, I cut him off completely and in turn left myself in an exact replica of the situation I was trying to bury from childhood. Directly after I fell into the same bad habit of depression in reaction to feeling unwanted and unloveable. I can happily say that I was not nearly as self-destructive as I had once been, but I still allowed this depression to stop the motivation I originally arrived with in Paris. This pattern is like a strange terminal sickness that I choose not to see, allowing my want for connection to take hold of all emotion and biting me in the ass every single time. Insanity at its finest ladies and gents! Obviously at this moment I am quite clear of these transgressions and can use my current state of level-headedness to make better decisions....that is until what I call "crazy girl brain" starts to take over, bringing in the myriad of irrational thoughts that can only be concocted from years of trust issues.

I was up late last night after not being able to fall asleep and watched Frida. While I totally hate Julie Taymor (the director) for the ridiculous spectacle she made of Mozart's Magic Flute (and the fact that she's sort of a one trick pony) I still love the beauty of the movie along with the captured essence of Frida Kahlo. I admittedly despise being so emotionally moved by trivial moments on my screen, but when the film ended I was overwhelmed with my own sense of emotions. Let it be said that I am definitely someone who is extremely sensitive and feels everything at the deepest level of my core. When I take pleasure in something it is a pure form of ecstasy and when I feel pain in my heart it's as though I've ingested it into every cell of my being. Even now as I sit here and breathe deeply into a brief moment of sadness, it feels as though it is the pulse of the world running through me, causing my eyes to well with tears and a heavy swell of emotion to rise up from my gut into my throat. I have learned to live with this sensitivity as best I can, and try not to fight against it, as that usually only manifests itself in a downward spiral of self-destruction. I have learned I am not a person who can compartmentalize and pretend something does not exist, rather the only way I can function is to make peace with the emotion as it lives within me. It is quite exhausting to feel so much, so deeply, ALL THE TIME! There are plenty of times when I simply tune it out because I just don't want to deal with it. I listen to other people's problems, read, watch movies or any number of other energy numbing activities that keep me from heading into the turbulent depths of myself. Don't misunderstand as there are just as many feelings of light as there are of darkness. However, it seems one cannot exist without the other, therefore if I allow full happiness, I am also susceptible to the sadness. I never manage to escape either for very long, at least not anymore. I endure my suffering alone, not wanting to burden others with my struggle, but also for fear that a perception of "craziness" might be taken were I to dispel every thought I have all at once. Last night in the deep dark hours of night I had a moment that I can only describe as "I wept for my soul" - god, that sounds ridiculous. It stemmed mostly from the uncertainty if my soul even exists, or if there's a god who cares enough to save it by offering me love and peace for the duration of earth's journey, like all the good books throughout time have told us. I suppose my largest conundrum is that I do not know what I believe. I have scoffed at or mocked others for their personal convictions, yet I envy their ability to be so certain of personal truths. The concept of God is so twisted in my mind, from years of attending churches with different dogmas as to what God deems virtuous and worthy. Some say we are all worthy of God's love, others believe it is earned through daily deeds, but I can't seem to wrap my head around the guilt that was always shoved down my throat for committing "sins." Even as a young girl it was as though I could see God shaking his head at me in disappointment every time I lied, masturbated, or was mean to someone. Why would I seek the approval of someone whose love was proclaimed unconditional, but who clearly didn't like me when I committed acts of unworthiness? It resonates quite well in my ever so Freudian quest for "fatherly love." Because of all this I had abandoned any sense of spiritual connection I felt for this higher power. I have only believed in tangibility, even the kind that comes from feeling the energy of the person next to me or the city in which I live. However, none of it has ever come down from the heavens on a cloud to show me the right way to be (no matter what the bible says...I wasn't there). My mother said something to me once when I was young, and although there is a propensity for malarkey to fall out of her mouth most of the time, every so often there are slivers of insight: no one can judge what goes on in the dark between a person and their God. For all the years of exposure to Christians who concern themselves with the behavior of others, who try to pray away what they deem "sinful" in the people around them, I pose the question as to why they are so worried about the soul's affectation from the acts of one's flesh? Leave them to their God I say. I do not pretend to be a theologian with expert knowledge on the lives of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lao Tzu or anyone of the sort. Eighteen years of bible thumping, 2 semesters of southeast Asian religion, and years of yoga study does not a spiritual guru make. I don't care what anyone else is into, what works for them or begrudge their journey, but I just don't want to hear about it. To blatantly quote Lao Tzu "Those who know do not talk; those who talk do not know. Keep your mouth closed...." Truer words have never been spoken in my humble opinion. So I guess one could perceive that I think all of our religious prophets, sons of god, or deities who rule the land, sea and sky, were just a bunch of loud mouthed egomaniacs who wanted the world to take on their dogma to satisfy some need for joint community through belief. However, I've already established that I don't know what I believe, yet continue to spew my own ideas, making anything I say truly a moot point. Since I'm already disturbing the taboo waters of religion I will gladly remain open in divulging my own practice of calling out for help in moments of deep struggle when I am alone in the dark. I ask for love and support that cannot come from the human realm and which I find necessary in order to move forward day after day in a world with priorities so far up its own backside that it causes us to swim in a sea of daily excrement.
Is there a God? How the hell should I know? I laugh inside any time someone says "I just know"......please. Well, you don't know the sky is blue unless you've seen it, and you don't know that wind exists unless you feel it on your skin or watch it knock down a tree; you know that 2 + 2 = 4 because it was taught with a tangible concept to you. What we end up with is belief. People believe plenty of things that aren't necessarily true. Just go to your nearest high school and get the daily gossip from any random teenage girl and they will tell you any number of truths. Many Americans believe the French are snotty, uptight, cowards who couldn't save their own asses against the Germans, however the perspectives are quite different from this side of the ocean.

Do I have a real point? No, not really. Do I think you should hop on my bandwagon? Not in the slightest. I'm just trying to figure all this out, and it's better to get it out of my head with the help of my fingers than to overindulge a brain which has a hard enough time coping while millions of emotions, rational and irrational thoughts, chemical reactions from hormones, blood sugar, oxygen or the lack thereof, are swirling around inside it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Indoor Mania

Even though being in this condition is a perfectly good excuse to sit around and get stoned, so as to not lose my mind with every thought under the sun bouncing against the walls of my apartment, I need something to do right now. My focus is oozing out through all four million plus pores in my skin and I admit to feeling pulled in each of those directions. I could stretch, scrub the floor, clean the shelves of the refrigerator, vacuum, scrub the oven, individually sterilize each little rock in my bathroom sink, study French, read Garcia-Marquez or Flaubert or Steven Pinker or Dhiravamsa, practice piano, practice singing, memorize music, learn new music, watch videos of people singing the music I need to learn, find old recordings of the music, research the libretto or poetry of the music, double check my translations of the music, organize the shelf behind my bed that keeps piling up with crap so that everything is within reaching distance, finally decide what to do with the two boxes of CDs I have no room for ::::breathe:::: or write. I have been laughing all day about the first moments I physically got up and went to fill the ritual kettle with water so it would be on its way boiling after I returned from the salle de bains.
I'm sure my family doesn't want to hear this, but I thought I'd give fair warning; I rarely wear a stitch of clothing at home and never to bed. I love living alone (well except at the moment, as leaving the house is quite a feat). So, when I arrived in the kitchen and took the kettle from the window sill, filled it with water and turned on the stove I had nothing on but my cast and suddenly surprised my new neighbor across the way with my birthday suit. It was a common occurrence with the last neighbor, as that apartment's bathroom window is directly opposite my kitchen window. At times he'd be getting out of the shower as I'd head to the kitchen and although sometimes we'd wave, we simply became used to each other's nudity like an old married couple. This morning (or noonish) I saw a girl with a ponytail who was hanging a curtain - an idea that has eluded the rest of us apparently. My only reaction was: huh, new neighbor. That led me to wonder about my lack of reaction. Why hadn't I tried to cover up or worry if I'd offended her? Ultimately it just made me laugh at my own priorities. I remembered that I don't care about such things and then I thought well, I am in France as the stereotype goes, but it's not the same in the north as it is in the south. It is colder and a bit more prudish than one might expect when it comes to such things.
Personally I am not offended by nudity. Perhaps it's because my parents (especially my mother) regularly partook in clothing optional practice around the house. Dad would at least grab his bathrobe in the mornings, keeping his exposure to us children very limited - and we thank him for that. I suppose it is hard being a parent trying to get three children out of bed, showered, dressed, fed and driven to school all the while needing to do those things for yourself. Clothing must have just been low on my mother's priority list. I don't blame her. I see the appeal. Anyone who has hung out with me in summertime knows that the main staple of my wardrobe is skin. This has mostly to do with muggy New York summers that make every thread of clothing stick to you while feeling as though you're breathing under water, therefore making any sort of cloth related insulation a terrible idea. However, I am starting to see the downside of around the clock nudity. Depending on one's mood it can distort what is seen in the mirror. Some days all I can see are stretch marks, dry skin, extra padding in the tummy, areas that used to be naturally buff, but somehow decided to go on strike, and a myriad of other self-criticisms that would rival the catty panel of America's Next Top Model. Other days (which usually include boredom) there are moments of posing, arching and the distorting of one's figure to satisfy some egomaniacal thirst that one is still appealing. As for the rest of the time, acceptance of whatever is there tends to take precedence. No use in wanting to change things that can't be fixed, or whining about what could be if one is not willing to do anything about it. I have never been a tiny person, nor would I want to be. If I were really thin I would waste money on tiny designer jeans to increase the bootyliciousness of my backside anyway. Having one built in is much less expensive, and creates a lovely cushion of absorption should falling be a regular habit.... The lack of clothing in combination with too much physical inactivity is starting to give me what the Catholics might confess to their priest as "impure thoughts" about.....well everything really. I can't exactly get out to meet anyone, nor was I seeing anyone before this happened, nor would I be inclined to want to be with someone while in a cast (feeling sexy just isn't in the cards when you know you have 7 inch ingrown leg hair) and also don't want to run the risk of someone who prefers the "gimpy girls" and could end up breaking my other leg to appease his particular fetish. Is it twisted that I can imagine the conversation between such a disturbed individual and myself? "Sweetheart, but you look so beautiful hopping on one leg. If we simply break the left one, then the right one will have time to grow stronger, keeping you from feeling out of balance." Then he would probably have the nerve to break-up with me once I had rehabilitated both legs and was back to being a normal homo erectus. Jerk.
While I'm on the subject of dating in France I would like to take this opportunity to dispel the rumor that French men are the best lovers. I was chatting with a friend of mine yesterday about her experiences with men while living here in Paris and we arrived at the same conclusions. I will not lump the homosexual male populous into this argument, but I gladly speak with full confidence from a female's perspective. These men are all about the chase. I know there are several self-help dating book authors who would say that about most men, but the French take it to new heights. They spend so much time in their game of pursuit, flirting, teasing and taunting us women until we finally give in, but by that time they are so ready to pounce on you that they move through the entire love-making experience with such haste, it usually ends with some sort of equipment malfunction, making us wonder why we indulged in their ridiculous little game in the first place. This country is not known for its valor, so why would one expect that from its men? (Although, courage and bravery rarely describe anything in the modern world, aside from a skewed view of military heroism). It also baffles me how little these men appear to be. I feel as though I could hoist their waif-like bodies over one shoulder and nearly snap it in two if not careful. One day I'll write a book entitled, "Whomever said French men were the best lovers....was a French man." I think the photo below should be on the cover, but I'd swap out the beret for a cigarette to adhere to accuracy. In the interim I shall research all the Scandinavian churches and non-French rugby game locations throughout Paris in hopes of a better dating pool.

I have been out a few times and stayed with friends for a couple of days here or there, but I'm really at the mercy of my physical limitations and it's pissing me off. I was depressed and not talking to anyone, stewing in an unbathed sanctuary while doing nothing but watching movies, but now I'm just annoyed with it all. Having the option to do nothing versus being forced into its throes does not have the same effect. Yes, perhaps I'm supposed to be thankful for the ability to do other things and feel all inspired, but really it's overcome with impatience. Wanting to get back to my life where I wasn't participating as heavily as I should have been is really starting to take over. The second week out of the hospital I really needed to do something that felt normal, otherwise I was liable to start cutting up books and sheet music in a collaging frenzy on one of the four walls I have been forced to stare at recently. I hadn't really done much singing since all of this happened, but I had been looking through my repertoire, as I have a new found love for some classical French music that I've never taken the time to learn. A friend of mine here in Paris who is a baritone called me up and asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a small recital at the home of our Pianist. It would be an intimate evening with some friends at minimal cost to us. This gave me plenty of ideas which inspired the outing to the pianist's home for a program discussion and rehearsal for the three of us that weekend. I coordinated with my friend to pick me up at 2pm (or 14:00) so that we'd have at least an hour to get there via bus. The metro is still out of the question unless I'm going to sit down on the stairs, slide up and down, exposing my hands and bum to any number of atrocities that might be lingering on the bottom of Paris's feet. There are not as many options for elevators/escalators as one might hope in this scenario. It seemed easy enough, two buses, one transfer and eventually let out 2 blocks in front of our destination. To begin Sylvain was 20 minutes late....he is always late and I should have known better by now than to give him the exact time to arrive. We missed the first bus and had to wait another 15 minutes for the next one. Getting on the first bus was ok with the crutches, and people were quick to offer their seats for me which was admittedly kind of fun. Almost makes me look forward to becoming an old lady. I might walk around with a cane and ugly shoes on purpose just to make people give up their seats to me or let me ahead of them in line. The second bus however, was where the day's catastrophe began. The transfer between the two buses was much further than it indicated on the map and this was the first time I had walked more than a block on crutches. We arrived at the second bus stop and of course it was in the middle of a busy shopping area with no bench to sit on. I toughed it out pretty well while dealing with the cold and less than ideal circumstances. One bus comes toward us, but of course it was not the one we wanted, then the next and the next and the next.....we must have stood there for almost half an hour before our desired bus number came along. We were late, I was cold, in pain and frustrated to no end. Fighting back tears, I stood on my numb left foot with the crutches digging into my underarms in the cold air until the bus finally arrived. I let everyone on before me, and hopped toward a seat, but before I was able to secure myself, the ever so considerate bus driver took off into traffic and I went flying. Luckily there was a giant pole which killed my momentum, allowing me to catch myself from falling. A whole slew of multi-lingual expletives came flying out of my mouth in the odd order of "Sheisse! Puta-mierda-pinche-cabron, you fucking asshole; MERDE!" After an uninspired apology, he informed the bus that due to a "manifestation" (or event) at one of the plazas, we would not be making the scheduled stops....I was about to go postal. Then somehow dispatch came through to give me a break and we made it safely to our stop. It took a while to settle in and regain circulation in my left leg, but by the time it was my turn to sing something interesting happened. In the past I've often had a hard time getting out of my head and being in the moment when it comes to singing (or living for that matter). Since being in Paris I have had to go directly from very emotional experiences straight into rehearsal. I admit I had never been good at not becoming affected vocally under such circumstances, but one day I just decided to breathe into the uncomfortable feelings and embrace them as opposed to compartmentalizing and pretending they didn't exist. I couldn't believe that it worked. This day, I was overcome with a lot and rather than dauntingly approach the obstacle I just sang as though I had not a care in the world....and it was good. Like...really good. For the first time since I left school have I felt that I am actually capable of succeeding as a singer. It's interesting because this past year was also the first time I had thought about giving up this dream completely. It's the first time in my life I haven't allowed the definition of my persona to revolve around this talent, or worried what I would be like without the display of this gift. I don't know how I feel about destiny or if we have one. I do know that the sound of the instrument that was built inside me is truly beautiful, but I don't know if it's supposed to be for the world or just for me. I don't know if it's a heavenly gift that is my cross to bear as I toil to make it heard in the world so it can share the light of God. Maybe I don't want to fight. Perhaps I have spent so many years trying to make peace with myself that struggling for the rest of my life has lost its appeal. Could I be happy spending my life on a beach, with land to tend, drinking in the sun, writing all day and singing at night in a little cafe off the coast of Mexico? The more time I spend in large cities with tons of people the less I feel like being an active member of a metropolis. These could be the rants of a crazy cooped up woman who has just survived her first Parisian winter, but it could be worth pondering.

For your entertainment I give you Robin Williams's interpretation on French cliches......