Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Clean-solution

It's New Year's Eve. Looking back on the years I've celebrated in California, New York and Europe have shown me that I have been to some of the most kick-ass parties in the world, and you know what? I'm tired. Tired of spending time on the hair, make-up, dress and shoes to be the Diva who shows up at the party at 11:30pm and rings in the New Year until 7am+ at the expense of my feet, sobriety, wallet and sanity. Don't get me wrong, I have had A LOT of fun and regret none of those moments, as they will keep me smiling tonight while I try something a little different.

Anyone who knows me, knows how I love to use the excuse, "I'm an artist, so it's not in my nature" when it comes to cleaning house. This is really a load of crap I use to justify my behavior to myself. I hate doing it. I hate laundry, ironing, vacuuming and most of all....the dishes. I have not had an apartment with a dishwasher since I lived in Long Beach, CA in 1998. That is seriously inconceivable on some levels. I really shouldn't whine about it, because if my grandmothers were alive they would shame me with stories of how they used to have to go down to the creek with a washboard and bar of lye (lard) soap to do the laundry. In fact, my Granny used to say, "Good ol' days?? Good ol' days my eye! There is nothing good about being without a washer, dryer and indoor plumbing!" However....Gran stories aside, what I would give for the ability to just rinse a dish and push a button. The end! I am so envious of other people's dishwashers, that I even relish the activity of doing their dishes; neatly organizing all of the coffee cups to point in one direction, separating silverware, sorting all the plates from large to small....sigh.....but, I digress. Maybe I was royalty in my last life which is why cleaning eludes me. It's not that I don't know how, in fact when I really get into cleaning mode it becomes obsessive. Where is the middle ground? At least I've finally gotten to a point where I prefer the irritation of housework to living in a pig sty (a term my mother used fondly when referring to my childhood bedroom).
For those that don't know, I live in a chambre de bonne. Literally it translates to "room of good one" but is more commonly known as a "maid's room." For a more comprehensive definition:
Essentially I live in a 12 square meter studio (40 sq feet for the non-metrics out there). It is easily soiled, but a much more managable space for me to deal with daily chores.

To slowly get to my point, I am not one for New Year's resolutions. I won't bore you with my philosophy because's boring, but I've decided that whatever activity I happen to be doing to ring in the new year is going to be how I set the tone for the days, weeks and possibly year(s) to follow. So, I decided to stay in, be calm, sober and clean! (verb not noun) I am heading out of town for a few days to visit a friend of mine in Le Pouliguen and when I return I want to walk into a clean home. I realize there are plenty of people who have always operated on the cleanliness/godliness philosophy, but some of us take a little longer to learn certain things. Granted, I don't want to do those damn dishes, but I can't just throw them out the window and buy new ones so, I'd better get crackin'!

I did ring in the Paris New Year with some friendly faces on skype and called the friend who was hosting the party where all the rest of my NYC friends were to ring in their new year. I'm sorry I won't be there to join in their bathtub of fun! ;-)

Good night, much love and blah blah blah!

p.s. To all those who have endured my mess over the years....I'm sorry this didn't happen sooner.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Reality Check

I suppose I could start by apologizing to my friends whom I have long promised to write about my adventures here in Paris. While I do journal from time to time and write some stories down, I admittedly have not shared the realities I'm facing other than an occasional one liner on facebook. That being said....the following is a confessional that manifested into something much more serious than I anticipated, but it is the reality of what has happened to me.

I always have mixed feelings about the holidays. Christmas was important in our house because we were a Christian family with a Southern Baptist heritage that spanned generations. It was the one time of year when we dreamily became distracted from our actual problems with each other by wrapping presents, hanging decorations, singing holiday songs and throwing ourselves into the holiday Christmas spectacle debacle at our church. To this day I do enjoy the sound of Christmas Carols, even though the text no longer carries much meaning. As it must have been in most small American towns, there was no mention of Judaism or Islam, and Kwanzaa was just a holiday not based in reality (insert juxtaposing "Santa" irony here). No matter what the reason during the season I usually got yelled at by some family member for misbehaving (you know how adults have difficulty dealing with an intelligent, strong-willed child) and the odds for this occurance were greater for me as I usually had three separate families to share holiday joy. One year the fire department came to extinguish the Christmas fire started by my mother; and another my sister and I had our presents taken away for locking our baby-sitter out of the house - which I will justify doing to this day because she broke the rules and invited her boyfriend over, therefore stripping her of all authority. The last anecdote I'll deal out is when I convinced my sister we should call our mother's bluff about Santa. In every Christmas movie you see the children waking up early, running downstairs and immediately opening their magical gifts from Santa in their stockings. SO, I woke up my sister at 6am and rushed to our stockings feigning joy and excitement as we began to tear through "Santa's" presents. My mother's bionic hearing led her into the living room - without a stitch of clothing - where she proceeded to yell at us to get back to bed and shoved the presents back into the stockings and wrapping paper. I secretly giggled at all of this because I knew my behavior was completely logical - why should SHE be upset that we were opening SANTA'S gifts? Besides, an angry half-asleep, naked mother is pretty funny when you're about 7.

I suppose looking back I was ornery, but I guess I always felt like a fake at Christmas. Christmas didn't change that I was an uphappy, angry child. My sister and I were still the only outcast children of divorce who never felt completely accepted by our mother's, father's or step-father's families. It didn't bring my father around more often. It didn't make my step-father stop yelling at me whenever I pissed him off (which was a lot) and my mother usually clung to the childish behavior of making things all about her. The eight years I spent in New York only lead to one Christmas back in California and I admit I was never sad about it. I don't say any of this to negate my family, because this year we've become much more open with each other and I love them for better or worse as they do with me. Or at least I hope they still do after reading this.
What I am sad about is having left a beautiful family in New York that always supported and loved me in ways I had never felt. They thought I was amazing and I had never been able to see myself that way. I have always felt very encouraged by those friends who became my adult family and I thank them all for their love.

The reality of my journey to Paris has set in. I am very much alone, but it was a decision I made to figure out the reasons I have been drowning within myself for so long. Most people don't know the demons I face because I keep them hidden in the darkest places within and had become a champion at hiding them from myself. However, perhaps now it is time to share a part of me that I have been afraid will put an unlovable condition upon me to the world. A few days ago I watched a dvd my mother sent me (for Christmas...) of a compilation of home movies during the times when I was 13-15 years old. I felt sick to my stomach and cried as I watched and saw so clearly that I have hated myself for as long as I can remember. I had spent so much time feeling self-hatred, that I didn't even know when it began. I had never believed I was worth loving, or succeeding and have spent my whole life running in a direction that is furthest away from having to face that. I turned off the dvd and thought: you have tortured yourself long enough, and now it's time to stop. I don't think I've ever felt so peaceful and such a cliched "moment of clarity" in my life. Now, here I sit in my beautiful Parisian apartment on the brink of a second chance to treat myself with the kindness, love and acceptance I have always sought from others, but have never been able to give myself. Holy crap. Has the answer for me always been so simple? I'm almost annoyed because I know I'm smart enough to grasp this concept, but have obviously been too proud to apply it to the person who needed it most.

Well, I can't promise the next blog will be super upbeat, but I can promise more detail of my daily living. I mean one only gets one Christmas epiphany a year, right?

Love and Happy New Year to all!