(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Summer at Blue Creek, North Carolina

There was no water at my grandfather's
when I was a kid and would go for it
with two zinc buckets. Down the path,
past the cow by the foundation where
the fine people's house was before
they arranged to have it burned down.
To the neighbor's cool well. Would
come back with pails too heavy,
so my mouth pulled out of shape.
I see myself, but from the outside.
I keep trying to feel who I was,
and cannot. Hear clearly the sound
the bucket made hitting the sides
of the stone well going down,
but never the sound of me.

~Jack Gilbert

I read this poem in the November 10, 2008 issue of The New Yorker (an indulgence I've yet to set aside in my new life abroad). It touched me in ways that surprised me. At first this segment resonated ...

"I see myself, but from the outside.
I keep trying to feel who I was,
and cannot. Hear clearly the sound
the bucket made hitting the sides
of the stone well going down,
but never the sound of me."

As I reread the poem, I was transported back to a summer at my great-grandparents' house in Roseburg, Oregon. I was 12 or so and had a first glimpse of, heretofore unexperienced, freedom.

I was free to stay at a new girlfriend's house. Boys loitered on the curb like vultures who had somehow spotted a fresh kill, circling..circling. We first swam in her pool ... a luxury to me compounded by the fact that there was no fundamentalist cult member judging my swimsuit, my swimstroke or the decibels of my laughter. After we finished our swim and donned cut-off jeans we made our way out to the curb and conspired to take a walk to the river.

The poet Gilbert's words urged me on to attempt to 'see myself. keep trying to feel who I was.' Perhaps I had a little more success or perhaps those were just his words, not his feelings attempted.

As I think about that day walking down to the river, a hot stifling August summer day, I can almost resurrect certain moments. The dust we kicked up as we walked the path, and how it settled down as we got deeper into the woods bordering the river. The smell of the greenery that began to emerge from the trees and fern nearer the water. The sweat trickling down my already dry back. The excitement I felt walking alongside that 13 year old boy, John Alsen was his name.

I thought I understood this boy, whose father was a preacher, a hard mean man who liked to humiliate his kids into submission. John's father had caught him in some harmless yet forbidden act and had shaved his head ... all save a Hare Krishna like pony-tail sprout at the top that he bound in a band. John was as hard headed as he could be, in return. He joked about his ponytail and embraced it, ruining the satisfaction for his father who eventually chopped it off ... irritated.

John and I walked companionably down the path and it wasn't long before I felt his hand take mine. I was speechless and excited and about as near to being in love as a 12 year old can be. The group of us spent the afternoon swinging high over the river, revelling in those moments of being airborne just before we hit water in a shock of cool relief and swam lazily back to shore.

At dusk, we'd had enough and stood on the banks jostling a bit and passing a few stolen cigarettes. The red ember glowed and we all felt that sense of being there ... right there on the edge of everything that adult possibilities present in the mind of a teen. John's arm slipped round my waist and we stole a quick kiss. We made our way back to the neighborhood, up the path, mosquitos buzzing, crickets in the distance. Arms around each other's waists.

For several days, this afternoon beamed bright in my mind, a young girl's flight of fancy. Back at my grandparent's house ... I enjoyed the dull routine of cooking, sewing, walking in to town ... and dreaming about young John Alsen.

Home with them one afternoon, the phone rang. It was another of the boys from the group that night.

"Hey Kim ... whatcha doin'? I heard you had fun the other night. John says he got a piece of tit ..." I slammed the phone down. Shaking. Red. Understanding I wasn't going to ever hear from John or speak to him again ...

Carefully made my way to my room. Closed the door to contemplate the ways of love. The ways of love in the real world versus a young girl's reverie.

And yes, Jack Gilbert, I hear the sounds of me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


okay, I'm going to take a risk here and talk about blog awards. A blogger I recently started reading put up a post questioning what the awarding and meme'g and tagging thing was all about. Being a fairly new blogger, they had questions ...

got me to thinking more about it ... I always have mixed reactions to awards ... on the one hand, it is of course nice to have recognition... when an award is bestowed and there is feedback given about one's writing efforts ... it is gratifying. It is also nice to write about others I admire and/or enjoy. And memes can be fun because you learn something new about the blogger.

then come the rules. I understand that providing some guidelines might help the 'love' get passed along. but they seem to get a little strident at times. somewhat demanding.

Also, since the purpose of the rules is to mandate who and how to pass the thing along ... well, there are only so many blogs one can read and gain familiarity with. So inevitably the same circle of bloggers within a 'following' tend to get hit over and over again. And they seem to come in waves because of this phenomenon as well.

I admit I have found it stressful to receive an award. Kind of damned if I do and damned if I don't. How am I going to come up with new recipients so I don't keep burdening the same folks? How will I find time to read some newer blogs more thoroughly so I know whether or not to tag them? If I don't respond, will I insult the blogger who gave it? How do I react if I am ignored?

what would Jenny do? (since she is my blogging idol ... ) well I kind of know. She always seems to find time to come and comment on my peasant blog, if she receives recognition. But I've never seen her actually respond on her site. But then she's famous. What if I did the research and found out her history includes a series of awards that led to her success? hmmmmm.

what say you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

suddenly it dawns on her ...

I'm leaving for the states in one week. ONE WEEK!!! crap, where did the time go? there are lists to be made, arrangements to be finalized, blah blah blah

I'll be heading to Portland, Oregon first for the first few days ... a reunion brunch with friends on Sunday and then drive to California on Monday. Spend the next couple of weeks staying with my daughter and friends (alternately, I suspect!) while we work together in the shop.

Thursday, December 11th we host our annual holiday reception and BLOW-OUT SALE (30% off this year, biggest ever!) from 5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Anyone reading that is in the SF Bay Area, please come on by. Details will be here on our store blog, Je Suis Mignonne. There will drinks and food and djmusic ... and of course, MOI! haha-haha!

Once Christmas arrives, we close the shop for a week or so. We will head back on up to Oregon to the coastal cabin (see my sidebar!) and have a little family celebration of our own.

Currently I'm set to return January 16th but may come back sooner ... I am not bringing the dogs and am a little anxious about the situation I was able to arrange for them. So I might return one week early.

While I'm gone, work shall theoretically (ha, no I'm sure it will) progress on my kitchen and home. It will be interesting to see, upon my return, what the new year will bring.

My french professeur, Laurence, has kindly set me up with a mini-program for while I'm away. I have a book to read and chapters to summarize in french and some other exercises which will be exchanged via email. I'm also armed with a list of french conversation groups I hope to drop in on for practice. I'm nervous about backsliding.

Of course I want to see family and friends, but the truth is I think I'd rather stay. sigh. Nearly every time I speak with someone (friends) in the US, I hang up depressed. Everyone is gloomy and upset and the sky is falling and what's next ... I'm happy in my french bubble.

Anyone out there in the states that will be in the Portland or SF Bay Areas 12/3 - 1/15 and wants to meet up ... give me a comment. And when I return, I definitely want to meet up with some of you frenchified bloggers and bloggesses. tout de suite!

Monday, November 24, 2008

blogger album project

Randal with one ell and a bad case of l'ennui tagged me for this one ....

Favoritest Albums ... anytime

1. Van Morrison - Moondance

2. Django Reinhardt - Djangology

3. Edith Piaf - The Voice of The Sparrow

4. Miles Davis - Birth of Cool

5. Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

6. Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings

7. Sarah Vaughn - Live at Mr. Kelly's

8. Billy Joel - An Innocent Man

Favorite Newer Music

1. The Bird and the Bee - Again and Again and Again and Again

2. Pink Martini - Sympathique

3. Jet - Get Born

4. John Legend - Save Room

5. James Morrison - Undiscovered

6. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

7. Ben Harper - Lifeline

8. Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby -

I'm like Randal, I could go on for pages. this wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.

Tag you are IT!

1. Amy Rigby (come ON, I want to know what a REAL MUSICIAN listens to and loves ... )

2. Bete de Jour(not that I don't think he thinks he is to hifalutin to do it...but I want to know what a quirky Brit listens to when he isn't ...um...being all quirky and shit)

3. speaking of quirky Brits, Nunhead Mum of One(what do YOU listen to as you chase your darling son and husband around?)

Sorry Randal, can't come up with 7 taggees ... so flog me.

I'm still working on complying with the following fine print:

Rules and Regulations:
1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE at Je Ne Regrette Rien.
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar, along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

too many rules. too many tacos.

Randal, le monsieur de l'Ennui-Melodieux hath memeth moi ... and I am hereby acknowledging it with much whining and gnashing of teeth. for there art too many rules. and I have too many tacos to produce.

So Monsieur Double-ell (pronounced the french way ...) I'm honored and shall get to this aprés mon anniversaire! Je m'excuse!

Just to prove my point ....

Rules and Regulations:
1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE chez Randal.
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar, along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.

yet another faux-pas.

omg. that reminds me of something I found hilarious. and embarrassing. at the same exact moment!

In my Friday French lesson, I had to write (in French, of course) a summary of a bad internet shopping experience I've had. This is a typical example of the kind of work we do .... something real life .... and then, during the lesson we discuss all of my *les erreurs* as well as the topic at hand.

anyway, so I was relating a bad eBay experience with a female vendor and in my story I referred to her as la Madame. Because I had previously learned that instead of saying l'homme for when you want to say 'the man' ... did this or that, it is better to say le monsieur.

so Laurence tells me, with a chuckle, that it is not la madame. unless you are referring to someone who was of royalty. or worked in a brothel!!!

well, if I had a euro for every time I've said la madame instead of la dame, I could buy myself and a hot le monsieur a nice dinner somewhere. lord knows how many women I've referred to as being house-of-ill-repute employees!

why oh why didn't one of my French friends correct me by now????!!!

why? because I'm the entertainment, folks.


free red cross donation ...

Okay, I was browsing at Mrs. C's (No Place Like It) and found some lift-worthy news... a way to brush up on your French by reading a very entertaining blog de Noël ... Mon Beau Sapin (or My Beautiful Christmas Tree).

Mon Beau Sapin is a French Comic collective that is raising money via unique visitor page views to their site. Apparently this effort is underwritten by orange.fr. Money raised by "clicks" or page views will be donated to the Red Cross and used to purchase Christmas gifts for needy kids.

And the site is pretty entertaining! I promise! See For Yourself!
So you can do some good works for yourself AND the kiddies ... and it is F-R-E-E.

sorry Mrs. C for the blatant plagiarization. I'm unabashedly like that. shameless, really! but it IS for a good cause, right?

(on a side note, apparently refresh doesn't up the ante, so visit again and again)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

i must be crazy.

I'm cooking a mexican dinner for 10 or more Saturday night. My friend Marjo is donating her kitchen! and some guests. Sunday is my birthday so it will be a fitting remembrance of my first one in France.

I'm up to my ears in shrimp and chicken and fish and tortilla makings. I'm starting today, roasting tomatoes and peppers and onions and such, simmering chicken for deboning and perfecting my tortilla making skills for fresh tortillas.

Le menu? Entrée of shrimp ceviche and quesadilla points, Main course of fish tacos with lime cilantro cream sauce and a cassoulet of chicken enchiladas with chorizo. Rice and refried beans on the side (homemade, of course). Fresh roasted tomato salsa. Sangria.

Someone else is doing the dessert.

hmmm. am I forgetting anything? (my sanity is already on the list.)

wish me luck and bon courage. have to stay away from the sangria. or at least too much rum.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

eat my cake.

Another blog award from my generous fellow Bloggess Utah Savage. This one's a treat because it is frenchified. The Marie Antoinette recognition is apparently intended to go to bloggers who have something to say, who tell the truth.

I prefer to believe la Madame was a generous sort, wanting to share her gateau with the hordes at her door. Kind of like my own self-illusion, welcoming all of you hordes (okay, so I'm wont towards exaggeration) for a piece of my (not so) literary cake and sometimes even frosting!

My cake is all the flavors of the world, just like my partygoers arriving for a bite. Sometimes I don't feel like baking and cop out by serving store bought. but somehow you all still keep showing up. so here, have a piece on me.

The seven of you I'm tagging have French illusions like me ... and write in earnest about your desires and experiences in trying to make illusions reality.

In An Old House in Paris ... who is determined to master French, who has fallen in love with Paris, who has begun her dream in earnest.

These Days in French Life ... who is sort of pioneering in France, blazing new trails and taking no prisoners.

Chez Loulou ... She's tasting life in the South of France, living her dream and bedazzling us with photos of beauty. French beauty, I might add.

A Southern Belle Goes to Paris, y'all ... she dreams of her life in Paris, and is working every day to create it ... can you picture the accent?!

Chez Rigsby ... a newly discovered blogman who, like me, is documenting his new life in France.

Notre Vie Juteuse ... well, we are co-conspirators in this life adventure ... we leaped the sea to explore the land of our dreams. And I think the Marie pic will look pretty on her blog wall.

La France Profonde ... she's an old hat at this France stuff down in the Aveyron ... and hey, us 'mericans gotsta represent!

So, again I tried to introduce some new kids to the table. Move over, make room on your readers for the ones you haven't met. Make them feel welcome, won't you?

post.script. Apparently the lack of rules on this particular award are a bit befuddling. What I garnered is ... think of bloggers who impress you with the veracity of their words ... honesty, raw emotion, telling it like it is ... you get my drift. And then recognize them. From what I can tell there can be as few or as many as one wishes. Live life dangerously, just go for it ... Like Marie Antoinette!

not sure about why ...

One morning this week as I returned from an outing, I pulled up to my house and saw la Poste fellow parking his bike outside my door and knocking. I smiled and nodded from the car, getting out. I was expecting he had a package or something I had to sign for.

He asked me if I would like to buy a calendar. He reached into one of the hanging side-rucksacks that usually contain the mail and pulled out a stack of calenders.

"Vous preferez les chiens? les chats? les fleurs?", he inquired.

How much?, I asked. "C'etais votre choix" ... (it is your choice) ...

So now I was flummoxed. Calenders for a donation?! and why?

I asked him if the money was for the village. It took a couple of tries before he understood. No, he said, for me!

I walked back to the car to get my purse. The calendars were clearly printed by the post (they are marked as such). They are more than calendars, they are hardbound with maps and almanac information, emergency phone numbers for France and the Dordogne, post codes and various other stuff.

I offered him 5 euros and he smiled and thanked me. This is my selection.

I'm still baffled. Obviously I missed something ... fundraising for postmen?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

le futur ...

my my my ... yesterday in my French group we embarked upon le futur! I have yet to master the present not to mention passé composée and here I am trying to think about adding an extra "R" plus avoir to the end of everything. talk about tongue twisters!

The approach to my French group is actually quite informative. No endless memorization, rote pronunciation drills or disciplined dictées. I am learning about life in France as I learn to speak about it.

The workbooks we use all center around relevant life topics that are current in French life ... we've covered PACSg and socio-cultural norms including how to label/address different family and coupling scenarios. We have lively conversations about the week's political activities ... in all the countries represented (UK, US, France). Barack and Sarah provided much fodder, indeed! These group sessions are supplemented by a weekly 1:1 lesson ... I'm hoping my finances allow me to continue this approach next year. C'etais une investissement dans ma nouvelle vie et mon futur!

This week we did some language and sentence dissection, to be sure. But we were dissecting the lyrics to a popular Bénabar song. Just so happens that J-Y had suggested I buy Bénabar as a way to improve my language and enjoy a new generation of French folk music. He's such a smarty-pants. So I brought the 2 disc CD with me ... which included a DVD of a live concert. Bénabar's music represents a very traditional French genre where the emphasis and importance are more on the lyrics and less on stylized musicality.

After listening to the program's version of the song and explaining the meaning with each other, in French, Laurence broke out her brand-new DVD/TV monitor and we were treated to a live performance of "le Dinér" ... a droll song about all the many ways a couple could avoid a social engagement they aren't looking forward to, and instead stay home ... under the covers!

Did I mention that Bénabar is a talented young man who is quite easy on the eyes?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

am I blue?

last night's festivities included live performance by Rag Mama Rag, a blues duo playing 20s and 30s country blues since 1991.

The venue was La Rhue, a Dutch gites site/camping ground that apparently has delved into the live music arena this year. They are located (as some of you might remember) on a difficult to find country road with little signage or fanfare. After my first unsuccessful attempt, I rang them up for directions (I really wasn't far last time) and drove over during the day to make sure I'd have my bearings. There was a small sandwich-board sign on the side of the road, alerting passers-by to upcoming music. After going there, I think they may be on to something with their formula. At 6 euros per head, plus drinks ... and all they do is fling open the doors and let the band and audience in ... seems like a lower-than-some-others effort business affair.

At the last minute (luckily) I called again to confirm they served food. Which. other than some quiche ... they didn't. I first decided to have dinner in Jumilhac (the closest village) but as I headed out I changed my mind and stopped by The Fiddler's Rest, just outside of Thiviers.

The Fiddler's Rest is hosted by an amiable Irish couple, Ronan and Jo. They bill themselves as serving 'pub grub', but I will give them points for being a cut above that. The food is fresh, hearty and the portions are actually too large. Ronan fronts the house and Jo is the cook. She is great with child right now, and it is entertaining to eavesdrop on her predicaments surrounding sleep and such. The pub is done up nicely, with warm wood stoves, bright red walls and all else you'd expect from an Irish cubbyhole. The downside is, as I'm finding with these expatriate-run venues ... is that it seems rather cliquish ... I've been 4 or 5 times and, with the exception of the one night when live music was on offer, the clientele is predominantly english speaking, mostly Irish or Brit. If you want a spot to go and listen to people bitch about the French, these are the types of places to frequent.

Fortunately, I've never heard Ronan or Jo partake in the grousing ... as proprietors I imagine they are required to listen and nod affably. Thus far, I've never come across someone I'd want to engage in a conversation beyond exchanging hellos (other than the owners). But, the menu presents something outside of the french norm and the hospitality of the owners is genial ... so I'll venture back now and again. Maybe more so in the summer, when they are bound to have more consistent music nights.

On to La Rhue. La Rhue's music venue is in a large converted stone barn, and when I first entered it was empty and appeared promising. Until I was roughly elbowed aside by the first of what were hordes of Dutch groups ... descending en masse for the music. I mean they really were loud, pushy and ungracious. It was a family style occasion ... from 6 to 66 were in attendance. The proprietors were, again, quite friendly. With high ceilings, beautiful exposed stone walls, new wood floor and large music posters festooning the walls ... the spot was visually appealing. Many of the tables were marked 'Reservé', so I had to ask if there was a spot for a single. I was told to choose any seat I'd like. More and more folks clattered in, I was overdressed. They all looked as if they were fresh from a day of milking (except one tall slim beauty with legs up to here clad in tight denim jeans and a pewter-toned belt who ended up sat right next to me).

It was interesting to hear the Dutch accent surrounding me ... loud and boisterous. I soon realized that whatever approach was used with the wood floor could use some rethinking. There might have been too much space or the wood was too thin ... every footstep echoed and pounded.

I made my way up to the bar and Monsieur explained their system. They gave you your own little order form, throughout the night the tally was taken and when you left, you turned it in and paid up. He noted my American accent and asked where I lived. When I replied Brantome, he immediately recognized me as the woman who had called and got his wife. She greeted me warmly with bises, asked if I was hungry, etc etc. Very kind.

I returned to my seat and watched the room fill and morph, as tables and chairs were dragged hither and fro. It was like they all knew each other and were comfortable enough to rearrange the floorplan.

FINALLY, (nearly an hour late) the music began. The acoustics were not perfect, but the music was grand. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, mississipi blues to east coast rag ... it was great. I believe they were a husband/wife pair ... with him on the guitar and she on a variety ... washboard, harmonica, etc.

Unfortunately, the large group of Dutch (including the glamour girl) talked loudly throughout the entire evening. That, combined with their incessant foot stomping that echoed loudly over the music drove me from my seat and out the door after the first set. Well actually, I grabbed my drink and relocated to standing at the bar for the last song and as I tallied up. Madame made sure to notice me and check on my evening. At break, I bought a c.d. and headed home. I was 50 minutes away so I was still home past midnight.

It may not sound like it, but on reflection I had a fun night. There was one silly frenchman at Fiddler's Rest who decided to hit on me ... drunk as a skunk and half the time I couldn't tell if he was talking to himself or me. And at La Rhue, mercifully to my left was the only french couple in the house. We had fun exchanging eye rolls as we observed the other members of the audience gab and trip over each other!

congratulations, Atlanta, Georgia ...

YOU are my 10,000th visitor! Yes folks, I've been stalking my counter these past few days as I neared the big 5 digits ... and a reader from Atlanta, Georgia just tipped the scales.

You've won an all expense paid trip to ..... blogland! Virtual paradise abounds if only you have the courage to brave the tempestuous waters!

And of course, thank you ever so much for stopping by today. Seems like only last week I installed that counter ...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

blues night redux.

Well my last attempt at a Samedi soir was poxed, but tonight I'm trying again. And this time, I've scouted out the locale at la Rhue in advance, filled up my tank and called the auberge to confirm I know what the hell is going on.

Now I have to decide if my ensemble will be the same. I've been freezing all the day, huddled in my room with the radiator turned up AND a fire in the fireplace.

So not sure if the dress, even IF it is worn with warm winter tights and boots, will suffice.

a miniature breakthrough.

On Armistice Day I wandered into my village, drawn by the endless clanging of the oldest bell tower in France. I'd been told that any variety of activities would be occurring throughout my new land ... most coordinated by the local mairie.

I went to our war memorial ... which is where I suspected the action would be. There a surprisingly small group was gathered, listening to a wizened man in uniform speak of the horrors of war. Also in attendance were a small cadre of men in uniform, and what looked to be a unit of some sort of French youth group associated with the military.

My village has a woman mayor (zut alors!) and she was in attendance, being saluted and shaking hands.

I stood off a distance, observing but wanting to signal my recognition that the proceedings were not for étrangers ... out of respect.

I spotted and was recognized by a woman in the audience. She is associated in some way with the socio-cultural committee of Brantôme, she attends my yoga course and collected the fee from me. She has always been very serious with me, a bit cool and aloof in class which until now is only where I've encountered her.

Well, on this day she smiled and nodded at me. Quelle surprise!

Once the proceedings concluded, the attendees made their way as a group through the village ... a short walk over the picturesque L-shaped bridge and past the old moulin that is now a hotel ... up the cobblestoned streets past the monastery turned mairie ... and then down to a large hall where I gather the mayor hosted aperitifs and conversation. I didn't attend that part, feeling a bit of an outsider.

During the walk, Madame approached me and greeted me more formally with bises! I exchanged a few halting sentences with her, I was taken aback and it seems my french flew out my ears and into the atmosphere! I ended with a 'well, I think I'm going to have a walk around town' and she bid me a 'bonne promenée' ...

I was quite surprised by this turn of events and brought it up at my Friday french lesson. My professeur, Laurence, pondered my tale and told me that fewer and fewer French seem to honor the veterans, but pass the holiday by. She felt that the reason Madame approached me was, since she obviously considered the day important to observe, perhaps she was touched by the fact that an étranger would exhibit such respect and show up.

Well, even though it is all mere speculation ... I was happy to be recognized by a local in this manner.

Isn't it funny, that? I mean, Americans are such a seemingly happy-go-lucky lot ... with few traditions and a Labrador-like style just ready to wear their hearts and opinions on their sleeves.

I'm continually struck by the similarities and yet vast differences in human nature as I press forward with my new life. There's the social ones (like my story today).

There is also a veritable rubik's cube of possibilities presented with the male and female interactions. I'm pretty much without a clue with most of it, stumbling my way with a cadre of misconceptions and assumptions ... many of which I'm convinced are completely out of line and yet all I have to go on.

C'est trés drole! And it is very droll as well.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

no words required. f'idiot.

feeling all superior.

Utah Savage recently awarded me with some recognition of the *pass it along* variety. Apparently, we DID learn something we needed to know in Kindergarten ... cos here I am being called a Superior Scribbler!

Utah has a generosity of spirit and is lavish with her praise ... we just need to get her to see the same in herself! Her writing and courage is inspirational ... she has put herself and her life out there in very raw form, and I hope someday to be as brave as her in my writing.

I struggle with these award things because the tradition is to 'pass it on' to other bloggers. I confess I have been fairly insular in my blog reading. Having discovered a core group of blogs that resonate with me, providing entertainment and distraction ... I haven't ventured as far out into the blogsphere as one might. So I think sometimes I've become a bit redundant in the matters of tagging. I also admire some blogs that have authors that are either already too famous for such frippery ... or just don't want to be bothered.

So I'll try and do a mix here, introducing one or 2 blogs that I maybe haven't touched on yet ... and thanking some dear favorites.

First up is one of the dear favorite variety ... La Belette Rouge. La Belette has amazingly soothing properties for a she-weasel. She is entirely relatable ... having had the honor of meeting her in person, I can confirm that those properties translate to the human form. She has a kind wisdom in her eyes that engender confidence in her words, belief in her smile. She can wax rhapsodic on an amazingly wide variety of topics ... from life's gut-twisting improprieties to the secret savings code on this week's best beauty product to insightful tips for budding authors to how to assemble the absolutely MOST desirable J Crew ensemble and many other stops in between. That sense of *ommmmmmmmmm* you get from reading her posts ... t'is the genuine article kids. Not to mention her comments are a balm to my soul.

There's a new fellow I've been reading cos I think he has a novel approach to blogging. Ask A Frenchman blogs on in response to questions he solicits from his readers. That's right, anything and everything you wanted to know about France & the French can get a response straight from the ... erm... cheval's mouth! I find this a bit ballsy ... sluffing off the work to one's readers in order to come up with blog topics ... but hey, it is working cos I keep going back (probably because he hasn't answered MY question yet ... ). He is frank and direct and a bit snarky ... well, you get it, everything one would EXPECT from a frenchman!

I've tried with No Place Like It before, maybe she is one of those bloggers who is anti-awards...but I have to drop her in the mix because of recent postings concerning her reaction to the elections and being Canadian and having her voting rights mucked with because of expatriate status. At least US Expats can vote! Also because she was subjected to some bullying by her countrymen and instead of ignoring it (it came in cowardly email fashion) she STOOD up to them on her blog and didn't just roll over. MY KIND OF BLOGGESS! And all this time I thought Canucks were mild mannered wussies who didn't know how to pronounce about. *ducks*

Okay, here's some late-breaking news ... a blog just introduced to me yesterday that I just HAD to include because of the raunchy, rock and rolling, irreverent, shockworthy socially relevant content that I am only just beginning to sift my way through ... Pour Quoi Pas defines itself in part in the following way... "This blog is a joint venture by a number of people. All members have a basic “common ground” in their outlook on life. Yet, we are all different. Some of us are religious, some atheist. Some are politically mild and “center-ish” (meaning with no particular tendency nor affiliation) - some are extreme left wing. Some are not even concerned with politics at all, but are about ecology and the welfare of this planet as a whole."

That said, the authors are a diverse cast of characters that are sure to provide, if not some controversy, a lively read.

My fifth recognition was destined for L'Ennui-Melodieux or Monsieur le 2 Ells (as I prefer) but EVERYONE fucking gets to him before I do. grrrrrr. So I'm just gonna say that I love his blog because 7 out of 10 blog readers prefer it more ... and where else can I go and have to read the post at least 3 times before I figure out what the hell he is gone on about this time? And seriously, the man can write. The man can throw down. He can serve you up some poetry, some prose, some satire AND bring home the bacon (I'm doubting there's much frying it up in the pan but what can I say? After all, he still is only MERE man. cut him a little slack). So RG, no passing it on required, just accept my much love and shout out because you truly are one of a kind.

Like I've said, I think part of the fun with these awards is the chance to be introduced to a new blog. So check one out if you haven't seen it. And now I'll have to do some more homework for the future ... (just in case!)
*small print*

*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends (L'ennui-Melodieux is exempt, if he so chooses).
*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
* Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

just out of curiousity.

do most blog readers read comments? or is it only blog commenters who read comments?

being a blog author and regular commenter as well as a blog reader, I sometimes think we fall in a separate category. So I'm curious to know if my blog readers / lurkers read comments.

of course, if they are non-commenters then how will I ever know ... since it is unlikely they will spring up now and reply in unison.

well, if any blog commenters out there know any blog readers, can you ask them if they read the comments and report back?

thanks. good to know you are on the case. much appreciated!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

how one becomes worthy?

another message in a bottle.

I've been ruminating on this for awhile. perhaps all of my life. well okay, maybe just the last 15-20 years or so.

just what is it that one does to become worthy of being loved? I don't mean by one's children. or one's parents. or other relatives. those seem to be a given. the relationship stipulates for love, and from that point love can be diminished and such, but never earned.

but what kind of exemplary (or non-) life does it take to be worthy of another human's love? you know the kind I mean ... the non-related, non-friendship sort of love. now, I've tested any number of approaches and yet appear to have miscalculated on my formulas ... each and every one.

there's the be a good person formula. keep your nose clean, do the right thing, follow the golden rule, and someone will enter your life.

there's the bad girl recipe, be the one his mother warned him about, what men want is more black eyeliner, dress a little slutty with your FMe pumps. you know, be a spinner. unrepressed. unapologetic. fanfuckingtasticly free.

there's the daddy's girl syndrome, where your innocence, batting eyelashes and beguiling nature prompts a desire to pitch in ... do the heavy lifting, open doors and chop firewood. be a boy scout.

there's always the strong and independent woman. accomplished. reliable. admirable. able to stand on her own 2 feet, and even give you a helping hand up. no pressure, no foul ... just quality time with no expectations.

oh, let's not forget the best friend and confidante. intellectual equal. humoristically sympatico. emotionally bonding on various levels while we compare bruises and scars, laughing over the injustice of it all. checking out each other's asses when we think no one is looking.

Throughout my life, I've independently exhibited each of these personas. Later in life, I've carefully adapted many of the qualities of each into the one, pretty cohesive entity that is me.

Whether individually or collectively displayed, it has never really fucking mattered. I'm still alone. don't get me wrong, my life alone has shaped up pretty well. and if it remains this way, when it is all tabulated I will still end up more than okay. on the plus side of the equation.

I look around and see any and every sort of character that has managed to find herself loved. cared for. appreciated. treated with tenderness. and that frankly couldn't hold a candle to the life I've had to lead, couldn't begin to face the obstacles I've overcome, possesses less than a tenth of the moxy and generally witty survivorship that I've acquired (not trying to toot a horn, I'm sure I'll hear about my arrogance ...), not to mention the fact that I fucking clean-up pretty good.

frankly, I've never even really been sure I believe in love. l'amour n'existe pas and all that. (I'm talking love, not lust.) but hell, I want the fucking opportunity. what am I, chopped liver?

reminds me of a book title (slightly amended).

'Face it, they just aren't that in to you'.


ALL of them?

to quote one of my favorite bloggesses.

le sigh.

no regrets, mind you.

just askin'.

Monday, November 10, 2008

another milestone!

Today I received my 'Carte de Sejour' which grants me the right to remain in France for one year (well until next September, which is when my application commenced ... ) It gave me pause to reflect back when I was just beginning this blog (only April!) and was checking of my very long list of things to do ... including the visa and CDS process. And now another milestone is completed.

Other than not getting booted out, I'm not sure this particular document provides me much. I think I will need to commence with ANOTHER set of documentation in order to be self-employed next year. Which is what I am considering, perhaps a small business.

I think I also might be able to apply for a carte vitale (the privilege of paying into the French health system) ... but to be honest, I have read so many conflicting and competing accounts I am unsure.

I toss a note in a bottle out onto the interwebs seas ... oh please dear readers (or your associates you might inquire with) ... leave me a comment about just what privileges the Titre Sejour or Carte de Sejour entitles me to.

faithfully yours,

no regrets

Friday, November 7, 2008

interesting discussion today.

Had my French class today, the 1:1 session. Our time is usually a mélange of conversation and some written grammar work. Today we discussed the Obama election (YAY!) and the ramifications for the country and the world.

We rambled on to the topic of race and I mentioned how this particular election was momentous to my son, who is half black. This led to a conversation regarding 'metisse', a classification the French use for those of mixed heritage or race. ( Interestingly, the literal translation of metisse is mongrel. ergh. )

This led to a further discussion of what was viewed, by her, as a fascinating anomaly in the U.S. Namely, that the majority of mixed race folks who have black heritage identify their race as black. Since many of these mixed race individuals are half-something else, she wondered if this didn't represent a rejection of their entire heritage.

She also pondered why Americans seemingly don't have an official classification for mixed race folks, similar to 'metisse'. I let her know that there are many labels for mixed race people in America.

We chatted at length...I mentioned that much of American documentation doesn't allow for mixed race designation, rather it requires one to make a choice ... Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, Black, etc. And that many people, particularly of my son's generation, struggle with what designation to choose ... "officially and unofficially".

My son, as are more and more people...particularly of his generation, is faced with this dilemma. I think it is true that the majority of mixed race people who include black as part of their 'mix', identify as black.

My son, although lighter-skinned, identifies as a black man. He has some features generally accepted as black ... and others that mirror me. Do I take his embrace of 'black man' as a rejection of me? No ... and he readily discusses his mixed heritage.

We discussed (in my lesson) my opinion that we are at a watershed moment. Just as I believe it was a big step forward for black folks who are of mixed heritage, particularly those who could 'pass' as white, to embrace their BLACKNESS versus continuing to try to pass as white as they did in the 40s, 50s and beyond. Now that Obama has achieved the presidency on the merits of his competence ... running as a competent, qualified candidate vs. a black candidate ... our next leap forward might be more unity of ideals, purpose and being ... versus the continued need to segregate ourselves into groups and categories. Obama represents a new generation, a new ideal of hope, achievement, equality ... that can be sought after regardless of race, gender, etc.

Obama set a great example. Instead of continually categorizing or labelling himself, he freely spoke of his entire background. I think more and more, other multicultural people choose that same route. Why should they have to choose when they are all of these histories and more?

The world is hopeful. There is a frisson of excitement and anticipation in the air. It is incumbent upon all of us to maintain that feeling, to work for what could result from the momentum we've created.

The responsibility does not lie solely upon Obama's shoulders. Or the new government-elect. It is with each of us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

naked french fire dancing. well sorta.

So tonight I'm going to a party hosted by French friends Marjo and Rodolphe.

It is to celebrate the election of Barack Obama!

In their estimation, it is an American-style dinner. We are having hamburgers and Budweiser! I've been asked to bring coleslaw! Yes folks, the countryside here is ecstatic. In fact, over 85% of the French supported Barack.

I adore my newly adopted country and country-folk. I hope we have some American music in the background.

If I were warmer and feeling more ambitious I'd bake an apple pie. You know ... that old American standby.

But I'm not. So coleslaw it is! I'll toss back a Bud (ergh) for y'all!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

three months.

The past few days I've been reflecting a bit *sur ma nouvelle vie* ... so many experiences, so many feelings, so many changes have been compacted into what, with a little distance, I realize is a very short time.

I have thought about how little time three months really is. At least in my old lifetime. Not a lot new and different happened within three months. Same corporate Groundhog Days... same dismal evenings ...

Life seems magnified for me here. I've been told I am not the same woman that arrived here July 13th. I think my first month was spent in a state of confusion. Of trying to shed the layers accumulated for survival and protection. Of paying attention to the moments instead of worrying about the coming days, weeks, months, years. My physical metamorphosis is a manifestation of similar changes occurring on the inside.

My dear friend Kathleen calls it being 'present'. For non-new agey types like me, she translates that to an instruction to 'feel your feet'. That's right, think about feeling your feet on the ground. Bringing your attention back to what is happening right now, in this moment, and savoring it. Noticing it. Appreciating it.

I still have my days. Hours. Fearfulness. I'm also noticing that sometimes the fear and worry is being replaced by excitement. Instead of fearing for the unknown future and what it may hold, can I be excited by the unknown? sometimes yes, I'm actually doing just that.

I've never been a patient woman. I'm the kind of person who somehow just 'sees' a situation, how it should be, how it can be, how I want or expect it to be. Once I 'see' it, I desire immediate gratification... seems simple to me.

But that was when I was in control. My lessons in vulnerability are frustrating, requiring patience, reflection and letting go. I'm terrible at all of those. I'm not a good student but it seems that in these new instances, it doesn't really matter. There is no choice for me but to submit to the fates. (or whatever one might want to call it...)

Because I seem to be learning and changing and growing a lot, it just doesn't seem possible that it has only been 3 months (or so for you control freaks!!!)

I can't imagine where I'll be in three more ... or six more ... or ... um, wait a minute, Kim, feel your feet, feel your feet!