Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Paris, France

Walking up the Rue Dancourt as it turns into Rue des Trois Frères, I am transported back in time. I am excited but open the door with familiarity. A tiny door, by standards, and I need to watch the step. Crowded as usual and to my delight I am allowed to forgo the spotlight seat for the tucked away corner table. Deux personnes? Non, une. Thumbs up. I stare at the chalkboards, the same illustrations, slightly more expensive and I whisper my order over my shoulder and the shoulder of the male of the couple sitting next to me. The server corrects my French with a smile, repeating what I want to make sure he and I understand.

First course, fois gras with salad and toast. The foie gras is cold and is a perfect circle of the most perfect color of pink and brown I have ever seen. I stare at an iris from my dreams that looks back at me, a warm earth brown ring fading into a creamy coral center. I almost curse how rich it is and the small pieces of toast and the petit salad offering, but mostly I savor it. Taking breaks to be in transported to India by a woman's words which could have easily been my own, except for you can tell she was not born in the Bay Area. I am too conservative in the beginning and am left with one-fourth of the foie gras which nearly makes me faint because I know what comes next. A sensational assault. My entire sense, my only sense now is taste. It has the texture of silk mousse and a savoriness (is that English?) of all the things I was ever meant to eat. Salty, but not too much, rich... I close my eyes and make a sharp decision to learn more adjectives as I realize I am ignorantly imprecise. No thoughts past through my head for a while, just sensation.

The next course is Tartiflette Maison. A dish introduced to me by Gavyn, my French/Welsh flatmate of study abroad past, it has been the cause of many bathroom trips and a number of pounds. Stomach and body rebelling against Reblochon cheese, but my mind runs the show and it says you will habituated. And habituate, I did. A decent portion sits before me now and I know I'll finish it, but I know it will be a challenge nonetheless. The pieces of bacon, pancetta, pork belly, add the perfect saltiness to an otherwise creamy (again, must expand vocabulary!), soft and firm layers of potatoes and cream and cheese. I try to make the experience last as long as I can letting waves of memories, good and heartbreaking, wash over me. Wales, Steven, New Years, my inexperience, past innocence... and here I am. At the same restaurant, craving the same flavors, content to be alone as long as I can still taste.

I look over at the ignored wine glass of white wine, with it's thin layer of frosty condensation oozing from the inside out. In food drunk state, I make a mental compromise with the wine that I'm allowing it to become more flavorful by staying in the glass. As though through some crude semblance of osmosis, I'm allowing water to escape, but flavor to stay in. Chill, be cool. I think the white wine bought it...

The crème brulée and café crème elevate me from savory to sweet and the mix of sugar and caffeine leave me in heightened state of sense. I don't know how else to explain that I am a series of sounds, smells, and taste. CRACK. Spoon to caramelized crème. INHALE. Roasted earth. CRUNCH. My mouth exploring the bitter brown of brulée, the silky texture of the crème. I realize now, more than ever, why babies always put things in their mouths... Think about it. One of your only goals is to eat and this you do a lot of, this is the sensation that, for lack of better terminology, is exercised the most. You can barely hold your own monstrous head up let alone control your entire body, and you are dying to make sense of this big, bright interactive glob of moving shapes and sounds. So what is your most sensitive tool and skill you have? Your mouth and taste. Both have gotten a work out this afternoon.

I must have been there for one and a half, two hours. The lunch rush, gone, and I'm thankful no one is rushing me out. I am literally floating on air, I don't think I hear my boots click on their stone tile floor as I pay. I'm out the door with a merci beaucoup (I didn't have the wherewithal to say "Miam!"). But before I can reach the tiny opening, the people that leave before me open the doors to brass music.

La Paname sits upon a slight, windy incline on the way up to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, so the view is somewhat obstructed. You don't preside over all of Paris, but you're on your way either up or down. Not a bad place to be. I walk out unto the street to trumpet players flanked on each side of the narrow street blowing some sort of traditional French folksy number, the trumpet player on the other side, the one the westside of the street lugging a cart with the beat. He's got it. Older men, but light and still smiling, taking turns turning their flat caps upside down and right side up, blowing air into music. I donate the contents of my coin purse, ,30€. I would have gladly given more, charged by food experience and my guilt for not donating to the tuba and trumpet player in the Metro on the way over.

I stop at the square at the bottom of the hill, wink at the closed restaurant on the corner that Lindsay and I fled to after the incident in the artist's square / British pub. But I turn my back on it and look up at the incline, at the older men with their backs to me slowly making it up the street with alternating blows, at the smiles and taunting of people they pass, up past them all at the overcast sky.

Throwing on my hood I decide not to leave until those men make it up the street and leave me because I refuse to leave them. The acoustics are amazing and am reminded of the scene in La Môme and how she raced up the stairs to where her voice would carry. As these notes carry - they carry any thought I had out of my head until I am those notes, those feet propelling them up the hill, the smiles on people's faces and the light trickle of rain that has begun to think about falling in earnest. It never really does, but it hovers. The sound begins to mingle with cars over cobblestones, children's razor scooters that sound like train tracks, strong but gathering distance.

The men pause at the top of the street to applause, I hope, but cannot tell as if there is any, it is quiet and private. I only see the scattered, swift coming together of hands . The music continues as I know it will long after I have turned on my heels and begin the slow decent to the Seine.

No pictures, just this memory of Montmarte. I don't know why I am drawn to it as such.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An End of An Experiment (Part 10)

Part 10

As a distraction to this whole sorted ordeal, I found myself in another situation where love was the main course of discussion. To call a spade a spade is only fair, and this was a rebound. That lasted over 3 years. To whom I loved, I was always guarded. Until one day I wasn't and I got what for. A broken heart. Another bright-eyed, wild youth who let me in with no reservations to wreck havoc among his glass hopes with my heavy bull horns. It's not that I couldn't be all that he wanted, in fact it was truly the other way, but in my sentiment I didn't want to let go of love. For a year and half it was passion, private fights, and convenience. This is the first relationship that put into perspective and where I could rightfully admit that I liked being a "girlfriend" and being in "love," and while I had standards, it almost didn't matter who you were. It was more about what you could do for me. The victim comes to terms with being the victor. It was only a matter of time for this episode to come to an end, and subconsciously I put myself in the position to pay a penance for past broken hearts and bruised egos. I was sick with heartache for the better part of a year. It was private battle as pride dictates, by my life was permeated with doubt and realization of the pattern I have come to play out in my interpersonal life.

Woof. I remember that the original act of putting to paper these words was physically draining... myself hunched over a typewriter with cold finger tips pounding onto the keys and the deep breath I took after it was all said and done... once I finished it, I folded the papers in half and didn't look at them again for a solid couple weeks. Now that I've have time to reflect piece by piece and as a whole, the experience is taxing in different sort of way. Before it was a relief and now it's almost instilled an anticipation ... a little bit of "what comes next?" I told you that sometimes when I write, it's like once it's on the page, I don't recognize myself as the author. Maybe its easier that way because sometimes I am embarrassed that this is what has been longing to come out and is the first thing that appears when given free reign. Sometimes, I'm not. Perhaps, not to long into the future, I will try this experiment again.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An Experiment, Part 9

Part 9

Always a goddamn but. It was not enough. How could he love me if he didn't truly understand my past? How can he save me if he's never known heartbreak? He knew what he wanted, me, but what did he have to compare this experience to? How could he have been so sure?! I see now that this was purely my own internal workings vomiting itself onto a situation that most would have given their first born to have, but my first born was already promised to the deity who relieved me of Salmonella some years ago, but that is another story in and of itself. So, I left him. No other explanation other than I had to find myself. Bullshit, and he could see right through that. Bless his heart, he pursued me for almost as long as we had been together, the better half of 6 years. Again, I was in search of what I thought was love, and I knew what was there once before could never be again. Once I was woman enough to admit that, to relieve him of this unjust hold on his tender heart strings, he promptly married the girl with whom he'd been living with. Much to his unknown horror, this act of betrayal to a woman who presumed he had loved her wholeheartedly pleased by sadistic side to no end. It was then I knew that my view of love was still tainted and in need of solace.

Monday, January 18, 2010

An Experiment, Part 8

Part 8

Then it happened. From out of nowhere a soft young delicate thing who knew nothing of the upperhand of love came to me in a whirlwind of the most traditional kind. We wrote each other notes, he asked me to be his girlfriend, wrote songs and sang them inaudibly in his backyard on milk crates. He loved me despite my past, fucked me despite his religion, and all at once I had the upperhand. Believe me, I tried in the beginning and slipped into old ways, instigating fights, and always questioning sincerity. I find that I sometimes still do after all these years, but I jump ahead. It was a fairytale love, proms and parking lots. Notes and dinners with families. Family vacations and confessions of undying love. But...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Experiment, Part 7

Part 7

I will say that the next time I encountered love, it was some years later. Between then and then there was a string of failed, weird attempts to excerpt an upperhand as I now knew I had a certain thing that boys wanted. Spending three years distracting people from purple spots and crying fits teaches you a couple of things. Discovering sex appeal and how to manipulate that is another teacher. Of course this was all in the service of trying to find a "healthy" approximation to what I had. I have no shame admitting that I was cruel, I was manipulative, and the harder you were to get, the meaner you were, the I wanted it and the harder I cried. I was a victim and victor in the most adolescent of games.

Monday, January 11, 2010

An Experiment, Part 6

Part 6

How it ended was more of a blur than how it began only due to the fact that I was in a constant haze of rearranging all that I knew about how to act in relationships. I switched schools, I remember that. I remember he threatened my father and brought me a dozen roses. I remember that he would call and ask how I was, injecting a feeling of the worse anticipation I have ever imagined, a combination of hatred and desire. I remember that one day I woke up and hadn't thought about him in a number of days. But his marks were clearly felt. And not only by me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

An Experiment, Part 5

Part 5

I would have to say that my second experience of love occurred when I was 13. Put in a precarious situation of predictably absent parents and of wanting to find a place to call my own in the social sense led me into the arms of a charismatic playboy with a pension for verbal and physical abuse. I curse the marks that he has put on my body and mind, drawing a path on both that is hard to deviate from. To skip ahead, slowly these well worn grooves are smoothing out, but to go back they run very, very deep. It is here again that I encountered this upperhand. He had what I wanted, and I had what he wanted, myself aware of the power of the female form. What I wanted was this thing called love. For me this love was visceral. It made me sick on more than one occasion and made me contemplate the whole lot with knife in hand. Nothing felt more like love than force, words of the "carefully chosen hurting kind." The strength of what was in my heart was matched only by bruises, blood, and involuntary curses that escaped my lips when contact was made. The more it hurt, the more sure I was that what we had was special. He didn't posture with me, this was real and private.

Side Note: I haven't significantly altered any of what I've written since I conducted this experiment with the exception of typos and glaring grammar issues, such as missing commas. And it's difficult not to with every entry I post, but every time I do it is a self-inflicted lesson in humility. Goodness, this is tough.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An Experiment, Part 4

Part 4

To which I would like to address the topic of love. My very first experience would have to do with my parents, and what I gleaned from that situation is that love will sometimes make you do things that disappoint the other with the intention of saving them from other major disappointment. Do not get me wrong I have learned the harshness that is unconditional love. The awesome and inspiring unconditional love of two (!) parents and for that I am grateful. I understand now what things were sacrificed and what things were done in the name of love, but it is just like me to remember the hard lessons of love, especially when I have a bellyache. There always seems to be an upperhand in love, where one has collected more experience than the other. Rarely do I see an equality in the tally of love experiences. This upperhand is the scariest and most desirable thing I can imagine. This, I imagine, is powerful and arresting at the same time. Both a boon and a burden. But I jump ahead of myself.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An Experiment, Part 3

Part 3

I know there is nothing that interests me that doesn't involve the human condition. It is extremely hard to be impressed with reading something that has nothing to do with you, or that which you can relate to. It may seem bold, but as humans we have an uncanny ability to recognize our own consciousness and to possibly compel me into speaking with you about anything having not to do with this extraordinary gift is to render oneself obsolete.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Twenty Ten

No Hate in '08 ... Tried my hardest, but I'm a hater by nature. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Gettin' Mine in '09 ... Check, done. DING! Pick it up.

Lessons I've Learned 2009 Edition
  • Everything is temporary.
  • When you expect nothing, anything can happen.
  • People are going to think what they want to think about you regardless, so you might as well say the things you want to say.
  • If you say something, you better mean it.
  • It is amazing the conditions that human are capable of adapting to.
  • Sometimes it o.k. to stay in on sunny days and write. Or sleep.
  • Do what you gotta do, boo boo.
  • Timing is key.
  • You never regret the things you do, but always regret the things you don't do.
  • The universe will provide.
  • If you want something bad enough, you will make it a priority.
By nature, 2009 will never happen again. Events can be replicated, relationships deepened / weakened, and similar things can be "discovered", but the experience of 2009 was solely unique.

The year began with an personal acknowledgement to a new leader of the nation that I would sacrifice and contribute to a greater good, however that vision would be developed, only to find myself out of employment within a couple months. I always describe being laid off as the equivalent of being dumped, to which we all have experienced, but believe me when I say, I loved my job. The conversation went something like this:

Job: Listen...
Me: Yes, boo? What you need, I got you.
Job: Yeah, about that...
Me: You can tell me.
Job: Well, let me just say, it's not you...
Me: What? WHAT?
Job: It's me. I ...
Me: Are you... Is this for real?
Job: Yeah. I can't afford to have you around anymore. Baby, I've been trying for the past couple weeks to find a way that you fit in, but there's no room. I'm sorry.
Me: Oh HELL no.

And we're still not together. I haven't been seeing anyone since, but we all know what happens after an event like this... I immediately start rollin' for self. I hit the road. Almost instantly. Supplied with a cooler chock full of Gov't cheese and an automobile, I start gettin' mine in earnest. This year alone, I have gotten busy cross country 3 times and have stayed extended periods of time with New York City and Berlin, Germany. I'm not afraid to I became one of Travel's many mistresses because it's always a win-win situation. I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Travel has always been my first love. I am and will always be faithful because Travel is always like, "I don't know why you're trippin', it's not like I'm going anywhere. Damn. Get at me when you can."

2009 has shown me multiple lives and countless alternative realities where I may exist. And for that, I am grateful, but I am acutely aware that 2009 has not been without bullshit. Some severe bullshit at that. Without going into the details, let's just say I have a greater appreciation of life, and from now on, I will do my best to be an active participant.

The world has opened itself up to me, shown its most brilliant opportunities, and I vow to cherry pick the best of what I learned from each and every opportunity and create a space - mental, physical, all that - where I fit... and can enjoy them all. Because, real talk, it's been inside me all along and I just needed an opportunity to explore all the possibilities.

So let the filtering process begin. Love, Respect, Responsibility, Friendships, Decisiveness, Knowledge, Power, and Collaborations, you're good. Bullshit? Gets the steppin'.

Love Always.