Born again

Today I start anew. I’ve been sick, I’ve been obsessively working on my book, but I’ve also been lazy. I’m all better now, my manuscript has been submitted to the publisher, and I’m ready to get back on track.

Number one: exercise every day. This is not extreme. This is highly doable, in particular now that the warmer weather is here. It can be an hour long walk, a gym visit, a run, or the stairs. A bikeride is fun and good for the soul but simply riding around the city shall not count as exercise.

Number two: stick to a $20 per day budget. This may sound like a lot but between online purchases of clothes and books and eating out at sushi restaurants and my favourite restaurant Fresh, I have definitely been wasting more than this. Six hundred dollars per month for clothes and food and wine sounds more than doable. What I don’t spend one day I can save for another.

Number three: do a cleanse once a week. The one-day cleanse is as follows:

  1. Upon waking: Drink a hot tea of honey, ginger, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1 tsp cayenne pepper.
  2. WATER WTH RAW GARLIC BITS (consumed like a pill)
  3. Breakfast: Drink a smoothie of 2 cups water, 2 cups spinach, 2 cups chopped celery, 1 apple, 1 pear, 1 banana, fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
  4. WATER WTH RAW GARLIC BITS
  5. Mid-morning: Drink a tea of 1mL oregano oil
  6. WATER WTH RAW GARLIC BITS
  7. Lunch: Eat raw one whole tomato, half a cucumber, one medium-sized carrot, one celery stalk with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  8. WATER WTH RAW GARLIC BITS
  9. Mid-afternoon: Drink a tea of 1mL grapefruit seed oil
  10. WATER WTH RAW GARLIC BITS
  11. Dinner: Eat a mash of two medium avocados, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, half a medium onion finely chopped, and one celery stalk (cut into dipping pieces).
  12. WATER WTH RAW GARLIC BITS
  13. Mid-evening: Drink a hot tea of honey, ginger, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1 tsp cayenne pepper.

There are just shy of eleven weeks until I leave for my next adventure (still to be decided) and I plan to follow the above rules for those eleven weeks. Wish me luck. I shall definitely need it. And anyway, it’s Easter Monday. Jesus thought today a good idea to come back to life so why not me, too?

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While you were sleeping…

On the verge of selling my car almost four years ago, I said to myself: « You won’t be able to act like a little asshole anymore. » No more late nights, no more sleeping in until the very, very last minute, rushing out the door at seven or quarter after. I’d have to be more responsible, and instantly. It is the best thing I ever did for myself. 

I sold my car, I started going to bed earlier, ten, eleven, getting up earlier, a very fresh five thirty, taking the subway. Suddenly I had hours of extra time in the morning, time to myself: the hour on public transit, then the extra time after arriving to school, the cushion time built in (and left over) just in case there was an issue in the subway (there never is). I read thirteen novels in the first two months of taking public transit to work. I was in disbelief, amazed, I’d found a hidden treasure, a huge pocket of « me » time, and the glory of the still, silent mornings. Instead of the first order of business of the day being about work, the first order of business was me. 

After making this change, I took it one step further. Instead of getting up at 5:30 to shower and leave for 6:30, I started going to bed at nine or ten and getting up at 4:30 to exercise for an hour. In the winter I’d run up the thirty flights of stairs of the apartment building where I live. I could do that eight times in the allotted hour without feeling too rushed. 

But. Then. 

Waking up and starting to exercise right away began to feel rushed, too. I decided I needed an hour of slow, relaxed, snooze, coffee, podcast, wake up time first. And. So. I began going to bed at eight or nine and waking up at three thirty. 

Three thirty. There’s not a sound in the city, so much room to breathe. 

What a wonderful way to start the day: a slow hour of peace and reflection, an hour of hard work, using my able muscles, releasing endorphins, an hour to prepare for the day, un-rushed, I am ready, I have taken care of my insides, now ample time to primp the outside, then another whole hour in public transit, reading or writing; four whole hours focusing on my interests, passions, feasting on my soul food, as the first order of business, the priority of the day. Like this, I am well-fed and have so much positive energy to give to my day. 

Partying and acting like a mischievous little turd was fun. It was. But I’m glad it ended. My subconscious was ready to move on and my conscious readily complied. Or was it my conscious that was ready for betterment and my subconscious that complied? Hmm. Either way, this is so much more fulfilling, evolved, healthy, it’s progress. I am in love with my early mornings. When do you think I write these posts, after all?

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Swim to shore

I have written before about my absolute frustration, my maddening disbelief, at people who do not allow lows. I am currently reading Hammerklavier, a novel from Yasmina Reza. It is a somber but refreshing book about death, in all its frightening and inglorious truth. The transition into indifference, the loss of energy, passion, ability. The slow transition away from the world, before our very sad eyes, the withdrawal. 

But, the author points out, how selfish it is of us to pity! And this is why I love this book. The author acknowledges and embraces that continuing as they were, as we want them to be, how does that prepare them for death? How does that acknowledge their reality of being overlooked, devalued, forgotten? They have every damn right to withdraw, change, feel what may be their misery or may even be their comfort, their Nature. Who are we to know better how they should behave, feel, while seeing from our perches of youth and ability and prospects of becoming? 

The French are so Naturally talented at embracing, beautifying, all human emotions, including the lows. One summer in Paris, I pulled up en Vélibre to a café one hot afternoon and had a glass of red wine en terrasse. There was another lone woman there, also drinking wine, white wine. She was sobbing quietly. The waiter made nothing of it, served her another glass when she ordered it. I asked her if she was okay. Matter-of-factly, like I had asked her for the time and she was simply telling it to me, she said: « Yes. Sometimes we are sad, that is all. » 

What a perfect answer. She wasn’t seeking attention, she wasn’t pretending to be happy, she wasn’t making any effort to hide her emotion, she was just being. How healthy, how beautiful. 

The lows are allowed and should not be dismissed, ignored, or undermined. Yasmina Reza illuminates this wonderful and merciful truth in even something so somber as death. Dive into your emotion until your legs are weary from kicking. Swim to shore.

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Walls become welds

It is my last two days in Paris, the sun is shining, what shall I do before meeting A— at five near Gate de l’Est? I am a bit anxious about meeting her. I have dropped in on some friends as they worked but I haven’t met up with and spent quality time with anyone. I didn’t even contact many of my friends this time. Why not? And then once you spend too much time alone, sometimes it’s a bit daunting becoming a fellow human again.
I take the metro to Clichy. I will walk the quartier sensible and see where that takes me. I take the token photo of the Moulin Rouge. I’ve taken this same photo many times before, but it is worth taking again. This is a different time, after all. Can you capture time in a photo? You can.
I walk by my beloved Rebecca Rils sex shop but this time I don’t go in. I have made purchases there in the past and they collect dust chez moi in Toronto, hidden away, in a box in a shelf.
I am hungry. I stop in at Takasaki to have the sushi I was craving last night but I drank away my appetite instead. Today I feel good, so there’s no mood to deconstruct, no tangled yarn to unravel, we just accept the good moods unquestioningly, don’t we? Sushi is so expensive in Paris!
Oh, the holidays are hard for many people, I am a prime candidate. But, me, I am depressed with style! Me, I was sad as I sauntered slowly the streets of Paris. I realize, recognize, this little silver lining only this morning. I can be more optimistic about my loneliness and lows now that I am soon leaving.
N—– has messaged to say she received my Christmas card. I responded: « There is a beautiful little story behind how that got sent to you. I was at the airport, on my way here, to Paris, and I asked the waiter (where I was having a little glass of wine before ze flight) if there was a mailbox in the airport. He said no, then he leaned in and said: « I can send them for you when I’m done my shift, if you like. » Perhaps seeing my hesitation, he added: « If you believe in me. » He didn’t know there was $50 in there, and also in the card for Maya. But I handed them over to him. That’s how it got to you. Through the goodness of a lovely stranger. Isn’t that a precious moment and story? » I finish my royal maki saumon and two Euro glass of red and leave. It is half past noon.
I walk and I walk. Would I have done this much walking in Toronto? Most likely not, where it is so much colder and only slightly more familiar.
I have un petit café at Café Francoeur in the eighteenth, I walk more. I have la soupe oignon gratinée at Le Renouveau as I wait for A—. I see her!
We have a lovely conversation. Almost immediately I tell her I have been sick and depressed. I am keenly aware of how happy I am to meet with my friend, to sit and speak with her. People need people, silly girl. What was I thinking?
In trying to reconcile my realities, my love of Nature and my love of Paris, the freedom and lightness of not spending nor acquiring and the spending and acquiring I am doing here, meals, books, art expositions, old French films, all the stark contradictions that live within me, all real, all valid, looking at them all, I thought I would let go of, reject, some, embrace, only value others. I was unconsciously trying to compartmentalize, Nature and simplicity and the warmth of humanity here, city life and worldliness and possessions there. But no.
I am never going to create a system or reality where I am happy all by myself. The goodness of humans is everywhere. Silly human. Seconds after A— arrives I am flooded with relief and a burden lifts and I am so happy to see her, speak with her. I am blessed. My mosaic is manifesting, walls become welds.
D—– joins us for a drink. Then the two of them leave for Meaux, and I leave to go visit A——.
Finally, reconciliation. It is not a progression, but an expansion. You don’t move from one room to another, you create more and bigger rooms in your consciousness. You decide on your limits. It was me, after all, who said you have to be a healthy dose of hypocritical in order to get along in this crazy society into which I was born. I guess I forgot. I thought I had come here to say goodbye, that I wouldn’t be back, that this wasn’t « me » anymore, but instead I know now, I only came to say goodbye to loneliness. One last dance, it was. It didn’t have to be but, I had not reconciled my realities, my lessons, my consciousnesses. Just like the bike ride was a suicide mission, I did not want to die, I wanted the lonely existence I was living to end. And it did.
I remember a random conversation, long ago, with someone whose name I barely learned and certainly don’t remember. He said that you find love when you are where you are supposed to be, when you are happy, when you know your mission and you are doing it. You see? About strangers and words and listening? You see? I have thought often of what he said, because it rang true, despite how far I was from my own clarity. I feel much closer now.

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Paris, day eight

Le jour de l’an, 2017

No meat, no milk, no eggs.

Daily meditation, exercise and water. Lots of water. Lots of breathing, C——–. No more rage. Oh, just let it go, let it all go! Be kind. Be silent. Smile.

First, I take a brisk walk to and through Bercy Park. It seems smaller than I remember it, though still so pretty, despite the chill and grey of winter. Fifty-six minutes. Then I just amble, this street, that street, all in my arrondissement. I buy a few treats from an open boulangerie patisserie: a little mushroom pizza bread, a three-chocolate-mousse-cream creation, and a custard and chocolate chip pain that I devour on the short walk home. I don’t normally have a sweet tooth but I have very much been craving something sweet these past two days. I originally wanted to buy only the little pizza bread, but to pay carte bleue, it is a minimum of a five Euro purchase. I am happy for the forced indulgence.

The meditation consists of, at least begins with, a short daily podcast I found last night. I am reminded of a time, back in ninety-eight or ninety-nine or two thousand. I was working at Christina’s Restaurant. Everything was pissing me right the hell off. I was really trapped in an inexplicable anger, agitation, annoyance. A rage. Someone suggested I read “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.” I went out and bought it immediately. As I began to read it, I scoffed at the blatant and obvious little pieces of advice and wisdom it was offering, nothing of rocket science. This was going to be a pointless and unhelpful read, clearly. But I decided to read on, finish the book. A little miracle happened. In the end, I felt better, something healed. Sometimes we just need a little reminder. A few simple words, heard at the right time, can be so powerful. I haven’t felt that mysterious, nagging rage since, until now, these past few months. Life is cyclical, who knows when or how or why the big wheel turns, but turn, it does. This podcast reminds me of that book. Heck, maybe I’ll re-read the book, too, when I get home. This podcast is simple, you just listen to this guy say a few wise, helpful things, you just pause, you just listen.

I have a fun and wonderful day of inner peace and childish joy, hopping on and off buses, riding around, and walking, walking, walking. I go to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. I visit Oscar Wilde’s grave, I visit Édith Piaf’s grave. Two women from Texas ask me if I know where Jim Morrison’s grave is. I love being helpful. I remember the kind, old lady, sitting in her car at the dead end I came to en route to Oka National Park during my bike ride last summer. When I told her I was lost and where I was going, she simply said: “Suivez-moi.” Following in her beautiful footsteps, I tell the two women: “Follow me.” I take them to his grave.

I hop on another bus. I get off at Canal Saint-Martin. I walk and I walk. I visit Café Bataclan and the memorial that still remains in the parkette juste en face. Oh, this world! Let’s just love each other, let fear not be oppressive, let it be an awakening! What a day, what a day.

I take the metro to Daumesnil. Au Va et Vient is still closed. I was hoping it might be open this evening. I don’t want to go back to Au Métro, I didn’t love it there, my waiter wasn’t smiley. So here I am, at Félix Café. I like it here until my waiter forgets to bring me a third glass of wine and bids me good night in English. Adieu. Still, I like the twelfth. My bus ride earlier today brought me through the twentieth, it also intrigued me. I could live here, but this visiting stuff is over. And being alone, I’m done with it, too. I’m ready for an adventure, a journey, an exploration with and of someone. But not just anyone.Yes, I’m thinking of, dreaming of M—–. I have proven time and time again, in so many ways and places and situations, too, I can make it by myself in this world. Now, the scariest adventure of them all, can I make it in this world with someone, can I venture deeply into the world inside, with lovely company?  Oh, if a hypocrite could pray…

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Paris, jour sept

Le réveillon

I awake at six, how splendidly spoiled it feels to nuzzle into the last dusty corners of sleepiness, bundled in big blankets, able to choose more sleep, no alarms, no appointments. After ten, I rise, I shower, I dress, I heat and eat a piece of quiche, I leave, who knows where to…

I alight at station Saint-Germain-des-Près, another last-minute decision. Maybe I will go to Les Deux Magots? It is right there when I get to street level, so I do.

Today is a day for eating meat, bidding it farewell. For now, for the most part. I order the steak tartare and a glass of Bordeaux-Supérieure. I sit, it’s a long time, I savour. I feel the wine sweetly seep lightly linger so slowly, through me, over me. I haven’t eaten meat since the Solstice, it is the official date. But. There will always be the odd exception. I am in Paris. It is Le Réveillon. It shall be marked with savoury blood. It is what I planned.

I walk along Boulevard de Saint Germain, past the Christmas stalls, filled and pretty with cheeses or soaps from Marseille or scarves or Matryoshka dolls. On Rue des Écoles, I go to OCD. I spend a lot of time selecting, but I am tormented with buyers’ guilt before I even spend a penny. In the end, I buy two French films, one new, one old: “Un homme sans l’occident” from 2002 and “Je t’aime moi non plus,” a film from Serge Gainsbourg, 1975. I think of this past summer, how wonderful it felt to buy nothing. Reconciliation, reconciliation, where art thou?

Finally, I have been dreaming of it, I go to Shakespeare and Company. Oh, look. There is now a “Shakespeare and Company Café” attached. For some reason, I instantly hate it. Without conscience, I decide it is indicative of commercialism and profitability and exploitation of a sacred past and a molestation and mitigation of a mellow melancholy, now chaotic. I buy myself two books, one for K——, and this interesting paper pouch containing two mystery poems for M—–. The books jumped out at me, as did the gifts. I love when gifts happen organically like this, it’s the only kind of gift I like to buy, not anything and always and something for the sake of something and not something you have to deliberate over and are unsure about. The gift tells you, it’s just perfect.

I walk over to Le Petit Pont, my old haunt, though it is all new staff, no face to recognize, nobody to recognize mine. Or so I think. My waiter gives me a strange look and asks if I have been here before. I tell him not since April, and before that, not since the previous summer. He is sure he recognizes me, much to my delight. He is very good to me my entire visit. He brings me a complimentary glass of champagne. When my phone will not connect to the Internet, he shares his phone’s connection with me and leaves it with me so that the connection won’t drop out. I order six escargots, it is part of the exit parade I am holding for meat today.

I take the bus home which is fun, and something I would say most tourists don’t do. One summer, B——- told me how he loved to take the bus and I thought that was a funny thing to say. But now I understand completely. So much better than being underground, a nice little cruise through the city. He opened my eyes to this simple pleasure.

Au Va et Vient is already closing up for the night. I go to Au Métro. Time for the third and final stage of meat’s parting procession. I order the cheeseburger, blue. With salad instead of fries. It is not rare at all, it is raw, red, bulbous grinder worms, shiny and gleaming. It melts in my mouth. It is divine. It is falling apart, dripping blood down my hands. Salacious.

I return early to my little thirteen meters squared piece of Paris. It is only after six. I am invited to C———‘s where he and his daughter L– and also A—— will ring in the new year. I just don’t give a shit about New Year’s Eve. I don’t want to spend the night drinking. I don’t want to wake up with a hangover. Plus, C——— lives in Sèvres, it’s so far.

Bonne année, tout le monde. Fais de beaux rêves.

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Paris, jour six

Le 30 décembre

I was still awake last night when the fog arrived, thick, heavy, low. Like a cashmere blanket, this morning it hovers still. The roofs are powdered with melancholy, the streets are dusty with introspection. I drink my coffee and smoke my cigarette out the window. In stark contrast, down below the long lines of blue awnings, the markets are alive! It is Friday.

“Profitez! Profitez!” The vendors call. I walk the entire length of stalls on my side of the street, then the opposite length, too, eyeing, deciding what, if anything, I shall buy. On the first round, I buy three pieces of quiche for home. I deposit these in my little fridge, then set out again.

On my second time through, I buy three cashmere shawls, all different styles, one black, one forest green, one dark grey. I chat with Hubert, from whom I bought the third shawl. He is older, maybe my father’s age, maybe older? These are the moments I love. “C’est quoi ton petit accent?” I make him guess. American, English, South American! He tells me I am “charmante” and “Il y a quelque chose dans tes yeux, j’adore.” Oh, the French.

It is too cold to wear the shawls. In my Canada Goose, I get on the metro, en route to I don’t know where. I alight at Gare Saint-Lazare. I walk in search of Galéries Lafayette, a destination that occurred to me on the train. I find it quickly. I look at Longchamps bags and laugh. The one I like is four hundred ninety Euros. It’s funny. I leave. I go for lunch at La Pointe Drouot in the ninth. I have the tartare d’avocats et crevettes comme entrée and the pavé de saumon grillé beurre Maître d’Hôtel. It is delicious and not too much. My new dessert, since becoming pescatarian on the Solstice, is one piece of bread with butter. What a decadent way to end a meal.

I continue to meander, wander, follow my own footsteps. I come across the most interesting little boutique d’obscurités. Bins of plastic hands from hitherto defunct mannequins, corked glass bottles containing statues of Jesus, the humorous and unexpected answer to the classic ship in a bottle. Dishes, thimbles, signs. I carry on.

I go to the little bookstore on rue Tardieu where they have a small section of old books on consignment in the back. This is where I found my beloved book of poems “Toi et moi” by Paul Geraldy, winter of 2012, when I was here. I remember it cost twenty Euros, I debated for a long time, it seemed so expensive, but I had to have it. Thank goodness I bought it! It is still my favourite book of poetry to this day. It so masterfully but humbly takes you through the stages of love, from crush to heartache, with a keen sense of insight and humour, all said so simply, I just love it. Since that great find, I have come back here, again and again, in search of another treasure like this. Nothing has ever come close, though I have bought the odd this or that, half-heartedly. Today I see that the consignment section has moved and is smaller than ever, consisting mostly of old grammar and lesson books. Everything changes. I have changed, Paris has changed. Perhaps I did book this trip a bit prematurely, a bit automatically. I thought I would be working on the final draft of my book, but I finished it well before the trip. I thought my days would be spent working, romantically, engrossed, alone without time to notice. Instead I am wandering around, feeling disconnected from old paths and habits. A couple of friends have suggested that I should just leave. Never! I love Paris. I shan’t end my relationship with it because time goes on and things change. I am receptive to whatever this moment is meant to teach me. I am patient. At least so far.

More left, more right. I take the metro to station Jaurès. I walk up Avenue Jean Jaurès. I am to meet Pierre chez lui around half five. I know this area well, and his, too. I have stayed with him before, plus I helped him move there! I arrive an hour early. I go to MacDo to pass the time, use the Wifi, for nostalgia, I used to start my days here when I stayed with him, and to eat something for the sake of eating something, I’m sure we will have drinks together. I order the Menu McFirst Poisson with Deluxe Potatoes and a Badoit. The sandwich tastes like cardboard. Cardboard will soak up alcohol very well.

I go to TonTon Jaurès and have a glass of red while I wait, he is running a few minutes late. Then, he appears! Hello, my friend. He orders a beer, we chat. He tells me about his recent trip to Cracovie, Pologne with his ex. They were together a year, even lived together for three months. I asked what ended it. He said she swears a lot and likes to sit in front of the television eating. I understand immediately. What I don’t understand is how it lasted a year! I tell him about M—–, that it is new, but that I really like him. He asks what I like about him. His values, his lack of anti-desire for things, his anti-obsession of money. And other things. We go to his house. He gives me a purse I left there a year and a half ago. We have wine. Then the ladies arrive.

Meet Sara, Parisa, and their mother, Roya. “Royale!” I say. They are smiley and sweet. Roya speaks only Farsi, Sara speaks only Farsi and English, and Parisa speaks only Farsi and French. They are ex-flatmates of Pierre who have come to drop off some shopping for Pierre. What fun we have! We chat, we listen to music, we dance, we sing! Pierre may be silly but he is cheery and fun. We open a second bottle. What a fun, special, lovely evening. Pierre drives us all home, me first. And you know what? As I exited the car, something so beautiful happened. Sara called out: “I love you!”

I love you.

Such delicate, delicious, dry wood for my cooling embers. Thank you, Sara!

I love you, too!

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