Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another last supper

Course after course, you've never left the table. You've eaten every color, every flavor. Enjoyed some more than others, but appreciated them all.

The plate is clean, or almost. A trace of sauce remains, that heady mix of blood and wine. If you were not in mixed company, you would lick that plate. As it is, you wipe it with your finger. Miles away from polite, you suck it off.

You are ready for dessert. Smooth, rich, sweet. Not something you need, something you want.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Burn this

It begins with yellow, this tale of a trial by fire. Yours. Though you've been dipping your toes in yellow, it's a color you've never really liked. Do you realize that you've never lived in a home that didn't have a yellow room? You never once painted those walls, never chose that color.

Closer to the flames, orange will follow. The orange where the longing lives. It still seems far away, a beautiful sunset on a foreign horizon. But it is drawing closer.

Red, this will be your final stop. The red you never wear. The red that burns the fear away.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lost times

It's winter now. Your first real winter in a very long time. Maybe ever.

You've lost your certainty, but that's a good thing. That's the only certainty you have left. Just enough.

But that is what winter is for, isn't it? This you know now too. There's only so much room in the cellar and you've only got so much salt. Do you know what salt is? It's crystallized hope.

Not candy striped, wishful thinking hope. A cherished desire watercolor of hope, framed in the solid, hand-carved wood of expectation.

The essentials will be preserved and that is more than enough. This you do not hope for, this you know. This is the one thing you know.

Monday, December 14, 2009

An update on the whole bilingual children thing

I had planned on doing this at regular intervals. And I suppose I do. If once a year or every two years is regular.

The boys are 9 and 6 now. They're in CM1 (4th grade) and CP (1st grade) in a private French school. There are no international schools around so we make do with what we've got.

They both still speak only English to me, although they pepper some sentences with Frenchisms if they can't quickly come up with the word they're looking for in English. They usually speak English to each other. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I yell, "LANGUAGE!" if I hear them speaking French to each other if I'm not in the room. If I'm around, they don't do it.

I realize I could be a bit more relaxed about that, but it's so important to me that they speak English well and so much of their time is spent in French. French school days are incredibly long and the majority of their waking hours are spent in French. So I get a little worried sometimes about how their English will hold up over time.

Some things reassure me. They're comfortable in English most of the time. They tell jokes and laugh at mine. They say things like, "I so totally hate gymnastics." "Tell me how many days until Christmas vacation. Precisely." Boy1 has an accent, but it's cute. I'm sure he'll use it to his advantage at some point in his life. Boy2 has less of one, but he's had the benefit of growing up hearing me talk with his brother. I'm sure he'll find something else to use to his advantage.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Two swords

Let me tell you the story of where you have been, she said. And I'll tell you about the two swords you used to get there.

Lost for two years, you saw it all. Mountain, plain, desert, valley, forest, field. You watched the landscape change, the colors go by.

We watched you then, all the while, through every color of every rainbow whose path you crossed. We watched you as you did not move. Seated, quiet, eyes covered in softness, two swords in hand. Taken up as weapons you were certain you would need. One to fight, one to protect.

That is not how you used them. I can tell you that story too.

Two swords for balance. They were your sun and moon while your eyes remained shielded against true light and dark. They were your heaven and hell while you traveled middle ground. Your fire and water, your air and earth, while those elements were out of your reach.

At the end of the your travels, you put your swords down, you freed your eyes from their protection. We watched you do that too.

Do you know what you learned? In that moment of voluntary blindness? Because two years is nothing if not a moment.

If one is essence, two is existence.

Monday, November 30, 2009

One Sword

Let me tell the story of how you were made, she said. It is not what you think, no fairy tales exist here.

You were mined first, unwilling, you were taken from the depths of the darkest, richest earth. You didn't want to leave, but there are rules. You know that now.

Once mined, your forming began. It was a long process; you were meant to be hard and flexible at the same time. You can imagine how difficult it is to achieve that state. We prepared you for massive shocks, gave you the strength to withhold and the flexibility to absorb. Breaking is unacceptable. You know that now.

Blade smiths came, sword smiths too. Their professions are sometimes assimilated. Not here. Each hand that touched you was an expert in a very precise field. Only the best for you. You know that now.

You were heated first. Then hammered, pounded, filed, ground, cut. There was violence in every gesture. But violence is sometimes necessary. You know that now.

Fullering next. To give you ridges. Have you seen the ridges on your edge? They are not random, they are not decorative. They strengthen your structure, flowing math determining the ideal relationship between power and mass. Each ridge a careful calculation. Something you can count on. You know that now.

Ah, normalizing. Careful, even heating. Slow cooling. An attempt to remove the stresses, inevitable - some might say - that you gathered when you were forged. They cannot remain, they are unnecessary weaknesses, their purpose long outlived. You know that now.

Heat treating - a challenge. Trial by fire, some might say. That was not our intention. You were meant to be balanced here, hardened, tempered. And you were. You know that now.

You were sharpened next, that was a pleasure. Giving you your greatest gift. Strong but not brittle, as sharp and pure as the truth. Have you used your greatest gift? Have you ever even seen it? We don't believe you have, but you will. You know that now.

You were decorated, jewels and engravings, to tell the story of where you've been and where you'll go. Colors, the deepest and richest we could find. Swirls, arabesques, breathtaking grace in simple lines that are not straight. This is how you were finished, in pure beauty. It was an honor to make you. You know that now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Surprise me

Time has reached your home. Have you been told this before? Before, during, after. Those are all memories now. You've rewritten them well. Time is here to tell you that you have been left behind. Not by age, no. You've been left behind because that's where you've apparently decided you belong. Behind what, you do not ask. You know quite well.

What will you do?

Whatever it is, make it good. It is exactly how you will be remembered. The imprint that will be used to remind this place that you were once a member. You will not be remembered for who you think you are, you will be remembered for the mark you left.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You see the moon and the moon sees you

Leave what you know and follow me. Forget what you believe and let me guide you.

Wildness here, wilderness here. Also tricks and falsehoods. But those are imports.

You're thinking the river is your safest bet. You're probably right. One way or another, you can always trust water. I control its movement anyway. Can you trust that I will take you where you really want to go?

Can you do that?

All I really want is for you to no longer be afraid of the dark.

If the moon could talk, that is what she would say to you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

8 swords

Surrounded by them, or at least that's what it feels like. Their hilts at eye level, although your blindfold keeps you from seeing that. Silk there, the confusion it holds is soft and dark. Cut from the same cloth, silk binds your hands behind your back.

Eyes and hands immobilized, your trap is real, for a time. But the clean air from the mountains behind you moves in, into the smallness of this holding place. And you get a sense of steel. Both without and within. The outlines are clearer now, even through the silk. The swords are a gift from the past, they will not let you go back. You may have put them there yourself, just to make sure. The silk too may have been your doing. To give your eyes a rest before they could look to the future. And your hands? Bound only to let you learn not to reach for what you do not really want. Eight is the number of change and inspiration. You must have known that too.

You do not need to become what you already are.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I miss Thanksgiving.

I miss planning the menu or realizing that I don't have to cook a thing. I miss knowing I'll see close friends or family or both really soon. I miss all that food, all that amazing food. I miss the first holiday that marks the start of the holiday season. And the leftovers. I really miss Thanksgiving leftovers.

I know, I know. I can have Thanksgiving here. And it's true. Sort of. But it is not the same.

It's just a regular thursday here. A regular thursday I will try to make special for the boys. I will make stuffing and roast a chicken and make homemade cream of mushroom soup and fry shallots for green bean casserole and I will, of course, make apple pie and pumpkin pie and homemade vanilla ice cream for one and whipped cream for the other.

I will tell them all the reasons I have to be thankful, grateful. It will be a long list.

It will be a quiet, small, private Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The knowing look

A voice lost is a voice that hasn't been used. Hoarse, broken, shady - not excess of use but a complete lack of use. Preceded by a brief attempt to reside in an octave that is not usually yours. Signaled by a breakdown of the system you know so well. Tongue, palate, vocal chords - all rendered useless - not by a misuse of power but by an ignorance of power.

That is when you are asked. You must, of course, be asked.

Do you know what would be said with the voice that has been lost? Do you want to know?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hello, Goodbye

You are standing in the middle of the longest goodbye in history.

Spanning decades, continents, lives, choices, futures and pasts.

Learner's curiosity makes you wait to see how it ends, exactly.

How uncomfortable is that? Watching yourself amputate the one limb you cannot live without. Even gone it will still be there. A phantom limb, shock at the root, ache at the tip.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Will you answer?

Time has come to this place you've made your home. These flatlands you call yours, shadowless, lightless, no valleys or mountains - you need to see everything here and so you do. You've anticipated, strategized, planned, maneuvered.

Time's up though.

Swerve if you think you need to, detour if you believe it will help. You don't and it won't.

The time will come and time will come and show you what you haven't seen.

It will be a knock at door, like any other.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


You've been welcomed into a new land. The invitation you received ages ago finally removed from the refrigerator door where a quiet magnet held it close to you but far from your attention. You brought it with you, just in case, your name engraved in the vellum. In case someone might think you don't belong here. In case you might think you don't belong here.

The border crossing was simple, no formalities. There is an easy, automatic feeling of home here. Well, except for the fact that you don't speak the language and can't read the signs.

Blind here, your hand stretches out, a five-legged spider who knows the lay of land without ever having visited.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Le bilan

You returned your favorite book to the library.

You left your favorite pen on the counter of a music store.

You forgot your favorite shirt in a hotel room in Arizona.

You put away boxes of memories when you left your life.

You gave away your chances when you started doing math.

You wasted your luck when you started being practical.

You own nothing, not even the time you've been given.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The why

Why do I write? I'd give a different answer to that question than to why do I have a blog.

So, JMH and Philippe, I write because I can't not write. The answer is something along the lines of yours JMH - I feel better when I write. Not in a self-psycho-analysis way, just in a constructive, creative way. I take an idea or a sentence or event that I like or don't like at all and work backwards to the beginning of a story or a tale or picture taken with words. It's an exercise I like, a task I enjoy. And I like being able to describe something really specific - experience or event or feeling - in a way that lets someone else read something entirely different and personal into it. Being able to share something that is both open and closed in nature. Something that, in the end, is both mine and yours.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Prepared to work, even to struggle, this is familiar to you. Prepared to wonder, worry, wish - those too.

You are taken aback, maybe even 2 steps, when a flash of complete satisfaction, despite the missing parts and unsolved equations, is upon you. Incomplete paths and misguided choices mean nothing here, which also surprises you. Their presence is usually so central.

Brief and alone moments, suspicion used to file away the memory of their existence as day dreaming once they were gone.

Now you look for them and wait, will, want. For them to string together, a necklace you will wear.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On the nature of house guests

I will have visitors this week. First friends, both old and new, and then family, both old and new.

Brief visits but that's ok. Being so far away means you take what is offered and feel lucky regardless. And I do.

It will be a slice of home. Not the place home, but the feeling.

In my house, they will be the ones to welcome me home. I love that.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


For the ease and comfort of everyone involved, let's make this about you. Let's paint the world your favorite color.

Let's make the tales you tell bedtime stories we should all find solace and safety in when we're alone at night. Let's call the excuses you give soulful mantras we could use to find peace when faced with pictures we don't understand. Let's call the compromises you require tithing- a ten per cent levy of ourselves we must give up without question - knowing it's for the good cause - it's your cause - how could it not be?

Let's call the manipulations you execute maneuverings designed for our own good - you're thinking we should be grateful - good idea, we'll try that. Let's call your deceptions magic tricks - we should just enjoy the show, we bought the ticket - how could we not have expected a show?

Let's call your arrogance confidence that makes us feel safe when you're around. Let's call your cowardice kindness - a battle not fought means that no one dies. Or does it?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


You realize it doesn't come from the night, from the lack of light, or even the heavy clouds. It comes from the places where truth was never allowed. How many of those you've held close. Swirls are just shadows that move in those places; adjustments to illusions you've loved. Or needed.

But on this day, a ridiculously banal day, you can no longer believe in power of that darkness, its comfort, its ability to shield you from every truth you do not want to know.

And so you let it seep in, the truth - not the darkness - there's no need for that anymore. There is nothing you're not willing to see. No, not exactly that. You're not happy about it, it is not a joyful act. But you can now will yourself to do it.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Path. Channel. Duct. Along, through, over.

From this to that and then to now. And finally, beyond.

Most are landmarked, landscaped, roadsigned and indicated.

And then there are those that you walk through without even realizing you're doing it. You like those the best. You discover yourself to be both more and less than you ever thought you would be. There is no judgment in that balance - it is as neutral as math.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


You got it all wrong, didn't you?

Piano played on your skin, no keys to be found. The braille you wrote was seen, not felt. The silent gestures heard, not seen.

Back to the river, you scrape your hand along the bed, dig your fingers in, see what you can pull up.

The cold water feels so good, a memory your palms bring to your surface. Down below you expect to find ground rocks, sand, dirt - you do not. Only smooth stones are left, black, white, and 27 shades in between - shades whose existence you've never admitted.

Your waters will never be muddied again. Freedom feels nothing like you thought it would.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bénéfices secondaires

The nights are cold, colder than you remember. You usually like nights, you still do, these are just different. You add a layer. Maybe two. That makes a difference but not really the kind of difference you were looking for.

You're warmer now, closer to comfortable. But that's just a secondary benefit.

You realize it's not the warmth they provide, but the weight. The feeling that you are grounded from above.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Minor crisis

Of the blog variety.

Just meandering out loud. What to do with the blog.

Having come up with no answer, I'll ask you.

What to do with the blog?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Time has been on your mind lately, you cannot say why.

Traditionally neutral in your life, time has now taken a stance.

September is given to stances, it's that kind of month, it always has been.

Your life will be so different in one month. Because in this month of stances, time meets justice, her best friend. Not justice in the punitive sense. Justice in the harmonious sense.

Time and justice will do their work and your life will never be the same.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Days after the twelfth anniversary of my arrival to stay in France - which was marked by twelve white roses quietly left at my door - I received a reminder that no matter how long I've been here, I'll always be a foreigner. Which is how it should be, shouldn't it? I mean, I'm not French, I was raised by American parents in a monocultural household. Well, relatively speaking. My mother is from the South and that did have its influence on my life.

Anyway, Saturday evening at a lovely dinner hosted by a lovely friend in a lovely setting, surrounded by interesting people of all nationalities and varieties, I was told I was, "so very American."

I started laughing, at least on the inside, although I may have worn a look of WTF irritation on my face. That is the one thing I never hear, have never heard once during the past twelve years. I took slight offense, I admit it. Not because being perceived as very American is always a bad thing, but that such a judgment could be delivered after ten minutes of conversation.

Having said that, I'm sure he was quite right.

Monday, September 14, 2009


It has been your nature to avoid endings. Too final, too hard, too permanent, although you do realize the finality, the hardness, and the permanence are yours - not inherent to every ending.

You've decided to be willing to let an ending be otherwise. To let yourself be otherwise.

It has been promised - everything outside that door is good.

And promises mean the world to you. Literally. Neither words nor intentions, promises are diamonds to you. The clear, sparkling, hard, future truths of your world. Anyone who doesn't know that about you doesn't really know you.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


You stand, still for once, watching the ground that has been covered. Distance and ash evidence of your trail. You see an elaborate labyrinth. Cleverly made, brilliantly even, you can see neither beginning nor end, just its heartbreaking beauty and integrity.

Convinced this was your lesson, you've navigated this adventure like the student you've always been, good overall performance with your tendency to procrastinate still intact.

The possibility that the lesson might be someone else's to learn never occurred to you. Not because you're egocentric but because you're chronically hard on yourself, you just assumed this was your river to cross. In fact, you may just be a supporting character.

Another incidence, although some say occurrence, at a different Owl Creek Bridge, how many miles will be covered in the inch you've been asked to give? Years in the seconds you've been asked to yield?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A place for you

You've been in this place longer than you've ever been anywhere. This one place that has never really felt like home is the place you've spent more time than any other. You cannot explain this.

You could detail how ready you've been for a change. You could describe the goodbye you've already said, the thanks you've already given. The nod of acknowledgment you received.

What were you being being told? That change, as ready as you may be for it, is not ready for you? That there is something you still have to do here or perhaps something that must be done to you?

As is always the case, time knows better than you which page is really the last.

Friday, September 04, 2009


It began with once upon a time. Hmm, you say. In good time. Ok, you say. You think you can live with that. Time heals all wounds. Yes, you say. Time will take care of the things that you cannot. Fine, you say.

You breathe differently. Just in time. How does your body know that times are changing?

Everything there is outside that door is good.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The coal in you

The darkest black, mined from the strata. A network of shadowed veins. Metamorphic rock, your gloss speaks of your purity and the rivers of time dedicated to making you shine like that.

Were you to be picked up and put to paper, your traces would be indentations, not smudges. You do not color, you mark and engrave on the archives of this tale. Lines drawn can be smeared, the truth of your path cannot.

You are used, transformed, exploited for purposes that are not your own. The blue of your involuntary flame burns hotter than you can help. A smokeless fire you did not set.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


It's your favorite flower, delicate. It's your favorite perfume, mesmerizing. Sometimes it smells like something you want to eat and other times like something you want to do. Although elsewhere too, it is in you, an essential organ you did not know you had, transplanted in one innocent moment when you answered the call of an instinct smarter than yours. But this is a secret you do not know. You search without, never within. You've pursued it through an elaborate labyrinth - your own wrong turns, dead ends, accidents, and shortcuts have left you lost and more alone than you've ever been. Your only comfort is your blurred certainty that you are neither. It is the cold comfort of a lie that keeps everything in place.

You found its presence one day, at the end of the ocean that keeps you from it, an ocean of time and truths, all denied. You hold it gently and sweetly in your hand. You don't want to crush it, you want to keep it with you forever, hidden in your pocket. But you can't, not like this. If you carry it with you on your travels, years and lives from now, you will have stripped the petals off, painfully one by one. Its fragrance changed - the bitterness of what you would not eat and the disappointment of what you would not do. Search and rescue was meant to be your mission. Not search and destroy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This day

There is something you should know about today.

So many things can mark a day, but you know this, of course. Tone. Mood. Play. Work. Weather.

Unmarked by anything memorable, they pass. Enjoyed or tolerated or endured. Whatever.

And then there are days like today. Hopefully, at the end of your life, you will be able to count their number and it will be mercifully small. A day that n'a pas lieu d'être. A day that does not have the place to be, the room to exist. Which is exactly why you will remember it so clearly. Despite its dissonance and impossibility, it is here. Bookmarked for life.

A day when you can only accept all or nothing but are not allowed that luxury. Never before have you understood the privilege and comfort of extremes like you do today. Because they have never been further from what is available to you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wild kingdom

You knew a woman once. She had animal in there, you could see it from a mile away.  If you actually saw her.  Most people didn't.  Mercifully blind to that kind of person, most people barely noticed her on the street.  Not because she was nondescript, but because they somehow knew they would be safer if they did not.  Brave or naive were those who saw that blackness and approached uninvited anyway.  A few times you actually saw her back away from people who got too close - compassion lightened her eyes and she gave them back the distance they were not wise enough to maintain.  They left the encounters feeling odd and not knowing why.  

You weren't really safe with her either.  But you knew that.  So she let you take your chances.  

It was out of compassion when she left you.  In pieces, yes, but also in peace.

Monday, August 24, 2009

How far would you go?

Did you know there is a veil in front of your eyes?  Not really over them and not exactly a veil, it looks more like a fine net attached to the safari hat you're wearing.  Which suits you perfectly.  A veil is for maintaining mystery - your net is pure survival function.  You could not live in this world of yours without it.  Things that bite are kept at bay and the grid of wires frames every vision you have.  Times are changing though.  

Your eyes have begun to focus differently, more slowly.  Shifting focus is harder with time.  You can no longer see the net - it's too close for you to focus on it.  You find yourself having to adjust distances if you want to be able to trust your perception.  So let's talk about distances.  Let's talk about the one between you and what you want. 

Don't think of it in terms of miles, think of it in terms of years.  Chunks of lifetime.   

Net or no, you've been bitten.   

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Your path

You had an uncanny ability to see the worst, quickly. No judgment, you were just fluent in the language of evil. An interpreter's gift. You spoke it with ease and detachment and indifference. But you did wash your hands when you were finished.

Put your hands there, you said. Obedience followed, but not well. Hands on the flame and the fire, the red and the orange. Black dots, bad ones, formed the outline of the deadliest triangle, a personalized Bermuda triangle where everything gets lost in a silent, swirling vortex whose origin no one can explain. Not even you.

And then you blithely ask for words to describe it. You talk about it like it's an ice cream flavor you're considering having for dessert, not a carnivorous natural disaster that's been eating its own way through this history.

You are very good at what you do.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Unknown to you

You're a brave soul, or maybe we mistake arrogance for bravery. If that is the case, it is not the worst kind of arrogance, it comes from long held habits of yours - ease and success. Not that you didn't work for either - you did - but your life is more charmed than you think. In a moment of both weakness and strength - and those are rare, magical moments - you invited darkness into your house. But like your arrogance - if that is indeed what it is - this is not the worst kind of darkness. Neither evil nor harmful, it is dark only in color, not in essence. And so, for all of these reasons, you are not afraid to let it stay with you for a while.

Because, if there's one thing you know, it's how to clean a house. You carry the supplies - a full range of products and equipment - from room to room. Darkness gone, you will remove every trace, every scent, every remnant, every hint of anything not inherent to this home. Bright light returns and the shadows disappear. Which is how you like it, right?

This helps, for a time. You do not understand why it doesn't help more.

Didn't anyone tell you? Even clean, your house will be haunted. The whisper of memories will swirl around you, hidden behind the smell of pine and vinegar and bleach. You will be frustrated at every corner you turn, a secret wish - unknown to your mind that masters - to see, to feel what is no longer there, no longer yours - a wish that will never leave you alone.

There is no cure for this.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The tourist

I live in a land of unofficial laws, you said, your feet up on the table.

You can come and stay with me, for a time. I'll show you the lay of the land, you said.

I had pretty pictures in my mind of colorful maps and flow charts.

And so I did. Stay with you. But I left again without ever having learned them, those unofficial laws. Compliance does not imply understanding. And there were no maps. Just thick walls. And no colors, just the gray of black and white pictures. And of course no flow charts. Just endless check lists. It was all very slick.

You gave it your best though. You gave it everything you had. It, not me.

One day, you will have to be forgiven for your generosity.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

One fine day

Observe this, you say. Watch and learn.

Oh, I will.

I will watch you play this round like you know how it's going to end.

I will laugh, gently, when your shadow jumps out and scares the patterned breath out of you.

I will watch you as you stand at your fork in the road, not believing in road signs.

I will laugh, quietly, when you realize where the burden falls.

I will watch you do what you have never done before. Lose.

I will laugh, with you, when loss becomes gain.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The hunter's woman

We say woman because that's what she is. She may have been your daughter, your wife, or your mistress, but that's just the name of the box she lived in.

She's got quite an education this one. Don't be fooled by all her comings and goings, she's observed and learned during those travels, things of both herself and you.

She doesn't touch your knives, they inspire nothing in her personally, or rather they inspire her far too personally, she's been too close to knives all her life. She does like to watch you work with them though. Just tools to you, she trusts you with knives. And she loves it that you assume your kill completely. She knows the hunt starts early in the morning for you, it's not your sport - it's your experience. She knows you apply the same patience to the watch as you do to the skinning, gutting and cleaning. She likes it that you are skilled at each step. A true hunter, not just a killer, you clean up your mess.

Your guns do not impress her, although she recognizes your skill and ease with them. She notices how they look in your hands. You make it look effortless.

Her preference? The crossbow. She takes it out at night when you're sleeping. She spent weeks in the dark with it, reading it like braille, her fingers seeing for her. It's almost like touching herself. Internal sear, metal. Integral plates, ivory. Wood and sinew, bound with animal tendon.

Whether you know it or not, this weapon you share.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Too close and not close enough

I suppose what really changes is perspective.

You've been way off on this - you realize that now. Your face right up against it, you have found safety in the detail, or so you thought.

This is not the first time you've been confronted with this. Nor, I suppose, the last.

The most recent case? Edges you thought you had known, named. Ridged teeth on a carbon steel knife. Sometimes too far, this time you were too close. You've been staring at it in your hand for months, years now, convinced you knew what you were gazing at. Yes, gaze.

You backed up. A gentle hand yanked you, way back. You saw it was not the jagged edge of a knife, but stairs. Black stairs you've spent your life trying to climb. Hard work - the edge of each step is a blade. You know when you reach the top that the soles of your feet will be mapped with cuts, bloody and painful. You're not concerned though, you're not meant to walk there. There, you are meant to never touch the ground.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The weight of it all

You look like you've been to the open-air market. Buying fresh flowers and fruit with a foreign currency. You spent your Saturday morning converting weight and worth into something you could recognize.

You've done that in your life too. The unknown? Very heavy but worthless, big fat coins you carry. The truth? Heavy and expensive, bars of gold you keep hidden away. Lies? Lighter than the air that carries them and cheaper than anything, play money - the paper and ink of your life.

The old woman selling honey murmured as you walked by her stand at the end of the market. Leave the market without regret, she said. It'll cost you more than you have. When you die, and you've already started, regret will not hold your hand.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When March is in July

You might think I'm kidding. I'm really not. I even saw a rainbow today. The sky is moody here and that's definitely a March thing.

You have to think that it's on purpose - there must be a really good reason for March to be in July.

I'm quite certain I missed a couple of things in March the first time around. Maybe this is my chance to not miss them.

Maybe what I've learned since the first March of the year will guide me during the second one. Maybe I'll listen to the murmurs of truth that a spring month brings and not be afraid. Maybe.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Laval en terasse

So, technically, it's summer. And some days, it even feels like summer. This weekend felt a bit more like early autumn and that's my favorite season so even that was ok. The rain, well, that's another story. Anyway, every restaurant that can has got a few tables outside. The result ranges from silly to odd to cool, depending.

The thing is, they kind of have to. When it's nice out, or even vaguely nice out, everyone wants to eat outside. Restaurants that have no outdoor seating suffer during the season unless they've got something really amazing going on in the kitchen and that's pretty rare in Laval.

I wouldn't sit outside at La Villa B, it's a little raised deck sitting on what is normally a parallel parking spot. I think I'd feel like I was having dinner in a parking lot. There's another deck at Le Petit Vénérand, which blends in a little better because it's on a cobblestone street that's mainly for pedestrians but it's very small - maybe 3 or 4 tables. I've eaten outside at Le Milord- they've got a patio in front of the restaurant with a dozen tables - it's nice, you feel neither on display nor parked.

To be honest, I actually prefer to eat inside anyway. I'm not sure why.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Quand lundi est boutonné avec mardi

When Monday is buttoned with Tuesday.

You know, when you're putting on a shirt that buttons up the front and you don't pay attention and you don't line up the buttons correctly with the buttonholes and so you're off. Lining things up, your mind was elsewhere.

You're still clothed, your chest and abdomen are still covered, but not in the way they should be.

Question of the day: when was the last time you thought you had things lined up and you really didn't?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On the nature of twelve

Twelve months in a year, twelve hours on a clock. Twelve has something to say about the passage of time. A long time ago, it was a number that signified completion and the signal of the end of one phase and the beginnings of another, guided by a greater understanding and wisdom - knowledge learned from life. It promises a sense of calm amidst whatever chaos and turbulence we might be faced with.

I moved here, to stay, in September of 1997. A lot has happened since then.

I arrived single, no children, lots of plans. Here I stand, nearly twelve years later, single again, a mother, a lot fewer plans. I can only believe that to be a good thing.

But I am planning on holding twelve to its promises.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

You're a snake

It has not been my habit to speak to you - or even listen. Perhaps that is part of our problem.

A hard reminder, a harsher task master, your call at my door went from gentle frappe to insistent pounding. You're inside now, still pounding. I do not recall inviting you in, perhaps the smarter, secret me handles those types of invitations.

You've made yourself at home. You've coiled your darkness around my own. Yours is colder though, more certain, rooted where I do my heavy lifting. Branched beyond and through, your chill immobilizes what I must see, what I need to remember. The pain must come from my resistance to do so.

I watch you now, now that I know who you are, from back here. I childishly hope you will give up and leave. You will not. Not this time. There will be no future visits, you will not leave until what has been undertaken is completed.

I will thank you in the end. Even from back here I know that.

Monday, July 06, 2009

When it is your birthday

We will celebrate.

There will be cold champagne and salty cashews and spicy chocolates and creamy white peach sorbet. There will be guests, friends. Maybe a tiara.

I will give you my gift last.

It will be wrapped in silver paper, reflections. It will be tied with silk ribbon, transparencies.

You will open it, carefully. You will enjoy wondering what is inside.

It will be a key. Heavy, hand-carved, swirls on this skeleton. Art on the bow, math on the bit. You will hold it and wonder what compartments it opens.

Like the one key Bluebeard forbids us to use, it will open a bleeding lock. The bleeding lock to a wooden door, black with time and secrets. But unlike Bluebeard's women, you have permission to use it. I've given it to you, it is your gift.

When you are ready, you will use it to open that dark door. You will not be scared, you're used to the sight of blood.

You will never forget seeing for the first time. Understanding that you haven't opened a door in, but a door out. And the lock that bleeds? It has been seeping in all these years, death on the other side, you thought. Now you know, it was keeping you alive. The death was on this side.

You will take your first walk outside. Transfused. Alive.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Just the facts

You've spent your life fishing and hunting, odd that you don't know more about the equipment.

Knife finally at your side, I will watch you untangle your net, quietly, thread by thread, and reclaim as simple what has long been called complicated. You've named it now, it cannot hide behind the brilliant screen of image. You've seen the two sides of the apple and, despite years of trying to prove the contrary, you now know that they do not belong to the same apple. A puzzle that will never be solved, cannot be whole. Who cut them for you? That might explain a few things. But it will not change the facts.

I will watch you thank the vile, the hateful, the cruel. They have been your friends and family too. First cousins to distress. Necessary evils, you will call them. And they were necessary. Your constant companions on this river where polished stones are found, they have slowed your travels just enough to let you see the landscape, the river bed, the earth below.

And one day, I will witness you take flight, not from fear, but because you can. I may not see it happen, but I promise I will be a reliable witness. I will wake up to a different tide and realize you've done it, quietly, without violence - an evil you now understand as unnecessary. My testimony will speak of quiet dignity and whispered kindness - I will be honored to tell the story of you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

From Paris

The first thing I must say is how kind people are.  From the taxi ride from my house to the train employees to fellow passengers to random travelers in Montparnasse.  All those people were exceptionally nice and helpful.  Helping the single mother traveling with two children carry bags and navigate stairs, locate misplaced train wagons, conquer escalators, and find bandaids and disinfectant wipes when Boy2 fell and was bleeding from both knees.  

Seriously, don't believe anything bad you hear about the French.  


Friday, June 26, 2009


I'm afraid to translate this one literally, I'll get reported for questionable content.

So the clean version is: sex-in-town.

It actually refers to a small bag, like an overnight bag or even smaller, in which one might carry all the necessary items one might need were one to decide to not go home one evening in favor of spending the night elsewhere pursuing pleasure.

How's that for clean? Very, I'd say.

It's the kind of word I love, not necessarily for what it represents, but simply for the fact that there is a word for such a thing. I love that about French.

I guess the next obvious question is what you would put into your baise-en-ville...

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Because I'm like that sometimes.

1. Tomorrow is the boys' last day of school. It's not the last day of school, but it's theirs. We're going to Paris on Monday so they'll miss the last three days. Please don't call French Social Services.

2. I'm out of cinnamon and chocolate covered altoids. How did that happen? Wasn't my mom just here last month? Didn't she bring me, like, 4 tins?

3. My former favorite violet ice cream still tastes like soap. I'm considering just making some myself. But who sells violet essence? Oh, what is the essence of violet?

4. It's storming.

5. I do not know what this summer will be made of. Many times, you know. This time, I do not know. I'm trying to like not knowing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A three card spread

In the beginning, your gut was your compass. Not the instinct whose spark waits there. Had that been the case, there would have been considerably less trouble. Both sought and found. No, unfortunately, or not - that could be argued either way and everyone knows contention was your second nature - that's where the tornado was silently forming. Violence had became the lowest common denominator and math was the first language you spoke.

In the middle, your mind took control, made a plan, drew a map. It was military-like in its precision and detail. And everyone knows you were a gifted militant, convinced and convincing. Strategies and wars made into artful games. You lost, even when you won.

In the end, you will set those two aside. Not enemies, but you see now that survival is their only goal - and it is an individual one, they're unaware they're on a team. On this bridge over the water that does not move, I believe you will make the right decision. It will be so right, you won't even have to make it. Violence and strategies will give way to silence. You will let your quiet heart lead you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lost on you

It is time. This is what happens when seasons change. You always feel it coming, even if you pretend you don't. You evaluate just before fall. You crave salt just before winter. Your hand itches just before spring. You listen just before summer.

And so, here you are, listening. What will you hear that you have not heard?

The tales you told yourself about what you could bear, what you could lift, what you could carry. How long you would wait, how still you would stand, how patient you would be. What you understand, what you believe, what you trust.

When you walk away from this, you will have to close your eyes. Deep breath, eyes close, head turns, body follows, foot steps.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Violette de pensée

Violet of thought. But really pansy violet. A deliberate mistranslation. What else have you deliberately mistranslated?

Who you are? Well, of course, but everyone does that. What you do? Yes, that too. Especially that. Do you realize what you do? What you believe you are supposed to do? Why are knives your weapon of choice?

But it is my job, you said. No, my mission. My life's mission. There was a rite of passage, brief, instant, indiscernible to your child's eye. A hidden moment where you were taken to the cave of the ancestors, shown the drawings on the stones, given the the tools you would need - you had no choice, you know that now. As for what came afterward, what has come afterward, that is where the mistranslation resides.

Divine violet, true violet, you will wear it as a crown now. Paler than purple, it is still a mix a red blood and true blue. No need to excise the darkness though, you're going to let the blackness bleed out. These colors will be lighter.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tenderness pink

Oh the places you'll go, they said. Mostly with warning.

When you started this, you did not know all you had to accomplish or all that would stand in your way. In the beginning it feels a bit like a bad vacation. Disappointing views, lousy food, crowded sights, bad company. But you will persist. You cannot not go. Not on this trip.

It gets worse, much worse. No longer a bad vacation, this is a trip to a hell. Black rage in your jaw, filled with what you have not said. Muddy fear is your aura, the truth cannot even touch you. But the smallest seed of grace, perhaps you were born with it, helps you find help. And so, blessedly, you will persist.

And when do you get to the heart of it all, to the essence of what you were certain did not exist, free it up. Use that shiny knife, not the dark one with arabesques that lie about the gutting it is used for, but the other one, the one that will cut clean through during this silent carving. The purest center revealed, pink. Mark this territory as claimed, dig the tip of the knife in the wood that frames the work you've done here. Handle up, it is a flag at half-mast. Victory and grief.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Resin of amber

You looked at that color for months and never saw it. You spent time with that color. Hours and hours. You were careless in its presence, ignorant, playing only the games you master.

And now look at you. One fine mess. Nothing is as you thought it was, you misinterpreted it all. Timbre, tone, vibration, breadth, width, depth. You don't even have the tools to measure these. Does it radiate, reflect, emit? This is no man-made color, your words will do you no good here.

When you finally saw it for the first time, you were surprised to find that you didn't even have a name for it. And that was only the first of many surprises. It changed, depending on the light. It was never what you expected. It reaches you, touches you - when was the last time that happened? You're no artist, colors don't affect you like this, do they?

In the end, you found the name in the scent. Your scent. It looks just like you smell. A warm, autumn scent, just like the color. Fossilized resin, its history in the scent, the journey in its color. Finally a word, not yours, but familiar anyway. Bewitching.

Monday, June 08, 2009

What I call it

You've asked me for a name. I cannot give you one. Not for this place.

It is neither here nor there. While some might consider it no man's land, it is not. Not really. It is both path and destination. It is endless and brief. It is essence, no frills or swirls to be found here. It is scar and resilience, all at once. It is marked with life and destiny and has borne witness to both. It has worn and torn and seared and burned and ached and yearned and waited in silence and lived to tell all those tales. It is branded with the effort it took to heal, tattooed with an outline of what hides underneath the wave. It holds all the mysteries you seek in position, reminds you with a red hot whisper that your adventures have just begun, that you know nothing and everything and that this state of affairs is not a contradiction.

I do not know what others call it. I only know what it is for me.

If you get closer, I'll introduce you. I believe you actually met before but there was no introduction, you walked quickly by. How does that happen? How do you get so close and not realize, not recognize the honeyed scent? If you get another chance, it will call you to order. It will dare you to leave your mark on its landscape. Do you have that in you?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

In that one word

Everything shifted.

There were no signs or warnings that it might happen that night.

That I might see you, a master of weaponry, trapped, surrounded by swords, blades deep in the ground. And realize they were skillfully crafted by your own hand. Pommel, grip, guard, blade. It was beautiful in an unexpected way, this prison you've made. Clean, clear lines delineate. Silver shines everywhere and blinds those on the inside.

Can't. One word made from two. A contraction. It is that. A contraction of what should have been and what will be instead, a compromise that sucks the heart right out of the center. You are left with an apostrophe. Is that enough for you? Something that marks this omission, that shows that something else has held that place, will always hold that place. It looks like a small curved line when drawn by your hand. But it is a gash, a slice of you taken against your will, a wound that will seep in the forever between your yesterdays and your tomorrows.

Tilt your head to the left and you will see that your apostrophe resembles the curve of a closed eye.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Knife collecting

I've seen your knives. Well, just two. Do you have more?

The first one I saw surprised me with its complexity. Curved, dark metal, teeth, ridges. Dark wooden handle. Black with use and the essence of your hand. Braided cord wrapped around the tang, no rivets for this knife. This knife is used to eviscerate. I cannot imagine any other purpose for all that detail. Its sound is rough when you scrape it, back and forth, along the stone you use to keep it very sharp. The oil you pour on the stone does not stifle the sound, it just makes the grit and the grind slick.

The second one is much bigger. Bright, shiny steel. I can see my reflection in the blade when you hold it up. The blade is a triangle, the handle a rectangle with smooth comfortable edges. All of it a beautiful balance of perfect mathematical equations designed to allow you to cut clean through without hesitation or thought as to how it must be done. With this knife, you need only think of the what, not the how.

I watch you handle these knives and wonder when you will use them.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ivy of the wild

You weave and climb and entwine and change colors with the seasons and never die. I thought you were just part of the beautiful landscape. I thought the sculpted stones you wrapped around held you up. I did not know it was the other way around. I did not know I inhaled your purest green of spring and exhaled your darkest red of autumn.

You are what I breathe. How could I not have known that? I have been told, shown, reflected and mirrored that endless times over these years. But those tales haven't always been easy to hear, the strength of heroes and villains too raw. And the shows, while breathtaking, have left the audience unsettled and uncertain. Reflections cannot be trusted, mirrors gather dust. I have never believed what I saw. Never trusted what I heard.

And so, here I am. You've waited patiently for me. You will watch me as I twist and wind and follow the path you made for me years ago. You will be at my side as I lose my fear of your darkness, you will witness my brave, blind steps into this wilderness. You will photograph the wave as it crashes into me - a revelation - each precious drop captured in suspended animation.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On the nature of correction

You met someone once, not someone really important, but what was accomplished was.  I don't mean that in a bad way.  It's true that you weren't important to each other, not in the conventional way, if you know what I mean, but that doesn't mean it didn't matter.  

You reminded each other of something, remembered each other something - yes, I know that's not how we say it in English but I know you know what I mean.  When someone knocks on a door you forgot you even had.  Opening it takes what little breath you have completely away.  You gasp and find more and are so surprised that more exists.

You give each other looks, good ones.  Looks that say, "Follow me."  And you do, for a time.  

When you get back home, your farewells are sweet, thoughtful, sincere.  Everything for a time.  You will remember this time.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

I want that job

You know, my mom and I spent the weekend in Paris.  Walking and drinking wine and eating and more walking.  No schedules or children.  Just whatever we felt like doing. 

And speaking of.

Sunday evening, dinner time.  7th arrondissement.  I dare you to try to find a restaurant that's open.  

Anyway, we ended up in a perfectly acceptable brasserie.  Tomato and mozzarella salad to begin with, warm goat cheese and cured ham salad, pear tart for dessert.  Médoc to drink.  

Anyway, still not the important part.  That part was the guy, the owner of the brasserie.  I'm not kidding, the man stood, kind of hunched, over the cash register the whole time we were there.  We, of course, had an apéritif to start with, before the food and the wine.  And coffee after the dessert.  So we'll say we spent a couple of hours there.  

He hunched over the cash. Took people's money.  Barked out orders.  Delegated in the true sense of the word.  He did absolutely nothing, other than the money thing, himself.

50 cl of Médoc to table 10!

Table 6 looks ready for a dessert!

Money's out on table 14!

In the meantime, there was definite hustle and bustle because it was the only damn restaurant open in the 7th on Sunday evening.  So the staff hustled and bustled while Monsieur oversaw.  

Saturday, May 30, 2009


You have pushed and moved and forced and plowed and focused and forged over the years.  With more or less delicacy, depending on the season.  

Your movements never ceased, too much to do, never a moment to spare.  You do not even know where the time to get here, where you are today, came from.  A gift though.  

On this day, your movements have stopped.  You've burned all the leaves you've raked over these years.  Autumn burnt shades, fire and amber.  Your own heat and resin, gone.

And so you are finally left standing.  Still.  And corrected.  

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tears of currant

When did you know it would be you? That you would be the one to finish this?

There were many before you, all just like you in one way, vastly different in all the others, time and life oblige. You could speak of inheritance (implies intent) or curse (implies evil magic) or trans-generational constellations (implies something prettier than is accurate). But those are just names. What does not change is that black pearl, that darkness you've met before. Not a dark companion, this is much more sinister than that. While it may look like ancient wisteria climbing on a tall tree, it is not. It is a swirl of bleakness and desolation that started oceans ago and has woven and textured and entwined for generations.

You are the end of that line. You made certain of that. It will find no future home. The price you had to pay is heavy, but bearable. Any other outcome would not have been.

To those who would have come, could have come, you blow them a kiss from across this line. You believe they understand.

If tears were to be shed, they would not be clear. They would be the darkest of purples, the blackest mix of red and blue, blood and truth.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Well, that went well

Boy1 has said a few things here and there that have made me think it's time to have the talk. The where babies come from talk. Nothing major, just the basics. He already knows the egg and the sperm thing but the whole how-they-hook-up-thing is still a mystery. And I'd really rather he hear it from me than in the school yard.

So, we were having dinner one night a few weeks ago.

Me - Boy1, have you heard anything at school from the other kids about where babies come from or things like that?

Boy1 - Um, a little, I guess.

Me - Well, I'd like you to have accurate information. So when you think it's time, I'm ready to tell you anything you'd like to know.

Boy1 - No, it's ok Mama, I already know that babies are made from a little part from the mama and a little part from the papa.

Me - Yeah, I know. But you need to know how those parts meet.

Boy1 lifts his arms up, palms towards me, shakes head - No, no, no. I'm way too young for that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Smoke without fire

How long do you think it had been there? It was a line, a cut, a fissure, a crack, a crevice, a gash badly healed, roughly scarred. You should have noticed it a long time ago. Why didn't you? Yes, yes, too busy, I know.

Anyway, somehow, it ended up on your list of things to do. You took a look and saw a splinter - which is weird because aren't our bodies supposed to reject those eventually? Maybe that's how it ended up on the to do list. You got a tool to dig it out. It hurt. It took your breath away.

Splinter in hand, you held it up to the light. And then you did what should always be done in these cases.

You incinerated it. You watched it go up in smoke, the glow of bile green blinding your eyes that were already closed. When you opened them, there were no ashes to be sprinkled.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

City of my dreams

It is a place that belongs to me and to which I belong. I am neither mistress nor wife there, just me.

There is stimulation there but not sensory overload. There is effervescence but not chaos.

I feel safe there, but not imprisoned. I am free and framed at the same time. I can take root there but I can leave anytime I like. It witnesses everything but knows how to keep secrets.

I dream of you still and I do not know your name, city of mine.

Tell me I will one day, tell me our paths will cross. Tell me life will disjoint or unjoint or maybe joint or that I will. Tell me I will walk your sidewalks and you will welcome my footsteps with an echo, a resonance I will recognize instantly and never forget.

I will treasure your streets and your name. I will shine for you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bone tossing

You asked her to go for a ride with you. She laughed, she would never do that. She might make you think she would, a tale you would love to hear, a story you would willingly listen to over and over. Even if you knew it weren't true, it was a recital you wouldn't want to miss. She was an exquisite dancer. She could make you feel like yours was the only seat in the house.

In the end though, the no came through. Never said, only felt. She was gentle though, helped you think it was your decision. Silently agreed to a new shared story.

It was hard on her though, she had believed some of your stories too. She gave it one last try. She tossed you a bone. A good one, something with some meat on it. Did you know it was a test? You were satisfied with that bone, willing to settle for just that. And so she saw all the limitations she hadn't believed you could have. She walked away, of course. She had a long list of things to do.

She left you with the bone, it was yours now. Yes, of course, you buried it. It's your only treasure now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Eaten away

There are times in life when you do not have a choice. The path is laid out, it is the only one.

Here I sit, with a friend. A new friend, but still close. She needs me to do something, of course, I can tell. Will you be witness to this? You agree, of course.

And so I take her by the hand and lead her out into the middle. Which is where she actually is, whether that's where she is seated or not.

She does not strut or anything like that. Hers is an impervious walk even holding hands, you wonder where she learned that, must have been early, she owns it, not the other way around.

Everyone feels what she denies here. Everyone. She smiles and laughs and jokes and toasts. Impervious, waterproof, again and again.

You witness it all. You will tell stories of dark corners and dark passengers and companions to it all. You watch the alchemy as the lights dim. And they really do, you see the bartender turning the dial down, this is not figurative.

That is the last of it, every single dark square has been devoured, you will find no more. You are left with the richest, thickest, smoothest coating. You hope to carry it with you forever, everywhere. You know you can't, won't. You choose instead to frame every memory in the hardest of woods, woods that will give in to nothing less than petrification. Woods that bear the burden of truth, so laden they must turn to stone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Inside trouble

Do you know what you find there?

You find 23 shades of orange, an explosion of your favorite color. The color you love for its flavor, its tingle, both sweet and sour - the softest acidic sensation - and its warmth and brightness, not its heat. It surrounds you here, you like it less - but just for a moment - until you feel your feet on the ground and realize you're still whole, despite the swirl that encompasses everything.

You find your home, cool and warm all at once.

You find every game you've ever loved to play, ever wanted to play. Pieces, parts, cards, tokens, boards, rules (yes, even these games have rules) laid out by someone who likes to play the same games. Who plays them as well as you.

You find a vortex, a wave, a tornado. You find an uncharted road, a path just for you, no signs, you must rough it here. A journey where you are called to rely on your instincts, not your mind.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The look I've gotten

There is a look that people sometimes give you when something has happened to you since they last saw you.

Ok, I don't think I could be any more vague than that.

If something major, and by major I mean badish or very bad major, and by that I mean - no seriously, this is just going from vague to outright confusing. Did you know that there are actually a couple of people out there who've used the term Nicole-ism? Probably for this kind of thing.

Ok. So, let's say you lost your job or you lost your house or your marriage ended or a close family member became very ill or something along those lines.

If you see some who has heard that event X has occurred in your life and s/he hasn't seen you since event X, you get one of two looks.

From people who have experienced event X themselves, you get a quiet look, a faded and pained echo in their eyes and silent and very discreet compassion and perhaps an equally discreet offer for help or support of one variety or another. All this happens within seconds and lasts even less. They do not dwell on it, not even for a moment.

From someone who has never experienced event X or even anything similar, you get the look. The head tilts slightly to the side and you get probing eye contact and a very heavy and significant, "How are you?" Not to complain, there is no malice or indiscretion, they are full of kindness and concern, and maybe a little curiosity as to how on earth you've survived another day.

Question of the day: have you ever gotten the look?

Friday, May 08, 2009

The answers to all your questions

or we could also call this why things are the way they are.

Illusions, lies, habits, misconceptions, comforts, compromises, sacrifices, bargains, tales, trade-offs, negotiations, regrets, expectations, demands, and fears. A long list of a very bad items found at the world's worst grocery store ever. Why did you ever start shopping there? What good could possibly come from ingredients like that?

You want things to be different? So be it. Make it so. Take me into your skin, let me feel the ridges that time and life have carved into your surface. Let me memorize, from the inside out, what is your truth, despite appearances.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bridge me

It is a month of bridges in France this May, or at least long weekends. Three holidays on thursdays or fridays.

And this river town I live in has 4 main bridges linking rive gauche and rive droite.

I'm on a bridge right now, walking across. And while I know with absolute certainty where I've been, I have no idea where I'm going. But, like the cliff in my dream, I cannot not cross this river. Wouldn't want to stop if I could.

Question for the day: when was the last time you stood on a bridge? Did you cross it?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What time is it where you are?

Il ne faut pas chercher midi at 14 heures. Don't look for noon at 2:00 pm. Not because it will be too late but because noon is located at noon, not at 2:00.

It means don't make things complicated when they aren't. When they don't need to be.

The simplest answers are usually the right ones. No, the correct ones. Which has nothing to do with being right. Or doing what is right. Or, more importantly, doing what is right for you.

Choices we make, decisions we live with, behavior lines we trace - we color them and name them and qualify them and frame them and contextualize them. We make them 14:00 when they are really just 12:00.

It takes those two hours to get from reality to something we can live with.

Monday, May 04, 2009


For the past 5 years, Boy1 and I have been following an allergy desensitization protocol. We're both allergic to the same pollens - the ones that are out from mid-April to mid June, give or a take a few weeks depending on the weather.

I wasn't really very hopeful, at least for myself. These types of treatments seem to be more successful on children than adults, but the past couple of years have been better so I kept it up, trying to believe that my body could learn to assess those pollens as what they really are - just a part of nature - and not what it thinks they are - my lifelong enemies intent only upon my misery and eventual destruction.

I had to go to the allergy doctor's office last week to pick up some insurance papers. We chatted while she filled them out. I asked about the current pollen levels in this region, I hadn't even bothered looking them up, because I haven't been bothered - I just assumed they were really low.

Apparently not. Weird weather - hot/cold/hot/cold/rainy/not - has been just what my least favorite pollens needed to flourish. Mostly they're weeds and grasses so that's really no surprise. Why can't I be allergic to some really rare thing that only grows in extreme weather conditions on odd years during a Republican president's 1st and only term?

Anyway, I woke up with a start this morning. Actually a gasp and a start. A good gasp. Because I realized that some part of me - the smarter, wiser Nicole - had signed me up for a lot more desensitization protocols than I had ever suspected. And the accelerated kind. These past three months have left me with a lot fewer internal enemies than I could've thought possible, and all without me being aware enough to hinder the process. Because you know I would've.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Mountain over earth

You knew all along, didn't you? Knew you would end up right here, where you stand.

Stand up, stand still, stand off, stand alone.

How do we stand? Shoulders heavy with regret the mind refuses? It will take its toll, acknowledged or not. Feet pinned to the ground by guilt denied? It will weigh down, authorized or not. Head turned away by shame ignored? It will pull in the wrong direction, licensed or not.

The shadow cast by this mountain of slights will show you who you really are.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I bought a few things at my favorite café the other day. As I was walking out, Laurent, so sweet, handed me something, the sweetest something, as I walked out the door. I got back into the car with my bag of stuff and a tin full of my favorite chocolate covered almonds.

Boy2 - Are those chocolates? Those look like chocolates. Are they Mama?

Me - Yes. And no, you may not have any.

Boy2 - What? Why? You share everything with us, you always let us taste your food and you always let us have the chocolate you get when you have a coffee.

Me - Because you've got bags of Easter chocolate to eat, you don't need anymore and these are my favorites, not yours, you won't feel about them the way I do. These chocolates need to be loved.

Boy2 starts laughing.

Boy1 has known me for 3 years more than Boy2.

Boy1 - Um, I'm afraid she's not joking.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ride with me

Circumstances introduced you to him a long time a ago, probably when you were very young, maybe 8 or 9 years old. Do you remember the first time? You felt unfamiliar to yourself in his presence, laden as well, an electric blanket upon you that someone forgot to turn off.

He has visited you over the years, never invited and never really welcome, like your other dark companions. You thought he left between visits, really left you. You never realized he had a home, your basement was full of other shadowed friends.

You are lucky, he is not your darkest companion, distress. You have another, the darkest of all, who has also been with you for years, forever actually, part of your birthright - how odd is that? An obscured passenger, waiting to lead the way.

You will let him one day, you know that now. You will let your decisions be guided by the one who lives only in the shadows and sees truth in the dark.

Come what may.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Opera Red

A whisper should be felt, not just heard. It should be that close.

When it's not, for whatever reason, when it's just an ear-tease, when it isn't given the possibility to be what it was always meant to be, you eventually stop listening, stop believing. You no longer believe the words because their integrity is in the touch, they must be felt. And you no longer believe that touch will eventually reach you. So you give up. Not because it will have any effect - it won't - but because there's simply nothing worse than wanting and waiting and expecting what you will never have.

Unfortunately, it does not end there.

Some things don't ever fade. You just find a better place to store them. Somewhere that closets the intensity you cannot bear to witness and never touch. Nothing is waterproof, however. That intensity, that opera red, will seep out sometimes, making you think you're bleeding out, from inside your insides.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I don't kiss the boys on the mouth. Never really have. Not because I feel any particular way about it but more because of the way other people feel about it. Yes, I realize how silly that is as I write it.

Anyway, in France (sweeping generalization ahead), the vast majority of families don't kiss each other on the mouth, aside from the spouses, obviously. It was never anything I had really thought about until I moved here and French people asked me about it sometimes. Hey, Nicole, do people REALLY kiss other family members on the mouth like they do in American movies?

Kissing here is different, it's true. There's the whole ritual of la bise, you know, the kissing on both cheeks thing. Which is the standard greeting between all children and adults, women with women, women with men, and some men with men, depending on the relationship - family members yes, friends will more likely get a handshake.

At school, most of the children, even the boys who are trying to be very non-nonchalant about their mothers (WHICH INCLUDES BOY1) give one kiss to them when they arrive to pick them up. Despite the fact that this was not necessairly customary for me, when Boy1 told me to 'lay off the love stuff' when I picked him up from school (and by that he meant hugs), I decided it was better than nothing. So now I get a polite peck on the cheek. Thankfully, Boy2 is still young enough to care more about getting a hug from me than being cool while his friends are around.

Back to the kissing on the mouth thing. It's generally, even by children, considered to be a kiss reserved for people in a romantic relationship. Once, Boy2 turned his head as I was giving him a kiss on the cheek and he laughed and said, "Ooohhh, we kissed on the mouth."

So, the other day Boy2 actually asked me if we could kiss on the mouth. I said no, some families, mostly in other countries, kiss each other on the mouth but that we weren't that kind of family. His reply, "Let's be that kind of family." I said no again. His last attempt, "How about we let eeny, meeny, miny, moe decide?"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth of fire

The lock on my garage door is odd. You have turn the key away from the lock in order to lock it. It's completely counter-intuitive. It's not at all what you want to do. I've been locking and unlocking that door for years and it still hits me every time that it's very illogical.

We don't always get to do what we want to do. Does it sound like I'm stating the obvious? I'm not.

So what do you do when unlocking the door means turning the key towards the lock? What do you do when you can't do what your intuition tells you to do? When the creases in your soul are yelling at you to do something other than what you absolutely must do? I'm no longer talking about garage doors.

I don't know.

I suspect you try to unfold your soul, unfold it all, and take a look at what has gathered in those pleats. A story lies there.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lâcher prise

Lâcher - to let go
Prise - a hold, a grip

I wish I had more grace.  I wish I knew more about history.  I wish I learned lessons more easily.  I wish I were more serene.  I wish I knew what I am supposed to be doing.  I wish I didn't use self-destruction as a coping mechanism.  I wish I drank more tea and less coffee.  I wish I had more tools in my tool box.  

I had a dream the other day in which I jumped off a beautiful cliff.  I didn't hesitate, I just jumped and wondered if I would be afraid.  I wasn't.  It felt amazing.  I felt relieved and free.  It wasn't a suicide jump, it was a lâcher prise.  It was a hold I let go of.   

Question of the day:  when was the last time you let go of your hold?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tried and true

Tests, by nature, are designed to reveal.   Level, rank, resources.  Character, motivation, determination.    

I took a class in graduate school  - testing theory.  Not that it has helped me in real life.  My tests are never fair and the grading scale is harsh and no one ever seems to have the proper test taking skills.  

So I've revised my methodology.   The tests are over.  It's now trial by fire.

Question for the day:  when was the last time you were tested?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Well I never

Someone actually called me capricious this weekend.

Capricious? Come on. Whimsical, maybe. Occasionally unpredictable, and even that's a stretch, because, really, if you know someone really well, are they ever? But capricious?

I was hoping it was a language thing, the capricious flavored mud was slung in French. Slung, is really the past participle of the verb to sling? Sling, slang, slung?

Anyway, back to not being capricious. I asked for clarifications and just got more mud, it means the same thing in French as in English. Governed by caprice. Willfulness, whims, vagaries. It just got worse as it went on.

Given my reaction, there was a vague attempt at sugar coating the mud.

Apparently, I wear my capriciousness very well.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

And not only that, but she also refuses to get undressed

Yesterday I had my second visit at the office of La Médecine du Travail. If you work in France, theoretically, at some point, you're supposed to be seen by a doctor working at the Work Medicine Office. The idea being that some people don't take care of themselves and if you integrate a medical visit into professional life, more people will get regular check-ups. There are also those high pressure jobs where stress can have major effects on health and then very high-risk or physical jobs where physical condition is important.

I teach English. You can see where I'm going with this.

For my first visit, two years ago, I didn't know what to expect and I just kind of went along with everything.

But not this time.

I walked in and gave my name. The receptionist asked me if I had brought some urine in with me. I hadn't. She asked me if I would like to urinate in a cup for her. I wouldn't. She stared. I waited. She asked why. I said that I had already urinated in a cup once for my GP this year and once for my gynecologist this year and I thought that was just about enough urinating in cups for me. She showed me to the doctor's office.

A very nice doctor. She asked me if she had had any health problems since my last visit two years ago. She. As in me, but in the third person. I know I'm a princess and all regal and everything but I was surprised by the royal we. This continued while she asked me about smoking, exercise and work problems. I kept my repsonses monosyllabic to avoid saying, "No, she doesn't and yes she does and no she deosn't."

Then she asked me to get undressed. Now, I'm all for getting undressed when the situation calls for it. But this just didn't seem like one of those situations. Why did I need to be in panties and a bra in order for it to be determined that I'm physcially apt to teach English?

So I said no. She looked at me oddly and offered possible explanations as to why I wouldn't want to do that (period? prude?). It wasn't either of those, I really just didn't feel like it and didn't see the point. She huffed and puffed and pushed up my sleeve to take my blood pressure, listened to my heart through my t-shirt, and pushed my pant leg up to see if I had puffy ankles.

Before you go thinking that I'm a royal pain in the ass, I swear I'm not. You get no gown here, no privacy while you undress, you just stand there and do your strip tease while the doctor watches. And sometimes, especially when there's no music, you just don't feel like it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

On needing sweetness

So I went to the bakery yesterday to get some bread. I started off something like this, "Eh, I'll have a loaf of spelt bread, sliced, don't close the bag please." Because they always use these little tapey, plasticy, wrapy things that I can't ever get off without ripping the bag. And since the boys and I never finish a loaf in one sitting, I like for the bag to remain intact. And since the boys are gone for the week, who knows how long that loaf of bread will last me. I'll end up using most of it to make garlic croutons, I suspect. Or maybe I'll stuff something for Easter dinner.

Back to the bakery, while she (baker's wife) is slicing and not closing bags, I'm looking around, and there's a guy behind me looking at me looking around, probably thinking, I'd really like to get my bread today lady. And she asks the question, "Anything else?" Well, maybe it's being without the boys for a week or maybe it's something else absent from my life but all I could think was YES! many things else.

So, that one loaf of bread was followed by an, "Um, maybe 100 grams of assorted chocolates? Dark only, please."

Observing man shifted to the other foot. "Anything else?"

Why did she keep asking me that? It just seemed rude to stop. "Well, maybe 50 grams of nougat - almonds and dried cherries."

Observing man shifts again. I look back at him and say, "Why don't you go ahead and get your bread, I may be here for a while."

He smiled and said, "No, no, please, take your time." I thought about telling him that his body language disagreed heartily with his spoken language, but you know, this is France and the men like to be gallant.

"And maybe that mini tarte tatin."

"And actually, I'll take that last mini kougaloff too."

"Are those chocolate covered almonds made here? Oh, well then, 100 grams of those too."

Polite, observing, foot-shifting man said, "Bon appétit," as I walked out the door.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Night blue

You think, for a time, that a brief séjour in the basement might do you some good. A salt-preserved, self-preserved time out. Your eyes get used to the artificial light, then to no light at all - lights burn out.

You keep yourself busy, you keep yourself company. You could build a whole life down here.

When you come up from this basement, and I swear you will, your hands will be full of all the things you never thought you could do. You try them out here first, in the dark, unaware that it's blue dark - the kind that speaks. You're so weary of the black dark that keeps secrets - but you're unaware of that too.

When you walk up the stairs and leave nothing behind, you will know.

That which is done in the dark is still true.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Forget-me-not blue

Find your treasure. Do it young, when you can find it instinctively, like a heat-seeking missile, no questions asked. At a time when you do not yet second guess yourself, a time limited only by the endlessness of possibilities.

If you lose it, and you probably will, isn't that what youth is also about, wait a few years before you go looking for it again, try out a few more things. Make reasonable decisions, live life in your mind and in the world constructed around all your reasoned choices.

Then remember what you're missing and find it again. But before you do, think about what that treasure really is. What you really want to do with it.

Will you open it, dig your fingers in deep and let its wealth cover your hands?

Or will you turn it into a picture so you can frame it and make it fit into your life - hang it over your lovely fireplace?

If that is your choice, you'll paint the frame blue. The blue of forget-me-nots. A silent and painful nod to what you allowed yourself to lose.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pearl of darkness

A speck of dust, wrongly led. Usually by a shadowy friend, the lighting is very odd when it's time for a tornado. Who knows how you get a friend like that. Usually like an odd family heirloom, no one knows from where or why or how, but a presence is there now, accepted as part of the landscape.

There are those who will tell you pretty stories of an out-of-place grain of sand and a pearl, but that is not our story. Ours is a story of a speck of dust, led awry.

I do not know the physics of tornadoes, I do not know how warm and cold and high and low and wind and dust manage to dance together. But I am from the Midwest, I know the drills, I have spent time in basements. I have felt the chaotic swirl of that tornado for years, lived with its threat, its promise of destruction my darkest companion.

How have I really lived with it? I have dressed it up during the off seasons to take it out, decade and music helping me choose its accessories.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rust of the anchor

I heard myself speak, a quiet insistent voice I did not recognize, loud only in its force. Unyielding force, but no push, just position. It sounded hoarse from the inside, its frequency having never touched the air.

It did not feel like brushed steel. Maybe tempered iron. In any case, a matrix of metals - elements I never knew belonged to me.

I cannot say I am comfortable with it, it feels more of me than mine. For now. But I do like the idea of mining, of a hidden mine manned by dedicated hands that seek not exploitation, but proper use of natural resources. Of earthy elements inside my own private earth.

Monday, March 30, 2009


It is time to sort what you have been given, all of it. Pattern wire to do the cutting so you don't have to. Your only task is to witness the sift as it happens. There is no alchemy here, no transformation. Just the river bed and what will remain.

Make no mistake, you will be winnowed, your cooperation is not necessary. The cool current of a sigh will finish the work.

See what you can find in the remains, what you will be left with. Lick your shadow wounds, take your time. One day you will think of this as a good day.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Can I do that too?

There's a blogger scheduled outage, sometime today, I'll be sleeping, or almost because apparently all things blogger are managed on California time. Fine by me. There are a few things in life that really should be managed California style. Washington (state, not DC) too. Illinois too. Actually, I like to think that every state (both United and soul) has something it manages to do better than any other. Washington - coffee, for starters. Illinois - wild mushrooms. This funky soul state I'm currently in - hopefully blow one speck of dust off that mirror.

I would also like to add that I love the notion of a scheduled outage. I would like to schedule one myself. Just a parenthetical notation of a few hours, a day maybe, a week would be ideal but that would logistically be difficult to manage. I would take the time to look at the chips, suspended in mid-air before they fall.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If and when

I talked to one of the bad guys in my dream last night. He was really bad, pure in his essence of badness, much more convincing than in a movie. We spoke in abstract terms of my capture and conversion, which, thankfully, the dream did not make me witness. We laughed, his laughter sincere and mine not so much, about the difficulties inherent in transition and initiation. He told me that everything I had experienced up until then was just an avant-goût. A pre-taste, a before taste of what was to come. We spoke of this over cocktails in a well lit bar.

Bad guys aside, avant-goût is what remained from that dream.

What are you getting a before taste of today?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fall back

The weather's been nice here. Upper 50's, sunny. As soon as I can, I go barefoot.

All the floors in my house are hardwood. Except the kitchen which is very cold ceramic tile. Which feels great in the summer and breath-catchingly cold in the winter. The hardwood floors are very old and very, um, rustic (read: neither waxed nor vitrified nor whatever else one does to a hardwood floor). Which means that you can only go barefoot or wear shoes or slippers in my house. Socks = many splinters.

I was upstairs yesterday, working from home, cleaning, doing whatever. I sat down at my desk and crossed my right foot over my left knee. And saw a HUGE splinter dangling from one of my toes. About a half an inch long and about as thick as an acupuncture needle. It didn't hurt, obviously, I hadn't even noticed it, who knows how long I'd walking around with it in my toe.

And isn't that just the way it happens sometimes? You walk around with this thing that you don't even know about.

What have you got that you haven't noticed?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Four people told me they thought something strange was going on yesterday. Cosmic energies swirling about.

Julie pointed out to me how strange it was to hear a mother (me) say to her children, "Stop bickering and stop speaking French."

My favorite violet ice cream doesn't taste very good anymore. It tastes like shampoo.

Boy1 had an dental appointment this morning. Not his first. Cavities were involved. He was anxious. While we were in the waiting room I walked him through a couple of visualization exercises. When he opened his eyes he said, "Thank you, Mama. I can do this anytime I need to find my courage."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring forward

I spent a couple of hours in a walled garden yesterday, my back to the sun. It was a beautiful day, a promise of spring, blue sky and warm sun.

A few minutes after I sat down, I saw a butterfly. And then I watched the lizards come out of their winter hiding places and sit, like me, backs in the sun.

My winter hiding place? Cafés and wine bars. I'm not sure how that differs much from what I do when winter is over.

We haven't changed the clocks yet. So, for a few weeks, I'm an hour closer to my friends and family in the States. Can you feel it?

Friday, March 13, 2009

A la carte

A gift has been handed down for generations in my family. I have not had the privilege of meeting most of those who hands held it before mine. But I have known them in my way. I have come to recognize them over time, their quiet visits to my dreams. They never participate, only witness. I feel them there, from time to time, silently guarding the histories I have sought to rewrite.

I do not know who first brought the gift into the family or even why. I could only imagine its originally intended use. Given this heirloom as a child, I did not recognize its value or understand how to make it my own.

So I used it as best I could, held it in my child's hands. Awkward and unsteady with a brave smile to reassure.

Last week, I tripped and stumbled upon the truth of that gift. I suppose I could've seen it before but my childhood vision quickly became habit, then reality, and it never occurred to me to take a second look at something that had always been there.

Despite decades of misuse, unintentional but still there, I believe its essence is still intact. I will hold it up to the light when I've finished polishing off the deposits of time and residue of my misunderstanding.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Take away

Tell me what you will remember, tell me what you will always know.

Just the shadowed outline, the context that confines. The title of each chapter of this work that is pure fiction.

So I can leave it here, to be buried in the ground. I will let time take care of the things I cannot. I will come back years from now and see what the earth has been able to do with it, the work I could not do. Listen to the stories the dirt tells about its petrification. Witness its transformation into the smoothest of river stones.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Lay me down

and tell me a story. A good one, with a queen and knights and rogues and stone tablets with the rules of the kingdom etched by a master carver's hand. Fill it with honor and integrity and universal truths. Make every character an archetype, their private tales told in a breath, resonance in the exhale.

Spin, weave, loom, entwine, curve, twist, and lace it for me.

Whisper to me and tell me to close my eyes so I can't look for the ending.

When the story is over, tell me the difference between the story you've told me and the tale you've told yourself.

Friday, March 06, 2009

It felt like home

For a very brief moment.

I was driving to work this morning. I stopped at a red light. I was digging through my bag for my sunglasses and then I looked up. You know I grew up in Illinois, right? So, to my left was a huge truck with bales of hay. To my right was a pick-up truck, one of those really big ones I've only seen in the States. Big and black and shiny, like the man who owns it really takes care of it. I smiled, it was odd to see those things in downtown Laval, France.

People are like that too, aren't they? You hear a voice and it's a sound that makes you feel like you've come home. And it's a sound you'd recognize anywhere, forever, no matter how long it's been since you last heard it.

Or they say something, something only they would say, and it feels so familiar, so them - even if they've never said it before, and so grounding that some part of you sighs in relief. That magnet moment when you are touched by where you are known and who knows you.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Un coup de cafard

Coup is one of those multipurpose words with many usages and just as many translations. A blow, as in un coup dur - a hard blow. A punch, as in un coup de poing - literally a blow of the fist. A gust, as in un coup de vent - a gust of wind. A kick, as in un coup de pied - of the foot.

A cafard is a cockroach.

A coup de cafard is - well, I don't really know exactly how to translate it. It's less severe than depression but more intense than a bad mood. Maybe like being down in the dumps.

Which is what I've been for the past few weeks. But I don't want to talk about that.

I want to talk about a literal coup de cafard.

It was wednesday a few weeks ago and my favorite café was closed. So I went to a different one. I sat down on a bench. Next to a cockroach. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it so I just got a tissue from my bag and grabbed the roach with it and got up to carry it to the garbage can. Which is when it jumped out of the tissue and into my bag. So, instead of being discreet about throwing a cockroach away, I had to be discreet about finding a cockroach in my bag - which, by the way, I call my Mary Poppins bag because of what it can and does contain.

I did finally find it and discreetly dispose of it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Urban myth revealed to be true

The Ikea in Rennes actually exists.

I went there this weekend.

Of course, I went with a very specific (and short) list of things I wanted (2).

Of course, I spent the double of what I had intended to and came home with items (5) that were not on my list.

On the upside, I'm very pleased with everything I bought.

On the downside, heavy dining room tables are best assembled in good (read: strong) company, not alone. I put it together without much difficulty, although I did realize that I need a new philips screwdriver, but turning it right side up was a huge (read: heavy) pain in the ass.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Under construction

Phase one - We had some roofing issues. I don't know what to say. This is also where we see that prisons aren't always of our own making. Sometimes the strings are being pulled tight and tied from the outside.

Phase two - Who knew that buttercream icing was a food group? Or that chocolate covered almonds could replace shingles?

Believe it or not, they say they're not finished decorating it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Did anyone else hear this?

The woman who's on the cover of the Sport's Illustrated swimsuit issue said, as a result of doing said cover, that she felt like she was a part of history.

She said that.

"I feel like I'm a part of history."

History? Really?

You know me, I'm all about the rainbows and sandcastles, so I won't go into a rant about economic crisis this or gloom and doom that, but come on, history?

Of course, all the men out there are going to think I'm jealous because I'm not on the cover. And you're right, I am, but only because I could totally pay off my student loans with the paycheck for a cover like that. And I'd have plenty left over to get a new car and make a down payment on a house and go home to the States for a visit.

Anyone out there got anything a little more historical we could talk about today?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And speaking of working on a building

It's school vacation again. The boys don't have school this week or next. They're with me this week - I don't have classes either so we're sleeping late and reading a lot and have finally undertaken to complete (and start) the gingerbread house.

We baked off the four walls and the roof pieces yesterday. Today will be dedicated to assembly and decoration. Think buttercream icing and candies.

And then think about what my house smells like.

Sugar and spice. Exactly that. Molasses and ginger.

Boy2 was concerned that we weren't doing this at the right time of year - Christmas being past. I told him it's still winter and gingerbread houses are a winter thing, not necessarily a Christmas thing. Which he readily accepted as a good rationale. Especially considering that the only other option was to wait until next Christmas. When I offered that as an (unlikely) alternative, he said, "Are you kidding me? No way."