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.