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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

foreign affairs


Candles give light to the dark apartment, and shadows of Italians and Columbians doing the salsa dance along the wall.

They move their bodies in a way that mine may never move. For most of them it’s in the blood. One girl from Brazil moves her body in such a way to Brazilian music that we all sit down and stare. She shakes every bit of her body, turning and jiggling, never missing a beat. An exceptionally tall and voluptuous Italian, dressed in short black shorts and a pink silk shirt, dances solo, mimicking and singing in such a way that you can’t help but love her. I find her nothing short of amazing as she tangos herself around the barren apartment, flinging her arms in disco-like movements.

These people are all body. They love life, and it’s obvious. A quiet evening in a small, starving artist style apartment, was transformed into one of love, song, and dance. Every few minutes someone was hugging, kissing, or clinking glasses for the nth time that evening.

I was embraced into this group by two old Columbian friends I met in the South of France three years ago. These young men are my height, with dark hair, strong looking bodies and handsome faces. They are passionate, open hearted, and party harder than I ever could. They tell me they consider me their little sister, and having known me when I was fifteen, they gasped when they saw me and declared I’d become a woman.

We had what was in their opinion a calm evening, since the dancing lasted until four or five in the morning, rather than eight like most nights.

I knew my friend had matured when he offered me his bed and slept on the sofa. Years ago he would have insisted we share a bed, his hands never taking no for an answer.


After a five-hour sleep, I went home, showered, and took off to a giant flea market. There I wandered, slightly claustrophobic in the mass crowds; only finding calm in a huge antique section. There I found some of the most beautiful and absurd antiques I’ve ever seen in my life. Everything from a giant lock, to some strange farming instrument made for buffalos, to stunning classic Parisian lounge chairs.

I spoke at length with an Algerian man who sold printed t-shirts-which he exclaimed was his brilliant idea-with random things like ‘Your ass stinks’ on them. “The tourists love that one,” he told me. He told me that his brown eyes turn green when he’s in Algeria, because of the sun. He told me that his daughter is dating a Canadian policeman. And when he suggested we be pen pals, I told him to print his letters on t-shirts and to send them to me. “For you, anything,” he answered.

Afterwards I took off to Montmartre, towards the steep stairs that lead up to the Sacre Coeur, which has attracted ten times as many tourists since the scene in Amelie.

The view at the Sacre Coeur is breathtaking, I stood watching it for a long time, a Mexican belting out “No woman no cry…” while he played his guitar in the background.

And then I met Yeliz. As I was staring out at the city a young girl approached me She asked me if I spoke French, and upon knowing I did, told me that she saw me and felt she had to talk to me. “I was sitting with my brother, the one up there, and he thought you were beautiful, and so did I, and I begged him to let me talk to you.”

“I think you’re beautiful, too,” I told her. "Merci," she answered, with the kind of confidence that let you know she thought so too.

She proceeded to invite me out for a drink at her family’s restaurant. This young 12-year-old girl, is one of the most forward, self-assured people I have ever met. I loved her right away, and followed her and her brother down to their family’s Turkish restaurant for a drink. A drink became a dinner of couscous with them as well, followed by tea, cigarettes, and napkin folding for tables in the restaurant.

“Promise me you’ll visit Turkey one day,” the brother said to me, “the people are open hearted, they’re very giving, and they know a good person when they see one.”

I told them that this was obvious. That their generosity was exceptional.

I went home with an air of love around me, as well as the young girl’s number, and a promise to see each other soon, as well as frequently.

I think my new best friend is twelve.

On the metro I exchanged smiles and a wave goodbye with a small Mexican girl, her smile cutting right through me.

And as I headed towards my room, the normally overly polluted sky, revealed a smattering of stars to me.


I have become a part of the sixteenth arrondissement of Paris.

My sunglasses may not be Chanel, my handbag anything but Dior, and my flip flops far from three inch heels, but I’m one of the women here.

I stand with all the other nannies and mothers outside the school gates, waiting to pick up my children.

I too, carry chocolate cookies and drinks for them, and take them to the park, my eyes racing around violently, trying to keep track of them.

I shop at the local grocery store, and roll the family’s food down the street in a small carrier with wheels.

I buy a baguette everyday, ripping off chunks for the children that scream at my waist.

I punch in the password to my apartment, and then squeeze into the miniscule elevator.

I take off on the metro, recognize all the stops, and hop on and off easily.

I go see French films, and I laugh at all the jokes, cry in the sad scenes, and leave walking down the street with my heels clicking on the pavement.

It’s strange.

School started yesterday and work has begun.

The family is wonderful. The Madame has become a friend to me, and I feel more like a person than an employee around her. In fact we get along really well. We talk everything from fashion to travel, and I secure my jaw as she tells me about her job offer for Louis Vitton, or casually mentions her friend who writes for National Geographic. I try not to triple take when I see at least two pairs of Dior heels in the shoe closet.

The kids…are kids. And part of me feels I can’t do this kind of thing.

The young girl yells at me when I’ve done nothing, and tells me to stop imitating her when I try and be playful with her. Out of all the young girls that have loved me, I don’t know how I ended up with one that glares at me.

And then there’s trying to make meals. Everything I love, fruits, vegetables, spices and flavor, is being replaced with pasta, rice, and simple dishes. I’m doing what I can, trying to be creative, and rejoicing in at least having fresh baguette every day. And if they don’t eat my salads, I will. But even the passion for cooking fades when you have a limited time space to prepare the food, and have to buy your groceries from a discount grocery store down the street.

I keep telling myself I'm strong, as every part of my body, soul and mind feels weak. I want to do my job well, and I crumble every time I feel I’m failing.

But there is hope yet. Madame called, she has gotten off work early and I have the evening off.

After a day of small children screaming and groping at me, an evening on my own is a breath of fresh, heavy, Parisian air.

antique fair
jukebox for sale
sacre coeur

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

love letters

I want to lose myself in the romance of Paris. I want to walk down the Seine, gripping the hand of my lover; I want to dine in a bistro under candlelight; I want to sit in a café in the early morning, writing page after page, stopping only to drink my café crème.

But you can’t rush romance.

I walk the Seine alone, I dine cheaply at home, and I usually sleep in because I hardly rest through the night.

Men in Paris have approached me, but flattered as I’ve been, I have yet to be interested. They’re always too old, too forward or too human. I need to be alone right now, and the idea of another being crawling in bed with me just makes me uncomfortable.

Lonely as I am, I love my own company. Last night I took off to Shakespeare and Company, an English bookstore unlike any other. The store is packed tight with used and new books, crawling all over the place, some organized, some in random disordered piles. Others are hidden in little rooms, with old antique mirrors dangling from the walls. Beds fill odd corners, offering customers a comfy place to read while they sit down.

When one of the workers complained about all the cigarette stubs that seemed to come into the store from outside, another worker answered: “It’s because they grow in Paris, like flowers.”

A thin, awkward set of red stairs lead to the second floor, where all the books are meant to be read at your leisure, but can’t be bought. There are even more beds, as well as a miniscule closet that holds a chair and a typewriter, in case the urge should come. I lay blissfully on a bed reading magazines until midnight when they were closing.

I headed home after some quick exchanges with some Canadian tourists, as well as the man who sells tickets in the metro station, who has become familiar with me after letting Aimee and I pass through without paying the other night. I laugh every time I see him, amused by the fact that he still remembers me.

And when I woke up this morning, I was beaming. Even in my groggy state I felt radiant, happy with myself. I dressed slowly, put my make-up on very lightly, and set off to a market.

In the market my love for food and flavor was revived. Fresh ingredients and the boisterous men that sell them never cease to make me happy.

I bought vegetables from one man, who let me sample a succulent fig and a yellow plum, not forcing me to buy, but letting me enjoy them, telling me I could always consider getting them next time. He told me I could sample anything I liked. “Anything?” I replied, laughing at the thought of me greedily grabbing at the peaches, apples, and everything in sight.

In a small Middle Eastern shop, I stocked up on spices and African ginger tea (which used to be considered as an aphrodisiac).

Walking back to the metro I was followed by a young man with beautiful skin, dark as a night sky. He was persistent to take me out, and I was persistent in saying no. I gave him every excuse in the book and walked faster. When he followed me down into the metro my heart started racing. He passed through the gates before me and then stood waiting for me. I spoke to the cashier about some problems with my ticket, and when I saw him waiting I gave him a frustrated glare and told him to go. He said no and kept waiting. Every alarm in my body went off. I would not let this man follow me home. My intuition told me to run, turn the other way and keep running. Instead of passing through the gates, I headed in the opposite direction, up the stairs back onto the streets. I walked quickly, hoping he had not followed, and went to another metro stop. I didn’t breathe until I was heading home with him nowhere in sight.

I don’t understand the persistence of some men. If I was turned down, I would be shattered, I would walk away silently, my ego bruised. The day I don’t take no as an answer, I’m peaking under my jeans to see if I’ve grown a penis.

Like I said, you can’t force romance.

after sunset
the right side of the street
parisian portrait
to my apartment
market at Place d'Aligre
taking benefit of the family's apartment

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

edith piaf, where are you now?

I woke up to a beautiful blue sky.

I felt good. Feeling playful, I headed to the hairdressers down the street, where a very chic French woman with pitch black hair cut my bangs for the price of nothing. This is unlike me. Haircuts make me sweat, and ‘shorter’ isn’t a part of my vocabulary. But I wanted my hair out of my eyes, and I was feeling whimsical. I even thought about getting it all cut short. Hell, why not? I'm young, single, and it's about time I started experimenting.

Happy with the results, I headed confidently down the street, where a man stopped me to ask if he could take me out for a drink. I refused with a smile and kept walking.

Unfortunately my lighthearted mood didn’t last long. I don’t know what it was, but as I set off discovering the “trendy shopping district” of Oberkampf, I got hit with the blues. The Parisian blues.

The blues follow me around all the time, and I never know when they’re going to creep up on me, suddenly making me wish I had a husky voice and a saxophone to make sense of them.

Soon everything felt wrong, my hair felt stupid, my heart heavy and my body tired. I kept walking.

And only when you have the blues, do you walk over an air vent wearing a flowing skirt, and watch in horror as you expose everything underneath it. Luckily I started laughing, and decided to take the event as humorous. I didn’t look back, but no one in front of me even seemed to notice, or look twice as I walked down the street laughing into my hand and clenching my skirt.

Soon I was so tired, and so filled with waves of anxiety, that I had to take off home. Sometimes the city is overpowering, and I get hot flashes, suddenly feeling anxious and insecure, as if all my senses being attacked.

I can’t believe how quickly my wallet empties, and how vulnerable I feel in the material world.

Back at home I turned on the TV. Normally not a TV fan, I’ve been using it to unwind, to distract me from loneliness, and to improve my French. You should hear the voice-overs on the Simpsons.

After dinner I decided to give the city another chance. I took off to Starbucks dreaming of a decaf coffee and Wireless Internet, only to have the cashier tell me they were closing as I approached the counter. After two long metro trips to get there, and a feel of unease all the way, I decided this was not my day.

It’s the kind of day where nothing fits right. Your hair doesn’t fall right. Nothing is comfortable, but even more so, nothing is comforting.

I called home to get the answering machine.

I picked up the computer because I had no one to talk to.

I turned on the TV because I didn’t want to hear myself think.

And I realized that even in Paris, you get the blues.

how blue

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

the last metro

We aren’t conservative French girls. We aren’t quiet, we aren’t restrained, and we don't believe in taboo.

Even though it’d only been a week since we’d seen each other, Aimee and I ran towards each other with open arms when she met me outside my apartment.

I took her up to my room where I poured her a glass of wine, poured myself a vodka and orange juice, and we feasted on a dinner of cheese, fruit, and bread. The meaty bits were purely in our conversation, covering any topic our minds chose to delve into, laughing viciously and bathing in each other’s company.

We’re on the same ground right now. We’re both single females walking alone on unfamiliar territory and figuring ourselves out. We agreed this was a beautiful time, personally the most beautiful of my life, and that it was great to be young. “But I’ll still be young when I’m sixty,” I added, “and a fucking rock star.”

The world is under our fingertips right now and we’re playfully feeling it out. I’ve been waiting to be this age since I was about twelve.

And somehow being out in the open air of unfamiliarity, on foreign ground, it makes this an easier time. Easier in the sense that we are freer to question ourselves, test ourselves, give ourselves room to grow without worrying about the fixed image others may already have of us.

Waiting for the metro we threw our arms around each other, my body warmed by knowing there are people that really know me, and still really love me. I made sure she knew the love was mutual.

Off into the small streets near the Sorbonne, we spoke to each other in obnoxious French accents. “You theenk people weel theenk we are French?!” Aimee screamed out to me. “I theenk they will theenk we are assholes!” I replied.

It wasn’t long before we found the holy grail of bars, where a handsome young waiter grabbed my friend’s hand, told us he loved Canadians, and led us to a table by the bar. And in this smoke filled room, with little pots of fire lining bits of the bar, the waiters walked around in spandex short shorts, their thongs poking out of the back. One waiter gave Aimee a lap dance while taking our orders-she ordered Sex on the Bar (a drink)-and we agreed we had come to the right place.

All the Parisian men seemed seduced by Aimee’s outgoing nature, including the Italian whose number she left with, and the Greek who bought us drinks. We spent the night dancing, drinking, and flirting with the beautiful bar staff, until we realized the metro was closing in minutes and that we had to run. I gave the bartender a kiss on the cheek, paid our bill, and we bolted.

Aimee’s bus trip around Europe was leaving at eight the next morning, but the metro would close down before she reached her destination, so she crashed at my place, where we set two alarms, and I made her a big cup of coffee at five in the morning so she could catch the next metro.

Having caught the last metro the night before, I hope she caught the first this morning.

She took off sleepy eyed, reluctantly wearing two-inch heels from the night before. C’est la vie, it’s great to be young.

late night metro

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

my apartment and i

A quick glance at my new home...
at home in Paris
bed, sofa, entertainment and dining area
kitchen plus shower

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three days, three blogs later

After many metro trips and wireless hunts, I have found myself thirty free minutes of wireless internet time which I am enjoying with my caramel frappucino in a Parisian Starbucks. Not only this, but there is a Japanese food store just down the block. Heaven.

Three blogs from the past three days have been patiently sitting on my desktop waiting to be posted. So make yourself a cafe creme, or pour yourself a glass of wine, and come to Paris with me. I will post them underneath, starting with the first that was never posted, and ending with the most recent. Bon appetit.

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stairways to heaven

Meet Paris, my new personal trainer.

I swear you can’t go anywhere in this city without walking up fifty flights of stairs. There are the stairs going down from the apartment, down to the metro and up to the streets. There are stairs that go up and down the glorious department stores, stairs that go down to the Seine, and stairs that go up to certain streets. Then it’s back down to the metro, and back up to the apartment. I pace myself and take the elevator or escalator when I have to.

My new French family has gone to Tunisia for ten days, and generously left me their spacey apartment. Not only this, but they left me their gourmet cheese platter to finish, lying delicately in the fridge. And although I prefer sleeping in my cozy apartment, I dart back and forth, and eat my meals in their open dining area, filled with natural light and hip modern furniture.

After a day of running around Paris with my to-do list, and dodging French men, I made my way back to their apartment today in the late afternoon. I opened the balcony doors to stare out at the romantic rooftops, with their fairy tale chimneys and elegant top floor windows, and sat down on a long chair. For he first time in my life, I fell asleep sitting down, and awoke about an hour later.

For dinner I feasted on an English muffin smothered in French Bonne Maman jam, along with fruit and plenty of rich French yoghurt. My food tastes are very simply at the moment, and very unlike myself, I find it hard to eat anything too flavorful or complicated. I only hope that my passion for food and cooking will return soon.

Re-energized, I took off to Les Halles, a large open shopping district, filled with young people, bars and cafes. A little unnerved by the numerous groups of eager looking young men and sex shops, I walked quickly and away from their sly comments.

I found an Internet café, not the one I was in search of, but one that had an English keyboard. A young black man spoke to me like I had half a brain and spoke no French, and directed me to the English computers before I barely said a word. I wrote a few emails until the humidity became too much for me, and took off, happy to be back out in the open air.

I stopped for a Perrier, which cost me as much as a meal, at a shocking 6 Euros. But it was just right, perfectly chilled, with a large slice of lemon, and a French waiter who reminded me that not all men in Paris are sleazy or rude.

Afterwards I took back off on the metro, and back to my apartment. I fell asleep to an intriguing black and white film about an angel in Berlin, and when I awoke to a heavy rain and lightning, I ate my breakfast in bed and fell back asleep. It’s now early afternoon, and time to crawl into my tiny shower, made for someone half my size, and get my day started.

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she makes love to her vodka and cigarette

When he starts to sing, I feel like the only person in the Bar. Two young men sit together playing the guitar, perched on stools, and one sings with a flawless false American accent, never missing a note.

I sit a few tables away, hidden in dim lighting, vodka in hand, and grind my teeth every time a particular note or the lyric make me want to cry.

Music has this effect on me. It says everything I can’t. Guitar notes give voice to everything going on in my mind, everything that can’t be put into words.

I try not to look at the singer; he makes me weak. Any man with the voice of an angel, and hands that seem to find their way naturally onto guitar strings, makes me weak.

It’s near midnight in this bar somewhere in the Latin Quarter. It’s within a grouping of small streets and alleyways, packed tight with bars and restaurants. There’s a large amount of Greek restaurants, many with men standing by the door with menus asking: “You want to eat Greek tonight?” I smile and whisper “Non, merci,” and move along.

I sit in this bar, staring at nothing in particular, caught somewhere between ecstasy and loneliness. It’s like this every day. Sometimes I go to bed deep in depression, and wake up with a huge smile on my face.

I lean over to the booth of older men beside me and ask for a cigarette. I don’t smoke, but drinking in a bar alone, listening to music, in Paris, goes hand in hand with smoking. So I smoke my cigarette slowly, and sip on my pure vodka with ice, and wonder if I hold onto both so strongly because I have no breathing human being to hold. I guess not; I probably drink and smoke twice as much when I’m with someone, just to take the edge off.

I pray that I don’t appear on the prowl, a single girl, alone in a booth, gazing at the walls as she sips her stiff drink. I share smiles with an older bartender, who exudes warmth towards me. This warmth isn’t always easy to find with Parisians, and I return it as best as I know how.

I leave half hoping the lead singer will run after me. He really had me when he started singing “Sitting on the dock of the bay.” But I think only his gaze ran after me, as I walked out the door, exchanged goodbyes with my friendly bartender, and headed back out into the night.

Down in the metro I’m approached by three young men that urge me to go to a club, where ladies enter free of charge, drinks included. I refuse, but one makes me take his number, and I promise with lying eyes that I’ll call him tomorrow.

On my way back to the apartment I give my mother a call. I need a familiar voice. Her voice. I need to know I have someone in this big, strange, open world. Her loving words take me back to the apartment smiling, and my loneliness fades into the sidewalk.

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the city lights are blinding

The city is invigoration and suffocating all at once.

I’m always surrounded by people. They push, they jab, they talk overme, and half the time I am invisible. But they’re always there. And the men that do see me, approach me aggressively, overly insistent, and I mutter a few words before taking off in the other direction.

I spend half my days on the metro. I love the metro. It feels like life. People get on, people get off; people sit in extremely close quarters and easily ignore each other. You go from location to location, and as soon as you think you know where you are you’re off to another.

And you never know what to expect in the metro. I didn’t expect to find a man at one station, singing Elvis at the top of his lungs and beating away at his guitar. This tall, thin, awkward white man with white sneakers, hit all the high notes. I moved closer. Closer. I smiled at the air, smiled at him, and smiled for the love of music.

Later while I sat daydreaming on the metro, a man came in with a large bag. He pulled out a long black cloth with strings on each side and tied them to two opposite poles, creating a curtain that hid him from the rest of the metro crowd. He then proceeded to pump a Spanish salsa song on his ghetto blaster, and then pulled out two large headed puppets which he made sing along to the lyrics. It was pretty poorly done, and all I could do was laugh and look away. But moments this random are priceless.

The city is filled with priceless moments. Like moments with a stranger. Whether on the metro, or on the streets, eyes connect, communicate with each other; flirt with one another. It’s easier than conversation, more intimate than words, and fleeting in the most wonderful way. Some take it to the next level, but it’s best kept as a moment.

And at every moment there is so much around me that I’m overwhelmed. I walk down as many streets as I can, knowing I’ve missed a million others. There are so many enticing restaurants to try that I often just eat at home, with a cheap meal of bread and jam. There are so many people to talk to that I often remain speechless, but engage in playful small talk with salespeople, cashiers and waiters.

It’s hard to close your eyes in Paris. I’m afraid if I blink I’ll miss something. And then at night, the city’s still living, breathing, and lit up with lights. I’m tired but I can’t close my eyes when it’s still so bright out. And even though it sometimes feels like a dream, I’m walking with my eyes wide open.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

paris, honey, i'm home

I'm actually here.

And I'm not just another tourist this time around. In my handbag sits keys to my Parisian apartment and my cell phone, even if they're lying next to atleast three guide books.

A couple of nights ago, I was rocked to sleep by the night train that took me from the sleepy South of France, to Paris, the city itself just waking up in the morning light. I was met by the Monsieur of the children I will be caring for, and driven to my new home.

Driving through the city I was very aware that I was no longer in the small village of Castelnau de Montmiral. People walk differently, talk differently, dress differently, love differently. And I am anonymous again.

I feasted on a large bag of croissants and baguette with the family, who warmly took me into their top floor apartment, immaculate, modern and mostly white, with a view of the top of the Eiffel Tower if you lean out the window.

The children laughed and played, climbing on any furniture they could. But energetic as they are, they are polite, well dressed, and being raised in a very positive manner. The parents encourage them to learn, discover, spent time outside, and respect others as much as possible.

This family is incredibly generous, giving me new towels, bedsheets, and a small flatscreen TV since the one before was broken.

And even though I have to carry a purse with toilet paper and my keys every time I go to the bathroom down the hall, my miniscule apartment is absolutely perfect. Furnished with everything I need-minus toilet-it is cozy and stylish.

I'm overwhelmed by the city. My first few days have been spent mostly walking around, trying to settle in my new surroundings. I have a huge craving to become une vraie Parisienne, unidentifiable as a toursist.

One thing I noticed is that all the women have perfect hair. So, as my initiation I took myself out for a haircut and highlights, where the hairdresser kindly offered me une cigarette with my cafe, and gave me his phone number afterwards so we could go out for drinks. He thought I looked like a movie star, and charmed as I was, I don't think I'll be calling.

Another thing I would have to improve to become une vraie Parisienne is my sense of style. Women here have a definite look, they have mastered coordination, and wear heels as easily as I wear my flip flops. But as much as I'd like to make over my whole wardrobe, my budget will only allow so much. It will come, it will come, I tell myself. One day I'll walk around without 'TOURIST' stamped on my forehead. One day.

For now I'm just trying to get comfortable. And so I should make my way out of this sleazy internet cafe and continue walking. There are still so many streets to discover, and I have a list of small errands to run. I can't believe I'm running errands in Paris.

I'm here. I can't believe I'm here. And this time it's home.
*for more photos of Aimee's stay with me in the South of France, visit her blog at

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

even the sky was crying

These summer days are coming to an end.

Last night we made our way to Vaour, planning to stay the night for the final evening of the festival. We filled a friend's car with pillows, blankets, and a healthy supply of hard alcohol for the evening. We drove into the town under an early evening golden sun, driving past vineyards, fields, forests and old farm houses.

Upon arrival we feasted, and a friend from our village shared a samples of food from the surrounding stands: a ham and cheese crepe, lentils, melon with mint leaves and an exotic salad. Our bellies full, we headed back to the car, where we reclined our seats, pumped up the radio and danced in our seats. We laughed and sang together in a way that only two old friends could.

And out of nowhere, the clouds started to move in. The summer sky was transformed into a mass of grey clouds, and when lightning started to flash in the distance, we knew the rain would come. It came, and it pounded against the car with fury as we watched half the festival climb into their cars and drive away.

What do you do when you've come to an outdoor festival, hoping to stay the night, and it starts to rain? We decided to make the most of it. To laugh every time we stepped into a puddle or slipped into a ditch. We could sulk all night, but we decided to make memories instead.

Crowds found their way inside of the large circus tent, soaked to the bone, gathering around small tables with tea, beer, wine, desserts, joints and cigarettes. We sat with two young German men, who kindly offered some mint tea, some fine pastries, and a good sense of humour.

And when the band in the middle sang high pitched notes in Spanish, while a man in checkered pants played the accordian, a man with dreadlocks played the guitar and a beautiful young girl with chocolate skin sang and played the triangle, we danced.

We threw our bodies around like all the others circling around the band, moving liberally in loose flowing clothing, bodies shaking any way they pleased. And when the young man who broke my heart came up and danced with me, and kissed me on the cheek, I was grateful not to have lost him completely.

It was only at the end of the night where I fell back into the role of the heartbroken. We fled from the tent with sweatshirts as umbrellas, my head on cloud nine, and passed him deep in conversation with another young woman. To my sad, drunken eys, something looked too intimate about they way they spoke to each other. And two feet away from passing him I screamed and slipped into the mud. It's hard to feel lower than that. I laughed, but as we shuffled off to the car my tears started to fall with the rain. You'd think I was trying to outdo the rain, the way they fell.

I fell asleep clutching a kleenex and crying into my wool blanket, and woke up to a heavy fog, feeling cleansed. What hurt so much the night before felt like nothing in broad daylight.

I made my way through the fog, through the sloppy mud, and down to the toilets. I was surprised to find a market setting up in the town, and the familiar face of the pizza man. I laughed with him about the fact that I was wearing a blanket, that my jeans were half brown with mud, and was warmed as usual by his conversation. I laughed again when I noticed his shirt which read: Fuck you, I have enough friends anyways. This is somehow twice as funny on a French man who sells pizzas to tourists. Tourists who are mostly English.

We drove back into Castelnau in the morning light and are now back at home. My friend with a sore head has climbed back into bed, but my body is too restless.

Another night of mixed emotions, highs and lows, sunshine and rain in the South of France. I don't know how I feel about these nights coming to an end.

aimee rocks out at Vaour
our beds for the night

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

i came this far for beauty

Every year we travel miles to get here. We travel with the thought of golden sun on our skin, and cheese and wine on our tongues. We come because it's beautiful. Because everywhere you look is picturesque, a painter's dream.

It kills me sometimes. I have to slap myself, stop for a second, and take it all in twice. I'm living the dream. And that's what the summer often feels like, a strange drawn out dream, where real life is put on hold.

Last night we sat under a star lit sky at a local festival. Young hippies sat sprawled out in groups all over the fields, while caravans and stands stayed open late into the night selling hot crepes, sausages and escargot. We made our way into a giant circus tent, where a band filled the air with a heavy beat, and young kids flung their bodies around like they were boneless.

The festival smells of weed and wine, but reeks of good living.

Last year I had this festival as my thought of happiness. I have always felt liberated and at ease there, happy to be alive.

Last night was mixed emotions. Whiskey and the presence of a distant body I was once so close to had me on uppers and downers.

But it's more than that. My time here is ending, and I'm too aware of it. I don't know what to make of it, how to say goodbye, how to create the right closures. I don't know how to tell all the people here how much they inspire me. How happy I've been. How I wish I could get to know them better, but that these summers are always fleeting.

I tasted my last Castelnau market today, as well as my last thin crust, oven made pizza, from one of the most charming salesmen I've yet to meet. I received my first discount as a sweet aurevoire.

I'm feeling torn in every direction. Monday night, I'll get on a train, and I'll move right into the next scene of my life. Paris. Everything I presently know will change.

It's too hot to think. But I think, I think, I think it will be good.

femmes fatale

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

dance with me

The music moves and my body follows. The guitar is strummed and my arm moves up, a voice rings out and my foot moves forward. My body becomes an instrument in itself, louder than sound.

The music is Cuban and exotic, and releases foreign movements from my body. This tired body, sick and worn, dances with strength, and muscles long forgotten come back to life.

Tonight in the village there was music and flamingo dancers. Guitars were strummed with gentle fingers, while men’s voices poured through the air like sangria. They sat in a row, all dark haired, one grey haired, with olive coloured faces and black clothing. A female dancer moved her skirt violently and flung her arms like a Spanish bullfighter. And although she wasn’t especially beautiful, her movements made her the sexiest woman there that night. When her male partner joined her, and the two quarreled around each other in dance, my body fell back in love. Not with a boy or a flamingo dancer, but with movement. Move your body and move on, I thought.

Back at the house the Cuban music came on, and I danced with a beautiful friend from home, Aimee, who arrived today from England. We both share a love for dance, and it’s not unusual that we find ourselves dancing in any open space together.

I never danced with the one I sulk over. There were times I was tempted, but something always held me back. The night he tried to dance with me I was laughing too hard to move.

But the truth is, I've always danced better on my own.

a friend arrives in france

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

getting you out of my system

I think I saw my heart floating around the toilet bowl somewhere between my lunch and dinner.

Nothing stayed down yesterday. Embraced into seperate homes for a large lunch, and then a large celebratory dinner, both refused to stay down in my stomach. All my body wanted was emptiness.

I had my last cry when I woke up at four a.m., when I put some music on and cried into my cereal.

Later that morning I strolled into the Tuesday market, puffy eyed but cleansed. I stopped at the bar, and laughed into my black coffee when my server asked me if I was alright, telling him I was only tired.

I ran into his dad, the charming pizza man. He asked me how things were between us. "Well, they're finished." He wanted to know why, and I explained that it wasn't my choice. He told me that his son was an idiot, and that I was the most beautiful girl in town. I laughed, taking attention away from my watering eyes, and offered him another name of a girl I thought more beautiful.

Even the air was different. I swear the weather works with my mood. The morning was cold and grey, but the summer sun came out, and yellow leaves turned around my feet as I walked an old road.

And when I went to a friend's for a birthday dinner I was all love and laughter. Full of conversation. Happy to be one again. I was told I made a huge impression at my friend's party the other night, especially on the male gender, which came as a surprise as I spent the whole night dancing with myself in a dream world.

But it's nice to know I can still make an impression. There's always a part of me that craves attention, just as a part of me craves another body.

It's not easy. But if I've learnt anything this past month it's that relationships aren't easy. Couples that have been together for years, couples with children, have been breaking up all around me. It seems to be a re-occuring theme these days. And a huge part of it is just not knowing how to talk to each other.

I went to bed, stomach still in knots, but smiling to myself. Atleast life is interesting, I thought. I'll always be addicted to personal drama. I'll always feel relieved by knowing I can still cry. I'll always be able to laugh at myself.

I've just got to get him out of my system. Then I can get back to being the girl I thought I was. The one who wouldn't cry over a boy.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

one was never my loneliest number

I saw it coming. I saw it coming like a freight train headed straight for my heart.

I kept thinking I should do it before he did, be the heartbreaker, rather than the heartbroken. But tonight he showed up at my doorstep and said the words. "It's not you. Please know that it's not you. I just know that I shouldn't be in a relationship right now."

And even though I knew, and even though the same words were on the tip of my tongue, I cried fountains, I'm crying fountains.

I explained to him that I understood completely, but the thought of being with him and not being with him stopped me everytime.

"I know, it's difficult," he said with honest eyes, "I cried last night thinking about it."

Last night we were at a big outdoor party, and there was a huge distance between us all night other than a few minutes of our bodies pressed against each other, arms wrapping us into one. At one point when I was dancing, I was told that he was just sitting there staring at me, looking like he was about to cry.

I don't know what to think. He tells me not to search for reasons, that this is purely him.

My mom said I was too good for him. That I deserved more. His dad told me he was spoiled to have me. His sister told him I was great. His best friend pointed at me and said, "Wonderful woman".

The past few days I've had a song on repeat that goes: "This may take me a while, but for now I miss your smile." I saw it coming. But the lyrics ring truer than ever.

I won't miss the conversation, we struggled with that part, but I'll miss his touch. We're still going to see each other, and he's coming over tommorrow to talk.

But there's no one left to hold me.

And I can't handle the thought that someone wouldn't want to be with me.