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Friday, May 19, 2006

sleep walker

“They call this the tunnel of death,” smiled the taxi driver at one in the morning.

We were driving through the famous tunnel where Princess Diana was killed. “She should have taken a taxi, but that the asshole she was with insisted they take the chauffeur who’d been drinking,” he added proudly.

I translated for the young man beside me, my friend’s cousin, a music publicist in Paris for the night. His company covered the entire evening’s expenses. I sat blissfully throughout a three-course meal, going from drink to drink, knowing that none of my nanny funds would be going towards the bill.

The taxi carried us down into the darkness of the tunnel, and then came back up for air, gliding along the Seine towards my humble abode. When the lights on the Eiffel tower started to flicker, the face of my travelling companion lit up as well.

I’ve been living a double life. In the day I play nanny, running after two little children, playing soccer in the park, making macaroni, settling disputes and cleaning chocolate off of every surface. At night I strap on my heels and live my own life.

From smoky bars, to trendy restaurants, to bohemian apartments, to crowded dance floors, I’m there. My life has suddenly taken on a pulse.

The other night I found myself nestled comfortably on a sofa in one of my neighbor’s apartments. We’ve been sharing a toilet seat for 8 months, but haven't gotten to know each other until now.

His apartment is small, but bigger than mine. He has black and white photos pinned all over his wall, a hat and scarf collection dangling from hooks and nails, rugby trophies and an old music collection. It turns out he’s a professional comedian, an actor, and something from another time.

It was hard not to look away from his dark eyes, deep pools that seemed to avoid mine. He was charming, his manner gentle and sincere. Over a couple of drinks I learnt that he’s also an insomniac, has two older sisters, comes from the French countryside and helps host reggae concerts in the summer.

No one is a stranger anymore. Last night I found myself moving my limbs to funk on the dance floor with a group of girls I barely knew. I was comfortable. A young girl in flip-flops from Michigan called me the “blonde exotic fruit”. I left in a taxi when a posessive young man wouldn't leave me alone, and headed back through the tunnel of death towards the safety of home.

I’ve been getting to bed later but sleeping a lot more soundly. I think I the cure for insomnia is not to fight it but to take advantage of it instead.

Maybe the reason I find it so hard to sleep is because I want to live my dreams instead. Waiting for them to come, as I lie in bed with my eyes closed and my head spinning, has never worked out well for me.

So I'm going to try to keep moving, because life is too short. I'll sleep when I'm dead.



Blogger b said...

I've visited your blog a few times and really enjoy your writing style and hearing about your experiences. I am American and seriously considering living in Paris and teaching English. So it is wonderful reading your vivid portrayal of the city.

I too am an insomniac and a dreamer as well and what you said makes a lot of sense...I think that is part of the insomnia. As dreamers, we live for our dreams and when we aren't living in pursuit of them, we go slightly insane I believe. You have to take chances, throw yourself into the unknown, and accept that there is nothing conventional about a dremer!

11:41 AM  
Blogger John Nez said...

Your blog is wonderful! You are a naturally gifted writer... and a darn good photographer too.

I think you ought to try writing a novel. Journalism is okay, but it pays such meagre wages... and maybe you could hit it big with a novel. Publishing is a tough way to make a living, believe me, I know... as an illustrator for children's books.

I'm amazed at the hard logic that you employ so well... even in describing emotional turmoil. So... the only natural conclusion is for you to write Mysteries! LOL!

Seriously... you might be the next Agatha Christie. Lots of trains and country houses and inner city workings and all.

I think you ought to start writing one... and send it around to publishers.

Anyhow, thanks for the great blog... it's like a trip to Paris for those of us unlucky enough to go in real life.

John Nez

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Florent said...

Oui, John a raison !

Gillian, we're all waiting for your novel !

Take care,


2:40 PM  
Blogger schuey said...


1:10 AM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

You guys are fantastic. I've been feeling slightly hopeless about my writing these days, and your words have given me the boost I needed. My current dream is to go into TV journalism and work on my writing on the side...hopefully squeezing a novel out at some point. Thanks again, to all of you, it's great to have such supportive readers!

2:56 AM  
Blogger John Nez said...

TV sounds like a good idea... but hopefully something more creative than the 5 o'clock news.

I'm sure you could find a niche for your writing in all sorts of professions.

But there IS something about your writing that is truly intriguing and makes the reader want to read more. I'm sure you could probably sell some of your blog posts to magazines just as they are.

Maybe an editor will drop by and discover you.
I had an art director find me through my blog a few weeks back.

One never knows... best of luck!


10:22 AM  
Blogger ayah young said...

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8:39 PM  

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