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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

love of my life

I've always traveled a lot with my mother.

Once when I was a little girl, we were on a train in Europe when I had a shocking realization. I had forgotten to wear underwear. I was wearing a dress. I whispered to my mother who told me to sit with my legs crossed. It wasn’t long before she had her own realization. She had forgotten to wear shoes and was still in her slippers. She's been my favorite person to travel with ever since.

I used to dream of big hotels with swimming pools and bellboys, of taxi rides and first class train tickets, but my mother knew better. If we wanted to travel as much as we did, we would ride second class, take dodgy airlines, and stay in the cheapest-while still decent-hotel we could find. We never booked in advance. We would arrive without a guide book, and make our way through the streets, dragging our suitcases for hours until we found the right place. My short legs often ached as I chased after her, but it was always an adventure.

I'll always remember the overnight ferry we took without paying for beds. My mother was game to sleep anywhere. She wanted to sleep in the play area, where we could comfortably sleep without being disturbed. I shook my little blonde head and said no. So we went to the seating area, where I found myself on a broken seat which went all the way down. Without realizing this would be better for sleeping, I became upset and wanted a proper seat. My mother happily switched with me and rejoiced in the broken seat. I soon became upset wanted to switch again. I don't remember what happened after that. All I remember is arriving in the morning at a beautiful location with small winding roads.

Nothing could stop us. Once our train stopped running in Italy half way to our destination. There were no buses. A taxi would cost a fortune. We searched the station for English speakers. Before we knew it we were driving through rural roads with an Australian family-a father and two blonde boys-who drove us hours out of their way to take us to our destination.

There were always friends made along the way. People talk to my mother. Strangers will come up to her in the grocery store and start speaking to her. Once on a train to Nice we sat across from an American family who took great pleasure in saying whatever they wanted, thinking no one on the train spoke English. We were silent. We listened. They were fascinating: the father was an old hippy and had a long grey hair tied in a braid, and his two daughters, plus one boyfriend, were pale and punk-like. Eventually we opened our mouths, to their astonishment, and got speaking to them in English. We ended up sharing rooms at a hostel, going for dinner, and I got ridiculously wasted for a 15-year-old with one of the sisters. Later that summer the father and my partner in crime came down to our small village in the South of France. He put in proper lighting for us, and she told me stories about all the drugs she did back home.

The other night I sat on some steps beside the Seine, with the Eiffel tower sparkling above me, and a group of saxophone players playing triumphantly underneath me. These memories floated through my mind as les Bateaux Mouches swam past me. My thoughts drifted to my mother. I don’t know how I would have made it this far without her. I wouldn’t have been able to breathe if I'd grown up in a sheltered home, under strict rules and rituals. Everything I love in life-the exotic, foreign, flavorful and fashionable-has been introduced to me by my mother.

I love that she swears every time she's behind the wheel. I love that she surprises me with poetry books and vodka. I love that she'll paint a house herself before asking anyone to help her. I love that she’s still sexy enough to wear lacy bras and silk nightgowns. I love her smell. I love how her hands are always warm, and mine are always cold. I love the fine wrinkles beside her eyes, which only seem to make her more beautiful. I love that she'll eat popcorn for dinner when no one's home.

She’s shown me the world. She’s shown me France. She’s shown me how to live a life worth living. She's shown me that it's often better not to follow the rules. She is a constant, flickering light in my life, no matter how dark it gets.

Today is her birthday.

When my dad asked her what she wanted, she said that she wanted to see her daughter. And because dreams do come true, two weeks from now I'll be home, in the arms of a woman I love more than anything.

la belle

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Monday, March 27, 2006

basking in your beauty

A strange warmth spilt over Paris this weekend.

The air was heavy with smells. Smells of a humid rain, of firewood, of womens perfume, of candy and baked bread. Everyone walked down the street looking overwhelmed by the change in the air.

je me balladais

Sunday took me through le Jardin des Tuleries, filled with people basking around the fountain, unphased by the dribbling rain, and happy to be rid of their winter jackets.

jardin des tuleries

A group of policemen smiled at me as I tossed my jacket into my arms, and gladly showed some skin for the first time in months.

Soon I found myself sprawled out on the cobblestones that surround Georges Pompidou centre, the sun falling on my face, as I closed my eyes and listened to the cheers of the crowd watching a magician across the way. Soon a group of Asian men in exotic blue costumes were playing hypnotic music, and I found a sense of calm as their sound overcame everything else.

le pompidou

I walked the streets of Les Marais, of the Jewish district, where I pushed through the crowds of happy Falafel eaters and old Jewish men with long white beards.

rue des rosiers

I took the metro to Montmartre, where my young Turkish friend Yeliz awaited me with impatience, and took her up to the Sacre Coeur. We raced up the endless steps to the top, and wandered around the square of portrait artists and creperies. At one restaurant she stopped to talk to a man dressed completely in blue: blue velvet suit, blue scarf, blue retro sunglasses, and stunning white hair. "Is that your maman?" He asked Yeliz. "She's cute."

He looked like a character out of a James Bond film. Yeliz later told me he's the owner of a large cabaret in Montmartre, and has been wearing only blue since his wife died a few years ago.

montmartre creperie

After dinner at the family's restaurant, Yeliz and her brothers walked me to my metro. "This is the Bronx of Paris," laughed one brother, as we headed down the dirty streets of Montmartre, sleazy men calling out to me. One brother walked in front of me, and the other behind me, "We're your body guards. This is how we do it in Turkey." Yeliz stuck close to me and held my arm. Walking over the train tracks of the Gare du Nord, the sun set in a mass of colours. I could hardly grasp how good I felt.

sunset by gare du nord

I took the metro alone to the Latin Quarter, and since the night was too young and warm to go home just yet, I continued to wander.

It's been a long time since I've seen so many people sit outside of the cafes. The streets screamed life, and lovers grabbed each other along the Seine.

night cafe

Walking towards the metro to go home, a large man in a suit standing outside a Greek restaurant stopped me.

"Mademoiselle, you want to break a plate?" He asked, his voice very serious.

"Yes." I said, without hesitation.

He handed me a small white plate, and said: "Smash it on this step."

I was so excited that half way through my throw it slipped out of my hands and broke in two in the middle of the street.

"Give me another chance!" I said, and ran to pick up a large chunk left of the plate before returning to the step. "And aren't I supposed to scream Oopa?!"

"Yes, you can," replied my Greek Godfather.

And so I screamed, threw it on the step, and realized my plate-smashing dream. "I just needed some practice," I smiled, and took off happily down the street.

This week I had felt myself sinking into the cold grey sky, not wanting to face the wet sidewalks outside.

It turns out all I needed was a little warmth.

kiss me

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

it's time to wake up

I will never be a perfect au pair.

Yesterday morning I woke up, switched off my alarm clock, and fell back asleep.

I woke up an hour later with a message on my phone: Where are you??

I turned white. Madame had an interview that morning, the kids had to be taken to tennis, and I was supposed to be at their apartment ten minutes ago.

I threw on whatever clothes I could find, somehow managed underwear and deodorant, and grabbed my purse. My head was pounding and my heart was racing. I could hardly breathe. There would be no time for layers, make-up, hair brushing or coffee. I was late.

As I was locking my door my phone rang: “Where are you?”

“I’m just leaving my apartment! I’m so sorry! I’m coming!” I choked out.

“You’re just leaving now? You have to be joking, get here soon,” said a voice so cold I felt a knife run through my stomach.

She had a reason to be upset. I was supposed to be there.

I ran down the seven flights of stairs, the crumbly grey walls staring back at me, the sky weeping outside, my sneakers hitting the steps and everything feeling like a nightmare.

When I arrived Madame had just left, and a pot of milk was boiling on the stove for the kids’ hot chocolates.

The kids sat dreamily watching cartoons, but switched the TV off when they saw me and said “Bonjour Gilliane!”

Stunned, I spilt milk all over the table pouring them hot chocolate, and went to fix my hair while they poured themselves messy bowls of cereal.

When I was getting the girl dressed, she stopped and looked at me. “Why are you talking like that?” She asked curiously.

I’d been speaking in mumbled whispers. “I slept in,” I told her, “I woke up five minutes ago, I’m still a little tired.” She smiled at me. “You look tired.”

The last time she looked at me that way was one day in the kitchen, when I told the cleaning lady I felt like crying. She was busy in the corner, but stopped, looked at me with great intensity, and was gentle with me all night.

We made it to tennis, got on the right metro, and were there with time to spare. I caught myself smiling as I chased after them. Rain drops fell down my face as my sneakers hit the sidewalk. Life, suddenly, was pulsing through me.

Back in the apartment I was helping the young girl with her reading, when she stopped and looked up at me, inspecting my face, “You don’t look tired anymore,” she said. “You did before, but not now.”

They were sweet and polite all day, we made crafts, I helped the boy with a project, and I slowly woke up from my morning in the merde.

We went to the big park across the river, where a heavy rain beat down, and I quickly realized we were the only people there. I stood with my hood on, the boys scarf tied tightly around my neck, and the bag of cookies clutched to my chest until I felt I should take them home before we drowned.

When Madame came home in the evening she wasn’t upset. I expected the worst, seeing her side of the situation, and took a huge sigh of relief when I discovered she could see mine.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said, “it happens to all of us. It just happened at a bad time.”

I woke up again, saw that the world wasn’t against me, and went back to my apartment to clean up the mess I'd left that morning.

my apartment

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

this is my favorite scene

Early Friday night I’m sitting at the dinner table with the kids having a singing contest. I keep losing and apparently don’t take the singing seriously enough. I run out the door after dinner, and promise the young girl I’ll practice all weekend.

A couple of hours later two friends are in my shoebox apartment as I attempt my first cramped dinner party. We sit side by side on my pull out couch, plates on our laps, and dig into the sweet salmon, baked zucchini, and feta salad I’ve prepared. They smoke Lucky Strike through the bars of my window, and I make hot whiskey in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day.

Saturday afternoon and I’m walking the rue de Passy admiring store windows and the summer fashions that have finally come our way. I try on flowing tops and light jackets, buy nothing, and dream of the hotter days to come.

Saturday evening and I’m walking up a street in Montmartre with a bag full of avocados, tortilla chips and wine. The sun has just set and all the small restaurants are setting their tables. Waiters smoke outside, and a chef walks out of a restaurant and up the street in checkered pants. I try not to smile at the young men who hiss at me as I work my way up the hill.

Soon after I’m making guacamole in Lauren’s kitchen. Her and her Italian roommate are throwing a party for their new apartment, which is soon filled to the brim with Americans, Italians, British and French. I fill myself with white wine and guacamole as I go from French to English, describing life as an au pair to strangers throughout the room. I finally get to meet Coquette-the charming celebrity blogger and fashion journalist-as I try and teach a Frenchman to say “Corkscrew”. “Where is zee cork scru?!” He screams.

Later Saturday night and I’m trying to catch the last metro home. I get half way there and it closes. Soon I’m standing with a bunch of young teenage boys in straw hats. One has a portable ghetto blaster, playing a catchy song that feels like background music to the movie of my life. He tries to show me where the nearest night bus is, while his friend force feeds him gin and tells me I’m “magnifique”.

It's turning into Sunday morning and there's no night bus. Every taxi is taken. I find a ritzy hotel and eventually steal a cab. My driver is kind and takes me home under a large moon, and I have enough to give him a small tip.

Sunday afternoon and young boys are skateboarding at Place du Trocadero, the Eiffel tower glowing behind them. Music starts playing from two large speakers behind me, and I continue walking aimlessly, then sun holding me all the way.

Sunday night and I’m in my friend’s Turkish restaurant in Montmartre. A rowdy group of men sit at another table and stare me down. When I get up to leave, so do they. I sit back down, and so do they. My friend’s father insists he’ll drive me to my metro so that they don’t follow me. He tells me they won’t eat there again. “We only like good people in our restaurant,” he says, “I have no problem kicking people out if I don’t like them.” His face is intelligent, honest, and he tells me he’ll send me to Turkey with his wife and daughter next summer.

The scenes keep unfolding and I can’t tell if I’m taking part or just observing. Life feels unreal these days, and my whole body feels lighter as the air starts to warm up. I walk these streets knowing my life here isn't permanent, and with this in mind, the romance comes back. The scenes unfold, foreign, unreal, and everything glows under that sudden sun.

eyes locked on the sky
trocadero skaters
how many clues tell you we're in Paris?
Eiffel by night

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

on the sunny side of the street

Once the world starts offering itself to you, it doesn't stop with a simple gesture.

It started with the sunshine.

On Sunday the permanent grey clouds over Paris finally lifted. I sat on a bench by the carrousel in Montmartre, the sun painting my face, reading a book on desire, while I waited for a friend who had been juggling by the Sacre Coeur.

On Monday, the sun was still there. I managed to make it to a morning yoga class, where the sun danced up the walls. And then, for the first time since early fall, it was warm enough to sit down when I took the kids to the park.

When the sun set over the grass I was taken right back to my childhood. Suddenly I was at Dunderave beach, sitting at a picnic table while the sun set, our faces glowing in gold. I could practically smell the salt off the Pacific Ocean, the burger stand, the grass, the sand, the root beer, and the chocolate fudgsicles.

I've been dreaming of the Pacific Ocean these days. I could hardly believe it when my mother emailed me and said she had to see me soon. She said that either she could fly over or I could fly home.

Fly home? This never seemed like a possibility. It's been over a year since I've flown home, to Vancouver, the pretty young city where I was born and bred.

My first reaction was that I couldn't. Touching back on Canadian soil before the French adventure was finished felt like defeat.

My mom told me to think about, that the family wanted to see me, and that if she flew to Paris it would be short. Eventually I lifted my veil, saw love standing right in front of me, and realized that going home is what I want more than anything right now.

Life suddenly seems so kind. My flights are booked. I'll be home for ten days in April. I can hardly believe it, and have been shaking with excitement ever since.

The sun is still shining down on Paris, the kids have been smiling at me consistently, and I feel like I can manage anything. The long stretch of work left is being broken up by a flight home. Even more than that, I'm suddenly aware that I have a home. I have a family. I have a bedroom. I have friends. I have solid ground.

In the park with the kids today, I stood watching them, standing in a patch of grass that the sun was hitting. They were planting long thin branches into the soil, claiming they were planting trees. I called my mother on my cell phone, smiled into the receiver, and felt warm all over.

When we ran home across the bridge, it wasn’t raining, I wasn’t rushed, and I let the kids stop and spit in the in the glistening Seine.

For once I’m not looking for the bright side of the situation.

The sun’s shining right on me.

oh vancouver

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

cook my heart up, serve it well done

"Have you taken a class here before?"

"Yes, once."

"You have? I guess I wasn't the instructor..."

"Yes you were."

"That's just not possible..."

He's grinning, and everything from his freshly pressed uniform to his suggestive smile has me melting into my seat.

"Yes, it was a long time ago though..."

"Are you sure? It would have had to been a very long time ago..."

It really wasn't that long ago.

I don't know if I should be offended that he doesn't remember me, or flattered that he's so shocked that he doesn't.

I'm back on the 4th floor of Printemps, a Parisian department store, where I took my first cooking class in November. Teaching the class is the same chef who had me blushing like a tomato and sweating like onions the first time around.

It's hot in the kitchen today too.

At one point I back away from the stove, fanning my face.

He looks over at me: "Are you hot over there?"

"Yes..." I answer...holding myself back from making any dirty jokes.

"Good," he says, sly grin, "I thought I was the only one."

I was dreamy, and also starving, throughout the whole cooking process. I missed out on some of the tips as I stared deeply into the mangoes caramelizing in front of me.

The menu for the day was rack of lamb breaded in a lemon and herb crust, fried zuchinni, and pastry with caramelized mangoes for dessert.

It was a nice escape from the dark drizzly sky outside. Everyone had a good sense of humour and a love for food.

The rack of lamb was a little heavy, and cooked by French standards-they like their meat bleeding-but everything was rich and tongue teasingly tasty. I rejoiced most in the soft pastry, a small vanilla cake, crusty on the outside, warm and tender on the inside. The soft insides, when eaten with the mangoes, were better than foreplay.

I left with a full belly, satisfied taste buds, and no phone number. At least he should remember me next time.

I spent the rest of the day wandering under the dark sky. I fell upon Pere Lachaise cemetery and wandered amongst the dead and famous. It was too grey and windy to be in a cemetery. You could feel death all around you. It was the kind of weather that burries your dreams and sinks into your soul. Not a good day to be in a cemetery. So I said "Hey" to Jim Morrison and kept walking.

I kept walking to find that no matter how lost I let myself get, I will always find my way in Paris.

Eventually I walked enough to lift some clouds from over my head, and took a winding bus back to my arrondissement.

I got off early and walked some more. I walked across the bridge to find the Eiffel tower sparkling its lights at me.

I smiled back at it and took myself home, a dream unburied, shining right in front of me.

pere lachaise
blue light
to our dear little sister
looking around me
stained glass window
covered in moss
who said jim was death?
mourning a rock star
weeping willow
curious toy shop

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Friday, March 10, 2006

you are what you eat

Are we really what we eat?

Someone’s choice in food can tell you about his or her tastes, their personality, their background, their class, their priorities, or their money situation.

The smells coming from the apartment next to mine will tell you that the woman living there is Indian. Over Indian drums and high-pitched women singing from her stereo, flows the smell of saffron, paprika, curry and coriander.

I grew up in a house that had a fridge packed with everything, a drawer that always contained Mexican tortilla chips, cupboards that held many mystery items, sea weed and sardines packed in mustard sauce.

By six years old I was feasting on curry, sushi, chow mien, fajitas, blue cheese and whatever else was presented to me. I grew up in Vancouver, a young multicultural city, with a family who appreciated good food. We ate over candle light most nights, and every Friday made our own pizza and watched movies.

i was a hungry baby
(me in my younger days)

Moving to France, I find myself in a very traditional culture. Every family buys a baguette everyday, has dessert after lunch and dinner, croissants, cereal or bread for breakfast, with a bowl of hot chocolate for the kids, and a four o’clock snack of something sweet and chocolate.

When I went back to Ireland I was reminded of an old fashioned culture. A culture of comfort food, potatoes, and heavy desserts. They are warm nurturing people, that love to sit you down for a hearty meal.

But beyond background, what do our food choices say about us?

To answer this, I look at myself. My fridge contains wine, two types of mustard, an energy drink, water, soymilk, fruit and carrots. My pantry contains whiskey, sweet Italian liquor, my herbs and spice collection, soya sauce, olive oil, balsamic and red wine vinegar, five kinds of tea, organic coffee, oatmeal and raisins. It’s me. It’s particular food choices based on health or taste. It's a balance of alcohol, caffeine, and things that are good for me. I like anything exotic and flavor plays a big part in my life.

When I feel good I eat regular meals. When I'm depressed I eat at odd times, binge and then deprive myself, because everything in me is off kilter. When I'm stressed out I eat less, because I'm too neurotic to sit down and eat.

Our choice in food can reveal certain things about our personalities. But what we eat also has a major effect on how we feel.

A bad diet high in sugar and low on nutrients will make you feel like shit. It’s obvious. When I neglect protein or water, I get depressed and have low energy levels.

As a control freak I've deprived myself on many occasions. I've been low-fat, low-carb, and everything so low that I lost my hips. I've been a carnivore and I've been practically vegan. It took a long time to figure out that a balanced diet is what makes me feel my best.

The French still remain my food heroes for many reasons. If the French are what they eat, they are traditional, indulgent, rich, healthy and balanced.

as a young girl in france
(as a young girl in France)

You have to praise a culture that eats copious amounts of cheese, fresh bread everyday, pastries, rich desserts, chocolate and wine. It’s quality not quantity, and there's no need to snack or binge when you’ve just had a three-course meal.

Times are changing, and even the French are growing obese through modernization, but the time old traditions can still be seen everywhere. All you have to do is walk into a Patisserie, and line up with a bunch of slim women buying a pastry or a baguette.

If you are what you eat, I’m good and bad, strong and weak, spicy and experimental. I’m Japanese, Mexican, French, Lebanese, Turkish and Chinese.

I'm the simple oatmeal I had for breakfast, the spicy soup I made for lunch, and the nurturing meal I prepared for dinner.

my fridge
(my fridge)

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

to think i thought of killing you

They drive me crazy, but these days, they have been keeping me sane.

The kids that drive me up every wall in their apartment have been filling a hole in my heart.

I've felt off these days. I've felt empty, and have been feeding myself distractions so that I don't have to listen to the thoughts running through my head.

I feel I haven't been honest enough in my words, in my writing and with my conversations with other people.

I've had such a firm grasp on myself for so long, and now I'm holding everything I am very loosely. I'm not sure what I want. I'm not sure I know what's best for myself. I feel myself choking on my words and shaking my head at some of my actions. I crave freedom, but at times my body is a prison.

And then there's the kids.

They are always a challenge, but I find myself everytime I can make things work. I see myself become nurturing, kind, flexible, and know there's something to me.

Today I stood in a park, in the pouring rain, clutching my purse and the cookie bag for an hour as the kids ran around. For once, I didn't feel sorry myself. I was happy that they were enjoying themselves. I was elated that he was playing with her when he screamed "But I will play alone!!!" Before leaving the apartment.

He has been reaching for my hand a lot, playing with my fingers as I read him books, and smiling at me with adoration.

We've started dancing a lot in the kitchen, and I find myself doing the Macarena when I should be making them finish dinner.

In moments like these feel myself crawling back into my skin.

My pen is scribbling through my journal again.

My thoughts are becoming fluid.

And I think, just maybe, that I'm starting to find my mind again.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

dance naked


What does it mean to you?

How are you going to achieve it?

I don't want to die feeling I lived a life emprisoned by my mind and responsibilities.

I want to learn to take it all in stride.

Freedom, to me, means freeing my mind.

It means not feeling responsible for things that aren't my fault.

It means chasing dreams, because I choose not to underestimate myself.

It means taking a minute each day to let go, dance, sing, scream, and fight ever living a life that seems mundane.

It means letting myself love other people, unafraid of the consequences, unafraid of getting hurt.

It means being less preoccupied with what other people think of me.

It means writing, and having the freedom to express myself.

It means loving myself, exactly as I am.

We all have our own struggles in finding freedom. But it's there, if we want it badly enough.


"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.”

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

pour me another

I believe everything should be enjoyed in moderation.

That being said, sometimes I feel the need to get absolutely wasted and unleash my inner lush.

Sometimes I feel the need to let go.

Saturday night I was running late for a rendez vous. I was literally running, at full speed down the small streets of Les Marais, in heels, not quite sure where I was going, with a very heavy bottle of vodka weighing down my purse. The streets were crowded and the bars were glowing.

Eventually I found Lauren in La Belle Hortense, a cozy bar for the literary crowd, with book lined walls and a long wine menu.

We sat down in the intimate back room and had great conversation to go with our drinks. In an hour we covered most taboo topics and were laughing like schoolgirls. I didn't want to leave her, but we both had dinner plans, so I took off when her friend arrived.

Leaving the bar, I was once again late for another rendez vous. There would be no time for the metro. I flagged down a taxi, and startled the driver by hopping in the front seat. We quickly became friends. He swerved around other cars and sped down the street so that I wouldn't be late.

Dinner was at Charlie's, with a lovely crowd of young Americans and Charlie's handsome Parisian lover.

Straight from the bar, I continued drinking, coming up with a cocktail named "Bloody Gillian", as dinner was prepared in the kitchen.

We feasted elegantly with a hearty meal that came with hearty debates. We covered politics, racism, and religion. I got in an argument with the Parisian, who wouldn't agree that the French is more beautiful than English or Quebecois French. In the end I thanked him for putting up a fight, because it's always more interesting when someone disagrees.

After a dancing around the living room, the rest of the night is a bit of a blur. I think we took the metro. I'm pretty sure we went to la Bastille. I know we went to a few bars. And I remember climbing into a taxi at four in the morning, and tumbling into bed sometime after.

I woke up with a miserable headache, much less money, and my cardigan missing.

I hadn't had a hangover that bad since highschool.

Somehow I found this all quite amusing, and a great excuse to lie in bed all day. When the slothfulness became too much for me, I got dressed, and made my way up to Montmartre to see my young Turkish friend Yeliz at her family's restaurant.

Yeliz treats me like a gift from heaven. She practically jumps in excitement when I walk in the door. And when I pulled out a small gift for her, it turned out she had bought me one as well. I left after a couple of hours, well fed and warmed by her company.

It was a weekend of indulgence. I suffered the head throbbing consequences, but still came out feeling satisfied.

Sometimes I have to let go. That way I can compose myself for Monday, strap on my au pair responsibilities, and face the week without grudge.

I maybe didn't practice moderation, but I found a sense of balance.

dinner party
me and tess
oh god
yeliz's sweet mother
yeliz and i

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver

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Friday, March 03, 2006

just because i love you

When I was a little girl I would follow my brothers everywhere.

I remember skipping down to the candy store beside my brother Mike, and asking him: "Do you love me?"

He said something like: "You're my sister, I have to love you."

I hated the idea that he might not like me if his genetic code hadn't forced him to.

I skipped along beside him, and thought of another question: "Are you a virgin?"

He said something like: "That's none of your business."

I used to take a little metal tray in my room, fill it with all the candy I had, and knock on my brother's door to offer him my bounty.

I wasn't always as nice though. I would often start the fights and then get him in trouble for them. I would knock on his door when he had friends over and beg for him to let me play with them. He was around 14, at the age of trying to be cool, and I was 10, at the age of being obnoxious and obsessed with pink and purple.

And then something happened. We both grew up. We stopped fighting and started helping each other out.

If he made a big mess in the kitchen, he'd offer me ten bucks to clean it.

If I was tired and hungry, he'd make magic in the kitchen and show up with the best salad I'd ever had.

When we both got invited to the same Christmas party, we showed up together, got drunk together, and I didn't get angry when he spilt red wine all over my white top.

When he moved downtown to an apartment complex for artists, I'd take the bus to East Hastings, go up to his place, and we'd record music in his big open room.

My brother is an amazing musician. I miss hearing him strumming his guitar and screaming lyrics. He has an incredible voice, and sings Howie Day better than the man himself. And he's better looking.

He's calm, loving, sensitive, and I when start singing, screaming or dancing, he always joins in. I used to sit in the kitchen daring him to eat things, and he'd always oblige.

I take pride in the fact that our noses and our lips are shaped the same.

It's his birthday today, so I thought I should mention the brother I haven't seen in a year now. I miss him like crazy.

And even if he wasn't my brother, and we met at a party, I'd love him anyways. It'd be kind of hard not to.

Mike Young

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

you can't predict the weather

I feel sorry for the weather girl.

The weather changes from one second to the next, and goes from snow to rain, sunny to cloudy, in a matter of seconds.

Life follows a similar unpredictable pattern, and I never know what to expect from the day that lies ahead.

Monday, as you know, I was considering throwing my body off the Eiffel tower.

Tuesday night the kids had a screaming match and I wanted to throw them off the Eiffel tower.

The young boy refused to eat dinner, and shredded papers in his bedroom. The young girl cried profusely, and wanted her parents to hold her, not me. I felt clueless. Nothing I could say or do would change the mood or stop the screaming. It was one of those nights where I felt incapable of doing my job. Who am I to take care of children? I rubbed backs, talked in a soothing voice, and didn't force them to eat together. I even had the girl in the bath when the parents came home. But still, nothing was solved, and I left with a heavy head, screams still ringing in my ears.

Today, Wednesday, the weather girl must have been happy to announce longer breaks of blue sky. We played games, made figures out of clay, stuck bandaids on their bums so that their flu shot wouldn't hurt, and went to the big park across the river.

In the early evening, I listened to them play together while standing in the kitchen, and watched as the setting sun crawled across the living room.

Later, I spoke to my boss in English over a roast chicken dinner. The meal was warm and so was she. With her presence at the table I didn't have to worry about the kids eating or getting up too often. I enjoyed my meal as well as the conversation.

You can't predict the weather in Paris.

Some days are so cold and dark that all my hopes seem to drown in the Seine.

Other days, the clouds break open, and everything becomes golden. The Eiffel tower shines again.

I'm dreaming of sunny skies, but for all the other days, I've brought my umbrella.

"Sometimes one has simply to endure a period of depression for what it may hold of illumination if one can live through it, attentive to what it exposes or demands."
- May Sarton, In Struggle