A Wedding

A little over a year ago I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I checked out tumblr first and found it to be a bit confusing. I also have no idea how to make a GIF of scenes from Supernatural so I figured I might not fit in. I ended up choosing WP and started writing. I wasn’t sure how to build up an audience again or how it all worked around here, when one day a delightful redhead commented on one of my posts.

I was hesitant at first, she could be an ax murderer intent on wearing my skin as a dress, but as time wore on we became friends. We chatted off and on and even exchanged phone numbers so we could text and gossip. So I was delighted when Aussa invited me to her wedding this weekend. It was small and absolutely lovely.

Thank you so much for your friendship, Aussa. I’m so glad I could be there to see you and Alex start your life together :)

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My dress. Complete with cat ears, because every wedding needs cat ears. Especially Aussa's.

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I call this picture "When Angelle Met Aussa : A Love Story"

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My swag. Aussa on its upkeep, "Put it on a windowsill and like, don't water it."

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A Break

Hi all,

So it’s time that I take a break for a bit. Social media is a double edged sword for me and I need to step back and re-evaluate. I cannot thank you all enough for the kind comments on my last post. It was incredibly hard,  but necessary, to write. My next post in the Midnights in Paris series, full of sassy gay friends and a one night stand, goes up June 1. The next two months I’m going on focus on getting better, being more present for my friends, actually getting some writing done that I’ve put off, and trying to mend some relationships that I’ve neglected. I will still be around on Twitter if you’d like to follow my shenanigans with a 140 character limit. It won’t be a long absence I promise.

For now I leave you with a throwback to the time I was just another weirdo living in Paris.

For now I leave you with a throwback to the time I was just another weirdo living in Paris.

Keep rockin’ in the free world, cats and kittens,

A

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You’re the Other Side of the World To Me

It’s no secret amongst my close friends that things have not been going well for me the past few months. So much so that I’m sure they are circling the wagons and proofreading each other’s intervention letters. I still get up, get dressed, and function normally at work. My friend calls it “humaning”. I put on a good human. However, there are days I close my office door and stare at the wall for a while. There are days I can’t sleep and end up at work at 5am, because I was awake and what else am I going to do? There are other days I sleep 12 hours and wake up with a migraine so bad it’s all I can do to shower and try to be nice to people.

I think happy people who go to lots of yoga classes call it “depression”.

“Hello and welcome to Depressed People Anonymous. You there in the back row, would you care to share your story with us?”

“Um, hi…I’m Angelle and I’m depressed. It’s been uh, two years since my last episode. I only want to eat pizza 24/7, but I can’t, so I binge watch Netflix. Oh, crap, this is anonymous, my name’s not Angelle, it’s Emily or something. Forget I said that.”

I’m always hesitant to write about my problems on my blog. Always. I deal in funny stories, witty comments, and twitter accounts where someone puts bread on their dog’s face. Talking about my issues for me is like someone stopping you on the street and asking if you have time to talk about our Lord and Savior.

Of course, by that I mean Xenu.

You can’t run away fast enough and you hope they’re not following you. So I generally harass my friends and therapist with all of the crazies that live in my head. By “crazies” I mean the normal every day stuff we all have:

-The “Oh god. Is that person going to talk to me? What do I say? Ok, just ask them questions about themselves. People love talking about themselves. You’ll get through this.” Crazy

-The “He’s cute. No talk good all of sudden. Face not work. Me drool?” Crazy

-The “This space is very big and there are lots of people and I may die.” Crazy

and the one we all know and love dearly:

-The “They’re mad at me. I know it. I’m a garbage person who should build a spaceship and live on Mars. See what they just did? That means they hate me and I’m going to go live in that dumpster and start my own colony of dumpster people who eat cardboard. We will be a proud, albeit smelly, clan.” Crazy

That last one is a doozy. It can knock you clean out of a good mood into a spiral of self-doubt and listening to sad Jeff Buckley songs. Next thing you know you can identify all the snack stains on your sweater and haven’t talked to anyone in a week. You pick yourself up and next thing you know it happens all over again. The depression shark comes from the depths of nowhere and pulls you under again.

I find blogging about your problems or issues to be very self-indulgent. Mental health in general can be very self-indulgent. When does it ever make sense that a problem is completely your fault? Multiple factors contribute to something getting messed up. Now, I’m not ignoring those times when it IS in fact your fault, like tweeting funny dog memes and you smash into the car in front of you. That, my friend, is your fault. However, human interaction is different. We all have a plethora of feelings and reactions when faced with a hardship:

The Shutdown: This is like sealing up the apocalypse bunker. No one gets in or out once those doors have sealed you inside. You resolve to not leave until the air is safe to breathe again, which might be 1000 years from now, but you can tough it out eating beans from a can. May God have mercy on the poor soul who talks to you, because it will be like trying to have a conversation with paint.

The “Everything is fine :) It’s SO FINE:)”: You ignore. There is an enormous elephant tap dancing with the problem stenciled across its side, but you cannot see it. The sun is shining and you have inspirational quotes to pin, pictures of your shiny, HAPPY humans to post of Facebook. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, nay, STUPENDOUS. Inside you may think about breaking that coffee mug and slitting your wrists, but you’ll just have a glass of wine and tell that story about how your kid pooed in your lap.

The Fixer: Before this thing happened, everything was good. Maybe we all just need to go back to that? Rewind and start over. Clean slate. Let’s forget this, move on, and learn the lessons. Preferably, right this second. Ok, how about now? Now? Ok, I gave you like, five minutes, now? Remember that time when everything was cool and we laughed about that thing? That was fun. So, now?

That last one? That’s me. I’m The Fixer. The “let’s clean this all up and pretend it never happened” person. My childhood was full of that moving around so much. You hate these people? It’s cool, we’re leaving soon, you’ll never see them again. Clean slate. Yet, what they don’t tell you is as you get older, you very rarely get a do over. Once you have smashed a plate into a wall, you can’t put every shard back together again and pretend that it will hold up to your dad’s 5 Alarm Chili Spectacular Spectacular. You also can’t pretend that you didn’t throw it against the wall in an impulsive fit of rage/sadness/anti-plateness. You did it. This isn’t when you were 8, threw a ball in the house, and accidentally broke a priceless knick knack.

You threw it.

You broke it.

Own up to it.

I don’t always throw the plates, but I spend a great deal of time cleaning up the pieces of ones thrown by others.

So why if I hate blogging about my feelings with the fire of a thousand suns am I doing it now? Well this post by Chuck Wendig for one. This space is mine and if I want to talk about basket weaving for poodles I’ll damn well do that. I’ve also mentioned that I don’t journal as I lack the adult gene to keep track of said journal. Then there’s the fact that it’s hard to articulate your feelings to your friend when you are laying on your bathroom floor sobbing. I can’t coherently explain to them with words why after months I still feel empty inside. Like someone came in the night, stole an organ, and left me in a tub full of ice with a burner phone to call an ambulance. Your friends love you and go on the defensive and you’re too emotionally exhausted and drained to say, “Chill out. I miss his face every day. Just say, ok.” So I guess this is my way of doing that.

My way of fixing the plate.

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Midnights in Paris: Part Four

Welcome back to my continuing series on that time I moved to Paris. Today we talk jobs and French guys. Ooh la la…

It was October and I’d been in Paris about a month and a half. Classes were going well and I was starting to realize just how bad my French classes had been in the states. Studying a language in the actual country was different from sitting in your classroom in Maryland while your friend doodles on your notebook and you attempt to decipher the conversation Mireille and Robert are having about their studies. Usually I just filled in the dialogue on my own:

Robert: “I’m on hiatus from NYU. That’s a fancy word for “break”. I write plays and am very rich which is why I came to Paris.”

Mireille: “French french french frenchy french.”

Robert: “Totally. You’re pretty.”

Mireille: “French french french Sorbonne Kir frenchy french.”

It went on like this until class was over and I could finally get back to thinking about what song I was going to sing for the spring musical auditions.

Well, of course it was something from Funny Girl.

Now that I was actually in Paris I realized how musical and pretty the language sounded when not slowed down for the benefit of us non-speakers. I was learning how to pronounce phrases correctly so that people could understand what I was saying. It was a revelation.

When I first decided I was moving to Paris, I reconnected with an old high school friend, Claire, who by chance had been working and living in Paris for a few years. She was excited to see a familiar face and I was excited to have an inside source for how to navigate the city. She introduced me to a few other Americans and it was nice to have others who can relate to the culture shock.

So I was making friends, had a place to live, and classes were going really well. However, cities are expensive to live in, between rent, my Starbucks habit, groceries, metro cards, etc, my finances were taking a significant hit. I needed to find a job stat if I was hoping to make it through the next few months. Claire mentioned that there was a diner run by a nice American fellow who regularly hired Americans and other English speakers. Fluent French not required. The restaurant was modeled on a 50’s diner and served your basic American faire: hamburgers, hot dogs, pancakes, milkshakes, etc. You’d think it would be cliche and the French would walk right by in disgust.

and you would be VERY wrong…

They love the crap out of this place. It’s always packed with French students hoping to get the 7 euro special of a hamburger, fries, and soda. Breakfast on the weekends is a never ending swarm of hipster Parisians eating them out of pancakes. I interviewed, and based on my prior restaurant experience, was hired soon after.

There are two locations and I ended up at the one in the Marais right off of the St. Paul metro stop. It was small and got crowded very quickly. I was used to having 3 or 4 servers on for a busy lunch shift, so it was surprising that we had only one server and one person to tend the bar. I call it a “bar” very loosely. We served wine and beer (it’s Europe, of course we did) but you were mostly in charge of firing and ringing up orders, pouring sodas, washing glasses, and making milkshakes. The latter being my least favorite part of the job. Having to take a moment to deal with a frozen chunk of ice cream that came of in small shavings, while a line of impatient French people waited to pay their bill was stressful to say the least. Then add in my math and language skills, which were basically that of a 5 year old, and things really got fun.

About two weeks in, I had sort of got the hang of it and was getting better at juggling everything. I liked being behind the bar because I didn’t really have to interact much. Speaking French in class with your other equally as nervous cohorts is one thing, speaking to a real, live, French person was quite another. Especially a Parisian who you’re pretty sure will laugh at you. Anytime I had to talk to a table full of teens, it was like my brain slid out of my ears onto the table. Luckily though, no one laughed. They were actually very chill about my lingual shortcomings and I helped them with their English.

We CAN all get along after all I guess.

The owner of the diner was always nice when he stopped by. I never really cared for our gruff manager who had a lot to say about how slow I was and that my diet of pancakes might not be doing much for my figure. In his defense I did complain about gaining weight, but you know, be nice and don’t agree with me ya jerk. He was from New Zealand and I figured maybe they were just more matter of fact there. Us Americans could see you eat four cheeseburgers in one sitting and still say you look great and oh, how about some cake?

So my life in Paris was going along quite well. Humble abode: check. Job: check. French classes: check. Cute French guy who is in love with my quirky American ways: No check. Hmmm….

Just recently I saw an article on Buzzfeed about an Instagram account called “Hot French Men on the Metro”. I’m not sure if this is a way to turn the male gaze back on unsuspecting, hot, bearded French men, or just sexism masquerading as feminism. I listen to far too much Taylor Swift and Katy Perry to be making any sweeping statements on the current state of feminism, or really anything for that matter, but yes…

the French guys on the metro are really hot.

I rode the metro a lot so they were all over. They know the importance of a nicely tailored suit, a well-placed scarf, a neatly trimmed beard, or a clean shave, and the unkempt kemptness of what I call the “Dragonball Z” hair a la Robert Pattinson in Twilight. They smell good and look like models. Walking on the metro in the morning for an American girl is like walking into a candy store. It’s so bright and colorful, where do you start? I mean those nice men got me into blondes and that was always a no on my list.

Here’s what they don’t tell you: They all have girlfriends.

All of them.

Those girlfriends are probably also hotter than you by virtue of the fact that they are French. Now, I’m not putting myself down here, I’m confident in my looks, but a French woman is something else entirely. They are all smooth sensuality, effortless hair, and trendy. I’m not just talking the pale, creamy skinned Parisian girl embodied in the movies, I mean all French women.

Many times these hot French men would pass by with their equally as gorgeous girlfriend. It was at these moments I never felt more doughy and American.

The night before Halloween, Claire and I were craving margaritas and ended up a lovely Spanish restaurant around the corner from my work. We walked in and I noticed the bartender immediately: dark hair, mischievous eyes, dreamy…I didn’t care if he made a watery margarita, we were shutting this place down.

We sat at the bar and proceeded to order too many drinks as Claire did the reconnaissance work: half French/half Italian, grew up in Nice (NICE!), moved to Paris for school, wanted to open a restaurant. He might have also been in a band, or an actor, or both, I can’t quite remember considering how much tequila I drank. We didn’t end up closing the place down, but were definitely among the last people there. Claire and I said our good nights as it was clear, due to the language barrier, I would not be locking that one up. Also, I was a bit drunk. We vowed to go back and see handsome French bartender very soon…

but life doesn’t always go as planned.

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Midnights in Paris: Part Three

It’s that time again for Midnights in Paris. Today’s episode finds me looking for a place to live and meeting the oldest woman in the world. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

After a few days of acclimating to Paris, it was time to sign in for my class. Registration was at the Sorbonne administrative offices in the 5th arrondissement. Paris is broken up into numbered districts like the French version of the Hunger Games. Each has its own vibe, some are very local, and anything around the tower or Champs-Elysee is more touristy and crowded. The 5th is where the students all hang out. There are lots of internet cafes and small, cheap eateries.

I made my way to the school and signed in with the lady in the office. She explained that they have a service that could set me up in a room with a host family if I couldn’t find housing on my own. Huzzah! As much as I liked my cozy little hotel room, I need something a bit more permanent for the time being. She gave me the phone number and address of a woman who took in students all the time and came highly recommended. She also handed me the address of where my classes would be held…

all the way across town.

I stopped in one of the plethora of internet cafes to update my friends on Facebook of my Parisian adventures. It would be so nice to finally have a chance to see some familiar faces after a few days without internet. I went to type in all my info and very quickly realized that I did not know where anything was on the keyboard. I was not aware until that moment that French keyboards were different than English keyboards.

Keyboards for other languages are DIFFERENT. Who knew? Not me. Obviously.

Keyboards for other languages are DIFFERENT. Who knew? Not me. Obviously.

Where is the “Enter” key? How do I capitalize something? Why is this so damn DIFFICULT? This was not going to work, but I wasn’t about to be the “stupide americaine” who asks for a different keyboard. I fumbled through and finally managed to figure out enough to check my email and tell my Facebook friends that I was indeed alive and would tell them everything about Paris as soon as I was settled. After checking on a few things and getting a little homesick, I made a call to the woman on my note from the Sorbonne and set up a time to see her room.

“Mme. Marie Duchamps” was written in curly, European letters on the slip of paper I got from the office. I followed the directions to her house and rang the buzzer.

“allo?”

“Bonjour…uh…je m’appelle Angelle Bonnecarrere. Je viens de la Sorbonne at je suis une etudiante la pour la classe du Francais.”

Lucky for me some of that high school/college French stuck…kind of.

“Ah yes, come up, Angelle.”

I climbed the stairs to find an open door with a lady standing behind it who couldn’t have been more than 5000 years old.

Give or take a few years.

She turned out to be an artist. Her husband had died long ago, eaten by a dinosaur I suspected. The bottom floor of the apartment was her studio and the top floor had a master bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and guest room. I didn’t figure there would be many options and honestly I didn’t feel like traipsing around the city using my rudimentary French to find a good place to live, so I took it. It was affordable and living with an artist seemed so romantic and so FRENCH.

Even if she was around when the earth cooled.

Excited, I checked out of my hotel, grabbed a cab, and moved in with Marie, and her cat, Chocolat.

The first few days of cohabitation always go well. You are extra polite, extra talkative, always there to sit and eat dinner, share stories, etc. Marie had a computer on a desk in the hallway that I was welcome to use whenever I needed. I thought it was incredibly sweet for her to do that, but had brought my own laptop. The shine of my new accommodations started to wear off with this conversation:

“Marie, I was wondering if you have wireless internet set up in the apartment. I wanted to hook up my laptop to check on some things.”

“There is a computer right here.”

“Well, yes…but I’d like to use my laptop sometimes…and..I…”

*brrrpth*

Did she just fart? What was that?

“There is a computer right here for you to check things.”

“Yes, and I really appreciate you letting me use it, but…”

*brrrrrpth*

She totally just farted. Is she fart-blocking me?? Well go ahead and fart-block me, lady.

“I’ll just run to McDonald’s on the corner to check stuff. They have free Wi-Fi. It’s not a big deal.”

Fun Fact: If you are ever in need of free Wi-Fi, McDonald’s is the PLACE. Buy a soda, or water, and sign on. It’s fast and awesome. All the cool kids are doing it.

Little did I know this was only the beginning of Old Lady Tales: Paris

Marie came to me two days later and said she was doing a load of whites and would I like to add some of my clothes. I’d been doing my own laundry since high school so I was definitely not going to let this poor woman do it. That would be awful and my mother would be mortified. However, she insisted and I was eventually forced to hand over some of my lighter clothes. I piled them reluctantly into her basket and she hobbled off to do the wash. Presumably in a river somewhere with rocks, which is how I imagine she did it in the Dark Ages.

I left to make my way across town to find the building where my classes would be held and attend orientation for all the new students. A few hours later I came back to my freshly laundered whites folded on my bed. When I say whites, I mean greys. They were grey. many of us throw clothes in the wash without a thought or care of how they come out. Whatever, right?

Not me.

When someone else presses to do my laundry and it comes back a mess, I get a red haze over my eyes and a small target hones in on the person’s forehead with the words “TERMINATE” written across it.

What do you mean by "my jeans kinda shrank"?

What do you mean by “my jeans kinda shrank”?

This is why I insist on doing my own laundry. It saves lives. So there it was, in neatly folded, grey, piles. I suppressed my urge to be angry and went into the kitchen where Marie was fixing her dinner.

She was putting a bowl of what looked like yogurt and melon into the microwave. I was pretty sure neither of those things should be eaten warm and that it was more than likely the cause of her incessant farting problem, but there were more pressing matters at hand.

“Marie, thank you so much for doing my laundry. That was really kind of you. Don’t worry about the rest I can take care of it next time.”

“No, no, I do the laundry for all of my students.”

Here we go again.

“It’s really alright. I can take care of it.”

“As you like.”

What on earth did that mean? Why was she letting me win this? There is a land called Passive-Aggressiva and this lady was their queen, apparently.

“Thanks, Marie.”

The next morning, as if Chocolat also had to voice his displeasure, I stepped in cat puke outside of my bedroom door.

“Yes, Choco has a plant on the window sill that he eats and it helps him purge when he needs to.”

When he needs to what now?

A few days that plant had a little “accident”, when it encountered my elbow “accidentally”, and fell on the floor…”accidentally”.

Stay tuned. There’s so much more to come…

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Midnights in Paris: Part Two

My continuing series on that time I dropped everything and moved to Paris. Part 1 can be found here. So sit down with a pain du chocolat and a noisette and get cozy.

I arrived in Paris to warm sunshine. It was the beginning of September so the weather had cooled off slightly, but left the city still aglow from summer. The first setback I encountered was the ride from Charles de Gaulle airport to the city itself, like an idiot I thought it was close to Paris, but no. So a chunk of my money had gone to the taxi ride before I even arrived at the hotel.

Welcome to the big city, girl.

The hotel was small, but inviting, and I wanted nothing more than to set my stuff down and go exploring. It was still early afternoon and I was a ball of energy waiting to be unleashed on the poor, unsuspecting, French citizenry. I practiced saying, “Ou est La Closerie des Lilas?” a few times out loud. Yes, some of the greatest artists and writers had drank within its walls, but the café where Robert and Mireille would meet for a kir featured prominently in many segments of our French in Action tape. That would be one of my first stops. On a high school trip to Paris a friend and I successfully asked for directions there, so I wanted to recreate our shining moment from that trip where we actually understood a bit of French and got our friends to the café. As excited as I was to see the café, my very first stop would be the Eiffel Tower. Then I’d be off to La Closerie des Lilas for a drink and people watching.

I dragged my luggage up the stairs to my room that looked out over a small, but lovely, courtyard filled with flowers and small trees. It was magical and I was already in love with everything. I called my mom to let her know I was alive and set about finding the metro and Paris maps my friend had bought me as a going away present. Years later as I was checking the Hopstop app on my phone in New York City I remembered those early days in Paris when I carried a map around like a weirdo. I unfolded the maps and proceeded to plan out my route to the tower.

I walked out of my hotel and attempted to find the nearest metro stop. Now, I’m not going to brag, but in the car, I have a great sense of direction. I know where I need to go and how to get there. Walking, however, is a whole other ballgame. After a few wrong turns, eventually the metro sign appeared ahead and I was officially ready to start my new Parisian adventure…

by trying to figure out how to buy a metro card.

It seemed easy enough, you put money in the machine, and it gives you a little white ticket. Everyone was putting in money, getting a ticket, and going along their merry way. Alright, I’m from DC, I got this! I did not got this. It took a few tries, a few swear words, and a few looks over my shoulder like “Modern machinery, right?!” to the poor people who just wanted to get home. Luckily I finally pressed the right amount of buttons and was gifted with a metro ticket before the people waiting in line made me walk to the tower. My first Parisian triumph!

I made my way down to the train platform and waited. The train arrived, and as luck would have it, the doors stopped right in front of me. Triumph number two! Take that, Paris! I JUST MIGHT MAKE IT AFTER ALLL….I was thinking in my head as a tall French man elbowed past me to open the train door and step inside. While my head was alight with my triumph, I failed to realize that the metro doors do not open automatically like in the states. You have to pull a lever to open them So while I was busy throwing my hat in the air in my mind, everyone was impatiently waiting for me to just open the damn door.

I found a seat and noted that the car didn’t smell like an armpit. I think the French got the memo on that one. The city whizzed by as I checked my route on the metro map. It was a trek from my hotel, but I could manage. As my stop approached I waited patiently by the doors until the car came to a stop. Lost in thought about all the awesome pictures I was going to take, I noticed that the train had started to move again, and I was still on it.

PULL UP THE LEVER, ANGELLE!

Omigod, I did it AGAIN. Once, fine, we can all let that slide, but twice? Get. It. Together. I got off at the next station and retraced my steps back to my connecting stop. I was getting to that tower today come hell or high water, because I’m an AMERICAN and WE DON’T GIVE UP!

Oh damn, I missed my stop again.

Pull.
UP.
The.
Lever.
You idiot.

After a few mishaps, one lever that refused to budge, and countless looks that said either, “Damn tourists”, or “Is she insane? She might be insane. Stay away from her or she might talk to us about Jesus”, finally I managed to get the hang of opening the doors. It was like trying to jump into a game of double dutch and waiting for just the right moment when the ropes were open. Now I was a total pro.

The Eiffel Tower awaited…

I looked at the map after leaving the metro stop and tried to figure out where I was in relation to the tower. The map made it look petty close. I started walking in what I assumed was the right direction and quickly realized that all of the streets look the same. They all looked THE SAME. No differentiation at all. So I kept walking…

and walking
and walking.
Until I found a Starbucks.

I ordered a latte and kept walking

and walking
and walking.

Until I found another Starbucks

and kept walking.

It went on like this for another hour and a half. I was exhausted, it was getting late, and I knew it was time to get over my fear and just ask someone where the damn tower was. I stopped a older French woman who could not have been nicer and spoke English. She directed me to take the metro to the Trocadero stop where you could take the best pictures. She was also nice enough to give me directions to the nearest metro stop.

Twenty minutes later, I walked up to the busy plaza full of people and street performers and stood in awe. There she was keeping watch over the city. Too overwhelmed and exhausted to take pictures, I sat down as a tear or two slid down my cheek. I was here. I was FINALLY here…

It's crooked. I was exhausted.

It’s crooked. I was exhausted.

but my adventures were just beginning.

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Midnights in Paris

This kicks off my newest series about the time I decided to drop everything and move to Paris. There are laughs, there are tears, there’s an organ removal.
Enjoy :)

Have you ever heard of a “Saturn Return”?

New ager types like to use the phrase to describe all of the emotions we go through before turning 30 when Saturn returns to the same place it was when you were born. People do all kinds of life changing things; get married, have a kid, break up, drop everything and move to a foreign country…

I obviously fell into the last category.

I spent my 27th and 28th years of life graduating from college and trapped in various go nowhere restaurant jobs. After an ill-fated romance with an executive chef at one of those places, I decided it was time to get a real job. I applied to be an administrative assistant at Catholic University’s music school. A place that held many memories and would put me in the same place as my voice teacher again. I spent my time sorting mail, scheduling music lessons and classes, selling tickets to our shows, and my friend Tracy was generous enough to give me voice lessons again for a short time.

Day after day, I sorted the mail, dealt with an egomaniac teacher, made sure classes didn’t overlap, prepared for the next semester, and managed various other duties as needed. I wasn’t particularly good at it, I wasn’t terrible either, but I wasn’t good. You could say I did my best, but scheduling Sight Singing II in room 206 wasn’t traveling and seeing the world. I was restless. I would meet up with friends in DC and run into people I didn’t want to be running into. Prior to my hiring, the chef I had been seeing basically said he didn’t want to date someone who was just “a waitress”. Two weeks later he met his now wife and never spoke to me again. I’m not going to pretend I give a shit about any of that at this point. I dodged a bullet the size of Texas on that one.

However, at the time it made me think about what I wanted. Was I stuck in these low paying jobs and not realizing my potential? Would I ever go back to Europe and revisit all the places I loved as a child? I would sit at my desk and daydream about walking along the Seine like I was Grace Kelly with some impossibly hot French man who speaks very little English, but knows the important stuff. I looked up study abroad programs and came across language classes at the Sorbonne in Paris. If any of you took French in high school you may have had a book called French in Action which had a video counterpart following the love affair of “Mireille”, a beautiful French girl who studies at the Sorbonne, and “Robert”, and American student from NYU studying in Paris. They meet-cute, they go to cafes, they ride on trains, they talk about school, they fall in love, all while teaching fundamental grammar and vocabulary lessons to us high schoolers. Even though all we really wanted to know is if Mireille was wearing a bra, which we suspected she wasn’t, and if the rumors were true that she did French porn.

All girl high schools are interesting places.

Taking a cue from French in Action, I decided to choose the language course at the Sorbonne. It seemed romantic and like something Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility would do. So I broke my Starbucks habit for a bit, stopped going out as much, and funneled as much money as I could into my savings account for my trip. As time went on, it was becoming less a trip and more a move. I was going to try to make it there and maybe get my MA in Art or Archaeology. Everything was coming together.

My going away party fell on my 29th birthday in August. I was leaving two days later and my friends all showed up to wish me farewell, give me travel journals, shed a few tears, and wonder when we would see each other again. My voice teacher stayed the longest. We chatted for hours and reminisced at my dining room table as we looked through crazy magazines my mom never throws away. I walked her out and as we hugged said, “I’ll be alright.”

“Did I say you wouldn’t be?”
“I think I was saying it more for myself…”

That was the last time I saw her looking healthy before the cancer took it’s toll two years later. However, at the time I thought she would live forever as we do when we’re young and look up to someone.

Two days later I was saying goodbye to my family at Dulles airport…ready to take a huge leap…

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