Make a New Year, but Keep the Old

Being alive hurts.

Maybe you woke up this morning bent over like Yoda and realized you needed a new mattress.

Maybe you lost a friend or a loved one to distance, sickness, or drama.

Or maybe you watched as your now grown child went out to dinners and drinks with friends, while you remembered those nights that seemed not long ago when they were staying up to listen for Santa.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe in learning the lessons from the year before and letting them make me better at what my friend Megan and I call, “humaning”. Or what you would call, “just being alive”.

Here are some of mine:

-The Power of No: Good lawd, no is a wonderful word. It really is. Embrace your no. Embrace it all the time. Put it on a t-shirt and wear it everywhere so if you can’t say it, you can point to it and walk away. Do not feel bad. Do not feel guilty. No it, and walk. away. with your bad self. They don’t even need an explanation. Wield the no like the bad ass you are.

-Hearts are a resilient organ: They can burn. They can break. They can be put back together with the help of good friends, chocolate, and time.

-You are NOT alone: To quote Into the Woods, “No one is alone.” You have family, friends, coworkers, dogs, cats, random people, etc. who think you are amazing. Whose lives would be irrevocably damaged if you were to leave them. Never say, “I’m going to die alone and unloved”, you will not. Just remember, someone is on your side.

-Love: It’s never what you want it to be, it’s never what the movies tell you it should be, but it fills your heart in ways you never imagined. Don’t give up on it.

-Mistakes: Own up to them. Do something different. Never be afraid to admit you made one and START. OVER. As my favorite quote says, “Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”

-People are fragile: We are all sensitive creatures, even the garbage ones. It’s worth taking the time to understand a different perspective and you might learn something.

So in this year I hope you are kind and thoughtful, that you smile on the days when it’s hard to even get out of bed, and on those cold, gloomy days you bake something delicious.

Live well, cats & kittens, not because it’s the best revenge, but because you deserve to…

and as always…you don’t have to take my word for it😉

Neil Gaiman New Years

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Get in Shape, Gurl

MjAxMi1jMTNjMzJhYTQ5OTJlMTQy

It’s 95 degrees outside. The humidity is oppressive. Judging by how much I’m sweating, you’d think I opted to wear a snowsuit to run instead of shorts and a tank top. It’s only been about 10 minutes and I’m thinking of just laying down on the trail and letting all these bugs that keep flying in my face eat my eyeballs. Anything would be preferable to this fucking torture we call exercise.

It all started about two and a half years ago when I looked down and noticed I was getting a little soft. I’ve never been a rubenesque beauty, although I do admire our curvy girls who are doing it for themselves, and their ample bosoms for us all to lay our weary heads upon. Without you, where would we be? However, I wasn’t comfortable being soft. I wanted to be a badass, Buffy/Black Widow, don’t mess with me or I’ll drop kick your ass, kind of chick.

When you’re single for a long time and don’t see any prospects in the near future (or need any for that matter) you learn to take of yourself.

So it began.

Of course I wanted some Splinter-esque sensei to take me into his dojo of awesomeness and teach me how to control my emotions and use them to smite my enemies. USE IT. Obviously, this didn’t happen. Instead I was stuck in a hotel that had a small gym with two treadmills. So I put on my new sneakers that I had bought that morning with this exchange:

Salesperson: “Can I help you?”
Me: “Um yeah, I need sneakers for running and other athletic type stuff.”
Salesperson: “…”
Me: “Something that I can put on that aren’t chucks that I can exercise in would be great.”

I grabbed a water bottle and my headphones then headed down to the gym. The door opened to a cryogenic freezer that I was sure housed some sort of alien creature in suspended animation, but no, the steam dissipated and it was just some treadmills, a couple of weights, and an elliptical. Someone had apparently set the thermostat to “Arctic”. I set my water on the nearest treadmill and spent the next ten minutes figuring out how it worked.

Age: Um, 33…and a half, almost 34, but you know that’s just splitting hairs, but really, treadmill, does it matter? We’re all on a slow march to death anyway, why make it an issue?

Weight: For real, treadmill? Isn’t that why I’m here? Is there a “Comfortable with my weight, just want to tone my flab” option?

Exercise option: Um, I don’t know. Surprise me, robot treadmill, because you’ve already age and weight shamed me. How about we go for the exercise option of “Shout insults at me while I cry”.

Once I’d answered all of the robot treadmill’s questions, I wasn’t sure if it was going to charge $30/month to set me up on dates, or start. Lucky for me, it started to move. There was a TV attached so I turned it on to an episode of Castle. I started to walk briskly while Nathan Fillion hammed it up. After a few minutes I thought, let’s crank this up to 11 and get movin, GURL. My inner voice when I’m exercising can get sassy. So I “cranked it up”. 1 min and 30 seconds later I thought I was dying. Literally going to have a heart attack in the middle of the smallest hotel gym in the world. Fortunately, it was so cold that the anguished look on my face as I died would be preserved perfectly.

Then I took it down a notch and started off slowly.

This went on for a few days, I’d walk briskly while watching whatever tragi-comedy-drama TNT wanted to play to fill time in the early afternoon. I gradually worked up to running for two whole minutes straight without wanting to write my will and bequeath my Garbage Pail Kid collection to someone worthy.

Leaky Lindsay isn't going to just ANYONE, ok?

Leaky Lindsay isn’t going to just ANYONE, ok?

It took about a year for me to work up to actual running. Where I could say, “Hey I’m heading to the gym for a run” and not feel like I should be saying, “Hey, I’m heading to the gym to walk fast for 20 minutes and maybe not die for the 30 seconds I’m going to attempt to run.” I’ve never been a runner so beats me why I chose this torture over CrossFit or Pilates, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with outside being free. As in, no bank breaking membership fees. You go outside and run.

So a year and a half later, I found myself outside attempting to run the trail by my house. If you thought the treadmill was a debacle, it was nothing compared to being outside. It was the first time I looked around and thought,

“I fucking hate this.”

HATED it. Everything about it. It was hot, I had to pee, and I had no place to hold a granola bar, because I am NOT wearing a fanny pack. Next to people who whistle in public, I couldn’t have hated anything more in that moment. So a day later I did it again. Each time I put on my sneakers I’d remember how much I hated it and I’d walk out of my door headed for the trail.

Then one day a few months ago, my mind was preoccupied with a complicated situation that I was trying to process and work through. I had been out on the trail for about 30 minutes when I realized I hadn’t stopped.

I. HADN’T. STOPPED.

Not once. I just kept running. My pace was great. I was sweating like a crazy person, but I HADN’T STOPPED. I had noticed my clothes were fitting differently the last couple of months. My arms were toned and I could finally keep up with some of the chicks in my kickboxing class. Thank you, Jebus.

In the last two and a half years I have worked up to about 4-5 miles every other day, or every two days if I get lazy. I actually look forward to my time out on the trail to be by myself and think. My running playlist changes to keep me motivated. There are still days I hate it, HATE IT, but I found a song for those times I get whiny about it…

I told you my inner voice was sassy.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

(fun?)Employment, Part 2: New Career Paths

I’m closing in on the end of the first week of my unemployment.

Every piece of clothing I own has been washed and put away.

Orange is the New Black has been watched and enjoyed.

I’m running about 5 miles every other day.

But let’s be honest, this shit sucks. The first few days I got REAL Neely O’Hara in Valley of the Dolls about this whole thing.

Just leave me here. No, YOU shut up. NO, YOU'RE drunk.

Just leave me here. No, YOU shut up. NO, YOU’RE drunk.

I lamented to my dog about the unfairness of the world. He didn’t really have any sound advice besides just kind of laying there and ignoring me which I interpreted to mean that we all just have to trust that life will work out if we just chill. Or that my dog is 14 years old, blind, deaf, and tired of my bullshit. Last year when I found myself in this position it wasn’t such a horrible mess. There wasn’t much work and my company was kind enough to let me stay on for a bit longer before I was laid off. I was totally zen about the whole thing and quoting Ghandi and all to my supervisor who was beside herself that I was leaving. I was excited to focus on my writing and take a break from the endless traveling.

This time things are a bit different.

It was my decision to resign and a huge risk. In that “Hey guys, let’s try it WITHOUT a safety net this time!” kind of way. On Saturday I spent the morning in my bed contemplating new career paths…

Investigator: I could solve mysteries now that I have lots of time on my hands to scope out leads and listen to Serial again. I’ll buy a used Cutlass Ciera and eat a lot of hamburgers while I do stakeouts.

Start a New Religion: I read and watched Going Clear and it all seems pretty easy. “Hey, [fill in name of celebrity] you’re hot and I’m starting a religion. Wanna join?” Who doesn’t like their ego fed by a cult once in awhile? I haven’t really worked out our creation story yet, but it will be loosely based on the plot of Barbarella.

Sci-Fi + Badass space chicks = Religion

Sci-Fi + Badass space chicks = Religion

Stripper: Yes, the money is great, but it all just seems so high maintenance. The heels look dangerous and shoving money down by your “Lady Gaga” does not seem sanitary. Although I have my signature song picked out just in case.

Professional Netflix Movie Decision Judger: This is something I just made up. Every time you pick a movie on Netflix I will come on right before, make a sour face, and say, “Um Nicholas Sparks? Again? I mean Inglorious Basterds is available and you choose this?” It seems like the 90’s are back so why not bring the full video store experience as well? Complete with the curtained off porn section that you just kind of got lost and OMIGOD how did I end up in here? I tripped and fell through the curtains. This is not mine. I’m holding it for that guy over there in the trench coat and sunglasses.

Tuesday I woke up to a phone call from an awesome recruiter who had reviewed my resume and felt that I was perfect for a position she was trying to fill. I wiped the Snapea Crisp crumbs from my face and things didn’t seem as bleak. It’s tentative, but a great lead. So hopefully I’ll be back amongst the other worker drones soon.

Until then if anyone needs me I’ll be over here trying to come up with names for my space alien priestess/overlord…

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

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:)

image

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

image

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

image

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

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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…

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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…

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Tales from the Snowtel

My last job had me staying in Hiltons all over this great nation of ours and I have racked up a ton of points to become a *drum roll*

DIAMOND MEMBER

That’s pronounced “DIAHAMOND” member.

DIAHAMONDS! DIAHAMONDS!

DIAHAMONDS! DIAHAMONDS!

Which I guess puts me at “High Roller” status for the Hilton crowd. To me it means I spent some days working 16-18 hours in a city far from home and others trying to get my HDMI cord to work with the big screen TV in my hotel room so I could watch Battlestar Galactica on Netflix. No one aspires to be a member of a hotel loyalty club. You just kind of fall into it. So those points were put to work for a cozy one night “Snowtel” room five minutes from work.

One night.
One.

I wake up to a frozen wonderland and the news that everything is closed. Thinking, well I can’t check out and drive back in this, I figured I’d book another night.

Thus began Tales from the Snowtel:

5:30am: I wake up in a panic from a dream where I was making out with David Guintoli from Grimm, but sadly had to leave for more pressing matters.

Sorry, David.

I guess those pressing matters were worrying if I had work or not. I didn’t.

Back to sleep.

7am: Up. Showered. Dressed. This is what happens when you spend months waking up at 4am for work. You are an insane person who wakes up ungodly early for everything. My DIAHAMOND member status gives me exclusive access to the Executive Lounge which I imagine to be full of old white guys in suits.

It was.

So I go in and see an entire spread of eggs, fresh fruit, coffee, fancy tea, and pastries. I help myself to eggs and some fruit, careful not to get greedy. With my light breakfast haul I ask the hotel lady how much it costs. A businessman chuckled behind me while he fixed his coffee.

“It’s free. You should get more.”

Free? Like free FREE? Um, no. This is not free. I must pay someone for this fancy breakfast. The hotel lady nodded and said, “Yes, it’s free.” Still feeling like someone was going to tackle me and demand payment, I went back to my room and ate my free food. I’m sure that businessman had a good story to tell at his meeting today,

“They are just letting any old poor into the Executive Lounge these days…”

9am: News reporters are sticking rulers in the snow all over the DC / MD / VA area and ecstatic that we got more than a dusting. Or just ecstatic they got a forecast right for a change. I can’t stand to hear the same thing over and over so I switch to HBO. Hilton has about 10 ESPN channels for the dudes. Bravo, E!, Lifetime, TLC, and whatever other channels play The Real Housewives of Wherethefuckever for the ladies. Then Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network for the wee ones.

The Hilton: Perpetuating gender stereotypes one TV channel at a time.

So I switch to their only movie channel and find a Rosie O’Donnell stand up special. A current one. I still find that broad funny after all these years. It’s also better than watching those daytime talk shows where women scream for toasters and the latest book by Dr. Phil signed and under their seats. If you want to get information out of me for anything, play an episode of The View and I will tell you ANYTHING. I’ll confess to shit I haven’t even done for you to turn it off.

12pm: I’m hungry again. Like super hungry. However, did I mention I was totally broke? Yes, Sallie Mae cleaned me out so I had about $10 with which to live for the next 24 hours until I get paid on Wednesday. I fished the “emergency low blood sugar” granola bar out of my purse and ate it like a cavewoman while watching Belle. I briefly contemplate escaping this “Snowtel” torture and hiring a tauntaun to get home.

I prefer the personal service of a tauntaun versus the commuter bus feel of an At-At.

I prefer the personal service of a tauntaun versus the commuter bus feel of an At-At.

2pm: I decide to head down to the gym to run for the first time in two months. On the elevator I met a nice German woman and her son. We chat about Germany, she lived in Heidelberg (SO DID I!), and I got to practice the four words I remembered from German classes in elementary school. She was lovely and I headed to the gym after making a new fruend.

The gym was just as fancy as my free breakfast and completely deserted.
Score.

I picked a treadmill and proceeded to start it up knowing that I’d probably last about 10 minutes before I gave up and wanted someone to strangle me with a gym towel. The running gods must have had a snow day too as I hit my stride 20 minutes in. Yeah, bitches. I looked around at the other treadmills and noticed that a disturbing number of them were tuned to Fox News. Had all of those businessman been working out in here before their free breakfast like some sort of dystopian novel come to life? I imagine them all running in unison as Pharrell’s “Happy” is piped over a loudspeaker on repeat.

4pm: I have an hour before the lounge opens for hors d’oeuvres. There will be cheese. I know this because hors d’oeuvres means cheese platters in French.

It does not, but shut up and go with it.

Some Liam Neeson movie is on. He’s on a plane and saving people. I wonder if it’s the movie of what happened when he was on his way to find his kidnapped daughter in that other movie I like to call, “Don’t Go to Europe with a Slutty Friend”. My mind wanders to the kind of cheese they will put out. Will it be cubed? If there are toothpicks cubed is hard to grab off the plate. You’re forced to figure out how many cubes fit on one toothpick and next thing you know you have about 5 cheese cube kabobs on your plate and people are staring. They’ll definitely have cheddar…but will there be brie? God, I hope there’s brie.

5pm: There is cheese. It is sliced. I fill an entire plate, go back to my room, and devour it all in .5 seconds. Of course I needed more, but how long do you wait? I was JUST in there. Do I change my shirt? Will those businessman, worker drones recognize me and report me to our Cylon overlords for eating an excessive amount of free cheese?

Then I decided I didn’t give a shit and went back for more.

7pm: Rosie is on again. My belly is full of free cheese and carrots. I settle in with my tea and a cookie for the night.

“And I heard the work drones exclaim as they marched out of sight, “Happy Snow Day to all, and to all a good night…at exactly 7:30 or you will be forced to work in the fields.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Tale of a Tattoo

It was 12:30pm when I walked in the tattoo place. Not 12:30am giggling with a group of friends high on herd mentality and ready to get matching tattoos of hearts, or something we saw on Pinterest. I was by myself and probably a little dazed from long nights of crying and very little sleep.

So I felt like a total lame-o.

I wasn’t scared of the pain. It couldn’t be any worse than what I was going through so fucking bring it, I figured. I walked in expecting to get weird looks from disaffected tattoo artists who were already regretting their decision to open at noon. At 3am while I was rereading The Sandman this all seemed like a great idea. Now, I just felt like a cliché. The girl behind the counter had perfect winged eyeliner, like PERFECT. That shit is hard to get right so I was already distracted.

“How are ya? What can I help you with?”

She was really cheerful.

Ok this might work.

I realized I couldn’t just say, “Oh, I want a tattoo.” Of course you want one, you wouldn’t be here otherwise. Use your words, Angelle.

“I want to get a quote tattooed on my collar bone…today…if it’s possible.”

“Sure!”

Whoa ok…my last one was a bit more involved so I guess it took longer. The artist had to draft it, I came back a few days later, said it looked great, and got it tattooed about two days later. It was a process. This was all happening a bit fast. Was it fast? This was fast. What?

“What’s the quote?”

“Oh, um it’s….” All of a sudden everything was dumb. I was dumb. My puffy vest with leggings and boots was dumb. Why didn’t I just walk in here with a latte from Starbucks after brunching with my besties? This was dumb.

“Do you want to write it down?”

“Yes…sure. That would be good.”

At this point the poor girl probably thought I was getting “YOLO” tattooed on me forever. Who would be this awkward if they were getting something cool done? I wrote the quote on the paper very carefully so it was legible, “Omnia mutantur, nihil interit”. A grizzly looking guy came up and said that he would be taking care of my tattoo today. Wait, not perfect eyeliner chick? Ok, deep breath. He seemed a little nuts and maybe still drunk from the night before. It’s fine, I thought. True artists are eccentric. That’s how they LIVE. Would you look at Jackson Pollock and say, “Hey man, this is a bit intense, maybe therapy and AA?” No, you wouldn’t.

He took the paper from me, frowned, and then handed it back.

“You sure this is all spelled correctly? ”

“Yeah I just checked online to make sure, but it’s right.”

“Ok cause I don’t read French.”

“Um…it’s Latin, but yeah I made sure it’s right.”

“Ok cool, cause I never learned French.”

It was clear we were going to have to agree to disagree on this.

I looked around as the shop filled with eager tattoo seekers. It was only 1, but it seemed like everyone in the city decided they wanted a tattoo today as well. So maybe I wasn’t such a lame-o after all. One girl was getting her nipple pierced and brought two of her friends with her. While I perused fonts they chatted excitedly about her piercing. The poor girl looked like she was going to pass out from nervousness. There were only two artists and one piercer on duty and someone had to work the desk. This turned out to be my grizzled, possibly inebriated, artist. As he checked people in, filled out paperwork,  and drafted my tattoo, I sat and thought about all the events that led me here on this cold Saturday.

My insomnia and I were getting reacquainted after the events of the past month and a half. It was 3am and I decided to reread The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. If Stephen King is the guy whispering scary stories in your ear in the dark, Neil Gaiman is the one sitting in the corner weaving fairy tales about what is lurking under your bed. My loyalty to King is unwavering, but sometimes there is a warmth missing from his stories that I crave. Gaiman is magic. The guy who makes you feel like it’s storytime at the library all over again. The Sandman is his only graphic novel, it’s perfect, and a novel in the true sense of the word. It also has lovely artwork to look at as a bonus. The story takes you into the world of The Dream King, his family, and his journeys. Gaiman uses the quote, “omnia mutantur, nihil interit” (lifted from Ovid’s Metamorphoses), in one of the stories to illustrate how the passage of time changes things, but nothing is truly lost. Just different.

Anyone who has experienced a profound loss can relate to the idea that we hope that person is not really gone from our lives. Whether it’s the passing of a beloved family member or of someone close to you, parting ways with someone you love, or just dealing with the ebb and flow of life in general. People come and go. In their absence we change, but we never forget them. Or the way you felt. A smell, a tv show, a joke, brings you right back. “Omnia mutantur, nihil interit. Everything changes, nothing perishes.”

“Anhell! So does this look good?”

Crazy Tattoo Artist Guy shook me out of my thoughts. I decided not to correct his pronunciation of my name. I looked at his draft and it all came together. It looked great. He led me in the back, stenciled the quote just underneath my collar bone and asked what I thought.

“It looks…really amazing.”

He left me alone for a minute while he got his station ready and I stared at what would be my new ink. Ok you can see it, so I’ll be spending the next forever translating the quote for everyone, but whatever. I was surprised how well it fit. This didn’t feel like a decision made in the throes of a melodramatic breakdown, it felt right.

I sat in the chair and he started to burn the quote into my skin.

“Does it hurt? You ok?”

“Not any more than what I’ve gone through in the last month. I’m good.”

When he was done I felt lighter. Crazy Maybe Just Hungover Now Tattoo Artist gave me instructions on proper tattoo care and offered me a free ice scraper with the tattoo place’s logo on it.

“You’ll pay $7 for one of these babies at the gas station, but we have ’em for free!”

A smile on my face, I accepted my tattoo swag, tipped the man for his services, and walked out.

I left changed,
but still the same.

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments