Monday, June 21, 2010
I read Anne Lamott's Rosie this weekend. Lovely and very thought provoking. "Can I have that when you're done?" asked my daughter. "Sure" I said, two pages in. In hindsight she may not read it after me. Not because she can't handle the content, but because I am afraid she will subconsiously recognize the connection between the main character's and my particular brand of crazy, and she might call me out, thereby blowing my many years of hard work at subterfuge and track-covering. It can be disconcerting to come across literature that resonates so familarlarly that I want to pick up the phone to call the author since, clearly, she's been shadowing me for a lifetime and owes me at least a couple of drinks if not a by-line. Spooky in a, looking over my should now, kind of way. Rosie is the first of a trilogy which I'm now beholden and scared to finish.....in case it doesn't end well (for me).
I was at an event once where there was a tarot card reader. On one level I take all of that psychic stuff with a grain of salt, on the other, however, I've been right about things too many times to discount it completely. She got two cards into the reading when I began to interject and proceeded to, somehow, predict the subsequent cards she was going to lay down for me. After being correct several cards in a row, she stopped, smiled, and asked me to leave because I was making her uncomfortable.
I've been assuming, all this time, that the common human bond is that we're all on the edge of madness and some of us are just better at applying concealer than others. This may not be true. Some of us may, indeed be totally and completely nuts, while the rest really are just fine. While all the other baby turtles are scurring their little fannies down to the water's edge, a few of us have about faced and are scrambling up hill towards the coconut trees. No less tragic a fate, I assume, just a completely different one.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I spent a weekend, recently, in the company of a lovely group of women, most of whom were just turning or had just recently turned 50. Considering that I am still a “long” way from 50, myself, I found it to be quite an enlightening experience. I learned a few things about 50.
50 is pretty sure about what it wants and its not afraid to tell you. 50 does not really seem to care what you think about it, but it’s happy to listen any way. 50 is proud of what it has accomplished but still has a really big to-do list. 50 is wise, in a quiet, unassuming way that still remains open to possibility. 50 is tired sometimes, but recognizes that its not as tired as it’s gonna be when it’s 60. 50 still looks really really good and is working pretty hard to stay that way. 50 can drink you under the table and still be the first one up in the morning to brew a pot of coffee. 50 appreciates the opportunity to do nothing, at least for a little while. 50’s day no longer revolves solely around other people. 50 does not feel guilty leaving family at home to spend the weekend with their friends. 50 can be a bit of a micromanager in the kitchen, but that’s okay because 50 cooks really really well, so it turns out to be worth it. 50 is generous and gracious and kind. When you ask 50 to bring a dish to the party they do, and they bring something good and they bring more than they need to.
Where 40 is still gripped by roles, rules and responsibility, 50 has broken through that ceiling, taken a good look around, poured a big cup of coffee, found a really comfy chair by the window, and has settled in to watch the sun come up.
Not that I was angsting, but I feel better about being halfway to 50 now.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I grew to hate rainy days in Paris. Fortunately, Paris isn’t all that rainy. Unlike its stiff upper lipped cousin to the north, it’s generally quite dry and temperate in Paris, or at least it was the year I lived there. Normally, I love the rain and am happy to be out and about underneath an umbrella carrying on about my business. In the case of my year in Paris, my business usually comprised of a train trip into the city from my suburban home base, exploration of some new neighborhood, a little lunch, and then eventually my afternoon class at the Sorbonne, followed by the more exploration, un peu de shopping, and a return trip home.
I walked miles and miles each day, born originally out of trepidation to sort out the bus system but eventually because it afforded me the greatest opportunity to uncover the incredible nooks and crannies that comprise the web of what is now my favorite city in the world.I walked everywhere, from the tony streets full of fashion houses surrounding the Champs Elyse to the Marais, the Jewish neighborhood where I always had to stop for falafel, I saw amazing architecture and fascinating people. The novelty inspired me while simultaneously challenging my rural, American, belief structure. I encountered women in full burkas, not something I’d seen at home and I achieved a comfortable familiarity strolling streets lined with vendors, artists and prostitutes. I was introduced to a sense of history that cannot be found in America, plaques on synagogues documenting names of children rounded up and sent to concentration camps, ruins of Roman viaducts surrounded by bustling markets and booksellers, as if nothing about that juxtaposition should cause anyone any sort of pause.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that I stuck out like a sore thumb with my blue jeans, my clogs and my long blonde hair. It also didn’t take me long to figure out that Paris was full of single men of varying nationalities, who, apparently, lived and worked in that city without the benefit of their spouses. Unattached and clearly a foreigner, I was an easy mark. I learned quickly not to make eye contact, as that clearly was an invitation to hassle me. I learned how to avoid and evade and side step unwelcome suitors. Because there is so much to see in Paris, however, adopting an eyes-to-the-ground stance was impractical. Therefore, I developed a sort of 10 mile stare, eventually learning to see right through the leering on comers while still taking in all of the amazing sights I did want to see.
This worked quite well for me, on sunny days. On rainy days though, one’s vista is occluded by the umbrella, and I was left to scan the horizon on more of a mid-torso level. The first time I saw one, it wasn’t until I passed him completely that it fully registered. Penis. Small and limp and completely free of its usual confines, as if out for a walk, unleashed like some small, hairless canine. I couldn’t see the face of its owner, because of the umbrella, and yet because my gaze was already fixed at the beltline I could not avoid seeing his member.
The second time it happened was just after school one day. Fortunately, I was in the company of male classmates who gave the exposer a rash of epithets that had definitely not been covered in any of my language classes. He scurried away leaving my friends laughing as we headed home.It continued happening, sporadically, but only on rainy days. This is not to say that I wasn’t approached and accosted on sunny days, because I continued to be leered at, followed home, etc. but the exposing only happened under the cover of umbrellas, as if the penises were a bit shy, somehow, perhaps afraid of catching chill or maybe a sunburn.
While initially shocking, it came to be more of an irritation to which I resigned myself every time the sky clouded over. I learned far more about life, the year I lived in Paris, than I did about French grammar.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Lying on a chaise at the pool yesterday, I looked up in time to see my daughter approaching. Hard to miss with her still fiery hair, she was walking up the path and into the clubhouse with a line of five boys in tow.
Gangly, awkward teenage boys, most in need of haircuts, but still a polite and mild mannered enough bunch that I don't feel the need to worry. The irony is, I think she has figured out that throwing dirt clods is actually a lot of fun and she seems perfectly happy to organize games that they all want to play for the most part, though they don't seem to mind her occasional re-direction either. I had to smile when she hung up the phone the other day and announced "Good grief! Do I have to organize everything for everyone?" I couldn't see her around the corner but I just knew she had her hands on her hips and was rolling her eyes.