Slow Down You’re Moving Too Fast

I haven’t been here in a while. I’ve been busy getting over my Paris depression by planning a bathroom renovation and our trip to the Basque country in June. (First world problems!) Always thinking ahead, and planning and planning and plotting. That’s what I do best. That and reminisce about the past, oh I am really good at that as well.

So this post is about how I think the Universe is trying to teach me a lesson. Slow down, sister. Be present. Plant your seed where you are, and nourish the young sprouts. Breathe.

There have been signs all around me lately. Like this picture that I posted on Facebook.

hendrix

It made me think of Jordan, and a lesson I keep forgetting. She was 7 and we had just moved back to Maryland. It was a beautiful morning as I recall…I was in my single mother rush mode, trying to get her out the door for before school care so I could get to work, and Jordan was totally not cooperating. She kept staring out the window instead of eating her breakfast and I was growing increasingly frustrated. ”Hurry UP!!” I yelled. “We’re going to be late!!” But Jordan, oblivious to my stress, just kept looking out the window. “Look Mommy, that tree looks just like a dinosaur. A T Rex”. Argh, I was late and she was wasting my time looking at a tree! But then I looked, and, well, it really did look like a dinosaur! A perfect T Rex. And I’d never noticed – I had never taken the time to look, and I know that I never would have noticed if my darling girl hadn’t made me stop and look. So we both went out on our porch and just looked at the tree for a long time, something I did many times after that morning, to remind myself to take the time, to breathe…

Not our tree, but you get the idea...

Not our tree, but you get the idea…

So I need to remember that lesson, and look for the little things. Like that cute boy I saw while riding the Washington metro yesterday. We were both standing by the door with our earbuds in, lost in our own musical worlds. Then I noticed that he was pointing his toes and circling his ankles. Well, OK, whatever. Then suddenly he stood on his toes (he either had toe shoe tennis shoes on or some really strong toes!). He proceeded to “perform” various ballet movements with his feet, lost in his own world and oblivious to the fact that others were on the train. It was beautiful, and it made my heart light. Look around sister, and revel in the small things. Breathe.

I bought Jim some Riesling and Pinot Noir grape vines for Valentine’s Day. I thought it would be nice to plant the vines together, and cultivate the grapes, and then (most importantly, and my ulterior motive), make some wine together. The other night I was reading to him from the book on growing grapes and making wine that I also gave him for Valentine’s Day, and I came across a sentence that said “It will take at least two years before you will be able to make wine from your grape vines”. WTF? Two YEARS!!?? I can’t wait for 2 years. That’s TERRIBLE! I have to take care of the grapes for 2 YEARS before I can get my wine?” I whined. Jim just listened and said: “maybe grapes aren’t the best thing for you to grow. They take patience”. And as he knows, patience is, um, not my strong suit. A lesson wrapped up in a grape vine. Patience. Learn it sister. I hear that the 2015 vintage is expected to be awesome…

Someday...

Someday…

My final sign was this column http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2013/02/26/shut-up-for-one-tiny-second/ by my favorite bad boy writer and yoga instructor Mark Morford. This is how it begins:
“Not long ago or maybe it was just last week, my friend had an epiphany.
She said, in a surprised and exasperated voice, in that tone you normally reserve for discovering you have obscenely bad breath or a third nipple or maybe a clump of shiny black hairs sticking out of your nose and no one bothered to tell you, she said, “Oh my God! Do you know what I just realized? I talk way too much.”

OMG, me TOO! I know it’s true. I so related to the woman in the article when she said that her mind starts racing, forming thoughts and responses way before someone is finished speaking. I don’t think I do it for the reason that Mark Morford’s friend realized she did, to keep people away, as a defense for getting close. But I do know that I need to slow down, to REALLY listen, without jumping in with my own 2 cents. It’s hard, because, well, anyone who knows me knows that I like to talk talk talk. And I try to be a good listener! But I know that I can do better. I need to do better. I can’t imagine meditating in silence for hours – but maybe that’s precisely why I should learn how to do it…

As RB says: “I should save my breath. I should bite my tongue. Cause the same sun shines on everyone. I should bite my lip. Let my big mouth sleep. Cause the whole damn world don’t turn on me.”

Slow down sister. Breathe…

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Where I Try to Talk Myself Out of Missing Paris…

I probably shouldn’t be writing this post because I’m in the middle of a big ole missing-Paris big time funk. Post-Paris Depression, or PPD as my merry band of fellow Paris addicts calls it. (how’s your PPD? Oh really bad this time, how bout you?) Even after I had to “sleep” in the basement of Charles de Gaulle, on THIS

CDG hell

next to some guy who snored louder than a jet-plane engine – yes, even after that recent nasty experience, I still yearn for my favorite city.  I got it real bad.

Big sigh. I miss it all, the cafes

IMG_0147

and the markets

marche d;aligre

and the art

IMG_0142

and the light

montmarte light

and the bridges

bridge of sighs

and the bars

La FELINE

and the food

jacques melac

and the wine

and my friends

me and Queen Murielle

me and Loic, drinking wine

(and me drinking wine with my friends)

and the lifestyle – the life. I know, I know, I’ve waxed (hopefully just a teeny tiny bit eloquently) about what made me fall in love with Paris in the previous pages of my blog. So what’s a Paris lovin girl to do when she’s not there? It’s SO hard. Especially in cold, gray Februrary. Oh I know it was cold and gray when I was in Paris, but, hello, I was in PARIS! It’s totally different! SIGH.

Hmmm, maybe I can think of the things I’m not that crazy about! Yeah, maybe that will work. Perhaps if I pretend that I am on my cozy little cot in CDG, it might all come back to me…

I’m thinking! zzzzzzz

OK, there was this one time when I was in a shop in the Marais, and I asked the salesclerk, in French: “Cette robe, c’est combien ?” POINTING to the article of clothing that was hanging on the wall. Now, I know that my French accent needs some work, but I’ve managed to make myself understood in similar situations just fine, merci. Of course that was before encountering THE rudest salesclerk in all of Paris, who turned to me and said in the snootiest voice I’ve ever heard: “I’m going to speak to you in English because I didn’t understand your French”. Whooooeee. I was floored, and too bad I didn’t think of the perfect comeback (which was suggested to me by a French woman, which made it even better): “Et je vais vous parler en français parce que je n’ai pas compris votre anglais ” (And I’m going to speak to you in French because I didn’t understand your English”)

Touché!  Hell yeah!

But, that is really the only in-your-face-rude experience I’ve ever had. Some coldness from time to time, but most of the time people have been warm and forgiving of my struggles with their beautiful language. AAAHH, focus sister, you’re supposed to be thinking of the negative. OK – it can be frustrating and tiring, navigating the language. I wonder if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m not frustrated because I can’t express myself in the language of my city. I wonder. And who knows?

What else? Hmm. OK, I admit to missing the take-out coffee. I HATE Starbucks and everything it stands for, but sometimes I DO want it to go. That can be frustrating, having to sit and sit when I want to GO.

Starbucks takes over!

And if I think about it, there’s something about the uniquely American habit of chatting it up with strangers that I might possibly miss if I lived in Paris. It’s taken me a while to learn that nuance. In America, you most likely wouldn’t smile and give a big good day to the clerk at the 7-11, and they most likely wouldn’t look up from their tabloid to wish you a good day, with feeling. I like that about France. I like it that you say bonjour or bonsoir when you enter a shop, and bonne journée or bonne soirée when you leave, whether you buy something or not. Even in rental apartment buildings, people ALWAYS greet you when they pass by, because you have a defined relationship. I’ve become accustomed to that, and in the true meaning of that word, become ac”customed”, and it’s a custom I really appreciate.

But I wonder if I’d miss the easy way that we Americans have with strangers? We can strike up a friendly conversation anywhere, with anyone, and not give it any mind. We can become your best friend in 10 minutes! I know that it’s different in France, that people definitely keep to themselves more. Someone once remarked to me that in general, we Americans make lots of friends very quickly and easily, but a lot of it is on the surface. Whereas the French, in general, only make friends with a few, but the friendships tend to be deeper, in a way. Hmmm. Lots to ponder on that one.

I think it might take me just a few more trips to Paris to figure it all out, if I’m lucky. Because try as I might to dissuade myself from feeling so, even with everything, I still miss it, my most favorite place in the world. Paris,

je t’aime, the good, and the mauvaise…

 

me heart paris