Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fear: the monster living in my tummy

Sometimes I'm afraid to walk through the door.  Afraid to make a mistake.  Afraid to not wake up on time, even though it's the weekend and I'm not working.  Sometimes I'm afraid to leave the table to go upstairs and have me time, because it might be impolite.  Sometimes I'm afraid to go to the bathroom at midnight because it might be too loud and wake up one of the girls.  Sometimes I hurry to leave the house just so I'm gone when they get back. 

I'm tip-toeing, and I hate it.  The crazy thing is I go through phases of tip-toeing.  Some days I don't do it at all, I am confident and unashamed of my needs and boundaries.  But other days, like today, the fear starts to crowd in, making me feel suffocated, un-at-ease, angry.  Angry because I don't want to live like this every day for the next 16 months.  Angry because I believe that this can work, and yet at the same time wonder if there is an easier way to do this. 

But I am the one who chooses what to do with my life.  I just started reading a book about boundaries.  In it the author states that boundaries enable us to have better relationships, relationships that don't leave us resenting others because we have learned to stand up for our needs and our beliefs and our person hood.  Learning to have boundaries for myself, standing up for myself and my needs, is relieving.  Even just writing this here, telling myself that I must take care of myself to have healthy relationships with my family here, is relieving.  They are good people, and I need to remember that good people will respect my boundaries and understand my needs when I stand up for them.  Nobody is a mind-reader, although I am sure we have all wished someone or another could read what we were thinking, so standing up for my needs is not wrong, it's actually quiet necessary for all parties.

Thanks, God, for situations which help us to grow.  Even if it's hard.     

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shopping in Paris and My Meeting with a Hedgehog

*WARNING: I talk about buying lingerie, nothing scandalous, but if that makes you feel uncomfortable, skip down to paragraph three.*  

Today was a free day.  No work.  No deadlines.  No plans.  Except for the fact that I wanted to go lingerie shopping, for kicks and giggles.  Did you know that the bra was actually invented by Hermione Cadolle back in 1889, right here in Paris, where I live?  Yup.  True story.  It gets even better, though.  The store she opened to sell her lovely underthings is still open and run by her daughter down the expensive Rue Cambon.  I went there today with Danielle, a lovely au pair living just two train stops down from me.  We gazed through the window, commenting on the beautiful bras in the display, and wishing we had the courage to go in to see what else was there.  Unfortunately, neither of us had the guts.  I've decided that I will take my mother there when she comes to visit.  We will get all dressed up, perhaps even make an appointment, and go to where the beginning of boob containment began.  It should be quiet fun.

Although I didn't buy any of Madam Cadolle's underthings, Danielle and I did happen upon a most wonderful lingerie shop in the HUMONGOUS mall of La Defense.  They had the most outrageous bras and underwear I have ever seen.  Victoria Secret has nothing, and I do mean nothing, on the regular lingerie stores of Paris.  And the prices where lovely as well, a definite plus on a student/au pair budget.  I've never matched my underthings before, mainly because I've never thought of this as important, but today I own my first two pairs of matching bra and underwear.  I think the French are getting to me, as they consider what you wear underneath your clothes as almost as important as what you wear over your underclothes. 

Danielle and I, after walking through the insanely expensive Le Bon Marche where one could have a budget of 2,000 euros and still only leave with four items, separated ways as she does a cross-fit training group by Gare d'Austerlitz.  I made my way towards Musee d'Orsay and then on to the Louvre where I was stopped by a gentleman who required assistance.  Ever since arriving here in France I have been asked, including this last time, at least eight times by French people for help.  I have learned now to patiently wait until they are done and then ask, "Parlez vous anglais?"  Sometimes I can help, sometimes I cannot.  But I swear, I must have a sign on my back or forehead that is just inviting people to ask me for assistance.  In French.  I will get back to the gentleman in a later post as I have some things to write about the men of France.

After walking what felt like 10 miles I finally reached Quatre Malais, a cute little area that I believe is mainly known for its huge population of Jewish people.  All I know is that I saw a ton of those awesome little Jewish caps and big black beards.  The reason I wanted to go there today is because there is an adorable little shop called "Lollipops" that I have been meaning to revisit for a particular pair of shoes.  My hopes were that they would be on sale.  Unfortunately, the store is closed due to construction/maintenance on the building in which it is located.  Quatre Malais is a fairly old and cultural area and thus the maintenance. 

Meandering back to the Saint-Paul Metro station I stopped and bought a snack.  The sun was beginning to make its way to the horizon and the April clouds were making a temporary sunset retreat, lighting up the sky with full spring colors.  I made my way back to La Celle Saint Cloud and hurriedly walked through the forest to our domain.  It was still light out but the sun had already set, which made me slightly nervous being by myself walking the small path through our park like domain.  And then I saw a round, dark, large spot off to the side of the path, something that looked quiet like an animal.  I slowed down and allowed my eyes some time to adjust, and there before my eyes was a sweet, very still, hedgehog.  Oh, my goodness, could my night have gotten any better?  The moon, a crescent in the light blue sky, hung above me with the north star shining bright beside it.  The air around me was fresh from the downpour from earlier in the day, and the blossoms on the trees where letting off that sweet scent of spring.  And I was crouched down but less than a foot away from a prickly little friend who's steady and unfrightened breathing I could see.  Today was a good day, Madam Cadolle and all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flower Snow

After I attended the all-in-English Unitarian Universalist Church today, I took the Metro to where I thought I would easily find a Blues Benefit Concert venue called Le Mood's.  I had the address and you can always look on the "Map of the Area" boards as you leave the metro station to figure out where the streets are and in which way you should be heading.  I found my street easily enough and began to walk, and walk, and walk.  Until there was no more Rue du Montilier to follow.  So, I walked back up the street, as I have done many times before over the last three months, to see if I could find this seemingly phantom venue.

What I found instead was a beautiful little park, in amongst affordable housing (aka tall, large, white apartment buildings), with several large trees which were in full, pink, bloom.  Today the wind was blowing incredibly hard for Paris and the pink blossoms consequently had been blown from the trees and covered the entire area underneath the trees, on the sidewalk, on the playground, and all around the benches in the park.  It was so thick in fact that it looked like soft, pink snow was covering the ground.  To top it off, there was a lovely older man sitting on one of the benches, playing his guitar, simply for the enjoyment of it.  I sat for a while there as I pondered my next move.  Then, as I walked back to the Metro, a couple walking behind me called out, "Pardon, Madmoiselle", and then a string of French, and me awkwardly bowing slightly and admitting my inability to speak French.  The woman immediately said in a clearly Australian accent, "It's alright, dear, I speak English. We're looking for a place called Le Moods, do you know where it is?"  Hallelujah!  Someone who could speak French and English and who was looking for the same place as me, what luck. 

We ended up finding the place down a little passageway with a cobblestone road and beautiful hanging purple flowers on each side.  There I met a lovely gal who is visiting Paris for five weeks and got to listen to some fantastic blues music.  It's been a good Sunday.  I hope it has been for you too. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Trashcan Walk of Shame

A couple of weeks ago I forgot to bring our recycling trashcan back in from the side walk.  It sat out there for three days.  On the third day I finally remembered that it needed to come back to the house.  Aylin, Melis, and I all ran outside together, down our long skinny drive, and to the spot where all the recycling trashcans sit on Wednesday waiting for pick up.  Alas, our trashcan was gone.  I had literally just seen it when we got back from school! 

This morning I took the long walk to the Chateau where we had discovered all the neglected trashcans go.  You know that sound trashcans make when you pull them along, their plastic wheels rolling across the pavement, making that very particular "trashcan" noise?  Well, I got to hear that and make that sound so disturbingly all the way across our neighborhood at 9:30 a.m. this morning.  I felt the shame.  Especially because the way our little domain is set-up is so you have this cute little path running straight down the middle with houses on either side.  I literally felt like I was walking down the hallway of some men's dormitory after spending the night on a careless fling.  Except I was with our recycling trashcan.

Today is Aylin's 9th birthday.  Which is super exciting and was such a joy to celebrate this morning with candles, presents, and humming along to a German and Turkish version of Happy Birthday.  Happy Birthday, Aylin!  You are a joy to be around and play with everyday.  I look forward to being able to get to know you better as we both get older and my German gets better.  Thank you for all your monkey hugs, where your arms and legs wrap around me and I feel like the most loved tree in the Amazon.  Thank you for your patience with me and your constant willingness to help me with my German everyday.  You are a gift!  Happy Birthday mein klein Affe.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

I have an idea

I have an idea and perhaps it is a bad one.  Alas, though, I read today a beautiful little blog in which the woman only wrote a couple of paragraphs for each post.  Short, sweet, and to the point.  I liked them so much I read about 7 or 8 of them.  And then I thought to myself, "I need to do this.  How much easier than writing one massively huge blog every couple of weeks (or months, ahem)!"  So, my idea is this, I am going to attempt to write little blog posts every couple of days.  Golly that sounds intimidating.  But I also believe that I need some way to remember all the incredible things that I am experiencing every day.  Especially because I think I am already forgetting them by the next day (what does that say about what I'll remember in 10 years?). 

Family vacations are wonderful.  This Easter Weekend I went with my host family to a little town called Dinan and from there visited Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, Saint Malo, and Dinard.  Perhaps the last two places were actually different, but, they were all beautiful little sea side towns with picturesque cobblestone roads, and unpredictable weather.  I loved sinking my toes into the sand yesterday, playing tag with the tide, searching for shells with Aylin, and jumping up and down on the wet sand with Melis because bubbles would come up from the sand where you had stomped, causing giggles and, "Look, Jaz!", to be screeched.  I loved that on Saturday we went to this amazingly filled with all sorts of interesting history Abbey and got to walk the halls were hundreds of years ago Monks and Nuns walked and prayed.  I loved that it was semi-gloomy all weekend and that somehow that made it feel even more legit to be eating in a restaurant that occupied a house that was probably built back in the 1600's.  I loved spending Easter Sunday morning hurriedly hiding eggs for Aylin and Melis in my hotel room and then getting to look for all their Easter goodies in both my room and Demet and Roland's room.  I loved seeing their faces light up and the genuine excitement that came from them when they found the eggs and candy.

I love that I got to be a part of all of it.  I love that I get to be a part of all of it.  The wholesome, genuine, happiness of the whole weekend, of this whole family.  My heart is full.  I am content.