10 Months

Well yeah it’s true, i’ve been slightly estranged from neille.com/blog for the recent past (another thing you’re not supposed to mention, but as it has bearing on my mood, i damn well will). For starters spring’s hit the city of romance with a vengeance and i’ve been spending drowsy early evenings taking the long way home from work and exploring new neighborhoods. Mainly it’s been the 3rd arrondissement which may have the funniest old buildings here. Their mid sections all seem to have eaten maybe a bit too much magret du canard and are buckling under the pressure. The thing with these old buildings is that many of them are literally falling down. Falling down slowly in this expanding/buckling sort of way. Sometimes i am a little apprehensive about walking alongside them. They (the authorities i assume) use tape to measure and mark the size of the cracks in the walls. I’m not sure if there is any action that occurs as a result of the measuring, but on the more egregious of the cracks are little strips of paper tacked over them with notes.

And the other, well.. main, thing is that i have finally quit my job and decided to leave Paris and move back to Brooklyn. YAY! Firstly i’ve been dreading my job for kind of awhile now and have been sucking it up for various reasons. Mostly money, as is customary. But also because it’s my reason for being here, and i’ve been trying to give being here a fair shake. I vowed to stay for a year, and i, like the old buildings, am also buckling under the pressure. It’s been 10 months.. so… well 12 months or 10 – no big whoop, no? There’s so much to be said about all of it that i’m kind of shy about condensing it into words.

The main thing is that i didn’t so much move to Paris as i left New York. Looking through my old blogs from june of last year remind me of that. I ran away. I ran away from a life that i thought i totally failed at. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t really matter to me anymore, and that’s already a point in the neille column. I could have been moving to Vancouver or Vienna or like New Hampshire for all the thought that i gave to the actual destination. I said in early September (after about 2 months) that i knew i’d made the right decision about coming here. I said that, and a week later skyscrapers started burning, and i started wondering about things a whole lot bigger than whom i paid rent to. And now i think it is even more true.

The thing about being here, it’s not the beauty of the city, it’s not the perfect wine, it’s not the feel of 700 year old stone under my tipsy fingers. It’s that everything stopped. It’s that i lost a certain connection to ordinary life. And that was at once incredibly painful and then so clarifying. It’s a hard thing to explain. It’s hard to explain how isolation can make feelings that you once filed in between teenage angst and urban boredom carry some actual weight. Actually scratch that. It’s that isolation can be a real and painful and creative thing. It can remind you that the things you feel aren’t just a result of too much or too little serotonin. It’s that having to translate everything to understand even the smallest thing, the small things become very small. Or maybe it’s that the small things become very big, and the big things fall off the radar. Actaully what it is is that i continue being a real and rich person even when no one else can see it. And actually it’s when no else can see it that i am forced recognize the seriousness of who i am. And well that’s a weird thing to write, or say, or think. And it’s a really hard thing to live through. And when i say isolation, i’m not talking lack of human contact. I talk to people all the time, and i’ve met a few people i’ll sort of painfully miss. But an isolation from the noise of the world around. Maybe isolation isn’t quite the word.

There’s a world of minutia that i’ve totally escaped. The world of human interest stories on the news, the water cooler gossip at work, sports scores, the newest fad in today-show medicine (like “Oh today caffeine is good for you. Dr So-and-so’s who’s written such-and-such book is here to talk to us about it for one minute and 18 seconds”). Or there’s thumbing through a magazine left on the subway, or contributing to small talk, or chatting with the woman at the bakery. All of these things are available in abundance, but not always to one who’s suddenly missed everything when her mind wanders for two seconds. It’s simply too hard to pay attention to these tiny things. It’s not worth the effort. And so one gets a lot of free brain space, free reading space, free writing space, free thinking space. Which is actually kind of exactly what i was expecting. I wasn’t expecting it would be so hard.

Excuse me if i feel self conscious. It’s all so much harder than we let on. I like what rabbit wrote the other day. The themes to explore have all already been explored. But isn’t it our luck that it isn’t enough. That i’m still waking up in the middle of the night and taking more than a few seconds to remember in which city i’m waking up in. If i were smart i would have taken A Remembrance Of Things Past with me to read. Lord knows i’ve had the time.

On the phone with my dad today he asked how Paris was and i was going to say “well, it’s nice, it’s spring, i got caught in a romantic rainstorm except i was alone so it wasn’t romantic at all, just wet mostly.” But then i stopped myself and said, “well it’s Paris and i’m tired of it and i want to go home.” Karen and i made a pit stop at a cafe on the right bank yesterday. We found a table in the warm spring sun, and prattled on about nothing. “You know people would *kill* to be us right now”, i said out of the blue. And then we both snickered. Part of me is so irritated that i can’t even be unhappy and lonely without some sqwack “reminding” me that i’m in Amazing Wonderful Paris and that i must be a lunatic for not loving every square meter of it. And another sneakier part of me is like well i’m unhappy and lonely but at least some misguided sqwack is jealous of me.

So yes, the ride’s over in May. Another maybe bumpier ride might start as i’m doubling my rent while my salary is going the way of Zero. But who knows, in my head the amount of things i’m willing to do to earn money is probably larger than it’s ever been. That could be exciting (or awful). And i’d like to start playing a lot of tennis again. I did try to time it so that i’d have May in the city, as my mother pointed out, “one of the two months that it isn’t disgustingly hot or disgustingly cold”. This morning i was thinking about this Cincinnati Chili i kept making before i left, and then i wondered where i put the grease-stained recipe, and then i thought about my old kitchen, and then i thought how fucking weird it is that i’ve been living in France for 10 fucking months! And then i thought i’ve really missed Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and i wonder if anyone’s been taping it for me.

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