31 January 2010

Repose en Paix Damian

I logged onto Facebook. The usual.
I saw that my friend Damian's birthday was today and smiled.
Damian is a character. He's tall, beautiful light eyes, brown hair with a smile that makes you comfortable immediately and jokes that will make you uncomfortable instantly. I clicked on his name and started to write something on his wall. I wrote something to the effect of Happy Birthday lover. Damian was a bit of a maverick Mormon. I met him at a conference where he came with a majority Mormon constituency, but he was different and I liked him. We joked about getting married a lot.
He was honest and warm and he shared a little of his past, but in a joking way. I saw sadness,but also thought I saw a guy getting through the hardness that is life and making something beautiful anyway. One of the first things I remember about him was finding out that his mother had recently passed away, in 2007.
I posted on his wall, but then my eyes saw the post below mine.

Damian is dead.
He died on January 16,2010.
I just found out.
I erased my post and stared at my screen for a few minutes.
I felt sorry. Sorry that I didn't know sooner. Sorry that I hadn't said hey to him in awhile. Sorry that he was gone and that his story had ended. It could be reread,but not continued. Our friendship story had ended to. A narrative to be reread, but not revised.I feel inexplicably guilty. For being away from the country. I could have called him or something. We weren't best friends forever, but we kept in touch since our meeting in Summer of 2008.
It strikes me. He was so young and living in NY. But he had a lot pain and sadness too. I don't know all that he was going through.
And it's not necessary now. But I miss him. I miss the thought that I didn't know him as well as I wanted to. I hate that there were people who judged him and I hate that he's gone. He would have been 25.

Death is hard. But I guess sometimes living is harder for some people. I pray that he is at peace now.


28 January 2010

Birthday continued

So, I had a pleasant (pseudo surprise) at the lycee.
I saw, by accident, a message to the professors asking them to sign a card for me. But as clearly he didn't think that I would be on the e-mail list, I ignored it and knew I would act as gracious and surprised as ever with the card I was to receive.
However, when I went to my class, Professor A says my name wrong and says to come see him. Instead of just a card is a card with signatures and petits messages from teachers and students as well as a box of fine chocolats and like 5 books en Francais.
and most importantly, I, like most, love kindness. It was just awfully sweet of them and was unexpected...except for the card ;)
So now I have more books to read(after I get through Le Soleil se Leve Aussi-Hemingway not as awesome in French.)
I really do feel blessed that people cared enough to wish me Happy Birthday.
I wanna pull a Sally Fields "You love me, you really love me"

*I need a nap after waking up two hours too early at 7h30 and watching the SOTU, the Republican rebuttal and commentary from the Newshour(with Jim Lehrer)*

27 January 2010

23...or "we've only just begun to live..."

SO I turned 23 today.
And I feel pretty regular.
My birthday, as anyone who knows me well knows, is tied for my favourite holiday with Christmas. I've spent a birthday away from close friends before in Bordeaux with girls who ended up becoming like sisters and this year I spent it in Les Sables d'Olonne. I wanted to watch La Princesse et La Grenouille with other assistants in Nantes. But guess what movie didn't premiere in France's 6th largest city today?
Nantes, you say?
Haha, yes.
Oh well. So my responsable woke me up at 10h30 and I had to be honest when she asked if she woke me up. (I'm trying to be more genuine in my life and that includes not telling lies even though their polite) She then proceded to apologise and I explained that it was a good thing b/c I needed to be up. I did. She then told me that at 13h she was going to come take me out to lunch for my birthday. So I met her at 13h and we went to a lovely restaurant by the beach with her husband. She gave me some jewelry which was really sweet of her on top of the delicious lunch. Another teacher from the college gave me a pretty candle holder decoration thing and a lovely card.
My flatmate bought me a strawberry tarte and I got to say by to my friend Max before he leaves for Brasil. I felt pretty thankful for all the well wishes on Facebook from friends around the world. All in all, a very pleasant beginning to my 23rd birthday on this beautiful earth. Low key,but pleasant. I'm hoping this weekend's celebration will be wild, outlandish and bordering on insane though :) (Hopefully I'll get to see the mec that I met from last weekend, oh la la)

23 as a number scares me. As Nathalie , ma responsable, pointed out it definitely feels closer to 25 than 2o. I feel like I should have a a plan for my future or at least part of it,but I don't.

19 January 2010

Tu vs. Vous

So, I dipped by the lycee to give them the dates for the English Club and once again heard a heated discussion about some insolent punk(haha Burger King commercial anyone?) using the "tu" form and not"vous". Tu is supposed to be with people who are your peers, cohorts, contemporaries etc. Vous is reserved for those at a higher level either economically or authoritatively (bosses, principals, elderly people, etc.) It rubs me the wrong way.
Heres my problem.
I'm all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T and giving it and meriting it. I couldn't care l Theess whether they address me as "tu", "vous" or "K Bizzle" (that would make me really happy) as long as they were respectful which they are to me, perhaps a little too respectful. I know in English we have the words Mr./Mrs./Ma'am/Sir etc. but it's not the same in my mind. Some might disagree I'm sure.
Tu and Vous both mean "you". It's the republican(small "r" not the political party, the belief system) in me that says we're all humans in a democracy, no one is better or worse than me, I don't have to doff my top hat *I don't wear a top hat* to anyone and the reverse is true as well. Some of the teachers can be rude and a tad condescending to the students,but then want to nuck if one of them bucks for being rude in return... Being from the South and such I've called older people Mr. and Mrs. into my twenties out of respect and decorum, but it's because they're old and in general I respect them. The same level of respect is thus presupposed. The same in most civic relations:schools in this case.In French you're supposed to use "vous" with people you don't know, respect etc. Instead of a more egalitarian "tu" which shows we're all in this together (cue High School Musical)
I don't know why it bothers me. But it's another really telling linguistic and cultural difference...the words a culture uses belies mentality for better or worse. And I think this new decade will continue to show the ways in some French practises are no longer relevant...on verra

16 January 2010

I want the old me back

*Disclaimer* I hate complaining. I find it to be feckless and a drain on energy, but sometimes it's necessary at least to clear the negativity so I can keep running on sunshine and bubbles which is what most people think I run on instead of oxygen, confusion and hope...if that makes sense.

I'm in a rut and not sure how to get out of it. I know the normal tools I use, but for some reason have failed to implement them...

I'm a wee bit tired of my little town. I wanted to go to Nantes to socialise but vacillated too long deciding. Thus losing my opportunity to see a good friend and also someone I may or not be interested in that I had a dream about.
It's a Saturday night and I've youtubed like I was being paid. I'm not. I also ate McDonald's for the first time since October and (hopefully) the last time for a long time.
I was productive today because of the constant rain that dared me to come outside. It won. So I revised my CV (resume) and letter of motivation for two positions in French and English. So riddle me why I didn't send out the English one? I have a mental block. It's like I've suffered a loss of confidence, whether it be from the most recent failed relationship or what.
Not just in the professional future aspect, but in another way too. The kind of attractive (there's something about him) guy who works at the lycee. He was finally there on Friday and instead of strolling up to him like I envisioned, I walked cautiously and asked him in horrid French if he wanted to join my English Club for professors... I felt like a little kid. A feeling I detest.

I'm also not in love with 2010 so far. A year that began with so much optimism on the part of so many has turn into a living hell for so many. My heart aches for those in Haiti who are suffering Italian migrants,Iranians, Israelis, Palestinians...all of humanity.

This week I need to get it together and reinvigorate the Kayle who talks to strangers at will, decides what she wants and goes after it, who believes in herself and acts on that belief...

I'm ready for February vacation. It will be beneficial to go down South (Spain, Italy maybe the Cote d'Azur again...)I need to get my groove back.

03 January 2010

Bonne Nouvel Annee!

So...it's been awhile.
I accomplished my goal of having the most fun in Paris. I spent most of the time palling around with Mark and his friends, The Dirty Rascals. (www.dirtyrascals.org) We didn't really have a plan, and that ended up for the better. I had so much fun just relaxing and walking about it was lovely. The first time I was in Paris I did many of the "must-see"sites. This time around, my "must-see" was a "must-eat" L'as du falafel.More on that later.
So the above pictures is of me, Jane (a new friend)Alison and Fedora.
We met Mark and them by the Seine under a bridge to shoot the breeze and wave at mere tourists on river boat cruises.

The excitement of spending New Year's in Paris was amplified ,for me, by the fact that it was the beginning of a new decade and hopefully a chance for the world to be renewed again.
Also the beginning of my birthday month. (I love my birthday)
On 31 December, we headed over to their flat to do some pre-partying and warming up for our epic walk to the Champs-Elysees(well purportedly it all went down) After shennanigans ,we decided to start the walk. Commenced the singing (one of the few times in my French life that I give in and act a fool in the streets) of Beachboys songs and walked toward our goal-L'Arc de Triomphe. Sooner or later we grew tired of that and found a functioning metro line.(In fact, all the Metro lines were free from about 7pm on) I made the acuaitance of a group of Indian men after yelling responding to their yells and one of them kissed me on my face=not cool.
Fastforward past the epic struggle to use restrooms in our time of need (pretty sure that violates some EU convention) and we are on the Champs Elysees. Where it all goes down. However, Andrew, who was our leader of sorts on this expedition was itching to go to the Eiffel Tower....we deliberated,but then I realised if we did that too long we'd miss the show. Whatever show there was to be. I asked a police officer (scaringly dashing in their black Power Rangereske uniforms) what he recommended and he said the Eiffel Tower because they'd have fireworks there...
So we start walking with a fury toward the Tower, I ask another policeman if we're going the right way (because while wine is good for warming up cold sojourners, it's not so good for navigation) and I'm pretty sure he lied to me. Like straight up falsified. I asked another, older police officer to be sure and he dismissed the other guy as a young fool basically.We then chatted about youth these days and their poor direction giving.
Finally we were on track. We followed Andrew as he followed the searchlight emanting from the sky. It was no alien ship, but 15 minutes later we'd discover le Tour Eiffel...with 15 minutes to spare, and we even got relatively close. As the countdown begun we rejoiced in our good fortune to have found it, what with there being soooo many Eiffel Towers we said adieu to 2009 and waited for the fireworks and pizzazz to begin...at the stroke of midnight the Eiffel Tower illuminated the night sky with the light of a million small diamonds,then a multi-coloured scheme that would have put Joseph to shame and then more colours and more.
But no fireworks. Haha, so make that two officers who lied.
All in all though, it was a magnificent night. Celebrating it in the midst of an old friend and many new ones. Celebrating surviving another year, and offering prayers and hopes(in our own ways) for a sweeter new one.
Bonne Nouvelle Annee

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