Sunday, November 28, 2010

She Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins! - or - I Feel Good!

Most of the items on my list of things to do before I take off have been somewhat frustrating and time consuming.

However, buying my new toys have made a couple of these chores by far the easiest and greatest shopping experiences I have had in a long time –

Who said that money can’t buy you happiness?  Money combined with good service has made me feel better than I have since this tumultuous five and a half months unfolded.

Not only did I have fun with a fabulously well informed Apple salesman at David Jones, and an equally knowledgeable salesman at Ted’s Camera Store I also had a great experience with my internet provider (no it isn’t Telstra).   I mean come on, what is going on, three in one day.

Loaded up and ready to blog, my new MacBook Air is so sexy I have been totally seduced by it.  Design is king and attention to detail is sublime right down to the packaging.  This is how it should always be.

When I plugged in the cord and it magnetically snapped into place I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when Richard Gere snapped the jewellery box shut!

Am I really that shallow …

I feel great – I feel alive – it was not so long ago I didn’t want to live and now a very small slimline piece of hardware has woken up my world.

Who says that money doesn’t buy happiness and that possessions don’t mean much – oh was that me? 

Well I take it all back.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Paris Apartment

Versailles - Not My Apartment, Unfortunately!

There is a small round brass disc that is set into the pavers in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

They say if you stand on it you will always come back to Paris.

Every time I do this, I have a strange and wonderfully overwhelming feeling of emotion that sweeps over me and always brings tears to my eyes.

Finally I have my Paris Apartment, in the 11th Arrondissement and I am returning to Paris.

Not quite what I was looking for or located where I wanted it to be, but at least I won’t be homeless.

In my efforts to find something cosy or quirky, I have ended up with something quite bland although it does have a couple of quirks, a spare ‘bedroom’ if you could call it that with a bed that looks like it was designed for a very short person.  Wedged between two walls, the other quirk is a piano.  Strange, yes a piano.  Just in case I want to have a chanson night!

So, after 19 days of late, sleepless nights, I have an apartment. 

All my reasoning of where I wanted to stay, which was in the 4th arrondissement, I ended up in the 11th.

Next to the 4th, is the 11th the area of Bastille.  Bastille is a word meaning castle or stronghold, or "bastion"; used with a definite article (la Bastille in French, the Bastille in English), it refers to the prison.

How apt, let it imprison me and not let me go home – maybe not in that particular apartment but in Paris or France at least.  Castle, well it isn’t a castle either but it does conjure up visions of home and that is what my Parisian apartment in the Bastille will be, complete with piano and mini bed.

I said I needed to go to Paris to breath and now I feel I can – all my muscles have just relaxed, I have found My Paris Apartment.

So Scotty was right, all of this would take my mind off ‘him’ and that it has – not completely – of course, but it certainly is a helping distraction. 

A month or two ago this could not have felt possible but it is now and the timing all seems right after so many anniversaries and Christmas looming –

I will be way too busy to get all upset about spending Christmas on my own.

I look forward to standing on Le Parvis in front of the Notre Dame once again.

Instead of tears of pain, hurt, betrayal and love, I will have tears I normally have when I stand on that spot and this time the tears will be full of hope and wonder of what my future will bring.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

frustration [frʌˈstreɪʃən] n 1. the condition of being frustrated 2. something that frustrates 3. (Psychology) Psychol a. the prevention or hindering of a potentially satisfying activity b. the emotional reaction to such prevention that may involve aggression

Obviously it really is getting to me because even trying to find the definition to cut and paste – is … frustrating!

So R would be telling me now in her gentle voice to breath – deep breaths, this is when I feel like I am going to start hyperventilating!

Why? Why? Because after this fabulous idea of – hey let’s take off, sooth the heart, ease the mind, give a little back to me, be nice to yourself has turned into a very frustrating…

Oh – it has only been about 19 days… breath – breath…well, whatever!   19 days of …frustration!

I have never, never found it so hard to find accommodation before in all my travels. I have applied for probably 30-40 apartments, studios, house-swaps you name it.

This was going to be my be all tell all – how do I do it?   

And I would share, now you have my secrets.  Instead you get to hear me rant and rave – is it me or does everything happen a little bit slower and differently in France?

After reading travel narrative after travel narrative of people whinging and whining – about their various travel stories, I used to think – gee – get a grip you are in another country and you need to take on board the differences of culture etc.

I am not even there yet and I want to run up the Eiffel Tower and scream, can someone find me a bloody apartment  and stop asking me all the details I have already given you and how many days I want to stay when I have already told you that and just book it DANO!

(Sorry for non-Hawaii -5-0 initiated)

Gustave Flaubert was quoted about his writing:
 (The writing is becoming) more and more impossible … I’m like a toad squashed by a paving stone, like a dog with its guts crushed out by a shit-wagon, like a clot of snot under a policeman’s boot, etc. —

OK maybe I am not that frustrated but … 

Maybe James Reston sums my situation up a little better:

(The reporters are still) running around like blind dogs in a meat house —James Reston, New York Times/The Changing Guard, February 22, 1987

Every night I sit here in my tiny little office searching, sending out emails, calling them with my bad French.

They will check with the owner and get back to me in at least 24 hours (and forgetting the time difference) – 37 days and counting.

Maybe I will take the fur after all.  I might need it.  It may become my bed and doona.

So what was I saying about coming with me on this journey … this journey of hell more like it.

Maybe I should go to the Gold Coast instead.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The GHD Effect

Amongst the panic of still not having somewhere to live yet, I have been trying to find the time to get other things done whenever I have a small window of time, as the list grows;

Paris soundtrack for Ipod,
Research laptop to take,
Research digital camera options that will take my old lenses
Is the public transport running on Chistmas Day
Do I take the fur or the black coat or both
Will I find an apartment that suits my needs and my budget
Will someone meet me with the key on Christmas day or will they all be drinking hot red wine and sitting around a fire opening Christmas presents while I stand in the freezing cold, forgotten.
and the list goes on…

My GHD broke down around the same time ‘he’ moved out, made a funny buzzing sound and then nothing.  Fortunately I have a smaller one but it takes forever to straighten my hair.  I was going to throw it out and then decided to find out if it could be repaired, like I recently did with the CD player, which also broke down.  Doesn’t rain but it pours.

The service people wanted to know how old it was so I had to remember when I purchased it. 

Then a funny thing occurred to me, I bought it around the same time we met and it died the same time our relationship died.

The marvels of the detail when you are raw and re-evaluating.

Normally this would be just another glitch, annoyance, in the hum drum of every day to day life but this was significant, relevant. I had bought it the same month ‘he’ moved in.  It died when ‘we’ died.

The only difference is I can get a complete overhaul and a guarantee that it will be faithful to me for another six months all for $135.00 and it will be back in my hot little hands again in two weeks!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Spider Effect -

The inspiration and idea behind this ‘Project Paris’ was to get my mind off things and in particular ‘him’ and it has been reasonably successful so far except for the odd melt down as I have been calling them.

I likened myself to a spider I saw in the bathroom the other day while I was having a shower.  I stood there brushing my teeth and watching him trying to scramble up the wall, he would only get so far and then because of the condensation, he would slip back.

He reminded me of myself.  R says I will take three steps forward and then two steps back – the very insightful R also pointed out how resilient that spider was, that he didn’t give up against the odds and condensation, he kept scrambling up, not put off by the set back of slipping down and having to start again.

So I need to take note from that little fella and notice that even although I had another melt down this week and I am getting stronger and the mountain of things that needs to be done and organised before I take off to the city of love is keeping my mind busy.   Which in turn is helping me build my resilience.

My first priority is where to live and not too expensively.  Is that possible, not if you can find someone to house swap with.  How fantastic, what a great idea - that didn’t happen.

Then calling all friends – surely someone knows somebody who has an empty flat somewhere in Paris that needs me to look after it for them.  Dream on.

Yes friends did have friends with apartments very nice ones I might add but not in this little Aussie’s budget, even with a 5% discount as one offered.

Even although I think couch surfing is such a fabulous idea – somehow I don’t think that that is what I am after, I can’t see that being a step forward.

If in doubt, hit the internet.  It has been a week since I made the plunge and bought the ticket and still don’t have anywhere to live. 

I am starting to wonder how cold the metro will be in the middle of winter or if I took up singing lessons now and donned a beret would people throw money at me as I belted out La Vie en Rose under a lamp post.

So to be serious and realistic; preferences, not that beggars can be choosers: 

I like to stay on the right bank in the 3rd or 4th arrondisement because it is near my favourite zinc bar and second hand clothes shop and I just love that area. It has beautiful cobbled streets and little nooks and crannies that I never tire of exploring.

Then I did have a romantic idea about Montmartre, with its winding streets and village like feel. 

It is so very ‘french’ whatever that means, set high up on the butte with Le Sacre Coeur or the Sacred Heart Basilica standing proud. 

Montmartre even has its own vineyard up there, apparently it doesn’t produce very good wine, perhaps vinegar I think. 

Montmartre comes with its downside though, it is such a long way out from the centre and the steps.  Although they may aid me in getting fit walking up and down all those stairs everyday it is a slog.  In addition to this -  it is always heaving with tourists (of course I don’t see myself as one of those).

There are areas near the Tour de Eiffel that afford glimpses of the tower in all its glittering glory which could be good for New Years Eve, especially if I could see it from my room as they let off the fireworks.

Decisions – location is important.

Even with the dollar powering away and having hit parity against the US dollar – it still isn’t looking rosy.

Of course I have preferences.

I want a couch.
I picture myself, snuggled up, tea lights, something on the stove, Piaf in the background, ok maybe not, a nice throw across my lap and glass of French red wine at my side perhaps a nice book that I have chosen to read rather than being told to read.

So a couch would be nice – but on my budget it is difficult to find a couch that isn’t also the bed. 

Can I put up with a month of either having to make the bed up every night, or worse still having an unmade bed in the middle of a shoe box sized apartment.

A washing machine is a must for a month.
I don’t want to take a heavy suitcase, especially if I end up on the six floor sans ascenseur, without elevator.  This is very possible.

So lots of factors to weigh up, lists to make, checklists to abide by and I need to dust off my Michel Thomas language CD’s so I can start brushing up on the little French I have.

A bientot!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let the story begin....

What started out as a relaxing 'get away' with purpose, time to breath, time to find myself, time to re-evaluate my life.  Has turned into something a lot different.

It seems like a cliche or another one of those dozens of travel narratives I have read.  The husband runs off the girl is left standing or in my case in a foetal position on the lounge room floor  and off she goes on some exotic getaway.

Too many nights of falling asleep or should I say passing out on the lounge room floor drunk and burning myself on the heater had to stop.  The latest and last has become a scar on my wrist - 'my heart on my sleeve' I call it and I suppose this is what this blog will be.

A couple of girls got in my ear - one suggested Paris, reminded me of how I love that city so much - people are always asking for tips and places to go.  Another suggested a blog.  

Silly girls.

I trawled the internet all day and booked a flight.  I will arrive in Paris on Christmas morning.  

Now I need a place to stay and the panic is setting in.  Am I mad, no where to stay no plan?  

Probably no madder than when I had agreed to meet some random guitar playing back-packer who I met on a beach in Greece.  

We were to travel the world and meet under the Eiffel Tower.  Thankfully he didn't turn up.  that was 28 years ago in a time before mobile phones, emails and blogs.

If anything all of this has taken my mind off 'him' and got me thinking about Paris and me.

So many things to think about - what to pack, it will be freezing, where to stay that isn't going to cost a bomb, brush up on the little French I have and the list goes on.

Come with me on this journey and I will show you my Paris, not the Paris I have had with other people, or the Paris I had 28 years ago but my new found Paris, the new Paris I am going to discover and the new me I must find.
'my heart on my sleeve"