Essay #2 - Renovations

It's been warming up this past week. I haven't been this excited about something in a long time. It's amazing how a little sunlight can make everything better. I can see why so many cultures throughout human history have worshiped the Sun. I mean I won't be performing any ritual sacrifices but I sure am grateful to that great mass of gravity and thermonuclear reaction that allows life on the planet, and today is bringing some sort of relief into mine.

...Overall the Parisiens seem indifferent.

I took a walk along the Seine to benefit from the weather. And it was there, standing in front of what Becca called "The Ugliest thing in Paris" that I realized something. It was the kind of realization that threatens to change everything, a brand new thought that blurred... or perhaps focused all my other thoughts, that changed their color and composition. I stood on the bank of the river watching all the pretty photons bouncing off the surface and in that moment I became aware of the fact that love is not permanent.

Depending on your particular level of adherence to the cult of romanticism you probably either think this statement is obvious, or that it couldn't possibly be true. Knowing you, you'll probably tell yourself that in the case of our love (yours and mine) of course it didn't last forever... and it's about time I realized that... but then you'll say that Love, in the overall sense of the word does last forever in some cases. But you're wrong. It doesn't. Not naturally. And this is the thought that changed everything, nothing naturally lasts forever and love is no exception. Perhaps you'll allow me to explain.

"The ugliest thing in Paris" is actually a giant temporary wall covered with larger than life pictures of police men and firefighters. It's designed to disguise the work-in-progress renovation of the police precinct. All of Paris (if I can speak for all of Paris) is waiting patiently for the construction to be finished so that they can take it down. To be honest, as ridiculous as the giant civil servants are, it probably is much nicer to look at than a giant scaffold. Even the construction in Paris has certain aesthetic standards. But today when I looked up at it I thought of New York City.

I love New York City. I've only been twice, for a total of a couple weeks, but I love New York City. There is an energy there... the whole city is just crawling with life. So much happening in so little area. It's like no place else that I have ever been. Both times I was there I noticed a large amount of construction. It seemed like it was everywhere. I remember mentioning this to Chris, a friend of mine who lived in New York. I think I said something like...

Me: It's a shame that there is all this construction, I'd like to see the city without all of these scaffolds.

Chris: There's always construction. In a city this big there are a lot of things to keep up.

When I first moved to Paris I noticed the same thing. Like New York, the construction is everywhere. Paris' metro system is fantastic but it seems like there is always something shut down, right now it's the line 1, every night after 10 PM. In addition barricades and other construction materials are scattered throughout the city, sometimes randomly it seems (side note: I once saw a woman duck behind one such abandoned construction barricade and turn it into a make shift toilet). Earlier this week I was down by the Porte Dorée off of the line 8. There was some major construction going on on a long stretch of the Boulevard Poniatowski. I watched them tear up the road for a while before they all went home for the night. Then today standing across the river from the police precinct renovation it occurred to me that Paris is always under construction.

This might seem evident, but let me finish. When I say always, I mean always. My realization was that in the last five hundred years or more there probably hasn't been a single day that something in the city didn't need to be built or fixed. This led me deeper to the realization that all cities are like this, all institutions are like this, all people are like this... all relationships are like this.

Everything is in a state of constant flux. Everything needs to be built, rebuilt, or maintained. All the time.

But people don't think like this. As I person, I can tell you that we live in an illusionary world of permanence. We think things will last. We use "long lasting" as an effective marketing slogan and we see change as a negative characteristic. When we buy a car we are always shocked when it needs repairs. When we come home from vacation we are always surprised at how fast the time went. And when our love is dried up... we cry and moan and wail. But the fact remains that no matter how long things last, nothing ever does. And no matter how long things take to change, everything will.

Our relationships are no exception. Consider this: all dating relationships end. 99% end when the people stop dating and the other 1% end in marriage. All of my dating relationships have ended. But you might say that in those other 1% of cases, love did last... and though half of those marriages end in divorce, in the other half won't their love last forever? No, it doesn't.  ...but maybe it can.

Diamond rings were chosen as symbols of a marriage possibly because a diamond lasts. Because of it's hardness it will endure daily wear and tear and stay brilliant. But this was a mistake. Marriages aren't like diamonds. Love is not like a diamond. The epiphany that I had was that all things naturally decay and change and fade. And love is no different. Love doesn't resist daily wear and tear. Love isn't permanent. Love is more like a city. Like a house. Like your bedroom. Like your car. Like everything else in the world that falls apart if we let it. And most of the time it just won't last unless we make special effort to take care of it. Love itself is not immune to the degeneration and decay, even if it's the love between two people that manage to stay married. Love must be constantly bolstered, strengthened, reinforced, invested in, if we want it to last. And it takes both sides. The man and the woman have to both agree that the love is worth preserving and then both put in the construction and renovation work necessary to maintain it.

But there is another problem here.

Take me for example. Because I always assume erroneously that everything will be around forever, it seems that I never really realize how much I really love something until it's gone. I never take the time to care for and appreciate something until I am threatened with loss (Take my teeth for example... or better yet... you). So most couples out there are taking each other for granted assuming that the other will always be around... assuming that their love is permanent. Most of them have never even asked themselves if their love is worth preserving... let alone put in the effort necessary to maintain it. And then they are always surprised when it doesn't work out. In essence they find out too late that something needed to be fixed, and then it's easier to move on than to fix it.

What I'm proposing is that we look at relationships differently. Instead of spending our lives searching for some imaginary love that is going to last forever, we can look at each of our relationships, our friendships, our marriages as a work in progress. More specifically I propose that we treat our relationships as if we are building a sand castle. Bear with me here, each relationship is a chance to create a beautiful and magical and temporary castle with someone else, made with sand and sweat and love. We know that it won't last. Even if we decide to build a wall around it or dig a channel to protect it from the sea, we still know at the end of the day that it won't be there tomorrow. So we do our best to create something beautiful, stopping often to admire our work and to plan the next phase. After we are done we take a moment to adore it, if it was particularly wonderful we take a picture, and then we move on. We know it can't last but we do it because we like the work. Of course as our castles are beaten down by the ocean there are many that we will just let go and others that we will want to rebuild. The difference comes from knowing from the beginning that we are building something temporary.

In rare cases we create something so fantastic that we both agree it's worth preserving. So we expand the walls and raise the roof and we move in. But channeling the tide and rebuilding protective walls is daily work that will never end. Because sandcastles are like everything else in life, they aren't designed to last forever. But like Paris and New York, if we invest enough effort, if we work on them long enough, we'll create something wonderful. In that sense a marriage is a life's work, and it's truly a masterpiece.

I wish I was on the beach now... But I'll settle for the bank of the Seine. Like I said before I'm just grateful that it's sunny today. Our sandcastle (yours and mine) was completely buried in the high tide. It's been utterly demolished. I haven't seen a trace of it in months. But I keep writing these letters hoping that maybe one day it can be rebuilt... in some form or another.

If there is a part of our relationships that lasts forever it's the part that we take with us out into the darkness... But a memory, as vividly as we might feel it, is not a relationship. 



Currently Listening:


U.S. Royalty - Equestrian

Une classe des filles

Have I told you much about my class? The first and most important thing is that I am the only male. And next is that I am the only American. The class' gender may lack diversity but the different nationalities make up for it, there is a Canadian, an Australian, two New Zealanders, a Venezuelian, a German, a Czech, two Italians, a Chinese, and an Hungarian... and me. That makes it twelve to one if you count the professor (in gender and in nationality). However, it's not like we have nothing in common, nearly everyone in the class speaks English except for Sara, one of the Italians, and the girl from China... whose name escapes me. I haven't quite got all of their names down yet.

OK, I couldn't tell you any of their names except for Sara. And I only know Sara's because there are two, the Italian one and a Venazuelan one. Well, more likely the reason that I know the Saras is that the three of us went to lunch this afternoon. Apparently the Saras are best friends, or good friends... or at the least friends, it seems like the extent of their bond is that they share the same name. But they are both foreigners in a big city and anything in common, even a first name, could be enough. Besides, all Italians claim that they can understand Spanish. This is all conjecture though because we didn't talk much about their friendship. To be honest, Sara Italy and I didn't talk much about anything. Sara Venizuela  did all the talking. She's what one might call "sassy"... it must be the Latin blood. It was her idea to get together in the first place because apparently she wanted to ask my opinion on her idea for an bar/art gallery that she was thinking about opening in Veneseula.

Sara Venezuala: My daddy asked me what do I want, and I said: A bar. I want a bar but I want it to be very funky you know? Very cool, with art on all of the walls and I want it to be somewhere where people want to just hang out and talk and be very low key. I thought before about an art gallery but then I thought it would be more fun if it was a bar. So I will make it both you know? What do you think? What would you do to design a bar like this?

As someone who has never drank alcohol I was in no position to give her any advice, but I began to think that this was less about her getting my opinion and more about me understanding that she is wealthy. She also mentioned something about having her own house in Venezuelia and a couple of cars... and I think at one point she actually said something like "my daddy gives me whatever I want". I'm not sure why she wanted me to know all of this, is it a Latin thing? I have little or no experience with Latin America so I have no idea. I tried briefly to both change the subject and include Sara Italy. I addressed her in French and I asked if she was able to understand what we were talking about and if she preferred that we speak French. It was difficult to understand her Italian accent, but the other Sara translated for me... well maybe it was a translation, maybe it was an interruption, I can't be sure.

Sara Venezuella: She's fine, it's good for her to hear us in English, she needs to learn English. So what are your thinking of my idea?

I discussed briefly the layout of different bars and clubs that I had seen in movies, because none of the bars or clubs that I had ever visited personally were very hip or modern or expensive. Then Sara changed the topic and talked about her fiance (or should I say ex-fiance) for the rest of lunch. We exchanged a bisous and parted ways.

I think the problem is that being the only male in the class, some of the girls have begun to take a... personal interest in me. I got the feeling that both of the Sara's were in that boat. Right now, as I sit in class Sara Italy keeps smiling at me. And Sara Veniswhalea is always so tactile (Or touchy? How do you say that in English?). I guess it's nice to have some interaction with some other cultures, cultures that aren't cold and closed and distrustful of strangers. But to be perfectly honest none of the girls in my class... one of the New Zealanders isn't bad and I love her accent when she says "backpack", but overall there is very little draw romantically to these girls.

At the moment we are learning l'imparfait versus passé composé. They are the two most basic past-tense tenses of French. If I'm understanding all of this correctly l'imparfait is reserved for descriptions of the setting or of a person, or for actions of continuous duration in a story (like if one said I was waiting for you to call). Passé composé is for any sequences of action in the past, or for any action that has terminated in the past like the simple past in English (for example I went to the boulangerie for breakfast and I ate two pain au chocolats... and a brioche au pepites de chocolat).

Teacher: Maintenant on va parler de l'enfance. Il faut finir le phrase: Quand j'étais petit... Comme quand j'étais petit j'ai sucé mon pouce. Ou quand j'était petit j'ai joué à princesses... Pour Willim on dirait plutôt Pirates. Mais bon, Willim tu commence.

Me: Moi?

Teacher: Non, l'autre Willim.

Me: Ummm... Quand j'étais petit, j'ai... pleuré beaucoup.

Teacher: Tu as pleuré beaucoup? Mais pourquoi?

Me: Je ne sais pas. Je suis... umm.. j'était triste comme enfant.

It's true. I did cry a lot as a kid. I was sad. I remember fantasizing about terrible sad stories, always with me as the protagonist, typically they were of the "then they'll be sorry" genre, but sometimes they were even worse... the "they won't even notice... nobody even cares..." kind. I don't know where I got the idea, but I seemed to be under the impression that in life, whoever has the saddest story wins. Anyway, back to French class.

Teacher: Ahh, je vois bien ce que tu fait là Willim. Lui, Il sais bien qu'on est une classe des filles, donc il a dit ça pour nous faire dire awwwwe. Je te comprends Willim, je te comprend. Faire attention les filles, on a un petit draguer là.

Sara Italy smiles at me. Sara Venezuela laughs and touches my arm. This is great...

Me, I'm thinking about how I don't cry as often anymore. I am thinking of the last time I cried... I am thinking about you.



Currently watching:

Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales - (The Criterion Collection)
L'amour l'après midi

Saying goodbye

Today is Becca's last day in Paris. Her internship is over and she is out of money so she is going back to America. She says she'll be back in a couple of months but she hasn't bought her ticket yet. I know how those things can go so I'm saying my goodbyes now.

I thought about making her dinner since neither of us can really afford to eat out. But Martin and Martine usually occupy our kitchen and coffee table (which is the only thing in our apartment that could be considered a legitimate eating surface... except possibly the desk in Martin's room). I asked Becca if we could do something at her place and she told me about her roommate. She lives with a woman in her forties, apparently she is not allowed to have guests, and one time she came home and there was a naked man on her table... then her roommate showed up, also naked. I was grateful that Martin and Martine never made love on our coffee table (which is the only thing in our apartment that could be considered a legitimate eating surface) but at the same time I was kind of jealous of her crazy roommate/stories.

Anyway, that's how we ended up at the Hotel du Nord. It's a restaurant/bar somewhat close to my school, it's on the Canal Saint-martin. Becca had been there once before, searching for live guitar music inspired by Django Reinhardt that she never found.
There wasn't any music the night that we were there either. But there was a group of well dressed, soft looking girls sharing a bottle of wine at the table next to us. And a ruggedly handsome bar tender that looked like he walked right out of a adventure romance novel. Becca was enthralled by the bartender and even a fully heterosexual man like myself had to admit that he was nice to look at. But I was much more interested in the girls.

At one point in the evening I turned my head, pretending to look for the waiter, but in reality discreetly checking out the table next door. There was a variety. One cute, petite, bright blue eyes, black and white horizontal stripes (so French). One exotic, dark hair, dark complexion, dark eyes. One high class, little black dress, black nylons, red lips. And then there was one seated directly on my right wearing a jeans/sweater/jacket combo that looked like the "girl next door", blond hair, fair skin, warm smile. She was the one that caught me. When I had turned my head, she had turned hers as well. We made eye contact... she didn't look away... I blinked... she was still there, still looking at me. Her eyebrows raised.

Girl next door: Yes?

I just shrugged and shook my head as if I had no idea what she was talking about.

Girl next door: Oh... I thought you were going to ask me a question.

Me: No. I wasn't. Unless you want me to... Do you want me to ask you a question?

This time she did the shrugging and head shaking.

Me: Well, how about this. If I think of something I want to know I'll get back to you.

Turning back to my dinner I found Becca grinning.

Becca: I have a question for her. Ask her where she got that jacket she's wearing.

She was serious. But there was no way I was going to lean over and ask this girl where she purchased an article of clothing. Then, partly because she thought it was funny and partly because she really wanted to more about the jacket, Becca pulled the "It's my last day in Paris" card. What could I do.

Me: Excuse me, yeah actually I did think of something... we've been admiring your jacket and I wanted to know where you got it.

This lead to a long conversation that I didn't understand, even if it was in English. Becca took over for me after the initial question and they talked about shoes and handbags and designer labels. I hung in there though, and when appropriate I gleaned what useful information I could. The girls were from Switzerland... mostly. They were good friends in an international high school (which meant that they were young and rich and Anglophones) but had graduated two years before and gone to different universities across Europe.  The girl next door was Christine from Zurich, the exotic one was Aya from Cairo, the high class one was Claire also from Zurich, and the little french looking one was Anne-Sophie from Lausanne. After fashion the subject of the boys came up... to my understanding this is the regular order of topical progression observed in most girl on girl conversations.

Becca: How do you find the men in Paris?

Christine: Personally I don't think they are anything special.

Becca: Really? I've been here for a while now and I still fall in love daily.

Me: The bartender's quite handsome.

The bartender. The whole table had definitely noticed the bartender. Encouraged by a couple glasses of wine the girls began to come up with a plan to take his photo. But I was sober... and heterosexual, so I was far less interested. Eventually the girls decided that I would tell the bartender I was a photographer and that his look "inspired" me and ask him if I could take his picture. I agreed to ask him for a photo and they insisted again that I tell him he "inspired" me. Little details like that are important to a group of twenty year old girls.
But I didn't say anything like that, I just told him I was a photographer and I asked if I could take his photo.He was nice enough, his name was Laurent Jumeaucourt, which I thought a fitting name for the French Casanova I assumed him to be. He told me how he had done some modeling and acting and was just being a bartender to pay the bills he gave me his email and told me to keep him in mind if I ever needed a model.

I returned to the girls to find Becca and Christine in the middle of an intense conversation about outdoor markets in Paris. Christine offered to email her directions to the Marché au Puces at Porte de Clignancourt. I interrupted with the bartender's picture and offered his email address to anyone who was interested.

Aya: I knew it. He's gay.

Claire: He's probably bi.

Me: He isn't gay, he's just networking.

Christine: He's networking with you because he thinks your gay.

Me: Why would he think I was gay?


Becca: We all thought you were gay... Well not me, because I know you. But they did.

They thought I was gay. This is why you don't ask girls about their clothes or make comments on the appearance of other men. No wonder they insisted I tell him he "inspired" me. I assured them that I was not gay, and they apologized for using me to test the bartenders sexuality and offered to buy me a drink... but I don't drink. This launched Aya into a long discourse about the pointlessness of life and the need to do all you can to enjoy it before you just stop existing. She told me that 99% of the time she is an Atheist, but every now and then she doubts whether or not she actually knows that there is no God. I didn't really want to talk about this with someone who was so young and rich and tipsy. Besides it was a topic that I haven't been terribly interested in discussing lately. But Aya was getting talkative the way that drunk girls do so she continued, and I continued pretending to listen.. I was keeping an eye on Christine as she continued her female bonding with Becca.

The night marched on. We moved to the bar. The girls drank another round. And another. Becca said she needed to leave. She still had to pack but she said that I should should stay, that the girls thought I was cute and I should see if I could do something about that. It's Paris after all, she told me. We exchanged a bisou and said good bye.

Goodbye only friend I have in this city.

Hello, hot and young and rich girls from Switzerland... OK, hot, young, rich and drunk. Anne-Sophie was really drunk. She had obviously had too many for such a petite girl. She disappeared into the bathroom and didn't return for half an hour. Never having drank alcohol I can't really imagine what the draw is. Girls, especially young girls, are naturally self conscious so you'd think they would avoid something that made them look... well let's just say there is a reason they call it getting shitfaced. But maybe that's exactly why they do it, the judgment impairing side-effects allow them to escape the constant self doubt and self criticism. Regardless, Anne-Sophie returned from the bathroom looking like she was ready to pass out. I suggested that we get her a taxi. Christine said she was ready to head home as well, but Claire was now convinced that not only was the bartender heterosexual he was also interested in her. She asked Aya to stay out a bit longer and they ordered another drink while Christine and I escorted Anne-Sophie to the street where I hailed a taxi.

Despite Anne-Sophie's constant insisting that she was about to throw up, the taxi ride passed without incident. The girls were staying in a hotel near Bastille. Christine paid the taxi and I helped Anne-Sophie walk into the hotel. She finally passed out in the elevator. I carried her to the room and at Christine's suggestion dumped her in the armchair. I turned around, coming face to face with Christine. The hotel room was small and dark and clean. She touched my arm.
Chrstine: Thank you so much! This is really great of you.

Me: Well... yeah... no problem...

Twenty minutes later we were in her bed. She was unconscious... I had been crying. I cried because I had just been kissing one of the most beautiful girls I had ever touched... of course we didn't get very far before she essentially fell asleep on top of me... but I cried because the whole time all I could think of was you. Your body, your hair, your lips. I loved those lips. I cried because this was the first time since you... Like the official seal on our goodbye. We see other people now you know... in other countries. Finding myself in bed with another woman makes me wonder where you are... where you have been for the last 6 months. Where have you been finding yourself lately? What encounters have you had out there in the darkness?

...Have they been as meaningless as this one?

I sat up. Christine was face down on the bed next to me, breathing rhythmically. Anne-Sophie was sitting in the armchair at the foot of the bed, still asleep, I put her to bed and I left. I will never see them again I told myself as I stepped out of the hotel... into the night. I had no idea where I was, all I knew was that it was late and the metro was closed and I would have to go on foot. I wandered a couple of blocks before I found a familiar landmark. The Colone de Juillet.

Once again I found myself  walking along the Canal St. Martin... now on the other end of the canal near where it meets with the Seinne. I headed towards the colone, or in English column. The large pillar in the center of the Place de la Bastille commemorating the three days of revolution in July of 1830. The column was not intended to commemorate the actual storming of the Bastille in 1789, but because of it's location that's what it has become for most of the tourists and Parisiens alike. But with a history of revolution as complicated as France's there is bound to be some confusion. People are the same way. We collect so many scars over a lifetime that sometimes it can be hard to trace a specific scar to a specific wound... to a specific when and where... and who.

As I reached the Place de la Bastille it began to rain. Hard. I thought briefly about taking a taxi but I'm not really a taxi kind of person, socioeconomically speaking. Instead I stood under the Opera Bastille and watched the rain. Standing there watching the water throw itself against the pavement my thoughts turned back to you... to how I hate you. I hate you because you didn't stay and I hate you because your ghost never left.

After about fifteen minutes the rain died down... and then it was back into the night. I have already come a long way, but I have much, much further to go.



Currently listening:

Nelly Furtado - Say It Right

Dental hygeine

You know what, I have pretty damn good dental hygiene. It's not much but it's something positive to hold on to as I floss my teeth in my tiny bathroom in front of my broken mirror. It's still cold in here. A whole building full of cold rooms stacked neatly one on top of the other, like my own private section of an ice cube tray. It's cold and small and lonely. But I haven't had a cavity in years. It's something. And I'm not overly obsessive about it either. I don't carry a tooth brush, or floss around with me. But I do floss every single day. And I brush every day, sometimes it's only once a day, at night before I go to bed, but I never miss a day. Which is why I can't stand that there is no floss in this country. OK, there is floss here but it's not nearly as common. I had to go to three grocery stores to find it. The first one normally had it but it was just out of stock at the moment, at the second one they didn't even know what I was talking about, and when they finally figured it out they told me that they don't cary it. Once I had finally tracked it down I ended up paying something like 4 or 5 euro (between 5 and seven dollars depending on the exchange rate) for one spool.

I squeeze a bit of toothpaste onto my toothbrush and begin massaging my teeth in a circular motion. I look in the mirror and think about school. It's an adventure of frustration and futility. The teacher doesn't allow any language but French to be spoken after the door has closed. I mean, it's not like I don't understand ANYTHING... it's just that I have trouble understanding mostly everything. After my first day the teacher asked me to stay after and talk with her(in English, of course). I told her the truth, it was hard for me to understand what was going on in class, but that I wanted to stay in her class because I would rather be challenged to learn faster than to be bored with a class I understood completely. I thought that after a week or so that I would start to understand more but I'm not progressing as quickly as I had hoped. I guess learning a language is like anything else, you have to take it one step at a time.

I spit. Then begin brushing the backside of my teeth, then tongue, then roof of my mouth...

I didn't always brush my teeth. In fact I had pretty terrible dental hygiene up until I graduated from high school. If you asked my friends from high school about it they would say that I never brushed my teeth. If you asked my college roommates they would say that I always did.

I have been to the dentist twice a year since I was six and every time they have told me I should brush and floss everyday. I never did. I always felt guilty about it too. Like God had given me a gift of teeth and I didn't care enough to practice basic hygiene. When other things in my life would go wrong I sometimes would think that maybe things would be different if I brushed my teeth more. I didn't think this often, but I thought it more than once. Now I don't really believe that any miraculous changes would have occurred if I had been an avid tooth brusher, but any time you aren't doing something you know you should do you doubt yourself, just like anytime you are convinced you are doing what you should you have a bit of extra confidence. And I kind of think that even things like dental hygiene have a spiritual aspect. Right now it's providing an unlikely barrier between me and absolute despair, so I guess that counts for something.

But when I was in high school, even with the dentist telling me that I needed to start brushing and even with all the painful drilling and cavity filling and occasional guilty feelings, I still never brushed my teeth. So what happened? Well, like the all normal human beings, I have never really cared for anything until I was going to lose it... One time I went to the dentist and they did a periodontal exam and told me I had pretty bad gingivitis and even some periodontitis, which the hygienist explained is when microorganisms in my my mouth cause the bone to deteriorate which eventually causes my teeth to fall out...

Hygienist: At this rate you will need dentures in your mid thirties.

I didn't want dentures. My mom has dentures. Dentures are annoying. Plus, loosing any part of your body permanently, even a tooth, is just kind of horrifying. My mouth was full of blood and saliva.

Me: Wha caa aa oo...

Hygienist: What? Oh hold on, you need to spit, let me get the vacuum... Close your lips... There you go.

Me: What can I do?

Hygienist: Well your gum tissue is bleeding a lot so I can tell you aren't flossing. You need to start flossing everyday. And brush as well. I'll give you a prescription mouthwash that will help fight the periodontitis, but it won't help unless you are FLOSSING and using the mouthwash everyday.

And so I started flossing. It wasn't an immediate transformation, but it was a start. Six months later I had another periodontal scan and there was little progress, so I flossed with a renewed determination and soon I was flossing everyday, and brushing, and then I started going to the dentist and not having cavities. And now I floss and brush everyday.

I spit. I rinse. Spit again. Wash my night guard under warm water and insert it into my mouth (I'm a jaw clenching, tooth grinder). I look at my reflection in the mirror, I look tired. For whatever reason, I've always done some of my best thinking in front of the mirror... maybe that's just because I spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. 3:23 AM. I really ought to be asleep by now...

But what was the point of all of this? I guess it's that I changed. Whether or not people can change is a heavily debated topic, and one that I've found myself on both sides of. But the fact is that I never used to brush my teeth... and now I do. Actually now I can't sleep if I haven't flossed and brushed. That gets annoying those times when I want to go straight to bed, like if I've been up late thinking or regretting or being cold. Anyway, some might call it trivial, but I changed. And if I can change in that way I suppose I can change in others... and maybe other things can change too. And if things can change, maybe I won't always be cold. Maybe I won't always be alone...



Currently watching:

L'Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment)

Back to school

I start class tomorrow. As a college graduate I never thought I would set foot in a school again. Of course I never thought I'd be living in Europe either. Life is full of surprises I guess. I spent the better part of the last week looking at different language schools, all of which were expensive. In the end I chose the school that was the cheapest (around 400 Euros for two months). I wanted to take class in the morning but the evenings were less expensive. The problem with having nothing to do until 6 PM is that you end up doing nothing until 6 PM. At least I do. Living in Paris without a job and without anywhere to be, I have become somewhat nocturnal. This has happened to me before, once when I was unemployed for a few months, because I had no reason to get up in the morning, and another time when I was heart broken, because I found it hard to sleep at night... this time I'd say it's a little of both. I was hoping that having class in the morning would motivate me to go to bed earlier. But that would have cost another 50 Euros and well, sleeping during the day is the same price as sleeping at night. I wish all decisions were this simple and numerical.

My school is called Campus Langue it's in the north east of Paris off of line 7. I went there earlier today and paid all of my fees, bought all of the books. To be fair I haven't been to class yet but so far the best thing about the school is it's proximity to the Canal Saint-Martin, specifically the Bassin de la Villete. It's a charming little body of water originally built to bring drinkable water into the city. After I squared everything away for school I strolled along the bank. And now I am sitting on a park bench next to the canal, eating a kebab and watching a boat go through one of the locks. One of the streets that goes over the canal just pivoted to let boat through, and all of the traffic trying to cross to the other side of the canal has to wait. I wonder if this happens often. It's interesting but it takes forever. It's the kind of thing that you can watch once but if you had to deal with it everyday you would want to kill yourself.

I wonder if any one has ever jumped off any of these bridges? Not that any of the canal's bridges are high enough to properly kill yourself from. There are a couple over the Seine that might work. In America about half of suicides involve a firearm. Like Hemingway's. In France people jump from buildings or hang themselves. Maybe it's because guns are not legal in France... or maybe they prefer the old fashioned methods because of their strong connection with traditions. French people also kill themselves more often than Americans. And French men are two and a half times more likely to kill themselves than French women. Interesting isn't it? And I wouldn't be surprised to find out that suicide was more common here during winter... I have been reading a lot about suicide lately, but I wouldn't read too much into that. I just payed for two months of school and I'm determined to get my money's worth. So I'll be around for a little while longer at least.

In other news, I've been listening to a lot of French rap lately, and while I don't really understand most of it, it seems to be a lot more political than the rap in America. I like that. Rap in America is all about getting high or getting laid or getting killed... or being really good at rapping. I shared some French rap with Becca and... well she wasn't as enthralled with it as I am. She prefers American music. Incidentally she is moving back to America this month. I guess her internship is over in a week or so. She says she is going to try to move back out here but it's all uncertain at the moment. You should meet her... except she is from the south, so it's not exactly next door. If you do get together, I'm sure you can enjoy listening to Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros together since you both love it so much... not that I don't like that song... it just seems like most songs in America have to be about love and sex and relationships in order for anyone to care. But maybe the music is the same here... like I said I don't understand most of it.

Come to think of it, the water in this canal is probably freezing. If I jumped in there's a slight possibility that my heart would stop working.

It's something to think about...



Currently listening:

Puisqu'Il Faut Vivre

Soprano - Ferme les yeux imagine toi