Martin and Martine are fighting again. They scream, yell, throw things. I think one day one of them will end up killing the other one. I am pretty annoyed by the whole situation. It's not the fighting that's bad, though I can hear every word in this apartment with paper thin walls. The bad part comes tonight. They have a fight like this about every three days and without fail they stop fighting and fuck all night long. Then they are even louder. I wish they would make up their minds, do they love each other or hate each other. Maybe neither. Probably a little of both.

I'm considering spending the night at Nico's again, but last time Drew wouldn't share the futon and I slept on the floor. ...Perhaps I should look for another place to live.

Maybe it's not so much the noise that keeps me up at night. Maybe it's knowing that even though these two people are going to kill each other one day tonight they have someone and I don't. I never fight, what's their to fight about? It's just not in my nature. Maybe I am missing something.


Their fighting and their fucking. Both are filled with violence. I'm not a violent person. Is that why I don't understand love? Is it a key ingredient? Like in a rock and roll love song?

A few hours later and as predicted all the screaming and banging is replaced with... well, screaming and banging.

I leave my house and I run down the alley looking for anything I can break, it's time to learn to be violent. I find a glass bottle and I throw it against a wall. The violence comes pretty easily. I watch the bottle shatter into a thousand pieces... and just below the violence is the hate. I'm not sure if the hate is a new thing, or if it's been hiding there all along, but either way it's there, and it's all puddled up waiting to be poured out over one very special person... you.

I hate you.

I hate you because I can't stop thinking about you. I can't just let it all go, can't just forget about the whole thing. You're just another girl. I know far cooler girls, far more attractive girls, girls with less issues, girls who are far less selfish, far more emotionally fulfilling. You weren't my dream girl by any means. So why is it so damn hard to move on? I wish I understood. We did fit like puzzle pieces intelectually. But why does that mean so much to me and so little to you. I guess that's not important right now. All that matters at the moment is that I hate you.

I hate you because I still love you. I hate you because you are far away, and all I have to hate is your memory...

And I hate everything else because I have no idea what any of that gibberish means. I need something to hit and something to hit it with.

There is a push broom leaning against a wall outside of the entrance to a tobacco shop. I pick it up and I swing it around. I want to break that window. I do it. The window shatters easily, it is no match for my broom and my hatred and I. The three of us patrol the night searching for victims. Another window shatters, and another. The fourth breaks the broom, I discard the remains of my weapon and I run. I flee the scene of my crime, around a corner, through an alley, down a hill. I gain speed as I charge downwards toward the city. Am I trying to build up the violence or release it? It's hard to tell, but for now, the violence has pushed away the loneliness and I run through the empty streets like a bolt of pure energy, a being made of hot breath and fear and power.

But I can't keep it up. I catch my leg as I am jumping the small gate leading into a poorly lit park. I fall. Lying on my face in the Square de Montholon, the violence dissipates and the emptiness returns. Apparently the hate was just a thin cover for the despair. I am bleeding.

I pull myself up and wander a few steps. Then I fall to my knees and I cry. There is no one around to hear me, but it wouldn't matter if I was in the middle of the Champs Elysées, I couldn't help myself. And I don't want to. I just want to get this all out, like maybe if I let your memory bleed out through my nose and my mouth and my eyes, and let every part of you just pour from my face with the rest of the mucus and saliva and saline, then I'll be free from you for good. And then I'll be whole again.

It works... kind of. After I am finished I rise to my feet, brush myself off and begin the long walk home. No one can keep crying forever. I am exhausted and I am cold, and for the moment I am free from all other concerns. But about halfway home I pass an advertisement for a Monet exhibition. It could have been any artist, but it happened to be Monet, and Monet always reminds me of you. Your weight fills my heart, which sinks to the bottom of my stomach. I forget how cold I am as I remember everything else. Nothing has changed, and I'm not any closer to understanding love. Or feeling it.

Violence is a dead end.



Currently watching:
Animal Kingdom

Party All the Time

I don't belong here. Which is why I am standing all the way over here by myself. Drew and Nico are playing at wingman and trying to pick up some of the girls that came here to drink things and to look pretty for all of the other girls that came here to drink things. (This is what "going out" boils down to for women, as far as I understand it) I don't know which of my friends is the wingman and which is the... lead pilot? Is there a term for that other guy, the one who uses the wingman? I don't know. And I don't think that Nico and Drew know either. I mean, I don't think that either of them know which is the wingman and which is the... notwingman. They'll know soon enough... those things have a way of sorting themselves out.

This whole night was Nico's idea. Drew has been staying at his apartment for the last few days. Partly because he had an open futon and Drew was getting tired of spooning with me every night, and partly because Martin and Martine had been fighting again, and it hasn't been pretty. Like, throwing wine glasses and cussing in Français and day-after bruises, not pretty. And it has been going all night for the last two days. Actually if nobody minds, I'll spend tonight spooning with Drew on the futon at Nico's place. That is, of course, unless their little game of wingman works out.

Which brings us back to the present. Nico suggested that we all come out to this event for international students. I thought it would be like an ERASMUS thing, so I was thrilled, because my last one had worked out so well (this is sarcasm). I actually love dancing, but I haven't been sleeping a lot in the last couple days thanks in part to the domestic violence in my apartment, and in part to... some other stuff, I guess. Anyway, I just didn't really feel like going out. Plus, I emailed Anna to see if she wanted to come with us. No response. I'm starting to wonder why she didn't just take my number and call it, that would have been an easy way to figure out her number. Point is that I don't have much to dance about. Which, works out I guess because as it turns out this is not an ERASMUS event, it's an alumni event for a private international business school, so it's a roomful of rich/drunk people from all over Europe (and guests). Apparently Nico's dad is pretty rich. That makes one of us.

So here I am, standing in the corner because I don't belong in the rest of the room. I think you would be uncomfortable here, too many people, not enough familiar faces. You would want to go somewhere else, somewhere more intimate. I stay. I stay standing in the corner. From my vantage point I can see the whole party, the whole, entire, pointless party. The rich European businessmen (and guests) are in constant motion, a swirling current of people sliding past one another, bumping shoulders, apologizing. The current swells and ebbs powered by the churning beat of some european electronica. The music isn't for dancing, it's for the mingling and mixing of opposing sexes. Is this Love? Is this how it begins for the rest of the world? Just a room full of foreigners that you can't understand moving towards and away from giant speakers with a drink in their hand, bumping into something that they can barely see or hear, and saying "good enough". From my corner, it's plain to see that this is how the species promulgates itself, this is how we get tricked into reproducing. We make it loud enough and dark enough and drunk enough and then we find the first person who's willing to go downstairs and hop in a taxi. But we need to act fast, attraction seems to dissipate as soon as we open our mouths and realize how much we all dislike each other.

But I guess these things are impossible to understand from the outside. And I don't drink. It's a religious thing. So I just turn around, look at the wall, and write this letter while the crowd continues swimming in their mixture of alcohol and music. Churning. Like a million sperm looking for an egg.

If my sperm are anything like me, I'm probably impotent. Not that I would know... Maybe if I drank alcohol, I wouldn't be a virgin. Seems to be how it works.


Willim Willson

P.S. Drew tells me you have been dating someone. I... um... Well I guess I don't really have anything to say about that.

An American in Paris

I can't tell you how great it's been having Drew here. The kid is fearless, so open to new experiences, so unconscious of unwritten social rules... in short he is very American and it's been refreshing. He managed to become best friends with Martin and Martine (Incidentally, Drew has informed me that Martine's name is actually Anne-Sophie... A fact of which I had been unaware because I had never bothered to ask [However I will continue to refer to her as Martine... because it is shorter.]).

I don't know how he did it, all I know is that when I woke up one morning earlier this week my bed mate was missing. I found him in the living room telling stories to Martin and Martine, who both seemed enthralled. And he doesn't speak French, can't even count to dix. He was speaking in English and Martine was translating. I toasted some bread but I didn't say anything, didn't want to interrupt. Then he started telling stories about me. Almost like a list of every good thing he could remember about me. How I had met this one famous person this one time, and how I had scored in the 99th percentile on some postgrad studies aptitude test, and how they needed to see me dance sometime because it was, in his words "out of this world". All those things that just didn't matter anymore but are nice to hear every now and then to remind you what you've been doing for the last 25 years... even if none of it ever amounted to anything.

The last few days we have spent just hanging out. I finally feel like a tourist. We have been sight seeing, talking loudly on the metro, eating in public places, and other American activities. The weather has been decent but maybe I'm just used to it because Drew has been freezing. We spent a day indoors at various museums. Drew somehow managed to meet a girl from Dubai and another from India... and another from Singapore. He has an uncanny ability to spot girls that speak English. We took the girl from Dubai, whose name escapes me, to get a kebab, which Drew has dubbed the European equivalent of the burrito, and Drew made plans to visit her after his stay in Europe.

Another day was dedicated to thrift store shopping in the Marais. Drew bought an old Swiss military coat at Free'p'star, a thrift store on Rue Ste Croix la Bretonnerie. The fact that it was literally a Swiss Army coat was a major selling point for him. Then we went and got falafels at l'As du Fallafel on the Rue des Rosiers. Behind us in line was Ethan Hawk. Yeah... pretty crazy right? Well, we're pretty sure it was him, it could have been Mark McGrath but he was pushing a stroller with a kid in it. It also could have just been some guy that looked exactly like Ethan Hawke/Mark McGrath but wasn't even famous at all. We never found out for sure because I talked Drew out of approaching him, I'm sure Mr. Hawke didn't come all the way to Paris so that more Americans could ask him for Mark McGrath's autograph. Just let the guy buy a falafel is what I always say.

Today was Sunday. Drew wanted to go to church again but told me I didn't have to come if I didn't want to. Of course, in practice, he can't really find his way around the city... so for the second Sunday in a row I found myself dressed in a shirt and tie, falling asleep in the back of a small chapel in the 4th Arrondissement. After church, Nico, the Finnish/Spanish kid invited us to a gathering for the church singles at his apartment that night. He speaks English perfectly... with a rather interesting accent. As he and Drew were exchanging information, I was finding a reason to start attending church again.

Me: Who is that?

Nico: Amazing isn't she? That's my girlfriend.

Kyle: Really?

Nico: No. That's Aurelie. She is really cool but... she's French and she's a model. And she knows it, you know?

Me: She knows she's French, or she knows she's a model?

Kyle: Is she pretty stuck up?

Nico: I don't know man. She is nice. You just have to talk to her yourself... If you ever get a chance.

We never got the chance. By the time we had finished discussing her she had completely disappeared.

Nico's apartment is on the Rue St. Antoine between the metro stops Bastille and St. Paul. When we arrived later that night we couldn't get a hold of Nico. He hadn't bothered to give us the door code so we had nothing to do other than to wait for him to call us back. Across the street from Nico's place is a small square with a park called the Place de Vosges, it's where Victor Hugo lived... when he was alive. We thought we would go check it out while we waited.

It was locked.

Drew was hungry so we decided to try Nico's again. But at that momen, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life (today) crossed the street directly in front of us with two other women. She was holding a baguette. I could hear them speaking English but couldn't make out what they were talking about.

Me: Oh dear, the women in this city...

Drew: Right now I'm more interested in where she got that baguette.

Me: Just ask her, she speaks English.

      At that moment she stopped. And turned. And...

The most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life (today): What?

Me: Oh um... Nothing... My friend was just wondering where you got your baguette.

The most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life (today): It's from a boulangerie just up here around the corner. But I think they are closed now.

Me: You're American?

The most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life (today): Colombian... But I live in Nashville. Well, I live in Paris, but my family lives in Nashville.

After that was all cleared up, we introduced ourselves. Her name is Anna and she is doing a year of her college in Paris. We also met her sister and her mom... who's names escape me. They were each dragging large zebra pattern suitcases behind them. They had been on their way out of town when a volcano erupted in Iceland and grounded flights across all of western Europe. The skies are clear here in Paris but I guess the airlines are just playing it safe. Better to inconvenience someone than to kill them. So now Anna's family is stuck here sans hotel, draging their zebra print luggage across the city to Anna's tiny apartment where they will wait for the ash to settle. Anna offered to show us where the boulangerie was and we walked with them for a couple blocks. Drew spoke to her mom in Spanish and Anna spoke to me in French. Well, partly in French. She asked me if I lived in the banlieue and I asked her what that word meant. 

After that was all cleared up she asked me what had brought me to the city.

Me: I have no idea. It changes daily.

Anna: Well, at least you're honest. The boulangerie is there just down that street, it might still be open.

Me: Thanks...

Anna: Are we going to see each other again?

Me: Probably not. But it was nice meeting you.

I gave her a bisous and we parted ways. The boulangerie was closed and Drew immediately started complaining about his hunger. I called Nico again, still no answer. Not being used to close encounters with beautiful women, I was still shaking from my moment with Anna. As I replayed it in my mind it occurred to me that maybe she was trying to give me with an opportunity. Maybe "Are we going to see each other again" hadn't merely been a matter of fact question requiring a matter of fact response. Maybe she was getting at something... Maybe, she had actually wanted to see me again.

Me: I should have gotten her number?

Drew: You didn't? What were you doing up there the whole time? What kind of vibe was she putting out?

Me: She asked if we were going to see each other again...

Drew: And then you didn't say "Yes, what is your number"? Yeah, you blew it.


Drew: Well, we should probably chase after her.

Me: I don't think that's the best idea.

Drew: Willim, this is Paris.

And with that he took off running. I followed. At the next cross street we turned and saw zebra print in the distance. Drew bolted across the intersection like a lion, he ran after the zebra print shouting "Senioritas". I followed behind like a much, much slower lion. When I finally caught up with Drew he was speaking with Anna, her sister, and her mother in Spanish. One of the zebras was on the ground with it's insides spilled all over the sidewalk. I thought Drew had been taking my lion metaphor a bit too far but apparently they were just searching for a pen. Once the pen had been located, Anna needed something to write on. I offered my metro map.

Anna: I'm going to give you my email.

Me: I am kind of embarrassed right now.

Anna: Don't be. It's hilarious. Like An American in Paris.

Me: Is that a book or something?

Anna: Movie.

Me: Haven't seen it.

My phone rang. It was Nico. I answered and told him we were just down the street and we'd be there in a second. Anna returned my metro map. I told her I would email her. Her mother suggested that we all go to dinner while they were in town. We parted ways for a second time. I was high on adrenaline as we made our way back to Nico's. Anna, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life (today) gave me her email address. I am going to see her again... if it's a legitimate email address...

I can't help but wonder where this might lead. It's like they say, the gate of history turns on small hinges.



Running faster than I have strentgth.

You'll be happy to know that I went to church today. I haven't been since I came to Paris. Drew and I used to go to the same church in America and I didn't want to explain to him that I don't really go anymore so I got up early and I took a shower and I put on a tie. At least I looked the part... I grabbed my old travel bible and we went to church. The church was across the street from the Centre George Pompidou on the Rue Sainte Maire. Drew and I were running late already when we ran into a little roadblock at the Hotel de Ville. When I say roadblock, what I mean to say is that the Rue de Rivoli was actually blocked. It was the Paris marathon and the street was filled with a river of bodies, moving and bouncing and sweating.

Drew: What do we do now? Do you think if I just step out in the middle and hold my hand up they'll stop for us?

Me: I have an idea. Follow me.

I did have an idea. Looking back, it wasn't the simplest solution. That would have been to take the underground passage for the Metro stop at the Hotel de Ville, the one that exited on the other side. But in the moment I was pretty focused on crossing the street. I started running and Drew followed. I ran with the marathon for about half a block drifting through the ranks of runners until I reached the other side. Drew was having a harder time navigating the human river and didn't make it across the street for another block. It took some searching to reconnect but before too long we had found each other and it was off to the church house. I had to wonder why all those people were paying to be there if you can just show up and start running for free like I did. Maybe they enjoy feeling like they are part of something, like they belong there... or maybe they are just in it for the t-shirt.

We were both impressed by the diversity at church, being from suburban areas of America that were largely populated by white people we were both used to spending our Sunday mornings with a chapel full of WASPs. By contrast this congregation was nearly one third African. There were a number of older French people, some other Americans, a handful of French singles between the ages of 20 and 35, a few Latinos, a brother and sister from Iran who had recently converted to Christianity, and Nico, a Finnish kid from Spain in his second year at university in England who was doing an internship in Paris.

The services were in French and I found it difficult to pay attention. That is until Drew, who couldn't understand a word, asked me to translate. With great difficulty I was able to give him a rough idea of the subject of the sermon. It was something like a metaphor comparing Christianity to a great boat, kind of like the ark of Noah I guess. The point was that there is room on the boat for all types of people, from all sorts of lifestyles and cultural backgrounds and political systems, and that all we have to do is stay in the boat and have faith that God will lead us to the promised land. 

I thought that was bull-shit.

I would have preferred a more active metaphor. Rather than everyone just sitting around in a boat waiting for God to do all the work, I believe that if there is a God then he is going to show us the path but make us walk it on our own. In that sense maybe Christianity is more like running a marathon. The path is clearly marked, we just have to keep running until we reach the finish line. This doesn't bode well for me. My experience with Marathons is that I only run far enough to get where I am going and then I leave the other runners behind. And the truth is that while I may find this a more appropriate metaphor, if the speaker would have used it instead I would have gagged myself at the cliché.

Truthfully, I am in no position to criticize sermons... but that doesn't keep me from doing it. And it's not a new thing, I've always spent my time at church criticizing the speakers, thinking about what the sermon should say instead of listening for what I should hear. Maybe that's why I jumped ship. One benefit of church is that it does seem to make me more self reflective... now if it could only make me reflect on someone else I might start getting somewhere. But I guess these things need to be taken one step at a time.




Drew is here. He had borrowed someone's phone to call me when he got off of the train but I was in my French class so I didn't answer. He left a message to the effect of "I have no idea where I am... come and find me." After class I called the number back but I didn't understand the lady that answered (Drew told me later she was from Spain, apparently drew speaks Spanish). In a city like Paris where would you even begin to look for someone? I wandered around Gare du Nord and made my way down to Gare de l'Est but eventually I realized that I was never going to just find him and I just went home.

I got to my apartment around eleven o'clock and found this email from him:

I found an internet café. Right now it is a quarter to ten. If you receive this email meet me in one hour in front of the Notre Dame.


By the time I made it to the Notre Dame it was 11:30. I wandered around for another twenty minutes wondering if he had already left. But where would he go? Finally I found him standing on the Petit Pont wearing a t-shirt and holding two large duffel bags. It was now almost midnight and it was cold. Spring has been here officially for a few weeks, but minus some splendid sunny days, it has been a cold spring. Especially at night.

Despite being ill prepared for the weather Drew was in relatively good spirits.

Drew: What took you so long?

Me: Good to see you too.

Drew: Man I am freezing out here. But first off I need something to eat.

Me: I didn't get your email until about an hour ago.

Drew: You live an hour from here?

Me: No, I've been here for like 40 minutes looking for you.

Drew: When I wrote that email I was all the way over by the Eiffel Tower, it only took me fifteen minutes to get here. I'm starting to think I know this city better than you do. However I don't know what I can eat in this city that is cheep and good. I haven't found any Mexican restaurants. What's that about?

I took him across the bridge to the Latin quarter and introduced him to the sandwich grec. Five euros later he was full of cheap good food and we began the journey back to my apartment. Luckily, when we arrived Martin and Martine were hiding away in their bedroom having another mild argument as is their custom on days of the week ending in -day. Drew will be here for 3 days and if possible I'm going to avoid telling them I have a guest.

And now Drew is on my bed sleeping like a baby. A large, bald baby. We'll be sharing a twin matress for the next couple of days, which frankly doesn't bother either of us. Necessity is the mother of compliance.

My first thoughts when I saw Drew on the bridge earlier were these two questions:

     1. How long has he been standing out in the cold?
     2. When was the last time that he talked to you?

...I never bothered to find out either.
It's strange having him here. It's like I was expecting it to be weird to see someone from home, but it it isn't. It's just normal, like it has always been. And that's what is so weird.

Makes me wonder what it would be like to see you again. Would it be normal? What is normal for us? Would I crumble under the weight of rejection, coming face to face with someone that didn't want me? Would I pretend like we had always just been good friends in some misguided attempt to salvage some sort of non-existent "pride".
Or would it just be nice to see your smile again...

Maybe one day we'll find out.



Currently watching:

A Single Girl

La Fille Seule


You'll never believe what happened. OK realistically, you would probably have no problem believing this. Perhaps I should say "You'll never care what happened". But while that's much more accurate it just doesn't incite the same level of interest or excitement or mystery.

...Plus it's depressing.

On to my news. First of all, this morning as I sat in our living room eating a giant bowl of Chocapic (French version of coco puffs) like a good little bachelor, Martine walked in wearing nothing but her underwear. OK to be fair this isn't exceptional, she stays here a couple times a week and kind of just walks around like she lives here, the surprising part is still to come. She asked if I wanted coffee, I declined, telling her that I don't drink coffee. Then she sat at the other end of the couch to eat her petit dejeuner. When possible I snuck glances of her mostly naked body... like a good little bachelor. I found myself rather attracted to Martine at this moment. I got up to pour myself a second bowl of cereal, I wasn't really hungry... to be honest, I just wanted to stay in the living room as long as she was going to be there. It's pathetic how many of my decisions are based on what opportunities I have to look at women. When I returned to the couch she was lighting up a cigarette.

Martine: Il fait beau non?

Me: Oui. Oui, il fait trés beau.

Martine: T'as le loyer d'avril?

Me: Um... Comment?

Martine: Zhe money... for zhe rent.

Oh my, her accent was amazing. Now if you had told me five years ago that one day I would have a French woman sitting on my couch in her underwear, smoking a cigarette, and asking for money in her French accent... well, I wouldn't have pictured this exact situation but that's because I can be sick minded sometimes.

Anyway, she told me in her broken English (and here's the interesting part) that she actually lives here now and that she had payed the rent this month so I needed to give her the money for my portion (which providentially was now divided by three) sometime in the next few days. Her English was actually worse than my French, or so I'd like to believe, but I was enjoying her accent.

Me: I didn't know you spoke English.

Martine: I learn a little bit in school. If I speak English wizh you, it is because we are alone. If Martin is here... he is... make fun of me because I do not speak so good.

Me: Don't worry your English is much better than his is.

Martine: ...I do not understand.

Me: Your English is good.

Martine: Ah, c'est gentil. Euh.... Zhis is very nice of you to say. But wizh Martin it is not important. He is... euh... he is...

She couldn't think of the word. She smiled and shrugged and slammed her cigarette into the ash tray before retreating to the bedroom. Her bedroom. For the first time in my life I live with a woman that is not related to me. Considering the fact that Martin and Martine were staging Armageddon in the living room it's needles to say that I was... surprised.

My second surprise of the day came this evening. I checked my email and found a message from my friend Drew. Of course you know Drew. He was there the night that we met. I remember wanting to talk to you more but you two got into some thick discussion so I backed off. He managed to become your friend in a way I never could... The email he wrote me went something like this:

"Ok listen up and listen closely. I am coming to Paris very soon. I am not sure if it is cool if I stayed with you but could you let me know if it's possible. If you don't want me to stay just say that it's not cool and that will be fine. It will probably be this weekend! I am planning on arriving in Paris on April 9th at 1:30 PM. I would like to stay there from the 9th through the 12th and then maybe I will come back through town after touring Europe with some buddies. For sure the 9th through the 12th though. Do you think this is possible? If it's too much to ask then no worries.  Let me know asap! This trip could change all lives."

The ninth is two days from now. I'm a little worried about what Martin will say but I already responded and told Drew that he can stay... though we'll be sharing a bed. Bed sharing or not, I'm excited for him to get here. I'm excited to have news of all the people and places that I've cut myself off from.



Lunch date

I wanted to tell you about my, I don't know, lunch date, if you can call it that. I went to lunch today with Sara (Italy). We talked Friday night after class and I asked her if she wanted to go to lunch. She seemed surprised and hesitant as if she thought it was a trick. She wanted to know why I asked her, and I explained it was because she was one of only two people in the class who didn't speak English (the other one being the Chinese girl) and I wanted to be forced to speak French. So this afternoon we met at Saint-Lazare and took a walk looking for a restaurant. We found something reasonable not too far from the station. I ordered a croque monsieur because it was cheap. Communicating was difficult. Neither of us were confident of our French but it was the only language we had in common. I thought often how this scene might have looked for the Parisiens, two foreigners struggling to communicate in a foreign language. We talked about class, we talked about our homes and families, and then we talked our past relationships. Sara had a boyfriend once for a couple of years. But not anymore. I asked her if she was in love with him. She thought that she was, but couldn't sure. I don't know why she thought that. Maybe if I understood Italian she could have explained it to me. I didn't say much about my self... I didn't have much to say I guess. Or maybe it was more that I got the feeling Sara couldn't understand me. Either that or she wasn't really interested in hearing about my ex girlfriends.

We finished eating and asked for the check. Sara wouldn't let me pay for her which I found weird because I had invited her. I really don't know how that works in Italy... or in France for that matter. After leaving the restaurant we walked along the rue Saint Lazare and she brought up relationships again, by asking me if I was the type that always had lots of girlfriends. I think our whole class had the wrong idea about me. I told her that actually I hadn't had many girlfriends. One or two in the past five years... but I guess you could bump that number as high as five if you count the ambiguous or equivocal or otherwise vague. And none of them lasted longer than a few months except for that one. The one that went off and on... and off for a year. She asked if I was looking for a girlfriend in Paris. I told her the truth, I hadn't really thought about it, but that it wasn't really the reason that I came to France. She didn't believe me.

Sara: Moi, je vois beaucoup. Tu pense que je ne te vois pas, mais... je vois beaucoup.

Me: Et quand tu me regarde... qu'est-ce que tu vois?

Sara: Je vois comment tu regarde les filles.

Me: Je ne regarde pas les filles.

Sara: Si si si! Je vois comment tu regarde Sara.

Me: Toi?

Sara: Non, l'autre Sara.

Moi: Hmmm. Je pense que tu pense tu vois quelquechose mais umm.... c'est pas vrai. Pas de tout.

Sara: Je vois beaucoup Willim. Je vois beaucoup.

She was talking crazy of course. The other Sara? Sara Venezuella is the only other Sara we knew.  There is absolutely no time when I would have "looked at" Sara Venazeula in any sort of way that would have justified Sara Italy's remark. I shook my head. She laughed. I assured her that I was not interested in making Sara Venezuala my girlfriend, then I gave her a bisous and bid her aurevoir. Overall it was a frustrating experience. I had been glad for the chance to only speak French, but it was somewhat discouraging that we couldn't really understand each other or express ourselves fully. I don't think I'll ask Sara to lunch again. Not any time soon, anyhow. Maybe when I speak a little better...

I thought today as I listened to Sara that maybe it would have been easier to understand a native born French speaker. But then after lunch I came home to a domestic disturbance erupting between Martin and Martine. They are still fighting an hour later as I write you this letter and though I can hear every word through my paper thin walls, I don't understand most of it. It's weird being in another country, I suddenly become so much more aware of verbal communication. I listen to every word and try to understand every word, where as in English I don't even pay attention. It's like maybe I was so confident that I always understood everyone and everything that I didn't think I needed to really listen... and so I didn't. I'd like to change that if I could. I'm not sure what that would entail really, but I feel I should be putting in the same amount of effort and attention to really understanding what someone is trying to say, regardless of the language they are speaking.

...Maybe it's time I stopped hearing only what I want to hear.



April fools

It's a new month. That makes three since I came to Paris. It's difficult to describe how I feel about the passage of time. It's better when people are around. With Becca going back to America I find I have more time on my hands and less interesting ways to spend it. I think I may be stuck somewhere outside of your standard temporal dimension... like maybe I am existing in a single horrible moment, endless and eternal and dull. Often I find myself watching the time wishing it would move more quickly, as if I am living for... searching for some unknown future when I will have something to do or somewhere to be or some overall purpose. As if I am waiting for real life to begin. When I have a thought like that the motivational poster area of my brain (the part that reminds me that "who I can be is up to me", and to "never, never, never give up") always has something catchy to say like "Life begins when you begin living" and then I kind of freak out because frankly, I have no idea where/when/how to "begin" but I am terrified of missing it. So I stay here in my moment completely unable to perceive the passage of time, anesthetized by anxiety, fearing, first of all, that my biological clock will run out before I ever figure out who set it... and why, and secondly that if I stay in this moment outside-of-time for too long I may just stop existing.

And then the future never comes.

But somehow, today I look at the calender and here I am... the future. Except it's not the future... not the one I've been living for. This future is exactly the same as the past. And looking back at the previous three months, it's as if they never really existed.

This probably doesn't make any more sense to read than it does to feel... but a lot of my life feels like this... as though I am only catching glimpses. One might say that I've been alive for a grand total of five minutes. A minute when I was ten awaking from a bizarre dream about the end of the end of the world to a horrifying feeling of self awareness, then I teleported to the junior high lunch line in ninth grade minutes after being dumped by my "girlfriend" in the hallway, then I was going for a walk in a snowstorm at three in the morning my senior year of high school, and then I'm pouring my heart out to a bathroom wall in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. That brings me here. Paris, France April first 2010. Emerging from outside-of-time for another brief moment of consciousness. Over twenty-five years and I've produced nothing of value to anyone.

April fools, your life is meaningless... It's the joke that I've played on myself.

Quick somebody stick a fish on my back. That's the thing to do in France I guess. Martine did it to Martin earlier today and they explained that the traditional joke is to take a paper fish and try to stick it on someone's back without them noticing. As a side note, Martin also mentioned that one of the neighbors was interested in me, wondering if I gave courses in English, so this could be a possible solution to the job problem. Three months of no work, it's no wonder I feel like my life has evaporated. But I haven't been encouraged to look for work because I still have issues with my French. It's true that it has improved and I feel like I have learned so much in the last three months, but I still need to be spoken to like an infant to understand anything.

They speak too fast in Paris. I only catch glimpses... every fifth word. That's another interesting feeling, that so much is happening all around you, but you can't help but feel that you are missing most of it. I guess I can either just start ignoring it all or keep trying to understand. A lot of my life boils down to that... either give up or keep trying. For now I'll keep trying. I'll continue the struggle. I'll keep my head up and my eyes open and try to piece together what I can. But the days pass, and the weeks and months fly by, and years later I don't feel any progress. What language am I supposed to be learning again? Sometimes I just want to lock myself away in my room until I have everything figured out. But I've been trying that already for so long... life just doesn't work that way. A language is learned in the speaking of it. know, there was a time when I felt that my life was about to begin. That the things I had been waiting for all of my life were finally here. And then... they weren't. And then I moved to France.



Currently watching:

Un, Deux, Trois, Soleil

Un Deux Trois Soleil