Sunday, December 4, 2011

I'm not a lesbian!

I'm not a lesbian. Some people have gotten that idea from some stuff I wrote and from knowing other stuff about me, but no, its not so.

Sorry. I know it would be fun if I were. What delicious scandal and gossip material! And easy solution to the relationship problem for me.

Not that I haven't wondered my self if I were. I have had feelings, but when it comes down to who I want to spend my life with, its gonna be someone with the differences that make things so exciting. The unknown of how a man feels and thinks, the texture and tight mass of the male body, and yes even the smells, the wandering attention and danger.

I know there are people who don't want me to talk about this, will feel hurt that I do, because of their own insecurities, their past relationships with me, and the loss when that ended, and the pure fear of their own feelings, but I AM bi.

So deal with it!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Side stories

I learned a new writing technique today, a friend told me about it, side stories.

Say you are working on a character and get stuck. You don't know how to move them through the situation you are in with them. White screen stares in your face saying you will never be a writer!! OMG!

Well you just open a new window and take your character on a side story! Say your character is a church going family man who never even thinks of a bad thing, well, write him hiring an escort and killing a pedestrian drunk driving as a side story. Just make up shit! Outrageous ridiculous stuff that never would see the light of its ink on paper.

Side story. It gets the creative stuff moving again and no one has to see.

Funny idea, sort of like life and that old saying, life is what happens to you while you are waiting for your dreams to come true. Like me waiting for mr wow to seduce me, or well you get the pathetic idea!

Life has side stories, stuff that doesn't fit in the grand scheme, but is there anyway, little diversions, hidden embarasments, petty crimes, and sometimes big ones. I'm not in the mood to tell mine, but maybe tonight I will dream of being the escort in my characters little side story, or the pedestrian and I go to heaven. Yea right!

No big side stories for real me. I drive slow when I have been drinking. Like tonight, but I'm home. 2009 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Vine Vintners Blend. $11.95Daddy was out, it was cold and I was watching old french subtitled movies.

 Désolé, je suis solitaire ce soir. Femme enfant solitaire avec un esprit agité


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I've been quiet

     I've been quiet lately. Its the other side of the manic me. My summer was Chloe the go-bot, all doing this and thinking that, and I used up all the extra energy I had.

     School has taken up where my leisure ended, and I am making a real effort to see if I can make it work for me. I am undecided still if its the path I want to go down. The obvious benefits are the acquisition of accepted experiences and formal validation. You go to school, you get a degree and people know you to be of a certain quality.

     But what I see is a certain sameness and fear of not being previously validated, that feels to me like something I don't want. I think I want to write, but do I really need a degree, and then a masters, and some awards and participations in workshops to do that? Well yes If I want "those folks" to take me seriously. Academia can be a trap, or a sort of private club, or even a trade guild!

     I so want to say "fuck you" to some of that. I'm lucky that I don't need to struggle to succeed just to feed myself. Whoring out my life, following the rules, because of fear of failure/starvation/homelessness.  Yet I fear. Just the unknown of it, when the known path is right there in front of me!!

     I've got time to figure it out, and support and resources too, so all the above is just intellectual goofing.

     Dad came home a few weeks after me, and its been great to be around him. He's chilled and relaxed alot and isnt so sad anymore. He's wistful at times, but not depressed. We can remember mom and laugh at stuff she did or would have done and not "go there".

     He is going to go to India later, maybe early next year or in the spring. He's going to do a meditation course,  and then travel a bit without too much planning. I think he's officially in his own mind, retired, although I suspect he will consult some now and then just because he loves it.

     I wish Shelly would hurry up and have a baby! I think Dad would be a good grandpa. Or maybe I should just find some random guy and get knocked up with out telling him. That would give me something to write about!  But then I have probably used up most of the family support karma I had, so maybe not. But if there are any applicants for the position, random knocker upper, I'll give it a look.

    I've bogged on my Novel. I need to wait for the next manic attack! I've got a firm concept, a rough outline, and maybe 10,000 words from stuff I've already done that can be reworked into it, but still don't have all the plot elements in line. Tentative title; "Projection, an Autobiography", cause that's what it is! Have I mentioned the concept? I don't remember..    :)

Maybe I should just let it happen. I think what is holding me back is the lack of craft. I am enthusiastic, but when I read others work and see how tight and beautiful it can be, I hold back. I don't want to go halfway into something big and then be disgusted by my lack of skills.

     Fear is a funny thing, it keeps me from going where I want sometimes, or makes me go where I don't want (school). Someone wise (Gangaji, a real cool woman, ) said recently to "go to the center of it and see whats there". Something I've tried a couple of times, and when I did go to the center of my fear, nothing was there. Its an illusion I create myself. Its kinda a lifting yourself by your boot straps kinda thing. Fear is an illusion created out of fear!

     Maybe the rule I should make is that I should do stuff just because I fear it. We'll see how that goes!


Monday, September 26, 2011

More thoughts

A little delayed reaction on my part, but I am sort of in the mood to think about my mom this past week. I posted on one of my other blogs, a post called Yesterday. It was the day after the one year anniversary of her death. I had felt like it was just yesterday that she died, but also so recent that I had been with her. Sorry for sad sounding stuff. It's not sad really, to remember her, but it is to miss her.

I wanted this blog to be a "moving forward" thing, but the past seems to follow me! If you want to see where I have been, again its backwards on a blog, the oldest buried at the bottom so START HERE:  I started blogging about a month after my mom died. I never really ever thought about blogging before and now I have 4!

And I am sort of working on maybe writing a book. Two years ago if you would have said I would be writing, I would have said "nuh uh". But now its something that fills a need. Of course if I keep getting C's in english, people will laugh at the idea of me writing! But writing for school requires following certains rules, so that the reader CAN GRADE YOU. In otherwords if you don't write like they think you should, down goes the grade. I am stubborn and write like I want. I write because I want to!

It gives me an excuse to go out and get in trouble so I can write about it! Well not in trouble, but do stuff. Like "oh I don't really like frat guys and the bro crowd, but maybe I'll go to that party for ideas and to see what its like".

Gotta live life.

My mom lived life. She had real adventures. Scary ones too, and did stuff I wouldn't do. Drugs, sex, cults, and also family and love and trying to make the world better.

I want to be like my mom. Maybe no drugs and cults!


Don't worry I'm not taking this blog off into sad land! But just its on my mind right now. My trip this summer changed me a little but very subtly. I wanted to kinda be thrown into adventure, pushed and challenged. I wanted to learn more how to be with people, and I did, sort of.  It was different than I expected, people are wonderful, even if they don't know you, they will take you in and give you a chance to be friends. That's what I learned. I didn't really ever have the feeling of being alone, even when I was. I was thousands of miles from home, but people were always around, and they weren't so different from me.

I don't think I can ever be like my mom was at my age, doing things that could go wrong in a bad way. Sleeping where its not safe, being on drugs. She was reckless and I'm not so much. But I think she was even more unhappy than I ever was. I was a mess at 16 and 17, but I had support she didn't somehow. I know she loved her parents, and they were good people, but she left home two weeks after she turned 18.

I could never do that, break off from family like that. But she came back eventually and made her life.

Maybe that is the thing I admire most about her, that she made her life on her own, and I have so much support. The part I want to copy is the variety and intensity of experiences maybe.

 I came back from my trip with a better sense of myself and more confident, and had some good experiences and some more difficult.

I think I am off to a good start!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Wow! I wrote 16,000 words.

And they are all posted backwards. That's the bad thing about blogging, what you write, posts most recent on top, and if its a serialized story, its all out of order. Sucks. I tried to find a way to fix that, but oh well.

So Please start here:  "What I Did This Summer"  for my "What I did this Summer", not at part 5!   Thanks.  :)

I got sort of manic writing all that, and then started school this week. I really wanted to take one of Dr Andy Jones poetry classes but he didn't have one. I have expository writing with Martel. Hope he doesn't think I'm a silly girl and that all I have written so far is bad.

I know I write loose and kinda like I talk, rather than serious and well crafted. I want to learn the craft part too, but I DON'T want to loose the feeling. Know what I mean? There is a lot of feeling in my life, and right now that's what I want to talk about.

Writing can be something you do for other people, or that you do for yourself, and I do it for me. I get almost no feedback, and that's fine, because I don't know how I would handle it. Yea people say "I liked what you wrote", but that's politeness.

It would be hard to sit and watch the personal stuff I write torn apart.

And that's what happens when you write school stuff, so school stuff ends up being something different.

Not me.


Pretty clouds, like my thoughts, noticed, enjoyed, then gone when I look again.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Le Grand Cercle

     Leaving Paris was hard, but something I had to do. I had goals for the summer and one was to sort of follow in my mom's footsteps. So I would understand her better now that she wasn't around to explain herself. But then is there any explaination for what people do? Are? Feel? Unless you had the same experiences.

      So here I was alone on a train, going to where it went, but not really having a destination. So I slept.

     I woke up as the train slowed down coming into Strausbourg near the border with France and Germany. I know I had big plans to just find another train and stay on the train, but I didn't. I left the train station and saw a hotel and got a room for the night. I was tired, like I had just finished a busy time and needed to rest. Not really physically tired but tired from excitement. Funny that I had just had a super relaxing time and now was tired, but I just wanted to be even less busy. I stayed in the "Hotel Bristol" across the street from the  train station. Nice, clean, real hotel and only about 35€. Fifty bucks.

     I woke up in the morning feeling excited that I didn't have anything to do or anyone to coordinate with! I showered and dressed and went out in search of coffee!  Found a McDonalds a block away and considered an act of liberation/vandalism, but was too mellow and went a few block in and found what I was looking for. A little place on a corner with lots of tables on the sidewalk and a canal and tons of people. I felt so free. I had two cafe au'laits and some pastries and sat for like an hour. I decided to stay for the day, and went back to the hotel and booked myself for another night, and then went exploring.

     It was different than Paris and way different than the south! It was more german in feel, more business like and older too, like with midevil looking buildings. It is supposed to be where the europeon parliament is, but I never found it. I wondered around in the university area all day, looking into little shops, and pretending I was looking for a certain book in a big bookstore but really checking out the less nerdy looking intellectual seeming guys. No Hits.    :(     But some real cuties. I think my look is counter intellectual. More cute, young, dumb and looking for a husband. If they only knew what I am thinking sometimes!

     I got totally lost! Somehow I got turned around and then lost the landmarks I had passed and the only direction I knew was up and down. It was an exhilarating feeling, being this one little point of something in the whole universe and like being completely unconnected to anything. It was like I could feel my own presence, but not any location. It could have been scary too, but it wasn't at all. I felt safe. I knew I could find out where I was, but I didn't want to. I wandered till after dusk, always in busy areas, watching people. Finally ate in a little place, I had a little onion and bacon tart and 3 glasses of Gewurztraminer. Then I asked the waiter "où est la gare".  (The Hotel was across from the train station) Life is so simple sometimes. I was no more lost than a few words away from knowing where to go. I didn't stumble back, but was I was feeling pretty good. Stupid I know. Silly American teenage girl alone in some big city almost drunk, walking alone at night. Yea, well, get over it. It felt wonderful.

     The next morning I scrubbed up extra good because I was still determined to do the train thing, just ride and ride and I didn't know when I would have my next bath! I was trying to circle France, but silly me the trains don't just follow the borders! Calais was my destination, but I ended up going back through Paris! And then changing one TGV at one station for another TGV and a station next door. Again the underground connecting tunnels. But it was fun. Seeing all the scenery out the window, fields and hilly areas and then Paris, then fields again.

     Calais is like 35 miles from England but my rail pass was only for france and so I had dinner there, wonderful poached salmon in a sauce with just the slightest hint of lemon and dill, but the full richness of real cream and butter. Only one glass of wine. Some cheese. Some coffee and then back to the train station, no reservations. But still just early evening. Calais was total tourist city, good place to buy a t shirt and catch a ferry or have some sea food and move on.

     I didn't want to go back through Paris again so I pieced it together from Calais to Roeun to Le Mans to Brest. It was like this endurance thing, train, wait in station, train, wait, eat sketch food, train, train. It was like a day and a half. Ok BTGTTS. Been there got the t shirt. It wasn't as romantic as I had thought. And I needed a shower. It was cool though. The "lunea" trains were the night trains and they didn't stop after midnight and until 5:30 in the morning so you could sleep. And they had a guy on the train just to help you out, like planning your trip or waking you up when you asked and stuff. If we had this in the US I would be all over the place.

     I spent the night in Brest, but it was just like for the shower, then I did it for 2 more days! Brest to Nantes to La Rochelle to Bordeaux to Toulouse to Aix-en-Provence then back to where I started in Provence, and Daddy.   :)   It felt so good to see him!!! It felt like it had been longer that a week and a half! I think that I am in love with trains though. People were real nice, and there were kids running around screaming and enjoying their vacations, and old people and young people and it was like most people were in a good mood because it was summer. It was like this big sharred experience with people changing but the moving being constant. No creepo's hit on me. A few guys talked to me and I played on the floor with some little kids. I felt like a kid myself.

     I stayed 3 more days with Daddy and talked ALOT!  :) He's been meditating real well every morning but not like its a worry or duty, but good and fun and he says he writes for at least 45 minutes. I told him my adventures. Mostly everything I wrote about here. He's cool with me being myself and maybe saying things that some people won't like or feel is wrong. Some of my friends are freaked out that I tell him stuff I do sexually. But he's heard it all from other people and probably more interesting stuff than I know about. He just wants me to not get hurt. But the stuff that really hurts is all in my head anyway. I mean if something bad happens its just stuff in my head that hurts, the thought or memory, not the actual thing that happened. The buddhists call it attachment, you think a thing is a certain way, well then it is. If you don't attach stuff to what the thing was, well then it can be a neutral thing. Its hard not to attach stuff to things that are really deep inside, but meditating helps. Not that I don't want to feel stuff! But just be mostly happy and not let the experiences I have in life rule me.  :)

     Daddy wanted to drive me back up to Paris! It would have been cool, but I wanted to go all the way home all on my own, and I did. Trains to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Plane to San Francisco, shuttle from the Airport to home and my comfy room. I feel so grown up and independent. But still playful and eager to have more experiences like a kid.

    Dad's still there for a couple more weeks and then he'll come home and then I don't know what. Yes I have the whole house to myself. No parties. I'm going to clean like Manon and I did so it will be like a new part of our lives when he comes home. Schools started so I'm busy.

     Thats what I did this summer.  


Monday, September 19, 2011

Back to Paris

     I felt I needed to go back to Paris, at least just for the credit card gas for them! And Manon invited me to stay with her for a few days. She was in a little apartment with room mates, but they were away. It was more melancholy on the way back but in a nice way, kind of like when you know the day is over, but looking forward to going to bed. Thierry driving slower than on the way down and it was quiet in the car.

     Marie seemed sort of subdued and a bit dreamy, I hope it was the afterglow of the whole thing. Her and Thierry certainly now knew each other in the way husbands and wives should. What am I saying so euphemistically, they screwed each others brains out! I don't have the experience to say whether or not it was enough, It was more than I thought a couple would do it for that period of time! But it sure took the edge off of Thierry. He almost looked dreamy too.

    I kissed them both goodbye and told them again that if they could get to California, they had a place to stay with us. And Manon and I went up into her little apartment. In Paris everything is upstairs and maybe that's why Parisian women have good legs, all the stairs! It was a cute place, small, but with both a street and courtyard view and the buildings around were not as tall so there was some views out to the roof tops. No one else was there, but it looked like they had had fun before they left. Dishes in the sink, dishes in the living room, clothes in the bathroom, clothes on the floor! In other words how girls live on their own.

     Manon gave me the option of the couch, which was old and hard looking, or her bed with her. I took her. I was feeling a little sad, that such a great time was over, that I was in the same city with a man I had feelings for, but no longer any connection to. I was a little lonely. I usually don't admit to myself that I need other people, but tonight I did.

    It had been a while since I had had a close girl friend. Greta my therapist is my friend too, and we are very close because of what we talk about, but she is also paid to see me, and in her 70's and our friendship is more adult. Its different. Manon was young and our friendship was based on play and similar temperaments and situations. Manon had lost her parents when she was little and was raised by her grandmother. I think that's part of the reason she was the way she was, independent and imaginative, but also very protective and nurturing. Parents can be controlling in ways grandparents aren't. Grandparents are at the time of life when they have more patience and less worry and let kids be the people they are rather than trying to mold them into some idea of who they want them to be.

     Manon's room was like her. Eclectic and warm and colorful and orderly and a little old fashioned. She had lots of books and a stuffed chair and a stand light, and big windows. It had the feeling of a toy box or treasure chest, with little objects, and a oriental rug that was worn, but clean and full of character. Her clothes were neat in her armoire, socks folded, and panties too. Mixture of little girl and old woman.

     We went to sleep early, tired from the trip. She seemed especially content to be back in her own place. She said her brief words to god, bon nuit to me, got in on the left side just like before, and took my hand in hers and fell asleep. I couldn't sleep right away, maybe it was that I missed the sound of Thierry and Marie, or the smell of the country, but it was only for a few minutes.

     I woke up to the sound of dishes, Manon was already up and cleaning! So I pee'd and went to help her, but when she saw I was up she told me to get dressed so we could get coffee. We went to a place around the corner and a block away and people greeted her like they had truly missed her and we ordered our coffee's, cafe au'lait, which is expresso with cream. Sort  of miniature of Starbucks® without all the sugary flavorings. But the expresso is soooo good. Rich and smooth and deep sort of like how sharffenburger chocolate is compared to hersheys. And we had the chocolate thingys that are sort of a not curved croissant with little bits of chocolate in them. We sat outside and watched the people go by. It was a Saturday, so it was just people meandering, and walking their dogs and stuff.

     Paris is a dog town. You see then in stores and in restaurants, and they let them poop on the sidewalks! You have to be careful walking. But they have these cute green streetsweepers like you would see on the street in San Francisco, but they were miniature and they did the sidewalks! One guy would have a big hose and squirt a lot of water and the sweeper would drive up and down the sidewalk scrubbing it!

     I like dogs, but not the mess and the neediness. But its cool that people can do something so impractical in such a big city and have it be part of the culture. Like the coffee. And just sitting at a cafe for it, or for lunch or dinner and just chilling and watching the world go by.

     I hadn't showered or anything so we went back up to her apartment and she started cleaning, so I just started helping instead of showering, and we ended up really cleaning the place up, including washing the woodwork where it gets hand prints, and cleaning the corners of the floors and taking the rugs out to the courtyard and beating the shit out of them. That was fun. Manon would be a bad person to get angry, if she had a stick in her hands! She would twist around and hit the rug so hard that I was afraid she was going to break some part of herself or strain herself, but she loved it and was laughing and beating and it was just play, not work. We really cleaned almost all day, scrubbing the tile in the bathroom and finding all the crumbs in the kitchen, and the place really felt good. Smelled good too and we were real proud of ourselves. Her roommates are sure lucky to be living with her.

     It was like 3:30 or 4 when we took turns showering, and we were both hungry, so she grabbed a shopping bag like are so trendy here in the US now instead of "paper or plastic?" And we went to a store called Monoprix, and she bought nummy stuff. Cheese and 2 bottles of inexpensive champagne and a bread and little containers of olives and artichoke in oil, and one I think was some kind of preserved fish! It tasted better than it sounded, intense and salty. And we jumped on the metro across the river and she took me to Pere Lachaise. The cemetery! Sounds weird I know, but it was a perfect place for two quirky girls to get drunk and pay our respects to the dead BY BEING ALIVE! She showed me Chopin and Jim Morrison, who everyone goes to see, but also Balzac, and  Jean de Brunhoof who wrote Babar the Elephant, and Colette, and Marcel Proust, and Oscar Wilde, and Gertrude Stein! and and and.

      I've got an idea for a book and a general outline and I've writen some sketches of stuff I know will fit in, but its going to be work to put it together and make my idea really work.  I'm not really educated enough yet to know if my idea is new or if someone did it before me, but I think its cool. I'm not really ready to say the idea, but I'm being brave and saying I'm doing it.

     She knows about my book idea. I don't know if she was trying to tell me something about writers dying? Or impress me with the influence of Paris. I could so go back and write there. There is something about it. Maybe its that it is a different culture and its easy to be apart from it enough to see things about it you wouldn't about your own. Or maybe its the coffee and the way everything is so old that you don't have to be worried about it all changing real fast. But Paris is inspiring to me. As these thousands of words tell! I didn't mean to write so much. I worry that I'll use up all my inspiration on blogging and not put it into the book, but the book is going to be a few years of work and not so casual and stream of consciousness as blogging. Yes I do know there are typos and unacceptable, by any university standard, grammar and syntax. 

     But I'm not writing for a grade or approval and fame, but because I have this need too. Actually I need to confess that my "Far Edge of Seventeen" blog was partly school work. Greta and the counseling office at school arranged for me to do one of my classes as an independent study and I got 2 units for the writing on "Far Edge.." I also had to critique it, but that was easy as there was so much just simply bad mechanical writing stuff to point out. But all the writing was from the heart. And it was also sooo healing. But by doing it I now have the bad habit of externalizing a lot of my thoughts, and saying things that make some people uncomfortable. There are a couple of people who are real mad at me for talking about some stuff. One was once my best friend.

     Manon kissed me after we finished the champagne. We were sitting on some steps in a quiet area and it was starting to get dark, and she leaned over and kissed me. Like the song says, I liked it. I liked it a few more times. I kissed back too. And yea she did her presence thing.  The cemetery was already closed and we were pretty much alone. It was like we were the only two people in the world, and surrounded by all the dead heros. Two girl goddesses in their own world. Totally surreal and yet so comfortable. Peaceful.

     She knew a way out and we threw away our bottles and trash and she folded up the grocery bag and we walked back to her apartment. It was like 2 miles and warm and the people on the street were in summer weekend mode, happy and active. She held my hand some of the time, or maybe I held hers, and we skipped sometimes like little girls and a few times we ran as hard as we could for a block and watched all the people look at us like we were crazy. It was one of the best days of my life and I spent most of it cleaning!

     Her roommates had returned when we got back and there were a couple of guys with them and they were drinking wine and smoking and talking, and I had some wine and tried not to cough and occasionally they would talk to me in English, but usually they were speaking french too fast for me to even pick out the individual words, much less understand them. It was nice. Its nice when people are just being themselves and enjoying each other.  Manon sat with me and we chilled and listened. I think that if I were not there, Manon would have done the same, just sit quietly smiling and listening, with her little songs in here head look. Not that she didn't jump in sometimes but she hardly ever seemed to need attention like I do.

     The next morning I bought her breakfast at a cafe. Coffee again and some fruit and omlettes and toast with rhubarb jam, and it was sunny on us but not yet hot and stuffy. We sat around and had more coffee for a while. She had work the next day, and I knew I needed to kinda let her get back to her life, she wasn't on such a long break from real life as I was. I tried not to think about it and I think she was the same. I know she will be my friend for the rest of my life and that we will visit and stuff and bring our kids and husbands to each others homes when its like that, and still be friends when we are old. But I knew too that this first part of our friendship will be something I will always remember. It will be like, more real when I remember it, than it was when it was happening.

     We went over to the Vareene's later in the day and brought some little gifts, lavender soap and sachets and a bottle of wine from where we stayed. We stayed for dinner and had a nice visit. Its funny how you get to know people, or how you get into their lives, just by accident, because I think I will know these people too for a long time. Its weird, being 18 now and starting to make friends and connections that are totally  my own. I mean I have friends and acquaintances from home and school but those were situations I was put in by my parents, this feels different.

     Leticia looked happy that I had enjoyed myself, Théo was a bit reluctant to chat too much. I didn't find out about miss pink hair until after I got back. I wasn't brave enough to ask about Nicolas, or too stupid. I do that a lot, run away from things I should stay around for. I'm learning that it just makes it worse. He was important to me. Not that I'm unreal about it, but we had connected in a way that I had really been wanting to connect with a man. Really it was the first time I had had a man connect with me where it was a strong mutual attraction, and emotionally intimate, and MATURE, and sexual too. Like the whole package. I joked before about little french babies, and really I knew that wasn't going to happen, but it kinda felt like it could have and it sort of hurts to get close and then nope. C'est la Vie.   (I just used up my one legitimate use of the overused expression here, enjoy it!)

     Manon left for work about 8 am and I spent the day looking at maps on the internet and at train schedules and trying to come up with some plan. Finally I decided that I would make a circle of France and try to take night trains every day! I had a 9 day rail pass and had only used 2 days of it!

     Manon was the perfect friend for me. We were enough alike that it was sort of automatic between us, but enough different that we were interesting to each other. It was sort of like the Wizard of Oz, being friends with her, she gave me courage. But it was something that was already in me, just needing to be brought out.

     Manon came home from work and went with me to the train station. There was a lot of crying. It wasn't easy and I wasn't running away, I was doing what I needed to do, trying to be independent and brave and living life, why I was in France in the first place. I was sobbing on the train as it pulled out and she was too. Silly girls. I watched her out the window as long as I could see her. I calmed down after a few minutes and the seat felt comfortable and I felt excited to be headed into the unknown. Trite phrase, but that's what it felt like. I imagined Manon smiling at the thought of me all alone and being brave, and walking home with a little tune in her head and warm memories. I know that's what she felt. Happy for me.

Next Le Grand Cercle

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What I did this Summer Part 3, I go South

     It was a mistake. Not having gone upstairs with Nicolas and getting it done. Not fixing it up between us with the truth. Leaving town. Of course you don't really know how big a mistake you are making, while you are making it.

     I do now.

     When he said what he said, I should have just kissed him and told him why I was being hesitant. He had no way to know, I had satisfied him a couple times already with out even being asked, just not that way. I am an experienced woman and like sex, and wanted it with him, and even secretly had a goal of losing it this summer. It would have been perfect with him.

     I don't even have a good reason why I was saying no to him, except that I had built it up into this big thing in my head and sort of wanted him to know that, but was too embarrassed to tell him. We had shared so much personal stuff in the short time we knew each other, the kind of stuff you only tell people you trust, like about our dreams and stuff.

     I should have just gone upstairs and had the perfect experience it would have been and then told him. He would have got a tear in his eye and  gazed longingly and tenderly at me, and then professed his eternal love, and we would have lived happily ever after, having little french babies and dying in each others arms at age 100.

     Well thats one possibility. It would have been a treasured memory if it had just been a successful summer fling.

     I think that I just wanted to have the person know it was important to me and I got scared. I have a way of screwing up good things and only later realizing how good it was. I did it with my friends in high school, I did it with my mom and my family, and I did it with really the first guy that I thought about having serious feelings for.

     Margot was furious with him. Not that I said anything, but she could tell that something had happened and she knew that he was a man. I tried to tell her that I had messed it up with him, but I don't think she believed me. Especially when he called me to apologize and she heard his tone of voice, sounding guilty of something. Again stupid Chloe, doing silly little things that make waves that expand out into other people and have effects way past me. I hurt him. Or at least I think so, he sounded hurt when I told him I was going to go down to the south for a few weeks.  A rejection of him. But really me, scared, to dumb to fix it, embarrassed, running away.

     I hear he is going out with an art student with pink hair now. She does performance stuff where she takes her top off at sidewalk cafes in tourist areas and videos the peoples reactions. So I know I hurt him, because he is not a fool. But then she is probably not a virgin.

    Monseiur Varenne had arranged for Leticia to get a bit of vacation with a young grad student and his wife, and another girl. Leticia was not to happy about it really, she just wanted to hang out and go out, not be with strangers some where out in the countryside. So it came up that maybe I could go. Maybe Margot thought it and suggested, trying to protect me, or maybe Leticia just saw the opportunity to have a win/win. I jumped on it.

     So a couple days later Thierry and Marie, and Manon showed up in a little car jammed with stuff, and I added my stuff to it and got introduced and hugged and kissed and waved at, and I left Paris.

     Thierry was a doctoral student in neurobiology, and worked at the university in some lab job, and Marie was his wife of 2 months. This was sort of their honey moon as they only had a long weekend away after their marriage. But since they were not too well off financially, Monseiur Varenne had arranged for Leticia to go along and help with the cost and Manon was a friend of Marie's. Sharing it 4 ways, made it possible for them.

     Thierry was tall thin with dark hair and dark shadow of beard hair even after he shaved. He wore black rimmed glasses that were as plain as they come, but he was lively and intense. Not happy lively but just sort of energetic and hyper. He was a decent looking man if your into that sort of thin face, owl eye intense look. He was also super smart, although my first impression of him was that he needed to chill, and enjoy life. He looked and acted like he hadn't in a while!

     Marie was gorgeous! Not skinny, but not at all overweight. Sort of thinly voluptuous, like a skinny girl with big boobs and a butt that wasn't big but really stood out. Sort of a barbie but not disproportionate. She was died blonde, but not really, and was smart and funny too, and way more chill than her poor husband. She is the kind of girl who is super sexy, but also down to earth and doesn't flaunt it. I got the impression that she knew how good she looked but was kinda embarrassed by it.

     They were a good couple, you could tell they were bonded to each other and really loved each other. They sat up front.

     Manon was in back with me. She didn't seem too friendly at first, but english was not her strong language. I later learned that she spoke Dutch, (she was a student in Paris, but from the Netherlands), French, German, some dialect of Dutch, a little spanish and Italian, and pig latin in all of those, which was so confusing for me when she did it! I couldn't tell what language she was talking or if she was having a seizure!

     She was one of those quirky girls, sort of the kind that would look at you and giggle then look away off into their own world. She didn't talk much anyway, but smiled and giggled all the time. I even wondered if she was retarded at first, but no, definitely not I found out as we got to know each other. Her style was sort of like schoolgirl/anime mixed with hippy and second hand store. She was wearing a brown rough fabric dress with a piratey black cloth sash around the middle and some sort of clog shoes I had never seen before, and she had some sort of woven, beaded necklace and a blue scarf. With her pixie hair cut and her perfect madonna round face and green eyes like I would love to have, she was a totally unique person.

     She looked at me up and down and met my eyes as I got in and said bonjour with a happy smile, but then turned away and looked out her window as we started to drive, as if she was listening to music in her head. She didn't say or even acknowledge me for almost a half hour of driving, even though I was in conversation with Thierry and Marie. But it didn't seem she was angry or anything. She was just the sort of person who was happy by themselves. Shy yes, but not so much as just content to remain apart. I'm like that too, and she and I soon found that we had a lot in common.

    I had settled into my own thoughts after a while and was looking out the window when I felt her softly brush my arm to get my attention, and then started pointing out things outside the window and saying the french word for them. She had taken it upon herself to teach me french, like a little baby, but with the most gentle air of silliness to it that I could not have been offended. I was to learn that she was the most playful person I had ever met, but also had a massive imagination counter balanced by a keen observation of the world around her. She seldom made a mistake. She seemed to always know what was going on around her and acted appropriately. She just wasn't very verbal. The inside of her head must have been a gigantic playground that she only left when needed. Kinda like me.

     After a few hours of driving we needed gas, and a discussion ensued up front. I heard numbers flying back and forth and worried looks on Thierry's face and soothing remarks from Marie and more discussion. I can count to on hundred in french just fine, but I have a hard time making out the numbers when spoken. In fact I had a special trick for when shop keepers talked to fast. My bonjour is good enough so the they don't know I don't speak french, but anything else, especially the listening part is horrible, so what I do is say "me parler comme si j'étais un infant", speak to me as if I were a child. And of course my pronunciation is so bad that they get the idea right away and talk slow and exaggerated, and the men usually smile at me sort of flirty. The first time Manon heard me use this trick she laughed so hard! She kept saying things to me over and over in a high pitched slow voice for a while after that.

     Anyway we are at the gas station and Thierry turns and explains that their calculations of gas mileage, gas prices and such were a little off, actually 2.3 % off, they had plopped the numbers in to an algebraic equation, done in their heads and concluded that if they were 2.3% off going, then coming back would be similar and that they needed to adjust the food and entertainment portion by 4.6 %. Apologies to me that It may not be as deluxe a trip as I was expecting. Marie looked a little resigned, not sad but bravely happy in the face of it. Thierry seemed stressed. Manon amused but silent. Seems gas there is like 6 or 7 dollars a gallon and it was 50 euro to fill up the little 10 gallon tank. They had budgeted 200 euro for all the gas and any change in the budget had to be watched or they wouldn't have money to get home! These people were way to stressed! I would never do algebra on a vacation! But then I always had enough money.

     Nobody said anything to me, but I got one of my cards out and asked Thierry if it would work for gas, and that if we put all the gas on the card we wouldn't need to worry about cash as much. He started to frown, but then smiled and said he would try, and yes you can buy gas in france on an american visa card. We filled up and got back on the road a much more relaxed foursome. Finally a problem Chloe can fix! Monon brushed my arm again and smiled at me and sort of did a little wiggle dance in her seat. She did that a lot, gently brush you to get your attention instead of saying something. Marie handed back snacks and it was starting to feel like vacation.

     I've never had to worry about money. Not that we are rich, or not that we think of ourselves as rich. But Dad had always made a good amount and saved and invested, and mom had her business and her own investments, and money was never an issue. Part of the reason for that is that our family is not really all that status or material conscious. We had good stuff, but spending a lot always seemed to be sort of decadent. It was not the values my parents had. Mom had a mercedes slk as sort of an extravagance, dad usually drove his old toyota pickup that could carry a kayak or bike or camping gear, but had a Ducati in the garage under a tarp as his main extravagance. (I got the SLK for my 18th, but its too sad to drive still, because mom never let me when she was alive) Our house is real nice, but its paid for. Mom had received a $5000 inheritance from her grandma when she passed and invested in apple stock when it was like $10! and now it was worth hundreds, and she had other investments, and life insurance and her business, and all that was split between the 3 kids. Dads taking care of mine, but really I am financially in pretty good shape for an 18 year old girl. I have almost $100,000 of investments and own a mercedes. And Dad is paying for school too, because he did for the other kids. Some times I feel funny about it, but I have promised myself to not be stupid, and I'm not really a spender anyway.  Its good for me to be in situations where I see how it is for most people, having to worry about money. What it means for me is that I can do things with my life that people who need to spend their life working just feeding and housing themselves cant. Intellectually I know I have a moral obligation to somehow repay the universe for my good fortune, but I'm not sure how yet.

     But killing the stress on a road trip is a small start!

     We ate food they had brought as we drove, and finally got there about 8pm. There being  in the "gite de murier" or mulberry suite. It was a cute little sort of apartment, a tiny bedroom and a living room with a kitchenette and a fold out bed/couch. Guess who got the couch? Manon and I. Thierry and Marie being married and the reason for the trip of course had the bedroom. Not that we couldn't hear everything! And they were making up for lost time the whole time we were there! At least twice a day, and during the day they would disappear for "walks".    :)     I hope I get it like that someday.

     Abbaye Saint Hilaire is in Provence, and by coincidence only 50 km from where my dad was staying! Although I only went over and saw him  once. Its about 30 miles from the ocean, so easy day trips to the beach! But its in the country, on the edge of vineyards and backed up onto a small forrest. I can see why Leticia was not too thrilled about it, but for me it was great. I like to walk and chill and meditate sometimes and don't need a lot of excitement and stuff. They had a restaurant there and a great pool with views into the countryside and hiking trails marked with colored signs like ski trails to let you know how hard they were. There was a little village about a mile away and bigger towns all around. Each Gite had its own table and chairs with umbrella outside and a barbecue stocked with wood, in addition the the cooking facilities inside, and I think this was part of the reason we were there!

     Dining in France is expensive! Its not uncommon for dinner to be $30-40 euros, $45-60 dollars, although there are less expensive places and much more expensive! And you have to add wine to that too! So we cooked and barbecued most of the time. Its fun to go into town and buy dinner supplies and just make your day about eating and relaxing and drinking wine and laying by the pool. Manon was the best cook. She was so cute when she cooked, she would put a bandana around her head and hum little happy songs to herself. I think her cooking is why she was in the mix. I learned how to reduce wine in pan drippings and add some cream and make simple sauces from her, although they don't always gel for me, sometimes they separate. It sort of ended up with her and I being the cooks and since my skills are not up to what everyone was used to, I was her apprentice. But she was not a angry demanding chef! But like a 20 year old grandma, happy and nurturing, and she seemed to love feeding people. We ate chicken a bunch of different ways and fish a few times, but with the freshness of the food and the wonderful vegetables, it was like fine dinning, but more relaxed.

     We sort of got into a routine of going for groceries everyday to different places that had the farmers selling and deciding on what to have for dinner by what looked best, and then buy some wine and bread and maybe pastries for the next morning, and maybe have a coffee and then back. It felt good to have something to do. We walked into town on some days, used the car some and hitched rides too. We tried to make it so that Thierry and Marie could relax and be together as much as possible and not have to worry.

     Manon was good in bed too.   :)   I mean that she didn't seem to mind at all sharing a small by my standards double bed with a stranger. She didn't roll around or snore or hog covers, or mind that I didn't say a quick prayer before getting into bed!  It wasn't always easy to get to sleep with the newlyweds in the bedroom, sometimes it sounded like someone was going to get hurt! We would giggle about it and listen like pervy voyeurs, trying to guess when it would "crescendo". Sometimes we would listen to each other after.

     I slept better there than I had in a long time. I think I had been holding onto a lot of stress and anxiety over the last couple of years and it was starting to melt away. I mean here I was with total strangers in a strange country where I could barely talk, but I was more relaxed than at home. Maybe its just that at home you know what to worry about and there I was just out of it.

     But part of it was Manon. We became friends the instant she started teaching me baby french in the car. Its like when you are 4 or 5 and some kid comes up and starts playing and instantly your are friends. We really didn't talk much, when we talked it was about practical things, what time we would do something or where to go or things to buy, but not ideas and feelings. And not about ideas and feelings because we seemed to know what each other was thinking and feeling with out having to verbalize it.

     Manon had this amazing ability to show up. People call it presence, or charisma or personal power. She was childlike in her demeanor, but sometimes she would brush her fingers on your forearm to get your attention and you would look at her and it was like every fiber of her existence was totally focused on you. She was just completely present, and filling your attention. She could nod, or smile a certain way, or have some expression and you knew exactly what it meant and who or what it was about, and all without a word. It was almost as if she was telepathic or you were sharing minds with her. And then she would smile and her presence would fade back and you knew it was still somewhere, but it was like it was back in her own place.

    This is going to sound silly, but I imagine Jesus or The Budhha being like that. Probably way more so, so much that they could do it for any size group of people, but the same sort of intense "being there". Manon didn't do it with more than one person, except sometimes with Thierry and Marie, and then it was like it was divided between then, and so, less intense. It was an incredibly intimate feeling, and very safe feeling when she did it. I wanted to ask her about it, to describe it in words but we didn't have enough language in common to really talk that deep.

     It makes me think that there is some kind of god or fate or divine plan, that the universe arranges for me to have the experiences I do. Not that I believe in a god that is a person, or that watches over each and every second of our lives. But it make me feel like there is some more organization to life than what I know of.  I needed a friend and "god" provided.

     I am usually a fairly independent person. I'm quiet and keep to myself mostly, and I'm fine that way. Usually happier that way, than with a lot a people. I think Manon was like that too and even more so, but we sort of worked really well together, neither of us minded the other being there, or worried about what the other would think or want. It was just sort of automatic. We were together the whole time almost, we did everything together, and never seemed to need our time alone, like we normally would.

   She was wickedly mischievous. Wickedly! One day we had gone into town and were walking around looking at stuff and went into the church there to see it, luckily I had a scarf! So versatile, you can express your self with it, bandage wounds and be holy in the sight of god with it on your head if you wonder into a church! There were people in front doing the talk to god thing, and we were being real quiet, she did the stuff your supposed to, sign of the cross, coin and candle , a touch of holy water, etc, and I followed behind knowing god didn't mind me not doing it because my heart is pure, (or at least it felt that way, that day). We went over to the side where the mary was and I sat down and she looked like she might be saying something to mary, and then a family came in and was pretty loud, the parents not watching the kids and saying things to them way to loud for the atmosphere. I mean people were praying! Just as the family passed Manon, the father in the rear, Manon farted the loudest I have ever heard a girl fart. Seriously it echoed! She looked like she had to strain to make it so loud! And just at the same time the Priest came out of the confessional booth and looked at the loud dad like he did it! And other people were looking at him too with total disgust on their faces! OM FUCKING GOD! It was sooo funny!

     She made the sign of the cross to the mary and kneeled and then stood and  turned and we walked out of there holding our laughter, but almost bursting! If there is a god, he had to be rolling on the floor too, it was so perfect. Manon had more innocent goodness in her than a whole sunday congregation, and her fart was so like an act of piety, not profane at all, like it was a holy fart that lessons could be learned from. It was less a defiling of the church than the tourists coming in disregarding the real meaning and use of the place.

    We treated ourselves after that to some very nummy chocolate things with ground nuts in them, and very rich expresso. She was in a wonderful mood all day.

     She was fearless. Maybe that is why I felt safe with her. I sort of followed her around like a puppy, even though I felt we were peers in some ways, she was the wiser, braver one. I am so naive sometimes and get myself into things that I don't know how to deal with, and have the linger tickles of fear in the back of my mind that I will do something stupid. She had none of that, like I say fearless.

     One day we were exploring a town nearby, just walking around where the people lived away from the shops and stuff, and it was a little bigger town, and these two guys started paying attention to us, like watching us walk around and when we went by they said bonjour, and I bonjoured back, but she didn't say anything and we kept walking. A few blocks later, we saw them again, but in front of us, which meant that they had intentionally done it. Now I'm 5'3 and she is a little taller but we are not big, and we both could pass for 15, so these guys really had no business with us, but they thought they did, and started walking with us and talking and stuff. Manon did the little brush on my forearm thing and kinda put her lips together like "be quiet", and so we are walking along, looking ahead and ignoring them. These guys were probably mid 20's and I'm sorry but I have to describe them as greasy. Not dirty, but just sort of ewww. Insincere, vaguely threatening, stupid and obviously after a hookup without dinner and a movie. If they would have been smart and funny and joking and trying to make us comfortable it would have been fun, but that was not the vibe.

     We sort of got to where we could tell we were getting out to the edge of town and were feeling that maybe we should turn back, and they knew that too and stopped, so that when we turned around they were in our way, and just stood there smiling. The less stupid one took a step towards us, kind of testing our reaction. EKKK! I was about to pee my panties, I didn't know whether this was it, rape time or just macho posturing or what. We just stood there and then Manon started smiling at them real bright and started to turn on the presence thing she had, where its real intense that she is so totally focused on them, and it sort of startled them. The she holds up her hand with her thumb and pointer about a half inch apart and looks down at their crotches! OMG! They weren't too bright and it took a few seconds for them to get it, but then you could see them turning red and the anger building. But she just was looking right at them and smiling. Then it was like something in them broke and they deflated. They said some nasty words at her, salope and puta and stuff, but they turned and left.

     She wasn't so happy after that, not angry or scared, but kind of sad for a few hours. But she was back to humming to herself making dinner. I wonder if she knows men so well that she knew that would be the thing to do? Or was she just being defiant? All I know is she is fearless. I don't know what I would have done if I were alone, try to talk? Run? I don't think that I would have the guts to just stand there in their face and stand them down. She did.
     There were things that scared her. Well one thing. Her body. She was very pretty, she had a better figure than me, perfectly proportioned for her size, not too big in the hips and thighs like me, nice breasts, not at all overweight and not skinny. Not a barbie like Marie, but certainly a nice body. And a very pretty face and cute hair, so maybe she wasn't spectacular, but a lot of girls would think she lacked imperfections. But she had a thing about people seeing it.

     I noticed it the first time we changed to swim in the pool. We had pee'd in front of each other, it was just the one bath. Quicker that way, but that was with clothes still on. And we shared the bed in just panties and a cami, but I changed into my bikini in the bathroom and she was in there with me like it was not a big deal to see me naked, and I was sort of waiting for her to change and messing with my hair and stuff, but she wasn't changing, and gave me a look like she was waiting for me to leave, so I gave her her privacy and she changed and came out in her very modest one piece, and a cover over that, and a towel in front of her. I guess it was me stereotyping that europeans are all less modest.

     She swam and played in the pool like a little kid, but when she got out she always put her wrap back on or the towel. Its funny how everyone has their own thing. I'll be naked in front of anyone basically. I've been to a nude beach, and have skinny dipped with friends, boys and girls, and It doesn't bother me at all. Stare if you want. Want me to pose? But it seemed painful to her to be in the situation where others could see her too much.

     One day the manager came around asking everyone if it were ok to have a clothing optional day at the pool. Seemed that one family from Germany had thought that the pool was officially clothing optional and had asked if it had days and times. Well there was no official policy it seemed, and they were put out a bit, as they had expected it. The germans think nudity is healthy. The French just think it is fun. Well fun or not they felt uncomfortable if there was not a rule about it or some sort of policy, so the apologetic manager is trying to see if everyone is ok with it. Too funny, just take your clothes off and see if someone screams! But it ended up being an official policy that tuesdays, wednesdays and thrusdays were now officially clothing optional. Other days were topless ok, but not officially clothing optional. German problem solved and so we go out to the pool and there are the pink germans happily being healthy, and their kids being healthy and alls right with the world.

     Until Thierry took off his trunks. Again OMFG! There is a video on the net with the drummer with a bunch of tats, from some band, tommy lee and his wife, and this drummer is like real long. Like when a horse drops, all hanging down, and swinging around, in a way most men don't. Except Thierry! Wow! And like Marie is looking pretty proud, and Manon is giggling openly, and I am taking off my stuff absent mindedly staring at it/him. And the german wife is kinda open mouthed, and her husband is turning red and kind of huffing and whispering to her.

     Thierry had a bit of a smirk. Its not like he was aroused at all, just abnormal! The German man kept a magazine on his lap a lot. His was normal, and he was a bit heavy, so it was just a little thing above his testicles. Nothing that would swing! Too funny! And it was all his doing that we were naked! Thierry did have a couple of times when he had to jump into the pool, but really it didn't get much bigger, just started to not swing. I'm glad men have something to be self conscious about too, we have our boobs and our weight and our hair and our FACES!

    Manon kept her suit on. She didn't seem to mind the nudity at all and was perfectly comfortable with me and Thierry and Marie and the Germans, but it stayed on.

     Some of the best beaches in the world were just an hour or two from us and we went a couple of times, since gas wasn't a crisis. :) And I had said beforehand that I was going to go topless on a french beach never mind that I am fat right now! Actually I lost 15 pounds in France. I think I know what it is too, Starbucks®. I gained almost 50 pounds last year. I just lost control with all the other stuff in my life and in my head and I was drinking 3 or 4 starbucks everyday. Pretending of course that I didn't know that they were calorie bombs! Peppermint mocha, carmel mocha, white chocolate mochas, venti with whipped cream. Four would be an extra 2000 calories a day. It was like a drug, I was comforting myself and lying to myself too, because I was into healthy food, no McDonalds for me, chicken or fish and veggies and high fiber, less processed starches, salads and fruit. But now, no starbucks. Its been like 8 weeks since I had one, and its showing. Ok to be honest I had one when I got home from France. Just one.

     We went to a little circle beach called la plage anse de magaud in Toulon, which was like 30-40 miles south of us. I was thinking that it would be terribly crowded and all, but it wasn't. It was a tiny little cove with a restaurant against the hill on one side, and it was mostly families and tourists of course, but more relaxed than I thought. We swam in the mediteranean and drank wine and snacked and laid in the sun, and I took off my top. Manon looked at me like I was silly, but not like I was doing something wrong. I think she kinda knew I was a little bit of an exhibitionist. Marie took off hers for a while too. Finally after I had looked at Manon expectantly she pulled hers down for about 30 seconds, made some wavy motions like "ok boobs, get some sun" and then pulled it back up. I didn't see any gross scars or birthmarks or anything, just normal girl parts. Its one of those things I think I would need better french to explore, her feelings about her body and I didn't try.

     That evening we ate at the little restaurant, sitting on the deck watching the sun go down, well watching it get dark. Its a California thing to watch the sun go down, cause we face west! We drank wine and ate and sipped more wine and more food. I paid. Finally about 9:30 after coffee for Thierry (and us) we drove home. It was a beautiful day, nice drive, good company. Thierry and Marie of course did their duty before we all fell asleep. I would have been to tired.

     We actually did that same beach thing twice, and drove around seeing wineries bit, and once all of us went over to see my dad and have dinner. The area is so much like the Napa Valley, except it is more open feeling rather than just between to strips of mountain. One thing the Napa Valley doesn't have though it the lavender. There are a couple of fields here, but in Provence it is an industry. They eat it and perfume with it and probably use the stalks like hemp for all I know! There is a lot of it and I love it. It grows in big long rows that will follow the counter of the land for acres. Its my new favorite scent. Feel free to sniff me, if you see me.

   It went by quick. We stayed 15 days I think. For something so unplanned, it was the perfect thing for me. After the more hectic pace of Paris, and my blundering with Nicholas, this brought me back to a sort of calmness.

Next, back to Paris.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What I did this Summer Part 2, Chloe goes to Paris

  I was getting restless, and feeling overfeed soon enough. We had gone for some day trips, visiting local wineries, shopping in the neighboring towns and even one day to Marseille, about an hour and a half away. I bought a couple cute cotton sundresses and the uniform accessory  for french girls, scarves. I wanted to travel real light. One bag. Wasn't easy. French women seem to pull more style out of what they wear. They wear jeans like us, but almost always way more fashionable shoes. And the tops would be nicer and always a scarf! I felt silly wearing them at first, but started to get the hang of it. How you wore it said something about how you were feeling. Tight if you were nervous, loose if you felt sexy, and just the right about of drape to accent not kludge!

     Every thing I had sort of went with everything else. I didn't see the jeans under a dress thing like here, but it was summer. Leggings seemed to be standard, but not in the hot south and not much in Paris in the day either. I had the two dresses I bought in Marseilles, on blue and one a flower brightish orange blue and green flower pattern. Not as bad as it sounds, it looked sort of abstract. I had a pair of jeans, but I wasn't too thrilled with them because I am so fat right now, a pair of capris which were a gamble, but actually worked well because they are kinda american in a nice way even though they started in france years ago!

     Of course I had a bikini. Yes I know fat girls like me should find some one piece with ruffles! But fuck em if they can't take a joke!  I was going to let myself be seen, as I am, and not worry about it. And I planned to go topless anyway at least once and that would look silly in a one piece! It was sort of dark emerald green that was almost the color I wish my eyes were. I have specks of green in the brown, but … sigh …..oh well. And just for the record, yes my butt did hang out all over and was gross. What can I say, I'm a little bit exhibitionist. Why is it that its the fat people who want to show off anyway? Maybe cause the skinny girls get enough attention as it is.

     I only had two pairs of shoes, one pair of plain black leather flats that were pretty comfortable, and a pair of darkish blue sandals. I should have brought or bought a nice something with a bit of heal for night, being so short, but I didn't get thrown out of any where. I had a sweater and 3 mid sleeve cotton tops, and a collared and buttoned raw linen shirt, so I could do several different things with everything. I know it sounds horrible, but I wasn't laughed at on the street or anything. Its the scarves that made it all work  ;)

     So one morning Dad and I hopped in the rental car and drove back down to Aix-en-Provence for me to catch a train. By my self. I felt like a lost little kid going off to the first day of school. Who knows what monsters were hiding in the future days for me? What scary mean people, accidents, embarrassment! Yeah dramatic. But I was in a country where I didn't speak the language, didn't act like everyone else and didn't know anyone other than my dad.

     Really it was not so bad. Dad knew a family up in Paris and had arranged with me to couch surf them. They had a son and a daughter about my age, and it was assumed that they would clue me in a bit. And I had enough cash and credit cards to deal with any short term problems! And a rail pass, passport, clean undies and a real desire to throw my self out into it. I've lived a pretty protected life compared to many people my age…something I am coming to understand and appreciate. But for me it was the adventure of a lifetime. Well hopefully the first of many…   :)

     One of the first things I learned is not to go around, "la le la la la" smiling at strangers and saying hello to men who stare at me. I look about 15 sometimes, and I wasn't on the train for 15 minutes before some man sat down next to me and tried to engage me in too friendly conversation. At first he was all "were are you from?" California. "oh so nice, I visited disney land 2 years ago". "you  are a very pretty california girl". Umm yea, I know. (pretty being defined as having both boobs and no facial scars in the minds of some men). And he was married and had kids! Why didn't I think he was just friendly? Well it was his eyes, always meeting mine in a questioning smarmy way, when they were not on my tits. I would have been flattered if he didn't have a creepy vibe. And didn't have facial scars! (kidding)

     He gave up after an hour or so of my fading interest, and scarf positioned so that there was absolutely no cleavage! I learn fast. Scarves are very useful. Lucky for me he didn't want to perv my ankles !

     The rest of the train trip was a repeat of the trip down, me looking out the window thinking how much it looked like California, but didn't. Paris came quick, first suburbs that didn't look like ours, but definitely were, then the industrial areas, the bad neighborhoods, and suddenly stopped in a station, getting out into a confusion of people, some knowing where to go and many not so sure!

     Madame Varenne (Margot)  met me with a little sign at the end of the train. "Chloe :) ?" it said. I almost cried. She was real sweet, younger than my mom, friendly and sort of perpetually excited. She seemed genuinely happy to meet me and have me invade her house. I suspect it was her who talked her husband into extending the invite when he heard my dad and I were coming to France. She wondered where my bags were, but it was just the one and a small purse. So we left, me following trying not to get separated in the crowd, and went downstairs and through some tunnels under the train station to the Metro, the subway, that is the coolest thing ever for someone who is totally dependent on a car usually! (Well I do bike at school). The way it works is you get a little piece of paper with a magnetic strip on the back and put it into the turnstile to get in, and then you need it to get out too. But she had a pass and just waved it at the turnstile pulled me through with her!

     The metro goes all under Paris like a spider web. And you connect to other subways with tunnels so you can go down into it in one part of town and take several trains and then pop back up in the complete opposite part of the city! I ended up getting a pass and rode it a lot while I was there. It was fun to just ride to be around all the different people. It was strange seeing people from around the world. Since France was a colonial power once in Africa there were french people who were African. I even saw Africans dressed up like on National Geographic with colorful robes and stuff. One time on the street there was a group of African men all in robes down to their feet and with head wraps and walking sticks, and they were like 7 feet tall! It was a bit surreal.

Anyway we got to their apartment, its like everyone there lives in apartments if they live in the city. It was beautiful! Smallish, but with 3 bedrooms and great windows that opened up to little balconies, tall narrow floor to almost ceiling doors really. It had a kitchen and a dinning room and a livingroom and 2 bathrooms, which apparently is a big deal there, not like at home where everyones bedroom has its own bathroom!

Parisians are not like Californians. They don't like instantly welcome you into their circle, but are more formal and reserved. And me being the quiet and shy type, but used to being informal with people, didn't really know at first how to act. I was all chatty and smiley, and I think at first they thought some ADD kid was now in their home. It was like being with serious people who didn't smile right away and looked at you funny when you laughed at everything. But I learned soon enough that that was just the way they were, like how people from New York or New Jersey are loud, and people from the south are all pretend polite and warm.

Monsieur Varenne worked at the university and had the sort of "used to being listened too" way about him. His wife very obviously deferred to him. She would stop speaking and pay attention if he interrupted her!  And the kids would too. And it wasn't like he was mean, but it was very different from what I was used to. Later when I got to know him better I found that he was really very nice,  super intelligent and not at all as Imperious as he first seemed. He had a wonderful twitch and twinkle in his eyes when he was joking, and I really don't think he even realized that he would cut his wife off in mid sentence! It would be real funny though to have a reality show with some sarcastic disobedient american kids switch families with them and see what  happened!  Of course it will never happen because of the language thing.

Lucky for me, they all spoke english, and well. Yes they had an accent, but their grammar and vocabulary was better than many americans. My French is a solid 50 word vocabulary, mostly verbs and supporting words about body functions; eating, drinking and "le toilet". By the end of things I think I was comfortable asking directions, (not receiving them!), ordering food, and basic stuff, but I'm sure I sounded real bad. What I discovered was that if I tried in french first and they heard how bad I was, French people would automatically switch to english, just for their convenience! But if I started by saying "do you speak english", they would say no! I think it was sort of a pride thing and they didn't want to speak what they thought was their imperfect english and embarrass themselves! A lot of people spoke at least 3 languages, french, english and then spanish, italian or german depending on where in France they were. I was the one who felt embarrassed for not having really studied before hand.

I met their two kids at dinner, which by the way is pretty late! 8:30 or 9! Leticia is a  year older than me, and also just finished with her first year of college, and Théo who was 22 and about to start his last year. At first I though Leticia was thinking "who's this beyatch??", but again its a cultural thing that she wasn't instantly bff's with me and acted formal and cold. Théo seemed warm enough and friendly but I think thats because I was a girl and he very wasn't! And by very wasn't I mean he was nice looking, good hair cut and clothes, a bit of stubble and attitude and he had a lot of self confidence. He moved and acted like a young lion, smooth and powerful and unafraid. My first thought was "heck yea!?" He's sexy!" But of course he was serious with someone equally hot, cool and fashionable, so oh well.

Leticia was nicknamed "leticy" sort of "let tea sea", but I never got close enough to call her that. I did make the blunder of saying "Oh thats like my nickname! My family and friends call me CiCi!". She looked at me like I was an idiot and like I was trying to get her dad to pay attention to me! As If I was out for her Dad! Oh well. She was actually very cool, and confident. She hung out with skater boys and sort of alternative people and she took me out with them a few times and she was really more "california" than anyone else my age that I met there. I hated how many of her friends smoked! But they were chill and up for shenanigans that didn't cost money, like just hanging and going places in the city and stuff. Its so funny though to see a girl in vans and jeans and tshirt, and a scarf that cost more than any my mother had. She is a kinda take charge girl and I don't think she would be bothered a bit being anywhere or in any style, she'd just rock it and act like it was nothing.

Once she figured out that I wasn't going to be a pain she was genuinely friendly and I really like her a lot. I think that it was just maybe that she thought she was going to have to babysit me for touristy stuff, and have to cater to me. All I wanted to do was hang and tag a long and chill. I was happy just to be there and see anything. It was cool to sit and watch a bunch of friends chill and joke, but in a completely different language and little bits of different culture.

Young people in France grew up a little different, they are used to drinking and smoking at an earlier age. High school kids have friends over and have beer and wine in the living room and their parents don't mind. I hate the smoking though. And in Paris they seem to be used to being independent in the city, going out at night, to clubs or parties or friends. It sort of makes them seem to me to be more sophisticated. I compare it to parties at college where 18 year old guys are drinking and making fools of themselves and girls are drinking too much and making fools of themselves, and its because its new and they never learned how to act. My mom and dad would always let me have wine if we had if for dinner, even since I was like 10. Although I did abuse alcohol a lot for a while, I think it is better to get some experience early and under some protection, rather than in the backyard of a frat house with 10 kegs and vomit all over and guys peeing everywhere! Eewwww bad detour of the story!

Leticia and her friends were fun to be around, its like they didn't care about unimportant stuff like having perfect clothes or being somewhere cool, since it was summer and everyone was out of school, every night was sort of a casual mobile party, we would go out and just happen to meet up with some others, and someone would say lets go somewhere, maybe someones house or a cafe and then other people would show up and some would leave and you would have been 3 or 4 places, had fun hanging out and all unplanned. Drinks would be had, maybe a little food, lots of excited talking, hugs, and on to the next.

Leticia didn't have a boyfriend as far as I could tell, but there were several guys who were very obvious to me trying to get her to pay more attention to them. Thing about French men is that they are still macho and dominant even though they don't think so! And Leticia was a strong independent woman and it made it frustrating for them I think. Its not like she wasn't friendly and affectionate with them, but like she was making them wait. I saw her make out with two different guys, but neither was like "it" for her.

French men could put some serious moves on an american girl. They knew how to talk and how to get to the point. They flattered and payed attention to you and openly asked you for what they wanted. I had to be careful because accepting a coffee invitation meant a little more in their minds, than mine. Silly me though it meant you go for coffee and talk and get to know each other. No, it was the venue for negotiating a hookup. So an innocent seeming invitation was really me agreeing to meet and negotiate! Not that it was a done deal, but it was a bigger deal than I understood. It was nice though, to have men be honest, not just sort of pretend they like you just to get some, or be so insecure that they cant even ask or tell you they are attracted! I mean its nice to have someone want you, even if just for sex. And if the guy is polite, well I can say no just fine, but who wants to be maneuvered and played with if they don't really like you. I think I like french men better, after figuring out how it was.

I met a guy who really liked me. It didn't work out, but it almost did. We had a strong attraction, both physical and as people. Not that it could ever have turned into a relationship, but it sure would have been a killer hookup! It would have been "that time in Paris" for me that I would have wrote about in my later years…   :) Its my fault it didn't work, I got scared by some of the cultural differences I didn't really realize, and scared by some of my own issues that I probably ought to just keep light about and write about elsewhere.

We spent 8 of the various days I was in Paris, together, hanging out with others and sometimes alone and it was probably more intense than anything I have felt with a guy. Not that I totally fell in love and not that I slept with him, but almost.  :)  (To both!) I have never wanted a mans tounge so far down my throat or his hands on my body as much. Maybe its that I'm older than the last time I had a guy around, and that he was older than me and knew what to do with me. He treated me, like me.  And talked and listened and appreciated me for who I am. I got the impression that he could probably have sex with any girl around him and wasn't all that worried about it, and didn't need to put any pressure on, and that something guys should learn, we want it too, but we don't want to feel like that's all it is, unless thats all we want!

I met him at a club that I went to with Théo and his girlfriend Suzzane, he was a friend of Théo's. Théo and suzzane were into a different thing than Leticia, they liked stylish clothes and clubs and more chic places. Suzzane was in school too, but she also had an internship somewhere prestigious, and came from a family with money, and looked like a model. I felt like I was with celebrities when I went out with them, people noticed them when they came into a room and they know a lot of people like themselves. I was real out of place around them, short fat me with just a few changes of clothes, and no ability to even speak! At least in the cool language.

Théo's parents were even a bit deferential to Suzzane, I suspect they thought her family would be a good match for their son or something! She was beautiful and gracious and would be a real asset to him. Women as assets, silly Chloe, what am I saying? But it's the truth, who you have around you shapes your life.

Back to Nicolas, Théo's friend, my "thing in Paris". Sigh…..  We were at a little club somewhere and I was off making sure the wall was decorated while the tall beautiful people chattered away about French stuff and this man walks up. At first I though he was older and was all getting ready to put up defenses, but it was Nicolas who I had been introduced to quickly the night before and he just real naturally started a conversation with me. God he looked good. Like 6 foot, 175 and athletic, but not at all buff, and wearing a simple shirt and jacket and slacks that would look silly on an american but casual on a frenchman, and he smelled good, (except for those damn cigarettes!) and knew just how not to shave, and smiled easily with little crunches at the edge of his eyes, and dark blue eyes and dark hair, something I'm not used too.

I still wonder how it happened that he liked me. I'm not much to look at now that I'm fat, and I'm really pretty shy usually, but we got to talking about stuff. He's at school with Théo and serious about things like politics and the environment, and in a way that is not all unreal and radical, but practical and smart. I think his family is rich and connected and he is the kind of guy who will move in the same sort of circles as he goes on in life. We had in common an interest in budhhism, which he dabbles with a bit and reads about. Actually I probably meditate more than he has yet, but he has read a whole lot more and was way better educated about it than me. We talked about my dad and his work, and about the writing project I'm working on and it was like he got who I was, more than this quiet chubby little american GIRL. I was a woman and interesting, and that felt so wonderful. We sat by ourselves and talked until it was time to go.

I just thought it was a great night and that it was a one time thing, but he called at the Varenne's for me a couple days later. Margot had a funny look on her face when she handed me the phone, sort of like well! What have you been up too? Go get it girl! She knew him of course and I suspect she kinda thought that he was out of my league! I mean if you know me and stuff, and know what I look like now, I'm maybe cute, but Nicolas is what american women call tall dark and handsome, and rich too!

We talked on the phone for a while, sort of flirting and getting to know each other in daytime mode, and I suspect he was sort of thinking "what am I doing with this girl?". But then he asked me to dinner, and I explained my clothes situation and didn't know if I could, which made him laugh, and he assured me that he would take me somewhere I would feel comfortable. So we did. And I love the way the french eat. You go to a place and you own the table for as long as you want, no waiter acting like someone is waiting for it after you. I think some people would think the service is slow, but really its relaxing to sit and have some wine and talk and have a little something come out, and you eat it, and drink some more and then something else comes out, and drink and more, and cheese and coffee and talking until you are just tired of being there. Which is hard to image when you are flirting with those deep blue eyes that are flirting back. And genuinely find interesting in conversation and interests.

Then we walked for a couple of hours in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, at night in the warm summer. Funny. First date and we are walking along talking and laughing and I realized that he is holding my hand and I could NOT remember him taking it. I know its all 5th grade, a guy holding my hand, but it was so….wonderful.

Maybe its a new thing to him to have a woman like to be with him and talk and not just want him for his georgeous bod and money, or maybe he'd had enough of tall beautiful model/slut women who had sex on command, or maybe we knew each other in past lives and were rediscovering each other.

He took me home sometime past 2 am and he was smiling at me and telling me he had a nice evening, and I just stood my my tiptoes and kissed him full on the lips. He was a bit surprised but kissed back just fine, thank you. I had a hard time getting to sleep with all the silly stuff in my head, and then slept till noon. Margot had a funny little smile on her face when I woke up.

He called again in a couple more days and asked what would be fun for me, so I told him that I wanted to go to the beach, by which I meant the Plages, where they close the roads along the Seine and cover them in sand, and make beaches. The have concerts and swimming and lots of ice cream and snacks and people hang out. Theres three different areas and they're open till midnight and I was thinking maybe picnic and maybe champagne and lying in the sun, and he was into it! So we did.

Of course I had forgot completely that this meant I would have to wear my bikini in front of him! Holy stupid chloe! I guess I felt pretty comfortable with him to just completely forget! But I did it anyway. See, I do live dangerous! I don't quite look pregnant in it, but its not the look that you see in ads, my little boobs and big butt and belly spilling out of something too small for coolness. Maybe I was testing him, like "see, this is me" "still like?". But he didn't react badly and I did notice him looking. Of course I looked too, at him. He was wearing a traditional europeon swim suit, what we call a speedo. Not all men do there anymore, a lot of the young guys wore board shorts like they see on mtv. But he looked so masculine in it! I mean you could really tell he was a man and there was no doubt! There is something about the confidence men have, just so out there where everyone can see you have one, but not a worry in the world. I know its sort of eeewwww when guys do it here in the US, but maybe its more about the confidence. Guys here at home seem to give off a vibe of being a bit self conscious about it.

I didn't go topless there. That would have seemed weird to me to do it there with him, although I did later in the summer! But thats later.

We went to the Plages 3 different days, not for all day, but we would get dressed and walk around or go and eat or go to someones house and hangout for a while. We went for a drive a couple times, once to Versailles and had a picnic on the grounds by the lake. Thats the first time I really understood how much physical passion he had, and was holding back. We ate a bit of like deli food, little containers of nummy stuff he bought in a market and some wine and bread, and talk, and we were off by the trees and the french seem to like to make out in public, other couples were, and well we did too, and had been for a while, and I was so….just melting into it, and laying on my back and him on top of me a bit, nothing obscene, but certainly more than just kissing. If we were alone in private….well. We weren't, but I could tell exactly to the inch how much he wanted me, and suddenly I thought a bee had stung him or he was having a seizure! But then he starts busting up laughing! And hugs me and kisses me different, because, well, he had had a little accident! Ah the power of a woman, to make a man loose all control.

There is nothing so happy looking as a man cuddling in a park, satisfied. I think we both dozed off for a while, me thinking a phallic gaullic objects, the eiffel tower, cathederal spires, Nicholas.

We had a fight the last time we were together. Just a little one and certainly within the bounds of the intimacy we had going. He wanted to, was a little tipsy and a little macho, and I was dramatizing my issues and not acting willing, and he got a bit frustrated and said something mean. And the moment he said it, I knew he knew what a mistake it was. I don't think he realized either, that it would have been my first time. We were both embarrassed and upset with each other, and said good night, and that's the last time I saw him. We did talk again a couple times on the phone, but stupid me, too proud to just tell him my issues and get the intimacy back. Now I look back and think how silly. I wanted him so bad. I just don't have the skills with myself and with people to recover from mistakes like that. It would have been perfect.

A couple days later I ended up leaving Paris for the south.

Sorry Nicholas. Now maybe you know why.

What I did this summer

I'm home. Whew! Jet lagged and ragged, jazzed, tired, and a little disoriented. Yea I still know how to get to starbucks… but it feels so weird to be here where everyone speaks the language I am comfortable with. Its like a dream and I feel like I will wake up and be back in the dream I was having before!

Yea, it was a dream. Some cool stuff happened to me and I didn't end up robbed, kidnapped or raped! Kinda close on the last one…I'm not used to the way Europeon men are. But I am intact, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In fact in better shape that I left.

We flew from San Francisco direct to Paris on Air France. Daddy didn't spring for 1st class, but thats fine with me cause I'm not to tall or long, but it didn't look comfortable for him! There is no leg room, and his knees were against the seat in front of him. But it was an overnight flight, so we both sort of slept as much as we could. We got into Paris about 2 and took the Air France bus to the train station and then the TGV to Aix-en-Provence. The train wasn't until 5, but it seemed like we ran the whole way, and didn't have a moment to spare. This girl was looking longingly out the window of the bus at Paris and the people, and I almost asked Dad if I could just get out here!

But that wasn't the plan, and it worked out better anyway, for me to go down to St Martin de Bromes with him and stay for a bit to get my head straight for France. Its different there, people aren't like Americans in some ways. You say bonjour when you go into a shop! Imagine being expected to say hello every time you went into a store here! People would think you are crazy! Even in the best little boutiques, no one pays any attention to you unless you look like money bags here! I'm going to try it though, say "bonjour" in a sweet high friendly little voice…and watch the confused faces! But there it is common courtesy. It took a while to get used to, and it wasn't like you were being friendly saying it, but just polite. French people seem a little more formal, or way more formal compared to California!

Anyway we ate on the train. It was like airplane food except you walked to the bar car to get it. I had Aligo et Saucisse d'agneau! Sounds fancy and delish! It was mashed potatoes and sausage topped with cheese. Dad said its called sheapard's Pie here. It did taste pretty good though. France is a major foodie place. I'm in love with it for many other reasons, but the food is enough for a pretty decent affair to be built on. Of course you pay for it. That little meal was 12€. And a € is $1.42, so microwaved mashed potatoes and sausage is a $17 meal. And a coke was about $5! Oh well. Really if you stay away from tourist and travel places, the food is more reasonable and very good. I didn't have the Coke by the way. Dad bought us both wine. Its 18 here. I felt so sophisticated. Funny though because I sure don't feel sophisticated having a glass of wine at a party at school…but then no one in france is going whoo hoooo! and drinking so much that they puke. I did drink a lot of wine there though, just appropriate amounts each time. Well most times… :)

It only took 3 hours to get from Paris to Aix-en-Provence! And it was like 475 miles, like driving from here to Newport Beach. Yea I know you can fly faster, but really with all the wait time for flying and security hassles and then the ground transportation issues, the train was faster! We got there like 8:30 and Dad had a car reserved and it was another hour up to where we were staying.

France is so like California. California is messier, but the country side looks a lot alike. I think it is because France is such an old and established country, that things are just more settled and orderly. In California there is still open land that no one is using, so people don't really worry as much about things getting run down or junky, there everything is used and has been for hundreds of years!

I spent the whole 3 hours staring out the window, and listening to the people around me talk. It was kinda like a dream, unreal but pleasant. And of course I was a bit spaced out from the time differences and travel! I wish we had trains like the french do, its way more relaxing to travel. Even though they go 300 kph which is about 200 mph, they are smoother and quieter than an airplane and you can walk around and not feel so much like you are going to die!

Dad had got me a Eurail Pass, so I ended up riding the trains a bit, and its so cool to be able to walk or take the metro and be at a major train station in minutes and go to another city or town in a few hours. Train stations are in towns! not miles out in the boonies, or long cab rides away! And since everyone uses them the schedules are like every hour! Way cooler than airplanes.

I didn't get to drive over there at all, the rental car didn't allow anyone under 24, but then on the trains anyone under 26 is a youth! But thats ok, because they drive different there and I would probably end up crying. It was like they all knew what they were doing and were kind of aggressive about it. Dad seemed to know what he was doing and changed from his normal poke a long self into a bit of a formula one guy. I had never seen him drive aggressively, but he is real observant and just figured out the feel of it and went for it. I saw a few times while I was there were people were yelling at each other out of their cars and making hand gestures, but luckily not with dad! He is multi talented.

We got there after 10 pm and the lady who watched the place let us in, and I headed straight for my bed. And woke up the next mooring in the dream! Dad had gone and got croissants and made coffee and the air was light and smelled like grass and other sweet stuff, and it was quiet and warm and a world away from my normal life. I don't think I had felt that relaxed and happy and content in years. Of course there were a couple of real shitty years in there! But this was so nice. My mission for the day, chill and recharge, and eat when told.

Dad seemed to have a lot of energy, out at dawn to the boulangerie, then after coffee he said he needed to get his bearings and went for a walk in the village. I didn't! Oh, if you're going to france…don't expect the same quality of bathroom as home. They're tiny and the water heater is this gas thingy in the kitchen that only puts out a trickle! I so wanted a nice long steamy shower and what I got was marginally clean and barely had room to open the towel all the way to dry off. Oh well. Spoiled little me! (Really I am! its true) :)

He came back later with fruit, bread, cheese, wine and flowers! Imagine my dad buying flowers for no occasion? Well its sort of the way they roll in france. They like to live well, even though they are way less extravagant than we are. So the place looked a bit cheerier, and we wouldn't starve.

I stayed for almost 2 weeks before I knew it was time to travel. Dad and I talked a lot. In vino, veritas, as they say. We had a nice lunch every day I stayed, and wine with it and sometimes a nap too! It was the custom there at least for the older people to have the main meal at lunch, and 2 hours is plenty to eat, talk and even doze off.

Dad is kinda ready to move on, or to sort of change what he is doing. I think he will officially retire, he's 65 and its a good time for him to follow more personal interests that his work. Its not like his work wasn't interesting to him, but with mom gone, its just a logical point in time. I think he is going to write, slowly, but probably fiction, maybe using some of the people he met in his work for the basis of characters. Hopefully mix and match! So that no one can be identified! I don't think he has a plot line yet, only sketches of characters. Funny. I'm writing too, I'm working on something autobiographical but fiction. How you say? Well I will just write about me in 10 years time! I'm pulling bits and pieces of "character" off of people I meet and adding them to "me". Don't worry, it will not be too boring as anyone who knows me knows, there will be drama! Hopefully less painful in real life as my past shenanigans. :(

I don't know if he will really try to go to india though. I kinda hope not, but if he needs to he needs to. I'd rather he meet someone. Mom would have wanted that. But then if he goes to india he will probably meet some woman from Marin anyway, so maybe its good.

More to Chloe goes to Paris!