Monday, July 25, 2011

Way Over Yonder...


I am sitting in the air-conditioned, first-class lounge, sipping Champagne, waiting to board my one-way flight back to the USA after 18 years, 11 months and 2 days of living in Paris. The past month, and in particular, this past week, has been an emotional roller-coaster ride.

I realized for the first time since my childhood, I will not have a key to my own front door. This is an incredibly liberating experience... my life is packed into three pieces of luggage (no mention of the 99 pieces being shipped!) and I have a few temporary places to stay while I look for a place of my own.

I've met some amazing and wonderful people whom I shall miss, deeply. I learned a new skill and turned that knowledge into a business that has sustained me over the past 5 years. I've reveled in the city of Paris, especially at night while driving past the monuments lit up in their glory. The seasons, the light as it changes with each season, the food, the wine, the cheeses... Paris is... Paris. I will miss Paris. I will not miss living here. I can always come back.

I begin my new life with barely a chance to unpack, and head to a conference in San Jose. I will hook up with a friend I have known since I was 16. I am looking forward to seeing you, Ro. I have concert tickets lined up beginning with Buddy Guy on my birthday, and plans to head to Long Island to see family and friends there. I will take a trip to see the craggy coast of my memories... (Watch this space! www.craggycoaststudio.com).

My son and I had our last night together for a while and we made the best of it. Lots of hugs and tears. He is a man now, a fine one, and he is doing well in university... I am so very proud of him. I know this is a difficult transition, but we agreed, it is time. Our visits from now on will be longer, and more fun in that we will have that extra time to spend together.

There are three women in particular who have meant the world to me while living here. Alice, Alison, and Barbara... from each of you I have learned so many different things about life. Thank you for the long talks, the encouragement and especially your friendship and support. I love you all.

I was fortunate to be involved with several Anglophone associations in Paris. If you are planning on living here, you must join, AND get involved with one or several of them. Doors will open.

5 minutes to boarding...

Paris has been a big part of my life. Now, the page is turned. I am looking ahead, with hope, happiness and a hunger to start again. I never thought I would say this! Au revoir, Paris... je t'aime!

Way over yonder, that's where I'm bound...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

There are places I remember...


The prompt to write this is from an article a friend posted on FB. She said she was bullied as a child. I understand that. I know how it feels, except that, I was not so much bullied. More bulldozed.

I spent my young life as a Navy brat, moving from state to state, changing schools, adapting to new situations and while doing so, knowing that at a certain point in time, it would happen yet again and I'd have to rebuild a whole new set of friends and reference points. Oddly, I always envied the kids who came in from an overseas post, not speaking English, or not fluent enough, who got tossed into the system to survive. I wondered if it was easier for them, to have that barrier of language to hide behind? Is it any wonder I had no qualms about moving to a new country, not knowing the language or having a deep seated passion to be here? My life would have been a lot simpler had I stayed in the US. Conversely, I never would have met the people I have, nor would I have learned the skills I did. That bulldozer was a blessing in disguise.

I have a lot going on right now. A divorce. This blog is being called into court. (Please read all the posts and you will know who I am.) My son turns 19 tomorrow. I am grateful for every moment I get to spend with him. He has his own set of circumstances that he is going through. However, it is his story to tell when he is ready.

After many years of being on my own, I fell in love. It ended abruptly, leaving me to wonder too many things about me, and who I am. I have been rebuilding my life this past year. It has really sucked at times, but it has also been a revelation for me to know what is important and why.

With that comes empowerment, and doubt, and retrospection, and hope. There have been days when it took every thing I had to rise, shine and give it my glory glory... And other days, when it was great to be alive. I must sound like a total schizophrenic. Trust me. I'm not so bad!

I thought I would be in a different place today. In a way, I am. And now I can move forward. With a lot of hard work, things are looking up. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities I am being presented with. And, I am truly thankful for the real friends I have in my life. You all mean so much to me. Even with letting go of the past, it is also important to keep a memory or two of faith, hope and love from that past. To know where you came from, and how you got here. There are several people I can say this to...

In my life, I'll love you more...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I can see clearly now...


There are a few stories in play here... bear with me.

1. The austerity program is a great diet plan.

Today is Bastille Day. The day of the French uprising... revolution... storming! And storm it did. I normally shop on a Tuesday. I have the Carrefour fidelity/passe card... Tuesday is 'spend 60 euros, get 3 euros back'. Last week, I couldn't make it on the Tuesday. So, I planned ahead and ate out of the freezer until I needed fresh stuff. Easy enough... however, during the week, I went to Carrefour, not with the caddy, but with the shoulder bag for a few items. I spent less than 20 euros and got a bon for "Buy 80 euros of stuff, get 8 euros off if you shop on Wednesday, July 14". That's Bastille Day. The biggest French holiday going. That's today. It was pouring rain today. POURING. As in BIG, FAT, pouring rain. I waited at home until it cleared a bit, then I got my shopping list together, tossed an umbrella into the caddy as an afterthought and walked on over to Carrefour to "make the groceries".

This being mid-July, and a holiday, I thought about how much I love Paris in the summer when most people are gone and the store is empty... happy, happy, I hummed some tunes from last night's CSN concert, debated "less filling, tastes great" (NOT)... grabbed some fresh herbs, a couple of ripe tomatoes, some yummy, smelly cheese and the necessary list items... checked out and headed to the exit.

When I got to the door, I saw a crowd of people standing just inside the exit. Hmmm. Then I saw the downpour. The deluge. This was a rain that was not going to end soon. (Hindsight note to self: I was right... it lasted another 20 minutes.) After watching and waiting for five minutes, I decided to go for it. I thought, "I am only three blocks from the store. I had my brolly. Deal with it!" Hah! I lost my first sandal at the first corner. The curb was covered in water... little did I know just how deep it was. Stepping into it, my wonderful, comfy sandal was swept away with the Parisian street tide... I stood for a few moments in disbelief, trying to Brail my foot around to find the sandal... no glory. I slogged on... trying to keep my groceries dry while moving forward, one foot shod, one foot bare. The next corner was as deep and as fast as the first. At this point I thought WTF? and gave it up... I stepped in and the other sandal was gone. Mind you, at this point I was knee-deep in rushing water, holding an umbrella in one hand and dragging the caddy and a carry-along sack in the other. I'm not sure when I gave up the pretense of using the umbrella as protection.

2. Shades of yesterday.

Those of you who may have followed this blog know that I have been looking for my long, lost, TRES EXPENSIVE first pair of glasses. They were tri-focals. They were the first pair of glasses I ever owned/needed. I paid 1200 euros for them in 2008. I never claimed them with the French Soc Sec... why not? I don't know. Nuf said. In any case, they were my first pair of glasses. I could see. Or so I thought. The opthomologist said, "It might be hard to get used to them. You are going from nothing to tri-focals. Be careful on stairways!" Woof. She was right. I felt like I was (ahem) not myself. The three-way vision... up, middle, down... let alone, the far, medium, close was throwing me off. I couldn't deal with them. I tried... I really, really tried. Then, I put them away. I pulled them out every now and then to see if I could see with them... No dice. So, in a fit of frustration, I put them somewhere where I wouldn't lose them, yet still use them. You know how when you put something somewhere where you think you might find them? Yeah, well. That was two years ago. I searched high and low for those damned glasses. All I could think of was 1200 euros down the drain.

3. Revelations

Speaking of down the drain, I made it home. Barefoot, soaked and laden with a week's worth of now sodden groceries. I unpacked the caddy and carry-sack, put the frozen stuff into the freezer and set the rest out to dry... I got out of the soaked jeans, took a shower to wash off the yuck and threw everything into the washer. In the meantime, the sun came out, so I put the caddy on the balcony to dry out. While there, I decided to empty the pockets... lo and behold. Guess what I found? After two years of searching for the glasses in the bright yellow case? There they were. Right under my nose all this time.

Lately, I'm finding that a lot of my answers/solutions to life ARE right under my nose. I just need to look beyond the obstacles that are in my way. And you know what?

It's gonna be a bright, bright, bright sun shiny day...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

She comes in colors everywhere...




Choices. Remember when a box of 64 was a fantasy come true? The choice of colors... the names... violet red, sea green, sky blue, cerulean... the infinite possibilities...

I am once again faced with choices. Infinite possibilities. And yet, once again, I stand alone.

I had a client here today. I can truly call her a dear friend. We were discussing one of her projects. We pulled out that box of crayons... it was sitting there... we talked, and we colored. She'll be 75 this year. She kicked my ass. With a huge dose of reality. I think I will frame the results.

She's like a rainbow...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

She moves in mysterious ways...


Today is Ada Lovelace Day... an opportunity to blog about a woman in technology and computing whom you admire. Back when this project was announced, I vowed to blog about my favorite woman in computing. What they didn't know was, lucky me... I have two!
Way back in October 2001, I met Alice. I have written about her before... She is my business partner with HostingParis.com and LetsBounceBack.com, and the best friend I could ever have.
We met at the American University of Paris. We both signed up for the Web Design and Site Management course... it was two nights a week for several months and covered 90 hours of instruction. We started with basic html coding and learned the intricacies of forms the hard way and, in the end, produced working websites. I convinced her to take the follow-up Flash course and also roped her into a digital photography course at Parson's Paris. (We love to learn!)
We built our little web business slowly, word of mouth within the Anglo/Non-profit orgs/Artist community in Paris; and we are still growing. Our turning point came when we learned about Mambo, an open source content management system, which has since taken us to Joomla!, also an open source content management system.
Alice is my techno-geek chica. She loves the tech side of things... where she can spend hours Googling and figuring out something in PHP and MySQL, I can can spend hours making it look pretty with CSS and graphics. We have a mind meld that works. Our mantra has always been "two heads are better than one". We have another mantra: The Circle of Love. The Circle of Love is composed of those folks who impress us so much with their love of what they do: their passion, their intensity with which they give and their downright goodness. Which brings me to Alice's daughter, Catherine... who, might I say, is AWESOMENESS extraordinaire! Believe me, I smile when I say AWESOME! :-)
I am going to pull text from a proud mom's blog... (also posted on our recent project: LetsBounceBack.com, take a look!
"...Catherine is a first year PhD student in Computer Science. Her specialty: Human and Computer Interaction (HCI) and User Experience (UX).
She was a Computer Science major at a small, all-female liberal arts college, and her combined research experiences, and the mentorship of a family friend who is also an HCI matriarch, amongst others.
Despite her young age, she has numerous research experiences under her belt, has attended and presented papers at many conferences (including Grace Hopper and CHI), and continuously forges a broad and strong network in her field. She holds her own in this highly male-dominated sector, and is an enthusiastic advocate for women in computing, never missing an opportunity to encourage women to consider a career in technology.
Last summer Catherine was a contributor on the G-Nome Surfer project, a genomic information visualization program for a table top interface."

Woof! May I say again, WOOF!!
Catherine was very patient one evening around the kitchen table as she tried to teach me and her mom basic java scripting... frustrating for her, I am sure, but a fond memory for me! Her patience and her Eureka! moment as she figured out something she was working on made the evening. Catherine is a woman to watch. I am honored to know her, and her mom. Two special women worthy of Ada Lovelace's admiration.
It's all right, it's all right, all right...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Blue moon...


The new decade was brought in with a blue moon and a partial eclipse, how special is that?

A wish for the new year and this new decade... May it bring you true joy and contentment, all you hope for and all you dream of...

And when I looked my moon had turned to gold...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not fade away...


This has been a year of many realizations and discoveries. Of letting go and moving on. Of finding joy and for once, reveling in it. Completely.

In these last few days of this decade let us hope for better things; for peace, for positive change and happiness. Simple gestures... make it better.

Love is real, not fade away...