Dec 21, 2009

2009: The Cliff Notes

The Boy leaves. He puts in cameo appearances a couple times over the next few months, which just makes it worst. My cats try to distract me from the sudden emptiness of the flat. I get staffed on the Nightmare Banking Project, where I have the great privilege of getting yelled at by my client on a daily basis. It's cold in Paris.

Turns out my cats (along with my lifestyle, my cigarettes, and Pluto) have been making me sick and I end up in the emergency room. After an extended hospital stay, I'm forced to give up my cats and my cigarettes, and Pluto is no longer a planet. I go back to work. Bad move. I get a haircut. Good move. I'm still staffed on the Nightmare Banking Project. I start using this blog as an escape mechanism.

I go to New York and cry through most of it (despite N's best efforts). I go to OBT training and cry through most of it (despite Buddy's best efforts). Apparently it all has something to do with my lungs but I don't remember what.

I go to work in London. I get much-needed rest and medical attention. I get even-more-needed time with fabulous girls, a Pilates instructor obsessed with my "horizons", and an old "friend". I get very little sunshine. Michael Jackson dies and all of a sudden "Smooth Criminal" is cool again.

I make the important decision to leave consulting. I make the even more important decision to start writing a novel. I fall in love. I run a lot. I make long road trips in a Twingo. And some in planes and trains, too.

I get my heart broken (I guess some things go full circle). I realize I have very, very dear friends and it's important to spend as much time with them as possible. I keep running. I wonder if the shoe-obsession-thing may actually become a problem. I leave my beautiful apartment. I reach the 50-page mark on the novel. I make lots of travel plans for 2010.


So there you go. My year in a nutshell. Good things, bad things, attempts at greater self-awareness, life-changing moves, boys, shopping, words and champagne. I dedicate a far better 2010 to Houston Hottie, Ozzie Chick, N, and the rest of you who made me smile in 2009 when I didn't want to (and yes, also to the Boy and Wentworth).

Dec 17, 2009

Snow falling on Paris

I moved out of my haven today. In the snow. (Two sights that made me smile on this otherwise painful occasion: teenagers sledding in front of the Pompidou and a snowman on the Boulevard Sébastopol).

To commemorate comme il se doit this sad day, please allow me a moment of melancholy and maudlin sentimentality as I list the top 5 things I will miss about my apartment (half a David Letterman ode to the dearly departed, if you will).

1. The 600 year old wooden beams above my head, for making me feel so young by comparison.

2. The flashes from tourists' cameras outside my window, for making me feel like a movie star.

3. The pencil height markers the Boy and I put up there ages ago as if we were kids (mine about halfway to his) for making me feel... well... tiny.

4. Diana, the very affectionate English bulldog from the shop around the corner, for making me feel cuddle-worthy.


5. The stunning, gritty imperfections of the neighbourhood, for making me feel like I was home.

Dec 10, 2009

Hello world, it's me, Res

You know when you get that craving for chocolate? Try as you might to take your mind off it - pop the TV on, re-read that paragraph you've been going over for the past 20 minutes, scrub your kitchen floors (actually, I never do that) - the craving just won't go away. It follows you around, nagging, it consumes you, you become tense, tetchy, close to actual, physical pain.

It's been happening to me lately. But not chocolate (I almost wish it was chocolate, at least I could damn the waistline and give in to the supermarket to make myself feel better). No, it is contact I crave. With humans. Who are not on my television. Or in my book.

Physical contact, for one. I'm a touchy-feely kind of gal (there's that American side, again), and I need to hug, hold hands, cuddle, kiss, play little-spoon-big-spoon, anything to make me feel like I'm connecting with someone. Diana the dog from the shop downstairs is obliging with the occasional embrace, but she belongs to someone else. I'm worried I may start molesting people in the metro soon. Which would be unseemly, and I'd probably get arrested. Or my ass kicked. But I suppose that's contact...

And I also crave virtual contact. Phone calls. Mail (bills and advertisements don't count). Emails. From anyone, really, I don't mind. It would be nice if the people I sent flatshare requests to wrote back to me. Or if someone sent me a Christmas card. Or just called to say hi and to see how I'm doing.

Don't get me wrong. People do call. They even drop by sometimes. Some friends have been particularly good at keeping me connected to the outside world while I procrastinate here alone in my apartment, living the "writer's life". But the problem is, the craving has gotten so intense that five minutes after one phone call, I'm already waiting for more. I click refresh on my email account over and over again. I check my mailbox three times a day. Every hour I look to see if my phone is still working. I try to make friends with people in the supermarket.

No wonder writers have a history of losing their minds. It's only a matter of time before I become once of these crazy old women you see wandering the streets all dressed up in their finery with crazy hair and makeup accosting Christmas shoppers. If one of those shoppers is you, I beg you, won't you stop for a chat?

Dec 6, 2009

Let's be done with 09

After the birthday doldrums, it was time for the levity and cheer of a winter wedding in Brussels, providing me with a much-needed break from myself (with the help of a little champagne and a lot of INSEAD friends).

It also meant another round of having to explain what I am now doing with my life. To a roomful of people who, like me, sweated tears, blood and euros to earn their MBA and, unlike me, are actually using it. And yet, everyone I meet seems enthralled by the idea of packing it all in and writing the novel. They don't seem to think I'm insane, or selfish, or immature, or naïve, or any of the million other adjectives that spring to my mind. So why is it that I do?

And do they know how hard it is to answer the well-intentioned "how's the book" question? Well, to be honest, after reaching 12,000 words, the book's in a bit of a slump. So much so that I wake up some mornings seriously doubting whether another word will ever get written. It frightens me. And yet I want to write, I love to write, and I love this book. But somehow, it isn't happening right now. I could blame it on the imminent move from my beloved Marais-nest, but really swine flu, climate change, or martians would be equally valid excuses.

Fundamentally, what I'm suffering from is a great big giant bout of self-pity. I assure you, dear friends, I find it almost as exhausting as you do.

Dec 2, 2009

Oh Lily, did you have to?

Worst possible song to listen to on your birthday:

When she was 22 the future looked bright
But she's nearly 30 now and she's out every night
I see that look in her face she's got that look in her eye
She's thinking how did I get here and wondering why

It's sad but it's true how society says
Her life is already over
There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say
Til the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

She's got an alright job but it's not a career
Whenever she thinks about it, it brings her to tears
Cause all she wants is a boyfriend
She gets one-night stands
She's thinking how did I get here
I'm doing all that I can

It's sad but it's true how society says
Her life is already over
There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say
Til the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

- Lily Allen, "22"

It's a good thing I've got Ozzie Chick to take me out, fill me with champagne, and help me remake the world.