It’s too much, all of it.

It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve traveled abroad, but it is the first time in a while that I’m impressed beyond belief. In awe, even.

Even to blog about it seems futile. Do I begin at the moment yesterday when I exited the Trocadero Metro, only to take about ten steps, look to my left, and see the Eiffel Tower? How about the walk up the Champs-Elysses to the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe? The fact that the sun only begins go set at 10PM?

Today I walked from Marais to Notre Dame, and the cathedral took my breath away. The size of it, the detail, it is most certainly too much to take in during one sitting. I was reminded that though any mention of organized religion quickly brings a smirk and some biting sarcasm from me, the fact that I don’t believe this is the “house of god” doesn’t matter; how many have entered this place, and over so many years, humbled before their perceived presence of a higher power, their notion of a higher power. That’s not a small thing, and you can feel the energy of it there.

So many times the things we’ve been seeing in photos or on TV our entire lives disappoint when we finally see them in person (I’m looking at YOU, Hollywood sign); quite the opposite has been the case here. Tomorrow is museum day, with the Louvre, Orsay, and l’Orangerie in the schedule. I’m preparing to be astounded just a bit more.

Oh, and it goes without saying, the food here is the best kind of ridiculous. Tomorrow I’m putting on jeans again, in hopes they still fit. Wish me luck.

Pride Friday

I know I’m one of the last twelve people or so who are still using foursquare, but I love it. It allows for impromptu happenings like this past Friday night, when a friend saw that I checked in near her and said we should have a drink, and we ended up making plans and going out later the same evening.

We end up at Hopleaf. It is so late that there are actually seats. We are shocked.

We walk up the street. We wander into Atmosphere during Pride weekend.

Atmosphere is the kind of place where it’s mostly bar and seating except for a tiny stage where boys who are so pretty they cannot possibly be real dance in tiny undies, and other men wander up to them and hands wander and money changes hands (or something) and most of us just smile and bob our heads to the beat.

Except when we end up dancing.

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His name was…oh, seriously, who cares?

Saturday Meandering

Morning came soon enough to have to put the bike on the train or miss morning yoga altogether, so I practiced and then indulged in a bit of pampering. Mani/pedi with accompanying hand and foot massage? Yes, please!

I love wandering the city with no agenda and no time restrictions (and wheels!), because you end up captivated by things you might not normally notice, like this guy:

I love him. Meaty.

And then there was Bernie.

Bernie, on the Lakefront Path at North Avenue

He complimented me on my bike and we ended up chatting for a while, about leg injuries and tattoos, lost loved ones, his past in the Marines, this wonderful city. Why don’t more of us talk to strangers? I love to do it, and if you spend any time with me at all you’ll watch in wonder (or possibly horrified) as I engage waitstaff and grocery clerks, cab drivers, random old people and children.

If this surprises you, you don’t know me very well.

Hello, Goodbye

How about a little nosh and some closure? Lunch with an old flame who is visiting from Los Angeles brought some interesting observations, and dinner with Doug was goodbye for now as he wraps up 23 years in Chicago and starts fresh in Fort Worth next week.

Here we are in Lima, December 2009. Later, dear friend.

Time to get up. Time to shower. Get dressed, ready for work, out of the apartment.

I’m just going to change the sheets, really quick. But oh look: I should probably turn the mattress, since I usually just sleep on this one side. Let me do that.

The mattress turn reveals the pesky dust bunny that has decided to hang out precisely at the center of the mattress, where the vacuum hose usually cannot reach. Here’s my opportunity. Let me get the vacuum.

You get the idea. I get a lot done, just not necessarily the stuff on “the list”. 

I’ve been scattered for a while, but my focus is steadily sharpening again. Life continues to floor me: I get to live in this gorgeous city; I am surrounded by loving friends, and somehow continue to meet spectacular people; I’ve started spending a bit of time with one particularly sublime creature, and am quite enjoying the way we’re discovering each other. And a week from right now I’ll be in Paris, hopefully awake (and at a cafe!) because I will have dosed myself with enough melatonin to adjust to the French clock. 

I just need to pack my suitcase and remember my passport. But first, look, I should probably hang this piece of artwork…

Bits & Pieces

June 18, 2012

The importance of knowing what you don’t know  There are things I don’t know now, and never will, like the joy and unconditional love my friends who are parents feel for their little ones. Likewise, you cannot possibly walk in my shoes, regardless of the similarities of our experience. Seems obvious, so why is this so difficult for some to accept?

A touch of melancholy  I am just wrapping up what has been the most surreal week/two months/past eight years, depending how I look at it. There is nothing that could have prepared me for my Mom’s death, no matter how sick she was, how steady her decline, how long it dragged on. 

I feel like I just had the most amazing, fun-filled weekend with a very good friend from out of town, and now she has to leave and the weekend must end and our lives must go on.

And then I realize it wasn’t just a weekend, it was 35 years.

And then I realize it wasn’t just any friend, it was my mother.

Still, there is so much I am grateful to her for passing along to me, or at the very least being an excellent example for me to emulate: her sharp wit, her quick smile, her loud laugh. I miss her so much, and imagine I always will. Which brings me to close…

With Continued Gratitude  Despite the sadness that lives in the background, I feel so, so lucky to be surrounded by an extraordinary group of friends, those who have been in my life for 10+ years (my ROCKS – Heather, Staci, Janelle, Blythe) and countless others who have lent an ear or offered their company or even just read this blog and commented or sent me a note with a kind word to get me through the past few months: thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ll never forget.

I continue to be astounded by the life I get to live and the people it is filled with. Let’s keep going.

It’s over.

Following eight years of battle with an extremely aggressive strain of Thyroid Cancer, which metastasized to Lung Cancer (2004), Brain Cancer (2010) and Bone Cancer (2011), my Mother passed away a few hours ago.

Her battle with this despicable disease was admirable in both its duration and its strength. Toward the end, she perplexed even the hospice staff caring for her, by bouncing back and having “good days” even when they had written her off and given her only days to live.

“What are you made of?!”, I asked her last time I saw her, a mere six weeks ago. She smiled wryly; I smiled back and told her whatever it was, I hoped I had a bit of it in me, too.

Here we are, celebrating Christmas in Lima in 2009:

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and  barely six months ago, in Key West at the Hemingway House:

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