Tuesday, December 28, 2010

South of France Listsicle of Love

Things to sit beside: the ancient fireplace, the whitewashed stonework, the wraparound leather couch, flannel sheets, heated ceramic floors, stacks of wood, pages of other people's novels that once I read for homework I throw into the fire

Plans each day that are the townie equivalent of a socialite's calendar: Christmas champagne here, chocolate there, painting crafts with the girls in the bookstore, walking the tiny dog on cobbled streets as people prepare their dinners and the aromas waft out the shutters and into the ether, Boxing Day lunch on a lazy suzan, thirteen people for a place setting for caramelized chicken studded with sesames, pots of crispy potatoes loaded with ham and cream, strong and dark coffee and neverending wine

Things to watch: low-hanging sunsets, the fleeting green and white expanses of the fields, farmers and their families piling the pruned grapevines to burn, my parents at the center of this circle with loads and loads of stylish friends and making jokes that even my brother and I find funny (are we getting old? are the children of all the townspeople and expats who set up little shops and bookstores who have retired from a life of fashion magazines and film careers ever going to rival their parents?), that tiny dog again running through the snow on his tiny paws and sigh to yourself though you said you would never, ever love a little dog, and now you kind of do

Things to do: be happily dragged from place to place, eat, drink, and be merry, watch movies good and bad, check email just once a day, stare at your darkened phone that will never work here (no Droids in France), walk that tiny dog and stop at every child who wants to pet him, heat up pizzas in the stove, pour Orangina over ice, dress for formal parties, dress for informal parties, try to use the tiny hairdryer (not as cute as the tiny dog), run out of clothes to dress in and start wearing flannels to lunch, etch cardboard squares with Japanese cartoons and magenta swirls, have long talks with everyone, read without writing, make French friends, Dutch friends, and several Brits, jokingly flirt with engaged men (they started it), and hey, flirt with the old men too (they appreciate it the most), wonder how I'll ever date someone for real again because I have turned into a massive flirt and all my old boyfriends always hated how I flirted before, which was already alot, let's face it.

Things to want: more days, and nothing more

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I left for France on Tuesday.

I did not arrive at my destination until late Thursday.

Don't. Ever. Travel. During. Holidays.

Also not with my brother. What a doofus. He brought 4 enormous suitcases. Which we had to get on the first plane, haul through customs and pick up after, run through the airport with them to the next connection, throw them all on an airport shuttle, then when we missed our connection because of said enormous bags, take all with us to the ticketing office. When we were told there were no flights at all until the following day whilst at Orly in Paris, we then dragged them back on the bus to the train station, pulled them over to the ticketing office there, and after waiting for an hour to speak with someone were told that the trains were all booked up, I took a moment to wipe a tear of frustration out of my eye and to buy cigarettes and coffee to wake me up, we waited for 30 minutes in the freezing rain to go BACK TO THE AIRPORT. There I got us on a shuttle for a hotel. once there, we split up because i was about to lunge at my brother, who while we were on the bus, whined "You'll have to carry everything now. I'm not sure I can do this any more. I think I have to stay on the bus for a while cause I need to sit."


I was the one talking in broken French with everyone. I was the one figuring everything out and I was the one carrying half his shit plus mine while he whined and moaned and got in the way and stood there with his mouth open, complaining that he hadn't had any sleep and he was tired. Indeed, I felt all these things too. But could I feel any of them? Being in charge of us both and all that stuff? Could I just give up because my credit card was not working and I had no money? Or that our phones were all screwy? Or that the airlines didn't want to even book us on anything and asked us to repay because of a problem in the system?

My brother swears Satan himself flew up from my throat and came out of my mouth in a cloud of black smoke. Because I didn't yell, I didn't swear, but I absolutely hissed in a Walt Disney-worthy villan's baritone:

"Give me a reason to leave you behind."

So we checked into (the) Paris Hilton. As I joked, it's about as clean as you'd expect but there were a surprising amount of Albanians in there. Zing! Zang!

Anyway, we are at the hotel and bro immediately goes to sleep. The moment I do, the phone rings. Our flight the next day has been cancelled too. All flights have. Seems a snow storm was coming. All the trains were booked as well.

My mother finally secured us a reservation on a different train at a very far away station. I stayed awake the entire night because there was so much to do the next day. I had been away for 42 hours. I had slept maybe a total of three hours. This will bring madness. Don't try it. I may never be the same again.

So we get to the train station by 4:30. There was no way in hell I was going to miss this train. We camped out in front of the ticket office for the next two hours until it opened. Like they were Superbowl tickets or something. Well, they were. When I got to the woman, who could not understand my sleepy, strung-out, awful, awful French and did not have our reservation and finally, after seeing me pull out my greatest asset, my ability to look like a third world child who is about to die, let us buy the last tickets on the train, I nearly leaped over the partition and squeezed her in my arms. J'taime mademoiselle! J'taime!

Six more hours on a train. The inevitable transfer and running up and down stairs and squeezing on to the new train with all those bags. Another few hours. Still no sleep. And we finally arrived in Cahoors, about an hour away from Bordeaux.

My dad met us. I haven't been so excited to see my dad since I was four years old and picked up at the babysitter's house (it smelled like the inside of a pumpkin and they had no good games).

Everything since being here has been fabulous: snow and chapel, Boxing day lunch, bookstore champagne parties, glittering blue Christmas lights, roast potatoes and the puppy and a beautiful bed. My bedroom here has shutters which give it total darkness. I have never slept so hard in my life. Each night I have been sleeping with a vengance. The fireplaces are always burning and Orangina is always close at hand. I was even invited by some incredibly stylish English girls all wearing over-the-knee Chanel boots, to spend the afternoon with them letterpressing stationary or whatever the big trend is here in Europe. I am also apparently, supposed to discuss my ideas for a magazine that is only available in application form--no print, no website, just an app, with a Dutchman who may or may not think that I am much smarter than I am.

I shall keep you in the loop on how that goes.

In the meantime it is the day after Christmas and everyone is in bed, even the dog, and I am left on the leather couch with all the suede pillows and the sinfully plush cashmere blankets (whether the couch is meant to be styled like it is in Versailles remains to be seen: I suspect Mom bought a bunch of luxe add-ons after hearing Satan leap out of my throat and into the phone after our seventh or so missed plane and train.)

So I'm left to the fire and the films, which are piled up next to the television as we have no channels yet. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of our family's favorite movies to watch during the holidays. Steve Martin. John Candy. They can't get home for the holidays. Everything goes wrong. They practically die about four times. Their planes, trains and automobiles fail them at every turn. It's usually hilarious.

Well, it was. Now, I can't bring myself to watch it. I'd sooner put escargots up my nose. I may never watch the movie again. Or travel again. But then, it is so nice here. Quiet and twinkling and lovely. I will enjoy it for a while before I have to venture back on the 2nd. Let's not think about that for now.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Off To The South

On Tuesday I'm leaving for southern France. My parents--looney birds, elders, and inspirations to us all--have bought a house there. The bro and I are heading over to join them for the holiday. I'm taking off of work early, I'm letting my friend and her fiance stay in my apartment (and cleaning insanely beforehand), and I'm packing up the presents, a million papers, my computer, other reading materials and the work I have to continue to do for my jobs while I'm gone. It's a lot of work to get there but nothing else could be worth it, I think.

I will read. I will sleep. I will eat cheese. I will try to do some situps. I will blog most days in detail about the cold, the view, the food, the dog yipping at my feet, the absence of television. I will try not to check my email too much. I will attend a Christmas eve party where I am the only one born in the 80s (or 90s for that matter), because only old villagers and my family will be there. I hope to write a good deal. I'm not sure of the internet situation. I hope not too bad, I do need to use the computer...I didn't take a leave from my music writing job. We aren't really allowed...but I do hope I can duck out for a day or two here and there.

I'm leaving behind my ex, who doesn't know I'm leaving and it doesn't seem right to call him to tell him. It will be his 30th birthday tomorrow or the next day I think. I can't remember. He wanted to go out for it. I said okay, he never followed up. He tried again, I said okay, he never followed up. Texting keeps relationships going that should have gone a long time ago. Still, I miss having a boyfriend and I miss having a best friend. I know I will have another one that encompasses both eventually. But I do wish I'd hurry up and have it already.

A holiday is for family and friends. This year I've only got family, but I'm certainly glad to have one. Excited to see where they've decided to spend their time. Excited for an overnight plane ride (I actually kind of like these). Excited to let my voicemail pile up. Excited to be unavailable for real. It's kind of thrilling to do. And I'm always available.

Putting many, many books on the Kindle that I'm giving my mom and hope to sneakily read them all first before I get over there. Doing laundry. Wishing to be missed and hoping not to miss anyone too much.

Thinking that sadly (or testament to how funny the other stuff could be?), Liz Lemon is now the unfunniest thing about 30 Rock. What's with the constant psycho-sexual stuff? It's getting old. More Lutz, more Jenna, more Jack. Less Liz, less Colleen (she's strangely far too old and annoying), less Avery.

Thinking that I haven't actually been outside today except when I hung out on my terrace.

Resolutions that I can enact starting now: stop having incredibly inactive days on weekends and far too active nights. Work out less crazily, but more regularly. Stop eating things that come in boxes and start eating things that will spoil after a few days. Stop reading things on computer screens. Sleep longer. Sleep less. More popsicles, less emotion. More calls, less text. Fewer dates, more important hang outs. Less talking, more listening. Go away to France and have a good time, turn on the out of office and let it go.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Winter List

- Eat pie for breakfast for four days after Thanksgiving
- Turn up the heat in the apartment to eighty degrees and keep 'er there
- When in doubt for writing, do structure work, because writing seems easy by comparison
- Borrow someone else's dog for a walk
- Blast a lot of dutty rap to turn dusting into dancing
- Buy a new coat instead of fixing the tear and lost buttons on the old one
- Arrange every date/meeting/edit catch-up so hot chocolate is involved
- Spend Saturdays in bed with flannel sheets
- Go out to synthpop concerts on Mondays and drink red wine on Sundays
- Overbook, constantly and apologize immensely
- Wear many, many pairs of tights, scarves, and sweaters without sleeves
- Mass text for plans/saying hello/and telling everyone you just painted a mantle all by yourself
- Try to use the following words every day: electric, blango, blast, soar, cheers, and most of all, yes
- Budget, make lists, and book a trip to Jamaica anyway
- Pick up the phone every time someone calls, but call no one
- Have good lighting that you never use
- Smile at everyone who walks by, even if they don't deserve it
- Get all your exercise by jumping
- Wear snowboots when there is no chance of snow, because you're an optimist

If that's the checklist, I'm doing pretty good so far...