I Forgot — Again

After work this evening I went shopping at Walmart and wound up locking my keys in the car. I had to call my hubby from work 30 miles away and have him come unlock the car.

That in itself doesn’t sound so bad. Everyone forgets something. Locks themselves out of something.

Not me.

To me this is the first sign of dementia. Or Alzheimer’s. Or something just as tragic.

I just know it.

I’m not making fun of those who have it. I have always had this feeling that this will be my path somewhere down the line. No one in my family has it, but my mom passed away at 54 so who knows what her fate would have been.

Locking myself out of my car does not bode well for my wanting to go to Paris for a week by myself, either.

I’m already nervous about the thought of taking a trip like this by myself. I am at the fantasy stage, the imagine-it-all stage. The pre-research stage. My family doesn’t know my desire — even my husband is pre-iffy. So convincing everyone that I can handle life alone in the city of Love for a week by myself is going to be a real hurdle.

I already am a fraidy cat when it comes to strangers and finding my way around new places. The thought of boarding a plane and going to a country where I don’t speak the language nor know the landscape is not just a case of turning left instead of right.

But I’m still up for it. My writing is still up for it.

I’m getting afraid my memory is following way far behind.

What if I lose my hotel key? What if I take the wrong bus and get dumped in a small French village where no one speaks English and I become the town buffoon?

I can just see this feeble old lady wandering around aimlessly saying “Parles-tu Anglais?

I know this is overreaction at the highest level.

But when you’ve been forgetting things lately like locking the bottom lock on the door or locking your keys in the car or wondering where the scratches on your shoulder came from (the cat, probably), traveling by yourself becomes secondary.

The Paris trip thing is the least of my worries. I forget this thing or that thing now, and before I know it I’ll be forgetting to put on underwear. You know what I mean.

Fear is like a multiplication table. At the beginning, the numbers are small. Easy to remember. But as you age, the multiplication table gets bigger and bigger. You try and keep up — you study, you make notes, you talk outloud to yourself. 

Yet you forget one thing and it’s back to the beginning of the multiplication table, with a few more people watching you perform. 

I know I have a long way to go before the mind disappears into that sweet fog of NaNaLand. But every time I slip, every time I mess up, it makes me — and others — take notice.

I’d rather take notice of cafes in Paris that serve a mean Coq au Vin….

 

Decisions … Decisions

This weekend is my annual pilgrimage to Irishfest, a four-day festival of Irish music, American beer, and Irish hearts.

I love to say that my mother was Irish — which she was — although she was of the Heinz 57 variety. I so identify with their culture, their music, and their cosmic presence that it’s really a part of me, no matter what percentage my mother was.

Irish music is either incredibly happy or incredibly sad. The song “Wild Mountain Thyme” makes me cry every time I hear it, making me think of my mother whom I lost 40 years ago. And my favorite Gaelic band Gaelic Storm makes me clap and sing and dance around the place (hence, I don’t play their music at work).

My husband and I have gotten into semi-discussions lately, though, on why would I want to spend my money going to Paris for a week when I’ve talked about going to Ireland half of my life?

Good question.

Us folks in the states don’t get a chance to go across the sea very often, so when we do, we like to make it a “key destination.” And what better place to spend my hard-earned money than the home of my ancestors?

Yet when I think of going to Paris for a week, I get a different emotion running through me. Instead of looking off the Cliffs of Moher and connecting to my heritage and soul, I think about sitting in the park in front of the Eiffel Tower, sipping wine, eating a croissant, and writing about my journey.

Two totally different worlds.

Two totally different emotions.

Or are they?

I’ve had this tugging in my heart to go on my own adventure for a long time, now. Bringing someone to France with me who isn’t into what I want to do would be more of a burden than an escape, as I’d be worrying if they were bored or hungry or brooding.

Touring Ireland is something I’d do with my partner. We’d explore and tour and have a beer together at a local pub. I doubt if he would want to sit in the plaza of the Louvre for three hours while I nosh and write my book.

And who would want to spend time walking across a historic bridge inspecting every gargoyle and plaque or sitting in an old library or sitting at a cafe during the late evening? How boring to those who don’t walk the same path as you do.

At this point I’m not sure if I’ll ever go across the sea to see anything new and historical and exciting.  Technically there should be enough history and excitement right here where I live. If I need the music, I’ll go to Irishfest. If I need a croissant, I’ll go to the bakery.

But still….

Where would you like to visit if you could?

The Way Sagittarians Think about Paris

Last month I wrote a blog called Making Dreams Reality, about a pipe dream I have/had about spending a week in Paris next year at a writer’s workshop. You know that daydream — slightly-older-than-middle-aged woman who is fairly ditzy hops on a plane to Paris, hoping to find inspiration, writing, and croissants while she gazes romantically at the Eiffel Tower or parks her derriere on the Seine River with a glass of wine and a notebook.

It sounds so good. Until you stop to think about it.

The seminar runs about $3250, not including hotel, air fare, taxis, and croissants. Add about another $700 for airfare, $1500-2,000 for hotel, $50 for at least one Paris attraction,  $100 for dinners and $50 for croissants, and you’re talking a boatload of bills.

On the plus side of all that bankruptcy, I was fine with that. Chance of a lifetime and all that.

Then I went to the website of the workshop and got a rundown of the writer workshop schedule. After breakfast at 10:30am-11:00am, there are intros, couple of hours on character development, couple hours of perspective, couple hours of writing, couple hours of working lunches, lots of sharing time, and that’s it. You get to bond with fellow writers and learn from professionals. You get some atmosphere, a lot of help, and solid interacting time.

So I made of list of “is it really worth pursing?” things….

List of positives:

  • Paris. Period.
  • Inspiration begets better writing.
  • Side trip to Versailles
  • Leaving hubby behind
  • Self discovery
  • Croissants

List of negatives:

  • Cost
  • Leaving hubby behind
  • Don’t speak French.
  • Self discovery is a life-long process; no instant fixes
  • French wine doesn’t go with chocolate croissants

Now understand that all of this — all of this — is just preliminary babble, baloney, and bubbles. It’s all in the inkling stage.

But creative people are ingenious people. We always are left of center, out of the box, making things up, wandering and wondering. Our borders are transparent, dotted lines that are always moving.

And it’s within those transparent borders new ideas spring up.

So I started thinking in a different direction. I could go to anywhere I wanted for a writer’s getaway — San Francisco, Cocoa Beach — anywhere. I could go to a BnB, Holiday Inn, to my cabin up north.

But I wanted to go to Paris.

And I wanted to write.

So my mind and body started researching hotels and airfares. I’m in the process of researching local libraries, cafes, and spots along the Seine. I’m looking for views of the Eiffel Tower, le petit cafés, and bookstores.

I could always use advice through the workshop on how to develop a character, determine place and perspective, and all.

But what I need to do, want to do, is write.

Not just an hour here and a half hour there — I need a solid 4-5 hours a day for a few days in a row. I need to develop my outline into a story.. Real chapters, real people.

If the situation were right, I could take along an escort husband companion so I wouldn’t get lost walking around the block; someone who can do something else for four hours a day while we hang out in a local library or next to the river while I write. Someone who can “oohh” and “aahh”, both at my writing and at the Eiffel Tower at night.

And I think I can do it all for not much more than the writing seminar alone.

Do I have the self discipline? The fortitude? The drive to section off my days and nights in Paris? Will I learn enough on my own? Can I do enough prep work, enough research, to really let my writing take a turn for the better?

Can I really say “no” to a second…or even a third.. croissant?

Like I said at the beginning, this is only a pipe dream at the moment. Wishful thinking. Daydreaming.

Stay tuned, followers. The journey has just begun.

 

 

 

 

Making Dreams Reality

What are we if not our dreams?

Are we any less because our dreams did not come true?

It depends on our dreams.

If we dreamed that one day we would be out of a particular situation and finally be happy and free, and never made it out of that dream, that is one type of disappointment. For as the ‘now’ generation says (and I wholeheartedly agree), all we have is NOW. Make that dream happen today or tomorrow, don’t wait until forever gets here.

But if we dream that one day we will buy a Ferrari or travel to some foreign land, and never buy that car or visit that place, that is another sort of dream. That is the dream of merely having fun stepping out and running around, rather than running away. This sort of dream is safer because, even if we don’t get that car or visit that world, we had a great time pretend planning it.

Well, I have a secret.

I have a pretend planning dream.

Well, lots of them, but this one has overwhelmed me for the past six months. A dream that, if I decide to take this gigantic step, will change my life. Kinda.

I want to go to a writing workshop in Paris next year.

Now. I have no money. I am still working. I have bills and a mortgage and a hubby and grandkids to think about. I am one step away from flighty, have to write everything down or I forget it, am 15 pounds overweight, over 65, and a hundred other legit reasons to wonder why I’m even considering it.

Yet I am considering it.

The biggest hurdle has been overcome — sorta. Hubby said go for it. I don’t think he thinks I’m serious. I could take money out of my 401K plan. After all, if I leave it all to my kids all they’ll do is spend it anyway.

So why does a 66-year-old scardy cat woman think Paris is the only place I can write?

I am not sure.

I know Paris is not the stuff of movies. There is no Midnight In Paris car to whisk me away to meet Hemingway or Picasso. There is no Eat Pray Love or Under the Tuscan Sun ending that will change my life, for I’m happily married and in love with my family. There are pickpockets and tourist traps and muggings like in any big city.

Why am I even entertaining going?

Maybe it’s because there are few challenges left in my life besides illness and death. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been afraid to do something all by myself, and figure there’s no time like the present to try it. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a wonderful imagination and believe I’ll overcome my apprehensions and actually enjoy exploring a world where I don’t speak the language (except for the American-sponsored writing workshop).

Am I crazy?

Perhaps I’ve always been a bit crazy. Who else would write novels about time travel and being taken to another part of the galaxy for adventure?

It’s easy to dream these things from the comfort of my livingroom sofa.

It’s quite something else to think that one day I might be dropped off at the airport and board an airplane and travel half way across the world to learn something I already know.

Yet I know nothing.

We all know nothing.

I don’t know if I will be brave enough come open registration season to really go through with it. But I’m having a ball planning and researching and picking out clothes to wear and what souvenirs I will bring back.

We all need to dream something that is just out of our comfort zone. Something just out of reach. It’s exciting and eye-opening and makes you re-examine your own hangups and fears.

And who knows?

Je peux aller à Paris après tout!

 

 

Ahhh….Paris

I just came back from an Evening in Paris. Walked the back streets until I came upon this little bistro. I sat outside at a little wrought iron table under an umbrella, for it was raining. The lights of the Eiffel Tower sparkled through the misty rain, a constant vigil in the Paris skyline. Down the street a door opened and the sweet strains of La Vie En Rose poured out, completing the night.

Actually, I was downloading some images for a future Eiffel Tower Gallery and kept coming across pictures of Paris at night.

I wasn’t always a dreamer of French bistros and cathedrals. My desires have always been towards the green hills of Ireland and the rolling towns of England. But the last few years have drawn me to the romantic notions of Pariee…the museums, the small restaurants, French wine, croissants, fashion,  café au lait, parks, romantic side streets…I mean, I could stay for a month.

Perhaps I’ve watched “Midnight in Paris” too many times. Or “An American in Paris.” Movies always make places seem more magical than they really are.

But I don’t think it’s the same with Paris. I think there’s always been magic there. From the time of Louis XIV and Versailles to the rolling wine country of Bordeaux and Champagne, there is always something about another world that is full of mystery and atmosphere.

I don’t think I’ll ever travel to Paris — with grandkids and mortgages and who knows what else, I don’t think this is on my husband’s top 10 places to visit before he dies. And anyway, I doubt anyone would want to do the kind of wandering I’d be inclined to do (the pretzel kind).

One thing that has danced on the outside of my thoughts is to write a story about Paris. I haven’t been in the mood to finish my third novel (or anything else lately), but the thought of a middle-aged woman finding intrigue and freedom in a strange and beautiful city…

Ah, but how can I write about a place I’ve never been?

Well, I’ve never been to 1885 Claremont, Wisconsin or Veii, Etruria either. And I survived those uncharted worlds just fine.

If you want to write about something you know nothing about, write. Take a chance. Let your mind wander past the 25-mile circle you call home. You never know…

Maybe we will meet at  Le Recruitement Cafe one evening. 36 boulevard la Tour Maubourg, 75007 Paris. I will have to astral travel, but hey…I’ll be there…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tears in Paris

roseinther_qpldklopLife is so special…

Like roses in the rain….

 

Yesterday I laughed and danced around the thought of becoming French…sitting in a bistro some where, drinking coffee, looking down the road at the Eifel Tower, walking in the Paris rain with a red umbrella.

Today, there are at least 100 people dead on those same Paris streets.

There are no sweet songs in the background, no holding hands walking down the cobblestone streets, no BoHo chic dresses and overpriced perfume like in yesterday’s blog. And I am so, so sad.

What is wrong with people?

People die every day. Cancer kills people. Pneumonia kills people. Car accidents and blot clots and old age kill people.

And for some obscure, nonsensical reason that only extremists know, terrorists kill people, too.

I’ve got news for them.

If they think they do it for the glory of God, God dumped their asses long ago. May their asses burn in Hell.

Praying for peace, understanding, and strength for the dream — and the reality — I call Paris.