I have blogged since 2004. Scattered around the web, my blogs have mostly fallen into the dead zone of blog abandonment, or, as in the case of Yahoo! 360° where I blogged in earnest for over two years, the blog was closed down. Yahoo! 360° was where I got my feet wet and where, because it had a social networking component, I became closely connected to a posse of readers whom I now call close friends. Since the demise of 360° we gather now on the pages of Facebook and Multiply. I still blog very regularly at Multiply. It is the place where I can share with close family and these bloggy friends of mine the things *really* going on, the things I don’t clean up for consumption on this blog, my most public place of writing. Multiply is the place I feel free to say the “f” word and be a little whiny because that’s sometimes how I roll.
It is also the place I am known as The Blomment Queen. A “blomment” or sometimes “blogment” was coined long ago on my 360° page by my contact New York Eddie. It means to write a blog post in comments either on someone else’s blog or on your own in your own comments as a kind of “blog extension.”
I have already said it here in previous posts that I am WORDY. I go for looooong instead of concise. It’s not really the style of writing well-suited to blogging; it’s more for epic novel writing and if I had it in me to write novels, mine would be that sort which winds up being at least 1,000 pages long.
I just find that I have a lot to say, and I love to respond to people and their writing on their blogs, too! It’s part of what makes me who I am, and I pretty much go with it guilt- and shame-free until I do it in a setting where I think, “Oh my god. I just spilled all that over X’s page.” I think I worry that by posting such long comments people will think, “Hey — she’s trying to one-up the blogger” or “Look at her, she’s trying to hijack that blog with one of her own in the comments.”
When I do this in a setting where people do not really *know* me, not like my friends and regular readers on Multiply, I feel ashamed, like I spilled milk on the Queen’s best rug or something. In fact, a blomment is how I best show appreciation, and I have contacts today who keep me around just SO I will blomment for them. They know and understand its purity in love for them and their blogs.
I blommented today, and felt a little guilty about it. I was on David Lebovitz’s blog on his recent post about “8 Coping Tips for Living in Paris.”
I got so excited about the topic and had so much to say that I blommented all over the place and then went ahead and posted it.
I just went and re-read my comment, and I still think it sounds pretty good for having gone off all over his comments. But I think I feel guilt and shame because of this for a few reasons. For starters: he’s a famous and well-liked guy and/but I honest-to-goodness feel like, when I read his blog, he is one of the posse with whom I have been blogging for a long time. Maybe it is in part that the bloggers whom I read are great writers, like David, so he just feels like one more of the crew.
The blogs I read are mostly by my now-friends, though a few years ago I knew none of those treasured souls. For example, I think of Ken, who comments here, and who hits me in the gut (in a good way) every time he writes about what it was like growing up in California in the 1970s. Then there’s my friend, Michelle, who was chosen as a Yahoo! 360° featured blogger back in 2005. In fact, I think that’s how I connected to her; it’s how many did. She was my first visitor here in Paris last December. See? I have grown close to the people with whom I blog, and there is something about David Lebovitz that recalls this feeling of connectedness and I can’t help but think of him being like my gay, older brother or something, lol. He’s just *that* great and his voice on his blog is *that* great. He makes everyone feel like he or she is his friend on his blog. He even RECOMMENTS (replies to people in comments), for Pete’s sake! How many powerhouse bloggers DO that, eh? Anyway, David is pretty much a Regular Blog Guy and I feel like he has been in my blog circle for years.
Here’s the thing about blommenting on his page, though, that is making my want to self-flagellate: I feel like by starting this blog on Paris I have gone to a newer, bigger high school. It’s the High School of Paris Blogs. It’s the new school year, and I am a lowly freshman, trying out this less whiny, more professional, less f-bomb, more photo-styled sort of endeavor, and, admittedly, going and commenting on David’s blog and leaving my links there because I also get a lot of traffic from his blog to mine, lol. Yeah! Another reason to feel guilty! I am totally leeching off of his blog life-blood! I mean, I go there because he is witty and cool and informative, but so do other people because he is witty, cool, and informative, and other people have gone from his blog to mine. I think I am hoping for wittiness, coolness, and informativeness by association!
Anyway (starting to see WHY I blomment?!), I am this little freshman blogger when it comes to public Paris blogs and he is like the big, popular senior in Paris Blog High — the one that is for SURE going to be Prom King. Successful pastry chef, writer, traveler, blogger — I mean, the guy has even been on TV. And I comment on his blogs because I like him, I like what he represents, I like his outlook on life, and also because every time I go there, I think, “Maybe he’ll notice me!” and, if he notices me, then SO WILL EVERYONE ELSE. OMG, this is like the plot of every John Hughes (god rest his beautiful soul) film of the 1980’s. I am Molly Ringwald in either “Sixteen Candles” or “Pretty in Pink” and David is Jane Ryan or Blane McDonnagh (Andrew McCarthy *swoon*). When I comment there, it is like I am dreaming of going to prom in PBHS and being prom queen on my own.
And then I think, “Do I really WANT that in my life? To lose anonymity or to have to keep up a persona in blog life that may not really represent ME?” But that is a whole ‘nother blog topic on which I have been ruminating.
So, let me get to the point here. I feel guilt about blommenting. But I was so darn excited about the post that I knew I had to write one of my own about the same topic:
ParisKarin’s Coping Tips for Living in Paris
To preface my own tips, this is what I wrote on David Lebovitz’s post (it helps to visit his post and see his list, just so you have a context, yanno?):
Fantastic post, David, and yes, in principle, after living here for 16 months, I think these are perfect suggestions!! I have a couple things to add, though, because in my “sitch” doing a few of those items up there is complicated for me.
I have to eat dairy, gluten/wheat, sugar, and yeast-free. This means no chocolate, no wine, no pastries, although I have TOTALLY cheated with macarons, lol — at least they don’t have dairy (I don’t think…), gluten, and yeast, so three out of four ain’t bad. Food and drink-related comforts are not really available to me, though, which pretty much sucks some days and can make coping really tough. This past month, I also gave up smoking and coffee. I know, I know!! :p It’s been pretty hard to have one’s comforts in food, drink, and smoke not be available. Yeah, I chose to eat this way but it was because my body was pretty much falling apart without making these changes. The stress of being in a new place was what triggered reactions in my body to start to give out. I felt I had to make all these changes or suffer. And I am doing a lot better, which is the good news! :) Anyway, it’s still hard to not have some of the coping tools on your list up there.
But I have had to learn to cope. We all do, eh?
For someone who has a limited budget (a *really* limited one as I am not working and my BF is an English teacher & supports the two of us), even the shopping is out most days. But, I am finding there is still a lot to do to be able to cope, to find the happy and balance inside when living in a place that, at least for me, often makes me feel like I am a completely retarded child (sorry to use such a non-pc term, but I mean it in a colloquial sense, too).
The suggestion I love the most up there and the one I *do* have available to me & which I engage in regularly is taking trips in Paris. That one item is the thing that has really saved me in trying to handle living in this foreign place — and to milk it for how and what I can. I have learned that what gives me peace in my head is going out in to the city and taking pictures of it. I am not the greatest photographer, but it give my mind something to focus on, something to center it when the merde hits the ventilateur and you think your head is going to explode with it.
And then I started to blog about those trips, hahaha.
I am *so* stealing this post idea, to be properly credited, of course. I best write about this on my own blog instead of here. No fair to highjack your post. I loved reading about your eight ways of coping, though, and what I see that the root of this list is trying to say is “Find the enjoyment that you CAN. Find it in something small, find it for yourself, but FIND it.” That’s great advice whether one is living somewhere foreign or not. I see this way-of-thinking in your blog and in how you present yourself living your life in it. You rock. :)
So, eliminating food and drink from the whole Coping Toolbox, what is there that is left?
1. I Blog.
Hahahahahaha. Seriously, in the 16 months I have lived here, writing at Multiply, Facebook, occasionally MySpace are how I have coped best. When I experienced the crippling agoraphobia and total anxiety about even going out the apartment door a little over a year ago when I first arrived, I knew that my friends were available to me at my fingertips through social networking sites and email. I have used the internet as probably my number one coping mechanism and I am very grateful for it.
This blog, as I explained early on, was born as an attempt to help me get out and live life. Sitting in PJs and my apartment day after day, simply doing housework and keeping up with bloglife is not much of a life. By getting out and about, I experience more of the city and enlarge my life and my existence.
2. As David wrote, I take a trip IN Paris.
That’s what THIS is — my records of the things I see and experience in the city. I whine and curse on the other blogs, lol. This is the one where I try to find the BEST in living in a place like Paris, even though I feel, most times, like a freaked out retarded child in it. It’s getting better. I feel less and less retarded the more I force myself to chronicle things for this blog.
3. I watch movies.
For 19 € 80 per month for UGC Carte Illimité or 35 € per month for a pass for two people (which we have), PJ and I can go and see an unlimited number of movies. We live just near the Mk2 Quai de Loire and Quai de Seine theaters, which accept the passes. We also like to go to the Georges V theater on the Champs-Élysées as it is close to PJ’s job.
To escape into the dark of a theater for a couple of hours and see some of the latest cinema from the States in a language I understand is a true “reset button” for me. I know, it may seem silly to see a bunch of American movies in Paris, but remember, this is a list about how to cope when, as I put it up there in the comment on David’s page, the merde hits the ventilateur and you need ESCAPE from the culture at hand. I am 41. I am (saying this tongue-in-cheek, mostly) not always the most stable of people! I need this a lot. :)
4. I watch TV.
We have a FreeBox. If you live in France and want decent bundled internet/TV/phone and not much hassle, I would say go with Free.
Here’s what I like best about it. Free Home Video is an extra 12 € a month, but in my opinion, it is worth it, if you want to have access to some decent English movies and TV series. PJ and I like to watch a lot on the tube. It’s a good way for him to relax and check out after a day of working with clients in the business English program at which he is an instructor. For me, having FHV is a way to understand TV. I have recently become hooked on Season 1 of Gossip Girl, which is now available on FHV.
Also, several shows on the stations M6 and TF1 are now being broadcast in English if you have a TV or the cable box setup with which you can switch the languages. CSI («Les Expérts») Vegas, Miami and New York are shown in English as are the newest seasons of Bones and Desperate Housewives. There are more programs where one can switch to VM (vérsion multiligual) but that I don’t watch regularly, such as Grey’s Anatomy. Also, old movies on the Turner Classic Movies channel can be accessed in English as well, if they originate from the U.S.
There is one show I can and do watch in French, and have loved since I got here and first saw it: «Un dîner presque parfait» on M6.
It’s a week-long competition where five contestants compete to see who can prepare and serve the “almost perfect” dinner party with the best ambiance, the most appropriate and stylish decorations, and the most delicious food. Competitors rate one another on a scale of 1-10 on the cooking, the ambiance, and the decorations and the participant with the highest average score at the end of the week wins 1,000 €. It’s on weekdays starting at 17.50, which really means 10 minutes to six PM. 5:50 PM. I can’t believe after 16 months I still have to figure out what time it is past noon by subtracting 12. Doing freakin’ MATH every time I want to know what time someone is talking about here makes me MAD, in the British sense of the term. Imagine me talking in a Gwneyth Paltrow adopted British accent when I write that and you’ve got what’s in my head.
5. I take photos.
About a year ago, a couple of people on Multiply, after I posted photos of Paris on my page there, commented on how much they liked my photography. I started to go out and take more photos to post on my page at the request of my friends there. As a result of that, one of my good online friends started to use some of my photography for her graphic design projects. I got inspired, and started to go out and take more and more photos of the city.
Paris is a world fashion headquarters. I often think of her as one of the top models which grace her fashion magazines: it’s hard to take a bad photo of her! It seems every corner I turn, I see something new, I see something unique, beautiful, and quintessentially Paris. Going out with my little Nikon Coolpix, I know I can get my head back on straight with centering in on capturing with the lens what I see around me. This has been a true balm to my soul.
Check out my Flickr page here: Karin’s Flickr Page It’s also on the sidebar here at my blog site.
Now, rinse and repeat!
LOL. I have trouble coming up with eight. These are my top five. I cycle through them day after day.
Here’s one of my hopes: by blommenting on David’s blog, by visiting others here in Paris Blog High School and leaving my droppings (aka “comments”), I hope I meet others that live and breathe and have their being here. I have been learning a TON about the city from these bloggers. I hope that perhaps one of them will be much like the blogging friends I have in other places: that we will read one anothers’ posts and become friendly, that we will like one another, and maybe hang out sometime. I won’t hold my breath or anything, but maybe David will ask me to Prom! :D *giggle*
In the future I hope to comprehensively list here some of the Paris bloggers that I have been visiting, but for starters, try Donna’s blog here: Best Friend in Paris and Shelli and Gene’s blog here: Are We in Paris Yet?
These are two lovely people I have met online, and I think it was through David’s blog! Which, of course, is here: David Lebovitz dot com: The Sweet Life in Paris.