Oranges on the tree at Janet’s house in Antibes, France, February 2010.
I just read a post by blogger extraordinaire David Lebovitz about his making “Compost Cookies,” or “Amnesty Cookies” as he called them. He ties together the concept of having an “Email Amnesty Day” whereby a person deletes all of his or her inbox in an attempt to lighten his or her load with the idea of making Compost Cookies, which entails going through one’s cupboards and putting a hodge podge of ingredients in the dough in order to lighten the contents of the cupboards, if not one’s waistline. It’s a post written with his usual light humor and aplomb, but it also gave me an idea.
I have Chrome Open Tab Disorder right now, which is the condition by which one has a bajillion tabs open in his or her browser, so many that the top bar of the browser looks like this:
(I made this image “private” in Flickr, so you can’t click on it to see it any bigger, but it gives you the idea that that’s what my Google Chrome browser looks like right now: a bar of salmon pink open tabs where I cannot even tell which tab is which anymore! I have to play “Hunt the Website” by clicking on various tabs to see which page is attached to it in order to find anything.)
I decided that the only cure for this disease, which exists because I have Blogstipation too often, is to purge here on the page about all the tabs I have open about which I have something to say or make note of. I am going to do the same as David has done, except instead of bake cookies with ingredients piling up in cupboards, I am going to cook up a blog of odds and ends which have interested me in recent days.
[Author’s note: I started this post on Monday, March 8, 2010, so when I write stuff like “yesterday” or “last night,” it is referring to Sunday, March 7, 2010. I got about 90% through this post on Monday until it was time to go to yoga. Then Paul was on doing his writing, so I am completing this post on Tuesday, March 9, 2010.]
First up, Flickr and the Château de Versailles website are having a photo contest. I discovered this not long after returning to Paris from Antibes a couple of weeks ago in a post on the website Hôtels Paris Rive Gauche blog, whose updates I check regularly. The contest is in coordination with the exhibit Versailles photographed 1850-2010, a photo exhibition at the Château de Versailles until 25th April 2010. The photo contest information in English at the Château de Versailles website is at this link here. You can see the photos that have been submitted to Flickr at the Flickr Pool page here: Reflections of Versailles photo competition. There are some spectacular submissions, all of which were to have followed these basic rules (there are some who clearly did not read the rules and submitted anyways):
- Your photograph will highlight the play of light, the colours of the water and reflections of the Château and its estate.
- It will be only in landscape format.
- It will be as natural as possible (high quality pictures). Avoid big retouches (they won’t be eligible).
(Rules copied from the Flickr page.)
I entered five of my photos, following the guidelines for submitting only photos in landscape format. I do not feel they were my best photos of Versailles nor the best photos following the theme of the contest, but I realized I took a lot of portrait photos instead of landscape ones when I went to try to find photos to submit. Drat.
Anyways, here you go:
Individually, these photos are located
Seriously, if you really want to see some stunning photos of Versailles, go check out the Flickr link. Now! Dooo eeeeet!! (lol) You will be glad you did. I ooohed and ahhhhed quite a lot at them. In fact, most of them make my photos kind of look like crap, hahaha, but that’s okay. I did my best with the equipment I have, and I am not expecting to win anything at all. I did want to give my Flickr photo page some exposure, though, which is why I entered. I know I have been clicking on quite a few people’s pages to check out more of their photos, and I am sure that some folks have done the same with mine.
The Oscars (maybe I am supposed to add “TM” or ® here?)
They may have been televised here, but if they were, I did not see them. Last night, I was busy watching old episodes of “The 4400” and “CSI: Vegas” on our Free video-on-demand subscription and the French channel TF1. Come to think of it, though, the Oscars (TM? ®?) were on from about 2 or 3 in the morning until about 6 am here, but there is no way I would have woken up that early to watch any of it, anyways. I just went to the Oscars website a couple of hours ago to see who won. I kind of missed seeing who was wearing what, but then there is the good old Interwebz for that, too, now, isn’t there.
Duuuude! I was thrilled to see that Jeff Bridges won for “Crazy Heart,” which Paul and I just saw last week. I loved the movie, I thought it was very well-done, and I am pleased that Mr. Bridges took home an award for his performance. I was equally pleased to see that Christoph Waltz won for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in “Inglorious Basterds.” Paul and I were stunned at his performance in the film and he very-much deserved the award, in my opinion.
Surprises? Well, the movie “The Blind Side” did not make it to this side of the pond, yet, as far as I know (and Paul and I usually keep up on this kind of thing) so I have not seen the Oscar® winning performance by Sandra Bullock, although we did see her in “The Proposal” last year. Sounds like I should be glad I did not see her in “All About Steve,” though!
I was also glad to see that “The Hurt Locker” won the Best Picture award. It really was a very intense film and I liked it a lot. I think that I would have voted for “Inglorious Basterds,” but I am glad that a woman, Katheryn Bigelow, won Best Director and that her direction was supported by a Best Picture award. All of the films that were nominated were worthy nominees, I felt, although I have not yet seen “The Blind Side” nor “Precious” (although I may see that one this week). There were also a couple that I had hoped to see, but which I will have to catch on DVD or by some other means, one of which was “The Young Victoria,” which won an award for Best Costume Design.
Watching the Academy Awards was one thing I *never* missed when I lived in the States. Kind of like the Olympics — I never missed watching them, either. Now that I am in France, and it is harder for me to watch these things (I found that the televised coverage of the Winter Olympics was a *lot* less here than on NBC in the States, and also, it is in French, which is understandable — duh — but hard for me to understand. The Academy Awards? I’ve already discussed that).
I guess I am feeling really grateful for the internet, though, which makes it possible to catch up on the highlights, at any rate.
Moving on to…
This Awesome Video
I ran into this on dooce.com last week.
It is of a Rube Goldberg-inspired machine to go along with OK Go’s song “This Too Shall Pass.” It’s brilliant, and brought a huge smile to my face! I keep watching and listening to remind myself “this too shall pass,” and to get a good laugh. Please watch! You will have fun. I command it.
Mwah hah hah!
(That was evil overlord laughter, in case you were wondering.)
(Photo from teensygreen.com Wednesday Twitter Links – On Writing)
I feel walls closing in on me in my life. There are a few situations in my life over which I have little real control. For example, I do not have much control with the foods I can and cannot eat successfully (by successfully, I mean foods that will not give me constant noxious gas and diarrhea or constipation, and/or extreme irritability and/or depression, and/or headaches, joint pain, swollen glands, and blah blah blah blah. In general, “successful eating” means I eat and have no negative “feedback” from my mind and body). Sure, I can decide what I put into my mouth, there are food options that won’t make me feel bad, but the sense of freedom of *choice* is not really with me these days. It does not seem like much of a choice to decide if I would rather eat fish or fava beans. Sometimes, I want cake. Or bread. But no go. Impossible! (Said with a French accent.)
There are other walls closing in about me, too. My life has handed me a hardhat and shovel and told me to “Dig here.” If someone did not understand how I was handed the hardhat and shovel, they might look in on me after-the-fact and say something to the effect of, “Well, you dug that hole all by yourself, so now you have to sit in it.”
Similarly, life handed me a clean sheet set and a bed, and said, “Please make this bed and then get into it.” So I made the bed, I climbed in. While I know I was handed the sheets and presented with the bed, I hear judgmental voices saying, “You made your bed, now lie in it!”
I get it. On the surface of things, I dug the hole, I made the bed. I’m not trying to deny there is a hole and there is a bed, and I had a hand in digging and making each of them. But I will say that when I was presented with the shovel and the sheets, first, I really felt that life’s telling me to dig and assemble meant that this was the path to go on; walk on it, and everything would be okay. Second, I suppose there was the option to say “No” as there is always an option (I am thinking of the concept of “infinite choice” here I tried to find something online about this, and the closest I came was this, but it made my head spin and then get a headache. I guess I just mean that there are always options, even though some of the options may be choosing the lesser of two evils). But life so very clearly handed me the shovel and the sheets that saying “No” was not really possible. I’m hoping that some of you perhaps have had similar experiences.
Thing is, I’m not there, yet. Wherever “there” is supposed to be. I don’t know if I know exactly where “it” is, I just have the feeling I have not yet arrived.
The digging and the assembling have led to this sensation of the walls closing in and overtaking me. I’m trying to be brave, I have some walking companions in this dark forest where my path has gone, so I am not completely alone, and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other in order to make progress towards… something. I keep hoping it is the bright, sunshiny meadow that in all the stories lies at the end of the dark and scary forest, but honestly? I don’t know. There may just be more dark and scary forest ahead. At this point, however, all I can do is keep placing foot in front of foot and forge on.
Sometimes I think that maybe writing will save me, that what I write is the light in the meadow. I can’t tell you how many people I have read about online who have written books about their experiences overseas, or written novels or cookbooks, or even a combination thereof. One woman, Elizabeth Bard, just had her story published: Lunch in Paris. Elizabeth’s blog is here. Her book is getting great press and I am excited for her! I am planning to go to her book signing at WH Smith here in Paris on Thursday. If you read this, and live in Paris and want to go check it out, it’s at 7 pm in the bookstore. An RSVP to the bookstore is required, and instructions on doing so are here.
Sometimes I think that maybe writing some kind of story out of all that has been my life so far (almost 42 years!) will be that knight in shining armor that rescues me — that something I write might carry me in good steed [sic, intended] towards the meadow of sunshine and fresh air.
Thing is, I have to figure out what to write. I have no idea what, yet. And so I do this.
Meanwhile, I also collect things like these two links, passed on to me by my dear friend Janet:
Links like that are kind of the “just-in-case” ones — you never know when they might come in handy.
I have had an interesting life. How I got here (to Paris, which I have written about in various blog posts here and there, but I am not going to hunt them down to link them in just at the moment) is an interesting story. I have been thinking that it might be a tale to address here and then link into my About page, eventually. As for a couple of basic facts, I’ve been married twice, have two kids who do not live with me, and lived in places like England and China. I’ve traveled. I now live in Paris. Yeah, it sounds pretty cool and all, but it ain’t always all that, you know? I have been unemployed for 21 months now. This has led to some complications in my life (some of those walls up there…). I don’t even know if I am going to be capable of holding a job here in France, if it ever happens that I do get working papers, which is slow to get into the works as it involves so much hoop-jumping, and it feels like the hoops go all the way up the side of Mount Everest.
In my internet journeys, I run into people like this, and I feel a little bit of envy creep in. Heather’s “About” page is here, and I read it with envy. I envy her. She kind of seems like she has her shit together, you know? And here I am, in what feels like my third incarnation of adult life at almost-42 and I think, “WTF? How did I get here?” Unemployed. Far from my kids. Eating weird and limited foods. Feeling those walls closing in… I want to shout to the Universe, “WHATTUP, buttercup? Answers please!” And then I think of Job. You know, the dude in the bible. I really liked the movie “A Serious Man” as it was not only by the Coen Brothers, but it had these Job-like leanings in the tale. Job had shit happen after he was the top man of the heap, and he had to sit and ask himself, “Why?” a lot, too, before G-d basically said, “Because I said so” and then Job said, “Okay,” and then after Job accepted this, he was given replacement kids and stuff. It’s kind of a messed-up story, really, and frustrates me, but there you go. I feel a little like Job in the portion of the story where he is sitting in the dirt, scratching with pieces of broken pottery at sores the devil was allowed to inflict upon him.
Then I do stuff like go back to that video “This Too Shall Pass” and laugh again. Thank YHWH for the internet, is I guess what I can say about that.
Things I Did Not Know
I bought some soluble chicory root as a coffee substitute over the weekend. I like it! I have a feeling it may be giving me really bad gas, though, as I am beginning to suspect I may have a fructose malabsorption issue. I knowwwwwww!! I feel like such a spazz to be constantly coming on here and saying “this and that and the other is making me sick.” Look, all I know is that it is a good thing I am alone in the house right now and can fart with impunity. It’s horrid. I’m trying to work it all out of my system before I go to yoga tonight. Also, I should probably burn some incense before Paul gets home from work, too. I keep thinking of myself as “Walter.”
It has been a gaseous nightmare around me for the past couple of weeks.
Anyways, two things before I explain about the fructose malabsorption part:
One — chicory is ENDIVE! Who knew?? (Not me. I learned this today.)
Two — chicory contains high levels of inulin, which is a really good prebiotic (that’s PRE, not pro — probiotic being this), stuff that can heal the digestive system by encouraging the good bacteria in the gut to proliferate. It is basically fiber.
The bad news is, chicory is very high in fructans, which, if one does not digest fructose very well, leads to lots and lots and lots of gas and upset in the stomach.
Raisins, something I have been eating daily for the past couple of weeks, are also high in fructose.
I’m beginning to suspect that I have a bit of this malabsorption issue, especially since I had no raisins today, but did have two big mugs of chicory, naturally caffeine-free coffee substitute. It tasted *super* going down (“Finally” I thought, “Something I can drink that is a bit like coffee, but potentially really healthy for me!”), but I have to say that if the result is what is coming out the other end in gaseous form, I really, really, really cannot drink it. Really.
Anyways, that’s what I have learned today.
(Right click on the picture and open in a new tab/window to see the video. There is also a YouTube version here.)
It is called “Prisencolinensinainciusol” and was written by Italian artist Adriano Celentano in 1972. As this blog states,
Recorded by Celentano and Raffaella Carrà in an American accent, it sounds like it should be English, but the lyrics are pure gibberish.
Amusing! It helps me be empathetic to people learning English. Now I want one that helps French people be more empathetic to people learning French. 🙂
My eldest son and I keep in touch via weekly phone calls and Facebook. Recently, he posted a link to this Flickr Pool: Defaced Presidents.
More humor to lighten one’s load! Check them out. I laughed a lot.
Apparently, there is one. This link to The New York Times article “Depression’s Upside,” is also from my friend Janet.
I’m Almost Finished
C’mon, I had, like, forty tabs open or something! Hahaha! Just let me get it all off my chest, eh? Let me see if I can at least list the rest here. I would like a clean slate! Browser. Whatever.
Today I also learned that Claude Debussy was buried at Passy Cemetery here in Paris. I looked it up as a friend, Lila, on Facebook had put up this version of Clair de Lune in a note, and I was listening and reflecting on the music, and then reading about Debussy. She had asked us to write in her comments what the music made us think of while we listened. I wrote the following:
I think because it is Debussy and Clair de Lune, I think of France, I think of Paris. I see an old 1940s movie, black and white, in my mind’s eye. Men and women walking up and down the Seine, in spring or summer. It must be late at night, for the sky to be dark and the moon to be showing, it has to be late.
The music also makes me think of one of Monet’s paintings in the garden, near a small brook.
Anyways, this is a lovely, dreamlike piece and thinking about it brought me un petit bonheur this morning, Lila. Thank you.
How about you? What does the music recall for you?
Le Bon Marché
Bonjour Paris sent me an updated newsletter today. Featured was this article, “Our Favorite Shops in Paris” by Doni Belau and Amy Thomas. I read it through, realized that most of the shops were a bit too chi-chi for me, but was interested in this link in the article to a piece about Le Bon Marché department store by Sylvia Sabes on Girls Guide to Paris. It gives a little bit of the history of what is the world’s first department store (which I did not know). I also learned from the article that the novel The Ladies’ Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames in French) by Emile Zola recounts the birth of a department store in Paris.
I would really like to read Zola. Paul has. All twenty novels in the Rougon-Macquart cycle. In French. See “Envy” in previous part of blog.
I’ll start with the English version, methinks. Of just the one novel.
Which leads me to…
(Photo found at this blog.)
Thanks to Paris (im)Perfect’s blog at this post here, I have learned about French Word-A-Day, a blog dedicated to learning the French language. I really liked a recent post about the word désaxé, which is an adjective meaning “unhinged; unbalanced.” Hahaha! Oh, that is a good word for me. In all of my envy and questioning, in all my observations of the “seem-to-have-it-all-together” people I read about in Paris, I was thinking the other day about trying to research and write about all the nut-jobs and unsuccessful people that Paris has housed. One whom I thought I could look into is Zelda Fitzgerald.
Yeah, I feel like her a lot of days, lol.
I also discovered this really cool link at French Word-A -Day: French Yabla. It looks really fun, at I am going to sign up for the free email lessons.
Another blog I check in with regularly for French language information is Laura’s French Language Blog at About.com. I have gotten a lot of helpful language information on her site.
Now if I could just get my butt into more action on this whole language-learning thing, I might be able to scale some of those walls I am facing.
It’s Tuesday now. I have been checking out my email, looking in on a couple of blogs, and yes, I opened some new tabs. *sigh*
I read a little more about Fructose Malabsorption today and ran into this site all about bananas: Banana.com. Did you know that banana plants are not trees but the world’s largest herb? Me, either.
I read up on a couple of new (to me) blogs about Paris, this one from Misplaced Texan and another by The Armchair Parisian. More glimpses into others’ perspectives about the City of Light (which I learned from this article is *singular* — “light” not “lights.” The nickname has to do with Paris’ being a city of the Enlightenment, not with how many street lamps it has. Careful! If you read it, you may find thereafter that you will become highly annoyed when you see the expression misused in the plural. Heh.).
Finally, there is this inspiring guest blog by Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, more popularly known as artist SARK, at the Crazy Sexy Life website. The basics of the post are that we should allow ourselves to do more things badly. Our perfectionist ways, she writes, often inhibit our joy. That is so true.
With comparing myself to others — others in Paris who seem to be doing it better than me, others who are more advantaged, or seem to have fewer barriers — I am robbing myself of more joy. I want more freedom and joy in my life, and the best way to get a start on that is believing that it can be mine, believing that it is possible for me, too.
So there you go. My Monday-bleeding-into-Tuesday “mind/browser dump” here on my blog. I only have 11 tabs open now, and two of them are related to this post. One is my email and another is Flickr. I think there are six tabs dedicated to a blog post I am long-overdue in writing: about Peter Olson’s and my journey through the area in the 19th arrondissement on rue Mouzaïa last December. The other open tab is Google Reader.
I feel… relieved. You, perhaps, may feel more burdened. Sorry! Sorta. I guess it is your turn to have some open tabs now, haha!
Be well, everyone, and I shall do my best to return very soon.
Adios! Uhhh, I mean, au revoir!
Karin (an alien parisienne)