Carcassonne

Like most days this week, I start out of a disrupted sleep, having lain way past a decent hour. I awaken late morning French time most days and go to bed early evening California time. My iPad tells French time and my laptop refuses to leave California. I work late into the French night completing blog posts for my employer on Miami time. Time spins nauseatingly.
 
Yesterday, after awakening around 11:30 French time and playing musical transformer and usb chords (Who has the Samsung/iPhone charger??!!), I swallowed a bite of pain au chocolat and quick coffee to motor off to Carcassonne, the Medieval fortress and castle, which also sports a lovely restaurant rated by a tire company (yes, I know it’s a coincidence that restaurant raters and tires have the same name).
 
After eating a sumptuous lunch of creative concoctions like foie gras coated in sweet wine emulsion merengue on a pop sickle stick (wtf, right?), and drinking too many Kir Royals and local white wine, we walked through the castle entry via a narrow cobble stone street filled with souvenir shops.
 
And when my oldest daughter ran into one shop walled with medieval swords and daggers, I knew it wouldn’t be long before her father was paying for two Game of Thrones John Snow swords. I warned them that drunken purchases never look good in the morning, to no avail.
 
But the day was lovely, the castle impressive and our spirits high. Captive momentarily to another time, another dimension really (Can you believe this was all built manually over decades?), I quietly absorbed every loose stone in the dirt path, every brilliantly green blade of grass, every cotton cloud in the sky, and every skip, hop and climb of my scampering daughters up and down castle walls and walkways.
 
The drive home along pine and canal-lined country lanes that often slowed us into narrow cobble stone alley towns squeezed between sugar cube cafes and cursive patisseries, in the quiet cold darkness just after dusk was peaceful. Four phones, two iPhones and two Samsungs, ran out of juice (and GPS), so we had to feel our way home, through every roundabout.
 
Home: Medieval dust still lingering on our clothes, in our breath, we each retired to our places, the girls to their room with stolen chargers to resurrect their connections to Snapchat, Twitter and California life time, me to my laptop and work, and mother and son to the telly to watch lame French game shows.
 
 And the next day: do it all over again in a new town, new castle or cathedral, casting our lines into a timeless sea of changing faces, feasts and facades, our feet in neither and both worlds, floating, lost and leisurely.

I got the last order of halibut tacos: ten for today

July 19, 2016
 
I’m having trouble. I stayed up too late and ruined my sleep. Those sleep-deprived days hit hardest, most difficult to bear. The world seems scary, like one giant acid trip gone wrong that I cannot come down from, no matter how much I talk myself through it. My feet feel as if I am walking in the bounce house.
 
Morning came too quickly, the doors opening and closing to my bedroom. Communal showers suck. I worked late into the night fixing my article for the new French client, only to awaken to stern reprimand from someone half my age, probably. I did not follow directions, too worried about meeting deadline and not the specifics. Certainly my fault but can we just treat each other kindly? Even editors?
 
Hard pressed to inhabit the Zen of it all, I fought all morning with myself. “This is the life of a writer. This is life. Don’t be afraid of rejection, judgment and criticism.” I had to keep myself from diving over the cliff of “I fucked up.” Forgiveness.
 
My nerves still sore, I taught class, guilty that I wasn’t fresh, alert and sharp, but that turned out to be a lie I told myself. The class discussion meandered through colonialism, prejudice, Black Lives Matter, censorship, profanity, the sub-prime mortgage debacle, the abc’s of finance, medicine, medico-legal ethics, euthanasia, and stories, lots of anecdotes, for a breezy four and a half hours. At least it seemed that way. Summer school. Beautiful students.
 
Rounding out nicely with a particularly grapefruit citrus-tinged IPA and halibut tacos ordered at my local hangout–family members all working (except for dad glued to the t.v.)–this day wanes okay, citing my own research on French proverbs (my maybe rejected assignment)–apres la pluie, le beau temps (Every cloud has a silver lining). I’m about to chomp down on my halibut tacos silver lining. Cheers and Bon appetit! 

Ten Today: Buddha and the French

July 18, 2016
I doubt I have ten minutes uninterrupted, but I’ll give it a shot. I’m at my other other other job tonight. This one teaches me to love. I practice my little Buddha steps here, learning to appreciate every mundane, automatic movement with mindfulness, paying attention. In fact, if I don’t pay attention, let my mind wander as it is wont to do when nothing in particular stimulates it, I make money or cleaning mistakes, ones that make me feel like an incapable incompetent. After all, I’ve been at the job for years now (Obviously my self-judgment needs some work).
 
So this one teaches me patience and presence. The other one, writing, teaches me a different kind of little Buddha practice–patience and detaching from struggle. That one challenges me too much. I wrote all day on a subject that didn’t particularly interest me–under deadline. Tonight, after the store closes at 10, and I get home just before 11, I will return to the work. It isn’t quite right and it’s due no later than Monday. That’s today. I figure before midnight is still Monday.
 
A new client testing my skills to evaluate hiring me, I do indeed want to impress. Right now, my draft is not impressive. To my credit, I have faked my way into the door–partially. The job description called for fluency in French. Though I have been around French speakers for the last 35 years, coming and going, and I took a couple years in college, even wrote and orally presented a fairly competent 20 minute lesson on Montaigne in grad school, I’m not sure fluent and French should both be used in the same sentence to describe me.
 
However, with the help of my somewhat strong reading skills, a tip here and there from the Frenchman in the house and Google, I patched together a rather inexpert but passable draft of an article discussing the meaning and origin of 5 French sayings or proverbs or adages or aphorisms. I used all those words and more to keep it less mind-numbing.
 
What I will come home to is a stuffy draft that I needed to leave anyhow, though the impulse to go home and finish it is way stronger than my need to practice Buddhist patience and presence here at yogurt zombie Monday. I need to make it personable, friendly and fun. Oy, that should pull on every iota of craft I can muster.
 
Well, only one customer intruded on my ten. Good sign. Maybe the piece will magically gel tonight before my eyes turn to lidded gravel.

 

Image: Architectureofbuddhism.com