Pourquoi les Américains? Allow Me To Explain…

Turnaround is fair play! For years, American musical theatre goers have been singing, “I Don’t Understand the Parisiens”. Here’s the adorable Leslie Caron as Gigi:

Now, the Parisiens (or more generally, the French) are all “a-twitter” and asking “Pourquoi les Américains…”

I thought it would be fun (and hopefully not too depressing) to respond to some of their questions. So here goes…

Zee Française demande:

Pourquoi les Americains font pas l’effort de parler un minimum français quand ils sont en France alors que les français le font aux USA ?

— C.A Civil War soon † (@MarieL_Winixon)

Zee Americaine répond:

Because a lot of the time, when we DO try and speak French, the French person we’re talking to just comes out with English…or the English person across the room takes care of it for us. I doubt a”minimum” of French would ever satisfy anyone for long anyway. If we’re not fluent in a year, we apparently have a motivation problem…so I’ve heard. I know for a fact my doctor was not impressed with my ability to say “merci” during my full-blown panic attack, which by the way, was precipitated by a French lesson. Truth is, we expect the French to be more worldly and know a bit of English. Think of it as a compliment.

Zee Français demande:

Zee Americaine répond:

I’m so glad you’ve asked this question, Gogo! Consider it a science experiment brought to you by the bastards of adulterated food, coming soon (and actually already having infiltrated) a French grocery store near you. But it isn’t too late. Fight to ensure your country remains free of Monsanto and sugar as an additive in everything. Stay away from the American slop known as soda pop, white bread, and processed burgers. It may actually be too late, though. I see a lot more fat people in the grocery stores these days, their carts piled high with Coke, chips, and American brand names only a fool could love…and a McDonald’s in every city.

Zee Français demande:

Les afro-americians ont vote a 95% Obama. Pourquoi? Parce qu’il était chinois? Qui choisit en fonction de sa couleur de peau déjà ?

— Roland Mac Dana ﻥ ‏@skinnmacdana

Zee Americaine répond:

Um…who the f&#* else were they going to vote for? McCain/Palin? Romney/Ryan? And hey, they’ve been smart enough to disassociate themselves from Carson. So it can’t be all about color, dude.

Zee Français demande:

Pourquoi les Américains ne voient que des images made in US, que 93% n’ont pas de passeport et pensent être les rois du monde libre? Ploucs?

— HappyMan974 @HappyMan974

Zee Americaine répond:

Zee Français demande:

Pourquoi les américains votent Trump ?

— MBS @MattBSteer

Zee Americaine répond:

Pourquoi les francais votent Le Pen? Because many people the world over are incredibly ignorant. Ignorance doesn’t have a nationality.

Zee Française demande:

Les américans font beurre de cacahuette confiture alors pourquoi pas miel ?

Dove@Paloma_srz

Zee Americaine répond:

Ah, finally! A really important question and an intelligent suggestion. Maybe I’ll even try that tonight for a snack. Sounds yummy.

I have a question. Why don’t the French capitalize nationalities?

A Quiet American

nervous_uncle_samI’ve noticed that since moving to France, I often avoid telling people where I’m from. I say “Je parle anglais” and don’t bother to correct anyone who thinks I’m from England. It’s somehow easier that way. While there have been times when I’ve been proud to be the only American in the room (when everyone else in the room was British),  truth be told, more often than not, I am just embarrassed to admit it and hate it when I have no choice but to expose it. When someone, like a translator, is speaking on my behalf and loudly declares, “Elle est Americane”, I actually shrivel a little. Can’t I just be a citizen of the world?

It’s a shocking subtle touch of shame that I didn’t expect to feel here. I love America, and despite it sounding like a total contradiction, I am proud to be an American. It shouldn’t be that difficult to understand my mixed emotions given our history. When I consider what my forefathers hoped to build through the writing of The Constitution, I am proud. When I think of the way they failed to be inclusive of women and slaves, eh, not so much. When I think of the landing at Normandy during WWII, I am extremely proud. When I compare the ability to conduct business in the US with the way things are here, I’m proud to be an American.  But when I think of George Bush and Dick Cheney, I am completely mortified to be American. When I think of the way we bulldoze ourselves into other nations (including of course, our own) decimating the people, land and culture, I am deeply ashamed. When I compare our healthcare and educational systems, I am embarrassed. Of course, with all the latest political developments in the US right now, specifically the rise of Mr. #Drumpf (otherwise known as #Trump), I am beyond mortified.

I’ve also noticed that whenever I encounter one of my areas many Moroccan immigrants, I am at first afraid to be known as American. This has nothing to do with what one might expect…fear of them. On the contrary, I am afraid they will judge me based on my racist counterparts and the US media that spews so much anti-knowledge about the Muslim faith. This initial impulse wears off when I remember that I am perhaps the only American they will ever meet and have a chance to show them we are not all gun-toting, anti-Muslim idiots. But that nasty undercurrent of shame remains, I, a meager representative of an apology they will never hear.

Now, thanks to this wholly absurd and surreal political climate back home (it will always be home), I have to wonder if I will ever again cop to being American unless I have to. If America actually elects a narcissistic con-man like you know who, I think my nationality will remain a deeply-guarded secret revealed only in whispers.

I am happy to declare that my friends back home are completely same and rational people who abhor he who cannot be named again. Most Americans are. And all of us maintain the hope that this sad little man will be put in his place. But even if he is, the damage has perhaps been done. He’s already rallied and emboldened people too full of pain and ignorance to understand their anger. He himself is a silly man, a complete fool. It’s the people who seem to worship him and the absolutely insane beliefs for which he stands that make me shake for the Republic for which America was meant to stand.

For now, I tremble to be an American, and I weep for my country.

 

 

 

Ode to Albuquerque

Tomorrow is my last day in Albuquerque, often referred to as “the land of enchantment”, or in my case “the land of re-enchantment”. When I was very little, my father headed west with the dream of moving his family to San Diego. He never made it that far. He got to Albuquerque and said, “This is it!”

Albuquerque is “still it” whenever I am at a crossroads in my life…I’ve been back so many times I’ve lost count. This time, even though I tried to make it my home again, it respected a different path. It had a role in ensuring I didn’t find an apartment, didn’t find a car, didn’t find a job, didn’t have to give up so easily on my heart’s desire, and didn’t have to live so far away from Stuart (and with an eight-hour time difference) for long.

abq snowI am filled with gratitude for this place, because instead, it gave me lots of space to stretch out; it gave me its big beautiful blue sky, hikes in the foothills, snow, and plenty of time to learn to dream again. The powerful, purple Sandias gave me a grounding strength and reconnected me to my own inner strength and the home I can never lose…the one in my heart. (It gave me medicaid too, my first health insurance in over 10 years…even if it was only for three months!)

I want to thank my sister and her frequently-belly-laughing family for their patience, generosity, support and compassion during this big transition in my life. You’ve been such a huge blessing to me in ways I could never fully express, except perhaps to say, my faith in myself has been restored through your kindness…and that has to be the most important of gifts we are ever able to give others.

I also want to thank the people I’ve met here who have had angelic roles (Jeff, Jill, Tonita) in my rebirth whether via their friendship or healing abilities. Thank you for being there for me…and most especially, for helping me to embrace this transformation happening to me and for the most empowering of sendoffs!

Sweet ABQ! I will miss you, but I suspect I will be back…whether for a visit or to stay….one day.

Why Albuquerque?

I said in my last post that I’d write about my reasons for being back in “el Southwest” in another post. What can I say? When I came back to the states, I knew I had to go somewhere.

While I was still in Virginia, I went to bed one night asking for very clear Divine guidance about where I was supposed to be irrespective of egoic wants and desires. (Look what happened with France! I didn’t want to go from frying pan to fire.) I asked that it come in such a way that the answer would be completely obvious to me and remembered upon waking. The next morning, I awoke with a memory of being with my sister in New Mexico.

I wasn’t that thrilled because going west seemed to be going further from Stuart. But I couldn’t ask for and then just ignore my dream when it was so bloody obvious. Since I grew up in ABQ and my sister and her family were there (albeit them Fox news and conservative talk radio enthusiasts), I thought, “Why not? Go for a visit and see what you think.”

My sister gave me a very warm welcome with flowers waiting for me in her old office/now exercise room set up with all the comforts of home. After bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo from one place to another, this provided a welcome sense of place and privacy surrounded by cedars and junipers and pinons as far as the eye could see.

But I’m finding Albuquerque to be a mixed bag. When I drive around town looking at neighborhoods, I enter these pockets and just start feeling really poor and depressed. These states can at times feel overwhelming blending and mixing with my own challenged internal states. Then I’ll hit another pocket and instantly light up, feeling potential and opportunity.

After having a house, the thought of apartment living curdles my stomach, must needs must. The first few places I looked at had me quite worried. I had hit one of those pockets and was in the wrong neighborhood…a nice neighborhood, but not the right neighborhood. So, I drove to my old stomping grounds southeast of the University. Wow! Places sure can change. Everything was quite run down including my old apartment building. Feeling even more discouraged, I had to talk myself into heading downtown. Once I drove under the freeway, I felt better. Downtown felt good to me. The closer I got to Old Town, the better I started to feel. I ended up looking at a complex that was new to me right across from Old Town built during my time in Asheville. It was very nice, but they didn’t have any one bedrooms coming available. My conversation with the manager somehow cheered me up despite that. She wanted to know my story, so I told her. She was very empathetic, and I left feeling like I could make this place my home after all.

When I got back to my sister’s and told her about it, she said something I didn’t expect. My mother and father had lived in that very complex! My dad passed away about 7 years ago, but now I realized his presence was still here. Going there and speaking to the manager felt like some kind of gift…a validation. Maybe I wouldn’t live there, per se, but I would find something somewhere.

What was I looking for? A duplex or casita for privacy and quiet that fit my budget. Good feng shui. A washer and dryer or at least an easily accessible and clean laundromat on the complex. Good light. Something pretty to look at out the windows. And most importantly, the feeling of safety. I seemed to be finding things that almost fit the bill but never quite entirely fit the bill. It is a delicate balance between not giving in too soon to something that “almost fits the bill” and not waiting so long that I have to take whatever I can get.

This past week, I thought I had finally found the ideal place that I could move into next week. I could afford it because it was income restricted, it was brand spanking new and clean, had a view, and with the exception of being an apartment, had everything I wanted. The woman said she would hold the studio for me over the weekend. I went back Monday to turn in my application, but that’s when I learned that while I met the income restrictions as an individual, because I was married, they would have to include Stuart’s income too thus pushing me over. Forget the fact we live in two different countries and don’t even file together. (Ironically when I tried to get a car loan at the bank, they couldn’t have cared less about Stuart’s income when it would have actually helped! No, I didn’t get the loan.)

Quite recently, I would have thrown myself into “why me?” mode and cried over the injustice of it all. But a year-long string of this kind of absurdity is seasoning me; I actually felt unphased when the leasing agent told me. I felt nothing. I said, “I understand. Thank you,” and then headed to the car and thought, “Now what?” That was it. I just went on to the next thing…

…Ha! which was a test-drive of an inexpensive car that I was pretty much all set to buy from an individual until he backed out on our agreed-upon price! This too rolled off my back. “Whatever.”

As nice as it has been to stay at my sisters, after five or so weeks, I’m starting to feel like an intrusion (not to mention alien from a liberal planet). I have yet to get a car so I’ve been relying on her graciousness and schedule to house-hunt. It doesn’t always work out. I had hoped to see a place today, but she had things to do. I’ll have to wait until next week and the apartment may be gone. But then again, maybe it wouldn’t have been right anyway. Who knows? Maybe I’m not even supposed to be here.

As the days pass and I have yet to find a place to live and a car, I am doing my best to deal with the feelings of being unsettled, discouraged, dependent upon others, a pain in someone else’s arse, etc. I just have to allow myself to feel whatever comes up but not indulge in it. It’s quite a balancing act. I must remind myself to focus on what I want, not what I don’t even if that’s what keeps manifesting (which has been the challenge all year-long). And most importantly, I have to trust that whatever the hell is going on with me, it’s all working itself out in God’s timing (crazy ‘ol bastard!).

 

Test of Faith

This process of meeting Stuart, falling in love, getting married, and now moving overseas has been such an amazing journey. It has really been a massive dismantling of my entire life and identity…a letting go of incomprehensible proportions to even myself, let alone to those who have never gone through it themselves. It’s also been one hurdle after another with very little rest between.

Through it all, at many points, I felt so impatient. I just wanted to be there already and start living the next phase of my life. The lingering limbo seemed eternal. Now I see just how much coordination the whole thing really took, and I understand so much better why it did take so long. In fact, thank God it didn’t happen sooner! I seriously needed all the time I had…every second…and not just to learn how to and do all that had to be done. It took me all that time to let go and trust. And Life needed all that time to do what it needed to do, too…to coordinate what was outside of my control.

It actually took concerted effort over months to sell all my belongings. (With the exception of the house, I’ve sold all my big items!) I It has taken months to learn some basic French. It has taken months to say all my goodbyes. It also took months for me to let go of some really old baggage that I simply didn’t want to have to ship! I can hardly believe that it’s all finally come together. I’m going to France!

Today, a neighbor and immigrant himself, asked me if I thought it would be “better over there.” Better? I hadn’t really been thinking about it in those terms. I mean, I don’t expect it to be better. I expect it to be different...very different. There are things I don’t particularly like about the US, and there will be things I don’t particularly like about France. Likewise, there are things I love about the US, and there will be other things I love about France. This is an opportunity to discover such things and discover aspects of myself as well.

To be honest, I don’t know what to expect. I’m simply following the call. It feels I have to do this…throw myself into the stream of the unknown. It brings to mind my favorite old testament story, the one of Abraham about to sacrifice his son, Issac. It was a test of faith. This is a test of mine. Most every step of the way, I have battled with great anxiety and fear. I have wrestled all kinds of negative thoughts and warnings thrown at me by a concerned sense of self. I have questioned my own sanity, too. I am quite aware there will be backlash and unexpected consequences to my actions, but of these I am no longer afraid. Or maybe I should say, I’m no longer afraid of the mind’s interpretations of them.

 

 

 

Patience is Not My Virtue!

Stuart is back in France, and we are at a bit of an impasse while we wait for El Universe to reveal our next step. We’ve laughed pretty hard over our brilliant plan…which is to get one. There are many moving parts, and until they move in a more coordinated way, I am stuck here. Not only do I have the house to sell, but Stuart also needs time to find us a place there and sort out some business/tax stuff. So when will I finally leave? I wish I knew. March? April? May? And once one piece snaps into place, we are at the mercy of El U for the next piece to snap into place. I was expecting, or at least hoping, to be outta here by now. It’s a rather uncomfortable limbo.

I know. I know. Have faith. Think positive. Focus. Unbending intent. But just for now, I rather feel like a bone in the mouth of a dog. It spits me out, all covered in slobber, then picks me up again and carries me off somewhere, chews violently for a bit, only to drop me again under the couch… forgotten, dusty, and dreading the inevitable grip of incisors returning to my midsection.

I simply keep doing what I’m doing: write, meditate, workout, learn French (in a sort of “what’s the point when there’s no one to speak it with?” way). I miss my clients. I miss singing and leading workshops. I miss having things on my calendar! Granted, none of us really knows what tomorrow will bring. But I think most of you have a reasonable idea, enough so to plan events and set dates. I, on the other hand, have to keep turning things down because I don’t know whether or not I’ll be around. I was invited to teach a workshop in May. Sorry folks! The Pure Heart Ensemble is doing a concert in April. Sorry again! Event in California in March? Maybe, we’ll see.

Okay, I’m feeling sorry for myself. I just didn’t anticipate this long of a goodbye… which, when I think about it, makes me question what in me isn’t ready to leave; I start to lose faith. Obviously, though, this must all be part of the plan, the lesson, the adventure because here it is. It crushes my self-importance into dust. It forces me to find some patience within and to muster all of my courage and faith. It compels me to let go of more and more… to empty.

This morning’s anonymous Facebook quote: “Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”

Doing my best.

 

The Langauge Barrier

A message for our American readers…

I’ve known my Brit now for a little over 9 months. We’ve been married for just over 3. And as is to be expected in such mad-dashed affairs, some differences are only now beginning to surface. I’m sure we can work through them, given time and our commitment to one another. But it really is a challenge.

For example, Stuart believes I have no energy whatsoever because I’m always asking for the “restroom”.

“Another nap, dahling?”

Whereas Stuart made a fine Southern lady in Florida blush when he said he was looking for the toilet.

The other day, driving to the library, I pointed at the sky where a beautiful hawk was soaring, “Look at the hawk!”

Stuart sat there for a moment, blank, and then looked at the sky. The hawk was gone. Turns out, he had no idea what I was saying. You see, the British have a funny way of pronouncing common English words.

“Eh-oh, you mean Hork!”

“Um…okay.”

And this morning, when he asked me if I wanted the avocado on the counter or if he could have “hah-f” with his “yawg-et,” I had to suppress a giggle.

When I said I was hot, he said, “You certainly are!” Oh, but that’s not the weird part. He said, “Well no wonder with that polo neck.”

“Polar neck? I don’t get it. This is a turtle neck, ya know, cuz it’s like a turtle! What do polar bears have to do with it?”

“No, polo neck. Not polo neck.”

“Oh, okay, honey. Thanks for clearing that up.”

When he asked me to open my boot, I took off my shoe. Turns out he wanted to put the laptop in the trunk.

When shopping for slippers, when I said, “These blue ones are nice,” he replied, “I prefer the cah-key.”

“What does the car key have to do with it?”

Turns out he meant khaki…ya know…the color. Kak-ee.

I won’t EVEN get into their funny spellings…favourite, colour, and tyre. Such strange behaviour!

And now something for our British readers:

I love my wife; I really do. So I’m doing everything I can to accept the fact that she’s a foreigner. She’s bound to make mistakes with the language. I should just exercise my stiff upper lip and deal with it.

But when I’m painting and I ask her opinion of the contrast, why does she say, “Oh, you mean the contraast!”

And why when I ask if she wants some more apricot juice does she say “appricot” juice?

Funny little country, America. It was awfully good of us to give it to the Americans. Though I dare say, we should have stayed a little longer and made sure they spoke the language first!

(Please do not deploy assassins. It’s only humour…or humor as my wife insists!)