Re-entry into orbit

Re-entry into orbit

I've lived in Europe for the past six years.

In the grand scheme of things, that's just a blink of an eye. It's the length of time you spend in middle school and high school.

And remember how long that felt? And how hard and strange it was to change the rhythms of high school for a new chapter?

Well, as an expat, the more time you spend away from your 'home,' the longer you spend re-adjusting. Sort of like that formula for how many months it will take to get over an ex based on the amount of time you spent together.

Luckily, I have been back and forth to the USA for many reasons in the last 6 years. Sometimes spending as long as 4 months. But no matter how frequent my visits, the re-entry into the US orbit is hard.

Maybe because my heart-home is Europe.

So I have been thinking about what are the things that jar me and remind me I am an ex-expat as I re-enter into this American way of life. Here goes... in no particular order:

- the woman in Target behind who was high at 9am and eating donut-holes while dressed in a fancy business suit

- the fact that no one greets each other when you walk into a shop or a grocery store. In France, you greet the space, the people. In the Netherlands, you make eye contact and said good-day.

- the incredible ease in the USA to do things like open a bank account (this is HUGE a plus!)

- the extra time you seem to have now that the shops and places of business are open and available to you between noon and 2pm! (This is a plus too! Although I love the slow paced life in southwest France, sometimes you just want to buy a damn stamp at 1:15pm!)

- the giant-boob effect. (I blame hormones in American food for this one. At any time during the last 6 years, if I spent more than 2 weeks in the USA, I'd find myself suddenly with the most gigantic boobs. To the point of pain. If I stayed more than 6 weeks, they usually would regulate and re-adjust to normal size. I kid you not. I once went to a spa with a galpal and for weeks all she could talk about was the size of my boobs.)

- swearing. Why does everyone in the USA need to swear... and swear loudly? In Europe only teenagers trying to be cool and people trying to be rough and tough pepper their sentences with swear words. Isn't there something else to use to fill your hot air space with?

- why is it so hard to find creme fraiche in a grocery store!?! Why is it considered 'gourmet'?

- the price of eggs. Maybe this is a NYC-specific problem. But in France, you can buy a 30-egg flat for €1.99. Here, $1.99 for SIX weirdly WHITE eggs that are FAR away on the shelf from anything free-range. Is it just me, or do they taste weird?

- the Super Bowl. NYC on Christmas, New Year's, even inauguration day, was a hive of activity. Super Bowl Sunday... yeah... crickets.

- the cost of medical care. Seriously? You want to charge me $300 for a routine exam??  WITH insurance? It's HOW much for an MRI??

- shows like "Jerry Springer." I know there are European equivalents to tasteless and dumb television. Maybe because I don't own a TV and haven't for over 10 years, I am a bit insulated from exposure. Now, in NYC... there are Televisions on in the laundromat, on the PATH train, in.... everywhere! And it's noise and it's disgusting and it's... AWFUL.

- New York Public Library - WHOOP! It's been 6-years since I've had an English library near me. You cannot even imagine how much I have spent on books in that time. Including e-books, because they are cheaper. I'd come to the USA for a visit and download a whole bunch to avoid the international download charges. And now... voila! The entire power of the NYPL at my computer and delivered to my local branch. It's AWESOME.

- hamburgers. Yup. Cannot say much more than that. It's one of the food items I missed most. And tacos. Fish Tacos. Baja style. New York still has to work on figuring that one out.

I'll keep you posted on what else makes the list :)

About as far away from chateau life as one can get...

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About as far away from chateau life as one can get...

It's New Year's Eve. In New York City.

Your vision would be Carrie Bradshaw and lights. Or champagne and Al Capone. Even my damn iPhone is auto correcting every single word to 'champagne' or 'whiskey' regardless of what I type after the words 'New Years in New York City.'

But the reality is:
- gridlock traffic
- two sick siblings
- smell of pot from down the hall and stairwell shaft
- 'I don't know what you talking 'bout, bitch!' (Screamed, not spoken) echoing up the stairwell shaft as revelers party below.

I shift on the couch where I have stretched out to bunk down for the night.

I'm about as far away from the quiet of Bapaumes and Nerac and chateaux as you can get.

I remember my first New Year's in Nérac. Stone chateau, cold winter. Just me and the dogs who were howling along with my top-of-the-lungs rendition of Annie Lennox's 'Here comes the rain again...'

And a walk at midnight into the garden.... Quiet. Frost. Heavy leather coat wrapped with the fur side inward all around me. One singular shooting star.

'Ooh child, things are gonna get easier,' sings a female voice downstairs.

I dream so.

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New Amsterdam

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New Amsterdam

Many of the pilgrims took ship from Amsterdam when they departed for the New World.

'Tomorrow' I will follow their footsteps and head to NEW Amsterdam from Amsterdam.

It was serendipity to be doing so- when I had made my initial plans to leave France for New York City, I had planned to fly from Paris or Bordeaux. But schedules and agendas intervened. And here I am... After 6 years of living in Europe, the journey that started in Amsterdam ends in Amsterdam.

I fell in love with Amsterdam on my very first visit eight years ago-  my first breath there was enough to make me feel like it is my home.

Living here for three years was a privilege, a gift, a chance to heal after my divorce, a journey of discovery, a freeing. There's nothing like gliding down a canal bridge on your bicycle late at night, the cold wind biting your cheeks, twinkling lights and gables all around you, to make you feel like there is possibility again in the world.

I left Amsterdam for Nérac, France. Living there for three years was a privilege, a gift, a chance to heal after my mom's death, a calm place to be nurtured and nurture a garden in turn, a blossoming. There's nothing like gliding down a hillside on your bicycle at mid afternoon, the sun kissing your eyelids and bare arms, sunflowers and chateaus all around you, to make you feel like there is beauty again in the world.

Wandering in Amsterdam tonight, I have a million memories assailing me- Chinese lanterns and ski slopes, Sinterklaas and swimming in the river, opera and airports, bitterballen and oysters. Laughter and love.

I left Nérac with a heavy heart, but here,in Amsterdam, I feel peaceful. Assured that I even though I may be leaving, but these places remain to welcome me back.

From them I take with gratitude the lessons I learned, the memories I've stored, the way of living I've taken to heart, and a recipe book of my own making.

Like the pilgrims, I stopped into the English church in the quiet and secluded Begijnhof and asked God to bless my journey.

On the wall above the alter there is painted, 'Create in me a clean heart O Lord.'

It's a reminder to let go, be in the moment, leave behind anything heavy from the past and start with the light.

Leave a light burning for me, Amsterdam, I'll be back.

 

Wanderign in Amsterdam

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Moving

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Moving

This morning was hard. Terrible.

I cried nearly the entire way to the airport in Bordeaux.

Leaving France. Leaving Nérac. Leaving Bapaumes. Leaving the life I have built.

From the outside it may seem that I am footloose and fancy free. Constantly in new places and discovering different faces.

But the core of me longs for roots. Deep ones.

And I had thought I had found them here in Nérac. At Bapaumes.

But as the sun set on my last day of living in France last night, I knew I had to go. For so many many reasons. Even if I am going only for a season, a chapter in my life.

For weeks I have been alternating between being excited and being sad. Between wanting to stay and wanting to go. Between googling bookstores near my new place in New York City - English bookstores! What a luxury! - and taking as many bike rides as I could to savor the smell of earth and land and sun of here.

Yesterday the dam broke and I was solidly in the 'I'm-miserable' camp. I took a bike ride to town just because I could... And it was a mistake. It was full of melancholy and lost dreams.

But dreams are ephemeral for a reason. They need to be renewed, rejuvenated, get a few cycles of REM into them so that they can be made into the best versions of themselves.

I will tackle this move with dreams at the forefront. Nostalgia in the background. Sandwiched in between will be gratitude for all the incredible experiences I've had while living in Europe for the past 6 years.

So... Moving. Dreaming.

Dream a little dream with me?

Sunrise on my last day at Bapaumes, on new dreams

Sunrise on my last day at Bapaumes, on new dreams

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Time Warp

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Time Warp

Coming to Amsterdam in winter is like a time warp for me... Back to my first visit 10 years ago. I was shocked by the grey and the biting wind, and marveled at every cobblestone, gable and character on the street.

Now I walk the streets as an A'dam veteran. Since my first walk along these canals I've bought and sold homes, divorced, emigrated from America, behaved like a local in Amsterdam, begun a business, eaten figs in Istanbul, tossed snow in Switzerland, written a novel, and danced under the full moon purple sky along the canals of France.

What a journey it has been.

I've lived in many spaces, traveled to many places.

But today.... The first time in Amsterdam since many moon moons and first time in a long time when I get to savor the feel of the city.... It tossed me back to wonder, the awe, the fascination, the hope, the dream, and the challenge of Amsterdam.

Maybe it's an excellent stop to acclimate before I move....to NEW Amsterdam ;)

 

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Relativity

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Relativity

Some days there are so many things making me stressed and worried. Making me frustrated and upset. Making me feel alone and burdened.

And then something will happen to remind me about what my 16-year old brother went through the day his dad died. Or what he went through at 14 when his mom died.

And I feel like a first class idiot.

I think of what it must have been like to be him: at 14, losing his mom... his best friend... his compadré in crime. Watching her be sick and her energy dwindling away; knowing he has to say goodbye. To wait for that goodbye. To wait for the mortuary to come to pick her up and for the adults around him to spring into action.

I think of what it must have been like for him: at 16, to be pulled from class by police and social workers to be told that his dad had collapsed and had suffered a heart attack. To not get to say goodbye. To have to accompany the ambulance to the hospital. To wait for adults around him to spring into action.

And no matter where I am emotionally or mentally... I have to give way. Give him way to be bruised. Give him way to be warped. Give him way to be angry and sad. Give him way to be lost.

Because I am the adult in his life and I actually cannot imagine those experiences.

Yes,... I was on the phone from with him and my sister the entire night through while our mom was dying. When my cellphone got so warm on my ear that I had to switch to earbuds. Where I could be - at a distance - calm and collected.

Yes,... I was on the phone with him and social workers and police as they took him from school to the hospital and encouraged him to say goodbye to his father who had already passed. Where I could be - at a distance - calm and collected.

And I am the older and wiser?

It's relative.

The gorgeous entrance gate to medieval Libourne, France. Two pieces of a whole - supporting each other endlessly.

The gorgeous entrance gate to medieval Libourne, France. Two pieces of a whole - supporting each other endlessly.

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Outsider In

Outsider In

I've never been one of the 'cool kids.'

There have been times in my life where I lived on the cool periphery. Close enough to touch the frost, but also free enough to play at a distance.

And I did consider it a sort of a freedom - a chance to be me, the ability to shape my own way.

I'm an introvert by nature, so being outside looking in has often felt like the best viewing grounds.

But there are other times, when it cuts to the quick.

There was a stage at the end of my marriage where I felt so 'outside' in my own life and marriage, that I would wake at 6 am on the weekends just to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee in my own living room without feeling like I need to be different, play different, say different,... and not FEEL different. Not feel like an outsider looking in.

This week I have visiting with me some friends. Acquaintances is maybe a better word - our paths have crossed in many ways and have a lot in common but they are not the people who would know how to reach me if I happened to not log into Facebook.

Lovely people - so full of energy and fun, and laughs.

And yet, there's the distinct feeling of being the outsider looking in - even in my own home. It tastes dull and acidly.

I don't know the closed-club jokes. I don't do drink my coffee the same way. I don't recognize the names of the glitterati that they toss around casually.  I yearn for an hour with my book. I walk the dog more often than I need.

But I am hostess, it's my house. I'm the insider on the outs.

 

Stealing a moment of quiet calm.

Stealing a moment of quiet calm.

Hump Day at Planned Parenthood

Hope that caught your attention! 😬😜

There's a lot of noise out there at the moment. So I felt a little blessed to spend yesterday, Wednesday... (Hump Day), sitting for hours with a book in the waiting room of Planned Parenthood, NYC.

(And yes, for those of you following the blog, you are thoroughly confused right now about my space-time continuum. Just hang on! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!)

Before you panic and refuse to read further - I was there because I needed female preventative healthcare. A routine check-up.

You know... pesky things like cancer screenings.

And I am new to New York and have no local doctors. So when I started searching for a gynecologist, I started checking out reviews online, and asking people... But I kept circling back to the energy around Planned Parenthood. And I decided that THAT was where I wanted to go for my check up.

Why? Well... easy. Because just donating to their cause is not enough. I wanted to support these incredibly busy/hardworking doctors by being a patient. Because some of the BEST women's healthcare experiences I have had my whole life has been through Planned Parenthood. The staff are experts, and more than that, they are friendly.

That has been my experience since I was a teenager sitting in their waiting room back in California - scared, nervous, unsure, and totally freaked. And they made feel normal, like I was doing something that I should be doing to take care charge of myself and my health at a time when peer pressure seemed more logical than reason.

And when I was a very poor college student, they did the same. They didn't judge, they didn't lecture. They presented facts, and let me choose how I wanted to be healthy.

I'll admit I was a bit nervous yesterday. It had been a while. I had been living in Europe, where women my age only do pap smears once every 5 years. And so with my family's.... hmmmm... proclivity to cancer... well... I was nervous.

And I'll admit with what's happening in the news, part of me thought, wow,... is it SAFE to go to this office?

There was more security than at the airport. With friendlier staff. It made me sad that one has to empty pockets and go through metal detectors to get to see a doctor. And I was there because I CHOSE to be.

The non-patient waiting room was packed. It made me pause. A room full of people - but because they are not the patients, they were not allowed to enter further into the 'compound.'

I was allowed through the next layer of doors and that was full too. I waited for hours. Don't take that as a criticism. Most of the doctor's offices I researched had that as an issue. Why....? Too many patients. Not enough doctors. Not enough resources.

Taking it as a chance to breathe, escape from work, and read a book... I sat. I read. I watched people.

Men and women. Students. Middle-aged. Well heeled. Not so well heeled. Nervous. Embarrassed. Uncertain. Annoyed. Tired. Stressed. Humans.

The staff was efficient, friendly, and had too much to do. The doctor who finally called me into the examination room was kind, funny, personable. She made me feel WAY less uncomfortable with the fact that I had only a paper gown open to the front to 'shield' me. And when her routine questions about family medical history revealed that my mother had had cancer, my father had had cancer, and my sister has cancer... she was kind, and gentle. And made sure to put me at ease as much as she could.

Would I go back? Absolutely! Why not?

A good doctor, is hard to find.

So why did I share this? Because when I looked at the faces in that waiting room, I knew I had to.

Words have power. Use them kindly.

 

 

Summer Sunsets

Summer Sunsets

There's something magical about the way the setting summer sun feels.

I pedal my practical Dutch-style granny-bike along the narrow French country road. Around me everything is green, lush, thick with the promise and bounty of summer. Sunflowers already bowing to the change of temperature, the end of the day.

And then the sun... sprinkled between the leaves, showering me with light in the break between the trees.

No photo can truly capture the way the light feels as it filters through your lashes, warms the skin of your face, comforts your heart.

The scent of lavender and figs and BBQ and turned earth. The last taste of rosé wine on my lips... this is summer. This is fullness. This is beauty. This is life.

Just outside Nérac, Southwest France, on a warm July evening.

Just outside Nérac, Southwest France, on a warm July evening.

Among the vineyards, watching the sun slowly set.

Among the vineyards, watching the sun slowly set.

I spell home Y-O-U

I spell home Y-O-U

Sometimes I miss you with a visceral realism that knocks me breathlessly back a step or two.

I know that it has been many moons since we were officially... But we had remained friends. I could reach out to you - share with you - laugh with you - talk with you - hope FOR you.

And now.... How often do I find myself thinking ... $$&&@@ would like this... $$&&@@ would find this delicious.... $$&&@@ would laugh is deep booming belly laugh at this... ?

@@&&@@ would touch my hand and know me in this...

We gambled and we lost... But more than the loss of a love affair... Your sudden withdrawal from my life feels unfinished. I feel the loss of my friend deep into my bones.

In many ways more than I felt my divorce. With my divorce I felt angry, I felt betrayed, I felt scared, I felt uncertain, I felt bereft.

This... here... I feel the loss of possibility... I feel the loss of hope.

I feel the loss of you.

I cannot help but hope that you read this... And know that whatever it was that made you draw back and draw away... I hope it drew you to the peace and love you sought.

 

I took this picture while walking along the Atlantic in San Sebastian. And the moment I saw this lock against the turbulent sea and sky, I thought of ...

I took this picture while walking along the Atlantic in San Sebastian. And the moment I saw this lock against the turbulent sea and sky, I thought of ...

Boeuf Bourguignon

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Boeuf Bourguignon

If you have read my last couple of posts, then you know I'm in a French frame of mind.

What better thing to eat on a cold winter-y night but a nice beef stew? Let's make it French (oh la la!) and let's call it a fancy name :)

Boeuf Bourguignon à la Bapaumes

This recipe has been shared with me by my father and his husband. It's named after our Moulin in southwest France. It's special comfort food and reminds me of Le Dadz and home. And I am so grateful to make it! It has kept me warm on many winter nights snuggled between stone walls! Note that I cook it in a pressure cooker... because after all, you cannot claim living in the French countryside if you don't have a pressure cooker! ;)

Serves 4

1Kg beef bourguignon (can also use beef chuck or beef stew meat. The more marbling the better!)                                                           
1 bottle red wine
Bouquet of your favorite herbs: Mine tend to be 2 fresh bay leaves/a clump of sage/ oregano/ thyme                                                                                
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablepoons olive oil                                                             
1 or 2 large onion, sliced
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Spice mix: grind fine with mortar and pestle: 1 cube beef bouillon/salt/pepper/5 cloves/1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice/2 tablespoons curry                                     
1 cup of Pruneaux d'Agen (Use the fleshiest prunes you can find - no pits. Pruneaux d'Agen are of course, the best.)                                                                
1/2 cup of diced bacon                                                              
1 sliced leek
1 stem celery sliced                                                              
2 medium carrots sliced                                                          
4-5 med turnips..peeled and cut in wedges
Tablespoon Balsimic vineger                                     
                                
In a thick bottomed roasting pan, heat oil and butter. Then brown the meat. While browning, add in balsamic vinegar. (Meat can be browned in batches).

Remove from pan and move it to the pressure cooker (including the sauce!)
In the pressure cooker.. place the meat at the bottom…sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat.
Cover with vegetables.
Add bouquet of herbs in the middle.
Add pruneaux on top.
Sprinkle with spices
Cover with 1/2 bottle of wine
Now you are ready to close pressure cooker and cook for 1 hour

Serve with rice.

(Note - this dish is actually best served the NEXT day, so turn off pressure cooker, close it and let stand until the next day (that will avoid the meat from drying out. The next day, reheat and stir briefly.)

 

 

 

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Bordeaux

Bordeaux

I've traveled to many, many beautiful and stunning cities.

But I will freely admit that Bordeaux has become a particular favorite.

The cobbled streets, the architecture, the river, the charm of sidewalk cafes, the Southwestern French food, and of course... the wine ;)

I love it's silence. It's elegance. It's history.

Of course, there's history. Once a major port city, a royal city under Richard the Lionheart and a favorite of Eleanor of Aquitaine. You can still walk through the city gates surviving from Eleanor's time.

Like Toulouse or Paris, it's been standing silently watching the course of war, economics, fashion, people.

Some even effected it greatly. Bordeaux was the capital of the Vichy Government in WW II. You see the small plaques, hesitant to claim that part of history.

It's also the forerunner of Haussman architecture. We like to say "Bordeaux looks like a smaller version of Paris!" After all, the buildings, the rooflines, the boulevards, all echo Paris.

The truth is,... Haussman was born in Nérac, and worked his magic in Bordeaux first. Paris actually looks like Bordeaux :)

Now here I am, living in Nérac, enjoying the calm of the small town. But relishing that I am only a drive away from Bordeaux's offerings.

What I love what best about it - is that as you meander the little narrow streets, you forget the history. You forget the present. You only savor the charm.

Walk with me?

Je t'aime

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Je t'aime

Grand-père!

Au revoir!

Je t'aime!

Bon après-midi!

A child voice echoing over the square as she waves with exuberance to her grand-père. Little blond girl with hair in pigtails and a bright turquoise t-shirt, skin baked brown from the summer sun. As I sit here reading CHOCOLAT, I look up and think with certitude that the stuffed bunny in her hand is called Pantouflé.

French... I love the way it rolls off the tongue and into the Heart.

The last couple of days I've been in train stations and tourist spots... Enjoying every kilometer, but also missing the sound of French. Instead of the soft swells of my newly adopted language, it's been Dutch, English, German, Arabic.... I miss the French.

Did I mention I am IN France as I write this? I look past the young girl who brought French back into my orbit and see cobbled medieval streets. My white wine sweating from the summer heat.

Funny how a language can disappear, even among its own villages, with the invasion of flip-flop clad masses for the summer.

I almost resent them.

Almost :)

It's beautiful to hear the twang of a Texan accent ordering salllllmon... And charming to hear the Dutch woman next to me discuss whether to order caramel with sea salt macaroons or vanilla. It makes me smile to hear the Afrikaans words of complaint at the exorbitant prices of Saint-Emillion wines. And it makes me long for a sliver of the beaches of home to hear a Californian squeal with delight at a medieval tower.

Stunning the power of words and the sound of them.

Corner Cafe

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Why are wine racks too small and other things that don't make sense...

Why are wine racks too small and other things that don't make sense...

I'm not a scientist, but I liked science, LOVED science actually. And I like to think that I have a rather logical mind. (Some people may quibble with that... but I hold my spreadsheeting powers as evidence of extraordinary logic.)

But there are some things that I have lately been struggling with. They just don't make sense for me. There just is no possible explanation. Or at least none that I have found. Perhaps you could educate me if you know the answer to any of the following:

  • Wine racks: Why on EARTH is there only five spaces on the shelf of a metal rack? Bottles are sold in lots of 6. What am I supposed to DO with that sixth one?? If I place it on the next rung, then I have a bottle out of place. And that of course affects other wines. Leaving me with some rungs with five lovely partners side by side... and then one weird rung. With onesies. Well, let's be honest... the best solutions for this is just to drink the sixth bottle right away ;)
  • French women: Why are they NOT all skinny? American media has trained me to think that all French women look like Juliette Binoche. There's even a diet book about eating like a French woman! So why... here in the rural SouthWest France... is there a ton of evidence to the contrary? Well, let's be honest... it's the land of bread and cheese. And WINE. And foie gras. What was I thinking? Of COURSE not all French women are skinny! In fact... they are human.
  • Sunshine in rain: Why does it sometimes happen that there is torrents of rain, while the sun is shining? In Africa, we were told that it means the fox married the wolf's wive. Well... there's nothing more beautiful than raindrops glowing in the sunshine. So maybe I don't care that this one doesn't add up.
  • Cancer: Why does cancer choose some people and not others? I don't really want to know the answer to that one. But it leaves me wondering in the wee small hours of the morning... why on earth does it barrage some... and leave others?
  • Manual transmission cars: sorry, I just don't get them. I'm an automatic-gal!

Plant a seed...

Plant a seed...

"They say you only really appreciate a garden once you reach a certain age, and I suppose there is a truth in that." - JoJo Moyes

I was never much of a plant person or gardener... there was always someone else around who preferred doing it and allowed me to do other things. Like read a book. Besides, my black thumb was epic in it's powers and widely known.

Even with succulents, my black thumb tended to be victorious.

But in the last few years, I've really begun to relish working in the garden. You may even blame it for some of my silence! lol If the sun is out, why would I be inside??

Maybe it is like the opening quote says... to do with age. Maybe it's that I discovered that it is much more fun to do gardening than to go to the gym, and I work out muscles I didn't even know I had! Or maybe it's my way of trying to cope with a lot going on and multi-tasking... gardening is like crossing off going to the gym, going to the tanning-salon, and cleaning all in one giant spray of fertilizer.

I have had to invest in good sunscreen and a hat. And gloves and shoes. And a spade that's all my very own.

Lol

I like moving the lawn with the tractor - and the weed wacker... just lemme at it! Something about shaping those edges. Hmmmmm... my inner control freak.

Maybe it's the same as house cleaning, you have INSTANT reward. Maybe it's about feeling centered by the dirt under your nails.

I don't know the names of the plants I tend to... yet... but I'm giving them lots of love anyway.

 

SuperWoman say 'What?!?!'

SuperWoman say 'What?!?!'

I get why there was a devision of labor in ancient cultures.

I hate it... But I get it.

I'm a woman who works hard. Very hard. I have a successful business by any person's standards- with a staff who rely on me and the paycheck I mail out, with clients all over the USA, a subsidiary in Europe, processing millions of dollars. I'm a partner in a bed and breakfast where I do everything from managing the social media and the books to changing sheets. I teach courses at a respected America university. I blog and I write novels.

And I have a 17-year old brother for who I am serving as co-guardian and a sister who needs my support and attention.

I don't have time to shave my legs or think about getting my nails done or go on a date.

I think... Often... Sometime between sending the 300th email for the day and answering the 200th voicemail... That I don't have the energy or the time to go 'home' and deal with homework and grades.

Or doing someone else's dishes.

It's awful. I know. Why is it awful? I don't know.

But I often find myself thinking...'Don't they get it? I run a company and have a 100 staff members who rely on me! I don't have time or energy for more.'

Is this what successful men think? Is this what my ex-husband thought when he would ask for some downtime before dinner to unwind?

Why do people look at me weird when I tell them I don't have time to reply to their texts? Or am I imagining it?

Yes, there are moments to stop and smell the roses - but they are SO few, I value and cherish them like diamonds.

Where and why does the guilt come from?

And when do I get a chance to say 'I can't be everything to everyone...' and not feel like a failure for putting up those boundaries?

I want a house-husband.

Does that make me a fail as SuperWoman?

 

Sometimes we need a helper...

Sometimes we need a helper...

I met a man on an airplane to Barcelona (FoundTravel Favorite)

I met a man on an airplane to Barcelona (FoundTravel Favorite)

Let’s call him ‘Oliver.’

It’s not his real name but his actual name is sort of old-fashioned like ‘Oliver’ and besides, he kept making me think “Please, sir, I want some more!”

But pinching a man’s heart is a bit harder than being one of Fagan’s pickpockets. At least I think so… Love and relationships are more Twist-y than even Dickens was able to tell.

Part of why I crave travel is the opportunities and possibilities that are walking down every cobbled street and every flowing river. I love the energy of sitting in an airport waiting area and meeting a stranger. Sometimes it’s just a nice way to pass the time. Sometimes you exchange business cards and you never hear from each other again. Sometimes you become Facebook friends.

But there’s always that possibility of that ‘one time.’

What books go in your suitcase this July?

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What books go in your suitcase this July?

Back in the day, I was one of those who had to carefully plan which 10 books to bring for my 4 day holiday :D

I still do that, partly because I never know when I am on wifi... and because I like the mix of hardcopy print books and my iPad.

One never can really get away from the feel of a real book.

But so now it's July and it's time for travelling, so... what are you tossing into your 'suitcase' to read? I'd love to know! Comment away!

And here's my top reads lately that I would highly recommend:

Boys in the Boat

By Daniel James Brown - Excellent read along the lines of "Unbroken" or "Seabiscuit." A little history, a little sport (I know! I was surprised I liked it too!) and a lot of humananity. I was reading it on the subway in NYC and couldn't help myself from exclaiming aloud, pumping an air fist.

Americanah

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - One of my absolute favorite writers. She has a strong female voice, immigrant voice, traveler voice, and voice of Africa. This book's focus on the main character's immigration to America, is tongue-in-cheek and fantastic. I kept thinking 'Yes, yes... that's right! That's how if feels/felt!'

Easter Parade

By Richard Yates - This was a recommendation from a friend... and it has led to my buying more of Yates' works. For a male writer whose work dated predominantly from the 50's and 60's, he nails the female mind and voice dead on. At least... my female mind. I loved the characters in this simple story. And I was shocked that the book didn't continue forever.

My Father's Husband: A Novel

Well... of COURSE it's in my suitcase! One never knows when a fan needs a signed copy! ;)

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Sexy Lunch in the City with Friends

Sexy Lunch in the City with Friends

I'm sitting in a cafe in New York's West Village and there's two groups of women next to me ... Two French gals who are quietly and intensely rolling out beautiful pronunciations while elegantly sipping coffee.

And five American women ordering things like triple decaf espressos whole roaring in laughter over how they struggle to get their husbands up at 5am for sex and how awful the wedding of a 'close' friend was the previous weekend.

They were making plans for the summer that included things like switching each other's houses in The Hamptons or in Malibu.  Talk them shifted to deciding that they should all add onto their Bucket Lists things like having sex with a rock star.

I was just thinking that they were like an episode of Sex and the City... And then they must have heard me thinking that because they started comparing themselves to the women in that show and doling out roles... 'Well, then you must be Samantha!'

Part of me wanted to hold my hands over my ears at their brass loudness, which was defeated only by fire sirens passing on Bleeker Street.

Part of me was sad that I am sitting alone and missing MY set of great good friends. I was of course convinced that we'd be more like the elegant French gals...

And it made me think of Friends... If you watched television in the 90's or 2000's then you know STC and Friends.

My own friend group is a nice blend of the two.. People who are always there no matter what... Who challenge you and support you. Who drive you crazy and hurt you. Who wear turkeys on their heads to make you smile, and who are willing to meet yet ANOTHER new boyfriend even if he's composing overly romantic songs to your sparkly eyes on his piano.

They are both men and women. And no matter where I am in the world, I know I can pick up the phone or hit send on an email and it's like no time has passed.

They come from all walks of life and places. Some were my colleagues, some were my subordinates or supervisors. Some are random bonds forged over many glasses of wine at random places.

Our friendships have survived geography, jobs, marriages, divorces, relationships. Often it has survived even the relationships who were the links that led to our the introductions.

Reminding me that these loud women who are driving me crazy are actually blessed and lucky. And I hope that they get to repeat lunches like this many times.

I know that's what I'd want in my sequel...