Monday, November 24, 2008

You Need To Get A Life...

That's what told me yesterday. Yeah, look at the heading again. No, I'm not kidding. But he was. Well, half.

Here's the thing. I didn't go run yesterday. You knew I wouldn't right? But I also made it a point to just lie around and rest, drinking plenty of fluids and blah blah blah. I even ate potato-leek soup (that I had frozen way back when) for lunch. But without having gone and released my week's tension through my 16 miles, I was antsy all day. I can't just sit around and do NOTHING. I was antsy in a BIG WAY. Not the kind of antsy that makes you bundle up and go for a walk. Not the kind that makes you clean your house or reorganize old filing cabinets. The kind of antsy that makes you want to move.

I probably got it from growing up as a migrant worker. Who knows? All I do know is that I couldn't stop thinking about the farm. And on days like those, I like to sit and surf the net looking at farm land. Yep, THAT kind of antsy. And looking at all those pictures of wide open fields surrounded by woodland and gravel roads only feeds my antsiness. But if someone ever asked me what it is that drives me to make my dreams a reality, it is this. This practice of constant research. Constant exposure to what I want. Doing the backstroke in it. Had I written it down and sold it before the damn Secret came out, I'd be a kajillionaire by now. *shrug*

So, I'm looking at pix and prices and I'm talking to Sam and I can see him getting all twitchy and tense. That's not what I need when I'm antsy. So, I say, "Com'ere, Baby. Come look at plots with me." At first he stands there, obliging, being polite but still tense. Then after a few interruptions from the kids he sits down on the futon and starts to rub his head. *eye roll* Bad sign.

Then, he starts saying how he doesn't want to look at land because it's not something we can do right now. It's not something we can have. Why should we look at pictures of things we can't have. Even if we find something we like, we can't afford a second mortgage, blah blah blah blah blah.

That's what it started to sound like to me. Charlie Brown's teacher. Mwahn wahn whan. Mwah wahn CAN'T wahn. Wahn wah-wahn DON'T HAVE. Mwahn wahn WON'T. Wahn TEN YEARS. Etc.

I explode. As usual. And I tell him that that's what he sounds like. I tell him that I'm sick of being the tank of energy that gets us to where we BOTH want to be. I told him I'm tired of every sentence he says having a no, not, or a contraction thereof. I'm tired of the "nuh" sound in ANY language. I said, "If it weren't for my dreaming and MY stubbornness, we wouldn't even BE together cuz I would have just let you break up with me ten years ago when you were scared shitless that I'd run off to the U.S. and break your little pansy weak heart. If I hadn't told you that I wasn't going to stay in France and that you could come with me or not, you wouldn't have gone to the States. You would have stayed right here in your little studio apartment and lived for the rest of your life with your bike and your fish tank. If it weren't for me, we'd still be living in Houston on petroleum blood money, teetering endlessly on the threshold of divorce. And at EVERY turn, you argue with me and sputter your nots and can'ts and don'ts and won'ts and Sam, frankly, I'm just running out of gas here."


Then, "But, but, but. We can't--"

"Eh! Stop!"

"I just don't understand how you think we can make it happen."

"You don't have to understand, you idiot, you need merely look at the past ten years and SEE how much we've accomplished and then. just. believe."


"No. You have to stop looking down at your feet. You have to look at the sidewalk in front of you in order to know where the hell you're going."

"But why can't we just stop and be where we are. We're going to have to just stop one day, aren't we?"

I shake my head. "No. Life is too short. I don't want those kind of roots. I'm always going to be trying to get somewhere. That doesn't always necessarily mean that I'm going to move geographically, but I'm going to move. Even when we get the farm, I'm always going to want it to be better and better and better. I'm never going to just stand still and look down at my feet. Sorry."

He sat silently. Thinking. And I could almost hear a chorus of angels singing as he percolated.

"So, you're antsy," he says.

"Yeah." I smile through my tears. "I am."

So he says, "What you need to do is get a life," then he laughs.

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do. You're bored. You spend all your time talking to your American friends back home in Charlotte on-line. You spend all your time on gabbing with your girlfriends and it's making you homesick. It's making you sit around and think about the farm all the time."

I say, "That just shows how much you don't know me. If ONLY I had time to gab all day with my pallies back in Charlotte!!! If ONLY!!!"

But then I explain that it's not even just about the farm. It's about the book. Because Sam keeps bringing it back to money. The pickle is that I don't want to get a job until I've heard something back from the Agent of My Dreams. Yes or no. Either way. I need to know. I don't want to start a job if I'm going to find out in December that I'm going to be published but need to edit or need to go to New York to do meetings and interviews or whatever. Or even if AMD writes me and says, "I don't think I can sell THIS book, but I want to see what else you have" at least I would have some kind of direction when it comes to that. If AMD gave me a flat out "No" then I'd be disappointed but at least I could send my memoirs and other writings to OTHER AGENTS. I really wanna give this guy dibs. I REALLY REALLY LOOOOOVE him as an agent. I'm telling you, I feel it in my gut that he's PERFECT for me. But if he says no, after a few weeks of wound-licking and wallowing, I could send the other stuff out and find a teaching job here. I just don't want to go committing myself to a job that I may not be able to deliver, you know?

That's what I mean by antsy. My only ways of making money are 1) publishing my writing and 2) getting a job. Well, I can't do EITHER one right now because I'm waiting on Sir AMD. I'm not good at waiting. In the mean time, I'm doing everything I can to SAVE money and to be a productive wife, mother, writer and runner.

On the other hand...

I start to think about what he means by "get a life." He means that I should branch out here more. Find more ways to make Lyon my home away from home. And I probably should. But I know I won't. Not with the same vengeance and speed I usually exact in my endeavors. The main reason is that I don't want to fraternize with a bunch of bitter anglophones. And I also don't want to join a group of anglophone posers either. If I'm going to "get a life" here, it's going to mean, sure, having a few anglophone friends, but moreso, making francophone ones.

The main problem with that is that I still don't like most French people. It's not their fault so much anymore. It's mine. Because I spend my days alone writing in ENGLISH, my French has suffered severe atrophy. You know how sometimes, foreign people have that creepy look on their faces? The bulging eyes, the slight smile, the "I'm going to bite you" look? Well, that's because they (WE) are hyper-alert. We are looking for all signs of communication--verbal and non--in order to understand the sense of what's being said. I'm pretty positive that even if my comprehension is superior, I still wear this hyper-alert expression on my face and posture about 85 or 90% of the time.

I'm sure this makes me off-putting. It must be difficult to have "casual" conversation with someone who looks like they're going to bite you. And between that and the slight linguistic errors I just can't beat (because REALLY, there is NO SENSE or rules about which nouns are masculine or feminine in French and just have to pretty much KNOW ALL NOUNS IN EXISTENCE not to make an error), make me just enough NOT French that I don't "fit in" like a native.

I hate to make it an all or nothing thing, but I can't seem to help it. If I can't feel I'm being taken seriously or at least expressing enough of myself to give a close representation to whom I really feel I am, I'd rather not mingle with the natives at all. Does that make any sense?

Let me put it another way. Back home, I have a sense of humor. I'm sorta funny in a dorky sort of way. And I'm cool, in that querky, silly sorta way. I am confident. I can feel out social situations and act accordingly. And I FEEL cool-ish. At least enough to WANT to be around other people sometimes.

BUT, I don't have that exact same capital in French. I don't have a LIFETIME of cultural experience in order to KNOW when someone is making fun of me or if something I'm saying is NOT funny or IS rude or COULD be taken as rude in certain contexts or with certain people but not others.

It used to bother the hell out of me when Sam used to ask me after EVERY social encounter in the States, "Did I say anything stupid or rude tonight?" And he'd want me to explain why, if he had. That's how you learn. But DUDE!!!!! During this tutelage, you feel like a total ASS or DITZ or whatever word you want to use.

So, since I don't really have the ENERGY to deal with such sentiments (being an ass or a social outlier) OR the MOTIVATION to try hard to be a chameleon like I was before (which, hello, it was easier to be a chameleon while I was a student because it is generally accepted in France that students are all psychotic and trying to find themselves anyway... it's much harder as an "adult" with CHILDREN to explain why I have an I'm-gonna-eatcha look on my face *eye roll*).

Alas. Tough shit. Maybe when I find out what's going on with AMD, things will change. Or, maybe before then, who knows? All I know is that in the mean time, I'm getting SICK of my neighbor CONSTANTLY judging and making fun of us. I know that it's a French thing and "C'est pas mechant" (he's not trying to be mean... ), but I HATE it.

Like, every time he comes over, he has SOMEthing to say about us. Last night he came by to see if we'd take care of getting the kids to school today (because he usually walks A and Ryan to school). After we say yes, he says, "Mmmm, smells like hamburgers in here. Fries..." I steel myself because I know he's going to say something about hamburgers not being organic... My mistake ever telling him we try to eat as organically as possible because he likes to point out to me what ISN'T organic about what we eat... ASSHOLE. So, in a rush to tell him we're NOT eating McDonald's I say, "NOPE, Kebabs!"

He says, "Oh yeah, so I guess you guys are the kings of the kebabs. You eat those a lot, don't you? So, are they good?"

Ugh. Fucker. Snotty, judgemental, French fucker. Okay, you didn't get it? WELL, he's TRYING to tell us that when you eat OUT, you're NOT eating ORGANIC. And that kebab is basically FAST FOOD and that we just aren't socially where we should be because we eat junk.

Suck it, Frenchy. This meat is halal, which means that even if the animal wasn't LOCAL, it was DEFINITELY organic in the sense that it hasn't eaten any other animals. Also, it means that the animal was raised and slaughtered humanely. Muslims are very strict about their food--stricter than some locavores I know. So, my mouth has NO GUILT over eating halal meat. So, again, SUCK IT, FRENCHY!

*deep breath*

Why do I let people get to me? It's not just regular people. It's usually just the French ones. So, if Sam wants to know why I don't "get a life" that's probably part of it. That I LIKE my American-ness to a certain extent and I KNOW that if I were to try to integrate myself further into my surroundings here, I would CHANGE and become like the very assholes about whom I am complaining! No thanks.

Okay, I figure I've done enough bitching and babbling for one day, don't you? I'll get back to writing FICTION now.

Be good.

1 comment:

Erica said...

My mom used to tell me it was the gypsy in us that made us want to go. I'm not sure if 'gypsy' can actually run in the blood, but the older I get the more I think it may be true. So maybe you have the gypsy blood too.

My hubbie challenges everything. EVERYTHING. Like any crazy idea I present can't just be great as it is. He's an idea freak. Some days I could really hit him. We all have our annoying things I guess.

Keep writin' sister.