Friday, February 12, 2010

Au Revoir and kiss my grits!

It's late-ish (well, I'm tired, so it doesn't really matter what the clock says, eh?) and this is my obligatory "in case I die in a plane crash"-slash-"France can kiss my grits cuz I aint comin' back"-slash-"I'll see y'all on the other side"-slash-"don't forget to check out my NEW blog" last-ish post on this blog. I mean, this is the last post from France.

The name of the blog is Just Two Years. I only made it Just 19 Months (and this past month, I have barely left the apartment, so my heart and head were no longer REALLY in France) before giving up and hitting the road.

It took me about 8 years to heal from my LAST break-up with France. I'm PRETTY sure that it'll take a good 20 or so for me to even consider coming back here for longer than the necessary week I have to to let the grandparents see the kids. I may not even make it back for that.

I probably have a lot to say. Like I could say that the past two weeks have been bearable-ish. That I have really great friends over here. Some that I've known almost the whole time. Some that I just met a few months ago. And I thank them for making me smile and for letting me cry on them. I'll remember all of my friends fondly and I'll never forget the sunshine they brought into my life.

Still, I had to pour my son's ashes into a little, tiny, snack-sized zip-lock baggie today. The U.S. Embassy suggests you not take remains in un-x-ray-able containers. So, Aaron's urn will be traveling separately while his remains will travel with us in our carry-on. And my divorce with France was pretty much final as I washed Aaron's dust tumble into the little baggie.

Oh, I know it's not fair to blame everything on France. Shit happens. That's the circle of life and whatnot, right? I know. Buy you and I know why I feel the way I do. You who have read me.

Speaking of which... Like I said, I'm moving on. I'll probably post an "I'm here!" post when I get things calmed down back home, but after that, I'll probably leave this blog in the same place I'm leaving France... In the archives of my DISTANT memories. Again, I hope you'll hope on over to the new blog. I got it set up and will publish the link in my final post... I'll keep posting what I'm reading and I'll carry all of my blog list over there to the other site, too.

I'm also thinking about starting a separate blog for my writer-ing stuff. My life stuff will be on the homestead blog, but if you wanna know the gorey details of my haggard journey to becoming a published author, you can skip on over to the writer-y blog (I'll post that addy in my final post, too).

If I die on the plane tomorrow, just know that it's been a blast sharing this time with you. I thank you for sticking with me, for the comments on here and through email. Cross your fingers for me! I had to spend the evening in the ER last Saturday because now my GALL STONES are attacking me, *eye roll* (I'll detail that in my final post, if I remember), so now I'm just hoping my gall bladder doesn't swell up and explode during the flight... I'll try to get that sucker yanked out as soon as I get home.

Anyhoo... alright... I'm stalling....

Happy trails!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I've wondered...

...over the past, I don't know, SEVEN of the eight and a half years I've been married how a relationship that was so dreamy and exciting and fulfilling and flirty and yummy could turn into a marriage that has become grumpy and blame-y and yell-y and cross-armed.

The man who used to sit out on the tiny balcony with me and play with my hair as I smoked a cigarette and watch the sun set with me, listening to me babble on about my life so far has turned into a guy sitting on my couch scratching his balls yelling at my kids because their need to pee has interupted the snarky French news he keeps having to pause in order to put them back to bed.

The man who used to call in sick to work so that we could spend the morning or afternoon in bed together, staring at each other, kissing, tickling or other, ahem, things has turned into the guy who comes home to shovel food in his mouth, check his non-work email/the latest sports scores/the financial accounts and run on back to work because "I gotta go."

The man with whom I spent an entire month never turning on the television because we were so intensely in love with one another's faces that we fell asleep with the light on. The man with whom I shared a TWIN bed on the floor and neither of us minded. The man I used to draw baths for and bathe and massage before we went to bed. The man who used to write me love letters. Cry on the phone when we were separated even for a weekend. Bring me home surprise household appliances, just because. Grab my butt in passing. Hold me tightly, sighing, as we passed in the middle of the night, taking turns going pee.

That man has become that guy who does things half-assed, doesn't turn his nasty socks right-side-out and leaves them for me to do it, puts the butter container back into the fridge empty, wakes me up with his noxious farts, doesn't help me clear the table in the morning, stacks the dishes in a precarious way so that I have to tiptoe while running the dishwater, puts WAY too much cover overhang on his side of the bed whenever (seldom) he makes it--leaving the mattress showing on MY side of the bed, the dude who sighs and whines when I ask him to do me a favor and go get the kids because I don't feel well.

What happened? Where did my boyfriend go?

He got old and married.

I didn't figure it out until he called me today, mid-morning and when I answered, he whispered, "Hey."

I whispered back, "What?"

"You wanna go to the movies?"

"When? At 11?"


"Why am I whispering?"

"Because if you don't, maybe I won't either."

We both snicker.


"Yeah, I'll go to the movies with you."

We work it out in giggly whispers that I'm to go to the resto close by, get us some sammiches and meet him at the theatre right at 11 to see Up In the Air (or whatever it's called in English).

I get there, get the sammiches, get my popcorn and read until he shows up. We watch the movie. GOOOOOOOD movie. Funny. Makes me SO GLAD I'm going home. I even rapped during all of the "Bust a Move" scene as he tried to shush me.

Afterward, I got a Velov and he got his regular bike. We rode home together. I felt like he was my boyfriend again. He had played hookie to go to the movies with me... just cuz. Cuz I'm leaving and he knows he's gonna miss me. Cuz maybe he wants to feel like he was my boyfriend again. I asked him if he wanted to ditch work some more and see another movie. He said, "I can't" and that sucked, but at least he sounded disappointed.

I said, "You wanna ride bikes around the park once? Since it might be our last time?"

"Nah. I really can't." Again, he sounded tempted.

I docked my Velov and kissed him goodbye. He waved and said, "Thanks for the movie. That was really fun!" He said it as though we had never done that before. He sounded like a twenty-something. It made my heart race. It made my belly warm. You know what I mean.... It gave me a hard-on, okay? And as I walked away, I realized that somewhere in there, buried under the disillusionment, under the unmet expectations and the misplaces assumptions... lives my young, hot boyfriend, trying hard to hold onto his girlfriend long enough to get these kids raised so we can run away together again. The hard knocks of having to be responsible and mature have made us resentful... Spiteful... Immature. But if we can just hang on, maybe we'll find little hints and glimpses of who we used to be--who I hope we still are deep down--until a time comes when our lover selves get to come out and play again.


Who knows?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Packin' it up...

That's what I'm doing. Systematically going through every cabinet and cupboard in this BOAT of an apartment and putting things into piles... And then putting the piles back into some sort of organization whether it be BACK into the cabinet/cupboard, a suitcase or a big clear plastic storage tub.

The air shipment (yes, got approved for an air shipment, did I already tell you!!??!!) surveyor chick was here on Monday to tell us how if my futon and Ryan's bed would fit. The answer is yes and no. Futon: yes-ish. Ryan's bed: Just the mattress. But then, Sam came home for lunch today and told me to scratch all THAT because the container we're allowed is even smaller than we thought, so Futon: yes-ish, Ryan's bed: huh-uh... not even the mattress. I think that's a load of bullhockey. I think that Ryan's mattress could fit in the foot and a half of room UNDER the futon. And if they take the futon APART, all of it will fit. At this point, I'm tempted to sell the freakin' futon and just buy another and get an Ikea bed for Ryan to sleep on that we'll just give to Lolo when she gets to the States (and move her out of her toddler bed. Hmmmm... Yesssssss... That IS sounding like a good (though, expensive, idea)... Off to research prices... be right back...

Mmmmm, yeah... nevermind. I didn't realize that our futon cost us $300 (probably more) withOUT the cover and mattress stuff. And the cheapest bed I could find was a $60 toddler bed. So, I'm thinking... I'll push HARD to get the futon into the air shipment and let Ryan sleep on the air mattress in the tent as if he's camping. The air mattress is a DOUBLE so it'll be more comfy than his single mattress anyway and I'll just make sure and keep it aired up (check it for firmness once a week or so). Heck, *I* might end up sleeping on an air mattress, too, if they get here and say that the futon won't fit.

I wouldn't give a rip if the whole purpose of having an air shipment hadn't been to get the beds over to the States. At this point, it's almost MORE important that my food processor make it back, LOL! I'll use the food processor as much as I'll use the futon.

Anyway, so I'm organizing and cleaning and actually PACKING suit cases because I need to know how much they weigh. Ryan and I will live out of our suitcases for the next ten days. No biggie. At least the bags'll be ready to go.

At night, I bug my girls by squeezing them and sniffing them and tangling myself up in their hair. I close my eyes and memorize everything and I hope that it'll tide me over until July. I'm bummbed that I'll miss Lily's birthday and the whole Easter Bunny thing with the girls this year. But it's just a price we have to pay. It's not like I'm having second thoughts, because I'm not. Plus, something happens EVERY DAY to confirm that I need to get the hell out of this country. It doesn't take anything big. Just a little glitch here or there. And only one a day, really. That's all it takes.

And my builder keeps sending me pics of the house... The finished deck... the stairway he's building onto the deck, the road leading up to my house (which is in need of HELP), etc. I see little hints of the yard and where I plan to put the garden and I STARE at the pictures as if pining for a long lost lover. I plant rows of vegetables in my mind and heart. I already smell the dirt and the dead leaves. I imagine myself with callouses on my hands and I shiver with anticipation... I'm a hippy dork, aren't I? Mmm hmmmm.

Yesterday, Ryan peed his pants at school. Why? Because he was too afraid to ask the teacher. Why? "Because she's going to say no." When I try to reassure him that she WON'T say no anymore, I can see in his mind, even as he's nodding, that he doesn't believe me.

He also got into a fight. Or, he got pushed down to the ground by another kid. Why? Because he was bullying. Why was he bullying? Elliot again. I don't know if I've talked about Elliot before, but this kid has truly plagued my existence for the past year or so. I saw him once. At the organic grocery store. And he was so cute and angelic looking that I was glad to see that Ryan was friends with him. Turns out, he's a wolf in sheep's clothing.

First, he told Ryan not to play with girls. Okay, whatever. I asked Ryan how he felt about it. If he liked playing with girls or if he agreed with Elliot. Ryan confirmed that he missed playing with his girl friends and wished Elliot would "let" him *jaw drops to the GROUND*. I told him to tell Elliot to take a hike and to go play with his girl friends.

Then, there were rumblings of violence. Elliot threatened to hit--or DID hit--if Ryan didn't listen to him. Then, Elliot hit Antonia. Then scratched her. On and on and on... Every week, I hear about a new Elliot fiasco.

THEN, last week, Ryan got off the elevator at Antonia's house to walk to school with them, but the minute he stepped off the elevator, A's mom pointed her finger at Ryan and said, "Ryan, I need to tell you one little thing... I heard that Elliot made Antonia cry because he said that if her parents were getting separated it was her fault. And YOU didn't do anything to defend Antonia." Then, she continued to jump all over him. I heard this story second hand from Sam (who actually called me immediately) and I spent the rest of the day trembling in anger because of how A's mom had treated Ryan, as if it is HIS responsability to defend his friend who is bigger, older and taller; especially since I've taught Ryan to always WALK AWAY from conflict. In fact, I specifically told him to walk away from ANY conflict that involved Elliot. I rehearsed what I would say to A's mom when I saw her, but unfortunately, I saw A instead. I pointed my finger at her and said, "A, I need to tell you three little things... ONE... Elliot is a little asshole. Understand that people are not born mean, but become that way because someone is mean to them. Someone has been mean to Elliot and that makes him mean. When he's mean to you, do NOT cry and snivel. Just realize who it is that's speaking, his reason for being a jerk and then WALK AWAY... TWO... YOU need to learn to stand up for YOURSELF and make your own decisions and STOP blaming other people for your unhappiness or you are NEVER going to be happy. You KNOW that your parents adore you and that their separation has NOTHING to do with you. If anything, they've stayed together as long as they can FOR you. Because they both love you so much. So, you KNOW that Elliot is full of shit.... and finally, THREE... It is never RYAN'S responsability--or anyone else's--to defend you. If someone were hitting you or hurting you, that would have been different, but when some stupid kid starts saying stupid things to you, don't look to Ryan to stand up for you. Just... walk.....away..."

I know that was sort of a tangeant, but I wanted to illustrate Elliot's involvement.

Well, yesterday took the cake. Apparently, Elliot told Ryan that he had to pretend to make "pates a la Bolognaise" (a pasta dish) or Elliot would "strangle" him. *shrug* I don't know if Ryan did it. What I DO know is that Antonia (who is a pretty trustworthy source about happenings at school) said that Elliot forced Ryan to "attack" the other kids at lunch and try to "kill" them. Ryan went along with it and some kid fought back, pushed Ryan to the ground and Ryan got hurt enough to have to limp his way home from school (not to mention, Ryan was covered in piss).

Up until yesterday, my solution for the Elliot problem was for Ryan to walk away. Ryan has been told over and over not to participate in Elliot's schemes. To play with Elliot as long as he's being nice but the second he starts being mean to other kids, Ryan is to walk away because Ryan is a nice person (I'd like to hope so, anyway). But, apparently, Ryan can NOT say no to this kid. My first impulse was to say that Ryan would NOT be returning to school over the next six days of school he has left. BUT, that would be punishing Ryan, I think. So, instead, the only thing I can think to do is forbid him to play with Elliot AT ALL. I don't want Ryan coming home with bruises and scrapes because he's being a little douchebag in school and other kids are fighting back. I don't want Ryan learning stuff from this Elliot and then taking it to the States and being in trouble all the time over there (he's already going to have some obstacles to deal with as it is).

What do you guys think?

Parenting is hard. I figure the only thing I can do is do what *I* would do if I had someone trying to turn me into a bully: stop being around that person. I wonder if Ryan CAN avoid Elliot. (That's why my first instinct was to make him just stay home and do exercises in English... but DUDE... my kid is SO social... I don't want to punish him for Elliot's crap.)

Sam asked me over lunch, "You're telling me you're not going to miss this," and swept his hand over his own view. I replied, "Uh, I don't even SEE this. YOU DO. I see THAT" and swept my hand over MY view from the table. And then I said, "I never said I wouldn't miss the view. Maybe I will in a couple of years or decades. But no, right now, this *sweep of hand* only serves as a reminder of my empty uterus and my withering heart."

I'm sorry to be all dramatic and whatnot, but I've been here before. I've been unhappy in France before... Like, say, a decade ago when I left the FIRST time vowing never to come back. I KNOW when it's time to go. And actually, if I could get on the plane TODAY, I wouldn't hesitate.

I thought about it and wondered if people (or even myself) would see me as a quitter. Or maybe not strong enough to hack it. Under "normal" circumstances--meaning just normal old France stuff--I might say, yeah, okay... But I tell you now, had circumstances remained "normal," I wouldn't be leaving. It was Aaron's death that prompted my leaving. And there was nothing "normal" about his death.

After his delivery, I searched and searched, my mind, heart and gut, looking desperately for whatever tidbit I was supposed to learn from this experience. I always try to find the positive. I know that sounds hokey and corny and Stepford-y and whatnot, but I've been through a LOT of shit and it seems to be the only way to NOT go insane and to keep a peaceful, zen-full, smile on my face. And for almost two weeks now, I've wondered and sought. But now, I know. The positive is that I'm leaving. Like I just said, had Aaron not died, I wouldn't be "quitting." I wouldn't be going home early. And if I wasn't going home early, Ryan wouldn't have the opportunity to experience a few months of Kindergarten. If he doesn't go to Kindergarten, he might not have any summer friends with whom to play (and I might make some friends myself through him and his friends). And if he didn't make summer friends, he might have felt THAT much more out of place next fall when he started Kindergarten--and not just socially... think about all of the stuff he wouldn't know. I mean, he knows how to read, but not in French. When you ask him to spell things, he says "i" for "e" and "g" for "j" (long story). This way, he'll have the basics of reading but will learn a new set of sounds with which to read (and believe me, we'll still be reading together at home in French).

If Aaron hadn't died. I wouldn't be going home early. Without going home early, I would have missed a whole four months of garden/soil preparation, sowing seeds, pulling weeds... If I don't go home and start our garden now, we won't have anything to eat this summer from our own land. That would have sucked.

If Aaron hadn't died, his name wouldn't even be Aaron. His name would have been Cedric Aurelien Ledger Tissot. I wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to name my son after my friend and one of my heros (Heath Ledger), something that has become very important to me. When I speak of Aaron, when I think about him, I feel the same way I felt about my other Aaron. I feel loss. And I feel resolve. And I feel change. And I feel strength. These are things I need right now.

So, while I hate France for indirectly taking Aaron from me (maybe directly... we may never know), as well as for a nice long list of other reasons, I do thank France for giving me a reason to go home and start my happiness. I remember coming here whole, happy, sleeves rolled up and ready to fight and work. But over the months, I had become beaten down, despondent, embittered and downtrodden (sorry if that sounded redundant... I wrote what I feel and I've lost a lot of my English). Aaron's death has brought back my resolve and reminded me of the purpose I felt so strongly a year and a half ago.

I'm ready.

Sam also tried to find other things he just KNEW I'd miss, but I found other things to fill up the holes he thought he'd find.

Velov=YMCA and running and Zumba and swimming and spin class... Yeah, okay, it'll suck to drive everywhere, but I'll get over it.

The Unlimited Movie pass=Um, I'm gonna have a sattelite dish and I'm going to get back on Netflix, dude... for that I won't even NEED a Velov.

Farmer's market=I'll grow my own.

Old buildings= meh.

The only thing he could really mention that I would REALLY miss were my friends. I'll miss my friends. Old and new.

I'm surprised how well his parents took it. How cool they were. How "Okay *shrug*" they were. I guess because we've just shocked them so often with our "recklessness" that they have a nice thick scab and nothing surprises them anymore. Back when we told them that we were moving to the States, Sam's dad and I actually had a screaming match. And now, they're like, "okay."

This same reaction does NOT go for Sam's older sister. She was very clear about her level of disapproval. But dude, I really couldn't care less. If anything, it only confirms the "rightness" of this move.

Okay... I came in here to blabber and babble and I've done so for a little over an hour... Guess I should get back to work on the apartment. Just wanted all y'all to know I'm okay. I mean, I still cry. But it comes in short, intense spurts and most of the time, it's okay. I asked myself if I would be this okay if I didn't have the knowledge of my going home to look forward to.... I'm sure and certain that the answer is no.

Yet another good thing coming from Aaron's death. Ironically, his death brought about the cure to my grief.