RAMBLINGS ON A RAINY DAY IN PARIS – MID-JANUARY 2021

ON Wednesday, January 13, 2021, a man “installed himself” on the train tracks outside of Antibes, FRANCE, and stopped all trains for four hours.  For some reason, I thought this was funny!  I actually laughed out loud and thought he should try a less painful way to commit suicide and then it dawned on me – he was probably protesting something.  In France, everyone has a protest.  I guess that is the world over.  Duh. But, I have not a protest.  OK, maybe I do.  I don’t like this tub or this mattress.  Haha.  That is funny.  Good. My sense of humor is returning.  Sorta.

ON Thursday, January 14, 2021, (today), I am celebrating quietly my sister Barbara’s birthday.  She would be 89.  She died 21 years ago, about this time, in late January 2000, and was my “Mother De Facto”.   What? What is that? This requires a moment of pause:

No one gives us a book of rules about parenting.  Thus, none of us really know how to do it. Love.  That is enough.  NO, IT ISN’T!!!!!  It requires a lot more.  I don’t think my mother got the memo.  Thus, I did not get a memo.   But Barbara did. She was a natural at a lot of things. Amazing soul.  She had difficulty in having children of her own and lived a very painful life, but she had love for all of us, especially me. 

My mother was very confused about a lot of everything.  Thus, she took the lead from her husband – Daddy.  And he was a full-time job. (long story) As a result, I was raised in a “sink-or-swim” mode.  I raised my kids in a sink-or-swim mode.  I don’t recommend it. 

But a moment on the side of love and caring, Happy Birthday, Barbara!  I miss you very much. 

And now, at 83 (going on 84), I still think I am sinking or swimming -as are my kids.  (sigh) BUT, I cannot complain about the locale.  I LOVE living in Paris.  I think.  I like cafes open and the virus gone and the trains running.  I could do without the protests.  And I don’t want a lot of people “installing themselves” on the tracks.  Oh well, ……  At least, they are not storming the government buildings, YET…………… And, I am ALWAYS happy when I wake up and know where I am!!!

A helpful rule of thumb that makes sense to me:

“Huge numbers of our population believe in a complete alternate reality. Alternate facts, as it were.  

But just as intensely as I believe they are deluded, they think I am the one who is deluded. Maybe I am. So how can I be confident in my perception? It can be quite difficult.  

But, I have found that in times of political confusion, particularly when emotions are running high and creating tunnel vision, the presence of Nazis can be an extremely helpful indicator.  

If I am attending a local demonstration or event and I see Nazis…neo-Nazis, casual Nazis, master race Nazis, or the latest-whatever-uber-mythology-Nazis, I figure out which side they are on.  

And if they are on my side of the demonstration? I am on the wrong side.  

It is tough to argue moral equivalence when I am standing next to a Nazi. Look to my right.  Is there a guy wearing a 6MWE (6 million wasn’t enough) t-shirt? I am on the wrong side. Look to my left.  If that guy is wearing a Camp Auschwitz t-shirt? Wrong side.  Are Speakers being applauded for referring to things that Hitler got right? Wrong side. Team-spirit face paint and hat with animal horns?

This is actually an unclear indicator that could mean anything, but safest to keep my distance from that guy anyway, even at a football game. However, I can always, always, always rely on the presence of Nazis as a guiding light through a fog of disinformation. 

Some things are relative, and politics can absolutely have its opposing sides and grey areas.  But evil and good are absolute. As are the lessons of history. So, just look for the Nazis, (even in France) and make your own decisions.”     – Author Unknown

And another post I want to share with you because it speaks to me A LOT:

“In my youth, I was told that by the time we reached this point in the future, things would be very, very different. But, examined thoroughly, the future is definitely here. (Insert your own age. I am 83.)

In just about every way aside from being limited to terrestrial experiences, the phone I’m currently holding is superior in every measurable way to the communicators used in Star Trek, no matter what version of Trek you’re talking about, the most contemporary vision of which isn’t due for over 200 years from now. I have access to more music, more television programs and more movies than I would have ever had shelving for, at stunning clarity and quality, and I can play them from almost any device in this house from screens large enough to share with the family to ones small enough that they are for my eyes only, and at every scale the clarity of the image and quality of the sound can be virtually equal.

Sitting in my living room, I can call out in the open air and change the color, intensity, and number of lights operating in that room. I have the equivalent multimedia tools to create my own content that would have been the envy of most complete television stations just 25 years ago.

And yet, there is so much to life that hasn’t changed since I was born in 19(37), so much that should have changed long ago but is being held back by the forces that make money the way things are, and refuse to allow progress in those arenas.

So the future is here, but it’s this bizarre conglomeration of capabilities unimagined when I was young and concepts that were tired when I was born.” – Author Unknown

I hear commentators describe Trump as delusional but I disagree. I think that Trump knows exactly what he is doing.

Is this new?  Nope.  Not new.  Much older than we are. “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ― Voltaire (French writer)

Well, this one was fun to write on this rainy day in Paris. And, I will add that while in lockdown, I did not cut or color my hair after many years of hair and makeup. So, yesterday, I wandered into a salon (on my trip to the Pharmacie) and a guy from Romania named “Tony” cut my natural hair. I am still adjusting to the look. I will probably color it again, but this below is a record of what it looks like at this moment in time, with a touch (too much) of Facetune. Haha. There was a time when I was young and I made a headshot of my “look”. It was different and pretty. But, I am biased. Here it is.

But the one below was made last night. Both are “au natural” except for makeup above. The scars on my face below – melanoma in 2013,

Love, Jay

You Know what this is for……

Thanks in advance.

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BEGINNING AGAIN! AND AGAIN! AND AGAIN!…..

I’m getting tired of being part of another beginning PLUS another major historical event. Another silver lining. Another “pony in a pile of shit”. I am shocked, scared for my family and friends, disgusted, too old to fight the fight it is going to require from my attorney colleagues and friends and family. And I will never forgive or forget the pushers of lies. Lies have consequences. Seriously, I am holding my breath – a lot.

So at night , when I settle in front of the television, I ask myself, “Do I want to watch something or do I watch the News. So, as a result, I have been watching old comedies on my Eurobox under the category “Movies Comedy” for several nights.  Not this week. Only news. So far, I have seen eight of my all-time favorites and Stephen Colbert on YouTube.  Plus I am on the edge of my seat, watching International News. As soon as I go though ones I like, I will move on to Netflix. What have I seen, you ask?  First, a bit of foundation…….

France is still in lockdown with a lot of sick people out there.  My country (USA) is self-sabotaging “in plain sight”!  We have all been worried about my “state of mind”. Myself, included. SO, my friend Cy told me on December 27th that I need to laugh for mental therapy, and my friend Peggy keeps sending me funnies – some of which, I think, are really funny. I am trying to laugh more.  I am trying to laugh out loud.  I need my brain to have fun.  Seriously, I am working on my brain – as well as my attitude, my depression, my appetite, wine, and on and on. I think it is working!  I am getting thinner, drinking mineral water and lime.  And, I feel better when I start the day. YES!!

I have now seen Birdcage, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Steel Magnolias, When Harry Met Sally, Diary of a Princess, Working Girl, Dead Poet’s Society, and Mrs. Doubtfire.  So, I am now laughing out loud at Stephen Colbert’s jokes. That is progress for me.  I tend to find the pony – BUT, after finding LOTS of shit.  I have a sense of humor, but I think a lot of silliness is stupid and different from laughing at stunts in movies.  I did not like the three stooges or Charlie Chaplin or the Marx Brothers.  Comedies today are offensive and not funny to me.  Most sitcoms are not funny to me.  So, I find myself hard to make laugh without “trying”.  And, it all becomes very “trying”.   

These are my favorites of Peggy’s Funnies:

“Ate salad for dinner. Mostly croutons and tomatoes. Really just one big round crouton covered with tomato sauce, and cheese.  FINE, it was a pizza…. OK, I ate a pizza!  Are you happy now?”

“How to prepare Tofu:

     a. Throw it in the trash
     b. Grill some meat, chicken or fish”

“I don’t mean to brag, but I finished my 14-day diet food supply in 3 hours and 20 minutes.”

“I may not be that funny or athletic or good looking or smart or talented.  I forgot where I was going with this.”

“A thief broke into my house last night.  He started searching for money so I got up and searched with him.”

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”

“Having plans sounds like a good idea until you have to put on clothes and leave the house.”

“When I was a kid I wanted to be older…this is not what I expected.”

“If you can’t think of a word say “I forgot the English word for it.”  That way people will think you’re bilingual instead of an idiot.”

“I’m at a place in my life where errands are starting to count as going out.”

“Cronacoaster: noun; the ups and downs of a pandemic.  One day you’re loving your bubble, doing work outs, baking banana bread and going for long walks and the next you’re crying, drinking gin for breakfast and missing people you don’t even like.”

“I don’t always go the extra mile, but when I do it’s because I missed my bus stop.”

“You don’t realize how old you are until you sit on the floor and then try to get back up.”

Then, just some food for thought,

The White Cliffs of Dover – Looking for bluebirds…..

And some images that I can’t get out of my mind:

SO, I have no words of wisdom. Just some things to think about. And a poem I love:

On the day when

The weight deadens

On your shoulders

And you stumble,

May the clay dance

To balance you.

And when your eyes

Freeze behind

The grey window

And the ghost of loss

Gets in to you,

May a flock of colours,

Indigo, red, green,

And azure blue,

Come to awaken in you

A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays

In the currach of thought

And a stain of ocean

Blackens beneath you,

May there come across the waters

A path of yellow moonlight

To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,

May the clarity of light be yours,

May the fluency of the ocean be yours,

May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow

Wind work these words

Of love around you,

An invisible cloak

To mind your life.

By John O’Donohue

Peace, Jay

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Just because you want to help me Keep On Keeping On Writing Jayspeak

Thanks in advance!

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WHAT A YEAR THIS WAS!!!!

It has been quite a year!

In February 2020, I moved to a small Studio apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris after living for four years in Nice, France.  I moved with some of my stuff after getting rid of most of it in the fall of 2019 and January 2020, most of which I still wanted to keep (but I wanted to move to Paris more), my cat Missy who was very sick (and I did not know it), and little to no knowledge of Paris or speaking French.  I don’t recommend it.

My landlord was a “friend” from Nice who owned property in Paris and Nice.  She met me when I arrived on the night of January 29, with supplies for Missy and a glass of wine and a sandwich.  So far so good.  I did not know that she had taken the power out of her name to stop on February 1,2020 at midnight.  In fact, she wanted the power in HER name because of Paris rental requirements.  So, at midnight on January 31, 2020, the power was turned off.  It was very cold outside, and the heater was electric.  Missy and I did not have a candle, even.  I somehow found the keys and the front door and booked a room at the hotel across the street. For me.  Not Missy.   (Luckily, lockdown had not yet closed all hotels.)  I don’t recommend it. 

She helped me to book electricity (she speaks French but is from the South USA), but we were both so mad at each other that I barely spoke to her again.  No problem.  I don’t recommend it. 

At a fast pace, I learned more about Paris and speaking French.  No choice. I did not think much about a virus.  I had a lot of other problems.  Doctors and a Vet for Missy were priorities. EVERYTHING worked differently from Nice, and I had no one to teach me.  AND, little did I know that I was in one of the best areas of Paris, so I did a crash course in the area. AND it was cold.  NO EXPLANATIONS.  Wikipedia.  My first questions were ‘so?’  Who cares?  I don’t recommend it. 

On March 17, 2020, mandatory home lockdown started in Paris at Noon (for 15 days at first).  It ended on May 11 after two extensions. So, that limited my activities and took my enthusiasm of So? And Who cares? to a new level.  I don’t recommend it.

I still did not like my Studio or my landlord, so I used my time to look online for another apartment (I did not care what area, sorta.)  And I needed to find doctors for my deteriorating health.  I had found several workable ways to get places.  And there were not a lot of people or places open.  IN other words, I became VERY focused.  Plus, I felt like I was running out of time.  People would find me dead in that Studio because of the smell, half-eaten by a cat. I knew no one.  Alas.  The negativity.   I don’t recommend it. 

There were a myriad of other problems and challenges, but I was very happy when lockdown opened the cafes, and I could once again get an omelet.  I began eating out most lunches and enjoyed each one.  And I did not go out after 5 pm. Missy and I would enjoy a glass or three of wine and each other’s company.  I would peek through the windows at the restaurant next door and watch the people talking over dinner.  I will admit I was envious and longed for companionship of the good kind.  I would try to remember the fun I had “going out.’  A little but not often.   I watched a lot of movies on my Eurobox as well as Netflix. 

In July 2020, I had an MRI of my head.  I had found a doctor who did tests that showed blockage in my left ear.  She really scared me, telling me in French, that I could have a brain tumor.  I understood enough French to know that I could be dying.   So, I immediately saw a dead body half-eaten by a cat.  After the MRI, that doctor told me IN FRENCH that I did Not have a tumor of any kind.  Good news.  And LOTS OF MONEY.  I was very happy that I would live.  I still needed to “experience” Paris and being there.  See things and go places.  Not a good time to die.  I did still not know anyone to help me.  So, I made the decision to help myself.  Duh.

First Step – GET OUT OF THIS STUDIO.  I HATE IT!!!

I began searching online for apartments.  Bingo!  I saw one that “fit the bill”.  I wrote the owner and poured out my heart.  She was French.  Oops.  Long story but it is not easy getting an owner – especially a French one – to take a chance on a tenant from the US in Paris.  Somehow, I convinced her to take a chance on me.  AMAZING.  So, I did what I could to fit her requirements.  I took the apartment starting immediately!  Well, in a few days.  It was at the TOP of my budget, but I decided to try it. Maybe I could work it out. I took a chance, and she took a chance.  We did it!!  On August 19, 2020, I moved from Paris 6e to Paris 16e.  Very different and not close by. Lots of benefits and lots of liabilities.  I was really happy to be out or that Studio and not working with that Landlord “friend”, now enemy.  I was an emotional mess.   I don’t recommend it.

I have been in my new apartment and trying to find nearby doctors in the 16e AND trying to figure things out and have been lockdowned AGAIN.  October 28, 2020. I am still an emotional and physical mess.  Travel consists of going to the grocery store and/or the pharmacy and an occasional walk in the neighborhood.  I recommend it.

I am grieving. (I wish I would not do that.) Missy died in November.  I grieve over that.  The numbers are terrible. I grieve over that. I have had some small strokes in my head.  I am grieving over that.  But I am taking care of myself – one day at a time.  I am doing what I can to get better.  I recommend it. 

For the most part, I am happy I am here and making the best of this apartment.  It is beginning to feel like “home”.  At least it does right now.  That is all I have.  Now.  Today.  I am glad I am not in the USA.  Those numbers and attitudes would be tough for me to take.  I am pulling for America, the Georgia I love, and the government for the people and by the people and OF the people.  I recommend it. 

Happy New Year! (No selfies these days. Ugh)

Best, Jay

JUST A THOUGHT

I have few words for all of us. We all have our own language for what we have lived and what loss feels like. Just know that I understand and that I care for all of it. I SO love life and I want to keep on living. I wish that for you, too.

$30.00

Holiday “Ponderings” Between the Holidays…..

Today, I have a lot of things on my mind.  First of all, December 27 is an important day in my life (for some unknown reason).  Mother died on this day, Darrell took his life (or was murdered) on this day, and a former husband was born on this day.  He will be 83.  AND, most important of all, France started giving the Covid-19 shots today.  I am looking forward to my turn.  And that brings me to several thoughts that I am pondering today, with a meme or photo here and there.

Wondering……  This week, I made several notes about things I want to discuss with you on Jayspeak.  Welllll, as you know, it is a one-sided discussion because I don’t really like different opinions.  A little.  Not a whole lot.  Sorry.  The problem is – I take things personally. And even though I try not to, I do.  And I hold grudges. So, if you are still reading, ……. 

Topics are, 1) taking turns; 2) why I think people want to believe conspiracy theories; 3) True colors; 4) whatever happens, happens & going with the flow; 5) the Rule Book; 6) None of the presents are for you; 7) expecting too much & respect.  So, I am sharing with you some of my current observations.  Please TAKE NOTICE these are subject to change without notice.     

  1. I was taught to “wait your turn”.  “Wait your turn” assumes there is someone giving “turns”.  What if there is no one giving “turns” and, as a result, your turn does not “come up”.  Maybe we should not teach our kids to wait.  NO.  Don’t wait.  Go get what you want!  If not, you’ll be sorry.  What if you are NOT sorry – for any of it.  Manners to wait?  Good manners?  Maybe.  For whom?   For what?  God? Teachings of Christ?  Just wondering……  Hmmmmmm.
  • I believe that people want to believe conspiracy theories.  I think conspiracy theories have been around as long as the game of “gossip”.  Did you ever play “gossip “as a child?   It was one of the first games I played.  It goes like this – everyone sits around in a circle.  The first person makes up something.  He/she whispers into the person’s ear siting next him/her.  And each person passes it to the next.   After it has passed around the circle, it is said out loud.  And it is always changed!  Distorted.  So, the message is not accurate. Let’s call it – a lie.   And people like to believe lies. Especially people who lie themselves.   In other words, if I know this much, then what do I NOT know that is being kept from me.  So, I could make up whatever I want to make up and spread it around.   I have had people do that to me and about me.  Sew doubt. And I have witnessed it done to people.  About Daddy. About his family.  Children about parents.  Wives about husbands.  It doesn’t represent the truth.  Lies. And people believe it.  They want to believe it.  And act on it. Propaganda?   You get the picture. 
  • People always show their “true colors”.  You don’t have to say or do anything.  Just sit and observe.  I have met people and suspected things immediately.  One, in particular, comes to mind.  And her “niceness” and innocence and pretense not to know what to do, I did not believe – for a minute.  I thought she was probably mean and a manipulator.  It wasn’t long before I saw her true colors.  I was right! Dumb as a fox!!!! And, I watched her manipulate! Don’t get me started on hypocrisy!!!! The world is full of ducks. Long story for another time. True Colors.
  • Whatever happens, happens and going with the flow is not that easy to do.  Maybe it not even desirable.  I don’t think “whatever” is a good approach.  Maybe.  I am still thinking about that one. Duh.
  • The Rule Book.  Being raised in the South and in the First Baptist Church, there was a Rule Book.  Bible?  Mother and Daddy?  The neighbors?  My friends?  Their parents.  Dr. Spock.  It was very confusing.  The Rule Book kept changing. And, when I went to the University of Wisconsin, the Rule Book changed again, and again,  and again.  The Rules keep changing.  I try to keep up but it is hard. And what to do when there are no apparent rules. Or when anything goes. That is the worst! Ugh. And, a book told me Good Girls Don’t Get AHead; Gutsy Girls Do. Break a rule every day. Huh? What????
  • Fear that none of the presents are for me.  That was my fear as a child.  Being left out.  Forgotten.  So, to work with my concern, I wrapped books and put them under the tree with my name on them from Santa.  No comment. 
  • And, lastly, expecting too much.  I need to do an entire post about “expectations” or “unfulfilled expectations” .  That is a biggie.  And that worst part of it is that I am to blame.  Ugh. Duh?

Now none of these are earthshaking. Each one is obvious. It just that they are on my mind – Christmas past, memories, lies, expectations and disappointment. You get the picture.

For Christmas, I did my “roast” for me.  And a boiler of chicken soup is on the stove right now.  (It is a cold, windy day in Paris). 

For today’s New Year’s Resolution, I am resolving to watch old comedies on TV.  Films.  Last night, I watched “Birdcage”.  I need to laugh more.  It was Cy’s idea.  So, I am open for comedy suggestions.  Good ones. 

So, these are my Holiday ponderings.  I am my own best friend these days.  And a myriad of Social media “friends”.  I am thankful for Facebook. It helps me feel like I have company.  Go figure.  And I am trying to take photographs but most of the time, I forget when I am walking.  Plus, it is cold. 

Below is a photograph I “arranged” to post on social media that I call “A Christmas Memory.”  It has my piano, Steve’s Kerry Hallam’s lithograph of Cannes, Mother’s Christmas ornaments, Mama Dorough’s wooden bowl, Tommy and Jimmye’s wedding gift to Steve and me of a crystal vase, roses. 

Best, Jay (Below is a picture I like from many years ago. ) I remember when.

Just for No Good Reason!

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CHRISTMAS AT THE JEWELL’S HOME….

Merry Christmas! and Happy Holidays!

JAYSPEAK

A HUGE shoutout to all those wonderful people who contacted me privately to tell me how much they appreciated my sharing the things i did in my post “BookEnds”, many of whom appreciated the parallel in their own lives, especially in these times. So now, I am moving on. Sorta. Remembering Christmas during my childhood. It was a happy time for many post-war years. Also, few cameras, no television, so most of the memories are “in my head”. So you will have to “imagine”. Haha. Try it! You might like it! Haha. Beautiful trees, Santa Claus and coca cola! Haha.

We had a lot of traditions at Christmas. Mother would spend the entire month of December shopping, ordering items, finding out what people wanted, buying and wrapping presents and decorating the house. The house would be a winter wonderland. She had Christmas decorations that lived in boxes in closets somewhere…

View original post 1,029 more words

CHRISTMAS AT THE JEWELL’S HOME….

A HUGE shoutout to all those wonderful people who contacted me privately to tell me how much they appreciated my sharing the things i did in my post “BookEnds”, many of whom appreciated the parallel in their own lives, especially in these times. So now, I am moving on. Sorta. Remembering Christmas during my childhood. It was a happy time for many post-war years. Also, few cameras, no television, so most of the memories are “in my head”. So you will have to “imagine”. Haha. Try it! You might like it! Haha. Beautiful trees, Santa Claus and coca cola! Haha.

We had a lot of traditions at Christmas.  Mother would spend the entire month of December shopping, ordering items, finding out what people wanted, buying and wrapping presents and decorating the house.  The house would be a winter wonderland.  She had Christmas decorations that lived in boxes in closets somewhere in the house.  Out they would come at Christmas.  Santa’s, reindeer, holly, arrangements wreaths for all doors. She spent a LOT of money on Christmas decorations.  Wonderful handmade stockings for the mantle.   And always a gorgeous tree, decorated with gorgeous ornaments. 

On Christmas Eve, Mother and Daddy would give presents to LOTS of people.  They had a lot of friends. Daddy had a lot of people in his company and he gave presents to most of the families and all of his employees.  He would have special gifts made to give something to everyone who worked for him – mugs, ash trays, books, booklets, plaques.  They both LOVED Christmases and were generous givers.  I don’t remember Church being part of Christmas Eve or Christmas day, but we were all members of the First Baptist Church and went to all their Christmas services and events.  There were lots of parties and gatherings. And, usually, there was a Christmas pageant in which my sisters and I would be some part of the Nativity characters.

On Christmas Eve, Mother would load Daddy’s car with gifts for his family, her family, our (the children’s) friends and their friends.  Then, Daddy and I would deliver them to all recipients.  It took most of the day.  Daddy would drive up to the house, and it was my job to find it and take it to the front door. Then, after all presents were delivered, we went home for egg nogs and supper. 

Mother would cook for days, making boiled custard, fruit cake, cakes, pies, cornbread for the dressing, homemade rolls and whatever else need to be cooked beforehand.

On Christmas morning, the family would gather in the living room to see what Santa had brought.  Each child (Patricia, Barbara, Janet) would have a spread of beautiful things in a display.  And there were would be lots of presents wrapped under the tree.  So, after we gathered to “find” what Santa left, we would open presents – one at a time (so everyone could see who got what.  Presents were from family, friends, and some businesspeople for Mother and Daddy.  Then, we had to display our gifts for everyone to see what each person “got.”.  The children took a turn being “Santa” and delivering a present to the recipient.   The goal was to make a person feel part of the celebration. That would take most of the morning. All of this went on for YEARS!

Then, late morning, family from Atlanta (Mama Dorough, Lillian, Rose and Clarence, JoAnn) And Daddy’s family from Gainesville (his family had died young, and his brother Uncle Beamus) arrived for the day.  Everyone came with more presents and special homemade foods.  Nuts were everywhere as well as compotes of candies.  Homemade fudge, homemade divinity with walnuts.  More gifts, visiting, by everyone.  The house and table were gorgeous with silver and candles and all the “good dishes”.  I especially like the silver goblets (used for ice water).  The aromas were divine.

We all ate and visited for hours.  And the children could NOT be “excused” to go back to their rooms.  I had to stay until the bitter end until everyone left the table. 

And Christmas Dinner at 2:00 p.m. A HUGE meal with the same favorites every year – turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, white rice, sweet potato soufflé with toasted marshmallows on top, petit (canned) English peas with butter, homemade rolls with butter and homemade jelly, celery, olives, carrots, cranberry sauce, Lillian’s handmade cranberry relish. I was always glad when I could leave the table, and everyone went home. And each year, Mother did everything she could to help everyone feel included and “special”. Brava, Mother!

Over the years, I tried to make this happen for my children, as best I could.  And I did, a lot of years.  I hope they remember.  And, most times, Darrell enjoyed it without ruining it for everyone.  I always held my breath and prayed he would not ruin it for the children. And, often, he didn’t. That was great!

And wonderful memories.  I was lucky without realizing it. And, to close, we have Emily’s monologue from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town that expresses a lot that is in my heart. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  

“I can’t bear it. They’re so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old? Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up. I love you all, everything. – I cant look at everything hard enough. (pause, talking to her mother who does not hear her. She speaks with mounting urgency) Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I’m dead.

You’re a grandmother, Mama. I married George Gibbs, Mama. Wally’s dead, too. Mama, his appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway. We felt just terrible about it – don’t you remember? But, just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another. (pause, looking desperate because she has received no answer. She speaks in a loud voice, forcing herself to not look at her mother) I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast.

We don’t have time to look at one another. (she breaks down sobbing, she looks around) I didn’t realize. All that was going on in life and we never noticed. Take me back – up the hill – to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Goodby, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners? Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking? and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths? and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. (she asks abruptly through her tears)

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute? (she sighs) I’m ready to go back. I should have listened to you. That’s all human beings are! Just blind people.”

Best, Jay

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BOOKENDS

This is what is on my mind.  I have been afraid to write this or tell this my entire life. But, I have been feeling overwhelmed.  I have set small daily goals and aimed for consistency rather than perfection. And I need to get a lot of negative thoughts out of my head.  What am I doing about it? Thinking a LOT.  About everything.  What I know to be true from my own experience.  And I am listening to a lot of classical music. 

I need to be patient.  “It is OK not to be OK.”  Because of circumstances, I have become a sedentary, introverted person for a while.  SO, I need to do a daily 20 minutes exercise program for at least a month to feel better.  What???  A month?  Yes.  It is not going away this afternoon.   Welllllll, patience is NOT my strong suit.  Duh.  And, I have been so anxious that I have had two more cerebral incidents that are now affecting my vision.  So, I am writing this post with the hope that writing it will help me to heal. I am not ready to give up, and maybe I can help someone else in the meantime.

This week, I have made myself walk around the block every day.  AND, in the middle of the night, I keep having new awarenesses that I have called “Kaleidoscopic Shifts.”  I have written about that before in Jayspeak.    NOTE: this is more than you ever wanted to know, but this is my world and welcome to it for a few minutes.

Last night, before I went to bed, I watched “Holidate” on my Eurobox. And I thought how different it is for young people these days. They have no clue what I went through. And they never will. Along with no vaccines for whooping cough, polio, measles, smallpox, chicken pox, and the flu. (As I anxiously await the Covid-19 vaccine in France) They also did not have birth control pills. They were “discovered” in 1960, approved by the FDA on July 23, 1960. People did not use “The Pill” for several years because of warnings and side effects. I was using (like everyone else) the “rhythm” method, if at all. It was not part of a date, during those years. AND there was a terrible stigma attached to it, especially pregnancy outside of marriage. There were shame and judgement attached from one’s family and community. And abortions were frowned upon BIGTIME. The most popular and safest solution (at that time) was to go into hiding somewhere, have the baby, and put it up for adoption OR marry the father and suffer the family shame.

Last night – around 2 or 3:00 a.m, I had some WOW moments when a lot of things fell into place.  Some background. Here in Paris, I am living an important moment of my life.   I am in a bookend.  My life abruptly changed when I was 20, travelling on a European Tour”. I had dated and been pinned to Darrell Macintyre from Madison, Wisconsin for a year.  Darrell was popular, good-looking, and sexy.  Sooooo…

I found out that I was three months pregnant from a doctor in Amsterdam.  Suffering from daily morning sickness, what to do????  I wrote Darrell.  He told me he would marry me.  I did not want to marry him. So, he told me to get an abortion in Paris and gave the name and address of a woman to call. I left the tour (which was going on the train to Paris) and flew to Paris.  I called the woman and made an appointment to come by to meet her at 10:00 a.m. the next morning. 

I went to her apartment on the left bank of Paris at 10:00 a.m. It was near the Seine.  I met her.  And she told me to come back at 3:00 p.m. and to bring 50 francs for the procedure.  I left.  I knew I would never go back to that apartment. I knew that I would marry Darrell, have my baby, and live happily or unhappily ever after.  I could take the family and hometown shame.  And that is what occurred. I wrote a letter to Mother and Daddy, telling them about my plight. I remember dropping that letter into a red mailbox on the street.  My sister Patricia called me at my hotel in Paris.  I talked to Mother and Daddy. I remember that call.  Mother was concerned about the shame she would suffer. Daddy told me he loved me.

I immediately flew back to Atlanta.  They hurriedly planned a wedding.  Darrell and I were married on August 17, 1957. We did not either one “love” each other, but that did not matter.  “Saving face” for the family and the community (of churchgoers) is what mattered.  The marriage is a long story. What is important here is that I told my daughter.  I never told my sons.  To this day, they don’t know.  Now, I don’t think they would care.  Times are too different.   But Tracy suffered.  I suffered.  And Darrell was not good to her.  Or me.  Or to my son Craig.  And we all suffered. We still are, at this late date.  It needs to STOP. 

So, I needed to get back to Paris before I died. It was important to me. That is where it all began. It IS important to me. If I am to heal. And Trump, vaccines, and lockdowns have not helped. I don’t expect any of you to understand or care – times are too different. “Holidate”. I have kept it inside for too many years, and my health is suffering. Miracle? Bookends? Is it “a wrap”? I hope not. I make NO apologies to those who think these things are better left unsaid. I am FURIOUS at what all of us went through for self-righteous ——- « to save face. ». Life Lessons? Hardly ! Time will tell.

Best, Jay

DECEMBER RAMBLINGS PLUS…..

Actually, I am not having a good day. I probably should not try to write today, but here goes anyway. So many things are swimming around in my head that I need to slow down.  And my head plays tricks on me, I am sorry to say. Sometimes it is clear as a bell. Others, not so much. Today is one of those “not-so-much” days. But, I have resolved to stay alive and “keep breathing”.

So, it is easy to stay inside and write. Plus, it is 39 degrees out there. However – soon – after Christmas – I must get out and exercise consistently – no matter the temperature. My life literally depends on it.

It has been 4 years since Steve died , and I spent my first Christmas without him. Alone. 2016. In Nice. Ugh.

I have heard that in the first year or two, the survivor of a good marriage either dies or resolves to go on. What? Die? No way! I chose to “go on”. But going on did not mean going on in the same way.  Hmmmmm.

There is a period of “redefinition.” Well, when I was still in Nice, I felt like I was leaping into a void as terrifying as death, “redefining.” In addition, I had a small stroke, or two. So, at age 82, I moved to Paris. Haha. I have decided to stick around, stay alive, and keep breathing IN PARIS. And now, I am trying to “heal’ as I redefine. In Paris. Don’t ask. I am trying not to “think” too much. Yet….. YOU WHAT?????????? YOU MOVED WHERE ????!! Hey, just go with it. And, I am NOT dispensable. QUITE THE CONTRARY. SO ARE YOU!!!

Anti-vaxxers? What???  We don’t even have a vaccine on the market, yet.  And blame?  I read and realize that a lot of people are thriving on creating confusion and throwing a flood of disinformation out there. So, I am resolving – sorta – to stop thinking.  I am standing on the sidelines. I am watching it all unfold and considering learning how to cook!! 

Someone said, “Sometimes, you have to make peace with the fact that you are the villain in someone else’s story even if you thought you were doing the right thing at the time.   You don’t get to narrate their experience.”  POW!  Bingo! I am making peace that I am the villain in a LOT of my family’s story. And, I don’t get to narrate their experience. So,………

MEANWHILE,…….. I watch too much news. On the news, I see graphs showing spikes everywhere and deaths in the WORLD. OK, mainly the USA, but they are largely unheeded. That makes me very happy that I live in France. I get regularly warnings from the French government and instructions of what to do, in case…… So, I have taken extra precautions because I don’t want to die. I am in “keep-breathing” mode. And, then I read and hear about unrelenting death dismissed as a hoax or discounted as a flu. What?????? Conspiracies. The truth is everywhere but disbelief takes over.

BREAKING NEWS – Hey, calling a disease a “conspiracy” and calling an election unfair does not make it so. Attorney MACINTOSH here: Charges require specific allegations and then proof. As a plaintiff’s attorney, you can take my word for it. We have neither here. Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.

I am glad that vaccines are coming. I am glad. YES, I want it (when my turn as a “senior” comes). I have no problem with any of it! What is the big deal? I am glad that restaurants will open again, and I will feel like walking and travelling and socializing and dining out. I don’t care that I will limp inside or walk with a cane. I am in “keep-breathing” mode. And, when I think about being blamed for doing things I did in my past, I want to stick around anyway, stay alive, and keep breathing. According to Pope Francis, “This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities — what we value, what we want, what we seek — and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.”–

For the record, this happened in 1918. My parents were 16. So, get a grip! Probably a LOT of yours (parents) were young, too. AND there was a World War I going on at the same time. This gives you something to think about.

SO, Here I am – in Paris, broken (sorta), but breathing. Happy to see the sky outside my window (I could not see the sky in my Nice apartment or in the Studio in Paris 6e.)

And, I am reminded of one of my favorite songs from “PiPPIN” – “Corner in the Sky”. Here are the lyrics (with some edits from me)

Everything has its season
Everything has its time
Show me a reason and I’ll soon show you a rhyme
Cats fit on the windowsill
Children fit in the snow
I want to feel I fit in anywhere I go.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free

Have I found my corner of the sky?

Every man has his daydreams
Every man has his goal
People like the way dreams have
Of sticking to the soul
Thunderclouds have their lightning
Nightingales have their song
And don’t you see I want my life to be
Something more than long….

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free. Have I found my corner of the sky?

So many men seem destined
To settle for something small
But I won’t rest until I know I’ll have it all
So don’t ask where I’m going
Just listen when I’m gone
And far away you’ll hear me singing
Softly to the dawn:

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free

Have I found my corner of the sky?

Best, Jay

“JAY IN PARIS”

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A THANKSGIVING TREAT!

Turkey With a French Dressing: The Gentle Art (Buchwald) of Humor

Novembre 16th, 2018 par Anthony Bulger
#Paris, #Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the one day in the year which, as O. Henry reminds us, is purely American. It’s also the only day when overeating is considered a patriotic duty. And when, according to another keen observer, we surpass the French in culinary matters…

Spare a thought on November 22 for those Americans living in France who will try to recreate the comforts of home by putting on a proper Thanksgiving spread for friends and family. Cooking-wise, this can be a challenge, which is tacked in many different ways depending on the size of the party. For example, the students at the American University of Paris are so numerous that they have to celebrate in the sanctuary that is the chapel and theater of the neighboring American Church, in the 7th arrondissement. The university staff prepare the turkey and stuffing and ask each person to bring a different dish. Smaller groups of people find it easier to manage, but some of the basic logistical headaches remain.

Things are easier today, of course. One of upsides of globalization is that exotic ingredients such as yams, butternut squash puree, and creamed corn are (relatively) easy to find here in Paris. Back in the day, though, special expeditions had to be made to Fauchon, a gourmet emporium on the swanky Place de la Madeleine, to hunt for essentials such as cranberries. Those food-buying missions were not always successful, even though we boned up on our French vocabulary beforehand (« Avez-vous des canneberges ? » – « Qu’est-ce que c’est ? »). Those of us with no access to a PX store or no visiting American friends would generally have to improvise for some of the side dishes.

Discover our list of the best American grocery stores in Paris. Pictured above, the shelves at The Real McCoy in the 7th arrondissement.

Then there was the critical problem of the turkey. We would patiently explain to a puzzled butcher that we wanted a real turkey, not a pimped-up chicken. Something that would feed a whole table of hungry Americans and their autochthonous guests. And no, we don’t want any fancy stuffing, thank you. How do you say “all the fixings” in French? Oh, and please, please remove and dispose of the bird’s head!

Even when a proper-sized fowl was found and prepped, another hurdle would crop up: the design of French ovens, which weren’t intended to accommodate a fifteen-pound Butterball. Various workarounds were found nonetheless, though one attempt at roasting an enormous gobbler over a makeshift bonfire in a friend’s backyard was a dismal, carbonized failure. Yet despite all the logistical hurdles and ingredient compromises, dinner was usually a success, leaving everyone feeling at one with their fellow human beings. In any case, after a good meal it’s easy to find a kind word for anyone, even one’s relatives.

But before slumping on the sofa to watch recorded football highlights on TV, or, in the case of French guests, to argue about the upcoming elections — for there are always elections looming on one horizon or the other in France — a time-honored ritual would take place. Pushing the empty plates aside, we would bring out a copy of the International Herald Tribune (known universally as the IHT, now the International New York Times) and turn to the back page. One of the guests would read aloud an article written in a strange lingua franca and purporting to explain Thanksgiving to the bewildered French. Here it is:


Le Merci Donnant

One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci DonnantLe Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their hearts’ content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pélerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux-Rouges helped the Pélerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pélerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pélerins’ crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pélerins than Pélerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges. Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant:

“Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.

“I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden.”

Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l’étonnement et la tristesse).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: “If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?” (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pasauprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)

Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice: “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?” (Chacun a son goût.) And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes and, for the only time during the year, eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well-fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.


“The piece was bylined Art Buchwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator renowned for poking fun at American politicians and hobnobbing with the rich, famous, and powerful in Washington D.C. So how did this Beltway insider become an expert — albeit a tongue-in-cheek one — in explaining U.S. history and tradition to the French? And why in the prestigious IHT?

The reason is that Buchwald originally wrote the piece while living in Paris, where he began his writing career in 1947, after leaving the United States courtesy of the GI Bill to study in the City of Light. He, like many twenty-something Americans at that time, saw himself as an honorary member of the Lost Generation writers who had made Paris their actual or spiritual home. “My dream was to follow in the steps of Hemingway, Elliot Paul, and Gertrude Stein,” he explained. “I wanted to stuff myself with baguettes and snails, fill my pillow with rejection slips, and find a French girl named Mimi who believed that I was the greatest writer in the world.” ‘

This is an article that came to my attention that I thought was fun on this Thanksgiving. Also, it is just another day in France. I am planning to roast a chicken this afternoon. As someone said on Twitter, “It is just one freakin’ Thanksgiving. Get a grip!”

From France,

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Best, Jay

ON MY MIND DURING THE WEEK BEFORE THANKSGIVING…..

On my mind today during this week before Thanksgiving, in a country that doesn’t have Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be thankful for. What? This is not a post of thanks. It is about other things. What?

WELLLLLL, I have decided that doctors only know so much.  I KNOW that attorneys only know so much.  But each person knows how to look things up and then, does the best he knows how. Hopefully.  At least, he/she tries to do what will work.  Hopefully……

SO, it is up to me to get myself “better”. Anyway, instead of spending a lot of time and money, going to doctors, I have decided to take matters into my own hands.  Haha. At least until after Christmas or until I change my mind. Haha. I have a plan.  What is my plan? Well, since I am in lockdown and need to stay in a lot, and since the weather outside is unpredictable, I have made a list of activities on my phone.  And, when I do an activity, I check it as “completed” for that day.  So far, it is working and at the same time gives me a sense of accomplishment. 

The plan consists of lots of leg exercises and brain exercises (I have bad knees, weak thigh muscles, a “vascular accident” (stroke) in the left ear or thereabouts.  Along with brushing my hair 100 times each day and singing out loud and reading English and French out loud and writing and…..

I often wonder what the neighbors think is going on in this apartment!!! Haha.  Who cares!

I have tried getting help from doctors and physical therapists.  They tell me what to do, but I must do it. And there is no one here to encourage me or cheer me on.  So, …… you get the picture. 

And, I have plans for me.  Photos I want to take.  Place I want to walk.  In Paris.  I NEED to get better.  I have plans of places in France I want to go.  Not in Paris.  I NEED to get better.  I have places in Italy, England, Switzerland, Germany, and the U.S. I want to go.  People to see.   I NEED to get better.  So, …. You get the picture.  That takes me to my other piece that I want to include to share with you today.  It is involving Ernest Hemingway. 

Now, I have never read Hemingway’s books.  I tried. I did not like his writing.  I don’t know about now.  I am into other writers now.   FYI, in France, I need to know more – about everything.  Culture. The world.  My universe is expanding very fast.  Anyway, since I have been here, I have been to a lot of places that were hangouts of Hemingway and his expat cronies.  Coincidentally, a friend sent me a piece about Hemingway that I want to share with you.  I think it is interesting:

From Writer’s Almanac:

“On this day [November 19] in 1956, Ernest Hemingway recovered a trunk from the Hôtel Ritz, Paris. The trunk contained, among other things, the notebooks that would become Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast (1964).

Hemingway was having lunch at the Ritz with his friend A.E. Hotchner. Charles Ritz, the chairman of the hotel, joined them. In the course of conversation, Ritz mentioned that there was a trunk in the hotel storage room that the author had left there in 1930. Hemingway didn’t remember leaving it there, but he did remember having a custom-made Louis Vuitton trunk at one time. He had lost track of the trunk and suspected that this was it. Hotchner recalled in 2009: ‘Charley had the trunk brought up to his office, and after lunch Ernest opened it. It was filled with a ragtag collection of clothes, menus, receipts, memos, hunting and fishing paraphernalia, skiing equipment, racing forms, correspondence and, on the bottom, something that elicited a joyful reaction from Ernest: “The notebooks! So that’s where they were! Enfin!”’

Hemingway had kept a meticulous journal when he and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, lived in Paris in the 1920s. He was a young, struggling writer at that point, and didn’t have much money, but he met many other expat artists and writers during that time, people like Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford. Hemingway recorded it all in his notebooks, and didn’t spare the less flattering details about his fellow artists.

Hemingway had his secretary type up the journals in 1957, and he worked on what he called his ‘Paris book’ over the next few years. It was his last book, as it turned out. His health was in decline, many of his friends had died, and he was deeply depressed. He committed suicide in 1961, and his widow, Mary, arranged to have the memoir published posthumously. The publisher wanted to call the book “Paris Sketches”, but Mary Hemingway didn’t think that was a very catchy title. She asked Hotchner, Hemingway’s friend, if he would come up with a better one. Hotchner recalled that Hemingway had once referred to Paris as ‘a moveable feast,’ and that became the book’s official title.

In 2009, Scribner published a revised version of “A Moveable Feast” that was edited by Seán Hemingway, the author’s grandson from his marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer. Seán Hemingway disagreed with some of the changes Mary Hemingway had made to the manuscript, in her capacity as literary executor. The book had a resurgence in popularity in Paris, after the November 2015 terrorist attack. Its French title is Paris est une fête; the publisher reported selling as many as 500 copies a day. Mourners left copies of the memoir along with flowers at informal memorials all around the Bataclan concert hall.

From the book: “‘But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.’”

All of that (Paris in the ’20s, romance, Hemingway, food) makes me want to get a copy of “A Moveable Feast” for my bookshelf as soon as I can visit bookshops again. Plans after lockdown. 

This is a photograph I took when I was living in the 6e and walking the neighborhood. LIttle did I know that I was in an area desired by many over the years. I have other photographs of places where he is remembered, such as a restaurant in Montparnasse…..

Best, Jay

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