Paris has certain requirements for me. I have raised the bar. In my last remaining days in Nice, it is bittersweet. It was here that I was introduced to France, it customs, its people, its loves and its hates. It is VERY different from the United States, where each state is different – like 50 small countries. Georgia is different from Tennessee; California is different from Oregon, and so forth. It was here that I had 11 glorious months with Steve with exciting plans for a future full of interesting things. NEVER did it enter my mind to move to Paris. Steve did not want to move from Nice – maybe to somewhere in Italy, but not really. No problem. I loved Nice, too. And, most of all, I loved Steve. His loves became my loves. Life was good. Then, as my friend Brian Chase would say: BAM!!!! The giant (Godzilla) stomped on Bambi, munching away on a piece of grass. (Did you ever see that cartoon?)
I will admit, I went into a pretty bad state of depression. Ok, I don’t ever get REALLY depressed, but I was depressed inside. For me. I am pretty good at rolling with the punches, but this one hit me where it hurt. And, on top of that, I was recommended (by my general practitioner) to an adequate knee doctor who may have meant well, but he BOTCHED my knee. Thank God for Dr. Mandrino (recommended to me by my friend Andrea Emond) who fixed me. (long story for another time). So, I NEED a change – PARIS. Why not? (lots of reasons for another time – Haha). (singing) “To Dream the Impossible Dream; To Fight the Unbeatable Foe……”)
SO, these are my goals that I have set for myself, which I have labeled “The Paris Requirement”. There is a back story. Here it is:
I started Law School at age 59. In the spring of 1998 (First Year Law), I was talking to Dean Randolph at an event. I told him how much it was taking for me to keep up with the young students. (I was attending the 3-year program, NOT the night school 4-year program with adults) The students were from all over the world, and they were smart and young and energetic. They thought of me as their mother or a doctor who was auditing the classes. WHAT??? I told Dean Randolph that I was trying very hard to keep up and pass the finals in order to stay in law school. If I made bad grades, would he kick me out? He said, “YES.” I asked why. He said that he would be doing me a favor because it was evident that I was not “lawyer-material”. WHAT??
Rewind to the kitchen of The Actors Studio in the spring of 1970. I was rehearsing a scene of some sort, and was on a break, in the kitchen. I was talking to my friend Vic Tayback. I said that I loved the art of acting but I HATED getting agents, going on interviews, and getting current head shots. Vic said, “THEN GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS!!!” What? I am not going to get out of the business. I went through many challenges just getting here.” Vic said, “It Takes Both! You must wear two hats – the art and the business of art.”
Fast forward back to Law School at age 60, after a successful career as an actor in the Industry. I passed my First Year Law exams. So, when I began my Second Year Law at Whittier Law School, this was my thinking. (I was single at the time.) I must somehow compete with these young people. I will be working with them in life after law. They must think of me as a peer, not as an “older mom or doctor”. HOW??? That is when I decided to use my actor skills and observe them – what they wore, what they talked about, how they wore their hair, what they did for fun. I changed what I was wearing to class, changed my hair style, changed the questions I was asking them, began participating more in class. Now, I did not “hang out” with them. No. I just studied. And, studied. And, studied. For a break, I would go to Marshall’s and browse. Haha. On a good day, I would buy something for $15.00. No more. At night, when I was exhausted, I would watch an old “Law and Order”. And, before bed, I would read over my notes for the next day because I had heard that the mind learns while a person is asleep. No one thought I could do this. My family wanted me to go home and get a grip. My agent expected me to fail and return to acting. Long story short. I graduated from Law School in 1999. I passed the California Bar Exam in 2000. I practiced law with younger people until I retired on December 10, 2019.
(Fast-Forward to present day)
I have become a person I don’t like. I avoid people a lot. I stay home a lot. I have retreated into myself. I must become “the NEW DANGEROUS WOMAN”. What? How? Well, I must reinvent myself. How? I don’t know yet, but I must use my actor skills and observe how the people dress; what they talk about; learn how the transit system works; what sections/streets to avoid; how they spend time, and so forth. I must learn how to dress in today’s version of “casual chic”. So far, on my visit in October 2019, I saw a lot of scarfs, leather boots, trendy jackets, and tight jeans. That’s doable. I must practice walking in boots. And, there is also the problem of finding tight jeans that fit my legs. Ouch!
When I was there in 1957 (pregnant with a Scarlet Letter on my forehead, having “ruined” my family, thank you, Mother!), women were far from “dangerous”. On the contrary, in my silent generation, women were chattel (if you don’t know what that means, look it up). I was a silent “woman’s-libber” before my time).
When Steve and I were there at Christmas time in 2015, I did not want to be dangerous.
Now, I must be dangerous???? Well, I don’t know how I am going to reinvent the wheel when I am still expecting a man to pull out my chair. So far, I am offended when a man walks in a door before me. Oops. Maybe not “dangerous” but a tad more adventuresome. Or maybe the word is “aggressive”.
Can I pull this one off? Well……. First of all, I must change my thinking. How? I don’t know yet. Second of all, I must stop thinking about my “age”. That keeps me from trying something that my body can do, and my mind holds me back. (sigh)