Monday, December 31, 2007


The chateau is hoppin’ with friends, friends’ kids, family, French, English, some Spanish, a dog and FB’s mother cooking up a storm. His father has made rabbit paté from a hare he ran off the road a few days before. Apparently he has a habit of accidentally running down hares and turning them into roadkill paté. He has also made an astounding fois gras that my own liver will remember for the next two weeks.
There is a local chef down the road who will be roasting a suckling pig for our dinner.

Night falls and a group of us head out to make the trek to the next town to see the pig being roasted. I decided that since the thought of walking through the pitch black to see a pig on a spit terrifies me, I must go immediately. We set off down the road into the darkness, my hand clutching the flashlight and hoping there are no Viking ghosts. Wait, were there ever actually Vikings in France? My American public school history education seems to be getting more questionable by the moment. Just concentrate on your ruined Jay-Z Roc-a-Fella sneakers covered in manure making one step at a time. Somehow on dark walks through the night, I always end up walking alone between two groups. “Always”…. as in the two times in my life I have trekked through the pitch black, one being the previous night and the other being the current one. The first group sprints ahead and the group behind me lags, leaving me alone in the darkness. I decide not to turn my flashlight on and face the fear. I think of Newark and other tough places I have never walked through but because I am from New Jersey I can claim them as my roots.

I walk by a herd of cows, which in the dark I couldn’t see and which make loud grunting noises as I go by, releasing the terror flood within me. I am suddenly convinced it is a pack of wolves and Camden and Newark aside, I am their next meal. My breath stops, the tears come and I fumble for the flashlight. As I shine my feeble light into the field, I see that in darkness, even cows look menacing. EVIL, EVIL COWS! I run to catch up to the first group. We make it to the town and I realize I am very good at looking cool while silently vomiting inside. This is a skill that will come in handy time and time again.

There are two pigs kissing on a stake, in one end, out the other over an open fire. The chef slowly spins them, their skin turning a golden pinkish brown and I am mesmerized and also grateful that I am not a vegetarian. I think briefly of their short life and how awful the word “dead suckling pig” is before I decide that smoking another cigarette instead and looking cool would be a better idea as my imagination has already gone to “dead suckling babies”. I shake it off and on our walk back through the night, I feel a little lost in a foreign world and suddenly I want my Mom more than ever. I kiss 2007 goodbye and wonder what 2008 will bring my way. And least I can say and the……et le……et le….et le… la… la… eh eh

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Our bed is small and has an ornamented frame. I lay in bed an extra two hours, my feet touching the bottom frame and my head propped against the back. I close my eyes and pretend I am both short and I am the Queen of France. I hear the cows outside mooing and a bell ringing and I decree the farmer shall be rewarded for such a fine bounty. I will give him four virgins and a flock of geese. Oh when oh when will those blasted servants come with my morning coffee? My eyes are watering and I am overcome by another sneezing fit. I wonder if the Queen of France was allergic to wool blankets too? I suddenly realize I cannot name one single Queen of France except for myself. NOTE TO SELF: Must wikipedia “Queen Of France” asap.
FB comes in and asks when I plan on getting up as it’s 2PM.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Three English speaking friends come into town and we are off for a week to Burgundy for New Year’s Eve where 18 of FB’s friends will be joining his family there for a celebration. My mind is happy with the familiarity of English. I suddenly realize that it might be a little more difficult to learn French in just two weeks as originally planned. NOTE TO SELF: maybe should have taken some French classes before leaving as “immersion” technique seems to only give me a serious headache and make me want a cigarette. Recognizing the words “the” and “and” is not giving me a good enough sense of what the conversations are about and I see no end in sight.

We drive up to the chateau and I am in awe that this 15th century house actually belongs to FB’s family. This definitely beats a week at the Jersey shore. The fog is heavy and I feel like I’m in a medieval play. I enter the main room through heavy wooden doors whose small frames don’t fit my tall Germanic roots and I am dumbstruck. Am I in a movie? I fight the urge to mutter “Dost though taketh thy dinner is this hereth chamber of fancyeth ornaments?” in my worst English accent and instead just stare at the 19th century wild boar’s head hanging from the wall next to the armor and the deer’s antlers. This DEFINITELY beats the Jersey shore. I am shown to our room at the top of some windy stairs through more doors. ‘Man, these people really loved doors’, I think to myself but then I realize it is my central heating, idiot American self speaking and I decide I actually am as retarded as I think.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Today I went with FB to visit his horses for the first time. He failed to warn me that we were going to mudfields to carouse with two huge dogs that looked like Cujo twin killing machines who immediately jumped at me and destroyed my $250 "cutest hoodie ever from an overpriced Park Slope boutique" with mud while also rendering my ONLY pair of sneakers I brought completely useless as I sunk six inches into the brown quicksand. FB wore his wedding shoes, by the way, which now resemble an adobe.

The woman who takes care of his horses is cool but speaks no English and I failed to mention that I am actually REALLY afraid of horses so I stood silently by while he brought one in from the field and just pretended to the everyone that I was not, in fact, about to run for cover from fear of getting kicked in the head by the beasts who DEFINITELY smelled fear on me. I tried to stay out of the way while they cleaned the horses in the barn. She boards lots of horses there so people were coming and going, all of whom I tried to avoid.

I quickly realized that trying to avoid French people for fear of someone actually speaking to me in French is pretty useless at this point. Still, I insisted on sitting alone in the freezing cold, off to the side, pretending to go over my "flashcards" (which I now carry in my pocket). The boyfriend of the horse boarder finally saw me and came over to say in perfect English "you know, you can come inside if you want, it's freezing out here and it's dark now" to which I breezily responded "oh really? I hadn't noticed".

I'm totally pretending to be cool. Fake it til you make it. Off to wash my stank ass ruined city clothes.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Je Suis La

A hurricane of goodbyes
Tears creeping out of every corner
Pulling the stakes up and out
Stickier than syrup on my bitten fingers
Lift me up and over
Too much is too much is too much
Roll into the other side
Launch into silence
Sounds like music
A new window onto old songs
Be quiet and dream of corners
Where everything is soft and fluid


An Air India flight (whose food RULES by the way), tear stains on my face, the image of my mother's crying face emblazoned on my conscience. My father's voice as he called right before the plane took off, cracking with emotion and telling me he is proud. FB's father sweeping us up from the airport to do a whirlwind drive through Paris...falling into my seat at a crowded restaurant and causing a stir followed by my bright red face, a visit to the fois gras shop, the sights and new smells, sounds making my already dizzy mind spin like a top. The apartment....a piano overlooking a crowded Parisian street, I don't care about the rest. The piano greets me and begs me to play.....not yet.....whisked off to FB's parent’s place and now I sit alone in a foreign house in a foreign land while they go shopping to feed me. Off to another new place tomorrow....Burgundy......everything is a blur. Talked to Mom on the phone whose voice cracked with emotion and sent me creeping outside to let my own tears out.......lonely, tired, sad, anxious, excited.......the new chapter begins.......