Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Finding My New Normal

Well, it's a bitch living up to the excitement of Paris now that I'm back in La Mesa, CA.  I am not even posting to Facebook often. A friend called to ask why and my response was that after 2 months in Paris, it just doesn't seem as if anything I could post would be interesting!

So, I'm posting in spite of that. Been home from Paris 26 days. Been retired almost 4 months. I'm still looking for whatever/whomever I am supposed to be.  Albeit, I'm not looking with much gusto. I have days that seem valuable and productive and days that are slothful and unproductive.  Looking back, however, I realize that I've gotten a lot done. My new normal isn't here yet, but I think it's on the horizon.

Since getting home, I have applied for and/or reached out to two volunteer organizations and two potential part-time employers (keep your fingers crossed!). I've prepared and submitted three proposals for the STC (Society for Technical Communication) Summit scheduled for next May and learned that two of my sessions were accepted (that means a trip to Denver in May).  I have had several lunch dates with friends, attended a retirement luncheon, gone to the local Marine Base and received a retirement badge that will allow me access onto military bases (in case the need arises for me to swoop into SPAWAR to pick someone up for lunch), and done a fair share of the prep work on my upcoming Winter quarter (Jan 2019) class in editing at UCSD Extension. It's the same class I taught a few years ago, but the instructor from whom I have inherited it has made a lot of changes that I need to review and incorporate. (So, I already do have ONE part-time job post-retirement, but it's exclusively online and it does not pay much, so I'm pretty sure I'll have time for something else--as long as it's not too demanding!)

I've spent a lot of time with Blaze.  Here he is, about to enjoy a delightful bone I brought him from Bully's East. (I sure did miss him while I was gone--and NO, he did not give me an excited  homecoming. I guess being a passive, Zen-like dog precludes him from offering bouts of crazed welcoming.)

I've done a couple of new walks, found a new park here in La Mesa that I like (although Blaze needs to stay on leash), and managed to keep up with hand watering the yard when it needs it. I even moved the furniture in the living room to give me a new perspective on things.

Mostly, I've done a LOT of thinking. Thinking about how I'm going to incorporate the things I thought about while I was thinking in Paris about what I would do when I got home. (How's that for a roundabout sentence?)  I'm more content than I thought I'd be.  And, I'm hopeful about the future. That's definite.

My financial status is still not finalized, but it's close. Once I know for sure what my monthly income will be, I can make hard decisions about whether to keep the good-life perks such as gardener, housekeeper, and dog walker. I'm hopeful that I can keep them all...but I'll know better soon. My budget-planning worksheet says that it will be tight, but do-able. I'm doing my best to be more thrifty, and that's tough for someone who spent money rather unwisely for years...but I'm doing pretty well since it's a necessity now. Maybe I do have a bit of my mother in me...she managed to live simply and well on very little her whole life. I always admired that, but never emulated it; now is the time.

So, that's it for today.  Not too much to share except my willingness to find whatever my new normal might be. I haven't found it yet, but the search is on. I'm not in a hurry; so it might take awhile.

Monday, October 8, 2018

My Paris Pilgrimage Ends (#14)

Home Again, Home Again...

And then, it was over...

My previous blog post was on 30 September, today is Monday, 8 October!  It's EARLY morning in San Diego as I write this. Still dealing with jet lag that awakens me around 3 or 4 am (today it was a little after 4, so I think it's getting better!), and so I get up! Still processing the trip of a lifetime that just ended...but who knows, maybe I'll have others in my future. Even if I do, though, none will be the FIRST, long, non-tourist visit to Paris for me. So, considering that, this trip was a bellwether of sorts.

I'm now home in America's Finest City and in the cutest house on Capitol Street:

Excuse these pics from my archives--no rainbows lately since we've had no rain!

I left Paris on Thursday, 4 October, quite ready to make my way back to my home, my dog, my city, and my friends.

My bags awaiting arrival of the cab on street outside my apartment

Me, in travel mode!
I have to confess that I didn't do anything too exciting from a tourist point of view those last few days...I had hoped to see Sylviane on Monday eve for dinner, but she had to reschedule for Tuesday. That meant that my big event on Monday was to bring the first of my two boxes to La Poste and get it headed to San Diego. I then walked around the neighborhood and took myself to lunch one more time at Canon Des Gobelins. I noticed that a restaurant nearby had a couple of unusual customers sitting outside...

Special customers at Le Perroquet

Chicken Caesar Salad at Canon des Gobelins

Boulevard Saint-Marcel from Canon des Gobelins

Interior of Canon des Gobelins--from my table just inside the glass
It continued to be a quiet day,, with some light sprinkles. I walked around and thought that I'd go to the fromagerie to buy a pretty large quantity of comte cheese to take home with me, but the fromagerie was closed. (It closes from 1400-1630 each day--and this was the second time I had found it closed.  So much for my memory!)  I also stopped at a local pharmacerie where I asked about a special lip balm that Linda P had asked me to stock up on for her. They didn't have it, but promised to order it and have it for me on Tuesday. (Glad I checked early in the week!)

Tuesday was much the same. I brought the second box to La Poste (about 7 kilos [close to 16 pounds]), picked up two of the four tubes of lip balm (the other two were late, but arrived on Wednesday), and sat at the Jardin des Plantes for a long while journaling and watching people in the nasty, chilly, and sprinkly afternoon.

Bundled up against the chill..

Quiet at the Jardin that day...

Few folks around

Museum of Natural History and botanical garden building in the Jardin

Path that ran in front of my bench
So, that evening, I met Sylviane at the same cafe where we had first met, Le Baratin, which was directly across the street from my building. (Not highly rated on Trip Advisor, but a 3.5 in Paris is probably pretty darned good in La Mesa, CA!) 

Le Baratin
I thought we were to have dinner, but my comprehension of our telephone call was poor and she only had time for a quick cup of chocolate cocoa.  She was headed for a Freemasons meeting at this building:

We had a teary-eyed farewell, and although I took photos of the building into which she disappeared, I neglected to get a new photo of her.  So, here's one that I recycled from a previous visit, at a happier time:

Linda and Sylviane in Forest of Fountainebleu
Sylviane's meeting was just around the corner from Le Baratin, so I walked her there and then went home to eat leftovers!  Rather a sad night in many ways...

So, we come to my very last full day in Paris--3 October.  The cab has been ordered, my packing was almost done, I had picked up all requested tubes of lip balm, gotten my stash of comte cheese, mailed packages to California, and awaited my lunch date with Lara (my downstairs British neighbor). She was uncharacteristically sans children that day, so we had a lovely adult lunch at a French restaurant (aren't they all, you might ask?) on Rue Mouffetard--the name of the restaurant escapes me, but the prices were wonderful--only 10 Euros for the formula of appetizer [I had caprese], main dish [entrecote], and dessert [caramel flan]!  The walk to/from the restaurant was delightful in Lara's company and I enjoyed learning a little more about her and her family.  (She's 31, an E.R. physician, and her husband is an engineer who designs Formula E cars!) The best news was that her husband sometimes has to travel to California for work--and she might accompany him sometime! So, we have a possible rendezvous in our future.

Lara pointed out the lovely artwork on this building that I had not yet noticed, despite walking past it several times...

Apparently this work was done by a famous street artist whose works can be found throughout Paris--this little piece was just at the entrance to Rue Mouffetard
Lara and Luke

The rest of the afternoon went slowly--I talked to a few folks in the U.S. (apartment included some free calls to US!), had lovely bon voyage calls come in from the Cercleys and Sylviane, and journaled. As days go, it was quiet, but the feelings I experienced were excitement to be headed home, bittersweet thoughts of losing touch with people I had grown close to, and a little sadness to be leaving the wonderful city of my last 6 weeks.

The whole trip was definitely mine and might not meet others' expectations. After the first couple of weeks that I shared with friends, my time alone was anything but. I had my new friend Sylviane, my lovely trip to Tivery to visit the Cercleys, and the people of the neighborhood who interacted with me most every day. My French improved, and my comprehension did, too, but I'm far from being anywhere decent in my speech. I get by on ignorance and charm for the most part! 

I loved my trip. I loved learning that I could be my own guide as to what each day would bring. Sometimes, I awoke knowing that I needed to explore and walk; other days I awoke to realize I would stay in the apartment, reading, watching Netflix, and writing. After an initial time of feeling guilty that I wasn't making the most of my time in Paris--I realized that I truly was making the most of it FOR ME. My real contentment came after I began to relax and allow myself to NOT have to go out and about or see another tourist sight or walk another neighborhood. I used the time to process what I did do and see how these 6 weeks could reflect my own life going forward in San Diego. I even needed to relive the exciting and sometimes unexpected events that befell me (remember the TECHNO PARADE?) and understand that I can do so much more than I think I can do!

Retirement will be akin to being in Paris--I need to allow myself to NOT always be busy--to let myself relax and enjoy time and space and people and plants and my dog. I am ready for this next chapter. I hope you choose to come along as I continue blogging, although the title of "My Paris Pilgrimage" will be supplanted by a new title--one that I'm still figuring out.

Thanks to all of you who joined me on this journey. I am grateful for your kind words and patience with my sometimes too-long, posts. My Paris trip was a long time coming...and now that it's in my past, I'm grieving a bit, but I know that I'll find another goal to replace it. One that will continue to enrich my world...

Sunday, September 30, 2018

My Paris Pilgrimage #13

Six Days' Notes from Paris

Holy Moley!  A whole week has gone by since my last post--almost!  It's Sunday, the 30th. Last day of September 2018--the month that will historically go down as my full month in the lovely city of Paris!  Still, I'm excited that I go home on Thursday, the 4th!

A few things to report on from the week past. Although I stayed close to the apartment on Monday, the 24th, I did manage to get out and about in the neighborhood on Tuesday to do a little shopping, walk around, have lunch at a lovely Greek place, journal, and do laundry. Had the post office track the package I sent to myself. It's about a week later than it should be to have been delivered--the post here says it's in the US, at my home station. Hope they keep it there 'til I get home!  Here are a couple of pics of the day:

Eglise Saint Medard across the street from where I sat

Cover of menu: Don't you love the name?

View down the little street to boulevard

Salad, hummus, pita, and OLIVES! (I'm learning to like some of them)

Overhead heaters were on, but it really wasn't cold enough for them!
And that was Tuesday.

Wednesday, the 26th, was the first big event of the week. I took my first bus ride to Gare Montparnasse where I got on a Metro that took me to the stop near the Musee Rodin. I met Sylviane there and we had a magnificent day. Oh my! I do SO love Rodin's sculptures, but I also realized I like his paintings. Didn't even know he painted, but the museum had several of his works there. The biggest thing I appreciated about the museum was seeing so many of the works' early phases--first models that he worked with to get to his final renderings. I was educated and totally interested! The hotel/home that is now the museum is right next to Les Invalides, so some of my photos show the gold tower of that edifice. I'm probably boring you with too many shots of the day, but I have to give you a sample of what delightful works were there:

The Thinker (La Penseur) was outside with Les Invalides behind. Beautiful!

I took many shots of "The Kiss," found the 360-degree views so wonderful to see!

Can't remember the title of this one, but Rodin was passionate about the human body and its movements
I was entranced by this female Centaur--as shown in the two photos above.

Famous "Gates of Hell" from Dante's Inferno

A closeup of part of  "The Burghers of Calais" showing the key to the city held by one of them.
Click on link for story, it's amazing.


Sylviane and I in front of the pond behind the museum out in the sculpture garden

A young artist friend of Rodin's 

After spending quite some time at the museum, Sylviane and I walked around the 7th Arrondissement and found a lovely spot for lunch.  I insisted that I buy since she had been doing so much for me and had even brought me a lovely makeup bag and decorative plate that day as gifts!
Eggplant, mushroom, and tomato pizza!
After lunch, we stopped in at Bon Marche (another amazing high-end department store in Paris), and found a Metro station where we said our good-byes. (We hope to dine together once more before I return home.)

Insides of Bon Marche
I took the Metro towards home and stopped at Jussieu station where I emerged into the light to stop at a favorite cafe for a Coke Zero, some journaling, and some reflection on the day before walking home.

Me, with pen and Coke!

Spent a quiet 27th and prepped for my big night out on Friday the 28th, for that was the day I had ticket to see "Decadance," a ballet at the Palais Garnier Opera House. I was to be accompanied by JoAnn Blodgett, a colleague of mine from the ancient days of NOSC before I went to Texas.  We realized we were both going to be in Paris at the same time and made these plans months in advance.

We met at 1700 (5 pm) with only a little anxiety--I had asked JoAnn to walk to Gare Montparnasse bus area (her hotel was near) and it was new for her--so it took us a little while to actually find one another!  But we did. And we rode the Metro together to Opera station. The Metro is directly in front of the Opera House, but I wasn't sure where the restaurant was where we had made reservations. We only walked in the wrong direction for a block or two before figuring out it was located just 1/2 block away from Metro where we had emerged. Oh well. We made our reservation at Grand Cafe Capucines just fine and both decided to have their formula dinner where you pick from a select group of items, but get a full dinner for one price. Each of us ordered the formula composed of an aperitif (Kir), 1/2 bottle of wine (I had white; J had red), an appetizer (we both had a marvelous spinach ravioli), a main course (I had bass; she had steak), dessert (I had tiramisu; can't remember what she had), and coffee (neither of us did this--we were running late)!  The price? About $60 each.  It was amazing!
Reservation confirmed

Lovely JoAnn

Restaurant was covered with gold material and red/gold lights
Lucky for us, the Palais Garnier was close by.  We entered, we were amazed, we got to our seats, we enjoyed the production of Decadance, and we left. Seriously, the interior of the building is amazing, but it was filled with people everywhere. I had trouble even using the handrail to climb the steps because so many people were posing for photos. I took what I could, but they are far from adequate to show the beauty.  

Our seats were in a little box that held about 10 people. Once we were in, we were in. The door allowed exit, but no re-entrance unless you had an usher there, and they were scarce. I read that the theater was build so that people could be seen, not so that the people could see the stage!

The production had no intermission and lasted about an hour and a half, so there was no need to leave. Vision of the stage was terrible, but I could see most of it if I stood up near the rear of the box, so that's what I did. I have included a couple of links above for you to get more info about the production and the Opera House; but here's what I took and can share. It was a magical performance! Intense, completely confusing as to what the symbolism was, but still wonderful. After the production, we took more photos and exited to the street. I enjoyed a safe cab ride home with a lovely cabbie with whom I chatted as best I could. Got a phenomenal view of Notre Dame at night during the ride.

Marc Chagall ceiling

Canvas curtain painted to look like velvet!

One of dozens of beautiful columns

JoAnn and I in our seats

The beginning...

One of the curtain calls showing the full cast! There were about 30 dancers!

Photos of interior taken after performance

Marble floors and columns

More incredible ceilings

Fireplace of old

Plaque noting those who died for France from 1914-1919

The shot of Notre Dame that I love! (from the cab!)

A befitting end to this blog post.

Linda O

Linda O
Glamorous Me