2003-04-02 - 9:43 a.m.

Apparently I have been doing things ass backwards here. Yesterday I went for my walk at 9:30 instead of at 1 or 2 and found the park to be almost completely void of people. Just like I like it. And today I went to the grocery store at 1 instead of at 9:30 and found that to be a lot less crowded as well. I was actually able to look at things instead of having to hope for an opportunity to stick an arm in and grab as soon as a space opened up. The one thing I have noticed about the French (and E. pointed this out as well) is that they have absolutely no regard for what is going on around them (and I am making absolutely no reference to fucking ass war stuff here because actually I applaud the French government for sticking to their opinion as to whether or not they should back the US….). I mean, you can walk down any street here and they just meander back and forth along the sidewalk, no one moves out of anyone’s way which sucks for me because one thing I really enjoy doing back home is walking with purpose and making people steer clear of me…here I have to steer clear of all of them who are NOT walking with purpose, just walking in a daze. So this woman today at the grocery store who was purchasing a pair of socks and talking to some woman in the other line next to us had absolutely no clue that I was standing behind her with a five ton basket hanging off my arm waiting with increasing impatience to put my stuff on the counter. The whole belt was clear and the cashier was waiting for her to put her fucking ass pair of stupid socks down so she could scan them but the woman just kept blabbing. Normally, back home I would have stared at her until she put her shit down and gave me room to unload my basket…but here I don’t want to risk someone saying anything to me so I had to pretend that I had no idea she was being a complete bitch. Finally she put her socks down, cashier rang them in and then had to WAIT for the woman AGAIN to pay because she was STILL talking and paying NO attention to what was going on. So she finally pays and then STANDS there while the cashier is ringing my stuff in. This wouldn’t be such a problem, but here you have to bag your own groceries, the cashier doesn’t do it and there aren’t baggers either…so this woman is standing there and I can’t bag my groceries and my whole basket is rung in and the cashier is taking my money, giving me change, there is someone behind me in line with a whole cart of groceries and this woman is STILL standing there, right where I need to be to bag my groceries and she is STILL blabbing away. Finally I stood behind her and said, “UHHHH…PARDON.” And this woman DIDN’T EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE ME so I touched her shoulder and said even louder, “UHHHH…PAAARRRDDDOOONNNN.” And she finally moved A LITTLE. I mean, just imagine this woman standing RIGHT THERE IN THE CHECK OUT LANE talking away. I was livid. And of course, I got stuck behind this same woman on the street. Now she was talking on her cell phone and I swear every single time I went to pass her she would move in the direction I was going to pass her. I almost had to kill her. So yeah. What was my point here? Yes, I need to find the times when NO ONE is out. I swear I will start going out when it is pouring rain if I have to just to avoid these people. That is one thing that I am starting to get really homesick for. The ability to go someplace where there is no one. Living in the city is just not for me, I can’t imagine what it would be like if E. lived right in Paris. I think I would go insane.

I guess I needed to tell that story. Not my intention. What I really wanted to write about was some of the things I have come to realize. First is that I need to stop blaming my job on my exhaustion. I live in this almost perpetual state of tiredness and I have always, always blamed the fact that I have go to work at an ungodly hour for that. One of things I was really excited about when planning this trip was the fact that I would be able to sleep and I would be able to live for two months without being tired. That is not the case though. I am still tired…all the time. The only time I am not tired is the first two hours I am awake each day. A long time ago I came to the conclusion that my ideal pattern of sleep would be to sleep two hours, wake two hours, sleep two hours, wake two hours...because that’s how it seems to naturally go for me. I can fall asleep, no problem whether I am tired or not, but two hours after I fall asleep I wake up and for the rest of the night I toss and turn, in and out of sleep. It would make much more sense for me to just get up and do something and then go back to bed immediately when I get tired again in two hours. So I will no longer blame my job on my exhaustion, I know now it is just something wrong with me in general.

Second thing I have realized is something of utmost importance and another thing that I have blamed on my job. I’ve always said, “I just need an extended amount of time off work in order to write.” But here I sit, three weeks into my trip and while I have written over two hundred pages, I have yet to actually complete anything and I have yet to actually write anything which I consider to be anything more than just typing random sentences. I have ALL these hours in a day in which to write and yet I find myself occupying HOURS doing stupid things like crawling around on the kitchen floor trying to find the source of the terrible smell that taunts me every time I walk near the kitchen. Or examining my fingernails. I have become quite proficient at that….what has been really bothering me about this predicament is that I have found that I DO need time off work in order to write because my job DOES make me stupid. When I say that I mean that when I am working I become quite braindead….but give me a few days off and I click right back into genius mode (okay, so I’m pushing it a little but still, I am much smarter and think much more creatively when not working), but how can I justify taking time off work in order to write if I am NOT writing? It occurred to me today that the reason it is so difficult is because I am not in the ROUTINE of writing. Looking back I realize that everything I do in life has to become a routine, there has to be a fluidity in the “dance” of it before I do it with any sort of dedication or energy. Like my job, for instance, the first year or two of that, or any job, I don’t REALLY give a shit about it. If I have an upset stomach I’ll call in sick. But after a couple years, when it becomes part of the flow of my everyday…I won’t call in sick even if I am throwing up blood every five seconds. When I first started my job at the good old Colonial Kitchen it was kind of hell, it was a hard job, I remember hardly being able to keep up with my section when I first started. So I hated it there, for the first couple years I didn’t really exist when I was there. I was just a waitress, didn’t really talk to anyone, form any sort of connections with customers (except for an exclusive few), my job there was the last thing on my mind. But then it started getting easy, the waitress dance one must have there became second nature and I didn’t have to think about every motion I made anymore, it was fluid. I didn’t worry anymore about changing coffee filters, filling butter cups, didn’t have to concentrate so hard when pulling my orders…the motions of being a waitress became second nature and only then did I actually open myself up and exist while there. Then, and only then did I start liking my job, did I start having any sort of dedication to it. But it took time, it took going to work six days a week and doing the same things over and over again before I was able to open it up and become super waitress. I think the same thing will happen with my writing. I think as soon as I ingrain the act of just sitting down and writing into my life, when that becomes something I just DO everyday, I will be able to open up and delve into the actual creativity part of it. I have stories going through my head ALL day long, I can see something simple like a dandelion and I have a story for it. I’ll recite the story in my head all the way home but the second I sit down to write it something in my brain clicks and says, “Maybe you should look at your fingernails.” GOD…I am so rambling…anyway…routine, I need to make writing a routine, a part of my day. I think, no, I know, that I was being too hard on myself when I said I was coming to France for two months and I was going to write for ten hours a day, that I was going to have at least ten short stories written by the end of this trip and hopefully at least half of the first draft of my novel. I have now changed that and the goal for this trip now is to ingrain the routine of writing into my blood so that when I go home I continue to write daily and then hopefully by the time I come back here in September I will have the dance in my blood and the creativity and the ability to write more than one really good sentence at a time will be there as well. But I WILL write at least three short stories while I am here.

Did anyone read this all the way through?


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