Saturday, June 14, 2008

THE MOMENT - or shall I say, my awakening

Ever the walking cliche' or at least I feel like it, I had my 'awakening' and it was today. I have had brief interruptions of sleep-walking through the day of the blazee, BUT today was a day that all the naysaying negativity about Paris has gone to sleep and I ... I have awoken to the glory of the city of Light.

I had been in my sleepy way of should be practicing French, but watching "Valley Girl" on YouTube is just so much more interesting. Like totally! But I had a grocery list to get and as you may know, the stores in Paris are unbelievably closed on Sunday!

So, I dreaded doing it. I pretty much have only had fun when I am out - but it's the thought of leaving our cozy sanctuary that does not appeal to me. I am not pleased to say it, but living in Durham made me a serious homebody. There were only two places I would rather have been: the forest or the dance floor - and the truth is, they are just extensions of home. ANYWAY!

Got the bags to carry the groceries home. On my list was toilet paper, coffee, bread, soy milk, yogurt, apples, laundry softener (gonna give it a try), rice cakes, cereal and lotion... We will get the veggies tomorrow at the market and I will bring the camera for blog purposes! Which is what I wish I had done today!!!

But of course, what exciting thing could happen between here and 4 blocks to the store? Well, a group of musicians COULD be standing on the corner playing Fwenchie music like the other day... or a new store could have a wine/cheese event... or there could be some particularly beautiful fruit or flowers in one of the numerous street shops worthy of a photo... but today there was a musical extravaganza in the streets!

AND IT WAS MOST LIKELY ONE OF THE COOLEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN. Now, don't get me wrong, I have seen some dynamic drumming in India (imagine hundreds of Indians drumming and walking) and some funkadelicious drumming in Honduras on the islands during some Garafuna holidays and so on... but today, I saw the French version of drumming that would have put Hillside High in Durham to shame (well, not really)... but allow me tell you what was so special about this drumming and dancing down the streets of a small neighborhood in Paris. The drummers were 80% FRENCH WOMEN AND GIRLS and the dancers were all French women. The entire group spanned from 14 years to 50 years old. These lovely women were pounding those HUGE drums and swinging their hips and the dancers were giving the crowd filling up the sidewalks everything they had! I of course, started crying right then and there. Now if you know me, I can cry over a feel-good commercial.

The other interesting thing about it was that for the first half of the parade, the cars drove right along side of the dancing/drumming parade. It was a two way street and they all seemed to take turns going. That is one cool thing I have noticed about the people here - sure, they may not be 'friendly', but nor are they aggressive or possessive. From what I have observed, they genuinely know how to share space. It is kind of unbelievable at times. Even during this dancing in the streets, the flow didn't just STOP because of this, the street became used by both. I, for one (and maybe the only one standing there grinning and crying)thought it was totally amazing. Everyone, people with full shopping bags like me, daddies with strollers, old ladies with canes, young men with motorcycles, fashionista females all just doing their thing.

I stood their bopping, grinning, shining and crying at seeing French women in a new way and in seeing myself living in Paris in a new way too! I now am beginning to understand my relationship to the outside world needs to open up in a new way ... and so I need to change too. So, now it is when I say, see: I am now the cliche and I like it like that.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Our 2008 summer sub-let apartment in Paris Pictures!

*Please Note* This is not our apt anymore.  It was a summer apt we rented already furnished in the 19th Arrond back in 2008.  It worked fine for us for a summer, but when we actually moved to France we found an apt about three times the size and even that can feel small sometimes.  And our view is not a building, but the River Seine, lovely indeed.

After literally hours of my life WASTED looking for apartments, Hicham finds 'the one'. No, it wasn't a contest really, but there would be a certain satisfaction gained for the one who actually located 'the' summer apartment. I was close a few times though, tell ya what!

But in the end, it was Hicham who found our summer home. The photos are ones he took at the apartment to convince me that this was the one. To the average observer, it might seem odd that he took photos of the kitchen sink. But in fact, for me, the kitchen sink was a non-negotiable. I would not live in an apartment where the kitchen sink looked like it belonged in a bathroom. Yes, in Paris, it is common to find small bathroom sinks... IN THE KITCHEN!!!!! Certainly not enough room to wash a casserole dish let alone a cookie pan. Those sinks are a joke and a half, clearly designed for people who eat only cheese and bread all day - like the French... oh wait.

He took 40 pictures, many of them highlighting the nearby trees. I am only sharing 3 for your viewing pleasure, because you likely do not care to see the shower head of the apartment (also non-negotiable... must be attached above the head and not simply on a hose laying in the bottom of the tub... picky picky picky!)

Yea! What a relief. Knowing where we will live over the summer is certainly putting my mind in a restful position. And another cool thing is that my French school is only a few blocks from Hicham's work. So, we will go together in the morning, meet for lunch, he will go back to work and I will study French and well, who the hell knows what else? Blog more maybe?

3 and a half weeks!

3 & 1/2 weeks... and counting

So- Just a little update... I do have another more interesting blog about my re-move abroad. Please let me know if you are interested in the link, and I will gladly email it to you. It goes a lot more in depth than I do on myspace.

Reality struck me about two weeks ago- with working more than FT as the Cheif Judge for One Stop Early Voting, I realized that I simply was NOT going to be ready to move out of my house in time. It was just too overwhelming. Yes, it is true our garage sale resulted in 'earning' over $2000 and yet there was still stuff yet ungone stuff, paperwork, random miscellaneous stuff that people didnt buy or that I failed to put out for the sale and many, many books that did not sell. Not to mention the fact, that moving our requires cleaning time. So, I sucked it up and admitted to being a human being and not a human doing. Lucklily, for me the landlord said I could stay an additional month.

So- after using the rental truck to drive all my clothes to Rachel's house, I had to go back and get them all and resume my life in my empty yet cluttered house. It was really stupid. Her house was clean, orderly and stress-free and mine, well let's just say that it sucks. I felt a jab or self-hate as I left what could have been my clean, orderly home before departure to France BUT NO... still have tons left to do!

Yesterday, I brought three boxes of random stuff to the ladies down the street - they are in recovery of some sort and living in a group home. They were delighted by all the funkified clothes & shoes.

But anyoldway- Early voting is over (two days ago - over 800 voters in 6 hours!) and tomorrow is NC's primary election and then a normal routine will resume... and Wednesday will be the BIG delivery day to Habitat for Humanity.

I would say that 2008 has already been one of the most unusual years of my life... how has your 2008 been so far?

Saturday, March 1, 2008


For all my gentle readers out there, all 4 of you, let me tell you rather abruptly that we are not moving to Madrid. We are still moving though and still leaving our cute little life in Durham. But, first let me tell you a little bit about Madrid... and a little it will be since my flight was delayed and I missed my connection and had to stay in a hotel and then spend Valentine's day in Philadelphia. So an already short trip was cute to a complete unfunny joke! As long as I am mentioning my string of bad luck, let me mention that my luggage didnt show up until the night before I was supposed to leave (which we had to go and pick up!)which forced me to buy socks, undies, and another outfit.

For the doomed trip on the way home: The new clothes were put in my carry-on bag which I accidentally left on the subway enroute to the airport. My carry-on also contained my beautiful diary Hicham got for me in France last summer, my airplane book, some jewelry and airplane snacks... making my 8 hour long flight home even more boring (and it was the very last row so my seat didnt recline- it was my personal hell on Earth... nothing to do for 8 hours, repulsive vegetarian airplane food, sitting upright - what could have been worse?)

So, now that we have the traveling trauma and tedium out of the way, let's talk about how one spends 2 and a half days with their husband they haven't seen in over 6 weeks in the city that will become your home in the near future? Our mission: to meet the city and get a feel for the place.

To that end, we walked mostly, took some buses, took the subway, and took taxi's. We went to clubs until 5 am and interesting tapas places, vegetarian restaurants, enormous parks, colorful stores, eclectic neighborhoods and majestic plazas. Madrid is such a fantastic city! Everything I would have ever wanted in a city. The people were charming, attractive, and polite to each other.

Tangent Alert: After having been in or living in big cities, Hicham and I were equally amazed when a man gave up his subway seat to a slightly older woman. Now, one might think that is 'just the right thing to do' but in most places that just doesn't really happen on the subway. It is not due to rudeness, it's just that most times, a rider doesn't spend more than 5-7 minutes on any given train. If a guy was to get up every time a woman came on the train there would just be too much chaos and for such a short journey. Women get on and off every minute. But anyway, we witnessed it and looked at each other in amazement (yes, I was sitting and he was standing by the way) and then all the people around us seemed to notice us being amazed, it was all very weird BUT ANYWAY... the people are just cool.

Since our plans were to move there, we neglected the big museums and most justly skimmed the surface. We did catch an energetic Flamenco show on our last night. We were surrounded by American's who video taped, talked loudly and snapped photos for the ENTIRE duration of the show. I was appalled. We then walked all the way back to the hotel along cobble stone streets and through majestic English garden plazas. It was our last night and we didn't want it to end.

Our weekend on the town could have been amazing but unfortunately our experience in Madrid was polluted, literally! It is true, the initial factor in our deciding to derail the move to Spain and instead go to ----- was all the damn cigarette smoke. They smoked while walking, talking, sitting, eating, dancing, probably while pooping! It was unreal. Just toxicity no matter where you were, it was amazing, there would be the most glamorous woman EVER- who clearly cared a great deal about her appearance- with beautiful shoes, perfect style, great haircut, wow! Standing there in a cloud of filthy, stinky smoke... surrounded by her friends all smoking. After going out on Saturday night, my lungs ached!

It became a constant topic of conversation. "Can you believe how much they smoke? I can't stay in here, it is too smoky. Wow, they are smoking as they eat!" and on and on. It was a distraction big time. So, after much discussion, we decided that to have any quality of life, we simply couldn't live somewhere that we can't breathe...

Of course Hicham did get an internship offer in Madrid and in we had a choice. Ironically, I was a little pissy about Hicham even applying in Paris because (insert whiny voice)"I don't want to live in stupid old Paris". He would just say that it was good to have options. Of course, that is true and especially now!

Hicham has always wanted to stay in Paris- but out of respect to me was willing to go to Madrid (what a wonderful partner!). And starting in Jan. 08 France banned smoking in all public places! SO, we will go to Paris. There are other benefits to Paris as well:

1. I will learn French so then I can talk to his family.
2. At least one of us will be native speakers.
3. He will work less for more money.
4. Olivia the dog will be able to do more and go more places with me.
5. I will learn more about the French culture.
6. Free health care!
7. More of my friends want to visit Paris then Madrid, so hopefully I will get to see familiar faces more often!
8. I do not know, I will tell you more as I realize them - if you see any other benefits, please comment!

So- I guess I will have to change my blog pictures to capture the Frenchiness of it all - oui oui! Merci!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tomorrow to Madrid!!!

Last night my friend Negar came over for soup and conversation. While I started out positive about everything, as the conversation blossomed, so did my reservations about the big move again (then the tears and a recap of dread and an affirmation of how perfect my life is). Negar is a good friend, she cried right along with me. I felt very listened to - authentically heard. In fact, just having another person agree that this move wasn't 'a big adventure, exciting or lucky' was a fresh of breath air.

For another example, say someone baked a cake and upon presenting it to the birthday girl, it fell on the floor... who would say,"Wow! Lucky you! Now you get to start over and make another delicious cake!" The baker would be mildly irritated to say the least.

It is as though people are responding to my moving away according to some formula. "Moving to Spain + Spain is fun = so your move must be fun too!" Then I am inclined to respond with at least a few minute explanation on what it means as I currently am interpreting it... which sounds like a drama queen who can't seem to be happy for herself. The conversation then ends with how great it will be. They are probably right, eventually it will be great. In the same way that a suddenly single person will eventually meet someone new. But to jump from one to another? - well maybe that is the right thing... maybe it is maybe it maybe

Surely, my blog must seem like a broken damn record.

In fact, I am leaving for Spain tomorrow. Hicham will have already arrived about an hour in advance of me and will wait in the airport for me. We will spend about 5 days there. He will go to interviews and I will meet Madrid face to face!

Surely, going there and experiencing Madrid will bring new songs to my broken damn record!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Three days

I am writing with great hopes that the last down-turn of emotional events has subsided for a good long minute. It is true, I am sensitive. Anyone who knows me even a little could figure that out. Spicy food, loud sounds, bright lights, being cold... that is the physical aspect of it. But the same applies to being ignored, being yelled at, bad customer service, seeing injustice, etc. just puts me in a frenzy. Hicham always jokes that it is hard on my heart - he is right.

In other words, there are easy-going people out there, but I am not one of them. Even those admired 'go-with-the-flow' types have a shadow to face.

Throughout the years, I have attempted to change... but self-repression coupled with sensitivity is a vile combo. So, I gave it up, met the challenge of unconditional self love & acceptance and learned how to cope or respond to myself when panic /anxiety/the frenzy set in. Sure, it could have been done with Gin or Vokda I suppose. Surely that would dull the 'sensitivity' that gifts me with an intense relationship with everything. It certainly could have been done with meds...I have seen great things happen for people I care about who use them.

I have decided a third path (surely there are many paths).

I allow the frenzy, the anxiety and the depression to come and go at will. Indeed when my soul hurts, the tears flow easily and I hardly can connect with others... I am forced to go inward. There I have dwelled for the last three days. If anyone asked me how I was, my eyes would become moist but I knew there weren't enough words to explain it and of course, depression has no real friends who care. So, I would simply say that I was temporarily depressed and not to worry. I acquired pimples under my jaw-line and drank lots of green tea. I also spent extra time in my healing place: the forest. The leaves smelling up my nostrils so mildly, the bright sun dampened by the tree branches and the gentle sounds of the wind and birds - my Heaven/Earth.

It is there that my soul feels safe enough to emerge, to get attention, to be caressed by nature, to share a reciprocal love with Earth... our Mother... to be reminded of the divinity that I share with all of Earth's creations. For me, nature is my anti-depressant. The side effects are pink cheeks, strong leg muscles and muddy shoes.

It isn't immediate like a drunken night on the town, it isn't perpetual like prozac - but it does work in a timely enough fashion without the hang-over and it is available to me without high medical costs and dependency on a fucked-up medical 'system', I am happy (for now)!

How does this relate to Madrid? I must have access to nature wherever I live. I am going there in six days for a 'seeking and finding' journey. Of top priority is to find natural places (there are many in Madrid btw), good dance clubs and vegetarian restaurants! Woo hoo! I, of course, will be posting some photos of my finds in those catagories (and more!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tired and terrified and oh so suddenly!

I am sure to regret this post later, but I am going to be courageous here and put it out there. At this moment, even that strikes me as a paradox. Perhaps real courage is just to let the emotion pass, and not getting all in a huff about it. But I have done the ignoring thing for about 6 hours now and I still feel nervous.

So, here was Hicham's reasoning tonight as I told him how alone I have been feeling lately... how disconnected from humanity. It was like this when I first got back from being abroad in 2000- I felt invisible. small. pointless. unfocused. flittery.

Big transitions can make a person crazy - really damn crazy. I now know why I personally have come into the blog world. I know we each have our own reasons and they likely overlap at times, but this time, it is because I need a witness to watch this big thing. Today, I am feeling fear for the first time in a very, very long time. It is true, ask anyone, I usually am without much fear.

So in response to my tears, tonight Hicham said, well Nicole you have a history of having a good life. Why should it change now? And that is true, I have been so blessed and have been lucky. Hicham believes that because it was consistently good for me here in Durham (and before) that logic would conclude it will be abroad as well.

The truth is though, while I had generally truly breathtaking, exhilarating and life-affirming experiences in all the corners of our Great Earth... I also experienced some of the most painful, difficult and just plain wrong encounters too.

Nothing can compare to the consistent peace I have felt in lil old Durham... so far anyway. Even while I lived here, I did cool things, Rainbow Gatherings, trips abroad, furthered my education, started a business, and participated in my community on a regular basis. Life has been so good here and today, for whatever reason, I am so afraid of what is next.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Selling dreams

Today, I sold my sewing machine, carrying case, sewing basket, cutting board, sewing table, material and supplies for $125. Granted I got the sewing machine as a gift, found the table on the side of the road and I have no recollection of how the cutting board came to me...

The pathetic thing is, I never used any of it. 5 years I had it- along with visions of glorious dresses, unique jackets, flowey long pants and of course a multitude of curtains & pillows. I feel disappointment in myself.

When I sold all that stuff, I also sold a goal that I never met. I gave back to the universe (through a woman named juliann) that which I was wasting.

On the bright side, there is a space in my room which is empty... a symbolic corner and a reality reminder. The sewing machine is the first big thing I have let go of. I have a sneaking suspicion that after this major over haul down-size that my future endeavors and pursuits will be followed through with a bit more gusto.

In my current house, it is all a bit overwhelming (in a good way). I can paint, draw, sew, read, lay in a hammock, dance, cook, etc etc. So many creative outlets available and so rarely seized these days. I had to have a huge dancing space with mirrors... I had to have a lounge area for movies and deep discussions... it was dire that I have a stove with 2 big burners... I could go on and on.

Things, things, things... the sad thing is, is that I comforted myself with the loss of my sewing machine with these 6 words, "I can always get another one". Since I know that, have I really given it away?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I have been delving into the polar opposites of my mind through movies. I watch Spanish movies and then I watch American movies. I saw 'Volver' followed by 'Medea's Family Reunion'.
Watching inspiring American movies and seeing our stunning landscape and my diverse people brings on easy, sentimental tears.

A perfect opportunity to showcase our culture in a positive light can be seen in the Indy documentary: 10 MPH. It is about some regular Americans who travel from Seattle to Boston and meet people along the way. What gives this typical scenario an interesting twist is that they can only go 10 MPH because they are doing it on a Segway (with a car/trailer behind). Through the breathtaking scenery they drive meeting regular Americans that are doing their thing with a dash of life-philosophy tossed in.

It is a remarkable film... I highly, highly recommend this homegrown movie to anyone who needs a remind of how great of a country we live in and for the cynics who can't see it themselves... (sometimes those are both me)

AND YOU CAN WATCH IT ONLINE FOR FREE! (Although, after watching it, you will want to buy the dvd for a present for someone you know who 'outta see a movie like that'.)Their website is:

Watch it on youtube (it takes a minute to start up, be patient):

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Looking forward to bye bye jobby-poo!

Haven't written in a while... figured that I would try not to think about the future - instead be here now, bask in the familiar.

Well well well - now I have acted outlandishly. Acted without thoughtfulness, without strategy, without a politician's mind...

Forcing the end, acting like an imprudent -childish-stubborn-boar.

So, even without trying to, I disregarded my present for the sake of the future... but not admitting it even to myself!

As if my efforts to create a departure project that would leave the organization better than I found it would suddenly become recognized as worthy and not merit the detailed inspection and a massive overhaul at the end as it typical with this group.

There would be some who would want my project to become theirs. There would be others that would be afraid of the project. There would be some that would say the money was better spent doing something else.... that they had not done anything about (but to say no to my project). Fools!

Why did I bother? Apparently I forgot myself in the enthusiasm that since I was leaving, that the inevitable change (an evolved, active, vibrant, effective group emerging) due to my departure had already happened IN MY MIND. So much for living in the present.

So it is- after 5 years of working at this place, I am delighted, ecstatic really to leave. Many have asked me how I could have stayed on for so long with such adversity... my answer was always the same, "It will get better, I can always see the glimmer of possibility just there... there in the distance". Not to mention the fact that I have always believed in the cause of social and economic justice!!!!!!

Apparently, I have been living in the future for some time now.

Monday, January 21, 2008

One day in Durham

I am writing this on MLK day. Having just marched with one of my first friends here in Durham. JB was, and continues to be, a person of great inspiration to me. He is ever Durham proud and bought a home here to invest his roots even more. It is a community that has nurtured him as he brings art, theater and expression to Durham on a regular basis. We marched together at an MLK march several years ago and today participated again. For me, I was especially glad that he called this morning about it to allow me 'one last march' in honour of the man and the struggle to grow this country into a more just place to live.

I remember when we first did it- we got to march behind Hillside High school's vivacious and energized band. High schools in Durham do more than just blow the horn and beat the drum: they choreograph. It was so wonderful to watch the band dance and play music for blocks and blocks as we marched behind them carrying a banner for Durham People's Alliance. It was a really great day!

So, today we got there a little late but still managed to be there in solidarity for the remembrance of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. Since my morning was one spent with one of the most creative minds I know, I will quote the Doctor:

"The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." Martin Luther King, Jr Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday to ya! Happy Birthdaaaaaaay!

After that march, we watched a bit of a documentary called "Manufactured Landscapes" on It is view of how people are extremely shape shifting our Earth and even our humanity.

Finally, off to the much improved Durham Food CoOp with new PA brochures as we gear up to bring the Co-Opertive Alliance together in the world and not just in our heads.

My time for grieving my leaving has ended and now I am here and now it is now... A few more weeks on 'normalcy' and then the deconstruction will begin full force. Until then blogging about Durham - my home for the now. Let my life here resume - ENGAGE!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sharing my thoughtful despair... a poem about change.

In taking the time to grieve the proper way-
I let the house become in a state of disarray

In taking the time alone
there was no sharing of my home

Eating cereal, soup and edamame
I didn't work, so there was no pay.

My visions of simplicity blown
in turning away from the known

As destiny forces me out and away
I wonder at what point I should pray?

The days are full and thin all at once
but there seems to be a natural sequence...

first is death and then rebirth and then death again
rebirth follows, more death, more rebirth: there is no end

Kali is present here and now
It is time that I remember to bow

She has cast an eye toward my way
and declaired, "Yes, my daughter you WILL die today"!

-Nicole Rowan

"Not pretending it is good - only sayin' its real.. and that my dears is real good"-NR