Musings at the End of 2018

Hey there,

Here are a collection of thoughts, unorganized, random, about all things and nothing at all.


Why do people have ‘New Year Resolutions’? Are people not aware that time is a concept invented by human beings and that the idea that there is a beginning and an end to a year is completely constructed by human beings? Why does “new year, new me,” exist? Why do people not work on making themselves a better version of who they were the day prior on every day of the year? Why does it take a concept like “the beginning of a year” to encourage people to make a change in their lives? I am so perplexed by this idea.

I do not have new year resolutions because, firstly, I know I will not hold to them, so I have no desire to advertise them to the masses (via social media). Secondly, I am consistently working towards being a better me than I was the day before, so the abstract concept of ‘new year’ does not improve who I am by any means.

But the weird part is how people define an improved self: by the way they physically look. A new year resolution most often includes time at the gym – this is why gyms see an increase in sales in January.  You can be a shitty human being but, hey, if you work out starting January 1st, you’re suddenly a better person! It’s complete;y absurd. Most ‘new year’ goals include physical goals but have nothing or little to do with developing your soul and developing who you are as an emotional, mental, functioning human being. Which is absolutely hilarious to me because so many people in my age group are very physically fit and attractive people but have put absolutely no work into the mental and emotional development of themselves and are, therefore, not functional partners. Plain and simple.

This idea of time is not meant to limit you but meant to drive you. And I am most concerned when people see time as a limiting factor – like, OH! I didn’t get anything done in 2018, what a waste! Human existence is immensely short, but I do not view years as wasted time but merely development towards where I’m meant to be.

Truthfully, though, it is without question that 2018 was the very best year of my life. Not only did I live out my dream of calling Paris home and living and working there (in one of my most favourite districts, no less), but I also found my soulmate – a completely unexpected piece of the twenty-eighteen puzzle that brought a new sense of purpose and passion to my life. But, again, this year is a human developed concept and I am just grateful to have lived out my dream and found my dream man in the process of it all. It could have been any year of my life, but it happened to be in my 30th rotation around the sun.

But my biggest curiosity lies with why people suddenly feel guilty about the lives they’re living in January. Why does January suddenly make people feel as though they aren’t living the very best lives for themselves? Why does this ‘start of the year’ idea push people into work-out mode and have them spending money where money need not be spent? It breaks my heart knowing people are so sold into ideals by time, that people are so controlled by these abstract definitions of expectation. I just get infuriated by the expectation pushed upon people around this time of year, especially via social media. I think that become a better version of you shouldn’t be defined by a date in time.

I said that already, didn’t I? I’m wasting your time.


I find it quite odd that I am an individual who likes to get away, run away, disappear, and all other terms which follow the same definition suit, and yet I spent so many hours of my life invested in Social Media and displaying every corner of my life to those who want to have a look.

And so I decided to make a temporary disappearance in the Social Media sphere by signing out of and deleting the apps of both my Facebook account and the personal Instagram account that I run.

We all know the cliche, “Live in the moment,” and yet our minds are also conflicted by the existence of yet another cliche, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And so we are in this eternal battle brought upon us by social media: do you, A. live in the moment and put down the phone, or B. take that photo that supposedly speaks a thousand words and post that bad boy all over social media to create a manufactured dialogue with the masses who may stumble upon it?

And so social media caters to two very specific emotions felt by our lizard brain: the ego, and the guilt (that’s a part of the lizard brain, right? Or is it just the emotion dug into the souls of the youth of European and/or Jewish parents?).

If we post that picture, the likes, comments, or even just “impressions” (to the dinosaurs out there, that means the number of times it’s physically appeared on a screen) trigger in humans (I was going to use ‘us’ but I don’t want to associate with the ‘nous’ of that crowd) instant gratification, instant dopamine and serotonin delivery to your brain, and the same high that you could get from cocaine (they say). But then we are faced with the emotion that follows afterward; guilt at the judgment we may face for not living in the moment, and/or at manufacturing an inauthentic version of our otherwise unhappy lives, and/or for feeling addicted to your phone. We’ve got a win-lose in this situation.

Yet, if we look at the option of not posting that picture you just took of the meal you’re eating all over social media, we are faced with not getting the rush of the ego, but also not feeling the guilt. But if you pay attention, if you savour moments, if you appreciate the company of those closest to you without worrying about how they may look in your feed, if you capture memories and hold them in your heart, a different need is met: gratitude. And that need is not a part of our evolutionarily inferior lizard brain, either.

Gratitude is so immensely powerful because it literally consumes all aspects of your life and overpowers every other emotion. Gratitude doesn’t cause any negative emotions to arise in you. Gratitude can be passed onto others when it’s displayed in person (online, it happens to appear a bit phony) and brighten those lives just as it brightened your own. All self-help books speak to gratitude. All “keynote speakers” at random health/hippie/marijuana conferences say that gratitude will change your life. Everyone believes a bit of gratitude for what you have brings happiness into your life that allows you to forget about what you don’t have.

So, basically, I don’t see the loss in excluding social media from your experiences. I’m already reaping the gratitude rewards of stepping back from social media… and I’m grateful for that.


I always used to say that I would volunteer for that Mars program. Truthfully, I would volunteer for any space program, even if they told me there would be a guarantee that I wouldn’t survive the event. I just love space, I love the sky, I love planets, and nebulas, and constellations, and the potential existence of other lives. And so I would say that I absolutely volunteer and put my life on the line for it. And I don’t feel my opinion has changed on that topic. Which is odd because a lot of people used to comment, “yeah, but what about your boyfriend,” and I would shrug and say I didn’t care (because, in all honesty, an opportunity to get far, far away from them and escape the hell without breaking hearts would be a dream come true).

But now I actually, deeply, selflessly care about my boyfriend. I actually care about someone else (more than myself) and it puts this weird knot in my stomach that makes me feel both excitable and terribly uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because it’s unfamiliar and a little bit scary. But anyway, I’d still go to space but for a different reason: knowing that my boyfriend respects my dreams and encourages me to follow them without any hesitation, knowing that I’ve experienced what authentic, honest love was for at least a smidgen of my life, and knowing I’d see him at the launch cheering and telling people around him that that’s his girlfriend, the astronaut, would be reason to make me give this fantasy a shot. But it’s for those very same reasons that I’d decline the offer to go to space.

It’s totally weird what an absolutely stellar, nebula of a human being can do to your decision making process. I want to live, and wander, and explore, and be free, and get wild, but I want to do it with someone else now, and I want to make sure the experiences are able to be had without the exclusion of my boyfriend (like that solo space flight nonsense from before).

How is it that I feel even freer (I prefer ‘more free’) being a part of his world than I did when I was (status-wise) free, prior? How is it that my partner in crime subsequently encourages a spirit of independence and self-exploration in me?

Is being truly free when you have finally found someone in life who inserts themselves into your bubble of existence while also just blowing it up a little bigger to help it float a little farther, a little wilder? Are you only truly free when you’ve found the most authentic kind of love?

Love (or lovers) is referred to as ‘ball and chain’ but maybe soulmates are the ones who actually break all your chains and set you free to be the most authentic and happy version of yourself. Or they help tear down the walls of your self-made prison for you so you can experience even a small glimmer of happiness.

Does being truly free mean finding someone who puts your happiness before their own? Is freedom co-dependent on another person? Is that the irony in freedom?! Do you need another person to be free? Your soul mate? – That’s it, I’m Googling the etymology of the word ‘freedom’ and ‘free’ … OH MY GOD MY MIND HAS BEEN BLOWN. 

First, the generic etymological definition is as follows but let me bold the important part:

Old English freodom “power of self-determination, state of free will; emancipation from slavery, deliverance;””

That is literally a definition of freedom that has the requirement of needing another person for it to be a working definition.

But let’s get to the real weird part, and, again, let me bold the important parts… Here is the etymology of free:

“Old English freo “exempt from; not in bondage, acting of one’s own will,” also “noble; joyful,” from Proto-Germanic *friaz “beloved; not in bondage” (source also of Old Frisian fri, Old Saxon vri, Old High German vri, German frei, Dutch vrij, Gothic freis “free”), from PIE *priy-a- “dear, beloved,” from root *pri- “to love.”

The sense evolution from “to love” to “free” is perhaps from the terms “beloved” or “friend” being applied to the free members of one’s clan (as opposed to slaves; compare Latin liberi, meaning both “free persons” and “children of a family”). For the older sense in Germanic, compare Gothic frijon “to love;” Old English freod “affection, friendship, peace,” friga “love,” friðu “peace;” Old Norse friðr “peace, personal security; love, friendship,” German Friede “peace;” Old English freo “wife;” Old Norse Frigg, name of the wife of Odin, literally “beloved” or “loving;” Middle Low German vrien “to take to wife,” Dutch vrijen, German freien “to woo.” “

The etymology of the word free comes from the freaking word BELOVED. BE-FREAKING-LOVED. BE LOVED. TO BE-LOVED. TO BE LOVED SETS YOU FREAKING FREE – WHAT THE HELL ARE THE CHANCES.

Alright, thanks universe. It’s clear there is irony in the word free. It’s quite freaking clear that you do need the absolute authentic love of another person (that good ol’ soul mate) to truly be free.

And the other ironic part is that there is something kind of freeing about knowing you don’t have to worry about achieving your own freedom…


In 1995, I received the album, ‘The Garden’ by Merril Bainbridge and I would listen to it on repeat and sing along to the songs endlessly. In 1995 I was 7 years old. And now, I have stumbled upon the album again and played it from the beginning. It starts with this song:

https://youtu.be/p4wioPn8j0s

I was singing along as though I had just heard the album yesterday:

There’s a garden in my room

Would you like to take a look?

There are fascinating things you’ll find there

And if you dare to come inside

There is nothing I will hide

Come where there is sweet perfume

In the garden in my room

There’s a garden in my room

Would you like to take a look?

Rest your body on my velvet roses

Once you’ve tasted my delights

Many days will turn to nights

There is nothing you won’t do

For the garden in my room

Even as a child I was a writer. And I wanted to write poems and novels and short stories that would captivate my audience, that would siren song them into this abyss from which they would never escape. A black hole of linguistic pleasures that would have them falling in love with me and driven into madness.

This song stuck with me as a kid. I understood the sexual undertones because I was not a fool, but it stuck with me because I saw my writing as The Garden in my Room. I wanted to pull people in. I wanted them to taste my literary delights and lose themselves in the pleasure of words. 

But my words need not be soaked in the raw fantasies of carnal desires to have this same pull. I understand that now. I can write and pull in like a fisherman does with a hook, and trap and capture (and captivate) with any piece I compose that is, as Hemingway says, written in blood. My blood is my spirit. And my spirit is the authenticity I put into every single letter I type onto this page.

My writing is my siren song.

How many will I drown with it?

And why does that bring such a large smile to my face?


I think my greatest feature is my self-confidence. It’s humble but speaks to my gratitude that I was raised in a family that values education, that stressed the importance of self-worth, that pushed their kids to be hard workers and achieve milestones for themselves while also knowing the value of dreams and keeping them alive. My self-confidence in the woman I am today is due, in large part, to my upbringing. I recognize that, and I am grateful for that. My immense strength is my own, and my bravery is also my own, because even my parents said they would never do many of the things that I’ve done for myself in the past 30 years (buy a place on my own, bring my assailant to court, move overseas, etc). But who I have been shaped into, whether by my own whittling or the whittling of those who love me, makes me feel immensely proud to be who I am. I am a black sheep who is simply using the black to cloak the rainbow beneath it all…


An intelligent woman is a threat to everyone around her but is the biggest threat to herself. The anxiety I cause myself by over-analyzing, by my brain running a mile a minute as it processes every single scenario of every word and every action, is freaking exhausting. The conflict of intuition faced with logic and the right-brain venture in day-dreaming is too complex for a mere human to handle.

I am my own worst enemy sometimes.


I hope that when I die, someone who loves me takes everything I’ve ever written and compiles it into the book I never had the god-damn guts to create and shares with the world what I hid behind curtains of insecurity.

I am my own worst enemy sometimes.

Did I say that already?


I don’t write to be famous, to make money, to have my name plastered on people’s lips. I write to get out what is boiling inside of me before the pot overflows and I’m left a mess. I write with the intention that something may resonate for just one person and that that sentiment gets carried on, no matter whether it’s shared with my name attached to it or not. If it lives on, I still live on. A writer never dies. And, as Hemingway once said, those who a writer loves also never dies. Which is logical when it is my muse who drives me to write, the very most.


My inability to write a novel stems from the fact that I have an idea inside me that, if not released immediately (as my short blurbs and poems and ideas often are), quickly becomes a bore to me and the more I look at it and analyze it (like the crazy insecure writer I am), the most stupid it sounds to me. So I scrap it. If I don’t have completion in my writing immediately, it loses its zest. I really start to hate it.

I would write a novel about my life – as Hemingway used to do – but the intimacy of that is too fragile for me. That’s not a place I want many people to traverse. I am not that transparent a person. I do not trust people enough to let them walk along my life with me.

This is the reason I have been known as a lone wolf for most of my life (even while in a relationship with others). I am guarded.

This obviously fails to apply in my current relationship. Which is this weird and fucked up and crazy (and amazing) experience in and of itself. A lone wolf who finds a pack mate needs to learn how to adapt. I am always learning. I dreamt of finding this; I don’t intend on fucking it up.


I hope to endlessly encourage independence, dream-following, and driven behaviour in those who surround me. I hope anyone who knows and loves me understands that I selflessly offer my existence as a way for them to be their very best selves. I do not want anything less for those most important to me in my life. I don’t ever want to be a road-block on a path to success, to someone living their best life. I want to be the sail that brings the boat closer to that shore, not the storm who stops the journey.

If you truly know me, you know that that’s all I want for you. I will never stand in your way of that. Even if it means you must let me go.


I am so in love.

That is the extent of this declaration.

It is nauseating how badly I want to build a life with this wild human being I call my ‘boyfriend’.

Claudia from 5 years ago would laugh at herself.

Oh, and wild is the best definition for my man. It’s like a mirror of myself. The universe is teaching me a lesson. “Want to see what it’s like to really love yourself? Here, you, in another body. Enjoy the experience!” What a riot!


My eternal conflict as a bibliophile is always as such: read every single book in my ‘to be read’ pile at the same time, finally read that book everyone has been talking about (but often the most talked about books are the most mundane to me which sounds so fucking pretentious but I find the loudest screams come on the most silent of whispers), re-read one of your many favourites, or just feel so overwhelmed that you don’t touch any of the books in the pile, at all, and stare at them with longing eyes, instead.

I don’t know where I currently stand.


How little value we humans place on truth, spending our time more thoroughly invested in obtaining wealth, obtaining women, obtaining fame, obtaining highs, etc etc. And yet truth is the factor that brings satisfaction for eternity because truth underlies all wisdom, all relationships, all long-standing success, all things. Why is truth so damn unimportant to human beings? People used to die for truth. What the hell happened?

Nietzsche would be appalled at this universe and the people in it. Just as I am.

Though Nietzsche would have a lot to say about a woman on a quest for truth, but that’s another story for another day.


There are behaviours that people reveal to those they grow close to as time presents itself, and many are simply behaviours I do not have the time to tolerate. The easiest way to watch me slowly drift out of your life is to show me those true and ugly colours of yourself. I don’t have time for ugliness when my life has been far too beautiful.

I have watched 30 years of my life go by, I will not waste 30 seconds more on people who do not deserve me or my time. Let that be a lesson to those in my life – I will vanish as quickly as I appeared if I need to.

They say it’s bravest to cut off a rotting limb, no matter the pain you will put yourself through to do it. I will cut every limb from my life if I have to. I do not have time to cajole rotting flesh. I love myself too much for that. I don’t have time to waste anymore. I will not let the rot reach my bloodstream.

If you read this and think you might be a rotting limb in someone’s life, heal yourself quickly if you wish to save your relationship with that person. Rot away if they are meaningless to you. If they value themselves, you’ll be cut out of their lives quick enough anyway.


I wish I could let go as quickly as I claim I do in my writing.

I am my own fool.


This was circled in one of my Nietzsche books that I found in storage:

“Whenever you reach a decision, close your ears to even the best objections: this is the sign if a strong character. Which means: an occasional will to stupidity.”

I seem to have lived by that rule.

Well, at least now I know why I am the way I am.


Since the love of my life arrives in three sleeps, I am finally making public a blog post I wrote about him five days after meeting him:

I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to go back to Canada. I’ve found home in Paris. I’ve found my home in a set of brown eyes as deep as the Pacific ocean. I’ve found home in skin that, when pressed up against my own, floods me with warmth and comfort. I’ve found home in a soothing, sexy voice that never fails to get me thinking and exploring my own ideas, that has me blushing with endless compliments and words of affection. I’ve found my home when I run my fingers through his hair. I’ve found my home when I kiss his face and feel overwhelmed with emotion; emotions that scream, “this is it,” and, “better half,” and, “don’t let go.” I’ve found my home in his vulnerability, in his beautiful laugh that makes his eyes squint and his bright smile show. I’ve found my home in words like “mignon,” and “mon petite bebe”. I’ve found a home in a man named Jordan Alzraa, and my soul knew if from the moment I met him. It was the eyes. My eyes knew his eyes. Like the patterns in our irises found their alignment and passion ignited immediately. Like every angel in my life screamed, “THIS IS WHO WE HAVE BEEN GUIDING YOU TO!!” as soon as our cheeks touched in greeting.

And believe me, I am aware that this sounds insane. I am aware that people could read this or hear this and roll their eyes at the speed at which I am declaring my admiration for this person. But I have never spoken with greater certainty or clarity. I know in my heart that this man is my soul-mate; the person with which, as the Greek philosophers said, was separated from me in creation, tossed across the ocean and waiting for me to find him. And ask anyone who knows me – they will tell you I didn’t come here searching for anyone except myself. But somehow, the universe aligned and we arrived in one another’s lives, and it’s game over. It’s done. I have met my (beautiful) doom. And I accept my fate. Because if my fate allows me additional moments with this man, then I will take all I can get.

I have known him for five days and feel as though I’ve known him for a lifetime. I have discovered more about this man in five days than past partners have revealed to me in years. And there are no rose coloured glasses here; but everything from his past has brought him to me, here, in this moment, as he is. And for that, I am eternally grateful. Because this man, in this moment with me, is better than anything I could have ever hoped for in a partner.

He is beautiful, inside and out. His eyes are expressive and warm and loving and safe. I feel protected when wrapped up in his arms. It feels natural falling asleep next to him. I love the way he smells. I love that our mindsets about life and living line up, but we have different interests to share with one another. I love listening to him speak. I love when he speaks English with his gorgeous accent. I adore when he speaks French; he looks more confident and comfortable when speaking his native tongue. It brings a smile to my face. I also love his smile; it radiates. And I love how thoughtful and honest he is. I love his authenticity. I love that he is real with me and I love that he knows he can be real with me. I love when his fingers interlock with mine. I love our chemistry and comfort level. I love that our moments are always sprinkled with periods of intense discussion, confession, and giggling. I love that in such a short period of time, this man already inspires me to be the best, most authentic version of myself, and to continue driving myself towards a life well-lived. I love who I am when I am with him, and I love who I am when I am not; still independent, still free, still living my life as I need to live it. But now, like a river flows through a city, this new sense of drive flows through me, I am continuously moved by a sense of divine purpose, comfort, and joy when I think of him, of us.

I have read that you know it’s your soulmate when everything falls into place instantaneously, but you are also met with challenges by the universe, as though life is testing to see who will cave first and give up an opportunity at being with the person you’re meant to be with. And we will have our own: I am going back to Canada, he is going to South Africa. But this is just a blip in the big picture. I am frustrated but unconcerned. Because now I have felt what it means to find “The One” and I’m not willing to just toss it away or move onwards without him in my life. I simply can’t. I have tasted him and now I wish to be drunk on him for eternity. I no longer can imagine a life without him in it, a bed without him next to me, a hand intertwined with any other fingers, my lips against the lips of any other… I simply can’t.

Ask anyone who I was before all this and they will tell you who I was when I first dated someone; I still would talk about others, look at others, indulge the ideas of others. But no; I was exclusively his as soon as our eyes met over conversation. I am blinded by the sun that is he. No option exists but him. This is bliss, this is truth, this is real. I need nothing else in this life as much as I need him beside me. Journeying together, adventuring together, growing together, seeing success together, holding each other through failures, keeping one another endlessly warm. In every fantasy I have of my future, there he is now sprinkled. He exists, and to know he exists and I have had him as a part of my life, means I cannot experience my own existence in any other manner. It just won’t do.

He is a nebula bursting within me. An explosion of purpose that I never expected or imagined. He is someone I couldn’t have even invented in my own mind. He is the living example of who I want to grow old with. Our connection is indescribable and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. He is home. He is home. My home is when I am with him, and no other place will do, for he is home.

I always said I was excited about finding where to truly set roots down in my life because I am a lone wolf and a wanderer and an explorer and an endlessly curious dreamer. But now I know that the only roots I wish to bury deep are those that will be watered by his presence.

Don’t ask me how I know this after five days. But the universe has spoken, it has whispered to my heart, and I’m one to f-cking listen when she speaks.

my whole life got me ready for you


If you read this long, you deserve an award.

Happy New Year.

xo

C

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Day 87 – L’amour

Hey there,

My time in Paris has been immensely transforming, and just when I thought I was done having my soul completely reinvigorated by all this city and living here has to offer me, the universe chooses to bless me with more, flood me with love, and show me, now, what true happiness is.
It is not destinations checked off your list, it is not visiting every building in a city and filling your phone with photographs, it’s not jumping off the top of the Alps and floating back down to the ground, but it is a human connection that transcends explanation and ultimately leaves you breathing a great sigh of relief as every atom in my body says, “Yeah, this is it.”
 
I had said that: “When I am old they will say, “I hear she lived in Paris and it changed her forever.” but I did not anticipate it to this degree. I did not imagine it might be /like this/.
 
I have 17 days left here and as time winds down, I wonder if I’ve truly let go of the city as I said I had in blog posts, prior. But, let it be known, that no second will be taken for granted, as I savour what truly matters to me in this city.
 
I thought I loved her {Paris} but oh, I did not anticipate what love she intended to show me. She is still my favourite city in all the world, but now, for reasons beyond just her beauty. 
She brought me to my muse.
xo
C

Day 70 – All Things In-between

Hey there,

I apologize. There are vast gaps between each of my posts. When it feels like a job rather than pleasure, I am deterred from sitting and doing it. And, truthfully, going through my numerous Japan photos is what deterred me completely. So I haven’t. Sorry, not sorry. More mindless banter, instead.

I don’t think there are enough words to describe how Tokyo wowed me. I don’t think I could find le parole to speak to how uniquely robotic it is while simultaneously being so full of life, passion, positive energy, and genuine, compassionate people. Unfortunately, there was too much to see in Tokyo alone so I long for my next trip where I intend to explore Osaka and Kyoto. I’m not done with Japan. I’m nowhere near done with Japan. I loved Japan, I love the Japanese people. I cannot think of something about it that I didn’t like. And I like what it did to me, how it changed me:

I’m ready to go home.
Home to Canada, I mean.

Paris served its purpose. Paris met the needs I was seeking to have fulfilled. Paris was everything I could have dreamed of and so much more. But like two lovers who have exhausted one another through intense moments of longing, desire, and, consequently, complete passion, I’m ready to let go of this one. I’m ready to discover the next and to see what that lover will help me discover in myself. I always said that Paris felt like my long-distant partner and every time I left her streets felt like being ripped from their arms, but now I got to truly taste her, revel in her, explore her, discover her, and find myself in her veins, and now there’s nothing to miss anymore. There’s nothing to long. I am completely satisfied. In such a short time, I was shown the world through Paris. I was shown who I truly am through Paris. I no longer need to desire her because she is a part of me. We are one. We will always be one.

But I drifted through Paris and very quickly, I am drifting out of her. Like a kite caught in a gust of wind. She reeled me in, and now she is setting me free. Onwards. Onwards to new adventures. Onwards to new homes. Onwards to digging my roots into more solid ground and building myself somewhere more stable. Paris is wild, a tornado’s wind, but I am searching for the calm winds that feel like breath on the skin.

And how did Tokyo help in all this? Well, it showed me how blinded I was by my passion for this city. And I cannot funnel all my desire into this one place when so much of the world awaits me. Paris was the start. Paris was the gas fueling this drive to live my best life. Paris was exactly what I needed, everything I could have ever wanted. But, what’s next? I’m ready, ready, ready. Because I got to fully experience Paris as I hoped to experience her, I am no longer wearing blinders on my eyes and won’t miss any opportunity that another place in the world may provide to me to discover, adventure, and truly live.

I am glad I still have 34 days to call this place my home and henceforth it will always be my home, but I’m grateful for Canada and ready to face her again. I don’t long for Canada, I don’t have any homesickness, I don’t feel sad, uncomfortable, lonely here. I’m totally happy. But I’m ready for Canada. It’s kind of like when you leave a partner because you just aren’t right for one another at that moment in time, so you come back together when you’ve bettered yourself. Canada, I’m better. Treat me a little kinder, yes?

This move was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, truly. It showed me how capable, strong, brave, and relentless I truly am. I won’t settle for anything but living my best life. I won’t settle for putting dreams on pause. I won’t settle for not pursuing what will truly bring me happiness in life. I did this to prove to myself that I could. I did this to prove to myself that I really am not scared of anything and nothing in the world can stop me.

Paris brought me back to life. My comet tail. I am ready to set the world on fire. Thank you, Paris.

xo
C

Post Scriptum: let it be known that Paris is still my favourite city in all the world. There is something about it that I cannot and have not found anywhere else. There is so much about it that leaves me shaking my head, especially when you experience this city as a resident and not a tourist, but in terms of how inspiring it is, how beautiful it is, and the endless mystery (and history) it holds, nothing levels up to it. But I’m still ready to move onwards.

Day 40 – Kissing Hemingway

Hey there,

Last night I dreamt I was walking down the Latin Quarter with none other than Hemingway himself! It was a weirdly constructed universe because I was as I am now – same style, same age, same look. Paris looked as though it was the 20s, and Hemingway was as he was in his older Key West/Cuba days – beard in, weight gaining. The inconsistencies… I mean, you know, ignoring the fact that he’s a dead man.

He grabbed me by my wrist and pulled me into an alleyway, then put his hand in the small of my back, guided me into him, and started kissing me passionately (!!). And in between, he was taking breaks and talking about his successes at hunting, boxing, fishing… and I was looking up at him with adoring eyes, waiting to be kissed again. And then I woke up and thought, “What the hell?” – not because the dream ended, but because why the hell would Dream Claudia look at anyone talking about hunting, boxing, and fishing with adoring eyes?

So I got to thinking about Ernesto, and I got to thinking about all his struggles in his (actual) life. This hyper-masculinity was a result of his mother really wanting him to be a girl (even going so far as to dress him in girl’s clothing). And the fascination towards boxing, hunting, and fishing started after his break-up with Hadley. He claimed his biggest regret in his life was leaving her. Perhaps, as a response to the insecurity of his bad decision, he felt that living up to an immensely “manly ideal” was the only way to mend the hole in his heart? Womanizer, serious alcoholic (a result of depression, no doubt), and a strange fascination with pain and death.

So why do I love an author and a man so much who is literally the exact opposite of everything I like about the male-identifying gender? Because that monster is not who comes out of the tips of his fingers when he wrote.

His novels are truly a baring of his soul. He always said to write what you know, and anything else is a lie that no one will want to read. His novels were his truth, his true self, a way to expose how ultimately sensitive and brilliant and compassionate he truly was. None of the characters who so clearly represented him was anything less than a man on a soul-discovery who falls in love with a woman along the way (and why do the best women in his stories all seem to reflect Hadley?).

When I read Hemingway, I am reading words that are, without question, the most raw and authentic I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. When I read his works, I feel like I’m sitting across from him and talking to him about love and about life. Sometimes I am made to feel as though he wrote his words in a private letter, just for me to read, and with a sigh, all I can do is anticipate what he will write me next. He is just so wise, so gentle, and so the complete opposite of this misogynistic mess he used to show the world.

I don’t want this to be a post about quotes from his novels but if you’ve never read or enjoyed Hemingway before, then it’s necessary to read these. You will see the irony in so many of these quotes of his, that too often he was behaving in the exact opposite manner of the wisdom he preached:

“Maybe…you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said. “That’s what I want too.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

 

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

 

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
― Ernest Hemingway

 

“Going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

 

“I can’t stand it to think my life is going so fast and I’m not really living it.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

 

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

 

“I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye — that was the trouble — I wanted to kiss you good night — and there’s a lot of difference.”
― Ernest Hemingway

 

“Let him think that I am more man than I am and I will be so.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

 

“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span.”
― Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

 

“There isn’t any me. I’m you. Don’t make up a separate me.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

 

This is only a taste. I could not fully capture him in a single blog post. I could post a million more quotes from his literary works and it still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy me.

Maybe I love him so much because he speaks of my own truth. Maybe I adore him because he speaks to an understanding in my heart in a way no writer has ever accomplished.

I don’t know, this is too much for the morning. But maybe I am “kissing him” (experiencing him) in a new way since walking in his footsteps and writing from cafes as he once did… I’d love to get back to that dream if he could just keep his damn mouth shut.

xo
C

Day 39 – I Can Let Go

Hey there,

Luna isn’t improving. In the past week, she’s had numerous episodes with whatever odd condition may be plaguing her. I’m convinced it’s depression at my absence, and that thought really does break my heart. But it’s okay; my flight back is December 7th. She will have her mum again, and we will see how frequently the episodes occur from then on.

I’m going to have to let go of Paris.

And, you know what, I’m really okay with that.

Who in this life can say they had the opportunity to live in the city of their dreams? I did what I had dreamt of doing for eight years. I did what used to make me cry at night, thinking it may never happen. I did what I read numerous memoirs about, wishing myself into the shoes of the authors. I did that. I made that happen. I’m immersed in it. I am continuously awed and joyous and feeling ultimately blessed each time I step out the front door of my apartment building. I wrote this on my Facebook page:
I walked out my apartment door just to get groceries around the corner and it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done this walk before, it still makes my heart race. I cannot believe I’m living here. I am so in love with you, Paris. I am endlessly grateful that I get to experience this (no matter how long or short it may be). I won’t take a second for granted. I will love you as deeply as can for as long as I can. And I’ll carry with me the memories of you for as long as I live. The imprint you’ve made on my soul will be a part of my legacy. You have changed me. I am changed. I adore you.”

I know it sounds so cliche but I truly believe that Paris isn’t just a place but a state of mind. Paris lives on in me and I can bring that to wherever I call home. And with having lived here, I have a few expectations for what I plan to call home, back in Canada:

  • I refuse to live in a carbon-copy suburban neighbourhood
  • I need my morning views to inspire me
  • I want a small space to remind me of the simplicity of Parisian living
  • I want the closest bookstore or my go-to grocery store to be within walking distance of my place
  • In general, I want to walk more places and appreciate the journey, not just the destination
  • I want water, or mountains, or both — I’ll even settle for some escarpment
  • I want to consistently set aside time for weekend adventures or long-distance travels
  • I don’t want to forget that life isn’t about work
  • I want to make more of an effort to sit on a patio and take life slow
  • I want to find ways to speak Italian and French more, on a daily basis

I’ve also gained a greater appreciation for Canada in the process, and I’m only 39 days into this journey (I still have 65 to go). For example:

  • Everything here, whether it’s work or bill-related or filing for something or returning something to a store is a freaking workout. Nothing. Is. Simple. Everything gets a, “Hmm, I’m not sure,” or a, “Uhh… that will take some time.”
  • The pay is not comparable to the cost of living, at all. Unless you’re a lawyer or a doctor or work in the high scale positions of finance, you’re really making squat for your worth. In Canada, though house prices are rather absurd, at least salaries match the living costs and buying food (other than baguettes, wine, and cheese – the gold standard of the food world) doesn’t make you want to rip your hair out. We may have exuberant taxes but they have 20% tax included in all their pricing and the costs are insane.
  • I really love telling people I’m Canadian. Seeing a Canadian flag makes me smile. Pointing out Canada on a map to the kids I work with brings me great pride.
  • Consignment shops in Canada > Consignment shops in France… Before, I resisted buying all the brand name goodies at home. But now that I see what they’re worth and what consignment shops in Canada are pricing them at, you can bet I’m going to go buck wild! Shopping spree!
  • Inconveniences are commonplace in France (particularly Paris) and you won’t get an apology for it. I’m not asking for an apology for every minor inconvenience, but a little acknowledgment like the Canadians do is a very nice thing.
  • Though life is more work-focused in Canada, life is simpler. Ultimately, there are fewer nonsensical stipulations that need to be adhered to and fewer hoops to jump through in comparison to some of the chaos here.

But, don’t let my words mislead you. I love being here. I love living here. I love being able to experience life as a true Parisian. I wish I didn’t have to leave and I wish I could find a work-life balance somewhere in France that would allow me to safely have my animals with me, have a career that doesn’t run me dry but also pays the bills, and still have enough to spare on a bottle of champagne, just for the heck of it (why not?).

I am truly so in love with this city, with all of it’s (many) flaws. But now I know that when I leave, it won’t be like when I came here on vacation and would cry, feeling like I was being torn from the arms of a long-distance lover. I know that when I leave now, it will be with a smile on my face at the memories I’ve made with this city, the influence it has had on the very core of my existence, the lessons of patience and appreciation it has taught me, and the Parisian it has transformed me into.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I don’t own anything or anyone in this experience called life. The only thing that belongs to me is me and what I do with these experiences, how they transform me, shape me, mold me, and make me a better version of myself. Yes, like Hemingway I say that Paris belongs to me, but it’s in the context of it having changed me and my relationship with Paris is personal and mine alone. But I’m okay to let my lover go, because it was my dream to be with her, to live in her apartments, to walk her cobblestones to a place called work, to go to sleep and not worry about time being cut short, eliminating any opportunities to explore her, discover her, just be with her. And I got that. And I am grateful. And how much more could I demand from the universe?

Paris will always feel like home to me, and now that I’ve truly come to understand what that feels like, it will forever be a part of my life.

I still have 65 days to go — the intent of this post is not to sound remorse or lament what will happen, come December. I’m just writing. I am not sad. I am beyond happy. And I’m ready to live the next 65 days of my life as though they were my last. No regrets, no challenges unclimbed, always moving forward with pure joy in my heart.

In other news, I am going to Tokyo, Japan (Oct 21-29) which has been number one on my dream destination list for God-knows how long!

La vita e bella.
Grateful.
Grateful.
Grateful.

xo
C