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 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

Day 29 – 31: Annecy, France

Hey there,

Sorry that I skipped so many days. As life starts to take on a routine, I don’t have much to post about other than my musings but they’ve been pretty quiet the last little while.

This weekend I took a trip to Annecy, France. It’s called the ‘Venice of the Alps’ and it came up in a search for, ‘Quick trip to the Alps from Paris’. The name then rang a bell: my medium told me to look at Annecy. It had slipped my mind until that moment.

With a direct train, it took 3 hours and 40 minutes to get there. By direct I mean I didn’t have to get off and switch trains; it still had about four stops along the way. I was excited to check out the place because the photos online looked photoshopped and too real to be true.

Day One (Saturday):

I can confirm: the photos are not photoshopped. Wow. WOW. Insanely stunning, like a picture out of a dream, what can I say other than WOW?!

First and foremost, the train station in Annecy is small but very clear and modern on the outside. My hotel, Hotel Campanile Annecy Gare, was literally right around the corner from the train station.

I’m starting to believe that European standards for hotels are a lot more strict than North American standards. This hotel had a two-star rating but it was insanely clean, breakfast for about 10EUROS a day was a delicious buffet, my room have three beds despite me being alone (thanks for the reminder, Campanile!), the location was convenient, and at a price of 56EUROS a night, this was beyond perfect.

Speaking of location, despite being a city (and it is a central hub and is therefore considered a city in the region), you could get from one end of Annecy to the other in a twelve-minute walk. And that’s not to say there isn’t anything to do along the way. In true city-like fashion, there was a shopping mall, multiple streets of brand-name shopping, restaurants as far as the eye can see, and tourist attractions around every other corner.

And yet it still had a completely small town feel. I felt so safe walking those streets. I didn’t even wear my earphones as I usually do in Paris to avoid random conversation. People apologized when they got in your way. Cars stopped for you when you wanted to cross the street (!!!). Everyone started conversations with you as if they’d known you all your life (I had so many people just start touching my arms and talking to me about my tattoos — my tattoos are always ridiculously popular outside of Paris). And walking alone at night, everyone minded their business, no one stared at you, everyone was doing their own thing and let a woman walk in peace.

Anyway, did I mention how beautiful it is? It’s breathtaking. Every corner will make you gasp. Unfortunately, due to a hot summer and few rains, the water in the rivers was exceptionally low. But the water that was there was turquoise and crystal clear. Spectacular glacier water.

I explored the Chateau d’Annecy which, in all honesty, was a bit of a let-down. They turned this medieval building into a weird modern art museum and it just didn’t fit. But at 5,50EUROS, it was worth entering for the outstandingly gorgeous view of the city behind it.

I went to the Lac de Annecy and… well… what can I say other than you could drown me in those waters and I’d be happy. Beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. This crystal clear turquoise tinted lake surrounded by the Alps… you don’t get anything more beautiful than that, in my opinion. There was also the Pont des Amours and I traversed it because I love myself. I also went up to this church higher up in the city which apparently has an amazing look-out point but it was unfortunately closed.

But the real beauty of this city is just wandering through the ancient, colourful, and lively streets. I hope people who live in this city know how lucky they are. I stared up at apartment windows and looked closely at the view they would have every morning and I was in awe. The entire vibe of the city is one of relaxation, friendliness, and appreciation for nature. It permeates through every crack in the street, through every person I met.

Day one was magic.
But what I had booked for day two was even better…

Day Two (Sunday):

First, I woke to a sleepy town. Sundays meant the stores and mall in Annecy were closed. Restaurants were sparingly open or had specific runtimes (like afternoon and late evening). The main streets came alive with the usual European Sunday Market. Some streets were full of vendors with various goods like jewellery, purses, clothing, and the like. Then one street had all food vendors, including a man with a ginormous paella pan cooking what could probably feed the entire town (but not the tourists). Fish, cheese, fruits and veggies, all scents intermingling and creating this aroma of European life.

What started as a cool, quiet, and rather gloomy day ended up becoming sunny and scorching. And if I had known that what I would be doing next would top my list as the most spectacular thing I’ve ever done in all my life, I may have saved it for a few years down the road…

I booked a tour with the company Active’Annecy to paraglide down one of the points of the Alps. I read about this online before coming and I knew I had to do it. I called a company beforehand but they never replied or picked up my phone calls, and on evening one, I just happened to stroll by this company’s door and decide to walk in and request a spot. I’m so, so, so glad I did!

I had to take a city bus to the town a few stops over named Doussard, where I would be picked up by “people in a grey truck with giant black tubes on the top – you won’t miss it”. As soon as they arrived they shuttled us in, in a hurry and immediately made all people “flying” feel super welcome and like they were a part of the “paraglide family”. My flight partner was going to be Stefan, and I already loved the energy he was giving off so I was glad to be flying with him.

Listen to me and listen to me good:
HOLY CRUDCOW.
I … UM … WELL … OH MY GOD.

I have no words other than: amazing, spectacular, mind-blowing, made me emotional (I said this to Stefan during the flight and he told me it was okay to cry), and one-of-a-kind experience. I genuinely loved it so, so much that I contemplated what it would be like to take up paragliding as a hobby. Stefan said it takes a week of training and then you’re flying on your own. I’m going to be Googling this when I have the time.

I posted a video on my Facebook (it’s public so even if you don’t follow me but you know my first and last name, you can see it), which is just a few pieces of the video they provided me that they took with a Go-Pro. He also took a bunch of pictures but here are just a few from the giant collection:

I truly don’t know what in life is going to top this experience. And I truly can’t recommend it enough. I want to emphasize that it doesn’t feel like a rollercoaster: it feels like floating. Even at take-off the feeling is immediately like being lifted off your feet and floating. The only time it gave you those “stomach sensations” you get on rollercoasters was when he was doing tricks.

He let me have the opportunity to fly it. And none of it was scary at all – except the landing made me a bit nervous because it’s so quick! But even that was a breeze.

I am so glad I spent the money to do this. I am so glad I saw the world while floating above it. I am so, so, so happy with that experience.

The experience after wasssssssn’t so great.
I asked the guys to take me back up the mountain after I finished my flight so I could hang out up there. When I was done sitting and contemplating whether I was truly living life or just dreaming it, via the suggestion of Stefan, I asked another paragliding company if I could get a ride back to the landing zone which would then allow me to walk to my bus stop.

Well, if there’s one thing small towns in Europe are known for it’s shutting down their lives on a Sunday. Listen, I admire the “slow down” mentality. I like that everyone gets a break and enjoys life. But when you’re a tourist-ridden town, shutting down all functions is… irritating.

I waited four hours in the heat for a bus (Sunday schedule…). When Google Maps finally showed me that there was a restaurant not too far from me that was open, I arrived to them telling me, “ma non,” the kitchen was now closed. But I could have a drink! Yay… It was an unfortunate way to waste hours of my vacation, but, alas, life is about balance I suppose. A lesson that while it can be insanely magical, it can also be an annoying b*tch.

When I finally got back to Annecy, I found a fantastic Swiss/French restaurant called Sargo (I think that was the name of it) and it happened to be the only damn restaurant in the city that served fondue for one (all the other ones made you pay per person with a minimum of two people). So far that’s been the only downside to traveling on my own; lack of fondue for one.

Fondue is not normally my cup-o-tea, but it’s a local specialty and I was glad to try it, because it certainly wasn’t like North American fondue. I would drink that bowl of cheese, ladies and gentlemen. Some other specialties of the region are (my favourite) raclette, a tart made of thinly sliced potatoes and cheese, and this warm regional cheese that was the best god-damn thing I’ve ever eaten and I wish I remembered the name of it. The point is that this city had a lot of cheese. And I was loving it.

Important: my dinner was also served with the local beer which was phenomenal (made with glacier water and winner of the Beer of the World award) and I finished with a dessert that almost made me cry with every bite: profiteroles stuffed with local ‘glace des’alps’ in vanilla bean, and topped with melted chocolate (“the best chocolate in France”) poured on top as it reaches your table. Take me now, food Gods. Take me to your kingdom.

While I was at the restaurant, I was lucky enough to witness a downpour thunderstorm. My first thunderstorm in France! And between mountains, no less! What a blessing. (I adore historic cities in the rain.)

I loved Annecy. I wish I had at least two more days there to see more neighbouring towns and climb more mountains. And in all honesty, I could picture myself living in Annecy. I liked that it had city access but a small-town feel. I liked the intimacy of the city and the kindness of the people. And, most of all, I loved the mountains and the water.

Paris is the first of it’s kind in that I’m not normally a “city girl”. I find a small cabin in the woods idea very appealing. Paris is the only city that tugged at my heartstrings when I am normally drawn to quieter places with more nature. My father was born in a region that’s literally called ‘the foot of the mountain’ and my adoration of bodies of water has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. When a city/town has mountains and water, to me, that’s perfection. That is as good as it gets. That beats any city, any day. And so it makes sense that I am drawn to a place like this.

And the more I travel on my own the more I realize how happy I am to do it. Spending time with myself, exploring on my own, working on my own timetable, sitting in restaurants and appreciating my own company, it’s all helping me build this relationship with myself that’s incomparable to anything I’ve had with another human being. It’s teaching me that if I’m going to let someone disturb that relationship I’ve built with me, it better be with someone who adds to this experience called life and doesn’t hinder mine.

I am so unbelievably happy. I wish I had the words to express it. This evening I was blasting, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen and running and jumping around the city. That’s the joy I feel deep within my core. I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball. I really can’t believe this life I’m living is true and isn’t just a dream. I don’t know how I’ll ever settle for anything less, anymore.

Well, time for me to round up the night. Thanks as always for reading. If you have a question about a picture, please comment on it — there were too many for me to caption (too many for me to edit too — so they’re all edit-free).

And I’m already thinking of where to go next…

xo
C