Search results for: "november"

Today is my last day in Paris and this will be my last post on frogblog. I’m going back to California for a while or forever.

C’est la vie.

In my first post I talked about adjusting to life here. Back then I thought this blog would be about life in Paris. But it wasn’t, much.

I’m not the same person I was then, and this blog belongs to that other me.

I took my ninth and final November picture yesterday, while strolling through the Jardin des plantes. The morning sunlight on the smoked-glass windows of the greenhouses there turns them a glorious purple. Like an orchid. Or a bruise. Delectable against that bright November blue I love so much. You can see that some creeper has escaped its cozy confines. Those tentative tendrils probably won’t survive the winter. That’s what happens when you leave your hothouse.

Before I came to Paris in 2006 I wrote a poem about a greenhouse that was really about the love that brought me here in the first place and how safe and fulfilled it made me feel:


she takes cover
under glass
stares at the sun
the sky cannot fall
in her hothouse

she turns to
smooth blooms
languid above
cool wet roots
lingers dazzling

look through windows
clouded with
velvet sweat
see her petals
in a translucent embrace

honey moonlight
waxes within
rising on the mist
she feels like
raw perfume


I made a one-page book with this poem, which you can download and make.

Click the pic for a bigger version. See you around.

Links to previous years’ November photos below. More poetry and photos on my other blog, which is not dead yet. And other places you can find me on the web.

2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

It’s 2013. Lucky number? My eighth November in Paris, and it may be my last. Not leaving France, but probably leaving Paris. So stay tuned for my next adventure.

Unlike last year, this year’s November has been filled with that crispy brightness that is unique to this month in Paris.

So I walked the dog along the Seine today, and I saw the light. The Seine was high. Took the pic with my iPhone, of course. The Île Saint Louis seen from the Rive Gauche, where I’ve lived for over seven years. No filters this year. No energy, and no need.

Click for a larger version. List of November pics 2006-2012 below.

2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

This was not the most inspiring of Novembers. Rarely saw the bright, crisp days I love so much, or that special November light. But so what if the weather was crap? My health has returned after I spent nearly two years diminished. A new project was born this month and, with it, a partnership with someone dear and special. An acquaintance turned into a friend (thank you once again, Internet). Plenty of beauty in spite of the weather.

So it’s November 28th, and I got the picture today. I helped it along with a little photo editing app I love, which I’ll soon be talking about on my new app review site, Cowgirl App!.

I took lots of other photos this month. But this is the picture that captures my seventh November, which at first glance seemed drab and utterly lacking in promise, but turned out to be full of little miracles and big possibilities.

Click for a bigger version. Previous years’ photos below.

2011 | 2010 | 20092008 | 2007 | 2006

It’s hard to believe this is my sixth November in Paris. It may be my last! We’ll almost surely be leaving Paris and heading to the countryside before this time next year…

I was afraid I wouldn’t get a November picture at all this year. I don’t get out and about as much as I did before, what with The Illness and all. Don’t even walk the dog as often now that he lives half the time with a friend of ours in Normandy! But I managed to snap this with my iPhone while walking him in the late afternoon a few days ago. It’s right behind Notre Dame. I made it under the wire. Not much November left!

Click the picture for a large version to get the full effect of the luscious, mellow tones of the buildings in the setting sun.

You’ll find a list of previous years’ November pictures below. Want more? Here’s a site with nothing but photos I’ve taken all year.

2010 | 20092008 | 2007 | 2006

This November, my fifth in Paris, was a special one because my son came to visit for two weeks. While we were out tooling around one afternoon, I got my annual November picture.

I took the photo at the Place Denfert-Rochereau with my iPhone, which is why it’s a little grainy. Unfortunately, you can’t make out the details of the bronze Lion of Belfort in the middle of the roundabout, but here’s a better picture and some history. It’s one of my favorite Paris sculptures.

Click the pic for a larger version. There are links to previous years’ November photos below.

20092008 | 2007 | 2006

For the first time since I got here over four years ago, I waited 15 months before going home back to California for a visit. It was too long; a year’s about my limit, I discovered. Living in France can be exhausting after a while. It’s like attending an interminable lecture on some abstruse topic, while living in America is more like watching a Gilligan’s Island rerun…

Sometimes I need a break, and I crave the relative — and objective — simplicity of America, that all-American “That sucks, let’s get a beer, you like my new Spiderman t-shirt?” way of being. (The French version is “That sucks, let’s discuss what every philosopher in history has said on the subject and what happened in WWII and why capitalism is the root of all evil.”)

Plus I was really homesick. The homesickness starts to kick in around November, of course, and I usually plan my trip for February or March, when I’ve had just about all I can take of winter and Mexican food deprivation, and I can’t go without seeing my family, especially my son, any longer.

Every year I go there expecting my homesickness to be assuaged. My annual pilgrimage did the trick at first, but with time the treatment has become less and less effective. I would find myself coming back to France still homesick, thinking it was because I hadn’t stayed in California long enough. This year, though, standing outside, alone and barefooted in the California sun, I was astonished to realize that I was feeling homesick even though I was “home.”

Which is when I figured out what was wrong.

What I’ve taken for homesickness is actually nostalgia. (I know, duh, but sometimes the obvious escapes you.) And that can’t be treated. I’m homesick not for a place, but for states of mind I’ll never be in again. I’ve changed. I’ve been looking at America from the outside in for too long. That home is gone. When you leave, the place you knew ceases to exist.

I was ragging about France in some post a while ago and a (francophile) friend said in the comments “No whining allowed, you live in Paris!” This is the Paris he meant, of course, a place as mythical to him as California has become to me, the Paris I moved to over four years ago:

Of course, Paris doesn’t look quite like this to me anymore either… That’s gone forever too. When you go somewhere, the place you imagined ceases to exist. And I don’t know if Paris will ever feel like home the way home once felt. I got here late in life. Bizarre. I guess that makes me homeless. A little scary.

While in California I ate tacos, had a decent margarita (no better, unfortunately), hit my old shopping spots for cheaper Levis and things I can’t get here, hugged my people over and over. That was good.

I needed hand lotion. By chance (or more likely driven by my unconscious), I grabbed a tiny tube of Jergen’s at a giant American pharmacy. It was about the only lotion in America when I was a kid, and I hadn’t used it in decades. I remember hoping, as I reached for it, that they hadn’t changed the scent: my mother smelled like Jergens my entire early childhood. Back at her place, I rubbed it all over my arms and buried my nose in the crook of my elbow. It smelled the same to me, as far as I could tell. That moment was about as close as I got to feeling like I was home. It was a primal thing. Maybe I’ll just have to carry some Jergen’s around with me for the rest of my life…

So I don’t know what home is. Maybe I’ll just make my physical home a shrine to the feel and feelings of my concept of home. It’ll look something like this, but more specifically Mexico and France and Hawaii and California flavored. Ultimately, I guess, if  home exists, it’s in me and I am it.

…my house will speak for me. My house will tell them I am warm and rich. The house will tell them inside of me there are these rooms of flesh and Chinese lacquer, sea greens to walk through, inside of me there are lighted candles, live fires, shadows, spaces, open doors, shelters and air currents. Inside of me there is color and warmth.

My house will speak for me.

Anaïs Nin, Children of the Albatross

Yes, I’m jumping the gun. I know it’s November when I do my annual photo, but this October day this week was too gorgeous.