Saturday, July 14, 2012

On being vulnerable

There are things I'm afraid to tell you.

There has been a movement slinking around the blogsphere. It's not new and I'm behind on blogging about it because I've been too busy posting pretty photos of my life in Paris on Facebook.

The idea behind the movement is that the rosy and wonderful versions we present of ourselves online can be far from the truth. So a blogger named Jess Constable wrote some of the other stuff on her site. The vulnerable stuff. The stuff she's afraid to tell you. I found out about it over at Little Brown Pen, and Oprah wrote about it, too. Then I watched Brené Brown talk about vulnerability at Ted. And after all this, my upper back seized up, which makes me cranky and makes me wonder what Louise L. Hay would say about all this. I think my back is telling me, "There is stuff to say, there is stuff to say, there is stuff to say."

So here we go. I'm offloading here and now.

The things I don't want to tell you:

Paris isn't always great.
It has rained three times a day for months.
And I can't make it poetic all the time
Because sometimes it's just cold and wet.
And when it doesn't smell like piss, it smells like smoke.
Aphids ate my geranium blooms.
I don't even want to get into that metaphor.
I heard you need to spray geraniums with soapy water.
There are still no blooms
But there are suds when it rains.
It'll have to do.
My rainbow bubble blooms.
Fragile and filling in while the buds simmer.
I think my hair is fine, but my Swiffer tells me
It's getting finer all the time.
I get overwhelmed by the number of photos I take.
I feel pressure to handle it all.
Skype is good but it's not that good.
My niece said yesterday
"the connection is down."
She's six and she's right.
I freak out about money.
How to make it, save it, mend it.
It's one of the many snags in my soul.
So much to see and do
So much to pay for.
I wonder about my painted letters
And think, c'mon, really? Letters?
This is how you're going to get it done? 
I have to breathe deep to find the strength
To reply with a quiet, "yes, and stop talking now."
The French language continues to distance.
When will I turn on the TV and understand?
I think I'd understand the same if it were on Mute,
Especially with dubbed-over American cop shows. 
I often feel mute when I walk around the city
But at least that TV show looks like a period piece
With a backdrop of bridges and statues and carved doors.
I jump a lot from sounds in my walls.
The invisible fleet scratching along the floorboards.
But then he walks in, looks at me and says,
"You love me still?"
And I look at him, nod and say
"When did you learn the word 'Still'?"
He's learning. I'm learning. We're getting there.
But for today we are here.
We crack open our beer and cheer another day.
May we be so lucky to do it all again tomorrow.
The good, the bad and the rainy.


  1. How brave, how scary, how courageous. Everyone's life is full of crap and beauty. It is truthful and encouraging and brave of you to share yours. Most of blogging is the good stuff, but life isn't all good stuff and it's helpful to hear that others see and live their vulnerabilities. Congratulations and thank you.

    1. Thanks for your kind words! I'm beginning to realize that a mix of crap and beauty makes for better writing, so I'm hesitantly heading in that direction. Your encouragement helps.

  2. You sure are one super-talented, super-cool woman. I don't know if you remember me. I live in Vancouver beside a lake with Sam and Booker and we often think of you and exalt your wonderfulness. Vulnerability. Ah, yes. We actually are the weather, propelling through us, changing our moods, and we think it's all about us...the dance continues. It has been winter for awhile here, but the sunny is working hard again on stability and warmth. Sending tons of love and joy, too, at all the beauty you create. Love your paintings etc., too. So beautiful and evocative and fun. xoxoxo

    1. I was talking about some of this to Serge last night. He reminded me of a famous movie "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". (I knew he was a cowboy at heart!) In that movie the hero takes a lot of shit and comes up grinning. Here's to going through it and coming up grinning.

  3. I think progressing from tourist to traveler to resident requires bravery. Transposing yourself into a different culture with a different language and knowing that to some extend you will always be a foreigner takes even more. I applaud your courage. Hell, changing jobs and moving to another regional city are hard enough.

    Paris is surely one of the great cities of the world, but no place is always great. What you are experiencing is pretty predictable.
    Relax. You’re doing fine. Actually you're doing great!

  4. You're awesome! I love that you posted a stream of consciousness and now it has inspired/empowered me to do the same.
    "Just keep swimming", you'll be fine.

  5. You do vulnerable well. Living a different language and culture will be challenging at times but will never ever be dull. As an anglophone living in Quebec, I know what I'm talking about. Rest assured, it gets easier and you are learning the best possible way.

    PS Absolutely love your blog. Maybe we'll be able to read it in French one day. :) À la prochaine!

  6. Thank you for being brave enough to be vulnerable. And your Paris Letters are a life saver in ways you cannot imagine. My only regret is that they are not weekly...

  7. Bless your heart for writing this post. It's vulnerability that brings us together, isn't it? The common fears and flaws and human-ness. I love it. And I, like Nan, love my Paris Letters.

  8. Oh, I love this. Your beautiful rainy melancholy photo goes with it so well. Your writing makes me feel the same way right now, but somehow it calmed me down, too.

  9. I saw that same Ted Vulnerability piece and it has stayed with me ever since. I'm also reading "Wacky Chicks" which is also encouraging me to go back to being the fearless writer I once was. I had an unbelievably personal and vitriolic troll comment a couple of years ago and I hate to admit it, but I've been writing with a net ever since.


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