Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year... from an airplane. Et de la France!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I made it!  Best flight ever.  Seat was SO comfie.  Go American Airlines!  WOW!  Aisle.  No one in seat next to me.  Became really good friends with this guy Evan Vincent, a 19 year old model from NY who is here in Paris and Milan for their fashion weeks.  Runway model, and is going to be in the March issue of Esquire.  We talked for hours.  A fantastic time.  And I’d say we’re pretty good friends now.  He’s going to see about getting me a ticket to one of the shows.  That would be cool.  The new year is off to a great start!
I was supposed to be on an Iberian airlines flight but as it turned out, it was operated by AA.  I was disappointed at first, but I sure was surprised with everything about the service and the flight: the baggage guy (Dr. J) was so awesome and noticed my bag was heavy and offered to tape it up so it wouldn’t open during the flight.  NEVER has any baggage person offered to do something like that.  Then, it turned out it was overweight—by a LOT—but the woman (Virginia) and her boss (Patrick) helped me out and instead of charging me $150, gave me a discount for $100.  See: sometimes haggling with a smile turns things in your favor. J  Then, on the flight, the flight attendants were awesome.  These two charming gay guys Doug and David, and this fascinating Egyptian turned American named Ali.  And the food was really good too.  A great dinner.  And the seats: did I mention how perfectly comfortable the seats were?  WOW.

Oh, FYI, I am writing this from a train.  I’m sitting on the TGV (Train Grande Vitesse, or Very Fast Train) waiting in the station for the train to leave.  I’m heading two hours south to Lyons, where my friend Eva is going to meet me. 
Anyway, back to the flight: such a great flight.  Evan and I BOTH agreed that it was the most pleasant transatlantic flight either of us have even been on.  And for two reasons: a) the seats were amazing, and b) the company was amazing.  Seriously, we talked for hours!  About everything: modeling, filmmaking, girls, traveling, our futures—he’s got as a wild a story as I do.  For starters, he was born in Finland, and has lived in some of the oddest places growing up: Kuwait and Bulgaria to name two.  And why?  His mom is… an English teacher!  Haha, like what I’m doing.  And his dad is a school principal.  So since they traveled around from school to school, he of course tagged along with them.  Anyway, we just talked and talked like we’ve known eachother for years.  If I were gay, I would totally want to date him, haha!  And when we got off the plane, we had a coffee together in a French café here in the airport.  I’m honored to know this guy.  In a sea of boring and uninteresting and unsociable people, this guy is a breath of fresh air. 

Before we took off in NY, I got a call from Art Brown too.  Super great guy.  Love him to death.  He received the copy of my book “Time Zen” that I sent him from Amazon.  I promised him a copy for years and he reminded me that I never fulfilled that promise.  I figured I should probably send it to him before I leave for trip, and so I did, and he called to let me know he got it and started reading it already.  He also sent me a copy of his script, “Brownie and Fran” about Brooklyn in 1944 – 48.  I read it on the plane, nonstop, and wow, gotta say, IT IS GOOD!  I told him I would write about it on the blog and I would be honest, and honestly: IT IS GOOD!  I am hoping to help produce it now, and there’s a part I’d like to play too, so maybe we can help each other on this one.  And a possible new coaching/consulting client called and we spoke for 20 minutes about his music and voiceover career. 
I spoke to my friend Debbie too.  She’s been my number one super fan since Iraq.  Couldn’t leave without saying goodbye.  By phone, since she lives in Chicagoland.  She is a DJ at the college where she works, Valpairaso University, and my song, "The Sun Is Always Shining Somewhere" is STILL on rotation, and she says it has nothing to do with her, but because the song gets requested often enough that 'by popular demand' it stays on the rotation.  That makes me feel so great.  She always sends me an email whenever it plays, "Hey Monroe!  Your song is playing right now on the radio!"  Needless to say, that always boosts my mood and makes me smile.

Oh, train’s moving!  And voila, we’re out of the station—8:45am and it’s so overcast and cloudy out.  Oh well: c’est la vie. J
And finally, Francis called.  This aide from physical therapy in Greenwich.  I only became friends with him in the last few days really, but we had lunch a few days ago and he’s really cool.  Nice to hear from him.

I also met another cool cat on the plain: this Parisian Farouk, of Algerian descent.  Had a really nice conversation with him.  He overheard me talking to the flight attendants (my two new gay friends—they are FAHHHBULOUSLY FAHHHBULOUS) and got up and said, “Sorry for overhearing, but I heard what you were saying and what you’re doing, and you have such an amazing story.”  Next thing I know, we’re talking, and he’s a professional musician turned train conductor in Paris.  I’m gonna help him with some legal advice regarding his stay in Orlando and some trouble he had with the hotel, and in return, he offered to let me ride in the conductor’s cabin of a French train.  Awesome!  So sometime this month, I’m gonna try to return to Paris to take him up on his offer.
Ugh, I am getting sick typing on this computer while the train is running.  Need to stop really soon and continue writing later.

Anyway, I said what I need to say.  I’m gonna enjoy the sights now, and look out the window. 
Seriously, how awesome: Paris.  France.  I made it.  On a train traveling through the French countryside. My adventure has officially begun.  Truly, I’m so happy.  It hit me while talking to Evan on the plane: I made the right decision.  THIS is the life I am meant to be living.  Not as a lawyer in NY.  Maybe I will return to that life one day, but truly, coming here to France to teach and live with a French family, and then Shanghai—THIS is living.  THIS is Monroe Mann.  Languages, international travel, international living, and socializing with the cool and interesting people of this world.  THAT is what gets my blood pumping.  And performing!  So I’m glad I have my guitar with me too! J

Okay, seriously, I’m gonna barf if I keep typing on this computer with the train in motion.  Later peeps!

Lyons, France.  At a… Starbucks.  Ha.  Criticize the US as much as you want but… We. Are. Everywhere.  And I really don’t think it’s because we suck.

I arrived only to find… no Eva.  But a foreign number called about 30 minutes ago and I figured it must be her.  But I didn’t want to call her back on my phone because it would end up costing me $20 or more.  I impressed myself again by talking in French with a local and explaining that I wanted him to please call this number for me.  He did, and he gave me the phone, and it was Eva!  Turns out she was at the other station in Lyon, and rock and roll: in French I explained where I was, and that I would meet her at the Starbucks whenever she gets here.  30 minutes she said.  I’m not perfect with my French, but good enough that I really think living here for the next two months, with a French family, is just what I need to put my skills to the perfecting grindstone. 
Oh, I forgot to mention that I inspired Evan to start his own blog, documenting his adventures as a model, traveling the world.  I’m really hoping he follows through.  He said his first post will be tomorrow once he starts the blog.  If he does it, I promised I would share his new blog link on my blog.  He said he’d do the same for me.  Cross blog promotion baby!  Fingers crossed that I get his blog link soon...

I am totally surprised that I am not more tired.  I have barely slept the last two days, and even less last night on the plane.  OH!  New Year’s!  On the plane!  It was more anticlimactic that I ever could have expected.  We go on the plane at 5pm.  By 5:30 we were in the air.  At 6pm, the pilot came over the loudspeaker, in as deadpan a voice as I’ve ever heard: “It is now 12 midnight in France.  Happy New Year.”  Not one person clapped.  No one said anything.  It was actually rather amusing.  It was unequivocally the most ‘unfestive’ Happy New Year in the history of mankind, and yet, I think I will always remember it as one of the greatest new years ever.  Because I truly felt better at this new year's celebration than I’ve felt at any other.  I really can’t remember having a better new year celebration than being on the airplane, heading off to a grand new international adventure.  Even now, I’m glowing.  So happy.  So excited.  So content.  So thrilled!  I’m here!  In France!  For two months!  Then traveling by train throughout Europe for two weeks!  Then… CHINA!  For a year!  No more 9 – 5 grind!  Sure, I’ll be teaching “9 – 5” but come on, working in a foreign country can in no way compare to a regular job at regular old ‘home’.  This is SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME and I am SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY, CONTENTED, AND (deep breath; exhale) AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  Life.  Is.  Good. 
Hey, for all of you reading this: take a long hard look at your life.  Are you REALLY doing what you want to be doing?  Cause if not, please find the guts to be (as Sara Bareilles sings) BRAVE!  Evan (who has been quite the world traveler too) told me that he was really impressed that I’m going to live in China for a year.  He said that he doesn’t think he’d have the guts to do something like that.  It really made me feel great.  Well, folks, BE BRAVE!  Pursue your dreams!  Live the life you KNOW you should be living.  Yeah, it was totally scary to give my two weeks’ notice at my cushy and pretty well paid lawyer job.  But after I did it, I had a pretty good gut feeling that it was the right decision.  And now, today, as I write these words from a Starbucks in Lyons, France, I know with a resounding certitude: YES, IT WAS AND IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST DECISIONS I HAVE MADE IN MY LIFE. 

No rules, No excuses, No regrets.  My motto.  And I’m so happy to know that I am actually living by it.  Which reminds me, I really need to get that tattoed on me somewhere.  With a rose to remind me that nothing is perfect, and even a beautiful rose has its imperfections.  Perhaps I will get that when I get down to Castres.  Hmmm….
Hey, Eva's here!  Gotta go!

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