Friday, January 03, 2014

I'm just Lyon in the rain.

10am, Lyon, France

Yesterday afternoon and evening turned out very nice.  I found a Subway, and my entire dinner only cost 10 euro, and no tip required, so I saved about 5 euro already.  I’m gonna eat there again every night for dinner.  You know you’re not in America when the cashier at Subway says “Bon Appetit” before giving you your food!

I ended up walking all the way across the river, and down into the central square.  The equivalent of five subway stops on the A line.  Once there, I took the subway back to where my hotel is.  And low and behold, found a supermarket open until 10pm (which is exceedingly rare in Europe).  I went in and bought a box of cookies for 1 euro, and an entire liter of fruit juice for .85 euro (Amazing prices.  To put this into perspective, at the hotel, a measly can of Coke costs 3 euros.)  So I’ve got enough snacks and drinks to last for the rest of my time here in Lyon, and at a great price.  And while walking around, I listened to Pimsleur Level 4 French lessons the whole time.  Two half hour lessons.  Fantastic!

Afterwards, I was back in the room.  Warm and toasty with the heat on.  I checked email, checked Facebook, used the restroom, and then created a to do list for the next few days.  Among other things: French study, German study, Norwegian study, Chinese Study, PhD check in, UofU check in (That's University of Utah--I'm taking a course there in Positive Psychology), Babbel, and work on some of my living language books.  Also my self-esteem course, which I am finding very helpful. 
I must say, there is something odd about the odor of European hotel bathrooms.  All of them.  In France.  Germany.  Switzerland.  Even Turkey.  And yes, that’s the common demoninator (Europe) not ME, i.e. I am positive that I do not carry this odd smell with me whenever I come to Europe.  I can’t describe it.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not fresh either.  Very odd…

Nonetheless, I’m truly happy to be here in France.  I feel at home here.  And wow, my French is SO much improved.  In two months, it’s going to be perfect, I am sure of it.  Just in time for me to move to China to begin tackling a new language!

I’m still working my way through this fascinating book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris” about the American exodus to Paris in the 1830s.  I just read the chapter on the cholera outbreak around that time, and also of poor Samuel Morse’s loss of his wife of just 25 of a heart attack in the years prior.  And then of his father shortly thereafter, and then his mother 2 years later.  It all just reminded me that death, and disease, and disappointment: it’s a part of life.  I heard last night that the father of one of my childhood friends just died suddenly the other day too.  It’s everywhere: and none of us can escape it, no matter how hard we may try to pretend otherwise through whatever we do to numb our senses.  For some, it’s alcohol; for others, it’s drugs or simple denial; for me, immersing myself in my study of foreign languages.  I’m not necessarily trying to escape reality as much as I am truly entranced by foreign languages.  But it’s the same effect: a momentary amnesia from the bleak reality that life can be and often is. 
In some ways, I’m glad to be reminded of this.  I’m glad to be reminded that life is tough.  That life is not roses.  Or rather, like the tattoo that I am soon to get, that life IS like roses: beautiful, but damn, they hurt sometimes.  Ironically, it is often these hurts that provide the impetus for us to make the great changes in our lives and to make the great leaps.  It wasn’t until Morse lost his wife, dad, and mom that he finally summoned the courage to traverse the ocean and make way for France—a trip that ultimately inspired the rest of his life, and without which there would never been an American telegraph, which was, of course, invented by Morse, as was the subsequent Morse code.  And for me, it was the devastating loss of Louisa and the ultimate realization that I was not truly happy in my job back home that provided the basic impetus for my deciding to come to France as well. 
It’s weird: I feel like one of these Americans from 1830 coming here to change the world somehow.  Like James Fenimore Cooper with his novel writing.  Morse with his painting.  And Monroe Mann with... something.  Somehow, someway, I am continuing this great American tradition. 

Oh, if any of you live in or visit Chicago, please search out the painting by Samuel Morse entitled, “The Gallery of the Louvre”.  Painted in 1833, it is a true masterpiece and apparently in the custody of some gallery in Chicago and I want to know what it looks like up close!  So someone please go check it out for me and give me the scoop!
Everything is a little better with mom.  She’s at the Westchester Medical Center now, and I have a phone number now where I can reach her.  My phone is still working until Monday: I may try to give her a call.  Hmm: maybe I should try to set up a Skype pay-account so I can call directly.  Maybe that will be less expensive than calling via my cell phone at $2/minute…  I will have to look into that.

It’s raining out now.  Drizzling.  I’m still going to go out for a run.  Gotta stay in shape, and wanna continue to rehabilitate my left leg.  I woke up at 7am, without an alarm, and voila: jet lag is officially gone and I am now contentedly on France time.  I had a nice breakfast here, and I’m now going to change into sneakers and go run through a different part of the city than I walked through yesterday. 
Still can’t believe I am back in France.  It just warms my heart.  That sounds silly, but it’s true.  I feel happy here!  Home!  And loved!  Even though right now I am totally alone, and am hanging by myself all today and tomorrow, I’m fine with it!  Maybe it’s because I feel like France itself is my friend, and these streets my companion, and the language my love.  I’m smiling right now, and genuinely.  I am still in shock that I mustered the courage to do this.  I am still in shock that in a few days, I will be a teacher in a French high school.  I am even more in shock than in less than three months, I will be living... in China.  Oh. My. Gosh.

Oh, that reminds me, I gotta look into that Laughing Yoga thing again.  Really want to get into that.  It's this yoga class but instead of regular yoga, you laugh!  For 30 minutes!  Hearty belly laughs.  Turns out that not only does genuine joy bring genuine laughter, but forced laughter results in genuine joy.  Sounds like something worth investigating, right?  And I’m also happy to receive two really nice emails.  One from a former film student of mine, and another from a musician/actor who I spoke with two days ago at JFK before I got on the plane.  The film student received my email newsletter and wanted to let me know that he just booked his first commercial, and thanked me for continuing to motivate and inspire him; the musician/actor letting me know that he is coming on board as a new client: I’m stoked for them both.  I’m stoked too to know that I’ve still ‘got it’ as a motivational career and life coach.  I’m not only thrilled to know that I’ve got another source of income to help augment my savings during these next two months (which is a huge relief), but even more so, I’m so happy to simply again be a career coach.  I am so happy to again be helping people pursue and tackle their dreams. Nothing makes me feel more useful than knowing that I am helping someone get off their butt and pursue their passion, doing what they know they should be doing with their lives.  Hooah! 
This is what was so tough about my job as a criminal defense attorney, and in particular, a public defender handling only felonies, i.e. murder, rape, robbery, grand theft auto, burglary, drug dealing, etc: I was acting in many ways as a career coach, but to those who really didn't want to change their lives; most of them just wanted me to help them get out of jail.  Many of them showed no true remorse for what they did; they merely showed regret for having been caught, and had no plans to really change their lives.  And it was disheartening for me to try to inspire these people to seek a better life and a better source of income when deep down, I knew that very few of them would ever even TRY to heed my counsel.  Some did, and it brought great joy to me when I would get a phone call from a client sharing great news about a new job they scored, or that they got of jail or prison and were able to see their kids again, etc.  But by and large, it was a very thankless job that brought much sadness to my life.  Sadness to see such potential wasted and squandered, day in and day out.  Few of my clients there wanted me to help them prosper and succeed; I was merely a vessel through which they could find a way out of self-inflicted trouble.  Which is precisely why I enjoy private career coaching better: my clients now come to ME out of a sincere desire to apply themselves and kick some ass.  It's a world of difference, and each client meeting now leaves me glowing and happy, rather than drained and exhausted.  Don't get me wrong: I'm grateful and pleased with and for the time I spent as a public defender.  I learned lessons and helped people I never otherwise would have.  And for that, how can I be anything but forever grateful?

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