Saluts mes amis,
I received an email that my copy of "La Firme" by John Grisham arrived at the bookstore. So yesterday, after having another delicious lunch with the family (this time at V's parents' house, like every Saturday--pork sausage, homemade mashed potatoes from real potatoes, homemade applesauce from real apples, etc.), V drove me to three places:
a) to three rental car places to compare the prices of rental cars. She refused to speak to them in order to force me to practice my French, and voila, I did just fine. Hertz is the best deal for 7 days and 30 days, and ADA is the best deal for 3. I intend to drive to Barcelona if not next weekend, then the weekend after that.
b) to the center of town. I dropped off one pair of my dress pants at the dry cleaners, and then walked to the book store. More on that in a moment.
c) to the post office. Closed, but now I know where it is, and I need to start figuring out how much it will cost to ship things to China.
At the bookstore: I went in for one reason. To pick up my copy of "The Firm" in French. So I can begin analyzing the novel for form and structure. I ended up leaving with over 200E of books, all in French. Five books on happiness; two on relationships and love; a few history books; Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America"; Hugo's "Les Miserables"; and all that. The other day, when I found myself on page 65 of "Du Bonheur", I realized for the first time that reading in French is no longer a chore like it was ten years ago. Now... it's a pleasure! Cause I understand 90% of the words! I still underline the words I don't know, but it's only for me to look up later. So I realized that wow, I can buy any book I want in a French book store and actually enjoy reading it! So I'm curious to see what French psychologists and philosophers have to say on the subject of happiness. I bought one too called, "Je pense trop" or "I think too much". It is often said that the more intelligent you are, the more your brain works, and thus the less 'ignorant' you tend to be. As we all know, ignorance is bliss. I therefore, am the opposite: I know that I'm a smart guy, and it's so hard for me to turn off my brain sometimes. Drives me crazy. So I'm curious to see what they have to say. (I also bought books on how to read and write Japanese and Arabic characters).
Last night (Saturday), I worked for many hours on my homework for UofU (University of Utah) where I am getting my certificate in Positive Psychology. Did a lot of reading and writing on self-forgiveness. What really resonated with me is that when one does a wrong, it destroys ones self-respect. I learned, therefore, that self-forgiveness is all about the process of regaining ones self-respect. I also learned that self-forgiveness is often not a linear process. As drug addict and felon turned attorney Richard Dyer wrote, "Relapse is a part of recovery". Not only is his story amazing, but he helped me to realize that when you are overcoming some terrible life event or defeat, you can't expect to have a linear recovery process: you are going to fall back down again (possibly many times) on your journey towards redemption.
The other night, another delicious dinner. Pizza. Friday night. Just imagine, pizza in France with all of their amazing cheeses. Wow, so so delicious. It seems as if France has mastered every dish imaginable. The other day, Veronique asked me what I liked to eat in terms of seafood. I told her the only thing I like: les crevettes. Shrimp. Well, last night, guess what she made? Shrimp. O my, so delicious. I am being spoiled here so much! I can't go back to tv dinners and McDonald's back home! haha. On that note, no, I haven't yet eaten at McDonald's (or McDo as they call it here) but I must. I'm sure the burgers there are just as delicious as everything else in this country.
I spoke with my friend N. back in San Fran last night and today. She and I used to date. She told me she'd help me find my dream girl if I help her find her dream job, haha. She wrote to me today, "I can say from personal experience that your accomplishments are alluring and sexy. While at the same time freaking intimidating." Oh great. So that's why I don't have a girlfriend: I'm too cool. Lovely. I've heard this before from a lot of girls, and it's not something that makes me smile. Cause it means the potential pool of girlfriends is even more narrow for me as I grow more accomplished and do more.
I wrote on Facebook something that my friend Vic shared with me. He wrote to me the other day: "Amazing is a too often used word but describes you to a T. Sleeping on the ice? Teaching in France? You are the single most incredible, world-class person I have ever had the pleasure to meet. You eclipse even the big stars I have met and chatted with. It is just a matter of time till the world discovers you. You are like an alien, like some hybrid pod person that is a dozen people in one. What are you thinking of doing next? Climb a skyscraper? Perform in a drag show? Winning the hot dog competition? Building a rocket? You probably know the secret to area 51! Romp on bud!"
I actually do know the secret to area 51, but I can't tell you. Sorry. :) But truly, my life is such a paradox. Everyone thinks I am so cool, and yet, I lead such a lonely life, filled with sadness, and unhappiness.
I was going to take a train to Toulouse today, to visit, but it's raining and cloudy. Instead I'm gonna read more in Du Bonheur, Americans in Paris, and also some of my new books. I'm also going to finish my latest Japanese lesson at Living Language on telling time, and write another 1000 words MINIMUM in my novel, "Soul STASIS". Probably gonna work on some other languages too, and watch some French tv as well. And begin writing chapter 1 of my PhD dissertation. And rest well too, cause tomorrow, classes start at 8am, and I have to teach about 7 of them. Monday is my most grueling day here. Phew.
Oh, one interesting quotation I read that I wanted to share. It's in French. "S'attacher trop vite, c'est souffrir par la suite" = If you attach youself too quickly, you end up suffering. But in French, it rhymes. I am thinking of writing a song using that as the chorus. We shall see. But it is the essence of Buddhism. Nonattachment. And I find that I get attached emotionally to girls way too easily, and then get my heart broken. So this quotation resonated strongly with me. Can't forget it!
Oh, one last thing: VPNs. Through a friend of a friend who lives in China, I found some good recommendations for VPNs. Virtual Proxy Networks. So I can access google and facebook and youtube etc from Shanghai. I thought it would be expensive, but it's only about $100 per year. Not bad at all...
I feel like there is so much more I want to say, but I'm at a lost for words at the moment. Besides, I have a million things to do today, and I don't want to waste the day. Today is... all we've got.
A la prochaine!