Ils ne sont pas propres...

Some people can't use the bathroom in public places. It's like a phobia or something. I like to think of it as purely lack of experience.

How can anyone lack experience going to the bathroom? Well, it's not the act/s I'm referring to, it's the locations in which the act/s is/are performed.

I think growing up in third world countries taught me that "when you gotta go, you go wherever you can"; and, to consider it lucky if said place has walls, a door, a floor, a toilet, toilet paper, running water, etc. Really if just one of all the above exists, count your blessings.

Personally I prefer the squatters, or a simple hole in the ground/behind a bush because you don't have to touch anything. And actually, I think I read somewhere that women empty their bladders better from that angle/position than from just sitting upright on a commode?

Where the hell is this coming from? I promise I don't just sit around thinking about bodily functions and where they happen.

I spent all night at CHU Bichat-Claude Bernard hospital in Paris with a student. As you can imagine, in the many hours I was there, sitting, watching, waiting, I had to visit the WC...

My first visit was actually in the toilettes of les chambres des urgences. As he directed me to the WC, the nurse said, "j'espere qu'ils sont propre."

They were not "propre". Think of any substance one could excrete, including the essence of life pumping through our veins, and you'll have a vague idea of what welcomed me. The metallic toilet bowl was the "cleanest" part of the room. Did I notice the disgusting view? Of course I did, I tweeted about it sans photograph (you're welcome). But the main thing I noticed was that there was toilet paper. #WhatABlessing. And that it was actually on a roll attached to the wall, not on the floor soaking up things-we-shall-not-mention.

Generally I practice two things when it comes to public restrooms:
  1. Before entering the "area" I immediately stop breathing through my nose so as to avoid any unnecessary smells from entering my nostrils. I think this started at an early age from when I used to vomit any time I got in a moving vehicle. I still practice this when I start to feel motion sick, but I vaguely remember as a child despising the smell of cars and associating that (the smell, not the actual motion sickness) with my reason for vomiting.
  2. I always carry a small packet of tissues in my purse, or a paper napkin, just in case. Mom taught me this one.
I am positive my experience in the emergency room toilets would have been far worse had my sense of smell absorbed the sight. Furthermore, had I been in practice of rule #2 above, my second experience, in the toilettes dans la salle d'attente (waiting room), would have been even better.

Alas, there are those moments in a woman's life when she must practice the drip/shake and just go with it.


Break in case of emergency...

I gave my staff the go-ahead to have last weekend off to drive to Amsterdam. So my two student coordinators, two local guys from Pontlevoy, and one of the staff members from The Abbey took off at 4am Thursday, packed into a rental car.

The night before their departure we found ourselves at Le Commerce ordering "corner pizza" and playing blackjack, and the five of them were going on about what fun they would have, the sights they would see, all the culture they would soak up [ahem].

I decided because everyone was leaving me to manage the students solo, they should return bearing gifts. So I proposed this challenge: whomever could bring me back the corniest/cheesiest souvenir from Amsterdam for under 5 Euros would be treated to dinner, by me, with everyone else who participates in attendance. After some explanation and translation of the words "corny" and "cheesy" into French, everyone accepted the challenge.

They left, they survived, they returned alive Sunday evening. I made a reservation for our group at Le Procoppio for Monday night and made it clear that I wasn't to know who selected each souvenir; I needed to separate the objects from the people. At dinner, an unbiased party pulled each souvenir out from a bag, and placed them in front of me.

Wow. What treasures!

I couldn't just choose on the spot, I needed some time to contemplate my decision. I needed to get to know each souvenir, and announced I would remove one from the pile after each course.

The keychain was the first to go. Followed by the wooden tulip. Both fantastic souvenirs that I will cherish from that time everyone else went to Amsterdam without me, but neither worthy of the prize.

That left the incredibly creepy children-of-the-corn-looking dutch kids wearing wooden clogs sitting in a tulip shaped magnet - OR - the pornographic snow globe that inspired the title of this blog (with a little help from an anonymous friend). Yes, that is a penis inside the snow globe. Yes, that is a naked lady riding it, sitting on top of a marijuana leaf.

Note: Some might find this vulgar or inappropriate. It might make you uncomfortable? I'm sorry.

What a difficult choice to make!

During our dessert course, I removed the magnet and announced the snow globe the winner. Congratulations, Nora!

Why, you ask? Believe me, it really was a difficult choice, those children are oh-so-corny...and I do look forward to welcoming them into my magnet collection on the fridge at home; but I thought the magnet really depicted Holland as a whole, not Amsterdam in particular.

And, what screams "corny/cheesy Amsterdam souvenir" louder than a penis-snow-globe from the Red Light District?


What makes you happy?

Friday night was one of those epic nights in this village. Le Commerce had a ska band concert (I never knew an accordion could look so good) and most of the hard-core student partiers were out of town, so the small group of them left behind were fun and relatively contained.

Late in the evening Mark and Adam turned up. They are such a fantastic couple. Mark is Dutch, speaks four languages, Adam is American but has lived in France longer at this point, and speaks three languages. They both live and work in Paris but have a home in Pontlevoy and another (more recent) in Uruguay. I shared my "upbringing" with Mark for the first time. Adam had heard it before, I'm pretty sure. Mark had a lot of questions for me. Not the typical "wow, did you like growing up in that way?"More like, "What do you want, Jessica? Do you want a husband? Do you want to live in France? England? Indonesia? What do you want? Marriage? A career? Great sex?"

"Can I not have it all, Mark? Is that not an option?"

"How old are you?" Mark asked.


Oh well then of course, because I am so young and have already experienced so much, I only have that much more to experience during the rest of my life, yes I can have it all - "but the real question is, Jessica, what do you want? What makes you happy?"

Apparently this had been the topic of conversation over their steak dinner before heading to the concert. He was really in to the subject.

Okay, reader, ask YOURself that question...do you know? I mean really, does anyone really know? And for those who say they know, that they know exactly what they want and how they are going to get there, well is that any fun? Forget whether or not it's really possible, aren't they missing key moments in life that surely pass them by for being so focused on exactly what they want?

I'm happy wherever I am. I don't want to have to choose "husband" or "career" or anything else. I want life as it comes at me. I don't know where I'll be in five years. Hell I don't know where I'll be a year from now, literally. I can say that I'm fairly certain I won't be France, but maybe I'll come over for a week or two? I'm fairly certainly I'll be in Hattiesburg, for a good while longer (I like it there!), but where else? I don't know, and that's okay!

This question about "do you want a husband? A marriage?" is one that's come up a few times this week, funny how that happens. My response has been somewhere along the lines of, "I want a life partner, yes, that is something that I want, to add to my life's adventures....because that would be so much fun!"

Do I want to find that person right now this very moment? It doesn't matter! If I said no, someone would stumble in to my world and it would stir everything up. If I said yes, well, that would be depressing. So no, no I don't want that right here right now, but if it happened tomorrow - it would work out. It's just the idea of finding "it" one day, building up to that, it's exciting. And comforting. And in the meantime, I'm just going to take life one day at a time...yes, me, "Miss Planner", is saying that.

So far every opportunity I've encountered has just appeared through an open door, and I've walked through it. Sure, some doors have been closed, but others open, and that's just how it's been. I have some relative ideas of what I'd like to do in the future...live overseas, maybe become a high school guidance counselor and do what my parents do, get a masters degree, have kids, travel, go on a cruise (a really self-indulging one).

The good thing is I don't have to answer any of these questions, really. Furthermore, I've been pretty good recently about deciding not to be unhappy. Just be happy. Change whatever it is making you unhappy, and be happy. Two years ago I was miserable and decided to drop out of grad school. Instantly I felt happier, weight lifted off my shoulders, I just wasn't in to it. And I've never regretted it.

I don't have a strong conclusion here, I think this will be a constant conversation with myself, with others - as it should be! And I look forward to it.