Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 241: Calm and Content

When you come back from being away for a while, you feel calm and it seems like nothing can bother you... which is the reason why I've been having trouble writing about anything interesting in my life after I've been back. I'm calm... and... content. Even though I'm sitting at the computer, right now, with a glass of wine and grapes (which I hear should never be combined), there's almost nothing bothering me. I'm untouchable... which I think might change as next year comes around the corner with planning the wedding and everything that goes with it. But, for now, I'm calm and content...
If I could change one thing, at this moment, I wish I was back in Paris, across from the Louvre, watching as people were passing by. Now, it all feels like a dream...
The most common phrase after coming back from a vacation is, "Back to reality!" I think that was my reality. Those moments I remember are the feelings I have brought home with me, and, now, all I need to do is feel that way about my daily life here. That will keep me calm and content forever... here, there, or anywhere...

Tip of the Day: If you try to look at your life like it is your vacation, it will be.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 240: Hmmmmm...

This morning, I found myself humming... I have never hummed before. When I was younger, I remember my mom and grandma doing it sometimes, but humming and I have never met... until... today. I realized that if you're thinking about something that you'd rather not think about, you should hum a tune. The tune takes over your head and thoughts and everything else that's extra just disappears into the hmmmmmmmmmmm...

Tip of the Day: Just try it... you'll find it very comforting at times when you need to be comforted.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 239: The Old & the New

My grandma is over at our house... it's her sleepover night. She's the forgetful one, so she wasn't planning on having me come home tonight because she thinks I got married and moved out. Well, to her surprise, I did come home and I still live here. She'll be right on the dot by this time next year, but not just yet.
With a day full of tasks and duties, it's nice to see her. Having her around takes me back to a place I tend to forget sometimes. Her presence gives me a feeling of childhood warmth and comfort I forget used to exist. These days, life seems to be full of the new and less of the old.
So much change happens throughout the years that our lives seem to be somebody else's at times. We, as humans, can tolerate changes and grow with them, so, as the years go by, we stop at certain points and wonder how we got here at all. Our past lives become distant memories and we move on, just like we're supposed to.

One day, I know, I will have moved out and she'll be here waiting for me to get home...

Tip of the Day: Life is an extraordinary thing. Sometimes, remind yourself of the old so that you don't forget where you came from and how you got here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 238: The Moon

Today, I learned that it's daytime on the moon for 14 days, and nighttime for 14 days. I've never really studied the moon so I'm not sure how it all works. All I really know about the moon is that it has a face and that's because I had to pay close attention when trying to draw or paint it. I've always been able to spot it's facial expression at any given time, even when it wasn't full. I believe the moon to be a female because her expression is of a woman's. To me, she's sensitive, kind, and very calm. I imagine her to be modest and sincere, even with all that she witnesses watching us, humans, perform down here. Not everyone could take her place, if anyone. With all that goes on in the world, she shows up every night with a smile on her face. There is nothing that can make her frown because, I think, she has the strength of kindness and love. Sometimes, with everything going on in our lives, we feel like it can't get any worse, but, atleast, we have the privilege in having the freedom to walk away or change a situation. Atleast, we don't have to stand around and smile all the time...

Tip of the Day: Always remember that our situation, no matter what it is, can be worse. Be thankful for experiencing everything in your life.
Thank you for not giving up on us and sticking around every night.

"Man is now able to soar into outer space and reach up to the moon, but he is not moral enough to live at peace with his neighbor." Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 237: Flower of the House

Before I left for France, Anahid (mom-in-law) brought over a vase of flowers to my house. Today, I was cleaning up around the house and I realized the flowers were still there. Well, actually, the stems of the flowers were left over, but the vase was still there sitting in the middle of the dining room table.
I've been home for 24 hours and I have never had people stare at me more than everybody at home since I got back. They really missed me. I know that because they tell me every half hour, but it's not only that... it's the way they look at me.
Yesterday, when I saw Armen, I said to him, "I missed you..." as I hugged him. His reply was, "So..." That didn't mean much to me because I know him well enough to know his capabilities at expressing his feelings. Well, everybody at home has been telling me how much they missed and how quiet the house is and so on... but, I haven't been able to reply to those comments with my words. They should know me well enough to know my capabilities at expressing my feelings to them, but in case they don't:
When I am far away from the most important people in my life, I get a feeling of helplessness. I can go on with daily activities normally, but pause, at times, and feel moments of heartbreak and emptiness. At those moments, I can't understand the reasons for my emotions, but, then, I realize that my heart longs to be around the familiar. The familiar is what makes me comfortable and what my whole world revolves around. Know that, I feel exactly the same way you feel when I'm gone, I just can't find the words to describe my feelings in those moments.
They say I'm the "flower of the house," so, I figure the vase of flowers were there to replace me for a couple of weeks. Now, I feel like I have a bigger responsibility at being what they think I am. I hope I can still be good at something I never thought I was...

Tip of the Day: We are always thought of in unthinkable ways... Don't underestimate the power of your presence in your family, life, and world.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 236: Sleep on it

It feels nice to be home... funny thing is I haven't slept for over 24 hours and I'm still wide awake and energetic. Maybe, I am tired because it's a bit difficult to gather my thoughts right now. My thoughts are the lists of all the things I have to take care of, right after I finish unpacking. What I am now going to do is try to sleep on it. Tomorrow, I will be able to get it together.

Tip of the Day: When you're stuck, sleep on it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 235: I Love Lucy Episode... Paris At Last

A picture of the Mona Lisa taken with my camera

If I had to use four words to describe my last day in Paris, I'd say, "I Love Lucy episode."

I woke up late due to the clock in the room being an hour ahead... so, I missed meeting a friend at the Flee Market, North of Paris. When I realized what time it was, I shuffled out of bed and got ready as fast as I could. About an hour later, I got into the taxi and headed over to the North side of Paris only to find out that the shops were closing... So, I walked around the antique shops a bit.

I had heard before that the French were rude... Up until today, I was thinking that it was a false rumor. Everyone here had been so nice and helpful until I, an American, walked into a restaurant at the North side of town. It was noon and I hadn't had anything to eat so I decided to try out a street corner restaurant. As I walked in, there were two women standing in front of the doorway. They looked at me... I looked at them... as I said, "Just one, sivouplay." They just stared back at me... Then, I asked, "Anywhere is okay?" One of the girls answered, "No, just that one..." as she pointed to a table to my right. I said, "Okay, merci." Then she asked, "For lunch?" "Ummm... no lunch, cafe and dessert?" I answered. She looked at me with an annoyed look on her face and said, "ok." I thought, "Ok, then... you must be having a bad day." So, I walked over to the table to sit down. Both girls stood there looking at me like I was about to steal something and run. I was about to pull out the chair to sit on it as one of the girls said, "No, no not that one! This side for lunch, you see? Only this side!" I looked down at the table and there was a small bowl of bread and butter on the other side of the table with silverware next to it. It was one small table... Why was it a big deal which chair I sat in? So, I said, "Ok, ok, sure..." as I directed myself to the other chair. Then, she rolled her eyes and walked away towards the other girl as they started speaking in French. I hadn't sat down yet.. I stood there, looked at them, picked up my bag, and left... I wasn't THAT hungry, anyway.

I sat in a taxi, except I didn't know where I wanted to go, so I just told him to drive by the Eiffel Tower so that I could see it up close. The driver was a Vietnamese, Chinese, French man who was extremely nice about driving me around, since I had no idea where I wanted to go. So, we drove by the Eiffel Tower, then, by the rich (Beverly Hills) area of Paris where I decided to get out and walk. I walked a few blocks down the street and decided that I couldn't miss Mona Lisa if I had come this far. So, I started walking towards the Louvre, back to square one, where my hotel was.

As I was walking down the street, I saw some people huddled around a man. He looked like he was doing some tricks for them, so, I walked up closer to the crowd. After watching his trick for a minute, I couldn't help but laugh. It was the trick where there's a ball under one of 3 cups, the cups get switched around, and you have to figure out which one the ball is in. Ok, I've witnessed this trick before and it's usually done so quickly that you forget which cup the ball was in to begin with... Let's just say this game was in slow motion. The "magician" was an older man with a mustache and as I watched him, he bent over the cups and switched them around, very slowly. He moved the cups so slow that you could easily keep your eye on the cup the ball was under and, let me tell you, he was no magician. It's not like he would make the ball disappear. The funniest part was that the people surrounding him were acting as though they had no idea where the ball was...
It was gambling on the street... you gave him 100 Euros and picked a cup. If the ball was underneath, you'd get 200 Euros back. If not, you'd lose your money. I stood there as he pointed at me to try it out. I had been watching for a couple of minutes, but I wasn't ready to bet 100 Euros on it because there had to be a catch... There was no way these people were not seeing that ball and where it was going. I stepped closer to the game and told him I wasn't giving him any money. I would reveal the ball for free, just to see if I was right. So, he agreed, and, I did. Guess what, the ball was there and I was 100% sure it would be there. I stood back after my turn and this lady came over and gave him 100 Euros. She picked the cup up and revealed the ball, which made her 100 Euros right there. He just handed her the money and moved onto the next person. Another woman standing to the right of me said, "I lost 160 Euros playing this yesterday..." I thought, "Uhhhh, ok...Oh my gosh, you did?" Watching this, I thought, "If this is serious, I should play. They have to be on crack or something... I know exactly where that ball is right now." So, I moved up and tried to take my wallet out of my bag. As I was fumbling through my bag, a man walked up in front of me and stood next to the "magician". He looked like he wanted to play, but it took 5 seconds for the people around me to scram. I stood there wondering where everybody's going... then, I watched them put the "magician's" hands to his back... At that moment, I thought, "Shit, I should walk away right about now. No wonder everybody left..." So, I took my hand out of my bag, turned around, and walked away as though I hadn't even been standing there. I don't think it would've been fun being arrested in Paris... well, according to Lucy.

Then, I made my way toward the Louvre, and in the meantime, got caught in a hail storm, was dripping wet to my socks, and, finally, saw the Mona Lisa...
So, that was the highlight of my adventures here in Paris. The rest of the day, I spent walking... walking... and more walking until I couldn't feel my toes, but it was so worth it...

Tip of the Day: Adventures can happen when you wander sometimes. Sometimes, just wander...

"I don't know... nobody speaks English here... they're all foreigners." Lucille Ball

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 234: Journal Entry... Alone in a Big World

I wrote Day 234 in my journal because there seemed to be some kind of problem getting through to the internet. So, here it is:
When I think back to today and how I can describe any single experience I've had, it's impossible. All I can say is that if you're reading this at work, at home, on your phone, while driving (I hope not...), in the doctor's office, at the mall, or wherever you might be at this moment, the world is so much bigger than you can imagine.
I am sitting here at the corner cafe, across from the Louvre...
I can hear conversations in French, music in Spanish, there's hot tea in my white, porcelain cup as I watch bikers and pedestrians stroll by. I watch as people, (some couples, some friends, some alone, like me), drink their wine at small, round wooden tables with candlelight.
I'm sure almost everybody has experienced being out of the country, in a new culture... I don't mean to point out the obvious, but, sometimes, we tend to forget everything else that exists outside of the little bubbles we create for ourselves.
Besides being introduced to a new culture, today, I stood across from the original masterpieces from some of my favorite artists. Being an art major, I had memorized and read all about these masterpieces and had seen them in textbooks, but to stand across from them was out of the norm... For me, it was, almost, an out of body experience...
I am enjoying my time here in Paris... I feel like I belong here somehow... but not alone...
Last night, I was in my room alone... I had never been alone in a strange hotel room. I lay there wondering how I would fall asleep, without a single familiar soul close enough to say "goodnight" to...
I thought about my lonely thoughts making an exit... and, they did... then, I thought about how lucky I am to be able to experience this in my life, at this time. I thought about how loved I am as I picked up my mini gift box thinking, "I know you think of me... goodnight." Then, I slept...

Tip of the Day: Sometimes, the world can overwhelm you and make you feel lonely, but always remember that there is someone thinking of you...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 233: Paris At Last...

I am, finally, here... in Paris... I am speechless as to finding the words to explain the beauty of this place. I have never thought that anything was "breathtaking" until the taxi pulled out onto the street today and I caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower... it was amazing...
Then, as I watched Parisian life on the streets, I caught a glimpse of the Louvre... still speechless. There are no words to describe what I saw today. The only way to understand it, is to see it for yourself. "Paris"... it does live up to its name.
Well, after witnessing all that beauty, I had to come back to life and direct my taxi driver to my hotel. Now, hotels in Paris are ridiculously expensive. They start from 400 Euros to thousands of Euros a night. So, when I realized I would be spending 3 nights here, I had my sister (my travel agent) find me a room in a good location. She did find me a room for a couple hundred a night, which was already stretching it, but I did want to stay in the city.
I told my taxi driver the name of my hotel and sat back admiring everything outside my window. After about 15 minutes of being in dreamland, she pulled over on a corner of a crowded street, in front of a very luxurious hotel that looked like it was out of a movie. As soon as I stepped out of the cab, the hotel attendant walked up to my bags and took them inside. I was kind of surprised at the service at that moment, because I hadn't expected much from the hotel I'd seen online, but I thought it might be my lucky day, so I payed the taxi driver and walked inside the hotel. The hotel didn't look like it was out of a movie... I felt like I was in a movie. It was beautifully, romantically lit, with statues and chandeliers all over the place, gold railings, and granite floors... I stood there for a second trying to collect my thoughts about this moment, thinking that this might be the wrong hotel, but I was immediately directed to the front desk to check in. The attendant said, "To your right Mademoiselle, sivouplay..." pointing me to the front desk. I smiled and said, "Merci..." and walked over to the counter thinking I might be in a dream, but I seemed to be doing okay, so I pulled out my passport and began the check in process. The attendant had already taken my luggage and was waiting to escort me to my room... Right then, I woke up when the lady at the front desk that was trying to check me in said, "Mademoiselle, are you sure you have a reservation at this hotel...?" I paused, stopped smiling, and said, "Umm, yes, it's the Hotel Louvre, right?" She nodded her head and said, "yes..., but you're not in the system..." Then, I remembered the street name and said, "Is this Bons Enfants? Hotel Louvre Bons Enfants... I think that's what it is...this isn't it, is it?" She handed my passport back to me and said, "Uh, no madam, this is Hotel de Louvre..." Well, how the hell was I supposed to know the difference when the taxi driver didn't... She called for the attendant to bring my bags back and I was to make my exit as swiftly as I had made my entrance at the Hotel de Louvre, except that my luggage got caught in the big rotating doors and that slowed the process down a bit. Well, the hotel, my Hotel Louvre, was two blocks away, so I started walking...
As I walked through the Paris streets with crowds of people around me, there was hardly enough sidewalk to walk on because the cafe tables were set out so far. Besides the downfall of not staying in a luxurious hotel, that moment was so great. There was laughter, French conversation, car horns, scooter noises... it was really great. I walked a couple of blocks down and turned a left into a dark alley where my hotel was supposed to be. There was nothing more in that alleyway except for that one hotel sign and some construction across the street. By this time, my bags, weighing tons...I was tired, sweaty, and my arms were about to fall off, so I parked my luggage in the alleyway and tried to get myself together.
As I walked in to the empty lobby of a small boutique hotel, I checked in with the man sitting at the front desk reading a book. He was a bit surprised at my state because he stared at me for a bit as I kept trying to wipe the sweat off my forehead. As he handed me the room key, I sighed in relief and made my way up to the 4th floor thinking, "I made it!"
But, my sigh turned into a deep breathing exercise when I realized that the elevator was so small, my luggage wouldn't fit in it. (and, honestly, my luggage is not big... it's, realistically, the size of a carry on...) So, I pushed all my stuff inside, got in, and hoped that the elevator would go up, and not down. It did go up... as the doors opened, I realized the whole hallway, (no exaggeration) was two feet wide. It wasn't bad enough I couldn't fit in the elevator, now, I had to carry my bags sideways to my room, so, I did...
Now, I'm here, finally... in Paris... at last...
Tip of the Day: Don't let any kind of situation bring you down. Everything that doesn't go as planned is what's remembered at the end of the trip.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 232: Painting Frontenay: Tu Est Belle

I have to say that European men do live up to their reputation... They are exactly what they are stereotyped to be. No... I haven't been out much. Actually, Frontenay has a shortage of men, (except for the farmer across the street) but I met a European man yesterday and he was exactly what I had imagined a European man to be like. His name is Camille and he's 8 1/2 years old. He's actually a "little man," but I already have another Little man in my life, so he was my "just as I imagined, Eurpean man" (in 20 years, of course).
We had a family visit for dinner, last night, and Camille was their little boy. After being here for half an hour, he wrote me a note and brought it to me and said, "Pogh toi..." (meaning "for you" in French) I smiled and took the piece of paper from him as I said, "Ah, merci Camille..." On the paper it read: Tu est belle, which means "You are beautiful."
So, now my dreams of meeting the most perfect European man have come true. I don't have to wonder about how I'd feel anymore if a random man walked up to me and said that to me.
Having written about outer beauty before, I have expressed my thoughts on it, but, this morning, I heard a very interesting novel story written by a French writer. The book is called "I am the Most Beautiful Man on Earth" written by Cyril Massarotto. One of the girls here is reading it, in French, and she translated the story to me: It's about a man who is supposed to be the most beautiful man on Earth. He goes through the beginning of his life getting too much attention, with people following him, admiring him, adoring him, etc. He decides that he doesn't want that life, so he finds a witch doctor and asks her to give him a potion that will turn him into the most normal man on Earth. So, she does, and he wakes up being the most normal man on Earth. Being normal, he realizes that he, actually, has to be smart, funny, and try to get people's attention while he goes through certain obstacles in life, like being homeless. While he's normal, he meets a girl that he falls in love with, but she doesn't take notice of him because she is in love with the most beautiful man on Earth. So, being in love with a woman that's in love with the man he used to be, he goes back to the witch doctor and asks for a potion that will make him the man that she loves. That being his last wish, the witch doctor accepts, and he wakes up being the man that she loves. He wakes up the same normal looking guy, but, now, she loves him. He realizes that being beautiful or normal was not what was making him happy. He realizes that having someone love him makes him happy...
The feeling of being beautiful to the outside world might make us feel good for a moment, but the important thing is to have someone love you for who you really are, beautiful or normal...
Camille gave me something that I will keep forever... but Armen gives me something that will keep me happy forever.
Tip of the Day: Don't think too much about what people are perceived to be by their looks. Pay attention to what matters most in your life and what makes you happy.
"Love of beauty is Taste. The creation of beauty is Art." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 231: Painting Frontenay: Thanks Momma...

A couple of days before I left for this trip, my mom asked nervously, "Can I come with you? How about if I come with you? Can I come... with... you...?" as she tried to do her sad puppy eyes. I didn't even have to answer her question. I just stared back at her looking confused as I made the "I know you didn't just ask that question" look. So, she figured it out and just walked away.
Being here, with these women, that ARE growing on me, I think it would've have been OKAY if she was here with me. It feels like I have 10 moms here, so I'm sure mine wouldn't have made a difference.
The more time I spend with these women, the more I think about each individual and their personalities. I wonder more about my life and where I'll be in 30 years...
Some of these women didn't even start painting until after having children... Some of them had a couple of husbands... Some of them have as many as 4 kids, and... some have been to France many times in their lives.
They wake up early every morning, grab their paint and canvas, and go out to catch the right light. I mean, think about it, I think that kind of dedication is amazing. Being around them, everyday, watching them work on their art as though it is a daily duty has made me realize that, for many, this is a serious business. Their willingness to paint, share, and learn gives me a sense of discipline that I might have been missing. It feels like a "wake up call" to me telling me that if I start early enough, I'll make it to wherever I'd like to be. It tells me that if I don't take the time I have, now, for granted, I'll make it. It tells me that if I'm a bit harder on myself about this art business, I'll make it. I'll make it if I try harder, learn more, and share more...
So, mom, I thank you for teaching me to be open to everything around me and to try to learn from everything. I think that your job here is done... you've done good... Thanks momma...

Tip of the Day: Learn from every single experience in your life. There's always something new to learn if you pay enough attention.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 230: Painting Frontenay: Capricina

I went for a bike ride this morning. I went to buy baguettess... The nearest town is four miles away, so I rode my bike over there... As I rode my bike to the front of the Boulangerie, which is their bakery, a little girl, about 3 years old, came outside and greeted people as they walked in. She began to play with the little puppies and speak to the customers. I bought the baguettes and set them down as I sat on the curb and watched her. Not knowing a word of French, and her not knowing a word of English, I gestured to her to come sit next to me. She did as she smiled and laughed. I had no idea how to communicate with her so I smiled and held my hand up to her for a "High Five" and as she slapped my hand, I realized that a "High Five" is international and so is a smile. There was no need to know the language with a child. All she wanted was to laugh and play anyway. As I got up to leave, I waved goodbye to her and her mother told her to go on inside. She replied to her mother and the mother translated for me and said, "She wants to see you go..." So, I smiled and got on my bike as I rode away, she waved goodbye. Her name was Capricina.
Tip of the Day: Sometimes, when you feel like you're in a world where no one understands you, find a child.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 229: Painting Frontenay: When in France...

I have a nickname now... they call me "Princess" around here. I have no idea where that name came from, but I am the "Princess" now. I have that reputation at home with the family, but I can't imagine what makes me one here. My mom used to walk into my room every morning a while back ago, (when the family was getting a kick out of making fun of me) and she would put her closed fists to her mouth, like she's holding a trumpet, and make a sound like, "Du-ru-ru-rut-tu-rut!!!" Afterwards, she'd break into laughter and leave, but it would make me smile every morning she did it.
Being the youngest in the group, I get to hear conversations about children's tuitions, husbands, mother-in-laws, etc. but I am learning so much about life and art being surrounded by so many talented and adventurous women. We have to take a train back to Paris in a couple of days and these adventurous women suggested staying at a hostel... Not to say that I am a prissy, girly, "Princess," but I explained that I had a different vision about my trip to Paris. I have stayed at a hostel, or shall I say "hut," before (and woken up to the sounds of people having sex...) but, like I said, Paris is different in my mind. I see luxury, beauty, and romance when I think of Paris and I had a feeling that if I started my Paris experience with a hostel it would not turn out the way I envisioned it. So, I said, "No" to a hostel and, now, I have a bad reputation for being a "Princess" around here also.
I have to say that the "Princess" is exhausted... I don't know if it's the few glasses of wine I've had or the company of 12 women. There's always a few steps you experience when you go on a trip with a group of people. In the beginning, everyone is a bit nervous and doesn't really know what to expect so they're on their best behavior. That's the time when everyone's being nice and friendly. Then, after a couple of days of being nice each person slowly starts to feel comfortable and their personality starts showing through. At that point, a couple of people can butt heads and some can feel offended or annoyed. Then, if no one kills each other in that state, after a few more days, right before the end of the trip, each person realizes how much they actually enjoyed their trip and stops taking it for granted. Then, the niceness comes out again as the trip comes to an end and everyone parts ways. At this point, everyone's personality is beginning to show through, (I'm sure, even mine is, due to the "Princess" comments) but I'm enjoying standing back and watching the whole process. I'm familiar with this area, but it's so much more interesting when they're all women.
Today, we visited a Chateau... it was rebuilt in the 1800's. We decided to pay the 9 Euros and take the tour to go inside... then, we found out the tour was in French. I'm not a Historian so I didn't mind that much about not understanding the language, but the tour guide made us stand outside the Chateau while he talked about it for 45 minutes. Well, that I minded... We stood there for 45 minutes as he went on and on... in French. The Chateau is pictured above and the one thing I remember from his presentation (the only part in English) was, "You expect the front door to a Chateau like this one to be enormous... big right? Well, the French said that they don't need a huge front door. This is a family home. Who are they trying to impress?" I thought that was pretty interesting. If not minding living in a Chateau like this one, with a small front door, is the "Princess" part of me not minding, then, I guess I am a "Princess." Hey, why not be a "Princess"? When in France...
Tip of the Day: Don't worry too much about what people think of you. Just be yourself... that's all that you can be.
"Always be yourself... because the people that matter, don't mind... and the one's that mind, don't matter."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 228: Painting Frontenay: Sit Still

I think that 80% of the world's flies are in France... and the rest are flying around the Armenian barbeques happening around the world. But, these French flies are amazingly stubborn. I have been fighting them off the whole day. Each room in the house actually comes with a fly swatter... they're ridiculous, but I have to admit that 95% of the world's ladybugs are here too. They all huddle around each other and you can actually see them walking around in the grass. So, in case you're wondering, France does not have a shortage of flies and ladybugs!
Today, I was on the other side of the canvas. The girls wanted me to model for them for portraiture. I was glad to do it because I, myself, enjoy drawing people, so, I put my makeup on and got ready to sit still. They were 25-30 minute sittings... I just sat there in one position and tried my best not to move a muscle. After about 10 minutes, the feeling in my hands and legs were gone and I couldn't feel the position I was in anymore. After 20 minutes, my brain went numb to the thoughts (except for the thoughts of killing I was having about the flies landing on me). The experience of numbness really came over me as I sat there... doing absolutely NOTHING.
I don't think there is ever a moment in any of our lives when we just sit still and do nothing. We're always trying to be productive, get something done, start something... Doing NOTHING is never an option. Even if we go on vacation, we lay down by the pool, doing nothing, but, we're, actually, working on our tan... which is something.
I feel as though I'm numb to the world right now because I sat there for a couple of hours today doing NOTHING. I feel calm, relaxed, and content. The contentment I feel is almost like when you finally kill a fly that has been buzzing in your ear for hours. It's amazing!

Tip of the Day: Take a seat or lay down somewhere, where there's no one around, and try not to move for a few minutes. Even 10 minutes will do the trick. Just stare into space and think about whatever you want. You'll notice that the thoughts will just come and go, but if you stay there long enough, you'll realize that you have nothing more to think and worry about. Every thought you have will find its place in your mind, somehow, and stay there, atleast for a while...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 227: Painting Frontenay: Bonjour French!

I might have to edit a few bits of my experiences here in France because after the first day's post, my mom, kind of, freaked out... I got emails from my sister with a few words of advice... like, don't take drinks from strangers, be careful, be cautious, be careful, be cautious... and so on...
Not to say that I won't be careful and cautious, but I will be holding a few things back because the family is following so consistently. A message to the family: I'm fine people!! I'm doing good! Thanks for the concerns though, momma... Love you...
I have never heard such quiet as I do in this house. The silence is amazing... it's almost too loud. The sound of my teeth chewing on my Milk Duds, right now, is so comforting. I never thought I'd appreciate such a sound...
Today, I walked right into French culture... We went to a town called "Saint Loupe Sur Thouet," which is about 20 minutes from where we're staying. It was a small, picturesque French town that probably never gets tourists. As soon as I stepped out of the car, I saw a small cafe and asked one of the girls to join me in there. "Karen, you wanna go speak some french? Let's go to that cafe over there..." She agreed to accompany me and we started walking towards the cafe. It looked like it was out of a storybook. As we walked in, Karen looked over at me and asked, "You know how to speak French?" I turned to her, smiled, and said, "Nope... why? You don't?" She started giggling and answered, "NO! I thought you knew how to speak French!" I replied, "No, but it's okay... we'll be fine, come on..." So, we sat down at one of the tables and set our stuff down. I got up and looked over at the lady standing behind the counter and took notice of all the wine bottles behind her... I looked back at Karen and asked, "Do they only serve Alcohol here? No coffee?" She answered, "No, they have coffee..." I turned back around, looked back at the woman and said, "Cafe?" She looked at me with an annoyed look on her face and replied, "Cafe? Wee, Wee cafe..." So, "wee" meaning "yes" in French, (atleast I knew that) I said, "Ok, un cafe si-vou-play" meaning "please" (I knew that too... I wasn't totally lost) Then, I realized I wanted a latte or something with foam on it so I said, "Cafe latte?" The lady behind the counter looked confused, but she replied, "Cafe O'le?" Now, I was confused, so I said, "Wee, wee" thinking, "ok whatever, just give me some caffeine..." A couple of minutes later, I was handed a small cup of Espresso. This not knowing French thing was not working out for me... but, I got my caffeine, so I sat down and shut up...
As we sat there trying to decide on a subject to draw, about 15 professional bikers, with pink biking outfits on, arrived at the cafe. That scene was so stereotypical of France... it was pretty funny. As they sat outside, I looked over and saw her making lattes for them with whip cream on top. I stopped what I was doing and said, "What is that?" hoping she'd understand me. She looked up at me and said, "CAPPUCCINO" (Ok, I should've figured that one out... that was my blonde moment of the day) Of course, CAPPUCCINO! What else would they call it!
We sat there for a bit trying to figure out some more French words we could use to conversate with the lady. We found out her name was Silvi... she was just like the French woman I had pictured in my head... dark hair, a long shaped face, pointy nose, stiff attitude, and a bit of masculinity... she was interesting...
The hours went by as I drew Silvi and Karen sculpted her from clay. While drawing, I had talked so much, I had almost all the people in cafe teaching me French. I refused to speak English, so I asked for the translations of everything I wanted to say, as I wrote them down. Here are some of the words I learned today: (they're typed out just as they're pronounced but good luck with the pronunciations)
Bon-jour - Hello
Si-vou-play - Please
Ou-rev-wa - Goodbye
Tre-bon - Very good
Kei-ghe - Wine & liquor drink
De-so-le - Sorry
Sa-va - How are you? (informal)
fgho-maje - Cheese
kiv-es-sympa - You are very nice
Megh-ci Bo-kou - Thank you very much
A-la-votgh - Cheers
Jo-voud-khe-pieh - I want to pay
Com-bi-en - How much?
Li-ou - water
Pogh-toi - For you
Ji-vout-ghe - I want
I wonder how they say, "These Milk Duds are so good!" - "Mil-khe Du-ddes es muy trebon!"
Tip of the Day: When you put yourself in an awkward situation on purpose, you force yourself to learn new things and meet new people, which can be the most memorable experiences.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 226: Painting Frontenay: Waking Up Alone

It seems like I'm not experiencing any kind of jet lag... It's 12:30 AM and I'm ready to sleep now. My body's clock seems to be functioning correctly, despite the fact that there's an 8 hour difference in my sleep cycle.
Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night... I opened my eyes, it was dark, and I had forgotten where I was...

I remember when I was young enough to fall asleep at a relative's house my parents were visiting that night. I would fall asleep as soon as my eyelids got heavy, but I'd fall asleep thinking, "Mom, please don't leave me here..." Well, most of the time, I'd wake up in someone else's bed. I'd get up, feel angry about being there, and call my mom to come and get me. Normally, it was either my aunt's or grandmother's house, but it wasn't my bed. Everytime I'd ask her why she left me there, she'd say, "Well, you were asleep and we didn't want to wake you..." So, she'd be there to pick me up right after breakfast (sometimes, my sister and I, both). That was the one feeling I despised having as a child... (except for that feeling I used to get when I'd think of the world and my family, and, how we're not going to exist forever... but that was just the weird, eery part of my brain going into action as a child.)

Last night, I had that feeling... I woke up to a strange place. As I looked into the darkness and waited a few seconds to recollect my memory of where I was, I just closed my eyes and hoped for that feeling to go away... and, it did as I fell asleep again.

I have those feelings because of my childhood and how safe I've always felt my whole life. Now, being away from home and not feeling as safe, I feel I have grown up to accept these feelings and I understand, now, that I am not alone... I do have people that are thinking of me and care for me. They just left me here so that they don't wake me up from my dreams... they left me so that I can be on my own, grow up, learn, and get good rest. They'll be here to get me when I call them... right after breakfast...

Tip of the Day: Your childhood experiences are always going to be apart of you... Good or bad, try to understand how they affected your life and how they benefit your life now.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 225: Painting Frontenay: A Stranger's Kiss

I have arrived...

I am sitting at a long, wooden table in the middle of a house that looks like it could be out of a movie titled: Painting Frontenay

Time: 10:30 AM (France Time) September; year 2010

Place: Frontenay Sur Dive (4 hours out of Paris) 6 Rue de Bouige

Setting: A French, quiet, green village; cloudy; a bit cold, but no rain

Characters: 14 middle-aged, women artists; a bit weird at times (well expected); white-American women; 2 of which are Scottish; speak broken French; and, 1 of 14 is Armenian (and the youngest one in the group)

Plot: Women setting out on an adventurous drawing and painting trip to Fontenauy Sur Dive; Staying in two houses; living the creative lifestyle of waking up in the middle of nowhere, in France, and painting all day.

It took me a while to get myself on the internet, alone in a quiet area to do this. We arrived here last night after a long day of being in the airports and train stations.

I just saw a mouse run from one room to another... I guess it's really the village life here for the next 10 days. I can deal with mice, as long as they don't crawl into my bed... Atleast, they give me something to write about.

Anyway, all I've had since I've been here is wine, cheese, bread, sleep, and some more wine. If I drink, the conversations sound a bit less weirder, or, they make more sense, I think...

The trip to the house was long... I spent 36 hours traveling from one seat to another with all my heavy luggage and, this laptop, of course. I spent 11 hours sitting next to a French guy who thought he'd catch cooties if his elbow touched mine, which made me tense and stiff. I watched four movies, one of which was in French, ate dinner and breakfast, went to the bathroom twice, (since I'm telling you everything about the plane ride) and fell asleep for about 3 minutes before the pilot announced that he was landing. I'm going to skip the part where I waited 5 hours for the train ride... But... the train ride was when my trip got better...

Like I mentioned, my bags were heavy, considering that I had to bring all my art supplies, have, at least, a few outfits for Paris, bring, atleast, 3 pairs of different colored shoes, and, of course, have my camera handy... and, use my less functional, more fashionable luggage... my bags were heavy...

So, I stood by the train, waiting in line, to get on... a couple of men stood in back of me, Russian men, they were. They spoke loudly, in Russian, and laughed uncontrollably. It was the kind of laughter that made you think you had something stuck to your ass or back. So, I tried ignoring their laughter as my turn came up to get on the train. There being a foot of space between the platform and the train step, I stared at the space thinking, "SHIT..." So, I tried to pick up my stuff and carry it on my shoulder as one of the men offered to help. He picked up both bags together and just put it up on the train steps for me as I said, "Thank you so much..." many times, with a smile. They just went on speaking Russian and laughing... I got up on the train and pulled my stuff to the side as I kept smiling. I walked over to my seat and sat down only to find out that they were all seated in front of me. There was an older man, apart of the group, that was seated next to me, and the two younger ones in front. As I sat there, I prepared myself for the loudest two hour train ride... Both men got to their seats, but didn't sit down. They sat on their knees and turned around, facing the man sitting next to me. (like little children do...) Right then, I thought, "OK... seriously..." So, I just looked out the window at France... I was finally here and I couldn't enjoy it because of two men who thought they were still 12. I tried to make the best of it as I smiled. They just stayed there, in that position, talking and laughing as they stared at me thinking I would respond to them somehow, but I kept a grin on my face and kept my eyes on the window. So, they finally got up and left to walk around on the train. I fell asleep for a few minutes with my shawl over my head to keep the sun from hitting my face. I woke up to their noise as I heard them coming back to their seats. Then, I really woke up because one of the men pulled my window shade down, trying to be considerate. (like when I was trying to be considerate turning that girl's CD player off while she was asleep...) So, I understood his actions, and sat up, smiled, and said, "Thank you."

To make my experience not drag on... they began talking to me, in Russian, as I tried my best to understand what they were saying. They showed me pictures of their families and wanted to see pictures of mine... I had enough of a conversation with them as two people that don't understand each other could. It turned out that the older man sitting next to me was Armenian. His name was Souren... he was delighted to find out I was Armenian, but couldn't believe that I didn't know any Russian. He brought over two bottles of wine... and, as we drank wine out of plastic cups, I realized that my trip had just begun... I was in France... with Russian men... and, as I took my last sip of Rose wine, my stop was here...

I stood up from my seat to gather my stuff and get my luggage... they all followed me to the exit... Souren carried my bags down the steps as he got off with me... his stop was the next one. He handed me my luggage, smiled and said, "I hope you have a good trip... it was very nice to meet you..." I looked up at him, as I smiled, and said, "Thank you so much... I hope you have a good trip too..." as he smiled and took my face in his hands, he said, "Let me give you a kiss..." he kissed both of my cheeks and got back on the train... It was less of a perverted kiss and more of a father's kiss... Actually, it was a stranger's kiss...

Tip of the Day: When it comes to experiencing things, be open to all kinds of possibilities. You never know who you'll meet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 224: Off to Paris...

"There is a very special gift that you can never see. The reason it's so special is it comes to you from me. Whenever you are lonely or even feeling blue, you only have to hold this gift and know I think of you. You never can unwrap it, please leave the ribbon tied, just hold the box up to your heart it's filled with love inside."

That's written on a mini gift box I received years ago... When I travel, it's with me, and, honestly, it makes me feel better when I see it while I'm away from home.

Tonight, I'm packing it up because this mini gift box is taking a trip to Paris...

Tip of the Day: When you're going away from home, take something familiar with you that'll make you feel better in a strange place.

Day 223: Just Smile

I remember my dad saying that if you ever feel down, just smile... he said, "Just open your mouth, show you teeth, and smile as best you can. Then, you'll feel better." Personally, it works for me because every time I smile for no good reason, I make myself laugh. It's difficult to find that one thing that makes you smile. I think that the thoughts that make us smile change throughout our lifetime, but, the people that make us smile never change. There are certain people in our lives that just bring a smile to our face when they're around. We can't help but be happy around them. Sometimes, the wrong people make us smile, but don't ever regret anything that made you smile...

Tip of the Day: Try it, it might work for you.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 222: World Events

Today is the 9th Anniversary of September 11th... I can talk about the tregedies of that day and go on about how we can all remember where we were when we heard the news, but, instead, I'm going to dedicate today's post to every single person who was involved or affected by that day's tragedies...
When it comes to fraud, war, natural disasters, shootings, and any other kinds of tragedies, most of us watch them happen from behind the screen, and it feels distant. We don't ever think about these kinds of things until they actually happen to or affect us, personally, in some way. We can't help but feel bad for a moment or two, and then, move on. Every one of us has a responsibility to ourselves and our families and, until, something affects us, directly, we don't react.
September 11th is remembered every year by Americans... There are so many tragedies occuring everywhere around the world, everyday, that, most of the time, we are not aware of them and can't help but ignore them... there are too many to keep track of. We can't help the ways of the world, so we just stand by and watch...
Tip of the Day: Respect the rest of the world by educating yourself about current events and lend a hand when you can, any day you can.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 221: Admit it, you're wrong...

I woke up to my mom screaming today... she walked into my sister's room and yelled, (in Armenian) "Don't you know I'm blind? Why did you park your car in back of my car?!!!" As my sister got out of bed, half asleep, to see the damage, I was giggling in bed. My mom followed my sister out of her room as she kept saying, "I'm blind! I'm blind! I'm blind! How did I not see the car there? I just backed up into it like it didn't exist... Oh my God, I'm blind!!! My baby's brand new car... Oh my God!" I was still giggling... I thought, "it's just a car mom... calm down..."
Then, as I was getting Armen's clothes ready, while I ironed his shirt I noticed that it looked a bit different... but, it was okay... whatever...
I sat at my computer, as he walked up to me holding his shirt up, he asked, "Kyank, (meaning "life" in Armenian, kind of like "sweety") I think there are stains on this shirt?" I looked up at his shirt, with stains all over it, front and back, and said, "No that's the shirt's design, dummy... just wear it..." He looked at the shirt again, confused, and said, "No, kyank, I don't think this is a design... this shirt is dirty..." I was annoyed by now... I looked up at him and said, "Arm, look, how would you stain the shirt all over like this and make it look like a design? It's the design! Trust me, I know!" He answered, "Okay, fine, if it's a design, then, it shouldn't wash out, right?" I thought, "Duhh..." He walked away and, let's just say, I wouldn't let him leave the house with a stained shirt on... I was wrong... so, I got to iron two shirts today.
Tip of the Day: When you're wrong about something, admit it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 220: 155 LBS.

I've been putting off the whole weight management thing... but, starting today, I will be posting my weight at least once a week. I have no idea what I will be doing in the diet and exercise areas but I hope I don't embarass the shit out of myself...
Tip of the Day: Make today the beginning of your goal, whatever it may be.
Goal: 140 LBS.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 219: Perfection

"You Have a Yearning for Perfection"... that's what my fortune cookie said today...
The definition of "yearning" is" an intense or overpowering longing, desire, or need; craving
The definition of "perfection" is: freedom from fault or defect; the quality or state of being saintly; an exemplification of supreme excellence; an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence.
The reason why I looked up these words is because I had a faint feeling that my fortune cookie might have been telling me the truth. I live everyday trying to sleep perfect (in my PJs without any makeup on), look perfect (putting makeup up and getting dressed up), be perfect (be happy), do perfect (try to make anyone I can happy), and think perfect (writing these blogs "Everyday Modest" giving out tips on how to be perfect)... I think the only thing I don't try to do perfectly is "eat perfect" (which I should be doing)...
To me, I have a perfect relationship with a perfect man, a perfect family, a more than perfect job, and so on... But...
In my idea, everybody thinks about these things daily. We have to strive for better things in our lives or else we'll won't grow and change as people. It's when you feel you tire yourself out trying to be "perfection," then, something is not right.
I'm not going to go on a write about how no one's perfect and how we all need to be happy with ourselves because we've all heard that before...
This morning, Armen and I got into a small argument about something really stupid. I left the room telling him to find someone else to iron his shirt and set out his clothes today. Not to my surprise, he didn't try to get ready by himself. He just stood there until I reacted to him. I asked him to apologize... then, he asked me to apologize. So, we both said "sorry" for our mistakes... then, I was happy to get him his clothes. Fifteen minutes later, he was dressed, and I was smiling...
Today, I'm going to state that my fortune cookie was telling the truth. I realize that I do yearn for perfection, and, maybe, most of us do, but, life's imperfections are what make it so perfect. The apologies, arguments, and making-up is what make my life so perfect...

Tip of the Day: It's okay to yearn for perfection if you know what perfection is for you...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 218: Invisible Generosity

I don't really have anything in mind today... but, I'm not going to make up some kind of title like "silence," "privacy," or "don't think" because there's something more I can do... but, tonight, I'm not going to talk about myself at all. Honestly, I'm kind of tired of writing about myself... and I need a bit of privacy, lately, due to the extracurricular situations going on in my life at the moment.
I'm going to try to explain how we, as human beings, can go wrong sometimes... Nothing we do is right... even if we think it's right, someone else thinks differently. Nothing we ever accomplish is enough compared to someone that has accomplished more. Nothing we ever say is the right thing to say because someone would've said it better. Everything we try to do is never enough and... anything we do for other people to please them is never enough because they grow to expect things from you.
I remember learning that someone who does too much is never recognized. The ones who don't do things for others, often, are the ones that get noticed when they do something just once.
It's a normal human reaction... Think about it, if the mailman knocked on your door every morning, for years, and handed you your mail, you'd be surprised if he ever decided to drop it in the mailbox. After a while, you'd expect him to bring it to the front door, even though he brought it to your door just because he was a generous man.
We expect generosity and kindness from everyone around us, and, most importantly respect... I would guess that most people expect it, but don't give it out themselves.
The fact that you would expect the mailman to bring your mail to the door is not because you're a selfish and disrespectful person, but that by being generous, everyday, the mailman conditioned you to expect his generosity. By being generous EVERYDAY, his generosity became invisible.
Today's post sounds a bit pessimistic in pointing out all the negative thoughts we tend to have... but, I believe that living our lives trying to understand all the different aspects of our tendencies is crucial to our happiness. Not noticing and understanding our negative tendencies will only cause us to be pessimistic towards these situations when they arise in our lives.

Tip of the Day: Being generous and doing things for others is how we go about in life helping each other be better, but, try to balance out your generosity throughout the week so you don't become invisible.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 217: Books

I visited the library the other day... only because I had to... but, today, I visited Barnes & Noble. I realized I had forgotten what it feels like to be around so many books. For me, it's overwhelming to walk around a book store, in the aisles, (especially the Bargain books) trying to read the book titles and pick out the ones that might interest me. It's, kind of, like being at the mall, in my favorite store, and trying to pick out the clothes that catch my eye. I usually go for the books with the illustrations on the covers, which direct me, either, to the children's book or the Love & Sex sections most of the time, but, no matter what section I end up in, by the end of it, my brain is tingling and awake.

Tip of the Day: Visit a book store or library from time to time... The experience of books wake your brain up.