If television and the media have taught me one thing (besides my reason for existence! LOL) it’s that during a sweet sixteen party, as their friends hoist them on their shoulders, or as a newlywed looks down at their new finger bling, it’s that these moments are directly followed by the joyful exclamation, “This is the happiest day of my life!”
Big. Deal. If I were to pass by an anonymous stranger in the park and overheard him saying casually to his friend/lover/neighbor/dog “This is the happiest day of my life,” I’d be much more impressed. I’d want to know what that guy’s secret is. I’d be envious of that guy’s life. I’d be waiting for his caretaker to come back and remind him not to talk to strange dogs in the park.
While I’m neither that guy who talks to dogs in the park, or that joyful partier, I feel a sense of satisfaction that seems worthy of sharing. Location aside, my life consists of nothing miraculous and most days my routine would bore a sixty-year-old librarian but having this contentment at these times makes it all the more significant. Anyone can feel elated shoving a piece of $400 wedding cake in their new spouse’s face, ABC Family channel can tell you that. Jennifer Lopez, even before the J.Lo years, put out a video for her mind-numbing song “Feeling So Good” that featured, what I interpreted as, her perfect “normal” day: Jennifer getting ready to go out, listening to her favorite music (her song…a bit narcissistic), getting together with her friends, passing a store and seeing a great fur coat on sale, and finally Jennifer reaching the club and smiling all throughout a choreographed dance with her pals. This video has no relevance to me and I would never compare my version of happiness to that of Jennifer Lopez but I did recently find a thrift store that sells vintage fur coats for around 80 Euro. A fur coat has a universal affect in terms of happiness.
Being fully aware of my eating habits, my day is often brightened just by looking in the mirror and not seeing a 300 lbs. popsicle. I don’t want to shatter the image I assume everyone has of French dining but I can sum up my experience so far with a recent purchase of a three pack of microwavable pizzas for 1.30 Euro. Don’t shame me for some factors are against me: money, facilities, and time. The conversion rate has reared it’s ugly head at my bank account and my funds are nearly famished (expect an email soon mom and dad!) so I often play a game of “How many items under 2 Euro can I get” while at the grocery store. I have yet to reach the point of purchasing the industrialized sized can of beef ravioli that features merely a grainy image of ravioli and a Times New Roman title of “RAVIOLI BOEUF” but I know exactly where it is in the store. Our kitchen cannot be accurately described in words but a good place to start is with the word…small. We are sans oven, dishwasher, and toaster oven and can only have one appliance plugged in at a time. The pots, pans and silverware are all time capsules, treasures deemed unpackable from previous tenets. I’d like to know the story behind the Casino Royale shot glasses, or the mug featuring a Family Circus style illustration of a girl and boy kissing – naked, partially covered only by a winter scarf acting as a loincloth. With my new routine I often wake up early and try to spend as little time possible making breakfast, I have lunch packing down to a 6-minute art and when I arrive home from school and errands my hunger pains often dictate how fast I prepare dinner.
Time also poses another problem during the post-dinner-pre-sleep period where if I went to real school would be filled with homework, or if I lived in a normal media environment Internet browsing or channel surfing; instead it’s filled with shameful trips to the refrigerator. A few chips would make a nice snack…but they go best with soda, and suddenly I’m tired of chips but still have soda left…I’ll balance that out with a cookie or peanuts. With the amount of carbs I eat in a given day my food diagram would resemble a ranch house more than a pyramid. Before I had a school routine I would often have to ask myself if I already ate pasta twice today as I reached for a fresh bag. The incredibly delicious and cheap jelly here has increased my daily toast count three-fold. I recently justified eating another ice cream sandwich immediately after having consumed one by saying to myself “an even number is better than an odd, and having one pistachio and one chocolate evens out the number left in the box”. It’s this kind of thinking that has Jenny Craig members filling out membership-renewal forms at Krispy Kreme. I have a twisted vision of a bunch of blind-folded children whacking my dead body with a stick until it splits apart sending candy and other treats flying across the room; the children squealing with delight as they scoop up the sugary contents of my corpse. In the future I may refer to these days as “happier times” merely in reference to my metabolism but until then I find comfort in food and comfort in my body being able to maintain acceptable appearance and bodily functions despite being 75% Coca-Cola.
Tuition for the EICAR film school was worth it for providing a cure for my insomnia alone. Five to seven hour days of class with an hour and fifteen minute commute there and back have made sleep problems a thing of blog history. While I’m not exactly exerting physical activity during the school day, the lectures, discussions, and strenuous doodling send me crawling for bed before 11 p.m. During the weekends if it’s a good night I’ll leave the respected establishment between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and if it’s not I’ll usually consider an early ending justification for walking back; both of which have me exhausted (and hungry) when I finally return. Sometimes I feel bad when I look at the Tylenol PM bottle, once my favorite bedside companion, now laying defeated on the floor collecting dust. While I’d rarely want to disclose this information to those teenagers and twenty-somethings with exciting social lives, the warmness and comfort of climbing into bed at 10:30 knowing your body and mind are fully prepared to sleep throughout the night is an indescribable joy.
In a primal way I have satisfied my basic desires; sleeping and eating. As a man, this immediately makes me happy. Cara will often come into the kitchen to a slaughtered chicken on the kitchen floor, a trail of bones will lead to my bed--another happy night for the alpha-male of the house. Man sleep. Woman clean bones, prepare ice cream sandwich platter.
Surprisingly enough I have found pleasure outside of food and sleep, school has proved to be enjoyable. Most of the professors have been rather engaging, and when they aren’t they are more than entertaining. The amusing broken English that comes not only from the teachers but also from the students keeps me alert. The assignments are actually things to look forward to, and I have yet to fully grasp the expanse of Paris’ film culture. Despite my French Film nativity I’m actively learning, why just today I was browsing the DVD selection of the local Fnac store; Mean Girls…9.99, Adams Family Values…9.99, the culture here is not only accessible, but affordable. I’ve gotten along quite well with most of my classmates and have made some good friends fast. I’m embracing them now for once they find out about my torrid past I’ll be back to silently wandering the grocery store aisles, entertaining myself with the ambiguity of the shampoo and conditioner bottles. Breaking the food realm and triumphantly forging into the beverage category, I have found simple delight in the coffees dispensed from the machines populating our campus; for a mere .40 Euro I can get an authentic Café Au Lait, topped off with a mechanical “Merci, Merci, Merci!” During the breaks in between classes the entrance to the building is suddenly turned into an alcoholic anonymous meeting spot, clumps of people clutching cheap coffee and chain-smoking while they complain about the cold and discuss drunken weekend escapades. It may not be the most successful alcoholics anonymous group, but they’re taking it one coffee cup at a time.
This may have been the most “bloggy” of my blogs, but talking about your feelings just seems so much more hip when you can publish it online and chose your font color. I contemplated putting little emoticons of smiley faces throughout this entry just to utilize the technology. While the fact that the French dub every and all shows has yet to deter me from watching some television, there are some things I know are being said on certain shows. There are times when it’s expected to be the happiest day of your life and frankly I’m not wow’d; add an all you can eat buffet, conversation over cheap coffee, an on time-metro and a welcoming bed and now we’re speaking the same language.