Besides my first day in France, my first week in Paris was pretty amazing. I didn’t have much to do my first three days at work, because everyone was getting ready for the Fourth of July reception, the biggest event of the year for the Embassy.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to get to go as a volunteer. It was held at the Ambassador’s residence and dignitaries and military personnel were invited from all the different embassies but French ones as well. It was a great event and also gave me the chance to hang out with some of the other interns, because there’s about 20 or 30 of us at the Embassy.
That night, some of the other interns had planned a get to gether on the Champ de Mars or the park in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a ton of fun, we sang some songs, hung out and just generally had a great time. For me, I kept looking at the Eiffel Tower and saying, “Wow, I’m actually here in Paris, this hasn’t hit me yet. This is strange. What, I’m in Paris?” or some form of that. It was definitely one of the most unique Fourth of July parties that I’ve ever been too and one that I will probably remember for a long time.
So on Saturday June 29th, I started my 14 hour trek from Harbor Springs, Michigan to Paris, France. For some reason, leaving this time was much more difficult than leaving for study abroad. I think part of it was that I wouldn’t have anyone at the airport waiting when I arrived. I would be completely on my own and that kind of scared me.
Anyways, my trip started with driving to the airport in Pellston, MI and realizing that I arrived about an hour early. Now, normally arriving early would be a good thing, so you could go through security and all that fun stuff. But in Pellston, that doesn’t take too long, seeing as there is only one plane at the airport at a time and only about 3 flights land a day. At least it gave me some time to call a few people before I left and hang out a little longer with my mom.
Then I arrived in Detroit, had a four hour layover and called a few more people to say goodbye. It’s possible I cried a few times, but hey it was difficult. I got on the plane around 6 and off to Amsterdam I went. I couldn’t find a direct flight to Paris that would get me there on Sunday the 30th, so I had to stop in Amsterdam first. Then I had about an hour layover in Amsterdam before my last flight to Paris. By this time, it’s about 5/6am and I really didn’t sleep that much on the flight.
Finally, I arrived in Paris around 8am and had the whole day ahead of me.
Step One: Get my baggage, Done
Step Two: Take the RER and the Metro to get to the Foyer where I’m living, not quite as easy. I managed to get from the RER to the Metro and managed to figure out the right stop, but then things went downhill. First off, the Paris metro involves a lot of stairs and I had a backpack, a hiking backpack and a huge suitcase. Not a lot of fun and involved me looking like a fool. Then when exiting the Metro, I turned the wrong way down the street and ended up walking to the next Metro station before I realized what had happened. So back down a flight of stairs back on the Metro and back to the first stop. This time I turned the right way and managed to find the Foyer.
Even more fun now. At the Foyer, not many people who run it speak English, so I was forced to break out my French, a little halting at first but I caught on. I got my stuff up to my 5th floor room and found out that my bathroom didn’t have toilet paper. Put that on my list. I unpacked a little, went out to buy some stuff and I think cried about 10 times. It was tough, I couldn’t contact anyone to tell them I was there, I didn’t really know the neighborhood and I was alone. It kinda sucked, but I got through it and then Monday was my first day at the Embassy but I’ll talk about that later.
So I’m heading off to France for round two this summer. It’s weird but this time, it’s been a lot harder leaving home and getting ready. This time when I land at CDG, it’s just me. I won’t have any other kids from K with me and I won’t have our resident director, Joelle, waiting in Clermont. I’m all on my own this summer and it kinda freaks me out. I’ve never lived in a place completely by myself. Yes, I did go to Philly for six weeks last summer, but I was living with a family friend. And this past year in Clermont, I always had the other K-kids and my host family around me. Spending 9 weeks in a foreign country, attempting to use my somewhat passable French, it’s going to be an adventure, thats for sure. It’s scary, yet exciting and I know it’s going to be an amazing summer. Just gotta get all this anxiety out of the way first.
It’s nice, actually it’s amazing when you feel comfortable enough with someone to tell them things, that you’ve never really told other people before. To tell something so intimate about yourself, that most of the time it’s hidden. Something that you’ve dealt with and thought about on your own, but doesn’t come up in conversation and isn’t really something that you can discuss with just anyone. So when you actually feel like you can tell that to someone, it’s great and it’s not till after you’re done talking to them that you realize it was actually kind of a weight that held you down/ And after talking you feel somewhat lighter and more ok with yourself, that you can handle this. And that feeling, it’s just nice.
For months, every morning when my daughter was in preschool, I watched her construct an elaborate castle out of blocks, colorful plastic discs, bits of rope, ribbons and feathers, only to have the same little boy gleefully destroy it within seconds of its completion.
No matter how many times he did it, his parents never swooped in BEFORE the morning’s live 3-D reenactment of “Invasion of AstroMonster.” This is what they’d say repeatedly:
“You know! Boys will be boys!”
“He’s just going through a phase!”
“He’s such a boy! He LOVES destroying things!”
“Oh my god! Girls and boys are SO different!”
“He. Just. Can’t. Help himself!”
I tried to teach my daughter how to stop this from happening. She asked him politely not to do it. We talked about some things she might do. She moved where she built. She stood in his way. She built a stronger foundation to the castle, so that, if he did get to it, she wouldn’t have to rebuild the whole thing. In the meantime, I imagine his parents thinking, “What red-blooded boy wouldn’t knock it down?”
She built a beautiful, glittery castle in a public space.
It was so tempting.
He just couldn’t control himself and, being a boy, had violent inclinations.
Her consent didn’t matter. Besides, it’s not like she made a big fuss when he knocked it down. It wasn’t a “legitimate” knocking over if she didn’t throw a tantrum.
His desire — for power, destruction, control, whatever- - was understandable.
Maybe she “shouldn’t have gone to preschool” at all. OR, better if she just kept her building activities to home.
I know it’s a lurid metaphor, but I taught my daughter the preschool block precursor of don’t “get raped” and this child, Boy #1, did not learn the preschool equivalent of “don’t rape.”
Not once did his parents talk to him about invading another person’s space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. Respect for her and her work and words was not something he was learning. How much of the boy’s behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?
There was another boy who, similarly, decided to knock down her castle one day. When he did it his mother took him in hand, explained to him that it was not his to destroy, asked him how he thought my daughter felt after working so hard on her building and walked over with him so he could apologize. That probably wasn’t much fun for him, but he did not do it again.
There was a third child. He was really smart. He asked if he could knock her building down. She, beneficent ruler of all pre-circle-time castle construction, said yes… but only after she was done building it and said it was OK. They worked out a plan together and eventually he started building things with her and they would both knock the thing down with unadulterated joy. You can’t make this stuff up.
Take each of these three boys and consider what he might do when he’s older, say, at college, drunk at a party, mad at an ex-girlfriend who rebuffs him and uses words that she expects will be meaningful and respecte, “No, I don’t want to. Stop. Leave.”
The “overarching attitudinal characteristic” of abusive men is entitlement.
Sometimes the tears just keep falling
And they roll down your face
And you just can’t stop them
And you just think about everything
And let those emotions come out
And you just can’t stop those tears
It’s something you can’t control
And they just keep rolling down your face
Those tears just keep falling
You know when you a get a text from someone and it just makes you feel happy and you blush, but all happy and kinda giggly. Where you want to just hide your face down in your shirt, because you don’t want anyone else to see how it makes you feel. That feeling. That’s the one feeling that I love.
Sometimes, no a lot of the time, I hate how I react to things. Things that upset me, I get mad but as soon as someone apologizes, I retrace my steps and act like it’s no big deal. Basically, I’m a pushover. I hate how I keep doing it, but I can’t help it, I keep doing it again and again and again. Not that many people have actually seen me angry and even if I were angry at someone, I bet they could get me to feel bad for them within a few days. I’m quick to forget how angry I am at someone. I can hide it, a lot of the time. It’s just something I wish I could change, but I can’t. I guess that’s life.
Ever since being back in the Zoo, I’ve been confused about a lot of things. And I guess most of it stems from all the things that have changed since when I was last here.
I almost feel like I don’t know who some of friends are anymore. I don’t know if I should try and make an effort or not, because they haven’t. Or if it’s my fault because I haven’t made an effort either. I don’t know, it’s difficult.
It’s just hard feeling like people who I was really close with last year are gone. Like I don’t have them anymore and feeling like I can’t get them back.
I don’t know if I’m ready to start Spring Quarter anymore, it almost seems more than I can handle. And I don’t know if it’s just me feeling sorry for myself or if I actually am losing some of those people.
It’s all just confusing and I’m not sure how to even begin to figure it all out.
In the end, it’s just