It’s five years since I wrote a five-year plan

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Today I am feeling like this meme; just replace 2016 with 2012.

I have another blog, which I’ve kept up for ten years now. At this point it functions more as a private journal than a public site. The other day, I was searching for something there, and I got caught up reading old posts that I had long ago forgotten. I stopped short at one that I wrote just over five years ago. It was my five year plan.  Continue reading

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to do, and done

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Things that I still want to do in the near future even though I have taken little to no action on them to date:

  • Spend at least two weeks and preferably two months doing Spanish immersion in Spain or South America.
  • Take a tour of the South of France.
  • Visit a bunch of Europe’s tiny states and principalities: Luxembourg, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, and Lichtenstein, to be exact.
  • Practice my French conjugation the way I used to in school, with drills and tables and such.
  • Convert my ever-growing French vocab list (2,661 words and counting!) into an Anki deck.
  • Read more than five pages of a book at any one time.
  • Get back to running two or three times a week.
  • Earn an income.

On the other hand…

Things that I have done in the recent past and/or am continuing to do in the present:

  • Committed hundreds of new French words to memory.
  • Learned my way around Paris. Though I still can’t keep the arrondissements straight and probably never will.
  • Got out of town more than once, to bucket list places both near and far.
  • Met a ton of new people.
  • Started taking photographs with my video camera.
  • Finished my first (small) paid assignment in Europe.
  • Started my own documentary project, which can only be described as Grey Gardens, in Paris, with British people.
  • Ate my weight in cheese.

Eight for eight: proof that for everything I have not done (yet!), I have done something else worthy. Because you know that my annoying brain is keeping score.

[The photo is from my documentary project.]

airing my dirty Parisian laundry

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I have been a little, and sometimes very, depressed and anxious since coming to Paris. Having arrived with no plan to stay yet no plan to go anywhere else, I was counting on the universe to tell me what to do. But things aren’t falling into my lap the way they did in Dakar, and I am finding myself with a million different possible paths to pursue, none of which seems likely to be immediately satisfying or fruitful. It’s been a recipe for paralysis, with all its attendant emotions.

Apparently I am on a fairly common rollercoaster for the newly arrived and jobless. So I’m trying to be gentle with myself.

Things like running, and writing, and studying French would all help my mood but I’m stuck in that vicious cycle where I can’t get myself to do any of these things frequently enough to lift my spirits enough to provide the energy to keep doing them.

Apart from the feeling that my angst is crushing my soul like an industrial-sized garlic press, my day to day life continues to resemble every Parisian visitors’ fantasy: eating decadent food, drinking dark espresso, dallying at cute corner bistros, visiting amazing art and cultural spaces, wandering beautiful streets, and being serenaded in and by French.

A new friend of mine arrived here from the States a month before me, in similar circumstances and mindset (i.e. without a job and ready to hustle; followed by discouraged and unsure). We quickly admitted to each other that we were having a pretty tough time, but we also acknowledged our hesitance to tell anyone else, for fear of being written off as assholes.

“Oh yeah, it’s so hard being unemployed in Paris, poor you. Nothing to do but eat macarons all day, how depressing.” Well, yes, it turns out it is, if you are unable to compartmentalize your anxieties in order to appreciate your joys.

Every time I go through one of these emotionally challenging times I tell myself it’s an opportunity to learn how to center myself no matter what the situation. And then I curl up into a ball and panic.

Well, what can I say. Tomorrow is another day…