The Bright Side

We all have little fantasies that get us through our days… I hope it’s not just me.

One of mine, not the one where I’m a pirate, is that I am French.

It’s not a goal, those are attainable, it’s a fantasy, like being a pirate. I mastered pirate, the language, decades ago. Avast ye, yo heave ho, give no quarter, no prey no pay, aarrr… thar’s no aye in team!

Almost 4 years ago I moved on, to learn French, mostly in my (Japanese) car, with audio books. I am not going to pretend I’m fluent in French, like I am in Pirate, but if we don’t have goals we don’t have a purpose to wake up in the morning, n’est-ce pas? (is it not?)

What else?

I drink out of a coffee mug that says Paris, while wearing a bedazzled “Paris” T-shirt.

I speak seulement (only) French to my dogs, they all understand my French. I know I need a French Bulldog, but one of my dogs is a Brussels Griffon, and oui all know French is a language spoken in Brussels, (home of the Brussels Sprout). My neighbors think I’m nuts. C’est lavé. (fuck them)

I have photoshopped one of my dogs into a picture of the Eiffel Tower.

Last week, on the vegan birthday cake my daughter baked me, were the words « Bon Anniversaire, Maman » and she played Happy Birthday in French, on her phone. We did not sing along, because we knew not how.

Speaking of my birthday, I’m old. I’ve been trying to read Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” in the original French. I pulled out my high school copy of the book in English to help me.

I got to the middle of the book and found a coupon, for mini-pads, THAT EXPIRED IN 1982.

So, I’ve painted a self portrait of a delusional middle aged (people can live to be over 100), woman who is emotionally detached from reality. That’s me, so what?

Today I’d like to discuss yesterday’s fire at the Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris).

I consider myself fortunate to have visited Notre-Dame. Over 4 million annually have walked through the doors. I imagine the despair I felt, was felt far worse by the people of France.

*Photo Credit: Francois Guillot

The picture of the spire falling, engulfed in yellow, orange, and red flames, the sky clouded with black smoke as ravens flew over head… it was watching the end of civilization.

The history, not the catholic faith, is what led me to visit Notre-Dame. The fear that the building, after surviving 850 years: the Nazis, the French Revolution, etc, would be destroyed, and no future generations could add “see Notre-Dame” to their bucket list, was heartbreaking.

The bright side came in the afternoon, surprising word that “all the artwork” was saved.

*Photo Credit: Georges Gobet

Then late last night it was reported, that enough of the structure survived the damage, that it may be rebuilt.

*Photo Credit: Christophe Morin, Bloomberg news

It is not a total loss. The intricately carved,walls, the flying buttresses, the Gargoyles, much of the artwork, and the towers were saved.

*Photo Credit: Marcel Kush, Zuma press

Maybe we can have nice things.

If the planet survives the renovation, this fire will be added to the long list of all she has survived, part of Notre-Dame’s history, and many generations to come will walk through those doors again.

Le bon côté. (The bright side.)

Notre-Dame Found Structurally Sound After Fire, as Investigation Begins

5 thoughts on “The Bright Side

  1. Bonjour Lydia, it was hard to watch tv news of the fire wasn’t it? It will take many years of rebuilding but I feel sure it will be done. I have never been to Paris and I doubt I ever shall, but knowing these monuments exist is enough for me. I never knew it was situated on an island and difficult to get to for firefighters. In the scheme of things I doubt it made much difference. Miraculous that some artworks were saved as the fire was ferocious.

    Your French seems very accomplished to me. I recall I was politely requested not to return to Mr Higgins French lessons at high school, a request I was happy to grant. he must have heard my comment about his pork sausage fingers giving me the creeps, while he wrote French verbs on the blackboard! Ah memories. I love that your daughter made you a vegan birthday cake, how thoughtful. Au revoir.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the only way to really learn a language is to go to the country and stay for at least a month, but that would require a retirement/lottery ticket win combo for me.

      This is a long story for a comment, but it’s relevant to this subject.
      My dad came over to the US, from Greece, when he was 16. He spoke English with a thick accent. He wanted my brother and sister and me to learn to speak Greek, so he would only speak Greek to us. I’d only respond in English- I was stubborn. We spent many summers in Greece, with my dad’s family. We were not wealthy by any means, but going home every summer was his priority.
      I would have rather stayed in the US with my friends; I felt a little trapped.
      Anyway, at the beginning of each trip I struggled with the language, but by the end I was dreaming in Greek. It’s been over 30 years since I’ve been there, I’d really struggle now.
      I know sound bratty, but in my defense, my dad was very strict and most of our time there was spent in the little village where he grew up.


      1. It’s a lovely story Lydia, sadly it takes growing up to learn how very lucky we were to have those opportunities that we did not appreciate. I have the retirement part of the combo you mention (I love being retired), the lottery win, I’m still hoping. I imagine that a month spent in Greece would hone your language skills very quickly. Like riding a bike, speaking of which, (my husband bought me a lovely ebike recently, it is so heavy that it has knocked me to the ground three times so far. I shall persist though.

        Liked by 1 person

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