Archive for February, 2017

She Lost Control of her Escargot



As mentioned in my last post, 1999 was the year Teryl, alias Inga, traveled with me through France, ending in Italy, for 3 weeks. We packed our suitcases full of our newly acquired clothing from my fashion designer friend. We were styling in long flowing linen dresses and jackets. France and Italy looked at us like we were aliens from another planet. Nobody knew where the hell we came from so at least we could not be stereotyped. In Florence, on the famous Ponte Vecchio, there was a young punk girl who looked at us and said “Baaaaah, baaaaah”. I was oblivious, in all my fashion confidence, and asked what THAT was supposed to mean? Teryl, clearly the sharper pencil, said without hesitation, “She thinks we look like sheep herders.” Oh. You mean we don’t look cool? Hmmm. Kind of ironically hypocritical to be judged on appearance by a Goth girl with a mohawk.

But that was in Italy! While Paris was probably not digging our style, some of France seemed to embrace us and our confidence still soared. One of our stops was in the beautiful city of Nancy. It was May 1 and there was a festival in their giant park, of performance and art. We snapped pictures as we modeled for each other in our beloved frocks among the trees and flowers. There was no judgement in Nancy. Everyone was smiling, having a good time and we maintained our dignity.




Eventually we made our way to the town of Orlèans, to learn a little bit about Joan of Arc and have a nice dinner. We found an outdoor cafe and were seated at a small table in close proximity to another table. There sat a very elegant and supremely cool French couple. So much so, that I was a little afraid of them. This was not the time to let fly my famous burst of loud laughter. No way. Teryl and I were going to quietly enjoy our dinner but then Fate, snickered and threw me curve ball. Laughter was not to be my crime.

Teryl ordered prawns and when they arrived she was tickled to see them staring back at her! “Look Felice! Isn’t that cute the way they are decorated with those fake eyes?” This was her first trip to Europe so we have to cut her some slack. I have never seen a prawn gazing at me from a plate in Chicago. But still, I was pleased, this time to be the sharper more experienced pencil! I broke the news to her: Those eyes, my friend, are the real deal!  She handled it with grace and calmly dissected her meal.

I ordered the escargot and although I have a pretty good grasp of menu french, didn’t realize I had ordered a salad with cold escargot. No big deal. It was my first encounter with these creatures of the shell. There’s the little fork and how hard could it be? Yah, right!  No past life skill came forth to rescue me. There was a quiet struggle and I was really hoping the beautiful people did not notice. And then the unthinkable. Digging in a shell with the fork, the slippery little dude, exited and went kamikaze airborne, smacking the gorgeous frenchman in the face. His cheek to be exact. There was an elongated moment of silent shock and the look of sheer terror on my face. The man made an exaggerated gesture of scornfully wiping the slime off his cheek and then burst into laughter along with his lady friend. I still wanted to die but was crazy grateful for his kindness and sense of humor.

I image that I am famous in Orléans for that bonehead move. I’ll bet even Sainte Jeanne was rolling her eyes and  laughing from the heavens. Am I that guys favorite dumb ass tourist story? Or was I instead, the “charming” American sheep herder who lost control?




Imagining Felice, the Unmet Friend




In 1999 I am traveling all over France with my friend Teryl. Meanwhile there is a 3 1/2 month old baby named Ivar, dreaming of music, singing, writing, drawing and travel, if he could only escape his damn crib! As our train heads south from Paris, this baby gets the vague image of some woman dressed like a stylish sheep herder, who’s name starts with an F. Never mind that he has not yet learned A B C D or E. Truth be told, this baby has definitely  been here before. There is a soundtrack to his imaginings and it’s some kind of symphonic metal. I, on the other hand, having no interest in imagining babies and never hearing a name like Ivar, snap another picture and dream about my next coffee, beer, or soon to be legendary dinner of escargot.

In 2010 at age 11, Ivar imagines himself a friend, and her name is Felice. He keeps a journal in which all he writes is addressed to her. At the same time, Felice is in Chicago trying to reinvent her life, with no clue there is a little boy writing to her. When Ivar finishes his Felice diary, he makes up a new friend for the next book. But for some reason the name stays with him. Is it because Felice is again in France, in 2011 staying in Toulouse, 1 1/2 hours away? He writes a story, together with his twin brother Saffiro about a “strange” girl named Felice. (Thanks Ivar! Strange as in cool or as in weird? Unique or psycho?) The story is titled “Felice, daughter of Freedom”.




On January 22, 2017, Ivar, a member of Postcrossing, requests an address from the site. The universe spins the magic address wheel and with a smirk, then a giggle, my name appears. Holy merde! It’s Felice! Ivar is 17, soon to be 18 before the card will arrive. He chooses a beautiful black and white image from his trip to Portugal. He doodles around the address, the message and his signature, in an ironically similar fashion to myself. He mentions briefly the story he wrote with my name. He says that he loves to explore old cemeteries, just like me! He tells me about his band called Dr. Dragonfly and explains that he loves dragonflies, moths and insects in general. More irony, is that my 17-18 year old self was obsessed with dragonflies. I drew them, made a wood block print and wore a dragonfly neckless. I imagine my 17 year old self, joining the band. In this fantasy I can actually sing and play violin and speak fluent French because…..I’m French 🙂 Ha! But seriously…..

This postal encounter is another example of the true cosmic workings of the universe. Our life with all it’s twisty turning paths that at some point intersect and the psychic sense of these others we have not yet met. We that are members of the same tribe of cemetery exploring, dragonfly loving writers and artists. That is what I  believe of this strange story. It is beautiful that there is a town in France, that lives a young man, 40 years younger, and we are connected.  The point being we are all connected.  And yes, I have always been the daughter of freedom. Sometimes I forget, so the postcard is a reminder, a message to be true to myself and my nature. Thank you, Ivar, for this precious gift.





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