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This is my honest assessment of six months spent in Paris, where I explored a new (to me) city, in a new (to me) country, in a new (to me) continent, made amazing friends, wrote another novel (“Never or Forever“), published that novel, had a book launch party in Paris, had my heart skip a beat more than once, and walked for endless stretches against a scenic backdrop. It was the city of lights, and it possessed the same magnificence captured in the countless guidebooks I’d read before ever reaching its soil.
From the external world, it goes like this:
“So how are you “adjusting” to being back in Toronto?” (the word “adjusting” is accompanied by a condescending scrunch of the nose, which I can even detect in text messages, believe me)
“Have you started looking for a job?” (obviously this question comes from the parental unit)
“Do you think you’ll ever go back to the corporate world, or can you afford to keep writing full time?” (back-door way of finding out how much money I’m making from writing, to assess if it’s more than a hobby)
The questions that come from within are a little more detailed, and they usually go like this:
“What am I supposed to do next, after living the dream that was only a far-off vision for the longest time?“
“Are dreams individual goals, or is dreaming of new possibilities a way of life?“
“How will I get back to Paris? Or will Paris become a memory that nothing else can ever top?“
I’ve never been in this place before, a place where I could check an insane dream off the list, and pat myself on the back for a mission accomplished. Before now it was always something I was working towards, and not having reached it was the common thread to all my efforts, the thing that gave me focus. It makes me wonder if dreams are only ever supposed to stay dreams, since turning them into reality is just another way to kill them, only this time it happens after the finish line…a natural cause of “dream death.”
On the other hand…well shit, if I’m not going to strive for something bigger and better after the best experience of my life, then why am I even here?!
Now is the time to have a sense of humour towards this limbo, now is the time to put my restless energy into writing new things, and now is the time to give my books some marketing love, in the hopes that new readers will find them.
Along the way, I’ll figure out what sort of job I’m willing to take to keep the bills paid, and meanwhile I’ll keep dreaming that one day writing will pay ALL the bills, and leave something extra for fancy indulgences like twenty-five-euro conditioner (I forgot my twenty-five-euro conditioner in Paris; I’m not sure if this is a “white-people problem” since I’m brown, but I think about that bottle often with nostalgia and regret…it made my hair smell like coconuts, and during my nighttime frolics in Paris I’d get compliments about it from various members of the male population).
Meanwhile, the name and theme of this blog will remain the same, since my memory is full of Parisian moments. I’ll continue to post those moments on the blog, which will help me figure out just how they’ll fit into a non-fiction book…i.e. the places and the STORIES behind the places, because you don’t usually get the stories in a typical Paris guidebook.
So I’ll see you soon, or as they say in Paris “à bientôt!” Before I go though, I wanted to mention a talk I did at the Tedx Youth conference this past Saturday. I was so honoured when they asked me to speak, and whereas here I discussed the aftermath of a dream, in the talk I focused on everything it took to get to Paris, in the hopes of inspiring today’s youth (when I say “youth,” I wish I was talking about eight-year-olds, but in reality sixteen-year-olds are considered youth when compared to my very adult age. This is horrifying; now please excuse me while I put on an extra layer of “Oil of Olay” for tonight). The talk should be up on YouTube before the end of the year, so make sure to come back as I’ll definitely share the link!
Here is a preview of the Ted Talk, with some quotes of things I actually said. This isn’t meant in that traditional way where it’s totally weird and “delusions of grandeur-ish” to quote oneself, but more to give you an idea of the weird things I actually said while onstage in front of 250 students. Below that is a picture of me giving the actual Ted talk, complete with “suspended in a jpeg” hand-motions. It all feels rather old-fashioned in a world of animated GIFs, but it’ll have to do for the time being.
Things I actually said in a Tedx Talk…
“…Angelina Jolie’s right leg had a blog at a certain point…there is even a blog called “Is Ryan Gosling Cuter Than a Puppy?“ which is obviously a resounding YES, so I’m not even sure why we need a blog to debate that.“
“And then the inevitable buyer’s remorse, when you realize the butt pockets don’t even align to your actual butt.“
“When you’re scared about pursuing your dream…you must book non-refundable things!“
“A restless soul is the number one catalyst for change.”—>okay, that one is actually a good reminder for me, I should listen to myself more often (“delusions of grandeur alert!” CODE RED.)
Congratulations, living one’s dream is often too daunting a reality for some of us but you have shown the great times and accomplishments that can come of it! Can’t wait to watch your Ted Talk!
Aw thanks; and I’m hoping to the Ted Talk will be up by early Jan!
Was just thinking of you yesterday and figured the journey had come to an end, but couldn’t remember the exact date. What a wonderful experience you have had! Hugs to you as you regroup and replan your life moving forward. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Thanks for the hug and encouragement! The great thing is that being in this limbo place works wonders for inspiration
What a dream come true, and a TEDx talk as the cherry on top. Thanks for sharing it with us in so many ways. I feel fame and fortune coming your way lady!
So have you found a job yet?
Thanks David, and I mean overall, for always being such a great supporter (and I didn’t hear that last part ;-)).