redcoat invasion

“Hellooooooooooo?!!! HELLOOOOOOOO?!!!” An old British codger poked his head in the house this morning, bellowing until someone paid him attention. My stepmom is now on her second hour of dedicated listening.

Main topics include tubes inserted into the guy’s stomach (“combats the flatulence”), living on a pensioner’s income, and other topics to keep me huddled under the covers. I won’t go downstairs until this is done. Homeboy doesn’t even know we’re in a standoff, and his gasbaggery shows no signs of losing steam.

To be fair, I like most British people on TV.


Postscript: The smell of eggs lured me downstairs. Predictable.

first-person puzzle play

I’m attempting a gradual workdown to stateside levels of wine consumption. It is unseemly, these excesses.

On New Year’s Eve, I dined and danced at a village community center in Montlaur, pop. 500. Many family-style courses served under blazing fluorescents. I remember venison at 1am, a “Norwegian omelet” at 2.

(Full menu here.)

Games were played, with boisterous whooping, red faces, and quirky, murky rules. Many songs were shared, in Occitan. Wobbly folks stood on their chairs and swayed. Festivities were steeped in tradition, specific to this tiny corner of the world.

Of course, there was evidence we do live in a global village:

I got lost walking home, and spent nearly an hour stumbling around the cobblestones. I wasn’t scared, shut up, I am tough, not scared, no. Even when the dogs snarled, I did not whimper.

Insider tip: if you’re lost and drunk in an Old World city, pretend you are playing Zelda and that nothing is real. It will give you the courage to approach a half-naked muscle man, changing clothes in a dark alley. “Excusez-moi monsieur…”

I kept not knowing what was happening.

Bonne année from Montlaur.

hey, horatio alger

Yesterday was my first time on ice skates, at the Magic of Christmas ice rink. The rink was 95% teens; the boys had hard eyes and Tintin haircuts. I dreaded their French derision.

The falling man in the last post is a new friend, who lives without dread. We lost our ice rink virginity together, worlds apart in style. I cleaved to the rink wall and skated without courage. One could call it “walking on ice skates.”

But new friend Jesús went balls out, as if he had no notion of consequence. He glided along with grace and elegance, a resplendent Brian Boitano. I half expected a triple Salchow.

Then he fell. Spectacularly. Over and over again. People watching sucked in air and said “Oh la la!” French kids offered assistance, not snickers. “Ca va bien, monsieur?” said one rose-complected little ice fairy, extending a delicate paw.

Of course this was an instructive moment. Take risks, Hirsch, be bold. The timorous little teacup has less bruises than the daredevil, but also less fun. I envied Jesús for sucking the marrow from life while I gazed from the sidelines.

Like a boss

Like a boss

PS This song was playing when I first hit the ice. Let me add to that humiliation: it used to be my “ping-pong song,” a tune for pimply 12-year-old me to work himself into a pre-game lather.


Let me bazooka you now with the foal metaphor. 029

To be cont…


As I take my shaky first steps into 2013 (little foal that I am), I will not even be on good old American soil.

Sylvie said “It’s so cool you’re going to France for a week and not even visiting Paris.” And I said “The downside is, I’m not visiting Paris.”*

But. Adventures abound in tiny towns. I got here yesterday.

-Had coffee and biscuits at this gentleman’s home, hoping he’d take me wild boar hunting.002

-Went to butcher, bought two pork ribs, one boudin blanc sausage, a triangle of duck liver mousse (aka not foie), and some well-recommended potato chips.

-Drank all the wine.

-Might drive to Spain, to witness the marriage of nice strangers.

I’m studying which cheek you start with on the kiss-kiss hello. Right now I’m clocking 60% left cheek starts.

And if you’re the type of person who gracefully intuits which cheek to offer up, please to suck a baguette.

*For my next trick, I’ll complain about getting paid to eat.

can’t go home

I dreamt that SK and I moved back to Western Massachusetts for a quiet life. We ate dinner at 6pm, then went for long walks in the pine woods. I took an office job with some mitten-eared guy from high school. He was kind, laughing at my worst jokes. Life had the mellow pace I’ve been thirsting for. Tension leached out of my core.

Then I seized up. Relaxation morphed into claustrophobia. Panic. I announced to SK I wasn’t ready for this. Back to San Francisco.

Before the dream ended, we watched a fire engine smash into a parked car. This seemed to confirm my instincts.