Monday, January 23, 2017

The Nostalgia of Old Journals

Nine years ago, I visited Paris for the first time. Today while diving for blog topics, I got a little nostalgic and dredged up the blogs/journal entries I wrote during that time. If you’ve never gone back and read something you wrote nearly a decade ago, I highly recommend you do. It made me alternately laugh and cringe.

Some things haven’t changed—my tone of voice, for example, is the same. Young Michelle was also a little ridiculous. I read a few posts and all I could think was, “Wow. I certainly took myself seriously.” I was 21 and headed to a semester abroad, and I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into.

Reading these old blog posts is a lot like going through one of my trunk novels. Writers are familiar with the term “trunk novel”—a manuscript the author deemed too terrible to ever see the light of day. We’ve used a few trunk novels for podcast episodes, and those “critique” sessions are a lot of fun. I enjoy looking back on things I’ve written (and laughing) as well as showing writers that even if they think what they wrote is worthless, it might still have potential.

Not everyone wants to see their own autobiography as a trunk novel, but if you pick a time of great memories, it is worth the cringes. It’s painful hilarity, if you will. It also reminds me that my present problems are temporary. Whatever stresses I have from losing my job, losing a loved one, and trying to find an agent are problems I can beat. It's so good to know that no matter what happens this year, life will get better. I’m wading through a lot of crap right now, but soon I’ll be on the other end of it, probably shaking my head and wondering why I took myself so seriously.

Just for kicks, I’ve pasted one of those old blogs down below. It made me laugh, and I hope it brings a smile to your face, too.

Michelle loves Paris more than Denver, but she currently loves Colorado more than France.

January 26, 2008

Lundi. That's Monday in French. I'm pretty good at remembering lundi and mardi and mercredi just because it's fun to say and know that you're saying a day of the week. It's the days afterward that my brain decides to forget. And of course, I hope you realize, when I say "decides" I mean it's a complete and utter accident.

Anyway. Lundi the 21st was the day that I got in to the airport so early. I slept on the chairs in front of the very doors I had just walked through [Note from 2017: I literally left customs, walked six feet to a line of chairs, and camped out]. It wasn't that bad, once I figured out that it's a lot more comfortable to use the suitcases as an ottoman, rather than a pillow support. Oh, man, I am so glad I took my little travel pillow with me. It has been one of my best friends this entire time. I think I might see if I can marry it...

Around 630 (yes, AM) Christie's plane got in, and the two of us walked to Terminal C, where the rest of the group was supposed to be waiting. We were a few hours early. So we sat. And kinda talked. Mostly sat and were quiet. I read a little, and wrote. Then a few minutes after 930 we went to the middle of the terminal and met the group of really obvious American students trying to not fall asleep on their feet. They were also all struggling (ok, no, not all were struggling) to understand everything Staci and Andrew, the two leader peeps, were saying. That's because, quelle surprise, it was all in French. The group stood there for little over an hour, tentatively introducing themselves around the mob, and then we piled into a bus and drove from Charles de Gaulle into the heart of Paris.

I still laugh now when I think about the ride. No one knew one another, except for a couple kids (adults?) who are from the same school. At least, no one was already best friends with anyone else in the group. Plus, I was completely conscious. Sure, I was tired, but I was just travel and thinking tired, not jetlagged tired. PS THANK YOU GOD FOR THAT. That ride was so quiet, oh man oh man. It was like we were all gagged and in straight jackets. I sat more in the front, just behind Staci and Andrew, and near three girls who are all pretty much amazing, Sophia, Jessica, and Anna. We had the normal first-year-college-student-help-I-need-to-be-funny conversations; and of course I tried to be cooler than I actually am, because that's what everyone does the first day.

When we got to the auberge de jeunesse (youth hostel) they did all the saying hi stuff (minus ice breakers, grace à Dieu) and gave us pocket money and metro tickets and mini maps. Then they said, "Ok, you're free, we'll be eating lunch at 12h30. Bye." I don't really remember who I walked around with then...I think it was Sarah and Amanda....? We walked around and discovered that hey, that's the Seine! And there's...wait, is that Notre Dame? That's Notre Dame! It was literally just across the river and over like a block.

After lunch we got our rooms. I was almost excited. Part of me was just so tired of hostels at that point, as it was my fourth hostel of the month, and I was just really really really looking forward to not having to lock up my things all the time. But then again, the shower was super big. And the water was hot. And Jess and Julie were très cool. More walking happened that night, and then dinner at a pretty nice restaurant that made us beef bourguignon and crème brulée and wine. Well, they didn't make us the wine. But they served it to us. Yum. I was so tired after dinner that when we got home around 21h30, I went to sleep. Very few others actually did, since for everyone else it was daytime and not sleepy time.

A bed was a fantastic change from the airport chairs......


  1. If you need a semi French European experience, you can’t go wrong with Quebec City. However, the Québécois French is a bit different.

    Growing up on the Quebec border, I was exposed to French, but never could get the hang of the language. If I listen closely, I can get the gist of the conversation, especially if I’m getting cussed out.

    Your travel pillow reference triggered a scene in my head. Sorry to inflict this on you, but I need to get this out of my head.

    Picking up her travel pillow, she brings it into the living room.

    “We need to talk.” She gently sets the travel pillow down on the coffee table. “I have something to confess.”

    “There's no easy way to say this." She closes her eyes and breathes in deeply, exhaling slowly as she opens her eyes. "I’ve been seeing other pillows.” Her gaze strays to the throw pillows on the couch.

    The travel pillow slumps over, teetering close to the edge of the table.

    “It’s not you, it’s me. You’ve been nothing but supportive.” She pushes the pillow back from the edge.

    “Don’t be sad mon petit oreiller. Never forget, we'll always have Paris.”


  2. Tracy, that little story made me laugh out loud. I've never been to Canada, but I've always wanted to visit. I'm told I would love Quebec City.