2019 is finally over, THANK GOD (also: 1 second everyday, 2019)
This end-of-year post is relatively personal and not particularly uplifting, I’ll just warn you now (though things do begin to look up at the end, I promise!). In light of this, I’m kicking it off with my 2019 1 second everyday video… I began documenting one second of my daily life in the form of a ‘lil video snippet back in April 2018, so this is the first full year I’ve been able to compile. Pretty cool, no? Here it is:
2019 was fucking JOKES.
January was an all-around shitty month, as it always is… I mean, it’s essentially peak winter, minus the Christmas lights and all the warm and fuzzy holiday cheer that makes December bearable. The new year, however, did ring in on a positive note… Ash, Kayoon, and I celebrated it together. We watched RuPaul’s Drag Race for a few hours before dressing up all fancy, clinking champagne glasses at the stroke of midnight, and heading out to a gay club in the Marais where we danced and drank and had the very best time until about 4 am… well, that’s when Kayoon and I checked out, anyway… Ash didn’t come home until 11. I’ll never forget walking home with Kayoon that night. We traversed the Marais and Bastille, discussing life and boys and nostalgia and so many other things, then stopped to buy piping hot churros just before returning to their old apartment, a place I considered my second home, on Boulevard Richard Lenoir. I microwaved a steaming hot bowl of porridge oats around 5am, took a boiling shower, borrowed a pair of Kayoon’s comfiest pajamas, and then proceeded to pass out until very-very late the next morning. It was perfect.
On January 31st of the same month, I passed by that apartment for the very last time. Unknowingly, of course. I was there for less than hour… I only stopped by to pick up a handful of rolls of film I’d left there the week before, so that I could drop them off for development at a photo lab near Châtelet. I felt like absolute shit that day. It was freezing cold, so while waiting for Ash and a friend of his to finish getting ready so we could walk to the metro together, I curled up on their couch, on top of the electric blanket I used to covet while at their’s. Ash’s friend, who was dressed and made-up well before him (boy always takes FIVE-EVER to shower and do his hair), invited me to come chill in Ash’s room with her. If I’d known it would be my last opportunity to do so, I would’ve said yes. But I mean, how could I have known, right? So I refused, as the heated blanket was plugged into an outlet in the living room and couldn’t be moved without effort, and didn’t budge from there until Ash had at long last finished his hair and we could all exit the flat together.
It’s still so crazy for me to think that… I never went back.
That apartment is where I lived, fully lived, some of the most memorable moments of my early twenties. My first heartbreak. Writing my letter of motivation to the Sorbonne. Applying to my first teaching post. My 20th and 21st birthdays.
In the blink of an eye, it was all gone. Just like that.
February was the hardest month of my life. To be entirely honest, I’m still not quite sure how I managed to pull through. On February 7th I met with Carrie Anne in a café just across from Notre Dame; she was helping me study for the French exam I needed to pass in order to attend Paris 3. After the study session, I asked her to keep Kayoon in her thoughts, as she’d been admitted to the hospital a day or two prior. That evening I taught two English classes. No one could have guessed what was coming, but I did have this terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. That night I didn’t sleep a wink. I remember tossing and turning, then eventually giving up around 2 or 3am. I worked on the still life photography project I’d begun for school a few days earlier, before finally managing to crash around 5. The next morning I dragged myself out of bed, did my makeup, and got dressed, as per usual. I still remember what I was wearing: a simple black turtleneck, over which I threw on a loose pink, floral sleeveless top (a hand-me-down from Carrie Anne), for a pop of color, and a pair of black, slightly cropped pants from Brandy Melville. I ate breakfast and prepared my backpack for work… on Fridays last year I taught four classes, two in Courbevoie (level A1) and two in Puteaux (levels B1 and B2), from 2 to 7:30pm, I usually departed from my place around 1 and returned home around 8:30 in the evening. I was literally about to leave when Ash called. I picked up immediately, because I knew. I just knew what, or rather who, it was going to be about. I’ll never forget how he phrased the sentence… I just knew it was coming. He started by explaining that he wanted to be the one to break the news to me and my stomach twisted up in a way I can’t even describe or explain. And then he said… “Kayoon is no longer with us.” Not “Kayoon is dead” or “Kayoon has passed on” but rather… she’s no longer with us. At that point, we couldn’t even explicitly say it. It was just too unthinkable, too impossible. Dead is such a cold, hard, harsh word. We didn’t use it for a very long time.
Fast forward to Friday, February 22nd. The worst day of my year… probably even the worst day of my life.
About a week after Kayoon passed, I fell sick. Like… really, really sick with what I can only assume was a nasty flu, or at the very least, a strong, long-lasting cold. I took several days off work and school, but did my very best to keep. going. so as not to let my professors or my bosses ‘down’. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but as an ‘adult’ I have responsibilities to uphold and the thought of sending yet another message to my superiors saying I wouldn’t be able to make it to my classes (both the ones I attended and taught) made me feel so incredibly guilty, despite the fact that I was literally bedridden.
So… on the 22nd, I forced myself to go to work, for the simple sake of going, so as not to have to write in sick. At this point, it was really just about upholding the responsibility I’d been entrusted with, I couldn’t have cared less about the money… which I technically didn’t even earn, seeing as I was took weak to take public transport and instead relied on Uber (which ain’t cheap…) to get around. Before ordering a car to my first classes of the day, I popped a couple of pills to ease my cold symptoms, as well as a painkiller or two to reduce my fever (I know… I had a slight fever and I left my house… don’t judge me, it’s the fault of my totally self-destructing desire to please). As you would imagine, things quickly began to head south. Within ten minutes of the boarding the car, I was overcome by an intense nausea and a strong urge to vomit. I tend to fall carsick very quickly in general, but this was something else… I gulped down a shit-load of water to avoid succumbing to the feeling, but honestly, it didn’t help all that much. Within twenty minutes, I began to feel this odd sort of tingly feeling all over my body – and of course proceeded to freak the hell out. I, being someone that literally always manages to jump to the worst case scenario, figured I’d mixed incompatible cold medications and had unintentionally poisoned myself. Annnnd Google backed me up on this, guys. I texted my mom in full-on panic mode, and asked her if she could confirm with my uncle, a pharmacist, if the meds I’d taken were compatible or not. She, an actual angel, responded almost right away and soothed my fears, telling me that all was fine and there was no way I’d poisoned myself. I described the tingles and numbness I was experiencing, and she told me to calm down, that the sensations I was experiencing were due, 100%, to sheer anxiety. A quick Google search confirmed this, apparently when profoundly anxious it’s possible to go numb, and to feel a pins-and-needles sort of tickling all over your body. I felt like I was going to die. No exaggeration. I really, really didn’t think I’d make it through the day.
In spite of this, I still went to work. Because… of course I did. The Uber dropped me off just before the gate of the apartment complex where I taught my first two Friday classes, and I practically stumbled out of the car, my head pounding, my body tingling. I rang and entered the building, never having felt less capable of teaching, um, anything in life. So, I set up my Macbook on the desk of my first student, and pulled up a page of English language computer games. This tactic saved my life. I texted my mom throughout the duration of the ‘class’, explaining the bizarre out-of-body sensations I was feeling, as well as the prickling pins-and-needles which were still present all over, and she continued to assure me that everything was going to be alright, I was just insanely anxious. To be entirely honest, I don’t even remember teaching my second student, the first student’s younger sister… all I know is that when I departed from their home around 4pm, I had a mountain of tissues to dispose of and I felt so weak, I could barely walk.
I had an exceptionally long break between classes that day, as the mother of my 5 and 6pm students had requested we start an hour later than usual (the kids had doctor’s appointments). Rather than waiting for them to return on their outdoor porch in freezing cold February weather, I decided to order a second Uber to La Défense, where I figured I could chill at the mall until about 5:45. Oh, how things did not go as planned.
Upon entering the Uber, the driver immediately began to complain about where I was ‘sending him’… he whined about how awful the traffic around La Défense is, and then proceeded grumble under his breath for several minutes. As we approached the destination, he insisted on dropping me off what he claimed was a ‘short walk’ to the mall’s entrance, as this would facilitate his return to the highway. My super intense nausea was back and I was both physically and emotionally beat, so I didn’t bother protesting or requesting that he continue to the exact address. Instead, I exited the vehicle immediately, and walked in the direction he’d indicated, expecting to find the entrance within a minute or two. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I ended up walking in circles and climbing various dead-end staircases for over half an hour, feeling as though I was about to pass out the entire time. I’d not eaten since early that morning, and even then, all I’d been able to stomach was a bit of fruit. My head was pounding and I’ll admit that by this point I was lowkey in tears. Um, and I was hauling my backpack as well, which was stuffed with teaching supplies, grammar books, and my Macbook pro… it had never felt heavier. After 45 minutes or so I somehow managed to find my way, and I swear to God I’d never been more relieved in my life. I stumbled into the shopping center and plopped down on a series of steps with electric outlets to charge my nearly dead phone battery. And then… I called my mom, sniffling (cuz sick) and crying (cuz sad and overwhelmed), to vent about the terrible day I was smack-dab in the middle of. At some point during our call, the mother of my Friday afternoon students texted, informing me that we would have to reschedule the classes as they were still waiting at the doctor’s and certainly wouldn’t make it home in time for the lessons. An enormous wave of relief washed over me, and after hanging up with my mom I headed to the metro, as I was sure yet another Uber ride would (re)provoke both my anxiety and nausea… but, um, the public transport was maybe even worse, so… so much for that theory. The trains were PACKED, which I ought to have anticipated, given that it was rush hour. Unable to obtain a seated place, I stood towards the back of the train car, eyes closed, trying to resist the urge to vomit. I was cramped into a tiny space and surrounded by masses of people… it was so effing hot in there, and my thick winter layers didn’t help matters. About five stops from home, I couldn’t take it anymore. I sat down in the middle of the crowded train and buried my head into my lap. At this point I really didn’t give a fuck as to what anyone thought, I just wanted to disappear. When we finally arrived at my station… my god, I was so happy to breathe in the fresh, cool winter air… I just about started crying again. What happened after that? I’m not really sure. I must have gone home, showered, eaten something for dinner… but I have no memory of this whatsoever. All I know is that in that moment, I didn’t want to be alive anymore.
Anyways. Moving on.
Two other noteworthy thingamajigs happened in February: on the 20th, I took a French exam that would determine whether or not my language level was sufficient enough for me to attend the university of my choice. I was very, very sick the day of the exam, but I went and I did it and I did it well. On February 27th, I spent the day with my childhood friend Melissa, who was studying abroad in Paris last year. A solid regret I have is not spending nearly as much time with her as I’d originally intended to, upon learning that she’d be in Paris for a full eight or nine months. Life got crazy and busy and I got… sad. I ought to have made more of an effort, but at the time managing to pull myself out of bed to fulfill my responsibilities was difficult enough; going out of my way to see people was pretty much out of the question. Seeing Melis that one afternoon at the tail-end of February, however, was healing… despite still having a slight cough and runny nose I met her by Parsons Paris (she studies at Parsons NY) and we strolled past the Louvre and through Tuileries and bought sandwiches for a little picnic by Pont Neuf. It was a really beautiful day.
March may technically be the same length as January, but this year it flew by in comparison. On the first I met up with Bella, a fellow photographer friend I met while studying at PCA. The following day Brigette and I met for the first time since Kayoon’s memorial, at a warm and cozy café a stone’s throw from Bastille… and their old apartment. She and Ash were still staying there at the time; they officially moved out on March 31st. We talked and talked and talked and I can’t even describe how comforting it felt to know that despite all that had happened over the past few weeks, she was still there, present in my life, and wouldn’t be going anywhere. At the time, Brig still had no idea as to where she was going to live until September, when she and Ferdinand would be able to move in together. I offered to host her at mine and she hugged me tight and said she would let me know.
On the 13th I received the results of the French exam I’d
suffered through sat the month prior… I scored 624 points out of a possible 699, which placed me at C2 level. A few weeks later I came home from work to an acceptance letter from my first choice school, Paris 3. All I felt in that moment was relief. I didn’t have a plan B, if I hadn’t been admitted I don’t know what I would have done.
Towards the end of March, Brigette texted me to ask if it would still be alright if she stayed with me for a month or so, as she hadn’t succeeded in finding other accommodation. My response was “OF COURSE, stay as long as you’d like!” On the 31st she moved in with me and oh my goodness, I hadn’t realized how damn badly I needed a friend with me during that time. It had been so hard, getting through the day to day, and having Briggy there in the evenings to talk to made processing my emotions a little bit easier. I am still so very grateful for the support she provided last spring. It meant – and still means, for that matter – everything to me.
Okay, so I feel like at this point this post is turning into a total sob-story… which really, really, truly, truly wasn’t my intention! In April, things did begin to look up a teeny-tiny bit. If we forget about the Notre-Dame fire, anyway. That was a moment. At the time I’ll admit I felt slightly bitter… here were all these people mourning a freaking building while my friends, Kayoon’s family, and I were mourning the loss of an actual human being. But they had the right to be sad. I knew and know that.
But… then my dad came! I can’t even describe to what point his presence here lifted my mood. Jake came down from Belgium for a couple of days, as well, and he, my dad, Ash, Brig, and I went out to dinner together. The following weekend Jake returned to Belgium and my dad and I caught a train to Amsterdam, where we passed a quick weekend exploring one of our favorite cities together. I took many, many pictures. It was wonderful.
It’s funny, though… March and April were a total blur in comparison to February. I mean, look… I was able to recount with great detail just a couple of shitty February memories (there are many more, but I don’t have it in me to relive them all by writing them down, and you really don’t want to read them, anyway, trust me) and here I am, managing to sum up the entirety of March and April in a couple of lackluster paragraphs. Weird.
The beginning of May wasn’t particularly eventful… I had work and school and work and school and that was pretty much it. About halfway through the month, however, Ash graduated from PCA and technically, Kayoon did, too. Her younger brother Doh came to Paris for the occasion and accepted her diploma on her behalf. Looking at him… even just thinking of him… I can’t help but feel as though I haven’t the right to be sad. I know I do, of course, Kayoon and I were as close as sisters. But… I wasn’t actually her sister, you know. I didn’t grow up with her, I didn’t know her for the whole of my life. Doh did. The very thought of being in his place… of losing either Jake or Jack… is enough to bring tears to my eyes. This just isn’t fair, it just isn’t.
A few days after the graduation ceremony I took off to Thailand for a week, where I visited my dad, grandpa, and aunt in both Bangkok and Lampang. I’d desperately needed to get away for a bit, and the trip, which we’d planned back in December, couldn’t have fallen at a more perfect moment. I vaguely remember the details of the time I spent there, and I took heaps and heaps of photographs, of course… but for some reason, my brain just… doesn’t want to go back. I’m realizing (as I write this, lol) that this feeling isn’t exclusive to this one trip either, it actually pertains to the whole of 2019. Even the happiest of moments feel tainted, and I can’t help but feel shitty while remembering how effing SAD I was this year. Like, just in general. The bright spots, like Thailand, for example, were beautiful, yes. But… not beautiful enough to snap me out of whatever bizarre sort of funk I was in.
(Wow, I really just am a giant cry for help, aren’t I?)
And then… just like that… it was summer. A little over halfway through June I had my final photography critique that would determine whether or not I would receive my diploma. I presented the photo book Kayoon and I had begun together, which I’d finished with the help of Brigette and another friend, Natalia. But, here’s the thing… it wasn’t um, actually 100% done. I set the project aside after presenting the rough draft at my critique, and only just managed to actually complete it last week. It came out nice.
Regardless, I did pass and I was awarded my RNCP niveau II in photo in September.
What else happened in June? Literally nothing. June sucked. I was more than relieved to see it go when the first of July rolled around.
…I mean, not that July was oh-so wonderful, or anything. That said, there is one very special moment worth remembering: Bastille Day. Ash, Brigette, and I chilled at my apartment all day, and headed out together in the evening to watch the fireworks together by Pont Marie. We stocked up on beverages while on our way to the metro, then quickly popped by a bar for a drink (totally logical…) before making our way to the banks of the Seine. Ash was blasting music on his speakers and we were probably being quite loud and obnoxious but we were just so happy to be out together, on a warm summer evening, as if we didn’t have a care in the world. It may have merely been an illusion (wow, that sounded dramatic AF, sorry…), but it sure as hell did feel good.
Oh, and in July I upgraded from an iPhone 6s to the iPhone XR. Only because I literally had no choice… my 6s was done-zo, which honestly I should’ve seen coming given that I’d had it for almost 4 years. Anyways, if you notice that the quality of my 1 second everyday video snippets abruptly improves x 1000 around July 22nd… well, that, my dear friends, is why.
Mid-July my dad purchased plane tickets for me to join him at an agricultural convention in San Antonio towards the beginning of August. Though I was able to lend him and his assistant a hand, the main purpose of the trip was for me to visit my grandma, my mom’s mom, who I hadn’t seen for several years. She came to see us in San Antonio, and once the show had ended we drove down to my mom’s hometown with her, where she (my grandma, that is) still lives.
It had been nearly a decade since my last time in Texas (I must’ve been about fifteen or so when I last visited) so it was quite nice to catch up with extended family members, including my cousin Mia who’s just a few months older than I. And I truly enjoyed every moment spent with my grandma… she really is one of the most impressive human beings I’ve ever met.
All that being said… I still effing hate Texas, man (no offense to any Texans out there! I’m sorry!). It’s a literal, fiery, boring hell-hole (again, I’m sorry! I’ve heard Austin is very-very nice and I’ve never been, so yeah).
So… yes, I was more than happy to leave when the time came. I then spent a full day and half exploring Washington D.C., where my parents met and attended Georgetown University together in the 1980s, then took the train up to Philadelphia to visit a friend I met through blogging.
All in all, I’d call the trip a success. Yay.
What else happened in August? Two very, very important things! First… Taylor Swift’s new album was released. That’s all I’m gonna say. You know how I feel about miss T-Swizzle. Secondly… Ash and I saw Ariana Grande in concert. I was real disappointed that girl didn’t perform ‘Bloodline’, a personal fave of mine, (it was replaced by ‘Boyfriend’, as Social House was present for her Paris shows) but hearing ‘thank u next’ and ‘7 rings’ live made up for it, I guess.
September, contrary to the previous summer months, totally whizzed by. Like, seriously. But, but, but! There are reasons for this!
My mom arrived in Paris at the end of August… she came to Europe primarily to help Jake settle in in Belgium, but managed to squeeze a few days in here, as well. She, Ash, and I went out for drinks one evening, and she was able to attend my graduation ceremony, too (I technically wrapped up school in June, but wasn’t presented with my diploma until early September). On the 16th, two days after her departure, I started classes at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Right from the get-go, I LOVED it. Minoring in literature has permitted me to read so much more than I usually do (a play I read this semester is present in one of the photos above), and all the classes for my major are interesting AF. Even the ones that were incredibly difficult, such as mon cours de phonétique. I worked my ass off, guys, and I really think it’s going to pay off. And it’s just the beginning… yikes and also yay. But mostly yikes. I think.
Also: I went back to work in September, and must say, teaching English remains a job surprisingly well-suited for me. All of my students this year are teenagers, which makes for simpler, very grammar-heavy classes… this doesn’t bother me much; if anything I’m a grammar nerd and weirdly enjoy working on such topics with them. I do miss teaching level A1 6 years old, though. They’re hella cute. Maybe next year… after all, this certainly isn’t a job I’ll be abandoning anytime soon. I love the company and the people I work for, and language teaching and learning fascinates me (I mean… I’m a linguistics major…). So, yeah. Here’s to many more B2 lessons in 2020!
October, much like early this year, was alllll about school and work. But this time… in a GOOD way. The boring, redundant photography ‘classes’ previously on my schedule were replaced by intense linguistics coursework (in French!)… and as you’ve surely guessed by now, there’s nothing I love more than a serious challenge (which this past semester certainly qualified as). It was awesome.
I spent time with my friends here and there, and listened to way, way too much Taylor Swift. Also… the autumn leaves were quite pretty.
November was my birthday and Thanksgiving. The days were long and dark and dreary, and I had my final exams towards the end of the month. But it was filled with beautiful, magical moments and memories and friends. So all that’s okay.
December ended just yesterday, so I haven’t yet had much time to process it. But I went to Copenhagen alone for Christmas. I’ll be sharing photos soon.
To wrap it up…
So… I realize that the majority of this post was kinda-sorta just me whining about how shitty 2019 was. I think I needed to get it all out of my system, in an attempt to reach closure. Or something. Now, however, I’m more than ready to turn the page. New Year’s may be nothing more than a social construct, but we can choose to regard that as a positive thing, and take it as an opportunity to better ourselves and our surroundings because… why the hell not? This year I want to focus on me, to be me, completely and fully, and to live for only me and myself. I’m far too good at putting the needs of others first, and at resolving to succeed not for me, but for my parents, my siblings, my friends. As wonderful as that all is… when was the last time I did something to satisfy myself? Without wondering what my mom or dad or Ash or someone else would think of me? I’m tired of living this way; it’s exhausting. And in any case, I’m the only person that will be by my side all my life. It’s time to recognize that.
Here’s to a beautiful New Year. Bye, 2019. I’m finally done dwelling on you. It’s time for a fresh start. Who’s with me?