One of my most favorite children’s books is “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. If you have never read it, which I find highly unlikely, I suggest you do. Although it was published in 1972, I did not read (and fall in love with it) until ten years later when I was in college. I had started my Education classes and one particular class had us reading children’s books. I was drawn to the author as if she were an old, dear friend. Although I had not previously read any of her other stories, I fell in love with the way she just understood children. With a kindred spirit, I wanted to be like her. I wanted to write for children. I believed I was in tune with children. I wanted to find Alexander and give him a hug and tell him, “Hey, it’s okay. Some days are like that.” Just like his mom did.
Over the years, I have often quoted the book. “Some days are like that…” It seems that lately, it has become a mantra for me. Except it’s not Australia. And I am not having trouble with my brothers. Or my parents. So with all due respect to my literary hero (of books for those under the age of 8), here is my account of my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day…
I am living a life of envy. Living in Paris. But even the extraordinary architecture and the gilt can seem dull, especially against a sky that variegates between pallid and tint-less. A gray hovers, tainting all the ornamental beauty with rain or occasionally, the threat of rain. For this Arizona girl, it is slowly killing me.
I fell asleep after midnight last night to the rain. I woke up later this morning to the rain. Okay. This is the new norm. I need to just get over it. I fixed a cappuccino and thought I would be productive and get a few appointments made at the American Hospital here in Paris. A dream, right? Right here in Paris, a place where English is spoken and I don’t have to use Google translate to explain my hearing loss or need of a mammogram. Except the website is in French. And when I google-translated how to set up an account, apparently something was lost in translation and I kept getting kicked out. Then, I found (thank you, Lord!) a way to translate the whole page in English. I have to pick a doctor. I have NO clue who any are, but it comes down to me looking at names and thinking “I bet he’ll speak the best English because of his name.” Seriously?!! And even with the page in English, I got kicked out of the registration.
On to registering for French classes. I found a course near my house that starts on Monday. Cool. I can’t (again) seem to register online so I figured I would go in person and ask them. Things may be looking up after all! Things are so much easier in person, right? We’ll go this afternoon, I figured!
After my appointment attempts and putzing around the flat for a morning, fueled by my (now 3) cappuccinos, I decided I was NOT going to let the rain get the better of me. I put on my running tights, layered tops, ear muffs and a rain slicker, and headed out to the park. Which is closed. For no apparent reason. Okay. I can run around the perimeter of the park, over cobblestones and along some sidewalks. Three and a half miles later, I came home to pen this email to my adorable and ever so patient husband:
Warning: A rant.
Mon cher Parisiens,
A few weeks back, I found a museum less than a mile from our house that has a nice temporary collection and apparently a decent permanent collection. One of my most dear friends, who was a docent at a prestigious art museum in Dallas, gave me a few tips before bringing Liam. I took her advice and found some pieces that will be on display, made a little treasure hunt of them, everything from having him find little things in paintings to describing colors and artists. In between my frustrating attempts to make appointments this morning, I researched and printed this. Not letting my setback at the Language School deter our precipitating afternoon out, we headed toward the museum. Except, I am not really that great at just switching moods and Liam has made it more than clear that he is really tired of being glued to my side every single day, so the misunderstandings that seem to come quite frequently lately ensued and I am in tears. Which doesn’t matter because it is pouring rain and I am soaked, despite my umbrella, which has decided it prefers to give in to the wind and bend outward. Graces in the fact at this point in the walk, we are passing by what has become my favorite “little” church, St. Augustin, and we pop in.
Did you know that the roads here bend? Especially in the circular area of the Arc de Triomphe? And when you are walking in the pouring rain, peering out from underneath a warped umbrella to read the street signs, you can get lost. By just a street. Very easily.
This was really not turning into the day I had planned. I spotted a bookstore, which seemed most auspicious as it was named Librairie Fontaine (after Liam’s favorite teacher), and swam in. The owner tsk’ed a bit and brought a wastebasket for my umbrella, which was having it’s own little meltdown all over the hardwood. I thanked him (in French, even!) and set out to look around. Liam was disenchanted with the fact that all the books were French but I managed to find a couple British pre-teen series books so I was happy. As he pouted and brooded around, I bounced up the stairs to pay for this gem and caught myself in the mirror. Did I mention earlier I felt dolled up and ready for the day? Well, one peek at the mirror proved otherwise. My curls, which had been pulled back nice and sleek after my shower, had decided to make an appearance, like two small brown slinkies over my ears. And my mascara? Lines down my face like the crying emoji. So between the lines on my face, the long, stringy Nellie Olson curls hanging down the side of my face, and my new striped Boden shirt soaked and misshapen from my purse hanging on the wet fabric, I looked pathetic. I quickly paid, used my limited language skills, and took Liam out of the store.
As if we needed some Divine guidance (again), we stumbled upon the Starbucks shortly thereafter, only to find (after ordering) that Liam’s gift cards don’t work here because they are in USD, not Euros. And we ordered our treats to “drink in”, only to find that the only tables available are outside. In the rain. And now, in the dark. I paid, we sat outside, huddled against the building under a small awning only to find Liam doesn’t really like the hot chocolate here. I decided it was time for us to forgo the museum (it was going to close in an hour anyway) and just head home.
Which we did. Liam went right to the hot shower and I sat on the radiator and just watched my new neighborhood outside. Except for a few bright spots, not in the weather but in the day, it has really been a hard day. Some days are like that. Even in Paris.