Hashi’s

There is a brief window, usually the three to five minutes after waking up, when I feel good. I feel like I have enough energy to make it through the day. I feel like I’ll be able to accomplish something. Finally. And then it hits: nope, not today.

Everyday a dense fog descends. My brain stops working. I have great difficulty remembering why I went to the kitchen, why I’m in a particular shop. My body just doesn’t want to move – my atrophying thighs feel like they’ll give way after a walk to the sitting room.

My feet hurt, the soles, so painful every morning, or if I’ve been sitting on the floor for a while and try to stand up.

My hair is tied up, constantly, lest Chicklet gets another handful of it in his chubby little fingers. There is no point in wearing makeup: my skin is so dry, scaly and wrinkly it actually makes me look worse.

Clothes are a nightmare. Truly a nightmare. Half a kilo a week weight gain. A little translation: that’s more per week than I was putting on at eight months pregnant, only I shan’t be having a little bundle of chicklet delight arriving in a month or so.

Occasionally there are deep, dark waves of horrible feelings that make me extremely glad for my little Chicklet, or perhaps I’d have bungee jumped – without the rope – from the Eiffel Tower months ago (taking the lift up, of course, no energy for stairs).*

Mid-night wake ups because my hands are so dry they wake me up. After a smothering of cream, I can sleep again.

A love-hate relationship has developed with Coca Cola. If I want to be able to a) gather my thoughts b) seem like I’m sort of on form and c) make it any distance from the apartment, I need some caffeine and sugar. That’s the love. Putting on half a kilo per week (and I’m doing that without the help of too much coke), that’s the hate.

And the fog, the fog, the fog. Why am I writing this? Why did I start telling you that story? Why did I want the pen I now have in my hand?

The bone-aching tiredness every day, mid afternoon. So tired, every cell in my body is fatigued, yet I can’t sleep. I don’t want to sleep: it’s the middle of the afternoon.

A funny feeling. Faint. Jittery. Extremely weak. My heart, it turns out, is under so much pressure, it starts to beat erratically.

I had no idea until last month that all these were symptoms of one thing. In Cairo I thought I was dehydrated and I thought I was lazy. Then I thought I was pregnant, so I was supposed to be tired, not be able to think properly, have swollen hands and feet. I thought everybody who gave birth was exhausted, everybody with a baby was tired, even if they slept through the night. I thought that clumps and clumps of hair in my hands, golf ball sized hairballs on my pillow in the mornings for weeks and weeks on end was what everybody has post-partum. I thought I was weak. I thought I had to ‘push through it’, so I pushed and kept pushing.

I pushed so hard that I ended up on the edge, luckily only the edge, of a very serious problem.

Turns out, I have Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. My body kills off the thyroid hormone that the thyroid produces.

I’m not dying. It’s not Cancer with the big ‘C’. It’s not motor neuron disease. It’s not a horrible, nasty thing that means I’m going to meet a horrible end.

And I’m truly, truly grateful for that, more than I know how to fully express.

That doesn’t mean that it’s ‘just’ a thyroid problem and “Oh well, at least it can be easily treated”. Both things that almost everybody I’ve told has replied and that I too would probably have said if someone told me they had a thyroid problem.

My life should go back to ‘normal’. I should have energy once again to do four hours in the gym and then dance for four hours after riding for an hour in the morning and working an eight hour day, even if darling Chicklet doesn’t allow such extravagances of time.

Should.

The tablets that I have to take every morning for the rest of my life should make me feel better. Fingers crossed they do – all my hopes are pinned on these little white pellets. But right now, although the lab results are changing for the good, the wait to feel better is on.

It’s not ‘just’ a thyroid problem to me, right now. It’s something affecting every cell of my body and every aspect of my life. As Mr S agreed to my tears this morning, “This isn’t a life”.

I’m desperate, itching, to get out in the world and do things, even if that just means taking Chicklet swimming and “making the most of Paris” while we’re here, but for now, I’m going to go back to one of the things I can do: painting a bedside table.

*Don’t worry, not only do I not have energy for the Eiffel’s stairs, I don’t have the energy to get there, so there’s absolutely no chance of any pseudo-bungying taking place. I also enjoy painting bedside tables far too much to try to end it all!

Image is Hashimoto’s Disease at 4x Magnification from Nikon’s MicroscopyU website – probably the coolest thing about all this! 

 

Ramps, electric doors and parting with cash

I’ve developed rather an affinity for ramps: if a shop has one, I will enter, solely for the reason of showing that it entices the pusher of a poussette in. Similarly, if a shop has an internal elevator, I will use it, regardless of whether it takes me to the prettiest dresses, or the grottiest of men’s underwear, solely to show that customers need it.

If a shop has a high step, I will not enter it. Unless, and this has rarely proved to be the case, a shop assistant spots me outside and voluntarily opens the door. Then I’ll enter, and most likely buy something too (luckily I don’t live near Hermes…).

If a shop has a level entrance, and, wait while I calm myself, electric doors, I will be a regular.

What will f*** it up though, are internal security who follow me around. I know I look a little dishevelled these days, especially for gay paree, but I.MADE. IT. OUT. OF. THE. HOUSE. WITH. CLOTHES. ON. Okay, that little mustard coloured spot on my cardigan isn’t exactly mustard, but I’m in proper adult attire and the big basket on my oversized pram does not make me a shoplifter. Truly it doesn’t. Not even a tiny bit. It does show the potential space I have for goods in your store – that I will pay for, in full, at the checkout. Like normal people.

Cos, I’m normal, right?*

*Smoothes hair back, pats pinny down and surreptitiously rubs at a little spot of “mustard”…

A bit of steel

There she is, there she is!

Last year I was chatting with a Parisian friend who told me that the “loves the Eiffel Tower”. I looked a bit puzzled. I didn’t really believe that she could “love” it, but she was adament.

Now, despite watching tourists in their hundreds, every day, pour into the Champs de Mars to photograph themselves with their fingers “pinching” the tower, or jumping in front of her or some other such apparently essential holiday snap, I thought my friend was a bit odd.

Somewhere, somehow, as winter slowly gave way to a bright and sunny spring, spring into a rainy summer, when I walked past the steel skeleton in the early morning, at high noon or waited with visitors to watch the flickering bulbs, she grew on me. I love that she’s a different colour at the top than at the bottom. I adore checking her out against a steely grey sky and in brilliant sunshine. I wait with excitement in the dark for her bulbs to twinkle, I find it funny when her head disappears in the mist.

So that’s it folks: TG loves Paris.

Words I’m a bit scared to utter, because I’m sure that that will set the wheels in motion for another move…

People watching in Paris

pink socks top

I love to watch people. How they walk, how they move, what they’re wearing and where they’re from have always fascinated me. Usually I just drink it all in and enjoy, rather like watching a film. Occasionally though, somebody surprises me (like intergalactic Grandma) and I’m shaken out of my reverie. This takes quite some doing as I have been consciously people watching for at least fifteen years, everywhere I’ve been.

I’m not sure if this man was a scout leader, something that only ocurred to me when I got the photo onto a bigger screen and saw the inverted triangle on his t-shirt and payed more attention to his hat.

Think about it though, what do you expect him to be wearing below the knees?

Think hard. Harder.

Here you go:

pink socks

Now I BET you weren’t thinking of pink knee-high socks and orange shoes!

Poilane for Bastille Day

bread eiffel

Righty ho, it’s a bit late, but isn’t this just superb?! “Yes, yes it’s the Eiffel Tower, so what?” I hear you say. Well, it’s made from BREAD! This was the window display at Poilane for Bastille Day. The tower was a good metre high.

Next to it was this:

bread carrousel

Yes, that’s right, a bread carrousel!  And can you make out what the animals are?

bread carrousel elephant

An elephant and a horse! Wowee!

Poilane often have interesting windows, but this just blew me away!

Intergalactic fashion in Paris

spaceage granny - top

Paris is not a fashion-forward city. Stylish, chic, classic, yes, but there are not enough risk-takers in the attire department to make it a trend-driver. This does not seem to differ whether people are in the older or younger generations: everybody dresses like their peers.

So look at the photo above. It’s taken in mid-July at around noon. Our Parisian lady moved deceptively quickly past my lunch companion and I. In a pillarbox red coat* and black berret, she already stood out – red is not a typical colour to see on a Parisian, especially a coat and more especially on a lady who is probably a grandmother, as they usually (read: always) opt for black or beige.

Sometimes all this sameness can get a bit boring.

A French Grandma with intergalactic boots

 

So imagine our squeals of delight when we spotted her utterly fabulous intergalactic boots!

 

*I haven’t altered these pictures, they were taken with the iPhone in a hurry so a bit blurred, but the coat really was that bright!

A big, fat chicken

Ssssh! You don’t know I’m here.

I’m in hiding.

Somebody put a notice up in our apartment building recently announcing a “building party and bbq”. Excellent idea.

Are those things that are just announced? Perhaps there’s a core of people who all know each other and they decided and the rest of us are expected to attend.

Expected, because how on earth do you hide in your apartment pretending you’re not there? It’s not as if letting the phone ring will cut it – the party-goers can see the lights on!

I can’t enter or leave the building because the entrance hall and garden courtyard is the party location!

And why is it that I’m so terribly anti-social? First there’s the food: I can’t eat it (have you tried to have meat well-cooked in France? Pregnant women are also not allowed salad in France. Not much else to eat at a bbq!). Second there’s the wine: I can’t drink it. Third there’s the language: I can’t speak it well enough to socialise with people I don’t know but kind of have to see everyday. If I were to never meet them again, I wouldn’t mind, but that’s not exactly the case with neighbours. Which brings me to my fourth point: I don’t actually want to socialise with the horrifically noisy neighbours from the apartment below. It’s hard to avoid it because I have no real idea what they look like. If the father decided to shout in the aggressive, military manner he does every single evening to his four year old twin sons (who I’ve also never met), I would know who he was. If the mother decided to scream, as she does every second afternoon, I’d know immediately she’s someone to avoid. The chances of them showing their ‘home’ faces are rather slim – which is fine, I hear them often enough!

Finally, point number five: Mr S is away tonight for work.

I’m a big, fat chicken and don’t want to face everybody in my faltering French (did I mention that one of our neighbours regularly corrects the grammar on announcements and notices put in the elevator?) alone.

Gelato Paris – Vasavasa

Vasavasa Paris

Vasavasa

 

I recently discovered that there is a new gelateria in Paris called Vasavasa – Gelateria Siciliana. It is right on one of my main routes. My waist is screaming at me to find a new route. My tastebuds are in heaven!

Vasavasa sorbet

Strawberry and lemon sorbets with gelato making machine in background.

All the gelato is handmade in the shop (from what I understand) and it tastes amazingly fresh. The shop is open until 11pm – from what I remember – so it is perfect for a post dinner walk and treat! It is also a great location for anyone visiting the Eiffel Tower (and who comes to Paris without doing that – ok, me before I moved here, but had I known that I could have great ice cream, that may have been different!) and/or for a cool dessert after picnicking by the Seine or in Champs de Mars.

Just before writing, I did a quick Google, to see if there is a website. It seems that there is..and it’s in Italian. And you know what I discovered? They have four branches in Italy (Milan and Turin)! Yes, folks, that means it’s eaten-in-Italy real gelato. To be honest, that’s not hugely important to me, because what I have had has all tasted fantastic, but it is nice to know.

Vasavasa Paris

What they serve...yum!

It’s also a pretty gelateria. That matters to some of us. Stainless steel, clean lines of marble and a (non-tacky) chandelier. More Parisian looking than a lot of Parisian places. That’s also a delight for some of us (probably the non-Parisians!).

Vasavasa Paris
34 Avenue de la Bourdonnais, 75007 Paris
Tel. 33147058430

On the map here (it shows it as being in the right place, but wrong side of road!).

 

Unfortunately, I have not been asked to write about Vasavasa. I am, however, completely open to tokens of gratitude from Vasavasa in any gelato form. Just sayin’.

 

 

Fashion or soft porn?

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Operation SBAM is underway. As the weather seems to be staying sunny, I’ve become secure in the knowledge that summer clothes will actually be useful. So I thought it a good idea to do some research (no point being an unfashionable non-minger).

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

I picked up a copy of the ultimate style bible: Vogue Paris. It seemed even more appropriate as it had a section on Greece, and being Vogue, what to wear in Greece – and I’m heading off there soon.

I wasn’t sure about the red dress as I can’t actually make much out from this photo. Not sure I’m really into pleasuring myself on an old discarded mattress (doesn’t Vogue Paris know about fleas and bedbugs?), so I flicked through for more fashion information.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Well, I guess there is a red theme. Ok, I can go on that. Perhaps I could stretch to a stop watch. But the Borat-come-Baywatch swimsuit: an absolute no go.

(The perfect skin and physical shape: let’s just not go there!).

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

For day wear, it seems I don’t need to bother about t-shirts, nor a bra..nor underwear? High waisted shorts that don’t do up? Well, I’m sure I won’t have a problem finding some of those! Phew – something I can be ‘on trend’ in.

But really, Greece is all about swimming. What am I going to wear in the water? Does Vogue Paris have any other suggestions? It seems they do.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Ummm..perhaps if I looked like that naked, I would think this the best trend ever – it’s probably the cheapest ever promoted by Vogue, anywhere in the world. But I don’t. Ok, so I give up on buying new swimming attire. I’m going to get my old one piece out and perhaps the ‘retro’, aka granny pants, bikini.

Next to swimming is: boats. What do I wear when I’m sailing on my Greek holiday?

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

WFT?! Are people in Greece just naked all the time? Is this what happens when your country has an economic crisis: people can’t afford clothes and then beautiful nudists flock there to pole dance on the water ?

(I hope they wash that sail frequently).

But no, hang on a second. It seems Vogue Paris is reaching out an olive branch to those of use who want a bit more coverage than a boat’s mast provides.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Yay! I think I could even make these myself from some random supermarket elastic and the old sheet I have waiting to be torn up for dusting rags.

Think I’ll go without the wedgie though.

 

All photos from Vogue Paris June/July 2011.