Déjeuner avec Shannon

Elle est arrivée!

In other words, I have received my sagacious and sarcastic cohort; my personal assistant who allows me to work quickly and feel accomplished is with me once again. I’ve been attempting to write on the difficult surface of an iPad for 7 days! Many love it, mais, je préfère un vrai clavier just like I had when as a wee lass learning to type in 7th and 8th grade when it was forced on me. I wanted to take auto shop class as my elective to learn how to fix a car. Mom insisted that I take typing “for my future”. I had no intention of being a secretary. Ha. Little did I know of the foresight my Mom expressed back then. Our entire lives are built around a keyboard of some sort, for now. But I’m sure that there will be other methods in our future ability to input into “the cloud”.

I cannot describe how much better this feels to be typing on a real keyboard. It’s a 2012 MacBook Air that I shall forever here on out call Shannon for the place she was found after a long trip in the air from Oakland to LA, LA to NY. That’s where we parted ways. I went off to Reykjavik and the laptop ended up in a small airport in Shannon, Ireland. While I lounged at the Blue Lagoon spa in Reykjavik, it crossed my mind that I may never see her again and she held SO MANY details of my life and all of my creative work for the past 3 years. Of course, I have it all backed up at home on 2 hard drives, but they are nowhere near Brussels where I am now and where Shannon has finally arrived exactly one week after I departed Oakland. My flight left at 11:15a last Wednesday and Shannon arrived at 10:16a (Brussels time) this Wednesday, 7 days later.   This entire trip was originally planned around Shannon accepting all of the thoughts and ideas I have been harboring and wishing to download out of my brain for months. (years, actually) I have not had a speck of time to truly let go and write with reckless abandon. Well, here it is.

It seemed a desire of the universe to make this easier for me as she intervened to allow me 6 days of pure whatever without the familiarity of spending time in front of a keyboard; something I do all of the time while at work and in play. Really, the only time away from Shannon is when I teach as I’m in front of a class and then among a plethora of audio equipment for hours teaching my students exactly what to do and how to do it. Then, I return to Shannon to complete myriad other never-ending tasks that I must do in daily diligence. The lists of items grow with every hour. So much more than is humanly possible to complete, piled on with no reprieve. And I’m very fast at tasks. There are just far too many…

I’m seated in a restaurant with a huge outdoor section at 1:33p (13:30 is the way the rest of the world accounts for time), eating a “Salade Ibericque” consisting of grilled and sliced sausage, grilled calamari strips, tomatoes, cucumber, mixed lettuce and parmesan. (On the menu: chorizo grillé, calmars grillés, salade mixte, roquette, & parmesan – everything sounds and reads better in French.) I couldn’t help but order Frites Maison, as I have not had them at all since the day I arrived, choosing instead to imbibe my calories in the liquid form with over 300 Belgian bière to choose from. I’m only enjoying one a day–today’s is a Leffe Blonde. One-a-day, I told myself as I might grow 3 sizes if I’m not careful. After many days here in Belgium, I will spend many more in Italy!

Many here are bustling about on a quick lunch break from school and work. The family near me is on a holiday as am I. I can tell by their pace. It matches mine while everyone else is on “10”. The kids stare in wonder at the odd arrangement of food on my plate. Mom requests politely in French just what I have ordered.   As I type, I feel one child, maybe 9-years-of-age, continue to stare, but in a good way that kids do when they want to know more…not in judgment. I am also the only one with a laptop out at their table. Everyone else uses their petite phone to type messages and such.  I read further in the chapter titled “The Blue of Distance” last night in Rebecca Solnit’s book: “For the elderly, often the nearby and recent become vague and only the faraway in time and space is vivid. For children, it’s the distance that holds little interest. They want to be engaged with what is immediately before them.”

As I slowly sip and taste each bite, it seems as though I’m in slow motion in comparison to the other patrons. I realize that when you witness everyone rushing around while you are on vacation, you know that you, too, rush at home in your life, every day, every minute. Many of my friends have advised that I take up yoga, tai chi, meditation; anything to get my body moving and my mind OUT of work mode. I know that I have changed in the past 3 years. I’ve lost a couple of friends because of it. I’ve become harder, angrier, faster-paced, with no time for anyone except for heart-filled attempts to save public education as my college is under siege and I am but one of many tourniquets attempting to stave off the bleeding.

The family departed with an “au revoir” tossed back at me with smiles. I look around me at les autres who dine here today. The place has cleared out somewhat as it’s now 14:03. A young couple with a baby in a carrier on their table sit discusses the bill. Just beyond them, a man with a tightly shaved head and face (like Fred Flintstone’s face-shadow) looks at his dining companion with a clenched forehead. His puffy, red face shows a bit of annoyance as he smokes the dregs of a cigarette, sqinting through the smoke. Behind me, the sonorous language of Italian spoken rapidly into a cell phone enters my consciousness. I can tell that the man is on a phone as there is no audible answer to any of his statements, only brief bursts of silence.

One quick [language] aside: I’m just beginning to find it odd that there are two forms of the pronoun “you” in Spanish and French. One is more formal (usted or vous), yet I can’t remember when it’s correct to use one over the other. Of course, you use a formal you for elders, but there are fewer of them in my life these days. Ha. I’m in the middle of age! And here’s one for a tickle as I notice some dark clouds circle in and I realize that I have no umbrella: it’s called a “paraguas” in Spanish and “parapluie” in French. Both make total sense: translated to “for water” and “for rain”, respectively. Umbrella with Latin/Italian origins speaks of shade as in protection from the sun. hmmm. wimpy.

As I move my finished plate to the other side of the table, I notice that Shannon is lighter than the plate! THIS is one of my favorite aspects of Apple design. When they get it right, and quite often they do, it’s totally ON!

Welcome back, Shannon!

Shannon & Rebecca

First Lunch Out_Brussels


2 thoughts on “Déjeuner avec Shannon

  1. Monica

    Ahh, it eez fabulous that
    Shannon is back. I wish we needed parapluies here. Non, ce n’est pas la chance.

    I miss you, but I miss your lunch more. It looks great!

    Have a fantastic vacation!


    1. danaj33@yahoo.com

      I wish we needed paraguas in California too. It’s been great to see rain again. That’s reason enough to travel. Gosh, I have missed it. We had two really good downpours (short-lived) in what, Feb? And that was it… ‘-(

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