Monthly Archives: November 2010

France: Day 7, Rochefort-en-Terre

We drove near­ly 400km into Brittany along the west coast of France to Rochefort en Terre, a small town of only about 600 peo­ple.

Normally this would take about four hours, but the high­ways have a 130km/h lim­it (off­set by a toll to access the high­way), and this cut an hour off our trav­el time. Not that it mat­tered, as the French coun­try­side is won­der­ful to watch, pop­u­lat­ed with hills and a vari­ety of colour­ful foliage. There are also end­less cows roam­ing the pas­tures; I final­ly under­stood why cheese, but­ter, choco­late, and cream are so promi­nent in French cui­sine.

It’s strange to be in a place that’s so remote. To go for orga­nized sports, you have to dri­ve to the near­est city, which is 30 min­utes away. At the same time, all the ameni­ties are a 5‑minute stroll away. There’s no traf­fic here, no light pol­lu­tion, and no noise save for a bark­ing dog or two. In this part of the world, the cul­ture is rich in his­to­ry, but the life is rel­a­tive­ly untouched by the com­pli­ca­tions of urban liv­ing.


The first cat I’ve seen in a week. He’s grown old and docile, and luck­i­ly, this means you can pick him up, put him in your lap, and he’ll be just as hap­py as by the wood burn­ing stove.

Continue read­ing “France: Day 7, Rochefort-en-Terre”…


I turned 30 in France. This was­n’t planned. It was­n’t even an excuse to buy the tick­et, when I made the deci­sion to fly there so many months ago.

But when I was at a din­ner par­ty that day, speak­ing with a woman who pol­ished her English from a year of doing her degree in London (and had an appro­pri­ate­ly posh British accent mixed in with her French), she guessed I was 30.

Amazing”, I said, “To the day.” She had to con­firm, “Aujourd’hui?”, and I could­n’t stop her from hush­ing the oth­er con­ver­sa­tions so she could announce it to the table.

portrait at age 30

Kisses from the babies, the girls, and the babygurls.

They lit a thin can­dle in my banana split sun­dae, sang me Happy Birthday in two lan­guages, and plied me with expen­sive alco­hols. Earlier that day, Darren sent me an e‑mail, telling me to get drunk. I did­n’t let him down.

It was a far big­ger deal than I was used to, but it was­n’t hard to appre­ci­ate the atten­tion, from peo­ple I had only known for an evening or two. I thought they must have been hap­pi­er than me, just to have an excuse to cel­e­brate some­thing, and talk, and drink, and cheer.

No won­der peo­ple like their birth­days. No won­der peo­ple love France.

There’s no way for me to deny how sig­nif­i­cant the last year has been. At one point, I final­ly felt like I was the per­son I’d be for the rest of my life. Then things changed, and I fell to my low­est point. But I picked myself up, and here I am now. Still human. Still alive.

This project was a way for me to doc­u­ment my evolv­ing life and aging skin as it is now. I nev­er knew how much I’d go through, and how much would change between each inter­val.

I turned 30, and I won­der who I’ll be in anoth­er day, anoth­er month, anoth­er year, anoth­er decade.

The Turning 30 Series

Call me McNgangus

Somehow, I end­ed up on the north­west coast of Scotland, with new friends, a much tighter sched­ule, and a re-affir­ma­tion of life.


Europe 2010 travel diaries

France: Day 6, Paris

It’s been rain­ing almost non-stop across France ever since I got here, so when I woke up to a sun­ny day, I had to take the chance and head out to Paris. I decid­ed to see how far I could get on foot from Gare Montparnasse, my goal being a cross­ing of the Seine.

Paris is divid­ed into arrondiss­ments or dis­tricts, spi­ral­ing out­ward from the Louvre like a snail shell, with each one hav­ing a char­ac­ter­is­tic feel. I began my walk in the 14th arrondiss­ment, and trav­eled north.

After about four kilo­me­tres, the stiff­ness in my legs told me I should head back. But Paris is dense and full of cul­ture and his­to­ry at every turn; on every block over there’s some­thing that catch­es the eye, and you nev­er want to turn around.

Fountain of Saint Michel

Fontaine Saint-Michel, locat­ed in the 5th arrondiss­ment.

Continue read­ing “France: Day 6, Paris”…

Baby Scary Party

Leave it to Fédéric and Misun to host an awe­some cos­tume par­ty, even though Halloween was over two weeks ago. They decid­ed to have a par­ty any­way, in a part of town where they only had two trick-or-treaters. There was quite a decent turnout (about 40 chil­dren) with­out hav­ing done any adver­tis­ing, save for a fli­er on their door, and I’m sure they all left tired and full from numer­ous sweets.

Of note is the wood­en cas­tle in the back­yard, which Fédéric built for the kids, and which they quite appro­pri­ate­ly adored.

Europe 2010 travel diaries